Monday, January 31, 2011

Week 24–Say Goodbye to Atiquizaya :-(

And goodbye to the iPod.  FYI, the term “thensologue” for those unaware is a word David made up himself meaning “quote from a movie.”  Sort of like “thrithamoth”, that blast of hot air that you feel when you open the oven.  I don’t make this stuff up.  David does.

Anyway, after nearly 6 months in the same city, David is moving on.  But where you ask?  Read on.

Subject: (from Groundhog Day) “I’m a god. I’m not THE god. I don’t think.”

This week was a week of change. Everything is different now. First, congratulations to Julie and Dave for James’s progress. That’s super good news! I’m glad that he’s doing alright, but am a little sad I haven’t seen this picture with his eyes open yet...

Biggest news chronologically: My iPod got stolen. That’s stupid. Here’s the story. I never take it out of the house because I’m, ironically, scared someone will steal it. So on Wednesday, when we had district meeting at the church, of course I left it there, sitting on my desk, plugged into the speakers, like always. Elder Hardy and Elder Gonzalez came late to the meeting, so they were still in the house for a bit, and the guys who bring our purified water came by. It’s two guys, so one started loading the water in the house, and for some unfathomable reason Elder Hardy and Elder Gonzalez both went outside to talk to the other guy. Good, guys. Leave a strange Latin in our house alone. After that, they left, but Elder Gonzalez had forgotten his Preach My Gospel, so he went back to the house to get it with Elder Pineda, another Latin Elder. When I got back to the house after the meeting, no iPod. But also stupidly enough, that was the only thing they took. Not my comp’s camera, not the speakers even. So I called the water guys, and it turns out that they’re the owners of this branch and have been running it for nine years without ever receiving a single report like this before. They even have police background checks and stuff. Crazy. But we’ve been investigating for a while now, and it seems like they’re the only ones that could have done it. But it’s stupid. And I feel bad, because if I catch one of them, he loses his job. It’s lame.

“Well, at least I’ve still got this watch.”
“You stole that from my kin!”
“Yeah, well he was going to rat us out anyway.”
“You didn’t know that!”
“Well I was borrowing it until we DID know!”

I’ll give a quarter to anyone who tells me what that was from.

Elder Wardlow and I finally had changes. He headed off to Belize this morning. It was kind of expected, since even the president told him to pack his bags, since he’d be leaving, over a week ago. But still. We spent all day Sunday saying goodbye to everyone, and reassuring them that I would come back with my new comp soon. I was kind of happy that he was leaving and not me, though, because next month we are basically guaranteed four baptisms, three of which are a super powerful, golden family. The fourth was a guy that has wanted to get baptized, but for some reason just wants to do it in February. And I was thinking that maybe Henry will get out of jail soon, so he might get baptized, too.

Still, waiting for changes was intense. We had bets on what was going to happen. I figured I would move up to Senior Comp or something, and Elder Hardy (came in the same time as me) would train. I didn’t even dare dream that I’d train. Or move up to district leader, even, although neither would have been odd as far as mission assignments go. It took forever for them to come, but they did last night. Elder Wardlow, being district leader, answered and got to know first, which is frustrating. Super intense. But here, at the turn, I must leave you, Arrington family, yes YOU Arrington family, sitting at your computers, awaiting your deaths for my murder.

Sorry, I couldn’t think of a good way to end that thensologue. Also, I have nothing else with which to say here before I move on except that this computer doesn’t want me to upload pictures. Frustrating.

Also, we got a baptism this week. His name was Alex, and it was really sweet. He knew all the doctrine, but didn’t handle the pressure of his interview very well, so he failed it. We retaught him, had another interview, and it was great. Then the baptism on Saturday. That makes five so far in Atiquizaya.

So yeah, changes came, and they weren’t what we expected. Elder Wardlow still was going to Belize. Elder Gonzalez is opening an area with a missionary who is changing over from the East mission. Elder Hardy is training. And me? I’m leaving. Two new Elders are coming into Atiquizaya. So much for my sweet family. An Elder Lopez gets them, and he’ll also be training.

