El Salvador San Salvador West/Belize Mission Spanish Speaking July 2015 - July 2017

Monday, September 28, 2015

teach me piano?

So I have started to write down stuff to email and wow I have a lot! This will be very choppy but so many cool things to say!!

So my companion has Chicken Gunya (not sure how to spell it but that´s how it sounds) see below and he has been so funny lately! Like he will say funny phrases in English in front of our investigators like he hates me or she is snake, watch out and he says it out loud and it is just so funny I can't explain. Also he called our zone leader to report numbers and in his call (It´s a gringo and they like to try it in English) My companion started "Hey, how are you", "I'm dying", "You´re what?", "I'm dying!", ...... "Oh okay very good very good" (He didn't know what that meant) "ELDER HERRERA I´m DYING!" "One sec I need search dictionary", ..... long pause "ohhhhh dyinggggg. I feel bad for you bro" And it´s just so funny!

Also there was a tarantula in my room and holy cow they are aggressive and fast, not friendly and slow like most people like to think.

Just some sad news, we have been teaching this old man who lives in a junk shed thing outside of his families house, and he had a baptismal date. We came to teach a lesson to him and his shed was torn apart and his family said he moved out. We saw him at the house a couple days later and he told us that his family kicked him out because we were visiting with him and I feel so bad :( But he said he is living with his other son and going to have the missionaries come over to him then so it is all working out for the good.

Also, I am getting so fat and eating so much! I look forward to the next time I'm going to be hungry which is never likely...haha! And I have found out I have gotten pretty ruthless.  This dog was kinda sniffing around me and just instinctively I kicked it in the face and then paused and said "what did I just do" so I´m feeling pretty mean :(

But my Spanish is going really good and I had two cool miracles! And a sweet vision. First was I was studying and kinda having a very spiritual time and then my companion came in and started singing and being really loud and disrupted my train of thought and was being so loud and annoying. I went to my room and said a prayer that he would stop and he didn't know I was praying, but before I finished he stopped and didn't make anymore noises.

Also we were contacting and this guy was being rude and told us to walk away and never come back. As we were leaving, he said "Wait. I feel like I should ask you something. Do any of you know anyone who can teach me piano?" We turned around and told him I could and would and he let us in and we are going to go back once a week to teach him piano and the gospel. Also he wanted me to prove I could play and he had a little electric piano that his daughter from the states sent him and so my companion was talking to him about our beliefs and I was playing background music haha! So that was a really cool coincidence :)

Also I was thinking, what if I never really convert anyone else or baptize anyone in this high baptizing mission. I would be disappointed and I just want to baptize one more person. And then the vision came into my head of me baptizing this cute little girl and it was so vivid and I realized that that was my daughter. Even if I don´t have any daughters it was still the coolest thought that I would get to baptize my kids someday and it made me so happy and emotional!

Another cool thing was I played basketball against Latinos 20 versus 1 (me) and I won! hahaha! And I was making them look so foolish like dribbling under their legs and around their back and it was just so fun! And looked good in a tie while doing it :) Then I got a cool prompting to walk outside so I did. I saw some papers and they were our water bill that we should have gotten last week but we just never checked our box! And if we didn't pay that day our water would be shut off so I´m very glad I looked!

So many cool stories and I will start writing them down to email this time. They are all in my journal I just forget and I have missed a lot of stuff the other weeks! I´m gonna send a poem as well but this is one of my least favorite but the next one that I will send in two weeks is amazing!!! :)

I love you guys so much and hope all is well!! -Elder Austin

Sorry I was typing really fast and I don´t really like this one but my next one is one of my favorites :) 

