Monday, December 27, 2010

Week 19 – Still in Atiquizaya

David’s email this week is quite a bit shorter, primarily due to our call with him this week.  Yep, David got to call home for Christmas.  In fact, he was allowed to Skype, so we were able to do a video call with him.  It was great to do!

As you can see from the picture, we put him up on the big screen, which was probably a little overkill, but hey, why not?

David on Skype Call 1c

Julie said she thought he looked like a helicopter pilot.  LOL. 

Here’s one that’s not full screen.  In the pic above, we can see ourselves in the upper right corner.  In the one below, we’re just below David.  Ya gotta love Skype….

David on Skype Call 2b  This next one’s pretty blurry for some reason, but it shows what it looked like when we had all six endpoints on.  There’s a window for David, of course, plus one for Julie, Emily, Stacey, Lindsay, and us, of course.  This was pretty crazy because it pretty much brought the network to its knees.  We ended up dropping people off and taking turns doing three at a time (where David and us were two of the three).David on Skype Call 4b

Anyway, we loved talking with David.  But enough about us.  Here’s his letter from this week:

Subject: “Um, What is, uh, this thing?” “An arm.” “Told you.”

Zone Conference?I can’t really think of much to tell you all that wasn’t said on the 25th. By the way, it was super awesome being able to talk to all of you with video. Sweet.

Really fast, I have to tell Stacey something. That soundtrack is kind of like you said it is, but the music kind of makes you think, I guess. It’s not some huge orchestral thing like we’re used to, but it just has a thoughtful nature about it. That’s all I can think of to explain the way I think of it.David with baptizee's family and Elder Wardlow

So on Saturday, after the call, we had an hour to get this baptism together. The only problem is that we had no baptismal clothes, the baptism form thingy was in Turin (far away), nobody knew about the service, the font wasn’t filled, there was no agenda thing, nobody to give David with new baptizeetalks, and we didn’t have permission from the parents to baptize him. And we didn’t know where he lived so we could go ask them. Kind of stressful. We managed to pull it all together, though, and actually had a really good service. I did the actual ordinance, and everything went super smooth. I’ll upload some pictures of it all. It was cool, though, because we were  wandering around town in somebody else’s area (he doesn’t live in ours) just asking random people on the street if they knew a Luis Ernesto. Nobody did. At all. Then, with something like ten minutes left, we went down some random street and went to some random house and decided to knock there and ask. It turned out to be his house. So we got the permission. Cool story, Hansel.

The only other thing we did all week was eat a lot of food. Christmas DinnerWe had three different dinner  appointments on the 24th, and one on the 25th, but the one on the 25th was with this richer family that is known for putting together a massive Christmas dinner for the Elders. I think I have pictures of that, as well. It was super good, and we were all super stuffed.

So it was good to hear that everyone is doing well. I kind of got a little bit homesick seeing the house, but I think that is a little bit normal. And it was awesome being able to see all the nieces and nephews, especially Darci for the first time. I am kind of running out of things to say.

 Elder Wardlow and DavidReally, I think this will have to do for this week. It wasn’t even really a week. It was two days. We had church. That was cool. Sorry. I promise, I’ll get a super cool email ready for next week. Until then, everyone should keep doing what they’re doing. (You’ve all seen real soldiers before, what they do!)

I love you all, and Merry Christmas! And Happy New Years, too!

Elder David Arrington

David with Sam Duzett (and someone else I don't know)Ok, back to dad for a little post script.  In the pictures David sent this week there were two that he didn’t mention that I thought were worth publishing here.  First, here’s a picture of David with Sam Duzett, who David pretty much grew up with here in the Evergreen Merry Christmas, David!ward.  They’re serving in the same mission.  Sam is on the right.  I don’t know who is on the left. Seeing them in suit coats is a pretty rare thing as well, I’m told.

Second, each year after our family opens Christmas gifts, we get out the kids blankets (each one his or her own color) and set out all the Christmas spoils in front of the tree to take a picture.  David did that with the stuff we sent, which I think is pretty fun.  Our family will get a kick out of it at least.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Week 18 in Atiquizaya – Countdown to the phone call…

No pictures this week, but we are looking forward to the Christmas phone call to the family.  Other than that, we must learn how to bring a ship into Turtuga.  Together, I guess.  And transfers?  Who knows….

SubjectIf we were here two hundred years ago, we’d be swimming!

So let’s tackle the biggest things first, here. The most well-known is to never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well known is this: my phone call.

