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, January 30, 2017

Week 26 (Campestre, Atiquizaya)

Well this week was super interesting. It started off really good and then Thursday happened. I don’t really know what happened but now my comp wants to kill me haha. Ever since Thursday morning he’s been angry. I think he is Bipolar. He wants to break my face and is counting down the days for a new comp haha. 

I am a professional sewer

Thursday he was mad because he was tired and didn’t want to work. Friday he was mad because I kept correcting him because he started breaking like every rule. He slept in, he slept during personal study. Saturday he was super mad in the morning cause I kept correcting him because he slept in again, and barely studied. But then calmed down during the day. 

Sunday he was mad because, well I’m not really sure why. He woke up fine and we went to church and he was happy and he loved me again. And then the person who was supposed to give us lunch said they couldn’t and since we lived on 80 cents this week we basically had no food. My comp wanted to ask the bishops wife to give us food but I didn’t want to because we were in a hurry and her food sucks. So I said let’s just eat at home we have sufficient food. After that he was mad the whole day. Like full anger.

I made papusa's this week.

Cooking the papusa. The thing that I'm pointing to is a papusas that I made. Apparently they are super hard to make but it was a lot easier than making tortillas.
They were all surprised with how well my papusas turned out. ​first you get the masa (left hand) and you get a scoop of some kind of cheese mixture (right hand) and you fill it and make it into a ball, then you flatten the ball.

Enjoying the papusas. You usually eat papusas with a tomato sause they make here that is really good and is similar to marinara sauce but they didn't have any. Also this night my comp was refusing to talk to me, that's why he looks like hes faking the smile.
This week we had a lot of weird things happen. To keep things short I will just pass over the stories shortly. First off we had two separate super old ladies call us to repentance this week. One of them because we tried giving her a pass-along card, the other we were just passing in the street and we just said good afternoon.   

Something else that happened is we found a family that is kind of crazy. Their last name is C........ Their two sons who are about 25 were both baptized. One went inactive about 3 years ago because he got mugged and they cut the tip of his ear off and now he is ashamed to go anywhere because he is embarrassed with how it looks. The other son is legit crazy. Some years ago he started playing with things of the devil and since then he hasn’t been normal. 

For example he brought home a baby deer in his backpack that day. He works in San Salvador which is about a two hour bus ride from us. Then he kept trying to get me to transfer energy to him. He kept talking about an angel and that he couldn’t go to church because the bishop doesn’t want him there and tried to kick him out. Then he kept telling us to look at things and people that weren’t there. I felt super bad though because this family was extremely poor. Their house was the size of a room and it was just tin walls leaned against each other. They don’t have any lights. Their kitchen is a table they have outside. 

The normal son with the ear problem was telling me how we wanted to change his life. How he wanted to help his family. He was talking about how he felt so good after his baptism and he just wanted to feel the same way again. We told him we were going to pick him up on our way to church so he could feel that way and he got super excited. Then on Sunday morning when we passed by he didn’t want to come because he didn’t feel like going. I was super sad but we are going to keep trying to help him and hopefully baptize the parents. 

We also had a drunk guy sobbing to us about how he wanted to change his life and how no one loves him. He was baptized a while ago apparently. I felt super bad and told him to come to church and gave him some cards with Jesus picture and wrote on the back of the card to call us when he was sober. It was funny because he asked us why we think he drinks, and we thought he was going to tell some super long sad story but then he thought a moment and said, porque me gusta. Me and my comp started laughing because it was just super straightforward and he was super serious. 

Also we had a couple more experiences with crazy drunk people. All of the bolos here are my friends though haha they all think they can speak English so they always talk to me.
Um also we had changes in the mission. We had a broadcast with the missionary council and we have changes in the schedule and the key indicators. Now planning is in the morning which is nice because when we get back to our house we can just go to bed instead of planning.

The work is slow right now. We just dropped a bunch of our investigators because they weren’t progressing. The old woman that fought with our DL told us straight up that she wasn’t reading the Book of Mormon because she wasn’t going to leave her religion. And if that means she’s going to hell she doesn’t care. We found a couple new people this week though who  I think can progress.

I have been using the USB you sent me a on. I bought a little speaker and have been listening to a ton of talks. Every week when we go to write I download more talks. I have a ton of Bruce R. McKonkie, Spencer W. Kimball and Gordon B. Hinckley which are really good. I think they are my favorite speakers now. Also Gene R. Cook has a lot of really good BYU devotionals. 

Yeah I'm just super happy that transfers are this next week.

Hope you guys have a good week.

Love Elder Blanchard

Monday, January 23, 2017

Week 25 (Campestre, Atiquizaya)

This week was really good because we got to go to the temple as a zone. We went on Friday and left at 5:30 in the morning and returned at 4:30 in the afternoon. It was super fun going with all the zone. I was planning on taking a lot of pictures but my camera died. Although we did have someone named El Tigre who is a photographer in one of the wards who came and took photos of everyone. I will try and find out how I can get hold of these pictures.

