Saturday, June 23, 2012

David has returned. This marks the end of his blog.

Blog Header 2

Yep, David has returned.  And so marks the conclusion of his missionary blog. 

Stay tuned.  Michael’s blog begins August 22 on his departure.

Friday, June 22, 2012

David Arrives Home

No new letter, of course, but here’s a couple pictures from David’s return to Oregon.  Mom got the first hug, of course, then came dad and the rest of the family—hiding around the corner….



Monday, June 18, 2012

Week 24 in Sonsonate. Month 22 in El Salvador. Year 2 of his Mission. Accomplished.

Subject:  Mission Accomplished

I was considering just sending a blank email with that subject line, since I figured that would be pretty classy. But then I realized it would be kind of mean, too. So, since I am neither mean nor classy, here is my final email.

This point in my mission is one of the strangest things I have ever experienced. There are so many feelings bouncing around that I don't even know what's going on. I am horribly sad that I am leaving this country and ending my service, but I am super excited to go home. And ridiculously scared and confused. I can't even describe how I feel. I think the best description, though, is numbness. Brian talked to me a little about that. I still don't really believe the end of my mission happening, and I don't think I've really began to process it. I know it will happen, but that doesn't help me realize that it IS happening. I guess we'll just have to talk about that when I get home, because I doubt that this is making any sense.

This last week was one of mixed results. We worked hard and found some good investigators, and even got some great references from the members. We found almost as many news as last week, but only taught thirty four lessons. There were good reasons for it, though. On Wednesday, we had a special meeting in San Salvador, by the temple, with Elder Maynes, who was recently called to the presidency of some quorum of some seventy. It was a great meeting, and took most of the day. My comp got sick, though, and started throwing up on the way (literally out the side of the moving bus). It was a very interesting trip, and I can talk more about the details when I get home, but that meant that we couldn't work when we got back from the meeting. The next day, I started to feel sick and couldn't eat anything. Friday, too. On Friday we did interchanges, and I worked with Elder Gillette, and there were times that I couldn't walk because my stomach hurt too badly. I think that if someone were to stab me with two knives in the stomach, that's what it would have felt like. At one point I almost threw up on the side of the road, so we ran to a member's house close by. By the time we got there, though, the throw-up convulsions had passed. Since I hadn't eaten in two days, I tried to eat a slice of pizza when we got home, but after one bite I was in the bathroom throwing up. Elder Gillette gave me a blessing, though, that I would be fine and that I would be able to eat and end my mission the way I wanted to, so after the blessing I went and heated up two more slices of pizza and got them down without any problems. And I felt pretty much fine. The priesthood is so dang awesome.

Other than those sicknesses (and a lot more that have been happening in the zone), the week was great. I can explain a little more about the investigators we found and such when I get home, so I'll just say that we had some kind of cool lessons. And three inactive families we were trying to reactivate came to church, which was awesome. These last two days I've got some good appointments set, and Wednesday morning I'll be out of my area, so I've got to go hard until the end. I'll be trying!

I just wish there were some way to describe what this is like! I can see the changes coming, but I don't believe them. It's so crazy! Gah! Oh well. I guess we'll have to talk about it when I get back. At least I'll have hot water again. I've missed that.

Random side-note: Stacey and Julie used the same quote as the subject line in their emails to me. Ha!

Thank you all for the support that you've given me on my mission! Seriously, the emails and letters and packages and prayers and everything make the work a little bit more enjoyable. I wish I could think of something cool to get you all from here before I leave, but I can't, so you'll probably get something stupid. Take care!

Elder David Arrington

Monday, June 11, 2012

Week 23 in Sonsonate–One week left!

About them Standards of Excellence…

Subject:  You would THINK I would know the way to my own castle!

Last week I think I mentioned that I had a goal to make all of the standards of excellence. Those are kind of high and ridiculous, but I was super committed. And before I tell you how it went, here's a word from our sponsors:

"There once was a little boy, and that little boy had a dream to run one of the most sophisticated, illegal gaming operations the United States Army has ever seen. And that little boy's dream came true. But now, they're trying to snatch that dream back from him. But what are the last two letters in the name Bilko? K-O! Of course the first few letters are B-I-L, which is meaningless. But still, am I giving up? No! Never! Well kind of, but not really, because there is *no Way* I'm going to Greenland. Well, you are probably wondering if I have a plan. Well, of course I have a plan! A P-L-A-N, plan! Dang it! But maybe, a plan is not what I really need. what I really need, is just a little puppy. A little puppy with big brown eyes, who would just come to me and lick my face, and just love me so much no matter what kind of person I am!"

