Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas

Happy New Year Everyone! This post is broken into 2 parts. The first being her letter from yesterday and the 2nd being part of our conversation with her on Christmas. Any of you with a missionary out or has ever had one knows that that Christmas day phone call or Skype session is the greatest gift ever!! I am extremely grateful to the Presley’s for letting Alyssa and her companion come to their home and use their computer.  
  
Hermana Valdez and Hermana Alyssa
(Not certain who the cute little boy is)

My notes are short this week.

I used an iron to straighten my hair the other day!! Wooo

So I am sending that package with Elder McEntire but the instructions I left don’t really apply now because I wrote it like 2 months ago and I took some of the stuff out. (the package she sent to me that got mailed to her)

Both my zl told me that they are going to tell President that they think I should train (: 

Our baptisms fell through because they didn’t come to church... L

Okay now your email...

The presents were all unopened, that’s the smart way to do it is to wrap it all. Everything is here, no need to worry. (I asked if she got all the candy I sent, I wrapped it like it was a present, and it appears they, customs or postal workers, whoever goes through the packages when they get to Panama did not unwrap them, so other missionary moms, take note, might be a good way to send candy, wrap it like a present!)

Did you give Emily and Carissa the letters? (anyone who writes her an actual letter via either the mail or dearelder.com she has been writing back!)

So we may not get to go to the temple, it turns out that 3 of the 4 families getting sealed can’t go now. L

I don’t need anything really, other than patience and time to go by quickly. Which doesn’t make any sense. I don’t really have much to write... kind of boring I know... 

I am hoping and praying that I get to train Sarah, but like I said. It’s not very likely. Or that I at least get to see her. (Sarah is the girl from Florida that I became friends after Alyssa was already in Panamá. Sarah and Alyssa have never met but Sarah followed Alyssa’s blog while getting ready for her mission. She is such a sweetheart, I truly hope their paths cross!)

I got the pictures you sent.

You just need to pay shipping. (Her scripture covers she ordered while she was at the MTC finally came, they are quite neat actually).

Send me her phone number and I will give it to the zone leaders to figure out who's area she is in. (there was a lady I met here at Meridian a few months ago who is from Panamá and told me to have Alyssa call her if she ever needs anything. She lives in David which is in Alyssa’s zone. Jill, I am wondering if she lives in Austin’s area) I am gonna explain real quick how Panamá works. There are provinces which is like the equivelant of a state (Chiriqui).  Then there are cities but they are more like counties (David) and then there are neighborhoods but they are more like cities (villa olga).

Tell Bryndi I said happy birthday, and tell Jamen and Emily happy belated birthday.

Chocolate. chocolate, oreos, chocolate, the granola bars that I like that are squares and have chocolate, Utah truffles, oreos, chocolate, take 5, chocolate... yeah I think that will be good. I am already out! (I asked her what she wanted from home in the next package I sent her)

Okay I should go now but I love you! talk to you next week!! Wooo only 401 days left!!

Sorry my letter was so short, I didn’t have much to write this week...

Okay choa for now!

I LOVE YOU AND HUG MY ABBY FOR ME!!!!

The two guys are both kids in our branch about to leave on missions. The first doesn't know yet where yet and the second is going to Mexico.


Romell
Hermana Valdez, Romell, Hermana Wandell



CHRISTMAS SKYPE SESSION!

Yes, they are still goofy together 3,000 miles away! 


Q. What is the best food you have had in Panamá that you had never eaten before?
A. Patacones.  

Q. How well do you get fed in your new area and where do you buy food?
A. The members don’t really feed us and there are no chinos. There is a super market that’s small that we buy all our food at. We only have meals with members like 2 times a week, if we're lucky.

Q. How long did it take to get to Boquete from Alcalde Diaz?
A. From here to Panamá City it is an 8 hour bus ride, or about 6 in a car.

Boquete, her 2nd area in Panamá

Q. How far away from Costa Rica are you?
A. We are probably like somewhere between 1 or 2 hours from Costa Rica.

Q. How many investigators do you currently have?
A. Right now, 7. We have lots of discussions and 4 baptismal dates set, it is a family.

