Friday, December 30, 2011

51: Independencia 18

So, Christmas has passed.

It's been a busy, normal week in the office. It is also the end of the year, so I finished up all the baptismal records.

On Tuesday we had our ward Christmas dinner. Man, that was good. Not the food so much, but it was fun. It also wasn't planned very well, but I enjoyed it. Elder Christner and I did our mini-missionary skit again. It went well. We also picked up a whole bunch of references, so right now we have a bunch of people to teach, and a lot of them are very positive, so that's cool. I expect some pretty cool baptisms for January.

Also, we are about to have changes, and my companion is going to leave the office. He's going to go to Belize next week. He's been a really good companion. We've really gotten to know each other well, and I've learned a ton from him. I am really grateful that I've been able to have Elder Christner as my companion. He's an amazing person.

I have a feeling I'm going to be in the office for 2 more changes, or at least that's the rumor going around--which kind of stinks, because I want to get back into the thicket, preaching the gospel. But you know, I'll keep learning.

Anyway, that's about it for this week. Hope you're all doing well.

With cariño [love],

Elder Bailey

Friday, December 23, 2011

50: Independencia 17

Hey there. So I guess there´s not really much to say this week, cause I´m gonna call you all pretty soon. But it´s been a good week. A lot more relaxed. We've been able to get back to studying and stuff again, and have had, honestly, the best studies that I have had in my mission. It´s sweet. Companionship study is so awesome.  We've been learning so much.

So it´s been a good week. I´m excited for Christmas. Here, Christmas is celebrated on the 24. So we´re gonna go spend it at some members houses, it´s gonna be fun. Also, Saturday at 12, the custom here is to launch of fireworks for Christmas, so I think we´re gonna stay up and watch those from our house. It´ll be fun.

Hope you´re doing well. Merry Christmas.

Elder Bailey

Monday, December 19, 2011

49: Independencia 16

Saving Christmas

This week, we saved Christmas.

It all started last Friday, when I went to the office to do a little work. I was working on our Christmas photo album a little bit. First of all, I just want you all to know that I have gotten so much more organized now that I'm in the office. A lot of credit goes to Elder Christner, my companion. He is probably (definitely) the most organized missionary in the mission. He's an older missionary, 26 years old, and he's very responsible. I've learned tons from him. I'm very grateful for him.

So anyway, I had everything planned out. I'd work on the photo album, finish it on Tuesday, and take it to a printer. Well, the next day the president changed his mind on how he wanted it. So I went to the office Saturday to work on it too. The photo album project has a name—Project 3.

Then there was Project 1. That was the t-shirts. Elder Guirola was in charge of that. Apparently the company he was going to order them from said they could get them done in 3 days. When we got the design done, Elder Guirola called them, and they said 10 days. So Project 1 was now failing. We had to find a company that could make the shirts in less than one week.

Project 2 was another gift that the president wanted to give to everyone—little personal journals for each missionary, specialized for our mission. The guy who was doing the design for that was being really slow, and we had to get them off to the printers quickly. But we didn't even have a good printer yet. Project 4 was the food. Nope, we didn't have that planned out either.

So Saturday I made a good draft for Project 3, and the assistants took it to their meeting with the president. That night we had our little office meeting and planned out everything. The assistants told me Project 3 was very good, and there were just a couple of minor changes. I felt good.

Sunday we had a good day. We went on splits with Juan Blanco again, who gave us some sweet references. We had a sweet lesson that night. Then that night Elder Beaton was telling me about the changes I needed for Project 3, and as it turns out, I had to do it all and send it off by 7:00 Monday morning for the printer to have time to print it. Well, he described the changes, and as it turns out they were very big changes and I would need to do a ton of work. Well, yeah, that kind of agitated me. I had a ton to do with the album. Two days of work.

So Monday morning we got up at 4:30 to go work in the office. We were working as hard and as fast as we could (me and Elder Christner. He was editing the pictures, and I was making the album look cool). But really, 3 hours is not enough time to do a 2-day project. So we missed 7:00 (which, as it turns out, was just a time that Elder Beaton made up and not actually necessary) and finished at about 9:00. That's when the president came in, looked at what we had, and told us that that is not at all what he asked for. What he really wanted was one a lot like my original. So I took the next two hours changing everything around. Then there were more changes. In all, I worked on this project straight for about 13 hours with a 15 minute lunch break. Finally, we finished up and went to the printers. Also, the guy doing the design for Project 2 finished the journal, and so we took that too.