No one understands, today is the worst day out
No one has had a day like me, no one without a doubt
Walking home in the rain, here, I´ll tell you about my day
sit back and relax, I have a ton of bad news to say
My companion was being mean, trying to be strong, he pushed me and I tripped
Then laughed at me and wouldn't help me up, I went the whole day with a bruised lip
We had lots of appointments though, but none of them fell through
No one on the streets in the storm, therefore, nothing to do
No letter from my mom today, everyone has forgot about me
Companion won´t do anything I suggest, so I learned just to agree
Someone stole all my money today today, so today I had no food
I wasn't planning on fasting today, I wasn't really in the mood.
Plenty of water! But none of it safe to drink
Felt the worries flooding up, my life has began to sink
I did get a letter today though! From a girl I used to know,
Let´s just say when I ask her on a date when I get back, it will be a big fat no
These dumb mosquitoes though are the only thing that won't leave me alone
I´m scratching all the time, man, why do I feel so alone
Got a call from the mission president saying stop playing and get to work
I can already see the looks of the other missionaries giving me the smirk
My legs hurt from walking, and I have blisters on my feet,
Haven´t showered in 4 days, man I sure smell sweet
Why does this suck, why do I have to be living this nightmare!
Why won´t anybody listen? Does anybody care?
Wait, outside my apartment, a man lying in the rain
Why is he crying? Can someone feel my pain?
I´m going over to talk to him, tell him about my story
This one will be a baptism! He will have pity for me, don´t worry
After I told him my story he cried and said "feel better
You look like you could use some help, here, here is my sweater
I´m outside your apartment because this is where I was thrown
My parents are dead and I turned 18, my siblings decided I´m on my own
I´m sorry I can´t move, I would but I have no feet
One day dogs got loose and everything waist down is now meat
I´m sorry you lost your money, if I wasn't broke I´d give you some
I haven´t anything left in my bank, I don´t even have a one
I bet heart breaks stink, but I wouldn't know, haven´t even had a kiss
I´m short and I´m ugly, and acne is one thing that never seems to miss
Why would anybody love me, what can I offer to share?
I have nothing, I´m a cancer survivor, so I don´t even have my hair
I hope you have a good rest in that nice apartment you've got
I also hope that it has AC. Man here it sure gets hot
I also get criticized for not working well enough
I wish I had a companion to be with, even if he was rough
I guess we feel the same, I have no friends to talk to either
Even back at home if I offer friendship and love, they laugh and always say neither
How long can you go without food, because I´m thinking that soon I will die
I've gone 5 days since the last thing I ate, which was someone else´s fry
If I die I´ll watch over you so you will never again have it this hard
I´ll send you my prayers and if God will let me, I´ll even send you a card."
That was the last thing he said before life went out his blind eye
A note was in my room somehow, and it said "I forgot to say goodbye"
Today was the most sad day of my life, but now I´ll never say I have it rough
The friend that I met today, now his life compared to mine was tough
Be thankful for what you've got, because someone out there has zero
Shout-out to the man who didn't give me money, he gave me more. he is my hero.

You're eating beans and like them?!?! 
yaaaaa...hahaha beans are really good :) I eat them all the time and love them! hahaha idk why...

Guessing this is what Brandon's companion has: 
Chikungunya (chi-kən-guun-yə; Makonde for "that which bends up") is an infection caused by the chikungunya virus. The disease features the sudden onset of fever two to four days after exposure. The fever usually lasts two to seven days, while accompanying joint pains typically last weeks or months but sometimes years.  The virus is passed to humans by two species of mosquito of the genus Aedes: A. albopictus and A. aegypti.  The best means of prevention is overall mosquito control and the avoidance of bites by mosquitoes in areas where the disease is common. This may be partly achieved with the use of mosquito nets. No specific treatment is known, but supportive care is recommended, including rest, fluids, and medications to reduce fever and joint pain.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Love when pictures show up in our email midweek
because Brandon was in a wifi zone:)
Guessing these are the volcano and baptism that he wrote about Monday.

Monday, September 21, 2015

keep the spirit with you!

Hey guys this week has flown by fast!!

