Friday, July 29, 2011

Week 26 in the Mission Office

Great letter this week.  David is settling in nicely in his new role, and seems to really be focused on the right things—missionary work.  And a little soccer…

Subject:  "Money." "What?" "It's name is money."

“Of course, it didn't always work. As a matter of fact, it had never worked.”

I have a lot of movie quotes floating around my head lately.

Alright, before I forget I have to unload all of the world/life outside of the mission things. And sorry, but the first part is going to be directed at Stacey.

That popcorn idea is awesome. I'm impressed. And I kind of miss doing little fun things like that with people. Elder Oliverson was like that. Sorry I bring him up from time to time. I just miss him. I wonder if he'll wait for me?

But I guess I'll see him on the 19th, when we have our special devotional with President Eyring and Elder Christofferson. OHHHH!

Back to what you said. I know exactly what you mean when you feel sad that you can never read anything for the first time again. You'll have to remember to tell me what book that was, as long as it's not a spinoff of twilight. I didn't even capitalize the title there. Those books don't deserve the effort that it would take for me to press the shift key.

There's a trailer out for the Dark Knight Rises! I am super pumped about that. I wish I could see the trailer. I have heard some things here on the mission about it, though, like that it has Anne Hathaway. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but I trust Christopher Nolan. And I heard that it won't come out until next July or something, so I can look forward to that midnight showing.

Another thing that I get to look forward to is the Olympics. I'm glad that my mission fit nicely in between the 2010 and 2012 games. Kind of serendipitous.

Darci sounds like a hoot. But I feel a little sad, because by the time I get back she (and all my other nieces and nephews) will be big enough to tell me straight out that they don't know who I am. That sounded depressing, but I didn't mean it that way.

Also, I got a letter the other day from the Frogleys, and it made me smile a ton. And the little note that Kathryn threw in there was adorable. So thanks for that.

Wow. That was really kind of super directed at Stacey. I feel bad. Don't get spoiled.

As for the rest of the family things, it sounds like it's all going pretty good right now. Emily, I congratulate you on your new house. It looks great, especially on the inside. The link that somebody sent to me doesn't work, so I'm not clear on where exactly it is, but it'll be nice to have you living close by. In a year.

Logan's back? I was wondering when that would happen. Say hola for me. And the twins are off. That's crazy. Life moves so fast.

Michael's job as a carney sounds like fun. You'll have to send me some pictures of this bubble thing. And do we have pictures of that lady shooting a bow and arrow with her feet? I might set that as my desktop background in the office.

And it sounds like Steven had a great time with EFY and similar activities.

And Mom, I know you aren't done sewing. You know you aren't done sewing. You even subconciously told me that. You said that you have "quite" sewing. So you're not quite sewing. I don't know where I'm going with this thought.

Dad, I'd go with the LEDs. It's technology. I like technology. But it may be time to upgrade to something new, like 3D projected lights, or instead of lights just a ton of iPads tiled across the ceiling. It could work. Patent it, while you're at it.

Now to the juicy stuff.

Wow. I have so much to tell this week, but so little time to tell it. So let's see if I can remember it allP1000760. On Friday, after writing to you all, we went to play soccer with a bunch of the zone. It was super fun, and I played really well. That's me bragging a bit, but I really did play pretty well. I scored something like 7 or 8 goals of the 12 or 13 that we scored, and had a few assists as well. I even got some pretty hefty praise from the Latins for how I played. I was that impressive. Just so you all know how big of a deal I am. I uploaded a few pictures from it, too. And in those photos you might notice that Elder Gonzalez has my shirt on. It just happens.

Saturday we went to the temple for the last time, since it was the last day of the open house. The investigator that we were going to bring bailed at the P1000746last second, but we enjoyed the trip anyway. On the way back we made a few calls and got him to go to the temple later in the day with Elder Huaman and a member. He brought his entire family, too. By the way, his name is Walter. He works in a shack, and his job is to wait in this shack until it starts to rain and there's lightning and such, and then he has to turn off the water pump he's guarding. And I think every few hours he has to check the pressure. Very exciting. As a luggage problem. Anyway, Walter is pretty lonely generally, and it gives us a good opportunity to teach him in a small shack in the middle of nowhere with no interruptions. Sunday, he showed up to church with his entire family (his wife and three daughters who are 14, 3, and 2 I think). Cool stuff. We've been trying to teach the whole family together, but it's hard since Walter is only home until like three in the afternoon. So we have to leave the office super early to do it.