Q. What is your new area like?
A. Sort of like Park City. Kind of cold and in the mountains.

 














Q. Is it hilly like your last area?
A. No, it’s pretty flat.

Q. What is a normal temperature in Boquete?
A. 60°

Q. How big is your church house?
A. We don’t have one. We meet in a mall. A tiny strip mall.

Q. Do you ever ride a bike?
A. No, just walk, take a taxi or the bus.

Q. Are you currently teaching English classes?
A. No, no English classes right now.

Q. How do they celebrate Christmas differently that we do in the United States?
A. Fireworks! The light off fireworks at midnight. They have really big nativities. Not big as in large but big in amount. Like 500 animals and pieces in one set.

Q. Do they carol?
A. No caroling

Q. What is something strange that has happened to you?
A. A dog pee’d on me.

I can’t remember the exact question but she did tell us that they live with President Carmack’s 1st or 2nd Counselor (she couldn't remember which) and that they have a daughter who got her mission call to Costa Rica.

Q. Does anybody ever say anything about your knee or tell you that you have a sting ray on your knee like they do here?
A. No, nobody usually sees is. It is usually covered up.

Q. What is the worst thing you have eaten?
A. I have been pretty lucky in the food dept.

Q. Would you ever want to get transferred to the San Blas islands?
A. That would be hard because you don’t get to talk to your family for 6 weeks. They have no internet out there.

 Alyssa and Hermana Swalm 
(she knows my Aunt Lynda)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Boquete

Last week there were not many pictures as the 20 pictures she sent were repeats from the week before. Quite a few of the pictures this week are from Alcalde Diaz before she got transferred. They are at the bottom of this post except the one below. For me this picture is what a mission is all about and for me makes her being gone all worth it! Luis was Alyssa's first baptism. And this is his cute family (who were already members). 18 months is a very short time to give so that Familia Rodriguez can spend eternity together!
Familia Rodriguez
Okay so my notes first!!
My package arrived! But I opened them all today!!! haha... yeah. We have to work on Christmas so I figured that p-day was going to be my Christmas. Haha thanks for all the cool stuff!!!
Now the bad news... your package that I sent you like 6 weeks ago also arrived... The assistants thought it was for me. So I am just going to keep all the clothes and what not and send the letter in the mail. sorry!!! (she gave the assistants a package to mail for us and it would seem that they mailed it to her – LOL, I just think that is so funny)
Tell Lindsay and the the Kearns thanks for the presents. I really like them.
"Celestial Kingdom House"
Can you tell which table is mine?(hint, the cute snow man that Hna. Chavez bought me for Christmas.)

Hermana Valdez

and my shoes... yes I have an obsession... yes I know it's a problem... but I just had to do it... 


So on Christmas I will be on Skype somewhere in between 12 and 2 panama time. I need you to send me your Skype information so that I can take care of it on Wednesday. Send it in another email with the title "skype" so that I can get to it easily on Christmas.
Christmas lights


Christmas Tree?

Self portrait LOL 

I love my zone leaders and I have become really good friends with them. One of them told me that when they write recommendations for next change he is going to put that I should train (: so it is possible that Hna. Moss could be my "hija" not likely but possible.
Hermana's Wandell and Curtis (ZL) and Elder Arismendi (ZL)

Zone Leaders McEntire (from Sandy, Utah) and Arismendi

Paintballing - McEntire and Alyssa

President and Sister Carmack and Alyssa

I miss Hna. Chavez like its not even funny! I literally call her every other day or she calls me. She has become more like my sister than a missionary companion.
The day we accidentally were opposites

I bought a scarf and hat... in panama... yeah weird I know.
The people that we share a house with... they sing everynight! (anyone who knows anything about Alyssa knows she loves to sing and she sings like an angel!)
Speaking of singing oh my gosh I love the cd!!!! (: I'm on a cd!! I'm on a cd!! (When she was in Madrigals in High School they got to go into the recording studio with Marshall McDonald and record the back up vocals for a song he was going to put on a future CD. We didn’t know when or what kind of CD it would be on but it came out right before Halloween and guess what kind of CD it was?? A Missionary CD!! I could not have come up with a more perfect gift had I spent 10 years trying to find one!)
Okay now to answer your email.
The Christmas party wasn't a party... it was zone Conference.
That picture is my "family" my "mom" my "sisters" and my "step sisters" and maybe my "nieces" (I asked who these sisters were in the picture with her below)
Yes they have pennies, rainbows and Mexican restaurants... haha (questions from Abby)
Yeah we are going to the Presley's with the whole zone for new years as well!! We have food sometimes...
We use the bus or take a taxi in Boquete because it’s huge!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is like park city.
It’s weird to think of Kipp as Austin... to me he's Kipp.
Elder Austin Kipp and Alyssa

Hermana's Wandell and Bonilla

 By the way we have two sets of zellas in our zone because there are so many sisters. There are Hna. Curtis and Hna. Elizondo and then our zellas are Hna. Bonilla and Hna. Navas.