Yeah, I had to just copy and paste that one, since I don't have time to try and remember it exactly.

With that out of the way, I can continue. Let's review the week.

Monday was P-Day, and we ran to get five lessons in, which we did. With only four hours to work, I feel pretty proud of it. Tuesday was the first full day of work, though, and it was rough. We pushed through, though, and taught nine lessons. Wednesday we did divisions for a couple hours, and that helped a lot, but because of various meetings in the morning we only got seven lessons in. Thursday we had weekly planning, and got seven lessons in. And Friday we had a multi-zone. It was a fantastic multi-zone, and as is the tradition in the mission, I got to go up and give my final testimony. It was a very cool experience. Only a third of the mission was there, though, so even though I am part of a huge group going home, only five of us did it. I did not cry, but I was very close a couple of times. And the spirit was super strong. I love testimony meetings.
Anyway, the multi-zone went long. We were expecting to get out at 2 or 3, but it got out after 5, so we did the best we could and got six lessons in. Saturday was a little rough, since we hardly taught any lessons in the morning. Nobody was home. It was pretty awful, but in the afternoon/night we got seven. We should have had at least nine. So Sunday we had to literally run part of the time, and by the end of the day had nine lessons. Let's do the math, shall we?

"Even if you were right, that would be one plus one plus two plus one not one plus TWO plus one plus one."

5+9+7+7+6+7+9 = 50 lessons. BAM!!!

Total new investigators for the week: 14. BAM!!!

Referrals received and contacted in the week: 5. BAM!!!

Okay, so maybe that was a way too dramatic retelling of the whole thing, but I am stoked. I have never even seen a missionary companionship that teaches fifty lessons in the week. The other area in my district was also pushing pretty hard, by the way, and got 49 lessons. That's awesome for my district. We did a conference call with the ZLs and the other DLs last night to report numbers, and I got a lot of praise, which went directly to my head, of course. I'll have to watch that. But in addition to a metaphorical mountain of lessons, we found fourteen new investigators and were working very well with members, as we can see from the referrals. Granted, I have gotten more than five referrals before many times, and fourteen new investigators is really just a "pretty good" week, and not a "fantastic" week, they both complete the standards of excellence. And, another random note: 18 of those 50 lessons were to investigators with members present, which is pretty dang impressive. The moral of this story is that God must have helped us, because there is no way a missionary like me could have pulled that off. Maybe He felt like I deserved a good week like that right before I go home (I don't deserve it), or maybe He just felt like being nice (which He kind of always is), but whatever it was, I'm super grateful for it.

I really did just spend a long time talking about statistics that really aren't that interesting to all of you, I guess. Except maybe the two recent RMs that are reading this. They may understand it, at least. Mostly Brian, since he is from here, after all.

Alright! The bad news was that, due to sicknesses and stupid emergencies in San Salvador, six of the eight investigators we should have had in church couldn't come. So we only had two in church. But I can honestly say that there was nothing else we could have done about that. What happened really couldn't have been predicted, so I still feel alright. But it means that Jason and Naomi, his sister, can't get baptized for another two weeks. And apparently the father-in-law also wants to get married and baptized now. That's fantastic news, except for the "two weeks" part. Oh well. I'm still excited for them.

The other sad news is that we talked to Daniel. He finally not only agreed to a baptismal date, but he's super excited for that date and is telling people about it and is really just a super powerful investigator. He asked us a lot of questions about repentance and the Atonement, and it was really cool. The not cool part? The date that he is excited for is June 22. Dang it! I'm also bummed about that one. But he chose it after praying about it, so I don't want him to change it. I did try to have him change it, but as soon as I started mentioning it I felt like I shouldn't. So that officially means that I have baptized all the people I will baptize in my mission. The Tobar family technically could make it, but they are way too hard to get ahold of to be ready that soon, and Carolina could, too, but she is an eternal investigator that is still basically half Catholic (even though she is doing her Personal Progress and bore her testimony in church) (Ironic, right? She's doing Personal Progress and refuses to actually progress in the gospel). So I think that's about it for me. We are preparing some really cool people for baptism, though, so that's very exciting. They just won't be ready before the 19th, which I'm pretty sure is my last day in Sonsonate.