Panorama of the TempleWhile Elder Huaman was gone to the temple, though, I went on divisions with Elder Gonzalez back in Independencia to teach Veronica, the woman that we got ready for baptism. She gets baptized tomorrow, and is super excited about it. Too bad that's not my ward anymore. But then we went to Trebol to work, which was interesting because neither of us knew the area at all. I went to the house of the only member I knew, and we had a little lesson there. Mostly we wanted to get references from them, and one of the best ways that I know to do that is to have a testimony meeting, since it brings the spirit and the spirit helps people remember their friends or family that might be ready to hear the gospel. So we did that (in English, since the mom really wanted to practice her English), and the spirit was really intense. I got like eight references from it, and then we went with the mom to contact almost all of them right then. From those references we started teaching a man named Noel and his two kids, Karen and Gerson. They seem fairly positive, and the kids already have gone to mutual and loved it, so they already have friends there. Noel is a little bit tougher, but I think it won't take too long for him to start seeing the difference in his kids and feel the difference in his life.

Another reference that we got was for a family that went to the temple and enjoyed it, but I'm not sure how well they'll progress. The dad, David, seems to only be interested in the knowledge side of it (a common problem). The wife, whose name I forgot, seems a little bit more open, but still. We'll just have to see this week how things go.

Another one of the references was for a woman who went to the temple and loved it. We called her and went to talk to the whole family, and she just kept going on about how great the temple was, and how she loved the sealing rooms, and how great she felt in all of it, and so on. It was really fun. So we're teaching her, her husband (forgot both their names), their son Rodrigo, their daughter whose name I also forgot, and their little two year old son. Well, the two year old kind of just runs around playing, but it's all the same. Also, as a random side note, when we got to the family's house they were watching old Mickey Mouse cartoons. That just about made my life. I didn't even know Mickey Mouse could speak Spanish.

I'm sorry, I don't speak monkey.

But the investigator that takes the cake is a woman named Corina. I don't remember if I mentioned her before. She lives in a huge, empty house in the middle of nowhere with her not-husband and three-ish year old daughter. We taught her I think twice really quickly. But we went back the other day (Monday if I remember right) to see if she had prayed about Joseph Smith. She told us that she was reading the pamphlet we left, and she felt like she should pray. So she did. And she got a really clear answer. She said that she felt like somebody grabbed her by the shoulders and said, "The path that you are on right now is bad. It will bring you misery and pain. You need to join the church that those two missionaries represent." Well that's oddly specific. And then, to top it all off, she had a dream that night about going to the church with us and her daughter (she specifically said that her not-husband, Marvin, wasn't there), and being super happy. So now she really wants to get baptized. How cool is that?

Here's the not cool part, though. We talked to her yesterday about the Word of Wisdom and Law of Chastity. She was a little bit surprised about the Word of Wisdom coffee thing, but very willingly said that she would give it up. And then the getting married thing. She wants to, and knows it's important and all, but Marvin is a not so great guy, I think. He drinks a lot, smokes, and is kind of a not great guy. She said that she would pray last night about what to do, and then talk to him about marriage, but honestly I think that she may end up just leaving him. Maybe that's what her dream indicated, too. That's not always the solution that we look for as missionaries, but it may have to happen. It was kind of funny, though, because when we were explaining all of this to her yesterday she told us that nothing has happened between her and him in a long time. She even did the trademark El Salvadorean "hmmmmmmmmmm!" to tell us how long it had been. By the way, you will all likely have to remind me to explain to you what that is someday. But they even sleep in separate beds. So getting them to separate may not actually be as hard as getting them married. But we're going back today to see how it went.

That's about as far as we got with investigators. We tore it up this week. Our numbers were awesome. Even with just a couple hours a day in our area, we found 14 new investigators and taught a bunch of lessons with members (almost all of them, actually). That's better than a lot of the weeks before I worked in the office. And we saw the numbers for our district leader: 0 new investigators, and like 3 lessons with member. I don't like being prideful, as all of you know quite well, but we are dang good.

By the way, I believe Elder Uchtdorf said that it's okay to say, "I'm really good at..." as long as it doesn't end with, "therefore, I'm better than you." So I don't feel that bad about saying I'm awesome. Because let's face it, I'm pretty awesome.

Dang it, now I feel bad. I can't take the credit for finding all of those investigators. It's true that I'm working hard to try and find them, but it's the Lord that's blessing me with it. So I guess he's way more awesome.

