Monday, July 25, 2011

28: Refugio 7

 Hellllloooooo from El Salvador!

So it feels like this week has gone by sooo fast (except for Tuesday).

Monday I got to go play soccer at the stake center with the members. Pretty sweet. I actually made a couple goals, but wow, can I not play. They are so good. It’s total deception. Soccer’s a pretty sweet sport. Well, after that Elder Webb wanted to play basketball, and wow, can they not play. I’ll be honest, I never played basketball before the mission, nor did I really want to either—because I’m horrible, but here...I’m soo good. I destroyed them. Let’s just say they struggle a lot with the whole hand coordination thing (more than me), plus they’re all short.

Well, after that I got to go return with my him a lot. Tuesday the same. Then Wednesday finally came (my Sunday). I got a new companion, Elder Romero. He’s a short Latin from Guatemala. Pretty sweet. He likes to work hard, first of all. That’s just amazing. So since that day we have been working hard, and the time has passed by so quickly. We have so much to do. So many people we could visit. We got 6 people to sacrament meeting, we have our’s just great. Also, he speaks a little bit of English, which always comes in handy when we need to say something to each other during a lesson without the investigators understanding.

We walk a lot. Along one of the roads where we walk there’s a dead dog that just smells horrible. We’ve gotten to see its death cycle from the first day it died, to the second day when it got bloated, to the third day when there were other dogs eating it, to now, when for the most part, it’s just a skeleton. Yeah, pretty sweet.

We’re still working hard with the familia Herrera. They are so powerful, but we just can’t get the woman to accept a marriage date. Sunday we got to have a lesson with them in the house of Marlon (the member). It was good, but really long, because everyone wanted to talk. Yeah, can’t make that mistake again. On Saturday we’re going to have a baptism for Adonaí, and we’re going to marry him to Sandra. I’m pretty excited for that, because Adonaí is pretty sweet. He’s gone to the temple three times and just loves it. So that’s going to be pretty cool.

Oh, I forgot. So before we taught the lesson to the familia Herrera, Marlon´s wife cooked us food. I ate a chili, but forgot to wash my hands after. The thought never really came to me that chili burns other parts of your body, not just your mouth. So I rubbed my nose, and that started stinging and running, and wow it was weird. Then I rubbed my eye. That was a really bad idea. My eye started burning. I seriously couldn’t open it. So I took off to the pila and was washing my eye out for about 10 minutes until I could finally open it, then I returned. It still stung a lot and it was bright red, and I was crying. Hopefully no one really noticed and they just thought that I was having a spiritual experience.

Also, Saturday was our final trip to the temple open house. Wow. Bien chulo. Bonito. The temple is so awesome. The dedication is going to be the 20th of August, and the missionaries get to have a special conference with the leaders of the church a couple days before that. I’m stoked.

So, really we’re just working hard. We have a lot to do, and with a good companion, I can finally make some progress. Hope it’s all good back at home!

Elder Bailey

Monday, July 18, 2011

27: Refugio 6


So this week’s been interesting.  Let’s take a look.

Tuesday we went to Tazumal.  It’s a big ancient ruin in Chalchuapa.  After writing, I went and ate at Pollo Campero with the zone (the big fancy fast food restaurant that’s not really that good), then went to Tazumal.  We walked through the museum, but I really didn’t want to take the time to read all the plaques and stuff, so I just took pictures.  We ended up taking a LOT of pictures, caught some sweet shots.  It was a lot of fun.

After that I went to work, and my companion really didn’t want to.  After our first appointment, he just took off walking back.  Then I saw a member carrying some beans and asked if I could help her.  That’s really the only way I could get my companion to work—if we were around members—at least that day.  The member then told me that her mom was really sick and needed a blessing, so we walked with her for about 15 minutes to her house and I ended up giving a really spiritual lesson.  It was so sweet.  After, we got to give her a blessing too.  It was a cool, humble lesson.  I was grateful for it.

Friday we went to the temple again.  There weren’t many people, but we were able to bring Amner and Rafael.  They are two inactives who were baptized a long time ago about the same time and are cousins.  I’ve already talked a bit about Amner.

