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, November 28, 2016

Week 17 (Campestre, Atiquizaya)

Well one week down of being a trainer. Definitely one of the longest-hardest weeks of my life. But it is slowly getting better. This week was also a little frustrating with our investigators. We had five who had baptismal dates for the 17 de deciembre but none of them had any attendances to church. This meant that it was necessary for them to go to church this week. Well 2 have work every Sunday which means they can never go. One had his birthday this Sunday so he was with his family and couldn’t come. Two have a comprimiso with god where they can’t leave their house until 12 on Sundays. Which they are praying to see if it’s ok, but still haven’t received an answer. It was super frustrating having that happen. 

But one the bright side, we already have a bunch of people who say they are going to come next week. And this week we have a lot of lessons with people we contacted this week. So we have a lot of fresh meat.

This week for thanksgiving we had a party with a couple of the zones. We made ornaments that had ties and our name tag for the Christmas tree in the office. After that we all had to get flu shots. Then we ate. The food was so good. We had turkey mashed potatoes, potato salad, and some broccoli salad which was really good too. It was so nice not eating rice and chicken for once. Then they had pumpkin pie and vanilla ice cream which was amazing. It was the most food I had eaten for a while.

Something cool that happened this week was a small tender mercy. We had to go to Santa Ana twice this week which is an hour and a half bus ride. On Wednesday we had to go for his papers so he could be legal here which we had to be in the office at 7 am, we left our house at 5:30 and had to stand the whole time is a bus that is the most crowded I have ever seen, and the only windows open on the bus were the ones in front of me and my comp, which made it really cold haha. My comp had to go to San Salvador which is another hour an a half. All the news went there together and the trainers stayed to have interchanges for a few hours. I went with elder price my old ZL from Arizona who is really cool, to his area in chalchuapa which is a super dangerous part of the mission. Well after a few hours of being there we had to take a bus back to the office which should have only taken 20 minutes but took more like 45.

Then from the office we went back to our area. The point is we did a lot of traveling that day and were exhausted. Well we had appointments in a part of our area called Nuevo Amanacer which we usually need to take a bus through a jungle for about 15 minutes to get there. Well we had appointments for 2, 3 and 4 o´clock and we need to leave there by about 5 because the buses stop going there pretty early and to walk back in the dark from there is really dangerous. Well we returned to our area at like 4:30 and we decided to still go there because we have an investigator with fecha who we needed to visit because he needed to go to church to maintain his date. 

And the next couple of days we couldn’t visit because we had appointments. Well we decided to go and to not wait for a bus because sometimes you can wait for more than an hour for them and we didn’t want to waste time and the bus would pass us on the road but in case it didn’t we wanted to already be walking there. Well the buss never passed. It took us 40 minutes to walk there, and it is always inclining gradually. I love to walk fast. My companion struggles to walk fast but that’s another story haha. But He was dying on the way there. 

Well we end up getting there and we have a quick lesson with him and we find out it’s his birthday and he can’t come to church. So basically we went there for nothing. Well the lesson ends and by this time it is like 6 and basically completely dark well we asked a member there if there would be another bus coming and she said maybe, but also that she would not recommend walking back cause its really dangerous. 

Well we decided to start walking back because there was still a tiny bit of light. Well while we are walking a bus passes us and we get super excited and wave it down, but it doesn’t stop. We figured it just wanted to go drop the people off and then come back for us. But then we talked to a lady passing us by and said that bus was going to stay in Nuevo Amanacer. So we didn’t know what to do. So I start praying in my heart because first of all I’m exhausted and don’t want to walk twenty miles, and also cause I don’t really want to get shot. I wanted to know what we should do. Well I felt like we should keep walking a little further, but then we came to a point where I felt like we shouldn’t go further and that we should say a prayed out loud. 

