Monday, October 31, 2011

Week 9 in Buena Vista

David finally got the new home server working, which means we get some pictures today!  Well, sort of.  Missionaries milking a cow?  What next?

Subject:  It's no use. The only way out is to chew your own foot off!

I just figured out how to get the new home server to work. As it turns out, I have to use internet explorer for it. Oh well. That's what I used before anyway. And the whole site seems to work faster and is, of course, just cooler. Well done.

P1010200Also, I was reading through the general proposal emails that Dad and Lindsay sent around, but I haven't had a chance to look through the rest yet. I was planning on printing them off so I can read them during the week just for fun. For now, though, even though you all sound like desperate salespeople, I'm on board. Which means that Dad, being one of the more knowledgeable of all of us in these kinds of things will have to examine my bank account (do I even have money left?) and decide how much I can invest. And let me know. Basically I have no access to things like that, but I trust you to invest a sensible amount.

This week was a good one, but it was kind of bitter-sweet since we didn't spend a ton of time in our area. The mission itself still isn't doing very good. This month it looks like we'll be ending with only about 96 baptisms, although a bunch of those dates are for today. As of now we only have 89. That's a new record low. However, our zone has 16, which isn't bad for Chalchuapa. But we could have done a little bit better.

P1010237The really tough part, though, is that we had three dates for this last weekend: two in Panamericano, and one in Chalchuapa. I did the interview on Saturday for the lady in Chalchuapa, but she didn't pass. She isn't married, and her husband definitely still lives with her. I don't know what the Elders there were thinking. So now they have to get her married and baptized next month. The other two dates in Panamericano, Santos and Josue, passed their interviews. I did the interview for Santos, and he actually asked me to baptize him, so I showed up on Saturday for the baptism. However, he got really sick and couldn't do it. So that one fell until next week. And Josue had some kind of problem with the permission from his parents, so that one fell, too. So I spent all day Saturday in Chalchuapa for no reason. But I did get to eat a bunch of the refreshments that members had brought for the baptism. No complaint there.

Speaking of food, me and my comp decided something. We bought 120 pupusas on Friday (that's a lot of pupusas!) and threw them in the freezer so that we can just go grab some and heat them up when we're hungry. Best idea ever.

P1010241We also didn't work in our area at all on Tuesday, either, since my comp had to go to San Salvador so that he could be legal. So I worked in El Refugio with Elder Huaman, which is why I'm uploading pictures of us milking a cow. That was an interesting experience.
I just started typing in Spanish accidentally. That was weird.

Last Sunday Elder Adams and I were starving, so we decided to pass around a calendar for people to sign up to give us dinner. Of course the purpose was to find new investigators. But a pretty good number of people signed up. The only problem is that they didn't sign up for last week. They signed up for this week. So we have a dinner appointment almost every night this week where people have promised us new investigators or less actives. That's awesome.

We haven't really talked to Cindy much these days mostly because she's gone skateboarding all the time. It's gotten really hard to find her since the rain stopped. The Segovia family, which I might have mentioned before, hid last time we went to talk to them. We waited outside their house for over half an hour. Then we started shouting to them that we had seen them, so they sent out their 9 year old son as a messenger back and forth between us and them. How lame is that? So we dropped them.

We also have been talking to Griselda and Melvin. Griselda has come to church three times now, but she isn't progressing very well. She doesn't want to get married, and the last time we taught her she pulled out a bunch of anti-Mormon material that we had to combat basically. It was mostly her husband, actually, that was really set on disproving us. She seemed to accept what we were telling her. And it was a cool experience because we just stayed calm and followed the spirit. When I left I felt happy with it. At one point we just stopped and read the articles of faith, which are quite handy, actually. Who knew?