Rafael has another interesting story.  He was a really faithful saint.  He’d walk two hours in the madrugada to go to church.  He ended up leaving his studies two years into it to go on a mission, but he wasn’t able to go on his mission, and he lost all his schooling.  He ended up marrying outside of the church, and now just has a little store for his work instead of a good career.  He still has an amazing testimony, but just doesn’t come to church because of his history.  Well, we got him to the temple, and now he’s finally starting to change.  He wants his daughter to be able to be sealed in the temple and wants to come back.  I think he’s finally going to be able to get over his fears and return to church, especially now that his cousin’s coming back too.

The temple’s still amazing.  I like it better and better every time I go.  One more trip this Saturday, and then I’ll be able to see the dedication from the stake center in August.

Now, let’s go to Sunday.  Sunday I got to work with Marlon.  He’s the elders quorum president and is awesome.  The first couple of weeks he was basically inactive and wouldn’t help us at all because he doesn’t like my companion.  But we get along really well together, so he’s started working a lot with me.  We went first to talk to the familia Lopez.  The wife and kids are already members, but the husband, Adonaí, is not.  He’s way sweet.  He’s gone to the temple twice and loves it.  He has a date for the 6th of August.

Then, in the night, we got to have an AMAZING lesson with the familia Herrera.  No joke, this is probably the best lesson I have had on my mission.  We brought them down to the chapel where the president had prepared a lesson.  We had to get them out of their house because her mom has started talking against us.  So there was me, Elder Gonzalez, the president and his wife, and Marlon (and for a little bit, Angel).  The president started off talking about the atonement, Jesus Christ, then about love, charity, then brought it in to marriage.  He talked about how wonderful it was to be married, the blessings, the problems, etc.  Then his wife shared her testimony, and I was like...awww, how precious.  Then Elder Gonzalez talked, then tried to end it without really a commitment or anything.  So I was like, hey, I’ve got to say something.  What I said was basically guided by the spirit, totally.  Then Marlon started adding, and we were able to ask some awfully amazingly inspired questions and really got to the core of them.  It was so amazing.  Oscar said yes.  Irene said she still needed to pray, and Marlon asked if they had prayed as a couple.  They admitted that, no, and we got to talk about that.  We had a really open discussion and made so much progress.  Then at the end, I asked them if we could kneel down and pray together, and that she could offer one prayer, and then after that, he could.  A completely sincere prayer.  It was so cool.  Everyone there wanted the same thing, and there was a lot of faith.  The spirit was so, so strong.  Awesome, awesome lesson.  I have learned to use members.  They are so powerful.  It is always tons better when we have a member with us.  I think they’ll get baptized on the 6th.

After that we went to Marlon’s house to eat.  It was about 8:00 and was getting dark.  And it was raining.  Well, he lives about 15 minutes away, and the rain and wind started going crazy.  My umbrella broke, which is too bad, because it’s awesome.  It was seriously pouring.  We were all soaked.  At times, it got so dark that we couldn’t really see anything and we were basically running up a river.  Marlon’s cool.  We were joking around and laughing the whole time.  It was so sweet.  Then we got to have a good dinner with him, his wife, and his 2-week old baby.  It was definitely an adventure.  I enjoyed it.  When we finally got back to the house, we were soaking wet.  My mission manual was soaked to the core, my umbrella destroyed.  So cool.

Then we got a call from the zone leaders.  My next companion’s name is Elder Romero.  He entered the mission at the same time as me, but has one change more than me because of the MTC.  Elder Webb, a missionary in our zone, says he’s amazing.  Well, I’m really excited.  I hope I can finally get to work and have a companion who actually wants to study.  But I have to say, I’ve grown so much from having Elder Gonzalez as my companion.  You have no idea how much I’ve grown.

Well, that’s all for now.  Hope all is well on the home front.  I guess school’s going to start again.  That’s weird.  I’m basically forgetting everything I learned in school.  I guess that’s just what happens when you get old.

