All packages are to be sent through the U.S. Postal Service. They do seem to arrive intact within 2-4 weeks.
Elder Daniel Blanchard

Mision El Salvador Santa Ana

Apartado Postal #142

Santa Ana, El Salvador, C.A.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Week 21 (Campestre, Atiquizaya)

Well between yesterday and today nothing much happened. This Wednesday are changes, and so far this morning we haven’t received a call, which means no changes for us. Which means I get to finish training him in this area.

Yeah this week was a little hard because everyone was visiting their family or out shopping and preparing for Christmas. But Christmas day was probably the best for us. 

They celebrate Christmas on the 24th which was super weird for me. But the day before and after Christmas we couldn’t find anyone in their house and no one wanted to talk to us. But Christmas day literally everyone either invited us in or asked us to come back another day. We found a couple new investigators so this next week should be good. And then we had like 5 people offer us a ride on our way back from Nuevo Amanacer which is about 50 minutes by walking through jungle. But we couldn’t accept cause we can’t ride in the back of pickups. But that was the first time in my mission I had people offer to take us. Yay for Christmas spirit.

First he tried fixing his hair with a razor without using a mirror. Then he tried fixing it with sharpie. Didn't work. Then he used shoe polish which actually kind of worked. 

Um other than my comp shaving a chunk off of the side of his hair with a razor trying to fix his haircut without a mirror, and our investigator not being able to be baptized due to his abusive girlfriend whose son is in a gang so he’s afraid to leave her and doesn’t want to marry her. Nothing too eventful here.

Christmas Activity in the mission office in Santa Ana.

Christmas (24th) was pretty boring too. Here they don’t really do anything. Like 6 years ago I guess everyone used to go super crazy, like the whole world was out in the streets drinking talking dancing, blasting music and lighting fireworks. But one of the members told me that something changed and as of 6 years ago it’s been super quiet during Christmas time. For this reason we didn’t have to return early. 

We bought a cake and ate it for my birthday along with the making of the empanadas.

I made empanadas from pure memory. Even though I never learned how to make them. And they actually turned out Mas o menos.  Making the dough not knowing how to make dough. All i remembered is seeing flour and eggs and oil when mom made it before. Also that chile bottle was my rolling pin.

The only thing that was crazy was about at 11 o’clock at night, everyone went crazy with fireworks. the 4th of July can’t compare to what I heard outside of our house. For 2 hours straight there was fireworks. I did not hear a single moment of silence. And these were right outside of our house too. I thought I had been transported to Vietnam of Afghanistan because it was so loud. There were little fire crackers going of constantly and occasionally a huge boom from a larger one, so it literally sounded like I was in a war zone. But honestly with this country it could have been both fireworks and guns outside haha.

Love Elder Blanchard

Monday, December 19, 2016

Week 20 (Campestre, Atiquizaya)

Merry almost Christmas. This week was eh. It was good in some parts and eh in others. First off the good. This week we put two dates for baptism for some people we have been teaching. She is the sister of the ex-bishop here and she had been evangelical all her life but just recently started not liking it. Her brother invited her to come to our church but she said no because she thought we worshiped Joseph smith and only used the Book of Mormon, but then he got her to come to the devotional of Christmas, where they only talked about Jesus, and after the devotional he asked her how many times they mentioned the name Joseph Smith. 

But she really enjoyed it and got super excited about our church and actually came to church the next day. Which all the talks were about Jesus Christ and used only the bible. After sacrament meeting we had class, and for investigators we have a gospel principles class that the bishops wife usually teaches but she came to me before sacrament and asked me if I could teach it because she was leaving after it ended.

Well I was supposed to teach on the Gathering of Israel, but I decided to teach about the life of Jesus Christ. She really enjoyed that too. Well we had the lesson with her and she said she absolutely loves our church and thinks she and her daughter and her granddaughter are going to be staying for a while. (The daughter of her was already baptized about 8 years ago, but her granddaughter no) The only doubt she has is she is having troubles with being rebaptised but she and her granddaughter are preparing for the 14th of January.

