Monday, April 30, 2012

Week 17 in Sonsonate

This was a fun letter to read—great progress!

Subject:  He's in managed care. It's ironic, right? He never managed to care for me.

What a pivotal week! Oh my gosh! I think this week I have seen more improvement in myself than in any other week of my mission, which is saying a lot. But before we get to that, I think I should mention that I got 27 emails this week. That is insane. That's more than double the regular week. Granted, there are a couple reasons for that. Brian is probably the biggest one, but then there was a bunch from the mission letting us know that we got 152 baptisms this month (the highest in almost a year), our zone got 22 baptisms (the highest in almost a year and the highest in the mission), and that we won't have money for another week or so. That means I might have to pull out even more money from that account you guys have left me. I've been trying to pull out money only when I really need it, but I feel kind of bad. I've been pulling it out more often toward the end of my mission, and I can't figure out if it's because everything is more expensive here in Sonsonate or if I'm just more careless with money. I hope it's the former. Either way, just know that I may be pulling some more out today. I was thinking about it, by the way, and I decided that I really want to pay that back sometime, too. So I hope you're all keeping track of how much I owe.

Anyway, that 27 emails has given me a lot of different things. I got some fantastic pieces of news that came in unexpected ways, I got some random tidbits (that's a word, right?) of stuff going on back home, I realized that Lindsay's business is doing pretty awesome (which means I am suddenly a rich man, kind of), and so on. It was a lot to read, though I still haven't read some of it. I'll print a bunch of stuff so that I can read it later.

Also, before I forget, I was wondering what the schedule is going to be like when I get home. I mean, it's still seven weeks or so away, but someone should be in charge of that. Otherwise I don't think I'll have any idea what to do for that first week or so. So someone should get on that, and they should make sure I have time to visit old friends, play the piano, and, maybe less importantly, watch Toy Story 3, Inception, and Tangled, in that order. Probably the first three nights I'm home, so that I have the smallest risk possible of people spoiling it for me. And those could probably be with most of (or all of) the family, in an epic movie night. I'm just saying in advance so it doesn't come as a shock later. That probably seems pretty insignificant in the list of things to do, but I've spent 22 months running (literally) out of the room whenever anybody mentioned one of those three movies, so I want to get that cleared up.

I realized as well that I now have less months left than my comp has years left. I have a little over a month and a half left, and he has a little over a year and a half left. Crazy. That makes me KC Clyde in The Best Two Years.

Next week is changes, as well, so we'll be able to see where my comp or I go. My bet is that I'll be staying in Sonsonate, so here I will die. But it's possible that I'll be changed. You never know.

This week, like I said, was pretty pivotal. We have definitely not had much success lately. We pretty much dropped the last few investigators that we had and are starting fresh, which means we're spending a lot of time looking. Unfortunately, we haven't been spending a lot of time finding, which means we are probably doing something wrong in the looking part. We're working on figuring out what exactly that is, although I have some ideas. So we'll be making the appropriate changes and trying again this week.
The best investigator that we have, then, by far, is Mauricio, the older guy that used to be on El Salvador's national soccer team. He understands things so quickly it blows me away. We had left a lesson 1 pamphlet with him a few days ago and went back yesterday to follow up. Not only had he read the whole thing (one of the first times that has happened to me in the mission, I'll have you know), he understood and explained to us, as if he were already a member, the Atonement, the apostasy, the need for a prophet, the priesthood (both the Aaronic and the Melchizedec and their functions), the Book of Mormon, where it came from, the three and eight witnesses, Nephi's plates vs. Mormon's plates vs. Moroni's plates, etc. Then he started explaining to us how his Catholic baptism was wrong, and that we should not worship the Virgin Mary, and how prayer, when done in the right form, gives us answers, and how God has a plan for us and what happens after this life. Like I said, he's ridiculous. The only thing that he had a problem with still is Joseph Smith being a prophet because it didn't seem like God would have left the world without one for 1800 years. But we did a pretty good job of explaining it to him, I think (and we had a member with us that helped a bunch), so I think that's taken care of. He even said that he is pretty sure that what we're teaching is the truth, even though that comes from his logical analysis instead of the spirit (we wouldn't have wasted two years of our lives if it weren't, so many people can't be wrong, etc. I didn't mention that, even though we have 15,000,000 members, there are a lot more people in other churches who, let's face it, are wrong). But, as I think I've said before, I think that he still is going to have a problem getting baptized because he is so focused on learning all of the doctrine before making a decision. I don't doubt that he will one day get baptized, I'm just afraid that it won't happen very soon. I hope it does. He could be a powerful member.

