Monday, October 25, 2010

Week 10 – More (unfortunate) Gang Action

The reference to Stacey below has to do with the Arrington girls all going to Arizona to surprise Stacey this last weekend.  Great surprise!  Certainly better than finding a tree spider in your apartment…. 

Sorry, Stacey. I’ve got some bad news.

They told me.

Yep. Sorry. Looks like everyone truly did plot against you. If it makes you feel any better, they only told me a couple days before, and I didn’t actually read the email until after they went to surprise you, but I still got something.

I uploaded some pictures, and I wasn’t sure if I did last time so I uploaded one or two from last week. Really fast, I want to explain them. But first, there’s a picture of Imagen 001Will Chavez and his family when we went over for his birthday party last week. He’s Henry Chavez, our infamous investigator’s brother. Will is a member that is just waiting until he can go through the temple with his wife and 3 year old son, so it’s really a great family. They’re super nice people.

Okay, I have to interject a story really fast. For a few days this week the electricity would go out for an hour or so and then come back on. Then it’d go out, then back on. Random. Or, we thought it was. Then one night we heard some loud banging and some gunshots. It turns out that the police had been killing the power so they could go arrest basically all of the gang members in the city. Or at least a lot of them. And the people who live behind us were five or six of them, so what we heard was them getting arrested. I uploaded a couple pictures of a news article describing it, in case you can read Spanish. But the really crazy thing is the picture. Imagen 025 Apparently because Will and Henry have tattoos, which here means they’re part of a gang, they got arrested, too. In the pictures, the guy closest to the camera is Henry, and then to his right is his brother, Will. I think that’s stupid because we were totally going to baptize Henry, and Will’s a great guy, and it’s just stupid. But as it turns out, it’s pretty hard to teach and baptize someone who is in prison.

Let’s see. I also uploaded a bunch of nature-ish pictures we took last Monday, so you have a little bit of a better idea of what this country is like. Also, we caught one of the spiders that are always up in the trees Imagen 020 and power lines and stuff, so there are some pictures of it climbing around on me. Seriously, I see dozens of these things a day, but they’re not poisonous, we think, so it’s okay. Also, I look weird in some of the pictures, but I was seriously cracking up the whole time because the legs tickled, and it kept spinning a web on me.

Imagen 043 Also, there’s a picture of a rock that looks like Oklahoma, so my comp freaked out and took a picture, since that’s where he’s from. So I took one too.

Imagen 006 Okay. Besides what I’ve already mentioned, there wasn’t much that happened. We found a couple new families to teach, which is sweet, but we’ve only taught them once each. I don’t know why, but it’s getting really hard to find people a second time. They’re just never around. We still haven’t baptized Jorge, either, because he really wants his grandma to be okay with it, and she’s not yet. I hope that he’ll decide soon just to do it anyway. He knows it’s true, he just doesn’t want to go against what his family says, which makes sense, but not really at the same time.

As a house, we decided this week to get back on schedule. We had been staying up late talking too much, and getting up late and missing some stImagen 002udying, so we recommitted this week. We did pretty well, actually, and it’s amazing how much more energy I have when I get up early. That doesn’t seem like it would make sense, but it works. Also, I’ve been exercising again in the mornings. Sweet.

Someone just recently told me that they’ve been trying to repress anything that is complaining, either vocal or mental, and I want to try and do that some more. I feel like there are just days here where things are really hard, and the little things my comp or other people do drive me crazy, but really I should let that go and just try and feel the spirit. So I’m going to really try and do that more this week. Just so you all know, I guess.

Oh, that reminded me. We went to go find our recent convert, Herson, and couldn’t find him, so we bought some Chocobananos, which are basically bananas covered in chocolate and nuts, which is super good. And kind of healthy. Imagen 018 But we started talking to the family that sold them, and got invited in to talk to them. I don’t know why it was different than normal, but I really felt the spirit the entire time, and I could just feel the words being put into my mouth. After, I just felt incredible. I decided that I feel really bad for people that don’t go on missions, because they have no idea what that feels like. It’s incredible. That’s what I want for every lesson. The question, then, is why is it not like that every lesson? Is it me, or the investigator? I guess I’ll just have to keep praying and doing my best to be obedient.

