Friday, May 27, 2011

Week 17 in the Mission Office

David receives his package and is mildly pleased with the contents.  Ok, a little more than mildly…  Oh, and we got a ton of new pictures, I think mostly from other missionaries’ cameras, and including a trip to some Aztec or Mayan ruins.

Subject:  I'll never get excited again. Obviously.

Wow. What a week. First of all, I don't think that I've ever gotten a package quite as exciting as that. I picked it up on Thursday, or I guess it would be yesterday. And it was good. I have to say that I had been wondering for a long time what could possibly be in those boxes of Ocean Spray, since both Mom and Dad mentioned that there were little prizes in them. I figured it would be some little laughable thing. But I was wrong, wasn't I? 100_0020I opened it in the office, and as Elder Oliverson can probably confirm, I freaked out. It was a great moment. Especially when I turned it on and found out how awesome it is. Good times.

The package also is probably number one as well due to the socks and belt, both of which I really needed. But I think, aside from the IPOD TOUCH NANO that you sent, one of the things that made the package great was the incredible variety of stuff that was in it. You kind of learn as a missionary that it's not the quality of items that counts, but the quantity of different things. It just gives me a happy I-don't-know-where-to-start feeling. So thank you very much for the package.

100_0021Okay, so I definitely wanted to remember to tell you what I am currently uploading to the server. It's a compressed version of the Elder Holland talk I mentioned earlier. It's not the quality that it is on the DVD I have, but it's not terrible. Also, assuming that finishes before I leave, which I'm not sure it will (it's only 100MB, but the internet is running a little bit slower than normal here), I'm also uploading a document that I wrote describing my responsibilities as the General Secretary (for the new President). I mostly wanted to send it so that you can all see that I did, in fact, write a twelve page document in Spanish. Yeah, I'm awesome.

100_0039But this week was crazy. We've been running most of the week to try and get the paperwork ready for the Diaz family to get married, which has been ridiculous. We had a couple appointments with some other investigators, but really it hasn't been moving much with them. We tried to have a family night with the Merino family at the Bishop's house, but they bailed on us at the last minute. Other than that, we really haven't had much time to work in our area. But the Diaz family should be all set for their wedding tomorrow, and their baptism Sunday morning. Good times.

100_4412We had a ward activity on Tuesday that Elder Gonzalez and I were in charge of, and it ended up working really well. The only problem was that as we were leaving the office President called us and had a ton of stuff for us to do before he left for Belize on Wednesday. So we had to go back in and work for a few more hours 102_0161and were about an hour late to our own activity. Elder Stone and Elder Zepeda ran it for us, though. We watched this blue vase video that I might send you sometime, which is really good, and Elder Gonzalez and I got there about as it was ending. Then we played musical chairs and a couple other games that were really fun, and even the older members were getting involved and having a great time. 100_4474Hermano Pastul is awesome, by the way. He played all of the games and got super into them. It was really entertaining to watch him knocking over little eight year olds to get in the seat before them in musical chairs. And when he lost in the final three he fell backward and just kind of rolled on the ground for a minute. It was quite hilarious.

The house that I used to live in in Campestre, the big office one, is being vacated so that we can give it back to the lady that owns it and I think she's going to re100_4419nt it to someone else or something. But she went to review the house a few days ago and was very unpleasant. She basically demanded that we repaint it, repair all damages, fix up everything until it's perfect, etc. at our own expense. After ten years of missionaries living there, you can imagine the work that we'd need to do. But, since we're the church, we told her we would be happy to do exactly what is stated in the contract. As it turns out, though, she conveniently "lost" the contract. So we had a mission yesterday: find our copy. I was busy out doing my own work with the post office and distribution center and such, but when I got back they still hadn't found it. We had all basically given up, but Elder Oliverson kept at it for another three hours looking through literally every paper in the office. In the very last IMG_0284box in the back (not just the last one he looked in, the last one in the office) he found it. As it turns out, that lady had good reason to hide her copy. First of all, the contract says that we should leave the house in very good condition when we leave. But it also says that we paid an $800 deposit when we moved in that would be reimbursed to pay for the repairs, with any extra money going to us. Also, we've been paying an extra $40 a month for the house for the last three-ish years than it says in the contract. Nobody even noticed. So we'd get that reimbursed, which is a solid $1080. That's almost $2000 dollars that we could use for the repairs. But the best part we didn't find out until today. The repairs would cost way more than $2000. But the contract isn't valid. It was supposed to be renewed annually since we moved in, and it wasn't. Which means that we are not obligated to do anything. IMG_0007At all. So President is basically going to tell this lady that she can keep the $2000 she owes us from ripping us off and we'll leave it all to her to fix up. All because Elder Oliverson found the dang contract. He's my hero.