I have one and a half weeks left, by the way. How crazy is that? I've been trying to work hard amidst all of the missionaries and members reminding me how little time I have left. I think that my goal is going to be to work hard up until I leave my area. Several returned missionaries that I know have told me that the last couple days you tend to just not get very much missionary work done. I guess that makes sense, since I'd be saying goodbye to people and such, but I don't want to do that the last couple days. I want to say goodbye during this coming week so I can be teaching investigators my last two or three days. Maybe that's unrealistic, or maybe it's way too realistic. I don't know. I've never been in this situation before.

"Then tell me, future boy, who is the President of the United States in 1985?"

"Ronald Reagan."

"Ronald Reagan? The actor? Then who's the Vice President, Jerry Lewis?"

Alright, I'm just about out of time, and I have to get out to work soon. Just so that everyone knows, next week will be my last P-Day, so it will be the last time I will read emails from any of you here in El Salvador. So if you have anything you want to say to me before I head home, this week is the time to say it.

Thanks again for all of the emails and support that you guys have given me out here. Really, I feel like I've always had a lot of support from home, and it's definitely helped me to know that there are some people back in the states that are interested in what happens out here. I'll be pushing hard this last week so that I can end strong, and I'll let you all know how it goes next Monday, for the last time!

Elder David Arrington

Monday, June 4, 2012

Week 22 in Sonsonate

The time is so short, we can hardly stand it….

Subject:  "You smell something Officer Rabbit?" *sniff* "Fear."

This week was fun. A lot of strange things happened, but we also got a lot done. So it was good.

There have been some rather un-interesting things that I have had to do, like fix my imos account and organize out-of-my-area espionage, and other random things. The more interesting things were things like Elder Duzett getting sick with chicken pox and getting put in the cave (I got to email his family to explain it to them), and Elder Gillette now having nobody to work with. So he's been bouncing around the zone a lot, and since we are right next to his area and in the middle of Sonsonate we've had to go pick him up and drop him off with various people. It's kind of like missionary babysitting. But it's not every day you get to babysit your zone leader, so that's fun.

The zone is doing pretty awful right now. On Saturday there were seven missionaries that didn't work because of sickness. Our zone's numbers were horrible. That's the bad news. The good news, though, is that my comp is doing just fine, and my area is doing pretty good. This week that's coming we want to focus a lot on reaching the standards of excellence, which are pretty high.

Wow. That was crazy. Elder Gillette basically kicked us off halfway through our email time today so that we could go with him (he doesn't have a comp, remember?) to run a bunch of errands. We went and bought some lunch and some stuff for the elders in CastaƱo (Elder Duzett and the others had literally given us a grocery list, and we had so much that we had to take a taxi to their house. Lazy sick people), and I got my haircut, and we started to order zone jerseys, and mailed some letters, and so on. We almost had to stay with Elder Gillette at his house, but then the elders from Santa Emilia came and he stayed with them. So we got to come back and finish. Otherwise I might have not gotten you all an email this week. That would have been stupid.

Anyway, the zone is doing not so good, but the areas (like mine) that are working are doing pretty well. Me and my comp want to get all of the normas de excelencia (standards of excellence) this week, which include things like 20 lessons with members present, 10 other lessons, 20 lessons with less actives/recent converts, 14 news, 7 in church, 7 progressing, 20 lessons to find every day, etc. They are a little crazy, but we can definitely make it if we run. That's fifty lessons in the week, and the most I've ever gotten in the mission is a little over forty, I think. 14 news isn't that ridiculous; I've gotten that several times. I've gotten nine or ten in one day before. That's one of the great things in this country. We average about one new investigator for every three people we contact (knocking doors or street contacts). That's pretty good. References from members do a lot better than that, for obvious reasons.

