Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Week 23 Layco District, El Salvador--December 28, 2015

prospero año y felicidad

hey! i hope you all had a great christmas and were able to enjoy time spent with the family and thinking of the Savior! Christmas here was great of course because i got to call my family and then the rest of the day we spent visiting less active members and families. this week was mostly full of activities and things so we didnt have as many visits with investigators like we have in the past. but it was still a successful and busy week because we had our baptism of Gerson saturday! hes super great and so happy to be a member. now hes helping us teach his sister and his friend so we are looking forward to the next cambio working with all of them. its also nice to have a recent convert so close to our house now that we can visit often. so this week is the new year! i cant even believe it because i can still remember the festivities of last year so clearly. this past week my companion out of the blue asked me what has been my favorite year of my life. i thought about it just a little bit and quickly realized that this year truly has been one of the best years of my life. and i am not saying that as a missionary because i am now in the mission. really, i feel that this year i have experienced great joy, even through my trials. i understand better the role of the Savior in my life. I have a deep appreciation for every aspect of my life that i have enjoyed: my home, my school, my friends, this church, the gospel, my experiences, and so on. but honestly i can find great blessings such as these in any year of my life. even some of the hardest years were filled with great joys and blessings if we could only look to find them. because i have learned and experienced these things i know that this past year was one of the best years of my life. however, it shouldnt be THE best year of my life. we now have the opportunity to look forward to the new year and continue forward with Christ so that the next year can be our best year. and so on forever. the Lord councils in His gospel that we must endure to the end. By that i believe that we can continue working and improving and growing every moment and every year of our life so that we are always enjoying the blessings that the Lord has given us. I hope all of you can take a moment to reflect on your own growth and who it was that supported you in this growth, and then you can look forward with a steadfastness in Christ to continue growing in this new year. I love you all so much! I hope you all have a great week and an even better New Year! Saluuuuuuuuuuuuuuud

Pupusa Count: 54 (i had a week long fast from pupusas and ended it last night with some pupusas con ayote with Gerson. They were delicious)
from the multizone! elder portillo (de guatemala) hes been the ap since i got here and he is goin home next week. hes the best!

we (as a zone) gave a baby christmas tree to one of our less active members here in layco! his name is roberto hueso and he has a lot of health problems and cant walk, work, or attend church because of it. he was super happy to see a whole army of missionaries march up to his house

we also caked elder piñeros cuz it was his birthday last wednesday (the 23rd)

bautismo de gerson!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Week 22 Layco District, El Salvador--December 21, 2015

I don't know what to call this...Christmas?

so this last week was quick and like stuff happened but im drawing a blank. this last week on thursday i went on intercambios with elder harris and i went to barbarena. it was a great day and we taught a ton a lessons and gave service and all the good things that you wanna do as a missionary. we also found out that for whatever reason little caesars is the best pizza here in el salvador. literally havent enjoyed a pizza more in a long time. then on friday, to end our intercambios, elder harris and i came back to layco to meet up with our companions and we went to the house of hermana alvarez to give service and clean out her house/yard. it was a grand ol flag for sure. tomorrow we have our multizone and ward christmas dinner. wednesday we will be doing a triple intercambios cuz we have a baptismal interview for our investigator gerson and i have to do three interviews in the district and then thursday we will be enjoying working christmas eve and friday is christmas! this cambio just flew by and especially these last 5 months in the mission. really its unreal but i love it so much. the church is true! be good! pray! receive blessings! saluuuuuuuuud!

pupusa count: 52
oh we also had a family home evening and i made hamburgers.

oh we also had a family home evening and i made hamburgers. here with investigator gerson

we also had our meeting for trainers and new missionaries. distrito pedro trainers and their sons (minues elder kreutzer because he left for some reason)


avada kadavra!

layco selfies!

layco selfies!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Week 21 Layco District, El Salvador--December 14, 2015

The Wise Men that came from the West (Mission)

