Crazy and Fun

April 24, 2012

Dear Family,

This week has been the most extreme week of my mission so far.  A lot of funny and crazy things have happened.  It passed by super fast and I have been having a lot of fun!  I am getting along great with my companion now and we are teaching really well together.

On Tuesday, we were waiting at the church for members to show up that were going to go out on visits with us and I got a little bored.  So I decided to climb the fence around the church (the one in the pictures).  It is made to keep people from breaking in when no one is there, so it is pretty sharp at the top.  When I made it to the top, I didn’t want to give up though, so I got on top of the post.  I had to grab the sharp part a little bit to do it though and cut up my hands a little.  It was worth it for the pictures that came from it though.

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Playing around on the church fence

At church this past Sunday, we had 10 investigators!  It was way sweet to have so many come.  We taught them about prayer and how God answers prayers when we ask with a sincere heart, real intent, and having faith in Christ like it talks about in Moroni 10:4.  I taught the lesson too.  It was a little bit hard to do it at first, but I think I was just a little bit nervous.  It turned out really well though.  One of our investigators, Veronica, is getting baptized on Saturday.  Her husband is already a member and is going to do the baptizing.  We also have quite a few more that we are planning on baptizing next month.

After church, we went to a members (HNO Blanco) house whose son doesn’t want to come to church to talk to him.  When we got to his house, a drunk guy came up to talk to be.  He called me Charco Chulo Bello Hermoso, which means green eyed, pretty, and beautiful, and gave me a hug and started smelling me.  I pushed him off of me and started walking up the steps to the members house.  He just sat down on the steps and started talking to me about how the Titanic sank and a bunch of other stuff.  By that time, the member had answered the door and was laughing at what was going on on his stairs.  The drunk guy then stood up and said to me in English, “I like you, you are nice, welcome to my country.”  When he said welcome to my country, he raised his arms into the air and his pants fell down! Haha and not just a little bit either!  They went all the way down!  When that happened, I was laughing so hard that I couldn’t say anything and there were tears streaming down my cheeks.

That is just one thing of many that happened to me this week.  There are tons of other stories that I wrote down in my book of stories to tell when I get home.  It is filling up pretty fast with stories.

I didn’t write yesterday, because we had a multi-zone conference, so our p-day got changed to Tuesday.  We talked about repentance and the Atonement of Christ.  It really made me want to be a missionary.  I love studying about the Atonement of Christ, because it is the only way back to our Heavenly Father.  If Christ hadn’t have died for our sins, we would not be able to achieve eternal life.  He went through so much for every single one of us because he knows and loves every one of us personally.  Whenever I think that the mission is more that I bargained for, I just think of how much Christ went through for me and it doesn’t seem that bad anymore.

Espero que todos tenéis una semana marvillosa.  Estoy agredicido por la apoya que he recebido de cada uno de vosotros!  Os amo!

Amor,

Aaron

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Having fun at a member’s house at family home evening

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Interesting take on a church sign

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A truck trying to squeeze its way through a narrow road and got stuck on another truck

A Great Week

April 16, 2012:

Dear Family,
This week has been great!  I sat down with my companion and talked with him for about an hour and we worked everything out.  After that, the week went great with just about everything.  We found nine new investigators this week and a few of them were pretty much just waiting for the gospel to be brought to them.  We have quite a few that committed to come to church next week and we should have at least 5 or 6 of them there.  On top of those nine, there are three more that my companion, Elder Caceres, had been teaching before, but they weren’t progressing.  They were really positive when we started teaching them this past week and are probably going to come to church this coming Sunday.  We also have some other investigators that we were already teaching that should be coming to church this Sunday.  If all goes well this week, we could have more than 10 coming to church!  We also talked to our bishop about the problem with the number of less actives we have in the ward.  There were more less actives than active members.  He called a ward council yesterday (Sunday) and planned an activity to go out and visit a lot of them that same day.  We divided up with a lot of members and stopped by a lot of their houses.  On Saturday, we are going to go out with members again to remind all the less active members about church again, so we should have a lot of them there!
This past week something really funny happened.  One of the ladies in the ward was talking to a non-member that lives close to the church.  She said that she wanted to join the church and the member asked her what it is about the church that she likes.  She told her that she wanted to join the church to meet me and then marry me!  Another replay of the lady in Africa that wanted to marry me!  Well at least I know that if I can’t find a girl that will go out with me when I get back, I can always come back to El Salvador or go to Africa again!  Haha jk!
This week, it has rained a few times and it is raining again today.  I love the rain here, because when it rains, it usually pours!  The only thing bad about it is that after the rain it is super humid and hot.  At least the hottest part of the year is passing though.  In El Salvador, April is the hottest month of the year, so it has been really hot and humid.  We are always wet whether it is raining or not!  haha

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Leaving the apartment in the rain

Well there is a little bit about my week!  I hope all is well with everyone and I love you all!
Amor,
Aaron

[Regarding the Easter street pictures made of salt, Alfombras, mentioned in Aaron’s April 9 letter:  Email from Mom to Aaron: Aaron, here are some Alfombras pictures I found.  Do you live anywhere near Los Planes de Renderos?  We also saw some others made with dyed sawdust, flowers, grass, etc.   They are amazing!]

