Saturday, May 20, 2017

Seventy Two Weeks

Hello Everyone!

This has been a really awesome week! We have transfers in 2 days, and so all of us in the offices have the opportunity to write home today since Monday we are going to be loaded up with tons of stuff to do. Needless to say, life has been really busy here in the offices, but we have been able to get out to our area some and have some cool experiences all the same.

Okay, so first normal missionary stuff and then office stuff. 

There was one day that Elder Durfee and I were headed to our area and we decided to talk to a guy that was standing there outside of his car letting his dogs run around and get some exercise in the park. We started talking to him though and he was just a super cool dude in his mid to late 20s and when asking about his priorities in life, he said he just kind of wanted to be a father, and that him and his girlfriend were even considering adopting in the not too distant future. Well we ended up talking with him for about ten minutes and then he kind of disappeared for a moment to take care of something with his dogs, and so as we waited for him to come back, his girlfriend got out of the car, walked around back, propped herself against the back of it, and said "I´m Mormon." It was a pretty unexpected twist but we ended up just talking with her (and her boyfriend - Diana and Jesus) for about another 30 minutes more, and it was one of the most spiritual and also coolest conversations I had since I have been here. It turned out that she was 26 but wasn't really going to church. What had happened is that she had an older sister that had gone a mission, done everything right, and that had always tried her best but all the same life didn't turn out all that great for her and so Diana got kind of confused on how that could happen and kind of stopped believing. It was really cool though, because we were able to share a lot on just different points of view and things that both of them could do to bring themselves closer to god and have a better relationship just between them as well to be able to be more prepared for whatever life gives them too. As we walked away, Elder Durfee and I were just kind of awestruck. We didn't end up getting their address, but we left them our phone numbers. Maybe one day we'll hear from them, but I wish them well. They were pretty awesome.

Last week as well then, Elder Smellie was in our area with one of the Assistants and they found a new investigator that was super awesome. She was super excited to listen to them and really wanted to get her entire family to listen but she was home alone at the moment, and so to do so we would have had to come back later. All the same, they taught just her and left her a Book of Mormon with a part to read. Well Elder Smellie and I went back a few days later, and she had actually read it and loved it! Again she was home alone though (and this time cooking) so we weren't able to teach her, but we plan on passing by in the next few days to visit her and her family when they are all together.

Also, we have an investigator named Tamara who had her birthday this last week and so Elder Durfee made cookies bars and we took them to her on her birthday. Elder Smellie and Elder Durfee then passed by the next day as well when she actually had a little more time to visit, and she hooked us up with some of her leftover birthday cake and so that was a fun little win too. :)

As far as the office adventures go, we had perhaps our most fun one this last Monday night. At 10:30 (the time we normally go to bed), the Hermana Robertson (the mission president's wife) called us and asked us to arrange a remis (a form of taxi) to take a couple sister missionaries to a health center that same night since one of them had been sick for a week and was developing bronchitis, which was causing problems with her asthma. She said we'd also need to go get the truck from the offices and just leave it parked outside of our apartment so we could pick them up from their appointment when they finished and take them to a nearby apartment we have for Hermanas when they have to come in and stay the night. Well, upon calling the remis, they said it´d be 30-40 minutes before they could get a car even headed out that way, and so after consulting with the Hermana Robertson, it was decided that we could just pick them up and take them there ourselves. Thus we were on our way. By the time we got them, got them to the health center, and then got back to our own apartment it was already 1:30 in the morning. We were able to get a couple hours of sleep then, but at 3:30 the hermanas called us so that we could go and pick them up. Thus, we were on our way again and after picking them up, dropping them off in the nearby apartment for hermanas, and getting back to our apartment it was 4:30. President Robertson luckily gave us permission to sleep in a couple hours more to make up for the lost sleep, but it was quite the adventure. I just about died laughing at the point when we were walking down the street to the offices at 10:40 at night, and Elder Smellie came out and said "Well, I did not think I'd be doing this 20 minutes ago." I thought it about summed it up perfectly.

