Monday, August 30, 2010

Week 2 in Atiquizaya – No pictures yet….

Viewer warning:  This one gets a little graphic, as David was sick for a day or two. Don’t drink the water!  But then, you gotta drink something….Maybe its good we don’t get pictures.  Especially of those cockroaches.  However, the pics I posted are genuine!

Oh, and I finally figured out the “code” David is using with Stacey.  Actually, Stacey explained it to me, so I didn’t really figure anything out.  But, based on that, I think he’s figured out the mystery.  The code is in green below.  Stacey’s little girl has a name!

Alright, you´ve given me a lot to write about. Sorry if I forget to address a bunch of your questions. But here we go.

First, so I don´t forget, I checked out those pictures on the blog of Atiquizaya. I think I´ve been everywhere there except the courthouse or whatever that is. The chapel in that picture is the one we attend, so that´s kind of cool. However, as you may have gathered, this is the nice part of town. My area covers a few streets in this area, and then a bunch of neighborhoods up more in those hills in the background of the chapel picture. It´s a fairly large area. Also, I tried to logon to the family server, but it just gave me an error. The address didn´t work or something. I didn´t even get to the login thing. But I´ll try to upload a bunch to this email or another, if I can.

A couple more notes about the area and conditions, really fast. For some reason, every day we have about a fifty fifty chance of having running water. If we don´t, we get to shower by going outside and filling up big buckets of water, which we then dump on our heads. That´s always exciting. But on the bright side, we never do our own laundry. About twice a week a guy comes and drops off our clean laundry and picks up our dirty, but it all gets washed by hand, so it´s never quite as clean when we get it back. Also, the other day we had the exterminators come. I don´t know who pays them, but they just walk down the streets with these giant gun things and walk into every house, pumping it full of this green vapor stuff that kills things. When we were allowed back in the house, there were a good ten or twenty dead cockroaches just in the middle of the floor. We get them a lot, by the way. They´re sometimes as big as my thumb (both joints, not just the end part) but super overrated, because I think they´re dang easy to kill. Most of the time we just smash them and let them die on the floor. Usually nobody bothers to clean them up. Except today, since it was Pday. Sorry, by the way. I don´t know where the hyphen is on this keyboard. It´s an American keyboard, but I´m using the Spanish layout, so I don´t know where anything is. Also, some of the keys don´t work very well.

Speaking of this computer, to answer another question, we go to some kind of internet cafe thing to email, and I think it´s free for the missionaries. I guess they just bill the church directly or something. I´m not really sure. But we´ve never had to pay before.

When I got here, my mission president met me at the airport. He and his wife are awesome, and his wife especially is really funny. They took us all to eat in their home, which I didn´t realize at the time was super nice, and then we spent the night at the assistant´s house on a ton of mattresses we laid out on the floor. There were probably twenty of us. Me and one other American, Elder Perry, got assigned to Atiquizaya. He´s in a different area, though. Only me and Elder Reyes are in this area, and there´s two other missionaries in our district that live somewhere else. They´re also the Zone Leaders. Fun. By the way, we got to Atiquizaya by bus, but it was a special bus with only the new Elders on it. Kind of like a tour bus. I think the missionaries here are roughly half American and half Guatemalan or Honduran or something like that (obviously they´re either all American or all native, so you know what I mean) But really only the natives go to Belize. I don´t think I´ll get sent there. There´s only like 18 missionaries there, and well over a hundred here. They like sending the natives there to learn English.

I can´t really think of any families specifically to tell about. The first guy we contacted when we got here though was basically crazy. He talked really fast, so he was hard to understand, but I figured out that he agreed with our church, he just didn´t want to be a part of it. In fact, he wanted to start his own church with the same exact doctrine, structure, etc. but with himself as the Prophet and have people pay tithing to him. He even told me he´d make me an apostle if I joined. I declined, not really sure what was going on. As it turns out, he was just messing with me. He´s been a member for a long time, served a mission in Guatemala, and we eat dinner over there every Pday.

One more quick crazy story. This happened about my fourth day here. We went up to visit some lady up on some farm, and she had a friend over, who insisted that she had the gift of prophesy. Okay... But anyway, I was asked to give the opening prayer, but as I started giving it, she started praying too, which apparently is really common for evangelical ladies. But she was loud. I had to almost shout to finish the prayer. When we were about to end, she was asked to give the closing prayer. I have no idea why. So she started to pray, literally shouting the entire time, for almost five minutes. Then, still praying, she stood up, and slowly walked over to each of us in turn and put both her hands on our heads. For another good minute or two each. Í was more than a little bit freaked out. This thing lasted for a good ten minutes or so. Very odd. And then, kind of funnilly (I know that´s not a word...) we were walking back from an appointment a few nights later, and we could hear her praying. From almost a mile away. Very clearly. And for the entire time we were walking on that road. Crazy lady.

