Monday, January 25, 2016

First Baptism..."It was a thrill!"


So today was a crazy P-Day. And a somewhat crazy week.

I had my first baptism! It was the niece of a lady in the ward who lives in Aarijan, across the canal, but has been visiting for winter break, which is like 4 months here. So we’ve hung out with her a lot and we found out she’s nine and hadn’t been baptized, so we taught her and then she asked me to baptize her. So the day of the baptism we went around inviting everyone in the ward to come, but they all said they couldn’t or were too busy (didn’t want to). Then we had to go fill the font, and we have keys to the chapel, but not to the gate, so we had to hop the fence and go in. The font was taking forever to fill. We still didn’t have anyone to give a talk or for sure coming, so we went back out asking people. We finally got one family to come and the dad to give a talk, then we called a girl, who’s leaving on her mission to the Dominican Republic in two days, to give one and she said yes. So we got back to the chapel, the second councilor had opened the gate, and the font was half full, and we had an hour left so we got everything else ready. When it was time to start, nobody was there, including the second councilor who had to preside and be a witness. So we waited and played Like 4 Joseph Smith movies and an hour later everyone showed up, like way more than we expected. So the room and the font were full. Such a relief. I was still sketched about baptizing. Like I had been practicing the ordinance and the girl’s name, which was long, in my head all day, but when the time came, it happened so freaking fast. I like wished I had messed up so I could do it again because it is quite fun. I was stoked for like 20 minutes afterward. It was a thrill. Directly after the baptism, her crazy aunt brought out a cake and we had a very loud birthday party. I’d say everything worked out exactly as you should expect for Panamá.

This Sunday was awesome too. We have a Salvadorian family we’ve been teaching. It’s a lady with five kids, and she doesn’t agree with everything but really likes a lot of things in the church. And she acts like she hasn’t been reading the Libro de Mormon, but she knows like everything and I can see the pages of her book that are bent and she’s like more than halfway through, and we’ve only been teaching her for less than two weeks. So they came and I was a little worried because I didn’t think they’d feel super welcome in the ward, but everyone showed up on time this week, we had a bunch of visitors, including gringos which was awesome (and made the chapel smell strongly of bug spray). And there’s already someone that’s the same age as each of her kids in the ward. So they really liked it and want to come back.

Investigators are usually confused when they come to our church because its "tranquilo". All the other churches here have preachers shouting things in a microphone for three hours, so they’re not used to people giving talks or going to classes. Literally I think I could be an Evangelical street preacher and make lots of money. "Hallelujah, hallelujah, Gloria, Gloria. En Coriantanos 20 dice, La palabra de dios!!! Gloria!!"

Also yesterday we were walking through Viejo and a lady in a car starting shouting at us asking where we were from. They pulled over and it was two ladies from Montreal that were members. They were staying with some less active members of the ward so they picked us up and brought us there. So we taught a lesson with the whole family. We sang an opening hymn and the Canadian ladies sang it in French and were balling…hahaha, they were nuts but awesome. It was a really fun lesson. And I don’t want to be lame but I kind of want to learn French now.

Today for P-Day, the six people in our district piled into a tiny taxi and went to the middle of nowhere on a road out to an island. We didn’t really know where we were going. We walked out to the island which was empty, then walked for an hour back into town. I did touch the ocean though! I still have shivers thinking about it, I miss it so much. The water tasted so good. The Hermanas were not down to climb a mountain after that, so we all split up. Nellis and I went to Cinco de Mayo, a street with a bunch of shops, and got very deep into the Kuna black market. Lots of strange things there but mostly Mola, the art they do, I’ll send pictures. There was Kuna lady that was in love with us because we’re white, also I spoke Dule with her, and so she sold us some for super cheap. After that we went to this fishing and hunting store they have here called Abernathy’s. We spent like three hours in there. Half of which was agonizing over what knife to get. I finally made up my mind and the knife turned out to be $400. So I settled for a siiiiick Leatherman for $50. I am very happy with my purchases today.

Elder Nellis- This is why we can't usually wear "normal" clothes on P-Day!

Molas, made by the Kuna people.

I'll try to send pictures of the new house and everything a little later this week. But everything is going well. If we baptize everyone we think we will by the time I’m gone, we´ll have at least 5. (It’s not about the numbers…I just really want to baptize people!)  And we have been trying to do a lot a service this week. We always offer but nobody really takes it.

Anyways love y’all!

