Monday, May 28, 2012

Week 21 in Sonsonate

As David approaches the end of his mission, we don’t seem to be getting many pictures these days.  However, we did get some today!!

Subject:  "Is he a man?" "Yes, nineteen." "Is he alive?" "Yes, eighteen." "Evel Kneivel."

P1010653Wow. What a week. Me and my comp talked last weekend, which I think I already mentioned last week, and we found a couple things we could improve on and change, so this week we wanted to be really focused on that. We even completely cleaned the house, rearranged stuff, and just had this good overwhelming feeling of being awesome missionaries, and we were ready for a huge successful week of working harder than we had ever worked before. We were stoked, and it was awesome. And then we got the plague.

P1010701Monday was awesome after P-day. We had some great lessons. Tuesday morning, though, toward the end of comp study, my comp suddenly said that he wasn't feeling very good. We still went to a couple appointments before lunch, but by lunch he was feeling pretty terrible. He had a fever of over 100, so I figured that, if he's feeling so awful, he might as well rest before things get worse. So we spent some hours resting in the house (him resting and me studying), and then went to a couple of important appointments and meetings that night. My comp almost didn't make it. We hurried back home and took his temperature again, which had gone up to 103.2. The next morning he was even worse, which meant that we didn't get to go with the rest of the zone to a special lunch at President's house for having baptized 22 in the zone. All reports agree that it was a great lunch. I'll have to take their word for it. My comp was in bed, with me studying (and doing anything else to stay sane), all day Wednesday. Thursday, he suddenly felt better, so we got to go work, even though most of the day was spent running around the zone doing random zone related tasks. That was the day of our huge stake activity (I uploaded pictures of the theater to the home server). Each ward did a drama based on a story in the scriptures. My ward did the 2000 stripling warriors, and did a great job. The missionaries did their own, which was very clearly the best thought out, the funniest, and the most spiritual (as it should have been), but I P1010703don't have the video yet. We're going to make DVDs of the activity and all of the dramas, so I'll get one of those and we can watch it (you all watching as I translate, that is...) when I get home. So the activity was awesome, but we almost didn't work in our area all day because of it.

Now a little backstory. Elder Duzett's comp, Elder Rosas, got chicken pox, but a special kind of chicken pox that affects people who have already had it once, which is weird. Elder Tuck, one of our ZLs, had already had it AND the vaccination and he caught it from Elder Rosas, so this thing just doesn't care. President got wind of it when he came to the stake activity Thursday night, and then heard that my comp had been sick, too. That's the backstory.

So Friday morning, we're feeling great, finished comp study, and we're getting ready to leave, but Elder Gillette calls with a quick question. We then had to wait for him to call back before we could leave (we're sitting with backpacks on waiting for like fifteen minutes), and President Cordon calls us. The conversation went more or less like this:

"Elder Arrington, this is President Cordon. I heard that your companion was sick, is that right?"
"Yeah, but he's fine now."
"He doesn't have a fever?"
"No, not anymore."
"Did he have a sore throat?"
"Does he have any spots appearing on his skin?"
"Has he had diarrhea or anything like that?"
"No, it was just a fever, but it passed and he's completely fine."
"Okay. I don't want you two to leave the house for the next two days, and Saturday night we'll check your progress to see if you can go to church."

P1010722Okay. As it turns out, though, this chicken pox thing has been spreading around and it starts with a fever for a day or so, and then the dots start appearing, at which point one is highly contagious. So it made sense to lock us up for two days. Fortunately, we got permission to take my comp to Elder Duzett's house, where Elder Tuck and Elder Rosas were quarantined, and me and Elder Duzett and Elder Gillette did divisions with the APs, who came for Friday. But, again, I hardly worked in my area, and I spent the night in Las Delicias with Elder Duzett and Elder Gillette. Saturday my comp talked his way out of being cooped up in CastaƱo in "the cave", so he got out and we FINALLY worked in our area for half the day Saturday. And then Sunday. And that was our week.

