Elder Colton West

Elder Colton West


Monday, October 3, 2016

Week 101: One More Time!

Well, this is it.  My last time writing an email to all of you as a full-time missionary.  This feels very strange.  Not that I'm complaining.  But I feel very odd thinking that in just three more days I will be home.

Well, today I just want to share with the whole wide email list my testimony of this work.  It truly is the work of the Lord.  Nobody but Him would be willing to trust the future of His church to a bunch of 18, 19 and 20, and in my case 23 year olds.  Nobody could possibly trust us that much except for someone who knows us better than we know ourselves.  It is truly incredible what a huge change that such young missionaries can make in the lives of people.  Sending us out to go preach the gospel to the world, inviting everyone to repent and come unto Christ...  God truly is in this work.  Only He could convince investigators to listen to a couple of young men from a foreign country about how to live their lives.  Were this not the work of God, it would never have had success.

If any of you out there doubt that God exists, or that He loves us, let me just tell you that He is there and He does love each of us.  Nothing that we can ever do can change that.  God is always there, and He never moves, never changes.  He never gives up on us.  His gospel can and will change our lives, if we let it.  If we live according to His will and keep His commandments, He will bless us beyond what we can imagine.

I have seen and participated in great and wonderful blessings here.  Greatest of all is the opportunity to watch the miracle of conversion take place in so many lives.  The gospel of Jesus Christ truly is universal.  It applies to everyone, in every circumstance.  Those who follow it receive the blessings that God has promised.  It does not mean that they will not have trials.  Quite the opposite, trials seem to intensify when one lives faithfully.  The blessing is not a trial-free life, but the strength to withstand those trials.  I pray that what I've learned here will be enough for me to withstand my trials that will undoubtedly come in life.  But come what may, Christ is my foundation, "the rock upon which [I am] built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."

Well everyone, it has been an amazing two years.  A bit of a roller coaster ride to be honest, but I have loved it!  I can't wait to get to see and catch up with all of you!  Take care!

Hasta la próxima!​

Elder Colton West
El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Super legit 3rd world bridge between my area and the zone leaders area.
It's literally and I-beam that they put across the river!

Watching conference in comfort



Monday, September 26, 2016

Week 100: Just Dunk It!

Wow, this is the second to last time I'm going to be doing this.  How strange.

Baggy moment aside, we had a pretty good week this week.  The absolute best part was getting to baptize one last time.  That's right, we had a baptism!  Rafael was baptized on Saturday September 26th.  I am super grateful for the chance to baptize one last time in the mission field.

Other than that...  Well, we're working with Rodolfo and his family to help them proggress enough to get baptized.  Really, they are already ready, but we just have to help them understand that.  I'm hoping that Elder McDaniel will baptize them shortly after I leave.  We just have to have a grown-ups only talk with Rodolfo and Julia and get them to decide if they're going to get married or if Rodolfo is going to move out.  That will be for sometime this week.

Well, that's all for now.

Til next week!


Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

We took a goofy picture after doing some boxing traning with former
Central American boxing champion, Tony Portillo. The hats were his idea.

There was  a cow chowing down on the church lawn a few days ago!

And then a few days later we found a tarantula on the wall of the church

Best for last: Rafael's baptism photo!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Week 99: Happy Independence Day!

So this week we celebrated Salvadorean Independence Day.  It was pretty awesome.  We celebrated by going out and doing a contacting activity close to the parade route. We gave out free water and took pictures of people with the Salvadorean flag as a backdrop.  We're going to print out the photos and take them to the people this week.

We have a baptism for this weekend!  He's a 15 year old kid named Rafael.  He's the son of a recent convert who was baptised about 4 months ago.  When his mom got baptized, he didn't want anything to do with the church.  But she didn't give up on him.  She has been trying to share the gospel with him as much as possible since her baptism.  And the hard work has paid off.  Rafael wants to be baptized!  We're planning the baptismal service for 8:00 on Saturday Morning.  A bit early, but the whole ward is going to be a bit busy in the afternoon, celebrating a wedding.  So the baptism will be in the morning.  But the important thing is that Rafael is going to be baptized!

