Monday, April 18, 2016

Sixteen Weeks

Well I will have a few stories for the email this week, but it'll probably be a little less spiritual and more touristy this week because we were only in our area a few hours this week actually teaching because we had a lot of other things that we had to do and so were travelling quite a bit. 

First of all, we had a zone meeting in Bragado - a city an hour away - on Tuesday where all the missionaries in the area get together and train together but unlike a normal zone meeting, at this one we also had interviews with our mission president where he'll normally give you some awesome life advice or help give you motivation/support (which was pretty cool but mine was way short because we had to go and catch our bus back to Chivilcoy, but I guess that also means I'm doing fine).

The very next day too though we had to travel to Capital to do Tramites, which is how you get an Argentine ID so you can actually stay for two years to serve your mission. The process though was in Capital Capital (the inner city, downtown, the nice new modern Buenos Aires) and it was way awesome. There were tons of really cool looking skyscrapers, especially since there was some fog around the city and sometimes you'd see just the very tops of them or you would see everything but the very top. I got lots of cool pictures but when I plugged my memory card into the computer today to attach them, none of the pictures showed up and then I think the computer messed up the rest of the stuff I had saved as well and so it wiped out all the pictures I have up until this point. Sad Face. Can't do anything about it though, so oh well. There were also a bunch of cool old historical buildings that were pretty awesome and we passed behind the Casa Rosada (President's house, like the White House in the USA) so I got to get a glimpse of it too. One of the other really cool things that I got to see too though (as we drove by) were some really cool ships that still had sails and all the rigging. Our driver said that as someone is about to graduate the Navy to become a captain, they circumnavigate the globe using those ships. They apparently also have a motor too but they start with just the sails and primitive navigation and then work their way up until they can use everything, just stopping in ports around the world and the crew is all students that are yet to graduate. I thought it sounded like one of the coolest adventures anyone could ever have. 

On Sunday too then we got to go to District Conference instead of regular church (again in Bragado, which was way cool). A quick explanation though real quick. All the missionaries in one area (such as in Chivilcoy there are six of us) make up a district (and all the districts in an area make a zone) and so most of the time when I mention disctrict, that is what I am referring to. However, this time is a little different. Normally all the different Wards (congregations for church) in an area make a Stake. When they are smaller than wards though they are called Branches and a bunch of branches make a district. Thus, this district meeting was a bunch of different branches getting together to listen to a few speakers. What made it really cool though was that since none of the chapels were big enough, we held it in a conference center in Bragado, in a theater that had been there since about 1806. It was also way awesome, and I got tons of awesome pictures (because it was beautiful inside) but again, those were lost with the rest of them so no pictures this week sorry...

We did have one interesting experience in our area though, but not exactly the kind that you would want to have (though not too bad). Let me preface that there are some people here in Argentina that participate in Devil Worship, and will sometimes sacrifice animals and drink their blood as part of their ceremonies, do things with dolls and leave them around their property (often on the roof or impaled on something) and it's bad. I've heard of missionaries offering blessings on possesed people and one person that we tried to visit that was on our list of members that didn't attend church said she took part in such practices (which is why she left) but just don't do it anybody, it never turns out well and it's really not worth it. Anyway, back to the experience: We went to visit one family that we always visit and we pulled up and parked our bikes side by side and a little kid that looked about 10 years old runs up between the bikes, reaches through the frame of my comp's bike and just starts scratching his shoe, completely out of the blue without looking at us or saying a word. The family we were visiting then opened our door to let us in and he ran off (and we locked up our bikes because it was kind of weird). We asked the family and they said he was messed up in the head, but a bad kind of messed up. He knew the difference between right and wrong but would always choose wrong and would go around breaking the windows in peoples' houses, breaking scooters (the most common method of transportation here) and stuff like that. We had a good visit with the family, but when we left the head of the house (guy, Maxi is his name) told us that he thinks the little kid was posessed. His mom does the devil worship and takes him with her, and the only time the kid ever speaks is in those meetings apparently. So yeah, just don't ever do any of that stuff, okay?

And to the bikes: My bike isn't broken, but it is acting up... Sometimes instead of just coasting along like it should, it forces the pedals forward with it so I have to move my legs, so imminent failure of something or another is likely to happen soon. My comp's bike did break though, (he had to get his mud guard replaces and then his handlebars tightened - they were loose enough where he could turn them without his front wheel turning). That, and I also just realized that I'm pretty sure the frame is cracked where the upper half frame in the back that attaches to the wheel seems like it is separating from the post where the seat attaches too. Not positive though, but whether it is or not, I've been riding like that for a couple months already so whats more gonna hurt?

That's pretty much it for this week though. Love you all and hope life is treating you all well!

Elder McCollum

p.s. Our Bidet is broken and I had to use Toilet Paper for the first time since coming to Argentina and it made me sad. Bidets really are a lot better... Oh well, we're going to move soon (but still haven't yet) so all will be well soon. Bye for real now!

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