Monday, January 30, 2012

Week 4 in Sonsonate

Still sick!  But it sounds like he’s getting better.  We’ll keep him in our prayers.  The baptism picture is from this week’s email. 

Subject:  It makes me feel happy, which is a big deal for me.

What a week. So much stuff happened, I don't even know where to begin. Maybe I'll start with last Monday. Remember how I was feeling kind of sick? Yeah, that didn't change the entire week. So I couldn't work the entire week. And that was it.

You know, that was a lot easier to sum up than I thought it would be. I'll try and come up with some more details, though.

So Monday I got a fever of 102.something, and it made me feel horrible. It stuck with me all day Tuesday, too, and that combined with a terrible headache and full body ache meant that I wasn't fit to work. I slept most of the day. Except I also did go to the hospital clinic place to get a blood test done to make sure that I didn't have dengue again. It wasn't conclusive, so Wednesday morning, after going to and teaching a district meeting (longest three hours of my life), I went and got another one. This one told me that I probably didn't have dengue, but I definitely did have some kind of infection. Also about this time I got super congested and my throat was hurting super bad. I almost couldn't swallow, let alone talk. So I was very silent. The nurse had me go buy some Panadol and that helped for a little bit, but then it stopped helping. Friday we had a multizone in Sonzacate, and President noticed that I was half dead I guess. He had me call Hermana Cordon, who assigned me some kind of antibiotic that I had to take. So I took it. I still didn't feel better the next day, although my temperature had finally gone down (after five days), so Elder Norene, one of my zone leaders, went with me to Santa Ana to have a doctor look at me. It took a couple hours to get down there since Sonsonate is in the middle of some festival, but we finally made it. And the doctor's office had already closed. So we ate some chicken (which was the first thing I think I ate in that six day period), and then headed back to Sonsonate. And we pretty much just rested the rest of the day. Sunday I was feeling a little bit better, and today I'm even better, but I have absolutely no energy whatsoever. I basically have to take a break halfway up some of these hills because I just can't handle it right now. I feel lame. But what's worse is that I have a cough that's getting worse, and I can feel the mucus or whatever in my lungs. It hurts. So that's the long version of the story nobody cared about. Fun stuff, huh?

Fun fact: Elder Norene got sick from something the day he was with me. He's now in the hospital in Santa Ana. Is that my fault? I hope not.

P1010518Also, that was a really long paragraph. And it took a while to write. I'm surprised.
The silver lining to the week, though, is that we got the baptism that we had planned! It was this kid named Mauricio, who's 21. While I went to Santa Ana, Elder Hernandez stayed here with Elder Diaz, the other ZL, to do his interview. We got him to church on Sunday, and immediately after we baptized him. Well, we had a member do it, but I'll attach a picture anyway. He's a fun kid, and he pretty much knew all of the commandments and everything before we started teaching him, so it wasn't terribly hard, but there it is.

I'm sending the baptismal picture here in the email, but I'll be uploading a lot more via un miembro to the actual server, I think. I just don't like having to do it here on this Linux machine. So I'll wait until I've got Internet Explorer.

What other interesting stuff can I talk about? I feel like I'm getting old in the mission now. I'll be coming up on 20 months pretty soon. And 21 years pretty soon, which is just as cool I guess. But it's kind of sad, too. I was a pretty awesome 20 year old. None of you got to see me as a 20 year old, though, except through Skype and pictures, and I doubt the full awesomeness came through. And now I just have to hope that I can carry over that awesomeness to my 22nd year (as Joseph Smith reckons time).

As I was saying, though, I am an old guy in the mission. People ask me how much time I have, and then they all tell me I'm just about going home. That's so false. I still have four and a half months left. That's like a full semester of school. But everyone I knew when I got to the mission is going home. How sad. I'm just kind of rambling on about this for no reason in particular. But in case I haven't said it before, Elder Oliverson is going home in two weeks. Wow. He's almost done. That's kind of rocking my entire universe right now. And then six weeks later Elder Gonzalez and Elder Huaman leave. And I will be the only survivor of the office that moved the mission. I should probably record a bunch of the stories of that time period and in my last days wander El Salvador alone as my kinsmen get killed off, and then hide the record somewhere so that I can come back after the mission to show a new office elder where to find it so he can translate it and publish it.

