Saturday, July 31, 2010

Photos received July 31, 2010

The Jehovah's Witness Hat!
This is with my trainer, Hna. Tracy. A testigo de Jehova gave her this hat after trying to fight with was a funny story. :)

p.s. note that I am soaked from the waste down thanks to the Panama rain

Me encanta el templo de Panama!

Abril 2010
Zona: Arraijan

April 2010

My first (and only) temple trip with my first zone in Arraijan.
14 zone baptisms = TEMPLE TRIP!

Golden Retriever @ the beach! :)
Chorrera p-day May 2010

My week in Biancheri w/Hna. Calderon from Peru.
I got to help out with 3 baptisms!

P-day @ la playa in my 2nd area: Chorrera
May 2010

The Hermanas of la Zona David:
me, Hna. Castro (my comp), Hna. Marini, Hna. Ochs (MTC district) Hna. Dalton, Hna. Zamora, Hna. Breedlove (MTC friend,) Hna. Garcia
Zone Conference - July 2010
Zone: David

The baptisms of Joselyn & Christian in Arraijah
(Hna. Tracy, Joselyn, Anthony, Christian, yo!)

Received July 31, 2010

Date: 19 de julio 2010

Mi querida Jaime,

So I'm reading my family's email today and my mom says, "Natalie says if we want to hear more about your mission we should be friends with Jamie on Facebook." Apparently, you've been doing a good job at keeping everyone informed of the goings-on, and it is for that very reason that I choose to write to you so often (and also because I love you but that goes without saying, right?) I was lying here on my bed listening to the rain pelt our roof, wondering what I should do while my companion sleeps (ahhh, P-day...) and I just really felt like writing to you. So here goes!

First things first, how goes it with you? Last I heard you were working on evening out your tour for Hawaii this October, which is entirely unfair, by the way! How fun for your family though. You'll be sure to take pictures, yes? I've been told Panama is very similar to Hawaii... just probably a bit dirtier. We do have plenty of palm trees and coconuts. The funny thing is that we have pine trees right next to palm trees. Not sure if that's normal but I like it just the same!

Sounds like you and Shehan are doing pretty well and you've got nothing to worry about job-wise. Truthfully, I never worry about you, James. You've always been intelligent and self-sufficient, so I know you're going to be just fine. I haven't the foggiest idea what I'm going to do when I get back so keep your eyes open for me, ok?

I believe that in my last letter I cited some...difficulties...with my dear companion, right? Well, this transfer has been a 180* turn around. My comp is Hna. Castro from Honduras and she and I have gotten along like the best of chums. I credit much of this to the fact that we have a very efficient system of working together: she cooks all our food and I wash all the dishes. :) You know me - anyone who feeds me is a friend forever! I'm taking some good notes, too, because I plan on making all of these things for you some day. Just you wait! We're going to have tejadas, avena, patacones, gelatina con helado, juevos con tomates, arroz con pollo, chichas, batidos de galletas and much much more! I will be a cooking fiend.

I wish I could tell you we had an amazing conversion story for this transfer but truthfully we are struggling a bit to get people to keep commitments. I do, however have high hopes that we're going to see some changes in the next transfer with our investigators. It's a slow process but the journey's well worth it. The important thing is not to get discouraged because that is definitely one of Satan's greatest tools. I've had my moments where I've though to myself, "What on earth am I doing here? This is nothing at all like I imagined it would be." We have our days when we're soaked from the waist down in rain with leaky umbrellas and mud-caked shoes, walking for miles to get to a house only to find it locked up and empty. Investigators who say they'll come to church end up getting mysteriously ill between the hours of 9 and 12 every Sunday morning. Appointments are canceled. Baptismal dates fall through. All of these things have happened to me on a consistent basis. HOWEVER...I will always be grateful for that small little prod of encouragement that says, "Cheer up, Hermana Brewster! Something good's on its way." And that has always been the case. The trick is to look for the good things.

I think Sister Brewster just needs to stop worrying about Sister Brewster and then everything will be fine. :)

("She's got... hiiiiiiigh hopes! She's got... hiiiiiiigh hopes! She's got hiiigh, applie piiiiie in the skyyyy-y-y hopes!)

You asked me if there was anything I needed in your last letter, but don't worry about me - I am just fine! All I really need is an occasional line or two informing me of your well-being and that is all. (But if you happen to find some miracle makeup that doesn't melt off your face at the first sign of humidity, thus evading what I affectionately refer to as "Panama face," that would be all right.)

I'm including a few pictures to show you what I mean by "Panama face." You'll understand.

Well, dear, tengo que irme. Te quiero con todo el corazón como de costumbre y yo deseo que sabe cómo dio gracias yo soy para su amor, la amistad y el apoyo. ¡Eres mi favorito!

