Elder Colton West

Elder Colton West

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Monday, December 28, 2015

Week 61: And a Happy New Year!

Well, the year's just about over  It sure flew by.

This week was a bit slow as far as the work goes.  Many of our investigators were traveling, or otherwise busy throughout much of the week, but we still managed to get 10 lessons in, the majority with members present!

The branch also had a pretty cool Christmas dinner on the 26th.  Now, the branch being a branch and all, we did a lot to help out.  One of the elders was the master of ceremonies, my companion and I were in charge of making up games or competitions to decide who got to take home the presents (there were only 4 presents).  Thankfully, we did not have to cook.  The Relief Society sisters took care of that.  And they did a pretty darn good job of it too.  Gallina rellena (stuffed chicken) and torrejas, a typical Salvadorean Christmas dessert.  It was delicious!

Other than that, there's not much to report. (Editor's note: he DID have a GREAT skype with us...check out my Facebook posts for video and more pics!)

In next week's episode:  Will Elder West get any sleep on New Year's Eve, or will the millions of fireworks keep him up all night?

Love,
Elder Colton West
El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

I've been dreaming of a Star Wars Christmas

A Jedi Master I am.

More Yoda stuff. Cool, right?!

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree!

I like Elder Holland quotes. Elder Holland quotes are cool.

J'adore le Livre de Mormon
(French Book of Mormon from baby sister
who has taken 2 years of French and starting her 3rd)

This is the first time I've seen a $100 bill here.  
These two are recent converts, their mom is landlady 
of several houses here
and someone paid their rent with this.

Christmas dinner with the Branch!




Monday, December 21, 2015

Week 60: Feliz Navidad!

Well, Christmas time is here again, and there isn't even the slightest hint of a winter chill in the air.  It's rather the opposite, seeing as I'm in the east of El Salvador and the Salvadorean winter ended last month.  At the same time, it is very nice knowing that we'll be celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in just a few days.  I'm really excited for it!  I just hope that the members here don't feed me to death.

This week has been an interesting one.  Last Monday I got a call from the secretaries while I was writing.  They told me that I had to go to San Salvador to renew my visa.  Cool, I thought, I get to see the missonaries who came to the mission with me!  Then they told me that I had to be at Migration at 9:30 in the morning.  We had to wake up at 4 in the morning to get on the 5:00 AM direct bus to San Salvador.  It was... Fun.  I definitely took a nap on the bus.  And another nap on the bus back to Santa Rosa.

As far as investigators go, I'm trying to get baptism dates set with a few people who have been eternal investigators for a while.  They're ready, it's just a matter of getting permission from their parents, or of getting them to realize that they're ready.

Time's up!  Have a wonderful Christmas!!!

Love,
Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Couldn't pass up the opportunity to take a picture with
Salvador del Mundo. It's somewhat of a nation emblem here.

They put up a Christmas tree that is bigger
than Salvador del Mundo.

Dinner. Yes it's a chicken foot. They're acutally not that bad,
you just have to get over the fact that you're eating a chicken foot.

We found a hot spring in my area. It is so hot that the water is
boiling when it leaves the ground, hence the steam.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Week 59: Spaghetti Tacos

The results of transfers are in... I'm now in Santa Rosa de Lima.  It's a border town, more or less.  My house is about 15 minutes in bus away from the border of Honduras.  My area goes all the way to the border, though we don't work that far out.  Oh, and everyone says that Santa Rosa is THE hottest area in the mission.  So I have gone from the coldest area in the mission to the hottest.  On the bright side, December is the coolest month of the year down here, so I'm not dying from the change of climate.  Much.
From what I've seen, I'm going to love Santa Rosa.  This town is alive!  There is always something going on, always motion, always noise, at least in downtown.  Very different from Berlin, where everything was closed by 6:00 at night.
The work is going well here.  We have several progressing investigators, and a couple of for-sure baptisms as soon as we can get permission from the parents.
Today has been an interesting P-day so far.  The bus we were on died.  We were on our way to the city of La Union for an activity with the zone.  A guy on a motorcycle pulled up alongside the driver's window and yelled something at him, pointing behind him.  The next thing I knew we were pulling over very quickly.  We soon found out why.  As we came to a stop smoke started pouring in the windows in the back of the bus.  Most of the people on the bus stayed calm, but a few started to panic.  In their fear, the clouds of smoke were as bad as seeing roaring flames.  Lots of screaming and yelling ensued, but thankfully nobody got trampled in the mad rush to get off of the bus.  They thought that the motor was on fire, and that if they didn't get off of the bus that very instant that they would die!


