Not a Lot Happened This Week

Dear Family,
Well this week was a little bit uneventful.  Almost all of our appointments that we had fell through and both of the people we were going to interview to be baptized didn’t´t show up either.  People here tend to do stuff like that a lot here though.  We did get some less actives to come to church, but other than that, it kind of feels like we really didn’t´t get a whole lot of work accomplished this week.  We were still working, but we just didn’t´t turn out a lot of results.  We did have something kind of random happen though.  We were walking kind of close to our chapel and all of a sudden I needed to use the bathroom, so we went to the chapel and found a note our zone leaders had left for us to call them right away.  We went and called them and they needed a baptismal interview right away and had just left the note about 10 minutes before.  Only our zone leaders have a cell phone, but my bladder took care of the job of a cell phone for me! Haha.  Also, I had a really cool experience.  My companion and I were looking for scriptures to use about Joseph Smith to teach an investigator.  After we had found all the scriptures we knew, my companion started reading off the list to make sure we had them all.  When he was reading the list, I heard him say a scripture that I didn’t´t think was on the list.  I asked him about it and he said that it wasn’t´t on the list and that he didn’t´t say it either.  I heard the scripture in a very clear voice though, so we decided to look it up.  It ended up being the exact scripture that we needed to teach our lesson.  It was a spiritual experience for me that strengthened my testimony that God giving me the help that I need through the Holy Ghost.  It was an experience that I will never forget.  Well that is about all I have to report for the week.  I love you all and hope you have a great week!
Love,
Aaron

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Playing around at a members home

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Cooking dinner in the apartment

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The finished product just before frying

This Is Starting To Be Fun!

Dear Family,
Things are getting a lot better in El Salvador now and I am starting to actually have some fun.  I have either taken care of or am working on all the problems with my companion with help from my zone leaders.  He has gotten a lot better since then.  I have two baptisms coming up on Saturday and I am pretty excited for them.  I am going to be baptizing one of them.  His name is Jorge.  He is 18 and lives with his aunt and uncle, but they don´t want him to be baptized though.  He has a testimony and knows that this is the true church and wants to be baptized anyways though.  The other one we are baptizing is named Veronica.  Her husband is a member and is actually going to be baptizing her.  It is so awesome to see their family come together through baptism!
I have been racking up the crazy stories of things that have happened to me and things that happen in El Salvador.  I already have plenty to tell that you all are going to love.  I have a notebook that I am writing everything down in so I won´t forget the stories that I want to tell.  This week has been the craziest with things that have happened to me.  I will write a story or two in a letter sometime soon, but some of them you will just have to wait to hear until I come home though.  I don´t want mom freaking out or anything!  Haha.
The busses here are so crazy.  They crammed somewhere between 200 people on a bus the other day when we were going somewhere.  It was about the size of a school bus!  All the seats were full and the aisles were packed three or four people wide all the way back.  Then you have people pushing their way to the back to get off the bus too.  I would have to say that I am not the biggest fan of being crowded like that.  It was easily over 100 degrees on the bus too, so everyone was all sweaty (and some people really smelled bad too!)  Getting off that bus was about the best feeling in the world!!!
Tengo mucho amor por todos de ustedes y espero que esta semana es una semana magnifico por todos!  Yo oro por ustedes cada dia!
Amor,
Aaron

Excerpts from letters to the family: 

Grandpa & Grandma Johnsen… I am starting to like it here and having a lot more fun teaching the gospel to people.  I have learned a lot in these three months that I have been out and time has flown by.  I am trying my best to be the best missionary I can!

Jared… That’s awesome that you are taking a mission prep class!  It is really hard to teach the lessons at first, but you will get used to it.  Start studying Preach My Gospel now so that you know it really well when you go on your mission.  I study it all the time out here on my mission and I wish that I would have studied it more before.  Read and study the whole book, because it is full of advice that is really helpful.  We have quite a few investigators that we are teaching right now and actually have two that we are going to be baptizing on Saturday. 

Mom… I am definitely learning lots of lessons, the biggest one probably being patience.  I have had to learn lots of patience with my companion though.  I think things should start improving from here on out though.  I sat him down and had a talk with him and he is with one of the zone leaders today getting talked to about working, so he should change his ways.  We have to be back at our apartment every night at 9 at night.  There are certain areas that we aren´t allowed to be in when it gets dark though.  We used to knock doors a lot, but now we are getting more referals.  We get more referals now because I have learned a lot from studying PMG [Preach My Gospel – the missionary handbook on how to teach] and being on splits with Elder Rogers.  I honestly feel like the senior companion out of the two of us, [his companion, not Elder Rogers] because I have to be the one that takes the initiave between the two of us.  I have learned lots from it though! 

Nathan… Sometimes scout things are pretty boring, but just remember how much you can learn from going to them.  You can learn a lot from being in scouts!  Things are going fairly good here and I am starting to have a lot more fun! 

Tanya… I am doing good here in El Salvador and am having a lot more fun on my mission now.  I can understand people a lot better!  I really like the story about Abinidi.  He had a lot of faith in Christ huh?  Always keeping the commandments is a really good thing!  That is what I go out and preach every day of my mission and do my best to live them too! 