The really positive investigators that we have right now are Olga and her husband, who are basically set for a baptism the third of December, and the Cruz family, who hasn't been able to come to church yet because of work. But it looks like they might be able to come next week. We run up to their house every night to share a quick scripture since Alex, the husband, is quitting smoking. And they have been reading a bunch of the Book of Mormon, which is awesome. They're great.

Happy Halloween, by the way. It is exactly the same as any other day here. Sarah sent me a picture of her being a dead Ute, but I don't think she did the dead part as well. Maybe you should have gone for an axe in the head or something? And Julie was saying they're all going Speed Racer themed, which is awesome. I'm going as a missionary. Original, right?
Thanks for the emails, and for all of your support. It really helps out here. And I'm out of time, so I've got to send this off now.

Elder David Arrington

Monday, October 24, 2011

Week 8 in Buena Vista

I’ve learned that it’s not actually Buena Vista, though I think that is the “neighborhood.”  It’s actually Chalchuapa which is about 10 miles outside Santa Ana and about halfway to Atiquizaya, David’s first city.  That being said, I’ll leave it as Buena Vista.  That’s easier to pronounce.

New rules this week….

Subject:  What about my carpet?

Okay. First I have to explain something that will inevitably make some people very sad. And I'm sure we know who that specific person is. Sorry, Sarah.

Due to the now eight missionaries that have been sent home, President has decided to tighten a few of the rules. The biggest ones that you'll all be interested in refer to our emails. We now only have 45 minutes to email, as opposed to the hour/hour and a half before. We also may not email anybody except family members. I personally talked to President about that and this is what he said: We may write to immediate family only. However, if we would like, we can send that email to non-family members. We also may receive email from other people, as long as we do not respond with personalized emails to them. Everything must go through the family. So mostly for Sarah, being the only non-family person I have written to: I love getting the emails and highly encourage them, but I will have to respond to them by hand. Sorry. Those dang missionaries ruined it for the rest of us.

And don't worry, I definitely will be sending at least one letter off soon in response to the quite entertaining letter that I got this week.

Also, I have a better way to write, now. Instead of reading all of my emails here, I print them first and then have almost the entire time to respond. Hopefully I'll still get some decent emails out. Today was a little bit different, though, since Dad sent his email late. So I had to stop and read it. (I enjoyed it, though)

By the way, is the address of the new server the same? I just went to and it didn't work...

Okay. This week was good, but very tiring. I also gave a talk on Sunday, and as a missionary I've gotten pretty good at that. I can come up with a topic, a few scriptures, a really general outline, and talk really comfortably about all of it. In Spanish, even. Who knew?

My comp just told me that this will actually kick me off at 45 minutes now, so I have to be careful about this. But it may end abruptly.

We've finally been getting a couple investigators in church, which is pretty awesome. The one that has come twice now is named Griselda. Her biggest difficulty is that her husband is not too thrilled about her going to church. She's progressing, but we haven't talked much about her getting married yet, either. Just enough to know that it's going to be tough.

We were at our washing lady's house the other day, and out of nowhere I decided to invite this one girl that lives there to church, because I thought that she might be inactive. It turns out that she never got baptized, she really, really wants to, her husband also wants to, and they want to get married. The problem that they had before is that she is from Honduras and they couldn't get her birth certificate, but now they have it. Now the biggest problem is that he, Rodolfo, works in Guatemala and only comes back to El Salvador every twenty days. He just got back, so we reviewed everything with him. He's super great, knows all of the doctrine, and is ready. He even has a daughter on a mission in Chile. But since he can only come back every twenty days, the date is set for the third of December. Kind of far out, but oh well. I'm content. God is awesome.

My comp and I get along great. He's pretty hilarious, but he's not big on movie quotes. It makes for some kind of weird moments where I'll quote something hilarious, and he'll respond to it as if I had just been talking, or he just won't get it. And then I have to explain it. Oh well. I guess not everyone communicates by movie quotes.

