Monday, February 29, 2016

"Now my room smells like a burnt mattress...and there are still bed bugs!"

Elder Varquez and I, above the city.


To answer your questions:

-Yes my arm hair helps keep the mosquitoes off, but not the bottom side, or the rest of my body.
-The pictures of the sketchy lot is the cemetery we cross every day to the Sister’s area that we steal from them.

About to walk through the sketchy cemetery.

-The picture of the sketchy pier is from this abandoned part of the city that’s inhabited by homeless people now. We went exploring it last week.

Of course Taylor had to stand here.
The rooster monument, in the background, is a memorial to the over 20,000 people who died
building the Panama Canal.

-And no I don’t need new shoes. Mine are still good.

So this week was mostly frustratingly boring, but also really fun. I guess I’ve started to realize that I’ve been walking the same streets, which means every Street of Panama Viejo and Puente del Rey, every day for 3 months. We didn’t have a lot of appointments at all this week, so we decided to go house to house, like Testigos (Jehovah Witnesses), which we never do, but we found some really cool people who love the message but won’t come to church. But they say we can come back so at least there’s something to do, because there’s been a lot of sitting under trees thinking of who to visit lately.

We taught our investigator Benjamin who we found last week with two members who served missions the other day and it was wick. He totally understands everything and kept saying he really wants to come to church but his wife doesn’t want him to. So I left him with a few scriptures to show her to try and convince her. All of which I had found that morning studying because the only scripture I actually know is John 3:16. Well I think I know it. Maybe just the first part. But anyways, he´ll for sure get baptized…maybe not while I’m here…but someday.

Franybeck and Carlos, the family who had us over for Christmas, are still more active than most of the members but won’t get married so they can’t get baptized. We have family home evening with them almost every week. Both of their children have said that they want to get baptized, so we are going to talk to them about that this week.

We’re also going to baptize two of the Kuna kids who are nine. Chamille and Chino. I don’t know Chino´s name but one time he got a haircut that made him look Chinese so I called him that and now everyone does.

Teaching the Kuna kids.

I wonder if this cute little girl is about to pull the hair on Taylor's arm.
We taught another awesome lesson to another Nicaraguan guy named Renee this week. There’s a little lawn next to the ocean, by the ruins, that we sometimes go to contact at, and we found this guy sitting on a rock under a tree, so we started talking to him then somehow got to teaching the Plan of Salvacion. He thought it was awesome and luckily my companion knows the scriptures much better than I, so he had everything to back it up. He said he wants to go to church too and that we could come by anytime this week.

In other news, we finally got bunk beds in our room, and as I was moving my mattress to the top I saw a little black spot on the side of it. So I poked it and like 20 bed bugs went running all over the place. And there were several of these little colonies of them. We were freaking out. We started squishing the ones on the ground and they were filled with blood. I have had an extremely itchy face rash as of late, which also covers the rest of my body and especially my right ear, and I think I found the reason. I ran to the kitchen and got matches and started burning all of them hiding in the mattress. And it was working until the freaking mattress caught on fire. So we start punching the mattress to put it out and like thirty seconds later it went out. Now my room smells like a burnt mattress, and there are still bed bugs, and everyone else in the house has discovered their mattresses have them too. So Young has moved to a tiny hammock on the balcony, and I’m just dealing for now. But I’m so freaking itchy.

One last thing. We went shopping before we came here and there’s this homeless guy, who’s a pro with crutches that hangs out in front of the store, that I always talk to. For some reason outside the Super 99 is the mecca for crippled homeless men. His name’s Wheatley, and I don’t know much about him but he always tell me to bring him something to read, in Spanish, English, Chinese, or Hebrew. So I’ve given him all the pamphlets for lessons and like twenty minutes ago I gave him a Libro de Mormon and I think he’s still reading it. Don’t know what else to do, but if he says he wants to come to church we´ll find a way to get him there.

That’s it for this week. We haven’t done anything fun today except throw paper airplanes off the roof of our building.

Love y’all!

Elder Green

Trekking up the hill.
The Ocean!!!

The crazy Elders I live with...
"Duros!" Basically a popsicle in a bag.
Made a little chiminea to roast my cookie.

Monday, February 22, 2016

"I guess they've never seen furry people before."

Hey! This week was awesome.

My new companion, Elder Varguez, and I are super good friends and work really good together. He’s from Yucatan, Mexico, and has arm hair which is good because the Kuna kids love pulling mine. I guess they’ve never seen furry people before.