Last week, around Tuesday, I got sick. This may get a little graphic. First, I had diarrhea. Then intense constipation. It got to the point where I couldn´t go out because every five or ten minutes I had to poop, but nothing would come out. Except blood, because the cloggage was literally ripping my butt. I told you, a bit graphic. But it was fine a couple days later. I think it was just because I forgot to drink enough water. It´s super easy to get dehydrated here. Also it the last week, I´ve gotten a good twenty or so tick bites, which are not as fun as mosquito bites. I think they got in my pants yesterday, because they´re all up and down my leg. And I got an ingrown toenail. Like you said, Dad, when it rains it pours.

I feel like I should elaborate a bit on my comp. He´s really not hard to get along with, and a lot of times we have fun talking and such. He wanted us to start praying at night in English, so we did, and it´s kind of funny to hear him try to speak English. Actually, to be honest it felt really really weird to pray in English. I haven´t done that in months. But my problem with him is that he´s really condescending sometimes, and when I try to input something, he kind of ignores it. I am learning from him, but there are just things that he does that I don´t really agree with that I can´t convince him to change. For example, one of the standards our President has set is for us to contact ten people per day per missionary. Elder Reyes says this doesn´t apply to us, since contacts don´t really work here, so since I´ve gotten here I´ve done exactly one contact with him. That puts us behind by something like 279 contacts. And then just yesterday he wanted us to fast for new investigators, but we still haven´t contacted anyone, and we never ask for referrals. I don´t know how he expects us to get new investigators. But this last week our goal was 15 new. We got 0. But hey, we´re teaching a lot.

Alright, I should wrap this up. Emily and Dave, it´s good to hear Jacob and Joseph are walking mostly. It´s also great that you´re so close to Mom and Dad. Lindsay, I guess keep doing what you´re doing? Stacey, that wasn´t it, but that´s okay. It helps anyway. Actually last time was not very strategic, since I hadn´t really thought about it. Don´t always really compute it, if you know what I mean. Julie, I´m excited for you, and it sounds like you´re getting good and ready. I loved the pictures of Dave in his old baseball gear. Boys, get stuff done. You´re getting close on scouts, and things are going to get crazy soon, so you might as well start before school. Mom, I hope you start feeling better. I´ll work harder out here, and maybe those blessings will get sent home. Dad, thanks for moving so quick on that iPod thing. Make sure you get those songs from Sarah, and I had one more request. It´s called Distant Islands from the PostHaste Music Library. I think Stacey might know where it is. It´s only a minute or two long, but it´s good. Good luck on finishing up the yard. I´m excited to see it next week!

Love you all!

Elder E. David Arrington

Oh shoot. I just spent forever trying to figure out how to upload pictures, but it turns out I need administrator priveledges to do it on this comp, since I have to install some drivers or something. I´ll try to find a workaround by the end of today, but no promises.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

No Pictures from David yet, but…

I found these pictures of Atiquizaya on the Internet:

This one looks like some sort of train station or market.


Welcome to town….


Could this be the chapel in Antiquizaya?


I’m guessing this is some sort of town square.  It looks pretty nice to me.  I’m guessing these are not the muddy roads David spoke of….


Hopefully we’ll figure out how to get pictures from David soon!

Regan said I should add the picture of the temple in San Salvador.  It is currently under construction and should be dedicated in December or January.  David may get a chance to be there!

San Salvador El Salvador Mormon Temple

San Salvador El Salvador Temple

Monday, August 23, 2010

David’s Mission Address in El Salvador

David sent the following update later in the afternoon—two in one day!  Actually there was a third as well, but it was simply a request for some music, now that he knows what the rules are there. 

Since this post includes his address, I’ll post it here.  I still don’t get the references to some secret conversation between David and Stacey….

Alright, here´s my mission address:

Misión El Salvador San Salvador Oeste/Belice
Boulevard del Hipódromo #537
Colonia San Benito
Apartado Postal #367
San Salvador, El Salvador, C.A.

Make sure that you write the entire thing. Especially write the fourth line. Without that, they´ll have no idea which box to put it in and I likely won´t get it.