Mom, you asked if I got the package with the hymnal. Yes, and I already gave it to Elder Huaman, who is actually in my zone again now that he left the office. Thanks for that, by the way. He liked it, and started laughing pretty good that I had actually gotten him one.

So I guess that's where I leave it all. Me and Elder Adams are working great together, and we get to the house every night super tired. And we do some quirky, funny things together, like buy a lot of pupusas (that's not bad at all, nor quirky, but we do) and paint tops (mine turned out pretty good, I'm not going to lie. Pictures next week!)

I just got a two minute warning, so I'd better get this off. Thank you Dad, Mom, Julie, and Sarah for your emails! I love you all!

Elder David Arrington

PS: With ten seconds to spare...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Week 7 in Buena Vista

David gets a new companion.  Or animal.  Or beast of some sort.  There’s some weird stuff going on in Sonzacate causing bad things to happen.  Still, the work in Buena Vista continues unabated!  (What a ride!)

Oh, and revelation:  I’m old….

Subject:  We've all got to die sometime, right? I guess I've just got to do it saving the world.

I have to explain something really fast. During the week, if I think of a really good movie quote I write it in my agenda. When it comes time to email, I just use the first one. I didn't mean to choose this one because of Grandpa, nor the twenty some-odd people that have died down here because of the rain. Nor the crazy mission stuff which shall be explained shortly. There, I covered myself.

So first, just so I can get this off, I have to say that this week has been nuts. Probably the craziest week of my mission. I have a brand new missionary companion, I'm having great success suddenly (probably because of him, not me), and it's been raining super hard all week. Here's the real kicker, though: I probably shouldn't give too many details about it, but I have to at least give an overview. I remember that Elder Oliverson was having a tough time in Sonzacate, and he told me some of the things that they suspected Elders were doing there. It was bad news. One North American Elder that I know pretty well (he was in my zone in the MTC) got involved, felt guilty, and confessed to President. One really awful process later, seven missionaries have been sent home, at least three of which (including the North American) have been excommunicated. Missionaries that I have known really well, and have even lived with (but none of my comps, so don't worry there). Another dozen or so missionaries are being investigated, most of which had direct involvement in some lower forms. And it doesn't stop there. A lot of church leaders in the Sonsonate/Sonzacate area have been wrapped up in this as well. We're talking bishops, branch presidents, high councilmen, etc. It's a huge deal right now, and I think the church is in a lot of trouble in that area. All the members do or will know, and we can all imagine how that will kill the work. President, as you can imagine, is pretty torn up about all this. We're going to have some multizones this week to talk about it.

Elder Adams[1]Anyway, on to happier things. On Tuesday, I got my new comp. His name is Elder Adams, and he's a beast. I love this guy. I am waiting for the office to send me the picture that they took of us, but if they don't that may have to wait until next week. I don't have a way of sending pictures right now. But I remember that that same day it started raining really hard. We were heading up this street that was basically a river, and there was no way to stay dry. I was contemplating going back to find another route, but he just looked at me and asked, "Where does that family live?" I pointed up the street, and he took off, wading through the water. He's a beast. And I swear, he's way better trained than I was from the MTC. And his Spanish is much better, since they've started sending the Elders to Guatemala.

Wednesday and Thursday we worked really well together, and we found some sweet families. They have some problems, but it looks like we'll be getting some baptisms together, at least. We've started to get a lot better at committing people to baptism on specific dates, too, so we have a few dead dates for November (they don't have church attendances, so it doesn't count as a live date). There wasn't anything super special, we're just working better together. And our planning and comp study is so much better than it was last change.

We did have this cool experience a couple days ago, though. The lady that washes our clothes has not been doing it lately since nothing dries in this rain. So we went over there to grab some of our clothes and dry it ourselves in front of the fan. There's a woman with a new baby that is her daughter-in-law, and she's always super nice. Her name is Olga. I had always just assumed that she was a member, but I hadn't seen her in church lately, so I invited her to conference, and I started asking her about stuff like that. As it turns out, she never got baptized. She loves the church, wants to get baptized, and was just waiting for her birth certificate to come from Nicaragua so that she can get married and then baptized. It was a long process (two years so far) but they finally have it. Her husband got baptized once, but never got confirmed, so he has to get baptized again. And yesterday we went to start teaching her, and right there committed her to be baptized on the 12 of November. Cool!