Hey so this week was super tough but super fun! also really short which blows my mind. on monday after p day we had a family home evening with a member family and their less active relatives. elder piñeros made some colombian food! it was a great time. then on thursday we had intercambios and elder kaufusi (comp of elder harris) came to layco with me. it was a tough day because we did about 7 hours of straight contacting people with little success but we had fun and he was able to see the majority of my area haha. then, this saturday we had our activity in the temple where we brought investigators, recent converts, and less actives to visit and learn about Christ and the temple. Elder Piñeros and i were given the assignment to speak about the Nativity scene so we dressed up (more or less) as the wise men and talked about all that right outside the temple where the Nativity is set up. It was way fun and we were able to see all of our friends in the mission and everything. It was dang hot though too. the one day i put on sunscreen and i actually got burned (just kidding mother i always put on sunscreen). But anyway thats what we got goin on here. cant believe christmas is next week but here it is. its a good chance for us to talk about Christ with others because they all believe in that! (except those dang jehovahs witnesses am i right?). But yeah baptisms coming up hopefully next saturday the 26th so pray for our investigators! love you allllllll! remember who you are and stuff!

-pupusa count: 42

noche de hogar con la familia funes y la familia ponce

intercambios con elder kaufusi (im calling the missionaries for dl duties...)
i am forever the prettiest princess!
my first attempt at looking like a mago....
the definitive look of the magos

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Week 20 Layco District, El Salvador--December 7, 2015

I dont have much to say. But if you vote for me all of your wildest dreams will come true

but really i dont have much to say. this week we went to the temple on wednesday! the temple here is totally beautiful (i think ive mentioned that before) but goin inside finally was great. we didnt work at all that day because it was in the middle of the day that we went. also we had the christmas devotional last night so i hope you were all able to watch. it was seriously awesome. if you havent seen it repent and watch it. ummm other than that we just went contacting a lot this week. nothing too crazy to report. apparently we are going to be moving houses this month so hopefully no more cucarachas for us. Okay love you all have a good week!

Pupusa Count: 29
Some additions from his emails to his mom and sister:
we have two progressing investigators only right now. gerson came to church yesterday so hes super good. xiumara didnt and she has her baptism for the 19 so we are starting to worry a bit because if she doesnt come to church this week she cant be baptized that day. and we still need to teach her a bunch of stuff. we shall see.
 tell everyone i say hi! especially the cottos haha. there have been people that i have met here that have reminded me of them. and sometimes people say they have relatives in the church that live in LA and i always hope that its the cottos but it never is. its funny because now i can totally see how they are salvadorean. look a lot like the gente here haha.
yeah we have seen a lot of fireworks. they dont bother me anyway. gunshots dont bother me either. we live near a military zone so there are practices going on from time to time so really hearing gunshots is a daily occurrence almost. its been really cool and windy here actually. hasnt rained in a few weeks. the people here are freezing but i just wanna wear shorts and enjoy it.
templo and stuff
Here´s a picture from our english class from saturday! on the far left we have la familia gomez (a family we reactivated) Hermana Alvarez (whose son just recently left for the tijuana mission) and my bud on the left is from LA! he has a crazy backstory and hes so cool. i will talk more about him at a later time maybe
templo de la noche

elder harris and i a month ago on intercambios

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Week 19 Layco District, El Salvador--November 30, 2015

Uh I wanted to use a song title here but i dont think anyone would know it. also not like the best reference either

Hey how are things? all good things here. its starting to get cooler here and its nice and breezy so it feels like california on the off days of fall when its not 80 degrees. if that makes sense. the people here think its cold and wear jackets and shiver a lot so its kinda funny. this past week feel crazy fast. especially considering how much contacting we had to do because we now have a lack of investigators/areas to visit. but we never stop working! this past week was fun though! last monday we cleaned our apartment some more and especially cleaned out a very large box. cucaracha count: 50+. i counted at least 50 large ones but couldnt identify where the tiny ones went that we killed and so it could have easily been 70. super gross but now our apartment is just a little bit cleaner! haha. on thanksgiving i had the great opportunity to eat my 200th pupusa! so my thanksgiving dinner was a giant pupusa of course. we had an activity in another area of our zone where all the missionaries set up a table to hand out folletos and stuff and this old guy from the stake high council was shouting about the church like some evangelist preacher and we had a choir and everything. it was super funny and really fun. no pictures though unfortunately from that. also this week i found out that my new favorite thing to do around here is go around at night and look for the old guys with guitars waiting for the bus and ask them to play us a song and talk about God. its pretty amazing because some of these guys are sad or dont have much but they really have a lot of talent with singing and playing music. even in just little ways the Lord blesses us with talents or whatever other things that we can enjoy. its fun being here in layco and knowing the people pretty well. still we get rejections and are walking back and forth across town just to find one person to even talk to but im enjoying it immensely! love you all! roll around on some carpet cuz that junk doesnt exist here! saluuuuuuud!