In that moment, I felt a tiny bit like President Nelson did in the experience that he tells about in this video. The other missionaries and I sat in our seats calm as a summer morning watching as other's hearts failed them.  Now, I know that the situation was not nearly as serious as an impending plane crash, but the same principle applies.  Knowing who we are, why we are here, and that we are doing our best to live the commandments of God gives us the confidence needed to be calm in spite of the storm around us.  Even in a life-threatening situation like that mentioned in the video, we can be calm, and have the reassurance that we are ready to meet our maker.

In the end, the emergency on the bus was not nearly as serious as those poor souls thought.  The brakes on the rear left tires had failed, and the brakes were burning.  That in turn froze the tires in place, so the tires were burning.  Hence all of the smoke.  I didn't see any flames, but the cobrador (the guy who takes our money when we pay) and the driver were throwing a bunch of water on the parts that were smoking.  Once they got things cooled down we started on our way again, only to stop five minutes later because the same problem started up again.  They tried repairing it again, and not even a minute later it failed again.  At that point they told us to just get on another bus, and that they would pay for us.  Which was very nice of them.  In the end, we made it to La Union unscorched, just lightly smoked!
Now, for the explanation of the email title.  Yesterday's lunch was spaghetti and rice, accompanied by tortillas (everything here has a side of tortillas).  After eating my rice as quickly as possible (I'm really tired of rice, seeing as I eat it literally every day I eat with a cocinera) I decided to try something different.  Here in Oriente they make tortillas super thin, about the size of two mexican-style tortillas stacked on top of each other.  I decided that they would be perfect for tacos.  So I made spaghetti tacos.  And they were delicious.
That's all for this week.  Tune in next Monday for more of Elder West's crazy Salvadorean adventures!

Love,
Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Feliz Navidad from Yoda aka Elder West!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Week 58: Jalu Puej!

Well, I called it.  Ever since I got to Berlin something felt off.  Not bad, just like Berlin wasn't a perfect fit for me.  I felt since my first week here that I wouldn't stay long, and I was right.  I have changes.  My companion, Elder Newey, is going to train next change, so I'm gone.  I have absolutely no idea about where I'll go.  Predictions have ranged from Santa Rosa de Lima (literally the farthest-away area in the mission) to the mission office (again! But this time it was the secretaries telling me that I am going to be a secretary, not just a prankster district leader) and almost everywhere in between.  We'll just have to wait and see on Wednesday.

The Lord's thoughts truly are higher than our thoughts.  I don't usually understand the changes until the second or third week of the change.  Here in Berlin I was struggling for the first week.  It wasn't until I got to know some of the investigators that I figured out why the Lord sent me here: they needed my testimony to give them the push to start progressing.  And now that they're progressing, I'm getting sent somewhere else to help other people.

I once read a simile in a book that compares missionary work to old-time field work, the kind done by the Israelites in the times of Christ.  Sometimes the soil is not very conducive to farming, so someone gets sent in to pull out the stumps and rocks, and to enrich the soil until it will support a crop.  Sometimes, it takes years to prepare the soil.  Some areas are like this.  The missionaries work and toil for transfer after transfer without results.  But it does not mean that their labor is in vain.  It just means that others will participate in the blessings of their work later on.

After the preparation the field is seeded.  Many times, the sowers do not get to see the results of their labor.  Sowers are missionaries who contact.  They get into doors, teach the first discussion, but get transferred out before baptisms come about.

After the seeding, but before the harvest, there is still much work to be done.  There is fertilizer to be spread and pesky weeds to pull out.  I've done a lot of this work here in Berlin.  I've helped to nourish people spiritually and to pull out the destructive doubts.

Then there is the glorious harvest.  Baptisms.  The thing that everyone hopes for.  I got to do that too.