Alright, I got the picture attached. Good times.

I'm just about out of time, so I don't think that I have time to respond to all of your individual emails. Suffice it to say, though, that yes, Julie, missionaries act just like fat people trying to read mail. The football game was awesome. I got some great emails from Dad, Mom, Stacey, Julie, Sarah, and Elder Oliverson today, so that is fantastic. I loved them.

Thanks for all of the love and support! I know that things have been rough with Grandpa dying and all, but it has been amazing to be able to read Mom's account and just kind of sit back and see this as a part of life, instead of something sad or terrible. I really feel relieved, as well. We'll see him soon, anyway. Mom and Dad, you'll probably see him sooner. You're old.

Elder David Arrington

Monday, October 10, 2011

Week 6 in Buena Vista

A little (unstated) companion trouble, and the opportunity to train a new missionary!  Plus, encounters with a spider!  A big one!

Subject:  “Three days? How many sins could you have committed in three days? Come back when you have more time please!”

I saw on some kind of newspaper thing that they're planning on making a new Zorro. So I went home and listened to the (amazing) soundtrack. And now I wrote that quote. I just wanted us all to get a nice, warm, Zorro feeling.

And I also saw that Steve Jobs died. That's kind of horrible. I feel like that's going to be a pretty huge hit for Apple. And for the world. I loved the line that Dad sent me, though. Ha. Thanks Obama for the lack of Hope, Cash, and Jobs.

"Don't make me start it up again, because I will!"

"I didn't know it was THAT free."

There's a couple random quotes for you all.

So I want to start this week with a little bit of good news and a little bit of just news. The just news is that, for the last week, my comp and I have been pretty bad. I won't go into details, since I shouldn't, but ask me after the mission about it. Basically, though, he started doing some stuff that not only is against mission rules, but is completely against what President has directly told him, and it involves serious things. And I'm pretty upset about it because I can hardly control him, and the zone leaders are pretty upset at him because they can't, either, and we're all just kind of in this Mexican stand-off (Only we don't got no Mexicans!). That's the news. The good news is that I have changes this week. My comp is leaving, and I'm TRAINING! Who knew that one day I would train a new missionary? Well, statistically speaking it was bound to happen, but still. I'm stoked. And I'm kind of nervous because I don't even know what nationality he'll be. Probably a Latin. But he could also be a gringo... Gah! Oh well. I get to meet him tomorrow, during a meeting where President will decide our companionships.

Elder Duzett is also finishing training, right? That's kind of fun. And what's that about him teaching one of my families? I definitely don't know which one it would be. He's in Paraiso, and I don't follow my investigators well enough to know who moved where. But that's super awesome! I'll have to ask him about it if I get the chance. Get the family's name, though, just in case.

P1010125Oh my gosh, I almost forgot. Monday night I had the craziest time ever. I wish I could send the videos, but the pictures will have to do for now. I was sitting in my chair doing my reports, and I stood up and turned around, there was some kind of tarantula thingy right behind my chair. I flipped. That thing could kill me. I think. I called my comp over, but it was the first day of our having issues, so he was just like, "Deal with it." And then went to bed. Dang it. So I spent the next hour and a half trapping it under a pot, sliding it onto a piece of cardboard, flipping it over, dousing it with rubbing alcohol, and burning it. And I got a lot of videos of the process. But I'm uploading a few pictures instead, since the videos weigh too much (in Spanish that made sense). So I dominated a tarantula (horse-spider is what it's called in Spanish. At least here), without anyone's help. Take THAT!

