Friday, December 30, 2011

51: Independencia 18

So, Christmas has passed.

It's been a busy, normal week in the office. It is also the end of the year, so I finished up all the baptismal records.

On Tuesday we had our ward Christmas dinner. Man, that was good. Not the food so much, but it was fun. It also wasn't planned very well, but I enjoyed it. Elder Christner and I did our mini-missionary skit again. It went well. We also picked up a whole bunch of references, so right now we have a bunch of people to teach, and a lot of them are very positive, so that's cool. I expect some pretty cool baptisms for January.

Also, we are about to have changes, and my companion is going to leave the office. He's going to go to Belize next week. He's been a really good companion. We've really gotten to know each other well, and I've learned a ton from him. I am really grateful that I've been able to have Elder Christner as my companion. He's an amazing person.

I have a feeling I'm going to be in the office for 2 more changes, or at least that's the rumor going around--which kind of stinks, because I want to get back into the thicket, preaching the gospel. But you know, I'll keep learning.

Anyway, that's about it for this week. Hope you're all doing well.

With cariño [love],

Elder Bailey

Friday, December 23, 2011

50: Independencia 17

Hey there. So I guess there´s not really much to say this week, cause I´m gonna call you all pretty soon. But it´s been a good week. A lot more relaxed. We've been able to get back to studying and stuff again, and have had, honestly, the best studies that I have had in my mission. It´s sweet. Companionship study is so awesome.  We've been learning so much.

So it´s been a good week. I´m excited for Christmas. Here, Christmas is celebrated on the 24. So we´re gonna go spend it at some members houses, it´s gonna be fun. Also, Saturday at 12, the custom here is to launch of fireworks for Christmas, so I think we´re gonna stay up and watch those from our house. It´ll be fun.

Hope you´re doing well. Merry Christmas.

Elder Bailey

Monday, December 19, 2011

49: Independencia 16

Saving Christmas

This week, we saved Christmas.

It all started last Friday, when I went to the office to do a little work. I was working on our Christmas photo album a little bit. First of all, I just want you all to know that I have gotten so much more organized now that I'm in the office. A lot of credit goes to Elder Christner, my companion. He is probably (definitely) the most organized missionary in the mission. He's an older missionary, 26 years old, and he's very responsible. I've learned tons from him. I'm very grateful for him.

So anyway, I had everything planned out. I'd work on the photo album, finish it on Tuesday, and take it to a printer. Well, the next day the president changed his mind on how he wanted it. So I went to the office Saturday to work on it too. The photo album project has a name—Project 3.

Then there was Project 1. That was the t-shirts. Elder Guirola was in charge of that. Apparently the company he was going to order them from said they could get them done in 3 days. When we got the design done, Elder Guirola called them, and they said 10 days. So Project 1 was now failing. We had to find a company that could make the shirts in less than one week.

Project 2 was another gift that the president wanted to give to everyone—little personal journals for each missionary, specialized for our mission. The guy who was doing the design for that was being really slow, and we had to get them off to the printers quickly. But we didn't even have a good printer yet. Project 4 was the food. Nope, we didn't have that planned out either.

So Saturday I made a good draft for Project 3, and the assistants took it to their meeting with the president. That night we had our little office meeting and planned out everything. The assistants told me Project 3 was very good, and there were just a couple of minor changes. I felt good.

Sunday we had a good day. We went on splits with Juan Blanco again, who gave us some sweet references. We had a sweet lesson that night. Then that night Elder Beaton was telling me about the changes I needed for Project 3, and as it turns out, I had to do it all and send it off by 7:00 Monday morning for the printer to have time to print it. Well, he described the changes, and as it turns out they were very big changes and I would need to do a ton of work. Well, yeah, that kind of agitated me. I had a ton to do with the album. Two days of work.

So Monday morning we got up at 4:30 to go work in the office. We were working as hard and as fast as we could (me and Elder Christner. He was editing the pictures, and I was making the album look cool). But really, 3 hours is not enough time to do a 2-day project. So we missed 7:00 (which, as it turns out, was just a time that Elder Beaton made up and not actually necessary) and finished at about 9:00. That's when the president came in, looked at what we had, and told us that that is not at all what he asked for. What he really wanted was one a lot like my original. So I took the next two hours changing everything around. Then there were more changes. In all, I worked on this project straight for about 13 hours with a 15 minute lunch break. Finally, we finished up and went to the printers. Also, the guy doing the design for Project 2 finished the journal, and so we took that too.

Well, my project was good. They said it was good, they'd clean it up a little bit, edit a couple of the pictures a little better, and print it off. Project 2 was missing pages. So we had to get that sent off.

Project 1 was kind of solved (not really). We found a company (through the bishop of Palmar) in San Salvador who said they could make the shirts in time and get them to us Thursday at 3:00 (the meeting would begin Friday at 7:00). On top of this, we all had a bunch of odds and ends we had to do as well. I had a list of about 12 things to do every day. I didn't even have time to enter records.

When we got back from the printers, we had a sample of Project 4 waiting for us to taste test. Food. Man, it was from a restaurant named Lovers Steak House. It was so good. It is the best restaurant in Santa Ana. Mashed potatoes, ham, turkey, gourmet food. It was so dang good. It took a little bit of the stress off. In all, we were in the office from 5:00 in the morning up until about 7:00 at night. Crazy day.

Tuesday was not as hectic, but still hectic. Still didn't sleep much. We went and visited the referral of Juan Blanco again. Not so positive anymore. We talked with them for a good while, but in the end just had to drop them. I was with Elder Molina. Man he is a good teacher. He is full of convincing stuff. After, we had to go to Lovers Steak House to make the order for the food (it's in my area). Wow, did they treat us like kings in there, but I guess they should have. We were making a huge order.

Got that paid off.

Wednesday was another long day in the office. We had problems with the t-shirts. Then president gave us Project 5. The program would be some games and a talent show. He taught us the games and put us in charge of them, and told us that he wanted us to do a skit as the office. So we decided on a skit—the skit where you act like midgets and one person is the head and feet and the other is the arms. I don't really know how to explain it, but it's a really funny idea. So we worked on that when we came into the house at 9. Also, the president wanted to be one of the midgets. Sweet. So we made the costume, it was a mini missionary, looked really funny. And we practiced. I was the other midget, with Elder Christner as my arms, which looked way funny, because he's got gorilla arms. We just messed around with this until 11:00 figuring out good ideas. That was fun actually. It took off a bunch of stress. Then we went to bed, only to get up early in the morning once again.

It was the last day before the Christmas Activity. We got up at 5 and got into the office at about six, and from there, straight work, people running all over the place. I had my little list (once again, very organized) and am proud to say I got every single thing done, down to having every single record entered in and sent to Salt Lake. And on top of that, I did all the other little things that the president and the assistants were giving me.

At about 8:00, Elder Beaton and Elder Molina went to get Projects 2 and 3. Project 1 never came. We called them, and they told us that they'd bring it by at 10:30 at night to our house.

Then at about 9:00, Elder Christner finished making the costumes and we started practicing the skit with president. Now I'm not gonna lie, that was just pure fun. The president has some good facial expressions. To be honest, it just surprised me that he wanted to do it, because President Lopez would have never done that in all of his life. Man, President Cordón is an awesome guy. I'm so grateful to have him as president.

So we came up with a plan for our skit, and it was pretty good. Then we had to choose music. We didn't have anything. President told us to just tell him what we wanted, and he'd get it. So we got to order songs like the Olympic theme, Eye of the Tiger, Superman, Chariots of Fire, and Carmina Burana. It was just weird listening to that music...especially with president right there. But we got it, and the skit was all planned out. Projects 2 and 3 were done, and looked awesome (if I do say so myself). Project 4 was complete. We had all the food...from the pupusas for breakfast, to the gourmet lunch, down to the apples at the end.

We were up until about 12:30 that night waiting for the t-shirts. The guy came with only one and told us it was a sample. They didn't look at all like our design, but they looked all right. We had to get the t-shirts from the bishop's house at 5 in the morning Friday. Can you say, calling it close?

I went to bed and got up in the morning. The assistants pulled out with the car to go pick up the shirts, and I went with the zone to the meeting in the Sonzacate chapel (it was the biggest and most beautiful). Man, I was tired. Luckily, I had found a bottle of Amp in a store a couple days ago (we had to buy it, I've never seen Amp here. They don't even have Mountain Dew). So we got there, and I got to run around finishing up all of the preparations. I ate my pupusas in about 2 minutes (which were from the Casa de Chele, probably the best pupusa shop in all of El Salvador...also in my area). Then we got to change into our normal clothes and play the games. They were EFY games, and we got to be in charge of them (yay). Good times.