Dad… That is so awesome that you got to go to the birthplace of Joseph Smith.  I have been reading a lot about him in the Our Heritage book lately.  It is really good.  You should get copies of those four books that we got for me for the family too.  Especially to have Jared read before he goes on his mission.  Warm isn´t exactly the right word for here right now.  I am almost always soaked in sweat.  March and April are the hottest months of the year here.  I would welcome some cool weather right now! 

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Scenery in the area

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The mountains next to my area

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The stupid bird decided it was ok to poop on my hand!

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One of the [church] member’s birds

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Above – Aaron’s apartment kitchen and sink (picture taken when he first got there.  He said it’s much cleaner now!)

Below – Aaron’s apartment bathroom.  We think the picture in the middle is of his shower head.  Note in the 3rd picture there is only one faucet, meaning… cold showers!

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The rivers Aaron has seen so far are no longer natural, but are full of garbage and sewer.

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Already One Month in El Salvador!

Dear Family,
Well I am getting to the point that I am fairly used to El Salvador now.  Today marks one month that I have been here.  I can´t hardly believe that I have already been in El Salvador for a month.  It seems like it was just a few days ago that I was on a bus coming here. 

I was on splits with my zone leaders from Wednesday afternoon to Saturday morning which was a lot of fun.  It was really good too because when I got back to my area on Saturday, my companion hadn´t done hardly anything that we had on our schedule.  He just stood up a lot of people for our appointments and told me he just forgot.  He has been out for seven months and I still don´t think he has figured out how to use his planner.  He just uses the excuse that things are always changing in the mission field.  They do change a lot, but we always have to change things after splits because he wasn´t responsible and didn´t do it.  It makes me look bad too, then I have to explain to the people that I was in a different area. 

I am learning the language super fast and can understand and reply to most of what people say to me.  I have improved a ton since the day that I got here!  I still have a lot to learn and I can´t understand everything yet, but I am always learning more!

I am learning to eat a little slower here.  A lot of times when I eat fast, they start serving me more and won´t listen to me when I say I am already full.  My companion is a little bigger and eats a lot so everyone thinks that I need to eat as much as him.  Because of all that, I try to eat a little slower so I don´t have to eat more than I want to!

Yesterday, they had their presidential elections, so we all had to stay in our houses.  There are lots of people in the streets during it and I guess it is pretty dangerous, so President called and said that we couldn´t work.  He did give us permission to stay at our zone leaders house though.  Some of us went there after church and stayed the night.  We studied for awhile, played some games, and watched a movie about the Book of Mormon.  It was pretty fun to hang out with everyone.

Well there is a little bit about my week.  I love you all and hope you all have a great week!

Love, Aaron

Aaron & Elder Rogers, his zone leader, seem to have become good friends. Here’s a picture and a few things taken from Elder Rogers’ letter that tell a little more about what’s happening there:

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March 11, 2012

(Picture of making dinner at the Zone Leaders’ house sent by Elder Rogers)

“On Tuesday we had exchanges with area Barberena. I was with Elder Black here in Layco. We met some guy that night and he said he wanted to talk to us Wednesday but he said he wanted only me and Elder Black, no one else. So we once again were on exchanges together on Wednesday. We go to meet this guy at the church but he pulled a no-show. Kind of a bummer. Then on Thursday, Elder Barrera went to Cuscatancingo to work with Elder Tirado. Elder Tirado’s companion Elder Pineda went to work with Elder Casares. So once again I’m with Elder Black. It was a fun, yet slow, 3 days.
We did find Christian (the grandson of the lady who talked to us last week) and he was at church too. He’s 16 and he understands everything.”
“Elder Black is great. His Spanish is better than what mine was when I was in the field for only four weeks.”

“There really wasn’t much that happened this week. We do have a meeting with Elder Amado of the Seventy on Tuesday. He will be talking to us for 5 hours. It’s been divided for the whole mission in 3 days. We have Tuesday. Some go Wednesday and the rest Thursday. We need to be in our seats at 7:30 and we won’t leave till about 3:00. This should be interesting. I hope there’s lunch.”
“I’m on splits with Elder Black again today as our companions are going to the office.”

Here’s a little more from the emails to the rest of us:

Dad, I am starting to get used to things here. We were on splits for a few days this week again. When I got back, my companion hadn´t done the things that we had scheduled. One of them was helping a lady in the ward move on Friday night and Saturday morning. When I got back on Saturday afternoon and asked him how it went, he just shrugged and said that he forgot. He doesn´t keep hardly any commitments when I don´t make him. I made him go to the house with me and tell the lady why he wasn´t there and then we helped her move. How am I supposed to learn from someone that I am pretty much telling how to do things. Thats awesome that you are going to New Hampshire though. Have a fun trip! That is to bad about Aunt Shauna [cancer]. I´ll make sure to remember her in my fasting and in my prayers. Love you dad! Have an awesome week!

