Monday, June 27, 2011

24: Refugio 3

Hello from El Salvador!

So this week we got to say goodbye to President Lopez and his family.  We had a huge multi-zone meeting with a bunch of the zones close to us.  Each zone got to sing a song for the president and his family, and we sang...I don’t remember, but it wasn’t very good.  Let’s just say that my zone tried.  But the meeting was really awesome.  First, the president talked to us about how to have success.  That was a cool lesson.  After him, Hermana Lopez told the story of how they met.  So funny.  Basically, they never really dated.  Instead, the president just said, “Listen, I don’t really think dating is worth it if we’re not going to get married.  So if you want, we can plan on getting married on (this date), but if not, it’s not worth it."  So basically, it’s just like a baptismal commitment.  It was a great talk because the whole time the president was back behind her shaking his head and smiling.  Then the president gave us his final speech, and boy, was it spiritual.  I think everyone in the room was pretty struck by the spirit.  Yeah, pretty sweet.  So after, they told us that this once they were going to change the rules and that we could all give the president and Hermana Lopez a hug.  It was cool.  A lot of people cried.  I’ve decided that the mission definitely makes people a lot more emotional.  I would never have cried before my mission.  But now... yeah, it’s weird.

Well, tomorrow we are going to have a new president, President Cordon.  On Friday, we get to have a conference with him.  I’m kind of excited.

So my area is way difficult.  I came into the mission thinking I would baptize 100 people.  But now I’m realizing that there’s a lot more to it than just baptizing.  I could just baptize, and there are people that do that—but I don’t want to do that.  I want to convert.  The whole point of the mission is to bring people a happiness that I know they need and to help them learn and receive the ordinances necessary to achieve exaltation.  And that is really hard, especially here in Refugio where there is a lot of apostasy. 

This morning I was reading in Mormon 5 that the Lamanites would have so much suffering because of their iniquity, and that there really would be a lot of iniquity.  I testify of that.  There are a lot of problems here in El Salvador, and especially in Refugio.  So it’s hard.  The branch is sleeping.  None of the members really like to work.  It’s difficult.  And I’m not really getting results, but I am learning a lot, especially since my companion doesn’t do anything. 

I’m learning how to run everything, and I get to keep trying out new ideas to see if they can change things.  While nothing has really worked yet, I’m going to keep trying.  So it’s kind of good and bad.  I like being in charge and running things, but at the same time I’m not really getting any results.  Well, I am learning a lot.  The work of the Lord is not easy.  The diablo [devil] is working hard against us, but we’ve got a better team.

So it’s going in El Salvador.  I should have my first baptismal date on Wednesday.  I’ll tell you how that goes.  Hope all is going well back home!

Elder Bailey

Monday, June 20, 2011

23: Refugio 2

¡Hola Buenas!

So first to answer questions.  I live in Refugio in a yellow house just above the park.  Basically we have a open space in the middle, with a bunch of rooms surrounding.  Here are a couple pictures.  We still don't have running water.  Yes, we still have a cook and a laundress (in this case it's the same person).  Her name is Angelita.  She talks really fast and her food is okay—an adventure.  On Saturday she cooked us chicken hearts and lungs.  I'm not gonna lie.  I'm not a fan.  It tastes like...I don't know.  It just has a texture that's either really...textury...or it's really hard and rubbery.  I ate about three, then gave the rest to my companion.

Also, on Tuesday we went down to visit some recent converts who are very, very powerful, family Ruano.  The husband was already a member before, and the last pair of elders baptised his wife and two kids (there are three girls, the third is 6).  They had references for us, so we taught them, and after ate tamales and jalea.  Jalea is mango juice with sugar, boiled, and wow, it is good.  The tamale was so good, and it had chicken in it that I really enjoyed.  About half way through the tamale, I pulled out a piece of meat that was really weird looking.  It was a yellow piece of meat with three skinny bones sticking out.  Then it dawned on me that it was a foot.  I was pretty surprised and just stared at it for about 10 minutes.  Then Hermano Ruano said to his wife, "Hey, Elder Bailey found a chicken foot in his tamale."  "Pues que suerte!"  ("What good luck!").  Yeah.  It wasn't actually that was just...a chicken's foot, a lot better than the lungs.

Also this week we had a multi-zone conference in Santa Ana.  It was pretty cool.  I learned a lot.  Pretty sure the president almost cried.  He only has a couple days more, and then he's gone.  I've only had two very short interviews with him.  Since I got Elder Gonzalez as a companion, I keep in close contact with the president and his wife.  Let's just say that Elder Gonzalez has a good heart when we're actually teaching, it just takes a lot of prodding to get there.  And I mean prodding.  Yesterday I spent 40 minutes at his bedside telling him to get up and work. 