Also, there´s really no time restrictions on email, so next week I might get a good one out. This week, though, we have to go buy a bunch of food and such.

One more quick note to you, Stacey: good luck. It´s well hidden in one of today´s three, and you likely won´t know it when you see it.

Sorry for not sending more details. They´ll just have to wait until next week. Thanks again for all your support, and feel free to email me anytime, especially with pictures. I won´t get them until Monday, but hey, I love getting mail!

Elder E. David Arrington

Where in the World is Elder E. David?

This is the first correspondence from David since arriving in El Salvador.  No pictures yet, but we at least have an idea where he is.  And conditions do sound challenging or at least damp….  I did a little Google maps search of his new location and included that below.

Oh, and it does sound like the mail will be ok.  It sounds like he’s up for packages!

Before I start this, I have a little bad news. I haven´t yet figured out how to send pictures. I´ll get that worked out this week, and hopefully on your end, Dad, you can set up that web thing so I can just upload them there. I think that´d be much easier than attaching them to emails. The other bad news: I´m not sure if I have my mission mailing address with me. I´ll check when I´m done writing, but if I don´t, I´ll try to get one of the other Elders to send it to you all. Also, when I do that, please make sure it gets forwarded to Sarah, because seriously I think she´d buy a ticket to San Salvador just to come down and kill me if I don´t send it. Also, remind her I had an assignment for her. And tell her Happy Birthday for me.

Okay. Hi everyone! I´m in El Salvador, in case you hadn´t guessed. (Quick side note: for some reason I can´t remember which way apostrophes go, so I´m using this one: ´. And I´m typing with a Spanish keyboard, so that´s why you might bé seeíñg a littlé bit of thís). I´m in the city of Where David IsAtiquizaya, which is more inland in El Salvador, but I´m not sure where. In the mountains, though. My ward is called El Ángel, and it´s great. Some quick notes about the area really quick: There is no such thing as dry, here. Everything is wet. There´s just so much humidity that even pages of books and such start warping from the wet. My clothes are never dry when I put them on, and my sheets are always damp when I get in bed at night. Likewise, outside is always wet. When it rains, here, (every day), especially when it rains hard, roads get flooded. Actually, the roads are basically always a little flooded. The paved roads aren´t so bad, but a lot of our area covers a couple miles up in the mountains, and there´s no such thing as paved roads there. In fact, many times the path is an inch or two of mud, about a foot across, with shrubbery up to our elbows. Needless to say, we get dirty fast. And did I mention it´s usually raining? Also, we never take buses, really. My comp likes to walk to appointments. So we walk sometimes up to two or three miles uphill in those conditions to visit someone. If we´re late to something and there´s road in between us and our appointment, we take a Mototaxi. These really look quite funny to me. They´re basically little covered moped things with three wheels and no doors. But they drive fast and can maneuver around stuff well, so it´s good. But crazy scary inside of it. Oh, and everyone here drives like a maniac. Especially the buses. They generally straddle the line in the middle and go as fast as they can. Somehow the bus drivers avoid crashing. But it´s pretty nerve-wracking, because the sidewalks here are not good either, so we walk in the road, with mototaxis and buses and cars passing within a foot or two of us going forty miles per hour. Also, the bugs here are ridiculous. Mosquitoes especially are just everywhere. We have to spray ourselves with Off three or four times a day. I forgot one day, and now I have somewhere between twenty and thirty bites around my ankles, some of which are from some kind of spider, I think, because they´re really nasty looking now. Plus, of course, we´ve got the standard assortment of giant moths, cockroaches, and the like. Ants, as well, are everywhere. More than anything they´ve got these little ants about half the size of the ones we used to get in the kitchen, and they are everywhere. Literally. Crawling over my books while I study, over the table and counter while I eat, over my arms and legs all the time, the walls, the floors, etc. But I´m starting to ignore them. Things like that are why we can´t touch the floor, ever. We always have to wear shoes or flip flops, or we´ll get infections or diseases. We also can´t eat some things here, like pork and cabbage and lettuce, or we´ll get sick fast. The water will make us sick faster than anything else. Everything we use water for has to use special filtered water that we buy. Let me just say, living here is very, very different from back home. In just about every way. I didn´t even realize all the things I took for granted before, like walking around barefoot, lights actually turning on every time you flip the switch (here it´s about fifty-fifty), and taking hot showers (there´s only one knob because there´s only one temperature: really cold). Our apartment looks like one of the nastiest apartments you´ve ever seen, and it´s really nice for El Salvador. Most people that we teach are lucky to have tile floors. Usually it´s brick or concrete walls, sheet metal roofs and doors, and mud floors. And these are all built with no space between buildings, and usually surrounded with barbed wire, razor wire, broken glass, etc. And wild dogs, roosters, hens, ducks, etc walk around the streets eating garbage.