And where am I going? San Salvador, in an area called, I think, Monserrat. As the new General Secretary of the Mission.

Wait, what?

I’m still not super clear about what that means, but this is what I’ve gathered. I’m the guy in charge of anything the president needs. When people call the office, be it upset parents missing their missionaries, area seventies, the prophet, etc., I talk to them. I will be in the office, and my job will basically mean I have to know more about our mission than any other person in the world, including the president. I’ll be working closely with him and the assistants, so I’ll learn a ton. But I’ll still have four hours or so to proselyte, and I’ve heard that the area is nice. And I get to live in an even nicer house than I’m in now. And Elder French, the current secretary, will train me for this change. Oh, and no big deal, but I get to drive a car.

So there you go. Make of it what you will, but I’m excited for this opportunity. Basically I’ll be in charge of all communication throughout the mission. And I get to pick up the mail, so I don’t have to wait forever to get letters.

Okay, I’m out of time, but hopefully that was a very exciting email for you all. Thank you Emily, Dad, Mom, and Stacey for your emails. I rather enjoyed them all.

I love you all, and keep emailing me. I love it!

Elder David Arrington

PS: Just in case you were thinking about it, you may not need to buy me a new iPod. I’ll be in the office for a while with a computer, so I may be able to just access a homeserver music thing if it works better. I’ll let you know.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Week 23 in Atiquizaya–A trip to San Lorenzo, on the edge of Guatemala

First I should point out that this letter follows the somewhat premature birth of Julie and Dave’s baby, so there’s a great deal of concern in the family.  As of this post, Baby James is stable, but still in intensive care.  We held a family fast for him last Sunday, which, of course, did not include David because we only reach him once a week.  But apparently everyone shared their feelings about the situation in their letters to him.

On the bright side, we got some great pictures and even a video!

Subject: “Jeepers? Mister?” “I was going for innocence!”

Wow. That was some intense email.

I guess the first thing is James. That’s some really unexpected news. So Julie, congratulations first of all. And Dave, too. I’m super excited to have a new nephew, as I’m sure you’re both excited to have a new son. I know that the circumstances are a little less than ideal, but I’m sure everything will be fine. It’s rough to see him like this, but pretty soon you’ll be taking him home and yelling at him for chewing on the remote control, or some other nonsense. That’s about all I think I should say about that, since I’m sure that’s all you’re hearing about now.

It was also a little bit sad to hear that Kyle’s team lost, but it happens. There’s always next year. And soccer. And it sounds like BYU is doing awesome, but I wouldn’t have expected any less.

Lindsay, I have to admit that your baby naming problem is a big one. Let me just rule out right now the name Renesme. I will not accept the child as my niece if you call her that.

David with Elder Hardy and Elder Wardlow on a bridge to Guatemala in San LorenzoOn my end, it was a pretty eventful week. First, on Monday we went as a District to San Lorenzo, which is a second area that the Atiquizaya missionaries are in charge of. There’s just a little branch up there right now, but it’s growing. They might even get a church building soon. It’s a really beautiful area, though. I took a ton of pictures, but the computer I’m on isn’t wanting me to upload them, so we’ll see what happens. You might see a picture of me on a bridge, though. That’s a bridge to Guatamala, and I’m literally within inches of being there. We actually had to get special permission from some military guys that were guarding it to take that picture, since we aren’t legally allowed to go there. Also, I’m trying to upload a video I took from the top of this mountain hill thing. It was super beautiful up there.

David in San Lorenzo on a hill

We had a baptism on Saturday for a kid named Herson Cruz. His family was innactive and we reactivated them, and then worked with the dad so that he could be worthy to baptize his son. We are super close to them, and it was an incredible experience to see the fruits of that. Herson Cruz baptismThey’re now really active and all baptized. Also, the service was really nice because we had a combined one with Atiquizaya. They baptized one, and we baptized Herson and this little girl who is still eight, so she’s not our baptism. And she just couldn’t wait another year for it. How selfish.

On Sunday we had an interview for Alex Fuentes, who was getting ready for a baptism. He forgot everything, though, and didn’t pass. We have to go review it all with him, but now he’s kind of down, so I don’t know how good or bad that situation is. Hopefully we can still do it this week, though.