It is pretty cool because I am so patient with him.  It's pretty sweet how much I've learned to control myself and keep the spirit.  But I received a lot of revelation this morning when I realised that the reason I've been getting all the hard companions was so that I could learn patience, improve my Christlike attributes, and learn to always be obedient.  I was reminded of the talk that President Uchtdorf gave, where he said that we have a mighty work to do and cannot come down.  And that is what I've learned.  I have a work to do, I have my standard to keep, and I cannot come down to please and get along with other people.  That doesn't work.  I need to stay up with the standard and be an example.  It's more difficult, but better for us in the long run.  As a missionary, I need to be exactly obedient to the rules.  This is key.  People can still baptise when they're disobedient, but they're going to have more problems in the long run.  I just hope that I can help my companion in some way, because he really is a good guy.

I'm also learning a lot about the work and how to do it.  I pretty much do everything.  I plan, make all the decisions, and keep my companion going.  I'm not going to lie, right now I'm not getting a lot of results, but I'm learning how to accomplish and achieve these results better and better every day.  Right now we only have one date.  Her name is Marista.  The family Herrera have kind of been put at a standstill.  They don't want to get married.  They understand baptism and everything, and want that, but don't want marriage.  The reason?  Her first husband died, and as long as she's not married, she gets money every month for that.  Also, I believe they aren't really sure if they want to be together with each other...married.  We're going to try a couple other things out, but really, I don't know.  I really hope we can find a solution, and we pray for them every day, but we'll see.

Meanwhile, the work in Refugio is slow.  We're doing a lot of contacting, but not really finding people who are way positive, and when we do, they're always really busy with work.  The majority of our branch is lazy or inactive, so that makes it hard to find people.  But I'm learning, coming up with new plans, improving the way I work.  Hopefully, I'll be able to begin to get results.  So the mission is hard.  But at the same time, I've grown and improved so much that it's worth it.  I've learned so many lessons.  I only hope that soon I will be able to find, and know how to teach well, and actually help these people find the happiness that this gospel offers.  It's also an adventure.  A lot of weird things happen to me.  But that's not the point is it?  The point is to bring people unto Christ.  And if we remember that, we have reason to press forward.

I'm going to go now.

Elder Bailey

Monday, June 13, 2011

22: Refugio 1

Hello Y'all

So wow, this has been an eventful week.  I have a lot to say.  Ready?  Ok.

So Monday and Tuesday I was basically helping move the offices.  There were a whole bunch of greenies who came fresh from the MTC, and I had to go to the stake center to help load their stuff up in the coasters.  I got to talk with the mission president and his wife for a bit.  It was interesting.  More about that to come.

Also, Tuesday night we had a whole bunch of old missionaries return from Belize, and they slept in the casa grande with me.  So I got to stay up and talk to them a bit.  Belize sounds pretty cool.  They get to ride bicycles because their areas were so big, and they had to learn about 5 different languages.  One of them, Elder Jackson, got put on an island.  Tuesday we went on interchanges and I took Elder Jackson up to San Jorge with me (the Belizians had nothing to do, so we took them to our areas).  The thing is that Elder Jackson was in San Jorge before and baptized one of the most powerful converts there, Miguel.  I have pictures of him with me and Elder Jackson, but I forgot my camera.  Sorry.  So I got to say goodbye to all the people of San Jorge.

So Wednesday morning we had changes and I got to meet my new companion.  He's a chubby guanaco from San Salvador and has probably the biggest reputation in the mission for being chambón (lazy).  I feel comfortable saying this about him because I've been with him for almost a week, and every single person has told me that, even the mission president.  When I told Hermana Lopez that Elder Gonzalez would be my mission companion on Tuesday, she had a quick little "Oh, I'm sorry" microexpression and then started singing "mas paciencia" [more patience].  Then she started telling me that I would need to just pull him out of the house.  Then the president chipped in and told me that basically Elder Gonzalez is a follower.  I would have to lead everything if I wanted something to get done.  So Saturday I met this bloke.  Turns out I learned a lot of patience from my last two companions (they were rough, let me tell you), because we actually get along.  Also, it's a good thing that I played the Wii before my mission, because he really, really likes to talk about that.

He took me around and showed me the area of Refugio after I dropped my stuff off at the house.  Turns out, the area's suffering a bit.  In the last month they had only had 9 new investigators.  This area needs a major branch makeover.  I also got to meet Jose Flores.  He's the 1st counselor in the rama [branch], is an RM, and is really good to work with.  The only problem is that he's really busy, so we don't have much time to work with him (but I have 5 references from him, which is awesome).  The president is good, but to be honest he's just kind of boring—a really good person, just needs a little spunk.  I need to wake the guy up.  He looks like he's sleeping half the time.