P1010713Also, the plague has passed on to an office elder and a couple more, so President Cordon is pretty much trying to stop an epidemic. Fun times.

Sunday, though, we had three investigators at church. One was Daniel, that I mentioned before. He is super super positive. He pretty much told us the first time he talked to us that he wanted to get baptized, and Sunday after church we put a date for the 10 with him. It may get moved back, but he's definitely getting baptized in June. He himself said so. Then there was the Tobar family, whose husband is a member. The wife and daughter are also really positive, but it's hard to get a hold of them, so we can't talk again until Thursday. And we almost put a date with them. And then we went and put a date with Jason, the kid that we had passed to Sensunapan but that wants to get baptized in Sonsonate. He's getting baptized on Sunday.

P1010740That was not very much about my investigators, but not that much happened this week. I guess that's what happens when the mission is attacked by bio-terrorism in the form of poultry-related outbreaks.

I hope you're all doing great! It sounds like everyone is still alive, and is loving the super busy normal lifestyle. I'm sure I'll figure out what that's like one day. But not yet! Not yet! (Also a quote...).

Take care, y'all!

Elder David Arrington

PS: Yeah, I said y'all.

PPS: I don't have my Oregon license with me, so I'll have to get back to you on that, dad.

PPPS: Thanks for starting the Arrington-Duzett rooming arrangement. We were talking, though, and it may be pretty awesome to upgrade to the Arrington-Duzett-Rasmussen rooming arrangement. Would that be a hassle? Probably. Would it be worth it? Definitely. I guess we'd need input from the Rasmussen's, though.

PPPPS: I get back before Elder Rasmussen. HA!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Week 20 in Sonsonate

Subject:  Sometimes I do what I want to do. The rest of the time, I do what I have to.

That's a good quote. I like it. Five points to anyone who knows what it's from.
But that is really how I've been feeling lately. The mission was really exciting in the beginning, and I had a lot of people supporting me and excited about everything that happened to me, and I was basically starting out on this big adventure and it was fun and awesome and I felt great doing it, and now I'm coming to the end. The mission is still exciting, and I'm still definitely glad to be out here, but I've noticed that, like a good friend of mine said, the end of the mission is like carrying two fifty pound bags of salt to your car. Or they could be bags of sand or bricks or feathers, really. Either way, it's fifty pounds. The point is, you get tired out here, and the going gets harder. And I can feel it as I approach the end. And it's a little bit sad, too, because I know I'm leaving here soon, and I'll miss all these people and the mission and everything that is going on. I'm just noticing that everything has come down to these next four weeks. This is the climax of the show. The odds are even more against me than ever before, and it's no longer even remotely about making everyone at home or girlfriends or anyone else happy or interested or proud, it's just about me, my investigators, and the Lord. It's about how well I get the job done. That's why these last few weeks determine what kind of man I will be for the rest of my life. NOW I get it.

That being said (although, reading that back to myself, that may have been kind of confusing. To sum it up, these next four weeks are going to be intense), I am pumped. Last night me and my comp re-evaluated the way we're working, saw some things that we need to change, and are working on them. We even re-arranged the desks in our house and such to get an even stronger we-are-better-missionaries-now feeling. And I definitely feel that those small changes that we're making will make a huge difference in the way we work and the success we have. It's exciting to think about. Although I am kind of scared of the Area Book right now. I'll have to explain that later.

Oh, and now that the desks have gotten re-arranged, the ants that are always over everything have been coming out in hoards, but I don't know where they're coming from. If I did, we could draw a chalk circle around their hole (evidently, ants can't walk on chalk), but I can't find it. But now they are all over our desks, as if trying to figure out what happened to the old setup. It's a little annoying. That is one thing I will not miss from here. Having ants, spiders, cockroaches, and mosquitos flying/walking around you constantly is not nearly as much fun as it sounds. I wouldn't even consider it one of the exciting tourist attractions of this country. And yes, the ants and cockroaches all fly, too. I don't think the spiders do, though.

