Monday, November 28, 2011
I have not really missed home as much as I did on Thanksgiving. I was pretty distracted all day long and just kept on looking at my watch and thinking, "Everyone is probably eating and watching football right now." Luckily I had Elder Jolley here to keep me focused. On Thanksgiving night we felt like we should do a least something little for Thanksgiving, so we bought a little chicken and cooked it and ate it together as our little American family in Argentina. The chicken was kind of gross and was more bones than anything, but it was good to feel at home for a little bit with my hijito of the mission.
This week was relitavely calm compared to last week. When Elder Jolley got here, he was terrified at the lack of cleanliness in Argentina and most of all, our pinch. He came from a clean freak family where they had spring cleaning every Thursday. To see Elder Jolley so horrified at the cleanliness of our pension was an eye opening experience for me. I think I have just slowly gotten accustomed to toilets that only flush half the contents, showers that half mysterious piles of hair in all four corners of the floor, 2 inch dead cockroaches in all places, and odors that make one shed a tear and feel disoriented coming from the refrigerator. I have become a Laminite savage. Because of Elder jolley´s constant pleading, this morning Elder Jolley and I cleaned the bathroom. I'm fairly sure that it was the first time the bathroom has been cleaned in the last year. I think at least 20 missionaries have used the toilet, bidet, and shower prior to the last cleaning. Needless to say, it was sweet. I will spare lots of the details, but I gagged so hard and so often that I had a really bad headache afterwards. Now the bathroom floor is worthy to be eaten off of.
This next week, Elder Aidukaitis of the Seventy is coming to our mission to review everything. This next week, I will be in meeting with him from 2 in the afternoon until 7 at night everyday. When we heard that Aidukaitis was coming, the mission broke out into a panic. The name of Aidukaitis is kind of infamous among missionaries. He is known for tearing apart agendas and making good Elders cry. I am kind of excited, but mostly scared to talk to him tomorrow and see if he lives up to his legend. I will let you know next week. I am sure he will say lots of things that the mission needs to hear, being a General Authority and all.
Right now in Buenos Aires its in the 80s or 90s everyday, and I am always always sweating. My shirts armpits are gradually turning yellow.....mmmmmm. Thanksgiving doesn't exist in Argentina. I asked President if we do anything special for Thanksgiving and he said, "You work. Working is always special." I said, "Ok, sounds good." Maybe Elder Jolley and I will cook a chicken or something.
This week was so good and so wild and so stressful. Elder Jolley got here on Tuesday. He looks almost exactly like Elder Borgersen, and everyone we have been visiting have been saying, "Elder Borgersen came back!" Elder Jolley is so great. Everyone says that in the mission, one is bound to get lots of companions that one doesn't get along with. I have been getting so lucky, or I don't know what, and getting so many companions that are so great. Elder Jolley is from Highland, Utah and went to Lone Peak High School. He speaks way better than most yankee newbies because he worked a few summers on a golf course with all Mexicans. He is crazy nice and makes me laugh and the time and tries to help me not be stressed on Sundays. The first few days with him were so fun. It was fun watching Elder Jolley see everything about Argentina and react about it. I now realize how clueless and lost I was as a newbie in Argentina. Things that every new yankee missionary figures out once he comes to Argentina: milk comes in plastic bags, that toilets don't have automatic flushers but buckets instead, cars don't stop in any case for pedestrians, you clap houses instead of knocking doors, not drinking out of any water fountains or sink unless they have filters, everyone shouts even if they aren't mad, 3-inch cockroaches and so much more. I'm just glad I don't have to go through it again.
The week was pretty normal up until Saturday. We worked and found a lot of new people to teach, there is a weird phenomenon in the mission that Nuevitos and Trainers always have way more success than other people. This week I figured out why. Coming from the MTC, missionaries are so on fire and ready to work that they have a super strong spirit about them that no one can ignore. At this point in our companionship, I teach the majority of the lessons, but Elder Jolley does more of the work, because people feel so different around him. There were a lot of times this week where he suggested that we clap a certain house or when he bore his testimony that resulted in us finding a new investigator, or help someone feel the spirit. I feel lucky to have him.