Things are going very well with training Elder McDaniel.  He is on fire!  Always finding scriptures to share in the lessons, helping with the lessons as much as his language skills allow, contacting, everything!  I know that the area is going to be in good hands when I leave.

Well, I'm out of things to write about.  Til next week!


Elder Colton West
El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Elder Vasquez & I

Elder McDaniel & I. Those are legit sombreros!

Elder McDaniel and I at our Independence Day activity

Elder McD in a torrential downpour.

The street turned into a river.  So I decided to go stand in the middle 
on a chunk of pavement.  The rest of the pavement has been 
washed away by the awesome tropical rain storms.

My area.  Pretty awesome.

Distrito Usulutan Sur. 
Left to right: Elder McDaniel, Elder Eve, Elder Dunkle,
Elder Slighting, Elder Fernandez, and Elder West.

Pizza with the Bishop and his family.

The bishop's niece got married on Saturday. 
The happy couple will be sealed in the San Salvador temple this
Thursday, and the reception will be Saturday afternoon

Monday, September 12, 2016

Week 98: P-day? What P-day?

Yeah, we kinda didn't have much of a P-day today.  A sudden trip to immigration in San Salvador kinda took it all up.  It was fun though.  We woke up at 3:30 in the morning to catch the 4:00 bus to San Salvador.  But we kinda missed it and had to get on the 4:30 bus instead.  And by the time we got there there were no seats left.  So we kinda went all the way from Usulutan to San Salvador standing up, or bus surfing as I affectionately call it.  Really, I don't like it at all, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

Anyways, we left so early because last time I went to San Salvador we got stuck in horrible rush hour traffic and were like an hour late getting to where we needed to.  We actually made record time on the trip to the bus terminal: an hour and 40 minutes.  Typically it takes 2 1/2 - 3 hours.  But I'm not complaining.  Quite the opposite, my feet and knees appreciate the rapid journey.  And today, the terrible rush hour traffic wasn't quite so terrible.  We made it to downtown San Salvador by aroud 7:15.  But that's where things got interesting.  I knew that the bus that we were on wouldn't take us directly to our stop, but I didn't know where exactly to get off, nor what bus to take.  So we got slightly lost for a while.  Thankfully I recognized some street names and we were able to get where we needed to go.  With a bit of help from some friendly people who gave directions.

So we finally got up to Immigration, my companion got fingerprinted, and he's now legal.  We'll be getting his green card in a few weeks.  We also made an unplanned stop by the national artisan market to pick up a few things for the family.

Well, time's up right now...  We don't have a ton of email time because we have to go work.  Anyways, I'll send pictures next week, because I forgot the cable for my camera.

Hasta la proxima!


Elder Colton West
El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Editor's Note: since our missionary forgot his camera cable this week I thought I'd post a batch of some of my fave pics of his mission. There are SO many to choose from! I'm going to have a book made for him of all of the best pics!!!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Week 97: Temples, pupusas, birth certificates, and other such things

So you're probably wondering what those things have in common.  Well, they're some of the cool and important things that have been going on in my week.  We'll start with temples...

So this last week we got to go to the temple!  Finally!  It feels like an eternity in between our temple trips where we actually can enter the temple.  For us missionaries, that is our spiritual recharge.  I remember that before the mission going to church felt like a huge spiritual recharge every week.  The sacrament is still a huge important part of every week, but being immersed in the gospel 24/7 the gospel learning in Gospel Principles class and Elders Quorum feels so... Normal.  Going to the temple is where we missionaries can feel that obviously more powerful presence of the Holy Spirit.  And getting to enter the temple is a stark contrast to working in whatever area of the mission.  The temple is an island of peace in the middle of the crazy chaotic hurricane that is this country.  Sometimes I wish I could just stay there.  But the whole reason we are here is to help other people get there.  So it's back to work.

Attached are photos of me with my two "sons" in the temple.  First off Elder McDaniel and I.

Elder West & Elder McDaniel
San Salvador Temple

and one of Elder Socop and I.  He got sent to San Miguel.

Elder Socop & Elder West
San Salvador Temple

On our way home from the temple we made a stop for lunch in a very famous (at least in El Salvador) place called Olocuilta.  Everyone here knows it as the birthplace of the Pupusa, and the site of the most delicious pupusas in the country.  I can confirm that the hype is true.  Those pupusas are the bomb!