After, we started the talent show. Man, that was so much fun. It's been a while since I've been able to just yell and cheer, since... like... a month before my mission. It was so much fun. There were some sweet talents. Elder Beaton played the bagpipes. We had a good Spanish stand-up comedy that I honestly didn't understand. Someone played Pianoman on the piano...that made me baggy. Singing...etc. It was fun. Our talent was the last one. We finished planning it up just 2 minutes before we began, then set ourselves up on stage. Jajaja (I laugh in Spanish now). It was so sweet. I wish I could send you guys the video. So funny. Man. We got a standing ovation at the end. I got to hit president too. Not many people can say that. But anyway, Project 5 was a huge success.

Then we had lunch. Sooo good. Gourmet ham with pineapple. We got to suck the pineapple (Jaja. It's a joke. If your weren't a missionary from El Salvador, you're not gonna get it.) Jaja (in a jeering voice this time). Turkey, MASHED POTATOS (yeah, probably my favorite food). It was just so dang good. A good Christmas meal.

Next came the spiritual part. We all got to change back into our suits, and started out with some musical numbers and testimonies of those who were leaving this change. Man, so spiritual. Then the missionary choir sang (I was in that!). We did a little program of about 9 different songs with some cool spiritual messages. It was so awesome. People cried. Then Hermana Cordón and President shared their messages. It was beautiful. I just felt so good. It was an awesome activity. I loved it so much.

After, we took our group photos, a couple million photos of me with other missionaries, and passed out all the gifts. President and Hermana Cordón gave a whole bunch of chocolate and ties to everyone. I actually got a good quality tie because of the office. It's slick. Maybe I'll send a picture of it one day.
Finally, it was over. Everything worked out. It was a miracle. We saved Christmas. Well, it doesn't end there.

Today, in the morning, we finally got to marry and baptize Mauricio. Man, that guy's awesome. He's a quiet guy, but awesome. It was a very cool baptismal service, and they were a very happy couple. Man, I am so happy we finally got to baptize him. He wants to go to the temple. I believe he will next December, which means I'll be able to go with him!

After that, we went to the baptism of Melissa, the step-daughter of our taxi driver (we have him for emergencies). His name's Gordo (fat one). Well actually, it's Edwin, but everyone calls him Gordo. Elder Guirola baptized her. That was also an awesome service. Gordo was telling us a couple days earlier how grateful he was that the office came to Santa Ana. We were reactivating his wife, baptizing his step-daughter. I love that guy. He's a total jokester though, and eats a ton. We went to eat Pizza Hut after, and he told them it was my birthday, so I got to get sung to again (yay!).

Well, that's my epistle. It was probably one of the most stressful weeks of my life, but I learned so much. I can honestly say that I am grateful for this opportunity I have to be in the office. I've learned so many priceless lessons.

I hope you guys are all doing well back home. I'll be calling home in a week!

Until then, take care, and Merry Christmas!

Elder Bailey

Monday, December 12, 2011

48: Independencia 15

Before you get antsy, the baptism was for a child [of record]. But it was fun.

Sunday was pure awesome. We got 5 people in sacrament meeting, 3 families, and 4 adult males (priesthood holders). A lot of them are very positive. I'll let you know next week how that's all going.

Okay. So this has been the week of multizones and capacitations [planning]. The president wanted to re-teach everyone how to teach well, so we've had two 7-hour multizones this week. Yeah. Really long. Also, that meant I wasn't able to work in the office at the normal time. So we all got way behind, and today we've been here since about 9 in the morning working for our P-day. Well, it's the office. What can you do?

So Tuesday, our first day, we had the multizone which, although very long, was excellent. After, we finished up some of the projects we were working on and went to the house to drop off some boxes. It was about 6:30 at that time, and the primary president called me and asked me where we were. Well...I just kind of stuttered for a second and then asked porque [why]. "Well, everything is ready. We have the cake, the clothes. We're all waiting." "Uh..." "For the baptism!" Well, apparently this 8-year-old girl of this family we were reactivating was getting baptized that day. We had planned on a week later, but...I guess not.

So we took off running to the chapel, my companion changed, and we had a baptism. It was a cool baptism. They had the whole primary there, so it wasn't very quiet, and we were both sweating from the sprint we took, but it was still very spiritual. Rosemary got baptized. After that, we ate food and the little kids got to break a piñata. They are crazy. Seriously. And not just the kids, but all the leaders. As soon as that candy fell, everyone was on the ground chasing after it, except for me and my companion.

It was really good. Good times.

It's been a way busy week. I have a million projects going on right now.

So, we're going to go get something to eat now.

Take care y'all!

Elder Bailey

Friday, December 2, 2011

47: Independencia 14

Wow. It's been a good week.

Sunday we put a date with Mauricio M. Finally. We've been working with this guy for a long time. The main obstacle has always been his wife (or almost wife). She's a member, loves the Church, but is kind of a homebody, and for some reason has always been putting the marriage off. But not this time. We're already getting it ready. We have the date set for the 16th of December. I'm so happy! It's been a while since we've had a baptism.

Also, we got a reference from Jaime P. He's awesome. The reference's name is Hermana C. She's this single mother who is a go-getter. She is very successful…like, really successful…like, she's deciding right now if she wants to buy 3 cargo ships that bring Toyotas to the States and Central America. She's got bills. We taught her, and she's taking theology classes in the Bible. After getting so much money, she decided she wanted to understand religion. Man, she just ate up the BOM. As we were explaining it to her, we asked her if she had any questions, and she said, yeah. "Can I have one?" "How much does it cost?" It was cool. We had an appointment to go back to her yesterday, but she wasn't there. Also, her daughter goes to school with Sabrina, the daughter of President Cordón. And they know her. So now Hermana Cordón wants to help us teach her too. So sweet.

Tuesday, Elder Christner and I were in charge of mutual. Let's just say it was awesome. We'd been hyping people up about it for the last two weeks, and we got a pretty sweet turnout, a lot of youth. It was so much fun. As people came in we would assign them to one of two teams, Lamanites or Nephites. Lamanites had the black headbands, and Nephites the tan. Obviously, I was in charge of the Lamanites and Elder Christner the Nephites. But it was so much fun. We did a little rally at the beginning to get their blood up, some cheering, then we did some activities, and related them to the BOM. So Elder Christner or I would read a couple verses from the BOM, teach them a principle, then we'd play a game that related to it. It worked out really well.

Wow, those guys are competitive. Freak. They were seriously going crazy. We did a three legged relay race where they had to "take their family," then "go back for the plates" (they had to grab a Book of Mormon and bring it back to the other side). Seriously, they went crazy. They kept accusing each other of pulling tricks, and we had to do like 2 deciding races. At the end, they just had me and Elder Christner do a straight out running race. I lost by a smidgeon. But it was way cool. Then we did the human knot. We won, of course.

Then after that, we had everyone go to the sacrament room, and E. Christner and I shared a message. It was so amazing. It was absolutely silent, and there were like 20 youth there. Very spiritual. We talked about Christmas, the BOM, how it's a gift for us, and how we need to give that gift to others. Then we closed. We brought them a huge box of BOMs and some wrapping paper, and we had them write their testimonies in the BOMs, then wrap them to give away to their friends. It worked really well, and a lot of people started giving us references. We are finally waking up this ward. People are finally starting to get hyped for missionary work.

But it was a really cool activity. E. Christner and I were pretty content and happy.

Busy week in the office. Had to get all the registros in to the area presidency, and design our t-shirts.
Yesterday the president's son, Oscar, was set apart as a missionary. He's going to the MTC right now. He was called to the Taiwan Taipei mission. The president invited us to this meeting. Wow, was it cool. The president and his wife are some very, very amazing people. I loved it.

So yeah, it's been a way good week. We haven't been able to teach a lot of lessons, but hey, we put a baptismal date, and have gotten more references this week than any other. I've learned a lot about missionary work this week.

Hey, but ya tengo que terminar. I've got to finish. But this mission is so awesome! I love it. Elder Christner and I are getting along so well now. It's sweet. We're getting a lot of cool things done here. I was a little bummed for a while because we didn't have any dates or good progressing investigators. But I really did learn a lot from that time, and now we're going to baptize someone this December and complete a family!!!



Elder Bailey

Sunday, November 27, 2011

46: Independencia 13

Hello Family!

Well, this week has been busy.