This last Friday, I was also able drive Elder Dosdall to his medical appointment for his in-grown toenails and all went well. He is recovering fine. I did want to include though a picture of perhaps the craziest intersection that I have seen yet in Argentina (and that is saying something). It was the second time I have been through it, but the first time was actually worse. Basically though, you have 3 lanes of traffic coming from 3 different directions into the middle of the same intersection and all are turning to go out the 4th direction onto a metal bridge that is only 2 lanes wide. It would be crazy enough in and of itself, but what makes it worse is that there are no stop lights or even stop signs and so everyone just floods it at the same time and goes for it. As I said, this time wasn't as bad but last time there was less than a foot of space between me and the cars around me on all 4 sides (including in front, because if more than that opened up, another car would wedge itself in there). This time there was a little more breathing room, but I hope you enjoy the picture.

Lastly, last P-day as stated I was able to go to the Zoo in Lujan with the other office Elders and pet a Lion, a Tiger, and hold a 2 month old Tiger Cub. We also enjoyed the other animals, but it was a really cool experience. The way it works though is that all the big cats grow up with humans handling them from the moment they are born, and then they grow up with puppies and dogs. Thus, the puppies and dogs act as though they are bigger than the cats and the cats stay super passive, even when they are older. It is really interesting though to be able to see that when the big cats can't even see their true potential or see themselves for how big and powerful they really are, they just kind of make not a lot of themselves. I imagine the same happens a lot with people when they really don't realize all that they can make of themselves, and so I thought it was kind of something interesting to note.

Other than that though there hasn't been all that much new, so until next time I hope you all have a great week!
Elder McCollum

01. Us on our way to the offices Monday night.
02. The same.
03. Us in the health clinic waiting room at 1am, waiting to find out if it'd be better to wait for the Hermanas or go back to get some sleep. 
04.The crazy intersection that I mentioned on the way to the clinic with Elder Dosdall.
05. Selfie with a tiger.
06. Me petting a tiger.
07. Me holding a two month old tiger cub that was falling asleep cuddled into my arms. :)
08. A 21 year old elephant. She was fun.
09. Us feeding said elephant.
10. A very expressive monkey.
11. Same.
12. Same.
13. Same.
14. A sad looking chimpanzee.
15. One of two hilarious llamas that liked following us around.
16. A bear.
17. Me petting a lion. (It's yawning).
18. Same.
19. Same.
20. Same. (Once again yawning, they are more active at night.)

Monday, May 15, 2017

Seventy One Weeks

Hello Everyone!

This has been yet another easy-going week. We have transfers in a week from now, and so the offices should be a lot busier than they have been, but somehow we have been on top of everything and so it has been nice and peaceful. Our area as well has been pretty easy-going - all the people that we have been teaching have been doing super good, especially all the youth. Cristian and all his cousins have now been to church over 6 times and in 3 weeks, his sister (Selene) has read the Book of Mormon from the beginning all the way to 2 Nephi. Their parents didn't want them to get baptized before (they wanted to make sure that they would actually be committed to it and weren't just going through a phase). We hope to talk to them again though either this week or next and if we can get the permission from all of their parents, we might have a decent number of baptisms coming up in the next few weeks. We can only hope. :)

On P-day last week too though, we went with the Assistants and played a game of bowling. I was able to get a few strikes, but still barely broke 100. It was between me and my companion Elder Smellie to see who would win but in the end he ended beating me by a decent margin. Once he finished though, it was really entertaining because the two Assistants were left, and they were competing to see who didn't get the lowest score. Elder Siale was ahead by 9 or 10 points, but then Elder Suarez got a spare and ending up passing him up at the very end. It was pretty fun. Today we are going to the zoo too in Lujan, and we'll get to pet a tiger there. :) It will be fun. 

