Tuesday, January 3, 2012

January 2, 2012

 Our end of the year dinner with the Familia Menses. Way too nice.
Happy New Year! 2012 is gonna be a goody. I'm sure. I personally, welcomed in 2012 sitting on my roof with my companion and watching an insane firework display all around me. It was real real good. I thought the fireworks for Christmas were crazy, but the end of the year fireworks blew them out of the water. It looked like day outside and Elder Jolley and I couldn't hear each other, even if we shouted in each others ears. It was wild. While we were sitting on the roof, an artillery shell fell out of the sky at our feet and luckily didn't blow up. At that point we decided to go inside.

This week was really good and a big relief for Elder Jolley and I. Lately, it has gotten to be pretty hard to find new investigators. Their ward has slowed down with giving references and it has just been pretty flat lately. We either baptized or dropped all of the investigators that we had.  This week, Elder Jolley and I were really blessed and found more new investigators than we had in the previous four weeks combined.  It was a big relief.

This morning Elder Jolley and I went to one of the Sisters in our ward to cut our hair. She is a totally nice lady and loves and cuts the hair of all the Elders that come to Longchamps. She also has controlled schizophrenia and talks to people that aren't there as she cuts our hair sometimes. As she was cutting my hair, I glanced over at Elder Jolley and he had on a face that was a mixture in between scared and trying to hold in a laugh. I didn't really understand, so I kept on chatting with the lady until, Elder Jolley's shoulders started to shake he was trying so hard not to laugh. I asked him, in English, why he was laughing and he just whisper/whimpered, "Nothing, nothing, nothing". It was only after she had finished my hair and started cutting Elder Jolleys that I understood why his face was both scared and laughing. As she cut Elder Jolleys hair, she only buzzed over certain parts of his hair, and missed or ignored whole patches of other hair. I started to laugh because Elder Jolley looked ridiculous and then I realized that she had most likely done the same thing to my hair. We still can't figure out why, but she decided that today she was only going to cut parts of our hair, and not others. Elder Jolley looks like he has a horn of hair right above his forehead, and I the whole left side of my head looks huge because the hair is uncut on that side. So now Elder Jolley and I both have horrible, half done haircuts with awkward and random tufts of hair sticking out. Our task for the rest of the day will be to commandeer a buzzer to finish up the job. Hopefully we will be able to figure it out.

December 26, 2011

We got to talk to Jordan on Christmas.  He was so happy and hilarious to talk to.  We kept hearing big bang noises in the background.  He said the sound was guns being shot off and fireworks...no big deal. 

This week was so good and fun. Christmas here is a little different. The day when the people really celebrate is the 24th, and then they spend the 25th to just rest from their night of festivities and eat lots of food. On the 24th we went to the familia Cordobas house to eat (the family who just got baptized). They made as an asado of chorizo (pretty much bratwurst) and chicken that was real nice (I included a picture). When we got there Norma, the mom of the family, came up to me really worried, and told me that the night before had had a dream that we came and ate at her house and left really late and gotten killed by a group of five men. She then went on to tell us how gross and mangled our dead bodies had looked in her dream. My companion and I just nodded and laughed nervously. She then came to the conclusion that the dream was a prophecy and that we couldn't leave her house that night and would have to sleep at her house. We then spent the next 30 minutes or so trying to convince her that we would not be able to spend the night in her house. She was so adamant that we not leave her house and got a little bit mad when we told her that we couldn't. Oh well... One of the members came and picked us up from the Cordoba house at around 9:00 and dropped us off at the pinch. We listened to some Christmas music for a while, sang a few Christmas hymns with the other two Elders and then went to bed.

I woke up at around 11:55 that night and it sounded like 15 people were shouting in my ears. Most of you know how I am when I am woken up from a deep slumber. I had no idea what was going on and was so confused about whether I was awake or not, why I was awake, why it was so loud everywhere,  just confused. I opened the window to see what was happening and it looked like day outside there was so much light. In every direction around me there were fireworks going off. Not the little United States ones, but the ones that they shoot off at a big fireworks show. Except they were being shot off by drunk Argentine guachos and not by pyrotechnicians and everyone everywhere was shooting them off. It was sweet, like nothing I have ever ever seen in my life. I went up on the roof with Elder Rivera and watched the fireworks for about a half hour until they slowed down. To talk to each other, we had to shout, even thought we were right next to each other. My ears just recently stopped ringing.

On the 25th, I went to church, talked with you guys, when back to the pinch, played indoor soccer with the other elders, broke 4 lights playing indoor soccer, ate pasta, sang Christmas songs and went to sleep. Very simple, but real good.

