Thankful for a Cold Shower!

Dear Family,

This week has been another pretty tough week.  Tons of appointments fell through and on top of that, I have been sick for about a week now.  I think I am finally getting over it though.  I think I lost a little bit more weight though! haha.  I really want to go weigh myself and see what I weigh now.  I am trying to keep a positive attitude about everything though and I have faith that things will turn out better.

I am getting along great with my companion still and we are having a lot of fun working together.  We are working hard, but having fun doing it.  Time is flying by on me!  I am already almost a fourth of the way done with my mission.  I remember not to long ago when 6 months seemed a long ways away, but now it is just around the corner!

This week we had another episode with the water.  We didn’t have water on Wednesday and it didn’t come until Sunday!  That means something really bad… NO SHOWERS!!  I didn’t take a shower during that time at all!  Gross huh!?!  The freezing cold shower never felt better on Sunday when we finally got water back!

We went to the temple on Thursday and it was awesome!  We only get to go every six months, so getting to go is a rare, but special experience!  I felt the spirit really strong while I was there and almost didn’t want to leave.  I am going to go to the temple a lot when I get home!  I feel like I am becoming a lot closer to Christ as I go about my mission and I am learning tons.  I am so glad that I made the decision to come out here on a mission!  It has changed me more than I could even imagine!  I am getting a lot more spiritually stronger and a lot more physically weaker!  haha.

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Aaron and His Companion (Elder Garcia) In Front of the Temple

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Missionaries Attending the Temple with the Mission President and His Wife (Aaron is in the back, left of the mission president in the center)

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El Salvador, San Salvador Temple

Finding people wasn’t super successful this week, but that is ok. Activating people here is a huge problem with our ward too. There are lots of huge problems between members and they just leave when there is a problem. We have 189 people in our ward and only 59 came to church last Sunday! Missionary work in this ward is very hard. We did go to the temple this week and it was awesome. I will write more about it later when I have time to write one to the whole family. I wish that I could be there for the Brigham City dedication!

Our summer is over here and we are getting rain almost every day now. Now it isn’t super hot, but it is really humid so I am always soaked in sweat. I am never completely dry here and probably won’t be until I come home! haha. With the humidity, there is also mold. We have mold in the shower and we are having to store all our food in the fridge now so it doesn’t go bad so fast. I have been sick and am even skinnier now than I was before. I am pretty sure I have about .5% body fat now. That is because I just didn’t want to eat while I was sick though. Everytime I looked at food, I wanted to throw up. I feel better now though and am going to try to gain some weight back. I will probably be a lot skinnier than what you remember me as when I get home!

Tanya, you wanted to know how to say these words, so I will write down what they mean. Computer/computadora, school/escuela, church/iglesia, and books/libros. Book of Mormon is Libro de Mormón. 

I love you all and I hope that you have a great week!

Mucho Amor,

Elder Aaron Black

A Baptism This Week

Dear Family,
This week has been great and I am having a ton of fun doing the Lord’s work.  My companion, Elder Garcia, is awesome and we are getting along really well and having some success.  I am learning a lot of things from him that I didn’t learn before and he is very willing to help me out.  This change is flying by, but it’s flying by because we are working hard.

We had the baptism for Hermano Magaña on Saturday and it was an awesome experience.  I had the opportunity to be the one to baptize him.  After the baptism service, his wife was crying and just thanked us over and over again.  She could not have been happier about him getting baptized.  It was a very spiritual experience to be able to be there and witness the joy that they experienced from his baptism.

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Hermano Magaña’s Baptism – Elder Garcia, Sister & Brother Magaña, Elder Black

I have been studying a lot about Christ-like attributes in the past week, but especially patience.  I get really frustrated with the people here sometimes and I want to change that and get rid of my temper.  I have studied a lot about it in Preach My Gospel and also in the scriptures.  I feel like it has come a long way and little by little, I am becoming more patient and getting rid of the temper that I had.

