Monday, December 26, 2016

Fifty Two Weeks

Hello Everyone!

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas - this week has been pretty easy-going with the holidays. There weren't a whole lot of people that we were able to visit with the Holiday rush, and so this email will be mostly about Christmas in the Mission.

First of all, I had a pack of Peppermint hot chocolate that I got in my stocking for Christmas last year that I never got around to drinking before going on the mission, so I threw it in my suitcase to drink on a rainy day. A little while back too then when I was in Libertad, I got a candy cane from a member that lives here but is from the USA (candy-canes don't exist here, or really anything peppermint for that matter), and so in that moment I decided to save it with my hot chocolate to drink on Christmas day. It didn't survive as well as maybe I had hoped but it turned out very tasty all the same. 

Also, in our family we always ate Cinnamon Rolls for breakfast on Christmas day, so I made some of those (with A LOT of cream cheese frosting). They were also very tasty.

On Christmas day we had a very tasty lunch with a very nice family (Familia Alfonso) and for the afternoon we visited with the Familia Le Pera (photos included of both). Also, I wore my ugly sweater christmas tie all day long and didn't get a single comment on it. I guess Argentines don't do ugly christmas sweaters.

Other fun things too though are the heat here (included is a drawing of our back-up plans for one day - we had to work in an area where we had three appointments in a couple hour time-span but nobody to visit in-between and so we had to spend that time in the sun contacting. Also, I got to Skype with my family on Christmas day and that was a lot of fun too.

Last of all, and it's weird to say, but this week I will finish a year in the mission (30 December) and so I will give a review of my time up until now:

Provo MTC (6 Weeks)
Chivilcoy (13 Weeks)
Atalaya A (6 Weeks)
Parque San Martin A (2 Weeks)
Libertad (16 Weeks)
Loma Hermosa B (6 Weeks)
Loma Hermosa A (3 Weeks and ongoing)

Elder Micah Casablanca (MTC, 6 Weeks, from Florida)
Elder Dalton Groen (Chivilcoy, 6 Weeks, Utah, my trainer)
Elder Andrew Wolfe (Chivilcoy, 7 Weeks, Colorado, my 2nd trainer)
Elder Daniel Quezada (Atalaya A, 6 Weeks, Santiago Chile)
Elder Jacob McDonald (Parque SM/Libertad, 12 Weeks, California)
Elder Lehi Mayorga (Libertad, 6 Weeks, Mexico/Texas)
Elder Matias Dominguez (Loma B, 3 Weeks, San Juan Argentina)
Elder Italo Pinheiro (Loma B, 3 Weeks, Fortaleza Brasil)
Elder Nahuel Aguirre (Loma B/A, 2 Weeks, Salta Argentina)
Elder Jeffrey Dosdall (Loma A, 3 Weeks and going, Utah, my son in the mission)

Diego Rojas (Chivilcoy)
Belen (Atalaya A)

People I taught that later got baptized:
Alberto and Aliana Suarez (Atalaya A)
Violeta (Atalaya A, daughter of Alberto and Aliana)
Cynthia and Marcelo (Atalaya A)
Hna Antonia (Mom of Belen)

Other than that though there isn't all that much new, and so I hope you all have a Happy New Year!

Elder McCollum


Monday, December 19, 2016

Fifty One Weeks

Hello everyone!

So this has been a pretty busy week, and yet another week of fun with my new companion. On Tuesday we had divisions for the first time, where another missionary came to work with me for the day and my companion went to work in the area of the other missionary and it went really well. Knowing that Wednesday was the birthday of my companion too then (he turned 19) I used my free time on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning to make a Jello cake that we could eat on Wednesday night, once I made the whipped cream to put on top. Well on Wednesday my companion came back (and didn't see the cake, so the surprise was going all good) and then in Lunch the member we were eating with offered him a choice between Flan and Jello for dessert, and he chose to eat Flan, explaining to me that he doesn't eat Jello because gelatin is made of Animal cartilage. It was then that I realized I made a mistake in what cake I was making. Well that night while he was showering I made the whipped cream to put on top anyway (whipped cream really takes a lot of whipping if you didn't know, and you can't buy it pre-made here in Argentina). I finished it just as he got out of the shower though and explained what it was and he was at least gracious enough to eat one piece (and the rest of the whipped cream I hadn't put on as topping). I ate about 75% of the cake then myself haha and gave the rest to other Elders that came over on Friday for a special kind of divisions. The two Elders that came over were travelling assistents to our mission president, whose role was just to go around the entire mission doing divisions with Elders to help train them in something (in our mission we are revising a little bit how we are teaching). So, on Friday then we had 4 Elders in our area, and we managed to teach 7 lessons and find 4 new people in just one afternoon, which was really cool.

