Friday, May 31, 2013

Downhill From Here, The Kowloon of El Salvador & Praying in Sign Language

Hello Family,
Yes, one year down! I guess I am not so green anymore! It will all be downhill from here!
So like I said last week, I had changes once again! I am now in a place called Los Lencas. It is located in the southern area of the capital. So yes this change does mean that I am going to stay in President Glazier´s mission. There are good and bad things about being in either of the missions, so I am content for whatever happens!
So this week has been very interesting for me. My new area is very different than the last ones. Just in case you lost count I am now in my fourth area! This area in very interesting in many ways. One of the neighborhoods that we work a lot in is called "El Modelo", ironic, because it is not a good model of how people should be living. Let me explain. They are some 6 story apartment buildings made out of cinder blocks and cement. In 2001 there was a huge earthquake and the government declared El Modelo to be uninhabitable. So after that all the people abandoned the apartments and the govt took out all the water and electricity lines so that people wouldn´t be tempted to live there. But, people who wanted a home decided to enter these abandoned homes. They set up a scrambled network of illegal water and light lines so that they could live there. So now El Modelo is a place where a couple hundred people call home.
It gets better, El Modelo is located in a bunch of trees and the buildings are all close together, so it is very easy to get lost in there. We refer to it as The Labyrinth. It is one of the most unreal things I have seen here. Have you heard of or seen pictures of Kowloon Hong Kong?? It reminds me of that a little bit.
Right now we have a couple investigators who live in El Modelo, and the best part is that they are deaf! So that means I am learning some sign language to teach them! My companion Elder Muñoz knows a little bit, and in my one week here I have learned enough to get around. Each Saturday the investigator teaches a free sign language class in the church so that all can learn, and be able to better communicate with him and his wife, as they are both deaf. Last night after teaching them about prophets, they asked me to say the prayer, or better said, do a prayer with my hands. Probably the coolest thing ever, even though it was super short and basic. I knew enough to do a decent prayer.
Well as I was starting this letter the power suddenly went out so we decided to go to TGI fridays and eat real fast. Then all of the sudden we had to take care of a few missionaries who have visas that expire today (Elder Muñoz is the migration/travel secretary) so we ran around for a while taking care of stuff. Fun day. But here I am now!
Oh.. the flying ants. The other day we woke up to find a ton of huge ant like creatures with wings everywhere! We later figured out that they are called "Sonpopos de Mayo", they only come out in may. really freaky things. Every step we walked on the street we crunched a couple of them.
Well that has been my week. Sounds like all is normal back at home. And by normal I mean, not. I hope that you have a fantastic weekend! Can´t wait to talk to you next week!!

Love Elder Vaughan

Friday, May 24, 2013

Moving Again, Best Friend & Crazy Stories to Tell...After the Mission

Hello once again!
Well if you read the title, I have changes again! About an hour ago President Glazier called me telling me that I have changes today! That means that I will be in the east mission now, not the west Belize mission, which is kind of a disappointment. I am not quite sure what the reason for the change was, he just likes to make lots of changes in the mission. So I will still be here in San Salvador working in the office and all, I will probably be in the office for a lot more time.
I am actually kind of sad about these changes because I just got to the area and was still meeting all the members and stuff. So now I get to start from zero again. In the following week I am sure that we will see so many changes with everyone as President decides who he wants and where!
So yes, this does mean that I will be in the East mission with President Glazier, which is cool because I will finish the mission with the same president that I started with! Another cool thing is that the east mission is so much bigger, is has some larger cities in the east like San Miguel and Usulutan. So with this change it looks like I will get to see more places other than San Vicente and San Salvador. The west mission is honestly really small, just the capital, a few other parts and Belize.
The other cool thing is that my new companion is literally one of my best friends here in the mission, so I am pretty excited for that part!
This week I had an interesting experience as we were walking down the main boulevard, but I should probably save this story for another day... after the mission. I am sure after the mission I will have a ton of crazy stories to tell. I was just reminded this week that this really is a dangerous country and that we need to always be as careful as we can! Don´t worry though, absolutely nothing has happened to me. The worst that I have had happen to me in the mission was Montezuma's Revenge, if you know what I mean.
Well, all is well here, crazy, busy, kinda stressful. But well. I will probably spend a lot of my p-day packing and moving again! I hope that you all have a great week!

Love Elder Vaughan

Friday, May 17, 2013

Covering Two Areas, New Mission & Skype

Well this week I did have changes! Right now I am serving in two wards, Miralvalle and Miramonte. That means I am covering two areas, and being an office missionary, I have half the time to do it. Just when I thought the mission couldn't get more stressful, it did. Right now it is really hard writing because people wont stop calling me! Everyone always has problems with everything on pday, and they all have to call me. Before being in the office I always thought having a cell phone as a missionary would be great. To me it is a curse. I love working in the office, I just hate when everyone has problems and I have to magically fix things.
Well I am with Elder Del Val, he is the migration secretary, and we are working, just us two in the two areas. We don`t know anyone or anything here. It is crazy. We know that there is a lot of work to do, but we don`t know where anyone is. So that is super stressful. And the two areas combined are GINORMOUS!!!! We are slowly starting to figure out this place and all that. Yesterday we found an investigator who is super awesome. So far I like my new areas because in general the people have more money. Although it is still El Salvador and is a sketchy place, behind the razor wire the people have some really nice houses!!
The stake I am in is called Los Hèroes, which is the temple stake. Yesterday we went to a zone meeting, which means we got to go to the stake center on temple grounds and all that. It is really cool being here in the temple stake! Also, that means I will be in the El Salvador West Belize Mission. Geographically its a really small mission, includes a good chunk of Sansal and a few outer towns and Belize. So I will probably spend most of the rest of my mission in the capital here. I am good with that! Also, I will be with the new Mission President when he gets here. His name is Prez Hintze, I am kind of imitated because he used to be on the financial head of the church, yes the whole church on a worldwide level. So I imagine that when he gets here he will want the finances to be perfect. So these weeks I will be working hard to make sure everything is well organized and running well.
That is about all that I have to share for now. It was really great talking on Skype for Mother's Day! I hope that this coming up Christmas will be the same `ol situation with Skype access and all. In fact it is possible that I will still be in the office, maybe, maybe not. We will see. I hope you all have a great weekend! Love you.