Till next week,
Elder Bailey

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

26: Refugio 5


I’m writing you today because today we are going to go to Tazumal—it’s a ruin.  We’re going as a zone, and they aren’t open on Mondays, so for this we have P-day today!  My companion’s really grumpy because he just wants to sleep and doesn’t want to go to Tazumal.  He wanted his P-day Monday, and was literally banging his fists on the table Sunday when the zone leaders told him this.  Then he basically told them that he wouldn’t work Monday, and didn’t.  We missed a lot of important appointments, so I’ve kind of decided to just not set any important appointments this week.  Luckily, all the members know and are willing to do splits with me while another one stays in the house with Elder Gonzalez while he sleeps.

But I have found a lot of cool people and am excited to start teaching a week.  I had a cool experience with an inactive.  His name is Amner, and we found him through a member, Hmo. Ruano.  So we had an appointment with him at 7:00, and he lives a ways away.  It was raining a lot that day—like rivers.  Literally.  Hmo. Ruano came and picked us up in his truck and we drove down a long, dark dirt road.  When we got there, there was lightning everywhere and Amner didn’t have power.  So we ended up trekking in the dark and rain and lightning for about 5 minutes to get to his house from where we parked the car.  This guy, Amner, is really humble.  He’s had a hard life.  He fought in the war about ten years ago and lost a lot of friends.  He also went to the states for a few years and had a really rough time there too.  His wife and kids aren’t members, and his kid has a sickness.  I’m excited to teach them.  He wanted me to look up a missionary who changed his life, and I figured I’d give it a try.  His name is Adam Gibbons Kimball from Utah.  He was a missionary here about 10 years ago.  So you techno geeks, see if you can find him, then let me know.  I need to reactivate this Amner.

On Friday we had interviews with the new President.  He is so awesome.  He’s from Guatemala, was one of the Area Seventies here, and is so cool.  I’m way excited to work with him.  He gives really good advice, and speaks English when he has to say something important to me.  He’s also really tall.  The tallest Latin I’ve ever met.  He’s seriously like 7 feet, and really skinny.  Also, he served his mission in El Salvador a long time ago.  He is changing everything around and it’s getting a lot better.  He’s having the leaders focus more on goals and encouraging rather than on chewing people out, and wants converts. 

So after that I went on a companion exchange for the rest of the night, and went with Elder Hobbs, from Idaho.  He’s got one more change than me and is a good missionary.  We had a lot of fun and got a lot of good work done together.  We found a way positive investigadora.  She told us she felt far from God and really wanted our message to be true, and told us she wanted to pray with a sincere heart even before we read Moroni 10:4-5.  Too bad she lived in Santa Ana because she was awesome.  I really wish I could find people like that in Refugio.  It would be so sweet.

On Saturday I got to go to the temple again (the president changed the rules again and said we could go one time every week).  So I got to go with the familia Herrera.  They brought about 20 people.  It was so sweet.  They loved it, and after we walked out of the sealing room, Oscar (the husband, almost) told me: "one year, one year."  It was so sweet.  There is definitely a spirit in the temple that is different from anywhere else.  The El Salvador Temple is so sweet.  It is definitely a good looking temple.

Later that night, I got to eat chuco with the familia Herrera.  Chuco is like atol, but acidic.  It’s corn, with a couple pinto beans....really acidic.  It was definitely an experience.  It tastes so weird, and it made me so tired that night.  I slept like a baby.  But chuco is actually pretty big here.  There are restaurants that only sell chuco.  It was actually pretty good for what it was, it’s just that I prefer sweet food.  I’m not big on acidic I guess.  But wow, that family is so cool.  I think they’ll get baptized the first of August, but we have to set a date with them first.

Also there’s the family Lopez.  The mom and two of the kids were already baptized and were inactive, and the dad wants to be baptized.  I asked him what he wanted the most, and he said that he wanted to feel free from his sins.  I took them to the temple too on Saturday.  They had some pretty sweet experiences.  Later that day we taught them too, and sang ¨Families can be Together Forever."  They were just staring into each others’ eyes....aaw cute.  He just needs to find a job where he doesn’t work on Sunday.

