Monday, November 29, 2010

President's Interviews in Colon

Just a couple of candid pictures of Austin following the quarterly interviews with the Mission President.

Lunch after interviews.  Wonder what he ate to cause that look on his face.

Missionary thugs from the Colon Zone

Monday, November 22, 2010

M: 63/P:52: Last Day in Puerto Pilon

Hola Familia,

Are you all sure Spencer´s home in April? Is that really his end mark? I could have sworn that he still had more to go. As for the others from the Kansas gang, I´m glad to finally have heard from them. What luck that Ian would be going to Peru, too. I imagine that they´ll have at least one run in before Spencer comes home. Corey´s going to Halifax? Hmmm. I think the Canadian missionary that I met in the airport before I got to the MTC was from there. Well, he won´t be hot, that´s for sure. And Kyle´s working up the green to go out? Well, I look forward to hearing where he´ll be assigned. I thought he would go someplace like Halifax, not Corey. And Ben will be up and out soon. Well, best of luck to each one of them.

As for my wallet, it wasn´t my wallet I lost. Nor did I lose the cards you guys gave me. Only the mission credit card. I lost that, my military ID, driver´s license, paper copy of my passport, minister´s license, and my equivalent of a visa card for the country. I´m going to call in tonight, I couldn´t find it anywhere. But the two cards you gave me are both still safe and sound.

As for the pictures I´m going to head over to the members´ house today to sort that out.

As for packages, I´m still waiting on everything. I´m hoping that my Halloween package gets here tomorrow. As for Christmas, there´s a couple families here that have lived in the States for a while. But I´m fairly sure I´ll be pulled out of here soon to give my companion a Latino companion to help him with his Spanish. So I´ll have to scope out the gringos in my next area, I think. As for Thanksgiving, well, I´m pretty sure I won´t even remember Thanksgiving until my companion mentions it. The mission seems to be preparing something for the Holiday season but I have absolutely no clue what it is. Whoever my companion is, I´ll try to get him something nice. But not too nice.

A note on "getting in with the big guy", I am absolutely stuffed out here. Hunger is something I almost never have. If anything, they often overfeed us. I´ll tell you all about it sometime. We had five big meals this last Wednesday. I don´t like eating a lot now.

As for the work, the week was pretty well. Found a couple more homes to teach in, although we would like to teach them more than only one time a week. We had a baptism this last Saturday. His name is Eric Gonzalez. He´s twenty two years old and his younger brother (Eddie) got baptised about five or six months ago. It´s been interesting watching Eric go through the entire process. As for future prospects, we have another baptismal date set and are about to go through the marriage process again to secure everything in place.

Eddie Gonzalez and Eric Gonzalez (Right)

Well, I can´t seem to think of much else to write. For the first time in a while, I actually have a little time left over. Well, I hope everyone at home is taking care and that you enjoy the drive up to Oregon to leave your car behind. I think of you all often, but not too often, and hope you enjoy the holiday season.

Your Elder in Panamá,
Elder Austin Michael Ascura

Monday, November 15, 2010

M:62/P:51: Not Feeling Well

Hola Familia,

I´m glad to hear that Dad and Bray enjoyed Veterans Day together. And it sounds like you (Dad) got milked and whipped pretty good, too (Braden got me to buy him a video game and beat me in every game we played). And as for Thanksgiving, looks like that didn´t turn out too well for you, either. Man, 18 hour drive up, first class snatched away (Braden's return flight to San Diego will be first class, while I got the middle seat), and you lose the car (We are driving the BMW to Oregon for Thanksgiving and leaving it with Lisa). Well, Dad, at least you know someone will be enjoying first class and your BMW.

As far as retirement goes, Dad, that´s all up to you. Depends on whether you want the time or the money, your call. I´m glad to hear that your options are good, though.

As for the packages, Mom, I still haven´t gotten anything. However, the zone leaders might already have it. They don´t give us mail ´til after Preparation Day. Doesn´t make much sense to me, but that´s how they do it.

Spencer coming home in January? I thought he was due home in July. Unless you mean he was extending his mission six months, which I can hardly believe.