Speaking of what apostles said, I want to tell a quick little side story. We went to visit Noel two days ago, and right after the lesson they turned on the TV. For the first time maybe in the history of me being in this country, soccer wasn't playing. Instead, it was the Spanish version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The question that the guy was on was only for $1000, so it was a little lame, but the question was the following: "The All-Blacks are one of the most decorated rugby teams in the history of the game. What is their country of origin?" And you know what? Because I listened to conference, I knew that it was New Zealand. The guy on TV had to use his 50/50 AND Phone a Friend to answer it. So there you go. Listening to apostles makes you smarter than other people. Remember that now.

Garbage can. Remember the garbage can.

I hope all of you notice, by the way, that this is a very long email. Thank you for noticing.

More than all of that, I don't think that there's much to say. I went to the store today and bought four new soccer jerseys and a new pair of shoes to play in. In total I spent like $45. I love this country.

More than I love this country, though, I love all of you. Thanks for getting all kinds of little random emails to me during the week. I've been realizing lately that I have an assigned time to write to you all, so it's pretty easy for me to do consistently, but you all have to take time out of your busy and super interesting lives to write to me. So thanks for doing that from time to time. Especially Mom and Dad, who I don't think have missed a week in thirteen and a half months.

I love you all!

Elder David Arrington

PS: Can I get another address? Lisa Davis wrote me while she was at school, and I don't think that she's there anymore. What's their home address?

PPS: Don't people know that they're supposed to live in the same place for more than a couple months? It's way too hard to get new addresses every time I want to respond.

PPPS: Do I like Jello?

PPPPS: If you really are getting a package together, as Mom may have hinted in a letter I just got (thanks for the translated pamphlets, by the way), I don't really have any requests. I have confidence in all of you. But do you think you might be able to send a small English hymnal for my comp, Elder Huaman? He kind of really wants one, and it might be cool to surprise him with it. Just a thought.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Week 25 in the Mission Office

In which David is transferred.  Sort of.  Lots of pictures this week!  Many with explanations….

Subject:  "Do you have the power to engender the wrath of the gods? Do not deny me your gifts!"

Ha! Who says that? I'll bet not a single one of you will know it.

As dull as this is getting for all of you, I'm sure, this week was yet another week of changes. And none of us saw any of it coming at all. Elder Oliverson got changed to Sonzacate, which is a zone that baptizes a lot, but he's just a DL. That's really not normal for an office Elder. Normally we basically get to choose our position after. But it's still not that bad. Anyway, Elder Christner, another North American guy, came in to fill the gap in the office. Another weird thing there is that normally an office Elder has a full six weeks to train their replacement. There's just too much that you can't learn by reading the list of responsibilities that we each have and stuff like that. But here's the real kicker: Elder Christner came in as the General Secretary. He's not Elder Oliverson's replacement, he's MINE. Then who, might you ask, is P1000705Elder Oliverson's replacement? I am. So I just got moved over to the next desk and am now the Records Secretary. In a really weird, twisted way that makes sense, actually. Now I can train Elder Christner for the whole change, and I am pretty familiar with Elder Oliverson's job, so the couple days that he had to train me basically got me up to speed. So there you go.

On Tuesday we had a going-away dinner for Elder Oliverson. Normally we do that with President and his family, but they couldn't because of how sudden the change was, so we just kind of did it ourselves. I'll try to upload a few of those pictures. Also, I already uploaded a bunch to the server, although from now on they will be in the Trebol, Modelo folder. Yeah, I also changed areas. Right after putting four baptismal dates. Figures.P1000529

Really quick, I'll explain a few of the pictures. The ones with the lizard are with the Blanco family, who is a less active family in Independencia. We helped reactivate them almost completely, except for the son, Kevin, who really does nothing but play computer games for hours and hours and hours and hours every day. He is not really considering a mission specifically because of that. Video games are stupid (I know you'll try and use that against me, Mom).

P1000606The pictures of Elder Oliverson and Elder Tuck (the other gringo in the picture) with cardboard shields and foam swords was fromP1000607 a zone meeting where Elder Brown (the one that is in the middle looking like he's talking to them), an Elder who was super awesome and just went home yesterday (he finished) wanted to explain something about being prepared and fighting with honor and something like that. It was violent. And educational. But mostly violent!

P1000616There are some pictures from one of the temple trips we went on, and picture P1000619619 is a picture I sneakily took of this girl and her baby (in white, in the middle of the right group) conversing with some people. The girl's name is Abigail, and she's one of the investigators that we found a couple weeks ago that is progressing super well. I took the picture because it's super cool to see that she and the members are totally friends already. That's good P1000626missionary work.

