Monday, March 28, 2011

11: San Jorge 2

¡Bueno Bueno!

Entonces este semana ha sido muy ocupado. Primero yo no entiendo mi compañero porque my compañero habla muy rapído.  Supongo que yo necisito esperar.  Pero, realmente estoy aprendieno la idioma muy rapído.  [I have been very busy this week.  First, I can't understand my companion because he speaks too fast.  I guess I just need to wait.  But really I am learning the language very quickly.] At church, and with most people, if I concentrate I can understand them well.  I just need to memorize more words I suppose.  There are times when I can follow along almost perfectly, and others when I am totally lost.

So this week has kind of been the week of intercambios [exchanges] for me.  On Tuesday we taught Noé and Jessica.  They've been progressing for a while, and they finally committed to baptism on Sunday.  Wednesday was intercambios [exchange] day, and after our district meeting we had an hour before lunch...not enough time to go up to San Jorge and back, so we split up with Elder Stone and Elder García and taught in their area.  I went with Elder García, and it was really cool, because I understood what was going on...and he didn´t even speak English.  We also contacted some people, and it was sweet because I actually contacted them.  I´ve had pretty good success contacting these first two weeks.  Then we had lunch at the house of Hermana Fernandez, a member.  She is such a good cook.  I swear, she makes the best food ever.  I had stuffed peppers, chicken, potatoes, stuff I don´t actually know what it was, and all kinds of rice.  It is so good.

Then we had our actual intercambios [exchanges], and I went to San Jorge with Elder Stone.  He follows the system really well, so I learned from that. 

On Thursday the district leaders had a meeting with the president, so I got put on exchanges again.  This time I went with Elder Koller (the compañero de Elder Vasquez, the other district leader in our zone from Costa Rica).  Elder Koller is from one of those small, obscure Mormon towns in Utah and has been here for about 6 months.  He just got transferred to his area, so he had no idea where anyone lived, so we went contacting.  His area is way rich.  They even have doorbells, which is way weird.  I'm used to just knocking on a gate (if there is one) and saying "Buenos Días" or something.  So it was a lot different.  We found a mujer [woman] named Abigail, we taught her the first lesson, and she seemed very positive.  Then we went back to the bus station to pick up our companions, except not me.  Elder Delgado (zone leader) had to interview Noé y Jessica for baptism, and so I went with Elder Brown (other zone leader) to his area...Clear Springs.  The springs aren´t clean there.  There's a nasty off white stream that runs through the street.  It´s not clean. 

Elder Brown has so much energy.  I went contacting with him.  I've probably learned more from him in that half a day than from anyone else.  He's good and he's a lot of fun.  I also had atol at some member's house, which is a hot drink made from corn and cinnamon, and you dip bread in it.  It was good, but they don´t actually use purified water, so I just had to say a prayer, cross my fingers, and eat it.  That seems to happen a lot here.  Then, I slept over at Elder Brown's.  He lives in a new house that's basically paradise.  It is so sweet.  And they also have three turtles in their garden...which is awesome.  They swim around in the where you wash clothes (no sé [I don't know] what it's called).

So I learned a lot.  And the next day I went on intercambios [exchanges] with Elder García again because of...well, I don't remember why, but there was a good reason.  Elder García kept trying to say play in English...but he couldn't say kept coming out as plain.  At first I told him that we don't say that as missionaries...only after our missions, but after a while, I realized that no one could actually understand him, not even me, and I speak English, so I gave up.  He is way funny.  We get along really well, and we always ask each other words in the other's language...then that person acts it out (because we can't explain it in the other person's language), and it's a joke. 

Saturday, I had another intercambio [exchange] with Elder Medina so Elder Gonzalez could interview his investigator family for baptism.  Elder Medina's been here for 12 months and is cool.  Again, I kind of took over contacting.  I talked to some guy named Christian, who was walking his road bike and we talked for a while.  He was a triathlete.  It was cool because we talked about that for a while, then talked about the gospel, and I hooked Elder Medina up with a new investigator.

Sunday we had the marriage and baptism of Noé y Jessica.  They were pretty cool investigators.  Elder Stone baptized them (he was in San Jorge before me).  He kept dunking them too fast and had to keep repeating.  Funny.

The pictures are of the marriage and baptism.  It´s got me, Elder Gonzalez, Noé y Jessica, Elder Stone, and Neddie in them.  Good times.  I didn´t have pictures of my first baptism...but oh well.

Ok.  Well I´ve got to go now, but it's all going great.

Elder Bailey

Monday, March 21, 2011

10: San Jorge 1

Just want you to know that I made it here safely.  This had definitely been an interesting week and a very long day.  Leaving the MTC was a hassle because I dormed with Elders Parry and Mendenhall who are amazing missionaries.  I wrote a bunch of last letters that day too, but then realized that I had thrown away all their addresses.  So if you didn't get a letter back from me, yeah, sorry.  Then I said my goodbyes to Utah and went on my way.

