Monday, December 26, 2011

Week 17 in Buena Vista

This week, on Christmas Day, we had an unbelievable great call with David.  We talked for about 2 hours on Skype, so we got to see him as well as hear him.  And we had a great time doing it.  We even did multi-location video conferencing so Lindsay and Stacey could get into the act.  Julie and Emily were here with us (and Michael and Steven, of course).

As we said, the call was great.  We laughed, we told stories, we asked questions and got answers.  We even had spiritual moments.  What a great thing to have a son on a mission!

One day later, what’s he going to talk about?  This will be a short one….

A note about the computer problem he’s having with uploading pictures—I explain it the next week.  He’s forgetting the S in “https://”.  He’ll get it soon.

Also, I included his letter to the ward below his letter to us.

Subject:  Well, look at the bright side: at 6 o'clock I'm coming into some money!

I don't know what the deal is, but whenever I try to log onto the family server to upload pictures it gives me a "we can't show this page" error. So I just have to refresh it five or six times before it works. It's kind of lame, but it works. However, I've been refreshing it for the last twenty minutes, and I haven't gotten in. So it looks like there will be no pictures this week. But you did all see me yesterday, so who can complain?

So what is there to tell? That's always the fun part about emailing after phone calls. There is just nothing else interesting about my life here. I guess I'll just write that paragraph for the ward. I think I'll send that separately.

I just realized that this email is lame. Sorry about that. But I just talked to you all yesterday. That's probably no excuse. But I hope you all have a Merry Post-Christmas, and a Happy New Year. I'll try to get a super awesome email off to you next week.

I love you all!

Elder David Arrington

Subject:  Message to the Ward

My parents told me about a week ago that I needed to write some kind of short message for the ward newsletter, but I have no idea what to write. I didn't even know that our ward had a newsletter. But I guess I can start with El Salvador. I've been down here for a little while, and I've pretty much gotten used to the lifestyle. People here live in much humbler circumstances than anyone I've seen in the States, but they're still fairly well off. Everybody has what they need, and they're content. Missionary work has been going very well here. My mission only covers the three western departments of the country, which is an overall area about the size of Rhode Island, and last year we baptized just over 2000. The people are generally very open to the message that we have and are very nice even when they aren't. And they give us plenty of pupusas, so I can't really complain.

The people that I have taught here are wonderful, and I've been able to see myself grow with them. For example, we have been teaching a family that used to have some family issues. None of them were that serious, but they would just kind of fight every once in a while. We started teaching them, and they started reading the Book of Mormon individually at first, then as a couple, and then with their children. The wife, Delmi, has told us several times, that studying the Book of Mormon and praying as a family has completely changed their family, and she now has a strong desire to be baptized. Her husband, who is already a member, is working very hard to quit smoking and is trying to become worthy to be the one to baptize her. Through their examples I've begun to recommit myself to not only study the Book of Mormon more seriously, but to look for specific blessings that I receive that otherwise I may have taken for granted.

I know that this gospel is true, and that sharing it with the world is the most important and wonderful task that our Father in Heaven has given us. I'm so grateful to be living in the time of the harvest. The seeds have already been planted, and all of us get to see the fantastic blessings that come from spreading this message to all of God's children.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Week 16 in Buena Vista

As we approach Christmas, we’re clearly getting ready for the long-awaited Christmas phone call.  Or Skype.

Subject:  That's not true. I did call Slurpee Heaven. They said they didn't want you. Heard you had an attitude. Said you weren't "Slurpee" material

Before I forget, our plan is to call home (phone call, since we still aren't sure if we'd be able to use Skype or not) at 2:00pm our time, which should be after church there. If we find out in the next couple days that we will get Skype set up, I will probably not be able to let you know until Saturday night or Sunday, but I will definitely try to. It'll probably be by email, by the way. But if you don't hear from me until Sunday afternoon, just assume we're using the phone.

Okay, here we go. This week was really kind of slow, to be honest. We've basically become super stealthy ninjas about getting dinner appointments, which not only fills our little bellies with delicious food (pupusas mostly, but we even made hamburgers a couple days ago), but it also make our ward relations way awesome because, let's face it, I'm hilarious. Just kidding. But the members all kind of really like us two, which is always a great thing.