Most trainers play little jokes on their newbies. Some of the jokes are really mean, like staging a fake robbing with one of the members acting as the robber. I decided to do just a little joke. We had just finished eating at a members house and told Elder Jolley that he should now say, "Hermana, la comida fue un asco." or "Sister, the food was really really gross." Elder Jolley took the bait and confidently told the hermana that her food was really gross. She immediately looked at me and told me that I was mean.
When Saturday rolled around, it was like the week hit a different gear, and everything sped up and got a lot more crazy and stressful. On Saturday night, we got invited to a birthday party at Oscar´s family's house. Once we were close to the house, I started to smell asado and felt kind of scared for me to eat another asado, but kind of savagely happy to see Elder Jolley to eat his first asado. I started to explain to Elder jolley what an asado was, and what it would do to his stomach afterwards. We ate the asado including blood sausage and intestines, and Elder Jolley threw up. But only a little. haha I felt like the experienced, old missionary as we walked home and I told him that he would probably be sick for the rest of the night. The whole next night, I got really sick and rode the porcelain pony as Elder Jolley slept comfortably. Talk about humbling. =( I guess I just have a weak stomach.
Sunday was one of the craziest days of my whole mission. As we were walking to church on Sunday, in a pretty nice area, a guy ran up to us and robbed us. He kept on reaching in our pockets and screaming at us to give him our phones and money. We don't know if he had a weapon or anything, but he kept reaching in his pants and acting like he was about to pull out a gun. Luckily we forgot our phone in the pension and I threw 60 pesos (15 or so dollars) at him and he ran away. In this situation, you would think that the newbie would be the scared one, but yet again Elder Jolley was cooler than me. haha After we got robbed, I kind of hyperventilated and got really pale while Elder Jolley rubbed my back. Humbling Experience part 2. We got to church and started the crazy process of getting sacrament meeting going. In the middle of sacrament meeting, two police when walked into the chapel and asked to talk to the two missionaries who were robbed. The bishop talked to them and told them that we would go to the police station after the meetings and baptismal service. (The baptism is another story.) After church, we went to the police station, waited in the lobby for 2 hours, and then were questioned for a good hour or two. In those two hours, we talked to every person in the waiting room, and took down about 11 addresses to visit. Who knew the police station was so good for contacting? They then told us that a man had seen us getting robbed and had chased the robber down, beat him up, and taken him to the police station. (I like to think this man was Batman.) We got to identify our robber. I asked if we could take pictures with him and Elder Jolley wanted to tell the robber that he forgave him, but they wouldn't let us talk to him or anything. hahaha When Elder Jolley asked me how to say "I forgive you." and told me that he wanted to say it to the robber I laughed so hard. The police men thought we were so weird because we were happy and laughing about the whole situation. We settled with taking a picture of the woman cop who interviewed us. Elder Jolley started doing a contact with her, and we ended up taking down her address. I guess ever moment in a missionary opportunity.
The baptism we had yesterday is a different story. We baptized a woman named Norma, and her son Lautaro. Norma is so humble and shy and good. She accepted the things we taught so quickly and has such a strong want to do good. What she didn't tell me before the baptism was that she has an intense fear of water. The whole baptismal service went well with a few talks and singing and then we headed for the baptismal font. Once Norma saw the baptismal font she started crying and saying, "no, no, no no, no" I had no idea what was happening and asked her what was up. She then told me that she had an intense fear of water. We decided to baptize her son first and have her watch to know it was okay. That made it worse. She ran into the women's bathroom where a few nice ladies from the ward tried to comfort her. I felt awkward and didn't know what to do as all the people waited for about 10-15 minutes for the baptism to happen. She eventually came out from the bathroom, still crying, and I led her with both of her hands in my hands to the baptismal font. She cried the whole time. I performed the ordination and started to put her underwater while she screamed "NO NO NO NO NO NNO!" I just kind of pushed her under water anyways. She came out screaming and crying and ran out of the baptismal font. I didn't know what to do and was so nervous. All the people watching the baptism were kind of scared. The ladies in the word comforted her as she changed and Elder Jolley and I went to change too. When I came out of the bathroom, I saw Norma with a little group of kids around her giving her kisses on the cheek one by one. Norma smiled at me and said "I'm so embarrassed." I was so relieved that she didn't hate me and the church because of the baptism. She then expressed that she knew it was a good thing that she did, she is just scared of water. I let her know that the good thing is that you only have to be baptized once. She is such a great lady and I'm sure she will remember her baptism forever. Crazyyyyyyyy!
