Monday, December 7, 2009

Mission Week 12/Panama Week 3: Hable What???

Hola Familia!
I will dive into this answering all your questions.  Hopefully, I will get them all.

I was surprised that this place wasn't bristling with members, what all with the reputation of the Church's rapid growth here.  The toughest thing to deal with foodwise here is just bad cuts of meat.  Sometimes, the meat crunches, and I'm not much of a gristle guy, Dad.  That's one thing I didn't inherit from you.  But I do my best to choke it down.  And if it doesn't look completely cooked, I don't eat it.

Most of the country, I'm told, is very different from the place I'm in now.  No hills and much more quiet.  Changes (Transfers) are coming up and my companion thinks they'll move me.  Not sure why, though.

As to my earlier note about someone cooking my meals, that was what I was told was going to happen.  That wasn't true.  We cook our own meals.  As for the currency exchange rate here, it is EXACTLY the same as the US.  But you almost never find Balboas (Panamanian currency) here.  Everyone here just uses American currency. 

Shopping: Some food here is super cheap, like home made stuff at little food stands and fast foods.  But most brand name stuff is about the same price as in the states, I think.  And other goods here seem to be about as pricey as the states, too.

Have we been tracting???  Yeah, from day 2 on.  And have I spoken Spanish???  I have no choice; I've only met like four people that speak English, and my companion doesn't speak English.  So we just speak Spanish all the time.  Most of my Spanish learning is just a crash course combined with book studies.  He corrects me sometimes.  I can pick out bits and pieces of the conversation, but it's sometimes really hard because they speak really fast and they don't always use simple words and phrases.  I speak when I can, but honestly, that isn't that much.  See, the problem is just figuring out what people are saying.  If I read Spanish, I can understand without problems usually.  Just hearing them and internally translating, though,...that's the problem.

As for your next assignment, Dad, No California or Washington, huh?  Texas or Okalahoma...well, in all honesty, I intended to visit Oklahoma sometime, and Texas, too.  I think it would be a little funny if Liese (Elise) went to the same school I did at her age.  If any of my old teachers are there, they might have to do a bouble-take.  Arizona?  Hmmm, well, it can't be much hotter than this place.  I've got no problems coming home to any of those places.  But France???? We don't speak French.  I mean, I hear you can learn French from Spanish easy, but...I might have forgotten English by then.  I guess we'll see what happens.  Keep me updated on that.

I'm really considering picking up the rice cooker soon (he has been trying to cook rice in a skillet or frying pan, which isn't going too well.  I told him to pick up a rice cooker there, which is cheaper than us buying it and sending it to him.).

The work here might be a little difficult, if I stay in this area.  Alot of the people can't get baptized because there are families here that aren't married.  I guess marriage has a lot of red tape to go through.  Maybe I could suggest the ward's help to help move things along.  But alot of people here are Catholic by tradition.  Even if they don't go to Church, they claim Cathloic as their religion.  Truthfully, I'm not sure why they should bother if they don't actively practice, but I guess that's just me.

The language here becomes easier to understand every day, but I'm still a little concerned that I should know it by now.  Little by little, I guess.  My biggest problem, I think, is just understanding what I should say and what I'm being told.  We teach about twenty different homes.  We talk to some people and then I don't hear about them for awhile, so I'm not sure how many people we actually teach.  Trying to learn all their names, though.

I wouldn't worry too much about written mail.  It takes a long time to get places, anyways.  Thanks for the package, though.  I'll tell you when it gets here and then we can do invetory on it.  I'll probably do my shopping here (for Christmas).  I'm not sure exactly what they do for Christmas here, but I think they do something.

Well, I love you all and hope you all are doing well.  Things are kinda rought out here, but I'm doing alright.  I should at least be able to hold out another week (before transfers, and that's really all i need to do; just keep pushing.  You all are in my prayers and I hope you guys are enjohying winter.

Your Elder in the Field,
Elder Austin Michael Ascura

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