Anyways, it only took two days for him to learn the area. Literally this place is so small. Every day we´ll walk end to end at least six times. But it’s good because we know most of the people and are friends with all the kids, so when we meet their parents it’s usually pretty easy to teach them. It can be quite boring though, so we started stealing parts of the secretary’s area now…which are pretty empty. Altos Del Golf is a super-rich area, it kind of looks like Calabasas. We’ve been praying to find just one person that will let us in. We’ve talked to 2 people and they told us to leave- haha. I think this is probably what a state’s mission feels like sometimes. We did, however, find the Italian and Korean Ambassadors houses, so that’s our next goal.

We tried another area next to the beach called Coco del Mar. Less rich and closed off, but still most of the people we talk to are just gardeners that live far away. But we found one guy who said we could come back. His name is Milton and he had a shirt with a fish on it, so I’m feeling pretty good about this one.

Los Diablos...the tricked out school buses that run the same route as the public buses...but are much more consistent.

Yesterday, after church we got two new investigators. One of them we’re sure is going to get baptized. His names Benjamin and he’s from Nicaragua. We´d tried visiting him a couple times before but he wasn’t there. But we taught him this time and it was awesome. To start the lesson we asked him who God was, and he said it was the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, all in one. So were like nahhhh, but well get to that later. And when we explained that they were separate beings, he was like, hold up, that makes way more sense, why are people saying that they’re one person?? Who thought of that? So we kept going and everything we said just made so much sense to him. Like that there are prophets today and that Jesus visited the Americas. At first he thought Jose Smith wrote the Book of Mormon but he didn’t even care, he was just stoked to read it. So that was fun. I hope he’s married so we don’t have to wait!

We also have a baptismal date for a girl named Kimberly, who’s a friend of a slightly less active member in the church. But she came once and said she wants to be a part of it. So hopefully next month!

Later last night, we went door to door on a street we don’t usually go down. And we never go door to door. But this time it totally worked and we set up a few lessons for the week. For this being such a tiny area it is full of lessons. I will be both extremely relieved and sad to leave it. Though after this change I am asking President to send me far from the city.

The church yesterday was full of mosquitos. And people yelling Zika!! It’s another disease that’s going around. I am freaking itchy everywhere, and it sucks.

All of the kids legs look like this because of so many mosquito bites. Mine are starting to look like that too!

 Anyways it’s been super fun with the new gringos in the house. I was told Elder Nelson will finish any song if you start it, and he has not failed yet. I tried to throw him off with country songs but he knows them all. He and Elder Young are nerds though and have really in depth nerd discussions about nerd things. But they are freaking awesome.

That’s it for this week. We’re not doing much for P-day today. All I’ve done so far is eat way too much bread.

Love y’all!

Elder Green

Monday, February 15, 2016

"Work super hard, because you can't get that lost time back..."

My first attempt at Mola...I thought it was super good, but Isai and Cesia couldn't stop laughing.

Hey! This week was fun. I got the package and everything was in it. Girl Scout cookies were a prime choice…the gringos in the house went bonkers seeing them. And the Pup n Suds photo book is ofiii. Laughed so hard with the Florida Georgia Line lyrics- hahaha.

The day of my birthday we went with the zone leaders to bless the Hermanas new house. Then we had a bunch of time so we got burgers at a dope little place by the house and then played “Pass the Pigs” for way too long. Got back to our area after lunch, and we did like three blessings and taught a bunch of lessons. At the end of the day we taught crazy guy! There are several crazy guys in the area, this is the one who whispers weird things at us. I saw him at a chino and asked if we could come by, so he brought us back to his house where he lives with his mom, who’s not crazy. We’ve taught them again and their progressing super-fast, I hope they’ll get baptized. She does however sell Lottery, lots of people do, I’m just not sure if it’s a problem for baptism, but we’ll see.

Saturday morning we had a service project painting rooms in a school in Concepcion. That was super fun. Two of the Hermanas who are out on San Blas have been in the city for the week for interviews and Elder Mann and Senden also had to come in because their area is now closed due to the much devil worship that is currently happening there. Mann´s been living with us. He’s from Santa Barbara and surfed Rincon and Carp all the time, too. Senden’s from Florida and also surfs. And Leite, our Brazilian zone leader, surfs as well. All four surfers in the mission right now are within 30 minutes of each other.

A little green paint in my hair...