Then there’s Eduardo Lobos.  Here’s a picture with him that he took from his phone.  He received the missionaries a year ago and knows that the church is true.  He knows it, but only doesn’t want to get baptized because he’s heartbroken.  Last year, Eduardo had a girlfriend and they had been dating for four years.  He wanted to get sealed to her in the temple.  Then the girl dumped Eduardo, and Eduardo has been heartbroken since.  He knows the church is true, wants to go to the temple, but just doesn’t want to get baptized because it pains him.  So yeah, I’m trying to figure out how to help out Eduardo.

Sunday I went on splits with the stake high priest who was assigned to our branch.  He’s lived in Orem before, so wanted to talk to me about Utah in broken English.  It was cool.  Made me a bit baggy.  We taught a family of women, the familia Albarez.  We brought them the sacrament, but they didn’t have any bread, so we ended up using a cookie that I had in my backpack.  Pretty sweet sacrament.  The mama was sick, so we got to give her a blessing, then the others said that they wanted a blessing as well.  I got to give two of them, in tu form.  It was actually pretty cool, and there was a strong spirit there, it was so strong I probably could have cut through it with a knife.

So the more I learn and understand Spanish, the more meaningful and cool this mission is.  I have a lot more spiritual experiences now that I can understand and explain.  I still have a long way to go, but it’s pretty good.  It’s better than a lot of other gringos who’ve been here for longer than me.  I just finished reading the BOM out loud in Spanish.  That helped a ton.  The BOM is pretty sweet in Spanish.  I would read it every morning for a little bit.  Well, I’m starting over again because, let’s be honest, that book gives you power.  I’m also trying to memorize key scriptures because I really struggle finding scriptures and using them to help investigators because I don’t know them well enough.  That’s something I kind of wished I would have done before.  So really, I’ve already said this before, but I’ll say it again.  If you haven’t yet, get to know the Book of Mormon.  That book can change lives, but you just have to know how to use it.  It’s like any other tool.  A crowbar or lock pick set can be really useful tools, but if you don’t know how to use them, they’re good for nothing.  The same with the BOM.  Learn it.

Yesterday, I got to eat conejo [rabbit].  It’s been one of my goals in the mission.  Turns out that rabbit is really, really good.  It tastes like chicken...but better.  It was so good.  Probably one of the best things I have eaten here.  We got to eat it with Hermana Flores.  Here are some pictures. 

Also, attached is a picture from the Fourth of July.  We played volleyball and ate hot dogs.  Let’s just say the hot dogs here aren’t nearly as good as in the states, and the ketchup tastes way different.  But it was still a lot of fun.  We spoke English, sang “The Star Spangled Banner,” etc.  Good times.  There’s some sweet people in my zone.

Yesterday, I also got to eat arroz con leche with the familia Herrera again.  Mmmm.  So good.  Unbelievable.  Mmm.  Yeah.  It’s good.  So off to Tazumal.  8 days more with my companion.  Sunday will come.  Sunday will come (the talk by Elder Wirthlin).  


Elder Bailey

Monday, July 4, 2011

25: Refugio 4

¡Buenos Días todos!

So I guess it's been an eventful week.  First of all, we got our new president, President Cordon.  To start out, this guy is tall.  I'm pretty sure he is the tallest Latin that I have ever seen.  Secondly, he's awesome.  There is so much love flowing from that guy.  I think pretty much every missionary immediately felt close to they were already friends...within the first 10 minutes of meeting him (except my companion--he was drawing).   He is absolutely awesome, and I'm excited to work with him.  His wife is a lot of fun.  She was a convert and told us her conversion story.  Then she told us how she was able to look up the missionaries who converted her 20 years later and talk with them.  She then talked about how we need to convert, not just baptize, then always be worthy after.  If we're not worthy after, what are our converts going to think?  President Cordon talked to us about love, and that we can love everyone, and about the doctrine of Christ.  It was a really cool lecture.  In all, the meeting was pretty awesome and I'm way excited to work with this president.  Oh, and also, he speaks English—not that I need that anymore.

