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, September 26, 2016

Week 8 (Campestre, Atiquizaya)

Another week has flown by and the Spanish is finally starting to have a noticeable difference with my ability to speak Spanish. I am actually understanding people really well. The thing with the fish soup is it is the lady we pay to cook for us and she usually makes just a whole lot of the food cause other people sometimes come to the house and buy the food. So it wasn’t bad because we eat at her house every day.

A picture from the area, imagine a bus ride through this on a bus that is over capacity  so much that there are more people standing than there are sitting and that people have to hang out the doors. That's our bus ride to a place in our area called Nuevo Amanacer.  

This week was another interesting week. We have 2 dates for baptisms which are both super positive. One is S….. who is going to get baptized the 8th, she came to church again and loved it. She keeps talking about the peace she feels when she reads or goes to church or when we visit. The other is a girl named G…... They are both 19 year old girls but don t worry we don’t go trying to find young girls to teach, they are both referrals. G…..’s mom was a member but she died earlier this year, and I guess the other elders here went to her house every day for a month but the family wanted nothing to do with them, also the dad left the family so it is her and her older brothers, but we went with a member who referred her to us and we went and she said she was sick so we asked if we could come in a pray for her, so we came in and started a lesson haha.

We sang I stand all amazed cause we sing hymns before every lesson, but the spirit was super strong even though it was stormy outside. And so we asked her how she felt and she said super peaceful and we just had a lesson on how she can feel this peace, and the whole lesson the spirit was there and then we asked her to be baptized and before my comp could finish the question she said yes haha. It was really cool. But I can’t wait for general conference. This is the most excited I have ever been for conference.  And I will be able to watch it in English which is good.

Also we are still meeting with G….. and he finally started reading the Book of  Mormon and he loves it haha. He was reading in Nephi when he is talking with the angel and he sees the great and abominable church. The first thing he said when we came to the house is that he is positive that it is talking about the catholic church haha he was so happy about it. It is really hard teaching him though because he knows like every verse of the Bible and is very stubborn we when he interprets them and so he has a lot of doubts still.  

He still hasn’t come to church but he seems pretty excited to go to conference though.
The past few days it’s been raining like crazy, two days ago when we left our house to go to lunch the road was just a straight up river and it was pouring. It’s crazy how much it rains here. Also we found the best smoothie place here right next to our house and it costs a dollar for a smoothie.  And they are amazing. They have this fruit called zapote which is basically an avocado but it is super sweet. That mixed with papaya and pineapple is heaven.

Everything’s going good though . I hoped you guys enjoy conference. I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated having a prophet so much as now because I realize how important it is to have someone who speaks with god, cause I see how many ways people interpret the Bible and there is just so much confusion but since we have a God who loves us so much and doesn’t want to leave us in confusion so he gave us prophets so guide us and help us.

Love Elder Blanchard

Monday, September 19, 2016

Week 7 (Campestre, Atiquizaya)

My companion is really cool. He likes music, and soccer. Although he sings a little too much and scares our neighbors in the morning because they think a cat is being tortured in our house. Just kidding it’s not that bad. But he is from Nicaragua and no he doesn’t hate Americans. He always talks in English which is kind of getting frustrating, but he always talks about American culture and how much he likes the stuff there.

The members here are all super nice. But they don’t like working so it is really hard working with them. The only people who help us are this married couple who are recently returned missionary’s names R…… and R……. We always have to ask him to help us when girls are alone in the house but we need to teach them. I always feel really bad asking him for help cause its usually super late when we ask him.

The other people who help us is a couple who is about to get married, who are both returned missionaries. One looks super Chinese so they call him chino. But he lives in Nuevo Amanacer which is a 10 minute bus ride away through the jungle. His girlfriend always helps us when we go up their cause the chino is always working. She has a bunch of references for us, but they are never home. The bishop sometimes helps us but he works a lot, or like this week we had a lesson planed with S…… the date that we have, and we asked him the day before if he could come with us, but he was sleeping when we got to his house, and then his son went to wake him up but the bishop said he was too tired haha. Luckily the girl wasn’t home so we couldn’t teach her anyway.

This week we had two people come to church which was really cool. We had S…… come, but her mom and brother didn’t so we had to drop their dates. There is also an inactive guy that we visit a lot that is really cool but his wife is Catholic. He has a kid named S…… who is the cutest little kid and is super fat but he has a blood problem so the family constantly has to go to the hospital. Well last week he got super sick with flu, and his parents were gone and his grandma asked us to give him a blessing, which we gave him and it was super cute cause when we finished it he asked if he was healed, which the next day he felt a lot better.