Other than that though, there isn't too much new to report on (and I'm running a little short on time) but I hope that everyone has a very Merry Christmas!

Elder McCollum

Photos: Jello Cake, Handmade whipped cream, and the four of us on divisions Friday.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Fifty Weeks

Hello Everyone!

Lots to tell this week:

First of all, my son (the person that you train in the mission):
His name is Elder Dosdall, and he is from Centerville, Utah (about 15 minutes north of Salt Lake City). He is 18 years old and this is his first time away from home. He plays the trumpet, enjoys Math and Science, got a 36 on his ACT, was writing a Sci-Fi novel with his brother and his best friend before the mission. He hasn't gone to college yet, but got accepted into BYU for Aeronautical engineering (he couldn't decide between  Nuclear engineering or nuclear physics so decided to go with that) for when he finishes his mission. He is vegetarian since 13 months ago because he feels bad for the animals, but he is an herbivore in an entirely carnivourous country (seriously, they eat ridiculous amounts of meat here) so we'll see how long that lasts. I'm not putting pressure on it though, so it'll be on his own if he decides to change back. He is learning spanish very fast though and is already taking the lead in contacting (talking with new people for the first time and inviting them to hear our message) and the members are very understanding. One of my favorite stories was a little kid coming up to me in church and asking "How do you say Elder in english" "Elder" I told him (it's the same). He then looked at my companion and said "Hello Elder" then ran off smiling when my companion said hello back to him. I've also got a few photos and videos to share, so I'll get those up and then explain what they are later on (if I can upload them).

Other than that, it is a lot of fun being a papi (trainer) - It's a lot of fun being able to introduce someone to an entirely new lifestyle, country, and culture, and to be able to help him learn spanish. I've been trying to speak just spanish with him so that he can learn, and English only when he doesn't understand, and it gave me a chuckle when on his first day he said "I still haven't figured it out yet - is Spanish your first language, or is English?" It has been a bit of a challenge getting to know yet another new area though (which is huge by the way) while trying to be able to focus on him, but now I think that I've got it more or less down so it should be all good now. I will say though that any timidness that I had left in finding new people or sharing and teaching with them has pretty much gone out the window as a result of training and having to be the one to set the perfect example, and so now it is starting to become perhaps even more enjoyable to teach and work. Oh, and one nice thing about the area is that our apartment is one of the very few in the mission that has A/C, which is really nice seeing as it has been getting well into the 90s fahrenheit (30s celsius) during the day when we need to work so at least we have cool mornings. Also, for the two weeks that I was in a trio, my companions slept in the beds while I slept in my hammock to not have to sleep on the floor, but it is nice sleeping in a bed again haha.

Other than that, one of the coolest experiences of the week happened while teaching Roberto (the man that got in a car crash whose friend started sharing the gospel with him). We shared this video with him: which is basically the story of the restoration of the gospel, the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the early beginnings of the church and after watching it, he said "I know this is true, there's no way it can't be" - it was a super cool experience and I felt like I was on cloud nine with how good I felt inside haha. (note - I reccomend that whoever reads this watches the movie - it's really good)

Also, while sitting in the room waiting to get my companion, I was able to talk with someone who is currently in my first area who was also waiting on a companion to train. He informed me that my very first convert, Diego has started reading the Book of Mormon again and though he isn't going to church, he is doing pretty good, so I was really happy to hear that.

