Monday, September 24, 2012

Climbed the Tower, Temple Trip & "It is what it is"


So another week, mostly average with a few cool twists! So the cool twists, first last Monday we climbed the tower here in San Vicente for the first time, it was a ton of fun! Such a pretty view!! I attached a picture from that which is cool! Our area covers from that street that the large catholic church is on all the way down into the jungle. I am glad we have finally climbed the tower, he have been wanting to do it for ages now!

Ok, Saturday was sweet. We had a mission wide activity at the temple (as you can see the pic of me and my comp at the temple). The activity was for all the non members and all the recent converts to get to know the temple and learn a little bit more about it! Which was great! Because of the activity some members may start to reactivate and a good handful of investigators had their interests perked and are now.. well more interested which is great! So we are hoping to have great things come from that!

I love the temple here, it is now on my list of favorites, I won´t number them because they are all houses of the Lord. For example, I really wasn´t too enthusiastic about the Guatemala temple because there's no windows. I don´t know, just not too interesting! But the temple here is just so epic compared to the other ones! And it is huge!!! Look how tiny those people are standing next to the temple! Its so cool. Also, it truly is a TON like the new Canada temple, its crazy how similar to the Canada one it is. Of course the one here is a million times bigger than the Vancouver one, but the layout is the SAME and the way it is furnished and all. Its so beautiful and we are glad that members and non members had the opportunity to learn more about it and see it!

Happy birthday Chris! You are now 21 right? You can buy beer now!!! But don´t ok? Enjoy something else instead!

So as far as the work goes this week, we are continuing searching and talking to people, it is tough as usual. But my new favorite quote is "It is what it is". That is what I tell myself when people reject us like crazy, or when we get soaked head to toe in a storm, or when I am just hungry and tired! Yesterday was tough especially, we talked to a ton of people, but they all rejected us hardcore. People telling us we are "perdidos" (lost), or people saying the Spanish equivalent of  "I don´t give a Da** what you have to say to me!" (that happened twice yesterday). Yeah, its real tough, but it is what it is and I know that my efforts have already payed off and will continue to benefit!

Other than that all is great! Pupusa count: 95, almost 100!!! So far all of the elders in my group from the MTC are keeping pupusa counts until the end of the mission... we will have some scary numbers... Anyways, I hope you all have another great week!! I love you all a lot! Talk to you next Monday! :)

Love, Elder Joshua

PS: Best of luck to Mohonri Dorff and Brandon Little in the MTC! You will be great missionaries! Good luck also to Spencer Wilcoxson and Riley Dufour as you prepare to get your own mission calls!

PSS: Mom. I can only think of two things in a package I want. Some skinny ties and some packets of crystal light or some kind of juice powder that I can throw in a water bottle because that sounds good! maybe like some gummy bears too, I don't know what else! I say skinny ties because they are so in style here and I only have one of them! Thanks Mom and Dad, I love you :)

Also the verse I want on my plaque is this one I think. Alma 37:6 and 7 if it talks about the "small and simple things" that would be the one! :) Thanks!!! Talk to you next Monday!!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Independence Day, Tamales & Pizza

Hello People,

So, I am going to be really honest and blunt here. In terms of the missionary work this week, it sucked. We only had 3 lessons with investigators (10-15 is average), nobody came to church, and we had to drop some investigators who are not progressing because they do nothing and its wastes our time. So in terms of the Mormon stuff this week, nothing cool to report, we hope that this week will go better. One big challenge here is retaining members. SO many people get baptized and think they're good, so they go inactive super fast. So we teach "Persevering to the end" at least a million times a week. In San Vicente there are enough members to make two stakes, but so many are inactive, and as a result we have one District, not even a single stake! ¡¡Super Chaffa!! So many times when random people we talk to, or drunk guys in the street approach us they say that they're already Mormon, which is hard to believe. But when we go back to the house, we look those people up and there they all are! Its crazy how many inactive members there are, its kinda sad! But that is also a part of our job here! Man the drunk guys here are so nuts, they all speak English and always try and teach us about God in the middle of the street, it's nuts.

