Wednesday, July 27, 2011

M97/P86: Two Weeks and Counting

Hey, everyone!

I´m glad to hear you´re all enjoying your vacation out there.  I gotta say, I think it would have been funny to watch Mom in the haunted house and Liese in Disneyland (last Saturday).  I suppose I´ll get my chance to see that stuff when I get home, right?  I really do want to see how much Liese behaves like me.

Well, the week has been an uneventful one out here.  Once again, our teaching pool looks like it´ll be taking a nose dive.  It´s a very difficult task to get people to come to church in this country.  It always seems like everything tries to set itself up against you.  We´ve got a couple baptismal dates up right now but if things continue as they have ´til now, I don´t think they´ll be baptized while I´m here.  I will say that it gets hard to continue working this close to the end.  I´m really making my companion trunky (surreal feeling a missionary gets about going home as he approaches the end of his mission).  He hates me for it.  But we still get a good laugh out of how much I rub it in whenever he gives me crap for something.

Well, with my return so close, I´d like to get an idea for some of the things I´ll have to take care of when I get home.  First off, Idaho leave date.  When do I have to be present in Idaho?  I´d like to know how much of a break I´ll get before I go back to the grind.  Second, what am I going to have to do to get my new driver´s license?  Third, do I still have that old black laptop I took with me to Idaho the first time?  If you don´t know, don´t worry about it; it´s probably in my Tupperware with all my stuff.  If I don´t have it, does that imply that I get a new laptop?  I gotta know what I´m going to have to work with, know what I´m saying?  Fourth, do we have any ideas on what I´ll be doing in terms of a phone or car?  Or are we going to wait ´til I get home to get involved with that stuff?

Well, truth be told, I don´t know what else I can write about.  I feel like I haven´t written anything today.  I love you all and look forward to seeing you all soon.

Your Elder in Panamá,
Elder Austin Michael Ascura

Monday, July 18, 2011

M:96/P:85: Over the Last Hump

Hola Familia,

 I don´t know if there´s much I can comment on the matter, but I´m glad to hear the funeral went as well as it did.  Relatively dramaless and without open scandals, right? 

Yeah, I might not have guessed that Grandpa was such a prankster (referring to a story told during the Eulogy).  The mission has made it very apparent that I don´t know very much about lots of my family.  I´ll probably start fixing that error when I get back.  I also wasn´t aware that Grandpa was military, even for such a short term of 18 months.

From the photos, all I can really say is that I´m going to feel very silly when I get home.  I´m beginning to realize that there are names that I have forgotten and faces that I do not recognize anymore.  Dallas Cowboys (referring to the stature of the grandsons who served as pall bearers during Grandpa's funeral)?  Yeah, I could see that.  I might not be any bigger than any of the Jansma boys now.  I also see Braden there eyeing your hat.  Is he making plans for his future uniform?

I hope you enjoy your vacation trips without me!  But don´t worry, in just four and a half weeks you´ll be with me again.  And then I can prepare to leave for college without yet another vacation!  But seriously, I hope you guys enjoy Newport.  I´m sure you´ll have fun with the Harwood girls, Dad.

I´m sort of happy to hear that Grandpa isn´t in the condition he was any more.  It really is a shame that I couldn´t get back to tell him about this place (Panama), but I´m sure he´ll be watching for the last stretch.  In any case, Mom, whatever our disagreements in the matter are, we must learn to get past them.  Some recommended gospel reading, Elder Boyd K. Packer´s talk in last conference.  I hope you all enjoy your last trips without me, because I´ll soon be back to muss it all up again.

As for things out here, my companion got sick this week.  Watching him get out of bed and go to the bathroom that many times makes me a little more thankful for not having had as many health complications out here as some missionaries.  I´m feeling really weird out here.  I´ve just grown so used to the conditions of this country that I´m not sure I´ll readjust as well as I´d hoped.  I´m going to feel like such a weirdo back in the States.

I wish you all the best of luck in your vacations and hope you all stay out of trouble.

Your Elder in Panamá,
Elder Austin Michael Ascura

Monday, July 11, 2011

M:95/P:84: 3 More Weeks Left of this Transfer

Hola Familia,

It´s a pity I won´t see Grandpa again when I get home but I´m happy to hear he´s off to the next phase of life (Lisa's father passed away of Parkinson's Disease on Sunday, July 9th).  Things like this make us very appreciative of having the fullness of the gospel, don´t they?

As for your military career, I´ll see if I can send Elder Hutchinson a copy of that e-mail next week.  I´ll try to locate him and ask for his e-mail this week.  He tells me that his strength, despite his very short and stocky build, is in the run.  He´s always just had the stamina for it.  I can´t remember the specifics on all the scores he nailed, but I remember telling me he almost got a 327.  He was twenty seconds slow on the run so he couldn´t make the perfect score.  He must have had a 297 as well, I imagine.  He´s considering heavily going active duty and his unit actually got deployed right as he came out to the mission.  They might have deployed a second time.  Right now, he´s in the 19th Special Forces Support Unit.  He´s considering going green beret, as well, but is hesitant on the matter.

Braden in his new apartment already?  I don´t blame him for not wanting to share all the utilities with the rest of the group.  It´s not exactly as respectful of Braden´s own space as he probably prefers.  He wants a car?  I thought he already had one.  Whose car was he leaning on in that photo he sent me on the digital album?  If he still wants to be a doctor, he´ll probably be alright with all his expensive tendencies.