Unfortunately my time is up, so I'll have to continue this next week.  Talk to you all later!

Love,
Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Editor's Note: it is very rare for a missionary to serve less than 6 weeks (one transfer, or change as they call them in ES) in an area.  The regular changes date for Colton's mission is 12/23. Since this is 2 days before Christmas they had a "short change" of only 4 weeks from their last one on 11/11 and are doing changes this week 12/9.  So this is the shortest he has ever been in one area. We are anxious to see where the Lord sends him next!

TEMPLE!!!

Nativity scene at the temple!

Invitations to the temple

They have Arizona drinks here in some supermarkets.
They are so wonderful!

I'm eating sugarcane. It is delicious!

Christmas spirit

More Christmas spirit!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Week 57: Welcome to the Jungle, Part 2

So this week has been fun.  We have been working like mad.  24 lessons this week, and we have seven progressing investigators.  It's awesome to have people progressing towards baptism.  We have one baptism planned for this weekend!  Hermano Rigoberto S. has been an investigator for a while, and has overcome problems with alcohol addiction, but is finally ready and able to be baptized!

We also have a temple trip planned for this Saturday.  Once again we are trying to bring enough people to fill a school bus.  We just might do it this time.

We have been going out to some of the far-out parts of my area.  Like half an hour walking.  Tuesday, we went to a tiny little village about half an hour away from town, down a rather steep and narrow road.  We went to visit a less active member, but got a reference out of it!  This week we have plans to go out to some of the cantones (villages) to look for new investigators

Well, time is up for the week.  Have a good week!  Talk to you next Monday!

Love,
Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Jungle selfie!

More jungle-ish parts of my area

There were horses in the middle of town. Welcome to Oriente.

We went to a nice restaurant today. I got nachos.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Week 56: Get Your Head Out of the Clouds!

Hello friends and family!

This week has been interesting.  They usually are here in the mission.  We're having more success in Berlín.  Yesterday we got another investigator to church.  His name is Angel, he's about 75 years old and is a super nice, super humble guy.  He is a woodcarver by profession, and has all sorts of cool jobs that he shows us when we go to teach him.  This week he committed to go to church, but only made it to Elders Quorum.  I'm pretty sure that he'll make it on time next week, because the members made him feel wanted, and like he is already part of the branch family.

It seems like my P-days are going to be interesting this change.  Zona Jucuapa, my zone in the mission, is very large.  We cover a very large stake, the stake of Usulután.  Out here in the stake and department (the equivalent of a state!) of Usulután, travel is a bit mas o menos.  From my area, Berlin, buses leave every hour.  This is the only means of leaving town for us, so we have to be punctual.  Last P-day we went to Jucuapa, the zone leaders' area, an hour and a half away from Berlín.  This week we are in the city of Usulután, capital of the department of Usulután.  It's almost two hours away from Berlín.  On the bright side, it's a big city, so as soon as we finish writing we're going to go eat at Wendy's!  Next week the zone leaders want to have a P-day in Berlín, to be fair to us.  We've spent quite a bit of time and money on buses thanks to district meeting, zone conference, interviews with Presidente, and two p-days in other cities.

The buses here are interesting not only for the schedule, but also for the ride.  Berlin is a tiny town near the top of a mountain.  That means that the only ways in and out are two-lane winding mountain roads that aren't always in the greatest shape.  Sounds fun, right?  Now imagine going up and down those roads on a poorly maintained, thirty year old school bus.  Yeah, it's a trip.  The five kilometer (three miles) trip from the Carretera Panamericana (the closest major highway) to Berlín takes nearly an hour.  Getting from Berlín to Santiago de María, the closest town, is 45 minutes.  Getting to Jucuapa is an hour and a half.  And Usulután is almos 2 hours.  It makes life very fun being on buses so much.  The scenery is amazing though.

This week's title explanation: Berlin is extremely high up.  We're actually above the normal cloud level for our area of the country.  Sometimes the wind pushes clouds into the mountain.  That happened this week.  We went out to work after the interviews with Presidente and the whole town was covered in thick fog.  We figured out that it was actually a cloud that was covering the mountain.  It was awesome, but I didn't get any pictures.  If it happens again, I will take pictures!