Pupusa count: 14

Pupusa 200!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Week 18 Layco District, El Salvador--November 23, 2015

It's a boy!

 Well everyone it´s official. I am now the proud father of a young son. Elder Piñeros was born into Layco on Friday November 20, 2015 at 1.81 meters tall and 60 kg. He is from Colombia too! Entonces, because my papá was Colombiano and now my son as well, I, therefore, must be a Colombiano. So yeah on the reals after only getting 11 weeks of training (as opposed to the normal 12) i am now a trainer myself. not only that but because elder palacios left i am now also the district leader of distrito layco. a whole lot going on here and i am super busy all of a sudden. but we are still havin all kinds of fun! this past week (as i said before) we had thanksgiving! it was a great multi zone meeting with pie and all that good stuff. i hope all of you also will be able to enjoy your propios thanksgivings this thursday. also i cant believe november is ending too. but thats cool too because next week we get to go to the temple! so anyway that multi zone was tuesday, wednesday elder harris finally came to layco to have intercambios conmigo and we had a very successful and fun day. and then thursday was the only day really last week that i got to work with elder palacios. but we made it a good last day. friday of course we had our cambios and now elder piñeros and i are working hard to get the work movin. yesterday we had stake conference. we had only one investigator committed to come to church but he didnt show. however, a miracle happened. another investigator that we have named xiumara came to church and we didnt even invite her nor did we see her at all this past week! she is super good and super prepared to be baptized so we only need to try to find time to meet with her and even better with her husband as well. so we are gonna be praying for them! so yeah thats what we got goin on here. we are starting a fumigation process because the cucaracha population has escalated in our house. other than that all good things. have fun this week everyone and be good to yourselves (when nobody else will). love you all bye!

PUPUSAS: entonces the count at the end of this last cambio was 65 putting me at a grand total to that point of 191 pupusas! this cambio (meaning the past 3 days) my count is now at 5 woooooo!

también discúlpen que mi cámara tiene la calidad más peor de las fotos
Elder Lainez: he went back home to honduras (now the second zone leader to end his mission with me) so here we are

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Week 17 Layco District, El Salvador--November 16, 2015

 It came from the drain

heres a story for my mother this week. the other day i was in our bathroom brushin my teeth or something, i dont remember. then i saw something moving in the drain a bit. i stopped and looked down and out crawled a very large cockroach. sudden inspiration caused me to react quickly and crush it with my companions shampoo bottle (dont tell him). crisis averted. so yeah sorry guys i dont have much to say about this past week. so instead i will talk about this coming week! tomorrow is thanksgiving for us missionaries! we are gonna have a multi zone meeting with the whole (san salvador part) mission! dinner and all. itll be great. and this week is the last week of this short cambio. entonces, it is very possible that elder palacios will be going. por lo general the trainers leave and the new missionaries stay to kind of direct the area with a new companion. oh yeah im not gonna be in training anymore after this change! thats kind of daunting but exciting too! right now our area is tough and we are running out of places to go to find new investigators (our area is really small as well) but we are gonna work really hard, faithfully to have success. pray for our investigators cuz like no one is progressing and we are kinda sad about it! but all good things because this is now our chance to exercise a greater faith in the Lord! okay be good! have fun! study the scriptures! love you all! ¡salud!

Pupusa Count (I forgot last week...): 61! next week i will give the final count for this cambio like always

Monday, November 9, 2015

Week 16 Layco District, El Salvador--November 9, 2015

¡Mapache! Jump on it! Jump on it! Jump on it!