Other than that though, there's not that much new that I have time to share, but I love you all and hope everyone has a good week!

Happy Holidays!
Elder McCollum

1&2) In the mission we have agendas so that we can note down all our plans for the day and all the things that we need to do, so I made a cover for the agenda of my son (the missionary I'm training). The front cover is subtle, the back cover not so much. The translation to English is "A son is born unto me" (Being born in the mission is your first area, and your first companion is your papi). I got a lot of enjoyment out of making it and hope that you all appreciate as much as I did.
3&4) First moments together - At the end of our time together, my papi and I bought matching ties. That tie is the one that I am wearing in the photo.
5) The expression on my companions face after inviting someone to be baptized for the first time. (They accepted the invitation). He exclaimed after the lesson "I'm a real missionary!"

Monday, December 5, 2016

Forty Nine Weeks

Hello Everyone!

First of all, the biggest news (and also the news that has me the most freaked out) is that this coming transfer, tomorrow, I am going to be recieving a NEW companion, and I am going to be training. I have no clue who it is or whether they are yankee or latino, but I will be finding out tomorrow. The poor refuerzo (reinforcement) that has no time in the mission at all that gets stuck with me haha, we'll have to see how things work out. The other fun thing is that it will be in a "new" area. I am currently in Loma Hermosa B, and when an Elder from Loma Hermosa A left in a flash, we ended up in a trio and had to work in both sides. Well I didn't pay all that much attention to the layout of things on the other side since it wasn't my area, and rather just followed the other Elder around, but now I am going to be staying over there (In Loma A) and my current companion, Elder Pinheiro is going to stay in Loma B and get a new companion as well. I'll let you know how things are going this next week though haha.

Other than that though, I have done a fairly decent amount of service this week. There is an Hermana in this ward that has a roof that has been leaking and so this Wednesday in the morning we climbed up top (most of the roofs here are flat by the way, like an office builiding or a school) and cleaned it up, swept really well and then sealed it up with liquid sealant that you roll on like paint. It was a lot of fun and the Hermana was very happy afterwards and so it was pretty gratifying as well. On Saturday too then, we went to visit an elderly couple at more or less 3 in the afternoon, the hottest part of the day, and they needed to cut the lawn out front so we helped them with that as well. To cut it they had an electric weed-eater though (almost everyone here cuts grass with just a weed eater) but I will say that electric weed-eaters aren't that powerful and the grass was pretty tall so it was a little laborious; I went to town cutting while my companions cleaned up the grass left behind. When I was halfway done then, the Hermano pulled out an electric lawn-mower to use instead (also with almost no power) so I mostly finished up with that but had to switch back to the weed-eater to go back over that part anyway. I will say though that we did get some funny looks from people going by and it is exhausting (and makes you sweat a lot) cutting grass at the heat of the day (31 degrees celsius, 90 fahrenheit) with 70-80% humidity in a shirt and tie. Again though, it was fun.

Spiritual experience of the week though is that there is an hermano that hasn't been going to church in a long time who has a friend that almost died in an accident going 200km/hour (120mph) but is still alive and now is trying to figure out why he is still here on earth, why he didn't just go straight to heaven and so the hermano told him that he could visit with us and we taught him in the house of the Hermano a few days ago and he said that he started to understand a little bit of why he is still here and what he might need to be doing. He said that he had asked his catholic priest as well as a couple other religions but nobody could give him an answer but with us he felt really good and is super excited to be able to visit with us again here this next week. For me it was a testament that what I'm doing is right and that I really am sharing the true, restored gospel with others. Lessons like the one that we had don't happen often but it was an awesome experience.