We are also teaching the family of Raquel, who is an inactive member. We had taught them before, me and Elder Reyes, but they didn’t really want anything. Now, though, Elder Wardlow and I are really tight with them, and they came to church on Sunday, and they’ve read their assignments, and they were asking us if it would be okay to start just reading the Book of Mormon from the beginning. Um, yeah! They’re really positive, and it’s refreshing to have investigators like that again. And this time it’s a whole family. Awesome. I don’t want to get changed out of this area just so I can help them.

Speaking of changes, they’re coming up next week. We were at a special multi-zone this week, though, greeting the president, and President Lopez just said out of nowhere to Elder Wardlow, “Pack your bags, you’re leaving.” Wow. That is oddly direct, and completely out of nowhere. But he had talked to him about going to Belize before, so we’re thinking he is. So I might be here again next week. Crazy times in the mission.

I also talked to Elder Duzzett, and he’s doing really well. He’s in a super hot area, but he gets bikes and he’s starting to baptize there. He’s a really good missionary, too. I can tell.

Alright, I’m running out of time and I’ve still got two emails to write. I’ll talk to you all later, and thank you to Lindsay, Julie, Mom, Dad, Stacey, Dave, the office Elders, President Lopez, and Sarah for emailing me this week!

Elder David Arrington

PS: I haven’t been gone THAT long, Lindsay. Of course I still know what IAA means. I’m surprised you didn’t know that.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Week 22 in Atiquizaya–Aren’t you the bus driver?

Apologies for the late posting of this week’s email.  No pictures this week, but some are coming, I’m sure….  We do get a bit of a geography lesson on how the districts are divided up.  Finally, I understand.

Pretty boy.  Does that refer to him?  Or me?

Subject“I’ll get your arrow, pretty boy. And I’ll do it with my shirt on.”

This week has passed by a little faster than the last week, I think mostly because we had a multi-zone in the middle of it. That meant another trip to San Salvador. It’s a two hour bus ride somewhat similar to the rides to Mount Hood, as Dad may remember, but this is in a loud, hot bus, and instead of laying down across the benches you either sit three people on a bench made for two, or you’re standing. And they don’t stop in Sandy. But it’s not too bad. Except that there’s no way to sleep at all.

The multi-zone itself was really fun. I love meetings like that. We basically go and sit in a room for a couple hours (8 am to 4 pm, usually) and the president talks to us. Usually about the rules we’re keeping or breaking, the mission goals, and general counsel. This time we got a special treat. Elder Fern, I think it was, came to speak to us for an hour or two after our lunch break. He’s a Senior missionary, with his wife, but they’re serving in the San Salvador Temple Construction mission. So they’re in charge of the construction. We got to see a plethora of pictures of the construction, both inside and out, and it was crazy. This temple is amazing. He said that this is one of the most detailed and architecturally impressive temples he’s ever seen. And it’s cool too, because the endowment sessions are split into two rooms, instead of all in the one. And in the first room they’re getting an El Salvador customized mural. Sweet. I’m stoked. He also told us some cool stories. The coolest of which was probably this: They laid the second floor concrete in the beginning of August, which is still well into the rainy season here. Apparently rain and concrete don’t mix well until it’s dry, so that was a problem. They laid the concrete, and a storm started coming. All the workers were bummed out, because they knew what that meant, but Elder Fern just went and prayed that the temple would be okay. He said he received an assurance that it would be. The rain came, and came hard, as it does sometimes in this country, but all around the temple. The construction site itself was completely dry.

We’re trying to get an investigator named Alex ready for baptism this week, but his work schedule is really weird, and I’m not sure if we can find time this week to interview him. Also, he’s working when we were going to have the actual baptism. So it may move to next week. We’re also working on Herson Cruz, who is a kid in a less active family. We’re not sure if the dad is going to be ready to baptize him this week, but if he is, we’re dunking him.