Anyway, let's talk investigators. The biggest news, of course, is the awesome baptisms that we had yesterday. The Mira family got baptized, and it was an awesome service. I baptized them both. Also, as a random side note to illustrate how awesome David Mira is, he read the Pearl of Great Price the day after we showed it to him. That's right, I didn't say he read IN the Pearl of Great Price, he read the ENTIRE Pearl of Great Price in one day. That's including Joseph Smith History and Joseph Smith Matthew. He's so crazy awesome.

I just got an email saying that I got a package. Awesome!

Oh, and just so that I don't forget, Happy Birthday, Dad! I don't know how old you are now, but I do remember back when we got you a card for your fortieth birthday. Something about being "over the hill". And that was a long time ago, so you've got to be a bit older than that.

Anyway, that family is the most awesome family that I have ever taught, I think. They are powerful. I also do not have my cable with me, so I will have to send those pictures next week, although at this point I could almost just wait until I got home. But I won't. I don't think.

We have a few other investigators that are progressing, but the most notable is this kid named Jason. He is super close to baptism, and he had a date for next week, but stuff happened. Let's review. Jason was an investigator who was a referral from someone in our ward who lives just outside of our area. Seriously, he lives like one or two blocks into Sensunapan's area. We talked to the zone leaders about it, and they said that, since it was from someone in our ward and Jason wanted to go to our ward, we could go teach him. So we did, and we even had a baptismal date with him. However, the sisters that work in Sensunapan started complaining because we were actually teaching a few different people in their area (all of which were referrals from this same member in our ward, and all of which wanted to come to our ward with her), so the ZLs said we should probably stop going down there, so we passed all of the investigators we had down to the sisters. They haven't even visited all of the investigators we gave them, and this happened like a month and a half ago. So those investigators are just not being visited anymore. They taught Jason a few times, though, and then stopped visiting him because he didn't want to go to church in their ward. Two Sundays ago, he showed up to our ward again with the member who was helping us. She and our ward mission leader had started to visit him to finish teaching the lessons and such because the sisters stopped doing it. We talked to him there, and he made it very clear that he wants to go to and be baptized in our ward. We told them all that we cannot visit him at his house, since the zone leaders haven't given us permission, so this member and our ward mission leader have been doing just about everything. We put a date with him for next Sunday and he was excited. The sisters found out and complained to the zone leaders (who also agree that he should just get baptized here anyway), and then went and found some obscure technicality that means that we have to move the date back a week. Then they told the zone leaders that they're really close to reactivating the super inactive mom, and she wants to go to Sensunapan, so we shouldn't baptize Jason because he should get baptized there with his mom active again. Makes sense, right? They've talked to the mom exactly twice. Not even visited and taught her twice. TALKED to her twice. That's just stupid. Even the zone leaders are upset at them, and I have to admit that I am, too. They very clearly want to take this baptism from us that we already gave to them, and have basically tried to sabotage us to do it. That's so stupid. I couldn't care less who reports the baptism. They can do it and take credit for it for all I care. I just want this kid to be baptized! He's awesome and wants to really badly, and it really ticks me off that the only thing standing between him and baptism is the sister missionaries. That should NEVER happen.

Sorry, I'm a little bit fired up about that, I guess. It just drives me crazy that some missionaries can be so childish. I'm kind of childish too, though, I guess, so I can't hold it against them.

I'm super running out of time, so a few more quick things: Dad - yes, Elder Duzett and I were talking about rooming together, and yes, you have permission to look for the best housing options you can find. I trust whatever you come up with. Laptops will definitely be a big point when I get home, but I don't really know what technology has done since I left. A Macbook Air sounds like it would be high quality, and I could always dual-boot to Windows with it (that used to be pretty easy back in the day), and I may actually enjoy a Mac. I've never tried one. And the trek sounds good, and the traveling plans sound good. I especially like the part where I drive to Utah to drop Michael off at the MTC. That would be sick! But then I'd be stuck at BYU with a car, which I wouldn't complain about...

