Monday, March 28, 2016

Week Thirteen

Short email this week, but things have been going well here in Argentina. My new companion and I have been getting along really well and we actually like to go about missionary work in similar ways so things have been going fairly smooth (even if without too much going on as far as investigators go). Since I have been in the area though longer, I have had to take lead in getting from one appointment to another, planning for different people we are teaching, and various other small things and it has really helped me to have a lot more confidence in the work and have a lot more time to practice my language skills (via talking with members, investigators, people in the street and on the phone, etc.) I am getting a whole lot more confident in the language too and everybody I talk to is always way surprised that I have only been in Argentina for 7 weeks. I can speak well enough to hold a conversation, get around, talk to people and buy tickets for travel, and coordinate with leaders but I still have a little bit of a hard time telling longer stories in spanish or explaining certain things but I read the church magazines exclusively in Spanish which helps a lot and I can actually feel my comprehension and ability to speak grow from week to week which is really cool. Other than that, there hasn't been too much new other than one of the Hermana companionships in my district had a baptism this past weekend and the member that was supposed to perform the baptism didn't show up and so I had to go back to our pension last minute to get my baptismal clothes so that I could perform the baptism. It wasn't my investigator but it was awesome nonetheless to be able to perform the baptism and be there for that very special moment in Pablo's life. A picture of me and him, as well as the Hermanas that taught him is the picture I attached and he looks way young (40s) but I was freaked out to find out he is actually 61. As I said though, a slow week so nothing else new. I hope all is well with everyone and I keep you all in my thoughts and prayers! 

Until next week,
Elder McCollum

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Week Twelve

Hello everyone! Not that much time to write this week but to be honest there isn't all that much new, so I'll just cover a few short things and send a bunch of photos instead (I have a new working camera, so I can actually take pictures again! :D)

1) I have a new companion and his name is Elder Wolfe - he is from Colorado and he only has a few months left in the mission (the same as Elder Groen) but we had to change comps in a flash (emergency transfer) a week before actual transfers because Mario was making subtle threats about Elder Groen while talking to other people so now Elder Groen is working in capital while I stay (Mario has no problems with me) but because of that I got some cool pictures of the city from on top of the Sky Pension!

2) I got to milk a cow yesterday morning so that was the second to last thing I got to do with Elder Groen (the last thing was buy matching ties since he was my first comp in the field (dad) and trainer, so we got a picture together wearing them as our last picture together.

3) Two of the Hermanas here in Chivilcoy are going home this next weekend because it's the end of their mission and so one of the member families got us all together and fed us all lunch, and it was an awesome time (and they have a lot of kids too, so there was a lot of us sitting there at the table haha) and I really appreciated it.

4) My bike broke again a few times - the back fender broke on it (it was old and the brackets rusted/broke off) and so now I have two new chrome ones. The left crankarm also broke so we got a new one of those and today I am taking it in to get a new handlebar since the one on it is about to break. Again. Also, our grips were stolen off of them as they were locked outside our pension overnight so we have to get new ones of those as well. Oh well though, it is what it is haha.

That's all I have time for this week though, so I will talk again next week! Love you all and wish the best for everyone!
-Elder McCollum

Monday, March 14, 2016

Week Eleven

So I learned a lesson this week on humility. The contract for our pension has come up to it's almost end and the landlady is asking too much for the new contract so me and Elder Groen have been looking around some for a new one. We found one that is a lot cheaper, is brand new, has continous hot water (heats it as it is used, rather thank a small tank like ours that holds about 3 minutes worth), had a washer (we have to wash ALL of our clothes by hand) and had a really nice kitchen and living area. To get it approved though, we have to have our mission president check it out so he came out this week to look at it and we were way excited because we had been waiting for a couple weeks for some kind of action to be taken because we were caught between the offices and the landlady. We went with him to see it and he loved it, and then about partway through he announces that it will be perfect for the Hermanas in our district (and we would be moving into their current pension, which is in slightly worse shape than ours right now but about equal) since it was closer to the areas they teach in. It felt like someone popped a balloon I was holding in my hand since I was really looking forward to moving there but I got over it fairly quickly and it helped me to remember the point of my mission is to help and support others so I was definetely able to learn from it but we will likely be moving around pensions this week so the next time I email, I will be living in a different building (but still in Chivilcoy).

As far as Diego goes (the convert I baptized and then found drunk) - he moved to Bolivia (for at least a month, but potentially indefinetely) so I can't really do anything to help him but his mom said he was in a pretty bad state when he left and drinking A LOT so hopefully all will be well with him and he will do okay.

Besides him though, we have pretty much successfully reactivated a less active member (which is what our mission president said we should really focus on doing a lot as well) by visiting her and committing her to read her scriptures every day. We then shared a verse from where she was reading (2 Nephi 28:30, she was in 2 Nephi 28) about how we progress and get better step by step and little by little and we aren't expected to be perfect nor try to take on the world and make drastic changes in our life all at once and it really touched her. She bore her testimony to us then about her faith and how she wanted to come back for herself and especially for her really young daughter so that she could be raised in the church and has paid for a remis (somewhere between a Taxi and Uber, but how people without a car get around here in Argentina) to take her 2 out of the last 3 Sundays, and the one she missed was because her daughter was sick so that was awesome.