Speaking of coming back after the mission, I'd totally be up for that. I'm very much looking forward to the whole airport thing now, so that will be awesome, and it means that sometime after being released I'll get to come back and do all the fun things you can't do as a missionary. And I'll get to see my converts and such, which is always a super plus. But I don't know when you'd want to, or when would even be good timing. So we'll just have to see I guess.

That's just about all I have time for today! Thanks for the emails and the updates on everything. I'm really glad that Romney is doing awesome again, but Obama still worries me. Especially if he wants more power to streamline the government while he already has the senate and the house. Somebody should keep that from happening. Have you guys seen Whale Wars? Maybe those tactics would work well here.

Lindsay, I congratulate you again on my money well spent, and I wish you even more success for February. And that goes for anyone else who needs to have success in February. You all know what February is known for, right? That holiday that's right there in the middle? Yeah, my birthday. Which is why February is the month of me. And love. So you've got to love me. I love you all! Have a great week!

Elder David Arrington

Monday, January 23, 2012

Week 3 in Sonsonate

Pictures this week are still from a couple weeks ago.  Some sort of Internet error is preventing much picture upload success.  David’s been sick, and we hate to see that happen.  Still, we keep him in our prayers.

Subject:  "And you!" "Jose!"

"Together we..."
"Burned the village!"

I don't know what happened to the home server, but I can't see the folder where I normally upload pictures. So I did it there in the David folder instead. And I think these should be the last of the backed-up Chalchuapa pictures. I haven't taken many in Sonsonate yet.

Also, there's two pictures of a giant white cross. I'll have to explain what that is later, but for now I have a game called "Where's Elder Arrington?!" It's kind of easy in the first one, but let's see if you can figure out the second.

P1010338It was a rough week this week, mostly due to stupid El Salvador viruses. That's right, I've been sick. I felt completely fine until Wednesday morning, when I suddenly felt awful. I got my fever all the way up to 102.6 before I gave in and was healed, but I couldn't work all day, so that was a bummer. And we missed a couple key appointments, with no way to call and reschedule. I felt horrible. However, the next day I felt fine. I was just a little weak. And that would have been it, except that this morning the same kind of thing is coming back. I feel terrible. Mostly it's just a headache level 8 that I'm fighting, but I won't let that get me down. I'm sure after a few potions I'll be fine. And an elixir, even though I never understood what the difference between those two are. And if they do cure two different things, why don't they just put them both in the same bottle, shake them up, and sell them like that? It's probably a result of corrupt Pokémon drug store owners. How dare they.

That was way out there. Evidence of sickness for sure. I got a bunch of good news today from a bunch of people, so that was good. The reunion seems to be going well, and I might only add that I now have less than 150 days before I get home. In case you all want to be slightly baggy. I'm also typing this with my head on the desk, so I have no idea how this is coming out on the screen. But I'm a champion blindfolded typist, so I think I'm managing well.
Oh, and congratulations to Lindsay on a fantastic week! Now you've just got to keep up the good work.

Does anyone else write sentences with just a period, and as you're reading it in your head you realize it's boring, so you put an exclamation point instead whilst shouting in your head excitedly the last word of that sentence? I think that I do that every time I write an exciting sentence.

P1010344Carlos came to church again today, and he seems to be progressing pretty well. We tried to visit him a couple times this week, but he wasn't home. There was another guy that came to church too, who has been attending I guess in some ward for two months or so. He's the boyfriend of a member, and his name is Christopher or Christian or something else that I think in English starts with Ch. He's super super positive, but we could only talk to him for a few minutes after church. And that's the downside. He works Monday through Saturday all day, and lives outside of our area. So the only time we can teach him is Sunday in the afternoon. I'll bet he doesn't really work all day every day, but he probably told us that so that he can spend some time with his girlfriend. Oh well. I'll probably do that to missionaries after the mission, too.

