Monday, May 25, 2015

Early Morning Greetings!

Hello everyone! We got up a little early today because we had to be at the stake center to write at 6:30. This week has been quite interesting. So this is the last full week of the change, changes are THIS Wednesday I don't think I said that very clearly in the last email. The first half of the week was really pretty normal. To be honest I don't even remember much of anything that happened. Some of the neighboring areas in San Miguel got shut down so there are only actually 4 missionaries in my district. We went and did service a couple mornings this week to go paint at a members house. I actually forgot my camera this morning so i apologize for no pictures this week... I promise next week! But anyways come thursday the fun started. During our weekly planning session I started to not feel so great but tried to tough it out. A couple hours in I started to get really achy all over my body and felt terrible. I went to our tienda friends across the street to get some water and I really didnt have an appetite. My body felt burning hot to the touch but I had the chills. The lady there said I had all the symptoms of chikungunya whichhhhh would not be fun to have. I came home and crawled in bed and the fun started. The pain an acheyness was so intense I couldn't stand and laid in my bed with my whole body twitching in pain and a headache I cant even describe how bad. I at times actually felt like I might die. Then I had to crawl into a taxi and take a painful ride down to the hospital to do a bunch of tests (yes they drew my blood and yes I almost cried and yes the nurse gave me a lollipop at the end) and found out that I actually had a parasite! Yay! SO I went home and laid in my bed all day and night without sleeping and in pain. But after 24 hours most of the bad symptoms passed and I got medicine and now im happy and excited :) But really (mom) I am okay it was a long day but that's what happens when the food here really isnt sanitary, and now I feel more than ever like i really belong in this country. My first parasite... quite a landmark if you ask me. Anyways other than that not a lot happened because this weekend is actually one of the the most dangerous of the year for this country. We had a o'clock curfew we had to be in our houses because of the gang violence but we still had success, although we didnt have a lot come to church especially those that said they would so it was a little tough. But its a new Week! Anyways that's my week... Its been one for the books! Hope everything is going awesome back home! I cant believe its memorial day weekend and that high school graduation is in a couple days! That means I graduated High School a year ago! Dang im old. But I have had so many great experiences here in my mission already i wouldn't trade them for anything. Literally in everything-- pain, tear, blood, joy, excitement, I see the blessings of the Gospel. God touches every aspect of our life and blesses us so tremendously that if we sit back and watch and look for it it will humble you beyond belief. I also have such a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon. All the answers you need for anything in life can be found when reading and pondering that book. It is the keystone to the Gospel and also to my testimony. Love and Miss you all!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Another Week!

How goes it Friends and Family?! So this week has been pretty good. In central America they have what is called the week of the family, and every day in the capilla they have had lessons and mini FHE things central in the family. It has been a great experience and we were able to get a few investigators to come to them which has really helped them become familiar with the capilla. Still one of our biggest struggles is getting investigators to come to Church. The capilla isnt in our area and many people dont want to travel very far because they have to walk and it can be dangerous at times. Plus here every other house is basically a church too so it is hard for them to understand at times why they should come to our church and not just any of the other 50 billion churches in the neighborhood. Oh yeah so this is the last full week of the change here, I cant believe i am almost done with two of the changes in the mission and one in the field. I still feel so new here but things are starting to come along. Honestly, this week was a little rough at times. We lost some investigators and a lot of our positive ones aren't progressing very much. It can be frustrating at times, but the key is to always be happy. Sometimes in life and especially on the mission no matter how bad things are going you cant get down on yourself. If you are feeling down, force a smile on your face and carry a constant prayer in your heart and the Lord will bless you with strength and happiness and the desire to work and serve. At times this is what carries me through the hard times and I am so happy for the constant companion of the Spirit. No matter what we can always pray to the Lord for guidance and strength and he will always hear our prayers. OH YEAH I finally got a bunch of letters and packages!. I want to thank everyone who sent me a letter, I was honestly so happy to be receiving them and its nice and uplifting to always have letters from friends and families that you dont have to rush to read in an hour. Sometimes at nights before I sleep I will just read them over and give thanks for such an awesome family. I received a lot of letters from family and it was really nice to hear from everybody. Also I received a package from my mom of Starburst jellybeans (because it just wasn't Easter without them) as well as chocolate dipped bunnies that actually survived the trip to El Salvador pretty well. Thank you all! Here I have started to really get to know the ward. There are some amazing families and I have been able to befriend a lot of the youth in the ward. I really do love the people here there testimonies are amazing. Its cool to see how in different parts of the world with completely different circumstances and trials, The Gospel can uplift and inspire all those seek it out. I still think about home nearly everyday, but I am not as homesick as I used to be. Random things will remind me of home, but I always try to put them aside and focus on the work and I have been blessed for that. Oh yeah, I have more experiences already than I can count of people doing strange things to me here. A lot of times for example I will be walking in the street and random people will get inches from my face and just stare at my blue eyes because they are such a rarity here. Other people who are not so accustomed to white people will simply just come up to me and poke me as if to see if I was actually a real person and then walk away without saying anything... But it makes things fun and interesting here. The mission is an experience like no other.Those of you that have a desire to serve are called to the work. I know this Church is true with all my heart and this work is the greatest work to be done on the Earth. At times, it can also be the hardest. But with the Lord on your side, you are always on the winning side. Bye and Love you all!

