Monday, April 9, 2012

April 9, 2012

Today I complete 14 months in the mission and 1 year in Argentina! My month days have stopped being things that I celebrate and more days that I dread. I feel like my mission is going faster and faster everyday.

This week was wild, more wild than normal. A few nights ago, there was a huge storm with violent winds in all of Buenos Aires. The storm took off tons of roofs and knocked down trees and power lines all over the place. We were on the bus when the storm started with just a little bit of rain. We got off the bus and were almost knocked over by a huge gust of wind and then a tree right next to us fell over and blew away down the street. The storm was so intense and unbelievable. We ran over to a nearby member and took shelter there. The power went out while we were there and we walked home in the rain and pitch black. After the storm, I didn't really think very much about it. But the next day as we went out to work, it was pretty obvious that the storm had dome a lot of damage to the more humble houses. We worked the rest of the day helping a bunch of the members repair their houses. That night as we were walking home the people started to go nuts. Remember when I told everybody about the barricades that the people do if they don't have power for very long? That happened again, but everywhere. We walked out of our last appointment, and waited for our bus until some nice guy told us that the people were picketing and that the buses weren't running. From there we walked home. It was the scariest/craziest moments of my mission. To get home from the area that we were in, we had to walk through all of the worst parts of our area without lights. As we walked through the villas everyone was just running in and out of houses and stealing everything, shooting their guns wherever they wanted, burning houses, fighting. It was wild. I know we were protected, and eventually made it home. Once we were home, President called us and told us that the same thing was happening all around the mission. Buenos Aires was in Anarchy for a little bit. Our lights and water turned back on two days later, and a lot of area still don't have light or water. The missionaries who are in those areas have been pulled out and put in other areas until things cool down a little bit. Luckily, things are back to normal in Solano right now. 

This week we had the baptism of Ivan. I haven't talked a lot about Ivan yet because I haven't had the time, but he is one of my favorite people I have met in my mission so far. Ivan has 23 years and is in a wheelchair because he has a disease really similar to Uncle George. I'm really not sure what the disease is called. When he was little, he used to be able to walk and everything, but slowly, his body started to shut down. Right now, he can't really move anything except a little bit in his hands, his neck, and face. But, he is totally fine mentally. He has won a ton of awards at his university for math. He is so great.  Ivan was a reference from his next door neighbor, who is a member. We have been teaching Ivan for about 4 weeks now and it has been so great. He understands everything and loves when we come over. As he has been reading the BOM, he has made a timeline of all the the important events and takes notes in a special binder. No investigator ever does that. He is so humble and accepts everything. His mom said that the doctors said that he would only live till he was 18. He is way too good. The baptism was interesting but way good. Elder Ramos and I were the first people to arrive at the church for the baptism. We were the first people to go to the church since the baptism. We were getting the font ready and everything when I heard that someone was clapping at the front gate of the chapel. I went to see who it was, and found a woman. She said she was the neighbor behind the church and that a tree had fallen from the church into her lawn. When she said tree, I imagined a tiny Argentine tree and didn't think much of it. I went behind the church to check things out and found that one of the huge 50 foot pines had fallen. It knocked down part of the wall, and had pretty much covered the house behind the church. Wild. We called the branch president and he is taking care of it. Obviously, the baptism was a little bit different than usual. We planned that I was going to carry Ivan into the font and that Elder Ramos was going to do the ordination. When it came time to pick up Ivan, i was kind of nervous. I picked him up and his head flopped back because he doesn't have very much strength in his neck. When that happened, Elder Ramos and I both kind of freaked out.  Ivan kept on telling us that it was okay and not to worry; all was normal. You would think it would be the other way around. All went well, and the spirit was defiantly there. Real good.

All is well. Life is good.

April 2, 2012

Things are real good here in Solano. This week was real calm and real good. Elder Ramos and I are preparing various people for baptisms in the upcoming weeks, so we are pretty busy all the time in between that and running around the zone of Florencio Valera and helping all the other missionaries do things. 

