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

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