Elder Colton West

Elder Colton West


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!

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.