Money is running out fast but besides that all is well haha. We all had to spend like $12 to go hike to a volcano, and we were going and it started sprinkling so the guards left and we had to go back down, it was so dumb. But besides that all has been great!

Had a marriage and a baptism, which the marriage is way different than in the U.S. because it´s like not a big deal at all and kids are running around, lawyer showed up an hour late and so did the bride and husband, but they are married now :) And I had the wonderful oportunity (Sorry I can´t spell anymore) to baptize Hermano Siro and now all of their family are members! It was really sweet and they are going strong and want to go to the temple and serve a mission and he wants to baptize his kids when they are old enough!

 I also just had a lot of fun this week and everything has just been going good and I have been eating way too good..haha. Also had a fun time going on splits with another gringo and just so many funny experiences! Also last P-day I got to play basketball a little bit with a soccer ball so that was cool!

Just my clothes are all so dirty..haha but they smell good just all stained but it's all good. Pupusas are so amazing and I am going to try and make them all the time when I get back! I have heard some amazing things about Belize though so I am very excited to go there but I´m trying to enjoy El Salvador while I can which really isn´t that hard once you get over how poor it is.

We don´t really have another baptism coming soon though so I´m kinda bummed, have 2 dates set with people but they never go to church even though we pass by before every Sunday. Also drunk people are hilarious here. Also another interesting story was that my companion and I locked our keys inside so we were climbing all over our house to get to the backyard and try and get in and were walking on other peoples houses, and it was so pretty! I will have to take my camera and do it again! haha! But we eventually got in so all is well!

I miss music and driving like crazy but one thing that drove me crazy was I was at a members house, then these 3 guys pulled out their phones or ipods and I heard a familiar noise... CLASH OF CLANS! Hahaha so I told them I played too and they want me to play it with them when I get back haha. But I got 22 months till I can think of that.

But thanks all for emailing me and thank you so much for all your love and support :) I love you all so much and sorry I don´t have much time this email! But I love you all and hope all is well back home! Keep me posted on new stuff good or bad haha I´m a curious person all the time, and keep the spirit with you! It is really cool :) Especially when you are lost at 9 about 30 minutes from your home...haha buses are crazy but it is a cool way of living here that I kind of like to be honest, just some things are annoying like the weather and mosquitoes.

Thanks for all you guys have done to make me who I am today :)
-Elder Awestin

A few questions
How do you wash your clothes, washing machine? 
bahahahaha!!! A washing machine...

What city or town are you in? We want to find it on the map and just curious exactly where you are? I am in Sonsonate in the American ward so close to the coast.

How do you send us emails? Where do you send them from? 
our stake (church) building has a couple computers so all the missionaries in our zone go there to email and order pizza!

What's your daily schedule like?
our schedule is studying till 12, lunch, and then we walk around all day to different people and teach lessons to people that will let us in and have a dinner with this amazing family and read with them at 9 so it works out!

How many people usually attend your church?
This week we had 50 people so usually around 40-60 but we have like 200 just they are all inactive. That´s the thing I love most about the states is that in the church there are lots of active members who actually live the gospel. A member of the Bishopric was asking me if Mormons in Utah did polygamy and he was serious. It´s kinda sad and there is so much work to be done here.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Why am I here?

So today went a lot better than last week, just I can´t send pictures today but I just got a really short hair cut haha and I didn´t know all these hair words in Spanish so I just said yes to everything she asked haha! Also I am getting crazy fat.. but this week went a lot better than last week. It still was hard, but it was better.

Families are feeding us like crazy, yesterday we ate at 5 members homes and all gave us seconds...ughh haha and you can´t turn it down. But I love it so much. My companion and I both got sick at the same time, but not bad. Just crazy runny nose but that´s all, no pain or anything except for in our stomachs. Thank you all so much who email me and pray for me, I can really feel your prayers and please pray for me and health everyday because I´m almost positive half of the stuff I eat isn´t the best for me..so thank you so much!! I love you guys with all my heart!