I got on the airplane from Texas to El Salvador and realized that MTC Spanish and real people Spanish is really different.  I didn't really understand much.  Then we landed in El Salvador.  A lot of people told me that El Salvador is some burning hot, humid country, but I didn't get that impression.  Yeah it's humid, but it's not that bad...honestly, I thought Nauvoo was ten times worse.  But apparently the rainy season is starting soon, so we'll see.

We got off the plane and talked to some of the people in line and gave them a pamphlet and a number.  It was interesting to actually be doing real missionary work with real people.  Pretty cool.  Then I met the president, APs, and like 30 other missionaries who I don't remember.  We had pupusas at the president's house, drove by the temple, and slept at the mission office.  It was me and Elder Gealta and a bunch of Latinos from the Guatemala MTC who came in at the same time.  Elder Parry went to the east mission, and Elder Mendenhall...well he was supposed to come in 3 hours later, but he never showed up.  We don't really know what happened to him.  We figured he probably boarded the wrong plane and was stuck in Honduras or something...  

Anyway, I made friends with all the Latin missionaries even though we couldn't understand each other, but it was still pretty sweet. 

The next day we went to a stake center in El Salvador for the training session.  On the way there I contacted someone on the bus and got his number.  I couldn't understand one thing he said, but apparently he liked what I said, 'cause he gave me his number.  We got trained, and I got put with my entrenador, Elder Gonzalez.  He's from Guatemala and actually speaks pretty good English, so we can communicate.  He mumbles a lot, so most the time I can't understand him, but he is really good.  Already, I have learned a ton from him. 

We took a coaster (a small bus) to our city.  My area is called San Jorge.  It's just outside of Santa Ana.  It is way poor.  The people there probably earn 6 bucks a day... if any.  San Jorge is one big street with a whole bunch of dirt roads going off of it.  Pretty much everyone there lives in tiny huts made out of wood with tin roofs and a dirt floor.  I'm serious.  It's soo poor.  It's just a bunch of huts off the side of the road.  And because it's so poor, we live in Santa Ana and have to take a bus or a pickup there every day.  It's pretty pricey, it's either a quarter or 35 cents for a ride.  But it's not the most comfortable ride.  They pack as many people as they can in the bus (or pickup...basically a pickup truck with bars that we can hold onto).  Generally, missionaries aren't supposed to take pickups, but because San Jorge is so obscure, we have special permission.

We do a lot of walking too.  Our investigators are all over the place, and some of them are out in the middle of nowhere so we have to bushwhack through the coffee trees and fields to get to their "house."  There are tons of dogs (skinny dogs...I can count the ribs on almost all of them) and chickens.  A lot of times we just have to kick them out of the way. 

Our apartment is pretty dumpy.  We have to chase down the cockroaches every once in a while, and there's tons of those little red bugs.  Also, we have to wash our own clothes.  But it works.  Honestly, it's better than I expected. 

I love pupusas.  We eat them almost every day.  Apparently all the new gringo missionaries get sick the first week because they have to adjust to the food (Montezuma's revenge or something), but it hasn't hit me yet.  Maybe it'll hit me this week.  But I'm crossing my fingers. 

Our area has a lot of potential.  There are a lot of people who go to some evangelical church, which is annoying, but there are a lot of people ready for the truth.  Their biggest problem is that since this is a relatively new area, there aren't many members, and they have to take a bus to Santa Ana for church.  It's hard to get people to come to church.  One of the recent converts, Nevi, is basically an Amulek.  He always puts down his stuff and helps us out whenever he sees us.  He's a stud, and has an awesome testimony.  It's frustrating that a lot of people just don't keep commitments.  We're going to need to figure out how to fix it, but right now there's not a ton that I can do.  Mainly 'cause I don't speak Spanish yet.  Well...okay.  I can actually understand most people pretty well, and communicate so-so, but not in San Jorge.  There, almost all the people mumble 'cause they don't have teeth or they don't talk much or some lame excuse like that, but it makes it very hard for me to follow them.  I never really know what's going on.  I just follow my companions, and if they ask me a question I usually say, "sí" or "exacto" or "bueno" or something like that.  But every day I understand and can say more.  I'm catching on pretty quickly. 

The missionaries in my zone are all awesome.  I live with Elder Gonzalez, my padre (I'm his hijo—that's what they call your entrenador), Elder Stone, from Florida, and Elder Garcia, who's a chubby Latino from somewhere in central America who doesn't speak any English, but we get along really well.  Our zone leaders are Elder Brown from Utah and Elder Delgado from somewhere.  They are both so awesome.  Studs.  SO much energy.  I want to be like Elder Brown. 

So, also, I had my first two baptisms this Sunday.  It was pretty interesting because I couldn't actually communicate with them in the font.  Their names were Nehomí and Sulema.  Madre y hija. It was a pretty interesting baptism.