Logan got baptised, huh? What a pity I couldn´t be there to see it. I´m curious to see how cute he is when I get back. But that was Matthew´s first baptism? Well, what better choice than your own son.

I am glad to hear that Grandpa appears to be doing alright. I, too, find it a little strange that Grandpa can even be beligerent still (in his current medical condition). He doesn´t look like he´s got the speed to do it.

As for the rain, it was Stake Conference, which means everyone goes in suits. We didn´t have time to go change so we just went to work in suits, and got drenched. I picked it up and it looks fine, though. No damage done as far as I can tell. As for raincoats, those basically don´t exist here. The mission recommends we don´t get them just because it´s such a hot country. And as for the umbrella, I only remember the tiny, tiny one I had back in the MTC that broke a couple months ago. The umbrella wouldn´t have saved me much, though, honestly. I´ve got one now, though. My feet still get soaked, though.

As for my companion, I don´t know why he through up. Most people here say you get sick from just getting wet in the rain. I just think he got a small bug. He´s fine, now. Although, now I´m not feeling so great. I feel nauseated whenever I´m around food. I´m pretty sure it´s not dengue nor malaria. As for vitamins, I don´t even know where to look for those here. Do most pharmacies carry multi-vitamins?

As for the mugging, they were basically high school punks. Might´ve had knives or something. I´ll hope I never have to use the advice, too (tips on how to survive or avoid a gang attack). And thanks for the tips on kelaguen (Guamanian dish made of chicken, lemon, onions, and coconut), too.

As for my driver´s license, I might have lost that as well as a couple other pieces of identification. I don´t know what happened to my little booklet that I keep all that stuff in. I´ll scour the house again but I´m pretty sure I lost it or something. That would include my Military ID, my driver´s license, my passport copy, and my visa card thing. And the mission´s money card. I hope I find it.

As for the work here, we´ve made contact with a lot of people that I think will get baptised. I normally don´t like counting my eggs early, but we´ve got one guy who read up to 1 Nephi 8 without us even asking him to. I´m looking forward to seeing his progress. We had two baptisms coming up for this Saturday but I think only one will go through. The one isn´t taking this at all seriously.

Well, Family, I hope you all are doing well and staying out of trouble. My time is about up. I pray for you all every night.

Your Elder in Panamá,
Elder Austin Michael Ascura

Pictures posted by Elder Bryson Alley:

Monday, November 8, 2010

M: 61/P: 50: Rain and Close Call Mugging

Hola Familia,

Well, this week´s been a fairly strange one. But we´ll get to that later.

33 years and you just ran into him, huh? (Referring to a visit with a friend while in Hawaii who I had not seen since July 1977).  What are the odds? That grill place looks like something Yuto would die for. I´m glad to hear that the trip went well. And in not too long, I imagine we´ll all be traveling together again.

I love the Halloween pictures. Apparently, though, no one told me that Dez got braces! What a grin! But I can just imagine how much fun she had goofing off as Superman. The thought of all the bulging muscles makes me chuckle. Carissa´s outfit looks well-done. I should´ve known she´d make her own. Liesy looks very cute in her Mushu outfit. It´s a little odd seeing her as a little kid now and not a toddler. And it looks like Mom´s found a good use for her fur coats, too.

As for Riss and her boy (boyfriend). . . well...

As for Andrew and Sara, he knows them. Kind of funny that she´s watching the blog, that friend of yours. But yeah, it´s the one and the same guy.

I´ll see what´s up with the photos. And I haven´t gotten the Peeps, yet, but mail will be distributed tomorrow, so, we´ll see.

As for things on this end, the work was a little slow this week because it was one of Panama´s independece days. So people were all going to other parts to party and stuff like that. A lot of people weren´t even home. Despite all that, we did find a couple families to teach. We´ve recently just put two more baptismal dates for the 20th. My companion will be able to have his first baptism.

As for other things, I´m sure you guys have heard about the storms over Haiti, right? Well, that hit Colón, too. It rained for three days straight. I´ve never been so wet before. I´ve also never had to walk down the street in ankle deep water before. And I´ve also never had to do all that in my suit. I´ve left it at the cleaners as it got pretty dirty. And through all of it my companion got pretty sick. He had to go to the bathroom to ease his stomache when we got out dinner appointment. First companion I´ve had vomit, yet. I´m feeling alright, but I´m wagering that´s because my immune system is already up to snuff out here. He´s feeling better, though.I also almost got robbed.