Yesterday I found out that we are having a marriage on Saturday and right after a baptism, and I am the one doing the baptism! The Father is the only one not a member but he is unbelievably nice and although he has nothing he always tries and feeds us and asks me if I will come back after my mission, which last week was a sure no, but this week I actually would really love to come down here as a non missionary with some friends or family.

Something that has made me feel better was that I figured out I have the hottest zone (my companion told me the coolest, and the most rich) and I have the poorest area in my zone. I thought I had it the best so I was scared what could be worse, but now I feel a lot better after I figured all of that out!

I had a Pupusa (definition at bottom of post) and holy cow they are so good, and so filling. We were talking to this lady and she has 2 sons that live in Atlanta, and when the people came to take our money to pay, she payed for us and bought us drinks, which is really rare for someone to treat a gringo here. Also along with connections, in my ward there was a guy who served in Brazil, I don´t know his name, but he thinks he knows Elder Alex Jenkinson which is cool!

I hope all is going well back at home, it is going better here! I really wish I could send pictures today and I will keep on trying! And I forget lots of stuff to say during the week so if you have any questions or want to know anything please ask :)

El Salvador is WAY different than the states, they are like opposites in everything. But it´s going good! I think the hardest thing besides walking all day is answering the question so how are the states compared to here? But ya everything is going good!! Just this week mosquitoes have randomly started to bite me all the time when last week I didn´t even wear spray and had no bites... Weird haha but I miss you guys and keep me posted on any cool or weird or even bad changes at home in the states, but I pray for you all as well!!
les Amo mucho! -Elder Austin

Here is a poem I want to share too :)

Why am I here?
I came out to grow, to learn, and become a man
Move away from home, become independent, I didn´t understand.
I would knock on doors, hoping no one would answer
Walking around, eating my life down like cancer.
Why wasn´t I happy? Why aren´t the blessings coming?
Wasn´t I supposed to be happy baptizing or something?
I don´t think I´m growing, actually I´m losing weight
Why is this so hard, I feel like I have so much on my plate
People laugh at me, call me names, reject the help I give
Steal my clothes, steal my money, is this how I´m supposed to live?
I hate this, what have I gained, would it be better to stay at home?
Haven´t done anything, haven´t learned the language, why do I feel alone?
Exhausted after another day, companion said "We´ll get em next time"
Don´t feel we did anything new today, my companion keeps repeating that line
Got home, skipped my prayer, hopped straight into bed.
I just wanted to rest, I have another long day ahead.
I shut my eyes, and that´s when my eyes could see.
I was standing in El Salvador, and Jesus stood in front of me
"Do you know why you are here? Because it is not for you,
Do you know why you are out here doing the things you do?"
I froze for a bit, then hung my head down,
That question hit me like a train, and I couldn´t make a sound.
I said "I´m sorry, I haven´t really been here to serve,
walking around in heat is nothing compared to what I deserve"
He said "I know how you feel, I walked down a similar path,
I know how it feels to sweat, I sweat the blood of God´s wrath.
I´m sorry people don´t feed you, I know how that feels too,
40 days 40 nights, fasting to help people like you.
I´m sorry you have to wear a suit, and people point at you and swear,
I was stripped down to nothing but a crown that put blood in my hair.
I know you miss your family, I missed mine as well.
My mom I missed a lot, I really wish I could have had email.
I felt abandoned too, when I hung upon the cross,
And it makes me sad people won´t believe, and I know it´s just their loss.
I wanted to quit too, thought it was too hard, asked Father to take away my cup,
But I thought about who I was helping, and I decided not to give up.
People are grateful for my choice, people will be grateful for yours as well,
Brandon you are my friend, and after this, with me you shall forever dwell."
I heard some sudden beeping, opened my eyes and realized I was in bed.
So I jumped out of bed and prayed, I had a busy day ahead.
I may not baptize everyone, but neither did the best,
I only have two years to help other souls here come to rest.
I picked up my companions backpack, told him "Come on, let´s go!
There are people who don´t know about someone who suffered for them long ago!"
That day I felt like an angel, I felt wings upon my back,
And I could feel another person with me picking up all my slack.
I still got spit upon and rejected, but I´ll tell you why I had joy,
My 8 year old dreams were being fulfilled, I was no longer a little boy.
Later that week I baptized a small family, thankful for what I did,
Sealed together was a wife and husband, and their 9 year old little kid.
They said I was their hero, said I would never know how much I did too,
said they wished all families could be this happy, and hope my kid will be just like you.
With tears in my eyes I said "Don´t thank me, thank our Savior and Redeemer."
Helping people is all I want to do, now, I know why I´m here.