One of the amazing things that happened this week was that we had a temple trip on Thursday. It's been several months since the last one, and I was missing it a lot. Fortunately I'll only have to wait a month and a half for my next (and last) one. But going to the temple is always such an incredible experience. I won't share the details, of course, but President had asked us to study Moses 1-5 before going, which I did, and I spent some time pondering that and reading my patriarchal blessing in the Celestial Room. That helped me so much it's ridiculous. I know some things I have to change, and I'm excited to do so.

And now I'm out of time. Look at that. Time flies when you're having fun, right? Before I forget: Whoever's in charge of my schedule when I get home needs to add time to go do a session in the Portland temple, either that first weekend or the next. Also, time to go swimming would be nice. And maybe go to the lake with those wave runners Mom and Dad were thinking about selling this year (again). Oh, and let's not forget time to look for a job. If Julie can pull some strings for me at Red Robin, I think that that would be ideal. And I can speak Spanish, which might be a plus. I think I had already mentioned to her that I wanted to put her string-pulling skills to use, but I'm just reminding you all. And everyone can get to work finding me a job just in case. Gosh, it's good to have a big, influencial family that likes working on projects together that benefit me.

Thanks again for all of the emails! This week I got some from: Stacey, Lindsay, Julie, Google, Brian, Nicole, the Bank, the Mission, Mom, Dad, President, Sarah, Jairo (Huaman), and Brian. I mentioned Brian twice for two reasons: 1) He sent me a pretty good chunk of emails and 2) I had already written, "Sarah, Jairo (Huaman), and", before I realized that there was no one else, and I couldn't just go back and move the comma and "and" around. That would have taken way too long.
Elder David Arrington

PS: I feel like that scheduling assignment is going to get passed to Emily or Stacey. They tend to be the schedulers, right?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Week 16 in Sonsonate

Subject:  Have you ever had a caviar garnish?

I feel like this week was a little bit quieter as far as events go, but it was good because it has helped me to see a few things that I need to change and fix as a missionary. That's always a pretty important thing, right? I think so.

Just for a little background, I'm going to attach a picture. That's a map of Sonsonate, and most of what's in the image is my area, although there is a little that's not. But my area does extend north beyond the screen. The point is, our house is point A. The chapel is point C. It takes us fifteen minutes or so to walk to the chapel, which is a lot longer than I've ever had to walk to a chapel before. Generally the missionaries live pretty close to it. But after seeing that that is a fifteen minute walk, look all the way up there to point B. That's where most of our investigators live. It's the Lomas del Muerto, and it takes us fifteen minutes or so to walk to the base of it, and then another 15 minutes or so to climb up it. That means that we have to head all the way up there and then down to the church (the route I've highlighted) to invite people to church. Round-trip, it's about an hour and a half of just walking. That's not terrible for us, since we can handle it, but the hour that it takes those investigators to walk from there to the church (since they walk much slower than we do) has proven to be too much. Even though a bunch of those investigators were progressing a bit, it looks like getting them to church is just not working. That means that we have decided to just about completely drop the Diaz family, the Campos family, Josue, Juan Carlos, and a couple news that we had found there. That may seem a little harsh, but teaching people who can't or don't come to church basically wastes our time, which might be okay if we were in a difficult country, but there are too many people ready to hear the gospel here, so we have to move on.

