Monday, July 26, 2010

M:46/P:35: The Work Moves On

Hola Familia,

Well, another transfer has drawn to a close. Now, this one might be a little short as I´ve been a little drawn out in using my time today.

First off, an explanation. The possibility of extending my mission? Someone else did it. I don´t know why but upon thinking about the idea it sounded interesting. I´m still not sure on it. In any case if I did do it, it would allow you to visit the country at a time that wasn´t winter. And the winter rain here makes activities a little troublesome. Secondly, making a member mad. I joked with her and left the room "angry"-like. She got angry. According to her grandchild, though, she´s waiting for us to come back and is no longer angry. My companion says she´s likely trying to make us squirm and beg for forgiveness. However, she does not know how prideful and stubborn we Ascuras are! I´ll keep you informed on the situation.

As for the shoes, I would appreciate it. I´m probably going to buy another pair soon here simply because I´ve worn the two I have ragged.

Pictures? I´m going to try and get another disc made and get it in the mail. Plus could you send me the e-mail address of Bishop Nielsen? I imagine you still have it. I´d like to at least send one letter to him and the ward in New Jersey.

As for achievements for the week, we had another baptism, although not really a convert baptism. Just a member who had a daughter of nine years of age. The interesting thing, though, is that I had a hole in my pants. You could fit a football through it. Imagine me running around organizing the baptism with a notebook covering my backside. It was pretty funny. Stories from the mission, right? The next transfer should yield a great deal of success, so I expect more stories for you all soon.

As for the cooking experience, that was a lot of work. And food. We had enough to eat for two days. Are you sure that was for four people? In any case, the members here loved the kelaguen (Chicken mixed with coconut, onions, peppers, and lemon) and the soup (chicken and vegetables). I´ll be making Spam and eggs today for a different family.

Well, my time is basically run. Sorry for not writing so much. I hope you all are keeping well. I´m learning to enjoy the silly hardships that come with the mission. Sorry to hear the things are getting so rough up there. Good luck in California. You all are in my prayers.

Your Elder in Panamá,
Elder Austin Michael Ascura

Monday, July 19, 2010

New Mission President

Craig Lindsay Ward, 62, and Lonna Adamson Ward, five children, Panama Panama City Mission; Huntington Beach 4th Ward, Huntington Beach California Stake. Brother Ward is a counselor in the stake presidency and a former counselor in the California Long Beach Mission presidency, bishop and counselor, high councilor, seminary teacher and missionary in the North Argentine and France Paris missions. Retired owner/manager, Wards Furniture. Born in Long Beach, Calif., to Karl Moroni and Ethelyn Lindsay Ward.

Sister Ward serves as a stake Young Women secretary and is a former ward Young Women president, counselor in a ward Relief Society presidency, ward Primary president, ward music chairman and family history consultant. Born in Idaho Falls, Idaho, to Dale and Inez Howard Adamson.

M: 45/P: 34: In the Dog House

Hola Familia

Well, Mom, I didn´t think it would take you too long to get a hold of a job. You already did it one time and I would expect it to be much harder in New Jersey than out there in Oregon. As for Grandpa, I hope everything goes well in taking care of him. I´ve heard that he seems to be doing a little better. Your efforts look to be rendering results. I also hope you don´t overwork yourself. You´ve got a habit of doing that.

Adventures for the week . . . well, Dad, you aren´t the only guy in the dog house. A couple weeks back I made a recent convert very angry by accident. Yesterday we visited to deliver a letter from the missionary who baptised her. She closed the door on us without even talking. So we sent the letter in with her grandchild when he left to buy something at the corner store. I honestly don´t think she should´ve gotten angry, but we´ll see if the letter softens her up a bit. I´m hoping so, but apparently she´s a loose cannon and gets upset extremely easily according to my companion.

Speaking of cooking, I had intended to cook for that family here today, but my companion, as he often does, scheduled something else for the day without asking me anything. So I´ve decided to buy the ingredients today and cook Wednesday when normally they´d serve us dinner. I´m going to try the Guam Soup and Kelaguen. Which reminds me, getting coconut all nice and fine like you do it at home is really hard without that stick of yours. I practiced with a cheese grater. Takes a long time.

I´m glad to hear that the house work is moving along. I saw the two pictures and noticed that you´re starting to grow out the beard. I almost didn´t recognize you for a moment. Landscaping and stuff like that is often what we do for service here. Moving cinderblocks for the house wall, digging a hole for a septic tank, moving the dirt from the hole away from the hole, cutting lawns with machetes . . . stuff like that. I look forward to seeing the Ascura abode soon.

Hearing that the girls have transitioned well doesn´t surprise me. It becomes second nature with all the practice we´ve had. Uh-oh, time´s running short. Gonna have to work fast. Des has to remember the fat lady´s part so she can show me when I come home (referring to a skit Des did at Girl's Camp). As for Braden, I´m pretty unsure, too. Don´t let go too much.

Well, I´m about out of time. There never seems to be the time I want when I have a lot to say.

I´ve actually got 14 months left. I counted the changes wrong. I´ve actually recently seriously considered lengthening my time. Still thinking on that. As for the baptisms, it´s not the results that bother me but the process.

Love you all and hope you´re keeping well.