Conference weekend is the best thing that's ever happened to a missionary, better than Christmas, Easter, lo que sea. So good. It is really the only time that we have to sit, be with other missionaries for long amounts of time, eat, and listen. Luckily the members were nice enough to prepare a room set apart for all of the American Elders to listen to conference in English. It was too good. But we weren't able to go to the priesthood session because it started at 9 and ended at 11. We will see if I can watch it at some other time.

There are a lot of cockroaches in our pinch. We casually told one of our neighbors about the cucarachas the other day. He decided to do us a favor and break into our pinch when we were at conference on Sunday and pumped our pinch full of poisonous gas to kill all the cucarachas. We got back to the pinch that night and almost past out just opening the door to the pinch. Our neighbor then came along and told us what he had done and that we couldn't go into the pinch for the next 24 hours. I said, "Uh....thanks!", but inside I thought, "Uhh...where are we going to sleep?" We decided that the best option was our roof. So we took a few deep breaths, ran into the pinch, and took out our sleeping bags and pillows. We then climbed onto the roof, moved aside a few cluttered materials of construction, and staked out our spots for the night. It was great. It was the first time I feel like I have actually needed my North face, compressible backpacking sleeping bag. Luckily it didn't rain and the weather is getting cooler. It was sweet. When we woke up this morning and went into the pinch, it was amazing. There were hundreds, if not thousands of dead cockroaches EVERYWHERE. We then swept them into little mountains. (Like the one in the picture.) Luckily all the cockroaches are dead and we have breakfast for the next two weeks. Only half kidding. Elder Ramos had me 98% convinced that cucarachas are cool to eat and that people eat them in Peru all the time. As I was about to put one in my mouth, he told me that it was a joke. Gooo. 

I loved Elder Holland and Elder Uchtdorfs talks. :)

March 26, 2012

A shirt my little investigator gave me...
This week was real good. Eldeer Ramos and I are just getting accustomed as comps and I am getting used to Solano. When I got the call from President to come to Solano, I was honestly pretty bummed to leave Elder Abbott and Longchamps. But, as I was bawling as I said goodbye to all my friends in Longchamps, I felt pretty strongly that it was time. I felt the same feeling when I got to Solano, and just felt right. Solano is real good, and I am happy and excited to be here for the next who knows how many months. But, in the two weeks I have been gone from Longchamps, Elder Abbott and his new companion have baptized 5 of my investigators. hahahaha oh welll.....

Solano is a little branch, but its so good and alive. Longchamps was a pretty sleepy ward with lots of members with 10+ years in the church that was just waking up and starting to do things. Solano is the opposite. Almost all of the members, including the Branch President have less than 4 years in the church, or have recently been activated. As a result, almost all of the members are full of energy and want to do lots of things. Also, all of them have been helped out by the missionaries recently either to be baptized or reactivated. As a result, everybody is kind of obsessed with the Elders and we are treated like royalty. hahah. Everyone begs us to eat at their houses and complains to us if we haven't been to their house in more than a week. It feels real good to be so wanted. I feel like I am gonna get real chubby in this area after losing tons of weight in Longchamps. 

We live in front of a family who just got baptized about two years ago. The familia Marin. They are so great. The sister cleans or house once a week, cleans our clothes, and makes us breakfast or lunch or dinner or snacks whenever we want them. It's wild. I feel spoiled. They rent us a big house for 1000 pesos a month when they could be charging 3000 a month. They are way too good. The brother is a member of the equivalent of the CIA in Argentina. Yesterday he showed us every single one of his guns. He shoots them in the air whenever his soccer team scores a goal. 

This week we baptized Liliana and it was really good, but kinda wild. She has back problems, so we couldn't baptize her in the normal "Lean back" method. We had to fill up the font really really full in order for her to be able to kneel down completely below the water. It took three tries.

All is well. Life is good.