Alright, finishing up really fast, thanks again for everything. I think I say that every week, but still, reading your emails is basically my favorite part of the week. That and serving the Lord, of course. Emily and Dave, your week sounds crazy with all the Arizona stuff Imagen 024 and Dave sitting at home with the girls, but it sounds like fun, too. But Dave, don’t give anything away from that book. I’m reading it when I get back, of course. Lindsay and Julie, good work on the Stacey operative thingy. Wow. I need to work on my naming of things. My sentences are digressing. But seriously, sounds way fun. And Michael, I expect to see those senior pics and you looking good in my tux. Steven, keep going with football. It doesn’t surprise me at all to know that you lost the games that you didn’t play in much. You are, after all, the driving force ;) Nice! It just started raining really hard. I love it. And Mom, I know you loved the weekend as well, but I hope you’re enjoying your time at work and home just as much. Dad, thanks for the depressing emails about BYU football. And other things that aren’t sad, I guess. Really, it’s fun to hear what’s going on with everyone.

I’ll try to write down some more details about random stuff in my next email so you can all get an idea of how things really are here. Like Dad said, though, it’s all normal for me since I’m out here, so I can’t really think of anything to write that would be interesting. Oh, but I am definitely getting used to having bugs everywhere.

Thanks again, and have a good week of writing to me!

Elder David Arrington

Monday, October 18, 2010

Week 9 – Hot Water Feels GOOD!

The big story this week is that David fixed the shower.  Who would have thought?  Oh, and the iPod arrived.  Now all we need is a picture!

I just really don’t know what to say about this week. Not very eventful. Oh, wait, I just remembered stuff.

First of all, I’ve been keeping my journal faithfully every day for my entire mission, and since I’m OCD about a few things, I wanted to have the same looking journals for all of my mission. So I figured out how many I’d need, and bought five in the MTC. I’m almost done with one. However, I also want to keep using the same kind of pen for the whole thing, because the ink looks a certain way, and I like it, but all six of my pens are just about dead. So the last few days I’ve had to rotate through the pens one at a time writing only a few words before the ink would run out. I need to buy myself some new pens. Sorry, that story was lame.

Here’s one that’s not, though! I HAVE HOT WATER!!! Yeah, that’s no less than THREE exclamation points. Basically, the house we live in is wired to have a hot water showerhead thingy that heats up the water, and all you have to do is flip the circuit breaker on the wall. But the showerhead we had was all rusted and disintegrated inside, so the heating coil broke. I finally decided to fix it, so I took it to a guy who told me I had to go to Ahuachapan and buy a new inside thingy for it, which would be like eight bucks. And then Elder Gonzalez threw the showerhead away when I wasn’t paying attention. So I just went to a store here and bought a new one for fifteen bucks. Hot. Water. Feels. GOOD. But here’s a riddle for you all to solve: I’ll likely get transferred to a house without this circuitry in the walls and such, so would there be a way to install this in those houses and connect the wiring to a light socket or something? Or maybe have some kind of car battery? That’s a problem you can all work on solving for me.

As for our area, not much has changed. Our investigators haven’t been progressing at all, and we really haven’t been able to find most of them to teach. But we did just find like fifteen new investigators, which is sweet. I hope they turn into something. We were supposed to have a baptism last week, but he didn’t show up for his interview, so we’re hoping for this week. Man this work can be tough. But it’s satisfying, too.

Sorry, that’s about all the interesting stuff that happened this week with our work. It’s mostly just been teaching who we can find, and walking a lot trying to find people. Wow. That sounds rather depressing. But I’m sure this week will go better. We’ve got some pretty sweet plans set up for our new investigators.