On Tuesday we didn't really work in the area at all since we had yet another training meeting in Santa Ana, and it went kind of long. Wednesday we had district meeting, and Thursday we did a huge long but not very difficult service project which took a big chunk of the day. And Friday we had the Christmas multizone. So we didn't get a ton of time to work in the area. But we did alright when we were there.

The Christmas multizone was really fun, by the way. And it was run just like a day at EFY, which makes sense because President and Hermana Cordon are basically the founders of EFY in Central America. So we played some good EFY type games and had a talent show, which actually turned out really good. And then we had a more spiritual section after, where I was contracted to sing an a capela quartet (which was supposed to have a piano part, but our pianist forgot his music). We practiced it literally twice right before, but we did a fairly good job.

Also, I don't think that I have mentioned this before, but I play the piano here all the time. Every Sunday I play the hymns in church, and just about every multizone or training meeting or meeting in general I play the songs. It's a good thing that I learned to do that before the mission.

Now on to my investigators. The ones that are progressing the most are also the ones that are most evangelical, which is normally not the case. We have a woman named Esperanza, who is older, and loves to read. She's very open to everything that we teach, and is reading a lot in the Book of Mormon. But she still hasn't come to church, although she says she wants to. When we gave her the challenge to pray about the Book of Mormon, we didn't even get to the actual explanation or challenge. She just straight out said that she would have to pray about the Book of Mormon to know if it's true. I like that. And she's super nice.

Another woman that we're teaching that's like that is named Lidia. She lives with some kids, two of which we are also teaching. They are very humble, very nice people who are also very open to what we teach. The kids haven't been keeping commitments, though. The mom tries to read the Book of Mormon, but her sight is bad so she has her kids read it to her instead. We've only been teaching her a week and she already says that she knows it's true and that she'll get baptized the next time we have a baptismal service. Which will be on the first of January, since she has to go to church first.

She was actually going to go to church this week, but because of miscommunication with the member that was supposed to go pick her and her kids up, he didn't go, and so they never went. It was kind of lame. But still good.

Alex and Delmi are getting way closer to being able to get married and baptized. Delmi is finishing up her job, and Alex just needs to start working so that she can drop her job completely and come to church. She's an old investigator (he's an innactive member) that already wants to get married and baptized. It's just this stupid work thing.

The Siliezar family had this huge problem with us because they had a baptismal date and marriage date before, but the missionaries ran into some problems with them (the six of them), and stopped teaching them. The dad, Oscar, told us he wouldn't progress because he just couldn't accept that we do baptisms for the dead. So we went and had a super awesome lesson where we taught it so basically and clearly that he couldn't hide behind it anymore. He said that now he just feels hurt because the other Elders left them. So once we work past that I think they'll make some good progress.

And to finish this up, we had a lesson yesterday that was really interesting. It was with an inactive man who apparently left the church despite his strong testimony of the Book of Mormon, a modern prophet, Joseph Smith, etc. because some people at church had hinted that Christ probably got married. He just kept telling us that he believed that Christ was a perfect being, and he just couldn't accept that Christ would do something as evil as get married. He was a very good man, and I could tell that he really does have a deep love for Christ, but I thought that was really interesting. Obviously there is no doctrine about that subject, but we need to help him remember that Christ was perfect, and that marriage is a sacred, eternal law. We don't know the answer to that question, but maybe we can help him learn a little bit more about the eternal nature of families.

Alright, I'm out of time, so I have to wrap this up. Thanks again for all the support you guys give me! I haven't gotten that package yet, by the way, but I'm hopeful for this Wednesday. You are all awesome, and sorry I couldn't re-upload the pictures from last week. I didn't bring my camera or memory card. But next week I will!

I'll talk to you all next Sunday!

Elder David Arrington

PS: I had a bet with a member's little brother (who only hasn't gotten baptized because his parents won't give him permission) where I said that Real Madrid was going to beat Barcelona a couple weeks ago. I lost. So he got to dump an egg on my head. Pictures next week.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Week 15 in Buena Vista

Subject:  "So are you going to miss it?" "What, you’re talking?"

