Monday, May 30, 2011

20: San Jorge 11

Monday we had a family night with Hermana Fernandez. And we ate boleadas. It’s a dish from Hondurus, so my companion was in heaven the whole night. He kept telling me how this is something that would change my life. Turns out boleadas are just tortillas with beans, cheese, eggs, a meat, and avocado. Not really anything that spectacular, and I kind of ate that a lot in the states, but that’s okay. They were still good. We also had Elder Brown and Elder Rabanales over, and it was a lot of fun. Here’s a picture of us with Hermana Fernandez!

Hermana Fernandez, the cook

Starting the service project

Tuesday we did service with the ward. We went up to San Jorge to repair the house of Nohemi (my first convert). Turns out her house was pretty much destroyed to begin with, so our service project ended up taking the whole day. But it was pretty sweet, and I got to build a house (okay, it’s more like a shack, but for San Jorge it’s a mansion). Also, Benny came and helped out too (the investigator). He is so awesome. He has so many good questions. He’s prayed and received an answer, and is so cool. We just have to put a date with him now, but he doesn’t want to commit unless it’s 100 percent. He told us that if he commits, he doesn’t want to just drop the religion after 10 years, he wants it for life. And when he goes back to Mexico and the states, he wants to help his family have it too. I think that’s so awesome and respect it, but I really want to put a date with him before this change is up, cause I think I’ll be leaving.

So hello!

Oh yeah, so that adventure. Turns out we have to leave our house (it’s pretty dumpy), so we were looking for a house to live in—but a really big house, where they could put the assistants and some of the office tambien [also]. So we found the perfect house (referral of Nelson). It’s huge, has six bedrooms, a backyard where they’re going to put a basketball court and a hammock, and hot water in all the bathrooms. Basically it’s the best house in the mission. We found it, knocked the price down 200, and then the president told us that we couldn’t live there. My companion was devastated. I was really surprised. To me it was just a house, but apparently it meant a lot to him. So he was pretty grumpy about living in our house still. But wait. It gets better.

Let’s just say that this week has been an adventure.

The Road to San Jorge

On Friday it rained. Hard. We went on splits and I went with Elder Brown to San Jorge so he could do a baptism interview with a bloke named Tiburcio (88 years old!). I ran with Elder Brown through the rain and through huge puddles of water and we stopped by the house to pick up the baptism forms. Turns out the house has a major leak—basically the whole wall (see pictures). Our floor turned into a swimming pool, and my desk was soaked. My English scriptures, PME (Preach My Gospel), notebooks, etc. were totally soaked! Well, what happens happens, as my dad always says, and I just put my stuff somewhere safe and hooked that fan up to them. Luckily, only the index of my BOM got water damaged, but my notebook I got at the MTC is pretty bad. I’ll keep using it (but if you want to send me some pages sometime that aren’t water damaged, it’s cool), but my PME is destroyed. Have to get a new one of those. Well, I just kind of laughed and got on with it, but when I returned there in the night with my companion, whew. Not happy. So yeah, the house leaks. The good news is we reactivated a family that day and had a baptism for their 8-year-old son.

Saturday the assistants arrived. They’re kind of taking over Palmar, that’s why I think I’m going to go. We had lunch with the Principios de Evangelio [Principles of the Gospel] class and their teacher. It was so good. We brought all our investigators. Good times.

Sunday, we had a baptism for Tiburcio. He’s 88 years old and can’t breathe properly, so he has a big hole in his neck. Basically, he covered his neck instead of his nose when he was baptized. We had a member baptize him (Miguel). It was a scene. First of all, Tiburcio was trying to bend forward instead of backwards, and kept forgetting to cover his hole. Finally Miguel dunked him, but he didn’t cover his hole too well and was coughing for a couple minutes after. I was afraid he was going to die. I really didn’t want to say that one of my converts died from his baptism. So anyways, it was a pretty complicated baptism.

Well, it rained last night, and we actually got to watch the water drain into our house this time. Basically like a huge waterfall all along the wall. Yeah, it’s time to move.

Enjoy the pics. I’m trying to send a lot, but they don’t load very well. I need another system to do this...

Well, it’s all good. El Salvador is great. I’ve really been craving pretzels lately. It’s definitely an adventure.

Elder Bailey

Monday, May 23, 2011

19: San Jorge 10


Okay, so it has been a crazy week and we’ve been teaching lessons like crazy.  But here’s a couple highlights that I’d like to point out.

