Friday, March 25, 2011

Week 8 in the Mission Office

In which we (the family at home) were at Disneyland—hence the late posting of this letter.  In fact, we received the letter on my phone while waiting for the Aladdin show to begin….

Great information on investigators this week! (but no new pictures…)

Subject: “Where’s she going?” “Well, wherever it is, she’ll be there by ten o’clock tomorrow.”

This week, on “El Salvadorans Say the Darndest Things”: One lady tried to explain to me that the United States had built a top secret machine that creates earthquakes. Then, when they had some disagreement with Japan, they unleashed it on them, followed by a tsunami-creating machine. And it’s easy to prove, since they did the same thing to Haiti a few years ago. Wow. That’s up there with, “The lunar eclipse last night was caused by some planet coming in between the earth and the moon, but I don’t remember which planet.” And who could forget, “The United States is an ally of El Salvador because they know that there’s a mineral that can only be found here. This mineral is really special because if you rub it on something, that thing turns invisible. They want to mine it here and rub it on their planes so they can be stealthier.”

So I enjoyed all of the updates about Disneyland, although I am a little sad to have missed it. You were there for four days, too? If I recall, when I went with the family we had two. We’ll talk about that later.

By the way, President Lopez didn’t get mad at me at all for the board blunder. In fact, I’ve been getting everything done a lot faster than Elder French and with more accuracy, so he’s pretty happy with me. Not to brag, but there it is.

As you were all probably aware, President Obama visited El Salvador for a couple days. What you may not have known is that that was a huge, huge deal here. I don’t know why, but it was. Everywhere you went you could see billboards, signs, posters, etc. with big “Bienvenidos Presidente Obama!” on them. Nobody worked those two days, either. It was basically two vacation days. And as if that weren’t enough, streets were completely shut down around where he would be traveling, and soldiers were everywhere. Someone told me that there were even tanks, although I didn’t see any. They also told me that he had some couple thousand troops protecting him while he was here. Ridiculous. Oh, and for a lot of it he was within a couple minutes drive of the mission office, so coming and going was very difficult. We’d have to drive basically up and around the road blocks. Oh, and I remember I went to a recent convert’s house during this and they were watching the news. What they were showing was basically a 24 hour Obama watch. They had the camera scanning up and down the street waiting for him to leave whatever building he was in at the time, like he was some huge celebrity. Which he probably is down here, actually. Which brings me to a very small side-note: people’s sense of politics down here is basically limited to: Left Side=Helps us, Right Side=Bad. I’m not supposed to be political, but I have talked to one or two people about it. One guy was like, “You were a republican before the mission? And a member of the church? Do you believe in the church? And you still are republican? Wow…” It’s quite frustrating. And then when they talk about why they like Obama and hate Bush it gets even more so, because they just spout of stupid things that clearly show they know not of what they speak. Gah! Okay, enough of that.

As far as investigators go, everything has been pretty good. Actually, I feel like this week has been better than usual. Elder Gonzalez is my comp now, and we both worked in Monserrat before, so we each kind of inherited each other’s’ investigators, so we each have twice as many now. We’re teaching a girl named Marleni that we’re going to try and get baptized tomorrow, but honestly I’m not sure if she’s ready yet. We’ve got faith, though, so we’ll see how that works out. Then we have the Diaz family. They’re a bunch of fun. I might have mentioned them before, but oh well. The husband, Rene, is the brother-in-law of a member, so that’s how Elder Gonzalez and Oliverson found them. The wife, Wendy, was the first to be taught. She prayed to know if it was true, and had a dream. In the dream, she said, she was in a beautiful paradise and some angels came down and told her that the reason she was having the dream was because she had prayed in faith. I’m not really clear on the rest of the details, but hey, that seems about good enough for anyone to get baptized. Her husband is taking a little bit more time, but he’s basically converted, too. The only thing missing is them getting married, but we’re working on that. Their son, Carlos, is eight, and he has been going to church with this member family for years. He already wants to get baptized, and is super excited about it. I love it when a plan comes together.

