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 Atiquizaya, 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