Elder Colton West

Elder Colton West


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Week 91: Cloud City

Star Wars reference fully intended.  It has been another cold, cloudy, rainy week here in Berlin.  It's true tropical weather.  Torrential downpours at least every other day.  It's awesome.

It has been a very interesting week here in the San Salvador East Mission.  Hard not to be when we have MultiZonas (multi-zone conferences).  More interesting when you live in the area farthest away from the conference, which starts at 9:00 AM, and you have to be there at 8:30.  Not that I'm complaining though.  MultiZonas are always worth getting up early for.  Especially this one.  Oh my goodness, President Vasquez has received some crazy awesome revelation for this mission.  It's a new way of work that he calls "The Inn."

I assume that most if not all of you readers are familiar with the Parable of the Good Samaritan.  If you would like to read it again to refresh your memory just follow the link and read verses 30-37.

Now, I don't have time to give a full explanation of what President and his assistants taught in the multizone, because that is a good hour of instruction.  But I will give a brief summary.

The parable is likened to this earth life.  We started off in Jerusalem, the Holy City (the presence of God in the premortal life).  The idea is that we can go back at some point.  However, we all get a bit lost along the way, and start heading towards Jerico (hell) because of bad decisions.  When we make a really bad decision, we get beat up by the thieves (sins) and are left half dead on the wayside (we are spiritually dead, or separated from God.  See Alma 12:16-18 for a more in-depth description).  All of the priests and levites (false teachers and prophets) in the world cannot help us.  Only the Good Samaritan (Jesus Christ) will bind up our wounds (atone for our sins) and take us to the inn (His church) where we can rest and heal before starting our journey back to Jerusalem.

Now, this is where we come in.  We, the members of the church, are the staff of the inn.  It is our job to keep everything in order for those poor, half-dead travelers that the Savior brings to our inn.  That's what we're going to teach in every ward and branch in the mission this Sunday: How to make our inn a five-star hotel.

Unfortunately, time's up for us.  I'll tell you all next week about how we're improving the inn.


Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

A bridge in part of my area. It's really only useful when
it's raining because the street floods out something fierce.

Crazy cloudy weather

 More crazy cloudy weather. 
They kinda get stuck to the mountain for
the abrupt altitude change. 
Makes life really cool, literally!

MultiZona photos! 
Elder Perez (not an ex-comp,
but a friend from Zona Ilopango)

Elder Scheel, another buddy from Ilopango.

Elder Durbin!  We were in the same room in the CCM 
(MTC for you gringo types)

Elder Williams!  I finally have a little brother!  
He's with Elder Hood in Moncagua.
(Elder West served in Moncagua;
Elder Hood was Elder West's trainer
in his first area, Ilobasco.

Elder Aranda,
another friend of mine from Ilopango

Elder Lopez (Lopecito) from Honduras. 
Friend of  mine from Zona La Union

Elder Hood! 

Week 90: These Are Not the Droids You're Looking For

(Letter from July 18th)

"These are not the droids we're looking for"
"Move along."
"Move along.  Move along!"

Sometimes I feel like people are trying to pull that kind of Jedi mind trick kind of stuff on us.  They'll tell us that someone isn't home when we just saw them walk inside.  On the bright side, that lets us know that we should just stop going there and start looking for new people to teach.

Speaking of new people to teach, we got an awesome reference this week!  We were walking through town to go to an appointment when a less active member stopped us and told us that he has been sharing the gospel with a friend.  I was rather surprised, since this brother hasn't been to church in about four years.  Thankfully, he still has a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel, and has been sharing it with his friend.  What an awesome blessing for the both!

We went and contacted this friend last night.  His name is Osmín, and he has a very interesting story.  Osmín is paralytic.  7 years ago he broke his neck by diving into a river and hitting his head on a rock.  Thankfully, he had friends nearby who rescued him from drowning.  After the incident, Osmin was fully paraplegic; a fragment of bone had partially severed the spinal cord in the area of the C-4 and C-5 vertebrae.  With time, he regained partial movement in the left side of his body, and was able to start at-home physical therapy to regain more range of movement.  Currently he has progressed to the point that he can stand up and walk a short distance with the help of something to support himself on.

We barely know Osmin, but he is such a huge inspiration for me.  He doesn't let his situation get him down, and he doesn't let it affect his faith.  He has a great desire to learn about the gospel and improve his relationship with our Heavenly Father.  I'm glad to have the opportunity to teach him.  I'll let you know how it goes next week.