Well, my project was good. They said it was good, they'd clean it up a little bit, edit a couple of the pictures a little better, and print it off. Project 2 was missing pages. So we had to get that sent off.

Project 1 was kind of solved (not really). We found a company (through the bishop of Palmar) in San Salvador who said they could make the shirts in time and get them to us Thursday at 3:00 (the meeting would begin Friday at 7:00). On top of this, we all had a bunch of odds and ends we had to do as well. I had a list of about 12 things to do every day. I didn't even have time to enter records.

When we got back from the printers, we had a sample of Project 4 waiting for us to taste test. Food. Man, it was from a restaurant named Lovers Steak House. It was so good. It is the best restaurant in Santa Ana. Mashed potatoes, ham, turkey, gourmet food. It was so dang good. It took a little bit of the stress off. In all, we were in the office from 5:00 in the morning up until about 7:00 at night. Crazy day.

Tuesday was not as hectic, but still hectic. Still didn't sleep much. We went and visited the referral of Juan Blanco again. Not so positive anymore. We talked with them for a good while, but in the end just had to drop them. I was with Elder Molina. Man he is a good teacher. He is full of convincing stuff. After, we had to go to Lovers Steak House to make the order for the food (it's in my area). Wow, did they treat us like kings in there, but I guess they should have. We were making a huge order.

Got that paid off.

Wednesday was another long day in the office. We had problems with the t-shirts. Then president gave us Project 5. The program would be some games and a talent show. He taught us the games and put us in charge of them, and told us that he wanted us to do a skit as the office. So we decided on a skit—the skit where you act like midgets and one person is the head and feet and the other is the arms. I don't really know how to explain it, but it's a really funny idea. So we worked on that when we came into the house at 9. Also, the president wanted to be one of the midgets. Sweet. So we made the costume, it was a mini missionary, looked really funny. And we practiced. I was the other midget, with Elder Christner as my arms, which looked way funny, because he's got gorilla arms. We just messed around with this until 11:00 figuring out good ideas. That was fun actually. It took off a bunch of stress. Then we went to bed, only to get up early in the morning once again.

It was the last day before the Christmas Activity. We got up at 5 and got into the office at about six, and from there, straight work, people running all over the place. I had my little list (once again, very organized) and am proud to say I got every single thing done, down to having every single record entered in and sent to Salt Lake. And on top of that, I did all the other little things that the president and the assistants were giving me.

At about 8:00, Elder Beaton and Elder Molina went to get Projects 2 and 3. Project 1 never came. We called them, and they told us that they'd bring it by at 10:30 at night to our house.

Then at about 9:00, Elder Christner finished making the costumes and we started practicing the skit with president. Now I'm not gonna lie, that was just pure fun. The president has some good facial expressions. To be honest, it just surprised me that he wanted to do it, because President Lopez would have never done that in all of his life. Man, President Cordón is an awesome guy. I'm so grateful to have him as president.

So we came up with a plan for our skit, and it was pretty good. Then we had to choose music. We didn't have anything. President told us to just tell him what we wanted, and he'd get it. So we got to order songs like the Olympic theme, Eye of the Tiger, Superman, Chariots of Fire, and Carmina Burana. It was just weird listening to that music...especially with president right there. But we got it, and the skit was all planned out. Projects 2 and 3 were done, and looked awesome (if I do say so myself). Project 4 was complete. We had all the food...from the pupusas for breakfast, to the gourmet lunch, down to the apples at the end.

We were up until about 12:30 that night waiting for the t-shirts. The guy came with only one and told us it was a sample. They didn't look at all like our design, but they looked all right. We had to get the t-shirts from the bishop's house at 5 in the morning Friday. Can you say, calling it close?

I went to bed and got up in the morning. The assistants pulled out with the car to go pick up the shirts, and I went with the zone to the meeting in the Sonzacate chapel (it was the biggest and most beautiful). Man, I was tired. Luckily, I had found a bottle of Amp in a store a couple days ago (we had to buy it, I've never seen Amp here. They don't even have Mountain Dew). So we got there, and I got to run around finishing up all of the preparations. I ate my pupusas in about 2 minutes (which were from the Casa de Chele, probably the best pupusa shop in all of El Salvador...also in my area). Then we got to change into our normal clothes and play the games. They were EFY games, and we got to be in charge of them (yay). Good times.