Also, I don't know if you remember, but Elder Dosdall (my hijo) started getting some pretty hardcore in-grown toenails about halfway through his first transfer with me. Well, last week he had a surgery for it finally and has to go two weeks without walking. Since he can't work, they sent a different missionary to his area, and then he gets to hang out with us in the offices for these two weeks. As we have stuff to do, and he has to be laying down, he pretty much gets to spend the entire day laying down on the couch in President's office. When I was going to leave at the end of our time together, he said "It´d be nice to spend some time together in the mission later on, to be able to work together again". Well that wish came true, just not quite in the way that maybe we were expecting.

Other than that though, there isn't all the much new that has happened, and so until next week!

Elder McCollum

Monday, May 8, 2017

Seventy Weeks

Hello Everybody!

This has been a pretty easy-going week, nothing too out of the ordinary. 

One day I found a food menu/flyer on the sidewalk outside of our apartment that had pretty good prices so I brought it to the offices and it turned out that just that day we had to order food so we decided to try it out. We ordered a couple of milanesa sandwiches, and when they got here they turned out to be huge. We were more than happy and quite enjoyed them.

Another day, as we were leaving out of our apartment, I noticed something purple in the bush outside of the apartment. It turned out to be a little toy beetle placed just so. It put a big smile on my face, so I figured I´d share a couple of pictures of it.

Yesterday too then, we had lunch in the Fuerte Apache with a family that had some returned missionaries (Fuerte Apache being the most well known villa in all of the mission), and so I grabbed a couple pictures to share of that too.

As far as spiritual experiences go though, one of the coolest ones that I have had thus far in the mission has happened this week. It goes as thus:

About a month and a half ago, we contacted a few youth just hanging out right outside of a Kiosco (like a mini-mart type deal), and after coming back a couple of times we met somebody there that attended the Kiosco most days named Carolina. Over time we have gone teaching her and she has really enjoyed it - she has read pretty much every piece of material that we have given to her, marking it up and rereading it to better understand it, including multiple chapters in the Book of Mormon. She promised us that she would go to church one week but that Sunday she ended up having to go out of town. She was supposed to have the next off though, and so she was excited to go when her boss told her she had to work that day. She tried to ask him if she could have the morning off to at least go to church and he ended up firing her. Thus, for learning about the gospel and asking to go to church, she lost her job. When she told us we were dumbfounded and didn't know what to say. That was the first time that I had heard of that happening since I have been in the mission. Well, a few days later she was home alone and of her own she just picked up the Book of Mormon and started reading it from the beginning. She got about 14 pages in and stopped to ask a prayer to know if it was true. (That is what we invite people to do - ask people to pray to god to know from him if it is true, so that they can receive their own response from him instead of just having to trust our word on it. It's really awesome because he does answer, and people find a lot of faith in the response they receive). Anyhow, she prayed to know if the Book of Mormon is true, if what we taught her was true, if Christ's true church really had been restored to the earth after all the time that it had been lost following his death, and if it really was the path she needed to follow. She was expecting some kind of feeling to be able to get her answer (often a feeling of warmth or comfort is the way that you receive your answer), but she didn't really get anything. She then went to bed, perhaps a little disappointed, but she actually had a dream where she received an answer through someone talking to her and telling her that yes, it was true, and that it is where she needed to be. She is now super excited to learn more and really put forth her best effort to apply what she learns, and we have an appointment to teach her tomorrow at 5:00, right when we finish in the offices for the day, and I am super excited for it. 

The only catch of it all though, is that we are going to have to pass her on to the other office Elders because though she works in our area (and we always visited her in her work in downtime) she actually lives in their area and so they need to be the ones to teach her. Thus, the appointment tomorrow is with them as well so that she can get to know them too. It's kind of sad that we have to pass her on, but I am super excited for her and that she received her own response and am really excited to how she learns and grows.