First, we survived the end of the world.  Apparently it was supposed to be on Saturday at 6:00.  Yeah, well that church guessed wrong, or the Volgons messed up again.

Another highlight is that we found tortillas in the grocery store.  The normal tortillas here in El Salvador are bland, thick, five inch in diameter things, and really don’t taste good (except when they have stuff inside, then they’re called pupusas!).  So we found real tortillas, and wow, are they good!

A few days ago the cook told my companion that he looked kind of angry a lot of the time.  I guess he just has that angry looking face, but he came up with a solution.  Every time we’re walking and he looks angry, I can punch him.  A little ironic, I think, but it’s actually working.  He looks kind of happier.

I also got some speakers.  Elder Delgado left them behind when he left, so I snagged them now.  So I have speakers.  Now all I need is CDs and a player I suppose.

On Saturday we had a marriage for Nelson and Abigail, and after a baptism for Abigail.  They’re a family that we found at the very beginning of the change.  Nelson is already a member, and Abigail was basically ready.  Also, Nelson talks really fast and slurs his words, so I don’t really understand him.  So they got married, and Elder Urbina baptized Abigail.  There are no pictures of me with them because I was running to find soda for after, and apparently they didn’t wait...but there’s Elder Urbina with the family, and also Elder Brown.  The other guy is Benny, the Mexican.  We’re going to baptize him this week.  He’s way positive and has already read to 2 Nephi.  He’s a lot of fun to teach because he’s always got good questions and he speaks English.  He’ll be baptized this week.

But the baptism for Abigail was really good—way spiritual, and a lot of their family was there too and wanted to learn more about the church after.  Yeah.  Awesome.  I gave a speech about baptism at the beginning, but didn’t really know what to say and didn’t know all of the words, so it was kind of like...

"Baptism is a very important step.  After this, you can progress and become more like Christ.  It’s a very good... (everyone in the audience whispers "decision") ...decision.  Good job!"

Yeah, didn’t really work out.  But after I sang a song with Elder Brown and Elder Rabanales (the zone leaders).  We sang “The Spirit of God” and harmonized, it was pretty sweet.  The bishop loved it so much that he had us sing in sacrament meeting on Sunday too (it was ward conference, so the zone leaders came to our ward).  That was cool too, except the last verse Elder Brown decided to sing in English and we were singing in Spanish, and honestly, it sounded kind of messy.  But yeah, it was cool.

Oh, another cool story.  We got a reference this week for this guy who really likes to play the violin and viola.  It was an AWESOME contact because I was able to talk with him for like 15 minutes about classical music.  I felt so cool to have known so much.  I guess it’s a good thing I took that class at BYU.  But he really likes to play (which is rare for a Latin).  I told him I’d see if I could find some cool music. 

So it’s going pretty well here.  My Spanish is improving.  I’m getting better at teaching clearly.  I still can’t teach amazingly yet and persuasively, but it’ll come.  Till then, it’s all good.  Better and better every day.  I’m getting better at cooking, especially now that I have real tortillas.  Still haven’t tried conejo.  But I’ve been keeping busy, definitely learning a lot.  Goodbye.

