(Chad gets connected and is chatting with some other Elders in Spanish.)
Chad- Hi! How’s it going?
Mom- Hi!! Good, we just had Christmas and we’ve just been waiting here for your call. I loved hearing you talk Spanish.
Ch- today we had a big Christmas activity, I’ve been talking with a lot of English elders so I have to switch back and forth. Hi everyone! Hi Lexi, you’re so big now.
Mom- You opened the book right? (A book that had family holding up a scripture of the Christmas story in Luke.)
Chad- That was awesome, Thank you. I was just telling my companion (crying)… I was just telling my companion how much I missed reading in Luke with Dad when I was younger. Then I opened that book and it was perfect. I was just telling him how much I’d miss that this year and I got the book and it was really cool.
Mom- Oh awesome!
Ch- I loved the small little white board. That is a great idea. I’ve seen others use that.
Mom- that was Tyler’s idea. He gave me a lot of ideas.. different colored pens, stickys, the white board.
Chad- It’s awesome. It’s something I’ll actually use. Thank you!
Chad- I’m using a tablet. Can you see me?
Mom- Yes, great. Did you like the star wars socks?
Chad- Yes, loved it. My companion loves them! They are “p-day socks”. :)
Mom- What did you do the last few days to celebrate?
Ch- Christmas is like new years here! It can get a bit dangerous bc people drink a lot. So we had to enter home earlier. I’m here in Apopa. In the day time we went to San Salvador and went with all the missionaries and just played games with all of the missionaries. I’ve made a lot of friends in the mission now so it’s fun to see them.
Mom- Did you get all of your birthday letters?
Ch- I think I’m still missing two. But, I understand what it was supposed to say. Thank you.
Mom- How are all of your clothes doing?
Ch- They are good. My shirts are yellow. I don’t wear long sleeve very much right now so my long sleeve shirt I’m wearing now is still white. It’s normal to have yellow-ish shirts here so I’m good. Next time I go to the temple I’ll buy some more garments.
Mom- did you get the money from G Sheldon?
Ch- Yes. I haven’t used it, but it’s in my account.
Mom- What’s your favorite thing to eat there?
Ch- I don’t know how much I’ve told you. But, my favorite thing is beans with cream and fried plantains, like baked bananas. Fried plantains with French bread. Here you eat with your hands. It’s uncommon to have a fork. I’ve gotten really comfortable with just eating beans and cream with your hands.
Mom- What is the cream? Just like a normal cream?
Ch- Yeah, just like straight cream. They dump it on everything (bread, beans). Everything. It’s really good.
Mom- Do they have street vendors?
Ch- It’s a bit like parasite roulette... haha. The papusas are good, but we can’t really eat all of it.
Lexi- When have you been the happiest?
Ch- Well, I’m pretty happy right now! When we have people to teach and they receive us and are progressing, I’m pretty happy with that.
Dad- Kai wants to say hi. He has a superman shirt on.
Kai- (Kai waves.)
Mom- What’s your favorite p-day activity?
Ch- Soccer is fun with the other elders. In Apopa we don’t do a whole lot on p-days. It can be dangerous to go out, so usually we stay home. I like to write and rest.
Bean- What is your favorite smell in your area right now?
Ch- Lol. This country does not smell good. It’s beautiful, but the lakes, gutters are trashed. There’s a lot of interesting smells. A lot of people don’t bathe very well. Good smells? There aren’t many.
Mom- are there good fruits?
Ch- I don’t try the exotic fruits very much because they are expensive but every week I buy apples.
Kevin- Here’s Navy. She’s asleep.
Chad- Sorry it’s late. What time is it there? It looks light there.
Mom- We are only an hour later. Do you do a lot of service in your area?
Ch- It depends. Maybe we should do more service. We always ask what we can do in San Miguel. They say to throw water in the sidewalk. They say it cools it down a lot. It sounds weird but that’s what they always like us to do.
Mom- where do you live now?
Ch- It’s pretty nice. When the other elders come, they say it’s pretty cool. The other half is not finished and trashed, but our half is nice. It’s finished.
Mom- How is the area?
Ch- it’s pretty hard to be honest. The members are mostly inactive. The members we do know will feed us usually.
Mom- you can always have more money.
Ch- I’m okay. I’ve been pretty good about budgeting my money.
Mom- When was the last time you washed your sheets?
Ch- No answer.. haha. You have to understand. I wash my clothes by hand. So if I wash my sheets then I sleep without sheets for a week.
Mom- Do you feel safe?