It started with Friday. After writing you all, I got to go to the temple with my zone. As it just so happened, my ward mission leader, Ivan Retana, was going to the same session to take out his endowment. It was a pretty neat experience. First of all, it was cool because everything was in Spanish and I understood it. But seriously, the temple is just awesome. If you ever need to get answers for your life, the temple is the best place to do it. If you ever need to feel the spirit of the Lord, the temple is the best place to do it. It's just the best place in the world. After having a long break of not going to the temple (about 8 months), I really was able to learn a lot.

I'm not gonna lie, Saturday and Sunday were very hard days. We didn't get anyone in sacrament meeting, a lot of our appointments fell, and we dropped a ton of investigators who really weren't progressing. Then changes week began. Wow. Let's just say that this was the busiest week I have had in the office since I got here.

But really, I was busy. The president gave me a ton of assignments because we had changes, then the following day we had the Thanksgiving multizones. So honestly and truthfully, I have not had much time to do actual missionary work. Except Monday, which was awesome.

Monday is when the news [new elders] come, but because we had already prepared everything for that day, I was able to slip out with a member in the afternoon while Elder Christner stayed and took care of los nuevos. I went with a member named Juan Blanco (or John White in English). He is the president of Sunday School for the stake, and is probably one of the most amazing teachers I have ever met. He lives in Palmar, but went with me this time because we needed a member. We went and taught the grandparents of a member, Daniel. It was a very cool lesson. The wife, Adilia, is totally on board. The husband, Avilio, is a doubter. But man, the way Juan taught, there wasn't really any room left to doubt.

After that, we went to visit Hermana Berta. She's a very, very intelligent woman, maybe a little eccentric (I think she really likes conspiracy theories), but way funny. She is very smart. We talked to her cousin, Mario that day too (he lives in the same house as her). Well, he's just a little crazy. He likes Mormonism, but doesn't believe in sin or that any church is true. But he likes Mormonism. I'm just really not sure how he managed to get baptized. But, whatever, he's started coming to church again, so maybe he'll figure it out. I just thought the lesson was pretty funny because Juan Blanco likes to have control of the lessons (that's what makes him so good), but that's impossible with these two. They both love to talk. Usually, when I go with Elder Christner, we say about 5 sentences, and the rest of the time sit back, listen, and enjoy. It's all good though. Hermana Berta usually comes to the same conclusions that we want to teach her without us saying anything. Anyways, Juan Blanco got a little frustrated because he couldn't say anything. But hey, it's the mission.

After that lesson, I went back to Juan's house where he taught me for an hour. Man, I think he's taught me more about missionary work than anyone else. I've been trying to put his teaching ideas into practice, and my teaching has improved a ton. That guy's gold. Pure hour of inspiration.

The next day was Tuesday. I left the office at about 6:30 because the president was having his interviews with the missionaries going home and I had to be there. I was able to finish the mission newsletter (El Estandarte). Yeah, it's new. I can send a copy of it next week. It was the first newsletter we've had with this President. Then I went on interchanges with Elder Sutton. He was there because he was going to Belize the next morning.

So he went out with me and we contacted houses. Pretty cold. Then we went and taught the familia Viana. The mom of one of the kids, who is a member, started asking us about eternal marriage. She has a boyfriend and wants to understand that. I tried putting in the tactics Juan taught me, and it was a pretty sweet lesson. Then after they gave us food. Good old beans, eggs, and cream. It was delicious and simple, as always.

Wednesday, more interviews, another hectic day in the office. I finished this pamphlet on the BOM that the President wanted. I did it all. I was pretty proud of my accomplishment. I ended up going out with my companion finally, but we were pretty fried. We taught this 8-year-old daughter of a member who wants to get baptized (so she won't count as a convert). The bishop asked us to teach her, so we are. At least it'll reactivate her mom.

Thursday was pure hectic. I started working at 6:30 basically. As soon as I woke up I had to start calling zones for information. Then we got to the office at 7:30 and had to set everything up for the Thanksgiving multizone. The assistants weren't there because they had to drive a wounded missionary to the San Salvador Hospital the night before, and then the car broke down, so they weren't able to come back on time, so I had to sit in the meeting and do all the things the assistants normally do (except for teach), without knowing exactly how the president wanted it (microphones, powerpoint, running around, etc). Well, it all went well as it turns out. Then the next meeting (which was actually my meeting), the assistants showed up, but the president still had me do everything because I already knew how he wanted everything done. Dang it. I didn't get to take notes. Oh well. It was a good experience. Well, then I still had a whole bunch of work to do and Elder Christner had to scan and email all those Thanksgiving notes you guys got, so we were in the office until about 8:30. Got back fried and hammered, but with a full stomach. So it was all good.
Well, now it's Friday again. Wow that week went by fast. It feels like I haven't been in the temple for ages again. Well, I'll wait it out six more months until the next time. Until then, I still have a whole bunch of projects, and Christmas coming up. I've decided I'd be pretty good in the business world. Elder Christner tells me it is a lot like what we're doing now. I like it. It actually is kind of fun. I just wish I was able to work more in the area still, but this upcoming week will be much better. Well, keep up doing whatever good things you're doing, don't forget who you are, and get ready for Christmas.

Love you all,

Elder Bailey

Friday, November 18, 2011

45: Independencia 12

Good news. Today I'm going to the temple! Woot! We've waited forever for this, and now we're going to be able to go after I finish writing.

This has been a hard week. I'm not gonna lie. Saturday afternoon we encountered a man named Mauricio. He's an alcoholic and has a lot of problems. He encountered us on the street and told us that he'd been looking for us because he really wanted to change his life. I'm just going to tell you right now—this is not a happy story, and it doesn't end well. So we went with him. He spoke perfect English because he lived in the states most of his life and preferred speaking in English. He took us to his house, and it was there we began to talk. He started talking about all his problems. It was sad because he wanted to change, but he was a total slave to his addictions.

That was the hardest lesson I've ever taught. It really put Christ and His Atonement to practice. As we explained to him how he could change, you could really see how the atonement really does apply to each one of us, personally. But man, it was a hard lesson. He really wanted to stop drinking. The lesson lasted 4 hours. When we left, we were completely exhausted, totally—physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Mauricio went to bed determined not to drink. He told us he would start shaking, but that he'd do it. Sunday morning we took him to church. He was sober, but shaking the whole time. He lasted through sacrament meeting, but then went home after. Well, he didn't make it. We went back after church, and he had left his house. It was hard. We had done all we could to help him, but he honestly didn't have enough faith and determination to do it. He didn't make it, and after all that we just had to leave him, but I learned an important lesson. Maybe more than one.

First of all, I never really understood how much of a protection the commandments are for us. Our president explained it to us in this way. For some people, the commandments are a fence, something that keeps us from doing what we want. But this is wrong. In reality, commandments are guardrails. Like the guardrails on a speedway, they keep us from rolling off the road, from losing our lives, our families, and everything we love. They keep us happy and in control. The people who want to play around with this and see if they kind drive with one wheel off the freeway can easily get pulled off. It's not worth it. It's really not worth it to see how far to the edge you can go.

So it was a hard weekend. It felt like forever. When Monday finally came around, it felt like a lifetime since I had last been there.

The office was busy this week. I had a ton to do. It was good stuff. We've been finding some new investigators who seem positive. We don't have a date for November, but we have a sweet family set for the first week of December, and a couple of other investigators who we're going to try to set dates with this week.

Well, I've got to take off to the temple now.

Friday, November 11, 2011

44: Independencia 11

Hello family!
So it’s been a good week.

Saturday we did a way sweet activity, me and Elder Christner.  It was called "Men with Brooms."  Basically, we went contacting with brooms, and tried to see how many houses we could sweep that day.  I’m not gonna lie, it is so much fun doing service.

Sunday was great.  We got five investigators to sacrament meeting.  One of our members, Hubo (probably the coolest guy in the world), brought two old grandpas to church.  He says he wants to get them baptized and through the temple before they die.  It’s awesome.  I love that guy.  The two viejitos are way sweet too.  Fidel (the grandpa) always introduces himself as “Fidel, but not Castro.”  He’s so funny.  So we’re going to try to put a baptism date on this Sunday.

Also, William can’t get permission.  He was our red head investigator.  He’s way cool, a good boy, he knows the Church is true and wants to get baptized, but his parents won’t let him.  They’re hard core Catholics.  It’s pretty rough, and since school just finished for him he’s going to go to the states in two weeks, so we’ll never be able to baptize him.  Kind of rough.

Then we have Mauricio.  He’s an investigator we’ve been teaching for a couple months.  He’s wanted to get baptized for a long time now, but his wife keeps putting off the marriage date (his wife’s a member, and they’re not married).  We have it set for the first week of December.  Then we have the family Batres.  It’s this sweet family we’ve found.  We’ve taught them the first lesson, and the Book of Mormon, and they’re progressing pretty well.  They are a way sweet family, we just need to get them to church.

