Elder Colton West

Elder Colton West


Monday, February 23, 2015

Week 17: Pedro Pedro, Juan Juan

Hello everyone,

My email is going to be kinda short this week because we don't have a lot of time to write today.  Why, you ask?  Well, we had our interviews with the mission president today!  Every few months we have these interviews so that President Vásquez can check up on how we're doing, and so that we can ask him any questions that we have for him.  Interviews went very well, but since interviews were here in Ilobasco we had to stay from start to end.  We were at the chapel at 7:30 to set up a projector so that we could watch a movie, and we didn't leave the church until almost 4:00 this afternoon because we had to lock everything up.

This week has been... average.  We had to stop teaching a couple of people because they don't want to investigate the church any more, which is sad.  But we've found some really good people to teach, including a young family, which is really good.

Pedro Pedro, Juan Juan is a game that we played at a Family Home Evening (if you don't know what that is, ask a Mormon) last Monday night.  It's the spanish version of the game "big booty" (if you don't know what that is, ask a high school student).  For Pedro Pedro Juan Juan everyone makes a circle and claps a beat.  Everyone has a number except for Pedro and Juan.  Pedro starts the game by saying "Pedro Pedro, Juan Juan" along with the beat.  Juan then says "Juan Juan" and then somebody's number twice.  That person says their number twice, then somebody else's number twice.  You keep going until someone breaks from the beat, or messes up saying a number.  It's super fun, and everyone loves to play it.

All for this week.

Elder Colton West
El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Editor's Note: I wanted to share just a little portion of a personal email I received from our sweet missionary today because I thought it was so precious and a simple yet powerful testimony.  He writes: Keep up with the FHE and family scripture study and prayers.  And keep all of the commandments!  All of them, all the time!  That is one of the big reasons why the missionaries are so spiritual all the time (the other reason is that we are ALWAYS praying).

Our district today with Presidente y Hermana Vásquez,
and their daughter. (Elder West is 2nd from right. Elder Hood,
his companion is on the end next to him).

Some of the people at Family Home Evening.  The hostess gave us cake!

Pedro the Gecko.  He hangs out on the walls and eats bugs. 
He's late on paying the rent though.

The day I caught the gecko, I was on companion exchanges with Elder Rojas.  
He was hungry.  No, he didn't actually eat Pedro.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Week 16: Gone swimming, or, They put WHAT in the soup?!

Good morning everyone!  

This last week has been an amazing one for us here in Ilobasco.  I happened to get the best Valentine's Day present that a missionary can get, a baptism!  And even better, I got to baptize!

The woman who I baptized is named Mariela.  She was an investigator of another set of elders about a year ago.  She progressed well, had a baptism date, and then disappeared.  Moved to a different city, changed her phone number, everything.  Nobody could find her for months.  But the Lord knew that she still was prepared.  Not long after I got here, my companion found her teaching record in our Area Book, and felt like we needed to go contact her.  The next day our zone leaders came to Ilobasco for a baptism interview.  One of them taught Mariela way back when, and he happened to see her on the same bus.  He went and talked to her, and set an appointment for myself and Elder Hood to go teach her.

We started teaching her about two months ago.  From the start, we knew that she would be baptized.  She was so engaged in the lessons, and always kept her commitments.  After teaching her all of the lessons, she was interviewed for her baptism, and didn't pass.  I was so worried, because last time an investigator didn't pass their baptism interview, they ended up losing interest in the church.  That didn't happen with Mariela though.  She just got more motivated, and continued strong in her faith, taking care of those last little things that needed taken care of before her baptism.

This last Saturday, Valentine's Day, I had the privilege of baptizing Mariela.  I am glad to say that she was truly ready to make the covenant of baptism, and I know that she will be a faithful member of the church for the rest of her life.

Both of the events that inspired the title of this email happened this Saturday, the day of the baptism of Mariela.  She invited us to lunch to try something called "sopa de pata".  Sopa de pata is the Salvadorean equivalent of the Mexican dish menudo.  The list of ingredients include corn, plantain, some other Central American veggies that I can't remember the names of, cow foot (cleaned thoroughly, don't worry), tripe, and nerve.  The nerve was the only ingredient that I didn't know about, until Mariela told me what it was.  The title was my reaction: "¡¿ellas pusieron QUE en la sopa?!"  Turns out that tripe and nerve are actually pretty tasty.  The texture is kinda gelatiny though.

I also had to go swimming a little bit after the baptism.  The baptism font here has a push-button drain plug.  Whoever installed it didn't use one with a strong enough spring, so the weight of all of the water holds it closed when you try to drain the font.  We found that out when we went back by the church an hour after the baptism to get our backpacks (we have pupusas after a baptism, and the pupusería we go to is right by the church, so we left our stuff there).  Since leaving water in the baptism font is frowned upon, I had to change back into my wet clothes and go swimming to pull the plug out. Very fun.

Thanks for all of your love and support!  As always, if you want to know more, write me and ask questions!  That doesn't just go for my family, all of you friends can do that too!  Also, tell me what's going on back home!  I'm kinda living in a news bubble here on the mission.  And if you do anything cool, send me a picture!

I can't wait to hear from all of you!

Elder Colton West
El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Me, Mariela, and Elder Hood

The infamous "sopa de pata".  Actually delicious. 
Who would have guessed?!

Some ward members got baby parakeets. 
This one really liked my camera.