Zone in Boquete



The Nez family are getting sealed in January. (the branch mission leader in her new area) He is from Texas and she is from New Orleans and they are amazing! She has a southern accent so she reminds me of Court and when I talk to her I start taking with an accent... kind of weird... Haha but they came to Panama on their honeymoon and loved it so they moved here.
Did everyone complete my assignment!?? Because if not... then shame on all of you!!! 

Just ties are fine, no shoes. Oh and for my birthday can you send me Mulan???? (We are going to be doing a “tie drive”, anyone who has ties to donate, mens or boys we are going to send them to Panama to be given to people who don’t have a tie to wear to church, I am sure everyone knows someone with a closet full of ties that they could part with one J)
Okay Boquete is like a little slice of Utah... the weather is bipolar!! One day it is super cold and you have to use a jacket, then next day you get a sun burn (first sunburn I have had the whole time I have been in panama) and then the next day it’s like perfect where is not to hot and not too cold. At night you need a light jacket.
You could certainly pass that off as Utah
The only fruit rollups in panama city, panama are the ones that y’all send me. Feliz Navidad!!  And no it never snows...not even a little bit. Feliz Navidad!!  Yes they have flippy floppy shoes. Feliz Navidad!!  Abby is my favorite person in the whole wide world, I should say Jesus but he's not in the world... Feliz Navidad!! I am soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo excited to see you Abs!!! Feliz Navidad!! Mortimore mouse?! Random much?? Feliz Navidad!! What a dork!! (Abby asked Alyssa several questions and put Feliz Navidad after every question LOL)
What part of Guatemala is the new sister from? Maybe she knows one of my 3 companions that I have had. (We just got a new sister in our ward who is from Guatemala)
Abby's such a cutie! And a sweetheart! What a good girl!!
I saved two for Christmas.(presents, knowing her I asked if she had already opened them all) the ones that are in the little mail box looking things... haha I will take a picture with the Swalm’s. I haven’t given the presents to Pres. and his wife yet. I am going to have the zl take them when they go to the city for consejos.

I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can’t wait to talk to you in 2 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!! Okay chao for now!!!

She labeled these pictures 
"members that love me haha"
Familia Aizpurua


Familia Aizpurua with Alyssa and Hna. Chavez

Looks delicious!

Hermana Chavez ("Stepmom"), Elder Quimiz ("Dad") and Alyssa

Alyssa and Familia Rodriguez
What a cutie!

Last Zone Meeting
Elder's Weston, Quimiz, Juarez, Aguare, Astudillo, Willis, Bitter and Ulloa
Hermana's Hoff, Chavez, Wandell and Walstrohm

Hermana Wandell and Hermana Chavez
The day we were accidentally matching not only clothes but Hna. Esther's Christmas tree as well.

Friday, December 20, 2013

My Heavenly Father loves me!


Sorry Alyssa sent 20 pictures this week however only one was a new one, everything else she sent last week. I think she didn't realize she sent them again.
Let’s count some of the ways my Heavenly Father loves me. (my notes) 

I am now in Boquete, which is also known as paradise... wanna know why? Well it is the area that EVERYONE wants. Including me, I said I wanted to go to Boquete or Volcan, why you ask? Because it’s cold (: (is there such a thing as cold in Panamá?)


The green dot is Alcalde Diaz (her old area) and the red is Boquete (her new area)

My house in Alcalde Diaz is outer darkness and my house here is the celestial kingdom. 

There are a ton of gringos because it is a tourist place. We have 10 gringos in our branch.  

I got the package, I love candy. 

I don’t know how it is possible but my zone (David) is the hottest part of the country and I am in the coldest part... haha 

It reminds me soooo much of Park City. Mountains, small town, everything, Google it. (I put pictures on the blog)

Pictures from Google



We have the senior couple in our area, the Presley's, and they offered us their computer for Christmas (: (I hope everyone know what a huge blessing this is. To Skype with Alyssa for Christmas is all Abby has talked about since Alyssa left and it’s pretty much all she wants for Christmas. One more missionary blessing for our family J) 

Our area is huge, like the equivalent of the point of the mountain to Midvale. 