So this past Saturday, the 15th was Independence Day here in El Salvador! I think that most of the other countries in Central America have the same Independence Day, can someone check with Dr. Google on that for me? Thanks. So Saturday was a big parade festival cool thing going on in town, and since nobody was in there house we got to go to the parade thing and contact people and watch the parade! It was so cool! I am attaching pictures from it! They had the military (fully armed with heavy machine guns, bazookas, ghillie suited snipers, it was legit. Also all the schools marched down the street with all the marching bands and lots of cool people in costumes and all that good stuff! So that was really exciting! I attached some pictures of the parade.

So later we had an activity at the church where they had typical foods from each of the Central American countries which was good for the most part! Lots of tamales (every Latin American country claims the tamale to be their "typical food", I think they're gross! More boring than gross really). We went to the activity because we had invited some investigators to come, but as aways, nobody showed up! Which is so frustrating! People here take no shame in lying, they lie like crazy!!! You can call someone a liar and they take ZERO offense to that, but if you say "tú madre" they will put a bullet in you. its interesting. Ok, they really don´t shoot you if you say "your mom", but they get so offended, not that I tried it, because I didn't! For example, about a week ago we tried to return to an investigators house for a second lesson and the man and his wife were sitting on the front steps, when he saw us approach he walked in the house. We talked to his wife to see if the man was available for a lesson and the wife said "he's not home now, he just went to the store", right after we saw him walk right into the house! I was so stumped, how could you lie so obviously and have no shame or whatever! People are crazy!

Sorry if this letter seems short, I feel like every other missionary in the world writes an epistle giving an account of every step of every day of the week. I just say what I find to be the highlights of the weeks. By the way, pupusa count update: 76. that's pretty impressive for six almost seven weeks! Anyways, I am ready to enjoy a good p-day, we have lots to do because the last two weeks we had to spend p-day as a zone which is lame but still fun! By the way, last Monday after I wrote home from San Salvador in a cyber cafe, we went to Pizza Hut. Most satisfying meal I have had in months, including the food in the Provo MTC, the food there just made me feel fat. Anyways, in Pizza Hut me and Elder Ledezma (Panama) shared a huge pizza, 8 buffalo wings and a pitcher of colachampange (don´t worry, that's not champagne, its a soda they have here in El Salvador, so good!). I was so satisfied and happy after Pizza Hut!

So, It sounds like all is well back at home! I love hearing from you all, as usual. Have a great week, I love you!


Elder Vaughan

PS: Theres also a couple photos here with the kid, Alejandro I baptized! wooo! Also a random picture of the volcano with some super legit clouds, thought that was a cool thing to show. This is the ugliest pretty country I have ever seen! By that I mean, the whole country is your garbage can, but somehow its pretty at the same time! This is a cool country, I love it and hate it! :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Bloody Cow Hearts, P-Day Soccer & 4 a.m. Birthday Bands


Hello once again! Well this has been another interesting week, tough, but slightly more rewarding! So cow hearts. I was in a house of a recent convert teaching them, and I didn't understand the dialogue before this happened, but the mother of the family brought out a cow heart!!! A freaking cow heart!!! what the crap!!! Apparently they eat them here!!! It was bigger than my head and dripping in blood, I felt like puking. So sick. Third world countries like to eat weird things, its weird. Anyways, I feel like there were a million other things to say this week, but they all escaped my mind.

Anyways, right now we are all in San Salvador because we had a soccer game against the Ilopango Zone, I don't know who won, but I scored two goals, which was super awesome. I really forgot that I have some small amount of skill in soccer, a skill that I thought was long gone! So that was super fun. And now we are in San Salvador writing in a ciber, because we won`t have time when we return to San Vicente later this afternoon. So on Wednesday marks my 6 weeks here in the field, my first transfer done. I really feel like I am starting to get into the groove of things and understand Spanish better! I really feel like that is becoming stronger!!

So Saturday morning at about 4 AM, we were abruptly awoken by a mariachi band outside our house! They were playing music for some one's birthday in a neighbors house, and I don't understand this tradition of playing music really loud at 4 am for a birthday. I would be upset if anyone did that for me, the band played like 5 full length songs and I got gypped out of a solid 30 minutes of sleep! People here really have no sense of when they are making too much noise at the wrong hour. I miss the sound ordinances we have back in Marysville WA!!