Elder Green

The opening of the Canal.

And here's a few more from our trip to the temple last week...

Monday, January 18, 2016

"Tomorrow we go to the temple. A clean place...literally!"


We have been moving all day. Elder Taylor decided he didn’t want to live in Panga anymore so he found a place a couple miles away in Balboa. At first I was super not happy because Balboa is the loudest street I know of here. It’s where all the buses connect and I avoid it at all costs. But I saw the house today and it is legit. Like too nice for a mission. It’s on the seventh floor of an apartment building and it’s little, but awesome. And we have a new fridge that’s not tiny and moldy. It also has windows! Hopefully that’ll keep the mosquitos…and ticks…off of me. I have been waking up each morning with about 20 mosquitos on me, and these are not normal mosquitos! They’re huge and the bites are huge and hurt. (I hope he is taking his Malaria pills!)

And it still has a trough! The trough at our last house was my bathroom and it was sick. Bathroom to like brush my teeth, not a toilet. But we also have super nice bathrooms now that work so maybe I’ll start using those.

I think this might be the "TROUGH."
Nice, new bathroom, but I guess they ran out of toilet paper.

And the bottom floor of this place is not a bar, it’s a Chino and a bakery. There are like 5 bars and 2 casinos across the street though, but also a place to email that’s not an hour away!

The old apartment...ours is the one with the hammock on the balcony.

Just hanging out. (Taylor always had to wear some kind of shoes in this apartment,
because there was always water on the ground.)

This week Salamanca and I have been exploring a lot. Panama Viejo has gotten pretty boring, we’re still teaching lots of lessons, but nearly all of our appointments fall through every day, so we decided to absorb the area of the secretaries, which turns out to be mostly gated houses and hotels. Still we go walking through it a lot to try to talk to people, and look for fishing spots. We talked to a guy and turns out the fishing is somewhat prime here, so I’m going to buy some nets and line this week.

Exploring at the beach.

Look at all the Pelicans in the trees.

We also started running every morning, so we don’t get fat. There’s something missionaries get here that’s called a “rice baby.” I hate that name, but rice makes you fat. I do not have one yet, but I’m planning ahead.

We have 4 new baptismal dates this week...we’ll see what happens. Two of them are sisters, 14 and 12, from the Dominican Republic. They were past investigators, maybe like a year ago, so we taught them and one of their friends. But like 2 minutes into the lesson, their grandma comes out and starts yelling at us, and threatening to call the cops on us. (Like they would do anything.) They told us she’s crazy so to just ignore her, but their friend went running…ha-ha. So we taught the lesson through all that and they said they’d like to get baptized. But they did not come to church! Nor did one of our Kuna investigators. Isai is still coming though. I do not think some of our other investigators will be getting baptized very soon though. They still don’t want to get married because they just don’t understand. And I don’t understand. Nothing makes sense here.

Also! Answer to a prayer I prayed 3 weeks ago, happened like two days ago. I was on a bus going downtown and there was this Venezuelan kid playing guitar and singing. He was really good so I thought, this guy’s gonna be famous someday, I better make him Mormon before that happens. I really felt like I should talk to him, but I hesitated, then he got off the bus before I could! So I felt terrible and just prayed that I’d see him again, even though it was unlikely because we were really far from our area. But two days ago I get on the bus in Viejo and there he is! So when he was done singing we started talking to him and he’s awesome. He’s trying to get his citizenship here, like every other Venezuelan in the world, there are so many here, so he plays on the buses. I said we wanted to meet with him to talk more so he got off at our stop with us, played more songs, then we got his number and everything. Turns out he lives really close to our new house, which is the area of the other elders next to us but were not going tell them about him yet because we want to teach him.

Yesterday was also Broadhead’s birthday! He turned twenty, but naturally since it’s on the 17th, we're celebrating his 17th birthday. He’s buying each of us a pizza tonight, and five gallons of ice cream…"Because he can.” We did fill his room with balloons Saturday night, and woke him up Sunday morning by popping them all with machetes.

Celebrating Elder Broadhead's birthday at the old place. the new place!

 Tomorrow we’re going to the temple. A clean place...literally! 

On the road to the temple.

Elder Salamanca and I
Peace y’all,

Elder Green

It was good to see some of my MTC buddies at the Immigration office.

Gross pancakes.


Monday, January 11, 2016

"Turns out half of your success in an area is determined by your attitude..."


So new comp. I am so stoked.