We went back to visit some less active members. It was a less active mom whose husband and kids weren’t members. The kids are 11 and 13. I had visited her with Elder Reyes, and she didn’t seem like she wanted to come back to church. We even taught her husband once, and he was not open to it at all. But we passed by since Elder Wardlow didn’t know them, and her husband was home from work (he’s a bus driver (“Hey, we know you!” “You’re the bus driver.”)) which is weird. He had apparently been working on his bus and the engine fell on his thumb, breaking it. So he can’t work for a bit. It turns out that that was perfect for us. The mom wants to come back to the church, her kids want to get baptized, and the dad wants to learn if it’s true. He actually asked us to leave a couple chapters to read in the Book of Mormon, since he had already read the one we left. I don’t know what the difference is this time, but that’s super great.

So I don’t forget, by the way, I referred in my last email to the other missionaries being in Atiquizaya, which apparently caused some confusion. I am in Atiquizaya, but it’s split up like a birthday cake into fourths. My fourth is the largest, and the other three are the Sucre, Manantiales, and Atiquizaya wards. Elder Hardy and Elder Gonzalez are in Atiquizaya, and Elder Braithwait and Elder Marroquin are in Sucre and Manantiales. I’m in El Angel. But we’re all in Atiquizaya. Does that help?

Thanks for all your emails this week. I can thank this time both my parents, the president, Sarah Fotheringham, and Stacey Leybas for emails. And Dave Frogley, I guess, for that sentence he sent correcting my noche de hermanamiento translation. Thanks Dave!

I love you all, and hope things are going well for everyone. I was super sad to hear about the Ducks game, but the BYU basketball news helped me cope. Tell Steve Jobs to get well soon!

Thanks again,

Elder David Arrington

Monday, January 10, 2011

Week 21 in Atiquizaya–A Bungleload of Baptisms on their way…

Did I mention I learned the right way to pronounce Atiquizaya?  It’s like A Ti’ki Sigh’-a, I’m told.  Anyway, David’s work area must be outside ATikiSigha, since the other Elders are getting all the success.  Or so it seems to David.

Note that Dave Frogley ads a clarification:  "Noche de Hermanamiento" = "Fellowshipping night". 

No pictures this week, so I added a couple from previous weeks.

This week’s subject (where does he come up with this stuff?):  No way. That is so punk rock.

Alright, I was glad to hear from a bungleload of you this week, even though it seems like the major issue at hand is Emily and Dave’s trip to Utah. Oh well, I guess someone else will have to tell me how the Ducks are doing.

Seriously, though, it was fun. And just so you know, Dad, I love hearing about new technology coming out, and my comp freaks out every time I mention something like that, so it’s fun to tell him. He hasn’t even seen a movie in 3D before, and doesn’t seem to understand what it would be like. Oh, he’s so naive. And that’s super sweet that Verizon may be moving to the iPhone. Seriously, I’m excited. But I’m still not sure about the whole iPad thing. I’m thinking a laptop may still be the way to go. But, of course, I still have a year and a half to not think about that.

Imagen 035This week was a little bit better than the last. We worked hard and had a lot of appointments fall through, as always, but we managed to do some good. We set a date with a guy named Alex Fuentes for the 22nd. He’s in his late twenties, I think, and his whole family are members. He just never got into it. But then, one day, his sister told us that he wanted to take the lessons and change his life. Well, that’s what we’re here for.

We also set a date with a nine year old kid named Herson Cruz. His family used to be inactive, but we reactivated them and they’re super sweet. I love them. The only problem is that the father is meeting with the bishop to work through some past thing, and I’m not sure if he’ll be ready to baptize his son on the 22nd as well. We really are pushing for it, though. The other Elders, from Atiquizaya, (Elder Hardy and Elder Gonzalez) have, right now, I think five dates for the 22nd, and four on the 21st. Most of them are kids, I think, but they’ve been coming to church on their own for a long time. They’ve been having crazy success. More on that in a minute.

Imagen 036So we also have this meeting every Wednesday called the Noche de Hermanamiento, or brothership night? Night of fellowship? Something like that. But we went to it to go find some referrals, and the bishop hadn’t gotten there yet. So we started the meeting, sang a hymn, and then I was asked to give the lesson for twenty minutes or so. I think I did a good job, because I felt comfortable the whole time and felt the spirit. So I blame that success on the spirit, of course, my public speaking class, which was really just practice, and Dad, for teaching me how to throw together sweet lessons like that. So thanks, Dad.