Last fun tidbit of the week is that we got to go back to capital on Friday as well to go to the dentist again for Elder Pinheiro, and so this time I was sure to take a few more photos to share. They are thus:
1) Graffiti of an old couple dancing the Tango - Tango originated here in Buenos Aires and I thought it was really awesome, so I'm sharing it with you all.
2) Statue of something; the truth is I'm not sure what (I think it's some kind of tribute to Spain and the origins of Argentina) but it was cool so I grabbed a photo.
3&4) Stadium of my soccer team here that we passed by (If you are in Argentina, you have to pick a soccer team because everyone asks what team you are from and they don't accept "none" for an answer. Also statue of a man outside wearing the jersey of the team.
5)Elder Aguirre and I took advantage of the trip to go out and buy dental and health supplies that you can't find in our part of Buenos Aires (capital always has more stuff to buy) while Elder Pinheiro was in his appointment (we left him with our choffeur, a member of the church so all was good).
6)We also found a lot more flavors of ramen noodles in capital than we can find here in our part of Buenos Aires, so we bought them as well.

And best photo for last - I felt as though my socks weren't getting very clean taking them to get washed, and so I decided to wash them by hand. The photo is how the water turned out about an hour after letting them soak - I changed it and it turned out the same again after another hour, so I kept going another 2 or 3 times with the same results. I am happy to say though that they should be clean by now haha.

Other than that though, I hope that everyone has a great week and love you all!

Elder McCollum

Monday, November 28, 2016

Forty Eight Weeks

Hello Everyone!

This has been a pretty awesome week so far. I must say that it is a lot of fun being in a trio - we get a lot of work done, but we also have a lot of fun together and are able to relax a whole lot more as a result. In turn, we are able to carry that same happy spirit to others and this week for example we had 21 lessons, and have found a whole lot of new people to teach as well. For example, people sometimes like to crack jokes in our direction, and one day as we were walking there was a 14 year old girl out front with her family that shouted at us "Amen!" as we walked by, and so instead of continuing on as we normally would, we went back to talk with them and they turned out to be pretty awesome. We still haven't been able to go by and teach them yet, but we gifted the girl (Evelyn) a pamphlet to read, and she was so excited you would think she had just opened her first christmas present. 

Another big thing from this week is that the church has launched a new christmas campaign called "Light the World" with a website that has a video of things that Christ did to help others in his lifetime and in turn an advent calendar of things that we can do each day leading up to christmas to follow his example and "light the world" (such as christ healing the sick = we can visit someone in the hospital/someone who is sick, etc). It's a really cool campaign and really helps us to remember the meaning behind christmas/the holiday season and so I invite you all to visit to check it out and even if we don't change the world, we can change to world of those who we help, and our own world personally.

Another fun thing that happened this week is that on Thursday (thanksgiving in USA, but not celebrated here) we just so happened to end up with both Lunch and Dinner provided by members. It was really more a result of our two areas being joined together and us being in a trio, but hey I'll take it. I must say that I was really beyond full though. For lunch it was Milanesa Napolitana with a ton of super tasty rice, and for dinner we had Roast Beef, rice, and a corn salsa type deal that was super tasty, as well as gravy (gravy doesn't exist here, but that family made it for us). 

One night we were visiting a different family for dinner as well, and they all spoke fluent italian (for being descendents of italians, even though they have lived here their whole lives) as well as spanish, and after finishing dinner, as usual we shared a scripture but I grabbed a Book of Mormon that they had off of the shelf to use but quickly realized it was in italian. We were running short on time though so I looked up the scripture anyway and read it to them (in what I thought it should probably be pronounced as) and they said that it was actually very understandable Italian and asked if I had ever studied Italian before so I confessed that I had never studied a day in my life. They were pretty surprised (and so was I, I figured I had butchered it) but I guess I might have discovered a new talent. Maybe I'll have to study a little bit of Italian too if I have a bit of free time haha.

Other than that though, there really isn't all that much new. We're still in a trio (The Argentine, The Yankee, and The Brasilero, like the start of a good joke) but next Monday that should change because it'll be transfers, which also blows my mind because it means that I will have been here a month and a half already and it doesn't feel like it at all. Anyhow though, hope you all have a good week and sorry for not having any photos again. I want to see if I can maybe send out a short video clip next week, but we'll have to see.

Elder McCollum

Monday, November 21, 2016

Forty Seven Weeks

Hello Everyone!

