Elder Colton West

Elder Colton West


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Week 30: "Winter" is coming!

Another week has flown by, and with it goes the change.  I feel like every time I blink another month has gone by.  Before I know it I'll be an old man (in missionary years)!

We've been working like crazy this week, and it's paid off.  We found another family of new investigators.  They already attend another church, but they are really interested in the doctrine of eternal families, because that's something that their church doesn't teach.

Which brings us to something new that's going on in the mission.  President Vasquez has challenged us as missionaries to not just teach the missionary lessons, but to teach doctrine to our investigators, from the first contact.  Elder Yaxón and I have been doing that already by giving new contacts a DVD that talks about eternal families.  Presidente took it even further.  In a district meeting, he challenged us to teach about the House of Israel, and how we all can receive the blessings of one of the 12 Tribes.  We've seen a lot of success contacting that way.

Note for non-members: if you want to know more about eternal families or the 12 Tribes, light up the Bat Signal to call for Mormon Man. 

Now, the explanation for the title.  There aren't really seasons here.  The average temperature only varies by about 5 degrees Celsius throughout the year because, you know, tropical climate and all that.  The only difference is that here we have "summer" and "winter", or as gringoes say, the dry season and the rainy season.  Winter is a bit late in starting this year, but it's definitely on its way.  We got trapped in the church on Friday night by a torrential downpour that turned the streets into rivers.  No, I'm not kidding.  There was a good 5 inches of water in the gutters, overflowing the curb.  And the stormwater system was so over capacity that manhole covers got lifted by the water pressure, and a geyser started in the intersection by the church!  That's what the picture is.

Have a good week!

P.S.  The reason for last week's email title is this: in the ward here we have 5 different guys who go by the name "Tito."  So when someone says to talk to Tito, one always has to ask "Which Tito" (Cuál Tito?).

Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Editor's Note: We have received a LOT of pictures over the past 10 days or so from Melissa Vasquez, the mission president's daughter. (HOORAY! and THANK YOU MELISSA!!!) Whenever there is a zone or district meeting, a temple trip, or any other opportunity, this lovely young lady takes a ton of pics and puts them on Facebook for us missionary mommas to share!  I have so many that I think I will share a few each week for the next couple of weeks.  Elder West only sent one this week, of the flooded street, so these extras are a welcomed treat!

Temple Day 5.12.15
Ilopango Zone?
With President & Sister Vasquez
I believe this is Elder West's district in Ilopango.
He is directly behind the sister in the blue.
This is probably his district in Ilopango. Elder West, 2nd from left.
His companion, Elder Yaxon from Nicaragua, is center
Elder West having some fun with Melissa Vasquez,
mission president's daughter and photographer extraordinaire!
The storm-water system was so over capacity that manhole covers got lifted
by the water pressure, and a geyser started in the intersection by the church!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Week 29: Which Tito?

Another crazy busy week here in the mission.  I can't believe how fast this week has gone by!

We did two really awesome things as missionaries this week.  First off, we went to the temple on Tuesday.  And by "we" I mean my zone because most of the others went last week.

For those of you who don't know, the last time I got to go to the temple was in December.  That's a really long time ago as far as temple trips are concerned.  As missionaries we can only go to the temple on days that are scheduled by the mission office, and Tuesday was the first Temple Day in my time in the mission.  And it was absolutely amazing.  The temple is a spiritual recharge beyond what you know, even for the missionaries.  I am eternally grateful that we have temples in this day, and that we have one close by.  Church members: I hope you all are attending the temple regularly so that you can receive the blessings that come from doing so.  And if you aren't, I invite you to repent and claim your blessings.  Nonmembers: please ask your friendly neighborhood Mormons about the temple. They would love to tell you all about it!

The other really awesome thing that we did was a contacting activity as a district.  On four different days this week we went to parts of our areas and contacted every house.  We gave everyone a card with the Articles of Faith, talked about that for a minute, then asked if we could come back another day and teach more.  We handed out 300 cards, and just for my area we got 48 references from this activity, and gave many more people the opportunity to know a little bit more about what the Mormons really believe.

I hope all is going well for you all!  Take care!

Elder Colton West
El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Editor's Note: Sorry for my late posting/sharing. We have had company the past week and tons of senior year activities with Caleb. Commencement was last night and I'm finally taking a few minutes to get Monday's letter posted here. We have no idea what the title of this week's letter means as Elder West forgot to tell us!  I also have a TON of pics of the Temple day and a district meeting that I will post later. 

Outside the San Salvador Temple
(Editor's Note: we love the reflection camera snafu that cause the streak of light above his head.
Kind of symbolized the enlightenment that can come to one's mind when worshipping in the temple)

Monumento al Divino Salvador Del Mundo
"Monument to the Divine Savior of theWorld"

That's a cockroach.  It was bigger than my thumb and invincible. 
I am now very very afraid.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Week 28: Happy Mother's Day!

Because, you know, I always forget about holidays until the day of.  The only reason that I remember what month we're in is because I write it in my agenda.  That's what happens when you have to focus on the here and now as much as we have to.