Well we have been working really hard with the family and the dad came to church last week which he hadn’t been for a couple years. His wife was kind of a problem though because she is hardcore catholic and believes that god Jesus and the spirit are one thing, and we asked the family to do family prayer, but she wouldn’t because she believed you shouldn’t pray in groups, and doesn’t like the way we pray, but on Friday we kind of had a lesson with her saying how dumb that was, and they promised to pray. But the next morning the whole family showed up to church which we weren’t really expecting. The husband seemed super proud that his wife was there.

This week we also went out with other companionships in the district to help them get some dates for baptism and we helped one companionship gets 3 dates, and another get one. Yesterday was extremely hot. I was dying. But we went to a member’s house because we are now trying to strengthen the members to see if they will work a
little more. And we went to this guy’s house who we thought was pretty strong in the church and he was talking about how he still doesn’t now if he is fully converted yet. He has been a member for four years, but has only been to the temple once. His wife is the relief society president and is a very good woman and wants to get sealed but the husband but he doesn’t know yet. He says he has a lot of doubts about god, which is weird because everyone here believes in god, but he also says he doesn’t care about other people unless they have monetary value to him. So he doesn’t feel like he can be truly converted.

Another problem we have is with how there are so many churches here. And you think it would be super nice having everyone believe in god and Jesus and the bible, well no it sucks, because the people who aren’t part of a church believe that all churches are true. It is honestly so frustrating but funny, and we would show them a lot of
scriptures saying how there is only one church and all this stuff, and they’ll be like yes there is one, church, all churches. It is so confusing to me haha.

Also this week for lunch on Thursday it was really funny. The day before Elder Adams the super tall white guy in the corn picture who is from Riverton told the cook that me and my companion really like fish soup. So the next day we walk in and I saw soup, and smelt fish so instinctively I told them I was fasting. Well she brought out the bowls and there is literally a whole fish in it with whole little crabs in it and shrimp. I wanted to throw up haha. The cook wasn’t too happy when we told her we actually hated fish and that Elder Adams was joking.

I’m glad everything is going good at home.

Elder Blanchard

Monday, September 12, 2016

Week 6 (Campestre, Atiquizaya)

The family I read English for is K…. We keep having trouble finding times when she is home so we have only had two lessons. The food is amazing here, and the members in this area feed us like crazy. I am always full. But if there ever is a time that we don’t get fed we just go to a pupusaria where a pupusa costs a quarter. Yeah we have been doing a lot of looking for investigators because we are opening the area. And before us were sisters, and they didn’t have any investigators.

Although this week we went out with the ward mission leader. He is the weirdest guy haha. He bore his testimony in church saying that he had a testimony that Russel M. Nielson was a prophet.  And in class he had an argument with another guy about the right way to pass the sacrament. With the hand by the side or behind the back haha. But so we went out with him, and I guess he knows a lot of people in the colony, and we got like 4 new investigators, and two dates for baptism. The dates for baptism are a mom and her daughter, both named S…... They were supposed to come to church, but there aunt came and need their help in the city. They are coming next week.

The language is getting easier to understand but there are still some people who I can’t understand at all. No we haven’t been able to find another house. We might move in with the other two missionaries in our area.
Today we played soccer with the zone. It was super fun, but the shoes destroyed my feet. My team won the most games though so it was worth it.

The rain here is crazy. After the first week, it rained every day since then but two days. I have some pictures of the roads. They are rivers.

I love when it rains though. But last Pday after I wrote, when we started working at like 6:30 it started pouring, and no one would let us in the whole night. So we were drenched, I was wearing my boots at my feet were drenched. But luckily here I t doesn’t get that cold even though it was night. It gets dark at 6:30 here. But yeah I use my backpack every day, not my side bag. But on this day it even got a little water in it even though it is water proof and I sprayed it with waterproof spray. That’s how wet we were.

It’s crazy how time is flying by.

I had to give a talk in church today. All the missionaries spoke on missionary work and we macheted  the people, which is missionary terminology for chastising. But the members are super friendly, but they just want to be friends but not do work, so we all gave talks on why they need to help. It sucked cause I had to read my talk but it was still alright.

We should be having a lot of  investigators coming with us to church this Sunday though. Including the guy who can’t walk and his wife, G….., S……, and the V……… family. All of them wanted to come this week, but had things going on.

Other than that everything is going good here.

Love Elder Blanchard

Monday, September 5, 2016

Week 5 (Campestre, Atiquizaya)

This week has been good. Me and my companion get along really well. I went to San Salvador with the other new missionaries and they were are talking about how they wished their companions were more obedient, and I guess whenever they try to tell them that that’s against the rules their companions say, "tranquillo". Haha luckily my comp is nice. The only problem is we have a bad habit of talking in English. We are trying to stop though.

