Monday, October 29, 2012

Festival Gastronomico, Armadillo Dinner & No Change


So interesting stuff first. Saturday night was the "Festival Gastronomico" The monthly food party they have here. I sure am in the right town, a monthly party with food!! So me and my companion ate Armadillo, how crazy is that?? Then our zone leaders ate Iguana, really strange! I attached some photos of our dinner! It was really good, tasted like chicken, but very hard to eat because the meat is super hard to rip off the bones! But it was really good,, but strange! I am also attaching a photo of the Iguana too, crazy! See those tortillas in the picture? In almost every meal in this country, we eat a million tortillas with everything, its terrible because they have no flavor and are super dry and nasty. When I tell people that we don´t eat tortillas in my country they almost die in disbelief!

So this week was the change meeting, but I had no changes!! I am still with Elder Tenecora in San Vicente, which almost guarantees me another 3 months here at least, which is fine because it is a great area! Me and my comp get along great, so I was happy with not changing! We have got a few great investigators who are progressing very well and hopefully will be baptized this November!

One of our investigators named Carlos (the whole world here is named Carlos!), who struggles with drinking, has now gone two weeks without drinking, and if he continues he can be baptized the 17th of November! It is amazing how much he has changed, in just one week he read all of 1st and 2nd Nephi in the Book of Mormon! Its crazy how much he has changed in the past two weeks! Other than him we are working with the "Niño Pastor" kid, he also has a baptismal date set for the 17th. I really think that they kept us together for another change so that we can focus on working with these people without the trouble of having to change companions and all that annoying stuff!

Mom, I am sorry to hear about your bad dream about me being hit by a car, until today I haven´t been hit my any cars, so that´s wonderful right? People here really do drive like idiots and it is dangerous here because of that. But don´t worry about that, we will be safe.

So I did get your package this week Mom!! It was awesome! Our stove broke, so we made a fire out of an old phone book to cook the popcorn the other day. It was awesome!! Thank you very much! 

I hope that I will get my ballot in the mail this week because I don´t want to return to an Obama nation in 19 more months. Which reminds me, tomorrow marks my 5 months in the mission!! One more month and I have got a half year done! The time really is starting to go lots faster here! It is great to hear from all of you, business is good, but stressful as always. I hope you all have a great week!

Love Elder Vaughan!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Training Period Ends, American Politics & Bus Jumping


Okay so this has been my last week with Elder Tenecora, This Wednesday we have changes (my training period was 12 weeks). So either me or him will change, most likely him because he has been here in San Vicente for 6 months, and I have been here almost three. But who knows what will happen. We will see Wednesday! It will be slightly sad having a different companion because when you spend 12 weeks 24/7 with the same guy it is only natural that you become friends (as long as you don´t hate each other)! I still haven´t gotten a package from Mom yet, but I am 99.99% sure that I will get it when I go to the changes meeting in San Salvador on Wednesday, because they always have a ton of packages for everyone there!

So both mom and dad are telling me that I would be really interested in the politics now. And yes I am. Since I have been here I have come to appreciate my country so much more, because most Salvadoreños love America more than most Americans themselves. So many people here have USA pride for no apparent reason, they look up to people there and everyone wants to live there! So I hope I will be able to vote in time for the election, I sure will try!

So the title. "Bus Jumping". Why is that the title? Because I jumped off a moving bus on Friday and almost biffed it super hard. So what happened was me and my comp were on a bus going to Tecoluca to visit some less active members, and we decided to do our bus contacting en route. So as the bus was about to pull in to Tecoluca (super tiny town with one bus stop) my comp approached the front door of the bus to get off, and I approached the back door. As the bus was about 50 meters from the stop a lady in the back tried talking to me asking me questions, then before I knew it I saw my companion out the back bus window running and screaming "ELDEEEEEERRR!!!!!! as the bus pulled away (the next stop is many miles away). I yelled at the driver "¡A VISA A VISA!!" which means "STOP!" I think. So the driver said he couldn´t stop, and as I saw my comp about 100 meters behind so then I foolishly jumped out of the moving bus and almost biffed it on the concrete. But I made it out fine and we were laughing about the whole thing for about ten more minutes after! So I guess that answers Mom´s question of "what was the craziest thing you have done so far in the mission?"!

Well, Carlos the guy who was baptised but not confirmed, well he ate a bad pupusa Saturday night and was in the hospital Sunday with food poisoning. So we talked to him and he said he would come to church this week (yesterday) to do the confirmation. But... he didn´t show up.. so I hope he is really sick! because if he isn't sick and is missing church and the confirmation for some other reason, that´s probably not good! So we hope that he will still be able to make it this coming up week!

Well, that was my week, were still working on teaching the same people as always and I am honestly not sure if our investigators are progressing or not, because its been tough this week. But all is well! As always I enjoy hearing from you all!


