Elder Colton West

Elder Colton West


Monday, April 25, 2016

Week 78: The Craziest Changes of All

This last week has been a week!  We'll start with Sunday.  Sunday morning we went to bring people to church from Platanar, a cantón of Moncagua.  We woke up early to be there at 7:30 AM,  walked all over creation inviting everyone we know, but only three people could come.  It was kinda frustrating to have so few come after so much work, but at least we got people to church.

On Monday the Zone Leaders told us the changes.  

Drum roll please...............................................!!!!

I got sent to Berlin again!!!

It's something that doesn't happen much, but there is a reason for it.  I'll start from the beginning ...

When I left Berlín my companion, Elder Newey, received a brand new elder as his companion, Elder Sabán.  Fast forward a bit and Elder Sabán received an elder who was at the end of his mission as companion.  This last change Elder Sabán started having back problems.  They got so bad that the doctors said he needs to go home.  The same change that his companion finished his mission.......yeah, a bit difficult.  With both of the elders leaving, there are only two options.  Whitewash the area (put two elders who have never been there before to re-open the area), or send an elder who has served in the area before with a new companion.  And, as we can see, the Lord took the second option.  And thank goodness I'm back here.  The rest of the country is horrendously hot right now.

My new companion is Elder Hernandez, from Honduras.  He is new in the mission, just finished his training.  We get along very well, which is good.  A lot of Hondurans are a bit... difficult.  But he is a very good kid.  Very humble, very loving towards the people, and very faithful.

There is a ton of work for us here in Berlin.  Not only are we re-opening the Elders area, we also have to re-open the sisters area!  Yeah, they took the sisters out of Berlin.  One of the sister missionaries who was here last change got sent home, also for back problems!  Right now, there are way fewer missionaries in this mission than when I started, so President Vasquez didn't have anyone to send here.  So, the area was closed.  Elder Hood (one of the assistants now!) told me that part of the problem is that the church has opened several new missions, and as a result they are not sending quite as many missionaries to existing missions.  The other part of the problem is that we have had a lot of missionaries return home early for health problems

So, back to the summary of the week.  Tuesday was my first time going through the new changes.  What we do is pack our bags and take them with us on the bus.  Yeah, it's no fun at all.  Thankfully, our bus stopped right in front of the bus terminal.  When we get there, we wait for our new companion.  Once he's there, we get on another bus that takes us to the new area.  For me, things were a bit complicated.  I was supposed to be in a trio with Elder Sabán and Elder Hernandez until the Area Doctor approved sending Elder Sabán home.  However, Elder Hernandez's bus was late in arriving.  Super late.  We were worried that we wouldn't be able to make it to Berlin because the last bus leaves early, so I left for Berlin with Elder Sabán.  The assistants told us that they would send Elder Hernandez with our new district leader the next morning.

Wednesday morning we got a call from the assistants from the Central area of the mission, telling us that they were on their way to pick up Elder Sabán.  Which was a bit of a problem, because Elder Hernandez still hadn't arrived.  The Assistants ended up waiting at our house for an hour and a half.  When Elder Hernandez finally arrived in Berlin we took his stuff to the house and sent Elder Sabán off with the assistants.

Wednesday evening we spent visiting members who I know from last time, introducing my companion and setting appointments for them to take us to the houses of investigators of the other elders.

Thursday we got to see a man who I baptized in December, Rigoberto.  He's still going strong in the church!  We also visited a sister who was baptized shortly before I arrived in Berlin last time.  Thanks to her wonderful example of faith, her mother is investigating the church and wants to be baptized!

Friday we met our next investigators who will be baptized: the cousins of the Releif Society president (cousin and her boyfriend).  They are golden investigators!  Their baptism date is set for the 15th of May.

On Saturday we left with a member to visit the less-active members of Berlín.

And on Sunday we got to see the semi-remodeled chapel.  They have knocked down the walls separating the chapel from the classrooms so that the branch can fit in the chapel for sacrament meeting.  Since there are now no classrooms, the church has rented a house next to the chapel and remodeled it to host the Sunday School classes.

Sunday evening we went to visit a sister who was baptized almost a year ago, to see if she and her son can help us find investigators of the sister missionaries who were here.  Not only did she commit to do that, she also introduced us to her entire family, several of whom are willing to take the missionary discussions!

The work of the Lord is advancing here in Berlin.  When I was here last, sacramente meeting attendance was between 60 and 75 people.  Yesterday we had 84 people in attendance.  Before too terribly long Berlin will be a ward!

Time's up for us.  Thanks for reading!  Next week I'll tell you all about our area and the awesome new house that the elders moved to after I left.


Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

At the Temple!

 Elder Tello and I outside the temple

 I FINALLY got a picture of the torogóz. 
It's the national bird of El Salvador, and are somewhat rare to see.
 I've seen several, but this was the first one that has
stayed still long enough to take a picture.

New suit!  Tailor made for $35 plus cost of fabric. 
Thanks Mom and Dad for an awesome birthday present.

According to the tradition of the Elders,
when an Elder completes 18 months in the mission,
he shall burn a pair of pants. 
I celebrated a few days early with a ruined pair of pants.

 New suit, new tie, same old elder!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Week 77: Into the Future

It's the last P-day of the change.  Crazy how fast they go by...  What's worse is that I only have 4 changes left!