That night, we went over to their house and I bought a bunch of pizzas for everyone, to celebrate my birthday. I wish I had just had them delivered because taking six pizzas on the subway was the most stressful thing ever. All of a sudden everyone’s your best friend and wants to tell you what their having for dinner and how they wish they had pizza. So weird. But that night was freaking fun. We ended up sleeping over because there weren’t any taxis to get home.

I like how you said Uncle Ben talked about the importance of making our wards fun, because Panama does not understand that, so it’s super hard to bring people to church. We’ve visited the Bishop every day this week to talk about what we can do but I don’t think he’s really into starting anything new. He’s been bishop for ten years. So I’m going to try to start something myself, just so we can get more kids there.

This week I was kind of hoping that I would get transferred…I even came home from church and half packed my bags. But then we did our weekly planning and I realized we’ve still got a lot of people we could teach and hopefully baptize, this change, and I really want to be there for that. Also, I’d miss this ward a heck of a lot, and I don’t have pictures with everyone yet…so, I decided I could deal with another 6 weeks in the city. Today, the changes were announced and I am staying, but my companion is leaving. Also my buddy, Elder Young, whose mom you were talking with before I went into the MTC, is the new secretary, so he’s moving in with us! Beyond stoked right now.

I think I might go out to Blas after this change. Just a feeling. Elder Senden is currently my favorite guy in the mission and he’s going back out to Tikantiki, where Elder Taylor 1 has been, but only has one more change there. So I’m going to beg President to send me out there with him. That would literally make my life.

One thing I’ve really noticed this week is that there will be days we don’t really try as hard to follow the schedule or to teach people, and I’ll come home like kind of depressed. But other days, I’ll work my trash off and talk with everyone and follow the schedule and get home twice as tired, but super happy. So my lesson this week is work super hard, because you can’t get that lost time back, and being tired is better than sad and regretful. In like one month you won’t even remember being hungry and bored and tired, but in like 50 years, you’ll probably remember a sick spiritual experience you had…or even a baptism.

Going to work super hard this change so I will be blessed with Island vibes to come.

Love y’all!

Elder Green

Some pictures of our apartment, and my wall of photos (below.)

Viejos favorite Korean magazine...K Wave.

How many Elders can you fit in an elevator?

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

"Then I remembered the font!"


Well, we spent many hours yesterday looking for an internet place that was open, but there were none. So, after two more hours of looking today…we found one! Literally the entire city is like shut down for Carnival, everything’s closed, and nobody’s here. Literally like 5 people in the area today.

Anyways, I think we talked to like 2 Panamanians this week. Most of Viejo is Nicaraguans and we’ve started stealing part of the Hermanas area called Parque Lefevre and that’s mostly Venezuelans. Not a lot of lessons either! So we tried to do more service this week…if carrying people’s beer kegs for them counts. But we did do a heck of a lot of macheteing too. There’s a lady in the other Elder’s ward that has a legit jungle behind her house, so she asked us to come by. Her directions were clear. Get rid of everything. So were like heck yeah, this is going to be awesome. It was mostly Platano trees, which fall in one swing, so we just started destroying them. Then she came running out and said not the Platano trees! I guess by everything she meant the tall grass and weeds and what not. Not as fun. But it was really cool there. This is where the pictures of me in the tree and the shacks was.

My favorite service projects include a Machete.

Also Isai´s baptism! He’s 23, but Kuna’s are tiny so he looks a lot younger. The night before we were headed to dinner at like 7 and he called to tell us there wasn’t going to be any water the next day because of Carnival. I guess spraying people with water is more important than drinking it. But I was like, it’s all good, we’ve got juice. Then I remembered the font! After dinner we ran to the church and started filling it. Slowest font in Panama I swear. But luckily Elder Broadhead and Taylor came by and we started filling pots in the sink and dumping them in there. So we left the church pretty late, soaking wet, but it was super fun. We just had to hope the plastic bag that was our plug would hold.

Getting the font filled up before the water gets turned off.

The baptism went really well, the next day. Way more people showed up than we expected. And the water was still there. Also his sister Cesia agreed to be baptized. But not in a font. She wants to go back to San Blas to do it. But were going to see if she´ll settle for Veracruz, a town across the canal, where the beaches are actually clean. I think this was literally like the first convert baptism in the ward in like five years.

Oh and the picture of people holding things is my district after a meeting. The theme was “pots and what not,” but people grabbed flowers.