Elder Vaughan

PS: I felt 2 earthquakes yesterday morning.... about the 4th or 5th time I have felt an earth quake in 3 months here! But they are all fairly small and have done nothing! They are kind of exciting in a way!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fried Bananas, Friendly Graffiti, & an Unconfirmed Baptism

Hello World!

So this week went significantly better than the last week! Still hard and challenging and weird in many ways, but good! So remember that drunk guy I told you about? So we taught him a few lessons this week, one of them being the Word of Wisdom (of course). And the next visit after that one he told us that if he needs to stop drinking, he needs to stop doing everything that is bad, and he says that every time he does something little, such as swearing, or having a bad thought, he goes and prays for repentance! WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT???? A guy that has literally hit rock bottom has recognized that need for repentance on such a tiny level, that is really amazing!! He totally hasn´t stopped smoking, but he said that when he does give in to temptation, he feels super terrible (which is good right?). Anyways, that guy is progressing and we hope that he will progress lots more the coming weeks!

Okay, so this week we decided to do some more of our own cooking rather than buying pupusas or whatever. So one of the photos I attached is a picture of our dinner the other day. Fried bananas, fried platanos (yes there is a difference (I don´t understand though)), fried eggs and re-fried beans! That is honestly some of the most typical food here other than pupusas and rice or beans! Here in El Salvador, people cook with buckets of oil, when they fry eggs, you eat more oil than you eat eggs. I don´t know where the world got the idea that America is the fattest country in the world, because I have seen so many fat people here, its just crazy. Every meal is bathed in oil or grease, and the people pay for it when they get to their mid 30s. Anyways, we eat tons of rice, beans, bananas, platanos, eggs and pupusas! Oh, that other random picture is a shot of some more friendly graffiti that isn't gang related (at least I don´t think it is!). Me and my companion like hunting graffiti.

So the past few weeks we have been teaching a man named Carlos (name changed to protect his privacy), we taught him all the lessons but then two Fridays ago, he left to the USA, supposedly going to be there for 5 years or maybe more. He was planning on crossing the border in a manner that is not legal. We were sad to see him go (and leave his family behind) but he felt like he had to go to get a job (because the job market is bad here). So on Tuesday we were eating lunch where we normally eat at a members house on Tuesdays. We were sitting outside on the porch thing. As we were eating we saw Carlos walk down the street, he was supposed to be on his way to the USA by now. And we jumped out of our seats and ran to talk to him to see why he was still here! He says that the group he was going to cross the border with had gained a person, and could no longer take Carlos with them because a lack of space in their method of transportation. So we were able to carry out the baptism on Friday for him now that we have more time, because the next group leaving the the states isn't for another month. Before the baptismal service, Carlos told us that all the guys in his previous travel group were now in a Mexican prison, and that if he would have gone with them he would be in prison too! So he decided that he will not be leaving the country anymore because he realized what could happen to him! So the baptism went well and everything! Except he didn't show up to his confirmation, so hopefully we will find him this week and figure out what happened!

That´s about all there is to report for this week! Stuff is going great, I hate the sun, it is starting to get more hot here everyday! I really miss the daily overcast weather in Washington! I hope that you all have a great week! I love you!

Elder Vaughan

Monday, October 8, 2012

Alcohol, General Conference & Working Hard

Hello family and friends!

So this week was a very.. umm... interesting week. So first allow me to explain. So two Sundays ago we contacted a man and invited him to church, and he came with us and he had a great experience! He loved church and we set an appointment to go back and visit him. So we went to go pick him up for church and we got to his house, there he was passed out right on the concrete in front of the house, drunk as a skunk. Sadly, this kind of thing is something we see on a more than daily basis. One person who we thought would be a great investigator, unconscious in the street, its very sad. Before the mission I really didn´t hate alcohol, it was more of a thing that I never did and that makes people drunk, and that's all I thought of it! But now I really hate alcohol more than anything else in the world, it destroys people and destroys families, and it makes our work as missionaries super hard to do! 

Sorry for the depressing nature of this letter, but this week was tough, as we have a handful of investigators struggling with the problems of drinking, it is a MASSIVE challenge here. Another sad thing, Thursday morning a man in our neighborhood died  because of alcohol. (I tell you this parents because I trust you won´t call the prophet and demand he send me home because I'm in a sketchy place!) What happened is he was walking around drunk, stumbled fell and broke his neck on the sidewalk and died. Unfortunately we saw this man in his deceased mode lying on the ground as we were walking to the zone meeting in the morning. It is just very sad, the police came minutes later and cleaned up the mess. I can say with 100% confidence, that I will never let a drop of alcohol touch my tongue in my entire life. Its pure evil, destructive. It's sad.

So how about a happier topic? General Conference was great! I got to watch it with the gringo zone leaders in English which I was very happy for! The mission president encourages the Latinos who are learning English to listen in English too because that is the language of the prophets, untranslated. SO the conference was super good! When the prophet announced that 18 year old guys and 19 year old girls can now go on missions, everyone freaked out! It was cool, and we are excited to see more people coming on missions! It really is a great thing!! It is so great to hear that Spencer Wilcoxson and Jacob Thomas got their mission calls! I am very excited to hear more about their experiences! Good luck to you two as you enter the MTC very soon!

