Sunday, April 24, 2011

How To Get Robbed

Jordan's heart just gets getting bigger and bigger the longer he is out in the mission. I think that's why he has gained so much weight.

Argentina! I still cant believe Im here. The flight was brutally long(11 hours)and I could not fall asleep the whole time, so by the time I got here i was dead. The Buenos Aires Airport is more like a big deserted mall with rats everywhere.

Jordan's mission president told him that he would be "robbed in the next two years [and] probably [on] multiple occasions."

After arriving at the mission home they had pizza and got a lesson on how to be robbed. "After an interview, and a few chats with the president, I met my new comp and trainer Elder Stokes. Wow. I honestly could not have hoped for a better trainer. I had heard a lot of nightmare stories about [horrible] ... and prayed really hard that I would get a good trainer. Trainers, I have heard, make all the difference for the rest of your mission. Elder Stokes is from Reno, Nevada and awesome. Right when I met him, he gave me a huge hug and a kiss on the cheek (its cool in Argentina). He is super patient, says "Dude" all the time, and loves everybody. What a blessing and an answer to prayer. 

Our area is part of the city La Plata called "City Bell". It is supposed to be one of the nicest areas of the mission with the least chance of getting robbed. [But] it does not look like it to the American eye. No one has any money. Everyone lives in these little brick shacks that make our shed beneath the deck look like a palace. There are dogs everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Elder Stokes and [I] counted a few days ago and got to 700 around 4oclock and quit. No one owns any of the dogs, and they are just kind of part of the wildlife. They all have lots of diseases and hate missionaries. You have to make it a habit of carrying a few big rocks in your pocket, and pulling them out whenever a dog attacks. I will never own a dog. As of this moment, I hate them. 

The roads and drivers are nuts here. There are no traffic laws, but more like suggestions. Everyone drives really fast and then stops as fast as they can and there are no lanes, stop lights, or stop signs. I am so thankful not to be in a driving mission. We went in a taxi the other day and my comp made me close my eyes. Mom, you would have a heart attack. Pedestrians never have the right of way, even on cross walks. We have to be really careful not to get run over. 

I have never felt so much pride in being American and loving America. Everything in America is nice and clean, and all the people are friendly. Our apartment does not have a [bidet]. I was so sad. We have to wear shoes all the time in the apartment because the floor is [super] dirty, and has lot of diseases. But, it is so much nicer than a lot of the houses I have been in. We have enough investigators and references so that we do not have to tract. 

No one here can say my name. They say, "¿Como se llama. Elder Laaweis?" and then ask for my first name and have no idea at all. The language is super tough. The people here slur all their words, talk really fast, and use a ton of different words than what I was taught. They say they dont speak Spanish, but Castillano. I guess they taught me the wrong language in the MTC. I dont really understand anyone really well, but I feel their spirit.

I have so much I want to say, but dont have any time. (1 hour a week for email) I love the work. I am so excited to be a good missionary. 

President Stapely challenged me to "write my homecoming talk now, and act like the missionary that the talk says you are". I really took this to heart. I am going to be the best, most obedient [I] possibly can be.
I love you all so much. I wish you success and happiness and pray for you everyday. Thanks for all. All is well. Life is good.

Elder Lewis

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hello, Buenos Aires!

Jordan got his travel plans and is heading to Buenos Aires tomorrow morning! He has a layover in Atlanta for 4 or 5 hours, and that's when he gets to make his phone call to Mom and Dad! Then he hops on a 15 or 16 hour flight to BA. His whole missionary district will be on the same flight so it's sure to be a good time.

In preparation for his departure, he had a "Departing Foreign Missionary Health Lesson." He says, "It is taught by this tiny tiny old man (reminded me of the guy from the Pixar movies who plays chess against himself) and literally all he talked about was poop. He was so excited about it too. He said, "All you missionaries who are heading to Argentina and are worried about gaining weight, don't worry. You will probably catch a worm and never gain a pound again." Haha. Jordan has already gained 10 lbs in the MTC so a good tapeworm is probably exactly what he needs. His goal, however, is to break 200 lbs on his mission just like his Dad. Go Jord!

He has started packing and has no idea how he is going to fit all of his stuff in two bags and two carry ons.

Jordan met a recently returned missionary who baptized 101 people and was mugged 5 times. "He even baptized one of his muggers. If I can baptize twenty people for every time I am mugged, it seems like a good tradeoff to me."

I loved this next part that Jordan shared about having a companion. "Having a companion/s is  a [totally] new and unique experience. Usually when you are friends with someone, you see them mainly at their best, and when they are happy. You can pick and choose when you spend time together. But with a companion, you are with them literally 24 hours a day. I follow my companions to the bathroom, to interviews, when they shower, literally everywhere. You know them at their best and worst. I think this is what it must be like to be married, except you don't get to choose your companion. It has taught [me] so much patience and love. You stick with your companion always, and love them no matter what."

Right on Jordan! You are wise beyond your years.

I have already fallen in love with being a missionary

Jordan is grateful for all the letters he gets. He's lucky being the youngest of 11. He thinks he might get more letters than all the rest of the MTC combined. 

Jordan is getting more and more excited to leave the MTC and enter the mission field. It's kind of surreal how fast the time has gone (and yet how long it's taken). He watched a talk by Elder Jeffrey Holland the other day that he gave at the MTC a few years ago. In his talk he says, "My mission is everything to me" 17 times. He must have really meant it. In the talk, he challenges the missionaries to make their missions just as meaningful to them. Jordan is taking the challenge to heart. "I am so excited to give myself over to the Lord, forget myself, and serve others for the next two years. I know that if I do it right, I will cherish my mission as much as Elder Holland."

Jordan goes on, "I have already fallen in love with being a missionary. It is so simple. You know at all times what you are supposed to be doing. [There] are very few hard choices you have to make if you are in tune with the Spirit. I already know that I am going to miss the simplicity of missionary life when it is over."

On the back of this picture, Jordan wrote, "Carmelo Anthony is dead to me. Long live Gallinari." He appreciated the March Madness updates he has received. He said that everybody at the MTC somehow knew the score of the last BYU basketball game at all times though. Even so, he will have some serious catching up to do when he gets back. It's probably going to be a little bit harder to keep up on things when he's on the other side of the hemisphere. 

Jordan loves having companions. Lots of laughs and good times. It's like hanging out with your best buddies all the time.

He likes to find humor in whatever situation he finds himself in. He has figured out lots of tricks you can do with dress clothes. His new love: zip-up and clip-on ties. He traded for a tie the other day that you can blow up and make into a pillow. "Pure genius."

We have loved getting Jordan's MTC letters and emails. They are the highlight of our week! We have come to know the exact day when they will arrive, and we like to read them together. They make us laugh and cry, and they teach us much. I have been so touched by the things he has learned and shared with us. His letters sound like they are coming from a seasoned missionary, and he's only been out for a few weeks. It's sweet to see the hand of the Lord in his life.

We love you Jordan!