Monday, May 11, 2015

May 11, 2015 + Pictures!!

Hello all! As I'm sure everyone knows yesterday was dia de los madras and we as  missionaries had the opportunity to skype back home to our families and most importantly mothers. That was quite the experience for me. I am so grateful for technology and it was honestly a miracle to be able to see my family all there both new and old. The emotions
flowed heavily even though i tried my best to hold them back. I was so happy to see my mom and saying goodbye was hard knowing it would be Christmas before i could talk to them again. But it was nice to be able to talk about my life here more in depth. There are some things that being caught up in the moment i forgot to say but I guess some things I will just have to wait till i get home to share. This week we got to go to San Salvador, the capital, twice. Tuesday we got to go to the temple. This was such an amazing experience for me for this reason. Sitting in the temple, I felt almost guilty with all the things i was pleading to the lord to help me with. Things personal, spiritual, with other people, everything. After leaving the temple I went and got lunch with some other missionaries and the thought came to me that i belong here. This is without a doubt where I need to be and the Lord confirmed that to me. I knew that through all the trials and indescribable joy i have passed through and that I am yet to pass through is because this is right where I need to be for this reason. It was such as answer to prayer and I will remember it for a very long time. Also the next day we woke up at three in the morning again to take a 3-4 hour bus ride to the capitol for a meeting with President and all the new missionaries. It was super cool to see a lot of the missionaries that i came in with and to see how much we have grown already. Other than that, we worked. We walk a lot and by the end of each day i collapse exhausted, many times falling asleep during my nightly prayers. Three keys to a successful missionary.... work, work, work. We have a few really promising investigators and a lot with baptismal dates but the hardest thing is getting them to come to Church. the Capilla is not in our area and a lot of members don't like to leave the area around there house because it can be dangerous at times with the gangs. So that is what we are really working hard on, getting people to come to church. We get up in the morning  Sundays early and walk all over trying to get people up and to Church and most of the time we have little success. But I love the work. I have seen so many people make amazing sacrifices to take part of the blessing of the Gospel and its quite a blessing to me to see it. I only have about two and a half weeks until the next change and there is a chance that I might get a new Latino trainer but we will see what happens. Anyway it was really good to see and hear from everyone from back home. At times you forget that life goes on back home because you are so involved in the work here and nothing else. But that's how it should be. Jessie gave me a folleto of letters before i left and one of the things in there said everything that is important or that Heavenly Father wants for me will be there when I get back. This is a huge comfort to me knowing that as I dedicate two years to the Lord with everything I have, he will make sure I have everything I need in my life to come. That is a blessing of the Gospel. When we do all we can to serve the kingdom of God first, all things will be added on. Anyways that's all I have now since I was able to talk yesterday to you guys. Love and miss you all!