Yet again, I have had another very interesting week. 

This Tuesday I got a haircut because my hair was getting pretty long at it's starting to get pretty hot here (getting to 30 degrees celsius, 90 degrees fahrenheit, but with almost 100% Argentine humidity). So for all of you going into winter, for me summer is just starting. Supposedly in February it'll get up to 45 degrees celsius, 110 fahreinheit (again with humidty) so I'll let you know how that goes once we get there.

We also found a really receptive man to teach this last week named Pedro. He is 76 years old, was Diagnosed with Parkinson's last year, and lives in a one room house with his dogs Mateo and Cual (Cual = which/who in english). He always recieves us well and loves to listen, but he also has bad vision so it makes it difficult for him to read and with his Parkinson's it's hard to get out of the house, so it makes things kind of hard but we keep visiting him regardless.

During the week we also saw a man walking 12 dogs, with all the leashes tied to his belt. We asked him how he did and what he would do if one took of running (because the others would follow) and he said be dragged along behind them (they were all big dogs, for example 4 or 5 were German Shepards and the rest were about that size. As he kept walking though most of his job seemed to me was just untangling the leashes. It was certainly an interesting sight.

Another day we were knocked on the house of someone to see if they would be interested in visiting with us, but they said no. So in turn we asked them if they knew anyone closeby that was passing for a difficult moment that we could visit and leave with a prayer to lift their spirits a little? His response was "Yes, Macri (The President of Argentina that nobody likes). He's passing for a very difficult moment." We thanked him and carried on our way, but we definetely got a good laugh out of it.

This Friday as well then, Elder Pinheiro was having dental problems and so we had to go to Capital Federal (The heart of Buenos Aires) so that he could get a Root Canal. So, we got to travel - it should have been a half hour drive more or less but with traffic due to manifestations going on by people that didn't have a job, it took 2 hours to get there, the operation lasted another 2 hours, and then 2 hours to get back. It was fun at least to visit the really nice city area of Buenos Aires though instead of just the outskirts where our mission is at. It is a lot different with a lot of pretty views (for a city), but I'm happy to be where I am at regardless.

This last weekend as well then was Stake Conference, and there were meetings on Saturday night and Sunday morning. As missionaries we were going to go on Sunday as if it was regular church, but last minute they gave us permission to go on Saturday if we didn't have teaching appointments. I wanted to go, and my companion too, but I kind of felt as though we should stay in our area and keep working instead of going even though we didn't have appointments, but we got on the bus to go back to our apartment to change and go anyway. As we got off though, I felt almost sick to my stomach that we shouldn't go but I was doubting it anyway, so I asked to borrow the Book of Mormon that my companion was carrying and planned to flip it open and read the first verse that my eyes fell upon. As I was flipping though, the number 17 came to my mind and when I stopped on a page, I read verse 17 (Mosiah 7:17) that says: "And now, it came to pass on the morrow that king Limhi sent a proclamation among all his people, that thereby they might gather themselves together to the temple, to hear the words which he should speak unto them." The literal translation in Spanish as well says on the next day instead of on the morrow. We took it as a sign and decided not to go. We didn't end up teaching anyone that night, and I'm not sure what would have happened if we went, but I feel good about having stayed.

Last exciting thing of the week then is that I have another companion (WHAT?) Of the other Elders in the same ward as us, Elder Pulli and Elder Aguirre, Elder Pulli got sent to another area and instead of Elder Aguirre getting a new companion, we are now in a trio (Elder Aguirre, Elder Pinheiro, and I) for the next two weeks until transfers come up, and we have to be able to cover and teach both areas, which separated are already pretty big but combined are gigantic. I am looking forward to it though, and it should be a fun two weeks, and I hope to learn a lot from the experience as well. Also, my previous companion, Elder Dominguez, was only in his new area for 1 week but got flashed again as well because now he is going to be working in the offices of the mission. What in the world? Everything is going crazy haha.

Other than that though, there is nothing new to share for this week, so I hope everyone is well and that you all have a good week to come!