Sorry, that was a long story that took up way too much time, but it just happened yesterday so we're all still stoked about it. I love it when contracts save us a ton of money. Also, we saved a ton of money on car insurance by switching to Geico.

Alright, I have to go. I love you all and hope you're doing well. I got a couple invitations from Michael also, and that was fun, so congrats on graduating and getting your eagle! Good stuff.

Elder David Arrington

Friday, May 20, 2011

Week 16 in the Mission Office

Nothing fancy this week—just good missionary stories.  And an exploding pen.

Subject:  yes, we just had a slight weapon malfunction, but everything's, you. ...How are you?

Ten points for anyone who can get that quote, by the way.

So the other day I walked into Office Depot to buy some stuff. It was almost completely empty, but there were a couple other people there. They were: a completely decked out soldier, two female monks, and a priest. And us two Mormon missionaries. I felt like it was the beginning of some joke.

First, Dad asked a few times if I got a new camera. I did, and the money transfer did in fact come fast enough. I ended up getting a Panasonic DMC-FH5, so you can look it up. I didn't have much time to shop, and there wasn't great selection, but it's got 16 MP apparently, and I like it. I pulled together one or two or four hundred pictures that I'm uploading right now, but I can't see the progress because the computer I'm on wouldn't let me use the easy upload service. But there you go.

Since when were you not planning on putting money into the BMW, by the way? The way I always assumed that would work is that I would get back from my mission and Michael would leave and I would be forced to take the car with me to BYU since there would be nobody else to drive it. And that you would keep paying for gas. And Steven could stay at home or get a ride from his friends or take the bus or something. It's good practice for the mission. Just so you all know my expectations :)

The talk I was going to send, by the way, is one that Elder Holland gave in the MTC a couple months ago, so I doubt you can get it anywhere else. I'll see what I can do to send it this week, though. It is a fantastic talk, which I've now seen like four times in both English and Spanish, where he talks about what Preach My Gospel is and why it was created and why it's so important. It´ll probably be really good for Michael to see, since he's starting to get ready to go. I have it on DVD with another great video that you might have seen called "The Quest for a Go-Getter" which is about this blue vase a guy's got to go get. I think what I'll do is see if I can compress a copy of the DVD image to the point that I can send it next week. Or I might actually be able to have a member upload it to the server for me. I think I'll do that, actually. That way I'll have more time next week to upload pictures.

Last weekend I actually got pretty sick. I had a fever of 102 ish and it just felt like Dengue again, to be honest. My body was aching, and it was bad. I took a ton of Tylenol on Saturday and just delt with it, but Sunday it got worse. So, after church, I asked for a priesthood blessing. I can't really describe how that went, but it was cool. And then I went and slept for fifteen hours straight. When I woke up, I was just hunky dory, as if I had never been sick in the first place. So I guess the priesthood really works. Who knew?

We sat down with the Diaz family and went to work with them. By the way, in the pictures I'm sending I believe there are a couple with them in it. A couple were taken in President's house, so he and his wife are at the table with them. Just so you can get an idea of who they are. But I told my comp before going in to talk to them that I would not leave their house until we had, first, reviewed the baptismal questions, and second, create a list of the exact things that we need to prepare for their wedding. With that in mind, then, we sat down, had a great lesson, and after we just kept asking specific things, like how many people would come, until I got the whole list together. It was really interesting, because we had always talked about them getting married and baptized, but had never really planned for it, and I think Rene especially was just figuring that it would never come. We uncovered and solved a couple more of his doubts while we were at it. I guess those are some blessings for being up and doing, as Moroni once said (I DO get things out of your emails, Dad).