So here are a few pictures. That's me and Elder Acosta as well as Elder Navarro from Mexico that I came in with and Elder Vignerro from the DR. They are all super awesome Elders. Most people in my district know me for my love of my family and I'm the biggest mommas boy. I guess that is evident even here, and is one of the biggest compliments every one gives to me I don't shy away from it. The Latinos also love to tell me how different I am because I have a Bayern Munich jersey and they tell me I look exactly like a German soccer player. We play futbol a lot here and I'm actually not too bad. I love playing especially with the Latinos we have a lot of really good ones. Also there is a super awesome Elder here named Elder Hazelgreen. He just finished being AP and is about to go home next change. He is super nice to me and we are good friends and get this.... He went to Basha High School! He played soccer there and we love to give each other a hard time. Even El Salvador... people hate Hamilton. Oh well.. Until next week!

Mother's Day chat with Elder Nelson!

Elder Nelson’s Mother’s Day Phone Call – May 10th 2015 

Chad- Here we go, I can hear you!!  How’s it going??  I’m good.  How are you guys? 
Mom- We’re doing good!  Did you already go to church today? 
Chad- yeah, 9 this morning.   Hi Lex!  How are you ?
Lexi- Good. 
M- Are you at a member’s house? 
Ch- Yeah, a really nice members house.  They feed us food a lot.  They are really nice.  
M- we got a lot of pictures of you from Melissa (mission president's daughter)
C- I had an interview with President like 2 weeks in.  He told me he was just going to ask me how it is going as a new missionary.  I told him I was really close to my mom and it’s hard not being with her.  He said he’ll make sure my daughter keeps her informed.  When I went to his house a couple of days ago, (the trainer meeting), his daughter said you were really happy and you got a bunch of pictures.  Did you get a bunch recently? 
M- yeah, they are great.  Everyone said you looked so happy.  So are you going to be a trainer now?  
C- No, the interview was just because I’m being trained.  Just had a meeting to see how we’re doing.  
M- I want to know about where you live.  Your house.  Does a bunch of people live there? 
C- just me and my companion.  It’s really nice.  It’s hot.  It’s outside.  Our bedrooms are just inside at the door.  There is a room; that’s where our bedroom is.  Most of the house is just outside. 
Lexi- I have a baby!  
Chad- really?  Is she there??  Yeah, you used my name!  
Jessie- yeah!  That was my first choice.  
Chad- I always when I go to write you.  Things are so normal I don’t know what to write you.  It’s like… I’m having trouble finding words even though I don’t know Spanish very well.  The area I’m in is pretty safe.  Other areas have to be in around 6:00, but we can stay out till 9:00.  Some areas are not very safe that go in early.  My area is safe.  We have a lot of drug people that haggle us, but other than that it’s really safe and the people are really awesome.  
M- the ward is good? 
Chad- yeah, it’s great.  The ward, there’s usually about 110 people.  They work really well with us.  
M- did you get my package? 
Chad- no.  I know they are here.   I’ll probably have to wait til change meetings to get it.  Sometimes they can take months to get to us.  Don’t make that mean you don’t send anything.  I love to get stuff.  
M- Oh, lots of people have sent stuff. 
Chad- yeah, they probably have it.  I just haven’t got it yet.  
M- Tyler, Anneke and breanna are here.  They are saying hi!  (Tyler, Anneke, Breanna and Rimo were all on a different computer through google hangout and listening in.) 
Chad- How is everyone?  
M- They are all great.  
Chad- I can hear them saying hi.  It’s hard to hear them though.  
M- I want to know how you like the food. 
Chad- The food here is really good.  Where I am, a lot of other places they have someone who cooks lunch once a day.  But where I am the members feed us 4 or 5 times a week.  Usually it’s rice and beans and chicken.  But, it’s good.  Outside our house, just down the street in the neighborhood people are just out cooking papusas just outside their house.  They are some of the best things ever.  I have lost weight actually.  I think a lot of it is muscle wait.  
M- Here is Navy. 
C- Oh!  Navy Kapri, right?  Aww.. Everything went well with that?  
M- Yeah!  Everything went well.  
J- Hi chad, everything went really well
C- Good Im glad. I kind of knew that your due date was that week but it wasn’t until the Sunday before that I remembered to write and see how it went. 
Cindi: Did the pictures go through okay?
Ch: Yeah, I love getting pics through email. The cord that goes from the camera to the computer on my end doesn’t sinc so I had to use another elders who has a memory chip thing that I use to send pics. They are only ten dollars so I am thinking of buying one. The cord just doesn’t sync and it takes 15 minutes of my writing time. 
Cindi: Do you need any extra money?
Chad: Yeah, I will let you know. I will need to get some cash out. (cutting out ). 
Cindi: you are cutting out. It is choppy. 
Chad: you guys are too. Yeah, I am going to get a backpack and a few other things
Cindi: Do you ride the bus or just walk?
Chad: I take a bus to the stake center but we walk around our area. 
Cindi: Cool. When you go to the mission pres home is that back in san Salvador? 
Chad: Yeah, that is a 3 hour drive. We wake up early to do that