Elder McCollum

p.s. photo of the trio

Monday, November 14, 2016

Forty Six Weeks

Hello everyone!

Well this has been a very different week than the usual, to say the least. We didn't have a whole lot of lessons, for various reasons, but it has been a very eventful week regardless.

In chronological order:

First, we had divisions this Tuesday, so I got to spend the day with a Chilean. It was a lot of fun and I learned about some things that I can improve on to better my abilities as a missionary, and we also had a couple of interesting lessons, but more or less nothing too out of the ordinary.

Next, on Wednesday we had a meeting with our Ward Mission Leader, but the other Elders had the keys to the chapel (where we normally have the meeting) but couldn't make it to the meeting so we had to have the meeting just sitting in his car. It was mildly amusing, but he brought pepas and juice, so it was okay.

Thursday we were able to perform service for a less active member, helping her to clean things off of her roof that the previous home-owner left behind so it was fun being able to help out with a project like that. Doing service like that in the mission is super fun because it doesn't happen too often, as you normally spend most of your time teaching so we enjoyed it.

Friday then came the biggest change - we were eating lunch with a member when one of our mission president's assistants called us to say that we were going to have a flash (when someone changes to a different area on short notice in the middle of a transfer) and that my companion Elder Dominguez was the one that was going to leave. 

So, Saturday morning he left for Moron and I received a new companion; a Brasilero with 3 months in the mission named Elder Pinheiro. I am his 3rd companion, and this is his second area, and so he is by far the newest in the mission that I have had as a companion. That combined with the fact that I only have 3 weeks in this area myself means that the coming weeks should be pretty interesting as well. He works really well though and we get on fine, so we should have some good success together.

Other fun tidbits to share then:

1. I found a gecko outside of our pench last Monday and was able to grab ahold of him. He had already lost his tail and his stomach was somewhat scraped up but he was a fun little guy. We're not allowed to have pets in the mission, or I would have kept him, but I do have a mint plant that has a few bugs on it that I have been fighting with and so I put him on it to rest and he helped me kill a few but was gone the next day.

2. The whistling man - every night, for the street that passes by right outside of our pench, there is a man that passes by walking his dog that puts a smile on the face of everyone when he goes bye (the entire neighborhood already knows who he is). The reason being is that he goes for a walk with his dog, a giant black mop of a thing, and he personally lopes along walking as if his joints were elastic, and he always has earbuds in listening to music, and so he also whistles. He whistles super loud, which is how you know he is coming but what makes it fun is that he doesn't whistle anything in particular, and doesn't even whistle in tune to the music (or if he does, I have no clue what music it is). It always puts a smile on your face at the end of the night though.

3. Kid that always says hi in the street. There is a kid (about 11 years old) that always runs up to say hi and talk to us when we pass by the street where we live. Elder Dominguez told me that he doesn't go to school, and just spends his entire day outside, without his parents even watching him. This last week though, he asked us  "Do the other kids over there (the other side of our area, where we told him we were heading) say hi to you?" It made me kind of sad, because really he just wanted someone to pay him attention and make him feel a little special, but there really wasn't anyone in his life to lead him or guide him. I hope everything works out for him in the future, but the next time that he says hi to us, I'm going to ask where he lives so we can try and teach him and maybe his family too.

Other than that though, there really isn't that much new. The photos are of me and the gecko, my old companion, and my new companion. I hope everyone has a good week though and until next time!
Elder McCollum

Monday, November 7, 2016

Forty Five Weeks

Hello Everyone!

Well this week hasn't been quite as eventful as my first week here in Loma Hermosa, but it certainly has been exciting regardless. The biggest change in general though is that it has been a lot hotter this week. The summer sun is already starting to come out here, and between the extremely high Buenos Aires humidity, button up shirt and tie, pants, and leather shoes you definetely feel it. A lot haha. It's all good though, for that I carry around a handkerchief to dry the sweat off my face every few minutes and it all turns out ok. 