I got to talk to my family on Skype yesterday!  It was great to see them and talk for a bit.  Though it was a bit weird to speak English.  I've about to finish my third month of having a Latino companion, which means I've spoken very little english.  Ilobasco wasn't too bad, because there were other gringo elders at lunch every day, so I could speak english for 45 minutes or so every day.  This change has been a bit different because I am the only gringo in my district.  So I spend all day every day talking in Spanish.  I'm already starting to lose my English a little bit, if you can't already tell from the way I write now.  It's because my brain is defaulting to Spanish for everything and it takes a bit of effort to think in English.  How weird is that!

We've had a lot of success in this week.  The last few weeks we haven't been receiving as many references as we need, so we have started doing a few things differently to find new people.  When an appointment falls through, we go and talk to the neighbors,  And when we're walking in between appointments, we knock the door of whatever house has the door open.  We've been getting a ton of references from doing that.

We have another baptism date set!  It's with the younger sister of the convert who got baptized my first Saturday here.  She has wanted to be baptized for a while, but first she wants to receive all of the lessons that we teach.  Really, the only reason that she hasn't been baptized already is because she has a really busy schedule, but we're working with her a lot to make sure that she can be ready for a baptism on the 30th of May.  The best part of all of this is that her brother got ordained as a priest yesterday, so he will be able to baptize her!

Well, my writing time is up for this week.  I hope that all is going well with all of you back home!

Photos: I didn't take any pictures this week, so here's two from last week.  Gringo elders here get a tan line from wearing a watch all the time.  Mine isn't that bad.  Yet.


Elder Colton West
El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Skype call with the family!!!!

Sibling time <3

With the watch.....

Without the watch...
Tan of the Man from Gringolandia!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Week 27: Rock 'em Shock 'em Elders

Hey everyone!

I hope that all is going well back there in Gringolandia.  We have been working like crazy down here, and it's really paid off.  We've been finding families to teach!  Any returned missionary can tell you that families are what we pray to find.  We've got a couple right now that are absolutely golden.  One is a part-member family.  The husband is an inactive member.  The wife is, to use her own words, a typical Salvadorean christian, which means that she was raised to believe in God and Christ, but never did anything with that belief.  They have a 6-month old baby, and she's been asking him a lot of questions about the church.  We've been helping a lot to answer her questions, and are encouraging them to go to church.  What really helps is that the husband already has a ton of friends who are members, and want to go with us to visit him.

The other family... Well, we got the reference for them in a very unorthodox way.  I got sick, and the nurse told me to go to the nearest clinic for some exams to find out exactly what I had, rather than try to diagnose me over the phone.  While we were in the clinic the doctor kept staring at our name tags, so while I was filling out my patient information my companion contacted her.  Turns out that the people who own the clinic are all family, and they have received missionaries before.  We talked for a bit, wrote down their direction, and went on our way.  On Saturday we went to try to contact them, but we couldn't find their house.  So we went and asked some members, who happen to be a returned mission president and his wife.  They took us to the house, and helped us teach a little bit of the gospel to this family.  When we invited them to attend Sacrament Meeting with us the next day, everyone in the family said yes!  And the next day they showed up 10 minutes early!  Presidente Hernandez was very surprised, but very happy about all of this, because he and his family have tried inviting them to church before, but they haven't been super positive.

Yesterday we had a meeting called Ward Council.  For those of you not familiar with Ward Council, it's a meeting where the leaders of the auxiliary organizations meet with the bishop and the missionaries to coordinate missionary efforts in the ward.  After an opening spiritual thought by one of the other elders and some words of encouragement from the bishop my companion and I started to tell them about our most positive investigators.  The members of the council were rather astonished to find out that some of their close friends and neighbors are our most positive investigators.  The bishop was also very excited to hear that, and he started giving out assignments to members to help us to teach.  We're going to be reaping the rewards of this for a good while.

We also had a baptism last Friday!  Gabriel, our new convert, is 9 years old, and his family has been less active for a while (I'm not sure how long.)  He lives with his grandparents.  I didn't get the opportunity to teach him much because the last set of missionaries here did most of the teaching, but he's a wonderful kid who is a great example for his family.  His mother, an inactive member, actually came for his baptism, and she felt the Holy Spirit there. It was a wonderful service, and I think it will help the family a lot.

Today we went and climbed a mountain in our zone.  Though by Salvadorean standards, it's more of a large hill.  But the view from the top is amazing!  There are some photos attached to this email, and the next one.

All for now!

Elder Colton West
El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Pupusas Locas! Yes, they are the size of a dinner plate, 
and about half an inch thick, and absolutely delicious.  
I ate two of them, and didn't feel hungry until lunch the next day 
(16 hours later...that's a long time to not feel hungry for me!)

Someone in Valle Nuevo has a pet monkey!

Gabriel and family the night of his baptism.

Panoramic photo from the top of the mountain

In the background you can see some of my area!  It's on the right side of the picture.
To the left is the outskirts of the capital city, San Salvador.

Even Elders have to have fun sometimes!