Brandon's pictures came through - yea!

Some city parts of my area

Wish this was my church haha 
This is so nice

Grandma asked:  How is your church? How many people in your ward? Did you get to play the piano again on Sunday?
Yes I always play we have about 120 people in my ward but it´s like only a different 30 or 40 show up every Sunday so I´m working hard to get them all back!!

Random pictures that came through on Brandon's wifi camera last week

A pupusa is a traditional Salvadoran dish made of a thick, handmade corn tortilla that is usually filled with a blend of the following: cheese cooked and seasoned pork meat ground to a paste consistency refried beans, or queso con loroco. Wikipedia

Monday, September 7, 2015

the Lord's time

Well, This is very interesting. I don´t know where to start. Not much happened at the CCM (mission training center) and we left for an hour and a half bus ride to El Salvador and then we had to turn around after an hour and a half and head back due to demonstrations in the streets. They then bought us all airplane tickets and payed for all our luggage and flew us out there.

It is so crazy humid here it is ridiculous. We all slept in a huge house that day with a bunch of other missionaries and it was crazy dirty and we shared 4 people to a mattress, despite that I slept pretty well. Then the next day we all went to a church (churches are so different down here) and got assigned areas and companions. The area and ward I´m in, well not sure on area but the name is America ward (ward is a local congregation which is organized geographically and members attend a ward or branch near their home) . The ward area I´m living in is extremely poor, people have chickens and ducks walking through their dirt floor house, some don´t have roofs, kids just pee in the middle of houses, and no fans or AC. Well the church has fans. I will send my mom pictures slowly but surely so check her blog for pictures. Don´t have time to explain them all but email me if you have any questions about any.

It is so crazy hot here and although I´m living in a pretty nice house for down here, it will take some getting used to. And please pray every night that I will be safe from all bugs and animals. Part of my house doesn´t have a roof so bugs and stuff can always get in. But sleeping isn´t that bad because I have a fan right by my bed :) I saw a tarantula and gave my first blessing yesterday, but it was in English so only I understood it but it went really well.

Also I found out this mission isn´t one of the highest baptizing missions for Central America. The record for most baptisms in a month for last transfer was 5 so that´s pretty good just my mission president had us all expecting a lot more, but I will work hard!! I miss English so much, never thought I would. I don´t understand a thing usually and it is pretty hard. I did play soccer with some Latinos though and I scored the most goals??? I guess being the tallest person here has it´s perks :) 

My companion is Elder Herrera, but I still can´t roll my R´s to pronounce it. Sorry for being all over the place but I have so much to say but probably will forget most of it so just saying it while I can. I have 2 members that feed me and my companion, just I´m not sure if it is safe. Also fast Sunday was so hard, this mission is very hard but it is going to completely change me and I will feel like I´m in the Celestial Kingdom (The highest of the three kingdoms of glory. Those in this kingdom will dwell forever in the presence of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.) when I get back to America.

I played this little electric piano for church yesterday and they were all so happy because most people have never heard a piano before. Also I have drinking out of the faucet 4 times which I know you aren´t supposed to do that but I couldn´t really help it. But good news is I haven´t felt sick this whole time except for home sick :) Tender mercies all around!