Time's up!  Have an awesome week!

Love,
Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Zona Jucuapa!
(Elder West is on the far left)

I have caught paisley fever.  
I hated paisley ties before the mission, 
but I have come to love them here.  
I may have bought a few.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Week 55: The Not-So Caliente Oriente

Well, it has finally happened.  I have left Ilopango.  It only took 7 months of working there for me to do all that the Lord needed.  I'm grateful for my time there, but I'm also grateful to have left.  7 months in an area is a very long time for an Elder.

I am now officially in the Oriente.  It is the absolute hottest part of the country.  Except for my district.  We're in a little tiny town way up in the top of the mountains.  It's called Berlín, and it is one of the coolest areas in the misson.  Literally, it's cold in Berlín.  That's fine with me though, it means that I'm not sweating my brains out like most of the missionaries in oriente. 

Berlín is a way different area from Valle Nuevo, and not just because of the climate.  Being a small town, there's not a whole lot in town.  And we're far away from everything.  To get to our p-day in the zone leaders area was about an hour and a half on a bus, and we still have to go back.  On the bright side, the view while we're on the bus is really awesome.

My new companion is Elder Newey, from Ogden, Utah.  So far we get along really well, and we work well together.

As far as the work goes, we're doing well.  Since I got here, we have found 24 new investigators!  Some of them understand better than others, but that's part of missionary life.  Hopefully some of our investigators that we have right now will keep progressing and get baptized soon.

Well, that's all for this week.  have a good week!

Love,
Elder Colton West
El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

For more info on Elder West's new area, see link under "Favorite Websites" on the right.

There was a huge rainstorm on Tuesday. The road got kinda flooded.
(Editor's note: Weds were transfers so this would've been in Ilopango I believe.
Also, don't know what's up with the pinkish umbrella. We bought him a
very expensive black one before he left that was supposed to be bomb proof!
Will have to find out what happened to it!)

The family of our cocinera (cook).
(Editor's note: not sure if this is their cook in Ilopango or his new area.
I'm guessing in Ilopago and this was goodbye before he was transferred)

Saying goodbye to the Cativo family. They're members who
helped us out a lot with finding new investigators.

Elder Newey and me at change meeting.
(Editor's note: this is Elder West's first
gringo companion since March!)


Monday, November 9, 2015

Week 54: I Am Legend

This week was awesome!  Seriously, it was awesome.  We worked well, had a bunch of success, and got up to some rather legendary hijinks while we were at it.

We'll start with the work.  We had some difficulties this week with finding new investigators.  Appointments fell, we couldn't find our references, nada.  We had received a huge blessing from our bishop though: knowledge of a neighborhood where missionaries have never worked before.  It's right on the edge of the ward, and everyone before thought it was part of the other ward.  Turns out that it is part of Barrio Valle Nuevo.  We had wanted to go there all week, but between sicknesses (my comp got sick again!) and phone problems (we didn't want to go to an unknown and possibly dangerous area without a working phone) we didn't have the chance to go until yesterday.  Oh my goodness, I wish that we had gone sooner.  We only had the chance to work there for two hours or so yesterday, but we found 6 new investigators just in that neighborhood.  And it's a super cool colonia.  It makes me feel like I'm back in Ilobasco.

Unfortunately, I won't get to be here to see just how awesome the nueva colonia ends up being.  Yeah, I have transfers.  So this time next week I'll be in another part of the country.  I'm actually sad about it.  I don't want to leave Valle Nuevo.  I absolutely love this area.  The members are awesome, I have great investigators, and there's always food.  But the Lord needs me somewhere else.  So, as the hymn says, "I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord."