This week. Wow. Mostly it wasn't very eventful, but it became a little bit nuts.

So to start off, we had training meetings Tuesday and Thursday almost all day, and this week Tuesday and Friday we have some more. So we hardly worked in our areas those days. Wednesday I was on interchanges with Chalchuapa, meaning that I thought that there was a problem there in Chalchuapa with the missionaries who are there, so the junior comp came to work in Buena Vista and I went to work there for a day. We started after district meeting and kept going until Thursday morning. It didn't go fantastic, but I found out what I needed to know. There definitely is a problem there. Basically it's that the senior comp doesn't want to work very hard, he doesn't like the members, they don't like him, and he doesn't care, and it's just rough. We had a meeting with his ward mission leader, too, and we came up with some really good ideas to improve the ward relations and get more of them involved, to which this Elder just said, "I am already doing what I should be, and I don't care about the members." Not good. Especially since he isn't a fantastically obedient missionary, either. And his comp is good, but very very very quiet and timid, and so does nothing. It's all just kind of a lame situation, and I'm going to have to figure out what to do there.

Thursday we tried something a little nutty. We went to buy a cake on our way back from the meeting and dropped it off with a family in the ward. We had gone to them before for references, and they just say the same that everyone else says; "Oh, everyone around here is catholic." I just want to shout, "That's the point! We WANT to visit people who go to other churches so that they come to OUR church!" But that usually doesn't work. Anyway, we gave them the cake and said that we were going to come back on Friday to eat it with them if and only if they invited a friend to watch the Restoration with us. And you know what? They found someone! So we went over and watched the Restoration and ate cake. And I think this girl might be pretty good. But we'll have to see.

Funny story as well: I don't know if you all remember this, but a while ago I mentioned something about Alba Delgado being really funny because she thought that she might not be able to take the sacrament because when she goes to sell things she sells them for a different price than she buys them and thinks that it's lying. Well, now we found out why. Enter the Salazar family. The husband is probably 55 or so, and the wife is 17. With a 3 year old baby. That would be enough, but get this. They got baptized (or at least the wife did) less than a year ago, and then almost immediately went inactive. The reason? The wife had bought something from Alba for a couple dollars, and then a few days later her husband went into town and found out that there it's a little bit cheaper. Outraged, he confronted her about it, calling her a lier and a devil worshipper and demanding his money back. Her husband, Juan, then got involved to try to explain that it was part of her business to sell things at those prices, otherwise she wouldn't make any money. The Salazar husband got completely upset and left the church. And don't think I'm exaggerating at all. I'm not. We went to talk to him and he was telling us about how hard the devil tries to keep them from going to church. And to me it was hilarious. He was saying stuff like, "There are just some people at church who go to church but really aren't worshipping Christ. They're worshipping the devil. There are just enemies in the congregation." or "One time, she sat in the row in front of me! I couldn't believe it! How could I have taken the sacrament with her right next to me?" and he would make this disgusted look and shiver. Wow. I think we may just leave him inactive for now. That's probably bad to say. We'll just have to invite him to talk to president.

And then the other big news was with the baptism that we had. Olga and Rodolfo got baptized and married on Saturday almost without a problem, and then Sunday they got confirmed. The catch? They didn't actually get married. The lawyer called me less than an hour before the marriage to say that there was a problem with the papers. Since everything was planned and the whole branch was going to show up, we decided that we would have a fake wedding, get them baptized, have them live separately for a few days, and take care of the paperwork later. It's working out okay, especially since he already went back to Guatemala to work. We just have to hope that we get the paperwork done without any problems. Oh, and we're also kind of upset at the lawyer because this is her fault for not telling us days sooner when she should have, and this isn't the first time she's done this. But oh well. We'll let her repent later :) Also, I baptized Olga, and then my comp baptized Rodolfo. It worked out great. It was an awesome service.

Alright, I was going to send the baptismal pictures to them so that they can forward them to Rodolfo's daughter who is on a mission in Chile, so I'll finish this up. Thanks for all of your emails, support, and love! I love you all!

Elder David Arrington

PS: Sorry, you may just have to piece together an email for the ward. My bad!