We did a session in Spanish and it was super cool. I was nervous at first but it went really well and I understood everything. It was a really good experience and the temple here is beautiful. 

After that we went to a huge mall in San Salvador. I literally felt like I was in a different country. Everything was super modern. We ate China Wok which I have really missed Chinese food. My comp really missed fried rice and was super happy to have it too. 

Then five minutes later he barfed it all up haha. He got sick from the air conditioning as he says. This week nothing interesting happened. The work is really slow right now. It’s really hard on my comp to see so much rejection and to be working hard. 

But this week we had a success as the Ward Council meeting happened. I was super happy about that even though everyone was more than half an hour late. 

Yeah I only have two weeks for changes and I am super excited. Training my comp was really hard but I am so grateful for being able to do so. I learned so much and became 10 times more effective in missionary work. I am excited to see what the next change will bring. 

I have knocked on all the doors in my area at least two times. I know who lives in what houses and the ways the rejected us, so right now it is hard to find the motivation to contact people. 

I had my first mango two days ago. It was super sour and I was disappointed. Everyone here likes things sour with salt on it. They put salt on their oranges and now I like salt on my oranges. It’s just not right. 

ll we have is heat and a lot of dust. All the roads have turned to dust instead of dirt because it hasn’t rained for a while. 

Elder Blanchard

Monday, January 16, 2017

Week 24 (Campestre, Atiquizaya)

This week was another difficult week. We focused a lot this week on trying to save the ward. We had a lot of lessons visiting with the bishopric individually and then all together. 

Family photo: (My name is really similar to planchar which is to iron. So everyone here makes that joke.)

On Saturday we had meeting with all of them to have purposes and help encourage all of us and help us understand the importance of leadership and unity.. and the bishop was more than an hour late. But the meeting was good. 

This week also we convinced the bishop to have ward council meeting and he agreed. There hasn’t been ward council meeting or correlation for more than the time I’ve been here. I think for basically almost a year, so this is a great victory. He made the announcement about it in church yesterday, so we are going to have our first one this Sunday. 

It is really nice to see that all of this progress is happening cause I took the initiative to change things instead of keep feeling bad for myself with how crappy this ward is. And it’s nice seeing somewhat of the fruits of my labor. Now for everything apart from that was a struggle.

We had extremely low numbers this week. Right now me and my comp are having a lot of trouble because he has a very short temper and the smallest things will make him angry. And he becomes a new person when he is angry. He will straight up ignore me and acts like he is five years old. 

Saturday he went the whole day without talking to me nor the investigators, nor the people we contacted that day. Basically every other day he talks about wanting to return home. We have a lot of long talks and this usually helps him regain his focus, and I feel like so far I’ve done really good with keeping calm and patient, but I’m not going to lie, it is one of the hardest things having someone just sit there and stare off angrily while you are trying to help them and they refuse to answer you like a two year old does. he really struggles with studying too. Hopefully things improve a little.

The old man from the story last week told us he didn’t have time to meet with us right now and for us to come back in a couple of months. That was hard to hear, because the story of him I thought he was for sure a baptism. Also we started teaching a guy who has met with tons of missionaries before, including me and Elder Rosales. He is best friends with the second councilor in the bishopric. He has come to church more than a thousand times. Basically everyone in the ward knows him. 

The only problem is he hates the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, but likes everything else. So we have been focusing on helping him get rid of his doubts. I am almost positive that this is his time. He just needs to read the Book of Mormon, which he has not read a single page in all those years of meeting with the missionaries. He has had about a thousand dates for baptisms and even one time he had the interview but didn’t pass cause he didn’t believe in Joseph Smith.

There was an activity for the priesthood in the ward. They were all supposed to bring 2 inactive men from the ward. Well after about an hour for waiting for people only 6 showed up. No one brought people. Me and my comp left before the activity started because we had only planned to stay at the activity for an hour and everyone showed up an hour late.   

Four other people showed up after that. We had an investigator who was going to try and come to the activity, but good thing he didn’t haha. Right now everyone in the ward hates each other and the bishop. I guess last year the ward had about a constant 150 people in assistance, sometimes up to 200. Now we have about an average of 73 people. That’s smaller than some of the branches here. For this reason we have been trying to save the ward, because I don’t think the work will progress very well if the ward continues in the direction it is heading.

In other news changes are in 3 weeks. That means Elder Hernandez finishes his training and that I will have about six months. I still feel like I only have like 2 weeks in the mission.

Nothing much new here though. I tried to make the tortillas with the recipe and they turned out alright. I put too much oil in so they kind of looked really ugly but tasted pretty good.

Hope everything is good at home

Elder Blanchard

Monday, January 9, 2017

Week 23 (Campestre, Atiquizaya)

This week was a little bit difficult. To start off we left a bunch of our investigators and set off to find more. We only found one new guy who is willing to progress which I will tell his story later on in the email.

