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

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