So it sounds like the presidential race is going great for the Mormon! Yesterday we were visiting a recent convert's house, and the lady asked me if I would vote for Obama and my response.. "NO HOMBRE!" which pretty much means "NO WAY MAN!" The lady laughed like crazy!! It was funny. I really don´t hear much about politics here, just what you guys tell me. Every once in a while I see something about Obama on the TV in peoples houses. So thanks for those little updates! 

A while ago I mentioned how the city of Tecoluca is part of our area and we go there once a week, when we went there this week we hopped on a bus, did our cool little bus preaching thing, and then hopped off before we got there. We walked a while down the road until another bus passed by, and we did the same! We hopped 3 buses to go a 25 minute distance! It was cool because we got a few references, and the passage was free! ;)

So I really am happy, healthy, and excited to continue working in the work of the Lord and all! :) We have a small handful of great people we are teaching, although some have issues with alcohol, we have the cure! ;) I am excited to work this week (how strange, right?) I think I hit that point when I am excited to go out and work! Even though it is hard, It is doable!

This week I got a package from Grandma Suzi, thank you very much! Me and my companion are going to enjoy that tuna cheese pasta stuff for lunch in a moment! :) And Mom, still waiting for the one you sent, which I will probably get when we have the change meeting in the capital in two weeks! I will let you know when I get it! It is great hearing from you all, and it is good to know that you are all doing great! I can´t wait to hear from you all next week! Have a great one! I love you all!

Love Elder Vaughan!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Chinese Food Cure, Bus Hopping & No More Shyness


OOOKAY, so this week was interesting. So really nothing too notable... lets start with the worst news. So Friday morning I woke up at 2 AM vomiting and diarrheaing (yes, at the same time), and that was miserable. I think I ate something bad, but I have no clue what it would have been. Nonetheless Friday was no fun at all, but don´t worry as I am healthy now. Its actually a miracle that it took two months into the field to get this kind of sick, you know as a gringo in Central America. Every last Saturday of the month there is the "Festival Gastronomica", which is literally just a food party up at the tower park. People set up a tent and cook food and sell it, all sorts of cool things (that I didn´t eat) like armadillo, and normal things like pupusas. This evening I was still feeling a bit sick, but hungry because I ate nothing but white rice and Gatorade for two days. So we saw a tent selling Chinese food, we both saw it and were super excited to eat Chinese food here, because there just isn't Chinese food in San Vicente, there is a little bit in the capital, but none here. So we went and ate some Chinese Food, and it turned out the chef is an investigator of ours, who is also from the states, so he cooked really good food. After eating a plate full of stir fry, rice and won tons, my my diarrhea magically disappeared, so I guess Chinese Food was the cure!

So in this mission, we have a goal to talk to 140 people to find investigators, and this past week we have been doing terrible on that, so on Saturday in the afternoon we tried a new method of contacting people... Bus contacting. So here in El Salvador, there are people who hop on the buses to try and sell stuff and they hop off before the money collector comes around, which this method of selling stuff is perfectly legal, and it is a legit method of us missionaries contacting people! So what we do is we wait for a packed bus to come by, we hop on, we begin shouting who we are and a brief explanation of that we want to share a message, and we have to yell because these buses are so loud, kinda like monster trucks. Then we pass by each person on the bus and if they are interested we take down their info, then we hop off the bus when we see the money collector coming by! It is really nuts! We get like between 40 and 60 people in each round trip. It is super cool, and the references that we do get from the buses are good quality because the people don´t feel pressured into saying yes. So that was a lot of fun this week, we will probably use that method now and then.

So, today is day one of month 5 as a missionary. I really do feel like I have grown a lot since I first entered the MTC 4 four months ago! My Spanish skills sure have grown too! Yesterday I really realized that when I carried on a 45 minute conversation on my own with a guy after we had a FHE. This guy is an investigator, family of some members, and so he was there and he was really interested in hearing about my life in Washington. So at the end of that lengthy conversation I realized that yeah I really do speak Spanish now! That was a really big moral booster! Also this investigator supposedly has a girlfriend from Brooklyn who has the last name Vaughan, so that was interesting! These past two weeks I have really noticed that it is becoming a lot more natural to talk and listen to people, and teaching is so much easier!! I really have learned a ton, and I still have a lot more things to learn! Also, before the mission, I always felt like I had an element of shyness in front of people I didn´t know, but after being able to talk (yell) to 40 people in a foreign language on a loud bus, really that had to have scared away whatever remains of shyness I did have!

So these past four months have really flown by, just 5 more chunks of 4 and I am done! This will go by so fast, I can already tell! But now there is a lot of work to be done here! Sounds like things are going great at home (I think I have said that every email for 4 months now), but you are all doing good back home!! I love you all and miss you a lot! Have a great week!


Elder Vaughan