I'm not sure I've ever told you all this, but when I was in San Salvador we had an appointment to leave with our ward mission leader, who was pretty great. So we called him to see where we could meet, and he said he couldn't work with us that day because he was still at work and would probably leave pretty late. And he said that right as we walked in front of his girlfriend's house, where his motorcycle was definitely parked. Nice.

I just ran into some kind of internet error, so it looks like once again there will be zero pictures today. I think I'm just going to try and get a member to upload them during the week so I don't have to worry about this. It's stupid.

P1010347Also, I had a question. So we all know that Romney was doing pretty well for a while, and we're optimistic that he can win the primary. But how's Obama doing? Does it look like he'll be hard to boot out of office? I keep on writing a few sentences and then putting my head on the desk for a while, by the way. That's why I may seem very unorganized this week. As if that's a change.

We also had a meeting in San Salvador with Elder Clayton of some presidency of some seventy. It was really awesome, but it was mostly a question and answer kind of thing. It was kind of funny, though. Elder Clayton, right at the beginning, said that he didn't want this to be about missionary work hardly at all. Instead, it was to be just about doctrine and feeling the spirit. So he started by giving time to the mission presidents and their wives and Elder Amado (from the area presidency) and his wife time to bear their testimonies in a couple minutes each. Spiritual experience, right? The mission presidents did great, as did their wives, but they each got progressively longer. And then Elder Amado's wife, who took probably ten minutes, and then Elder Amado. He didn't even bear his testimony. I'm pretty sure his first words were: "160,000 people attended the open house of the temple, and you missionaries couldn't even get more baptisms than last year. What have you been doing?!" Seriously, that was it. And he just kept going for nearly twenty five minutes. I was laughing inside, even though the machetes kind of hurt.

And guess what? I was in San Salvador for four or five months, eating fast food most days. I am sick of hamburgers. And we move the mission to Santa Ana, and what is the first thing that San Salvador does to celebrate? They build a Taco Bell! You've got to be kidding me! Gah! Just so it doesn't sound like that's what I'm focused on, I want to make the claim that the mission would baptize more if we had Taco Bell. President Cordon at least must have thought so, because he bought us all grilled stuffed burritos for dinner after the meeting. And thus I end my Taco Bell fast.

But I still want a Steak Chalupa.

Oh, and to all of you who sent me letters and cards and such for Christmas: Thanks a ton! They were awesome, and I'm in the middle of trying to respond to all of them. There are actually a pretty good number, and I'm not in a very good letter-writing state of mind right now, as should be evident, so they may get there slower than I would have liked. But they will get there.

Is there anything else interesting that I forgot to add? I think that I have now seen Elder Oliverson and Elder Braithwaite and possibly Elder Gonzalez for the last time in the mission. The first two go home in three weeks, and Elder Gonzalez is just six weeks behind that. I still only have 589 days in the mission. Give or take. I actually did just pull that number out of nowhere. But the count is there in the house.

I've been on the mission a lot longer than 525,600 minutes, and I measure that in love.
Well, that's about it. So in conclusion, watches, chocolate, cheese. Ladies and gentlemen I give you the Swiss.

I've used that before I'm sure. But I don't know when.

Elder David Arrington

PS: Excerpts from probably the best motivational speech ever: "Well, I thought about quitting too when I was diagnosed with brain, lung, and testicular cancer all at the same time. But I didn't. I got back up on that bike and beat the Tour de France five times in a row. So what disease do you have?... Oh I get it. Well, I guess that if guys like you didn't make those decisions, they'd have nothing to regret for the rest of their lives. But hang in there! This probably won't come back to haunt you."

PPS: It's been a long time since I quoted something that long. After nineteen months, the old thensologuer 2000 isn't pumping at full steam. I have no idea what I just said.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Week 2 in Sonsonate

The pictures below were from last week, but I thought I’d add a few more.  Except for the injured knee which was attached to the email.

Subject:  I didn't ride it, I merely gripped it. And it wasn't miles and miles, merely a mile and a half.

That's from some movie that Elder Oliverson always quoted that I've never seen. I'm running low on quotes here.

This week was really fun, and I love my area, but we do a lot of traveling. We did a lot of walking in other areas, so I'm not complaining about the actual work involved there, it's just that all of our investigators live really far apart from each other. It means that we teach a lot less lessons in the week, which isn't great. But we're hanging in there.