Also, just so you don't get the wrong idea, we wouldn't have dropped them if they had been progressing really well. All of them have kind of died down a bit, except for the husband in the Campos family. He's still reading and such. But the only interactions he's had with the church are the temple trip and one week of church, where they happened to talk about baptisms for the dead in every meeting. So he's had some pretty hard times accepting that. We finally helped him understand it a little bit better, but he can't get baptized because his wife straight-out refuses to marry him. We even went with Elder Gillette (my ZL) and Elder Alvarado (an AP) to try to talk her into it, but she kept on ignoring us and just walking away. Seriously, there were a couple times where Elder Alvarado would be talking directly to her and she would see someone out on the street and just leave the house to go say hi to them. And then she'd try to go visit somebody else, so Elder Alvarado and Elder Gillette would literally chase after her until she agreed to come back and talk just for a couple minutes. So she'd come back, and go into a different room and not come out. It was very frustrating, and very rude, and very much tells us that, as positive as the husband is, he's not getting married any time soon.
Mauricio is the next positive one that we have. He lives in the colonia 14 de diciembre, which you should be able to find on the map. It's a better location, much nicer neighborhood, and he lives in one of the nicest houses I've seen in my mission. I think the only one that beats it is that time we went to teach an American at a member's house (also American). Both worked at the US Embassy, and were at least filthy rich in comparison. And they gave us pizza. That was a great night. Brian, who is reading this as well, should remember it. Good times, right? Man, I miss doing divisions with that kid.

Anyway, Mauricio is very smart and understands things very well. It's like a breath of fresh air, since it's been a very, very long time since I've taught someone that doesn't forget what we taught five seconds after we move to a new subject. He even has come up with his own conclusions, and works them into what we teach. For example, he already knows that the Catholics did not have the authority to baptize him, nor did they do it correctly. He told us that baptism is a promise between man and God, so it can't be done as a baby. There should be a specific age set for baptism to make sure that people are ready and understand it. That's the kind of stuff he reasons for himself, and seriously I cannot express the contrast that that is to most of the other people we teach, especially those who live in much humbler settings. My worry, though, as I may have mentioned before, is that he is going to want to know everything before getting baptized. As all of us who have been raised in the church know, it takes a very, very long time to learn everything. We're not exactly sure how long, since I'm pretty sure that none of us have done it yet. That's why humbler people get baptized so much quicker. They don't (or in some cases, can't) rely on logic and knowledge to understand the doctrine, so they go by what they feel. Why would that work so well? Well, it's kind of the point of it all. As the scriptures point out, to be learned is good, but only if we humble ourselves and submit to the will of God.

So the bottom line is that we had only one investigator at church, and she was a new that is a reference from two RMs that just got back, who are brothers, who both left and returned on the same day. We'll probably be doing divisions with them sometime, since they still have that mission-ness to them. I hope I have that when I get back.
There you go. We need to find new investigators, and ones that live closer to the church. It'll be a little bit rougher, since the areas around the church are either much richer areas (as rich as Sonsonate gets, that is), or businesses. Not ideal for contacting. Oh well. That's why we don't do it by ourselves. There's a third-party that we get to help us that is a lot better at finding and convincing people. Who is he? Oh, no body. He's no body. Get it? 'Cause he's a ghost! And a rather Holy one, at that. (I mean the Holy Ghost, for all of you scratching your heads back home. Gosh!)

I have actually been thinking a lot about the topic of repentance, which was really interesting because it fits perfectly with something that Dad sent me this week. Anyway, I was thinking about it a lot because I've wanted to understand what it is a little bit more and how it differs in our beliefs from other peoples'. Mostly that's because every time I think I've ever taught repentance to someone and then challenged them to repent of their sins they just say, "Oh, I repent every night, so I already do that." That's a hard thing to correct, of course, because I don't want to tell them that they haven't actually been repenting, but that's the way it is. So I realized something. Repentance, as the world sees it, is just changing from a bad person to a good person. More often, actually, it involves just saying "forgive me" in a prayer, and you're set. The single biggest difference between our church and the rest is Priesthood authority, so how does that work into repentance? Well, quite simply: We are the only church in the world with the authority to baptize and administer the sacrament, which are the ordinances that must be performed by a person to complete their repentance. We use the example a lot of cleaning a shirt. Here, of course, they do it by hand in a giant stone basin. Step one to washing the shirt is to get a bunch of soap and scrub it like crazy. That's the repentance, or at least the first part. It's the scrubbing to make the shirt clean. But the repentance is not complete until you rinse the shirt of by pouring a bunch of water on it. Obviously, lots of water represents baptism (or the sacrament if one has already been baptized). Repentance without baptism or taking the sacrament with the proper authority is not repentance. So one might say that repentance to the rest of the world means saying you're sorry and changing, but in the Gospel of Jesus Christ we know that the cleansing power of the Atonement must be applied not just through change, but through covenants.