We have 4 progressive investigators but it is really hard to teach them. First we have this guy named G*****, he is this 60-year old crazy guys and he loves the bible a lot. We went out with the 2nd councilor to go teaching and contacting and we went to G*****’s house because the second councilor knows him. So we had a discussion on the side of the dirt path sitting on a curb but then it started raining like crazy so we went into his house which was super small and had two logs just lying in the middle of the room. The lesson went alight and he had a lot of questions, but it didn’t seem like he was interested, but we made an appointment to come back. 

The next lesson went really well and we talked about the restoration and it really seemed to click with him, because we asked him stuff about the organization of the church and priesthood and Joseph Smith. And you could feel the spirit really strong, after we left his house we saw him leave his house just pacing around as if he was thinking. We returned on Saturday and we had another really good lesson, and it was going really well and he's been praying for an answer and reading the Book of Mormon, and so we challenged him to be baptized and he said if he receives and answer he will. 

But then when we invited him to go to church he said he couldn’t this week because he had a family event thingy, but he said he has a problem going to our church because I guess he had been to our church before and a women had been his teacher. He says that since the bible says the man is the head of the house, that it isn’t right for a women to teach a man. So that’s our problem with him haha I don’t know how we are going to help him understand that being taught by a girl isn’t bad. 

Usually after that we go a couple houses down to where a man named P*** lives. He lives in a house that the gate is on the side of the road but a ramp goes down super far to his house which is basically a swamp, and he can’t walk. He has been baptized before but he was never confirmed because he didn’t think he needed to.  So we have been teaching him and helping around, and he agrees to everything we say, and believes everything, but he doesn’t seem very interested. 

Maybe because he can’t roll away on his wheelchair fast enough. Whatever happens though will be he needs to get baptized, which means he has to go to church three times, but he lives super far from the church and has a wheelchair, and his wife is super old so she can’t really push him, and he doesn’t seem interested. 

Then we have a family that seem to be the golden investigators. We were contacting door to door one day and all the sudden it started pouring really hard, and so we got our umbrellas out, and we saw a house with the lights on, and we almost kept walking but we decided to go knock on it anyway, and so we knocked and the guy was super nice and invited us in without us even introducing ourselves. 

The lesson went really well and he and his wife seemed to love everything we were saying and we left them a commitment to read a pamphlet, but that’s been the only lesson. Every time we go back one of them is working or neither of them are there, are they both just left, but they kept the commitment and we have an appointment with them today so hopefully they are there. 

Then the last is K****, we have only had two lessons, but she is never home cause she works, and when she is home we need another guy from the ward to go in the house with her cause she is a single mom. But every time she is home, no one is home to go with us to her house, so that is pretty frustrating. A

 lot of times with families we contact that seems to be the problem is that we can’t enter the house because their husband aren’t home.

We have this part of our area that is pretty far and we have to talk a bus through a jungle for 15 minutes to get there it is really cool. But there are only like 3 members up there and they all have referrals for us but whenever we go up there to go with them to the referrals houses they aren’t there. 

Yesterday we were there and we were trying to find one of the members houses but it was super far off the colony, and we ended up getting kind of lost in a huge corn field in the middle of the mountains and we couldn’t find it. 

Another interesting thing that happened was the bishop's wife took us to a family where the daughter is a member but the rest of the family isn’t but we had to go through a mini jungle, a broken barbed wire fence, and a swamp to get there. It was a cool little farm house thingy. We sat on two chairs outside her shack and she had like 50 chickens and ducks, we were kind of just making small talk because she was making tortillas so she was a bit distracted. But then we found out her 33 year old son had been missing for 4 months so she is kind of mad with good. My comp told me he was most likely dead haha. I still haven't seen a dead person but I have seen a lot of dead cows. I guess you only see dead people if you are in the city. 

Which today I ate subway for lunch and 3 guys with a shot gun and AK 47s stared at me while I ate my sandwich. I guess there is a pretty dangerous part of the colony that the members told us not to go during night, but I have not once felt in danger.

We went and looked at a new house because we can’t get service in our house and my comp is the district leader. We even got a second phone which we still don’t get service. We have to walk to the church whenever we need to call someone. So we are looking for a new house, but the one we looked at was gross haha, first off the little front yard area it was overgrown with plants, then on the front door there was the biggest spider I have ever seen, literally the size of my hand, and it wasn’t a tarantula. (The guys showing us the house didn’t notice it and leaned on it haha) but the house didn’t have a kitchen and was covered in animal poop, and it was just gross. We aren’t going to buy it haha.

The gecko is our pet named Esteva. 

One day we came home and there were a bunch of cockroaches because I might have left a pan dulce out on the countertop. We spent like 15 minutes screaming and killing cockroaches haha.