Ha Im so witty with my email titles. okay the reason is this (now i realize, lame) story. we were contacting in this neighborhood with this member kid who is from the area (obviously). we pass this house and they had a pet baby mapache on a leash in front of the house. it was jumping on and climbing their bike it was funny. our friend assured us that its not a common pet, however. okay so yeah we had the baptism for victor on saturday! and it was his wifes birthday! so what better present than the prospect of now being able to be sealed in the temple in a year! we missed the confirmation because we were late to church picking up investigators...but so it goes. and hey i wasnt lying about the christmas thing a month ago. because, for weeks now people have been setting up decorations in their houses and now all stores have trees and stuff for sale and music and all. thats what happens when thanksgiving actually doesnt exist (and the people dont have to pretend that it doesnt *cough* americans *cough*). and hey im writing late because this morning we went to a volcano! it was super cool and the first p day that we have actually done something here! yay! cambios are coming up soon so who knows, maybe i will get sent to an area where we can do something like that every p day. but layco is still great and we actually just found this great investigator xiumara who is super positive and we are looking to baptize her at the end of this month (the next cambio) so i would be happy to be here for that as well. whatever is the will of the Lord! okay love you all so much have fun and be good this week byeeee

bautismo de victor
also i forgot my camera this day so these pics are from elder palacios. sorry if theyre bad

ignore that elder ramos didnt wait for elder harris to move...but this is partway down on the way back from the volcano. view of san salvador

Con los elderes volcan...we just got back from a volcano

view from the base of the short hike

the sign/pared at the start


el volcan



the cooolest museum everrrrr (at the base of where they hiked to the volcano)

Monday, November 2, 2015

Week 15 Layco District, El Salvador--November 2, 2015


hey i hope you all enjoyed your halloween! in the spirit of halloween heres some good experiences that we had to creep you guys out! (as in to maybe make my mother feel all gross). so last p day we decided we needed to clean our house a bit. i was the sweeper (professional grade from my training in my youth), but there was this box underneath my table that i wanted to go through and throw away. there are a lot of boxes and areas full of missionaries old stuff. so i told my comp that we should go through it and through out less important things. and so we began. and i knew beforehand there would be cucarachas. thats a given. lift up the first book, boom two cucarachas grandes. one jumps out of the box and i kill it. at this point i realize we need to work together to clean this little box. elder palacios wraps his hand in a plastic bag and begins digging through the box. lift up the next book (large manual actually), boom 6 cucarachas. my comp shouts "oh freak!" (which is funny cuz he doesnt speak english) and then decides to just dump the whole box on the floor. i lost count of how many cucarachas there were after 12...but hes standing there shouting "mátalas! mátalas! mátalas!" and so i start swatting them all with a broom to stop them from running and he is stomping them to death. luckily we were successful in killing them all and exterminating this little box. this week we plan to go through this other box that is probably twice as big and is overflowing with stuff. so thatll be fun! yesterday i also saw two cucarachas in the street the size of rats. and i saw an actual rat climbing a wall in this old lady´s house too on saturday. enjoy your day now mother! okay but good things that happened. on friday we had a lesson with victor and presidente y hermana hintze came to join in and help the lesson. it was super cool and really fun to be able to teach alongside them! they both bring a very unique Spirit to the lessons and it was fun to learn from their teaching styles as well. this week now we have victors baptism on saturday so pray that all things will go well with that! okay other than that i have nothing of severe significance. i hope you all enjoyed all the candy and count chocula for me! love you all bye! 

Pupusa Count: 34 womp womp (when your comp runs out of money and you have fast sunday/saturday you tend to eat less...)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Week 14 Layco District, El Salvador--October 26, 2015

compromisos, milagros, empanadas, payasos, bolos, gordo, y más El Salvador!