We had a lot of appointments fall through this week, but we are also finding a lot of new people that are ready to hear the gospel.  We have been praying together that we can find someone new everyday when we leave the house, and we have found a lot of people that want to learn more about the gospel.  We are also planning on working a lot more with the members to bring people to the gospel.

We get to go to the temple on this Thursday and I am way excited for it!  I haven’t gotten to go since the MTC in Guatemala and I really want to go.  We only get to go every six months though, but time flies by in the mission, so it won’t seem like to much more time before I get to go again.

Espero que todos tengan una semana marvillosa!  Os amo!
Elder Aaron Black

(Random notes from other letters to the family this week)

That is to bad that everyone has been getting sick at home.  Everyone is getting sick here too now that the rainy season is starting!  Luckily I haven’t gotten too sick, but I haven’t been feeling all that great lately, but I am sure I will get over it soon and be fine. 

Papusas are really good, but I don’t know if they are my favorite though.  I don’t think I really have a favorite food right now. 

Ha yeah I bet there are lots of people leaving for their missions in the next little while.  I can’t believe that I already have more than five months out here!  [Since Aaron left, several of his friends have started their missions, and more are leaving in the next few months – a wonderful group of young men.]

Our investigators are doing pretty good and so are we.  If all goes well, we should have some more baptisms scheduled for around the middle of next month.  Elder Garcia and I are getting along great.  We are having tons of fun together and we are becoming good friends.  The weather has been cooler and it has rained pretty much every day for the last week.  I like the rain though and don’t really mind getting wet.  Love you.

New Companion – Same Area

It was awesome to get to talk to all of you yesterday!  It was a ton better than just sending an email every week!  I hope you had an awesome mothers day mom!  I am pretty well adjusted here in El Salvador, but I will just have to take your word for it that my accent has changed when I speak English!  Haha.  I practice imitating the accents of native Spanish speakers the best I can all the time and I think that it has really helped me to pick up a little more of a Spanish accent when I speak.  My goal is to not sound so much like a gringo when I am speaking Spanish.  I am really glad that Tyler got to come over too.  I can’t believe that he is leaving on his mission on Wednesday!  That came so fast.  All my other friends are going to be leaving here pretty soon to.  It seemed like just a week ago they were all a few months off from leaving on their missions.  Good luck to any of you that read this that are leaving soon.
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Aaron’s Apartment in San Salvador

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The Missionaries of Zona Layco Before Changes (Aaron is in back by the mission president)

You asked me to write the story of Hermano Magaña, so I will get it written now.  His wife is a less active member, so we started passing by her house to re-activate her.  We thought that he was a less active member too, but a little later we found out that he hadn’t been baptized yet.  Missionaries have been trying to teach him for six years and he has been saying no to being baptized for that whole time until now.  We went and taught him a lesson about baptism right after we found out that he wasn’t a member.  We taught the whole lesson from the scriptures and committed him to be baptized.  He said that he wanted to get baptized now.  The next time we came, I asked him what the reason that he invited us back was and what made him want to go to church.  He said he felt something, but just didn’t know what it was.  We explained to him that he felt the spirit during our lessons and at church.  He is keeping all the commitments we have been leaving and is always studying from the pamphlets we leave and in the scriptures too.  He is ready for baptism and is going to be getting baptized on this Saturday (the 19th).  I am super excited for him.

For everyone else that reads this on my blog, my new companion is Elder Garcia.  He lives in Imperial, California and knows my cousins there (he said you guys would know him by Jesse) so we had something in common right away.  We get along really well together and are doing a lot of work.  I am still in the same area, I just have a new companion.

Well it was great to talk to you all on skype and I hope you all have a great week!  I love you all!