With A.....we found an obstacle. He isn’t married with his wife. He always referred to her as his wife so we just assumed until we had the talk about the law of chastity. He knows too he is in fornication, like he was showing us scriptures in the bible that talks about how bad fornication is. The only problem is he doesn’t want to marry [A woman like that].

Also with the boy who we found last week who already knew that these things were true. His parents kicked him out so he is moving to Guatemala to live with his aunt. So that kind of sucked.

I attempted making brownies. But it was a gas stove. And i made bricks instead.
We also had a weird experience this week contacting. We knocked on a door and a super old lady came outside. We asked her if we could give her a pass-along card and she said yes but seemed super grumpy. Well we asked her name and she replied some super long name and then said the last name like 3 times in a row really emphasizing it and after said, the only Italian here among these people and I am catholic all the way since I was born. 

And at this point I think she’s just being weird cause she doesn’t like Mormons but then things got super weird. She started talking super bad about the youth that lived around her and then was like, I don’t sell marijuana! and then proceeded to point out every neighbor who had marijuana. 

Then she started talking about how someone planted the orange tree in her back yard. Then she started to see something about how the pants we were wearing were her pants. Then a neighbor of hers passed and the old lady says, [You hear that, we are talking about the Witchery you take part in!] super loud, and I almost started laughing super hard. 

Then she continued to talk about her two husbands and about how all the religions suck. The again about all the youth smoking marijuana but the next day going to church, but then she stopped in the middle of her sentence and started whispering and pointing saying, Look, there he goes, he is leaving right now, Look at him, We looked and there was nothing. So we get super scared because it seems like she legit saw someone. So my comp was like thank you hermana we need to go, but she kept talking to us, and then another neighbor passed and she started talking super loud about him also, then she started talking about how all her children are pilots. Then back again to how our pants were hers. Then about how she had a lot of guns in her house haha, it was super weird.

I learned to make catrachas. Which are food they eat in Honduras. Its a fried tortilla with beans and cheese. I call it Mexican pizza.

Tomorrow we have a huge Zone party and on Wednesday we have a huge Multi zone party. So that should be fun. Also tomorrow some members are gonna give us dinner for my birthday. We are going to cook empanadas. She served her mission in Argentina so we are going to attempt to make them. we were going to do it on Sunday but they forgot to buy the stuff.

It rained for the first time in a long time so we weren't prepared. 

This week in service was pretty cool though. We went to another area with our district leader and the other elders in our district and we did some service for them. The older Elders are basically building a house for them but they needed our help this day because they needed to remove a huge tree. We spent six hours giving service to them and after all of our hands were destroyed. 

But we had to first remove all of the branches from the tree with a machete because the axes the had kept breaking. These weren’t small branches, they were pretty big. We had to climb the tree too to get to the high branches. Then after we removed all the branches we had to dig around the tree so we could get super close to the roots. Then we and to cut the base of the tree. By this time a working axe arrived but it was still super hard, because it was super awkward cutting that low on a tree, and the tree was still super green. While two people were chopping the tree the other four were digging a hole for the neighbors but the soil was basically as hard as concrete so that was hard and took a lot of time too. 

After about 2 hours we finished the hole and the tree was about ready to fall. So we attached a rope to the top and all of us pulled and it came down. After we took the tree down we needed to cut it up into a lot of small pieces. It was hard but that day was super fun.

Hope you guys have a good Christmas

Love Elder Blanchard

Monday, December 12, 2016

Week 19 (Campestre, Atiquizaya)

Well this week I did not get drunk so that is definitely an improvement from the last week. Also we had our investigators actually come to church. What a miracle! Right now we are having problems with the families of our investigators. One seemed super positive and was about to go to church with us, but then Saturday night her in-laws came to visit her. 

Well they just so happen to hate the church. So Wednesday when we went to visit her she told us she doesn’t want to meet with us anymore. We have another investigator who has 16 years. And he wants to join a church but right now he is in search of which is the correct, because he used to be catholic but now he hates them because they have all this money but don’t help the poor. And also he has read the bible and knows that the two don’t really match up. 

