Monday, May 30, 2011

May 30, 2011

Jordan in front of his apartment (it is just the top left side)

Jordan in La Plata in front of the biggest cathedral in South America

It is the start of winter in Argentina right now.  Jordan left Colorado in the middle of winter and arrived in Argentina at the beginning of their winter.  When this winter is over, he will have been in winter for almost a solid year.  There is no snow, and the temperature there is higher than the winter in Colorado but because of the humidity it feels freezing.

He and his companion continue to have a so many teaching appointments that they almost can't keep with them all. They spend a lot of time walking to their appointments so they may be getting bikes some time soon.

They stopped by Diego's house two days after they talked to him at the bus stop last week, not knowing if they would find him home.  An older lady opened the door and told them to come in for dinner. They didn't know who she was but they walked in and she gave them both big besos (kisses on the cheek) and told them to sit down at the dinner table with her six kids.  She ended up being Diego's mom. Diego told her about meeting the missionaries.  Diego wasn't home, but she invited them to stay and eat while waiting for him. "Diego eventually got home and we started to teach them. Just after we said the prayer, Diego's mom said 'This is really good. Wait a second while I get my sister.' Her sister and her sisters family of five then crammed into the already crowded little shack and they ended up being just as nice as Diego's family. We started to teach and they were all so happy and humble to learn and listen. We sang together and everyone felt the spirit.  Before we left, we invited them to come to church that week.  We weren't really expecting them to come. They all came to church yesterday and loved it. We couldn't believe it.  And all this because we decided to run to a bus stop and talk to Diego."

Suit Run

Jordan finished his first transfer this week.  Luckily he is still with Elder Stokes (who has been in the area for almost nine months) but Elder Stokes got promoted to District Leader and is staying with Jord for probably six more weeks.

Jordan visits an old lady named Betty about twice a week just to say hello and talk. She is a member, but can't make it to church, so they bring her the sacrament, chat for a while, and then give a spiritual thought.  "She can never remember American names, and doesn't like to call us Elder, so she gives every Elder a name that she thinks fits them right. She calls my companion Dory and me Dumas. For some reason she always wants to arm wrestle me, (if I say no, she gets mad and insists) so we end up arm wrestling about twice a week. She is about 100 years old, but somehow beats me every time. She also likes to learn American slang gangster phrases  (or Yankee thug words as she calls them) and then after we teach her them, shouts them really loud over and over and over again. The last time we were there, I taught her "yeahhhhhhhh boyeeeeeeeeee". Now she shouts it at us whenever she sees us around town. Keep in mind that she is about 4´5 and 100 years old."

Jordan and his companion have been having so many appointments a day they can't keep up with them all.  They end up having to skip about two a day.   They have to be home by 9:30 p.m.  On Friday they finished their second to last appointment at about 8:45. "Our last appointment was super far away, so we decided to run the 35 blocks to the nearest bus stop. We looked so stupid running in suits and with huge backpacks. Everyone was honking at us or shouting as we ran by, but I felt really good about it. I have never felt more like a missionary. We got to the bus stop sweating so bad and breathing so hard.  There was one other guy at the bus stop who looked about the same age as us. Right when I saw him, I felt like I should talk to him. I ignored the feeling at first. As we waited for the bus I felt the feeling stronger and stronger until I leaned over to my companion and told him that I felt like we needed to talk to him. Elder Stokes smiled really wide and said he had been feeling the same thing. Just at that moment the kid came and sat right next to me and asked how I was doing. I was so surprised and probably looked at him really weird. We started talking and HE asked for OUR number and told us to come by his house to teach him about our church. He said his name was Diego and 20 years old and that he had been looking for a church to go to. I couldn't belive it. It taught me a good lesson. We, as missionaries, will be guided to people who are prepared if we just listen. If we had not ran, we would not have talked to Diego. I know he was put in our path for a reason. I have been thinking a lot about finding people to teach. It is such a comfort that I am not in the work alone. I will always have a helping hand from the heavens to help me find people if I am worthy of that help. It was a huge testimony builder and an experience that I will not forget anytime soon."

 "I love the work. I am so happy where I am now. All is well. Life is good."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May 16, 2011

Jordan asked for a dog whistle to keep dogs away in his most recent letter.  The dogs must be crazy in his area! Usually missionaries keep rocks in their pockets when they are walking around to keep the dogs at bay.

All the buildings in Argentina are made of cement so it will stay cool inside during the summer. The drawback is that it stays cold in the winter as well.  It is early winter right now and Jordan's apartment feels like a big refrigerator, especially during the night. He sleeps in a sleeping bag to stay warm. He wakes up sometimes during the night and find his nose all the way numb. The first time it happened, he ran to the bathroom to see if his nose was still there.  But the thing about their bathroom is that the lights don't work.

As a  result of the bathroom light not working, he has to get ready without looking at himself.  "I always leave for the day with a ton of dried toothpaste on my face, or a chunk of hair sticking out at a right angle. I have also learned how to tie my tie without a mirror. When I wake up and shower in the morning the bathroom is so dark that I can't see anything."  He has to shower in the dark.  The other day when he got out of the shower he felt some thing under his foot.  "I thought it was a mouse, let out a little man-scream, and jumped out of the shower. It ended up being my companions soap. Our shower is pretty American, but has about one gallon of hot water. Showers are always really short."

Americans can't drink the tap water in Argentina, so they use a water purifier on all of their water. "If you drink the water it gives you fierce diarrhea. All the missionaries call getting sick from the water getting "villa rocked". (Villa is the equivalent for ghetto here.) It is one of the best missionary apartments and I am super lucky."

