The one year shirt
This week was real good. I feel like I have been in Longchamps so long that the weeks are kind of starting to melt together. Longchamps is a crazy crazy town, and I see so many abnormal, dirty, crazy, and great things everyday, that I feel like I have stopped being amazed by somethings that would normally blow my mind. For example, whenever the electricity goes out in the villas (illegal ghetto neighborhoods), it goes out for like 5 days. When the power goes out, people don't have water (almost everybody uses electrical water pumps to pump water out of the ground), can't watch their usual 7 hours of TV a day, the fans don't work, and people just start to get angry for 5 days. Usually after about 2 days without power, the people start to do protests where they get in big groups, find a bunch of tires, throw the tires on the closest bus route, and then light the tires on fire and block the road and buses for several days until they get power back. During the days while they picket, they stand in the middle of the road (amidst tons of black tire smoke) play the drums, do chants, and attack any bus that tries to go through their barricade. It seems crazy, but it is actually pretty normal here. The power goes out about once or twice every month. One of the pictures I sent was when Elder Lem and I foolishly snuck out our cameras and decided to take a picture in front of the picket. Right after we took this photo, and group of men with drums ran out of the smoke towards us and shouting things that I couldn't understand. We ran away and they did not give much chase. And the other day, we were on the bus during a picket, and the bus driver decided to try to go through the barricade. As he started to go through the barricade, lots of big rocks started flying through the smoke and crashing against the windows. Then a few man tried to climb onto the bus to stop it from going through the barricade. Thankfully the bus driver was evasive and did not let the men get on the bus. During the whole experience, my companion and I just calmly sat on the bus and watched the rocks crash against the windows. I didn't really realize how crazy the situation really was. After we got off the bus I just realized that it was a crazy situation and was a little confused why I was not more concerned or worried. I guess my sense of normal is just a little bit skewed for the time being.
This week I hit one year in the mission! It was kind of a strange day. As a missionary, you always always hear the cliché, "The time on the mission flies by without you even noticing." I always thought that that cliché was pretty dumb and inaccurate until this Thursday. It just hit me really hard that I was half-way done with my mission and that I had hit the crest of the mountain. I can't believe that one year from today I will be watching Nuggets games at Mom and Dad's. Whaaaa? To celebrate the year, I found an orphan shirt of some past elder in the pinch and wrote "1 año" all over. And then, with the help of my companions, I burned it. The flames were way bigger than I thought they would be and we almost lit a tree on fire, but luckily it all ended smoothly.
Right now, our main investigators are two twin girls named Judith and Brenda (Grandma names). They both are 14 years old. Last month, Elder Jolley and I decided to go past the house of every person who had ever been baptized in Longchamps in hopes to find part family members who wanted to come back to church and baptize the non-member part of the family. It was kind of a funny and sad experience. Lots of people who had been baptized just a few years back did not really remember their baptism and were kind of confused as to what our purpose was in passing by their houses. One lady thought that we had come to gather tithing and begged us for more time before she had to pay us. But, in the process of passing by all these houses, we found a lady named Yolanda who was baptized about 15 years ago in Tucuman, but lost contact with the church when she moved to Buenos Aires She was happy to meet us and told us that we brought here tender memories of her baptism. She introduced us to her two daughters and that was when we met and began to teach Judith and Brenda. They are both so great and love to learn so much. One thing that I have noticed and been impressed by them is that they have so many desires to do what is right. They also have an uncle who tells them lots of crazy things about the church. They come to us with all kinds of funny doubts that I kind of secretly love hearing. Once Judith asked me, “The Mormons need to give their first two children to the church, and then the church gives you a really nice house, right?" The both are planning to be baptized in the next two weeks and I am so proud of them.
All is going real well. I happy to have completed a year and way too excited to have another good one.