Do you remember the first time you watched Mary Poppins? Not that old one. I mean the good one with the killer music and Dick Vandyke. It was magical. People were flying because they were laughing too hard. One guy had a house which was part of an active ship. The songs were so beautiful and catchy. And at one point they jumped right into the pictures. Panamá feels the same way. It's magical! I got here at a time where it rains. Every corner I turn feels like it could be a framed picture. The people here are so nice and friendly. Every person you pass will say hello to you, even if you're in the middle of a deep conversation. And on top of it, the work is great. But, do you remember the first time you heard the song ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’? You were probably like what in the world is that word? I want to learn it so I can sing-a-long with these people. But of course, it wasn't till the seventh time you rewind the tape till you finally felt comfortable saying it. That's how I felt about my Spanish as soon as I got off the plane. All the people speak that fast too. However, I know I'm getting one letter at a time, but I still can't quite sing-a-long yet. But that's okay because I can rewind that song over and over until I get it down.
My companion Elder Garcia and I
             So I'd like to tell you a little about my companion, Elder Garcia. He is a great young man from Peru. His first language is Spanish, but about three days in I found out he actually knows some English and since then translating has gotten so much more efficient. He has been in Panamá for three months, which means he just finished his training and now he is training me. What a wonderful time to serve in Panamá where they need so many missionaries. The first time we met he literally ran up to me and gave me a hug. Now for those of you who don't know, my biggest concern of Panamá is the language. So of course, the first thing I tell him before we took our picture was, “Hey I don't know much Spanish.” And he puts his arm around me. And he comforts me. And he says, “It's okay, Don't worry… I'll teach you” I have rarely felt so welcomed and looked out for. I don't know if I could have asked for anything else. He has just taken on a very brotherly role. He is great with children. He is incredibly patient, especially with my Spanish. He is always checking up on me and helping me with words and pronunciation.  He is everything I wanted and asked for in a companion. I couldn't be happier.

            What can I tell you about Panamá? –well, we live in Arraijan, more specifically Alameda. It's on the other side of the Panamá Canal. We have eleven zones in Panamá. Seven of those were by the city (including ours, but I don't know how big our district or zone is).  In our district, there are two other sisters and two other Elders. Elder Neilson and Elder Valez. There is an elementary school to like middle school close by in our area. Now I've been told they aren't officially religious, but on the secretaries desk there was a stack of Mormon magazines (the Liahona) for anyone to take. So I mean I'd consider it to be a religious school. Oh, but on Monday through Friday we go over and they give us food. So we often get to see the other Elders roughly five times a week at least, and they are just funny guys. But the third day was by far the hottest day yet in Panamá. I mean I was just sweating up a storm. So I was happy to sit down for lunch in the school. They gave us soup. Like hot soup. I don't think I've ever been hotter in my life. But actually that was really good soup. It was red bananas and chicken and it just tasted spot on. I just never thought I would eat anything hot in Panamá, but to be fair it is their winter. Oh and I guess a trend here recently has been adding onto your house. For example if you have a driveway, and you lived in Panamá, you would probably go out and get cinder bricks. Apparently, people just expand their house with cinder bricks to touch the edge of the driveway, and it doubles as a patio. I don't know. It's just different. Oh, and there are also so many wild dogs. Even the ones with collars just roam the streets. Some are chill, but some just want to eat your legs. However, chicken and roosters are even more common. You can find them just walking the dirt trails. Speaking of trails, Some people have roads, which are like paved, but feel like gravel. Others just have dirt trails. But no matter where you're going a taxi will get you there. Oh and if you don't want to take a taxi, you can take a Diablo Rojo. These are old School Buses that are spray painted with graffiti, sometimes lights, and sometimes a crazy sound system. I'm just surprised there aren't more accidents.

Bird of Paradise
What can I tell you about the work? Well, tracking door to door has been outlawed by our mission president. We have these things called cosechas. Our mission president told us we can save time by instead of knocking 1,000 doors to find one investigator, we should just pray to know which house has that one investigator that is ready. We then share with them a quick prayer and invite the spirit, and if they accept we set up an appointment. My testimony has already grown. God blesses us with miracles every day. I've never felt so strong about going to a specific house or a certain direction. It's absolutely incredible. In Panamá, even when we have lessons they are on porches. Everyone just sits on their porches unless they are inside watching TV, eating, working, or sleeping. We have already had a baptism from an investigator. I didn't teach them, but it still was a cool experience. My companion accidently filled up the font too high and had to drain a little bit. But we have another who is committed to a date. They are my favorite investigators. Jose is 11 and his cousin Yurchie is 10. They come to church with us, because nobody else in their families are interested. They own a pet monkey and a mango tree which they already gave us mangos from. They are incredible young kids.

This monkey lives on their mango tree.
My scripture study on Sunday was the most intense yet. And it all started with a question. I know that if you search the scriptures with questions you will find answers. But a good part of scripture study is having questions. I feel like I find so much more meaningful study when I ask oh, what did they mean by that? Instead of oh it's probably something that'll make more sense as I continue going on. I'd like to share a quote from 1 Nephi 11:1
For it came to pass after I had desired to know the things my father have seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known to me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord…” If we have this great desire we can find the answers to any of our questions. In D&C 76:5-10 we read, “For thus saith the Lord—I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end. Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory. And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom. Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations. And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven; and before them the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught. For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will—yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man.”
He wants us to find these things. He wants us to draw closer to him. In Moroni 8, I jump around a little, but it's one of my favorite scriptures. “I am mindful of you always in my prayers, continually praying unto God the Father in the name of his Holy Child, Jesus, that he, through his infinite goodness and grace, will keep you through the endurance of faith on his name to the end… And now, my son, I desire that ye should labor diligently…”
Please don't take you scripture study time lightly. Set aside study time in the morning or at some specific time where you can actually study the scriptures. 

Elder Irizarry
Rain, Rain, Don't Go Away.  Please come back everyday!