After, we started the talent show. Man, that was so much fun. It's been a while since I've been able to just yell and cheer, since... like... a month before my mission. It was so much fun. There were some sweet talents. Elder Beaton played the bagpipes. We had a good Spanish stand-up comedy that I honestly didn't understand. Someone played Pianoman on the piano...that made me baggy. Singing...etc. It was fun. Our talent was the last one. We finished planning it up just 2 minutes before we began, then set ourselves up on stage. Jajaja (I laugh in Spanish now). It was so sweet. I wish I could send you guys the video. So funny. Man. We got a standing ovation at the end. I got to hit president too. Not many people can say that. But anyway, Project 5 was a huge success.

Then we had lunch. Sooo good. Gourmet ham with pineapple. We got to suck the pineapple (Jaja. It's a joke. If your weren't a missionary from El Salvador, you're not gonna get it.) Jaja (in a jeering voice this time). Turkey, MASHED POTATOS (yeah, probably my favorite food). It was just so dang good. A good Christmas meal.

Next came the spiritual part. We all got to change back into our suits, and started out with some musical numbers and testimonies of those who were leaving this change. Man, so spiritual. Then the missionary choir sang (I was in that!). We did a little program of about 9 different songs with some cool spiritual messages. It was so awesome. People cried. Then Hermana Cordón and President shared their messages. It was beautiful. I just felt so good. It was an awesome activity. I loved it so much.

After, we took our group photos, a couple million photos of me with other missionaries, and passed out all the gifts. President and Hermana Cordón gave a whole bunch of chocolate and ties to everyone. I actually got a good quality tie because of the office. It's slick. Maybe I'll send a picture of it one day.
Finally, it was over. Everything worked out. It was a miracle. We saved Christmas. Well, it doesn't end there.

Today, in the morning, we finally got to marry and baptize Mauricio. Man, that guy's awesome. He's a quiet guy, but awesome. It was a very cool baptismal service, and they were a very happy couple. Man, I am so happy we finally got to baptize him. He wants to go to the temple. I believe he will next December, which means I'll be able to go with him!

After that, we went to the baptism of Melissa, the step-daughter of our taxi driver (we have him for emergencies). His name's Gordo (fat one). Well actually, it's Edwin, but everyone calls him Gordo. Elder Guirola baptized her. That was also an awesome service. Gordo was telling us a couple days earlier how grateful he was that the office came to Santa Ana. We were reactivating his wife, baptizing his step-daughter. I love that guy. He's a total jokester though, and eats a ton. We went to eat Pizza Hut after, and he told them it was my birthday, so I got to get sung to again (yay!).

Well, that's my epistle. It was probably one of the most stressful weeks of my life, but I learned so much. I can honestly say that I am grateful for this opportunity I have to be in the office. I've learned so many priceless lessons.

I hope you guys are all doing well back home. I'll be calling home in a week!

Until then, take care, and Merry Christmas!

Elder Bailey

Monday, December 12, 2011

48: Independencia 15

Before you get antsy, the baptism was for a child [of record]. But it was fun.

Sunday was pure awesome. We got 5 people in sacrament meeting, 3 families, and 4 adult males (priesthood holders). A lot of them are very positive. I'll let you know next week how that's all going.

Okay. So this has been the week of multizones and capacitations [planning]. The president wanted to re-teach everyone how to teach well, so we've had two 7-hour multizones this week. Yeah. Really long. Also, that meant I wasn't able to work in the office at the normal time. So we all got way behind, and today we've been here since about 9 in the morning working for our P-day. Well, it's the office. What can you do?

So Tuesday, our first day, we had the multizone which, although very long, was excellent. After, we finished up some of the projects we were working on and went to the house to drop off some boxes. It was about 6:30 at that time, and the primary president called me and asked me where we were. Well...I just kind of stuttered for a second and then asked porque [why]. "Well, everything is ready. We have the cake, the clothes. We're all waiting." "Uh..." "For the baptism!" Well, apparently this 8-year-old girl of this family we were reactivating was getting baptized that day. We had planned on a week later, but...I guess not.