Then we have the family Quintanilla.  This is a way sweet couple.  They’re an older couple, and would be the perfect grandparents for anyone.  They’re always way happy when we get there, the husband is so funny.  The wife always makes us arroz con leche, or something like that when we come.  They’re awesome.  They also had a son who did a student exchange program in Texas, so he speaks perfect English.  Last Saturday we were teaching them, and the son entered in.  We watched two movies about the apostasy, that was way cool.  After, as we were explaining the authority, he began to tell us how he came to the conclusion that no church was right because each one was founded by man.  We explained to him that ours wasn’t, and he was just completely closed off, and kept talking.  He was very well learned with the Bible, and had had a lot of good questions.  The problem was that he came to the wrong conclusions, and is now shut off to the truth.  Man, it was frustrating teaching him.  It made me realize how true the Church really is.  It was a 2 hour lesson.  I really hope God can open his heart, because he is just an awesome person, and I know the gospel would make his life so much better.  By the end of the lesson, his own mom started to side with us and explain that really, we made sense.  But, oh well.  Another missionary experience.

So we put up a tree in the office.  Merry Christmas!

Also, Elder Hosman left this week.  His parents came down to El Salvador to meet his converts for a week (remember, he was the assistant for about 9 months).  He was an awesome missionary, and definitely a big influence and example for me.  I’ve learned tons from him, more than probably any other missionary.  His parents were sweet.  I realized how bad I was at English too.  It was way hard to talk to them in just English.  Usually when I speak English, I still need to use a lot of words in Spanish because I don’t remember the English equivalent.  But with them, I couldn’t.  Man, it was weird.  I have a fear of going home.  I have to change a lot more lives before I go home.  It really made me want to work harder.  So I want to baptize 3 families before the end of the year.  I already have 2 lined up, and need one more.  I’m going to need a lot of faith, so let’s pray for another family!  Yeah!

Well, it’s all good here in El Salvador.  I hope everyone’s good back home.  I’m going to keep looking for that one more family.  I’m already way excited for Christmas, but also kind of scared.  I’ll probably get a little baggy.  Oh well.  Just keep working.

Love ya’ll,

Elder Bailey

Friday, November 4, 2011

43: Independencia 10

Well, it’s been another week.

Last weekend we had stake conference.  We were able to bring an investigator, Roberto, to the priesthood session.  It was very good, but a little embarrassing for me.  The last speaker called me up and asked if I could give the missionary purpose.  I did, and I was very proud of myself for doing it, but as it turns out, I forgot the atonement, and President Cordon corrected me.  Well, I pulled it off to be funny.

Stake conference was way good.  We are finding a lot of new investigators, and some of them are progressing.  We just need to get them to church!  We have one investigator, William, the 17-year-old boy, who knows the Church is true, but his parents are Catholic, so he’s really trying to push to get permission to get baptized.  Yeah, he’s awesome.

We’re looking for families now.  The president has put a huge emphasis on families, so that is my goal.  I especially want to find a family before December, because it means I’ll be able to take them to the temple in a year, and that would be so awesome!

This week has been a good week.  I’ve worked a lot in the office.  The end of the month is when I have to have all the registros submitted, and a gizzilion of other stuff.  So it’s been busy.  Really nice, I enjoyed the pressure.

Hope everything is going well back home, and that everyone is getting ready for CHRISTMAS!

Take care,

Elder Bailey

Friday, October 28, 2011

42: Independencia 9


Well, first off, I'm on youtube!  Ivan Retana (el Líder misional) put up a video of our service project on youtube.  It's called "acto de servicio barrio independencia estaca modelo el salvador".  I'm in it, working hard as always.

Okay.  So it's been good.  This has really been a good week.  We'll start with Friday night.

Friday night we were running around from house to house teaching.  We have these 2 investigators (they're this older couple of about 55 years) who...are so nice.  We're going to see if they're really going to progress this weekend, but they are sweet.  And not sweet as in cool, but sweet as in…sweet.  They are so nice.  Probably some of the most fun people I've met in this country.  After, we went and had dinner with some members and shared a message.  They were all crying.  Man, I wish I could do THAT with every investigator. 

After that, the bishop called me because it was 8:05 and we had an appointment with him at 8.  He's very punctual, probably the only person in this country like that.  But it's good.  So we literally took off booking it through the city to get to his house.  Elder Christner kept losing his shoe.  Well, I got there, and there were all my favorite members there.  And a cake!  It was my first surprise birthday party!  Good times.  They sang to me and all.  Then, as tradition goes, I had to take a bite of the cake, and my companion pushed my face into the cake.  Got frosting all over.  At least the bishop didn't do it, because he would have thrown my whole head into it.  I realized that that's why they didn't use candles after.  If there had been candles, they probably would have scarred my face.

Saturday we woke up and had a good companion study, talking about service, then, as it turns out, the assistants were getting ready to do a service project up in San Jorge, so we went with them.  Wow, how weird was it to return to San Jorge, but at least a bunch of my converts are still active.  It was cool.  We fixed the roof of the house of Jeronimo, my last convert in San Jorge.  One of my converts told me I was getting fat.  Dang it.  During this time, I was coming down from the ladder to move it over, and ran right up into a barbed wire fence.  Yep, punctured right through my pants and...yeah.  It hurt.  Then in the night it kind of looked infected so I had to call the nurse.  Well, Elder Beaton, the assistant, thought it was so funny that he called her.  It was a pretty funny conversation that night.  Then, of course, the next Monday when she came in again was just as funny.  But hey, it's the mish.

So I couldn't really sit down Sunday.  We had the Primary program that day.  Wow, was it hard to sit down.  It was a good day, we got a lot accomplished. 

Monday we went and talked to William, a teenager of 17 years.  Wow, he is so positive.  We've been reading the Book of Mormon with him, and he has been very open.  It's kind of interesting because I was getting a little frustrated that week from not teaching well.  Then I went on interchanges with Elder Maradiaga (secretario de migracion, es de Honduras) yesterday, and we taught some amazing lessons.  He's awesome, Elder Maradiaga, probably one of the most fun people I've known here.  Wow.  I'm really talking in extremes today.

So we had a lesson with William and taught him the gospel of Christ, then when it came to baptism, I just asked the perfect questions.  It was awesome. We put a date with him for the 18th of November.  I am so excited, this guy's awesome.  He absolutely wants to be baptized and knows the Church is true.  His only doubt is that him mom is very active in another church, and he's a little timid about talking to her.  But then we even got him to ask for help with that specifically in his prayer.  He is so sweet.  I'm way excited, praying for him every night.

Also, we basically reactivated a less active family that day too.  We were out with Ivan Retana looking up references, and there was one where the directions were messed up.  We were looking for house #25, but it wasn't on the right street.  So we decided to just go down the street until we got to house #25.  Well, when we finally found it, it wasn't the person we were looking for, but instead an inactive abuelita and her son lived there.  Well, we got talking, and she told us that she wanted to come back to church and stop smoking.  It was so cool.

So really, yesterday was just an awesome day.  Elder Maradiaga is way sweet, I'd have so much fun with him as my companion.  We also taught one of the funniest lessons ever.  It was to this other grandma who was a little crazy, and we were all laughing the whole time...but that's what she needed.  She enjoyed it a lot, and now wants the missionaries to come see her again.  Also, a couple days before that I taught some other good lessons with Elder Christner and Ivan el Gordo.  He's this other member who's way powerful.  We taught a sweet lesson about the Plan of Salvation, then tied it into the Book of Mormon, and prophets, and Joseph Smith.  Way powerful.  After that, we reactivated another family, family Blanco.

Well, so I've just been playing more ping pong this morning.  We've been doing a lot of that.  Thanks for all the support back home, and thanks for the birthday cards.  This has really been a sweet birthday for me.  I absolutely loved it!  Today is Elder Molina's birthday, so we'll probably go do some sweet stuff today as well.  Well, thanks for everything! 


Elder Bailey

Sunday, October 23, 2011

41: Independencia 8

Wow. It has been raining so much here. Seriously. They say this is one of the hardest and longest times it has rained here for a long time. I didn't see the sun for so long. In fact, Sunday we just had sacrament meeting, then they cancelled the other meetings to go gather stuff for the people in need whose houses were flooded.

Yesterday was my birthday (for those of you who don't know). I'm not gonna lie, it was really good. First, we had a multizone conference with the president about the effects of what happened. It was a very, very good conference, the best I have had in the mission. He talked about rules, why they are important, and things like that. It was excellent. The president is so awesome.