Amor,

Aaron

For those of you who don’t know, missionaries only get to call home on Mother’s Day and Christmas.  Other than that, they get to email once weekly and write letters.  So, it was an exciting occasion on Sunday to actually hear Aaron’s voice and “see” him on Skype.  Here are a few random things from our conversation:

He was at a church member’s house to use their computer.  He said there are a few people that have internet in their homes, but not very many, and the connections aren’t always very good in El Salvador.  We were lucky though that we only got disconnected once while we were talking to him.  He introduced us to his companion and the person who invited them to come and use his computer.  The family made “American food” for dinner – chili fries.  They served him while he was talking to us so it was fun to hear him speaking Spanish with them.   He sounds pretty fluent.  He said he can pretty much say whatever he needs to say, especially when talking about the gospel, and understands a lot of what is said now too.  He said sometimes it’s hard to think of the English word for some things, since he’s had a companion who didn’t speak much English, and has been surrounded mostly by Spanish.  He told us about the different manners there.  He said they eat a lot with their fingers, and it’s polite to lick your fingers, making smacking noises at the tip of each finger.  (He demonstrated as well, and said he’s going to have to relearn his manners when he comes back!)  He said when people there make soup, they don’t cut the vegetables and meat into small pieces, and you are even supposed to pick up the pieces out of your soup to eat them!  I asked Aaron if he needed or wanted anything in particular next time we send a package.  He couldn’t think of anything, and said he is doing just fine living without lots of things.  He did say though, that his very favorite thing to get is letters and pictures, so thanks to all who have been supportive.  He said for drinking water, they get big jugs of filtered water, so they have plenty to drink, but sometimes they don’t have any running water.  He said they’re pretty hot and sticky and sweaty when they come home in the evening, so they always hope for running water for showers, but don’t always have it.  He sleeps with a fan running on him all night because it’s so hot there.  Aaron told us there has been a big earthquake about every ten years in El Salvador, and this is year eleven, so the church helped them make emergency packs to keep by their apartment door in case there is an earthquake and told them what to do and where to meet, etc.  He said he has lost 15 pounds and his clothes are getting baggy.  He said they walk about ten miles a day.  He likes it though, and is glad they don’t have bikes because the traffic is so crazy and most streets don’t have sidewalks.  He loves all the delicious fruit there.  He said everywhere they go lately, people give them avocados, so they must be in season right now.  He told us lots of people make fruity drinks for them, and he especially likes pineapple slushies.  They cut up and freeze pieces of pineapple, then blend it all smooth with a small amount of water.  (We tried it and it’s pretty good.  Just make sure you have a sweet pineapple to start with).  Aaron looks and sounds happy and healthy, and loves being a missionary.  He said to tell all of you hello and sends his love.

3 Months Training Finished!

Dear Family, May 7, 2012

I am going to be able to call on Mothers Day and I can use skype.  I will call at about 5p.m. El Salvador time.  I’m not exactly sure what time that is at home, but try to have your skype logged in.  I am going to call from a members house.

It sounds like everyone has been pretty busy at home with getting ready for the summer!  Especially now that you are watering and all that stuff too.  That is good that there is stuff for you all to do though. Do you still think that you will end up cutting the hay this month?  And do you think that you will probably get four cuttings out of it?  That would be good if you did get four.  I need to come and do some hay work!  I am starting to get a lot thinner.  I have lost about 15 pounds from what I weighed in the MTC! haha.  I am still healthy though. 

This week went by really fast!  It is already the 7th of May and I have been out for almost five months.  The whole last five months have gone by really fast for the most part.

This week was pretty good.  We found a lot of people to teach and a few of them are really liking the message a lot.  We have started working with some part member families to teach the rest of their families and we are having some success with that.  We have a baptism scheduled for this Saturday and a couple more that will be ready a little later this month. Veronica probably won’t get baptized.  She won’t talk to her mom about it and she won’t get baptized until she does.  Her husband said that he has been talking to her about it for a long time and he doesn’t think she is going to talk to her mom. We finally get to go to the temple here this month.  I’m not sure when we will get to still though.  Yeah it was really funny when Elder Rosario pulled the fire alarm.  I laughed way hard.  He is a really good elder though. 

We have changes on Wednesday, but we still don’t know who is getting changed or anything yet.  We should find out tonight.  We are pretty sure that my companion will get changed though becuase he has 9 months in this area and president said no more than 9 months in one area.  Also, I finish my training time in the mission on Wednesday.  The first three months in the mission field are training still and I am finally finishing up with it.  It has been a fun three months, but I am ready for something a little bit different.  I think I will probably stay in the same area and have a new companion, but I guess I will find out tonight.