Also this family with nothing fed me and my companion and I´m not sure if that was healthy either but it was seriously all they had. There was no way I could say no. But I´m being somewhat careful with what I eat like no pork or fish. Haven´t had a Papusa yet even though everyone else here has...I really want to try one haha! But the food here has all tasted amazing and all the drinks are amazing too!! I have running water in my house too except the first day I had to repent because I had to use a Friend magazine (monthly magazine published by the church for primary age children 3 to 12) to wipe...hehe. I´m about to go to the store though and buy lots of stuff however!!

If I could have one thing from you all I would love a long motivational letter that is too long to memorize so I can read it when I´m feeling down..which is kinda a lot at the beginning. But despite everything I´m doing good :) Also walked around El Salvador with 220 dollars in my pockets because every time you take money out is is 5 dollars so it is best to do it all at once. Everything is crazy cheap here!

And we have two halfway baptismal dates, one from the only guy here who speaks English and I challenged him in English :) Bus rides are crazy I will have to explain a lot when I get home as well! But it is so hot here!! And my shoulders got sun-burnt but not my arms or neck which I´m still trying to figure out how that happened. I have gone to a sit down Pizza Hut which was amazing though and I got to hear American music!!!!

But anyways...I hope all is well back at home, I miss you all and U.S. like crazy but I don´t wanna be home because this is the Lord´s time. I hope all is well. Also I see over 100 stray dogs and chickens and a couple horses and dogs a day. I probably missed so much but if you have any questions about anything please ask!! And I´ll try and make next weeks email more positive! A cool quote from a guy in the CCM who is in Honduras right now, Embrace the Suck :) That´s his families motto haha and I thought it was pretty funny and helpful. But I hope you all are doing well! I pray for you all every night!! Please keep me in your prayers as well!! -Elder Austin

Thought of other stuff as well!! I am gaining weight definately here and from the CCM, that might change but idk, but for now I´m gaining weight. Also I am a 15 minute walk from a huge super nice city, but my area is the complete opposite. I don´t have any pictures of my area but I will surely take some soon!! Also the "Snakes" (Girls down here who supposedly flock around U.S. boys) I haven´t had any problems with because I can´t understand Spanish so mom you don´t have to worry :P Also I have a mosquito net and I was going to use it for Spiders and stuff, but I don´t fit in it haha!

But people here are unbelievably nice! And you can get in any house thing you want and talk about the gospel and they will tell you they will get baptized and come to church, but none do. But I´m still working! Also J walking on a highway is kinda fun! But I´m being safe! I know I will be protected! Already have been many times! But really the people here are some of the nicest, most humble people I know. And Iĺl send you a poem soon that is a lot better! I have a ton!! If I think of anything else I´ll send it next week!! Have a fantastic week guys!!! I love you all!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Sonsonate 1 Area

Brandon, Elder Herrara, President & Sister Hintze

Boulevard del Hipódromo No. 537
Colonia San Benito San Salvador, El Salvador C.A.
September 3, 2015

Dear Austin Family,

We are pleased to inform you that Elder Austin has arrived safely in the El Salvador San Salvador West/Belize Mission. We are excited to have him join our mission family, and can see that he is well prepared to start serving.

He is serving in the Sonsonate Zone, and in the Sonsonate 1 Area, with his trainer Elder Herrera from Guatemala.

Elder Austin will be able to e-mail or write to you every Monday. Letters from home are a very important part of missionary life. Please write weekly and focus on positive and uplifting things to help him maintain a healthy attitude. The mail system in El Salvador is reliable. If you wish to send packages they can be sent to the mission office. Address them to:

Elder Brandon Jeffrey Austin
Misión El Salvador San Salvador Oeste/Belice
Apartado Postal #81, Correos Multiplaza
San Salvador, El Salvador

We know the Lord will bless you and him as he faithfully dedicates this time to teaching others to follow the Savior Jesus Christ.

Very cordially,

President & Sister Hintze