Then the Hma. Cordòn's family made me brownies and gave me a huge bag of candy. It was pretty awesome. I ended up working in the office very late (Elder Christner had a lot to do), then we left, taught a little, then went out to eat pupusas and celebrate with some members. It was so much fun.

Pupusas are a big thing here. It doesn't matter what they're celebrating, if the El Salvadoranos have to celebrate something, they go eat pupusas. Well, we went to this restaurant that was supposed to be very good (way expensive...50 or 60 cents per pupusa!). Then they also brought some candles, and we ended up putting them in the pupusas because we didn't have a cake, and really it was just fun. They also had some pretty strange pupusas there: pepperoni, chicken, jalapeño. A little different, but way good. I was with my companion, Ivan Retana (the leader misional, one of the coolest people I've ever met), Ivan el Gordo (he is really fat, but a way cool person), and Kevin Salazar (another member in my ward who's going to start his mission in December). We had a good time.

Then Ivan Retana gave me a sweet mug for my birthday. I can't explain it, I'll just have to show you a picture. I really want to send pictures, but can't because I don't have my camera. I left it in my backpack, and my backpack is in the car, and the car is not here because the assistants ran off with it. Oh, by the way, I just took out my license today. Yeah!

So yeah. But to be honest, we didn't get to work too much this week. Next week we're going to be able to get back in the work, which is nice. To be honest, the office has its perks, but man, last week was just not a good time to be in the office. It was a rough week, and I definitely learned a lot. The work goes forward. Nothing's going to stop that stone cut out from the mountain. It just keeps rolling.

Thanks for all you guys do and your support. I appreciate it.

Elder Bailey

Sunday, October 16, 2011

40: Independencia 7

Wow. This week has been changes week, so it's been hectic. It's been really long, but let's start with Saturday.
Saturday we had a ward service project. We went and cleaned up the street in front of the bishop's. We went and weeded it, dug a trench for the water, and things like that. It was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed just going out and getting my hands dirty, getting some blisters, etc. It was a good service project. I wanted to take pictures, but let's just say I don't trust leaving my camera around on that street. It's kind of iffy. But it looked really good after.
In the afternoon we had a ward missionary activity. We all went to a house and played games, had a spiritual thought, etc. Not many people came, and no one brought investigators but us, but it was really good for our investigators. We brought Julio, who came and did his fire show. It was sweet. He lit some chains on fire...and it was pure awesome. I'd show you some pictures, but I don't have my camera with me right now. Just know it was sweet. Julio is awesome. He really can do just about anything. He paints, hackeysacks, programs computers, plays guitar, tricks with fire, everything. Really, he reminds me of my brother.
Then after that, we went and contacted this girl named Diana and taught her and her mom. They are way positive, especially her. She works with a member, and has now been to some FHEs with that family. We taught her Wednesday too. Way positive. I think we can put a date with her soon. So it was a very good day. It feels like forever ago, but from what I remember, it was awesome.
Sunday was awesome. To be honest, I don't remember what happened.
Then we had changes. So I've been running around doing a lot all week. It's kind of interesting, because Monday we get the news [new elders]. Sweet, innocent, can't speak Spanish, high hopes. Then the next day those who go to Belize. Excited. After them, those who are leaving. They are always the most interesting group. They don't know what to do. They just kind of act like they're losing their identities. Some of them continue being missionaries like nothing is going to happen. Some of them realize they're going home the next day, and don't know what to do. They want to stay in the mission, but at the same time want to go home. It's very interesting. I don't like it. Make's me baggy.
Tuesday we had dinner with the president's family as his "thanks" to the office. It was excellent. We had pastel tres leche for dessert. That is probably one of the best desserts ever. Mom. You have to learn how to make it. It is so good. The president's family is awesome. At first, I was kind of afraid to talk to them and joke around... because they're the president's family. But they are actually really cool. Very chill.
Well, it's been busy. The office is rough. Keep busy. Not too much time in the field. It's kind of frustrating to not be able to help people. That's what I want. I have learned a ton from the president, and I've learned a lot about myself and having this responsibility. Being responsible, working with the president, living with 5 other crazy guys, ping pong on Pdays. It's good. I see it has something that was necessary for me. There were certain things I needed to learn there, and still need to learn. But that still doesn't change the fact that I can't work in the field as much. I just need to work more efficiently. Well, I'll learn.
My new zone is awesome. I have Elder Arbon as my zone leader again (he was my zone leader in Chalchuapa. And I have a lot of friends that I've made in other zones.
Well, go skiing. I saw there was snow. ¡Estoy celoso! [I'm jealous.] AYYYY.
Elder Bailey

Friday, October 7, 2011

39: Independencia 6

Hello United States!

So conference, wow. ¡Que chivo! I liked it a lot. Hope ya'll did as well.

A couple excerpts from my conference notes:

Richard G Scott: "We need to memorize scriptures. It helps a lot."
President Monson: "Yeah! We're gonna have two temples in Provo!"
Dieter F. Uchtdorf: This talk I enjoyed a lot. Probably one of my favorite talks this conference. It was very interesting.
Bednar: "Joseph, go do some family history."
Holland: Go on missions. Also, couples should plan to go on missions now.
Monson: Gifts come from responsibility. So just do it.

It was very cool. Unfortunately, we only had one investigator who went. This area is kind of struggling today. The thing is that we just really don't have time to find. It's hard being in the office, and a little frustrating to not be able to work in the area that much. We don't even have any dates for this month (we do for November, though). But it is a little frustrating. Also, I got sick yesterday. I feel really tired always and have a sore throat. But I did beat Elder Christner in ping pong one time, so it's all good.

So Wednesday was an interesting day. Very rainy. I was very thankful I brought my poncho with me that day. I ended up going with Elder Morgan (another elder who was staying in the house because his companion had appendicitis and was recuperating) because Elder Christner had a headache or something. I don't really remember why. But anyway, I had the poncho, he had the umbrella.

It started raining. Really hard. Like, the hardest I have ever seen it here. We ran to our last appointment, Julio Cesar, the artist who is going to do a show with fire for us tomorrow for our activity. He is so close to getting baptized, he just has to stop working Sundays. He's praying for it. I really hope he will be able to do it, because he understands everything. He is way cool. Reminds me of my brother a lot. Artist, does cool stuff, a little radical with his beliefs about the government, and likes to play with fire. You can probably guess which brother it is.

Anyway, so we got to our house and he started showing us some of his art, and the rain was pounding, I could barely hear a thing. Then, as soon as we started singing (yes, we usually like to sing to start out the lessons. It's pretty cool, invites the spirit a lot) the rain stopped, and we ended up having a very cool, spiritual lesson. It was in that lesson when he finally started considering dropping work Sunday. Finally, as we were finishing up the lesson, it started raining again. Could be just a coincidence, but if it was, God is very good at making coincidences work out well for us. I really hope he'll get baptized. He's way awesome.

So then as we got outside, it really started raining. Then pouring. Whatever part of me that was not covered by the poncho got soaked. Elder Morgan's umbrella basically broke from the weight of the falling water and he gave up. Man, I have never seen so much water coming from the sky ever. It was insane. Then we got to our street and found a river there. Literally, we were hiking up a river. It felt like we weren't getting anywhere. When we finally got to the house, the water was up over the side walk, and practically to our door. There was a huge current there. You could river raft it. It was so fast. So we got in and Elder Morgan changed his clothes. I wasn't as wet because I had the poncho, thank goodness. Then we looked in the garage and saw a whole bunch of water gushing out from the patio on the other side of the wall. (There's kind of a hole there. It was built in, don't worry.) Well, that patio is next to the mattress room where we store all the mattresses for when new people come, etc. We (me and Elder Christner) worked our way through the mattresses and got to the door, only to find that the patio was almost flooding into the mattress room. We looked for the clogged plug, and when we couldn't find it, started draining water out through the hole to the garage (maybe I'll take pictures this week so you can understand it better. But suffice it to say, we were bent over draining water out of the patio to the garage (from the garage, it just drains out to the street) so that the patio wouldn't flood into the mattress room. It was an adventure.

Then Elder Guirola and Huaman got back from Trebol. Let's just say the water wasn't so nice on the car either. It was totally soaked. There were huge pools of water down by our feet, and the electrical system was screwed, so the lights and horn kept going off. Seriously, I have never seen so much rain. It was insane.

Don't worry. We got the car fixed. Everything is okay.

So that's the mission life. It's cool. Take care back home.