Ch- It’s best if I don’t answer that... I’ll tell you most of them after my mission. I’m very protected here by the Lord and I feel it every day. But there are a lot of things I’m not going to tell you til after. I live in a dangerous country and see a lot of things that I don’t ever want to see. I’ll have a lot of stories to tell one day. I’ve been and seen places that I don’t want to see again. But, I’m okay. I feel protected here as a missionary completely. I realize the danger I am in at times, but I also can tell you that I am protected.
Kevin- How have your responsibilities and the way you teach different now as a DL?
Ch- I feel some more stress. At a recent zone meeting, my name just dropped down and I had no idea. They were showing how everything had changed (elders moved places and my area shrunk), but I’m learning to deal with it. I’m more conscious of what I’m doing. People watch and see what I’m doing and follow my example, so I watch what I do carefully.
Mom- How many are in your district?
Ch- They just took out 2, so just 4 right now. But, they will bring back 2 soon.
Mom- What do you like about your companion?
Ch- He’s just barely came out. He’s really good. He was a little weird at first. Haha. He’s really spontaneous and energetic (he had a youtube channel before the mission, so he’s that kind of person). I don’t like to remind people about obedience stuff, but sometimes I have to with little stuff as he is a new missionary. I get along really great with him.
Mom- When does your mission pres leave?
Ch- He’ll leave 8 months after me which is really cool that he’ll be here the whole time I am here. He helps me a lot. I have a great testimony of him and the spirit has testified to me about the things he’s taught more than any other. One thing I’ve really realized here is the importance of the Sabbath day. I know I’m in the mission mode, but I’ve made the commitment to not watch football on Sundays after my mission. An elder said to me once: The Sabbath day is to prepare us for the Celestial Kingdom. We shouldn’t do anything on the Sabbath that we wouldn’t do there.
Mom- They’ve really been focusing on that here too.
Ch- Here in central America it’s been one thing that a lot of people don’t do. It’s really hard. I’ve had to say something to a bishop about it before and he said “show me where in the scriptures it says that”. I just walked away.
Ch- It’s pretty dangerous here. Sometimes they don’t want to leave their neighborhoods to go to church.
Mom- I ran into Trent the other day. It was really fun to see him
Ch- I just heard from him a few weeks ago. It's always great to hear from friends!
Mom- Do you have any questions for us?
Ch- I can’t think.
Mom- Do you get to see the country?
Ch- Here its a bit more dangerous to go out into the country. Since I’ve been here I haven’t really gone out because of the situation in the country. Not as much as I would have liked.
Ch- There’s a lot of hills. I’ve gotten stronger because we walk all over. I used to get really sore and my feet would hurt. But I’ve gotten used to it. I feel like my calves are really strong. haha
Ch- No, I haven’t worn sunscreen in months. Send me some sunscreen. It’s really expensive here for a tiny bottle. Send me some if you can.
Ch- For Vitamins I just want something that doesn’t have anything over 100%
Mom- what’s the music like in your ward?
Ch- in this ward that I’m in… It’s actually a (can’t think of English word.. branch) basically. No piano. When people sing it sounds like they are screeching.. chalkboards. I miss good singing. There are no CD’s to play either. They just kind of sing. Sometimes the investigators will say “it’s so beautiful”. I’m like “what are you listening to? Because that’s not what I heard.” But, they don’t get to hear singing much, so they love it.
Mom- Do you speak in church a lot?
Ch- I’ve gotten really good at just saying what I know. As I’m walking up, I ask Bishop “what’s the topic today?” He says “repentance” so I say Okay! There’s about 60 people, and about 40 there and 20 less actives.
Mom- What do most people do for work in your area?
Ch- Uh.. construction. Most people go into San Salvador.
Mom- How far are you?
Ch- To the temple it’s about 40 minutes. We take 2 buses to San Salvador. We should be due pretty soon for the temple. We haven’t been since being here.
Tyler- Do you meet in a church building?
Ch- There was a building they built about 7-8 years ago.
Mom- Why’d they close it?
Ch- I’ve heard rumors of disobedient missionaries, but also some violent areas, and it just wasn’t progressing.
Tyler- Is there a field in the back of the church to play soccer?
Ch- There is a small one there. They are fun to play on.
Mom- Anything else you’d like me to send you? Any food you’re really missing?
Ch- Ah, I miss good food, but no I’m pretty good here.
Mom- I wanted to send Soubie Salsa, but it was fresh… not pressurized.
Ch- I haven’t had tortilla chips since I’ve been here.
Jess- what is your focus for your area?
Ch- Focusing on friends of member families, member references, Less activities.
Mom- What’s the weather like? Does it stay about the same?
Ch- It stays about the same. The nights are a bit cooler. I sleep with a sheet. But, it’s still really warm. Today I was sweating a lot.
Mom- ID, UT have so much snow right now. We are nice here. 60’s and sunny.
Ch- I miss that weather. It’s so hot here.