Elder Salamanca and I.

His name is Elder Salamanca and he’s from Puebla, Mexico. I already knew him because he was in the zone next to us and he would sleep over at our house a lot.  He’s super obedient and hardworking so we’ve done probably more in this past week than in my first six. Also, he was like a semi-professional soccer player in Mex, so he’s wicked at that. Whenever we see a group of kids in the street he´ll grab a coconut on the side of the road and we´ll start a game with them, so we’ve already made a lot of friends.

Turns out half of your success in an area is determined by your attitude, so when he came I didn’t tell him the area was hard at all, I just said that there were a ton of people I know that we haven’t taught yet…so this week we taught near about all of them. Like every day we set bigger and bigger goals of visiting less actives and new investigators and were reaching all of them.

Our first time teaching one guy that I’ve been talking to, who lives at the Kuna house, his two sisters came out too. I was only going to ask him to get baptized, but I thought, I’ll just ask everybody. His youngest sister said no but the other one, said yes! And so did he!  We were stoked. So we met with them a few other times this week and taught them up to lesson 4. He has a heck of a lot of questions, which I thought would make it easy, but turns out you kind of have to know what you’re talking about, in Spanish, to answer. Salamanca has been having me teach the lessons near about totally by myself so I can learn. I’ve learned a heck of a lot and it’s been fun.

We even took him and some of the other Kunas, which are members, to the open house of the new Bella Vista chapel downtown that just opened. It’s wick, and he talked to a lot of people there that know more than me, so I think he liked it.

Also my Dule is getting frosty. After our lessons there, I teach them English and they teach me Dule. It’s so hard to pronounce the words but I’ve got a Book of Mormon in that language that I read out loud every day to practice.

My Tongan however is getting bunk. Until! This week some elders from another area stayed with us a night and one of them, Elder Palei, is from Tonga, so we talked and it was awesome. Still love Polys. So now I’ve added my Ko e Tohi e Molomona  (Book of Mormon in Tongan) to my language study every day.

Also in study time, sometimes I study things I understand. I’ve been trying to learn how to recognize the Spirit more. Still don’t know how, but I think I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. Because several times this week I’ll make what I think is just a random turn or decide to visit a random person in the area, and we´ll get a new baptism date, or teach an awesome lesson. And I won’t even realize it until were back home, but I’ll be like, heck we never even go on that street because it smells like poop, but if we hadn’t we wouldn’t have found that new investigator. Pretty wicked.

We visited an inactive family this week that we’ve talked to before, and my comp said I had a scripture I wanted to share. But I didn’t. So I thought I would just open to a random page and read whatever was there. And I opened up to some scripture mastery. I don’t remember, something about building your foundation on Christ. And we just kind of talked about that and one of the lady’s had just a ton of stories about how happy she was when she joined the church. So we invited them back and they said they’d try to start coming again.

In other news I finally climbed this hill above Panama Viejo that I’ve been wanting to climb forever. Salamanca’s basically down for anything, so we climbed through a hole in the wall to the cemetery and walked  through 7 foot tall grass till we couldn’t go anymore and decided we’d come back another morning with machetes. It was wicked though. Just a bunch of tin roofs, the ocean, and huge buildings in the background.

Also none of our investigators came to church yesterday! I was not looking forward to going to church because having investigators is a responsibility and I hate responsibilities, but it turns out them not showing up sucks way more. Nothing to do and literally I’ve been tired every Sunday for like 5 years and it hasn’t changed, so it is a struggle. And now we have to push back baptismal dates another week or two. A little girl in the ward, who just turned 8, asked me to baptize her at the end of the month, though, so I’m slightly sketched.

I also acquired a blanket this week. It’s been sitting in the corner for months and belongs to no one, so I claimed it. But I also started sleeping in jeans because it reminds me of summer, so that blanket is now my pillow.

Today for P-Day, we went to the Bella Vista chapel as a zone and played futbol. I’m faster than all these Latinos but their feet move too fast so I gave up. I’m getting better though. I do not plan on becoming a fan of this sport.

That’s all for this week. I have to go to the immigrations office on Friday, which sucks, but everyone from my first two weeks in the MTC, that came here, will be there so I’m stoked.

Also, I had a wild moment while at a member’s house for dinner this week. I kind of subconsciously answered a question someone asked me and I was like whoa! When did I start understanding these people? Such a weird feeling.

My companion is asleep...and I am so bored!

Love y’all!

Elder Green