Esto es un poco acerca de mi semana.  Espero que todos de ustedes tienen un gran semana!  Os amo!

Amor,

Elder Aaron Black

April 30, 2012

Dear Family,

This week has been a little rough, but I am keeping a positive attitude about it.  We got stood up for a lot of appointments and not very many people came to church.  We are planning on working extra hard this week to try to change that.  We are going to pass by peoples houses more to confirm appiontments with them and remind them so they will actually be in their houses when they say we can come.

Our baptism for Veronica that we had planned for the 28th got canceled.  We called her the night before to check up and make sure everything was still good and she told us that she had to cancel it.  We are going to try and get a date worked out for the future though.  She knows that the gospel is true, she just had a couple doubts that came up and caused her to cancel.

On Wednesday, I was on splits in my area with one of our zone leaders, Elder Rosario.  He is from the Dominican Republic and is a way funny guy.  We get along great.  We were out visiting people and stopped by the chapel to talk to some members.  We were in the hallway talking to a member and Elder Rosario put his hand on the fire alarm and accidentally pulled it!  Haha.  Good thing we are in El Salvador though and no firemen or anyone showed up!  There were a bunch of people in the chapel and everyone came out to see what happened.  It was way funny though.

On Saturday night, our bishop asked me to give a talk in church on Sunday and talk about ways that the members can do missionary work and the blessings they can recieve.  When we got to the house that night, I said a prayer and asked for help to know what to say.  I started writing and gave a talk about how they can be missionaries through service, their examples, and befriending everyone.  On Sunday, I was a little nervous about giving a 15 minute talk in spanish, so I prayed a whole bunch for Heavenly Father’s help in knowing what to say and speaking clearly.  When I started talking, everything in my talk flowed really well and I actually ended up talking a little more than 15 minutes.  After my talk, many people complimented my spanish and told me that it was almost flawless and that it was extremely clear.  I know that Heavenly Father answers prayers when we pray with real intent.  He definately did for my talk on Sunday.

Well I hope everyone has an awesome week and all is well at home!  Os amo mucho!

Amor,

Elder Aaron Black

Excerpts from letters to family:

We are almost positive that my companion will be leaving because this completes 9 months in the same area.  We had a few investigators in church again, but got stood up with most of them.  That happens a lot in this country though.  I didn’t invite the drunk guy who lost his pants to church.  I was laughing to hard to say anything. Haha.  The chocolate [from the package] wasn’t melted, but it came in perfect timing.  Every Monday we go to the casa de la familia Galan for FHE and I bring a candy of some sort for her daughter (she is nine).  I told her the week before that I was going to bring carrot flavored M&Ms.  Then I got the package of those in the carrot looking rapper so I gave them to her.  The look on her face when I first gave them to her was priceless!

Things are going pretty good in the mission now.  I don’t really feel lost or left out of anything anymore and my spanish ability is greatly improving too.  If you cut this early, you will probably get four cuttings of hay this year huh?  That would be really good.  You could get more sold and still store a lot in the barn to sell in the spring.  I am actually going to miss hauling hay.  Even though it is really hard work, I love doing it.  You’ll have to have Jared find some friends to help out with it or something.

[I just had to add this brotherly advice excerpt to Nathan from Aaron!]:
Did you have core tests for everything this week?  Thats good that they were easy.  Make sure you still pay attention in class though!

[Tanya wrote about Mosiah 2:17, where it says that serving others is the same as serving God]. Tanya, I gave a talk in church on Sunday and I used that scripture in it. It is one of my favorites too!  Right now, we eat breakfast in our house, lunch at a less active members house, and dinner wherever we want unless we have an appointment.  We eat papusas a lot!  We are trying to re-activate the less active family.

Yeah, there are a lot of my friends that are leaving on missions here pretty soon.  I can’t believe Tyler is leaving in a couple weeks.  I will already have five months out on my mission when he leaves!  Crazy huh?  Time is flying by for me.