Well that’s about all I have time for, now. My ZL’s, who write with us, are pushing me to get off. Oh, really fast, though, I just remembered something rather important: I got my iPod! That was a very, very exciting time for me, let me tell you. I’ve been stoked all week. The music you all put on there was fantastic. Seriously, it’s amazing. I love it! Thank you everyone! And thanks, Dad, I guess, for putting all your Contacts on there? I guess now if I need to get a hold of Bishop Dungan, I can just look up his phone number or email?

Thanks, everyone, for your emails. As always, I loved getting them. I had heard a little about the Chile thing, by the way. A few members here were watching the news while we were over, so I got a little of the story. Crazy stuff. And I saw the football video. Steven, great work. Keep it up, and that coach will have no choice but to play you. And then you’ll get drafted. I didn’t hear much about how work is going for Michael, but I hope you’re still having fun and getting a ton of money from it. It sounds like a great job. Have fun, too. And I don’t have time to personalize something to all of the girls, but I love you all, and your emails always make me LOL out loud. It’s good to hear your lives are good and you’re all preparing for babies or moving back to Utah. And Mom and Dad, your emails are probably the highlight. I think it’s because you’re my parents, but really, they’re great to get. I love you all, and pray for you all the time!

Elder David Arrington

Monday, October 11, 2010

Week 8 – Danger in Ataquizaya….

Ok, now it sounds pretty scary down in El Salvador.  Still David’s optimism continues to inspire.  The picture below is actually from last week, but it seemed to apply a bit.  Here’s the update:

This week flew by so fast I can’t even believe it. But it makes sense, because it was a crazy week. And not completely in a good way. First, last PDay was exhausting, which was awful because that’s the one day I get to rest at all. So I was dead tired all week. And because it was so full of stuff like playing soccer, which was way fun, we didn’t have time to buy any food, so both me and my comp were hungry almost all week. But we were still feeling pretty good up until the last few days.

I was contemplating not telling any of you how things are going here because I knew Mom would probably worry, but I think it’d be far better to just come out with it. Things  are really dangerous. In the last week there have been five gang killings that I know of, all right here in Atiquizaya. One of them was the ward mission leader of the Sucre ward, who was just an 18 year old kid. Really sad, that one. But seriously, don’t worry about me because there’s only three reasons someone gets killed by a gang here. One, they owe them money, which I don’t. Two, they are part of a rival gang or are mistaken for a member of a rival gang, which I’m not, and seriously doubt that I could be mistaken for one. Three, they randomly do it to make a statement, but they leave missionaries alone because they know we’re doing good stuff, and we’re always in pairs, and I don’t think they want to mess with that. So there’s not too much danger here for me, as long as I obey the rules. I’ve got God protecting me, and he’s pretty good at what he does.

So we were pretty stoked at the beginning of the week with how many investigators we had, and we were getting them ready for baptism, and it was great. We had a goal of eight this month, and it was actually coming through. But a bunch of bad stuff happened, and now we’d be lucky to get three. The first one was the biggest shock, I think. It happened a few days ago. We were teaching this one guy named Carlos and his family of four. That’s five baptisms, for all you at home counting. And it was such that if we baptize him, we baptize the family with no problems. And he was super positive. He had met with the missionaries before and had wanted to get baptized, but both of the Elders got transferred and the new ones never contacted him. So we were super excited. We even gave him some pamphlets and a chapter to read in the Book of Mormon, and he not only read them, he did so several times and wrote down questions for us to answer. You don’t find more golden people. But we went one day and he was too busy to meet with us, so we set up another appointment for the next day. When we went the next day, we found out that earlier that morning he had been killed by one of the gangs. What do you even do with that? At least he’s getting taught right now in the spirit world.