After the prayer I felt that it was ok to continue walking so we walked a little more down the pathway where I felt the impression to stop and wait. So I did. Then two people passed and I felt like we should follow them. So we started to follow them, and then from a little further down the road where another road joins it we see a light and hear a car coming, so all four of us start running because we think it might be a bus. It wasn’t, but it started a conversation with the other two people. The bus hadn’t stopped for them either but they showed us s spot where we could wait for a bus from either Amanacer or a different area so we wouldn’t miss it. 

A bus ended up passing and we made it home safely so that was cool. It just helped me learn that first of all, sometimes we just need to stop and pray so that we can be in tune with the spirit, and that we need to follow the promptings without hesitation even if you doubt they are promptings. Because I honestly didn’t think  they were promptings at first but the more I started listening to them the stronger they got. I bet we would have made it safely without this experience because the bus would have passed us in the street walking back, but this experience helped us feel confident and comfort in our decisions so that we were never worried.

But yeah this week has been super long. A lot of our lessons our investigators are on complete different Sides of our area, so all this week we have been walking a ton. My comp is dying because I try to walk super-fast because I don’t want to be late, but he has super short legs. And is kind of fat (It’s not bad to call people fat here). So there’s always a huge gap between us and I always have to stop and wait for him. He will get used to it soon though, and probably lose a lot of weight.

Also to add to our walking we have the no water problem. All this week we didn’t have water in our Souse. Only two 5 gallon jugs of pure water for drinking. So all this week when we needed to use the bathroom we had to walk 10 minutes to the chapel. Also to bathe in the morning we had to walk 25 minutes to the house of the elders of another area in our district. Which they had hot water which was super nice, but it still sucked. We still don’t have water. Everyone says we are supposed to see falling water today but this morning we had none. Hopefully when we get back there’s water.

Yeah but with all this walking, teaching all of the lessons and trying to plan everything and be on time to everything is physically and mentally exhausting. Luckily it’s getting better though and my comp is starting to get a little bit more comfortable in the lessons and is starting to say a little more. I feel bad because he feels bad that he doesn’t know stuff and is getting frustrated with himself. I keep trying to get him to stay positive and we do a lot of practices. 

When we are walking I try to get him to give me the lessons. I think he’s getting sick of that haha cause I always correct him when he says false doctrine, and he says a lot. Like his first couple of days he was teaching that 2 angels appeared to joseph smith in the first vision, and that Joseph wrote the book of Mormon. That prophets are the authority of god(not people). It’s funny though because like the first day we were here went contacting and had some weird lessons and were rejected a lot by people who already go to another church. 

So I was explaining to my comp the situation we have in this mission, how it is different than other the other missions because there is a ton of religion here and everyone actually goes to their church and are active there. I also described the place as being full of apostasy, and I guess my comp really liked that description because every day since he has talked to someone from the mission or a member about how much apostasy there is. But yeah he really is overwhelmed and I am trying to help him as best as possible. Luckily I am really patient. 

Everything is going good here though. Yeah the thing you sent me was the right thing. I should be in the pictures. I am in the bottom left Connor sitting down in the picture outside. I see the people in my district quite a bit. We haven’t done anything for pday for thanksgiving, just the zone party. Haha I don’t have too much hope for the singing. He thinks he is a really good singer haha. I think I am just gonna stop singing hymns before the lessons.

Everything is going good though, Hope everything is going good back home too. Take pictures when it snows. I miss cold weather.

Love Elder Blanchard

Monday, November 21, 2016

Week 16 (Campestre, Atiquizaya)

I got my new companion that I will be training for the next three months.  Luckily I don’t have to teach him Spanish. His name is Elder Hernandez from Tegucigalpa, Honduras.  He is really short and snores really loud haha, luckily I’m a super heavy sleeper and only heard him snore because I went to the bathroom in the night. He is, interesting. He has been a member all his life but was inactive for the majority. He returned 8 months ago. He does not speak English which is really good for me. He was worried he was going to get a gringo he couldn’t understand, but he said my pronunciation is good.