Your Elder in Panamá,
Elder Austin Micahel Ascura

Monday, July 12, 2010

M: 44/P:33: More Baptisms

Hola Familia,

Glad to hear that things are going well with the settling in. I´m beginning to forget things about the States but I remember that the moves were always hectic. I hope that you get all the things you need done by the men before they head out. After all, it´s only fair, right? I did it when I was at home.

I´m glad to hear the neighbors are nice. The dog business doesn´t surprise me much, though. Here, the people don´t even care. But then again, there´s dogs everywhere. My vote probably doesn´t count for much for the dog, but I vote Doberman. They´re nicer than you think, Mom. And they´d keep the neighbors´ dog away, I think. But if you end up with a wiener dog and the brownies don´t work, I think a bear trap would be most effective.

I´m also glad, although not at all surprised, to hear that the family is so well-received for the big move. Although, I have always thought that it was strange that we were so much older than everyone else. Except Aunt Laura´s kids. They´re bigger than I am now. Who´d have thought?

As for Spanish speakers in the ward, a lot of people go Latin-side for their missions, so it doesn´t surprise me that there´ll be a lot of us. But it´ll provide good practice after the mission, something that a lot of missionaries lament about as their Spanish leaves them. We have actually found a couple more families. I expect two baptisms by the end of July and a possible six or so in August. The rest of the prospective baptisms will likely be in September. I will also likely be here in Tocumen for the next transfer. My companion, Elder Luquez has been here longer than I have and is much more likely to be transfered out. The work here has picked up, but we need to shape up as a companionship to accomodate all the people who seem ready to be baptised soon. We aren´t visiting them as often as we should, but I´m hoping that we´ll remedy that this week.

As for the cooking experience, I´ll likely do it this coming Monday. I´m not yet completely prepared and I´d like to maybe test a couple things before actually serving them the dishes. I´ll keep you posted on how well-received it is. But yesterday, we had a bit of an activity after church for some very positive investigators and some recent converts. We met at a member´s home and had pizza while watching The Testaments. Afterwards we played a couple games that I´d never heard of. I had to do the macarena as a punishment in one of them. They practically cheated to make me do it. Too bad they didn´t get it on camera. They said I did it well. It was fun, but it cut into a lot of the work time.

Well, I´m drawing to the end of my rope on what I can write for this last week. I hope that everything continues smoothly and that you all are keeping well and strong in the faith. I´ll make sure to keep Grandma and Grandpa in my prayers.

Your Elder in Panamá,
Elder Austin Michael Ascura

Monday, July 5, 2010

M:43/P32: New Mission President

Hola Familia,

So the move is finally underway, huh? Well, it´s about time. Glad to hear everything´s more or less gone smoothly. I imagine that it´ll be even more fun trying to explain where I´m from now that the family will be in two parts. With the big Argentina-Germany game that passed by, everyone talks about it with me because I was born in Germany. USA might have lost, but, hey, I guess I still qualify for the winning team, right? I imagine that this World Cup will be German now, but we´ll see. Anyways, it always does seem to turn out funny how we end up missing the things we didn´t like when we had them. But it´s not the first time we´ve moved, so I imagine that you all will be just fine.

As for Liesy, I´m pretty sure she´ll have me lauging a great deal when I finally head back home. I´m kind of curious to see in what other ways she starts resembling us.

Dez, that little player. All cool while the boy sobs it out, huh? Heartbreaker.

As for Oregon, I think it´ll feel real strange not to head back to that farm to visit the family. I might not have had the one home thing but I think I´d still feel nostalgic returning to areas I´ve been before. That place has a lot of visits invested in it. It´ll be kind of sad to see it go. I hope Grandma isn´t getting overworked with Grandpa. I´m glad that you´ll be able to help out out there, Mom. As for the job, I just hope that the initial weeks of the job isn´t as troublesome as it was in New Jersey. I think that if you can get your foot in the door, you´ll make friends just fine out there. Even if no one says so, you´re a likable person. I learned to be sincere from you.

Anyways, about the news of the mission. President Madrigal has officially left and been replaced with President Ward here. We will have our zone conference tomorrow and interviews soon afterward to get to know him. I´ve heard from someone that he plays hard ball, which is a big contrast from what I had expected: a more relaxed president, even though President Madrigal was pretty laid back. But that´s just rumors. I suppose we´ll see soon.

Right now, it´s raining pretty hard, but it rains on and off in the winter here in Tocumen. Apparently the closer you are to the ocean, usually the more mild the winters are. I´d like to visit Santiago in the winter, though, given as it always seems like there´s storms out there. Just as a note, Dad, if you all are shooting to get me out of here in July or August, that means you´ll be touring the country in winter time. With lots of water. Just something to consider.

As for the work, we´ve had a number of very probable baptisms arise recently, but I don´t know if if we´ll get everything taught and down in this change. We have an entire family that says they´re ready, so it´s a bit of a big deal. Whole families are hard to find. Apparently, they were being taught right before I got here but I had only visited their house once. I´m curious to see what brought about thte change in heart. Other than that, work has been a little slow, though. We need to get back to knocking doors and finding more people to teach. We´ve exhausted so much of our investigators that our usual tactic of always heading to the regular houses doesn´t provide enough work for the day. I expect that this week will be a little better. I hope so, at least.

Thanks for the recipes, Dad. I´ll see if I can plan with the family for a day to do this and we´ll see if I´ve got the Ascura touch with cooking.

Well, I hope everyone´s doing well with all the travel and change. Don´t forget to pray! :D

Your Elder in Panama,
Elder Austin Michael Ascura