Monday, April 29, 2013

Hey friends! Another week down here in Apopa. First, I want to remind everyone that they can still send dear elder letters to me for free, you just need to choose my mission in the drop-down list. DO IT!! Another thing I wanted to tell you guys that tracting (knocking doors) is NOT how we do work here in the mission. The new mission guideline given by the area presidency for all of Central America is that we get references from members or from street contacts. That way we can find solid investigators without having to weed through a bunch of people who really don't even want to open doors for us, much less talk to us. This week I had an experience that really reminded me of home. Before a lesson with one of our investigator families, we sang love at home (but in spanish). That hymn reminded me so much of Mom. But it also was a sweet experience because we sang it with a family that is preparing to receive the covenants and ordinances that will allow them to be together forever. We sing a hymn before every lesson, even first lessons. That may be weird to those we teach at first, but it really invites the Spirit. We sang Bandera de SiĆ³n (High on a Mountain Top in English I think) in one lesson, and we sang parts (basically just for fun, we didn't plan it or anything), and the person literally applauded us. So awesome. I got my first mission haircut this week too, so that was kind of cool. It was crazy getting emails that said that Kenny Brown served here, because earlier this week I had a family ask me if I know an Elder Brown. I asked if it was Kenny Brown and they said it was! Someone tell him that the Familia Vaquerano says hi! I am having so much fun here, but not too much fun. I don't remember exactly why, but several times this week my companions and I have just laughed hysterically for a few minutes. But we also had a not-so-good day. On Saturday, we had all of our appointments fall through. 100%. We didn't teach a single lesson. But that is ok, we had some good contacts and got a bunch of references. My spanish feels like it is not progressing. I feel like I say that all of the time. I just need to speak it, but it is hard when my companions just speak in English all of the time. But I'll work on that. We have a lot of work to do here. We have received by revelation the goal of baptizing 50 people on the 22nd of June in our stake. 50 people in one day. Our ward will be responsible for 15 of those baptisms. My companionship will need 8. So we need to work hard. I found a quote that has helped me when things get hard that I want to share. It is by President Uchtdorf. It says: 'Brothers and Sisters, no matter our circumstances, no matter our challenges or trials, there is something in each day to embrace and cherish. There is something in each day that can bring gratitude and joy if only we will see and appreciate it.' I love all of you guys. Find those things that will bring joy this week. Have a great week!!

Elder Andreasen

Monday, April 22, 2013

April 22, 2013

Hey guys!! Things are still going great here in Apopa. We had 2
baptisms this weekend! One was a kid named Emilio (his parents didn't
get baptized because they arent married but they will soon) and the
other was a young woman named Tania. I got to participate in Tania's
confirmation, which was super cool. They were both awesome, but the
baptism of Emilio was something else. More on that later. I got my
birthday package last monday after I wrote home. We went to the office
afterward and it was there. They said it was received...wait for
it....APRIL 3RD. On my birthday. But I got it. Apparently it takes 3-4
weeks for mail to get here, and another who knows how many weeks to
get them to me from the office. My advice from my companions is that
when Christmas rolls around, try to send it two months in advance.
Thanks for all of the awesome letters! And the candy and cakes and
stuff. Mom, you're the best. And dad, nice choice with those mosquito
nets, I'll be sure to send a picture. So I have some more cool stuff
to say. This week I tried a new drink. It's called carao. And it was
literally the grossest thing I have ever tasted. Before I even had the
glass to my lips I could smell the disgusting-ness of it. Gross.
Another thing is that our dinner cocinera loves to give us hot drinks
with dinner. That would be nice except we have been walking all day in
what I would describe as a very humid oven all day! This week I went
on spits...WITHOUT EITHER OF MY COMPANIONS!! Just me and the Elders
Quorum President Hermano Morales. He is a funny, older guy, and I had
to handle a whole lesson with him without the help of my companions.
We taught Pedro, who has a baptismal date on the 4th of may. He is the
cutest old man. He 'practices' his prayers often because apparently he
was embarrassed to offer one in church one week. He also loves to sing
hymns, but he struggles to follow along (but even I'll admit that the
whole verse layout is a little bit confusing...). He keeps his hymn
book, and his scriptures and pamphlets in a plastic bag tucked away so
they wont get ruined. He is really awesome, he sits in the front row
at church every week. More on Emilio's baptism: It was awesome.
Everyone cried (including me, but I recovered!). His whole family bore
their testimonies and they are just awesome. I tried horchata here.
Not even close to the same as the orchata from the Mexican market. We
also found a new family that we have been teaching. We talked to a
very drunk man on the street, and he actually gave us a very clear,
real address. We visited later and his whole family was there, his
wife and his 2 young daughters. They have been receiving the lessons,
and I have been praying that they will receive the gospel. They need
the blessings of the gospel in their family. As of right now they have
baptismal dates on the 8th of June. I have still been struggling a
little bit, mostly with the language still. But also, I always want to
be on time to appointments and not get stuck too long hanging around
at member homes, but it doesn't always turn out the way I want it to.
Dad has made me be like that, always wanting to be on time, if not
early. I have told my companionship that we need to work on that. I
have been reading the Book of Mormon, I started sometime in the MTC.
I'm in Alma 40, and I am on track to finish before the end of May, as
the mission president challenged me to. It has started raining here,
and there are thunder and lightning storms that kill the power!!
Luckily, for some strange reason, we have never been outside when it
rains, even though it has rained more than 5-6 times. I had another
really cool experience. PMG says that we can pray to be able to
recognize people who are prepared to receive the gospel. I took that
challenge, and that day, we were walking to an appointment, and we
were in a hurry (when aren't we??). I saw a man walking in the street
and was prompted to talk to him. I brushed it aside, thinking we had
somewhere to be. As he crossed behind me and continued walking, I felt
very strongly that I needed to talk to him. I told my companions, and
we had to chase him down. He gave us his address, and we visited him
yesterday. He told us that he is experiencing some economic
difficulties, that he has not been attending any church, but that he
is looking to 'hear the word'. I really am praying that we can
progress with him. I am losing weight. Sad fact, but it is now a fact.
Yesterday I looked in the mirror before I got in the shower, and even
in that tiny mirror I could clearly see that I am smaller. I am not
too disappointed, but still... Anyway, I hope all of you are having a
great week! Love you all!!