As far as teaching goes, we were able to visit Enrique this last week and he is doing great - he reads and prays on his own now without us having to give him a certain part to read, and he is progressing really well. We also found two new people to teach that were very friendly to us when we contacted them for the first time. One is named Emilce and her mom is in the hospital, and her son has some kind of infirmity too that they are learning about. We shared a little bit about the Plan of Salvation with her and we plan to pass by this week to visit with her again. Another is named Clara and she is studying English. Thus, she was very excited for the opportunity to speak with a Yankee and wanted to know how she could learn English better, so we gave her one of the lesson pamphlets that we have (in spanish) and promised to find her the pamphlets in English too so that she can read them side by side and learn that way too, and she was very excited, so we hope to be able to get them from the offices and take them to her this week. (It's one of the things that I did to help me with my spanish, along with talking, so why couldn't it work for her?)

Other than that though, I don't think that there is all that much new to share. My companion and I are getting along great and now that I am with an Argentine, a lot of people think that I am Argentine too. I'd like to try and tell people that I am, but I'd have to say that I'm from Buenos Aires with my accent, but it's very rare that the send missionaries to a mission that close to their house so it'd be kind of hard to pull off. One day when I travel though maybe I'll be able to pull it off. 

As far as photos go, I haven't been taking too many, but thankful one of the other Elders for this ward has been taking a lot, so he sent them to me in an email and I'll forward them all to you. Hope you all have a good week though! Love you all and keep it real!

Elder McCollum

Monday, October 31, 2016

Forty Four Weeks

Hello Everyone!

This has been a very eventful first week in a new area, with plenty of stories to tell. I am pretty excited to be here, and my new comp and I get along great. I look forward to the time that I'm going to have here and it should be awesome. Now, on to the stories:

1) Man with a box of wine 
So one day we were walking down the street when a man sitting on a low fence at the edge of someone's property drinking a box of wine called us over. We got as close as the edge of the street because he was really poorly dressed, missing teeth, and drunk. He then proceeded to ask "Where are you from, English?" (Argentines hate the english, but that is a different story. He also said "English" in english and not spanish). I said no, and so he asked "Where then, USA? (USA in english as well instead of spanish). I then said that I'm from Arizona. "Where?" I told him Los Estados Unidos.  "Oh, USA." "What do you think of Trump?" I told him sorry, but I don't talk about politics. "Why not?" So I told him because I am hear for two years to share the gospel and talk about Jesus Christ, not politics. "What does Jesus Christ have to do with the USA then?" I told him the same as the rest of the world, he is the savior of mankind. "No, die USA! It's your fault that we are all down here in the state that we are." was his response. My comp (who is Argentine) almost told him that it was his fault that he was sitting on a corner drunk on wine instead of working, not another country's but bit held himself back and we thanked him for his feelings and we kept on.

2) I predicted it all
So there was one day that we had just really terrible luck. We had five appointments planned (coordinated with the people, with the hour and everything) and we went to the first and they weren't there. I then told my comp: "Watch, all the rest are going to fall now too, and the new investigator that we plan on visiting later is going to live outside of our area." (The new investigator was someone who worked in a store close to our pench that we talked to that invited us by to teach her in her house instead, but we weren't sure if her house number was in our area so we planned on visiting her at the end of the night to see). Well it happened exactly like that, and we didn't enter a single house that day but we walked the entire area (a lot) and couldn't even feel our legs anymore, so I decided I wanted to buy a pizza to share with my comp at a pizza place close to our pench to finish off the night. On the way there I said "Watch, it's gonna be closed and after all that we aren't going to be able to get one." It wasn't closed, but the line was way too long for the time we had, so I said that we could make smoothies instead, but I'd need to buy a box of milk and fruit to do so. "Look, after all that bad luck, the grocery store is going to be closed." We got there and made it in, but there was a huge line for the register, and the lady locked the door behind us to close for the night with only the people she already had. Thus, we left and kept on our way. "At least we can buy fruit though, given they aren't closed" I said. The fruit shop was right in front of our pench though and as we turned the corner they were also closing up for the night. We asked if we could still buy though, and they let us so at least we had that, but I learned to not be so negative with my predictions haha.