PPS: We still haven't worked out the phone call. President will probably talk about it on Friday, so we figured we'd wait until then.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Week 14 in Buena Vista

David and Elder Adams apparently ran out of money for a few days.  Hungry missionaries?  That said, some good progress is being made by investigators.  No pictures this week apparently because of a corrupted USB drive….

David sent a quick request for a copy of a family picture, which I sent.  The picture is for the Christmas slide show.  Funny thing is, we already had such a request from the mission office, and sent a copy to them.  Where’d that one go?

Subject: “You don't think we'll get in trouble for this, do you?"  "No, not a chance!"

I've been reading in the Bible lately, and it's really kind of
interesting. I just read the story of Moses the other day. Good stuff.
That was a little random.

Okay, a lot happened this week. Let's see if I can remember all of it.
On Monday we didn't buy much since we were still out of money. My comp
was worse than I was. So after writing we kind of just went home. But
then we had to head over after a few hours for a surprise birthday
that we had helped plan for this kid named Carlos who helps us all the
time. He's the really tall guy with glasses, in case I've already sent
a picture of him. I think I might be able to upload one if I haven't.
It was a great party. And we made lasagna.

Tuesday we had a really great day. We taught a bunch of lessons, and
at this point are just finalizing our plans with Olga for her wedding
and baptism this weekend. It's been an interesting experience with
them since the we've had to basically do battle with some mission in
Honduras to get her birth certificate. And even now we aren't
completely sure if we will have it on time. But we have faith.

We also have been having great success with less actives. There have
been a couple less active families that we've been teaching, and
suddenly all of them are starting to come back to church. It's like
they just needed us to push them a little bit, and now they're back. I
hope it's for good.

We also had a family night lesson Tuesday with the Delgado family,
which is the family that I completed a couple months ago with Alba.
They're always pretty fun, but I think that we need to come up with
some more involving games for them. They're really quiet.

On Wednesday, we finally got money. So obviously we spent a little bit
of time in the morning after district meeting and zone meeting to go
buy some food and some other stuff that we needed to do Monday, but
were too poor to actually do. Like buy a Christmas tree. Necessities,
like that.

Dang it. It looks like my USB that had all of my pictures and
everything just instantly got corrupted by this computer. That's
stupid. I still have my other USB, though, that has a lot of the
pictures, but there may be a few that I didn't have backed up on the
home server or the other USB. That's really kind of lame, but mostly
it's just stupid because I was supposed to send a few pictures for the
Christmas Multizone Slideshow just now. I guess THAT's not happening.
And I basically used up all of my time trying to figure out how to fix
it, so now I am just about out of time. Let's see if I can sum
everything up really fast.

We went to the temple on Friday, and it was awesome. I'll have to send
you pictures next week. The temple here is crazy nice. And we had a
Spanish session, which was great. We also had a bunch of other
meetings this week for training and stuff. They were kind of boring,
but that's mainly why I said we had a lot that happened. Oh, and due
to our genius we had like three pupusa dinners this week. And we have
another tonight. Except that my comp is informing me right now that
that will be our third, not our fourth. Oh well. We've also gotten a
lunch and some snacks that were fantastic.

Elder Oliverson fell asleep with his backpack on.

Okay, now I have to finish this up. About the plans to come here,
since you asked, I would definitely suggest getting a car and not
taking buses. I mentioned that we shouldn't have many problems with
crime things, but if we take the buses I'm pretty sure we would. I
might be able to talk to a member and get them to let us rent their
car from them or something. I know of some other Elders that have done
that. We'll see. And yeah, we would probably stay in Santa Ana or San
Salvador, since everywhere is pretty close. I could drive from one
side of the mission to the other in less than two hours. And I already
know the roads, so you can leave that all to me. I just need to know
how many days we'd have here, and I can plan the rest. Oh, and Santa
Ana would put us closer to all of the different parts of the mission,
but San Salvador would have way nicer hotels and everything, really,
so I think it would still be worth it to be there. Santa Ana is a
really small city. But we can look into that in the next few months.

Now I'm way out of time, so I'll just talk to you next week? We're
still working on the Skype vs. Call conundrum, so I'll let you know.
Thanks for your emails, and have a great week!

Elder David Arrington

PS: Dad won. Thanks for sending me the picture!