Elder Colton West

Elder Colton West


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?

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!!!

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!

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!

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!


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!