Okay, that sounded a little depressing. The conditions here are bad, but everyone is happy. They all can somehow still afford cell phones, cars, and TVs. I don´t think we´ve found more than one or two people here without a DVD player. And really they love life. I love being here. Of course, they´re hard to understand at times, and they like to poke fun at me because I sometimes don´t know what they´re saying, but it´s fun. Also, I´m about six inches taller than just about everyone here. Crazy. But they´re good people. They feed us a lot, and the food here is awesome. Every day we eat with this family that piles rice, beans, corn, etc. on a plate and we have to eat all of it. It´s different every time, but a lot of food, so I´m going to really be fat when I get home. I hope nobody minds. Another fun side note: yesterday I had an argument for almost twenty minutes with the daughter of the sister who feeds us about how badly written Twilight is. Who knew that would follow me even to El Salvador?

I´m running out of time, but so I´ll try to summarize better. My comp´s name is Elder Reyes. He´s from Guatemala, and he´s a little tough to get along with at times, but we work hard. He likes to work more than everyone else, so he gets up at 5 to study, and we always have appointments during lunch or during our study time, and even one today during P-Day. Some of them don´t quite make sense, though. Like the one today was to teach about the Book of Mormon to a kid who´s been a member for months and is about to receive the priesthood. But really it´s okay, because we´ve been teaching a lot. In fact, we never really do much contacting because we have appointments all day every day. The members give us referrals like crazy, so there´s always someone. Like just yesterday we met with a kid named Mauricio, who was just a reference from a friend. We committed him to pray about Joseph Smith, and he said yes, and then we committed him to, if he gets an answer, be baptized, and without any hesitation he agreed. He´s ready and willing to learn, and I´m excited for him.

Okay, I´m really running out of time. I think I only have an hour to be on, and now it´s just about gone. I´m sorry I didn´t get to write to all of you, or really write even that much. I feel like there´s so much more to tell, but it´s going to take several weeks to do. For now, I hope you´re all doing well. Mom and Dad, I thanks for all the support you´ve given me, and I´ll try to get those Thank You´s off this week or next. By the way, the mail here is apparently pretty good and we´ve never had any real problems with it, but if you send packages or something do it through normal mail, not fedex or dhl or something. They charge a ton and it takes forever and is just not a good experience. Sisters of mine, I love you all and hope your kids are doing awesome. Brothers, you´re crazy, but I hope you´re also well and working hard through the summer. Get stuff done.

I love you all, and I´ll try to get some good pictures for next week. And I´ll try to get the address to you via one of the other Elders here. Thanks for all your support, as always!

Elder E. David Arrington

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The final letter from the MTC….

A visit to the temple results in an, um, encounter with friends from home…..

Note that the pictures in this post are actually scans of some photos David sent us a few weeks back and are in no way connected to any chance encounter, whether fictional or not.  Stacey got after me for not posting them sooner….  The last picture is him with his district, the first and second are standard missionary pics from the MTC.  The third pic, I really don’t get.  What is that about, anyway? :-)

And finally, the time has come: David is getting ready to leave the MTC.  Here’s the details and his final letter from there.  Note that Dallas Texas is Central time, two hours later than PST:

Scan_Pic0002It's official, I'm leaving this place. This is my last P-Day here. I fly out on August 16, 2010. Awesome. Here's my itinerary: I have to be at the travel office in the MTC by 3:00am, and my flight for Dallas, Texas leaves at 6:00am. I'll arrive at 9:35am [that’s 7:35am PST], and have a six hour layover. Awesome. My flight to El Salvador will be at 3:40pm [that’s 1:40pm PST], and finally I'll arrive in San Salvador at 6:05pm. I will have a long time to call home, so this is awesome. Please know, though, that all of these times are in different time zones, so I don't know what the Oregon time will be during my layover. Please figure that out and be ready, because this is going to be awesome. And really fast, just let me say that I am so ready to get out of here it's not even funny. I'm excited to finally get to work!