By the way, all of you should tell Michael to start studying the scriptures like nobody's business. And to start memorizing scripture references. Missionaries can share their testimony and be great teachers, but if you can do it out of the scriptures you'll be in a whole new league. And you have to be if you want to help people.

We also have the Merino family, and since we are going to be moving to Santa Ana in a few weeks, we're really pushing with them. We're planning it all: FHE with the Bishop, with the old Bishop, with a couple other families, bringing them to activities, teaching them with members, etc. We really, really want to get them dunked before leaving. By the way, they're awesome. We taught them again on Wednesday, and the wife, Fatima, was telling us how much she loved the idea of FHE, since she believes that families are super important and that they should have time together, instead of spending all of their free time during the week seperate, or even in church meetings, which normally split up the family for the meetings. That's why we want to have some awesome FHEs with them and some members. Clever, right?

We had interviews with President, and they were really just fun, to tell the truth. He was in a super good mood, and we had a good, friendly chat. I like President. He pushes us super hard and no matter what we do he wants more, but he's also just a great guy. I'm going to miss him when President Cordón comes.

So the family affairs sound quite exciting. I'm honestly excited to come home in a year and go to one of Steven's baseball games. Dad makes them sound fun. And it'd be cool if, when I get there, Emily and Dave, and Julie and Dave, all have jobs there in Oregon close by. I never really cared much about the other two sisters of mine, whatever their names are, so they can stay out there. Just kidding! That sounded super mean, but it wasn't. Trust me.

Alright, I've got to go. I hope you all have a great week!

Elder David Arrington

PS: Yesterday I was in ward council meeting, and my pen kind of exploded. It ended up leaking a ton of ink on my shirt. So there's been another casualty in my mission clothes stash.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Week 15 in the Mission Office

In which David has a bad day, but some great things happen, too.

And we learn some Spanish poetry.

Subject“I can't believe it. I'm losing to a rug.”

I'm gone a whole eleven months and now nobody wants to go on the father son campout? What has become of our family? Oh well. Honestly I'm pretty sure that I won't be going, either.

Today was a pretty exciting day, to tell you the truth. We got up around five and got ready (the four of us with our tiny, tiny shower) and went to the chapel, where we were meeting at seven for a surprise zone activity. We were also required to write a poem for one of the other Elders in our zone (names were assigned). Slightly confused, we went. Here's my poem, by the way, which I wrote to Elder Stone:

Vivimos juntos y oramos juntos,
antes de salir,
entonces escribì un poema
que quiero compartir.

No importa si tenemos
compañeros diferentes,
Estoy enamorado
con su pelo y con sus dientes.

Creo que somos amigos
por nuestro tiempo juntos trabajando,
Y es bueno, realmente,
porque su hermana me està esperando.

I wrote it in like five minutes, but there you go. I don't think it rhymes in English.

[Note:  Here is the Google Translation of the poem:

We live together and pray together
before leaving
He then wrote a poem
I want to share.

No matter if we
different partners,
I'm in love
with her hair and teeth.

I think we're friends
for our time together working,
And it's good, really
because her sister is expecting me.

Obviously, something is getting lost in translation.  Or David has lost his mind.]

Anyway, we had a quick meeting at the church, we packed up on a mini bus and headed down to San Andrès, which are some ruins in Santa Ana. I think they're there, actually. The point is, we took a lot of pictures and had a great time. It was really cool, too, because we were basically the only ones there. I won't be able to send any pictures until next week, though, for reasons I'll explain in a second.

Oh, and I definitely spent like thirty bucks on souvenirs. But the stuff is awesome, so I don't feel too bad. And the lady gifted me a bamboo flute for buying so much. Nice people.

