Monday, August 29, 2011

33: Refugio 12

¡Buenos Días de El Salvador!

This week has been rather interesting.  The work has been slow in Refugio, but interesting.  First, I had to go back to Magdalena for interchanges (I've been there often because of the problems with some companionships.)  It was basically my second area.  It is very cool. I would like to be in an area like that.

So after a planning session on Wednesday, the president called us. Wow.  It was so intense.  Our hearts were pounding.  I figured we were getting chewed out for something.  The president told us that he wanted us to come to the office on Friday at 11:45.  We had no idea why, and I spent the whole next day (in Magdalena again) trying to figure out why.  Let´s just say I had a lot of ideas running through
my mind.

So we got there on Friday and found four other companionships there. They were some of the best missionaries in the mission, so I knew we weren't going to get chewed out.  Then the president came and told us that there was no underlying reason, he just wanted to start to get to know his missionaries.  So his wife came and they drove us to their mission house and gave us lunch. was so good.  Lasagna cooked by Hermana Cordón.  It was so weird to be in a normal house...with furniture, etc.  So we ate lunch with the President and his wife, talked a bunch, and got to know each other.  It was pretty sweet.  Then after they brought us out Klondike bars, Butterfingers, and gummy bears.  Mmm.  It was good.  Then the president taught us a bit, and we left.  A little strange, I thought, but way cool.  I learned a lot from that experience.  Our President is so cool.  But that's not all that happened this week.  Just wait...

Saturday my companion got sick.  And because the members in Refugio are kind of lazy, I wasn't able to leave and preach.  Instead, I just stayed in the house, read the Bible, and talked to my companion.  So okay, nothing actually happened that day.

Then Sunday.  It was good.  We worked.  Then the night came, and we got a call from the zone leaders.  To be honest, I figured I'd probably leave after this change because no one stays in Refugio for a long time because it's really hard.  So the zone leaders told my companion the changes, and he just started laughing.  Ready?  Yep.  I just got called as the secretario de registros [records secretary].
So I'm going to return to Santa Ana and be in the same house I found 3 months ago, but as secretary.  Well.  I don't know what to thin. We'll see how it goes.  I'll get to write you all on Friday again because the P-day for the office is Friday.  So back to Santa Ana, this is going to be interesting.

So I'm leaving Refugio.  It's good, but at the same time I have made a lot of cool friends here.  Also, we never actually baptized the familia Herrera.  They just didn't want to get married.  Ójala [I hope] that one day they'll get baptized and married, because they are such a cool family.

So yeah.  I'll just keep learning.  That's what the mission is for. Learn, and help other people.

Well, that's all for now.  Enjoy life.  It's worth it.

Elder Bailey

Monday, August 22, 2011

32: Refugio 11

Woow.  So this week was so awesome!

Let’s start out...well…with Friday.

Friday we had a meeting with all the missionaries in El Salvador, President Eyring, Elder Christofferson, and various Elders of the Seventy.  And wow, was that amazing.  First of all, I got to see all my friends from my mission, as well as Elder Mendenhall, Gealta, and Parry from the MTC.  They are all doing awesome.  It’s so great so see that.  Then we had a couple talks from the Area Seventy there that were pretty sweet.  They did the questions and answers thing, which was cool.  There was a really cool spirit there, and I learned and realized a lot of things that I can do, change, and improve as a missionary.

Then we waited for President Eyring and Elder Christofferson, but they didn’t show up until about 7:00.  Apparently they came straight to us from the airport, and they didn’t realize how crazy the drivers were in El Salvador.  Elder Eyring cracked a few jokes about that.  That man is so funny.  I feel kind of sorry for the Latins because they needed a translator, and I’m pretty sure it was not the same.  Then another of the Seventy talked, then Elder Christofferson.  He talked about being grateful, then how we as missionaries are really like their companions.  Jesus said in the Bible that The Twelve are supposed to preach the gospel to all the world, and we are helping them fulfill this purpose.  Wow, it was good.  Elder Christofferson is so powerful, and his Spanish is amazing.  All of the Latins were talking about how his vocabulary was better than theirs.

Then President Eyring spoke again, and it was probably one of the most powerful talks I’ve ever heard.  They really are special witnesses of Christ.  They brought a spirit so powerful into that meeting that I have never really felt before.  It was unreal.  He taught us that we have to come to know Christ.  His personal testimony of Christ was so...personal, it was amazing.  He knows Christ so well.  He didn’t talk for a long time, and just gave us a little bit of counsel...but it was so powerful.  It’s changed my perspective on things a lot.  He is so happy, humble, and awesome.  Love that guy.