Cindi: So that was cool to go to the temple
Chad- Yeah, we had the chance to go. 
M- Say something in Spanish! 
Chad- No, I’m not very good. 
M- what’s the most surprising thing there?  
Chad- I expected it to be more rainy.  But it comes later.  We had one rainy day and at times it will be half way to your knee and the run off will go out.  
M- but it’s still really hot and humid? 
Chad- yeah, its one of the hotter places in El Salvador.  It’s really hot out walking and I’m constantly sweating.  Being from AZ, it’s not undoable, but I’m just constantly sweating. 
M- Can you see the beach at all? 
Chad- Not from where I am; not in my area.   
Chad- The house I’m in is really nice.  The hammocks are everywhere.  I love those hammocks and always lay in ours.  
M- are you able to sleep?  Are their bugs? 
Chad- I’m usually so exhausted that I sleep fine through the night.  There are bugs and mosquitos, but it’s not a huge problem.  It’s not as big of a problem here as other places.  
M- Do you have to be careful with what you drink? 
Chad- Yeah, we just drink from bottles or bags of water you can buy.  2 for 25 cents.   It’s half of a liter, that’s how everyone drinks around here.  Usually it’s cold; I enjoy it because it’s usually after a long day.  
M – are there things you want us to send that you can’t get there? 
C- My journal, sometimes in the future I’d like another one because I’m half way through mine.  My Spanish scriptures, the bindings disinigrate because of the humidity.  I’d like a journal without a glue binding.  I’d like one with the rings or something.  I have plenty of room now, but I’m going to run out.  I probably have 3 or 4 months left but I’ll need more.  
M- I have some chocolate for you from Germany… we’ll see if it’s a gooey mess.  
C- It prob will be, but I’ll just freeze it and pick it apart.  Seal it up nice so it doesn’t get everywhere.  I can’t think of anything else that I need right now.  
M- Have you been able to explore at all on your p-day? 
Chad- Yeah, not a whole lot.  Not much outside my area.  It’s hard because the country.. there is a lot of problems with gangs.  Some areas are pretty bad.  So, the army presence it pretty heavy.  They are everywhere.  Oh yeah, they carry guns.  Rifles that they all have.  Even at grocery stores they have armed guards that work for security.  But, this area I’m in is one of the safest areas.  There are times that are more scary than others. But, I’ve never been threatened.  There are missionaries with those stories.  So, I’m sure I’ll have some of those too.  
M- in those pictures from the mission home, there was a kid in a lot of those pictures.  He had red hair. 
Chad- he was in my district.  He’s the only elder that came with me to Elder Salvador.  
M- Where is Elder Beecher?  
Chad- Yeah, he is in an area more north.  He’s not in my area.  When I saw him in San Salvador, that was the first time I had seen him since the MTC. 
M- tell us more about your day.  You can understand the Spanish pretty well? 
Chad- Yeah, I can usually understand what they are talking about.  I just need to learn more vocab.  I can talk to most people now.  Every country has their own dialect.  The people here speak really fast and don’t say their ‘s’s.  It’s taken me a long time to get used to that.  Yeah, my Spanish is alright.  I can hold a conversation as long as I have the words for it.  Every day stuff.  I’ve also learned to talk with my hands.  They use their hands a lot so I’ve started doing that a lot.  
M- when is your next big get together thing? 
Chad- We have district meetings every week.  Zone meetings are once a month.  President is super cool.  I’ve had a chance to talk to him a couple times.  I can’t think of anything in the near future.  We went down to San Salvador and got my visa.  So I am official now. 
Breanna- I want to know if you have a fridge. 
Chad- Yeah, I do.  I have basic necessities.  
Breanna- Is it like the Best Two Years and you have to put it outside your house? 
Chad-.. Nah, it would catch fire here!  But, if I needed a microwave, maybe.  It’s really weird.   A lot of times the members will give us drinks and they will give us drinks in bags.  You take it and bite the corner off and just drink it out of the bags.  The drinks are probably my favorite part here.  Everyone here drinks grape soda.  Everybody!  That’s just what they drink.  
M- Do they have coca cola? 
Chad- Yeah, but we are not allowed to drink soda/caffeine.  We drink plenty of fruit flavored sodas so we get plenty of the carbination. 
Tyler- empandas?  Sopaditas? 
Chad – No!  Mostly just the papusas.  Just beans and cheese in the middle. They are really, really good.  At members its usually rice, chicken and some kind of vegetables.  
Tyler- Is it really bland?  Spices? 
Chad- it’s usually pretty bland.  They don’t really like it spicy.  They like it hot (temperature) but not spicy.  It will be like 100 degrees and they give you a big bowl of hot steamy soup with a piece of meat in it.  You are dripping sweat.  They are asking, “oh do you need a drink?” and then they give you a steaming cup of hot cocoa.  They do some ice.  But, they just love the hot cocoa.  It’s 100 degrees.  You’ll see an old dude dripping sweat and he’s drinking hot cocoa.  It’s weird!  Do they not know there is a volcano right here? 
M- Do you like the face towels?
Chad- I love it for wiping my face.  So far they are holding up really well. 