I think that was all the big stuff anyone asked me about. Thanks again for all of the emails and support and stuff, and I'll be sure to get some crazy stories ready for next week's email. I love you all!

Elder David Arrington

Monday, May 14, 2012

Week 19 in Sonsonate

Previous to this email, we were able to talk with David for Mother’s Day.  We looked forward to that for months, knowing that in just a few weeks he’ll actually be home.  Wow.  Just a few more weeks!

Subject:  Those aren't moist towelettes, those are baby wipes.

Before I forget, I wanted to reiterate a couple things from the phone call yesterday. First, Elder Duzett and I were talking about rooming together after the mission, so if that is still a possibility I'd like my personal secretaries to make it happen. Second, I wanted to expound a little bit on this post-mission roadtrip idea that Dad kind of threw into the conversation at the last minute. I was just thinking about this, and that sounds like an awesome idea if I could pull it off. Specifically I was thinking that it would be a great chance for Michael and I to go visit all family in Utah, Arizona, and even California (on the way back), since I haven't seen anyone or anything in two years, and he won't see anyone or anything for two years. Plus, it would be a great bonding-type thing for me and him, since we will only have two months together before another two year gap. Plus I could start getting him pumped for the mission. So I was kind of thinking it would be awesome as a me-and-Michael road trip, but I wouldn't want to limit it to that if anyone else wanted to go. I just think that it would be awesome. Here are the things I would want to know about that: 1) Would it be feasable? 2) Is that how the word "feasable" is spelled? [editorial note:  No, it’s feasible] 3) Would Michael be able to get work off for several days? 4) When would be a good window for said trip (Probably in the first few weeks when I get back would seem to make the most sense. To me at least) 5) What car would we be driving in? 6) Should we worry about fund raising, or just fun-raising? 7) How many of you ACTUALLY rolled your eyes at that pun? 8) How long would the trip last? 9) What is the current plan with Michael's iPhone? (Not essential for this trip, but I'm still wondering) 10) Anything else I should think about that I haven't mentioned?

And here's a quote to sum it all up: "Wait a second, I can't just pack up and leave! I mean, I've got a mother, a father, a girlfriend, a great job, and ehhhhh!" (Okay, so I do have a mother and father, but still. I thought it was funny.)

Now what kinds of interesting things can I say that I didn't say yesterday? I guess that, for the sake of having it written down, I'll repeat what is going on with our investigators. Mauricio passed his baptismal interview, but refused to get baptized on Sunday like we were planning. We still don't really know why, but it probably has to do with some sin that he doesn't want to leave but knows that he should. That's generally what it is. We have an appointment with him for tonight, so we'll see what's up there. Then we have the Mira family, who now have baptismal dates for this coming Sunday, which is really exciting. We've even announced it in church already, so we're going for it. Tuesday they have their interviews, and should pass with flying colors. Their kid, though, as I've mentioned before, is horribly obnoxious. In church yesterday he kept running and screaming and hitting and being ridiculous. When we split for priesthood and relief society, he went with his mom, and then started crying saying that he wanted to be with his dad, so she'd go leave him there, then he'd start crying saying that he wanted to be with his mom, and the whole thing repeated. We eventually got him calmed down, though, by literally playing fetch with him with a small Barney toy thing. So we seriously spent most of priesthood throwing this thing across the room for him to run and bring back to us. In this case, I think I would have preferred a dog.

Speaking of which, there was a dog running around the chapel during church. That's happened a few times on the mission, but it turns out that this one was from the Carias family's neighbors, and the dog had apparently followed them all the way from Lomas del Muerto to the chapel, even getting on a bus with them. So it just kind of chilled in the chapel for a while. I was contemplating counting it as an investigator at church, but didn't because I don't want to go all the way up there to teach him. Well, that, and it was a dog.

Our attendance used to be around 110 every week, but for the last month or so we've been hovering right below 140. This week was 138, and we've already gotten 138, 137, and 136 several times. Why can't we just cross 140? We're so close!