So basically, I'm in charge.  Not only is my companion a follower, but he's baggy, because this is his final change.  Really baggy.  In fact, he told me straight up that I'm basically the senior companion because "¡ya me voy!" [he's already gone].  To be honest, I really like it.  I'm trying things out, and I'm starting to see results.  I found about 14 new investigators in three days.  More than they'd found in the whole month.  I'm going to keep trying, and hope I can get baptisms.

They do have one family that's positive.  Familia Herrera.  On Thursday we went to set a date with them (because the husband was a little iffy about marriage even though they'd been together for 15 years).   So we talked about baptism, and I basically got the husband to commit, but the wife was still a little iffy.  She just needed to be prodded a little more, but then my companion stepped in and said that we were just going to make it a goal, and that they could step down at any time when they didn't feel ready.  Then he said that about 4 more times.  GRRR.  There went the date.  But it's okay.  We're having family night with them, so I'm going to try to set the date right.

Sunday we had church.  Obviously.  At first, there were only 15 people there, but then more showed up after the sacrament, and our attendance rose to 49.  That's about normal for Refugio, but the thing is that there are about 350 members hidden throughout our area who are inactive.  I need to find them and reactivate them--especially the priesthood holders (there are not many).  So I'm working on a plan for that, a plan to find and teach more, a plan to deal with my companion, a plan to reach all the goals, and much more.  Yeah, it's actually a lot of fun.  It's like a big spiritual game that's going to result in the saving or loss of souls.  So awesome.  I just keep working and doing service:  I've helped put up fences, cleaned up trees, cleaned cars, etc.  Who knows if these people will actually get baptized, but por los menos [at least] we're planting some freakin' awesome seeds.

It rains every night.  I get soaked a lot.  We don't actually have running water in our house...just two barrels of water for everything and some bottles of drinking water.  I have to carry a bucket of water over to the toilet every time I want to flush it, and bathe outside by the barrels.  It's so awesome.  I love El Salvador.  I love my mission.  I feel like's it's finally picking up.  People are great.  The church is true.  Study your scriptures.  Learn about Christ, and then try to be like Christ.  Apply the principles to your life.  Do service.  Resolve conflicts.  Pray every day.  Go to church.  Do everything you can that will bring you closer to Christ, because that's where true happiness lies.  Remember that you have to lose yourself to find yourself.  Well, I'm losing myself.  I can't even speak my own language anymore.  Endure to the end, and if you do these things, "Tendréis la vida eterna" [you'll have eternal life].

Elder Bailey

Monday, June 6, 2011

21: San Jorge 12

So it's been a pretty busy week.  First of all, we've been living in the casa grande with the assistants.  I've been talking with them a lot lately and have learned a lot.  First of all, I've learned that being an assistant really isn't that great.  Yeah, they get an extra 100 dollars and a microwave, but that's about it.  A lot of missionaries don't like them because they have a microwave, and they get chewed out by the president for every little detail.  So that's not a very good spot to be in.  Also, I was able to talk with them and we realized that probably one of the biggest problems in the mission is pride, and [also] laziness.
Oh, that reminds me.  I'm moving on Wednesday.  I'm going to El Refugio, Chalchuapa.  My companion is going to be another Elder Gonzalez, but this Elder Gonzalez is basically the opposite of my first Elder Gonzalez (there are a lot of Elder Gonzalez's). Also, this will be his last cambio [change], so I'm going to kill him (that's what it's called).  So yeah.  I'm pretty stoked for that.  We'll see what happens, because I'm kind of known as a flechon (someone who follows the rules strictly).  It's going to be sweet.
Also, I got about five fechas [dates] this week, some of them by myself (actually, I was on interchanges and had Elder Medina with me, but he fell asleep during the yeah, I set to fechas bautismales [baptismal dates] by myself).  We still haven't put a date with Benny, but he knows that he's going to get baptized.  We've been having some awesome lessons with him.  Also, he's probably going to return to the states in 2 years, so he's going to give me a call.  But yeah, I've set like 5 dates, and they're all going to be after I leave.  Que chafa [too bad].  I don't know if I can count those as a baptism or not.
The mission has been pretty hectic with all these changes going on.  The new president is going to come at the end of this month.  It's going to be pretty sweet.
On Sunday, we had stake conference and I saw a bunch of gringos coming.  I talked with them a bit because they didn't speak Spanish and I realized one of them was in my BYU Book of Mormon class.  Yeah, that was pretty weird.  Stake Conference was way cool, and I sang a song with Elder Brown and Elder Rabanales.  We harmonized.  It sounded so awesome.  It rocked.
We also had a baptism for Jeronimo, a bloke from San Jorge.  It was pretty cool, but I forgot my camera, so I don't have pictures.  Sorry.  Well, it's been good writing, but I don't really have much time today and I have to go.  So hope all is good, and goodbye!
Elder Bailey