One bit of counsel that he told us really stuck out to me.  He talked about how he was with President Monson about 3 hours ago, and that Monson sent us his love.  Then he talked about that morning, when Monson walked in with a smile.  "He always walks in with a smile.  President Hinckley was the same.  Even when they had very hard things to do, they still had a smile.  A lot of times people would come in bringing a lot of difficult impress him with how hard things were, but he always keeps his smile and says, ‘things will work out.’”  Then he continued to speak about that.  Really, each of us are going to have difficulties in this life, and a lot of times, it’s going to be very hard.  But we need to remember to be happy, the gospel is a gospel of joy, and that things will work out.

Sunday we had the dedication (Saturday we just worked, actually).  It was so cool.  I was in our stake center and saw it from there.  It was a pretty awesome dedication.  I learned so much.  President Eyring ended up giving a prophecy about this nation; part of it was that El Salvador and the Americas would send missionaries to all parts of the world.  It was so sweet.  They taught us about temples, and the dedicatory prayer was awesome.  Eyring said that he’d given many of these, and every one was different, meant for a certain people, at a certain time.  There were some pretty sweet words spoken in that prayer.  It really was an amazing experience.

The work is going to progress so much more rapidly now that we have a temple.  I’m so excited and just want to get to work.  I really have received a strong testimony of the temple and of our church leaders.  The temple really is the house of the Lord, a place where we can go to get answers, understand, and express gratitude, a place separated from the rest of the world, the closest place to heaven on earth.  Our prophets and apostles really are called of God.  They have the same power as those of olden times.  You can feel that power when they’re around.

Well, that’s all for this week.  I’m so grateful to be here in El Salvador at this time.  There could not be a better time to be here.  That’s for sure.

Love yáll,
Elder Bailey

Monday, August 15, 2011

31: Refugio 10


Wow, time’s flying.  Ya es una semana. [It’s already been a week.]  This weekend is the temple dedication.  Friday we have a big conference with all the missionaries in El Salvador and President Eyring and Elder Christofferson--two pretty important people.  Saturday we have the cultural event in San Salvador, with them and the youth here, then Sunday is the dedication (I will be in the stake center for that).  So it’s going to be a pretty sweet week.

So this week.

Monday, after writing, I went to Santa Ana to try out for the missionary choir to sing for President Eyring, but didn’t make it.  Let’s just say I can’t really read solfege much these days.  After that, we came back to Chalchuapa and had an activity as a zone.  We took a tour ride through Chalchuapa.  Yeah, that was pretty embarrassing, I’ll admit, but it was fun.  And the hermanas liked it.  Here’s a couple pictures of the city and the lagoon in Chalchuapa.  We are doing some sweet work in El Refugio--we’re changing an area that has the reputation of being horrible to awesome.  We’ve baptized almost every week, and keep finding really positive people.

Also, there are some pretty wicked storms going on.  We always find ourselves running through deep water, stuck in windy storms with lightning all around.  Yeah it’s awesome.  A couple days ago there was even a hurricane in Magdalena--knocked over a bunch of trees.  It’s pretty intense.  But at least it’s not hot when it rains.  I don’t like the heat.  Whenever it’s hot, it is so freakin’ hot.  Puya hay calor.

We’re also reactivating a lot of people.  The problem is that here in Refugio, the members are kind of lazy.  The majority only goes to church every other week, and they’re always late.  Yesterday I think we had about 15 people when we started sacrament meeting, then 49 after.  Everyone comes late.  I have no idea how they’re going to make it to the temple dedication.  We’ll see I guess.  We got one inactive, Rafael Sulín, and his daughter who’s not a member of the Church.  We’re going to baptize her.  They’re going to be powerful.

Wow, so the familia Herrera has been a hassle.  There are a lot of things going on.  Finally, Sunday, after months of trying to figure out what the problem was, we were talking to them, and then Irene had to go talk to her daughter, and Oscar told us in broken down English that the biggest problem was the money.  Because she had been married before, and her husband died, they had been getting 50 dollars every month in a pension.  Well, apparently they were planning for December when they were going to get a raise, but I told them I wouldn’t be there in December.  So we’re pushing for the last Saturday of this month.  If not, I don’t really know what we can do for them.

