Elder Colton West

Elder Colton West


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!

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!

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!

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.

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!

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!