Another family we’re teaching is the Caminos family. I actually found them with Elder Gonzalez while we were on divisions one day a couple weeks ago. The husband, Manuel, has been a less active member most of his life. Something happened a long time ago and he left the church. His wife, Maria, didn’t know anything about the church. We talked to them, though, and they’re super interested. They even came to stake conference last Sunday. We were teaching them a few nights ago and had left 2 Nephi 31 for them to read. They both had, so we were talking about that. We got talking about baptism, obviously, and how that is the first step to following Christ. Oh my gosh, by the time I asked Maria if she would follow Christ and be baptized, she was basically jumping out of her chair. It was like she couldn’t wait for me to ask. It was super cool. The only problem is that Manuel is married to another woman, with whom he wants to get divorced, but then he doesn’t want to marry Maria yet. We can’t figure out why. We’ve talked to him and her about it, and about being together forever, and things like that, and they both keep telling us that they want to be together forever as a family (they also have a 2 year old daughter named Gaby), but he doesn’t want to marry her yet. Oh well. I’ve heard it’s usually the wives that are hard to convince, so we’ve got the hard part done.

And then we’ve got Adreana, who is a friend of a really active family, the Vasquez family. She also has a ton of friends in the church already. Really, that one’s just a matter of time. With the kind of support she has from the members, she hardly gets to choose to be baptized. It’ll happen. She was working Sunday and couldn’t come to conference, but she’s been going to all the other meetings, including a single-adults stake fireside, and she likes it.

That’s about all the super positive ones, but I have a quick little story to share. On Sunday we were kind of lost. Our appointments had fallen, and just about everyone was in this stake meeting thing. So we were trying to figure out what to do, when out of nowhere someone passed by and said, “¡Adios, Elderes!” Now, that might not sound weird, but there are only two kinds of people that say that: members, and people who have listened to the gospel before without getting baptized. And when there are only those two options and you don’t recognize the person, you get excited. We stopped and talked to this guy, who was with his wife and one year old daughter, and come to find out that he talked to the missionaries a few years ago and then moved, so nothing came of it, but he liked the message and now doesn’t go to any church. So we set an appointment with him. That was cool. It’s like God knew we had nothing to do, so he threw a family at us. I’m not mad at all.

Also, on that note, we got a referral from some members named Manuel, and this guy is huge. His forearms are about as big around as my thigh, I think. Maybe it’s an exaggeration, but still. And it’s all muscle. In fact, we went to teach him on Wednesday, and it turns out that he has several first place trophies for some weight-lifting national tournaments or something. Crazy. But the lesson with him was really interesting. He had all these different beliefs that he had found on his own, like how we have a body and a spirit, which each want to do different things, and we can make positive choices or negative choices, since we have agency, so we need to teach our spirit to overcome our body’s wants. He kind of just went on and on about stuff like that, or how the Bible is not as important as what God could tell us now, and stuff like that. They’re things that totally fit exactly into the gospel, mostly just with different names. He even kind of created his own word of wisdom. As it turns out, his mom is an inactive member who was at one point a mini missionary, so that might have helped him a bit. We’ll see where that goes.

Last night was kind of interesting as well. I went on divisions with Elder Ballard, who just became an assistant, and we contacted in Santa Anita, one of the other areas. What we ended up doing was talking with members to get referrals. The first family, we had a testimony meeting and then talked really briefly about how the spirit that we were feeling right then could help us think of people that are ready to hear the gospel. Then we asked. And what did we get? I think 11 referrals, 5 inactive families, and 4 part member families to visit. Cool! But then we went to another house, and it was completely different. Only the dad was there, and the whole time it just felt weird. When he bore his testimony, we couldn’t feel the spirit. It was kind of empty. We could feel it when we read the scriptures to him, but then there was kind of nothing. We both felt weird and left kind of quicker, and afterward Elder Ballard told me he had a distinct impression that that man had issues with pornography. I don’t think I realized before that moment how completely destructive that can be, I guess, but there was definitely a huge difference.

Alright, that’s about all I have time for right now. I love you all, and hope you had fun in Disneyland or at home with your newborn children, whichever the case may be.

Elder David Arrington

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