That's just a few thoughts I've had over the last few weeks. I don't know if it made much sense to you all (or you're probably wondering why it took me so long to reach that conclusion), but it's been good for me to think a lot more about these principles. It's amazing how much I could have told anyone about any of the principles of the gospel before the mission, but out here I've started to get a depth of understanding for those principles that is really hard to describe. It's awesome, said simply.

I hope you all have a great week! This week I got emails from Julie, Lindsay (and Nicole, but both were business, so that's kind of cheating... JKBS), Stacey, Mom, Dad, President Cordon, the APs, Brian (Oliverson), Jairo (Huaman), and Elder Packard. 16 emails. Not a bad haul. Thanks again for those emails and for the support you guys give me while I'm out here!

Elder David Arrington

Monday, April 16, 2012

Week 15 in Sonsonate

Subject:  Ah, yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it you can either run from it, or, learn from it!

This was a slower week. We only found seven new investigators and had to drop a few others that still seem kind of positive but, for one reason or another, are not progressing. Not very fun to do. One of those that we're dropping (or better put are not visiting nearly as often) is Juan Carlos. You've all heard a bunch about him and how he was progressing, but he needs three attendances to get baptized and just won't come to church. He even has one attendance already. It's really sad to see that. He keeps saying that he's going to come because he wants to get baptized, but I think there's something he's not telling us. Maybe he's started something bad, like drinking or smoking again, and wants to clear that up first. We'll have to figure it out. But for now we can hardly find him anyway, so it's getting tough to focus on him. Also, he told us on Saturday that he was going to try to miss part of school on Sunday to go to church. He didn't, and we went later to ask him why. His family told us that he still wasn't back, but that he hadn't even gone to study. That's why I don't feel particularly comfortable with the situation.

Anyway, there was him and a few other people that are just not progressing well now. The most positive investigators that we have are not even that positive, either. The Campos family is probably at the top of the list. The wife is the biggest obstacle with them, though. She is very evangelical and doesn't want to go to our church at all or even listen to us. The worst part, though, is that she doesn't want to get married. We went up there with our ward mission leader, though, and she happened to come out so we started talking to her. She confirmed everything that I just said, but we also caught her interest with something, although I don't know what. I think it had to do with us helping her husband change and become better. Makes sense, right? I'm pretty sure that's what every wife wants. The husband told us that he was going to come to church on Sunday, and true to his word he showed up. Even better, he somehow got his wife, daughter, and niece to come as well. That was pretty awesome. They were a little bit shy, but the husband was definitely involved in everything and was even asking questions. That's awesome. I think that even if we can't convert the rest of the family right now, he'll get baptized once we get them married.

Another investigator that came to church was Mauricio. He is a crazy guy, which I mean in the non-literal sense of the word. He was on the national team here for soccer a long time ago, and is now some kind of super important guy in San Salvador and is in charge of electric and something else for the country. I forgot exactly what it was, since it's pretty technical. He was also in charge of the campaign that got Mauricio Funez elected President here, so he's got a lot of contacts. Also, his house is super nice. He's like 65, too, but looks like he's 45 because he's in really good shape. Crazy. Anyway, he reads the Bible every morning and night and loves to read, so the Book of Mormon is going to be golden there. We're taking one over Tuesday night, since we are currently out of them. He is a reference of the stake patriarch, too, which is pretty sick. The only problem, though, is that he is very catholic. He wants to talk a lot about the bible, but I think he may take a little longer to get converted due to his great lifestyle. People tend to be that way, which is why we generally have more success with poorer people.

Also, he is a very educated person. After church he told us that all of the meetings were great, and he started giving us these crazy in-depth analysis of each one. The thing that made me slightly sad, though, was that he said he didn't like sacrament meeting because there were kids making a ton of noise and crying and running around and screaming, and there were a lot of people not paying attention and even a lot of adults just talking for a lot of the meeting. That's a problem that I have been well aware of for a long time (twenty-two months now!), but talking to the bishopric hasn't really helped. We'll have to find a solution, because he definitely noticed it and expressed to us that it should not be like that during the most important meeting in our church, especially while they're passing the sacrament. I'm almost relieved that someone else here saw that, though I'm almost ashamed that it was an investigator and that that is the impression he was left with.