Other than that though, there isn't all that much new for this week, and so I hope that you all have a good week!

Elder McCollum

Monday, May 1, 2017

Sixty Nine Weeks

Hello Everyone!

This was a really good week, but to be honest it was because there wasn't all that much going on haha. It was a nice week where I was able to get everything done in the offices that needed to be done without worrying about it, and then in our area we had just normal days. There isn't that much to tell this week - Elder Venecia and I one day had to go deliver 5 new bikes to various different areas and following that we had to help some missionaries in yet another area move to a new apartment. Miraculously, we were able to make the move just loading the truck up twice, and both times we got the tailgate shut. Things included that we carried though were 2 mattresses, 2 beds, 2 desks, 2 book shelves, a couple nightstands, a table, a fridge, luggage, food, and miscellaneous other things. I didn't get a picture of it (I should have, it was pretty entertaining) but there ought to be more moves in the future. Elder Venecia did get a picture of the super pretty sky though as we were going down the road though, so there's that. 

As far as normal missionary stuff, we have been finding a lot of new people that we can end up teaching this week. A couple of the more interesting ones go as following:

One day as we were walking down the street, a man shouted to us and came walking over to talk to us. He said that he wanted a Book of Mormon to read, and asked how much one was. We gave him a copy (we don't ever sell them) and he was super surprised it was free. We then explained it to him a little and ask we were about to ask for his number to be able to call him and visit a different day, but before we even  he said "Well are you going to note down my number or something?" We have high hopes for him, we'll be passing by for sure.

Another one that was hilarious this week was an old lady burning leaves is the street - there have been an insane amount of mosquitos this last week and so she was doing it to drive them away with the smoke. As a friend of hers was walking down the street then, she shouted over asking if the smoke bothered her. Upon her friend's response that it did bother her, she then shouted back that if it was an Asado (a BBQ) then nobody would be complaining and kept burning them. It was pretty funny seeing two little old ladies shouting from one side of the street to the other at each other. It ought to be fun going back to visit her too.

Other than that though, there isn't all that much new for this week and so I hope that you all have a good week!

Love you all,
Elder McCollum

Monday, April 24, 2017

Sixty Eight Weeks

Hello Everyone!

This has been a really good week!

To be honest, there has been not a whole lot going on, but one really cool thing that we did this week was go to our mission President's house for P-day (our day off) and we played American football, Frisbee, ping-pong, and tether-ball with his two kids, Dallin and Dallas. His wife then made us a super tasty lunch of a mexican-ish chicken and an ice cream dessert that was a base of crushed up oreos with ice cream on top, and a topping of frozen strawberries and strawberry jam. It was super super good, and President cut us each a huge slice of it with a grin, so that was awesome. :)

Afterwards too then, me and my companions had to go to Capital Federal (capital city of Buenos Aires) to look for a passport of a missionary that had lost in traveling. It was hilarious though because ElderSmellie and I were just in normal everyday clothes, but Elder Durfee had brought a shirt and tie and changed into before leaving President's house so we were walking around dressed completely different and it was pretty funny looking. 

I also had to drive out to Lujan with Elder Venecia this week and it really started feeling like Fall. In the city, you don't notice the change of seasons all that much but there were some awesome tree lined drives that got it really feeling like Fall. Also, we passed by the Basilica (a HUGE catholic chapel that is known by all of Buenos Aires and located in Lujan). It was a really cool sight to see but we didn't actually have a chance to stop and get out to look it at since we were working, but we managed to get a picture while driving bye.

We have been able to get out to our area a decent amount this last week though, which is awesome. I got a picture from a member's house of the area that we most work in, Villa de Los Russos, and so I will include a picture so that you can see what it looks like. One of our investigators (a 15 year old named Cristian) that lives in Villa de Los Russos has been sharing the gospel with all of his family and this Sunday he brought his sister and 3 of his cousins with him to church, as well as his older brother who is already a member. It was super awesome to see them all there, along with a few other investigators that came. We really are super blessed with our area - we see so many small miracles, and even though we spend less time in our area than I have been able to spend in past areas when I wasn´t in the offices we are able to have a lot of success with finding people to help and teach. It´s really awesome.
There isn't really all that much more that happened this week though, so I hope that you all have a good week!