I’m pretty sure that the only important rules are these: What a man can do, and what a man can’t do. For example, I can call family. But I can’t bring this ship into Tortuga all by my onesy. Sevy? Basically we’re allowed to call family. That’s what they tell us. We do this from our house with basically no rules attached, so here’s the plan I think I’ve come up with: At 11:00am our time (I think that’s 9:00 Oregon time since we don’t have daylight savings or anything) I will call the house. This will give me a chance to talk to the family there, especially Mom, for a while. Then I will call into the conference call using the number that Dad gave me and talk to the rest of the family. The only downside to this is that I don’t know when I’ll make that second call, so the girls will all just have to be ready and waiting. It should be pretty late in the morning, though, so I don’t foresee any big problems. Any changes in this plan will have to be communicated during the first phone call, since this is the last email before it.

Congratulations on getting Michael’s stuff done so fast! That’s awesome. Michael, you’re a stud. So are you, Steven, because wrestling in beastly.

On my end, we do have changes. Normally they’re on Wednesday, but because of the Christmas multi-zone we’re having Wednesday they got moved to Tuesday. Tomorrow. And they are supposed to tell us Saturday night, or Sunday night at the latest, if we have them, but here we are almost past noon and still nobody knows anything. That means that if I leave I’m going to have a fun time packing all night. And I wouldn’t have any time to go say goodbye to the members. And I’d miss the stupidly massive amounts of Christmas dinners we’ve been offered. Lame. But I’m not completely sure I’ll have changes. We’ll see.

I don’t really know how it happened, but we ended up with two dates for this Saturday. The last weekend the baptisms can count. How? No clue. But we’ll just see what happens with those. One is a kid who has been going to church for forever, but he’s in San Salvador until the 23. The 24 we’re going to interview, and the 25 is the date. Not much room to breathe. The other is a 9 year old kid of a family we just reactivated. Super nice people. The father just went to the bishop Sunday to see if he could do the baptism, but we don’t know what happened with that. We’ll find out today. If he can’t, we might try to go ahead with it, but we’ll probably just wait. I don’t want to take that opportunity from him.

Some things have been said about the massive number of baptisms here. Here’s the real truth. We get a lot of baptisms, but the people here really don’t get converted. There are churches on every street corner, so religion really isn’t a big thing for these people. It’s just somewhere you can go and say that you worshipped God for the week. Thus, when the going gets hard in our church, they drop it. I don’t know what the stats are for my ward, but in the other ward there’s something like 600-700 members. Their attendance this week: 63. Nuff said. Remind me to say something about this in my call, by the way, because there’s more that I’m just too tight on time to write about here. Julie, I’m putting you in charge of that. That’s punishment for being so scatter-brained lately. JKBS.

I did interchanges for three days this week, and it was pretty good, but I went to an area called La Labor. Wow. I had no idea that an area could be so dead. That must be what some of you got in Europe. Our zone, apparently, is pretty tough, but my area is one of the better ones I think. La Labor doesn’t have very many houses in it, and they’re a lot richer people, so they are a little bit more, humble-less. And since there aren’t too many, they’ve all been contacted a ton. We tried contacting a few people and they weren’t too happy about it. Elder LaFrance, who I was with, said that he contacted there with the ZLs and they had people screaming at them and slamming doors in their faces. Ouch. I did, however, eat a fresh coconut. Now, normally I don’t like coconuts, but these were a way different kind. They were bright orange on the outside, and the milk was a really blandish watery thing. The inside was white, but was a lot closer to the consistency of a papaya or mango than coconut. And it was pretty good. Didn’t taste like coconut at all. Hence it tasted good.

Quick cultural note: Everybody here uses machetes for everything. Everything. Trimming trees. Cutting open coconuts. Cutting trees down. Pulling out nails. Cooking. Mowing their lawn. It’s ridiculous. But I guess that means I should get a machete.

Alright, I’ve got to go. I hope things are still sweet at home, and I’m completely stoked to call all of you!

Merry Christmas!

Elder David Arrington

Monday, December 13, 2010

Week 17 in Atiquizaya – Can we hit the goals?

Great positive spin from David this week.  It sounds like they’re pretty focused on reaching their mission goals and that David and his companion will be contributing.  Can’t wait to hear more!  Oh, and we just gotta see that movie….

Subject this week was the same as last week.  Clever, but are we not paying attention?

SubjectWhat are the odds that trapdoor would lead me out here?