We have to use jackets at night (: and a blanket at night.  I didn’t miss fall afterall. Did I mention that it is summer here, the hottest time of the year, and I will miss the whole thing (: my heavenly father knows me and loves me.

Elder Kipp is in my zone again, congrats Elder Kipp's mom! More pictures!

There are 16 sisters and 10 elders in our zone.   
Picture from Sister Carmack's blog
(I am not sure if any of these sisters are in her new area but the one in Green right next to her is Hermana Gonzales (1st companion) and on the end in the yellow skirt is Hermana Johnson (friend from the CCM)

Our ward mission leader doesn’t speak Spanish, nor does his wife, they have a little girl who loves Minnie Mouse and is named.... ABBY, she is 3 and speaks Spanish... 

There is a couple here from cali and the wife knows aunt Lynda. Her name is Hna. Swalm, her son is in Lynda's ward. She is awesome and I can tell we are going to be really good friends. She doesn’t speak any Spanish. 

Yesterday I had to give a talk in church but I had to give it in Spanish and English.. haha and then Hna. Swalm asked me to translate for her in young womens. 

I met two people from Germany yesterday.


The transfer meeting
picture courtesy of Sister Carmack's blog

Photo courtesy of Bianka and Vivana

And last but not least. The heavens have opened and I have received a plentitude of blessings because I have... wait for it... wait for it..... HOT WATER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am sorry I don’t think you have quite understood what I have said. I have hot water and... and ... a DRYER!!!!!!!!!!!! Seriously I am loved... 

Now I have an assignment for every single person reading this email.. Yeah even you random person whom I have never ever met.. 

 As a representitive of Jesus Christ I have the authority to tell you that you all need to get on your knees tonight and thank your loving Heavenly Father for hot water and dryers.. and if you don’t... well shame on you... 

Okay now your email.

Hi Abby, I love you and I miss you!! I will talk to you in about a week okay? Hug mom for me and watch Tangled and Wreck it Ralph too!! 

I haven’t gotten the Christmas package yet but we have a Christmas party with the zones in the interior and Pres. Carmack so hopefully tomorrow. 

We are on the opposite side of the country from where the temple is. I am in the area known as the interior, so no we don’t get to (go to the temple) unless we have permission. Like for example our ward mission leader is getting sealed to his family so we get to go for that and the best part is that it is in English because they don’t speak Spanish!!!! wooo hooo!!!

My comp doesn’t speak any English but it’s all good because I speak Spanish now..  

I found a case, don’t send more movies, I can watch them when I get home.. no big deal. but I love Tarzan! (ofcourse I sent her a couple Disney movies when I read her email that they could watch them)

The ties are a good idea and maybe shoes for little kids, a lot of them don’t have any. I can give them to the Presley's or the Swalms to give to people so they are from them and not us, but please don’t go overboard. (I asked what we could do for her Christmas or Christmas next year since we can’t send food or candy and it is very costly. We were thinking of doing a tie drive or something so they could give those out – so anyone that asked there is the answer. Ties or kids shoes and we will send them to Panama and the mission leader will give them to someone in need.) 

All is well, I love you bunches!! 

Chao for now, I will send pics!!

I LOVE YOU! HUG MY ABBY PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
Alyssa and Maia

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Changes


Sorry my email I am about to send, it’s a little depressing. But don’t worry, it’s nothing serious, I am just being a baby is all.
These pics are the day that Hna. Chavez and I accidently were matching and we matched the Christmas tree and from the activity the other day. It was an activity that represented all the provinces in panama. 
 
 
 
 
 
 



 
 








I have changes L I learned that you don’t realize how much you care for someone until you have to tell them goodbye. I really don’t want to leave Alcalde Diaz. I love my comp, I love the people, we just set a baptismal date for someone that I found, I could go on and on but I don’t want to cause I will just sit and cry some more. (As a missionary mom I almost think this is more heart retching than saying goodbye to her ourselves, at least she is coming home to us eventually.)
 