As for health, it turns out that that was the exact reason I was pulled out of Blas.  And, no, I don´t think E. Hutchinson will go back to Blas.  Not only would he probably go crazy on that island but I already know who our replacements are and they should already have a week or two on the island.  But, no, I have heard no news on my lab results, so I assume that there is nothing abnormal.  I´m fine, I feel pretty alright, and I have noticed no strange health developments since then.  So, there shouldn´t be anything to worry about right now.

As for Chitré, I´ll tell you a little about it.  It´s the edge of the interior of the country.  Which is to say that it´s a lot of farmlands.  Chitré is a lot safer than the city so I could probably just walk around with my camera everywhere and not get robbed.  I´ll try to do that.  Being a little further from the city, the culture here is still pretty well rooted and not so influenced by other countries.  Chitré itself is actually pretty civilized, though, so I´ve got all the stores and whatnot that I could need.  Other parts surrounding it become more and more rural the farther out you get.

I´m trying to think if there´s anything else that I wanted to mention . . . I don´t think so.  I love you all and also look forward to seeing you all very soon.

Your Elder in Panamá,
Elder Austin Michael Ascura

Monday, July 4, 2011

Assignment 9: Chitre

M:94/P:83: Assignment 9: Chitre

Hola Familia,

Alright, family, well, first things first, I´ve been sent to the Chitré zone to the area, Chitré 2. Here, missionaries don´t go to the office for their last transfer. I thought I might go in for my last seven days, but missionaries always spend their last transfer in a proselyting area unless they´re Assistants.

Chitré looks to be a lot more rural but it´s still pretty civilized out here. Reminds me a lot of Oregon, truth be told. The branch here is sizable and the areas in this zone are absolutely massive. I´m really not sure what to expect from this place.

As for my health, I have not heard back from the office, yet, on my health. They should get a call when it gets back if I have anything to worry about. I imagine that with all the antibiotics I´ve been on and with how much I´ve been drinking my infection is taken care of. As for my skin infections, all of them were basically healed up when I got back to the city. I´ve been on more antibiotics and don´t have any itching problems except from the new mosquito bites from my new area. I´m on Celestamine right now. I don´t know how many antibiotics I´ve gone through now, though.

I thought a lot about that movie, the Rundown (referring to the warning 'the rock' received before swimming in the river), while I was undergoing this whole ordeal, man (urinary tract infection). One of the first things I plan to do when I get home is just head in to a doctor´s office and just have him scan and examine everything just to make sure I have no fun health "surprises".

When someone gets assigned to San Blas, it doesn´t really matter how much time one has. He was the senior companion because he knew the ropes of living on the island. We did do some proselyting but most of the island is either baptised or doesn´t want to be. The island is very small and missionaries have been on that island for some twenty to thirty years. A lot of the work out there is reactivation.

As for classes, we´ll figure it out when I get back. It sounds like that´s the same class though. As for Prof. Wightman, that´s not the guy I had last time, so, I´m thinking this time will go smoother.

I´m sorry to hear that Grandpa´s condition has taken a bit of a nosedive. In the case I don´t get to see him again, I´ve already sort of mentally prepared for it. I hope he feels half-decent, in any case.

Disability? Trying to milk it for all it´s worth, huh Dad (referring to Mike's Army retirement physical exams to determine how much damage the Army has caused him)? Well, you´ve put in your time, right? Best of luck getting the nice parking. Ah, just remembered, what PT (Army Physical Fitness Test) score do you have? What was your best PT score? E. Hutchinson takes a lot of pride in his and while he was telling me about his training stories I realised that I didn´t know yours.

No, I did not know that Katrina was getting married. I can understand the concern from her parents but the prophets have repeatedly said not to worry about that so much. Especially this last conference. At least I´ll sort of be around to come and see. It´ll give me sort of an idea of what I have to look forward to when I finally get hitched. As for the roast pig, I have no problems with that (referring to his future wedding reception when the time comes). But I´m sure you know that I´m perfectly content with spam and eggs, right?

Ah, so that´s where Braden´s been all this time (Braden has been in New Jersey since the 1st of June). I had sort of forgotten about that trip. If he thinks he misses his personal space . . . well, I can guarantee that in that field a mission helps prepare a person for marriage. 24/7 with the same guy. And no benefits outside of conversation.

Hey, I haven´t said who my new companion is, have I? Well, my new companion is Elder Matt Dawson. He´s from Mesa, AZ and is a DL here in Chitré. He´s at the 18 month mark. I don´t know if there´s something else you´d like me to find out about.

As for the pool, we´ll see what happens. I´ve resolved to take up swimming for a regular excercise when I get home so maybe I can use that to practice. You think they sell water wings in my size?

Trunky? Me? Well, shoot, I ain´t going to lie on it. While I could easily say, "No, I´m not." I think my mind is starting to get very worn down. I´ve felt pretty burned out for a couple years now and now that I´m so close to the end of this, I´d be lying if I said that I didn´t feel a strong urge to get to the next phase of my life. I´m really not sure what´s expected from me in this area. The combination of timing, the area, the zone, and the companion all make me wonder how hard I can work here. I´ve never felt like an effective missionary out here nor like a very successful one so, I´m just hoping I can go the last bit without doing anything stupid.

Well, I think I´ve mentioned about everything you all have written. I´ll talk to you all again soon with only 5 weeks left. I love you all and wish you all the best. You´re all in my prayers.

Your Elder in Panamá,
Elder Austin Michael Ascura