Elder Andreasen

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sorry if I haven't already mentioned, I am in Apopa. It is a pretty
nice area, but according to members, it is one of the top 3 most
dangerous departments in El Salvador. I wouldn't have thought that
from what I have seen. First off, I have to correct myself. The
sketchy neighborhood is called *Valle* del Sol. Still super sketchy.
Anyway, I have really loved being here. It is funny to hear stories
about past missionaries and such from my companions. There are quite a
few 'missionary myths' that I have heard of. I'll share one. According
to my companions, there is a parasite that lives in still water that
'can swim up your pee stream' if you pee in standing water. I figured
I would just keep quiet about the impossibility of that happening.
That way the myth can live on. Things are way different here. We ride
buses occasionally to get around. They are JAMMED packed at times.
Like you have to squish like sardines to fit in them. Also, we use
change here. I have never carried so many coins around with me in my
life. There are coins I have never even seen before here (and they are
all USA currency coins!). Dollar bills are less common than the
sacagawea dollar coins even. AND there is a sister missionary here
that I met at EFY 6 years ago! Someone tell Taylor Fisher that Hermana
Amber Stratton is serving in my mission. Crazy. And tell Scott and
Britt that I have written letters to their family, I just haven't had
time to go by the post office. Another thing that blows my mind is to
hear stories about 'wicked' missionaries that used to be here.
Apparently there was a group that called themselves the Gadianton
Robbers. There were 2 Zone Leaders who would arrange exchanges so that
wicked elders could go to movies or to the beach. I have been shocked
to hear what some missionaries have done. But now there is a good
group here. President Glazier really changed things when he got here.
We have 2 baptisms scheduled for this saturday. One of them is a 10
year old named Emilio. He is so smart and mature for 10 years old. And
his family is awesome. His parents need to get married before they can
get baptized, but the husband doesnt want to. I have had several
children in families that have prayed for me by name because I am new.
Their prayers have been so sweet and sincere, and I am amazed at the
power that even children have in prayer. Tell Cole and Sky happy
birthday for me! And to get their butts reading the Book of Mormon
like they promised me! We talked to a drunk man in the street the
other day, and we got his address from him. We dropped by, and we have
since taught him with his wife and two daughters! He and his wife have
baptismal dates now! I have been hoping and praying so hard that they
would accept the gospel. They need change in their family, and the
gospel is exactly what they need. We teach with members as often as we
can. One of them is named Baudilio. He is an old man, but he is crazy!
He is hilarious. We were teaching the law of chastity, and he told our
investigator that when you look at a woman with lust, you should know
that if you look at her 'with the cameras the doctors use to see
inside of you', you would see that there is just a skeleton. But the
woman that God gives you to marry is a real woman. I have a story for
you guys! The other night, we had dinner at a member's house. After we
finished eating, she offered us mangoes. I took one, taught the other
missionaries (there are 5 of us that eat together) our cool trick for
how to eat mangoes (with the criss-cross cuts) and ate half of the
mango. It was so delicious! As I cut open the other half, I saw a
worm. A WORM IN MY MANGO. Obviously any appetite I had before was now
gone. I just prayed that I wouldn't get sick from the half that I did
eat. Also, my neck has been getting a crazy rash from my shirt collars
because I sweat all day and it rubs. But it has been better in the
last few days. I had pupusas for the first time on Wednesday! but it
doesnt really count because we had pupusa burgers. My companion Elder
Martin was celebrating 20 months here, and he made burger patties and
we ate them in between two pupusas. It was good, but it tasted like a
hamburger. But we are going to eat pupusas tonight with some members.
My appetite has been kind of weird here though. I don't eat breakfast,
and when I do eat at member homes, I get full really fast. Like really
fast. But it has been getting a little bit better. I am dropping
weight though I think. Another story! We were walking the other day
and we saw a man who only had one day trying to catch his horse with a
rope. It was just walking in the streets. We asked him if he needed
help and he said that he did. He told us that it had escaped a week
before and he finally found it. But it was super hard for him to walk
with his crutches and catch it. So we tried to help. The horse ended
up running from us, and we chased it halfway across town! We finally
cornered it in a fenced off mango grove, and we went and got the man
(he had fallen far behind during the chase). Because the horse was not
as scared of him, we let him use the rope to catch the horse once it
had nowhere to go. He caught it, and we got his information.
Unfortunately, he lives outside of our area. Another cool story. We
were waiting for a bus, and a car pulled up and offered us a ride. We
all felt pretty good about it, so we accepted. The man was really
nice. He said that he had seen us around, and that he respects what we
do here. He dropped us off exactly where we needed to be, and we got
his information to teach him. Missionary work is so cool. But I've
been missing home lately. I keep thinking about life before the
mission, and about life after. Two years seems really long. But the
past 8 weeks have flown! I'm changing my attitude and trying to
concentrate on the work and that has been helping. Don't worry too
much about me, I am doing just fine here. Love you guys!!