Picture 626 is some cartoon someone gave me about only having faith to a certain degree. IP1000629 laughed.

629 is a horrible fail at a baptismal record by one of the zone leaders.

P1000646646 is Hermana Cordon with one of her daughters and her husband, who we met at the temple open house, since they normally live in Guatemala.

647 is the Afane family, who I was good friends with when I was in El Angel, in AtiqP1000647uizaya. They're still an awesome family, and I ran into them there.

P1000650650 is Elder Choc, an RM now, and his family.

651 and 652 are the Martinez family, from Independencia, who invited us to an FHE every Sunday and invited Rolando (654 and 6P100065156) to them. Rolando is an investigator with whom we set a date for the 30 of July, and he's great. His two daughters, sitting next to him, are already members.

The rest are basically self explanatory.

P1000654The week was really good, investigator wise. We had set a date with an old investigator for the 30 of July, and that kind of sparked something in a bunch of our investigators. Suddenly on Sunday we had two of them come up to us and say things like, "Hey, I heard someone's getting baptized on the 30. I want to get baptized with them!". So we set a date with Abigail (a different one then I mentioned above), who is a 16-ish year old girl who would have gotten baptized by now if she had asked her mom to sign the paper, and with Rolando. We also set a less-sure date with William Garcia, one of our "eternal" investigators.

And now I'm in El Trebol. My companion is Elder Huaman, the Financial Secretary. It'll be good, and I think we'll still have success there, but the date that they had before just fell a couple days ago. So we're back to square one.

Also, Elder Duzett is now in the zone Paraíso, which is right next to Modelo here in Santa Ana. Also, the office is in Paraíso. So I've been seeing him around a bit more.

Let's see if I can come up with something super spiritual to end this. It would probably not be about the guy who gave a very entertaining talk on Sunday about how the spirit told Nephi to cut off Laban's head, and that we are all sinners for not doing the same (his words, not mine) (also, he was a little guy with a big mustache that talked like a Mexican, so it was even more funny).

I was reading the other day in Mosiah, about Abinadi. It kind of made me think. That's not always the happiest story to read, but it is really powerful. Abinadi, this great guy and a prophet (which I'm pretty sure means that he's a great guy on it's own) is sitting there machettying all of the priests and King Noah because they're hypocrites and sinners and really just not nice people. And it's super entertaining the way he does it, by the way. I'm just saying. But the point is, he essentially fails. He gets killed, and nothing else happens. Well, as far as he knows. There was this one guy that kind of understood what he was talking about and tried to speak up about it and had to book it out of there pretty fast because his friends suddenly wanted to kill him, too, but other than that there was nothing. But then what happened to Alma? He got a group of saints together and started preaching and converting people and next thing you know he's saving thousands of souls.

What I was thinking about is that that is really how the mission is. You do your best and work hard and try to follow the spirit and do what you think you should do and say what you think you should say, but in the end you just don't see the results of it. Not all of them. Most of the people that I've taught that have gotten baptized were not found, taught, and baptized by me. It was all by other missionaries weeks, months, or even years before me. Rolando accepted the appointments of the missionaries before us because he remembered a couple missionaries who had taken him to the church back in 1975. And we're just now seeing the fruits of that. It's just something I've been thinking a lot about, since missionaries are occasionally talking about how many baptisms they have. I don't have many at all, but I have helped a lot of people who have gotten baptized after I left, and I've baptized young men who are now preparing for missions. One has already served a mini mission. There's no way I will be able to know how much of a difference I make out here. Sister Lopez always told us that. "You can count how many seeds are in an apple," said she, "but you can't count how many apples will grow from one of those seeds."

Just a closing thought.

Elder David Arrington

Friday, July 15, 2011

Week 24 in the Mission Office

This letter sounds a little more down.  The transition to the new mission president is causing David to have to change lots of things he was already comfortable with.  Particularly Elder Oliverson…  He might need a little cheering up….

Subject:  "THREE murders!" "This is getting serious."

I'm a little bit down right now. I just found out that there is a very, very good chance that next week, when I write, Elder Oliverson will have left the office. That's very unusual and unexpected, since he is not going to have time to train his replacement at all, but President Cordon seems to want to turn absolutely everything in the mission on it's head. I guess that's his choice, and I still think that he's awesome, but these changes are really rough.