Anyway, an old investigator of ours named Jason showed up to church this week. We had been teaching him, and he even had a baptismal date, but we had to pass him to the sisters in Sensunapan because he technically lives outside of our area. But the sisters stopped visiting him, since he doesn't want to go over there to that ward, and our ward mission leader and another member have started teaching him. And they got him to church, and we got him to accept a baptismal date (again) for the 27. And he's excited for it. That's a nice little consolation prize for all of the people we passed to the sisters.

And another guy named Daniel showed up to church, but we don't know much about him yet. We'll get on that.

That's the stuff about investigators, I guess. Not much else going on there.
Is there even anything else interesting going on in the world? Probably not. In between last night and this morning I think the only thing that has changed is that I realized we need to take our laundry over to the lady who washes it. And I ate some Captain Crunch, which I didn't even know existed in this country until a few days ago. And yes, it cut the roof of my mouth. I even tried to be careful.

I'm running out of time and interesting things to say, and I still have a couple other emails to send, so I'll send this off. Thanks for all of your love and support, and it was fantastic to be able to talk to everyone again. A lot of missionaries out here won't get to again for seven months. I get to in six weeks. Ha!

See you in six weeks!

Elder David Arrington

Monday, May 7, 2012

Week 18 in Sonsonate

No transfer this week!  So, Sonsonate is where David will complete his mission.  I think that’s a good thing….

Subject:  I prefer the weapon that you only have to fire once. That's the way Daddy did it, that's the way America does it, and it's worked out pretty well so far.

Wow. You all blew it. I was so hopeful that I would get a fair number of emails this week, and then I opened my email. 23 emails. Shameful. Well, it's definitely not the most I've ever gotten. Actually, it's the second-most I've ever gotten. By now you may have realized that I am speaking ironically as I have nothing but good things to say to you. Keep doing what you are doing.

Hey! So I found out what is going on with changes this week. Are you all ready for this? My last changes in my whole mission: Nothing. I am staying right here in Sonsonate with my current comp, Elder McLean. I am very happy about that. The only thing that I am slightly bummed about is that my Spanish accent has pretty much tanked these last few months, and I was thinking that my last comp, if it were a Latin, could help me fix that, but that's no big deal at all. Elder McLean is awesome, and we're going to be tearing it up out here for the next six weeks.

Six weeks! Well, it's six and a half, so let's not get ahead of ourselves. Six weeks is a long time. I can do a lot of things in that time, and I'm going to, so I hope that none of you expect me to get baggy any time soon. But still. Six weeks.
This week was awesome. We did so much better. If you will all recall, we were having a difficult time with our lack of investigators, but this week we suddenly found a ton. It was great. I will only mention a few of the more positive ones, though, to avoid an overly long email. The first was a family of five called the Rivas family. They are not super super positive, but we had some really interesting lessons with them about how one of the brothers can stop drinking, and about forgiveness and repentance and such. The family did not come to church this week, but there is some potential.

Then there was a guy named Alfonso, who was kind of interesting. He wasn't super positive, really, but his son is deaf, and we have a lady in our ward that is a sign-language translator. So we're going to get her involved and see if we can make something happen. It would be cool to baptize a deaf kid.

Now on to the more positive ones. First, we have the Mira family. They are ridiculous. The husband, David (and yes, they are already married, which saves us a step) was studying to be a Catholic priest for a long time, and then he left that and became a Lutheran pastor for six years. After all of that time, he noticed a lot of corruption in all of the churches, and stopped going about four years ago. He also drank, which was not prohibited in the Lutheran church, but he felt that he shouldn't, so he had no right to preach if he drank, too. So he just stopped going to church. Then he got married to Isabel, and they now have a two year old son, Luis. And let me take a moment to say that Luis is a nightmare. He is the most obnoxious kid I have met on my mission. Almost. Maybe Brian (or the rest of you, but Brian was actually there) will remember a lady in San Salvador (I believe her name was Ana) who had a five-ish year old son who was basically the devil. Luis is like that, except he is super happy while he is obnoxious, and his parents don't really do much about it. Last time we went there he was literally climbing all over us completely naked, stealing our plaques, and grabbing our ties and screaming. At one point he ran and stood on somebody's bed and just started peeing. Really crazy kid. But the parents are super, super positive. David has told us a couple times that he had been praying recently to know what he should do, since he feels like he should be going to a church. And then we showed up. I love being an answer to people's prayers. And they went to church on Sunday and absolutely loved it. And they have read the pamphlets we left, and are starting the Book of Mormon. And they always have really good questions. Golden family, as far as I'm concerned. And the husband was showing us a bunch of his Lutheran pastor stuff, which was really interesting.

