Monday, April 25, 2016

"It is so cool that the gospel is here!"

Zone Conference

WHAT UUUUP? We’re back on Nargana. (That’s why he’s able to email today.)

How long have I been out here? There’s literally no sense of time here. People usually don’t even know what day it is, and neither do I.

Don’t really know what to tell you. Tikantiki is sick. Probably one of the most spread out of the pueblos. A lot of the other islands have houses that are super close together but we’ve got a big old front yard that goes right down to the water, and space in the back. We live in a little concrete house. It’s small with just one room that is divided by cane pole walls, which are cool. And yes, we sleep in hammocks. I don’t think there is a mattress on this island. Also, our bathroom hangs over the water.

Our little house.

Our front yard..beach front property.

 Almost nobody speaks Spanish here. There are a few people, and most of the kids are learning it now, but all the older people and the young bloods don’t know squat. It’s hard to teach but near about every day we go out with the First Counselor of the ward, Edilio, and he translates for us. I’ve somewhat learned this language, but it’s kind of impossible. They have a different number system for coconuts, sticks, mangoes, and fish. Everything is weird, but there is a lot of Spanish mixed in.

We also spend a lot of our time doing service…going back and forth to the Monte, with whoever needs to go there, and doing other projects. There is a man that lives here that owns a tiny island nearby, and has been working to make it bigger for about the last ten years. We put down trash, then rocks, then wood, then sand. It seems to be working.

Working on the Monte.

We also meet with a member, Leni, every day to read scriptures and she teaches us Kuna and tells us the news in the pueblo. She told us the other day about her first time going to the city a few months ago. Most of these people have never left the island. She said she was so scared of cars and escalators and buildings and everything- haha. She’s awesome though.

The kids are legit wild children. They don’t wear clothes and they run around with sticks or on all fours most of the time. They chase iguanas up trees to eat them. The other day I caught a huge crab and showed it to Leni´s 4 year old daughter to scare her, but instead she grabbed it from me and took it to her house then came back eating it.

We’ve been to the Monte and the river many times. Monte is so sick here. Mangoes on mangoes on mangoes. I’ve been eating way too many. Literally we go out to find them and there’s a thousand on the ground and they are constantly falling from the trees. There’s crocs here too. They always say to be careful in the river because there’s buccos. And sometimes they come on the island but I haven’t seen any. There’s a little island behind the little island that’s behind the main island and they live there too. Also sea turtles! Saw two on the way to the monte on Saturday. And you can eat them. So if I feel so inclined, I do plan on killing one…but probably I won’t feel so inclined.

Our transportation to and from the Monte.

We had Zone Conference last week so we all went to Playon Chico like two hours away. We had a slow boat and the waves were huge. Thought I was going to die. That was super fun though. We slept in the congress house (the native church on the islands) there that night which was kind of spooky, but dope.

Sleeping at the Congress House

 Church here is kind of crazy, but fun. We only had about 20 people out the first week I was here, but it’s been getting better, and yesterday we had like 40. People come and then after sacrament about half of them leave, then some come back, others leave, more come back. The kids are running around and screaming the entire time and everything is in Kuna, so I hardly understand anything. After Sacrament meeting, sometimes we have class, and sometimes they just do it later in the day.

Out on this little island, with people that have very little, if any, connection to the rest of the world, I have been remembering a scripture that I read in the Book of Mormon about Heavenly Father promising that the gospel would spread to ends of the earth…even the islands of the sea. Heavenly Father keeps his promises to his children…even a small group of Kuna Indians on a tiny island off of Panama…and so we always need to trust Him. It is so cool that the gospel is here!

I will stop writing now because there’s just too much to say. We have a baptism in the next few weeks. Oh, and Elder Taylor, my companion, is awesome and everything is good.

Love y’all!!

Elder Gwagwa Abgan

(They don’t have a word for green either so my name means ‘color of the iguana.’ And g´s are pronounced like k's.)

Monday, April 4, 2016

"I think I’d prefer to stay out here the rest of my life…"


Not even to my island yet, but it’s a miracle I’m here. We’re on Nargana with Elder Wrigley and Sagers and this island’s got a cell tower and kind of has internet, so hopefully this gets to you.

So Friday morning we got up super early and drove to the port here. Amazing how the Pacific is only like 2 hours from the Caribbean. There was a police checkpoint halfway through the mountains and we had to show our passports or residency cards to get through, and none of us had them. So we had to kind of reason with them and they eventually let us through.

We got there almost without barfing as it was a super windy road, but when we got there the boat that was going take us had canceled. So, I had to go with the zone leaders to drop food off at all the islands that are as far as like 6 hours by boat. We waited for two hours to see if another boat would come that would at least take us to Playon Chico, 4 hours away, but none did. So we sat there until we saw some guys trying to push a big boat out in the water that had gotten stuck in the sand. After we watched them struggling for like 10 minutes, we ran out and instantly got it unstuck. And as we were walking back a guy ran up to us and said it was awesome that we did that, and that we push with the power of God since others hadn’t been able to get it out. So he offered to store all our stuff in the boathouse there and take us out to Cartí Tupile, which is like ten minutes out, in his little cayuco, and we could stay with the elders there for the night. He´d send someone out with all our stuff the next morning to get us.

So we got there and it was sick. Carti is where all the Kuna kids in Viejo are from and two of them had moved back so I went fishing with them and caught like 12 fish in an hour. What a dream. They were poisonous little reef fish, though, so I just used them as bait. Literally took me like an hour to meet everyone on the island. Everyone is super nice there, and all the houses are bamboo and super primitive.

The next morning we got a boat and went to Nargana to meet up with Elder Taylor and drop stuff off. The ride was sick. There are hundreds of little islands out here and only a few have people on them. Some are kind of big and are covered in trees and there are others that are literally like ten feet across and have like 2 palm trees. This island’s like the city of San Blas. Still got little bamboo huts but also a lot of concrete ones. It’s still tiny but a little bigger than the others and there’s a bridge over to the Isla Corazón de Jesus. We stayed because we could watch conference here because of the cell tower. Fell asleep super hard almost every session due to not having slept for a week and because the Spanish translation is hard to pay attention to. The jokes don’t really translate.

Been having tons of fun here. Wrigley was in Panama Viejo before me and I lived with Taylor my first change. We don’t really have any water though. They dug a well behind the house a few days ago but we have to boil the water and it takes forever so were taking a boat to the Monte in a few hours to go fill up in the river.

I think I’d prefer to stay out here the rest of my life…

Tomorrow we're heading to my island. They speak Spanish here but I don’t think they do on Tikantiki. But I’ve learned enough of the Kuna language so far, so I’ll be good. (I can’t wait to hear how that goes…I think he said that when he arrived in Panama too!)

Love y’all!

Elder Green