Although in a lesson he threw me under the bus haha. We always sing a hymn before lessons, Elder Rosales could sing so it was good when we sang. Elder Hernandez is like most of the people here. Completely tone deaf haha. Entonces, we went to have a lesson with an old investigator who is working on getting married so she could be baptized. So we went to go see how that was going but her parents were there. They were super nice but crazy haha. They had a bunch of questions about Mormons and it was interesting trying to answer all of his questions by myself )my comp is super quiet in the lessons.  But then I asked if we could share a small lesson with them and if we could start off by singing a hymn.

They said they would love it because they love music and hearing different types of hymns. Well we start singing and I think it was Jesus es mi Luz, but we are singing and I’m trying super hard to keep the tone of the song because previously mentioned he struggles to keep anywhere close to the tone. Well he kept getting lost in the song because there are some parts where it is a little tricky to stay together, and usually I’m pretty good and staying in time if I can hear the other person singing, well since he was singing a different song I couldn’t do that haha. So there were just some parts in the song where it was just painful haha. Well we finished singing, and the dad was like, you guys got a little lost there, and my comp was like ├┐eah sorry it’s hard because my comp still can’t speak Spanish and struggles to pronounce the words because he knows the hymns only in English, and it is just really hard to sing with someone like that.

Haha it was really funny and now my comp wants to practice hymns in the night so I can learn to sing them with him. But like I said he’s super interesting and it’s gonna take a lot of work. These next three months are gonna require a lot of work. Since he returned pretty recently to the church he still doesn’t know all that much including the lessons. On top of that our ward mission leader apparently released himself about a month ago. During my training we weren’t able to utilize him very much because he could only go out with us in the morning and I had study until 12. Well we don’t have language study anymore so we can leave at 11.

Well I thought, hey I feel super overwhelmed right now maybe we can get some refferals and go out with our ward mission leader. Where apparently he was offended by an elder and decided to release himself from the calling like 5 weeks ago. So it’s gonna be difficult without one of those. 

And on top of that I’m training which I feel super inadequate to do that, and since he is new and doesn’t really know the lessons I basically teach all the lesson. All I know is the lord is testing me right now and I just need to keep working really hard. We already put 2 dates for baptism which we now have a total of 5, which is really good, but none of those five have come to church, and if they don’t come to church they can’t get baptized. So we have been trying to work with them but it is really hard cause some work on Sundays and can’t get it off, others live super far away so it is hard to keep contact with them all the time. Hopefully all of them can be baptized.

Also on top of that the water here is turning off until Thursday because it hasn’t rained for a while here. So that’s great. This just goes to show that prayers are answered in mysterious ways, because I have been praying so that I don’t have to take cold showers anymore, and it looks like I won’t be able to shower until Thursday haha. But that also means we can’t use the bathroom in our house, and have to walk to the church like 10 minutes away just to use the bathroom haha.
Yeah I think we are going to start trying to work with the members again. There are three recently returned missionaries that are starting to go out with us a lot. 

Hopefully this week we can have a lot more investigators that have the desire to progress.

Other than that everything’s going good, just need to work hard and hopefully we see more success in the coming weeks.

Elder Blanchard

Monday, November 14, 2016

Week 15 (Campestre, Atiquizaya)

First off we got news of transfers this morning. My comp is going far away and I am staying here. That means my training is over. But also I found out today too that I am going to be training a new missionary. I am both really excited and really nervous and don’t know if I am ready to do that. But I know the lord will help me. I feel honored though because It is really rare to train right after being trained, but I also feel a lot of responsibility, I just hope he speaks Spanish haha.