Now, I mentioned some hijinks.  We accidentally stole Hermana Vasquez's phone number.  (for the gentiles, Hermana Vasquez is the wife of President Vasquez, the mission president).  Here's how it all went down.  We had some problems with our cell phone, and the secretaries told us that we needed to get a new SIM card from Claro (the phone company).  So we got the okay from our leaders and went to the Claro store in Plaza Mundo.  The woman who helped us there is a member, and fasttracked our service so that we could get back to work faster.  They gave us the new SIM and we started heading to the bus stop to go back to the area.  I decided to call the other elders to tell them that our phone was working.  I was very surprised when Elder Le May answered with "Hola Hermana Vasquez, ¿que tal?"  I replied with "Elder, I'm me, not Hermana Vasquez."  He proceeded to tell me that I had Hermana Vasquez's phone number.  I thought he was joking, but he told me to hang up and call again to make sure that it wasn't a problem with his phone.  It wasn't just a problem with their phone.  We actually had the phone number of Hermana Vasquez.  We went back and got our real number back, but not without getting some humor in first.  I sent a text to elder Le May to show to his companion saying that we can no longer eat pupusas.  He almost believed it too!

My week in a nutshell: more sicknesses, I'm now going to be a legend in the mission, we echar-ed fuego in my area and I'm leaving.  And to top it off, the girl working in the cyber cafe is playing a bunch of really awesome music.  Tender mercies of the Lord, I suppose.

Photos: I don't have any this week.  But I'll send some from my new area!  Promise!  Love you all!  Make this week awesome!

P.S. The secret of the colors in my signature is that they are the colors of my tie that I'm wearing when I write.  This week I decided to put the pattern too.

Love,
EldeColton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Editor's Note: "echar" means "throw" and "fuego" means "fire"....so I will have to inquire next week about his fire throwing in his area! Not sure what he meant!?  We don't know his new area yet, so next week's letter will be exciting to get and find out where his new mission adventures will be!  This is only the 2nd or 3rd time his WHOLE mission that we have not received pictures. I LIVE for those pictures so these weeks are hard. I'm including a few of my fave pics of his mission thus far. He's left us all hanging for a year about what the colors of his signature mean. I didn't ask him to spill the beans so I'll have to find out what made him decide to tell us all now!

Summer 2015 in Ilopango

Temple Day in May 2015. We teased him that the spirit
is so strong in him that it's coming right out of his head!

His first baptism in Feb 2015 in Ilobasco with Elder Hood from Utah

He is SO happy on his mission!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Week 53: Día de los Muertos

Yes, this feels just as weird for me as it does for you all.  Writing on a day that is not Monday really throws me off.  Good thing is that it probably won't happen again while I'm here in the mission.  It's worth it though.

Yesterday we had a rather fantastic activity in the cemetery in my area.  President Vasquez has felt inspiration guiding him to have us help people here feel the Spirit of Elijah.  So the theme of our activity was Family History.  Overall, the activity was very successful.  Just in the one cemetery in one day, we received dozens of references.  Many of the people we had talked to had never heard of or thought of family history, and they were very interested in their descendants and remembering their loved ones.

Mission-wide, missionaries received over 2,400 references yesterday.  That's a rather incredible number for one day.  Everyone here is very happy to see such success.  I'm disappointed that I won't be here for next year's Day of the Dead activity.

On the home front, our two sick elders in Valle Nuevo are doing much better.  Elder Maldonado has made a full recovery.  Elder Le May is around 80%, but improving every day.  Recovering from Dengue, especially when it gets serious, takes a while.  But he's able to work again, so we're all very happy with that.

Well, email time is up!  It always goes by so fast...  Until next week!

Love
Elder Colton West
El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission


Elder West, Elder LeMay and Elder ? at Family History Day yesterday
(Sister LeMay sent this to Sister West)

Our table at the cemetery for Family History Day

The cemetery is called Las Colinas ("The Hills")...this is
the view from the top of the hill.

The baptism of Danny R. He was an investigator of the other elders,
but we taught him while Elder LeMay was in the hospital with dengue.

Bishop Castro took us to Pizza Hut last night. He called President
Vasquez and got permission for us to be out late so that we could go.
It was awesome!




Monday, October 26, 2015

Week 52: Paging Doctor West

To start off, I have a quick announcement.  Next week we will have our P-day on Tuesday.  November 2nd is Día de los Muertos here, so we'll be working that day.

This week was very different.  We did almost no missionary work.  What happened is that an elder from each companionship in Valle Nuevo got sick, at the same time!  My companion, Elder Maldonado, woke up last Tuesday feeling super sick, and the symptoms he described sounded just like dengue.  The mission nurse approved a day of rest, and we stayed home.  We were supposed to meet up with the district leader and Elder Le May for a baptism interview.  They showed up at our house an hour before we were supposed to meet with them, because Elder Le May was feeling super sick too.  So I went to the interview with the district leader, and worked with him the rest of the night.