This week I have definitely seen more progress or "success" as you could say it, we didn't baptize any new people or anything. The good thing is, we are starting to see more and more people who have been prepared by the Lord to be received into the church. So one man, Roberto, we came into contact with him one day in the street and he let us in his house to teach him. When we finished the first lesson, we extended the baptismal invitation (without a specific date), and his response went as follows(translated of course): "Yes. So when is the soonest I can be baptized?". That really kinda blew my mind because we are so used to indirect answers from people with such questions, but we know that this guy really has been prepared to hear what we have to say!

One happy thing about this week, is we stopped doing breakfasts with our cocinera because those were just terrible, cold refried beans the consistency of water, spongy cheese that contains more salt than the Great Salt Lake, and eggs that were fried in a swimming pool of grease. Seriously, people here cook with so much grease, it is so horrible (you can see the grease on so many people here too). I thought America was bad with eating greasy foods, try the food here, worse than any Big Mac you ever ate. So for the breakfasts I eat cereal and milk with whatever fruit I have, and since Latinos think cereal with milk is so weird, my companion eats sandwiches. It is so much better making our own breakfasts, we would usually have to sit in the cocineras house for 30 minutes to wait for our plate of cold beans and cheese. So I am doing better in the food dept.

Saturday we had a baptismal service for a kid who just turned 8, his parents are recent converts. The Andrade family, they always have us over for FHE every Monday at 6:00, its awesome. So I got to perform the baptism (doesn't count towards mission numbers, but I got to perform it), which was a great experience! I think the kid (Alejandro) wanted me to do it because I always talk with him about The Avengers and other super hero stuff, so for that he really likes talking with me! So this family is really great! They are super poor, they live in a shack house kind of thing. At night it is illuminated with candles. And every time we go over they try and offer us food, whether it be pupusas or beans and rice, they always give us something, which I appreciate so much!! I know beans aren't exciting, but when a family like this gives it to you it is the most delicious dinner ever! They are so great to the missionaries, even though they don`t have much they always want to give!

I guess that sums up the notable events from the week. I would attach photos, but I didn't know we would write in San Salvador so I don't have my camera stuffs. So next time I will have some pictures to share! Thanks for all the letters and emails I get from you all! I am happy to hear all is good at home! I miss you all a lot, and look forward to hearing from you again soon! I love you!


Elder Joshua Vaughan

Monday, September 3, 2012

Tropical Storm, Bloody Shirt & Dengue Fever


Well another very interesting week just happened here! And really? There was an earthquake?? I didn´t know that! I felt a very tiny one a couple weeks ago, because apparently they happen here a ton, lots of little ones! So really, I wouldn´t worry about the earthquakes here if I were you, well be good! I did hear about some big tropical storm here named "Isaac" that passed through Central America, but I really didn´t take notice of anything unusual because it rains almost every night here super hard with thunder and lighting and all that good stuff. Last night the rain was a little bit more nuts than usual, at about 8:00 we were eating a nice dinner of pupusas across the street from our house and that´s when it started dumping buckets. The street literally turned into ankle deep water, and we live on a slight hill, so the water was cruising down the street like a river. So when we ran the maybe 10 or 15 step distance from the pupuseria to our house, it appeared like we just came out of a river, well, we did. So really during the daytime hours it usually doesnt rain, sometimes, but most of the time it is really sunny and hot, then in the evening it cools off with a nice raining. I usually hate the heat, but really I don't care anymore, "Es lo que es" (it is what it is), anyways, when I come home I know I will be begging for a sweater when I step off that plane! But once you get past the heat this place really is beautiful, except on garbage day when everyone chucks their bags of garbage in the streets in order to be collected later, but all the dogs tear in to the bags and it is a mess! Other than that this is really a nice place, in terms of nature and stuff at least!

So in our area here, there is a town called Zacatecoluca (legit name, right? say it 10 times fast). Well we go to this town usually once a week on a Friday or a Saturday, this week we went there on Friday to visit a couple members of the church. Our method of transportation to Zacatecoluca (tecoluca for short) is a 35 cent bus ride, about 20 minutes away. But on the way back to San Vicente from Tecoluca, the buses only come by every 30 minutes. So to save some time we are allowed to hitchhike, yes, hitchhiking is a legitimate means of transportation here for us! We just stand out by the street and stick our lovely thumbs in the air and eventually some kind soul in a pick up truck stops and we hop on in the back of the truck and relax for a nice speedy and free ride back to San Vicente. Its really a lot of fun riding in the bed of a pickup, although it is a risky thing, its worth it!