The rest of the week was pretty rough, to tell the truth. The call was super fun and awesome, though. I was kind of really sad to get off, but I was out of time. It kind of makes me mad, because Elder Oliverson used one of the office phones and just put saldo on it (I don't know what that's called in English) [Google say’s that’s like an account balance], which is what I did, but he did it a day sooner, when there was a promotion for saldo x6. I didn't have the phone with me that day, since I borrowed it, so I couldn't. That's not fair. He had like two days to talk if he wanted. Oh well. We move on.

Okay, I am writing this whilst trying to keep up conversations with Dad about something, so I'll explain that. It's basically the most eventful day of the week, anyway.

Oh, but first I want to tell you all something a little funny. Elder Guevara, one of the assistants, has been trying to get his license for forever. He and the other AP, Elder Hosman, have been having problems with their residencies, though, and haven't been able to. But his came, and he took the test really fast, passed it all, wove his way through the bureaucracy, with President pressuring him a ton, and came out with it on Friday. That night, President went to the house and did the test. He passed. Saturday they didn't use the car. Sunday they used it just to go to church. And Monday morning he slammed the passenger side fender into the garage door while backing out. And did a lot of damage. And lost his driving privileges. Okay, THAT'S funny.

Alright, so now we move onto the investigators. The Diaz family is still just waiting to get married. Not much has happened there. The Caminos family seems to have a new-found interest in meeting with us. That's cool. We are teaching a family called the Merino family. I don't think I've mentioned them, but I might have. The husband, Juan, has met with the missionaries before. His almost wife and their one year old daughter, have not. But they seem really positive. We've only taught them together once, though, so I'll have to update you more on that as time moves on.

On Monday, I got the super awesome scripture cases I ordered. I'm in charge of sending the orders to Hector, the guy who makes them, and normally they take about a month or so to make. But I think he knew I'm the one he has to please, and I got them fast. I ordered them last Wednesday. That's fast. And they're good quality, which sometimes they're not. I'll send pictures next week.

Tuesday was Mother's Day here, so we went and wished everyone a happy Mother's Day. Including Hermana Lopez, who promptly fed us cake. I love her. She's super fun.

So now on to Wednesday, I think it was. The office was kind of stressful, but not too bad. The new missionaries were coming in for their migration stuff, so it was my job to take new pictures of all of them. So I brought my camera to the office. It turned out that they weren't going to come in until Thursday, so I brought it for nothing. But we took a bus back to our area, like we always do after the office, and it was super packed. Somewhere in that process, someone grabbed my camera out of my pocket. So that's now gone, and I can now say that I've been pick-pocketed by a Latin. What's really lame is that I was thinking to myself on the bus that any one of those people could rob me, being as close as we were, but I was only thinking of them opening my backpack and taking stuff. Dang it. I felt horrible about that, but the truth is that I only lost a couple pictures, like the one we took with Hermana Lopez yesterday. Fortunately, I was pretty good about keeping a backup. I lost a couple fun videos, though. Oh well. Honestly I'm just really glad I've been keeping a backup. But because of that, I didn't have a camera this morning. I have to rob some of the pictures that my comp and Elder Oliverson took. And don't worry, I made sure that they took a bunch for me.

After that incident, a bird pooped on my backpack and on Elder Gonzalez's hand/shoulder/head. That is so wrong. Funny, but wrong.

Then we went to Ana. This is a story for all of you with new kids, or who are about to teach some really rowdy primary kids or something. It was not good. We tried to teach, and I tried with all of my teaching skills to commit her to a baptismal date, but it just didn't work. The reason is that she just kept yelling at Daniel, her four-ish year old son. And he started going crazy. And she started yelling more. And then hitting him with a belt. And it was just terrible. Near the end we were really trying to invite the spirit, so I did a magic trick for him. He calmed down. Then we pulled him in close and showed him some pictures of Christ. We started asking him things like, "Who is that?" "Do you love Him?" "What does He want you to do?" "Does He want you to misbehave, or not?" And you know what? He sat there and stared at those pictures and answered exactly the way we wanted him to. He knew who Christ is. He knew that he should start being better. He even had his arms folded while looking at the pictures. And then we asked him why he misbehaves. You know what he said? Because his mom hits him with a belt! Gosh. It's not rocket science here. It was just the most depressing thing to me, because here Ana couldn't stop talking about how terrible Daniel is, and how he won't calm down, and be like a normal child, and on and on, and we had him calm, good, and exactly like a normal child. The difference? She was using force, we were using Christ.