The pupusas are the bomb!

In other news, that family of four that we are teaching are still progressing.  That's where the birth certificates come in.  Here in El Salvador one of the required documents for a wedding is the birth certificate.  The interesting thing is that down here anyone can request a birth certificate for anyone.  We just go down to the city office (birth records are kept by the city, not by the state down here) and give them the full name and birthday of the person, and they print out the certificate.  The whole process takes about fifteen minutes and costs $2.10.  We already got one from the city office of Usulutan, and we have to go get the other from another town in our area this week.  Hopefully this time we don't get stuck in the city office for an hour waiting on a huge awesome tropical rainstorm to pass.  As fun as that is, it takes up valuable work time.

And yeah, the weather this week has been crazy.   Tons of rain!  We were on our way to dinner last night when it started to rain.  We have plastic ponchos that we bought, but they only protect you so much.  We were totally soaked from the knees down.  I was wearing boots, but my feet still got wet. Boots don't really keep water out when the water is pouring in from above.

So I only have a month left in the mission....  I really don't know how to feel about it.  On the one hand, I am super excited to go home and see my friends and family again.  On the other hand, I feel like things are passing by too fast.  Very conflicting feelings...  I'll just have to enjoy the time I have left.

Well, that's all for this week.  Talk to you all next week!  Have an awesome week!


Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

That is called a lycha.  
They are delicious, and to top it off it looks like a 
crazy alien fruit from a sci-fi movie.

Zona Usulutan, minus Elder Quintana.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Week 96: I am your father!

Well, this week has been fun.  Starting off,  we went around with Elder Socop so that he could say goodbye to everyone.  Then Tuesday night we stayed the night at another companionship's house so that I could go with another trainer to the trainers meeting.  And we had to be there in San Salvador at 8 in the morning.  So we woke up at 4 in the morning and grabbed the first bus out of town.  Literally, the first bus that left in the morning.  And then we got lost in San Salvador.  We took the wrong bus and ended up on the wrong side of town.  Thankfully, we saw another bus that went back to the right side of town, and got on that bus.  We got to the trainers meeting a bit late, but at least we got there!

At the trainers meeting we met our new companions and received a bit of training from the assistants and from President.   My companion is called Elder McDaniel.  He's from Hurricane, Utah.  He's a really great guy, and we're getting along well.

We've been working a lot the last few days.  So far we've been able to put a baptism date with a family of four.  We're planning on getting them married and baptized on September 17th.

Well, time's up for today.  Have an awesome week!


Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

The elders (missionaries) of the Usulutan 1st Ward at at
service project the day before changes (8.23.16)
Companion: Elder Socop in the grey shirt next to Elder West

Elder West with his new trainee fresh from the CCM (MTC)
Elder McDaniel from Hurricane, Utah

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Week 95: Who's your daddy?!

So I have a super huge announcement to make...  I'm gonna be a trainer!!!  Well, I was already finishing the training of my companion Elder Socop, since he's in his second transfer in the mission field.  But now I am going to receive a new missionary fresh out of the MTC!  Or in unofficial missionary terms, I'm going to have a son!  It's a really big deal for me.  I've wanted to train since... pretty much forever, but God has had other plans for me.  But now I finally get to live that goal of being a trainer.

As far as I see it, training is the biggest responsibility that I have ever had in the mission.  And that's exactly what the assistants told us in the trainers meeting last week.  We set the foundation for the whole mission of these greenies.  As the scritpures say, 

"Verily,verily, I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise." (John 5:19)

No pressure, right?  But I suppose it's just preparation for some not too distant day when I'm married and have a child.  That's what I've figured out in these two years: the mission is boot camp for the rest of life.  It's not easy in any way, shape, or form, because that would defeat the entire purpose of the mission.

The good thing is that I've learned to be much more adaptable.  And much more patient.  Now I understand a bit more why the Lord was so insistent with me that I should go on a mission, despite all of the times that I had said that I did not want to go.  I never could have learned many of the lessons that the mission has taught me.  Patience, charity, service, humility, faith, losing the fear of rejection, how to talk to people I've never met before about something they've never heard of before...  All of that and so much more.  The sacrifices that one makes to serve a mission are so heavily outweighed by the blessings that it's not even worth it to try to compare them.