Friday, too, we had a dinner over with the Afane family, who are super awesome. They love the missionaries, and can cook like nobody’s business. So we went over there and ate this huge nacho dinner thing (which is rare, here; they like to cook gringo food) and watched the Work and the Glory, which my comp had never seen. Good movie, and I think it was good to relax like that and enjoy the movie. That’s something I’ve missed for a while.

Okay, I was going to talk a bit really fast about Elder Hardy and Elder Gonzalez. But, of course, I’ll give you the watered down version. Elder Hardy is a super obedient, super hard working missionary who is here because he really wants to be here serving the Lord. Elder Gonzalez, not so much on any of those. Long story that I was going to shorten made even shorter: he’s been really dead inside, and we found out he’s been doing, watching, and listening to things that very much contribute to that. So we told president, who told Elder Gonzalez to go home since he doesn’t want to be here, but he didn’t want to, and you can actually only get sent home for breaking the law of chastity or word of wisdom, so president told the ZLs to not let him stay in the same area for more than a couple days. So he spends two days here in Atiquizaya, and the rest in other areas. So FrogElder Hardy has been getting different comps almost every day, and he’s killing it out there. Really, he’s getting super blessed. I went out with him one day, and a guy called us over to talk to him. It turns out he had had a friend that was Mormon who talked to him a bit before and it made him feel really excited inside. But he never got a chance to talk to missionaries. His wife had gone to our church before and was getting ready for baptism, but the Elders left and the new ones never looked her up. They were super good people, and super golden. That’s God saying, “Here, Elder Hardy. You’ve been pushing your comp to be a good missionary for two changes now, so how would you like a family to baptize, on me?”

Another example of this: My comp and I went by the church because there was an activity and we wanted some new investigators. I sat down for a second, and a twelve year old kid literally sat down next to me and asked, “Excuse me, can I be baptized into this church?” I was like, YEAH! Of course, he lives in Elder Hardy’s area, so he gets that one too. I’m kind of bummed every time that happens, which has been a lot lately. But this kid was getting ready to get baptized in some other city, but then he moved before he could, so now he wants to here. Crazy miracles. I just wish they were in my area...

Alright, I’m all typed out. I hope you all had some laughs at how the success keeps getting dangled in front of my face and then given to Atiquizaya, but whatever. I’m happy for them. We’re right now just trying to have one massive baptismal service right now for the 22 with both wards (did I mention we have seven dates for then right now, with maybe two more on the way?). Fun stuff.

I love you all, and really appreciate Julie and Dave DeRurange, Regan Arrington, Ed Arrington, Adam Lawson, Sarah Fotheringhom, and President Lopez for writing to me. The rest of you will get your special recognition when you write me :)

Thanks again,

Elder David Arrington

I blew it. Also, David Frogley and Elder Schaugaard wrote me. Ha. Schaugaard. What a silly name.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Week 20 in Atiquizaya – in which David and his companion become Mission Heroes….

Movie quotes.  How does a guy who doesn’t watch movies remember so many movie quotes?  Perhaps its the “creative juice”?  We cracked up reading this one.

Subject: “Brothers and sisters! We CAN save Bosworth!”

“I should have known! A critter viper slag monster mutant!”

So this week was kind of back and forth good and bad. We ended the year this week, of course, which meant that it was our last chance to meet our goal of 2000 baptisms. I don’t know if Elder Duzett told you how that went, (he’s in Acajutla, by the way, where Elder Wardlow was right before coming here. They get bikes. And it is super hot, temperature-wise), but we were pretty close with only one Sunday left, so there was a lot of pressure on the whole mission to baptize. Elder Wardlow and I got ours, so we felt good. But we found out last Monday after writing that we had exactly 1999 confirmations for 2010. For 180 missionaries. For the whole year. We were short ONE. And no more Sundays to confirm. Ouch.