So I’m slightly shorter on time now than I should be, but I’ll try and get something good out. The internet was having some issues, so I couldn’t get the pictures to upload, but now I got them.

David and Elder Wardlow looking beastly We went and finished the filming for this movie, and the last scene was a big war thing. A lot of the pictures are of the location, but there’s a few in there of me and my comp looking pretty beastly. And the other Elder standing in front of the landscape is Elder Hardy.

We lost a few investigators this week, which was kind of sad, but we also found a few. The mission has really been pushing to make the 2000 baptism goal and 11000 attendance goal, and we’re really close on both. We’re really pushing to get a couple investigators baptized this month. They already have the attendances, we just need tDavid looking beastly o do it. One of them we actually found on Sunday. His name is Luis, and he’s 17 I think. He’s been going to church for the last 6 months, goes to all the youth activities, and even plays soccer with us in the mornings sometimes. We just never knew he was n’t a member until yesterday. But we’ve got a date set, and I think it’ll work.

As far as Elder Duzzett goes, their success is great. I’m a bit jealous, because I kind of want to see a little bit of that success. But it’ll come, I suppose. And if not, at least I’m helping a few people. There are some great missionaries out here who are aDavid is out standing in his fieldlmost done and only have a dozen or so baptisms. There’s also some with over 90. It’s weird, though, because a lot of the disobedient missionaries get a lot of baptisms. Like, a lot. They’re retention, though, is terrible. I know one Elder that used to be in my area. He’s kind of disobedient. He baptized some twenty or so in his time here, which was only six months, I think, but not one of them is still active. Okay, maybe one.

As far as the phone call goes, I think what everyone here does is just borrow cell phones. People here don’t have monthly cell phone plans, they do pre-pay kind of things, so apparently a lot of people have old cell phones without any more money on them. So we buy calling cards and borrow the phones and Missionaries with Chomi, the new bridecall. I think someone told me, too, that calls from the states to here are really expensive, but from here to the states is like 6 cents a minute. That’s not bad at all. So I think that’s what we’ll end up doing. I’m still not sure when we’re going to call. I’ll let you know next week so Dad can have the recording equipment set up.

It sounds like your days have been pretty crazy. Sarah tells me that Haley Bennett is now engaged, which is a bit ridiculous. Congradulate her for me. Here we had a wedding as well, as you’ll see in the pictures. The bride was an David, Elder Wardlow, and BrandonRM that we know pretty well named Chomi. It was all pretty great, and there was a lot of sweet food there. And the little kid’s name is Brandon. He’s the son of Will, one of the guys who is still in prison. The kid looked like a stud, so I took some pics. Sweet.

Alright, I’m running out of time. I hope you all keep doing amazing, and keep sending me pictures and stuff. By the way, I know it’s super expensive to send packages, so you don’t have to send the highlighter things now. But thanks in advance for the Christmas package. I’ll try not to open it until the 25. By the way, they celebrate the 24 here. Weird, huh?

I love you all!

Elder David Arrington

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Week 16 in Atiquizaya – Feeling a little “baggy.”

Same old sense of humor, and still working hard.  David appears to be having some challenging times finding investigators, but also some successes as well.  Oh, and so much for the warm showers….

This week’s subject:  “What are the odds that trapdoor would lead me out here?”

Wow. I feel tired. I have no idea why, but I feel like the last week I’ve just had no energy. It’s a little bit lame.

Hey, before I forget, I had some news to tell you all. I get to call home in nineteen days. I’m sure you weren’t counting, either...

And really fast, I must express a little surprise. I hadn’t heard at all that Sarah is engaged. She sent me a letter in the MTC that said she almost was, but that they weren’t going to for a while because of some problem. That’s lame. As the king’s brother, I should’ve been first in line! So I’m a little funned out from that. Do me a favor and have a bunch of people text her saying that she should’ve told me. A lot of people.

Adam and James being wierd - Hillsboro, OR I was thinking a little about Adam and James coming over in ninja jedi sith thing costumes, and I have to admit, it makes sense. Why wouldn’t they? Seems pretty basic logic to me. And I love that that whole group just kind of snuck into the movie at home. That kind of makes me baggy. I miss stuff like that.