Part of my area, as seen from the top of a rather large hill.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Week 15: Red Hot Chili Peppers


This week's letter isn't going to be quite as long as some of them.  We've had some good stuff going on this week.  And I have some exciting news.  This Saturday, I get to baptize one of our investigators!  Happy Valentine's Day to me!  This will be the second baptism in all of Ilobasco since I got here, and the first for my area.  As a district, we have a few more for the 21st and 28th of this month.

The story behind the title happened on Wednesday.  We were having a tough day.  All of our appointments fell through, and the member who we were working with had to go home.  When we got to his house, he invited us in, and his wife offered us dinner.  Of course, we can't refuse an offer of food, so we stayed for dinner.  She had made tortillas and beans (simple, but delicious), and she offered us some home grown chilis to have with the beans.  I accepted the offer, and she brought over several tiny chilis.  She said that they weren't very hot, so I put all of them in my beans.  The first bite of chili wasn't too hot.  Neither were the second, third, or fourth bites.  So I ate a whole chili with the fifth bite.  Turns out that about every 1 in 5 of those chilis is super hot.  And that chili happened to be of the super spicy variety.  Let's just say that I was sweating a bit.  It was delicious though.

As always, I love all of you!  Write me, send me pictures, all that good stuff!  I want to know what's happening back home!

Be good!

Elder Colton West
El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Family Home Evening with a part-member family.

There's a Chinese restaurant in Ilobasco!
Crazy, I know, but they have good chow mein.

I found a Salvadorean Army Special Forces patch lying in the street.
Que Chivo!

This morning we went to the church to study.  
The Ward Mission Leader was there hunting with a slingshot.  
This is what he got!

Editor's Note:
As his letter is much shorter than usual this week I thought I'd share a few things from a short personal letter I received.  He had told his dad in a letter a few weeks ago that he'd lost a lot of weight so I asked about that. I also asked how he was doing with homesickness.  Here are his replies:

"Yep, I'm down 20 pounds from when I left the CCM.  Though I had put on another 10 in the CCM!  They give you a ton of food at CCM Guatemala, and it's really really good, so portion control is difficult.  Elder Hood and I are both really trying to watch what we eat this change.  I'm going to keep up with that for my whole mission.  I want to be back under 170 by the time I come home.

I haven't had any homesick days so far.  Too busy to be homesick.  Don't get me wrong, I miss you all, but I'm really focusing in on my work here so that I can be the most effective missionary I can possibly be."

Monday, February 2, 2015

Week 14: ...and the lame shall walk!

Hola everyone!

Another week, another bunch of crazy things to write about.  First off, we had a pupusa eating contest this week.  3 of the 6 elders in our district participated.  We each had a stack of 20 pupusas to try to eat.  None of us could finish.  I maxed out at 14, beating my companion by half of a pupusa.  Elder Frey won with 16.  It was a fun experience, but I'm never ever doing that again unless I think I can win!

This last week we have learned the importance of working with members.  One day we went to teach a few lessons with a member and ended up getting 10 references in 2 hours, and we also found 2 new investigators.  There are a couple of people in the branch here who know almost everyone in town.  Those two are such a blessing to us!

We also had a crazy contrast between two days this week.  On Friday we had what I call a "trial of your faith" kind of day.  We had a short work day because we had gone to do a service project right after lunch.  We didn't get to work until 3:30pm, so we were counting on our set appointments for us to have people to teach. Every single one of our appointments fell through. And the backup appointments fell through. We walked from one side of our area to the other, and nobody answered their door.  We got home at the end of the day absolutely exhausted, and with no results from our efforts.

In our planning that night we decided to set our goals for the next day high, and to change up what we were going to do. We had a goal from the Assistants to the Mission President to have a day last week with 7 new investigators. Saturday was the day we picked to work for that goal.  We prayed Friday night and Saturday morning for assistance with that goal. And we had the best day of work we've had in weeks! We taught 7 lessons and found 6 new investigators, and another 9 references.

The lesson to be learned here is that prayer works. Some of you already know that.  Some of you may have doubts, or may not believe in prayer. I would be failing in my duty as a missionary if I didn't bear testimony of the power of prayer. I know that it works. I've watched it work in my life, and in the life of others.  You may not get the answer you want. You may not get your answer the way you want to get it. But you will always get the answer that you need, in the way that you need it, if you have the faith to receive an answer and act on it.

Now you're probably wondering what the title of the email is about.  It is about a miracle.  We have an investigator named Cristian (see photo below).  He's 22 years old, and is paraplegic from a spinal cord injury.  About a month and a half ago, he asked for a blessing of healing.  He had the faith to ask people who have the authority to bless in the name of Jesus Christ to bless him.  My companion, Elder Hood, gave the blessing. He didn't promise healing, but he was directed by the Spirit to promise Cristian that he would be able to walk again. This week, we watched that blessing be fulfilled. Cristian has a set of leg braces that go high enough onto his hips that he can stand, and he can walk with a walker. His steps are ungraceful and unbalanced, but he can walk. He has been praying, and so have we, for the last two months for this blessing to be fulfilled.  It has.  Not in a grand manner that would negate the need for faith, but in a way that demonstrates that the Lord fulfills his promises while still requiring us to have faith.

Elder Colton West
El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Cristian, standing! (center)

A mountain of pupusas

Lots of people here have these little parakeets.  Most of them are nice.  
This one got scared by the flash of my camera and pooped on my shirt.