Monday, November 23, 2009

Mission Week 10/Panama Week 1: ¡HOHOHO!, ¿DONDE DEBO EMPEZAR?‏

Ho man.  Hooooo man.  I'm in Panama, right now.  Ho man. (Does Austin appear excited???)

Hey Familia!  Let's see, where to begin.  I'll start with answering some questions.  It's hard to concentrate here.  There are young'uns playing Counter Striker (It's like Halo) and I want to show 'em how it's done. 

After a bit of confusion making through customs and immigration, we were greeted by President and Sister Madrigal, the APs, and two other missionaries (secretaries, I think).  They took us home and fed us and had us fill out paperwork in their apartment in the city.  As for my first impression (about President Madrigal being gung ho): I could be wrong about this, but I vote no. Pretty firm on that decision, too.  He seems more of the gentle type but maybe that's just because he is using easy words so I can understand. Oh yeah, he doesn't speak English.  Almost none of the missionaries and people here do.  But that means I'll learn the language quicker.

My companion is Elder Lanza.  He's from Honduras and doesn't speak English.  He's usually quiet and straight-forward with me but when we're with the district, he's a real joker.  Probably the language barrier.  He's been out about 13 months here.  I think the first six months will likely be the slowest part, at least, I hope so.

District and zone: There's actually not alot of us.  12, I think in the whole zone.  I'm in the Alcalde Diaz District.  The missionaries are likeable, but I don't know how hard they're working.  Good people, nonetheless.  As for pranks, I've had the X-lax trick pulled on me before and it might be helpful; there's so much protein here and I could use the extra help.  Most of the pranks are just horesplay and it seems to be mostly between people that actually know the language.  Nevertheless, I'm being really careful especially with food.  On a side note, I might come home super-sized.  Just a warning.  I'll keep you updated.

Bikes? No.  We walk, take a cab or a bus.  Bikes would be WAY too dangerous because...hills.  We have oodles and oodles of hills.  It's almost disgusting how many hills we have here.  When I get home, if I stay here for a long time, I'm going to have legs like tree trunks.  Also, the houses remind me of Guam. In fact, a lot about this country reminds me of Guam.  The climate, the mosquitoes (count for bites is about 35), the houses, and even some of the people.  The roads here are pretty wacked up and the drivers here are insane.  They're all over the road and they're fast, REALLY fast.  but the driver's here aren't idiots; they drive good, but I think they're the main reason we don't use bikes in this area.

I thought Panama looked interesting when I got here.  It was night time and I was in the city, so my first impression was just curiosity seeing all these tropical trees amongst lights of the city.  The city itself is pretty well developed, but the outskirts, like where I am currently is not so developed.  There are no signs of the U.S. invasion here in the late 80s.  It looks just like a country that's growing and developing. 

The apartment: The apartment was an eye-opener.  We have four rooms: The kitchen, living room, bedroom where we have all our stuff, and another empty room.  We have 2 fans, 2 beds, 2 dressers, 2 tables, fridge, kitchen sink, and a propane stove.  The works. Then our laundry drying room, which we only use to dry big stuff like linens.  the 'other' (empty) room, we don't use because sometimes BATs do.  And then the bathroom: Toilet, sink, and shower, complete with a hole in the wall for a drain.  Sometimes we don't get water at night.  Luckily, we save up for such occasions.  We lucked out on the toilet, I think.  I've already met people who use a hole or a strange system for that kind of stuff.  There's a lot of bugs and stuff.  We even have a not-dangerous relative of the scoprion (vinegaroons, if you'd like to look 'em up) living in our bathroom along with spiders, webs, ants, and mosquitoes.  They're everywhere.  Malaria is supposed to be virtually non-existent out here, though.

One uber-plus, though.  We have fruit trees int he back yard!  We have papaya trees, banana trees, orange-lime trees, and a mango tree.  I didn't know that mango trees were so big. Only the banana and the orange-lime tree have fruit, but the others are getting ready.  They taste good, too.  Plus cilantro grows in our lawn.

Food prices: Food prices are just about the same as the USA, I think...that's one thing that kinda surprised me here. In Peru, Spencer (Elder Spencer Broomhead was Austin's BYU-Idaho roommate serving in Peru) can get all sorts of stuff with a little money.  Here?  No way, Jose!  Not in Panama.  Only certain things are really cheap, I guess.  Everything else is just as expensive as in the states. 

My email will stay the same: austin.ascura@myldsmail.net.  Mission rules here aren't anything too odd, I don't think.  No music outside classical and church related stuff.  I have a suspicion that some missionaries might be a tad liberal with that rule.  I think I can only email family here.

The food here has been good, but there's plenty of room for wierd stuff, especially if I go to San Blas.  If I go there, Dad, you'll love it when I show you (pictures) because there's looooots of seafood.

I'm not getting eaten up as bad by the mosquitoes. The language here is difficult because everyone speaks so fast.  My gosh!  But it's coming along, day by day.  Elder Miller, from Hawaii...my Polynesian 'brotha' in the district, said that the first 6 months are the slowest here because of the language learning.  But after that, he says it goes quick.  He's on month 19. The people here are very polite and usually listen to us.  But apparently the trick is getting them to actually do things. 

Well, time's up and I need to go now.  I love you all and pray for you every night.

Your Elder Who's Learning Spanish in Panama,
Elder Austin Michael Ascura

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