So, what’s with the chimp and the bug? Can we get back to me? First, we had a few major frustrations this week. We’ve had a pretty rough time finding new investigators lately, so we’re running out of them. Being a missionary apparently means you lose a lot of people. But we were teaching this one lady named Delmis. She had met with the missionaries for years and years, but told us that she never got baptized because she got offended and stopped coming to church. So we were working with her for five, six, seven weeks trying to get her to come back so she could be baptized. Then, on Thursday, we went over and she had completely changed. She said she knew she had to come back to church, and that she had left the old stuff behind her. She even told us that a few days before we found her she had had a dream with us in it, where we came and Missionary Christmas Tree started leading us down a straight and narrow path. Cool, right? We thought so too. Until we found out she was baptized in 2004. Gah! And to top it off, she didn’t come to church yesterday. Brilliant.

We were also teaching this man named Ruban, who has been out of work for a few months because his arm got stuck in a tiling machine and broke in six places. It’s apparently rather painful. But he and his wife were sweet. He especially really wanted to learn and know if what we were telling him was true. Then, last week, we went over to talk to him and he had a friend over. The friend just kept trying to Bible bash us, but with stupid things. Like "If Joseph Smith was really a prophet, how does he fit into the parable of the great dinner?" Well, since that has absolutely nothing to do with prophets of any kind, it’s hard to answer that. But the next time we went over, this week, Ruban’s whole attitude had changed. He told us he wouldn’t pray about the Book of Mormon because only the Bible can be the word of God. And he threw out some scriptures for us, like the one in Revelations. Clearly he talked to this friend too much. But super frustrating. We’re planning a lesson right now that’s just focused on answering all these questions.

Bishop Retana's FamilyWe were supposed to have some correlations with our ward mission leader and orient all the ward missionaries so they can start into the sweet ward mission plan we have. Nobody showed up. Nobody. That’s about all there is to say about that.

On Thursday we had a meeting in San Salvador. That was pretty sweet, actually. Good times. We learned a lot, and it was fun to see a lot of these missionaries there. I’m starting to get to know a lot more of them. I didn’t see Elder Duzzett, though. It was only with half the mission. Apparently he’s far away. And I hear just after he got here he baptized a family of five. Figures.

David and Elder Wardlow with the Retana family The good, though, was that we found a new investigator this week. One. But I think he may get baptized pretty soon. This month, if we can manage it. He already had a Book of Mormon, and had kind of studied it a bit, even though he can’t read too well. And he’s in super humble circumstances. And actually half crazy. But he really has a desire to follow Christ, and has a lot of faith. We challenged him to baptism in the first lesson, and he not only accepted, he stopped the lesson so that he could pray to find out if it was right. That’s cool. And then he came to church yesterday, and he loved it. I hope he makes it. He’s a really just nice guy that’s been through too much.

So that’s my week. Sorry if it sounded sad. I didn’t write it in a sad way, that’s just what happened. I’m actually in a pretty good mood. I love being out here and working for the Lord. There’s some pretty sweet times out here. There’s a lot of not so sweet ones, but still a lot of sweet ones.

I don’t even think I have time to respond to everything you guys did this week. It sounded super busy. I realized at some point this week that everyone is getting ready for Christmas there, and that you probably already had the tree. It was kind of weird, because here the only thing that reminds me that Christmas is coming up is that people throw stupidly loud fireworks at 3am that make it impossible to sleep.Some random dogs

Hey, cool story. The showerhead I bought broke a while back, so we kept having to fix it and stuff. It was kind of ghetto, but worked. But last week it caught on fire and melted. There go our hot showers. But I’m getting used to the cold again.

As for pictures this week, I uploaded a few of our little tree. It’s a little sad, but we’re White trees missionaries, so we’re almost never home anyway. I also took a bunch of scenic pictures, and a few of a couple white trees that Elder Wardlow and I spent some time to throw rocks at one day since we were frustrated. And there’s a picture of some random dogs. And a lot of these random metal sculpture things. Random metal sculpture thing People make those a lot, and there’s a good six or seven giant metal sculptures of Christ on the cross, and they’re more creepy than anything else. I’ll get pictures of those next time.

Alright, I hope you all keep doing great. Christmas sounds like a blast, and I’m kind of baggy now, but it’s great that you’re all enjoying it. Thanks for fasting for us, too. I’ll be more than happy to get those blessings, but hopefully I can send some back your way, too. I love you all!

Elder David Arrington

Follow up: And I forgot to mention that some of the pictures are of a birthday party we  had for Bishop Retana’s wife, which was fun. And Bishop Retana is the old bishop who is now our ward mission leader. And I sent a picture of my scripture markers because they’re running out, so you could send me more of this same kind (maybe a couple) for Christmas. Just if you want to, and you haven’t sent me anything yet.