Enjoy spring,

Elder Bailey

Monday, May 16, 2011

18: San Jorge 9

Hola, hola de El Salvador.
So it's been an eventful week.
On Wednesday the President came and gave us interviews.  I think this was the final time we'll have interviews with him before he leaves and the new president, President Cordon, comes in.  So it was the final interview and I wanted to be the perfect example of a clean cut, perfect missionary.  Also, I didn't want to get michetied for anything (michetti is like getting chewed out).  I put on my best tie, shaved, and did my hair.  Not in that order.  But unfortunately I cut myself shaving that morning on my neck, and because we don't actually have a mirror bigger than 4 inches in our house, I didn't know.  (I know, we don't have a mirror.  It's difficult.  Probably the most difficult part of the mission so far.  Kinda miss my old phone.)  So my neck bled on my collar.  And nobody told me until I got to the stake center.  By the time I got there, I had a nice little mancha (spot) of blood on my collar.  I spent 5 minutes scrubbing it, and eventually I just had a big gray spot.  Then, as we were waiting outside on the benches, a bird poo-ed on my shoulder.  So, great.
We had a lesson from the president, and after interviews.  I think President Lopez is really baggy.
Oh, yeah.  You don't know what baggy is.  Baggy is a missionary term.  It's when a missionary really wants to go home.  It's "baggy" because he has his bags packed.  So whenever someone gets homesick or something like that, it's called baggy.  In Spanish too.  We all call it baggy.  There are some English words like that that all the missionaries use.  The other's snake.  A snake is a person who flirts with the missionaries.  There are a lot of snakes here.  Everyone wants to steal my deep blue eyes and my hot brown/blonde hair.
Anyway, President Lopez is baggy.  He's been here for three years and wants to go.  I had an interview with him.  It was pretty short.  He told me my Spanish was muy bien.  Chivo.  He didn't say anything about the stains on my shirt. Thank goodness.
So we're having success.  We have 3 weddings planned for this month so that our investigators can be baptized.  Also, we picked up a really cool investigator.  He came to church on Sunday with another investigator (Abigail) who's going to be baptized and married to Nelson (a former inactive member) this week.  His name is Benny.  He's Mexicano.  I think the reason I like him so much is that he can speak English (he grew up in the states) and has been to Utah, LA, LV, and Seattle--the four places that I got to explore with my hermanos before my mission.  So we got to talk a lot, and I actually understood all that was going on.  It was so cool.  We taught them from the LDM (Book of Mormon), and asked him if he had any questions about life, and said that the Book of Mormon could answer any question he had.  So he started sending them at us:  questions about problems in his family, why good people die, the afterlife, (Abigail asked about baptisms for the dead), God (he studied scientology in LA for a few months and was really confused from that), and we answered them all (mostly my companion though, cause I kind of struggle with finding scriptures in Spanish still, but I still did my share).  It was way cool.  At the end we gave him a LDM, and wow, he was excited.  He's only here for a month, he likes to travel, and he still has more questions, but he's going to get baptized.  He's way sweet.  At the end he told me that if I ever wanted to go live in Mexico, he has a couple empty houses alla (there), and that I'm free to live there.  Haha.  Sweet.
And if that's not cool enough, Nelson wants to cook me rabbit.  Everyone here says it is RICO (amazing).  Yeah, that's right, Joseph, I'm going to eat some fresh rabbit.  Mmmm...I really hope it tastes good.
So, I need to learn how to cook.  Everyone here can cook...and I can only cook Mexican food and cookies.  And since we don't have an oven or Mexican tortillas, that doesn't really help.  So how do you cook really good eggs with just a few cheap ingredients.  Help me out chefs.  What do I need to buy?  What's some rico ways to cook eggs?
I'm going to learn how to cook pupusas eventually—pUpusas—it's not papusas.  My companion always makes fun of gringos because when they first get to El Salvador, a lot of them call pupusas papusas.  I never did, but my companion still likes to make fun of me for it.  So next time you go get El Salvadorean food, it's not called papusa.
Some of the food's not that good here.  On Saturday I went to Primavera with Elder Brown, and his cook cooked us ham, fried in a lot of grease, and rice.  It wasn't that good, but Elder Brown said it was the best meal she cooked.  So I'm really lucky to have Hermana Fernandez as my cook.  She's basically the best in El Salvador.  Here food is so good.  She made us lasagna this week.  It was SO good.  Some of the best lasagna I've had.  Once I'm done writing, we're going to Biggest.  It's a wannabe American fast food restaurant.  Their burgers are disgusting, but everyone here thinks it's what we eat in the states.  Nope.  It's not.  But it's funny, because here, the nice restaurants are like Wendy's, Burger King, and Pizza Hut.  Weird.
So back to Primavera.  I went with Elder Brown, then the stake president called him and told him that he wanted to visit some members with a missionary.  So I got to go on splits with the stake president—the big man.  I was a little intimidated (a little not scared, but obviously, not really scared), but it turned out okay.  He was impressed with me.  ¡Yeah!
Also, on Wednesday, we had a visit from "the Tiger."  He gave me a lesson on intonation, and said that Spanish is the language of love and emotion, and when I talk and read the scriptures, I need to do it with emotion.  Pretty awesome.
Well, that was this week.  The mission's going well, I pick up on more and more Spanish every week.  ¡Adios!
Elder Bailey

Monday, May 9, 2011

17: San Jorge 8


So it's been a productive week.  Hopefully I´m going to have 8 baptisms this month.  It's going good.  My backpack is always filled with mangos and avocados, and the work's going great.

My companion's way great.  He's smart and has a lot of tricks up his sleeve that get people to commit.  It's awesome, I've learned tons from him.

This week, I also got to go on intercambios [exchanges] with Elder Feliz, a negro from Dominican Republic.  It throws me off every time he speaks Spanish.  It just doesn't seem right.  But he's got good energy, and we got so much done together!  Pretty sweet.