So that's what we're planning to do, but what DID we do, you ask? Perfect question. But first, since I don't want to forget, Dad: My Oregon license has my full name, "Edward David Arrington". I just checked it. I hope that helps.

This week, our best lessons were without question with Daniel. That kid is awesome. He's already got three attendances to church or so, and he would totally be baptized if we could talk to him more. He lives outside of our area, so it's hard to teach him, but we have a meeting with him today at five, so that should be good. Except I just remembered that the Bishop is now the only one with the keys to the chapel (we used to have a set, but they changed some stake policy or something and took them away. And they didn't even tell us that. My ward mission leader (who is awesome) just asked to borrow them one day, and then when I asked for them back a couple weeks later he said that he had given them to the Bishop because of the policy change. Dang it) and that's where we're planning on having the lesson. So I have to remember to call him in a few minutes. And it's raining, so I should go home to change into the one pair of shoes that I own that still has more than 40% of the sole intact.

Moving this monologue along, he's awesome. He not only understands things really quickly, but he really believes and applies them very quickly. He's like a 20 year old version of David Mira (the one we just baptized with his wife). In Principles of the Gospel we talked about the sacrament and HE explained in very clear and simple terms why we no longer use wine for the sacrament. That's something that is usually a bit of a pain to teach people here (not super difficult, but still annoying), and he already figured it out on his own. We hadn't even really taught him the Word of Wisdom. He just remembers it from one of the first Principles of the Gospel classes that he was in here where they mentioned the five things we can't take. Have I ever mentioned how much I love teaching people who are ready to be taught? And, even better, Daniel is totally a cool guy and usually drives us home (or to our next appointment) after our lessons, since he has a car. He's the kind of guy I could totally hang out with listening to salsa music (he likes salsa). I can't, of course, since I'm a missionary, but after the mission I would.

Speaking of the Mira family, David Mira just got the Aaronic Priesthood yesterday, got a home teaching companion, and learned how to give a blessing to the sick (even though he won't be able to actually give one until he has the Melchizedek Priesthood). He's learning like crazy, and he and his wife have basically become the most active members in our ward. They're so great. I love that family. Again, it's the perfect case of people that are ready and follow the spirit.

Daniel has a baptismal date for the tenth, and then Jason and his sister, Naomi, have dates for the seventeenth. They just need the attendances and they're good. Actually, we also need to teach Jason the commandments really fast, but then he's good to go. As long as their mom supports them (they're both under 16, so the mom has to be active as well for them to get baptized with three attendances each (the mom is a member already (we have weird rules for when we can and can't baptize kids (I'm pretty sure it's not actually appropriate to put this many parenthesis inside of each other. I've been doing that lately. I'm weird)))), they should be fine. The other two that we want to baptize before I go home are the Tobar family. The husband is our ward secretary, and the wife, Roxanna, and their daughter, Daniella, just randomly started coming to church and love what they have been learning there. They also live outside of our area (that happens a lot in this country, especially in my area since it's the middle of Sonsonate and everyone wants to be a part of my awesome ward, obviously), so it's hard to get in touch with them. We should be able to put dates with them this week, though, and if we can they could get baptized the seventeenth as well. That would leave me five baptisms right before I go home, which would not be terrible. It'd be kind of good, actually.

Oh, also Merari randomly showed up to church. She was an old investigator that we were teaching, but had dropped because she told us that she's Catholic and doesn't want to come to church. We have an appointment tomorrow, so we'll see if any of that has changed.

That's just about all I have time for, so I'll wrap this up. Thanks again to all of you who wrote me this week! This week featured emails from a pretty good variety of people (15 emails total! More than I was expecting on my third-to-last P-Day), so thank you all for that. Me and my comp are going to run like crazy this week, so remember us in your prayers. I have a feeling that, if we make it, next P-Day I'm going to be more tired and more content than any other P-Day of my mission. I can feel my momentum building for these last few weeks, and I'm really glad. I'm ending strong!

Elder David Arrington

PS: If I pull this off, I think that somebody is going to have to invite me to Taco Bell. Gosh, I miss Taco Bell. And Chipotle. The taxi driver of the taxi we took today said that he went to the states and loved it, especially Chipotle. He wants to start a Chipotle chain down here. He's a taxi driver, so I doubt that will happen, but if it did, mmm boy!