We also met someone yesterday right before dinner after a full day of unsuccessful attempts at contacting less active members that we taught the lesson of the Restoration of the Gospel to and she loved it. She walks by our church every day on the way to drop her kid off at school and during the lesson we gave her a Book of Mormon to read and assigned her a small part to read that night after we were gone and she said give her a week and she'll read it all because she can't read any faster. I borrowed the Book back from her to leave a pamphlet on how she can pray to god about the truthfulness of what we were teaching (which she loved when we explained that we weren't there to convince her to join our church with logic but rather that she had to pray to god to get the answer for herself on whether or not it was the true church of God restored to the Earth) and as I was holding the Book waiting to give it back to her she snatched it out of my hand and said "that's mine" with a chuckle so I have hopes for her. She agreed to be baptized at the end of April if she prayed and found her answer (and it was only lesson one) so we will be following up with her tommorrow to see how it went.

Not too much else new but here are some funny things from this week:

Bike: Chain broke and so we dropped it off at the bike shop and I had to stad on the little 1" studs where the back wheel bolts on to my comps bike so we could ride bike to the pension real quick and grab money to pay for it. It was interesting to do and was an insanely good leg workout to keep from slipping off... Last night the rear fender also broke off so that is on my to do list to get fixed so that if it rains I don't get soaked up my back from water flying off the wheel.

Another day as we were riding we saw a pack of 12+ (12 was the number I counted to before stopping) (large) stray dogs randomly walking the wrong way down the street of the main Avenida in the middle of the day. It was kind of bizarre.

We were also stopped outside the hospital the other day talking to one of our investigators who had to go in to get x-rays for his bad knees when someone walked out from whatever they were there for and then walked right into a pole right behind where we were huddled together talking (you could hear it ringing when his head hit). He took a step back and we asked if he was okay and he said he was then turned and walked to his car that was parked just a little ways down and drove off so now I know exactly the kind of people I might find on roads down here hahaha.

As we were eating last week I realized we were almost out of mayo again and then realized that I had bought two 500g bags/pouches (it comes in bags here with rescrewable lids instead of jars or bottles) not that long ago so I went and found the receipt and sure enough it had the date on it for a week ago, and so in a week me and my comp had eaten about a kilogram of Mayonaisse, so yeah.... We also haven't slowed down since because all we eat/can afford is Milanesa (fried chicken, very thinly cut and really large like a super thin breaded steak), burgers, and potatoes and we eat it with all three of those things.

Other than that, that is about it for this week except for the church putting out a new video for easter that is way awesome. I do not know the website for it in English, but in Spanish it is: sì but I'm sure if you search Easter 2016 LDS or LDS Hallelujah (name of the video I think) in YouTube you should be able to find it.

As for me, I am doing really well. Going to bed exhausted, waking up and having an awesome day every day (and always busy).

Two pictures for this week and that's it: one is an awesome sunset we had, the other is a massive potato we got in a bunch we bought. You have to save them and add .jpg to the end to view them though.

Love you all and talk to you next week!

Elder McCollum

Monday, March 7, 2016

Week Ten

Not a whole lot new this week so this email will be kind of short with just a few updates/stories probably.
First off, still waiting on my camera getting fixed so no cool pictures of Argentina or anything like that but I did steal some pictures off of my companions camera: One is of a burger we get from time to time here that is about a foot long and insanely delicious, another few are of my bike break from this week, and then another is of the mud covering my bike just before we washed it (it had been a hard rain the day before and we had to go down some dirt [mud] roads.
As far as investigators go, Mario is still being the same towards my comp but friendly to me.
We were out trying to contact a reference that Diego had given us (one of his friends) and when we knocked, out came Diego, drunk. It was his friends birthday and he gave in but I found out from the Hermanas that taught him before us that he has had drinking problems since he was age ten because he and his brother were kidnapped and raped, and his brother was killed right in front of him and he always felt some kind of guilt over it. He'd given up drinking for the month before his baptism but we're going to go visit him today. He still has a way strong testimony and still loves the Book of Mormon so hopefully we'll be able to help him through it. We haven't really taught that many other people this week but I'm hoping that we'll be able to find some new people in this week to come because our plans keep dropping through for the people that we are trying to teach (mostly old investigators from before I got here) so the work has been moving kind of slow.
As far as the branch here goes, we will probably be getting a new mission leader here soon (helps missionaries work with and coordinate with members about missionary work, etc.) and the person that it will likely be is this awesome old man named Hermano Beatrice. In his younger years he was a wrestler and he has had almost every leadership calling that a church member can have and was also a temple sealer for 17 years and so he always has all kinds of cool stories to tell or awesome advice to give.
As far as Argentina goes, the weather is finally cooling down and I'm loving it. I fall asleep way fast and actually sleep through the night really well without waking up and being too hot or too cold.
I do believe that that is all for this week though, so random thing I saw in Argentina this week: A restaurant called "Infierno de los pollos" or in English "Hell for chickens" and it had a picture of a devil holding a bunch of roasted chickens on a pitchfork. I thought it was pretty funny.
I will talk to you all next week and love hearing from you all!
Elder McCollum