Atiquizaya RoadSo, we worked pretty hard and found a few new investigators, but Tuesday night we visited this family that gave us some drinks. Elder Wardlow’s was called orchata, which is pretty good sometimes, but I’m not a huge fan, and they gave me some fruit punch type stuff. It tasted good, but it didn’t do very well in my system, so I spent the night throwing it up again. I got too sick to work on Wednesday or Thursday, but by Friday I was fine. The only really rough thing was that I didn’t eat anything at all (stupid, I know) for those two days, so not only was I really weak, my stomach had shrunk. So I hardly ate anything Friday, and Saturday we started our fast. Oh my gosh. Worst fast of my life. And yet, I survived.

Atiquizaya ChapelOur schedule for sacrament meeting changed, so we start at 10 now instead of 8, and when we got there the room was already pretty full. Before, only about 20-30 people would get to church before the  sacrament, and the other 70-80 would trickle in for the rest of the meeting. This time, we ended up with over a hundred just for the sacrament. They didn’t have enough bread for them, so we used crackers. Also, my baptism from the 25th, Luis, blessed the sacrament. Sweet. Overall our attendance ended up being 128, which is a record for us. Good week.

Chief DavidOkay, I’ve kept you in suspense long enough. Tuesday we go t a call from some Elders in Santa Ana saying that they needed our help. They had baptized a guy a month or so ago and he never got confirmed. Apparently he had moved into our area and they hadn’t been able to get a hold of him. They told us generally where they thought he lived, and we went and looked all morning until we finally found him, and we taught him about the gift of the Holy Ghost and why he needs it in his life. He’s a really sweet, humble guy that was really receptive and actually really worried when he found out he hadn’t technically finished his baptism. But we got it all set up so that the Santa Ana Elders could come down and rebaptize him and confirm him that same day. Thus our mission ended up with exactly 2000 confirmations for this year. Mission accomplished. “And then they made me their chief.”

“Gee, it’d really be nice to have some GRENADES right now, don’t you think?”

Well that’s about it for this week. We went up to a member that lives about an hour or so up into the mountains, so I put a couple more pictures up from that. And there are pictures of us four Elders in front of our house and chapel. Elders Hardy, Arrington, Wardlow, Gonzalez in front of their houseThat’s Arrington, Wardlow, Hardy, and Gonzalez, by the way. Not in that order.

It sounds like everyone is still doing sweet, and I’m super excited for you all. Especially with how much free time you all have suddenly. I miss that. And Michael, I hear you tore it up at your board of review. “I know you would Simmons. Good man.” That’s all I have to say about that. And this: “We already tested it.” “We threw rocks threw it!” “And they came out alright, didn’t they?” “Yeah, but they were really hot, and covered in black stuff!” “So that’s what you’re telling me? You’re afraid of a little black stuff?” That is all. I don’t know where that fit into what I was saying, but do something with it.

“How did you get those?” “Where was she keeping them?”

I’m just full of quotes today. I don’t know why. Oh, and Michael, get those applications in. ASAP. College is too fun to miss the deadline. (“It’s violent! It’s educational. But mostly violent!”)

Volcano in AtiquizayaAlright, I’m running out of creative juice, so it’s about time to wrap it all up. I suppose you’re all doing well, so that’s good. I am, too, so don’t worry too much about me. I think I might start seeing a couple baptisms, too. Depending on how my investigators feel about their eternal salvation. But there you go.

I love you all, and really do appreciate everything you do for me. Oh! And I just remembered that if, along with the highlighters you were going to send me, you sent me some pens (Pilot G2s, they write way better than anything here. Much better ink) I’d be grateful. And really, don’t worry about what you put in packages. Even the Pringles are really good, because I normally wouldn’t buy them. Hey, maybe some Gatorade or Powerade powder mix stuff would be nice. And in case I forget, you could also send a Rubik’s Cube. We have one, but it’s really crappy compared to the ones in the states. REALLY terrible. And, maybe for my birthday, it might be nice to get a portable DVD player so I can show DVDs to my investigators. But if you go that route, get it really cheap. Dad, I know you want to get a nice one, but no. Bad idea to have an expensive one here. Just rambling, now.

I love you all,

Elder David Arrington