Now lets talk about some interesting people. First, Santos Merino. Lots of people here have religious names like "Santos" because this is a religious country (hence the name "El Salvador", (Para ellos que no hablan Español, "El Salvador" is Spanish for "The Savior" (you're welcome!))) Anyways, this Santos dude, we contacted him on the street one day and this week we came to visit him. He is a strange brew of Catholic and Evangelic, and we came to visit him and he already knew everything about our church, and well every church in the world! The last thing we talked about was that he doesn't believe in modern day revelation, and that it all ended with the apostles. The ironic thing is that earlier he told us a story of one day he prayed to God and that God directly answered his prayer (which would be modern day revelation right?). Anyways, this man offered the final prayer, and during the prayer he whipped out a little vial of consecrated oil and stepped towards me and anointed me and gave me a blessing that I could go forward and preach with the power, authority and revelation of God (I know ... this guy's logic really isn't fitting), then he did the same to my companion. I tried so hard to not laugh, I almost burst out laughing in my prayer because it was just so strange!

Okay, lets talk about some more interesting people! So yesterday we were out contacting people in the street and this clearly drunk man approached me (they always do that) and started blabbing off to me in English, when people here get drunk they suddenly are capable of speaking some amazing English, it truly is impressive! Well, this guy, named Will, started blabbing off a story to me about how his life is super chaffa (when people start telling their life story it usually ends in a pleading for some money or for some food), anyways Will showed me his hand, there was a big chunk of flesh literally just gone from the palm of his hand! He said he fell over and I guess that happened to his hand somehow! Anyway, he started crying because his wife left him (I wonder why...) and he just cried like a baby (I felt slightly bad). So he approached me and gave me a big hug, patting me on the back (with the bloody hand), in my head I was very angry at this man, had he no common sense???? Anyways I ended up with a bloody shirt at the end of the day (photo attached), no worries, I managed to scrub it all out! With the drunk guys ("Bolos"), you just gotta roll with the punches, and if you invite them to church it counts as one of our daily 20 contacts we have to do! The Bolos are really nearly harmless, they just cry and beg for money, and give bloody hugs, I sure hope that doesn't happen again!

So now our best guy we are teaching is named Carlos Gonzales (The whole world here is named Carlos or Juan), he is a, well I don´t know how to put it... He is a B.A. biker guy who we talked to in the street a couple weeks ago. I don't know if I have mentioned him before, but he came to us wanting to raise his new baby in a church where his kid can have a good religious family and grow up in a good situation that Carlos did not have. Which is really great! We taught him one time and we had invited him to come to church but he didn't show up. Yesterday, about 30 minutes into the sacrament meeting, we heard a Harley Davidson bike pull into the church parking lot (as we all know these motorcycles are all super loud and annoying!). So we nearly ran outside to greet him, and not only Carlos came, but on the bike was his mujer (woman) and his newborn son! It's wonderful that he came to church, and hilarious that he takes his family around on his Harley! He is a great guy and excited to learn more!

So that pretty much sums up my week. Also there has been a minor outbreak of dengue fever, so we all had to go to Wal Mart and buy mosquito nets to sleep under at night, but no worries, we are all good! Usually I would avoid a WalMart in the States, but when we had a meeting in the capital on Wednesday, and the president commanded us to go to walmart to buy the mosquito nets. I have never before enjoyed a WalMart trip like I did on that day! It felt like I was back in the States for a moment, the we walked outside, back into a third world country!

Ok, as far as packages go, the mail system here is pretty reliable, I expected it to be really bad, but it truly is reliable! We only get mail once a month, just because thats when they hand it out and all. If you happen to have any stickers of the Virgin Mary, slap a few on any packages you may or may not send me, because here Mary is more important than God or even Jesus Christ. But if you don't have any stickers of her, Jesus stickers will do!

Well all is well here and it is great hearing from you all! I miss you all a lot, but I am enjoying the work here. This month starts my 4th month as a missionary (2nd month in the field!) I love you all, talk to you in one week!!!!


Elder Vaughan