The next day we were still home sick.  Around lunchtime Elder Le May called and told me that they would be coming to my house after lunch, because he didn't think that he could make it home, and my house is closer to where we have lunch.  When they came over, Elder Le May looked even worse than on Tuesday.  He and Elder Maldonado spent the whole day in bed, trying not to throw up.  Around this point the symptoms of the two sick elders started to differentiate.  Elder Le May had a fever all that day, but in the late afternoon it shot up to 103.8ºF, with the maximum dosage of Tylenol in his system.  We got his temperature back down to less dangerous levels (around 102ºF) with the help of ice packs and every fan in the house.  His temperature was stabilized by bedtime, but he was feeling too sick to try to go home, so he and his comp spent the night in my house.  The two sick elders took the beds, Elder Castro (Le May's companion) took the spare mattress, and I slept on the floor.  Fun, I know.

Around 1:30 Thursday morning I was awakened by Elder Le May.  He said that he couldn't sleep and felt like the fever was worse again.  The thermometer said 104.  Once again, the Tylenol did nothing for the fever, and we had to use ice packs to get his temperature back down.  I didn't sleep much the rest of that night.

Thursday the nurse sent us for a blood exam.  Elder Le May's exam showed 149,000 blood platelets per mm cubed.  That's low, and is a positive test for dengue.  We were told to stay home, manage the fever, and take another blood exam on Saturday.  My companion did not come back positive for dengue, but another exam showed that he has parasites, hence the dengue-like symptoms without a fever.

We spent the rest of Thursday, and all of Friday, in the house.  Saturday we had a double baptism, for an investigator from our area and an investigator from the other area.  After the baptism we got sent to the hospital.  My companion had thrown up blood, and Elder Le May's new blood exam showed a decreased number of platelets.  The doc said that my comp just had a bad reaction to the anti-parasite meds, and gave him new meds, and sent us home that night.  Elder Le May is still in the hospital recovering.

I'm out of time for this week... Have a good week!

Elder Colton West
El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Baptism of Ruby!


Monday, October 19, 2015

Week 51: Livin' On A Prayer

Why is Elder West using a BonJovi song for his email title this week?  Because.....  OOOOOOHH We're halfway there, OOOOOOOHH livin' on a prayer!!!

Yes, I am at the halfway point of my mission.  Last Monday was my "one year left" day.  Next Thursday is my mission birthday.  So that makes tomorrow the official halfway mark.  It's crazy how fast it's gone by.  I feel like I barely got here!  But somehow in the last year I've been able to learn a not-entirely-new to me language, learn how to teach the gospel, gotten used to the millions of differences between life in Central America and life back home, been truly converted to the gospel I'm teaching, had my testimony strengthened like I can hardly believe, and along the way I've helped several people be baptized.  It's incredible, and I can't wait to see how the second half of my mission goes.

Exciting news: Ruby Durán is getting baptized this Saturday!  And her parents are getting baptized next month!  Setting a solid baptism date for this family has been difficult.  They've had some challenges with being able to pass a baptism interview, mainly for the necessary marriage of the parents, but also for some personal problems that have happened.  But I am happy to report that they are willing to get married and be baptized!  Xiomara (the mom) came to church for the first time this Sunday!  We are seeing the hand of the Lord working to move this family to a baptism.  Thank you so much to all of you who have prayed for my investigators, especially for this family.  Your prayers are being answered.

To answer questions about the sickness that I had last week: yes, I am doing better.  My symptoms had disappeared completely the morning after Multizona, and have not returned.  That rules out Dengue, because short of a miracle happening as a result of a priesthood blessing, Dengue does not suddenly go away like that.  And I didn't receive a blessing for that sickness.  It's a good thing though, because if it was dengue, and I got dengue again in the mission, I would be sent home.  The reason is that if you contract dengue a third time it can be life-threatening.  So yes, I am very grateful that it went away.