Ah, one last thing before I go... I got a new companion this week.  His name is Elder Vasquez (no relation to President Vasquez), and he is from Esquintla, Guatemala.  He came here to Berlin from the most dangerous zone in the mission, Zona Soyapango.  Needless to say, he is very much enjoying the lack of gangsters out here in the most tranquilo area in the country.  I would send a picture of the two of us, but I don't have one right now.  I'll send one next week though.

I hope that everyone has an awesome week!  Don't forget to write to your friendly neighborhood missionary man every now and again!


Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

More crazy weather here in Berlin.
That's what we get for living on top of a mountain!

Pupusas! These ones are made with black beans.
It's a delicious Guatemalan twist on the Salvadorean typical plate.
Blessings of having a cook who used to live in Guatemala.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Week 89: insert witty title here

So, I don't even know where to start...  This week has been awesome!!!  We've been teaching our butts off (if that is even possible).  Tons of lessons this week, 25 new investigators, and 8 new baptism dates!  Holy cow am I tired!  The bright side is that we had a free day for our P-day today.  So I took a nap.  After cleaning the house of course.  We can't leave the house a disaster for the changes.

Breaking news!  The changes have been announced!  And the results are...  I stay in Berlin for another change!  It was very strange hearing that from my district leader.  I thought that I was for sure going to leave.

In other news, I'm in the last 12 weeks of my mission.  Elder Martinez jokingly said that now I start my "un-training."  Ha!  As if!  There's too much work to do.

Well, I don't really know what else to write about right now.  I'll give you updates next week on our investigators, since most of them are somewhat new right now.

Have an awesome week!


Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

this kitten falls asleep in my hand when I pick him up

...and when I put him on the floor he climbed on top of
my shoe and chilled out there during the entire lesson!

we have a rose plant in the garden...
this bloomed this week.

GIANT scorpion!

deep fried giant scorpion...(deep friedn in flaming OFF!)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Week 88: You Can't Always Get What You Want

So this week we have been working our butts off.  Again.  We've been trying to work our way out of a case of "investigators don't want to progress"-itis (sorry for the horrible grammar.  #Missionaryproblems).  But yeah, it's rough realizing that those people you care for so much just aren't putting in their part.  Especially when we've taught them everything we can think of and then some.  The "then some" obviously being what the Spirit inspires us to teach.  We have come to the conclusion that we have some professional investigators.  Professional investigators are people who absolutely love the missionaries.  They love having us over, invite us to dinner, and beg to have fun Family Home Evening type lessons.  But when it comes to getting them to come to church or to get serious about seeking an answer from God about the Gospel, they are total wimps.  Don't read the Book of Mormon, always say  "maybe we'll come to church, if we can," stuff like that.  Yeah, it's frustrating.

So we're going to drop them for a few weeks to see if that helps them.  This week we are pruning the trees and moving a few branches down to the lowest part of the vineyard, a.k.a. the "Former Investigators" section of our Area Book.  Yes, that is a total Jacob 5 reference.  We are also going to graft a few branches from that lower part of the vineyard back into the "teaching pool" tree, to see if they give out tame fruit (in other words, baptisms!!!)

The best part is that the Lord is totally preparing this little chunk of His vineyard for the transplanting of branches.  We've been finding a ton of awesome people just by going out tracting.  Funny story, I used to totally hate tracting.  I would suggest just about any other proselyting activity to try to get out of tracting.  Well, this week it has been working like a charm.  I've known for a while that we needed to try it, but it wasn't until this week that I finally worked up the desire to try it.  Well, I repent for not doing so sooner.  We have found a lot of people that the elders taught back in the day.  And some of them are super positive too!

Moral of the story: Don't be afraid to try new things.  Or old things that you just don't like.  You never know when the Lord has something amazing prepared for you.

1. There was an enormous cockroach on the patio wall.
2. If you look closely, you can see how disgusting it is.  
3. Happy Birthday America!!!  We celebrated today by going to Wendy's for lunch.  And I wore my patriotic tie.


Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

We celebrated by going to Wendy's for lunch.
And I wore my patriotic tie.

Enormous cockroach on the patio wall.
If you look closely you can see how disgusting it is!
Also, it's three inches long by two wide!!! 
Why our Heavenly Father made such a beast is beyond me. 
The little ones are bad enough...