Nathan,
That is so awesome that you got part of your dog house built! I think you should get a lab or a retriever! Those are my two favorite kinds of dogs. Sounds like you pigged out on the rolls! haha. That kind of table manners would fit right in here. Most people eat things with their hands and don´t have hardly any table manners at all! I eat papusas all the time, but I eat lots of other things too! People here eat lots of rice and soup too. Things have been better here. I am starting to get used to El Salvador and am having more fun here. Love you bro! Have an awesome week!

Tanya,
I am doing good and I am glad to hear that you are doing good too! My week went pretty good. I was on exchanges pretty much all week with Elder Rogers so it was a lot of fun! What was good about your week? It sounds like your having some pretty crazy weather at home. It is just super hot here. March and April are the hottest months in El Salvador, so I am always burning up! haha. That is cool that you had the missionaries over. I was eating dinner with other elders actually. Our zone was together last night. Our church starts at nine here and I have lots of people that I am teaching right now! Love you sis! Have an awesome week!

Mom,
I don´t know if Johnathan’s parents have been to the temple yet. Baptisms here don´t seem like that big of a deal to a lot of people here though, so I wouldn´t be suprised if they didn´t. People here don´t even dress up for them. I think my table manners will probably be worse when I get home. People’s table manners here are horrible, which happens to be one of my pet peeves! haha. I am getting used to it though. One thing that you could send that would be great is a package of good ear plugs so I can sleep. Other than that, there is not a whole lot of stuff that I need right now, so just whatever you decide to put in it is great. Love you mom! Have an awesome week!

 

Jared,
I´m sorry to hear about your wreck!  That sucks bro, but I know exactly how you feel!  Are you excited for prom?  What all are you guys going to be doing?  I know you guys will have a lot of fun!  You will have to let me know how the ACT went when you get your score back.  I´m sure you did great on it though.  El Salvador is getting better and I am a lot more used to it.  Love you bro!  Have an awesome week and I hope you heal up soon!

Love,
Aaron

Getting Better Every Week

Dear Family,

Well I am a little more used to El Salvador now, but I am still a long ways from being adjusted to life here!  Someone in my ward gave me ear plugs though so I can finally at least get some sleep!  I am getting to the point where I can understand a lot of the things that people are saying to me and can carry on a conversation with people fairly easily.  I really like learning Spanish and it is a lot of fun to speak it too.

Last week I leaned how to make papusas at the Galan families house!  My first couple were pretty pitiful, but I eventually got the hang of it.  We eat papusas here probably five times a week, but that is fine with me because they are way good!  There are a couple foods here that I´m not a huge fan of, but most of it is pretty good.  The choco bananos here are way good!  We will have to make them when I get home!  There is another thing that you can try that they make here.  Cut up a pineapple and freeze it and then smash it and put it in a blender.  Add a little bit of water and blend it up.  They are super good!  There is beans and cheese in the papusas.  They do one´s with pork too but we can´t eat them because the pork here is bad.  There are other good foods here too. 

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Learning how to make papusa’s

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Papusas – a favorite food

I did my first baptism on Saturday!  His name is Johnathan and he is 18 years old.  It was an awesome experience to baptize him!  The rest of his family had already been baptized, but he just didn´t want to at the time.  We started teaching him again and he decided that he was ready.  It was sweet to see him become a member with the rest of his family.  We also just found some others that we are teaching now and are really interested. One of them we have been teaching for just two weeks is already through Alma in the Book of Mormon!  We also have a couple more baptisms lined up for this month, so hopefully they end up happening.  The problem here is that no one does what they say they are going too.  Especially with appointments.  Sometimes people say we can come teach them on a certain day and time, and then when we go, they either aren’t there or say they are to busy.  That is everyone’s excuse here and a lot of the time it is a lie.  We can see that they were just watching tv or doing nothing at all.  It is pretty frustrating because it happens all the time!

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Aaron and Johnathan – first baptism

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Aaron and his companion, Elder Caceres, with Johnathan’s family

I am trying to get along with my companion, but it is a little bit of a struggle sometimes.  Sometimes I feel like he is taking advantage of the fact that I am new and don´t really know much.  For instance, he was on the phone all the time and I told him that he was going to run our phone bill up.  He told me that he wasn’t and that it would end up at about $20, which is what it is supposed to be.  We got our bill today and it was for $110.36!  I was fuming mad with him and still am pretty mad about it because I have to help pay it and because he lied to me about it.  We are going to be having a talk about that tonight!

Other than that episode, things are improving a lot!  My Spanish is coming along pretty well and I can understand people most of the time now, so I don´t feel quite so left out.  I am learning super fast! I am getting more adjusted to things and my schedule.  One of the women in my ward gave my ear plugs so I can finally sleep!  THANK GOODNESS!  I was only getting about 5 or 6 hours of sleep a night before.  We are also looking for a new place to live though that is a little more quiet.  I am starting to like soccer a little bit (that is the only sport we play on p-day) and am having a lot of fun playing it.  I never thought I would say that I like soccer, but I do now.  We have lots of fun messing around playing it!  I bought a really sweet soccer jersey and customized it with my name and a number all for 8 dollars! 

Well there´s a little about my week.  I love you all and hope you have an awesome week!

Love,

Aaron