P1010164We were supposed to have interviews on Thursday, so we went and waited for almost two hours. And then President cancelled them. Lame.

I'm also uploading a few pictures of when we made pupusas with some investigators on Saturday. Good times. They're a fun family.

Sunday, despite our intense efforts this week to commit all of our investigators, nobody came to church! Gah! Just come to church! Why did God give us agency again? Oh yeah, I guess it's important. But it's also annoying.

We did find an inactive lady named Dora on Saturday that came to church with the BP's wife, so that was kind of cool.

P1010181Oh. And on Sunday we had this ridiculous two hour meeting after church with some of the branch leaders and finally convinced them that they need to work with us. So we left Sunday afternoon with the EQP and the HPGL to visit some investigators. They enjoyed it, and now our investigators will have a little bit more support and more friends in the church, so maybe they'll show up.

Also, this week we left with a few different people, especially during the weekend, to find news. And it was completely fruitless. We did find a mountain of less-actives, though. Anyway, it was a little bit sad to me that we worked for so many hours to find new investigators and only came up with less actives. So we had zero new investigators this week, which is just about as awful as you can get as a missionary. Oh well. That means that we can only go up from there, right?

P1010173Our investigators are progressing a little bit. The most is probably the Acosta family (Francisco and Rosa, and their son and his wife Carlos and Mariela). They really enjoy us coming over and have told us that they've seen a big difference in their house lately. They don't fight as much. Cindy as well is progressing a bit. We decided to start pushing her more than ever, and she's starting to pray and read more, but she didn't come to church and she told us that, because of her boyfriend, the Law of Chastity is going to be a tough one. That's too bad. Oh well. Even if we fail there, maybe we're just planting the seeds, right?

So I hope that you're all doing great. It's rough that Grandpa is doing so horribly right now, but I know that it's just about his time. And I'm going to stay out here and focus on my work even more, just trusting that the Lord knows what he's doing over there.

Thanks for the updates, and for the package that I got this week! It's almost gone, by the way. Oh, and it had a problem in customs since it didn't have a customs label on it, which normally would seem like a bad thing, but they sent it through anyway. And, even better, I didn't have to pay the usual $2.50 for it. So disobeying customs laws saves you money. Go figure. That makes me a little worried for this country's national security.

I love you all, and hope that you have a great week!

Elder David Arrington

PS: BYU is awesome. We totally won.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Week 5 in Buena Vista

In which the mission sets a new record.  But not a good one….

The good news?  We got a few pictures!

Subject:  "He's possessed!" "He's insane!" "He's my kind of guy!"

Wow. Wow. Did you all not just love conference? I was taking notes like crazy. My hand is still cramping from it. Awesome stuff.

So this week was a little bit lame. Mostly that was because of not having a lot of time on Monday to work (as normal), not having time on Wednesday because of an almost all day multi-zone (which was amazing as well), and not being able to work at all on Saturday, and only a little bit on Sunday (not that I'm complaining much).

P1010020When we did get out to work, we did a lot of service projects with some recent converts and some investigators that we have. Alba, the recent convert, is making some plastic flowers to sell for the day of the dead here, and she's behind. So we went to help her with that a little bit, and while we were there, Rosa, who is completely inactive and her husband is an investigator, came over and mentioned that she, too, needed to make some plastic flowers. Hello, service week! We spent a few hours throughout the week helping both of them. With the few hours of work that we had to begin with, that meant that the numbers were a little bit low this week, but we did find eight investigators while we were working on those, and we built those relationships a little bit stronger. So I don't feel horrible. Just a little bit bad.

Cindy is a little bit disappointing to me now. I think we were focusing a little bit too much on fellow-shipping and less on teaching the gospel, and it hurt us. This week we wanted to undo that, so we watched the Restoration DVD and reviewed that a little bit, while at the same time inviting her to come to conference. It was a pretty good lesson, and I felt the spirit there, but I think that she was a little bit less interested in that than just kind of hanging out. We're going to keep going back this week to see what happens there, but it's just not looking fantastic right now.