This week I spent a lot of time in the office. We thought everything was going to calm down with President Cordon, but everything that we used to do with President Lopez is now changing. So there have been several times where we'll go to the office to, for example, drop off a TV for President, and he asks us to do a few things (by the way, he just told me that he want's me to completely redo the changes board that I spent two and a half weeks straight on (with almost no time to work in my area) just because he doesn't like the old way we did it, which also means I get to deal with how we're going to make his idea work, because it's fairly impossible at this point). Then, while we're working on those, he'll have us do a few more things. And then a few more. On Saturday, that's exactly how it started. We got to the office at 8 to drop off a TV, and just because there were so many things that President Cordon pulled on us at the last minute we were there until after 4. But then we got to go to the temple again, which was fun.

So it was a tough week. And just so you all know, this keyboard is super weird, so I may not write a ton. On Saturday, though, we went to the temple, as I mentioned. We got one of our investigators (that we found last week and had only taught once), Abigail, to go with us, and she loved it. We have also begun to teach the rest of her family, which includes her husband, her brother and his wife, her mom and dad, and her two sisters. At least. We seem to find new investigators every time that we go over there.

The rest of our investigators are at a little bit of a stand-still. However, we did finally get to go teach the mom of this kid in our ward named Mario. She was an old investigator of some old missionaries, and she still wanted to get baptized. So we put a date with her for later this month. She's the first investigator that I've taught in a long time where I really feel like there's nothing between her and the font. Usually we put a date with people and just kind of hope that we can get everything cleared out of the way before then. And it doesn't work normally.

Other than that, I don't feel fantastic. I've been a little bit sick lately, and I'm just having one of those days right now. It happens on the mission.

This may be the shortest email that I have ever sent on P-Day, but as you all should be able to see, it's kind of late. We had to ask President permission to even write right now, and he wasn't hot on the idea. So I've got to get out and get working. Working hard might take my mind off of all of the stuff that seems to have just collapsed. Responsibility is hard. Remind me when I get home not to have any. Life is supposed to be easy, right?

It was fun to hear about the end of baseball. Football should be starting up soon in the next few months, so I can look forward to that I guess. Thanks for always giving me something to read about on P-Day. There are several Elders here that don't get anything from their families a lot of weeks. I'm starting to understand how great of a blessing it is that you all write to me. So thank you for that.

Elder David Arrington

PS: That's sad to hear about Brother Herbert. I don't think I have any council on how to tie my mission into something like that, but what you had going sounds pretty good. Let me know how it goes.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Week 23 in the Mission Office

The temple in El Salvador is now open for public tours!  David gets to go.  And he’s getting to know the new Mission President!  Oh, and there is a difference between a charged error and an uncharged error….

Subject:  “So I went to the White house again. And I met the President again.”

That's to combat Mom's Forrest Gump quote that she threw out completely unexpectedly.
Quick comment: Dad. Let's read this together. "On Tuesday the team made 7 charged errors.  And that doesn’t include the ones that aren’t charged errors." 'Nuff said.

Sorry, those made me laugh. So anyway, I'm writing a tiny bit late today, which I know seems like a very common thing lately, but it should be just about the last time for a while. That I'm writing late, not that I'm writing. Today I had to go to the office to do some stuff, and President Cordon was there doing interviews with a couple zones, so while I was trying to finish up my work I had a couple dozen Elders asking me about orders they had made, or nametags they were waiting for, or a hundred other things. And then President Cordon kind of spontaneously told me that I should turn the office into a sort of mini call center for a few hours. So there was a lot of work to do.

The week, though, can best be described by one word: Temple. The temple has been completed, and it was open all week. Saturday morning, Elder Gonzalez and I went to the open house with our ward, and it was amazing. The temple is much smaller than most of the ones we're used to (although I think the Palmyra New York one is pretty tiny as well, for those of you who have gone there), but it's amazing. There is so much detail in everything. There's only one telestial room and one terrestrial room (is it terrestial? Oh well. In Spanish it's terrestre), so you know it's small. But the telestial room has a beautiful landscape mural of El Salvador, which is super cool. And it was just really awesome. There's not much else you can really say about it. So it was a great experience. And President had told us that we could only go through once, but he just called us this morning to say that he's giving permission to the missionaries to go through once a week, if we'd like. So I think I'm going tomorrow again. With some more investigators. And we'll get to them in a second.