Well we had plans all made for him to assist last Sunday with a member, but his dad wouldn’t let him go. Same problem this week. Its super frustrating because we have more investigators who are having problems similar. But this week we had 4 come to church. 

One is the one who I mentioned last week. He is preparing to be baptized on the 7th of January. He wasn’t positive if he could come to church because sometimes he works Sundays. He sells drinks that they make in the morning so they need to wake up early to prepare the juices. So we offered to come to his house early in the morning to help him prepare so he could have time to come to church. He told us alright and that he was going to call us in the morning around 5:30 to tell us if he needed help. 

Well he only had our cellphone number (We have two phones, one cell and the other land line because we don’t have service in our house or anywhere else in our area  because we live by a jail) Well I told him that we were going to call him in the night from the landline so he could have our number because I don’t have our landline written down. 

Well when we got back to the house at night, I pulled out our cell to search for his number. Turns out we didn’t have his number like I thought. Well I didn’t know what to do because if he called us on our cell we wouldn’t know. So we woke up at 5:30 and left to go to his house to see if he needed our help. He was still sleeping when we got there so we assumed he didn’t need our help. We ended up just sitting outside his house for like an hour until like 7:10 which at this point we knocked on the door and woke him up haha.

These are the two logs we need to chop up into fire wood.I dont think it can be done haha. They are full length mango trees that are still a little green. My gringoness makes it harder to do it too. My comp did like 10x more than me. 

This week we had interchanges with the district leader. It was super weird being with him because he actually taught with me. In our first lesson I was super hesitant to stop talking because I am  accustomed to giving all of the lesson. It was super nice teaching with someone who actually teaches for a change haha.

In the lesson with the investigator preparing for baptism on Saturday I was teaching the restauration to him and was just starting the lesson, and I just finished teaching about how God is our loving heavenly father and wants to bless our families and one of the ways he does this is through calling prophets and revealing his gospel. And I asked his what a prophet was in his own words, and he gave his response.   

Well Elder Hernandez cleared his throat like he had something to share so I stopped and let him continue with the lesson. Well this is basically word for word what he said.. Yes exactly, when Heavenly Father was on the earth, verdad, he established his church, verdad, with 12 apostles and prophets, verdad, so that today we know about the restauration, verdad, hermano, for you, verdad, which is the true church?..  And I was like ah crap. 

Haha you could tell the difference immediately in our investigator, and Elder Hernandez was just as surprised as I was of what came out of his mouth haha he looked at me with horror in his eyes looking for me to save him haha. Cause he started talking about things that were super off topic.  Luckily we were able to bring it under control again, and continue to have a good lesson, but after the lesson with both laughed about it.

This week should be a good one with investigators progressing. We found a 18 year old and we went to  teach him and after the lesson of the restauracion I asked him, do you want to know if these things are true. and he replied , I already know. That was a huge shocker. He only doesn’t want to get baptized because he thinks it’s a wasted to be baptized and then three months later fall away. So he wants to be sure in his decision. 

Hopefully this week goes good and we can put more dates for baptism and have  more success.

Things are slowly improving, it just takes a lot of patience. 

Everything is going good, and I hope things are going well for Christmas time.

Love Elder Blanchard

Monday, December 5, 2016

Week 18 (Campestre, Atiquizaya)

Well, I may or may not have gotten drunk this week.  But to begin this story, let’s go back to last Monday, after I finished writing you guys. Well we went to go do our shopping for the week, and everyone thought we were going to get money in our accounts, but we didn’t. So everyone was super stressed with their money for the week. I was pretty well set with 10 dollars, which is way more than enough for the week, while other elders had 15 cents. 

Well to make things even better we went to see if we had money left over in the bank account, and I had 10 more dollars. So with this feeling of being the richest elder in the mission we went to the store. We bought some cookies and other treats. 