So we took off running to the chapel, my companion changed, and we had a baptism. It was a cool baptism. They had the whole primary there, so it wasn't very quiet, and we were both sweating from the sprint we took, but it was still very spiritual. Rosemary got baptized. After that, we ate food and the little kids got to break a piñata. They are crazy. Seriously. And not just the kids, but all the leaders. As soon as that candy fell, everyone was on the ground chasing after it, except for me and my companion.

It was really good. Good times.

It's been a way busy week. I have a million projects going on right now.

So, we're going to go get something to eat now.

Take care y'all!

Elder Bailey

Friday, December 2, 2011

47: Independencia 14

Wow. It's been a good week.

Sunday we put a date with Mauricio M. Finally. We've been working with this guy for a long time. The main obstacle has always been his wife (or almost wife). She's a member, loves the Church, but is kind of a homebody, and for some reason has always been putting the marriage off. But not this time. We're already getting it ready. We have the date set for the 16th of December. I'm so happy! It's been a while since we've had a baptism.

Also, we got a reference from Jaime P. He's awesome. The reference's name is Hermana C. She's this single mother who is a go-getter. She is very successful…like, really successful…like, she's deciding right now if she wants to buy 3 cargo ships that bring Toyotas to the States and Central America. She's got bills. We taught her, and she's taking theology classes in the Bible. After getting so much money, she decided she wanted to understand religion. Man, she just ate up the BOM. As we were explaining it to her, we asked her if she had any questions, and she said, yeah. "Can I have one?" "How much does it cost?" It was cool. We had an appointment to go back to her yesterday, but she wasn't there. Also, her daughter goes to school with Sabrina, the daughter of President Cordón. And they know her. So now Hermana Cordón wants to help us teach her too. So sweet.

Tuesday, Elder Christner and I were in charge of mutual. Let's just say it was awesome. We'd been hyping people up about it for the last two weeks, and we got a pretty sweet turnout, a lot of youth. It was so much fun. As people came in we would assign them to one of two teams, Lamanites or Nephites. Lamanites had the black headbands, and Nephites the tan. Obviously, I was in charge of the Lamanites and Elder Christner the Nephites. But it was so much fun. We did a little rally at the beginning to get their blood up, some cheering, then we did some activities, and related them to the BOM. So Elder Christner or I would read a couple verses from the BOM, teach them a principle, then we'd play a game that related to it. It worked out really well.

Wow, those guys are competitive. Freak. They were seriously going crazy. We did a three legged relay race where they had to "take their family," then "go back for the plates" (they had to grab a Book of Mormon and bring it back to the other side). Seriously, they went crazy. They kept accusing each other of pulling tricks, and we had to do like 2 deciding races. At the end, they just had me and Elder Christner do a straight out running race. I lost by a smidgeon. But it was way cool. Then we did the human knot. We won, of course.

Then after that, we had everyone go to the sacrament room, and E. Christner and I shared a message. It was so amazing. It was absolutely silent, and there were like 20 youth there. Very spiritual. We talked about Christmas, the BOM, how it's a gift for us, and how we need to give that gift to others. Then we closed. We brought them a huge box of BOMs and some wrapping paper, and we had them write their testimonies in the BOMs, then wrap them to give away to their friends. It worked really well, and a lot of people started giving us references. We are finally waking up this ward. People are finally starting to get hyped for missionary work.

But it was a really cool activity. E. Christner and I were pretty content and happy.

Busy week in the office. Had to get all the registros in to the area presidency, and design our t-shirts.
Yesterday the president's son, Oscar, was set apart as a missionary. He's going to the MTC right now. He was called to the Taiwan Taipei mission. The president invited us to this meeting. Wow, was it cool. The president and his wife are some very, very amazing people. I loved it.

So yeah, it's been a way good week. We haven't been able to teach a lot of lessons, but hey, we put a baptismal date, and have gotten more references this week than any other. I've learned a lot about missionary work this week.

Hey, but ya tengo que terminar. I've got to finish. But this mission is so awesome! I love it. Elder Christner and I are getting along so well now. It's sweet. We're getting a lot of cool things done here. I was a little bummed for a while because we didn't have any dates or good progressing investigators. But I really did learn a lot from that time, and now we're going to baptize someone this December and complete a family!!!



Elder Bailey