Then there's Abby. She isn't quite as positive, but is still good. Actually, she was one of the first investigators that I taught here in Sonsonate, but we only went like twice because she just kind of straight-out told us that she wouldn't go to church or get baptized or anything. Then one day, while we were planning, we decided to put her name down. We showed up, and guess what? She's awesome. She told us that that very night she had been going through some really hard times and was praying for help. And all that morning she had been praying for it, too. And then we showed up. Again, I love being the answer to people's prayers. President Monson mentioned that in conference, once, if I remember correctly; that there is nothing more satisfying than following a prompting and finding out later that you are answering someone else's prayers.

And then, to wrap this up, there's Mauricio. He is progressing very well, and we actually have a baptismal date for next Sunday with him. He'll have his interview on Thursday. But he also is very, very intelligent and likes having answers to things. He already knows that this church is true, too, so I feel like most of his research is just out of curiosity, and not trying to compare or see the pros and cons (I almost wrote ver the pros and cons. Spanglish for you). Yesterday we went over and he had done a ton of research on the internet and such. We spent two whole hours (too long, I know, but still) answering questions about everything. I think the only thing that we didn't talk about was the temple-related stuff, which is probably good. But we went into polygamy, baptisms for the dead, the Fall, the kingdoms of glory, Quetzecuatl, Solomon Spalding and the Book of Mormon, the Urim and Thumim, the gift of tongues, the apocrofa, etc. We also went through each of the articles of faith in detail. Very fun discussion, since I think he was definitely asking to learn, not to argue. He also went to church, by the way, and noticed that this week was much more reverent than the last time he came, even though our attendance dropped from 136-ish the first time to 125 this time. Also, I thought it was interesting that he worked as a business consultant for a lot of years, and has already shown that he is very good at identifying and fixing problems. He could contribute a ton to the church.

Alright, that's all I've got time for today. My bad. Time flies now. All of you are doing a very good job of reminding me how little time I have left, so I will do my best to stay focused and make the most of it. Oh, and I remembered that I will need to go clothes shopping pretty immediately after getting home, so I will need older sister help to do so. I do have two years of wearing nothing but a white shirt and blue-and-gray-striped tie (yes, Brian, I mean the last Lopez office tie), so my fashion sense is a little wack (and yes, I did just quote a Weezer song. Points to anyone who tells me which. Not many points, though, because it's easy).

Thanks for all of the 23 emails this week! Actually, they have now reached 25, since a couple last minute emails have been trickling in. I hope that you all have a great week! Keep sending me emails while you still can! Well, you'll still be able to in six weeks, but it won't be nearly as exciting.

Elder David Arrington

PS: Michael! I am so stoked to find out where you're going! You'll have to let me know on Sunday when I call!

PPS: Good thing I just remembered to mention that. I'll be calling on Sunday at 6:00pm our time, which translates to 5:00pm your time. I chose that so you have time after church and don't have to rush home. As far as conferencing and such, I really don't have a preference either way. I would definitely like to talk to the whole family (of course leaving the bulk to the one whose day it is), but if y'all think that it's better to just wait the month and a half, it's fine, too. Talk about it, and let me know on Sunday when I call. I'll call the house number first, by the way, just to see, and then I'd call the conference number.