(Call dropped) 

Chad- Hey.  Talk to me.  I can’t see you but keep talking. 
M- Do you get pb there? 
Chad- No, I would like some of that.  
M- My little chocolate dipped peeps probably didn’t make it. 
Chad- No, probably not… it’s the thought that counts.  
Jessie/Mom- We love your emails.  They are so great.  
Chad- I try to bear my testimony.  Before my mission I didn’t get told things that would be hard.  But, it is hard and I want people who might be preparing for a mission to be honestly told how it is going to be.  Personally thank Brother Foster for me.  We have a lot of similar experiences and what he tells me really helps me a lot.  I don’t get it across very well how much I appreciate it.  I try to be honest.  A lot of it, to be honest, is really hard.  I don’t want people to come out and go home because they don’t expect it to be so hard.  The rewards are so worth it so I want people to know it.  I try to get that across.  It’s hard and can be really disappointing at times.  You are constantly receiving blessings and miracles that you remember that’s why you are here.  I don’t know who reads them outside of family, but I will try to bear my testimony.  
M- That’s great.  They want to hear your testimony and hear your experiences. 
Dad- Patriarch Smith wanted me to tell you that they really enjoy reading your letters.  
Chad- my grammar is probably horrible.  I don’t have time to check them.  
M- that’s okay, Jessie fixes them J  
Chad- I gave the link to Gage.  I’ve been emailing him a little bit.  I wondered how he was doing. 
M- I’ll add him to the list.  I can add his email.  Send it to me if you can.  
Chad- I’m glad people care.  I get a good amount of emails.  I mostly hear from Family.  I hear from Trevor.  
Chad- I always thought that Utah would be the worst mission.  But, now that I’m here I think Utah would be the best.. it’s civilized, they get food all the time and have great places to live.  That wouldn’t be so bad!  
Chad- I’d love to hear little updates from other missionaries that are out.  I occassionaly get a chance to email my other friends that are out.  I think a lot about the youth in our ward when I write my emails.  I think a lot about Cade going into his junior year.  
Chad- I really appreciate brother foster, I want you to tell him that.  So, I got my haircut on Monday.  See how it’s really short on one side?  There is a member in one place and it’s free.  I told them what I wanted.  The style here is to have the long hair on top and spike it up.  So they shaved around the circle and barely cut the tiniest bit off the top.  They said, Okay you’re good!  I wasn’t so sure, but I just went with it.  They just thought that’s what I meant.. But it was in Spanish so it could have come off wrong.  
M- we did notice in the pictures… 
Chad- Yeah, most of the missionaries have it that way here. 
M- we got lots of pictures from the president’s daughter.  We might go see her on her mission.  
Chad- she’d love it.  