Elder Bailey

Saturday, October 1, 2011

38: Independencia 5


It's kind of interesting being able to see all that happens in the mission. I've definitely learned a lot. We had multizones this week. Man, it was a feast. The president taught us some pretty awesome, inspired stuff—WOG, as my companion calls it (word of God). We got some pretty sweet WOG. It's kind of cool—the more I serve, the more I come to understand the power that I have as a missionary.

We had a pretty cool appointment with Julio Cesar. He's one of our investigators, and is an artist. He is pure awesome. He reminds me a lot of Mike--my brother, Mike. He draws, paints, makes gadgets, and lights chains on fire and dances with them. It's so tight. He gave us a little show in his house, and it was awesome. My companion has a video of it, but we can't get it loaded onto the computer. We're going to have him do a performance in a couple weeks, so I'll get pictures, but it's pretty cool. He's been an investigator for a long time because he always has things he has to do on Sunday. It stinks, because he really wants to go to church and follow Christ, but because of his work, it's hard. I hope we can get a date with him soon.

It's going well in the office. I keep busy. To be honest, I've never really done something like this before, so I am learning a lot, especially about leadership. The assistants are awesome. Elder Hosman is probably one of the most gifted people I've seen in the mission. While he's not so inspiring in front of big crowds (sorry, it's true), he is amazing at reading people and inspiring them one on one. He can just tell what people need. He's a way good missionary, I've learned a whole bunch from him. Elder Molina's the other one. Pure stud. Good missionary. Inspiring. But he has gotten a bit of a belly from the mission.

Well, I honestly don't have as much to write this week, but thanks for everything! Hope all is well back home!

Elder Bailey

Sunday, September 25, 2011

37: Independencia 4

Halo from El Salvador.

So this week has passed by very quickly.  It's been pretty sweet.  We have some sweet investigators.  We have one family...the familia Flores.  We set an appointment with them a couple days ago, but were unable to go.  The next day, we saw them on the streets and they were like, Hey, what happened?  When are you guys going to come back?  Wow.  Well.  Okay.   Tomorrow, I guess.

So the next day we went to their house, taught a sweet lesson, and got ready to leave.  It was about 7:30 already, and we had a long way to run to get to the next appointment.  Then it started raining.  Then it started pouring, and because we didn't have our umbrellas (well, I did) and we were getting soaked (the umbrella didn't work so well), we decided to contact a house and ask them if they'd let us in.  So I saw a house, and we took off running for it.  Well, turns out, they were members, and they made us some bean and rice soup, which I normally don't like, but theirs was very excellent.

After that, we took off running again to the appointment, and ended up teaching a very powerful lesson with this investigator named Henry.  He basically was like, "I don't feel the Holy Ghost in my wife's church and want to feel it," and "There are so many different doctrines, how do I know which one is right?"  Well, we have the answer for that.

That was basically like the epitome of [a model investigator for] the mission.  It was sweet.

Also, yesterday I went running for the first time on the mission.  I've always wanted to, it's just that no one ever wants to exercise in the morning, so I've never been able to.  But I got to go with Elder Beaton, the zone leader in Molino who was on intercambios with the assistants.  So we went running in the morning.  Man, I'm out of shape.  I hope he comes to the office or something so that I'll have someone to work out with me.

So that's the life:  working in the office, working in the field, learning a lot from the president—he's sweet.

Also, I'm going to start driving next week.

Thanks for all you guys do!

Elder Bailey

Friday, September 16, 2011

36: Independencia 3

Well, it's been another week, and time is rushing by.  I can't believe it's already been three weeks in the office.  It feels like I just got there.  The office is very cool and very boring.  Boring, because I have to put in tons of baptismal records. And that's boring.  But cool because we do get some perks.  For instance…

Last night the president called us and told us he'd come pick us up at 8 this morning.  So he did. Then he took us to Burger King.  Then he took us to his house.  Then we ate food from Burger King.  Then they had brownies.  So we ate the brownies.  We enjoyed them very much. Very, Very much.  After, we had our own group study with the president.  Sweet!

So we watched an old MTC devotional by Elder Holland.  It was so cool.  Those devotionals were cool in the MTC, but even cooler when you're out in the field.  I felt pretty inspired.  Right now I feel like I should go study and work for my P-day.

We have some very cool, positive investigators, but they haven't really been home this week, so it's been kind of difficult.  But it's cool.  We do need to find more though, because...well...that's just something you should do.

So I've worked hard this week.  I've learned a lot.  Unfortunately, I have not actually written in my journal at all this week, so I don't really remember what happened.  But it was all cool.  Todo tranquilo.

Actually, I'm not going to lie, Sunday was a very, very hard day for us.  This was the day when we were supposed to confirm the 3 kids, and we were very excited for them.  But in the morning Mario called us (their Grandpa) and told us that they were being impossible and wouldn't go.   That was very hard for us, and the first thing we did after church was go to visit them.  They were acting so strange around us.  They knew where they were supposed to be, and felt very guilty, but they're kind of wild children.  That's kind of what happens when your parents aren't there to raise you.  Their parents had left for the states and dropped the kids on the Grandpa.  He really is trying his best to raise them, but they are just difficult.  He tries to teach them good principles, but they don't listen.  I kind of see that as one of the reasons that it is so important to raise kids in a good family unit.  The examples and atmosphere that the parents set makes a huge difference in how the kids act.  Maybe people are born with some traits, but wow, does their home make a big difference.

So when we got there on Sunday, they were acting really weird, and we realized that someone must have said something to them.  Someone was talking bad about us to them, and because of this, they have been acting so awkward this week.  It was hard, not going to lie.  You feel kind of sorry for this family because the grandparents are trying so hard, but their kids are just...lazy.

The good thing about Sunday is that in every lesson we taught, people gave us food.  The bad thing is that I already felt sick to my stomach, so the food didn't really sit too well.  But you know, that's the mission.
Also, we have a way cool investigator named Julio Cesar.  He's an artist, and kind of fits into that stereotype (yeah, I know stereotypes aren't so great, but he really does fit).  But he is very good.  I honestly have not had very many investigators that really think about the questions and answer them and understand and ask more
questions.  It's awesome!  We had a sweet lesson.  He also understands that he needs to get baptized.  We haven't been able to teach him for a long time because he's been painting a mural in San Salvador, but now that he's about to finish, we're going to start working with him more, then baptize him.

Also, there's William, the Eternal Investigator.  He is a lawyer, and all of his family are members.  He knows he wants to get baptized, but just has to clear up a couple of personal issues first.  He's probably one of my favorite investigators that I've had.  We have cool discussions too.  Last time we got into a cool religion/philosophy discussion, and we both learned a lot.  Sweet!

There are others, but I'm going to teach them a little bit more, then I'll tell you how they are.

Hope all's going well out there, because it's all going well back here.

Elder Bailey

Friday, September 9, 2011

35: Independencia 2

So I’m in the office now.
Still haven’t put my companion’s stapler in jello.

So I’m going to tell you guys a bit about the office.  It gets boring sometimes, but it’s really great.  It’s a great opportunity to be close to the president and learn from him.  But let’s go back to the beginning.

The office really likes to play ping pong (because there are tables in the chapels).  So we spend most of our P-days doing that.  The office people are way cool.  First of all, we have Elder Hosman and Elder Molina, the assistants.  They’re in Palmar.  They are some awesome missionaries.  I got to do splits with Elder Molina yesterday and we had a pretty dang sweet lesson.  He’s from Honduras and speaks awesome English…but to be honest, I really try not to speak English.  Then there’s Elder Christner, my companion.  He’s just chill.  He’s 26 and is from Colorado.  He’s got a sweet testimony and likes to work.  It’s good and bad having a gringo companion.  Good’s just cool.  Then there’s Elder Huaman from Peru and Elder Guirola from Guatemala.  Elder Huaman has 10 months in the office and is leaving in about a week, but he is fun.  Elder Guirola is from Guatemala and also speaks perfect English.  To be honest, it’s just fun being in the office.  We’re just all good friends.  A lot of nights we’ll just talk about things and learn.  It’s fun.

So Sunday I got to have a baptism.  We baptized 3 kids...Andrea, Luis, and Maricela.  They are grandkids of an older member (he is 54 years old) who were never baptized.  I got to baptize two of them.  Wow.  They were kind of hellians.  Luis stuck his foot out of the water the first time, so I had to baptize him again.  He was so excited to be baptized again that after, he dunked his head under again and tried to go swimming.  I had to pull him out of the water and lead him to the door.  Oh, also, this ward is awesome and very we had basically 2/3’s of the ward there watching us.  But it was cool.  It was a fun experience.  Also, no one has baptized more than 2 people in one month in this ward for about 2 years, so we just set the record.  Also, we have some way positive investigators.  Yesterday, I found a family of 6 with Elder Molina who are way sweet, and Elder Christner also found a family with Elder Hosman who were way cool.  I’ll give you all an update on them next week.