Then there was Henry. We were super excited with him as well because he’s basically given up his USA gang life and was just waiting for an interview with the President to get baptized. He had it, and a letter got sent to church headquarters to see if he can, and so we’re just waiting on that. But just two days ago we found out that he went out with some friends, started drinking, got in a fight with them, someone called the cops, and he’s now in jail. He gets out on Thursday, but still, this is terrible. We have a ton to work through with him now, and it really killed us to find out. We were so excited that he had changed! GAH! And then this one other guy, Rigoberto, had a date for this Sunday, but he needed one more attendance to church to be baptized. He was going to come yesterday, but his mom, who he’s been watching for a while (she’s 98) has now been refusing to eat and just says she wants to die. He’s super depressed, and couldn’t go to church because he had to go to the cemetery to prepare a grave. So that, in short, is how we lost seven baptisms this week. Needless to say, it was rough. Especially since we couldn’t find the other family we’re teaching, and almost every one of our referrals fell through. We recorded an all-time low for lessons taught in a week, and I don’t think I’ve worked harder or been more exhausted in my life. Missions aren’t easy.

DSCN1421But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, so don’t be super sad. The ward started a soccer tournament with twelve teams, and each team has two or three investigators. In order to play in each game, the investigators have to do something like have a chat with us, go to church, go to a family home evening, or something like that. It’s super good because everyone plays soccer here. On Saturday we got six referrals from it, which is awesome, and we’re going to visit them this week. Then on Sunday we got two referrals for kids that have already been to church in the past a bunch and now want to be baptized. So maybe things are looking up. Plus we’ve got a baptism this week for a kid named Jorge who is super super ready and we’ve only taught him three times. He’s just been to church like twenty times. And we did find a couple more people through contacting.

So there you go. That’s about it this week. Like I said, it was pretty brutal, especially since one or two of these things happened like every day. We just kept losing investigators. And I feel super bad, but I didn’t get to finish Mom’s present. I figured I could get a somewhat good thing done really fast, but I want this to be awesome, so you’ll have to wait one more week. Sorry!

Oh, I do have one more really quick story. So yesterday was Fast Sunday, and we didn’t have any food at home, so we were starving all day after we broke our fast. We decided to try and convince people to feed us with a scripture. So we went up to people and read them Alma 8:19 and then would ask them what they learned from it. It worked with one of the members, and she fed us a ton, but just before that we tried it with a less active man whose wife makes amazing pupusas, and he totally didn’t get it. He told us that he liked the scripture because it likened the word of God to food and how we always need to eat it to receive strength. It was rather funny, but we turned it into a pretty sweet lesson that might help reactivate him. And then we almost got food, but they were out of pupusas. Shucks.

Oh, and I still haven’t gotten my iPod. I don’t think Elder Duzzett knows he can send it to the office to be left for me, so maybe if you can pass that on to his family for email or something we can make something happen. I’m so excited to get it and finally have something to listen to! I’ll try to email him, too, actually.

So there it all is. Thanks for all of your mail, as always. I love getting it and reading about all the crazy adventures you’re all having, like Lindsay and Mike getting into places for free, Stacey and Kyle not doing anything, Julie and Dave getting free food, Emily and Dave playing with kids, Michael and Steven doing weird things, and Mom and Dad enjoying it all. By the way, I’m super stoked that Max Hall is the starting quarterback now. He went to Elder Winters’ high school. Crazy.

Thanks again for all your love and support!

Elder E. David Arrington

The following was later forwarded to me from Sarah Lynn.  Apparently David gave her a bit more info to forward our way.  Oh, and Pinochle is not big in my family….

Really quick, pass a few things on to my family that I didn’t write in my email. One, I didn’t have any pictures to upload this week. Two, go to YouTube and look up Arrington Pday. I had a member upload a couple videos just in case they didn’t go up on the server.[Note:  Said video could not be found, but we think it is on the server.  This might be the one:]

Also, ask my sisters about the song “I’ll go it alone” from My Little Pony. It’s been stuck in my head for days, and it’s a stupid song. But there you go. Also, tell my dad that the Man in the Iron Mask is amazing, and I’ve actually been thinking about that movie a lot the last few days. And Leonardo DiCaprio is amazing, as always.