Okay, also, we had a baptism.  It was a miracle.  The last Sunday, the father of Daniel Marroquin, the branch president, told us that he wanted to get baptized this Saturday.  I was kind of surprised.  He has had so many problems with the laws and never really had a desire to be baptized, but I guess the temple changed that.  The temple has done miracles.  So on Saturday, he got to be baptized.  His family showed up about 30 minutes late (which is normal for them, haha).  I gave the first talk, on Jesus Christ, the atonement, and how that relates to baptism.  Then Angel, one of his sons, a return missionary who is way powerful, gave the second talk.  Then he started crying.  Then I looked at his family and they were all crying.  Then I looked at everyone else and they were all about to cry.  Man, I felt like I was going to need to mop the floor.  So then the president baptized his father, and wow, that was cool.  After the baptism they stood in the font and hugged for like a minute.  Latins are very touchy people, but it was actually pretty cool.  The spirit was so strong you could cut through it.  After, we usually sing hymns while we are waiting, but the spirit was so strong I had to wait.  It was like the temple.  I have not felt the spirit that strong in such a long time.  Then we sang, it was really cool, finished, it was sweet.

Really that was the coolest baptism I have ever seen in my life.  The dad is going to be such a powerful member.  After, we went to their house and had like a little testimony meeting thing in which he admitted that he had felt comfortable with his old way of life, but the temple changed things.  When people really understand our message...when they really understand that they can be sealed with their families forever, they really can’t say no.  It’s an awesome thing.  To be sealed forever.  It’s really real.
Well, I’m excited for this weekend.  This dedication is going to be so awesome.  I just feel really sad that the familia Herrera will not be able to be there.  Oh well.

So that’s all for now.

Monday, August 8, 2011

30: Refugio 9

It took a lot less time than I thought to get the package. I got it on Wednesday. The beef jerky was so good. My companion and I ate it after our baptism this week to celebrate.

Oh, I forgot. Remember that picture of the huge butterfly. Well, supposedly when one of those is in your house, it means someone in your family is going to die...weird superstitions. Be careful these next couple weeks.

So this week has gone by so fast. We have been working so hard, it's awesome. We're also getting results. I think we've baptized every single week since I got my companion. And we're going to baptize again this week. Yeah, that's right. Again. I'll tell you the story. Just wait.

So, first of all, Monday. That was a stressful P-day. After writing, we went to pull money out of the ATMs, and we hitched a ride from a member because it was raining a lot. Well, I'm always the most careful about money, and I keep it in a little bag inside my pants so that I don't get robbed. So I pulled my wallet out in the car so that I wouldn't have to do it on the street, then got distracted and left my wallet in the car. Do you know how stressful it is to be in El Salvador and know that your wallet is in the car of an El Salvadoreano. Well, that member is actually really awesome. His name is Adonaí, he's an English teacher, and studies a lot of his English on, so naturally he's awesome. Well, finally I was able to call him in the night and it all turned out all right...but wow, it was stressful.

We also had another family home evening with the familia Herrera. So much fun. We had this delish strawberry atol after and played some sweet games. But I need more. So send me some ideas for FHE games, please. I don't know what to do about this family. We've tried everything and just can't get them to commit to getting married. They are way awesome, know it's true, are already active in the's just this whole marriage thing. People in El Salvador don't get married. They need to make some drive-throughs like in Las Vegas, except no one has they need walk-throughs.

On Wednesday I went on interchanges with our zone leader, Elder Perez. That was an adventure. That guy's crazy. He's a short little chapin (you already have photos of him). But yeah. He also didn't know the area that well, so we kept getting lost. But it was a lot of fun. We taught some cool people.

Thursday I went and made hamburgers with an inactive family. Man, I miss eating hamburgers. They were so good. I was basically in heaven. There's a picture of me and Rafael. That guy's awesome too. He needs to go on a mission. Don't be inactive.

Saturday was fun. First of all, we organized a soccer game. It's kind of funny. If you say, "Hey, can you come to church with us?" no one can go. But if you say, "Hey, we're going to go play soccer, wanna play?" they say, "Yeah. What time? I'll bring a team." So I played. Also, the familia Herrera gave me an EL Salvador jersey, it's new, but an older jersey, and it's pretty sweet. So we played soccer. Wow. They're good. I need to learn this game. It's so freakin' sweet.