[Here’s the link to the Alfombras pictures I sent to Aaron:] http://gringainelsalvador.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/holy-week-carpets-el-salvador-alfombras-semana-santa-el-salvador/

[Aaron’s reply about the Alfombras]

These Alfombras are exactly like the ones in my area. Los Planes in a different area in the city of San Salvador. The part I live in is called San Jacinto. You can look my area up on Google maps and see what it looks like, if you can zoom in good here.

Easter Week

April 9, 2012
Dear Family,

For Easter, I went to church and then worked haha.  My daily routine is get up at 6:30, exercise and study, go out and work, come home and study some more, and  go to bed.  It gets a little boring sometimes to do the same thing all the time, but it if fun most of the time.
This week was the week of Semana Santa (holy week).  It is their Easter and it lasts for the week.  Lots of people go to the beach or make Alfombras.  They are really cool pictures that people make out of colored salt.  Most of them are of Christ and are about 25×15 square mural on the street.  I was going to take pictures on Friday night when everyone was making them, but it started to rain and washed them away before I could get any pictures.  I´m sure you can find some on the internet though.
We have some really good investigators right now and some that aren’t´t really progressing at all.  We do have three baptisms lined up for this month though!  I am pretty excited about that.  We have a few little problems that need to be worked out before, but they are just about ready.  We are trying to find a couple more new investigators that we can start working towards baptism, but I need to get my companion to work first!
We had interviews with president today at the chapel that is next to the temple, so I got some pictures of it.  We didn’t´t get to go through and do a session or anything though.  I really want to go to the temple, but we only get to go once every six months.  I think we will be going sometime in May.

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Pictures from the temple grounds

I went on splits with one of the new elders in our zone.  He just got changes into our zone about two weeks ago.  His name is Elder Leonardo and he is from California.  I actually got a lot of work done with him.  We committed some of our investigators to be baptized after we taught them what a baptism really is and the meaning of it.  Beforehand, my companion had just told them that they had to be baptized before he leaves the area.  We hadn’t even really taught them what it was yet.  It was really good to go with Elder Leonardo because he is a missionary that wants to teach by the spirit too.  It was a really good lesson with him, and our investigators said that they would start getting themselves ready to be baptized.
Well I love you all and I hope you all have a great week and a fun time down in Blanding!

Amor,
Aaron

Same Place, Same Companion For Now

Dear Family,
I am just going to do an email answering everyone’s questions in one today.  To start, you asked how things are going in El Salvador.  They are going great as far as how my Spanish is and getting to know the people!  I didn’t get changes and am with my same companion until the 9th of next month.  [Transfers were this week].  I got to listen to conference on Saturday and Sunday, we actually pretty much got the days off to do nothing but conference until after it ended on Sunday.  I learned quite a lot from it though and have lots of notes from the talks.  I don´t think I have ever learned so much from conference before.  We got to watch it in English too.  I still haven´t eaten anything super weird, but I am sure that it will happen sometime soon.  The food here is really good for the most part.  My favorite part about conference was how much they focused on families.  I don´t really have a favorite talk, but I really liked the way it was all about families.  I haven´t seen any monkeys yet.  I am in the middle of a huge city.  I´m not really sure if there are that many here anyways.  I think the reference to my scripture [from last week’s experience] was D&C 124:1, but I don´t remember for sure.  I have it written down though.
This week has been pretty wild, but we still have a little bit of success.  We have two scheduled baptisms and one of them came to conference.  Veronica (one of our scheduled baptisms) also brought her sister, who told us that she wants to learn more about the gospel too.  We are going to try to set up an appointment to start teaching her sometime soon.  We also have two others, a married couple, that are almost ready for baptism also.  We are going to try to baptize them this month.
We had a lesson this week with one of our investigators named Silvia this week also.  We were trying to commit her to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it is true, because she hadn’t been doing it.  We also committed her to come to church.  She told us that she would read and pray, but she wouldn’t ask to know if it is true and she wouldn’t go to church.  I bore my testimony to her that she would only find out if it is true if she sincerely asked.  The spirit was really strong and I know she felt it too, but I felt like she was trying to ignore it.  I kept bearing my testimony about the Book of Mormon and about how Heavenly Father wants us to go to church and she finally agreed to read and pray to know if it is true.  She still said no on going to church, but I know that she will want to come to church if she really reads and asks if the Book of Mormon is true.  I felt impressed to promise her that if she would ask that God would answer her and tell her that the Book of Mormon is his true book written by true prophets of God.  I also promised her that he would help her feel a desire to go to church.  I really hope she does it, because I know she will be answered.
Semana Santa (holy week) is starting this week, but I really don´t know a whole lot about it yet.  I will write more about what it is on next Monday when I know more.
I am getting super comfortable with my Spanish and sometimes it comes to my mouth easier than English.  I have started thinking a lot in Spanish too.  I already have trouble praying in English.  In the English class I am teaching, I help people say the prayers in English and sometimes I´ll start whispering the words to them in Spanish instead of English.  Haha.  The English class is a little bit of a struggle though.  We don´t really have the same people show up, and the people that say they will come, don´t.  Sometimes people will even schedule other things activities in the church during it after they said they would come.  It is a little bit frustrating to never have people do what they say they will.
We had a pretty funny thing happen the other day.  We had been out knocking doors during the day and we had a guy tell us that he would come to church.  We saw him that night walking in the street again, but this time…. He was wasted!!  He was so drunk that he could barely stand up.  He came over to talk to us and asked me for money for more alcohol and some coffee.  I told him that I wasn’t going to give him any money for that and that he would just get more drunk with it anyways.  He insisted that he was fine…… so I decided to have a little fun with it and test him to prove him wrong.  I told him to walk in a straight line, so he tried it.  He tripped over a garbage bag [on the] sidewalk and about crashed to the ground.  I told him that that proved that he was drunk, but he still insisted that he wasn’t.  Next, he tried standing on one foot.  He could do it, but only by holding onto a pole.  He laughed and told us that that proved he wasn’t drunk.  I told him to move his hand.  He about fell over again.  Haha it was super funny having an extremely drunk person trying to prove to us that he was sober!
Well there is a little bit about my week.  I hope you all had a great week and have yet another great one to come!  Os amo!
amor,
Aaron