This week, their was the family of the brother and sister who were really positive. The brother was reading the Book of Mormon and the sister was positive, but the mom hated us and the church. Well, all of the sudden one day we come and the sister’s whole demeanor had changed. She didn’t want us there she kept saying the Book of Mormon was evil. It was super sad.
Then the family of four we had was super interesting. It is going to be a lot of work with him because he is deep in the apostasy. The 2nd lesson we had with him the first thing he said was, I read the book, and I almost started crying with joy. Then he was like, I read the first chapter, I was like, well that’s still really good. Then he said he really liked it. But then he started talking about how it was an answer to his question about why the people in his congregation weren’t singing and dancing, and why he couldn’t prophecy. Well the next lesson was just awful. We come in and he is watching WWE and doesn’t turn it off during the lesson, and the spirit just wasn’t there, then all of the sudden he stands up and starts walking around likes he is looking for something, then he finds a bottle of olive oil and asks if we believe in anointing, we said um yeah, and he drenches his hand in oil and calls outside to his grandma to bring the niece to him. Well he goes outside and starts anointing her, and it sounded like he was preforming an exorcism. And we are just inside his living room listening to it trying to figure out what is happening, Then the little girl’s friend comes in through the door looking all concerned, and she asks us why he is doing that to her friend. it was really weird. They just need a little more work haha.

Another strange thing that happened was we had an encounter with a drunk man. He is the father of a recent convert who went inactive but just started coming back. We had had two really powerful lessons
with him where he said he could feel the spirit so strong. Well we were coming to visit him and his dad was outside super drunk. We were like hey how’s it going, he responded "DEFENDER OF MEN" haha and we were like what, well is Alex home. "How do you know his name?"  Well we know him. "Alright go inside.. what are you afraid?" uh no sorry we will go inside. and he wasn’t there haha so we come back outside and tell him he wasn’t there. Well he was like "really? where is he?" Uh we don’t know, "Is it alright if I receive your lessons" uh maybe it’s better if we wait for Alex to come, are you his dad?  which he replies "NO... You guys are, He is in a time of life where he is making decisions" then he continues to say "I don’t want to offend you,, but I transport coffee"  well uh that’s great. "I am from the earth.. COFFEE".  Haha it was a really funny experience.

Other than that not lot happened this week, we set a couple of dates for baptism for in December so we shall see. We have been trying really hard to find a lot of new investigators but everyone replies either they already go to a church, they don’t live there, or they work so they are rarely home. Or they just tell us to come back at a certain time and then they aren’t their when we come back. It’s really hard especially when we have days like Friday where all our appointments fall through and then no one lets us in so we end up only having one lesson in the day. 

I know the lord is testing us though to see if we will continue to be diligent. I was reading in Mosiah this week about the people of king Noah and the people of alma and their different responses to trails. The people of Alma immediately seek help from god and he gives it, but now by taking their burdens away, but by making them light. I know I have felt this help during the days
like that where it is just discouraging, but I don’t feel discouraged, I feel like someone is helping me keep walking and helping me not be discouraged. 

Also with the people with Alma we learn that they were super good, because they are the ones who left Noah to be baptized, and the lord said he was pleased with them, but he wanted to test them. So we learn that even if we do the stuff we are supposed to, we will have trails, but they are from good, to test us, and help us learn and grow stronger.

Love Elder Blanchard

Monday, November 7, 2016

Week 14 (Campestre, Atiquizaya)

First off, Happy Birthday Mom. I didn’t even realize we were in November already. I still feel like it is August. Maybe cause that’s what the weather is like and time is going by super fast. Also, Happy Birthday Tyler.

This week was really interesting and hard. Our zone did really well last month with baptisms, but then after that we hit a complete stop and only had 2 dates for baptism in all the zone, and very few progressing. As a companionship we had very few investigators and of those, we had zero progressing. Well we had a zone conference with president and he tried to help us so we can improve the numbers.

Well me and Elder Rosales went and visited all our investigators and whoever didn’t have a desire to find out if these things were true, we dropped them. Well that was basically all but one of our investigators. That meant we had to search for new people. The first day for the search was interesting. We contacted a bit but were getting nothing. except a family of a brother and sister who are progressing really well right now.