After that, we had a baptism for Raul. Raul is the son of an ex-branch president, Luis. Their family is awesome, and Raul was never baptized because he drank, and never wanted to. But after a trip to the temple he changed his mind, and we were able to baptize him. He's an "hombre de la finca" as says the Hermano Ruano. He's kind of slow. He doesn't think too fast, but he did understand. Also, he really didn't want to bend his knees in the baptismal font. I had to force him down, then I looked down and realized he was only halfway under, so I pushed him down more. Then I had to drag him out too. It was an interesting baptism. His parents were really happy, they were both crying. Then his mom gave the closing prayer, and it went on for about 5 minutes. Interesting. But he got baptized, and he got confirmed, and it's so awesome how much success we're getting right now. My companion is so awesome. Love that guy. We work so hard, and have a good time. It's just great.

Ha. So a couple of days ago I had an interesting lesson. We asked the guy to give us the closing prayer, and he said yes, then just said a silent prayer. We just bowed our heads and waited for him to say amen, but it never came. After a couple minutes, I looked up at a member, and mouthed "amen." He didn't want to, and we had an argument about who would say amen. Finally, I said it, and the investigators were all like "amen." It was really weird. But that's El Salvador.

Sunday the president was telling us about the temple dedication, and after his dad, an eternal investigator, came up to us and told us that he wanted to get baptized this Saturday. Cool. It's a miracle, knowing all of the problems he's had, but I'm so excited. I don't know why we're having so much success. Maybe it's faith, maybe it's because we work hard. We're not really doing anything special, but things are just working out. So cool. Vamos a tener un otro bautismo este Sábado. [We're going to have another baptism on Saturday.] Maybe even 3.

I also talked to an American on Sunday. We were crossing the freeway in the morning, and a biker slowed down and asked us in a hick accent if we knew where Santa Ana was. I explained to him how to get there, and after he asked if there was a restaurant around. I told him not really, there's just pupusas, and I don't think he was really excited. Made me think of Mike. Hmm. It's weird to speak English. I kept speaking Spanish without knowing it. Weird. Okay.

Well, I don't know what to do about the familia Herrera, but we're praying. Time is going so fast. It's kind of scary. We're just working hard. The mission is so much fun. I love it. We just have a good time, and we're helping other people come unto Christ and improve their lives. Well, thanks for the package. It made me baggy for a bit.

Keep choosing the right. El Salvador's sweet.

Elder Bailey

Monday, August 1, 2011

29: Refugio 8

Hello everyone!

So it’s me again.

This week has been an adventure.  Monday we went shopping, and I was actually able to buy bacon!  It is so good.  This week I’ve been able to cook some good food.  French toast, pizza, bacon, and I have a chocolate chip cookie’s so great.  But I need some more ideas of foods I can cook.  Give me some ideas and I’ll cook it.  I can get the ingredients, but make it simple.  Also, we don’t have an oven, just a stove and a toaster-like thingy.

Tuesday...I really don’t remember what happened, but I’m sure it was good.

Wednesday I got to do interchanges and went with Elder Arbon, our zone leader.  That guy knows a lot of doctrine.  Wow.  He wants to be a seminary teacher, which will be good for him.  Somebody’s got to do it.  It also rained a lot that day (it’s rained a lot every day).  We spent 20 minutes trying to figure out how to cross the river/street to get to the stake center.  Yeah.  It’s pretty cool.

Thursday we had a multi-zone meeting with the president.  It was a pretty awesome meeting.  Our president is so cool.  I love the guy.  Also, he bought every companionship a pizza, donuts, and chocobananos for lunch.  So good.  I kind of miss American food.  After that we got back to our area and it was raining a lot, so I decided to wear those HUGE rain boots that I’ve dragged here.  Well, they’re really ugly, but they work well.  All the guys who worked in the fields wanted my boots, and all the girls laughed at them.  Well, to be honest, I don’t like wearing them, but that day they served pretty well.

After a cool lesson with Raul, an investigator who’s going to get baptized this Saturday, we walked out and realized there was a huge river going down the street.  Well, my companion didn’t want to get his feet wet, so I ended up carrying him on my back through the river to get to the chapel.  Once we got there, we had a noche de rama, and we gave the lesson.  It was on service, and I ended up telling the story about the three pioneer boys who carried their company across the river in the freezing cold.  After, I started relating the story to reality and said, "Now, maybe we don’t have to carry people across rivers now, but—oh wait.  I just did that today.  Yep.  I’m going to heaven."  Yeah. It was pretty dang sweet.