Kevin- I know you’re in Apopa. There’s a lot of little tiny communities.
Ch- I’m technically not in Apopa. In a bus it’s about 5 minutes. Go to lds.org, look for vilamariana (?) ward.
Kevin- Are the buses super rickety?
Ch- sometimes they don’t stop. You just have to grab on to the bars. You throw your money in and yell. They slow down just enough for you to jump off. Especially during work hours. Yeah, the buses are fun. Some elders say the buses here drive faster than other areas. They compete and try to beat each other around corners. It makes it pretty crazy.
Mom- Are you feeling used to the area?
Ch- I feel pretty comfortable. It feels pretty comfortable. I was telling my companion that it feels like Christmas is my half way. On the board in the mission president’s room my return date is the 15th of February. Something with the latinos schedule (they are changing some of the elders to only 3 weeks in the MTC) may shift all of the dates. That’s far away, so I’ll keep you posted. That’s so far away.
Mom- do you have some companions that you want to room with?
Ch- Yeah, there’s a couple that I’ve gotten to know. I’ve met a lot of cool guys and definitely be friends with them.
Ch- How’s it going? How’s the studies?
Rimo- Good. It’s getting hard to keep going. I’ve been doing it so much.
Ch- that’s awesome. I’m not looking forward to doing that. I’ve already forgotten everything.
Jessie- Do you keep a journal?
Ch- Not really. With all of the responsibilities it’s been hard. I am usually done around 10:30 and then just go to bed.
Mom- Did you get a lot of letters and emails for your birthday?
Ch- Yes. I got a lot of first time writers since they have written for my birthday.
Kevin- Keep tokens from restaurants and etc. as memories.
Mom- what time do you get up?
Ch- Sorry I don’t really send pictures as much as I’d like. I don’t take my camera outside anymore because I’ve had people go through my bag.
Rimo- Have your plans for life after the mission changed since the mission?
Ch- My view on the world has changed so much. I still want to do engineering. Maybe that will change, I don’t know. I don’t know what they will change to, but my views have changed.
Mom- Who has been cutting my hair?
Ch- Just anybody I can find. Actually right now the Bishop’s wife cuts it. They just start going at it usually. They always try to leave it long on top bc that is the style. But, I always say ‘mas, mas, mas!” They cut it off the sides and say you’re good. They don’t really blend it. Or they want to just buzz the whole thing.
Ch- The testimonies have all been really cool for the 25 days of Christmas. Thank you for sending them. I’ve been trying to respond to people and write them back.
Mom- How are your shoes? Is it something you can get there? Did you get new running shoes?
Ch- My shoes are fine. They are wearing thin on the sides a bit. I will get some here at some point..
Jessie- are you happy?
Ch- It’s hard, I’ll be honest. Some days are harder than others. I’m what they call “baggie”, just really home centered. We can’t knock on doors. It’s too dangerous. We just shout usually and sometimes they come out. We can’t knock unless we have a member with us or if we are looking for someone specifically.
Kevin- what’s your fav chapter of PMG?
Ch- We focused a lot on studies. Having good studies. I’ve been studying a lot in Chapter 2. Christ-like attributes.
Jessie- what’s a missionary challenge you have for us? We’ll report on Mother’s Day.
Ch- If you tell yourself no one is there to share the gospel to or that you are not the person to do it, you’re lying to yourself. In Alma it says the angels are preparing the way for others to hear the gospel. Your challenge is to bring someone to a church meeting. Then tell the missionaries about them.
Ch- I have to start saying good bye now.
Mom- Okay. That’s the hard one. Mother’s Day isn’t so far away.
Chad- Thank you for your prayers. I feel them. It helps a lot.
Ch- Anneke, I just want you to know that I don’t always have time to write you back. But, I really appreciate it. I thank you a lot. I always read your emails.
Anneke- No worries! I love the letters to families.
Everyone- Bye!! We love you.
Mom- Alright. You are doing a great job.
Chad- It’s really hard mom. I miss you guys a lot.
Mom- You are doing a great job. We miss you but you are doing so great. We pray for you a lot.
Chad- Sometimes I feel like I’m not making a great difference, but I try really hard.
Mom- You are. Especially here too. We are so proud of you.
Chad- Love you Mom! I really am happy, but I really do miss you guys. It really is hard sometimes.
Mom- Hang in there. You are doing great.
Chad- okay. I really am safe mom.
Mom- Love you.
Chad- Love you too!!
Chad was pretty emotional, which made it emotional for all of us. He sounded strong and not at all discouraged, but he mentioned often that it was very hard. We know that he has been protected and blessed every day serving as a missionary. It was so great to hear from him. He expresses wanting to do his very best and we know that he is giving his all to the Lord serving in El Salvador.