Scan_Pic0004So, something kind of happened today that was kind of crazy. We went to the temple this morning, like always, and for some reason we couldn't get into the session we were supposed to get into, and initiatories were full, so we had to wait a bit to do a session. It finally ended about half an hour after we were supposed to be at lunch. So I'm a little hungry, but not really upset (I don't think you're allowed to be mad at the temple), and I walk outside and see this fantastic view of the valley over the fountains in front of the Provo temple, and I was feeling really great, and started walking down the stairs. And almost right into the Fotheringhams. Wow. Apparently they had come down because Melissa was having a baby, and earlier today that actually started, so they dropped her off at the hospital and decided to wait at the temple. Where we randomly ran into each other. That's a little crazy. We talked for a minute or two and shook hands (ONLY shook hands...) and I introduced them to Elder Millett, but really I was too surprised to really say anything. Seriously I was dumbfounded. Still, it was really nice and actually encouraging to see them again, and I'm glad I was blessed with that chance. We handled it very well, I think. I just hope they don't feel too bad. I think President Fotheringham might have.

Scan_Pic0003Now about this past week. I finally got to see the new Joseph Smith movie, which of course was fantastic. Every other time it had been scheduled, it got cancelled and the District 2 was put in it's place. We were all glad that didn't happen. I think we deserve to see it after being here eight weeks. My studies are going well, but I haven't really been teaching as much lately. The TEC gets booked pretty fast, and Elder Millett and I didn't make any more appointments, so there's basically no way to do it now. Spanish has gotten a little bit frustrating lately. I think what keeps happening is that we'll learn something new and feel really cool, but the more we get used to it, the more we realize how much we use it wrong, so then it gets frustrating. It's also a little rough because I can easily teach the first few lessons in Spanish, but whenever I try and talk normallScan_Pic0005y it's really hard. I just don't know the vocab, I guess. But I'll have time to learn that in the field.

The gospel is amazing. Unfortunately I don't have anything new right now to share, but that's only because I can't single anything out, not that I am not learning. Every day I feel closer to Christ. I think most of it is due to the environment. It'll be interesting to see how that changes when I'm not surrounded by thousands of missionaries.

Steven, I always start with you because you're the youngest. I love to hear that you're winning races, just don't let it go to your head. Or maybe you should. If your head gets bigger, you might grow a little (OH!). Michael, I'm glad you're enjoying your time off of school and scouts, but really you should take advantage of that time. Find something that you've always wanted to do or get good at, and every day make progress toward it. That's for both you boys, actually. Julie and Dave, I'm always happy to hear from you, and I guess it's fine if you prefer to take the advice I give to other family members. Whatever works. Stacey and Kyle, koalas are really is expensive . That's the best I can say on that topic. Also, I'm glad to hear your parasite can do a back flip - that's something I've wanted to be able to do. Also, if I don't get it right this time, I'll have it by the time I call during my layover. I'm dang dang close, even if it doesn't seem like it. Lindsay, you and Mike are the silenter type, but I'm still glad you're pulling through. And Emily and Dave, thanks again for that Spanish lesson thing. It's taught me a few things much clearer than they'd ever been explained to me before. They should teach this stuff! Mom and Dad, I love getting your letters, even the ones that are really short and just about how much Dad loves sound equipment. Keep     writing, and I'll talk to you on Monday. by the way, after Friday at 12:00pm, you should all just email me instead. DearElders don't come on Saturday, so Friday night is the last I'll get them. I love you all! Thanks for being such a great family. I think there's only been a couple days that I haven't heard from one of you, and I love it! I'll try to live up to your expectations and be an awesome missionary. I know that if I trust in the Lord and work hard, He can make it happen. I love you all, and I'll email you when I get to El Salvador!!!

Elder E. David Arrington

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Week 7 in the MTC – Can you believe it?

David’s departure date from the MTC is coming quickly.  It looks like he will not have a visa delay at all.  The time is coming.  The good news is that he can call and talk with his mom and dad during the layovers.  According to Regan, that means he can call and talk to his mom.  No room for dad in those conversations.  We’ll see about that.  I know technology….

We found David’s instruction from Elder Bednar particularly inspiring.  Not to mention the challenges for the family.