Hasta la próxima carta,

tu amiga,

Hermana Al

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Received July 9, 2010


Dear James,

Every time I write to you I think, "You know...this letter's going to be pretty outdated by the time she gets this." But oh well! The important thing is that you know I love you and I am so very grateful for your faithful letters to me :). I don't get letters very often because everything has to go through our mission office first and it is a pain. But it makes it all the more special when I do get letters. Speaking of, have you heard/seen much of Marissa and Scotti? I have yet to hear much from them here in Panama. But I understand it's a busy time for one and all. I just hope you all know how much I love and appreciate you even though I'm "out of sight/out of mind." It's pretty pathetic - I keep the three pieces from all of your blankets (the ones I gave you, M, S @ Christmas) by my pillow and the other night I couldn't find the piece from your blanket. I had a mild panic attack: "WHERE'S JAMIE??" Luckily I found it. :) Just know I think of you often.

Have you found a job yet??? What are you and Shehan planning for your first summer together? Any good movies out right now? I think I barely realized it was summer time in Utah. Crazy thought! Just in case you want to know, my return date is June 28, 2011 - this time next year I'll be coming home! Yikes! WE both know how fast a year goes so I better make the most out of this mission while I can! My greatest fear is coming home and feeling like I didn't do anything or that I didn't give it my all. I'm not going to let that happen. These next 12 months will be well spent!

I know I wrote to you about my companion in the last letter but I don't remember what I said. But oh man...Jamie...if you only knew the stories I have for you :). These past 5 weeks have been... well, I can't even describe it! But have no fear because I've been writing down everything I plan to tell you someday. You and I will have a ball recounting my 2nd transfer in the mission, I promise you. Hna. Chevez...ha ha ha...just remember to ask me about this particular period in my life, ok?

Anywho, I think I' finally adjusting to mission life in Panama. This is starting to feel more familiar to me and the language is getting there. I still feel like an old woman asking everyone to repeat things but it's almost always impossible to discern every word of the Panamanian dialect. I'm pretty sure they've erased the letter "s" from the alphabet. My companion loves to correct my pronunciation (among other things.)

me: "Restauracion."
Hna. C: "NO. !RrrESTaOOracion!"

Bless her heart...always so patient. (All right, the sarcasm is still pretty prevalent. I'm working on it."

We've had a fair amount of challenges in this area. WE have tons of people who throw doors in our faces and we have trouble getting people to commit to coming to church. Lots of people think that a place like this would be humble and receptive but Panama is very different from other countries because it's so diverse. Especially in my area, Chorrera, where it's busy and close to the city. Personally, I'd prefer to go somewhere more quite and peaceful, but the mission isn't about what I want or what would make me most comfortable. I'm called to serve here and if there's only one person in the whole city whom I can help, my duty is to find that one person. Easier said than done, I know, but it's good to remind myself every once in a while of why I'm here.

If there's one thing I've learned from my comp (and believe me, I have learned many things) it's that Satan's greatest tool is devastation. (Actually the word in Spanish is: "desarimo" but I can't think of the English equivalent for some strange reason...) It is so true. If we feel discouraged we can't do much. That's only one thing I'm extremely grateful for - even when I'm at my lowest point here, there's always a glimmer of hope in my heart." I recognize the challenges as they come and just say to myself, "All right, Lord. I know good things are coming!" I've always trusted in that. There's always something good on the way!

Another thing I've been grateful for is the constant feeling of support from the Lord. It seems like the more difficult the situation, the greater I fell the Lord's presence in my life. I think maybe that's why we pass through trials. We need something to prove to us that we're never left alone. I was reading an old conference talk by Elder Holland about ministering angels - both the ones we can't see and the ones we can. He says the Lord always sends help to us in our times or need. We're never left alone. Before I went into the MTC my dad gave me a blessing that morning and he told me that during the blessing he felt the presence of family members beyond the veil more strongly than he ever had before. That has given me so much comfort, Jamie. I can't tell you the number of times I felt comforted from an unseen source. I'm sure I have help from family members but I'm also sure that you are behind that too. You're one of my angles, too. Every time you pray for me and every time you write to me I feel so uplifted. I promise you I can feel your prayers and that they really are helping me.

I'll never be able to tell you how much that means to me. I pray for you every night and I hope the Lord's pouring out all the blessings you deserve or being such a fantastic friend to one of His missionaries.

I'll try to send you pictures soon so you can see how utterly beautiful I am with my crazy hair and makeup-less face (it just melts off here. There's no point.) You might get a good laugh! Ah, humility...I just hope some man will still want to marry me someday after viewing my mission pictures.

Well, love, another P-day draws to its close. Heigh-ho Heigh-ho...back to work I go!

Hope this letter finds you happy and well. Never forget how much I love you!

Hna. Pallison.

p.s. Our neighbor speaks English and always puts on Disney movies for her kids. Ahh! The temptation!
Satan knows my weakness..