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Learning to make Papusas

Excerpts from a few hand written letters:

Thank you all for your letters. I love getting letters from people!

A mission is a lot different than normal life, but I have never been closer to Christ than I am now. My mission has taught me to rely on Him. He is someone that is always [there] for us to turn to and he understands us. Look up Alma 37:37 for that. It is one of my favorites.

Lots of people get baptized down here. The hard part is knowing if they are really ready for baptism or if they are just saying yes. A lot of people here have no problem making commitments, it’s just that they almost never keep them. It makes me have kind of a hard time trusting a lot of the people here. It does make it feel really awesome when someone actually does do what they say they are going to do! We have a couple other investigators that are about ready for baptism too. But they will be next month.

I have learned a lot of really good study habits out here on my mission… Whenever I am having trouble keeping my mind on task, I read from the Book of Mormon and it always helps me focus a lot better… I love studying now and look forward to reading my scriptures every day. I also read my scriptures in Spanish mostly now. My ability to speak the language and remember the words that I studied has improved greatly because of it. I still make mistakes in my speech, but I can say just about anything that I want to now. I can also understand most of what people are saying when they talk to me. I want to learn other languages when I get home now. It is a lot of fun learning a new language.

Aaron’s testimony in Spanish as he wrote it March 5, 2012:

Yo tengo un testimonio que nuestra iglesia es una iglesia verdalera y se que esta iglesia es la unica iglesia con el poder para actuar en el nombre de Dios. Se que Dios nos ama que el envio su hijo Jesucristo para mono por nuestros pecados y a traves la expiacion de Cristo, podermos vivir con nuestras familias para siempre. Estoy tan agredicido que tenemos las oportunidad a vivir con nuestras familias por la eternidad. Eso es una gran benedicion. Se que con todo mi corazon que el Libro de Mormon fue escrito por profetas inspirado por Dios y es una guia para nosotros y que podemes encontrar respuestas por cualquier pregunta que tenemos. Yo se con todo mi corazon que Jose Smith fue un profeta de Dios y que el tradujo el Libro de Mormon con la ayuda de Dios. Se que estoy aca en El Salvador para hacer la obra de Dios y que hay personas que estan esperando a oir el mensaje que estamos compartiendo y nosotros tenemos el poder para cambiar sus vidas. Se que Jesucristo es nuestro Salvador y redentor y un ejemplo perfecto. Se que si seguimos el ejemplo de Cristo el mejor que podermos, podermos vivir con Dios y nuestros familias para siempre. Yo comparto estas cosus en el nombre de Jesucristo, Amen.

Wow that is a lot harder to write in Spanish than say it and I’m pretty sure I spelled a lot of words wrong too. I am a lot more comfortable with Spanish now. The Spanish words just come to my head super easily and even when I am talking in English I mix Spanish words in with the English words that I am saying. I usually don’t even really notice it either.