Okay, I've written a ton and have to go soon, so I just want to wrap up with what I just said. One thing that has been on my mind a lot, which one of my councilors taught me in the MTC during a ZL training thing, is that when you want to change someone's behavior, you don't force the behavior you want. Here's the order of influences:


Identity effects our beliefs, which affect our character, and so on. The point is, you don't change the results or the actions. The problem is like an iceberg, and you can only truly fix it if you go all the way up to the top. You have to attack their Identity. Or, better said, build it up. If they understand who Christ is, what He did for us, that they're a child of God, the potential that they have, and so forth, the rest will literally fall in place without even mentioning it. Well, sometimes it will have to be discussed, but the important question that you should be asking them is: Do you love Jesus Christ? I have a great talk that we recently saw by Elder Holland that I want to send you all, so I might get that ready to upload next week. Or ask permission to upload it from the office. It's that good. Mostly about missionaries, but still applicable to all.

Alright, I've got to go. Sorry that I didn't write much about my investigators this week. I'll get better about that. But I just wanted to share some of that stuff. I love you all!

Elder David Arrington

[Also note that we told David to get another camera.  We want more pictures!]

Friday, May 6, 2011

Week 14 in the Mission Office

“It’s fun being bilingual….”

This week we get some pictures!  A few anyway.

David has apparently moved into a new house closer to his actual work area.  That means that to get to the office, they need to ride the bus.

I also got a “friend” request on Facebook from someone in El Salvador.  I thought it was meant for David, so I forwarded it to him (although he doesn’t do facebook).  It turned out that it was for me!  Read the email dialog I had with David at the end of this post.

We’re also preparing for his Mother’s day call in a couple days!

Subject:  “To think you saved that baby from a runaway horse.”

Elder Oliverson is scratching his head over what that’s from. Wait, he just got it.

DSCN9619So I had some interesting times this week. We moved to a new house that is actually in our area, but is super tiny. I haven’t taken any pictures of it yet, but I’ll get on that pretty soon. I kind of enjoy living there, even though there’s four of us that have to be in different rooms to have any breathing space. We’ve been ironing our shirts on my comp’s bed because there’s no room anywhere else. But it’s super easy to find lost stuff, and I never have to wonder where my comp is. The best part about it, though, is that it is in our area. I forgot what it was like to be able to work DSCN9620past eight, but now we get to be out until almost 9:30. We now have to take two buses to get to the office in the morning, though. And one to get back after the office, but we always had to do that. So really the commuting time just got moved up to the morning before the office instead of at night.

With that time that we now have to proselyte, we have been working hard. It’s been a little rough to find new investigators lately, so we’ve really focused on that. We have a goal to baptize seven before leaving to Santa Ana, and we definitely could if we work hard. The Diaz family is progressing really well. We talked about tithing with them, which is always a difficult lesson, but Rene, the husband, really accepted it well. Wendy wasn’t there for the lesson, but her testimony is already awesome, so I don’t worry about that. It was a great lesson, and we were really focusing on him and his relationship with his kids, and relating it to our relationship with God. And then that to tithing. Focusing on the people and their needs and their lives really invites the spirit and makes the lessons so much more effective. Now that is the kind of stuff they should be teaching in the MTC. They are. No kidding?

DSCN9674I forgot to mention as well that they have one single solitary problem. They have to get married, which they want to do, and we have all the paperwork ready, but they don’t want it to be just a little marriage thing. They want a full on lunch with their respective families and such, so really it just turns into a financial issue. But we’re going to work with the ward to get that put together, and dunk them in a couple weeks.