3) Contact in the street
Yesterday we saw a man sitting on a bench resting and I felt the need to talk to him, but we kept on walking. At the end of the next block though I told my comp and so we walked back and contacted him. He said he doesn't go to any church, for no particular reason, but we gifted him a Book of Mormon and he opened it up on the spot and read two verses (2 Nefi 4:33,34) before closing it and thanking us. He said that he would try and make it to church this next week but wouldn't give us his exact direction (though he did give us the street and the general area where it is at) and though I don't know if he'll make it or not, it was a really cool experience.

4) Baptismal Date
On Tuesday when I first got here, we didn't know who our district leader was so we called our zone leaders to ask them and in the same call, they gave us a challenge to pull out a baptismal date/appointment with someone before the end of the day, and to call them back and let them know once we had done it. So, we immediately went and visited one of our investigators (anamed Enrique), told him that we felt he was ready to be baptized, and said we were planning a service the 26th of November, and asked him if he would be baptized that day. He accepted, and so at the end of the lesson, we called the Zone Leaders back and told them, and they were super surprised because not even an hour had passed, told us we were capos, and to keep it up. It was very satisfying hearing the surprise in their voices though.

I have a few other stories as well, but not that much time left so if next week isn't as eventful as this one, I'll see if I can share a little more. More or less though, they involve other contacts we made, seeing a couple having a very intimate moment on the porch while leaving their baby in the stroller facing the other direction on the sidewalk, and a member pulling a prank on me. Nothing too crazy though. Hope you all have a good week and love you all!

Elder McCollum


1) Me and my new comp, Elder Dominguez. He's from San Juan, Argentina.
2) Me, my comp, and the two other elders from our ward. They stayed the night in our pench last night so that we could make pizza together and have a little fun going into P-day.
3)Our sleeping arrangements - I strung up my hammock between the framing of the closet and the bars on the window and slept there, with Elder Aguirre (also new to this ward, from Salta) sleeping on the ground and Elder Pulli (very new to the mission, with not a whole lot of spanish experience) sleeping in my bed. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Forty Three Weeks

Hello Everyone!

So the big news of this week is that I will be going to a new area - Loma Hermosa B! It is located in the zone of Caseros, and is an old area of my current comp and so he told me a little about it. It is divided up pretty evenly, but to explain how it's laid out, if you can picture a 3x3 tic-tac-toe grid, starting with the top left corner it is wealthy, then the next two sections beneath it are super wealthy, in the middle column, the top section is a military-type base or something like that, and the two sections beneath it are more average to humble neighborhoods, and then with the column on the right side, the top corner is a villa that you do not want to go into, and then the two sections beneath it are then more humble to average neighborhoods, so I should be getting a good mix. My companion will be Elder Dominguez, and Argentine, and so I am super excited to have another Latin-American comp to keep improving my spanish even more (6 weeks pretty much english free, oh yeah!) and it will also be my first time as senior companion, but there really isn't that much of a difference if I'm honest, other than he has less time on the mission than I do, which is a first for me. I'm looking forward to it though.

As I am going then, I said goodbye to a lot of the members, and then got a photo with one of my favorite families (Familia Monzón) which I'll share with you all since I've been pretty slack on the photos recently. The Hermana is also from Paraguay and so goes to visit her family from time to time and so she gifted me a handmade tie from Paraguay (and you can't find the style anywhere else, not even replicated) as a going-away present for leaving this ward so I was super happy with that (I also will include pictures).

Other than that though, there isn't really all that much else new that I wouldn't have shared before but it is a really weird feeling knowing that I'll be leaving Libertad. I realized yesterday that I had two transfers in Chivilcoy (my first area), 1 in Atalaya (my second), and 3 here in Libertad (not counting the two weeks that I had in Parque San Martin) and so I have had pretty much half my mission in Argentina up until this point here in this area. I have definetely gotten used to it and don't even look at my map at all anymore, but it'll be a fun experience getting to know a new area, and a new part of the mission as well. 

I hope all is well with everyone though and that everyone has a great week!

Elder McCollum