     Jordan and his companion named this week "Europe Week" because it was what they imagine European missions are like every week. Almost every single one of their appointments this week ditched them, so they spent a lot of time knocking doors. This rarely ever happens, but this week it happened about 25 times. They tracting about 30 hours this week. It was not very enjoyable and pretty fruitless. Getting rejected 100 times in a row is not fun.  It made Jord feel so grateful to be in the mission he is in. They only tract about 5% of the time.

"I am so happy to be a part of the work. I know that I am where I am supposed to when I am supposed to be there. One prevailing feeling that I have had thus far in Argentina is a feeling of belonging. At several points I have stopped and thought,"Of course I was sent here! Where else could I possibly go?" I know that my call was inspired."

May 9, 2011

A family was trying to get Jordan and his companion to take this cute puppy home  
An area where Jord teaches almost every day (his companion didn't want him to get any closer with his camera out)
Walmart in Argentina
A super nice guy they are teaching named Marcelo

Jordan got to call home on Mother's day.  He talked to Mom and Dad and Emily.  They loved being able to see him over Skype and hear his voice.  He loves his mission and is working so hard.  He is so happy in Argentina.

This week he went on two splits with other companionships for two days. Jordan and his companion Elder Stokes were sad to leave each other because they get along so well and both want to work hard and be obedient. During the splits he was riding bikes with another Elder (Elder Davey) and he saw some wild dogs biting at Elder Davey's heels.  This happens a lot when they ride around on their bikes.  Jordan felt a tug at his ankle and realized that a dog him too!  His pants had a foot long tear but it didn't get to his skin. Little miracle!

In between splits Jordy got really sick again from the food.  Lots of barfing.  He had to sleep it off for two days while Elder Stokes sat around the apartment and read the scriptures for two days straight.

Jord and his companion are getting really close to baptism with two different families and a few different girls. He says teaching lessons is not really what you think it would be like. The people want guests at their house to feel at home and not be attended to.  Usually when they arrive to teach a lesson they sit around and wait for about 30 minutes, give a 15 minute lesson, and then eat for 30 minutes.

He says, "We really do not say anything profound in the lessons, but I am always surprised how the investigator seems to get the message and change their demeanor. To this I attribute to the Spirit. When I really think about our message, it sounds pretty silly and is very confusing for someone who has never heard about it. But it does not seem that way when you are teaching or listening to it. There is always a peace that comes when we try to teach and end up letting the Spirit do all the work...I am slowly realizing how the work is not about me. Alone I can do nothing.  Missionaries are simply a way by which people can feel and be taught by the Spirit. I am lucky to have it as my companion always."

Monday, May 2, 2011

Good Old Fashioned Barbecue

"Every Saturday, everyone in Argentina has BBQs, but Argentine BBQs are not like American BBQs. The people we visit most of the time don't have very much money, so they buy whatever they can get from the meat market. Most of the time the only thing they can get are cheap meats that no one else wants like tongue and intestines, stomach, liver, and old meat. We were visiting this really nice less active guy named Mario. Mario is a bus driver and loves to talk with Missionaries. He asked us to eat with him, and even though we had already eaten, we accepted, because we thought it would be rude not to. We forgot that it was Saturday, and he would be serving Argentine BBQ. He brought out tons of platters full of chinchulin (intestines) and some meat called carpincho (see photo above). We decided it was fine, and both of us ate our share of salty rubbery chinchulin and carpincho. It was not too bad, but still pretty bad. Anyways, I think this made me sick for the next four days or so. It was strange to know that intestines at some point were inside of my intestines. For the most part, food here is really good, and not abnormal at all. Most of the time at lunch appointments we eat melonesa (country fried steak), Peruvian food, and pasta."

Jordan loves the work!  It makes him happy and fulfilled and he is excited to learn more and grow. 

Old Lady Lovin'

Jordan is in Argentina and loving it.  The food coma spell of the MTC has worn off and he has stopped gaining weight and has already lost 10 pounds.  He says he is eating more than ever but he walks so much that it all melts off.  Lunch is the biggest meal of the day there and for the rest of the day everyone just snacks.  Two lunch appointments a day three times a week = a lot of food.  He is in a large branch so the members always fight over who gets to feed the elders.  "This week there was a bunch of drama in between a bunch of the ladies because ALL of them wanted to feed us ALL of the time. And when you eat at their houses they won't stop feeding you, and if you don't eat very much, they feel really sad and say"tan flacco tan flacco" which means "too skinny too skinny". And then they give you way too much food anyways. Luckily we walk pretty much all day from appointment to appointment to work off all the force fed food."

The people in Argentina really love Jordy's light hair.  "I am sitting in a public computer lab right now and this old, crazy guy has come up to me three different times to feel my hair. Apparently my hair is like nothing they have ever seen. Especially my arm hair. Whenever I teach or play with a little kid, they will never stop touching and smelling my arm hair. They always say "¡que rubio!" or "How blonde!" as I walk by."  Haha!  Not an experience he would have in the USA.

He loves the people of Argentina.  "They are so funny and candid about everything and totally different than Americans. They love to touch and kiss and hug. Everyone gives each other a little kiss called a beso when they first see each other. We are not allowed to give women or girls besos or hugs and no one can understand why. It blows their minds. And then they give us hugs and kisses anyways. We are teaching this awesome, totally loving, but crazy old lady.  The other night when we went over to her shack to see how she was doing. She always gets scared of evil spirits, so we said a prayer with her for comfort. During the prayer she knelt down on the ground with her head touching the ground and her arms all the way outstretched. When we finished the prayer she was bawling, reached for the heavens, and started shouting (more like screaming) "GRACIAS A DIOS GRACIAS A DIOS" We did our best not to laugh or crack a smile. She then got up and gave us huge hugs and started kissing us all over our faces. My face was real real wet afterwards."

Jordan loves the work and is excited for the next two years to help and love others.  He does his best every day to be more Christlike.