The one amazingly horrible side effect of the temple open house is the massive amounts of people going through. It's somewhere between 7000 and 9000 daily. And a ton of them aren't members, so that means referrals. And I'm the guy in charge of referrals, so you all see where this is going. I've been juggling something like 150 references daily. And President really wants to make sure that we are contacting them all, so for each one I have to figure out which zone it's in (a lot of the addresses down here are horrible, such as "in Colonia Ivu to the left of the green house that's in front of the barbershop", so it's quite a feat sometimes), get all of them grouped together in reports that I send out daily to the zone leaders, call them at night to find out if they've contacted all of them, compile another report with every investigator's name and details of the contacting, and send that to President every day. That's a lot to do in one day. In addition to the normal office stuff I'm doing, and working in my area. I thought things were supposed to be easier after the huge mission changes...

Don't misunderstand that, though. I really do love the work that I'm doing here. And the fact that we have a temple relatively close by, where we can take investigators, is incredible. We've been sending most of our investigators with members, and it helps them progress a ton. In fact, a lot of the referrals that we've been getting are old investigators that didn't want to progress, but after going through the temple suddenly have changed their minds. Really cool stuff.

As far as investigators go, it was a pretty good week. We have the primary kids praying for us (and the rest of the ward, but the rest of the ward isn't as cute when they do it), and it's helping. Part of that is probably the blessings from children's prayers, part of it is probably because the ward is feeling more of a missionary spirit, but I think the biggest reason is that we know that we have to report to the primary every week on how many new investigators we found. That's some pretty intense motivation. And last week we only found two, which is kind of low.

So this week we wanted to find some news. We left with a couple members, and they spent almost the whole day with us Saturday showing us where innactives live (they often have family members that aren't members, and it's a great way to baptize families instead of individuals), and where old investigators live. I had found a couple half filled-out baptismal records for a couple girls the other day, so I showed them to the member and we went to find them. It turns out that they are still interested in the church, but they never got baptized because their dad wouldn't let them. But now he lives in the states, and their mom is getting divorced from him right now. What's that? I smell easy baptisms... (knock on wood)
We also have a girl named Abigail who has been coming to church for months, but her parents also don't want her to get baptized. We'll work on that.

And just yesterday we passed by the church and there was an 18 year old girl there named Alexia, who lives in El Congo but attends in Piramidal or something like that, but she now wants to attend our ward. And none of her family are members, and she has a bunch of friends that she wants to bring to church, and so on. And she straight out told us that the reason that she never had the missionaries teach them before was because the missionaries in her ward have always been lazy and iniquitous (she listed off the names, and I have to agree. It was a pretty overwhelming lineup). And she's only been a member for a year. And she's super excited to go on a mission in a few years. Those are the kinds of members that make our jobs easy :)

Also, it's been really interesting to contact people these days, because almost always the first thing we do is invite them to the temple open house. And almost everyone in El Salvador knows about the temple because they've gone to San Salvador or have seen it on the news lately. And everyone wants to go see it. It's really funny, because we'll knock on a door and some old evangelical lady will come out already almost screaming that she wants nothing to do with us and she'll die in her church, etc. And then we pull out the temple invitations that we have and say that she can go see the inside of the temple for FREE, and suddenly she's the nicest, most interested person ever. Quite entertaining.

But my favorite part of the week was probably when we were visiting people on Sunday with a member, and we went to find a less active. She wasn't there, so we contacted the house next door. There was a girl there that's about my age with a one year-old baby, so we talked a bit. Then we set up an appointment for the next day. Elder Gonzalez and I were kind of surprised by how easily she accepted the appointment, so we went back the next day. There, we taught her, her mom, her sister, and her brother. And there's like four more people that live there. And they were some of the most humble, nicest, and most interested people I've ever taught. We only taught them the one time, but we're definitely going back. After we left, Elder Gonzalez and I just kind of looked at each other and were like, "Wow. It's been a really long time since we've taught a lesson like that." Really fun. I hope they progress. And no, I don't remember their names at all.

Yesterday, we had interviews with President. It was a really, really cool interview, and I can already tell that President Cordon is going to be awesome. Although, it's a little weird, because he has a completely different style from President Lopez. They're almost opposites. But it's cool. And because of some emergencies in the mission, he came to the interviews an hour and a half late. And since they take a long time to do, we were literally there until nine-thirty, just hanging out in the chapel waiting. But it was good. And then he decided to drop in unexpectedly to inspect our house. Since we're twenty year-old guys who had zero advance warning, you can imagine how it went. Yeah. Not fantastic.

But that's the week. I enjoyed reading about the shenanigans you're all pulling there in the good 'ol USA. Wish the states happy birthday for me, by the way.

So baseball is still a pretty big and exciting thing, but I'm kind of getting mad at this coach, too. We should do something. I say everyone starts protesting at the games. And I'll write some hate mail. It'll be good, I promise.