I got a call from president a few days back and he told me that I will receive my companion, Elder Jolley, tomorrow. I am a little sad to leave Elder Cardenas, but mostly excited to meet Elder Jolley.
Yesterday we had the baptism of Oscar. I was super surprised how smoothly things went. The water worked, everyone was happy, there was a visitor in the ward who could play the piano 100x better than me. It was great to have a Sunday where I can actually go to a class and learn something. I usually am running around during church giving blessings, setting up lunch, making sure investigators are comfortable, filling the baptismal font, making sure the sacrament is ready, and so on. It was good to have a chill Sunday. The baptism of Oscar was real good. I gave him the only baptismal clothes that would fit him, a white jumpsuit, and he refused to put it on because he "looked like a telly tubbie" in it. We negotiated for about 5 minutes and we agreed that he would wear the jumpsuit if he could put a white shirt over the top. Thank goodness he agreed. I always love the feeling of baptisms. It's just so warm and reminds me, in the best way possible, of primary for some reason. Oscar was so happy, and you could see it in his countenance.
This week was real good, but really different and hard. Up till this point in my mission I have had companions who have been totally easy to get along with. Elder Cardenas and I didn't really have that same fluidity together. I have always felt and believed that I can get along with almost anyone in the world, no problem. To clash a little with a companion was a totally new and foreign experience for me. It taught me so many things, the most important being that I have so many faults and imperfections that need work. Elder Cardenas is a great guy and he is gonna be a great missionary. Luckily, we were able to work out our differences, and there is a better understanding between us now. When I talked with President the other day, I told him about my experience with Elder Cardenas and he told me two things that helped me a ton.: 1. "Thinking that the other person is the problem is the problem." and 2. When every Elder is about to go home, he has a final interview with the mission President. In this interview, the mission President always asks, "Which of your companions helped you grow the most?" he said that he is always surprised by the answer that he gets to this question, because almost every time he asks this question, the missionaries tell him the name of a companion that he knows was difficult for them. When we are stuck with someone who is hard to get along with, we are constantly trying to make small improvements that will help the situation. If we make all these small improvements always, eventually we will have made a huge change for the better in our lives. I only had one week and 5 days with Elder Cardenas, but I believe that I learned a ton in this short time and made a change in the way I treat other people. For that reason, I am a little sad to see Elder Cardenas go. But for the same reason, I am a little happy to see Elder Cardenas go.
I love what I am doing, and know I am where I am supposed to be.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
This week was pretty good, and mostly crazy. I feel more and more everyday like I am in one of those old, silent British films where the characters chase each other in fast motion. Non-stop, we are running from one place to another. I received my mini-missionary this Friday in the mission home. Every time new missionaries come in, there is a little bit of a ceremony in the mission home. The new missionaries sit on some couches in the mission home and feel awkward while all the trainers come walking into the room in a line, singing and clapping "Called to Serve". Then the President lets everyone know who the new companionship's will be and everyone has a big meal of pizza and empanadas. The whole ceremony was a huge blast from the past for me. The last time I was part of it, I was sitting very awkwardly on the couch and wondering what I should do with my hands while a bunch of sweating wierdies came into the room singing. This time it was the opposite hahah. And this time, I'm totally in love with the cheesiness of the whole ceremony. Now that I am in love with the cheesiness, I officially know I am a missionary.
My new companion is Elder Cardenas. He is from La Plata, and will be with me for the next one or two weeks, as I wait for Elder Jolley. Elder Cardenas has his call to Mendoza and will be starting his real mission in January. He told me that he is doing the mini-mission to stay out of trouble until then. I totally understand. Just in the dew days that we have been together I have realized how little I knew about being a missionary at home, and even when I came out of the MTC. I am sure we are gonna have a good week together, and we are both gonna learn a lot.