Well after that we decided to go try and find a person we already contacted a couple days earlier and they told us to come back another day, but they weren’t there all the times we went back to find them. So we decided to try one last time. Well it was a pretty far walk, and on the way there it started to rain out of nowhere. Well I didn’t have my umbrella because it hadn’t rained for 2 weeks and there weren’t any clouds in the morning. Well we got drenched. But the second we got outside the house of the people the husband saw us because he was out on his "front porch" and basically sprinted to open the front "gate". (Houses here are a lot different.) He almost slipped and fell into barbed wire trying to save us from the rain (every house is surround by barbed wired fences and gates and cactuses).

So we were in his front porch and he gave us some chairs, and we started talking about him and then after a couple minutes of talking we asked if we could share something, well turns out he and he wife hate organized religion, the wife refused to come out and talk to us. But they hate religion because they have actually read the bible and saw the apostasy that all the churches were in. So we gave him the message of the restauration, and it seemed like it was going really well, we gave him the Book of Mormon, and he said he was going to read it, because he loves reading and learning more about God. Well we were like hey great this is going really well until we had to leave and he said don’t come back, if I find an answer I will come find you guys.

Well after that we contacted more but nothing really good happened.

Well we went to go visit and inactive family, but they said it would be better if we came back the next day. So we went across the street from them were we thought someone else lived who is a friend of a member, but it was just a really old lady. She let us in before we said anything. then her grandson came in and he was 13. We gave the lesson of the restauration because the grandson went to church but he didn’t believe any were completely right. He even cried while we talked about the first vision. He accepted a date to be baptized. Great isn’t it? Not.  Two days later we went back to teach him about the Book of Mormon, and he was outside with his mom and grandma on his phone talking with them, we said hey how’s it going, he said hi, and completely ignored us for 10 minutes while we stood in front of him awkwardly trying to talk to him and the family. The whole family ignored us haha.

Well the next day was even more interesting. I was praying before we went out and I just felt like we were going to find four new investigators, so I made a promise with God that we wouldn't stop contacting today until we found them. I also started fasting. Well we started out contacting after lunch and it was the same old story.

Most people aren’t interested, some say to come back another day but surprisingly aren’t in their house when we return. The occasional old man who starts yelling at us and tells us what we believe and how the Book of Mormon is evil, and its talks about man, even though he’s never read it, and it goes on for ten minutes and every time we try to say something he keeps talking haha.

Well its about 6 and we see this house, and my comp is like hey 4th floor last door right? referring to a talk of Uchtdorf from the women’s session in conference about faith which is really good. Because the missionary’s who found his wife knocked every door in the building and found her in the last floor last door. Well there are two guys out side, and they tell us to come in. they have met with missionaries beforehand. He talked a lot. But his only problem with our church is that Joseph Smith saw God. In the Bible it says man can’t see God.

So we just have to teach him about that and he will be good, and there are like 5000 people who live in the house with them. But we left the house. It was already passed the time we had planned to be contacting but we still didn’t have 4 solid new investigators. So we keep knocking, by this time it was really dark. Well we kept knocking and nothing. We see a women through her window and say hi, she seems interested and that makes us really excited and so we ask if we can share a message. She’s already a member but she’s just inactive, so we tell her will come back and visit her. (She came to church this week though)

Well finally my comp is like, alright come here, and we go off the side of the path to a really dark area and say a prayer saying that we really want to find these four people but we need help.. Well we finish the prayer I look across the street and look at the house, and I’m like, lets contact them. We knock on the door they come out and we are like hey, we are missionaries and we would really love to share this message with you, I and bore my testimony of how I knew it was true and the ladys like, come in. It was a family that had four people in it. A grandma, her two grandsons and her daughter. The grandson was about 25. And right now they are all questioning their religion right now.

It shows that we have to do everything we can and the lord will bless us after the trial of our faith. We still have a lot of work to do with them, but I know for a fact that they were prepared by God.

Sorry for the long email haha. I also have a bunch of pictures, but I might not be able to send them all because right now I’m at a computer that’s really slow. Next week I will be writing in the stake center where the computers are super fast.

Love Elder Blanchard