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.

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