So Spanish is a lot better.  I understand and communicate, but still need to refine and learn a lot more.  But at least I'm not always out in the dark.  I think it has to do part with the fact that I'm basically in charge of my whole area, my branch, and my companion. I'm learning so much from this experience, even though it is hard. I'm learning a lot of Spanish; I'm learning little by little how to get things going.

Also, I'm learning a lot of patience from my companion.  He's so baggy right now that he doesn't really believe he's a missionary and he doesn't act like one either.  It is so difficult to get him out of the house, and then he just grumps along behind me.  Many times he'll just take off in another direction just to bug me and never really helps me teach.  I'm basically his babysitter and just have to make sure that he doesn't do anything stupid in the next 16 days.  But I'm kind of worried because I'm pretty sure he's planning something.  I've learned a lot a bad words from him too, poor kid.  But now that I've said that, I would like to say how grateful I am for him.  He frustrates me like crazy, but has helped me get closer to God more than ever.  Like it says in Mosiah 23:21-22, it's the trials that make us grow.  To be honest, I feel really sorry for him.  He's going to have a hard time when he gets back to his house and doesn't have a companion there to help him.  I'm trying to help him...but it's really difficult.  Really difficult.

Wednesday we had a baptism.  La Maritsa.  She's the daughter of a member, and her sister is a member too, but she was never baptized. She already had had 3 baptism dates before and had been interviewed and all, but kept disappearing on her baptism date.  We taught her and she still understood and remembered everything and wanted to be baptized, but said that she hadn't yet because she didn't like the other missionaries.  So we set a date with her and got to know her well.  Well, the date finally came, her birthday, and wow, that was stressful.  The baptism was supposed to start at 7, but didn't start until about 8:30 because she was in her house changing for an hour and a half.  We finally got her into the baptismal font, and to be honest, she looked like she was about to run away.  Finally, my companion dunked her, but her feet went up, so he had to dunk her again.  It was pretty suspenseful for me.  But we finally baptized her and she was really happy, and I bought them pupusas the next day in celebration. She really was ready to be baptized but she just needed a lot of push because she's...well...I don't know.  But she's keeping the commandments and even went to the temple on Friday.  So it was good. Here's a picture of her.  She was really nervous, so we couldn't really get her to smile.  We took about 10 of these pictures.  I got bored after about 5, and this was number 7, I believe.

Friday I got to go to the temple open house.  Wow, I miss the temple. The temple here is so amazing.  It is absolutely chulo [cool].  I got to go with the rama [branch] to write down all of the references. There were tons.  Of course, a lot of them weren't so positive, but they all enjoyed the temple.  There was definitely a spirit there way different from any other place.  But I have to say, I do miss the temple.  If you haven't gone to the temple lately, you should go because it really is different from any other place on earth.  The El Salvador Temple is so sweet.  I can't wait to go there and do an actual endowment or something.  Also, I got to eat a chocolate chip cookie after, which is good because I have been craving those things for weeks.  I really am dying for some chocolate chip cookies.  That's something that they really haven't mastered here in El Salvador.

Also, the familia Herrera are finally making up their minds to be married.  I think we're going to get to baptize them the first of August when they have vacation from their work.  They are so awesome, and all their neighborhood loves them.  They're taking a trip to the temple this Saturday and are basically going to fill up a bus with people.  I can't go again because missionaries can only go once, but my companion will go with them (we did divisions on Friday).  I really wish I could go with them, but maybe in one year when they get sealed. They're so great though.  I'm so excited for them.

So it's hard, and there are not as many baptisms as I'd prefer, but it's good.  I'm so excited for the familia Herrera.  Today we're going to have FHE with them and eat Chuco.  I have no idea what that is, but they say it's really good.  I'm a little iffy though because the other definition for chuco here is "dirty."

Also, I found a post office yesterday, so I might actually start replying to letters if I can find time.  But I do like getting letters, so write me if you can...just know that I'm not really good at replying.  I hope all's well in the land of the free.  Happy Fourth of July.  I'm going to go to the stake center in about 30 minutes to celebrate.  I just changed a car tire today.  I am getting so good at that.  People are always getting flats.  It rains a lot here.


Elder Bailey