And I'm not sure that I've ever been quite so on-the-edge-of-my-broken-El-Salvadorean-ciber-recycled-seat as while I was reading about the go kart races. It was more intense than an episode of Speed Racer. Very fun.

So thanks for all of the updates and the mail. I love you all!

Elder David Arrington

PS: Michael, look for a job. It's not easy to look for one, but do it. That's not very inspirational, but there it is. And money is good. It's not only good to have money, it's also very fun.

PPS: What happened to Michaels job? I thought he had one already. I must have missed that one.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Week 22 in the Mission Office

The new mission president arrives, there are emotional goodbyes, and life starts to get back to the new normal.  Back to missionary work!

Subject:  I can't believe that I brought my real parents to our wedding 

Hmmm... Let's check the score, shall we? Emails from President Lopez: 3. Emails from family: 2. Emails from others: 0. Ouch. You all got beaten out by a forty-something year old man that has to write to over two hundred missionaries.

Dad, at least, was wondering if my P-Day was officially changed to Saturday or if it was only last week. To clear that up, it was only last week. Things were crazy, and there was no time. As of today, I should be starting to write pretty regularly on Fridays around eleven. Just so you all know.

Alright. This week. First, I'm going to start off with something very un-mission. I saw the other day a bootleg copy of Cars 2. Well, I saw the case of it anyway. Is that seriously out already? I feel like I just started seeing posters for it like last week. Also, I saw part of the trailer, and it looked pretty good but I couldn't figure out what it's about. Oh well. There's something to look forward to in a year.

By the way, when I get home I fully expect to watch Toy Story 3 that night. That probably makes me sound super baggy, but there it is. It was the first movie I missed, so it's the first movie I'll see. That is all.

Now on to the actual week. Dad was pretty accurate in his predictions. The week was super crazy and hectic until President Cordon got here, and then it got super relaxed.

Sunday we had church and everything as normal, and it was good. After church we went and used our lunch hour once again to sleep. We were pretty sleep-deprived. Then we went to visit a couple investigators and less-active members.

Wow. I just got an email and was thinking you all might have been coming back to tie things up, but it was an automated message telling me how much I have in my bank account. That's sad. Oh well. Since it's automatic, I won't count it in the overall score.

Anyway, we mostly just got to know more members in the ward. We've only had a few days this change to work, so we're kind of bad at that right now. There are some interesting people in our ward. For example, there's this one guy who paints. But he doesn't just paint, he PAINTS. The front half of his house has been turned into an art studio kind of thing that looks a lot like the artists studio room place on Heroes, for any of you who watched that. And he's got a bunch of paintings all over that are really good. Most of his work, though, is from people hiring him to recreate famous paintings of Christ and the Virgin Mary (we are, after all, in an overly Catholic area), so a lot of the paintings that he's doing are just recreations of those. But still. I know a painter.

Monday morning we got put back into crisis mode. We just didn't have very much time to do everything that we needed to do, so President Lopez had me go on divisions with Pablo, his thirteen year old son, to do some stuff at the new house we're getting ready in Luna Maya, where President Cordon will live. That was fun. And his wife and two daughters, Cristal and Carol, went with us. It was cool to be able to talk to them while I was working. That's personal time with his family that I've never really gotten before. Actually, I doubt that any missionary has really gotten that kind of one-on-one time with them.

Tuesday, President Cordon arrived. We were still scrambling to get a bunch of stuff ready, but he came in late so we had a little bit of extra time after. We also got some surprise-type materials ready, like a big Welcome Cordon Family banner, surrounded by a ton of balloons, and we had some party noisemakers and such. When they finally pulled up to the office, it was like Christmas morning. All of us were waiting in the dark, and it was just really intense. Actually, you know what? I think that's more of a TP-ing kind of feeling. But it was super fun, and the popper things that Sister Lopez had bought us that we tried to set off broke, so that was a little bit lame, and it was fun. We got to know the entire family minus one daughter that is married and lives in Guatemala. They're a great family. And that was Tuesday.

Wednesday we worked in the office about as normally as we could. We got up at six-thirty, studied, and left for the office at ten. That's what should normally happen, but it's also what hasn't happened for the last three weeks or so. Actually, probably at least the last month. And then we worked on normal office things all day. I was a little bit behind on a few things because who really has time to sort mail and packages when you're running around all day packing and unpacking stuff? So I caught up on all of that. President Cordon and President Lopez were in meetings together with their wives all morning, and then around one they went out to lunch. At about three o'clock President Cordon and his family came back, and the kids just kind of hung out in the office while the rest of us went into a meeting.