So there are some perks to being in the office.  This week Elder Amado of the Seventy (he’s got a picture of him on the main page of right now) came to give us some instruction.  We got to have our own special meeting with him—just the office (us 6) and the President and his wife.  Elder Amado basically told us to ask him any question we want, and he’d give us an answer.  It was way sweet, and I learned so much.  He answered all my questions, even the ones I didn’t realize I had.  He also talked to us a lot about the Holy Ghost and its purpose in the mission.  Really, we’re here in the mission to learn how to listen to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.  This way, when we return from our missions, we’ll be able to make wise life decisions, [including] marriage (of course).  But that has always been a question that I’ve had, because a lot of time, you don’t feel the spirit and you have to make decisions.  Sometimes, I feel the spirit and I say something and knock on a door, and nothing happens, while other times I just decide to knock a door or say something, and it works really well.  To be honest, a lot of the time we, as missionaries, don’t really feel guided by the spirit.  So he explained it like this (this was in the multi-zone [conference] the following day):

First of all, if you have that question, you’re not the only one.  Everyone feels that way.  Elder Amado has felt that way, our president feels that way, it’s normal.  Honestly, we’re not always going to be guided by the Holy Ghost.  Part of this is because we need to learn how to do things ourselves and make good decisions.  Sometimes, a lot of times, you’re not going to feel guided by the spirit.  Yes, we did receive the gift of the Holy Ghost with us on our confirmations, but while it is always there, sometimes we’re not going to feel it.  However, while we may not always realize when we are feeling it, we do learn as missionaries when it is not with us.  And this is for sure.  If the spirit is totally absent, you can tell.

But he explained that the spirit is kind of like a traffic light.  Sometimes, it’s green and you feel it and know exactly what you have to do.  Other times it’s red and you know it’s not there.  But the most difficult times to discern are when it’s yellow.  A lot of times, we don’t feel the HG for the decisions that we have to make because we need to learn and grow and make them ourselves.  If we’re keeping the commandments of God, he’s going to honor and support our decisions.  If it is something bad, he’ll let us know, but normally, he just trusts us to make good decisions and learn.

This was very interesting for me because the image of a missionary that people think of is someone who is always purely guided by the spirit for all of his mission, but it’s really not like that.  God is teaching us how to make decisions, how to recognize the spirit when it’s there, and how to make and achieve goals.  Really, if we were always guided, Satan wouldn’t be able to tempt us as much and there would be less opposition.  Basically, just as we had to separate from God for a time to learn and grow, sometimes we feel separated from the spirit so that God can try our faith to see if we really believe and make good decisions.  But if they’re good, he will support us.

So if you’ve ever had this question, or have it right now, chill out.  Everyone does.  God’s taking care of you; he’s letting you go a little so that you can grow.

That was just me rambling a bit about what I learned and some of the thoughts I had from Elder Amado.  He really is a powerful person.  He has a very happy, interesting view on things, and I really did enjoy being able to see things he sees things, even if it was for a moment.

So yeah, that was one of the perks of the office.  Another is that we get to be close to the president.  President Cordon is an amazing man.  He is smart, intelligent (even Elder Amado said that he was one of their most intelligent presidents), and a very humble servant of the Lord.  Very, very humble.  I really learn a lot from his manner of doing things, the way he handles problems, solves things, and the amount of love that he has for everyone.  It’s a very interesting perspective, seeing things from the office, and even though at times it does get boring putting in baptismal records into the system and only having Motab to sing for me, it is worth it and it is pretty cool to work in the office.  However, it would be kind of cool to get a letter or two from people I haven’t heard from for a while, not because I’m baggy, I’m just wondering how everyone’s doing back home.

But to be honest, I really have learned a lot in the mission.  I was just talking about this with Elder Hosman.  To be honest, I’ve gotten a lot stupider in the mission.  I used to know a little bit about everything, but now I’ve basically forgotten everything.  When I speak English, I say some of the stupid phrases, and I barely even remember much of what I was studying before.  But while I am getting a lot stupider with knowledge, I realized that we are all getting a lot wiser.  We solve problems better.  Our knowledge of the scriptures and gospel of Christ is much deeper. Our appreciation has grown.  Our Christlike attributes really have improved.  What I’ve learned here isn’t just knowledge, it’s wisdom.  It’s things that go deeper.  It’s part of our emotions and who we are.  Kind of interesting.

Okay.  Well, I think I’ve pretty much run out of time.  Se acabó.  I’m glad everything’s going well back home.  Keep it up.

Elder Bailey

Friday, September 2, 2011

34: Independencia 1

So here I am. The office.

Monday, after writing, I had to book it down to the office so that I could get trained on my job, but I couldn't find a member to drive me down until 5, and by that time they had to leave. Tuesday he was supposed to train me too, but we also received about 12 new missionaries from the MTC and we had to prepare everything for that, so I only got about 2 hours to get trained on my job, which kind of stinks because I have a lot to do.

Wednesday we got to the office early so I could figure out my job (I had to get a report in to the Area Seventy that day and I wanted to know how), but the power was out. Then, because of the high tech security that we have here, we got locked in the office (that's not sarcasm, there actually is a security system here), until we realized that one of the bishops left his keys for another door in the building. Wow, I really wish I had brought my lock pick set with me on the mission. I'm not going to lie, there have been times where it would have come in handy. Finally, at 3 we got the power on, and I just kind of...winged my report. It all worked out in the end, but whew, I've forgotten how to use technology. The computer just feels so foreign. I've really forgotten a lot, but it's all coming back like butter now.

Speaking of which, they don't have butter here, only margarine. It's terrible. We really need to get some butter.

So the office has been really busy. I've been running around all week, and am working on very little sleep. I wanted to sleep today for P-day, but the president called us back into the office to do some stuff, so that's probably not going to happen.

Aight. So my area. I'm in an awesome ward. It's called Independencia, and it's sweet. It's right next to Palmar, and we occupy the same chapel, so that is sweet. Also, the ward is just sweet. They give us references, they's awesome. Refugio really made me appreciate a good ward. This Sunday we're going to have 3 baptisms. Sweet!

My companion's name is Elder Christner, he's from Colorado. Yep, and he's not Latin. It's way weird not having a Latin companion, but it's pretty sweet. We have a lot of fun together, and we work hard. It's way cool. Also, I really need my license. Right now only one of the 4 people in the office has his license, so if you guys could send that down to me ASAP, that would be pretty sweet.

The president is awesome. I am learning so much from him. He also can play ball. He came and played basketball with us this morning and basically scored the majority of the points (part of it is that he is way tall). So yeah, life's sweet. I'm probably going to be here for about 6 months. I have to re-learn excel, access, and how to drive.

Hope everything's going well back home. Say hi to the dog for me.

Elder Bailey

Monday, August 29, 2011

33: Refugio 12

¡Buenos Días de El Salvador!

This week has been rather interesting.  The work has been slow in Refugio, but interesting.  First, I had to go back to Magdalena for interchanges (I've been there often because of the problems with some companionships.)  It was basically my second area.  It is very cool. I would like to be in an area like that.

So after a planning session on Wednesday, the president called us. Wow.  It was so intense.  Our hearts were pounding.  I figured we were getting chewed out for something.  The president told us that he wanted us to come to the office on Friday at 11:45.  We had no idea why, and I spent the whole next day (in Magdalena again) trying to figure out why.  Let´s just say I had a lot of ideas running through
my mind.

So we got there on Friday and found four other companionships there. They were some of the best missionaries in the mission, so I knew we weren't going to get chewed out.  Then the president came and told us that there was no underlying reason, he just wanted to start to get to know his missionaries.  So his wife came and they drove us to their mission house and gave us lunch. was so good.  Lasagna cooked by Hermana Cordón.  It was so weird to be in a normal house...with furniture, etc.  So we ate lunch with the President and his wife, talked a bunch, and got to know each other.  It was pretty sweet.  Then after they brought us out Klondike bars, Butterfingers, and gummy bears.  Mmm.  It was good.  Then the president taught us a bit, and we left.  A little strange, I thought, but way cool.  I learned a lot from that experience.  Our President is so cool.  But that's not all that happened this week.  Just wait...

Saturday my companion got sick.  And because the members in Refugio are kind of lazy, I wasn't able to leave and preach.  Instead, I just stayed in the house, read the Bible, and talked to my companion.  So okay, nothing actually happened that day.