Hello all! First, let me start with a quick spiritual thought because I don't want to run out of time while writing it. Several weeks ago I mentioned a talk given by Elder Bednar here at the MTC. I would like to elaborate a little on that. In this talk, he answered what he said is one of the most frequently asked questions in the church: "How do I know if it's the Holy Ghost or just me?" His answer was fantastic, so I would like to share it here. In as close to his words as I can recall, he said this: "Quit worrying about it. Press forward with faith, be a good boy or a good girl, keep the commandments, honor your covenants, and your steps will be guided and your words will be inspired... Many times we think we should sit and wait to make a decision until we are under the influence of the Holy Ghost. Well I have news for you. When you are sitting and waiting you are not under the influence of the Holy Ghost... Somewhere in the culture of the church, not in the doctrine, people have learned that every time the Holy Ghost prompts us it will be a dramatic experience. This is not so. These experiences may happen, but the vast majority of the time you will be guided without even knowing it." I love this answer, because I've thought a lot about that as well. He said a few other things which I won't even try to paraphrase, but basically he said that as we center our lives around Christ, shouldn't we start to think and act as He would anyway? And as the Lord starts to trust us more and more as we choose the right, "He should not have to smack us with the Spirit" every time he wants us to do something. Most of the time, he said, we will end up saying something, or doing something, and have no idea that the Spirit prompted us.

As an example, he talked about the story when he was a missionary helping Elder Packard get on a train and decided to give him a twenty mark bill. Look up the story if you don't remember it. But from Elder Bednar's point of view, he says the only reason he thought he should give it to Elder Packard was because he thought they might get hungry along the trip, and would now have a way to pay for it. He didn't realize that it was a prompting from the Spirit until years later.

One more quick thing, in Section 80 of the Doctrine and Covenants, there's a sort of missionary call to some missionary. It's one of those random sections that we sometimes wonder about because it seems irrelevant, but in verse 3 it says something like this (I memorized it in Spanish, but I think this is roughly the translation): "Therefore, go and preach my gospel, whether to the north or to the south, to the east or to the west, it matters not, because you can not fail." It doesn't say the Lord doesn't care where he goes, it says it doesn't matter, because when we are close to the Lord and are allowing the Spirit to guide us, we cannot do wrong.

Okay, now back to me :). And you of course. Family, you're all awesome. I want you to all do your best to be as close to the Lord as possible so that you can be under that influence, and not the influence of the devil. That influence is evil, nuff said. Whether you're an anchorman in Ohio or a teacher in Arizona, fight against it this hour. If you don't actively try to fight against Satan, than you're apathetic, and he's won. Just my two cents real quick.

Okay, now REALLY back to me. I finally saw Elder Duzzett today! I was starting to think he didn't actually come in, but he was in the laundry room this morning, and I passed him in the temple, too. I guess we have the same P-Days, so that's fun. Speaking of the temple, it was awesome again. I love that place. We were going to try to do initiatories, but they were full, so I went through a session, which was fantastic of course. Plus the person I was proxying for (if that's even a term) was from Peru and had a crazy awesome Spanish name. And by the way, I love Spanish people. I had an Elder from my district (Elder Juan Carlos Roque) who is a tenor singer, apparently. Look him up on Google, you might find something on him. And actually his mom apparently translated a bunch of Hymns from English to Spanish, so they might be in the newer versions of the Spanish Hymn books. Crazy! But he's way funny, and I've learned a lot from him Spanish-wise. But he left today, which is why I mention him. How sad. But now he's in the field, which I guess is good.

I hope you're all still striving to get better. I know a lot of times in the summer we get apathetic, but if you start identifying things you want to accomplish and set goals toward it, there's some amazing things you can do. That's one of the things I've gained a testimony of here. Goals are incredible.

Steven, swim like a fish. That's the best advice I can give, since I was never a swimmer (by the way, did you get anything in the mail recently?). Michael, I don't even know what you're up to, but do it well. Just find something important and focus on it. Julie and Dave, you're still awesome, and I love hearing about Julie's human infection. Stacey and Kyle, if you haven't found it yet, you missed it, but I hope you're taking care of that dog. Lindsay and Mike, I hope the new job is treating you well. Emily and Dave, that package you sent was so great! I loved getting the photos and the hand-drawn pictures especially (dav-hav-fun-on-you-hcrip). SO cute. Say hi to all of them for me. Mom and Dad, I have a surprise for you. During my layovers I get to call you. So I'll have to find out when that will be and let you know so you can be ready. I'm so excited to talk! I should be getting those travel plans this week, by the way, and the travel office said there shouldn't be any problems with my visa, so I should be out on time. I love you all so much, and can't wait to see you all in two years!

Elder Arrington

PS: While I was writing this, some construction people set off the fire alarm. Awesome.