On Sunday there was a football game.  Wow, it's a big deal here.  Pretty much the whole city of Santa Ana was in our area wearing red.  We had to squeeze through a lot of people to get back, so I ended up calling my mommy a little late.  Happy Mother's Day, mom!

Pretty short today, but it's all going good!  The work of the Lord is pretty awesome!

Until next week,

Elder Bailey

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

16: San Jorge 7

Hey there!
This week has been eventful.  First of all, I got my new companion, Elder Urbina.  At first, I was a little scared because a bunch of people said he was a "wicked …".  Yeah, he likes to joke around, and his face does look kind of intimidating, but he is a dang good missionary.  I learn so much from him even though he doesn't really speak English.  Also, Elder Delgado left to Peru and we got a new zone leader, Elder Rabanales.  He's a Guatemalan who grew up in Sandy and Guatemala (right now his family lives in Alpine).  He speaks both perfect English and Spanish.  Pretty sweet.
So Elder Urbina is also the district leader.  Thursday was our first district meeting.  Halfway through, Elder GarcĂ­a and Elder Ortega were pulled out by the zone leaders.  I was a little concerned that maybe they'd done something bad, and when they came back in they were looking a little flustered.  But no, they didn't do anything wrong.  Don't worry.  Turns out the president made some emergency transfers and sent them to San Salvador for the next couple changes to help with the move.
That meant we had an extra area in our district, and our zone leaders kindly put us in charge of Palmar.  So we have two areas now, Palmar and San Jorge, and I still don't speak Spanish well.  Yep.  It's pretty stressful, but I've got to admit, I like having an area with an actual ward.  But yeah, it's still difficult.
Saturday morning the shower blew up.  As you might already know, we were one of the only houses in the mission with hot water, but not anymore.  Saturday morning I went to shower and turned on the power and noticed something out of the corner of my eye, a flash of light above the shower.  I noticed that all the wiring was pretty screwed up and not covered, but to be honest, I was really tired, so I figured it was a figment of my imagination and got in the water.  About three minutes later my shower kind of, it pretty much exploded.  I heard a whole bunch of crackling and loud noises, and saw a whole bunch of ashes falling all around me.  I looked up at the shower head and saw about a 6 inch flame above me.  I jumped out, killed the power, and brushed the ashes off my body.  The flame dwindled, the ashes stopped falling, and now we don't have hot water.
We also had a baptism on Saturday for investigators of Palmar that I don't know and an investigator from Primavera (Elder Brown's zone) who I have actually taught a bunch because I was always doing interchanges [exchanges] with Elder Gonzalez.
Also on Saturday, I got to change a tire for Walfre, "the Tiger."  He's a member who occasionally brings floutas or donuts to all the missionaries in our mission.  He's awesome.  But Saturday he was driving through Santa Ana when his tire went flat.  He had a 3-year-old sleeping in the car, and couldn't really leave him.  So he said a prayer, and three seconds later we turned the corner.  Wow.  I'm really glad my dad taught me how to change a tire, because my companion was kind of struggling.  It felt pretty awesome, and then the Tiger brought us donuts this morning—more blessings.
Sunday we went with a member through Palmar to learn it.  Also, my companion had a baptism in his old area (not that far away), so we went.  After, we went to eat at a member's house.  We had sopa de pata.  It looked really weird, and I didn't know what pata was.  My companion asked me if I wanted to know what I was eating.  I told him no, not until a good hour after.  The soup had a good flavor, but I've got to admit, I don't like pata very much (cow hoof).  The meat was just really flubbery and stringy, and you can't really chew it.  I'd try to chew it in my mouth, swallow a little bit, and it'd still be connected, so I'd have a string of cow hoof muscle going from my stomach to my mouth.  Yeah.  Not my favorite delicacy here.
Well, it's been an interesting week.  We've found a lot of new families, but none of them came to church, which was kind of disappointing.  It's all going well in Central America.  I'm doing well and love the work.  Hope all's going well back in the land of America. (It's funny.  Everyone here wears America clothes and say that they are part of America.  But I'm from America, and this is not America.  But they all claim to be Americans.  I think they're mistaken.  America and Central America are very different.)  I'd love to get more letters.  I just got my first three on Monday.  Way exciting.  Hope I can pick up Spanish soon, but until then, I'll just keep working as hard as I can!  The Church is true!
Elder Bailey