The meeting was very good. We got to know President Cordon and his wife, and then talked about some things that have changed and new instructions that they received at the new mission president conference in the MTC. By the way, that's a week-long seminar where they are in meetings with apostles and the first presidency basically all day every day. So it's kind of a big deal.

After the meeting, we finished up working in the office and went out to work. We visited Rolando, who is getting closer and closer to baptism. He had a couple doubts that he's worked through, and now only has a couple small things, like coffee. He knows that he can and should drop it, though, so he's going to. He used to be a chain smoker, and he quit that on his own, so he knows already what it's like to quit addictions. Plus, he's got his two daughters, who are active members in the church, who can help him. I think it won't be too long before he gets baptized.

Yesterday we had a multi-zone with President Cordon and half the mission. It was just a half-day long multi-zone, so by lunch we were gone, but it was really good. But mostly he just started repeating the same points that he had covered with us in our meeting with him the day before. Then we worked in the office until about five.

After working there, we went to our ward council and then to visit the Blanco family, which is a family that we're working to reactivate. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned them a few times. Mostly we talked to Cristian, the 8-year-old son, about baptism and why it's important. He's excited, and now we're trying to work with his older brother so that he can be the one to baptize him. Then we headed out to the Garcia family, and talked to William. We decided that his biggest issue is that he doesn't understand what the spirit is, or how he can feel it to verify the things we're teaching, so we really wanted to reinforce those ideas. We taught him about the holy ghost and it's role, and we had a super good lesson planned about the Atonement. Our thinking was that we should teach about the most spiritual thing possible to try and get him to feel and recognize the promptings. But it turns out that his aunt died a little bit ago, so they had to go to the funeral last night. So we didn't have time for the last part of the lesson. It will have to wait until another day. But hey, they did feed us some beans and scrambled eggs (a very, very common meal here).

That brings us to today. Which is the first normal P-Day that I've had in a long, long time. But I did want to mention as well a couple commentaries about the President change. It has been very strange to move on from President Lopez. President Cordon is going to be an awesome president, but he has a very different feel than President Lopez. And after working with President Lopez so closely over the past five months, I've grown to love him and respect him in an incredible way. And he feels the same way about us, the office. He and his wife have told us many times, each time getting more emotional about it. He straight out told me after he showed up with the Cordon family the first day that a part of him had left. Like there was just this piece that was gone now. They are still here in El Salvador, by the way, but are leaving tomorrow morning. At 6:30 he's dropping his car off with President Cordon, and then heading to the airport with his family to go back to Guatemala. He called us, though, to ask us to be there when that happens so that he and his family can say goodbye to us one more time. It's a very strange thing to say goodbye like this. It really reminds me of leaving on the mission and saying goodbye to everyone before, but it's really different, too. In some ways, it's harder. Oh well. Life moves on.

One other cool thing that I was going to mention in my email is that we are going to the temple tomorrow. The open house starts today, and tomorrow we have a trip planned with the stake to visit, so we're going to take a bunch of our investigators. Actually, we might push it back to next week because of too many people going (just our stake is sending eighteen buses tomorrow, and we aren't the only stake going)(go back and read that to make sure you are imagining this right. It's eighteen BUSES from our stake)(those are big school bus type buses, by the way, except that there are more benches and less leg room, and people will likely be standing in the aisle way as well)(EIGHTEEN BUSES), but we aren't sure. I'm super excited to go. I miss the temple a lot.

An email from Mom just came sliding into the Inbox to tie up the game! Oh, this is a nail-biter.

That was a baseball metaphor.

Speaking of baseball, I feel I must take a moment to respectfully acknowledge the recent injuries. Consider them acknowledged. And happy birthday Stacey and Steven! In general I've been pretty horrible about mentioning birthdays in my emails, but today I seem to have remembered. I hope it's a great one for all of you. And Steven, I cannot imagine you being the same height as Mom. I'm sorry, I just can't.

Michael, I didn't hear much of the rafting trip, but I can imagine the good times. I've done that once or twice myself. It's fun. Also, congratulations on becoming an Elder in the very near future. That's super weird to me that you're already doing that. And possibly starting up on your mission papers soon. Although you may still be a couple months away on that. Life moves fast, doesn't it?

Mom and Dad, thanks for your emails (and Julie, too!). They're always very entertaining. It's fun to read about the real world going on out there while I'm in here, basically in a completely different one. Thanks for always giving me something to look forward to every week. And thanks for your support. I love you all!

Elder David Arrington