There was another woman named Carolina that came to church, too, but it was the first time that we had talked to her, so we don't know much. She just showed up, I think, and lives in Sonzacate, so it's a little harder to teach her. We're going to do so on Thursday, though, since she's going to come down for mutual. Good times.

Here's something super crazy that happened, though. I called America, the other area in my district, to get their numbers on Friday, and they didn't answer. Just a side-note, by the way, we report how many lessons we teach, referals we receive, and news we find every night, and it's my job as DL to get those from the district and report them to the ZLs. Anyway, I kept calling them after 9:30 and they weren't answering, which is slightly bothersome. By 9:50 it was worrisome. By 10:30 it was very worrisome. The ZLs even called their bishop, who went over and banged on their door, but nobody answered. Eventually, around 11:15 the zone leaders talked to the APs and basically said that what they said is that we should just wait until morning. There wasn't much else to do, since we couldn't leave the house. I was pretty worried, to be honest. Stuff like that doesn't happen very much, if at all. The next morning we finally got ahold of them. They had tripped over the phone cable and the phone broke. And they went to bed early, so they didn't hear the bishop banging on their door. Wow. That's horribly anticlimactic. It's a lot better than some of the situations I was imagining, though, especially since their area is pretty dangerous.

I'm running out of time now, dang it. I wanted to make this email a little bit more work-focused, which is why I kind of dove right in at the beginning. Oh, and I forgot to say that I gave a talk on Sunday, which went well. My comp gave one, too, and his Spanish was actually somewhat decent for it. I was impressed. Anyway, thanks for all of the emails and updates and such! If I'm not mistaken, Dad just told me that I will be giving my homecoming talk in two different wards, which is kind of crazy. I don't know if that was supposed to be the same talk twice or if I was supposed to come up with a different one for each ward, though. Oh well. I've still got two whole months to think about that. That's forever away. It's like four Christmas breaks in a row. Or my entire time at the MTC again. Or one sixth of a year. Or 66 days. However you calculate it, it's a lot. So don't be thinking that I'm getting baggy out here. I'm just getting warmed up before the crazy super ultimate awesome end of the mission rush. Which, again, is far away.

Thanks again for all of the emails and support that you guys give me out here! I love reading about all the stuff going on back home, and it actually is making me a little bit curious to see how things will be when I get back there. Well, we'll just have to wait and see!

Elder David Arrington

Monday, April 9, 2012

Week 14 in Sonsonate

Things seem to be mostly back to normal for David, including this whole lizard thing.  Cute, in a reptilian sort of way…  We even have pictures!

Subject:  "Don't use the weight room line!" "Excuse me, do you know where the weight room is? It's okay, I'll check it out."

It was one of those weeks where some things went great, and others went not so great, and it all averaged out to a kind of medium un-great-not-great week. It was a pretty much average week.

Before I get too much into that, though, I thought I'd respond to dad's questions. Why Raintree? That's a good answer, and I have no response. Except that that is where me and Kent had talked about living. He just confirmed that he is not cutting his mission to make it for Fall semester, so really I guess I could live anywhere. I don't really know any other places, though, so I'll have to leave that up to all of you to decide for me. Put the family council together and get me a good apartment!

And I've grown rather attached to my schedule. That may just be because I get slightly baggy thinking about all of the post-mission BYU attending, but still. Good work to all on that one. Now we just have to find me a job I can start when I get home and we're set!

P1010619Now back on to the week. It started out pretty good. We were visiting a lot of investigators and such, but it was really rough because we had a bunch of meetings. Monday was P-Day, Tuesday we were gone all day for meetings, Wednesday we were gone for different meetings, Thursday we had a multizone, Friday we had a special temple trip, and Saturday and Sunday we got to work. It was pretty busy, but we managed to find a couple really great families and investigators in that time. One of the families is especially cool. It's the Campos family.