P1010034Another one that is a little bit frustrating still is Fransisco. He keeps telling us that he's going to come to church, and then he doesn't. We even go to get him, and it just doesn't work. I think that this is the fourth week straight that I've complained about that. But the worst part is that that's the same that happens to every single one of our investigators. We've even put some dates with people, but they just won't come to church! How lame is that, that people will commit to be baptized into a church that they've never visited?

We found a family this week of less actives. They are called the Rivas family. They're one of those families that the missionaries found a couple years ago, baptized the parents, and then they went inactive. Then more missionaries came, reactivated them, baptized the kids, and then they all went inactive. They straight-out told me that they stopped going to church because the missionaries that came later were boring. So we're going to try to reactivate them (since I am NOT boring), and try to make sure they stay that way. Which means that we've got to get them testimonies. And maybe they'll have to do some baptisms for the dead or something.

P1010052That's basically all I have to report from this week. Like I said, there wasn't much to report. Oh, but I will say this, too: our mission had a goal of baptizing 230 in one month. The closest that we had gotten was a couple months ago, when I was in the office, when we baptized 218. This month we were all excited to get it finally. How did we end up? 90 baptisms. Ouch. That's the lowest in one month that I've even heard of in this mission. President isn't happy.

In response to a few emails I got:

Julie, your email was hilarious. And thank you for your compliment about my handwriting, although yes, you should have noticed earlier. I don't write those letters, by the way, at the same time as my emails, so me having to respond to hand-written letters doesn't in any way make my emails shorter.

Also, I think I am mostly free of the Premature-movie-judging-Stacey-syndrome. Nasty disease, that one. Although, I definitely did not know who Will Arnett and Christina Applegate are, and your references to Blades of Glory and Anchorman didn't help. I only saw Anchorman once a long time ago, and I've yet to see Blades of Glory.

Your story of the CHT bus quote made me laugh really hard. I wish I was there to see the confused looks on the high school kids' faces, though. They wouldn't have understood. And yes, I will let you take me to Red Robin when I get back.

That was a lot of response. It was also a lot of email. So thanks for that.

Mom, you mentioned that you were fixing up the BMW and you replaced that light on the front that "somebody" had taped on. Yeah, that was me. I'm just saying.

But don't go taking that out of my mission fund or anything. I didn't run into anything. It just kind of fell out.

By the way, did any of you watch the world report between conferences? Yeah, they definitely talked about the San Salvador temple dedication. That's ours. And it was mentioned in conference. By the prophet. How sick is that?

Oh, and even more important than that: HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I didn't get you anything. Sorry. But you do share a birthday with two people in the Rivas family, so that's cool. I hope it's a good one for you. You'll have to let me know if I owe you any presents for these two years. I'll pick you up a capirucho or something on my way home.

Unless, of course, you come to pick me up! I'm still very much open to that. You'd just have to let me know when and such. Although, doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose of going if you aren't going to the Canary Islands first? Oh well, your call. And no, in June it won't have started raining here. Maybe a tiny bit. But this year it didn't really start until mid July.

Dad, your email was awesome as well, although I suppose that BYU should take part of the credit there. Wow. I was on the edge of my seat reading about it.

I, also, have no idea what a lumen is. But I think that more is better. Go for the new projector. Although, buy the old bulb, too, so you can gift that projector to me upon my return.
And I'm totally up to going to the Panama Canal. Is that still the USA's? I think we were supposed to give that up sometime.

I'm also stoked that Steven's team beat Hilhi. Those Trojans. We were bound to win. Good job, Steven. You did me proud.

And I didn't even know who Riley Nelson is, so I'm completely out of BYU football. Dang it.
Thanks for all the emails, though! I love you all!

Elder David Arrington