At some point today they're going to tell us who has changes.  Originally they were going to tell us yesterday, but that plan got changed.  So next week I'll be able to tell you what happens with changes.  No, I don't have any predictions or anything.  We're just going to have to wait and see.

We're still working with Ricardito so that he can get baptized.  We had to move back his baptism date by a week because he didn't make it to church this week.  In fact, nobody from chapeltique made it this week.  There were some... transportation issues for the folks out there.  But next week, he will be there.  And he's going to get baptized!

So, this week I took some awesome photos.  Unfortunately, I don't have any way to upload them right now.  And time's up.   Sorry for the short email.  I'll send more next week.

Keep on being awesome!

Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Editors Note: Elder West spent most of his email time this week emailing his brother and sister. Cheyenne received a nice long email from big brother. Caleb was able to email back and forth with our missionary a little bit for the first time in 18 months. We look forward to a nice long group email and pictures next week!  For now, I will include one of my fave pics of his mission so far.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Week 76: It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! Again!

That's right folks!  For those of you with exceptional memory, you may recall that I sent an email with this same title around this time last year.  For those of you who, like me, only have normal memory, the most wonderful time of the year is mango season!  And living in the tropics, we get the good mangos, the ones that ripen on the tree.  They are incredibly delicious, especially with chile.

It is also a wonderful time of the year because we are working like mad and seeing results.  Right now we have three baptism dates set.  I'll tell you a bit about the most positive of them: Ricardito.

Ricardito is the 13-year-old gransdon of a recently reactivated member from Chapeltique.  He actually came to church once before we started teaching him, thanks to his grandparents inviting him.  We've been teaching him for the last couple of weeks.  He is very positive, and does an extremely good job paying attention in the lessons.  That usually is a big challenge when we teach kids.  He's really good about completing his committments to read and pray, and we put the goal that in a few more years he is going to go on a mission to Argentina and baptise Messi (his favorite futbol player).  His baptism date is for the 30th of this month.  I'll keep you udpdated on how things go with ricardito.

We're also working a ton with the less active members of Moncagua.  As always in Central America, there's a lot of them.  Yesterday four of them who we have been visiting made it to Sacrament meeting.  And even better, one less active family brought an investigator with them!

So yeah, things are looking good here in Moncagua!  I hope that all of you have an awesome week!  If it's really awesome, send me an email telling me about it!  Yes, I am guilt tripping you all about emails again!  Yes, you are allowed to email me!  Yes, I want to read your emails!  And Yes, I will respond!  So write me!!!

Okay, well, time's up for this week.  Take care!


Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Hard-working companions!

Mangos. Or what's left of them after I find them.
They're especially delicious with chile.

Even more "Tie Challenge!"
Another week, another 7 ties
(he must have forgot a picture because we only received 6).
 Only 13 more to go, because Ricardito's grandma gave me 2 ties this week,
and I traded a tie with another elder to get the one I'm wearing today 
(lower left is a hot off the press pic of Elder West TODAY! 4.11.16)

Monday, April 4, 2016

Week 75: Conference Weekend

Another week has flown by.  They're just getting faster and faster.  This week a couple of noteworthy things happened.  Firstly, we had our quarterly interviews with President Vasquez.  

Interviews are always something that I look forward to here.  For one, interviews means a break from the routine.  But much more important than that, Presidente likes to teach us something that he has learned in his personal studies that he thinks will help us out as missionaries.  This time, he taught us about how we can increase our success in our areas.  He taught about trusting more in the Lord in every aspect of missionary work, asking Him how to proceed with  the work.  And then he taught about a promise in Doctrine and Covenants 11 that applies to us. 

8 Verily, verily, I say unto you, even as you desire of me so it shall be done unto you; and, if you desire, you shall be the means of doing much good in this generation.

Pretty awesome promise, isn't it?  We're going to be putting it to use in the coming weeks.

This weekend, we thoroughly enjoyed General Conference.  Some of my favorite talks: Elder Kevin R. Duncan (president of the Area Central America) in the saturday morning session, President Uchtdorf and President Nelson in the Priesthood session, and Elder Holland in the Sunday afternoon session.  All of these talks (and the rest of conference) are viewable at lds.org.

A couple of other things to write about...  Well, our missionary temple trip got postponed to this week, so I'll tell you all about that when it has actually happened.  The temple trip with investigators went well.  We didn't get as many people there as we were hoping for, but the trip was a success.  We had five investigators there, and my companion and I had a part in the presentation.  We actually were on the news thanks to that!  The video is available through my mission president's facebook, also on Hermana Vasquez's facebook.

I've received some questions about the birthday celebration that we did as a zone a couple of weeks ago.  Well, since there were four of us, we did a little gift exchange.  Photo is attached to the email.  I narrowly escaped getting my face smashed in a cake, thanks to the fact that nobody bought a cake!

Well, that's all for this week.  I hope that this week goes well for all of you.

May the Force be with you!


Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Birthday gift exchange March 21st, Elder West's actual bday
(they all had bdays within a week or so of each other)

This weeks installment of the "Tie-A-Day Challenge"
7 more ties pictured, and 18 to go! 

This Arizona boy is right at home catching geckos and lizards
in his casa, just like at home in AZ!