Basically what happened with them is that we had told Elder Gillette, one of my ZLs, that we were going to find 5 new investigators that day, so we were out contacting trying to make that happen. Really, it's not that unrealistic here, we just had to go do it. We decided to go to this place in between a couple colonies to contact since we had never been there. One thing that really helps start a conversation sometimes is to ask for help to find someone else, so we went up to a house and asked where the Hernandez family lived. We weren't actually looking for one, but it got the conversation going. They gave us a couple referrals for people who had talked to missionaries before, and almost as we were leaving pointed out that the house up on the corner might have been where the Hernandez family lived. Or, at least, that the wife's last name might be Hernandez. So we went there after striking out at the other houses, and there was the Campos family. The wife was not super intoP1010626 the lesson at all, and the daughter was out playing, so we mostly just taught the dad, and he was absorbing it all like a sponge. He told us about how he had already, through prayer, overcome an alcohol addiction, which was a really cool story. Then he told us that he was going to read what we left him, pray about it, and go to church. Those are the normal commitments we leave with people, so it wasn't that big of a deal, but he was just really interested, I think. The next day we had a special temple trip specifically for investigators. It was mission-wide, and it was great. President had planned a bunch of awesome stuff and even a tour of the outside of the temple and various other buildings (since they can't go in yet). Anyway, we had six investigators go, and the Campos family was three of those. And they loved it. It's also very impressive that they walked all the way down to the stake center to go, too, considering it was a day after we met them, it was early in the morning, and there were no buses running because of Holy Week (it was a good 45 minute walk, then, at least). The wife really opened up on the trip. We went back and talked to just the husband, since the wife was working, and one of the first things he asked us was "How long would someone have to wait to be a member of your church?" Well, we like those questions. He also asked us how we had found his house and explained to us that he had never really gone to a church simply because he didn't know which one to go to. Then he explained that a few days earlier he had had a dream, in which he was on a slope with his wife and saw, down below, a church building. He could only see one side of it, but he said that it looked a lot like the stake center. So imagine that. He dreams that, wants to go to a church, and we show up. I love this country.

P1010653Here's another fun story: We found a big lizard thing in our stairwell one day during lunch. It was trapped there since it couldn't get up the stairs and the door was closed. After a lot of running around, screaming like little girls, and filming it all, we caught it in a giant plastic bin. After lunch we let it go. Fun stuff. It was huge, though, just so you know. It wasn't one of the little geckos we usually have. It was like as long as my arm, and a whole lot faster than we were. But it was kind of cute, too, in a reptilian kind of way. I took a bunch of pictures, but I didn't bring my cable, and we're running out of time, so I have to get this off soon.

P1010642The bad part about this week is that a bunch of investigators had dead dates and had promised they were going to come to church, but nobody did. We even went to invite a bunch, but most had randomly had to work, which is lame. We had only one investigator at church, then, and she was brought by a friend. We didn't even know who she was. This week we'll start teaching her, though. Oh, and Christopher got confirmed and received the Aaronic Priesthood, which is awesome.

That's about it for this week. I can't think of anything else that I am missing, and the ZLs are reminding me that our time is now up. I'll try and get some great stories for next week, since we might have a little more proselyting time (although we will have at least one more meeting in Santa Ana and interviews with President). I love you all! Have a great week!

Elder David Arrington

PS: Would it be bad for me to remind you all that I have nine P-Days remaining? Maybe I'm counting wrong, but I think that's right.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Week 13 in Sonsonate

David is recovering some. That's good, right?

Subject: My name is Phebus. It means "Sun God".

I got a pretty good haul of emails this week, so thank you to everyone that made that possible. I think it was a pretty good group effort, even though a few key people sent me two or three emails. But I got emails from Mom and Dad (they are the most consistant to email me), Julie, Sarah, Dave DeRurange, Lindsay, the bank, the office, President Cordon, and Brian (Oliverson, that is). I had a total of 14 emails. Not bad! But that's also why I'm emailing so late. I had to split my email time in half so I could eat pizza with a few people.

First, since everyone has clearly been on the edge of their seat for it, let me put all of your minds at ease. The situation (code-named "Shot through the heart, and Sarah's to blame. She gives love a bad name." (That could be a song! I call dibs, Bon Jovi!)) has been completely cleared up. Well, really nothing has changed as far as the actual situation, but I feel much, much better about it. I realized throughout the week that what happened happened, and now I can move on. The worst part was me thinking about all the memories and such that I felt had suddenly gone to waste, and then I realized that I will now get to relive, in a way, a lot of those moments with somebody new. And yeah, I was with Sarah for four years, but I plan on being with my future wife for a tiny bit longer than that, so eventually I will have more memories with whoever she is than I have now with Sarah. Unless by some strange happenstance that actually does end up being Sarah, which would make that last statement some kind of paradox. The point is, God has promised me some dang good things, so I'm just going to go ahead and trust that He knows what He's doing. As one of the apostles said in his talk, "God always keeps His word."