My notes.
Panamanian Mormon Standard time, means that everything starts at least an hour late.
There are letters for Carissa and Emily Baker in the Christmas package. (She LOVES letters, so write to her! Dearelder.com is the perfect way. She gets an actual letter in hand and you don’t have to pay the postage – Plus she will write you back!)
Don’t send food or medicine of any kind from now on unless someone is delivering it. So just don’t send it in the mail, it will get thrown away. Oh and it is illegal to send money apparently (she means cash through the mail).
I received my package after bugging the Zone leader for long enough, he went and got it for me. Thanks I liked all of it.
My “dad" is dying, he´s is going home on Thursday, kind of sad, he is sad, he is the only member in his family and he loves the mission. (Elder Quimiz)
In 2 weeks I will be a fourth of the way done.
There was this drunk guy the other day and he started following us, so I was freaked out.  Well then he started talking and so I didn’t say a word and I walked on the other side of Hermana Chavez. Well he was like oh don’t be afraid. Then Chavez was asking him questions trying to think of a way to get rid of him, the whole time I was silent (I understood all of it but I didn’t say a word). Then he looks at me and goes you´re pretty. I didn’t say anything or even look at him. Then he asks do you speak English? Again I said nothing and my comp jumps in and says uh nope she doesn’t speak any Spanish, in fact she can’t understand anything you are saying (she knew that I would understand so that was my hint. Then he says well ask her in English to say something in English and she replies oh well I don’t speak any English, we don’t really talk to each other, and he was so wasted that he believed it. Well then he shook my hand and so then I was trying to find the hand sanitizer in my bag after wards and he asks oh do you have a present for me and I said no! And then my comp was like okay chao!! We have to go this way bye!!  And then she was like... Hna. Wandell it is a good thing he was drunk because remember you don’t understand Spanish... haha oops.
We did sealings for the dead at the temple the other day, the first time either of us had ever done them, we acted as the daughters and we each did like 20 names. Just solidified the importance of it to me.
Mother’s day was yesterday. (Sunday, December 8th)
I don’t have any idea about Christmas, I will tell you when I do. We have to hope and pray that someone offers us there computer. (The main thing Abby wants for Christmas is to skype with Alyssa so I am praying that this can happen)
I miss snow, but not shoveling it.
I love her too (Abby), I am glad she tried it even though she doesn’t like it (lettuce, tortillas and carrots). Tell her I will teach her Spanish when I come home. I am excited to talk to her too. It doesn’t feel like December though so it’s kind of weird that it is almost Christmas.
Good thing you are sending the vitamins with her, I was kind of worried. The one good thing about changes is that It is possible that I could train her (Sarah, who is entering the CCM today), not likely but possible. Send her the poem I read at my farewell and tell her to print it out and take it with her.
I gave the nativity things to the people I said goodbye to. next topic. (I can tell she is extremely sad L)
It is fine, I am glad you sent them (2  Disney movies), It’s just I don’t want to lug around the cases everywhere. But I am going to try and find a small case to put all the church videos that I have in. We are going to watch Tarzan today. And yes I got the money.
We haven’t really done anything for p-day, both Chavez and I have been exhausted and so we pretty much have spent our p-days at home sleeping or watching church movies.
One thing that you learn early in the mission is that you can set 15 dates and not one of them will get baptized. But the one that we put yesterday is going to be baptized, I know it with out a doubt. Her whole family loves the church, they want to join too but they can’t because the mom has to get divorced and then remarried. They make me realize how lucky I am. They literally only have 4 walls and a roof, no electricity. No shower they have to use buckets of water to bathe.
I will send pictures of the activity. (see pictures above) We go to an internet cafe.
They speak Chinese and some speak Spanish. (the people who run the Chino's)
I am going to buy the shoes on Wednesday.
Sorry my email is a little dry today. I can’t fake happy. L
Elder Astudillo is doing fine.
Tell Dakota congrats. That’s cool that Pres. Carmack´s son is getting married.
Panama is beautiful, Maia asked me the other day if I liked Utah or Panama better and I told her that it is like comparing an apple to an orange.
There are instructions about Christmas presents in the package that Elder Hawks is going to deliver. He gets home on Thursday so you should get it this week or next.
Please take something to the Peffer’s and tell them hello for me.
Honestly I am fine, I am sad but oh well what can you do. "A donde me mande ire" (where they will send me) I will survive. At least at the end of my mission I get like 4 days to say goodbye to all the people in my areas. I am sad that Chavez and I can’t be together one more change, she really is like my sister. Okay done talking about it.

Sometimes I think in Spanish and sometimes I think in English. No dreams yet though.
Love you guys too. Pray that my next comp will be nice and that we will be good friends because I don’t want to hate Christmas. Okay tell Abby I love her and miss her and hug her for me. Chao for now.