Friday was even more of an adventure.  I had interchanges again, and this time went with Elder Hobbs to Magdalena.  First of all, he shares the house with cuscachapa because his area is really poor and there aren’t any houses that live up to our standards.  They’re all pretty dead.  Magdalena is about an hour from the house, so we had lunch at 11:00 (his cook is amazing) and took off to his area.  I’ll be honest, his area is exactly how I imagined El Salvador.  All green, dirt streets, water flowing through the streets (when it rains), a ton of rain, poor houses, terrible bathrooms--the epitome of El Salvador.  It was a pretty sweet day, and I’m not going to lie, being able to speak English is a lot of fun.  So we taught some pretty powerful lessons.

The last lesson we taught was the coolest.  It was an inactive family with a 16-year-old-girl who had not been baptized.  When we started out, they didn’t want to return to church.  The mother went to another church, and the dad and grandpa were both pretty lazy.  Well, let’s just say that that whole lesson was guided by the spirit.  Word for word—especially the questions.  By the end, they were saying that they wanted to go to church, and the girl wanted to get baptized.  So sweet!

Then, it was 8:30, and we had to head back to the house to get back by 9:30.  So we took off, walking through the pitch black forest.  It was pretty intense.  We seriously could barely see anything.  We kept tripping around on rocks, holes, and puddles.  After about 20 minutes of walking, we were able to hitch a ride back in the back of a pickup truck.  Then it started raining.  Really, really hard.  It was actually cold, and the raindrops actually hurt.  I was soaked to the core.  By this time the water was about a foot deep and the pickup was basically driving through a river.  It was a pretty sweet experience.  We got back to the house and the power was out, so we got to sleep and eat in the dark.  It was such a sweet experience.  For a more detailed explanation, see Elder Bailey’s missionary journal 1.  Ask me about it in a year and a half.  It was pretty tight.  I’ll send a picture that Elder Hobbs took next week (he just got emergency changes and got sent to Atiquizaya because another elder was leaving).
all the bugs are bigger here...even the spiders

So that was an adventure, but it doesn’t beat Saturday.

Saturday we had a baptism for Adonaí Puentes and his daughter, Julisa.  His wife (we had to marry them) was already a member and all of the kids too.  He’s pretty sweet.  Kind of crazy, but cool.  He’s gone to the temple open house three times.  So yeah, the baptism and marriage were way cool.  I gave a pretty sweet talk, and after that sang that one primary baptism song.  The spirit was so strong.  When I baptized him, it felt so cool.  That was really the first time that I’ve really felt the spirit during a baptism.  The other times it was just kind of like... "Oh, you’re baptized now," but with him it was way cool.  After that, we also got to eat cake, which is always fun.  That was a really happy day.  We were both so filled with the spirit.

After the baptism, we went to look up a reference that came from the president of the east side.  Both of them had gone to the temple open house, and the husband more than once.  It was a small family: Adonaí and Jaquelin Reyes and their little like 2-year-old kid.  They are the most positive people I’ve ever had.  They are so amazing.  We taught them Lessson 1 and they committed to read the Book of Mormon.  So positive.  It was absolutely amazing, a miracle that we found them.

Sunday, in the tarde [afternoon], we went back to teach them, and they had read and prayed.  We started out and they both told us that they knew that the Church was true, and when I asked them if they wanted to get baptized, they both said yes.  It is so awesome.  We put a dead date (a dead date is when we commit them to a date, but they haven’t gone to church yet) for the 27th of August.  It’s pretty sweet.  I’m way excited for them.

So my companion is good.  The first week it wasn’t the best because we had to adjust to each other, but it’s getting much better.  He’s pretty chill.  He does like to be in charge totally, and since he’s the senior companion, I had to give it to him, even though I was basically senior companion the last change.  He likes to command, but I think that after a couple weeks of that, he’ll start listening to me and trying out my ideas, but until then, I’ll just learn from him.  I have a lot to learn from him because he is good.

Well, that’s some of the stories from this week.  It was definitely eventful.  Wow.  So cool.  Hope all is well back home, praying for you all, so be good.  Thanks for all you’ve done for me, and remember the Church is true.

Elder Bailey