Yes last night was cold enough to put a sweater on.  It was super windy and I could have gone without it, but hey this is probably the only time I will be able to wear a sweater here.

First sucky thing that happened is we had interchanges. I usually love interchanges because it gives me a chance to be with a missionary who actually teaches with me. But this new district leader is a bit different. At the beginning of the change everything was fine, we were getting a long and everything, he was giving me advice and we were telling stories. We had a couple of lessons and everything seemed normal until we got to a members house. 

The member is a returned missionary of 3 years. And he started asking why she wasn’t married yet. Which that wasn’t bad, but with all her answers it was obvious that she had recently been dumped by someone she was planning on marrying and that she was struggling with finding someone. But he didn’t really understand that, and he kept pushing until finally with a little bit of frustration she told us about how she had something but then he didn’t want anything. 

After that I thought it was a little bit strange but nothing else, until we got to our next investigators house, the two that had dates to be baptized the 14th. Well we went there and the second we started to talk it started going downhill. He started being super direct with her and was being really insensitive with her and the whole lesson was them arguing back and forth but it was getting continually worse. They were basically shouting at each other and it got to the point where she kicked us out of her house. 

The whole lesson I couldn’t say anything because I was in shock that that was actually happening. I was heartbroken. After the lesson he acted like nothing out of the ordinary happened, and just said, yeah sometimes you have to be direct to see if they really wanted this. Well they wanted it until he came. It was really hard for me. We are going to go back this week to apologize to her, because it was really bad, I felt like he was a preacher from another church. 

She even said that to him while they were arguing, she said when that brother comes with his other companion and he speaks I am filled with the spirit, and every time he teaches I am almost to the point of weeping, but when you are here it is the opposite. I almost laughed when she said that. 

But yeah with leaving all of our investigators and then losing them, we were left with nothing. So we began searching for new people with almost 0 success. The only good thing that happened was finding A......

He is a man who is about 60 years old. He’s super nice and we found him knocking doors. We had our first lesson with him on Tuesday and it was a really great lesson. We started off talking and he was just really nice, he didn’t really know anything about Mormons but he had met some missionaries about 10 years ago and he only remembered the name Joseph Smith. 

Well we started teaching him about the restoration and started asking him a bunch of questions like why do you think there are so many churches if there is only One God? Stuff like that, and he started thinking a lot and stuff just started clicking in his mind. To this question he answered, that is a very good question and to be honest I have no idea, but I think you guys have the answer to that. 

So we started talking about how Jesus established his church with the apostles and the authority to guide it, and how they were killed and the authority was lost, and the man was like, oh my gosh, that’s true and he was accepting everything we were saying. But at this point was when Satan, I mean his friend, entered. I am certain this man was sent by Satan, and he even had all the characteristics that I imagine Satan to have. Just a sly cunning, and just like whispers in your ear stuff like (oh nobody will know if you do that) or (drinking just a sip of alcohol won’t kill you) or (oh that eggnog doesn’t have alcohol) Like this was literally Satan in the form of a man and the second he sat down he started to try to convince the man that we were wrong in everything we said. 

It made it super difficult to teach and he would say stuff like, oh there are so many churches because the people want to worship in different ways, but they are all worshiping the same god and god will save people by actions not by church. Just stupid sly things that the carnal mind wants to agree with. Finally I had enough and said stop for second. I think we can all agree on one thing, that all the churches are different and teach different things, but the bible says there is only one. And Satan said, yeah all of the churches have some of the truths but none of them are completely correct. And the old mad agreed. And I felt the spirit super strong and I said, well brethren I have some good news for you, and started to tell the story of Joseph Smith and the restoration how Joseph thought the same.  

The spirit was so strong and I felt like I was punching Satan in the face with the spirit that I felt, I was determined not to let him interrupt and it was so crazy, and when I got to the first vision, oh my gosh, the old man was sitting forward in his chair with his mouth agape listening intently, In this moment I felt so strong the power and authority that comes from being set apart as a missionary. And after I told the first vision I just sat there and let the silence work. They were both speechless. I then broke the silence a bit later and bore my testimony of this church. 

Then Satan, trying to keep his cool but knowing he lost tried changing the subject. But the old man stopped him, and kept correcting all the things Satan was saying and kept shushing him.  Then the old man was like, lets finish with a prayer and continue this discussion later, but I wasn’t done haha. I said, wait, let me finish with this one thing, and I pulled out the Book of Mormon and said that this was the evidence of everything. 

The old man was amazed once again, but Satan thought this was his chance and slyly said that maybe the book was good but it’s not the word of god, because only the Bible is the word of god, and the old man got mad at him and said, Well we have to read it to find out if it’s the word of god or not. After the lesson I was so full of adrenaline. It was a crazy experience. 

Also I got stung by a bee two days ago. My hand is basically a red pumpkin. I had lasagna last night and it was really good.

Nothing new other than that. Have a good week.

Love Elder Blanchard