Then Sunday.  It was good.  We worked.  Then the night came, and we got a call from the zone leaders.  To be honest, I figured I'd probably leave after this change because no one stays in Refugio for a long time because it's really hard.  So the zone leaders told my companion the changes, and he just started laughing.  Ready?  Yep.  I just got called as the secretario de registros [records secretary].
So I'm going to return to Santa Ana and be in the same house I found 3 months ago, but as secretary.  Well.  I don't know what to thin. We'll see how it goes.  I'll get to write you all on Friday again because the P-day for the office is Friday.  So back to Santa Ana, this is going to be interesting.

So I'm leaving Refugio.  It's good, but at the same time I have made a lot of cool friends here.  Also, we never actually baptized the familia Herrera.  They just didn't want to get married.  Ójala [I hope] that one day they'll get baptized and married, because they are such a cool family.

So yeah.  I'll just keep learning.  That's what the mission is for. Learn, and help other people.

Well, that's all for now.  Enjoy life.  It's worth it.

Elder Bailey

Monday, August 22, 2011

32: Refugio 11

Woow.  So this week was so awesome!

Let’s start out...well…with Friday.

Friday we had a meeting with all the missionaries in El Salvador, President Eyring, Elder Christofferson, and various Elders of the Seventy.  And wow, was that amazing.  First of all, I got to see all my friends from my mission, as well as Elder Mendenhall, Gealta, and Parry from the MTC.  They are all doing awesome.  It’s so great so see that.  Then we had a couple talks from the Area Seventy there that were pretty sweet.  They did the questions and answers thing, which was cool.  There was a really cool spirit there, and I learned and realized a lot of things that I can do, change, and improve as a missionary.

Then we waited for President Eyring and Elder Christofferson, but they didn’t show up until about 7:00.  Apparently they came straight to us from the airport, and they didn’t realize how crazy the drivers were in El Salvador.  Elder Eyring cracked a few jokes about that.  That man is so funny.  I feel kind of sorry for the Latins because they needed a translator, and I’m pretty sure it was not the same.  Then another of the Seventy talked, then Elder Christofferson.  He talked about being grateful, then how we as missionaries are really like their companions.  Jesus said in the Bible that The Twelve are supposed to preach the gospel to all the world, and we are helping them fulfill this purpose.  Wow, it was good.  Elder Christofferson is so powerful, and his Spanish is amazing.  All of the Latins were talking about how his vocabulary was better than theirs.

Then President Eyring spoke again, and it was probably one of the most powerful talks I’ve ever heard.  They really are special witnesses of Christ.  They brought a spirit so powerful into that meeting that I have never really felt before.  It was unreal.  He taught us that we have to come to know Christ.  His personal testimony of Christ was so...personal, it was amazing.  He knows Christ so well.  He didn’t talk for a long time, and just gave us a little bit of counsel...but it was so powerful.  It’s changed my perspective on things a lot.  He is so happy, humble, and awesome.  Love that guy.

One bit of counsel that he told us really stuck out to me.  He talked about how he was with President Monson about 3 hours ago, and that Monson sent us his love.  Then he talked about that morning, when Monson walked in with a smile.  "He always walks in with a smile.  President Hinckley was the same.  Even when they had very hard things to do, they still had a smile.  A lot of times people would come in bringing a lot of difficult impress him with how hard things were, but he always keeps his smile and says, ‘things will work out.’”  Then he continued to speak about that.  Really, each of us are going to have difficulties in this life, and a lot of times, it’s going to be very hard.  But we need to remember to be happy, the gospel is a gospel of joy, and that things will work out.

Sunday we had the dedication (Saturday we just worked, actually).  It was so cool.  I was in our stake center and saw it from there.  It was a pretty awesome dedication.  I learned so much.  President Eyring ended up giving a prophecy about this nation; part of it was that El Salvador and the Americas would send missionaries to all parts of the world.  It was so sweet.  They taught us about temples, and the dedicatory prayer was awesome.  Eyring said that he’d given many of these, and every one was different, meant for a certain people, at a certain time.  There were some pretty sweet words spoken in that prayer.  It really was an amazing experience.

The work is going to progress so much more rapidly now that we have a temple.  I’m so excited and just want to get to work.  I really have received a strong testimony of the temple and of our church leaders.  The temple really is the house of the Lord, a place where we can go to get answers, understand, and express gratitude, a place separated from the rest of the world, the closest place to heaven on earth.  Our prophets and apostles really are called of God.  They have the same power as those of olden times.  You can feel that power when they’re around.

Well, that’s all for this week.  I’m so grateful to be here in El Salvador at this time.  There could not be a better time to be here.  That’s for sure.

Love yáll,
Elder Bailey

Monday, August 15, 2011

31: Refugio 10


Wow, time’s flying.  Ya es una semana. [It’s already been a week.]  This weekend is the temple dedication.  Friday we have a big conference with all the missionaries in El Salvador and President Eyring and Elder Christofferson--two pretty important people.  Saturday we have the cultural event in San Salvador, with them and the youth here, then Sunday is the dedication (I will be in the stake center for that).  So it’s going to be a pretty sweet week.

So this week.

Monday, after writing, I went to Santa Ana to try out for the missionary choir to sing for President Eyring, but didn’t make it.  Let’s just say I can’t really read solfege much these days.  After that, we came back to Chalchuapa and had an activity as a zone.  We took a tour ride through Chalchuapa.  Yeah, that was pretty embarrassing, I’ll admit, but it was fun.  And the hermanas liked it.  Here’s a couple pictures of the city and the lagoon in Chalchuapa.  We are doing some sweet work in El Refugio--we’re changing an area that has the reputation of being horrible to awesome.  We’ve baptized almost every week, and keep finding really positive people.

Also, there are some pretty wicked storms going on.  We always find ourselves running through deep water, stuck in windy storms with lightning all around.  Yeah it’s awesome.  A couple days ago there was even a hurricane in Magdalena--knocked over a bunch of trees.  It’s pretty intense.  But at least it’s not hot when it rains.  I don’t like the heat.  Whenever it’s hot, it is so freakin’ hot.  Puya hay calor.

We’re also reactivating a lot of people.  The problem is that here in Refugio, the members are kind of lazy.  The majority only goes to church every other week, and they’re always late.  Yesterday I think we had about 15 people when we started sacrament meeting, then 49 after.  Everyone comes late.  I have no idea how they’re going to make it to the temple dedication.  We’ll see I guess.  We got one inactive, Rafael Sulín, and his daughter who’s not a member of the Church.  We’re going to baptize her.  They’re going to be powerful.

Wow, so the familia Herrera has been a hassle.  There are a lot of things going on.  Finally, Sunday, after months of trying to figure out what the problem was, we were talking to them, and then Irene had to go talk to her daughter, and Oscar told us in broken down English that the biggest problem was the money.  Because she had been married before, and her husband died, they had been getting 50 dollars every month in a pension.  Well, apparently they were planning for December when they were going to get a raise, but I told them I wouldn’t be there in December.  So we’re pushing for the last Saturday of this month.  If not, I don’t really know what we can do for them.

Okay, also, we had a baptism.  It was a miracle.  The last Sunday, the father of Daniel Marroquin, the branch president, told us that he wanted to get baptized this Saturday.  I was kind of surprised.  He has had so many problems with the laws and never really had a desire to be baptized, but I guess the temple changed that.  The temple has done miracles.  So on Saturday, he got to be baptized.  His family showed up about 30 minutes late (which is normal for them, haha).  I gave the first talk, on Jesus Christ, the atonement, and how that relates to baptism.  Then Angel, one of his sons, a return missionary who is way powerful, gave the second talk.  Then he started crying.  Then I looked at his family and they were all crying.  Then I looked at everyone else and they were all about to cry.  Man, I felt like I was going to need to mop the floor.  So then the president baptized his father, and wow, that was cool.  After the baptism they stood in the font and hugged for like a minute.  Latins are very touchy people, but it was actually pretty cool.  The spirit was so strong you could cut through it.  After, we usually sing hymns while we are waiting, but the spirit was so strong I had to wait.  It was like the temple.  I have not felt the spirit that strong in such a long time.  Then we sang, it was really cool, finished, it was sweet.

Really that was the coolest baptism I have ever seen in my life.  The dad is going to be such a powerful member.  After, we went to their house and had like a little testimony meeting thing in which he admitted that he had felt comfortable with his old way of life, but the temple changed things.  When people really understand our message...when they really understand that they can be sealed with their families forever, they really can’t say no.  It’s an awesome thing.  To be sealed forever.  It’s really real.
Well, I’m excited for this weekend.  This dedication is going to be so awesome.  I just feel really sad that the familia Herrera will not be able to be there.  Oh well.

So that’s all for now.