Then while walking in the cereal and boxed milk isle I spotted something that slightly resembled eggnog. I stopped and looked again. Rompopo. My comp saw what I was looking at and got excited too. He tried to explain what it was, how the members in Honduras always drink this stuff during Christmas time and that sometimes non members liked to ferment it into alcohol. I knew that a lot of people liked to turn eggnog into alcohol so now I knew it had to be eggnog, then I flipped the box over and it had in English the word Eggnog. That was the only thing I needed to see and I was convinced we needed to buy it. My comp was like yeah alright.

Well we went home played soccer at the church with the other elders and some members, then went home showered, slept a little, then it was time to leave the house. Well I wanted to drink my eggnog before we left, so I get a cup out and pour me a glass, and I down it in one second. It wasn’t that good. But it sort of resembled eggnog so I drank another half cup. This cup was pretty big. Then my comp comes in and tried a tiny sip. He was like, ah elder, this has alcohol in it. And we look at the box, and in a red box that is pretty hard to miss it says. CONTAINS ALCOHOL. 

At this point I’m thinking oh crap. We had a family home evening planned with the family of S...... our convert and the family of the bishop, so we went to their house first. That’s when I started feeling super weird. It started with me sweating a lot. We were in the living room of the bishop asking them about the lesson we were going to teach because when we had discussed it prior they said they were going to plan a lesson and they were going  to talk with the family to make sure it was alright if we came. 

Well they didn’t do either. So we had to go to S..... house to ask if we could have the family home evening. At this point I felt super weird. Like everything was moving around me but I was still super conscious. Then we returned to bishops house to tell them the lesson was still on. At this point I am sweating profusely and I am starting to feel like crap. 

We go back to our house because I knew a Mormon message that is really good for what we were going to talk about. Because I knew there was no way I was going to be able to teach a family home evening by myself in the state I was in. Well I was searching for 20 minutes for the video and when I finally found it wouldn’t play. So I was like crap. I have to prepare to teach a lesson on the atonement of Jesus Christ in 20 minutes and then teach it by myself drunk. At this point I feel extremely sick and light headed and just super out of it, but we went and picked up the family of the bishop and went to Sandra’s house. 

Well, I gave the whole lesson and it was one of the best lessons I have ever give, (my comp couldn’t help teach because first he still doesn’t really talk in the lessons, and 2nd he didn’t know what the atonement was) My comp after the lesson was like, holy cow, the spirit was super strong in the lesson haha. After that we went home and slept. The next day I woke up with the worst headache I have ever had. And we had interviews that day haha. I told president about it and he just said, what did you learn elder_ That I shouldn’t be stupid. He just laughed and said, yeah I think that’s right. It was indeed an interesting experience.

This week had its highs and lows like always. We have one investigator who is really starting to progress towards baptism and we went to the Christmas devotional with us last night, he did start to fall asleep though. At first I was kind of disappointed, but then I thought about the story of Ammon and they all collapsed when they felt the spirit of conversion so I figured that must have been happening with him. But He is really a great guy and he wants to have some changes in his life. 

We have two sets of investigators who want to get baptized but can’t because they need divorces so they can get married to the person they are living with. And it’s a super complicated long process and its super frustrating. Another problem we have is everyone works on Sundays. You’d think in a country where literally everyone is a devout member of their faith, they would have everything closed on the Sabbath day. 

But yeah this week I think we are going to leave a couple of our investigators so we can find a lot more to teach and that can progress. I was talking to president about how we have a problem with them coming to church and he said kind of the same thing as you, he said no I think the problem you have is that they aren’t reading the book of Mormon. He said I am kind of convinced that if they are reading every night and praying then they will come to church.

Things are slightly improving with my companion. He is feeling more comfortable in the lessons and talking more.. kind of. We have been doing a lot of service this week because of the new church video Ilumina el mundo and that’s been fun. 

Although these past few days have been awful with the heat so that makes it a little tough. I don’t know if you guys have seen the Christmas video yet but it’s really good. It makes me miss snow a lot though. I hate the hot weather.

With my comp and singing I ended up recording him sing on my camera and showed him. He was shocked haha.

This week is going to be a good week though, right now I think it’s about to rain so that’s going to be good getting away from the sun. These past few days have been the hottest so far in the mission.

Love Elder Blanchard