But now the part that's scary: I have to find another girl. That means I have to date girls. Girls are scary. That's going to be really weird when I get back. It's really weird now. Maybe I'll just not think about it too much until I get home. That worked so well for my career path. "Hey, Elder Arrington! What are you going to study when you get home?" "I don't know, but I've got two years before I have to worry about that!" Two years later I still have no idea.

Speaking of schooling, I have to say that it was a very interesting experience to read, "Hey, you have to start thinking about the classes you're going to sign up for." and then almost immediately afterward read, "We attached your schedule for fall semester. Looks like you've got some good classes!" That being said, I'm pretty happy with the schedule that I have. Here's a few things I noticed, though. First of all, I have to get up and get to class by 8:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Dang it. I know that's not a bad thing, but still. I guess I'll get out of classes earlier, which is good. I'm not exactly sure what a couple of the classes are, but I'll trust that things will be good. But what's with Spreadsheet skills? That seems like something that would be really easy, and that I probably learned just in my time as a secretary here. I'm sure it's more interesting than that and will teach me some good stuff, though, so I'm alright with the class, but I also noticed that it's at four in the afternoon. Seems a little random to me. So I'll either have to go home and find something to do for several hours (which of course means I'll be studying and doing other responsible things), have a closeby job that doesn't mind me working three hour shifts, or I'll just have to hang around campus for five hours. Which will probably result in studying in the library, playing the piano at the hfac, or maybe scouting out a couple other classes I might be interested in. Those aren't bad things, either, of course, and would probably help me in the long run, but it's just something I noticed. Overall, good work family. The only suggestions that I would have had would have been maybe one fun class like bowling or golf, maybe a music class, and maybe one of the classes I had to withdraw from earlier (not my fault. I'll explain those later).

Yeah, and as far as my grades go, I would just like to say that the mission has changed me. I have repented. And I was planning on maybe retaking one of those classes, but the retake policy changed while I've been on my mission, so now the grade averages out with the old one, instead of replacing it. They had allowed a year on the old policy to give people a chance to retake anything they wanted to before the change, but I was on my mission during that year, so it hardly helps. Does anyone know if I will be able to retake classes as an RM during my first year back with the old retake policy? I doubt it, but it would be good to know.

Also, let's all remember that if the minimum weren't good enough, it wouldn't be the minimum. I'm just saying.

The last thing I was going to mention about school after the mission was housing. Elder Packard and I have talked a lot about rooming together after the mission, and as far as I know that's still the plan. The only problem is that I'm pretty sure he isn't going to cut his mission to make it in time for fall semester, which means that won't happen until winter semester. We were planning on rooming at Raintree, though, since he lived there before and we both know it pretty well. It's a little off campus, but the walk isn't terrible. We made it a lot while we were there. Though it might be good to invest in a bus pass, should I live there. I don't know if you have to sign me up this week, but if you do, that's what I'd decide. I did just send an email to Elder Packard, though, to see if he is still planning on rooming after the mission (we've talked about it a ton, so I doubt it would have changed in the last few weeks), and if he is actually going to come back for fall semester or winter semester. He probably has already written today, though, so he won't be able to tell me until next week, so I won't be able to tell you until next week if he is going to room with me fall semester or not. I guess you could try talking to one of his parents, though. They might know what he's planning on doing. If I have to be signed up for housing this week, though, my choice would be Raintree and a bus pass, with a space saved for Elder Packard until next Monday when we know for sure if he's going to be back for fall semester. Unless you'd have to pay to keep a spot reserved for a week.

Wow. Normally I'm supposed to email about my mission and stuff, huh? Sorry. You got me thinking about college and such. That's going to be crazy.