Wow. Now I feel super bad because almost all of my email to you is actually just to my family. But hopefully it’ll result in something like you realizing that you’ve never seen that movie and then watching it with my family. And then again with me post-mission. Also, we’re watching Avatar again, all three seasons, when I get home. But one thing you may need to learn is how to play Pinochle. Ask Emily and Dave about that. It’s kind of big in my family.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Week 7 in Atiquizaya – More Pictures!

This week brings a new companion, some fun pictures, a couple videos, and birthday wishes for mom!  Editor’s note:  That whole Raid/fire thing?  We did that as a missionaries, too.  Some things never change.

So, as I promised, I uploaded more pictures. And a couple videos. Actually, they’re uploading right now. But I feel like about half of you will watch certain videos and think, “Oh wow, that’s great.” and the other half will think “Oh no... Oh no no no...” So I’m going to explain it. And you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see them.

We have a lot of bugs, and usually they’re really big. Cockroaches, mostly. Lately we’ve found a much more effective way of killing them then simply spraying them with Raid: We light the Raid on fire. So that’s what got us started on this stuff. Basically, one night we had to be in early because of gang stuff, and had nothing to do. So we figured out what kinds of things we could set on fire. Yes, missionaries are crazy. Rest assured, though, that almost nothing in our house is actually flammable. The house itself is mostly concrete. But I figured you might get a kick out of how stupid we can be. So I sent a couple videos that I took. We’re still good missionaries, we just got bored. In the other pictures, you’ll see Elder Martinez leaving, Elder Martinez Leaving The Fuentez family (the ones that I’m in),  the Retana family, a lot of pictures of our dirty house before we decided to clean it, Fire in handa really blurry picture of me with fire in my hand, Herson’s baptism, and a couple of this locust thing  we found. By the way, those things are everywhere, especially at night. In fact, kids tear the back legs off and play soccer with them, because they’re so big, and because they’re everywhere.

So I got a new comp, and he’s great. I’m so excited now. His name is Elder Wardlow, which is actually harder for the people here to say than Arrington, which I thought was great. His last comp was really terrible apparently, calling home and his girlfriend Fuentez Familyall the time, hugging girls, etc., so we’re both just ready to work. And it’s great, because there’ve been times where I say something like, “well we can go visit Mauricio, or we can stop by Henry’s house, or head to the chapel to see if there are  people we can start teaching.” and his response is always something like, “well, why don’t we do all three?” It’s great. The members have already gotten used to him, and they’re giving us a ton of referrals now. We’ve got a goal of eight baptisms this month, and it’s seeming like it’ll happen. We’ve got really promising investigators. This week we want to set four dates.

Retana FamilyConference was awesome. All the English speaking Elders got to watch it together, and it was a party. There were only like ten or twelve of us, but it was great. After the really good talks we were all just like, “whoa. That was awesome.” They were all really good, though. I don’t remember conGarbage in the casaference ever being so great. I took twelve pages of notes in my comp book. That’s awesome. And the spirit was awesome, of course. Really powerful.

Wow, I feel lame. I can’t even remember anything else about which to write. That’s okay, though, because I’m running out of Elder Wardlow, David's Companion time. Emily and Dave, I wish you luck in not going back to Utah. Lindsay and Mike, I’m praying for you to get into BYU. That’ll be awesome, although not football-wise, from what I hear. Stacey and Kyle, I cannot believe that your baby is coming in six weeks. That’s one change here. That’s not any time at all. Crazy. Julie and Dave, congratulations Elder Wardlow eats a locuston little James Edward David Arrington De Rurange (I figured if he’s going to be named after me, he should have ALL the names.  Think on it). Michael, work is great, isn’t it? Keep it up. Steven, if you broke your finger, that’s both awful and awesome. Good work, and don’t do it again. Dad, your emails are great, and I already know who you voted the best. Sarah talked. But I hear you did it very fairly, so well done. David at Herson's baptismYou really did end up winning. And Mom. Happy Birthday! You should find a very short but hopefully good email waiting for you, and next  week you will get my I-couldn’t-quite-finish-on-time present. Look forward to it!

I love you all, I pray for you all, and appreciate all of your support!

Elder E. David Arrington