District picture.
Also bad news! Elder Taylor goes home in like two days. He dislocated his kneecap like a year ago and has just been ignoring it… but I guess he needs surgery now. So that means a replacement gringo for him in the house, and Broadhead’s probably training a new secretary, so another gringo. We hardly have room for us, I don’t know how were going to do it. But I’ll be here only one more change. We had interviews this week and President said more than 3 in my area is too much.

So everything’s good. And I got the package you sent. Also Hermana Smith called last night and said she’s going home in a week so I’m going to send some letters with her.

Love y’all! Thanks for everything.

Elder Green

Monday, February 1, 2016

"I saw the inside of a fireball, and lost all the hair on my legs… but I’m good."


So Carnival has begun! It’s pretty tranquilo in Viejo but we were in San Miguelito, the next town over, earlier this week, and there were tons of kids walking around in the streets. Then, a man in a monkey costume and a giant tribal mask would come running around the corner with a whip and chase everyone. It was super fun. (Do not add exclamation point here.)

Also Elder Nellis and I did divisions in our area this week and it was awesome. There are lots of little alleys with houses all the way back that are super hidden and kind of hard to get to sometimes, but I decided to visit an investigator we haven’t talked to in a long time. She wasn’t there, so we explored another part of the alleys and talked to one lady who said she couldn’t talk now, but we could come back later. We’re supposed to ask for references from everyone for people that might want to listen, but I hate doing it because it’s weird and never works. But we asked her and she said to go up the alley a little more to one of her friends’ houses. So we went to the house we thought it was and a lady came out and let us talk to her. It was the wrong house though. She was a little crazy but she said that the day before, two Mormon girls in normal clothes, an American and a Mexican, had talked to her just walking through Chanis, a random neighborhood that’s not really part of anyone’s area. She was talking about the Hermanas in our district who must have talked to her after walking to their new house, after we helped them move the day before. So she thought that was really cool. So we taught her the restoracion and it was probably the best I’ve ever taught it and I was super cumf with my Spanish the whole time. We didn’t know if she understood everything, but at the end we asked her to pray and she did. And she went over like every point we taught her in the prayer, and said she hadn’t even thought about baptism in five years but asked if she should now. It was awesome, she remembered everything. At the end she asked us how old we were and she flipped when we said we were 18. Then she told us we were in grave danger staying in Panama Viejo past 5- haha. So she wants to get baptized at the end of next month... if we can get her to church!

This experience taught me to follow Preach My Gospel, because if the Hermanas hadn’t contacted her, even though they were just in normal clothes, and we hadn’t asked for a reference, then we probably wouldn’t have found her.

And Isai is getting baptized this Saturday! Nellis and I planned a lesson for him to teach him the orginacion of the church and we gave him the conference issue of the Liahona. I even chose that talk you said dad shared about biking through the dark tunnel, for him to read. He really liked it. (Click here for the story.)

Awesome Mola that Isai and Cesia made for me.
Looking for a place to baptize in the ocean...I guess it won't be here!

I’m hoping we move the washer from the old house over to the new one. Because since we’ve moved we’ve had to use the Chino Lavanderia across the street where we have to fill the washers with hoses. It takes forever. We do get to watch the Panamanian news while we wait though. This week’s breaking news was that we should spend money on clothes and food, before we buy beer and lottery. Panama’s figuring things out.

In other news we found out our oven is gas, not electric as we were told. I was waiting a long time for it to heat up, which wasn’t happening, so I pressed the igniter button. Then I saw the inside of a fireball and lost all the hair on my legs… but I’m good.

Today, Salamanca and I climbed Cerro Ancon. It’s this mountain above the city, with a giant flag on it. Near about got attacked by a vulture. Also I bought a wee saw blade, and made friends with a guy that has like a woodshop downtown. Bought a block of wood from him. It was a fun, tired P-day!

Cerro Ancon

So excited to have a block of Panamanian Cedar.

We also had a big missionary conference at the temple, this week. Elder Alonso and Elder Christensen, of the Seventy spoke. It was really good. They talked a lot about how we should contact people and be more effective missionaries. I was only disappointed because somebody mentioned food at the beginning, but there was no food afterwards. I did get to hang with a bunch of my MTC buddies though! I freaking miss the MTC. Literally so fun.

Elder Aycock pulled 3 ligaments and has to go home.

Good to see some of my MTC buddies!

Love y’all!

Elder Green