Back to real life, though, aka the mission, this week wasn't a fantastic one. I feel fantastic, and conference, of course, was fantastic, but the numbers sagged a bit. We only had one investigator in all of the conference sessions. Not one per session, one total. His name is Eli, and we had only taught him once and were super excited about him because within five minutes of talking to him (literally) we had put a baptismal date for April 15. However, we just found out that since he's 14 (even though he looks like he's 17 or 18) he needs 8 attendences, which means he can't get baptized until May. Lame. He had a friend, though, named Jason, that we taught with him. They both had the date for the 15, and since Jason's mom is a member (less active... for now!) he only needs 3 attendences. So we only have to change his date to the 22 (he had already told us that he couldn't go to conference this weekend, but we thought he only needed two attendences, so we had put the 15 as the date).

This week I also changed from hair gel to hair cream. I'm pretty happy with it. It doesn't hold my hair in place quite as well as gel, though it does a good enough job, but it keeps my hair soft and silky. I like it. It's better than crunchy hair. In case you were all wondering.

And before I forget, I uploaded a few pictures. They are of a few baptisms (Christopher, the twenty one year old, and Saul, the eleven year old) and some other stuff. The picture of the old guy getting baptized with a bunch of us there is a guy that got baptized after one of the Saturday sessions. We missionaries were the only ones that were there for it (and a member of Santa Emilia's bishopric), but it was a super fun service. Elder Brown did the baptizing, and the guy was really pretty clueless during the whole thing. And he had to get baptized five or six times because he wouldn't go all the way under the water. But he's awesome, and it was a great service. Honestly it was probably the funniest baptismal service I've ever been to, while still remaining spiritual. There's also a picture of me running through the streets. I was attempting a picture of me running through a flock of hundreds of pigeons, but right before my comp took the picture a bus passed by and scared most of them away. Lame. There's still like two in the picture. And the last picture is a cathedral that is here in Sonsonate. Me and my comp think that it looks exactly like the It's a Small World ride from Disneyland, so I snagged a picture. The church says "Our lady of the angels" or something like that above the door. I don't know if it's the name of the church or what, but there it is. Also, it might be referring to a lady from Los Angeles. I don't know. It would make sense, since I have yet to meet someone in this country who does not have at least one family member in the states (generally in Los Angeles, which 90% of the population believes is a state, not a city).

I am horribly out of time. My bad. I've been talking about nothing for most of this email. I hope that's a sign that I'm doing better, though, because I really am. We may have to drop a few of the investigators that we have, though, since they have stopped progressing and are making excuses. Juan Carlos, though, is still super positive. He and his wife were going to get married and he was going to get baptized, but then they decided that, since they don't even like each other anymore and Flor doesn't want to give up the US residency she's about to get, they are just going to seperate. So one day, while Juan Carlos was at work, Flor grabbed almost all of her clothes and left. And that's the last anyone has heard of her. It doesn't seem like her, but at the same time it does. What really baffled me, though, is that she left Aaron, their one year old son. It's a crazy world we live in. Juan Carlos wasn't even that hurt about it at all. And as sad as all of that was, it means that he now has absolutely nothing between him and baptism. Nothing except church attendences, that is. And since it is no longer a family that we're completing, he needs two more. So his date is now for the 15 as well.

That's all I have time for right now. Next week I'll try to stay more on topic. I hope you're all doing well, though, and that you all have a great week! I'll try to do the same here, of course!

Elder David Arrington

PS: Special thanks go out once again to Dad and Mom for their great emails, Julie for her hillarious pictures, and Dave for his completely unexpected, but very good, first email to me. It only took you 21 months! Also, Brian and Sarah sent some pretty good emails. Brian's was especially hillarious. There was evidently a mission reunion with President Lopez that he went to with a bunch of RMs from here, and I'm super super jealous.

PPS: I almost forgot! Yes, we did see Elder Archaletta (how the heck do you spell that?) in the Saturday afternoon conference. According to what President Cordon's daughters (who were watching the session in English with us) gossiped to us, he's going to a mission in Chile, but nobody knows more than that. Most of my district in the MTC went to various missions in Chile. Cool.

PPPS: I put that last PS first because this one is better. I wanted to anounce something that I doubt anyone at home caught from that same Saturday afternoon session. Alejandro Lopez, formerly known as President Lopez, Señor Lopez Mota, or "Sí, lo siento Presidente" is now Elder Lopez. He was called as an area authority. Sweet!