Chad- alright, my time is about up!
All- We love you!! 
Chad- love you too.  I don’t know if you could tell.. I have really been homesick.  You know me.  But, I am doing really good.  Working helps a lot.  I really miss you guys.  I really miss you, Mom.  I’ll never come home.  I’m happy to be here.  I think of you guys a lot.  I am here because of you guys.  I know you receive the blessings and that’s really important ot me.  I’m glad I got to Skype you two months in.. I’ll hopefully be fluent by the time we Skype next time.  I’ll be safe. I’ll work my hardest.  I love you guys.  
M- we love you and pray for you all the time.  We are so proud of you.  
Chad- love you too! Happy mother’s day too!  Mom, it’s been hard not to be there.  I miss you. 
M- I really miss you too, but I know that’s where you are supposed to be. 
Chad- Alright.. I’m going to go now. 
All- We love you!!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Monday, May 4, 2015

2 Months + Pictures!!

So first thing first Congratulations to Jessie and Kevin with the birth of Navy Kapri Bell. She is absolutely beautiful and I cant wait to get to know her when I get home. Also, for the record, Navy was my name that I gave Jessie because I loved that name so I hope I am getting the credit I deserve. But really I thought about you guys a lot this week and am so excited for you guys and happy everyone is healthy. I am super excited to be able to skype back home next Sunday.  We are going to look for a members house that we can do it at but I will be able to talk a lot more about my experiences at that time. This week has been really good. In the moment it felt so long but looking back I felt like I just wrote home like 3 days ago. You really do find yourself when you lose yourself in the work. We worked really hard this week and have a couple promising baptism dates. But the biggest struggle is getting people to come to Church. My spanish is coming a long i guess. people tell me I am actually doing better than expected with it which is good to hear because I am more hard on my myself than anything. Oh yeah so last Tuesday i randomly got called in for an interview with President Vasquez... just me and like two other Elders who were about to leave the mission and here I am with two weeks and an interview and nobody knew why. It was a super awesome talk with Pres but im still not a hundred percent sure why I had the interview. There is just a rumor going around that I am going to get changes after this change at the end of this month and finish training somewhere else. But its just a rumor. Anyways other than that we just work a lot. I went into the capital for immigration also so I believe I am now an official citizen of El Salvador. The homesickness and what not is better. I actually really enjoy the mission and I can already tell it will get hard to leave. The members here are amazing people and i love to talk with them. The food here and the pupusas... nothing compares. So good. I am getting along with my companion really well and am learning to work with other people a lot better. Pres Vasques said I might be a leader really soon after my training so I am really nervous because of the language and if I will be a good leader but i will do my best at any job the Lord calls me to do and he will help me. I love the work so much. Love it all, the thirst, fatigue, blood, sweat, rain and puddles to my knees, blisters, homesickness, I love it all. Its the biggest sacrifice I have ever done but so many blessings come because of it. I don't know who reads theses emails honestly but if anybody is reading this that is preparing for a mission I plea with you to really prepare. Prepare for the most remarkable time of your life. Prepare physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. Because in my short time here, I have been pushed to almost my limit in all these aspects. But we are called by a prophet of the Lord, and I have actually seen and felt angels of the Lord helping me every step of the way. That's what obedience brings. Faith brings obedience and obedience brings miracles. That is a true principle for everyone's life. Till Next Week! 

I am trying to send a picture of my house and then my district. My companion Elder Acosta is right next to me. The other blonde is Elder Beecher and so far he is probable my closest friend we get along super well and he has about a year.

Also, here is the aftermath of when a bunch of members put their face in flour during a noche de hogar (family home evening). hahahahahah they love to pick on white people. Especially the youngins. We have fun too.