P1010318One random thing that's different here than my last areas: in my last areas, almost all of them, people only owned PlayStation 2s and original Xbox's. Every once in a while you'd find a Nintendo 64 or a PlayStation 3. Carlos, in my last area, had a GameCube, and that blew my mind. But now I'm here in Sonsonate, and everybody owns a Wii. They're huge here. And this youth named Rene that leaves with us a lot has two Nintendo 3DSs, which are pretty cool. That's just weird to me that everyone loves Nintendo here, but it's almost all about PlayStation in the rest of my areas.

That was random, I know. But I just looked up and saw a sign in this ciber that said that they mod Wiis here, and I thought it was weird, since I've only ever seen those signs for PlayStations.

We played soccer today against a bunch of youth in my ward. We had made a bet that the team that lost (our zone of missionaries against their youth) would buy a bunch of soda for the other team. And we were completely ready to do so should we lose. P1010506But we played them, and destroyed them (it was actually pretty close, and we probably only won because we had Elder Brown who is probably the most amazing goalie I've ever seen). It was a great game. And I got hit pretty hard in the shin at one point, and it made this big bump that doesn't hurt at all, but I thought I'd send a picture of it. I don't know if I captured the size very well, but it's kind of gnarly. But what made me mad is that the young men lost, and then they just kind of laughed and ran off, saying they didn't have any money to buy us soda. And soda is cheap here, by the way. So they got fifty cents together and gave it to us and that was it. That drives me insane. People here, especially young men, seem to just think it's funny to not do what they say they will. But now the whole zone is kind of upset. Oh well. I don't know where this story is going.

We had an intense lesson with a family the other day. It was the Moreira family, which we had found while trying to teach an old investigator named Taylor (girl). The family seemed pretty positive in the beginning. We started off just teaching the mom and one of the daughters, but this time when we went back Taylor was there as well, and people just kept on joining the lesson as we went. We ended up with seven or eight people, all of whom were adults and youth. Or rather, no babies or children.

The lesson started really great. Taylor had a question about why we think that Joseph Smith is God (a VERY common idea here), so that set it up perfectly for the Restoration lesson. We taught it quite well, I thought. But just as we were starting it, a guy came who was apparently the uncle and very very very anti-us. Also, I forgot to say that most of the family is very Seventh-Day Adventist. P1010322But the uncle started by introducing himself and then saying that missionaries had visited with him once and that he yelled at them for telling him that only one church is true. He, like most people in this country, believes that all churches are true, and that it doesn't matter which church we believe in. He even used the baptism example, which was quite funny, because he said that we have to be baptized the correct way to be saved, but if we don't just because we're in a wrong church (his words, right after saying all were right) or if we don't know, than it doesn't matter. We'll be saved by grace anyway. People like that can be frustrating, especially because he was the kind that loved to talk and try to show off how much he knew about the Bible. Regardless, we got him to stay quiet for the first vision, and the spirit was super strong. The mom looked skeptical, but Taylor and one of her brothers, Daniel, looked really interested. Or pensive, maybe. That was great, and we talked about authority and apostasy and everything. Lesson one was great. We then talked about how to receive answers to prayers, and it was awesome. And then, right as we were about to commit them to do it, this guy steps in and asks why, when we get baptized, we do it in the name of a dead person instead of Jesus. That destroyed the spirit and the lesson. We tried very hard to correct the doctrine, but the mom immediately closed when we straight-out said that we do baptisms for the dead. He and most of the rest of the family were also done right about then. We spent a good amount of time trying desperately not to bible bash and to just testify and tie everything back to Joseph Smith, but they were done. It went down the toilet. We tried to put another appointment, and the mom just said "I think we've said everything we need to say." and that was it.