Elder McCollum

1629 - Villa de Los Russos (Where we spend most of the time in our area)
1630 - Villa de Los Russos Panoramic

1635 - Tree Lined Drive Number 1
1644 - Tree Lined Drive Number 2

1648 - La Basilica - Giant Catholic chapel

8751 - All of us in the Office

0427 - Us with Dallin and Dallas playing Ultimate Frisbee
0429 - Ice Cream dessert at President's house

0443 - A Huge villa that we saw on our way to capital federal - it was a good few stories tall, many blocks large, and had just walkways to get around inside no wider than a hallway.

0452 - Skyscrapers in Capital Federal
0455 - Elder Durfee dressed up while Elder Smellie and I were in normal clothes during our trip to Capital Federal to look for the passport.​​​​

Monday, April 17, 2017

Sixty Seven Weeks

Hello Everyone!

Well this has been a very interesting week!

There has been a whole lot going on, though I haven't really been able to get out to our area all that much this week. I also don't really have all that much time to write, so I'll give a short little tidbit about a bunch of pictures. Needless to say as you see them, I didn't spend that much time in the office either - I was out and about running around doing a ton of different things. This coming week though we should be a lot more time in our area, and I look forward to it. I really enjoy being able to help other missionaries in the offices but I enjoy even more so being able to get out and help people in need. You have to learn to enjoy both though, so with that in mind, this was my week:

1598 - Traffic in Argentina. I did a lot of driving this week and most of the traffic was something like this. It gets heavier though and much more tightly packed than this. It keeps you on your toes though. :)
1604 - Not sure if you all remember at the beginning of the mission me being on a bike, and said bike always having problems but the mission is starting to replace them. Thus, one day this week we had to go look for nice, new, and shiny bikes.
1608 - One of the days we went almost to the farthest out area in the mission and it was very rural. Well, the GPS decided to send us down a pretty harsh dirt road that turned into a nice muddy road the last short stretch before we made it to the paved road we were looking for. It was a fun drive, but the truck got kind of Dirty.
1611 - Remember how Elder Ehlert is no longer in the offices and no longer my comp? Well one day, I had to take him a map of his new area and it turns out that him, the other Elder from the offices that went with me, and I were dressed almost exactly the same. We took a picture of it.
1613 - Elder Ehlert's pension is also super cold at night, so we got him a nice thick blanket. We gave it to him nice and folded and within five minutes I saw him like this.
1619 - One night as we were coming back from running an errand, Elder Venecia and Elder Alexander who were with me were hungry and wanted to get something to eat. We found a place called Maxxi Fried Chicken that was "interesting" and they bought food there, and I bought a peruvian soda "English Cola" that tasted like liquid red vines. It was interesting, but I wasn't going to pass up an opportunity to try it. They also gave us a huge calendar free with a picture of a winking chicken (their logo) on it and so we also took an opportunity to get a good picture there.
1622 - One day Elder Durfee's lock screen was eerily similar to him... (the pictures changed every day automatically)
8559 - Road trip dinner the day we drove out to the farthest area in the mission. It was a 350 mile round trip drive and dinner was from a gas station at the halfway point. It was a very tasty sandwich.
8533 - Scenic view that day we drove to the farthest out area in the mission. It was pretty. :)

Also, this morning Elder Russell M. Nelson visited both our mission and the Buenos Aires North Mission, and so it was super awesome to see and hear from an apostle in such a small-crowded setting. I don't have any picture of that though. :)

Love you all though and hope you have a great week!
Elder McCollum