Elder Briggs Andreasen

Monday, April 8, 2013

Holy Cow!! This week I arrived in El Salvador. My first day here was
my birthday!! Sorry to tell you this Mom, but I did not get the
package. I could be at the mission office, but I will not be able to
get it until next week I think. I did get letters from the Green
family, which made my day brighter (though it was already bright
because it was my birthday and I'm a missionary!). I have been here
for less than a week and I've already seen some...interesting...stuff.
The standard of living here is much lower than in the states, which is
to be expected. It is similar to what we saw in Kenya (though not the
villages, the city). I have seen drunk men passed out on the side of
the road, and have even encountered and spoken with a couple of them.
One of my first nights here, a man asked me for the time. I gave it to
him, and he started talking to me, but I could not understand him.
Within a few seconds, my companions and I were almost surrounded by
drunk men (gangsters, according to my companions) and we just said
good night and got out of there. It is SO HOT here. I seriously sweat
from 7am to 10:30pm. And I actually stink a little bit! But that is
because I ran out of deodorant in the CCM. But I have never stunk
before... Our house is pretty nice. I might get some pictures later.
My companions are Elders Garcia and Martin, both gringos (from texas
and utah respectively). The first day they tricked me and told me they
were from El Salvador and Spain, and they talked almost completely in
Spanish. That night they told me it was a joke. I like them though.
But they are busy a lot. They are Zone leaders, so they do a lot of
zone leader stuff and I just have to watch pretty much. They've had
one thing or another such that I havent had language study for the
past 6 days. Tomorrow I will resume. We have been teaching quite a bit
lately, but not as much as we'd like. Oh, and I got to annoint to give
a blessing in Spanish! That was exciting and terrifying. Apparently
this area isn't super dangerous. There is one neighborhood in this
area that is notorious though. They kill any gringos who go in there.
So, obviously and understandably, we don't go there. It's called Vaya
del Sol. Sorry to switch things up on you again Mom, but packages to
here can (and are recommended) to have a picture or sticker of Jesus
or Mary or the like. Things are different than I expected here. We
have cocineras that cook for us regularly who have been trained on
what we can eat and how it has to be prepared, etc. We have one for
lunch, one for dinner, and two different ones for Friday and Sunday
nights. We also have a sister who does our laundry. There are dogs
everywhere here. I have already stepped in dog poop twice (it was dark
both times) and I had to wash my shoes. Gross. Our house sometimes
doesn't have water in the mornings, so we have to 'shower' with
gallons of water that we have stored (we have like 30...). when the
shower is working, it is just a single stream out of a pipe, and it is
cold. I have already been bitten by a few critters, but luckily I am
feeling fine (one of them was a sketchy little yellow spider that I
watched bite me...). The people here, for the most part, are really
nice and friendly. But they havent been as open to listen to us as I
would have hoped (yet). But yesterday two families let us in and we
taught them very briefly. We are going to keep visiting them, and
we'll see how that develops. At times I get frustrated. My language
abilities are far below where I wanted them to be, but I haven't had
any opportunities to study, and most of the time when people talk I
can't even identify words to try to understand. But I know that that
will improve. At the end of my CCM time I felt that time was flying,
and that I would be home in no time. However, now I sit looking at the
next 97 weeks or so and it just is discouraging. Now time seems to be
dragging (even though the days are over before I know it). So I'm
trying to devote myself to the work that needs to be done so I don't
have to think about it. I'll have more to tell you in the future
hopefully. I love you all, and I'm grateful for your prayers and
support. Have a great week!!
(The pictures are a birthday gift from my district, my bed (my
companion is letting me use his disney mosquito net for the time
being; also notice how I am using a towel for a pillow...), and my