This week, we were scheduled to baptize Oscar, the man I talked about in the past couple emails. We were all really excited, I had made the programs, basically everything was ready. When Sunday morning came, I had my usual crazy three hours of church when I run around everywhere like a crazy person, except for this time, I had to fill up the baptismal font. Oscar came to church with his whole family and was so excited to be baptized. The plumbing here is the worst, and it takes about 2 and a half hours to fill up the baptismal font. The switch to turn on the water to the baptismal font is in the women's bathroom. I don't know why its in there, but it is. I planned really well, and let everyone know they would not be able to use the women's bathroom this day at church and started to fill the font about three hours before the baptism. When I turned on the water, nothing came out and I wanted to die/throw up. I kind of freaked out, and frantically asked the Bishop why there was no water, and he told me that the water pump had broken, and there would not be water in the church until Friday. Water pumps are turning up to be my worst enemy. We had to postpone the baptism until this coming Sunday. When I told Oscar and his family they were all pretty bummed, but way less bummed than I was. I was super relieved. I talked to Oscar later on and he said that his is more determined than ever to be baptized now. After the whole ordeal passed, I know feel kinda foolish for how much I freaked out and was nervous that the baptism could not go through right then. I guess that's a lesson for almost all situations. In the moment of problems, we feel like the world is ending and it is so easy to get angry, sad, stressed. In these moments we have to really look at the situation in what it really is. About 99.9% percent of all situations are not worth freaking out about.
This week was really wild. For Me, Sunday is the craziest and most stressful day of the week. I have to make sure everything goes through with the sacrament, make sure my investigators come to church and feel comfortable there, organize my lunches for the week, choose and play hymns for sacrament meeting, teach the gospel principles class, etc. Basically I run in circles all day. By Sunday night, I just want to sleep for 14 hours. Last Sunday night, we got to the pinch, exhausted and so very ready for Pday. Just as we were going to sleep, we got a call from the Zone leaders saying that we would not have Pday the following day like normal, but on Thursday. I wanted to cry and almost did. I still don't understand why the change was, but it happened and that is the reason why I am writing today and not three days ago.
We also got transfer calls Tuesday night. Elder Borgersen and I were almost sure that we would stay together for at least one more week, so I didn't even really think about transfers. On Tuesday night I got a call from the President and he asked me how I was and if I had plans to be obedient for the next two transfers. I was just really confused and thought he was trying to say that I had done something bad and then he asked me if I was willing to train a new missionary for the next two transfers. I really wasn't expecting that, and probably sounded so dumb on the phone, but I managed eventually to say that I was willing to do that. He then let me know that the situation is a little complicated because the Elder that I am going to train is having visa issues and is gonna arrive almost two weeks from today. It looks like in these two weeks when I am without companion, I will receive a mini-missionary. A mini-missionary is not a dwarf or anything. A mini-missionary is a 17 or 18 year old kid who is preparing to go on a mission, and lives within the limits of the mission. My mini-missionary is from La Plata, where I was before Longchamps. So tomorrow, I will go meet my mini-companion in the mission home and work with him for about a week and a half. After this week and a half it looks like I will receive that Elder that I will train. His name is Elder Jolly and he is from the United States and already knows Spanish and I don't know a single thing more about him. Elder Borgersen and I at this point knew that we would not be staying together, so we were both pretty sad. I think he was a little more sad than me though because in the next two weeks we have 8 baptisms scheduled, and he is gonna miss out on all of them. He called President to ask if he could stay for just one week more and received a firm "No." I'm sad to see Elder Borgersen go, but I know he is needed by lots of people in other places. He is such a great guy and I love him tons. So long Tim Tebow clone.
Right now, I am tagging along with Elder Oporto (my old companion) until tomorrow when I receive my mini-missionary. It good to spend time with him again. He is still goofy and says scary words in Spanish I don't understand.
I am super excited to train even though I feel barely older that the new Elders. Hopefully we can help each other learn a lot of new stuff together.