Monday, April 25, 2011

M:84/P:73: Halfway Through The Transfer

Hola Familia,

Well, it does seem we´ve got a bit to talk about.  Just to make sure you all actually hear about what we´re doing out here, I´ll start on that topic.  Right now we´re working to get two families married.  It looks like they´re all willing but it´s a little tough to talk with them while they´re all in the house.  Among other prospective baptisms, we´ve got three or four people that look like they could get baptised in May or June . . . if they would just come to church.  One of the funny things about this area is that, being in Arraijan, most missionaries consider this an "easy zone" for the abundance of baptisms.  The kicker is that, after having been in some of the "tougher zones" I´ve noted that the missionaries still have to do all the same work and the difficulty of the work looks about the same.  People here are slightly more likely to let you in, but I wouldn´t call the place easy.  I believe the difference between a more successful zone and a less successful zone depends on two things: member involvement and determination to succeed.  My companion is about fried in this place as he´s basically contacted the entire area.  It´ll be interesting to see what happens when I begin to contact it all over again.
 
Easter!  Truth be told, I had to remind myself it was Easter on multiple occasions.  You don´t see the same stuff here.  In fact, nearly everyone ditched my area to head out to the countryside.  I was honestly a tad disappointed as we didn´t even have an Easter program this Sunday.  Oh, well.  As for Lent, I don´t know if people here are in the practice of giving something up for Lent.  I know that if they gave up rice, they wouldn´t live through the night.  These people eat more rice than you, Dad.  Seriously.  Although, I think that this part of Panama is a little more Evangelical than Catholic.  Here, it is customary not to eat meat on Fridays as we approach Easter.  So everyone loads up on seafood.  I´m not really an authority on Catholicism so I don´t know if that´s a global deal.  The only thing out of the ordinary this week were the processions.  I remember people glaring daggers at us as we walked by.  I just smiled and chuckled.  I´m glad to hear that the girls had fun this Easter.  As for cooking, you´ll have to teach me more when I get home; I´m beginning to enjoy it out here.
 
Hop?  Aren´t you referring to Rio?  McDonalds has toys for that movie down here.  If the soundtrack´s good, I´ll have to look into it.  I thought the movie was about Carnaval.
 
As for the arrival, I think I know where that hotel is.  If it´s 52nd street, it´s somewhat close to the mission office (50th street).  On Thursday or Friday, huh?  In all likelihood, I´ll probably just be running errands or doing drudgework in the office for those last days, so, whenever and however works.  As for area visits, Chorrera is super safe, Arraijan is super safe, Santa Librada was generally safe where I was working, and Mañanitas is a little shifty.  The deal with Santa Librada is that it´s very big, big enough for two sets of missionaries and possibly more.  It borders with Torrijos Carter and Cerro Batea, two parts that are generally renowned as a little dangerous.  The part where I served is on the other end, not even at all really close to those parts.  As for Mañanitas, my part was sort of the opposite.  My part was the furthest part from the main road and, consequently, the poorest.  I honestly wouldn´t stay there until night time with Mom.  There are just way too many people that hang in the streets and out there there´s a lot of problems with juvenile delinquency.  But outright gang violence isn´t so big.  I imagine we´d just get pick-pocketed, worst case scenario.  I don´t know how long you want to visit some houses out here but there are . . . five houses in Santa Librada that I´d like to visit and like seven in Mañanitas.  All in all, I don´t want to put Mom in any danger.  I mean, everyone tells me that you look like a Mexican or a Chinaman, so you could pass for normal, but Mom screams tourist.  I´ve actually wondered a little what it would be like walking around with her.  So, you can tell me what you think and then I´ll start notifying families.  As for Colon, well, there´s some really cool people out there but it is Colón.  I will say that my part was actually very calm compared to the rest.  When people say Colón, they usually refer to Colón Centro, which is definitely a place I would never take Mom.
 
Well, I think that´s about all I can think of for the moment.  Just as a curiosity, I´ve wanted to bring Graviola seeds home to try and grow some.  I realize it´s a tropical fruit and not bound to do as great in the States but I´d like to give it a shot.  Is it illegal to bring seeds home?  It´s really good and fights cancer and would be a fun reminder of my mission.
 
Take care, everyone, I love you and pray for you all.
 
Your Elder in Panamá,
Elder Austin Michael Ascura

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