The climate here has been amazing this week.  It has rained literally every day.  The last three days the clouds have not cleared for longer than 30 consecutive minutes, and there has been rain most of the day.  It's wonderful for two reasons.  One, everything is very cool right now.  Two, all the rain has washed the smog out of the air.  Breathing clean air is rather rare in the San Salvador metropolitan area, so I am thoroughly enjoying it while it lasts.

I found out in this change that people are actually reading the blog.  Honestly, I had kinda forgotten about it.  Two weeks ago, a new elder in the zone (and new to the mission) mentioned that he had read some of the blog before he left for the CCM.  Apparently, someone has put a link to it on Facebook, on the San Salvador Este mission moms page I believe.  Wow.  So "hi" to all of the blog readers!  Hope you're enjoying what I have to say.  And if you have any questions for a real live Elder, send them to the curator of the blog, and she can pass them along.

Time's up!  Gotta go shopping!  Have an awesome week!

Love,
Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Editor's Note: I'm not certain why his "one year left" day was last Monday, the 12th. He left for El Salvador on 10/28 with a report date to the MTC (CCM in spanish) of 10/29.  So, yes, next Thurs 10/29 is his mission birthday!  Perhaps their "one year left day" is a bit earlier because they process them for home before their actual report date so they are home by then? I'm not sure. Does anyone out there know? All I know is if they want to send my boy home around the 12th next year instead of the 29th I would be JUST fine with that! MISS HIM LIKE CRAZY!!!

The San Salvador equivalent of "cold and rainy".
For us it feels like sweater weather.

We had a lizard in the house. It looked super cool
but runs really, really fast!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Week 50: 24-Hour Dengue

So this week I got sick.  I was fine on Monday, then Tuesday woke up feeling sick.  I had the standard flu symptoms, body aches, temperature, nasal congestion, etc.  Before too long, it was way worse.  Joint and bone pains, excruciating headache, and the fever was getting higher.  But I felt cold.  Tylenol didn't do anything to bring the fever down.  Elder Le May (one of the other elders here in the ward) told me that it sounded like Dengue Fever, and to call the nurse.  I did so, but she didn't answer.  So we stayed home all day.  By the time the nurse was able to call me back that night, my fever was at 39°C, or 102.2°F.  That's "have to call the nurse and no work until it goes away" level.  The nurse was very nice, and told me that I had a textbook case of dengue, so stay home and drink lots of water, and take tylenol every 6 hours to help with the pain and fever.  I resigned myself to the fact that I would spend the next 4-7 days suffering, was a good boy and took my tylenol, and went to bed.

Wednesday was Multizona (Multi Zone Conference).  I had a fever of 101.5 and felt miserable, but we went anyways.  I'm stubborn like that.  Something interesting happened though.  I spent the whole Multizona in cold sweats.  By the time Multizona ended, my fever had all but disappeared.  I still had the body aches and joint/bone pains, but I was feeling much better.  We still had to stay home, because the fever wasn't gone, but I was actually able to sit at my desk and study.  At bedtime the fever was at 99.0

The next morning all of my symptoms were gone, with the exception of some muscles that were still achey.  But I was better.  I'm not sure if God has invented a 24-hour Dengue, or if I just had a super super strong 24-hour flu, but I'm grateful that I'm already better.  I'm just going to chalk this one up to blessings for being diligent and going to Multizona even though I was sick.

I haven't written about my new companion yet, so I'll do that right now.  Elder Maldonado is from San Marcos, Guatemala.  He has 8 months in the mission, and was in Zona Soyapango (a.k.a. Soya-Panico) for all of his time before he came here.  So far we get along very well, and work together well.

At the moment we have a few people progressing towards baptism.  One is called Osmín Rodríguez.  He's 60-something years old, but says that he's 102.  We contacted him several months ago, but stopped teaching him for a while because he wasn't progressing.  Not too long after we dropped him, he started coming to church on his own.  So we've been teaching him again.  He wants to be baptized so that he can take the sacrament, but he has to get married to his companion first.  We're working with them to try to get her interested in the idea of marriage.