P1010336Silver lining: Taylor let us put an appointment with her, and she committed to read and pray. She seems even more interested, or curious at least. And the one that made it all worth it was her brother, Daniel. I don't know why, but I felt like I should ask him to say the closing prayer, which normally I wouldn't do since he came in the middle of the lesson and we had never even explained how to pray to him, but I did, and it was one of the most incredible prayers I've ever heard from an investigator. He really, really wants to know if what we're teaching is true. He asked two or three times in the prayer for an answer, and to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet or if all of this was a lie, and so on. Awesome. And that stupid guy I was talking about laughed each time he asked, but he didn't care. That was a powerful prayer. We're going back to teach Taylor and Daniel tomorrow, and maybe one other sister that was more or less, so we'll see how it goes. I'm kind of nervous about this situation. They want to know, but the environment is not very great for them. But I'll just trust that the Holy Ghost will do his job, I guess.

There is another great investigator named Carlos that we're teaching. He's about sixty, I think, but just seems to be soaking up what we teach. The other day he asked us what was the point of the Atonement, which caught me off guard. He said that he knew that Christ died for us, but that he resurrected, so where was the sacrifice? He knew he would be resurrected. Interesting man. I never thought about that. He said he even asked a preacher once, who didn't really answer it. So we explained about the Garden of Gethsemane and how the suffering was also spiritual, and he loved it. Great stuff.

That's about all I have time for. I talked way too long about that one lesson, but it was a powerful, bitter-sweet experience, so I thought that I'd document it. I love you all, and thanks for the emails and such!

Elder David Arrington

PS: I still couldn't think of anything for the package. So just whatever, I guess.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Week 1 in Sonsonate

Transferred!  I was going to guess Sonsonate, but I didn’t.  I guessed Ahuachapan.  Apparently nobody guessed Sonsonate.  But we did get some pictures!

Subject:  ¿Recuerda que el Hno. Hanson dijo que libre albedrio no es término de las escrituras? Tenemos libertad, y tenemos albedrio. ¡Y no son la misma cosa!

I had no idea what quote I was going to use for this email, so I used one from the Book of Mormon Seminary videos. In Spanish, because I remember it much better in Spanish.

P1010308I know you've all been on the edge of your seats for the last few days and are hoping for something super mega awesome, right? Well, whatever it is, I'm not going to do it. I'm still a young man, you know. I've got prospects!

Sorry, that came out of nowhere. It could have actually made a good subject line, but that was like forty seconds too late.

First, let's talk pictures. Evidently I was just missing the httpS, but I just did it and it worked perfectly. The downside is that the ciber where we write is using linux of all things, so I don't have Internet Explorer. So I'm uploading a few pictures through Firefox. In the next couple weeks I hope to get caught up in picture sending.

I was surprised by the horrible lack of guesses for my next area, but I guess it keeps me from having to go buy people souvenirs. I did not get shipped out to Texistepeque nor to Ahuachapan, although they were good guesses. Instead, I hail you all from Sonsonate, Sonsonate. It is much hotter here than in most other areas, and my particular area is right in the middle of the city. And it is huge. Not the city, just my area. I said I'm in the middle of the city, but the area also extends like ten kilometers outside of the city. Or more. All I know is that I doubt I'll see the boundaries. And it takes a long time to walk between appointments. And there are a ton of ridiculously big hills. That's crazy.

P1010310My comp is named Elder Hernandez, and this is his first area. He came in the same change as Elder Adams, but is from Guatemala, so he was only in the MTC for three weeks. That means he has a tiny bit more than three months in the mission. And I am coming up on nineteen. That's so cool.

Side note on that: We went to go play soccer in Juayua against the zone of Juayua today, and me and a couple other Elders all had the Christmas shirts from 2010. 2010! We felt so old.

Our area is one that baptizes. Or used to. In my first few months, everyone wanted to come to Sonsonate because they baptize out the wazoo. However, that's died out a bit in the last six months or so. Now they don't. But I'm here to change that. The members seem really willing to work with us, despite me shocking every single one of them with one of those pens you sent (best idea ever!), and me and my comp are working pretty well together. The only thing is that he is very quiet, and hardly says anything in lessons even when I just stop and wait for him to talk. It results in awkward silences more than him teaching. But he's good.

P1010316Wow. I just remembered as well that on Wednesday, my last day in Chalchuapa, Elder Oliverson came over to say goodbye to me. That may be the last time I see him before I get home. He leaves in February.