So that’s three. Then there’s Ana, who is a little difficult to teach because of her crazy son, but we had a bit of a breakthrough lately. We noticed that if we teach her really small principles, it sticks better. But more than that, we noticed that we can teach Daniel when he gets crazy. So when he starts to disrupt the lesson at all, we just bring it down to his level to keep him involved, like a primary lesson, and Ana is learning through that as well. She has a desire to be better and really just be a part of the church, so we should be able to dunk her this month as well. Four.

DSCN9663The last three will be a little bit tougher. We have the Merino family, which is kind of positive. The husband has met with the missionaries before but moved before he could get baptized. He teaches Tae Kwon Do in the park, so his schedule is a little bit rough and it’s hard to find them at home. If we can teach him, I think he’ll get baptized. His wife is less enthusiastic about the church, but generally women are more receptive, so hopefully she’ll be able to feel the spirit in the lessons and get baptized, too. Five, six.

The last one I think we just found yesterday. We were out walking to an appointment, and a member called us to tell us that she had a friend waiting to talk to us right then. So we changed our plans and headed over there. It was a man named Mario who is about 30. He has had some rough times lately. His dad started drinking a lot, his girlfriend of three years dumped him, things like that. At first we tried teaching him normally about Joseph Smith and such, and it just didn’t work. He kept just trying to talk to us about his problems. So guess what we did? We focused on him. Revolutionary. We really tried to explain to him how the church and the spirit and all these things can help him overcome his issues, and it really worked a lot better. He even told us that he’d been looking for the kind of help and support and spirituality that we’d been explaining from other churches, but just felt like something was missing there. Sounds pretty positive to me. We’re meeting again tomorrow to see if he prayed. I’ll bet he did. So there it is. With a little faith and a lot of work, we’ll get seven.

DSCN9625On your end, things have been very news-ish. I heard about the Osama thing here, and was kind of happy about it, but to be honest it didn’t really change anything for me. I think Dad said it best when he said, "So, in other news, Osama Bin Laden is dead. And American Idol is down to the final four." Awesome. And it might rain today.

Mom, I quite enjoyed the pictures you sent, which came perfectly. I never realized, by the way, that Steven is getting so ripped. It makes me feel bad. Good work, though, kid.

Before I forget, I talked to my comp. He and I worked out that about 6 or 6:30 would work really well to make phone calls on Sunday. I will only be using a phone, not Skype, and I have no idea what time that would be your time. DSCN9684Daylight savings makes things all wierd. But I figure the best thing would be to buy a calling card or something from here, and then talk to the house first. Then I could, after a little bit, call the conference number and talk to everyone. So that’s my plan. If anything changes, I’ll let you know somehow. Wow. That’s this weekend, isn’t it?

Yesterday I was on a bus, and it got hit by another bus. That was fun. It wasn’t so much a collision, though, as it was just a scraping along the side. It reminded me a lot of that part on Galaxy Quest. I also ate more pupusas, which I do enjoy a lot. Just so you all know. And now there’s a couple pupusarìas near my house.

So it’s about time to wrap this all up. I love you all, and enjoyed hearing about all the good stuff going on. Also, congratulations to Emily on the whole baby girl thing!

Elder David Arrington


Email Dialog with David about Facebook Invite:

Salvador Pastul May 2

Salvador Pastul

  • Gracias por prestarnos al Elder Arrington, ahora lo tenemos en nuestro Barrio, y de vez en cuando en nuestra casa, un gran Misionero, trabajando duro cada dia....

Me:  I think this is for you.  I don't understand it.... :-)

David: Ha ha I love that guy. He’s the brother-in-law of the Diaz family, and a lot of times we teach them in his house. He and his wife also usually take Carlos to church, which is why he already wants to get baptized. He’s great.

But in case you haven’t already run that through a google translator, it says this: "Thank you for lending us Elder Arrington. We have him in our ward, and every once in a while in our house. He’s a great missionary, working hard every day..." Something like that.

Me:  Ah, so it WAS directed at me!

David:  Did you not even try to translate it?

Me:  No, I didn’t know I should  I figured it was sent to you, and I didn’t want to pry :-).

David: Ha ha it’s really weird to me that people can’t all understand Spanish. Did you ever feel that way with French? It’s fun being bilingual.