The others are the Durán family.  They all investigated the church 2 years ago, but only the oldest daughter, Valeria, got baptized.  They've been progressing slowly, mainly because the dad, José, works a lot, and they just had a new baby, Axel, last month.  We're going to marry Jose and Xiomara (the mom) pretty soon, we just have to get all of the legal paperwork for Jose's divorce from his ex-wife worked out.  José and Xiomara will probably be baptized next month.  I just hope that it's before I leave.  We will be baptizing the younger daughter of the family, Ruby, this month though.  Prepare yourselves for pictures!


Time's just about up.  Have an awesome week!

Elder Colton West
El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Trying to bajar ("to drop, to come down") some of the coconuts from the tree. 
We managed to get five down.  And they were delicious!

Elder Ramirez and I with baby Axel.  
Only three weeks old and the little guy already has more hair than I do!  
Yeah, I'm slowly going bald.  It's devastating.


My bible is starting to give up the ghost.  Again. 
The humidity down here destroys the glue in the spine. 
I got a new one though.

I made a pamphlet organizer so that we don't have to go 
digging through boxes looking for the pamphlets we need.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Week 49: Of Conferences and Changes

So this conference was rather amazing.  Three new apostles called and sustained.  I was not expecting that at all.  I didn't believe it when someone told me that Elder Scott had passed away as well.  I thought that there was no way that three apostles would pass away before the next conference.  But it happened, and now we have Elder Rasband, Elder Stevenson, and Elder Renlund as apostles.

Of all of the conference talks, I can't decide which is my favorite. They were all so good!  I learned some awesome things though.

Those who live in the church have probably asked at one point or another "why do the general authorities always tell us to do the same things: read the scriptures, pray, fast, etc."  Elder Larry R Lawrence taught us why.  He compared and contrasted Laman and Lemuel with the Sons of Mosiah.  He noted that both groups had almost identical backgrounds: father was a prophet, but they didn't believe.  Their doubts led them to commit serious transgressions.  They were rebuked by an angel of the Lord.  They repented, and started to do what was right.  But from this point on, there is a critical difference between the two.  Laman and Lemuel did not stay faithful to the small things that their father and brother preached, taught, and exhorted them to do. They eventually fell back into doubt and murmuring, and denied the testimony that they had received.  In stark contrast, the sons of Mosiah stayed true to the principles they had been taught.  "... they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.  But this is not all, they had given themselves to much prayer and fasting."  Obedience to those small commandments made all the difference for them.  Because they were faithful in the small things, the Lord trusted them with the great work of converting the Lamanites.  Because they were obedient, they had the promise of the Lord, and they were able to work great miracles.  THAT is why the General Authorities always tell us to do the same basic things. 

Another talk from the conference that was especially powerful for me was Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's talk about mothers and motherhood.  I had never before even thought about using the same words used to describe motherhood and childbirth to describe the Atonement.  The connection simply never would have occurred to my mind.  And the entire talk is simply beautiful.  If you haven't seen it, click the link above and watch it.  And if you have seen it, watch it again.  It's worth it.

I hope all of you who watched the conference felt the Spirit of God like I felt it.   And I hope that those of you who didn't watch it, or who only watched part of the conference, can set apart the time to watch it this week.  Here's the link.

Have a wonderful week!

Elder Colton West
El Salvador San Salvador East Mission
One of my good friends in the mission, Hermana Kelley, finished her mission last week

We went to a part of my area that we haven't worked in before. 
Looks a bit more like what I expected Central America to look like.

 Zona Chivopango (chivo means cool, figuratively) before the changes

A little surprise! Hermana Hidalgo and Ramon came to say goodbye
to Hermana Kelley. It was awesome to get to see the again!

Editors Note: The Hidalgo's are very special to Elder West. They live
in Ilobasco, his very first area. Hermana (sister) Hidalgo did the missionaries
laundry and cooked their noon meal and they paid her. This extra income is such
a blessing for their family as ES is a very poor country. Hermano (brother) Hidalgo was the
branch president and would keep Elder West supplied with green mangoes which he LOVES!
Their family became like his family. Hermana Hidalgo like a 2nd mom, their missionary mom.
She messages me almost weekly on Facebook Messenger (yes they have internet cafes there!)
and asks about Elder West and sends her love. She says he is like a son to them.
They have a son on a mission in South America and another son, not pictured.