That was a strange feeling walking down a street and looking at all the wayward teenagers getting in position to ambush you. Sadly, though, we turned around only to find a dead end to which they followed us. But a local man warned the kids to leave us alone as they started to ask us for small change. They might have had something concealed in their hands as they had their shirts wrapped around them. We got out of it this time but we´ll see what happens next time.

Well, I think that´s the majority of what´s going on for now. I hope you all are doing well and staying out of trouble. Keep studying hard and enjoy the coming holiday season. It´ll be my last one here in Panama. I love you all and keep you in my prayers.

Your Elder in Panamá,
Elder Austin Michael Ascura
PS Dad, in the Kelaguen recipe, are you supposed to be able to taste the coconut? Or is it only for texture? I´m not sure if I´m making it bad.

Pictures Posted by Elder Bryson Alley:  Service project to help build a house for an Elderly Sister.  Read comments by Elder Alley.
Austin and Eddie Gonzalez

Austin and Elder Bryson Alley

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

M: 60/P: 49: Hallowhat???

Happy Halloween Everyone!

I honestly forgot it was Halloween until I passed by a random party that had decorations and signs and all that up. I was literally just thinking, "What are they all dancing for? And why's everyone in orange and black? Are they some sort of company?" I saw the sign for the party. Then when I noticed all the candy I put two and two together.

I'm glad to hear that you all had a good Halloween. How did Liesy's Mushu costume come out? What did Dez, Riss, and her date dress up as? Did you guys do the trunk or treat deal? I haven't gotten the package, yet, but our leaders are a little silly and usually give us mail the day after Preparation Day. As for the seasonal changes, it rains a lot for the moment. After Christmas, summer starts up and it'll just be dry heat. Unless they send me to Boquete, where it's nice and cold.

I'm glad to hear that Grandpa is finally settled in. It is sad that he can't walk now, but you're probably right, Mom. If he can't run around on his own, he probably won't get into as much trouble.

So far, the transfer's been pretty good with Elder Alley. He's very enthusiastic about the work and is ready to work. He's helped to set a good example for me. He's also a pretty funny Elder, too. As a "Bountiful Mormon", it's funny to hear about his totally Mormon high school and all that. He's funny and, once upon a time, was a Star Wars nerd. I imagine I'll probably only be with him for this transfer as it is unusual having two gringos together. I'm hoping he gets the area under his fingers soon.

We've been trying to get long-time investigators progressing this last week. It seems to be working and I think it will be fruitful with time. I sometimes worry if I'm not working fast enough to help people get through the entire conversion process. I'll probably put a little more thought into that to try and improve. We've found a couple more families knocking on doors and they look very positive. I'm really hoping that their enthusiasm is sincere. This next week we'll be focusing on looking for more people to teach as our teaching pool is relatively small. However, this week is a party week, one of the independence days or something, so many people have left to head to the party zones of Panama. I imagine it will mean a lot of empty houses. We'll see what we can do.

I hope that everything on the home front is going well, studies staying sturdy and all that stuff. I pray for you all every night and hope for the best for you all.

Your Elder in Panamá,
Elder Austin Michael Ascura

PS I haven't heard anything about Kyle Wingo or Cory Collins, yet. They HAVE to have been sent already to their missions, right? Have you all heard where they went?

Picture and comments below posted by Elder Bryson Alley:
Elder Ascura tracting in Puerto Pilon, Colon

The picture of the Book of Mormon – that’s in Kuna!  Cool huh!  It’s CRAZY!  And it’s a very super basic language - it doesn’t really translate well at all.  Mostly it’s just conveying ideas rather than concrete sentences.  Like the title is “Mormon Kaiya Purba."  It means...well, Mormon, and then Kaiya means like, language or mouth or writing or communication in general, and then Purba means spiritual or Holy Ghost or something like that, so its like, the “Holy Writings of Mormon”... sort of.  It’s crazy!