Anyway, I'm here safely and I'm doing good.  I'm confused a lot, but good.  More next week.  Hope everyone at home is doing well.  I'm alive, the spiders aren't very big here, and the people are way nice.  A mission's pretty sweet.  I can't wait till I can actually speak the language.

Elder Bailey

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

9: Hello from El Salvador

Hi. I made it. I'm alive. I'm doing well. Goodbye for now.

Monday, March 7, 2011

MTC Week 8

!Hola!  So it is going great!  I finally get to leave.  I got my travel plans last Tuesday.  I leave the Salt Lake airport next Monday at 8:25, get to Dallas, Texas at 12:05, leave at 3:25, and land in the El Salvador San Salvador Aeropuerto at 5:45.  My companion and I are in the same group--just us--and they put me in charge, which stinks because I have to read a whole bunch of extra instructions...but hopefully nothing will go wrong.  I am so stoked!!!

The MTC has been a great experience and I have loved it.  Granted, it gets long some days, but the weeks go by fast.  I have learned so much here, and changed so much.  I feel like I have been prepared for this mission and for El Salvador so well.

I'm going to miss all the friends I've made here...because they're all awesome.  Especially as zone leader, I've gotten to know them all so personally, and they are all amazing people.  But then again, I'm a lot more excited to go than sad about leaving.  Who wouldn't be...while the MTC is great, it also feels...confined.  I remember I left campus a few days ago to go get some drugs (I've been kind of sick for the last couple weeks... hope these drugs work--I don't want to start out in El Salvador sick).  But leaving the MTC and walking down to the BYU Health Center was probably the most exciting thing that's happened.  We saw real people, everyone honked at us, it was sunny...yeah.  It was awesome.  Unfortunately it only lasted about 20 minutes, and when we got back it got cloudy, the sun disappeared, and we realized that we were surrounded by fences everywhere.  But it's alright because I'm leaving in a week.

My Spanish is good.  I am still trying to grasp subjuntivo, but other than that, it's easy.  I'm pretty sure that I'm not going to understand one thing they say once I get to El Salvador.  Our teacher, Hermana Nilsen, said that she cried the first week she was in Chile, but I don't think that's going to happen.  I'll probably be frustrated, but I'll catch on.  As long as I know Spanish by July when the temple open house is…

So my companion and I have become really good friends.  I mean yes, we get in arguments about dragons every once in a while, and yes, he's kind of a packrat and has collected so much junk in these past 8 weeks, but I'm going to miss him.

So here's a cool story.  One of the cafeteria workers name is Jacob.  He's from Guatemala and served his mission in the El Salvador San Salvador West/Belize Mission.  He was a zone leader when he was there, and was an awesome missionary.  We talk with him every meal he's here, and he tells us stories, stuff about the mission.  He was in a gang in Guatemala before his mission, and he was running one day, got shot at, and when he got home and saw bullet shots in his backpack, he realized he needed to change his life.  So he went on a mission.  He's absolutely awesome.

Thanks for your packages and letters!  I realize I'm probably not going to get anything once I get to El Salvador, so thanks!  Tomorrow Elder Jordan leaves to Espana.  He's such a funny guy.  I'll miss him.  Being a zone leader has been such a good experience.  I love my zone.  I hope I'll see them all after the mission. 
I'd like to give a shout out to my mom.  I remember all those years of school when I'd get home from swimming and she'd make me do my homework, no matter how tired I was.  She'd help me understand it though, and she taught me how to study.  I am so grateful for that now, because I've been able to have awesome study skills here.  I've been able to get down and study and not get distracted.  Thanks to my mom, I can concentrate and stay on task better than anyone else.  I've learned so much from that.  I would not be able to work as hard and stay as focused as I have if it weren't for that.  So thanks, mom!

Well, that's about it.  Next time I write you, I'll be in El Salvador, probably sleeping on a cot with the cockroaches, scorpions, and giant spiders.  But I'm stoked.  I am so stoked to be able to go out and bring this gospel to the people there.  I am so excited to help make their lives better and bring them the happiness that this gospel brings that I have been able to experience in my own life. 

Thanks for your support everyone!  I'm so grateful for my family, friends, and pets.  They're a real support.  The MTC has been great.  I love it, the experiences it brings, and all the people in it.  It really is the greatest prison on earth.  Well, I'm gonna go preach the true evangelio now.

Hasta luego!

Elder Bailey

So a little more.  Cause I have time.  Thanks for the packages, letters, and support.  I am so excited to leave.  I feel like I am ready, and I will be an extraordinary missionary!

I pretty much can relate to everyone in my zone.  I have something in common with all of them.  One of them is Elder Cevering.  I like him a lot because he's a total nerd.  So we have great conversations that remind me of our dinner's great.

Last Wednesday was ice cream day.  I had the last peanut butter cup ice cream I'm probably going to have in two years.

Well, that's all I've got now!  See y'all in a couple years.