This week Elder Jolley and I had a really weird/good experience. We were teaching one of our investigators, Silvia, and we were in the process of taking out a baptismal date when a man came out of her house and started shouting (in a really bad Latin accent), "Helloo liars! Helloo liars!" We were kind of surprised and didn't know what to do, so we just smiled and waved. The man came up to us and got in my face and started to tell me how we are liars and how we steal peoples money and children and souls and how we were going to hell. I, after a while, started to get irritated and got ready to tell him to go away. But before I could say that, Elder Jolley got up and said, as best as he could in his beginning Spanish, "I know the church is true and I'm really sorry if we did anything to offend you." I was blown away and let Elder Jolley talk. He began to calm the guy down and act unnaturally loving towards the shouting man. He eventually calmed down, but kept on calling us liars and left the house. After we finished talking with Sylvia, we left the house and were walking down the street when I heard a motorcycle coming really fast behind us and stop really suddenly right behind us. To my surprise, it was the guy who had just been shouting at us. I thought to myself, "Oh man, he came back to fight again, probably with a gun." But, he just asked us if we could talk and began to tell us how sorry he was and how he needed to repent of what he had done and that we could come and talk with his sister and him whenever he wanted. He tried to hide our surprise, thanked him, and kept on walking. Afterwards, we were just blown away and laughed.  The lesson is that you will ALWAYS win an argument if you are nice and loving. If I had told him to go away, it would have just gotten worse and he probably would have stabbed one of us. Thank goodness for Elder Jolley and his love and patience. All is well. Life is good. Love and miss you all.

December 19, 2011

Merry Christmas everybody! Christmas time is so special and I'm lovin' it from the other side of the world.

This week was real real good and diarrhea free. Woot woot! The whole sick from the water bottle episode ended up being so funny. One of the things I love love about Argentina is that there is such little shame. If someone has a problem, they don't hide it away, but make sure other people know. Lots of the time, I am surprised that people trust me enough by me simply saying "Hola!" to tell me that they can't quit smoking and their son is in jail and they had lots of issues with their parents and that they don't particularly like eggplant. It's so funny and I think it's a characteristic that we all definitely need to adapt. One result of this lack of shame ws that every member of the ward knew that my intestines had been on express turbo mode a few, brief moments after I sat on the toilet for the first time. Hermanas from the Relief Society kept on coming up to me on Sunday and asking things like "Are you having more solid bathroom time?" with all the sincerity in the world. I felt a little twinge of embarrassment at first, but then just thought it was funny and reveled in how much I love Argenitna.

This week we had the baptism of the Cordoba/Larrea family. It was way too good. The last few baptisms we have had have been so hectic and stressful for me. It seems like something always goes wrong right before a baptism that sends me running around like a crazy person. This baptism was different. I have been teaching the Cordoba Family for a solid 4 months and with 4 different companions. They changed their minds about 700 times and I had to remind them of the answers that had received to their prayers as to whether the church is true about 1400 times. It has been such a long teaching process, but in the end, it all makes sense and I feel giddy and so happy about it. I feel like there where so many problems in the teaching process that heavenly Father gave me a break and let the baptismal service go smoothly. As the family lined up to enter the baptismal font, such a powerful wave came over us and everyone started strangely giggling. The spirit has lots of different ways to manifest itself. The dad of the family, Modesto, is a really serious man. He rarely cracks a smile and it took me about 2 months to convince him to let me give him a hug. As Modesto saw his wife and daughter get baptized, Elder Jolley whispered to me, "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh look at Modesto." I looked over and Modesto was kind of bouncing up and down on his toes and giggling like a little girl. At this moment I thought, "What are we doing to these people?" It crazy. It made me laugh so hard. There is a different feeling to every baptism, and the feeling at this baptism was one of giggling full out, butterflies in the stomach, glee. Genuine, genuine glee. Way too good. The family was so happy and we were too. Baptisms are all incredible, but when a family makes the decision together, its something so powerful. I feel like more than any other thing in the gospel, I have such a testimony of the family. It's the best. Literally.

This Christmas is going to be a little different for me. I'm so excited for it, but I'm gonna miss the family a lot. My brother Josh emailed me the other day and told me that the Christmases you have on your mission are "so pure and so simple". That's a perfect way to describe it. In Argentina, no one is really sure why they celebrate Christmas. I asked lots of grown, intelligent adults why we have Christmas, and they have told me so happily and surely, "Fireworks!" Christmas in Argentina is basically two days when all the families get together, get trashed, and shoot of fireworks. For this reason, we as missionaries have to be in the pinch by 6:00 on the 24th and 25th. If any missionary is caught with fireworks, he is immediately sent home. Guess I will be a content observer this Christmas. Our plans for Christmas are to stay in the pinch, sing Christmas songs, and then head out on the roof. Our house is the tallest house in the area, and you can see practically to the ocean from our pinch because Buenos Aires is so flat. We will be staying out on the roof and observing the fireworks from all sides. I am perfectly satisfied with that. I will be making sure this Christmas to focus on its real meaning, that being the importance of Christ, and celebrating his first coming into the world. Purely simple.

Merry Christmas! All is well. Life is good.