Elder Joshua Vaughan

Friday, May 10, 2013

Packages, Baptism & Filth

Hello World.

So first off, thanks for the package Grandma Suzi. That was really great of you! Me and my companion are enjoying everything that was in there. And thanks Mom and Dad for the package as well. Me and my companion are enjoying that one as well. On Wednesday we will both be transferred to a new area (always working in the office) just a new area that is closer to the office. We hope that we will have a oven there to bake the b-day cake! And if not we can always make pancakes!

So this week we did have a baptism, for an older sister named Magdalena. She is a great faithful lady. It is funny because all of us missionaries joke around saying that she is more holy than us Elders!

So yeah, like I said, on Wednesday Elder Gonzalez and I will have changes to a new area to accommodate the division in the mission. We will be in a new area called "Miralvalle", well that's what we think at least. Being there will make the daily commute to the office much shorter. This area includes the richest neighborhoods in the country. It is where the mission president lives as well as the prez of El Salv (Mauricio Funes). So yeah, a big change from ghetto SanVic to here.

Well this Sunday we will be talking on Skype yet again!! I hope you have questions for me so that I can have something interesting to say. Dad told me that he and Chris went to Vegas for a couple days. He said that at the end of the two days there they were more than happy to be leaving that dirty place! I guess you can now somewhat understand how I feel here in this place. It really is so full of filth. Literal filth (garbage dirtiness) and sinful filth. Setting aside the nastiness of the gang activity here there is a ton of sin going on here. So many women are stuck raising families on their own because of unfaithful husbands, or maybe they didn`t even get married in the first place. With all the junk in this country, the church and all the good stuff the gospel gives us is a real piece of heaven for the people here. Whenever I catch a glimpse of the news its only talking about two things, one the violence and gang stuff, or two, the migration laws in the USA. The news is really depressing here in this country. You would probably be shocked if I were to tell you what the daily homicide rate is here. Whatever, it is what it is.

So I am excited for Mother's Day to talk to you all. I am sure that I will have more things to say when the moment comes! I hope that you all have a great weekend, I will see you soon!

Elder Joshua Vaughan

Friday, May 3, 2013

Our Little House, Rainy Season & Bowling

Hello again!

So yet again it is P-day. Thinking back on the week, I can't think of much to say, it is just kinda hard to remember what has been happening. Well this week we moved, I didn't have changes yet, we just moved to a new house nearby. Where we were living before we were in the mission "hotel", where all the Elders come and stay the night when they are just arriving or leaving the mission. So as a part of all this mission division stuff, we are getting a new "hotel" and a new office, and all sorts of new stuff. So I am still working in the ward San Ramón, but now living in a tiny house because soon us office missionaries will be transferred to a new area and in San Ramón there will be regular non-office missionaries. Anyways, for a couple weeks we will be living in this tiny house for a while.

Remember one time how I said that San Salvador is like the Japan of Central America? Well we are now living in one of those neighborhoods ("colonias") that is super crammed together and all the houses are super tiny. Its kinda cool, but not really. The worst part is that I am back to taking cold showers, no more heated shower for me! But it's nice, the small house is easier to clean. If your are interested to see where I am living and all that, on Google Maps search "Residencial Granada San Salvador" that´s where we're at!

I assume that on the 15th we will be moving to another area called Miralvalle, which is really close to where we are now. President Glazier really likes surprises and thus he doesn't keep us in on the loop of what his plans for us are. My honest best guess is that I will be in the mission El Salv San Salv West Belize. Don't ask why, that is just my best guess from the rumors and stuff that I hear.

So last night the rain came back. Since October we have been in the dry season, and yesterday we had a huge rain storm. And we got caught in the middle of it last night, it was super fun. We were trying to get to an appointment we had, and buckets of water started falling and the craziest thunder and lightning ever! So when we got back to the house we were soaked head to toe. Pretty cool. Its nice to finally see a change in the weather here after all this sun and stuff!! I am going to have to look for my umbrella, it is probably buried in my suitcases.

Well tomorrow we have a baptism planned for a lady Magdalena. She is really great. The best part was how we have seen her testimony grow through her faith and her commitments that she has kept! She has progressed a lot and we are excited for her!

Ummm... that´s about all that I have to share this week. Pretty soon we are going to eat at TGI Fridays. I am kind of excited. Oh, and last week we went bowling. Here are the pictures:

I hope that you are all ready to have a great week again, I can´t believe that the school year is coming to a close yet again! I love you and well talk next week!


Elder Vaughan