I did, in fact, get that package. Elder Hernandez was more than willing to accept the stocking that probably would have gone to Elder Adams, too. And I had an idea or two for things that I could get in a future package, but I forgot them. So if you don't send it off this week, I might have something next week.

Another thing that I just remembered about my area, which is awesome, is that for $60 a month a member feeds us breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Except that she is putting her papers in to go on a mission, so I may lose that soon.

Our investigators are pretty slim right now, to be honest. Elder Rodriguez, who was here before me, got five baptisms last month, but it really looks like he stopped finding news to focus on pushing those five through. Which is a problem in the whole mission, by the way. All of us do it. We get comfortable when we have dates, and stop looking. The problem is that I got to the area and asked Elder Hernandez what our plans for the day were and what appointments we had. The answer: We're going to contact, because we have no appointments. Nor investigators. Ouch. So my first few days that's about all we did.

P1010317There are a couple older investigators that look like they could progress, though. One is named Mauricio, and he's 21. He seemed pretty excited about the idea of getting baptized when we talked to him, and we put a date for later this month, but it fell because he didn't come to church. And there's another older lady named Eva and her granddaughter Mérari (pronounced like Melody if you had a handful of crackers in your mouth). They have a lot of family that are members, and we watched the Testaments with them, which they loved. It helped them understand the Book of Mormon a little better, they said, and we're going to go back and put a date with them soon.

Since it's really hot here, cold showers aren't so miserable. Usually.

Elder Duzett was once in Acajutla, Sonsonate.

And that's about all I have time for now. This area and zone are great, and I've been seeing a lot of growing potential. I'm only a DL of my area and the sisters in Sensunapán, so it's a little bit less to worry about, but we've set some pretty good goals and are working hard to achieve them. Thank you all for the emails and support and all of that other stuff that usually is mentioned at the end of one of my emails!

Elder David Arrington

PS: Does anyone have a fiddle? Have someone from coach fiddle for me.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Week 18 in Buena Vista

Rumors of a transfer are coming!  Everybody make your best guess!

Subject: “Can I give you my word as a Spaniard?”

No good! I've known too many Spaniards!

Yeah, I still can't seem to get onto the family server, so it's another picture-less week, I guess. Except that I might attach one or two to this email to make up for it.

Anyway, I have no incredible stories from this week. It's been a pretty calm week as far as missionary work goes. We lost a couple investigators, like the Siliezar family, but nobody else was very eventful.

This week was very much geared toward members and such. Carlos, one member that helps us a lot, invited us to eat lunch every day with him, which is fantastic. He's a great cook. And almost every night we had dinner with members. I was definitely not complaining about that.
On Friday I went on interchanges with Elder Astin in Casa Blanca, which was incredibly fun. He has the same amount of time on the mission as I do, so it was fun to work with and talk to him again. He's also my zone leader, which is awesome.

Elder Huaman called me on New Years Eve from Belize to wish me a Happy New Year. That was a lot of fun.

And it looks like there will be no pictures this week. My camera won't connect for some reason. That's lame.

Carlos also came over to our house on New Years, and since we couldn't set off fireworks we watched him do it. And then we played Uno. It was fun.

Okay, everyone in my zone has finished writing, and I am almost out of time. I just have not been able to think of anything this entire email, so it's probably ranked number 2 or 3 on my lamest weekly emails. Sorry about that.

Yeah, that's about it. I started a new paragraph hoping that I would have something to say by the time I started typing, but I don't. Oh! But I did just remember that I have changes on Wednesday, but we still don't know where I'm going. That'll be exciting for next week! You should all place bets of where I'm going. I figure your guesses will be about as accurate as a drunk game of pin the tail on the donkey, but it might be fun. How about this: If somebody can succesfully guess where I'm going (the city at least) before next week, I will buy them some kind of El Salvador souvenir. That should make things interesting. NOTE: My mission only covers the departments of Santa Ana, Ahuachapan, and Sonsonate. That'll narrow things down. Also, I'm not going to Belize.

That's all I've got for this week. I love you all, and it was good to hear that Lindsay only lost like $500 with the business. What's $500 anyway? A small, broken-down car? Five days at Disneyland? Pocket change.

Elder David Arrington