Sunday, August 7, 2011

August 1, 2011

 Bernardo and me. You KNOW his name is Bernardo because it says so right above his bellybutton
 Baptism with Cristina and Lilly Marcella
 The horse and buggy Bernardo and Cristina use to collect trash in, and now to got to church in =)
The other day right after we got caught in a monsoon on our bikes

This morning we had a really strange service experience. There is a sweet old guy who we baptized earlier on in our Rama named Marcelo. This past Sunday we saw him in Church and he told us he had a favor to ask of us, but we couldn't talk about it at church, so he asked us to come to his house sometime that week. I was kind of wierded out, but Marcelo is a good guy, so I was not too worried. Later that week, when we passed by his house to talk to him he told us that the cemetery where his wife is buried just increased the rent and he can't afford the new prices. So he asked us if we could help him dig up his wife's coffin and move it to a tomb that is cheaper. My initial reaction to his favor was, "Can I wear gloves?" and my second was "Is this legal?" It ends up that moving your deceased wife is legal, so early this morning Elder Vergara and a few other Elders from our district met Marcelo at the cemetery and helped him dig up his wife and move her to a new spot. Cemeteries in Argentina are really different than the cemeteries that I am used to. All the graves are about 6 inches away from each other and super shallow. As a result, digging up the coffin was easier than I thought it would be. The whole ordeal was just really weird.

On Saturday we had Cristina and Lilly`s baptisms! Before the baptism, I was really nervous because I was going baptize Cristina and Cristina is not a small lady in any sense. She is an awesome awesome woman and probably my favorite investigator up to this point, but she literally weighs about 300lbs. I was afraid that I physically would not be able to baptize her. I said a few silent prayers while I was walking into the font that all would go well. Luckily the water was pretty high, and I was able to successfully baptize Cristina on only the second try. The service ended up being really special and full of the Spirit.

July 25, 2011

We did NOT find a new place to live this week. hahaha! We looked for a solid two and a half days and found a total of zero possibilities. A really old lady in our branch offered us a shack in back of her house. We checked it out and found a family of about 14 cats and an even bigger family of rats inside. We politely declined. I don't know what we are going to do, but it looks like we might move in with the Elders of a neighboring area for a while until we can find something. The apartments here for Missionaries are usually about the size of a pool table, thus already crowded, so it might be interesting. I'm not too excited at the idea, but if that's what we have to do, I'm game. It better than under a bridge.

This week we are going to baptize a couple named Bernardo and Cristina. They are two of my favorite people I have met yet in Argentina. They also have the most humble house I have seen yet in Argentina. Bernardo is a trash collector by profession and built his house completely out of things he found on the street. It's actually pretty cool. Both Bernardo y Cristina just got out of jail six months ago. That's where they met too! (Over the phone) They are both full of crazy stories about jail and I love to just sit and listen to them talk. Bernie has a huge spot on his head where somebody in jail stabbed him with a sharpened toothbrush. B&C are both COVERED in tattoos that they got in prison. At one point Bernie told me that he wanted to get "Elder Lewis" tattooed into a free space on his calf. I wanted so badly to tell him yes, but restrained myself. All in all, I love them so much. It's always a treat to go to their house. They always try to give us lots and lots of food, but we always decline both because we don't want to take from what the little they have, and because all they eat is pokeria chorizo. Pokeria chorizo is all the little scraps of skin and fat and tendons and spare meat the butcher doesn't use and then squishes it into a sausage shape. Last night they told us that if we did not accept their food, they would be offended. So I grudgingly took a porkeria chorizo and ate every bite. It was actually not that bad, but wrecked havoc on my bowels/body. I bet you can guess where I spent most of my morning this morning. The best part about Bernardo and Cristina is their willingness and desire to change. In the Argentine justice system, if you kill someone, you go to jail for like 5-7 years. Bernardo and Cristina were in jail for a combined 28 years. I still don't know what they did to get in jail, but obviously they were not in good places. But today they have changed 100%. They both love so much. They both have so much desire to do right. And this Saturday they are going to be baptized and just get better. It's all too good. Can't wait.
I love being here. I am having so many experiences that I could not have had in any other way. I really do love being a missionary. Nerdiness and pocket protectors and cockroaches and all. All is well. Life is good.

July 18, 2011

Another super good week with Elder Vergara! We had to do a lot of traveling around this week because Elder Vergara is a District Leader so we did not spend as much time as I would have liked on the work. But traveling is still fun and an adventure. This week we spent a lot of time on trains. Trains in Argentina are like nothing you would ever believe. I have never been more crowded in by people in my life. When the train is at its most crowded, your arms are stuck at your sides, all you can see is black hair, and all you can smell is BO. Its kind of like a mosh pit. The other day on the two hour train to the center of Buenos Aires, this probably 300lb. Bolivian woman pretty much sat on my lap for a solid two hours. I know I am supposed to have charity for all men, but I wanted to kill her nearer to the end of the train ride. I could not feel my legs.
This week Elder Vergara and I were given permission and money from the mission to buy bikes. We only received about 50 bucks each for the bikes so we bought these two bikes that remind me of the 50s bikes that the kids rode at the beginning of the movie Jumanji. They are probably like the bikes that Dad rode when he was on his mission. But they are sweet and have only broken twice this week. I am just happy that we do not have to run to appointments anymore.

We also found out this week that the rent on our apartment went up again, and the mission office told us that we have to find another cheaper apartment and leave ours by the end of the month. So for the next few weeks we will be searching feverishly to find a new apartment with rent that is less than 200 dollars a month. If cant find a place, the mission office told us that there is space underneath a bridge near to where we live.

The work is changing a lot with the arrival of Elder Vergara. We are concentrating a lot more of our efforts on including the members in the work because the members really are the key to our success. It seems to be working because we have a whole lot of baptisms coming up at the end of this month. When the members help, we do a lot more of teaching than we do looking for people to teach. It is like there are 70 Elders in City Bell in stead of just us two. Lots of special things are happening. Yesterday at church this girl came up to us and said, "Hi! I came to church when I was a little girl with my grandma and I looked up the church on the Internet. I really like it here, is there something I can do to become a member or something?" We had to hold back our giggles because we were so surprised. She is getting baptized at the end of this month along with a few more of our investigators.