I am eternally grateful to God for never giving up on me, for working with me until I finally got to the point of listening to Him.  And believe me, it was a very long process.  But here I am.  And it has made all the difference.

Have an awesome week everyone!  Next week I'll tell you about my new missionary.

Photos: this week there are none.  I haven't wanted to carry my camera with me this week.  Things got a bit interesting down here.  But I'll send photos next week!


Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Week 94: I'm in a tree! (BONUS PICS)

A bonus second email of pics we received from our missionary on August 15th:

Photos 1 and 2: 

I climbed up a mango tree at a less active member's house to remove branches that have grown over the house.  That's something a bit dangerous in wintertime down here, because these winter storms are known to knock the branches off of trees.

Photo 3: pretty landscape in my area.

Week 94: Well...That was unexpected.

Email from August 15th:

So when I logged into my mission email today I wasn't expecting to see a little something from the mission... Turns out that they sent me my travel itinerary (I think that's how you spell it...)  Things suddenly got super super real.  I'm about to start my last transfer in the mission.  I really don't know how to feel about that.  So I'm gonna try not to think about it.  I just hope that I get to finish my mission here in Usulutan.  Moving really sucks.  
In other news...  Well, we're on fire here in Usulutan.  The other elders in the ward had a baptism Sunday morning right before sacrament meeting.  Ever since I went to do the interview they said that they weren't sure about when it was going to happen, because of the dad's work schedule.  Turns out that Sunday was the only day he had free.  So, baptism on Sunday morning.  My comp and I went running all over creation to bring investigators to the baptism.  Seriously, we walked something like a mile and a half just bringing people to church.  The bright side is that we had six investigators in the baptism and in Sacrament meeting!  And the best part is that they all stayed for Sunday school afterwards!  Getting people to stick around after sacrament meeting can be a bit of a challenge sometimes.

Elder Socop and I are gearing up to have some baptisms in the next couple of weeks.  First up will be Alexander.  He's a super awesome kid.  He used to be involved with the gangs, but has somehow miraculously gotten out of that without getting killed.  He is super interested in the church, and is getting very actively involved with the young men program.  We're hoping to baptise him within the next two weeks.

Next up will be Rafael or Christopher.  Rafael is the son of a recent convert, but I haven't met him yet.  Christopher is the son of a less-active member, and could be baptized in any moment, we just have to teach him a bit.

A bit later on, we're going to baptize the Gonzalez family, a family of four: grandma and grandpa, and their two grand-kids who live with them.  We're working with the Bishop and his wife to help the grandma lose the fear of the pastor of her old church.

And that pretty much sums up the week.  Take care!

Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Coconuts! They're delicious and nutritious. Especially when
they've just been cut from the palm tree. Yum!

My amazing family sent me a Lego set!

In the beginning, there were only parts without order

And it came to pass that Elder West assembled the Wookiee.

And it came to pass that after Elder West had
assembled the Wookiee that he did build a micro-fighter
that the Wookiee might fly!

Week 93: Awesome Food! (BONUS Pics Part 2)

Editor's Note: More pics from Elder West's Aug 8th email. He loves good food! I tease him that he's sent us more pictures of food and critters than he has of his face and other humans!

He writes: "We went out for mexican food for lunch today.  This monstrosity is called the Tex-Mex burrito, and it is delicious!

Last photo is of the zone, minus the elders from Santiago and Berlin."

Week 93: Cerro de la Cruz (Cross Hill) BONUS PICS!

Editor's Note:  These pics are from Colton's email on Aug 8th...somehow I forgot to post these extra pictures! These are from a hike taken on Pday in Berlin before he was transferred to Usulutan.

Elder West writes: "Photos from our little hike to the top of Cross Hill in Berlin.  And by little hike I mean like an hour of climbing a super steep volcano.  It was awesome!"

Elder West with the town of Berlin in the background


Panorama of the town of Berlin

Always a scouter with his scout hat on

boys will be boys!

the hike

along the way

Cerro de la Cruz (Cross Hill)

Elder West at the Cerro de la Cruz overlook of Berlin