A New Companion

I am getting a new companion!  Well, I genuinely couldn’t be more excited. There are three things that I hoped for that came true with this change. 

1. I wanted to stay in Arrajian, I’ve heard it is the nicest area in all of Panama, but also, I love my Bishop and the landscape and the people and just everything about Arrajian so much. I have been told by just about everyone I have one of the best wards.  I definitely agree. Bishop Bravo reminds me in many ways of Bishop Spears back home. The first time we met was on my first Sunday. I had determination in my eyes and I was going to ask, “Hey, I’m new here, what do you need us to do in this ward.” I got up and couldn’t remember any Spanish. We just made eye contact and he gave me a big hug and said, “Welcome to the ward, I’m so excited to have you.” Honesty, Bishop Spears has a close spot in my heart. My Favorite Bishop, but Bishop Bravo is a close second. He has a similar sense of humor too. We share a ward with two other Elders. So, there are four Elders in two wards. 


2. I occasionally have the chance to talk with the Church Regional Manager for Panama. He organizes the agenda for when anyone comes in for a Visa. I wanted to talk to him one last time. He has a unique testimony and it is just inspiring to listen to him. He encourages missionaries to search deeper for answers to their questions. I have loved learning from him and know that he is one of the reasons the Lord has put me in Arrajian. 

3. I also prayed that I would have someone to help me with training and with my Spanish. 

I was ecstatic when I found out that Elder Vela is my new companion. He is the red head in the picture down below and he is from Mexico. He is bilingual and has already helped me quite a bit with my Spanish. He was from the other companionship within the ward. I am still in Arrajian and in the same ward just over a different part. Their house is so cool! First off it is not a ten-minute walk from the start of the street to our house every night and morning. We have a wider area, but we live in the center of everything. We have a green coconut tree in our backyard and while every house in Panama has fans, we have an AC unit, I am so happy!!! 



















Panama Is A Blessing!

Compared to the last few weeks, this week seems rather uneventful. We had zone conference and I absolutely loved how spiritually uplifting and motivating it was. It was also great because they feed us as well. They spoke about being obedient to the mission rules. Since then I have been more diligent with my personal study. During the last week and the weeks before I would be walking, talking and taking the occasional picture; this week I have used flash cards that I carry around everywhere. While we are walking from one appointment to another I am studying. My goal has been to memorize many new words every day. As I have turned to the Lord and asked him to help me I have flown through these flash cards like I could not have imagined. My grasp of Spanish grows a little bit every day and now I am understanding significantly more this week than I did last week.

When I was younger, I learned a small little rhyme. (Find a penny, pick it up and all day long you'll have good luck.) While in Panama I have found a penny every day this week. I viewed this as good luck or a blessing in my life. While some days I may have seen one, other days I found 3, 4 or 5 pennies. On those days I knew something good was going to happen and as I put forth the effort to make my days filled with good luck. I found better results and had a more positive attitude. In life sometimes we have only one penny worth of blessings, but that shouldn't limit us. We shouldn't say, oh, man, I have been given only this penny, and just walk past not picking up that penny thinking it's practically worthless. If you put effort into making a penny you find on the street motivate you to work harder, or look harder for your blessings in your life you will find more success and more happiness. Some day that penny will lead you to another and another creating a cycle of blessings. Don't walk past that one penny. Always be thankful for your blessings, even the small ones. 

This week I questioned myself a bit one day. I was like oh man a mission can be rough at times. For example, am I tired at the end of the day? Some days couldn't end sooner. Is the heat a challenge? Yeah, but not as much as the Spanish. How bad is the Spanish? Well, it’s getting better. I heard my bishop say watch out for this family. They have a rocky past. He actually said watch after. I still have a lot to learn. Do I wish I didn't have to search five to six stores just to find tortilla chips or jelly? OH YEAH! Always! Then I think to myself, but Jacob, isn't this everything you asked for in a mission. A challenge that I will grow from, an opportunity to learn a new language. The beautiful floral scenes and the humble homes. And the crazy stories to tell. Panama in many other ways is the mission I always wanted to go on, but never realized that it was the mission I truly wanted. How blessed am I! 

I would love to leave a bit of advice for any other future missionaries. This week I went on divisions with Zone Leaders so we were in a trio. That night we were fed a meal at a member’s house which is always so great. But there was something about those beans that didn't sit well in any of our Mexican, Peruvian, or American stomachs. We are not allowed to track door to door... so we ran down the streets looking for a member’s house or even an old investigators house. Let me tell you, if every day you looked for investigators with the same intensity we looked for a toilet, then I have no doubt that you'll have several new investigators before the end of the week.  
Love you all- Elder Irizarry

Tips for Future Missionaries:

Socks:
I like the CTR Clothing DryMax and the Darn Tough socks.

Fans:
They have not come in use yet unless you are using them to dry your clothes.  I've heard that many of the areas outside of the city and suburbs have problems with electricity. Find one that can plug in or run on batteries.

Shoes:
You'll definitely want a pair of boots for the rainy season.  Other than that you will want a very comfy shoe.

Hangers:
Make sure you bring some with you to the MTC.  I did hear that the girls had them but we didn't. This mission home will give you around five and the rest you can buy here.  They are really cheap.

Lights:
I brought a few lights. A flashlight, and small Mila saftey LED light, a head lamp and a blow up solar lantern.  I love the small light that I hang on my bag. I ordered it from ILC travel outfitters. It's powerful enough to light the road as I am walking at night. The headlamp has been helpful at night because there have been a few times that I've washed my clothes in the dark.