Thursday, February 11, 2016

Week Six

So I hadn´t planned on being able to write today, but since my companion missed his P-day to get trained and such to be a trainer, he gets to email today (but it´s not a p-day, so we´ll be working later) and because of that, I get the opportunity to write home as well. I can start back with this last Monday though to tell about my trip.

So there were two planes going to Atlanta from SLC (mas o menos 11:00 & 2:00), but we were all supposed to be on the same plane from Atlanta to Buenos Aires. To make that trip, you were split up into different travel groups (I´m pretty sure it was separated by mission) and you were to travel with them. Nobody in my travel group was in my district and my paper said to report to the travel office at 8:30am though I was scheduled for the earlier flight, which I thought was kind of weird but no biggie. The rest of my room had to report at 6:00 though so they left the door open so it´d be easier for me to get up and so that the person sleeping in the room next to ours (also from our district and also by himself) and I would be able to hear each other (missionaries are supposed to stay in sight and sound of another missionary if at all possible (travelling is really the only exception). Well about 15 minutes after they left, someone with a BYU Police name tag on (not an officer) stuck his head in and asked for Elder McCollum. I stuck my head out from my bed and said I was him, and he told me that I needed to report to the travel office immediately so that I could make my flight on time, so that is how Monday started. I got dressed pretty quick though and was at the travel office by 6:30 and even made it onto the train to the Salt Lake City airport with the earlier group of missionaries. The train ride was interesting though because we were in a double decker car and the bottom half was completely full of luggage (except for the isle), and we had to unload it in less than 3 minutes once we got to our stop. We did; we were like a machine, and it was pretty cool to watch.

The flight from SLC was pretty uneventful though and it was nice to get to call everyone during the four hour layover before the plane to Buenos Aires. We got on the plane then though, and at that point we were about 60 missionaries strong. Seating for the plane was two seats on either side with 3 in the middle, and I lucked out and got a window seat on the right side, which was beyond awesome. I was super excited for it and got some awesome views - as we were leaving, as we passed over Cuba, of lone ships out there in the open ocean (dots of light), and when we first entered South America, as well as the huge expanses of darkness in between major cities (not even car headlights), some awesome stars, and finally a really pretty sunrise and a view of Buenos Aires as we entered the city. I got 2-3 hours of sleep out of 10 hours of flying and the rest of the time I was staring out the window. The rest of the flight was pretty uneventful though.

Airline food is airline food, but we got breakfast and dinner. Funny story about that though is that there were 3 shrimp as part of the dinner and I don´t like seafood but I figured I´ll be eating some foods that I don´t like in Argentina so I might as well start there. I open the cocktail sauce packet and as I was putting some on the first shrimp, it sprayed all over my white shirt (which was the same one I was going to have to wear to meet my mission president. I did not eat the other two shrimp, but I was able to clean the sauce out immediately in the tiny airplane bathroom sink.

We touched down in Buenos Aires at 8:30 local time and as soon as we were off the plane and into the airport the air was insanely humid; you could probably cut it with a knife. The airport blocked most of the heat though, and so as soon as we were out of the airport into a big open room that was open to the air outside, it hit even worse I (and every other elder in our group) immediately broke out into a sweat just standing there. By the time we got onto the air conditioned bus that took us to our mission president´s home, my sleeves were already plastered to my arms. On the short bus trip though, we picked up some Latin American Missionaries from the Buenos Aires MTC and stopped at the temple just across the street to get some pictures, and it was way prettier than it looks even in pictures by a long shot.

We went to the mission president´s (President Roberts) home after that and his wife gave us a short session about how to go through our first few weeks and we were interviewed by President Roberts for about 3 minutes each so he could determine who our companion would be. We were then fed lunch and taken to the church, where we got explanations of where we would be living, about mission finances, and afterwards we were assigned to our companions.

My first companion is Elder Groen (from Bountiful Utah - he´s been out about 18 months and is a really cool dude with a decent amount of similar interests), and my first area is Chivilcoy, which is about 2-3 hours outside of Buenos Aires the city. Last night I stayed in the city, on the 13th floor of an apartment with all the other missionaries who weren´t going to be in the city and got an awesome view of the city with all the lights, traffic, buildings, people, and things going on. We left to our area this morning though and I had the chance to unpack and now here I am emailing, and I will start going out and teaching/meeting people soon. A few last things before I wrap up though:

1) The Spanish is going awesome. I´m not the best, but I can understand and speak it plenty well enough to more than hold my own so it can only get better from here which is awesome.

2) When you are not in Buenos Aires the city and a couple to a few hours out, we call it the campo and we ride old single speed pedal brake bikes since things are more spaced out, which is interesting haha.

3) There is no AC indoors, it is way humid, and it gets into the 90s. It is very hot. It is very sweaty. Very much of the time.

4) They use Bidets here and not Toilet Paper. Bidets are awesome, I have been converted.

5) Capo (pronounced cop-o) is pretty much the word out here. It more or less means ''Stud'' in English, but it is used way more often than just that and is often used as a short filler word or a short response to something, as well as in it´s intended context. It´s pretty cool.

I believe that is all - If I remember anything else, I will include it in my email on Monday, but it will be awesome. Pictures inbound (we got one last picture of our MTC district together, and the rest are of travels) but they will likely have to be in separate emails because of the size of the images from my camera and because I have no way to downsize them. I´m sorry....

All is well though and I´m loving it here, so I´ll talk on Monday. Bye for now!
-Elder McCollum

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