heyo this week was crazy fast. fast until yesterday because sundays are always the busiest days. but still a great week. we have been having trouble finding new investigators and our investigators havent all been keeping their committments. we have had to drop a few people here and there so its been tough. but! a miracle happened! we had some down time before an appointment in the church so we went tracting in an area we had never been before. right before we left elder palacios said we were gonna go out to find a nuevo. the first door we got to was this lady. we were chatting and she told us how she has some differences with her husband over religion (he goes to this one called the tabernáculo). we shared about the church and stuff (restoration) and i invited her to pray to know that our message is true. while i was talking about prayer and how only our Heavenly Father can give us the knowledge of the true church she began to cry. then she told us how for years she went to the tabernáculo with her husband and went to many other churches and never felt right in any of them and left all churches altogether. she told us, though, that while we were talking to her she felt something, that this could be the true church and that she needed to learn more. elder palacios told her that that was the Spirit and now we are working to get a new appointment with her soon and to get her to church! I am now a living witness of how the Lord will specifically prepare people to hear our message. super incredible
okay so empanadas. every friday we have dinner at this member home and the food there is always good. this time we got empanadas for dessert. these are plantains filled with some cream milk thing that i cant describe at all accurately so just trust that it was good and that you should all eat some and ignore how random this is. one night, we got on a bus to go home and there in the front of the bus was a payaso. straight up full on big shoes, nose, hair, makeup, and all telling jokes or something at the front of the bus. this country is kinda crazy sometimes. then theres the bolos everywhere. also my zone leader and several members this week told me im getting fatter. my zone leader even said i need to exercise better so i am now eating less pupusas late at night and exercising accordingly. the struggle of being in a country where the main food groups are rice, beans, bread, tortillas, and pupusas. okay just some interesting things i wanted to add in there for you guys. be good! look for miracles! love each other! love you all! ¡salud!

pupusa count: 29 womp womp

Monday, October 19, 2015

Week 13 Layco District, El Salvador--October 19, 2015

Gotta catch em all! Spot them all? Gain them all? Eat them all? One of those is right

First things first I saw a torogos this week. its the national bird of el salvador! actually its my second sighting of one but this time was really up close. theyre super rare so i felt like a pokemon master to see it. theyre really cool look em up! so i officially know now that i have gained weight. almost 15 pounds to be exact. but im not bigger. just my belly and face are fat so i dont know if i should actually be excited or not. i dont wanna be fat just bigger ya feel. but thats not whats important around here. so last week was cambios. elder jack is now gone and a lot of our zone (mostly from the other district) have gone away. now its like a whole new group of missionaries here! but i get at least 5 more weeks here in layco (this cambio is shorter and the next will be longer for christmas marsopas (enjoy my newest english from spanish pun)). so yeah things are goin good and stuff. ever since i found out i gained weight i have felt a lot more lethargic (is that how its spelled?) but i think its a mental thing. its been raining for days here so thats fun and stuffs. we are working hard with our investigators that we have right now. the tracting business is running dry so we are coming up with new ways to find investigators. pray for our investigators asusana, victor, alondra, and lina. theyre all good but they are having troubles keeping their commitments. its hard because if they dont have the desire we cant progress them. and we know how important this work is! okay cool beans thanks for your prayers and emails and goodness. love you all so much!

Pupusa count: official from last cambio is 126 (that means i perfectly averaged eating 3 per day)
for this cambio i am but only at 14 (which is still quite a bit in a week...not to mention how many of those were grande pupusas...)

we ran into the familia chavez while getting pupusas. sorry for the poor quality foto....

heres my bed! mosquito net! its like camping every night!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Week 12 Layco District, El Salvador--October 12, 2015

It's Christmas right?

So this week felt suuuuuuuuper long. Mostly just these past two days have felt really long. but a lot happened this week so that may be the reason. also this week i realized that we are already like halfway into october and i didnt even notice. that means all the stores over there in america are already putting up the valentines day candy right? i know christmas trees must be in everyones house at least. crazy americans. okay so this week we had a multizone conference. we only have em every other cambio so it was cool to have one in my first cambio. it was super good and i learned a lot about how i can improve the work that im doing here. on friday we had intercambios again and elder jack came with me to layco once more. it was actually his last intercambio because he goes home this week! its crazy because i can still perfectly remember talking with him the whole ride here on my first day. only 6 weeks ago. but we had a super good time and did a lot of stuff. and we got caught in a crazy big storm too while in the fosa. (the fosa is an area here thats kinda in the trees and stuff and all the houses are close together and its nothing but callejones and therefore the water pours down from the houses and the roads turn into rivers.) but it was super fun! we finished off the night with a celebratory pizza for his last intercambio of course. we have a couple of investigators here that are excited for baptism. one guy came to us conference weekend and said he wanted to be baptized that day! we are teaching him now and he has a goal for the end of this month. also we have a lot of positive investigators that we are trying to get to church so they can progress. always something to do here! okay love you all! i wish i could say more but my mind is a little blurry right now. miracles happen! be good and stuff!

elder abilez

Pupusa Count: 123 (because this cambio ends tomorrow this could potentially be the final count for this first cambio. i will begin anew with the next cambio) also you know whats better than a queso y loroco pupusa? a frijol con queso y loroco pupusa! and i had a grande arroz one this week and three de maiz too! i just cant decide which one is my favorite!

I hope all of you guys took the time to ponderize a scripture this week! I did and it was a huge help in our work. My scripture was Mosiah 28:3 "now they were desirous that salvation be declared unto every creature; for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble". i applied this scripture along with the admonitions of elder renlund, that we must view everyone as our Heavenly Father sees them. it really changed some of our lessons and how we taught this week. there were a few investigators that, this week, were unwilling to accept baptism or complete their commitments. i thought immediately of this scripture and began to feel terrible at the thought of becoming lost when i was there, capable of leading back home. i would share my testimony to them of this and how much we loved them and wanted them to be able to live with us, our Father in Heaven, and with our Lord forever in happiness. and i only cried for 20 minutes! (if you get the reference you are the best and are a master of all the yugos (if you get this spanish to english pun you are legendary)). ponderizing is a powerful tool for us and i exhort all of you to do it and look for the changes in your life because of it.

 outside the temple after our multizone meeting. zona layco!

el templo de san salvador! (actually my 3rd time being here but my first time having my camera)

the biggest pizza from pizza hut (it was the promotion of the night okay) elder jack y yo at the end of his last intercambio!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Week 11 Layco District, El Salvador--October 5, 2015

I don't even know what to say to sum up this week

dang this week was quick. i was so excited for conference this weekend so i was just sure it would drag on. like how the night before disneyland or christmas just drags on you know. but it was not so i suppose. okay this past week we had exchanges again but this time with barbarena where elder mio and elder harris serve. elder mio came here with me so again i was in charge of the area. having done this last week i was a little more prepared to take charge. unfortunately, every single appointment that we had fell through. every single one, including the back up plans. and so we spent about 8 hours doing straight contacting. but it was a really fun day and we found this one guy that we went back to teach yesterday and he is really positive! saturday morning we had our baptism for Merly! the branch president baptized her and it was super great. this next weekend we look to confirm her and gerson. while at conference this weekend a lady in our ward brought her non member husband. and he told us when he met us that he wanted to get baptized. that day! we called president to see if we actually could but he counciled to teach him first and all that. we have already had a lesson with him and have many more planned. he should be baptized the end of this month so im praying i will make it through this change next week to see it! now how great was conference? so cool to see elder rasband, stevenson, and renlund be called. truly inspired. and the talks of course were fantastic. i especially enjoyed elder hollands and elder martinos talks. however, i think my overall favorite were the comments of elder renlund. his talk was literally an answer to a prayer and question that i had going in to conference so it was so powerful to see how directly the Lord answers our prayers through the prophets and apostles that He directly calls. i hope that all of you were able to have a similar experience in conference. if not, i invite you to think of something you want to learn about the gospel, a doubt, or a question, and go back and watch or read the talks to find the answer. or, with this recipe, do it the next conference. i promise you that the Lord will answer you with his inspired servants. stuff is cool here and its hard to believe im coming on to 3 months out just in this next week. love you all!
-elder abilez

pupusa count: 105
on saturday i got to my 100th pupusa! to celebrate, i made a giant pupusa!

Merly! Ft Presidente Alex

Making my 100th pupusa!

About to enjoy my GIANT 100th pupusa

comparison to my hand...maybe it doesnt look that big here. but it was at least the size of 5 pupusas. (and i ate numbers 98 and 99 before this one)