Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Eighteen Weeks

WOOOO!!! Exciting news of this week: I am no longer a refuerzo (reinforcement in spanish, what "greenies" or new missonaries are called in this mission instead of greenie)! So real quick how the system works: Mission time is separated into transfers more so than months, and one tranfer lasts for 6 weeks. At the end of a tranfer, you can get transferred to a new area (or your companion can) or you can stay right where you are at, but you don't know until the day before you will get transferred to a different area. The training program for new missionaries then lasts 12 weeks, or two transfers. Due to a change in how missionaries will be leaving the MTC though, my first transfer lasted 7 weeks instead of six (which is abnormal) but that means that I finished my 12 weeks of traning now, a week before the end of this transfer so I am no longer a refuerzo! (And transfers are next week, so I might end up going to a new area, potentially without bikes - or my comp might go but it is unlikely that we both will stay here, so next P-day might be delayed one day late because of travel). The picture of me holding the Book of Mormon is me about 10 minutes after I finished the last training segment, so it is the first picture of me as a non-greenie missionary.

So, other than that my bike held up really well all week. Until today when I went to get on it this morning and it had a flat tire. My comp and I are riding around on just his bike for now then with the pegs until the bike place opens up later today so we can take it in and get the tube patched. I'm curious to see how many patches it has though; the last one had 4 before they finally just put a new tube in.

Another fun story is that we were out trying to find people to teach and were knocking on the door of a house when a couple kids kicking a soccer ball in the street ended up kicking it way far away from them and towards us, so Elder Wolfe being the nice person he is, walked over and kicked it back to them so they wouldn't have to run all the way over and get it. The problem is though that he kicked it straight into a tree and it bounced back in a different direction even farther away from them than it had originally been. It was pretty funny too see, especially seeing the kid change direction mid run to go retrieve it. What can you do though?

As far as cool experiences though, we had an activity on Friday night where we set up a movie in the chapel to show to people investigating the church and less active members (Meet the Mormons - cool movie with some cool stories about cool people that explain some of the viewpoints of the church and actually better than I expected [it was the first time I saw it too] :https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2015-01-1000-meet-the-mormons?lang=eng). Anyway, we had 3 investigators and a less active we are working to reactivate (or help be more active in the church/go to church more often) show up and it was a way cool experience. We made popcorn and juice as well, and if I'm still in Chivilcoy, it's something that we will probably do again in a few weeks. 

This week we have also had a good bit more success in finding new people to teach. We've pretty much gone through all the old records of people that had been taught before (and not very many of them actually had interest) and so now we pretty much just have to find people si o si (yes or yes, a spanish phrase pretty much meaning non-optional). We had three really cool experiences though in following the spirit in guiding us where to go. We were riding down a street that we had never really been down before when we got the feeling that we should stop at one house in particular we saw (it was red) and we actually found a really nice old couple there that we were able to teach a lesson to, and they were the first new people that Elder Wolfe and I have found this entire transfer. Later on in the day we also planned to visit by somebody that was noted as a Less Active (one of the last in the area that we hadn't gone to yet) and he actually let us in and explained that his brother who now lives in capital as well as his mom were members and not him (he was 40-50 years old) but that she (his mom) had passed away about a year ago, around the same time that his woman left him (he said it was his fault but didn't give any details), his dog died, and to top it all off he got hit by a car around then on the corner of the street too and almost died of asyfxiation from his own blood had someone not taken him to the hospital. After that, he had to be in a wheelchair (and his apartment is on the 4th floor of a building where the elevator is currently broken, I'm not sure how he managed) and only recently started walking again. We talked with him a little bit and left him a Book of Mormon to start reading and he said we can come back at whatever time to teach him. That same night then (both those events were on the same day) I felt as though we should visit the family Zunino for some reason, even though we can never go in because there is almost never a man in the house (the mom and dad there are separated and the dad always works on top of it) but we went anyway. When we got there though, Hugo was there (the father, and the one I said showed up to church last week and was greeted like an old friend by everyone) with a few of the kids (but not the mom, who really doesn't have that much of a desire to come back right now) and so we were able to have a great visit with him. I always feel good talking with him and helping him out, especially since he wants to do good and take care of his kids as well but isn't really that educated and has a hard time reading for himself (though he is finishing elementary school for adults right now to help him out). He always has really cool insights and advice though. For example, he said his arm/wrist was sore from work but he actually didn't mind because it reminds him that it's still there and it still works, when there are plenty of people in the world that don't have limbs or have some kind of illness or disease where they can't use them. To top it all off then, yesterday we visited a family that we always visit (and so have a lot of other missionaries) and were able to teach one of the young men that is always around the house (which doesn't happen too often) and were able to clear up a lot of questions and doubts that he had and he committed to read some of the Book of Mormon (namely the introduction at least) and then we are going to go back on Wednesday to teach him more and answer any more questions that come up. We were also able to bond a little bit talking about cars, so there is that too - gaining trust and building up a relationship with them really helps teaching, and it was fun to talk about cars in Spanish.

That's pretty much it for this week though, other than a couple random other tidbits:

1) I found powerade flavored cough drops/hard candy here (it's all the same to them, they put menthol in a lot of stuff, including gum, shampoo, and shaving cream that I've bought so far). It tasted... interesting.

2) Most of the cars here are super small, but I saw my first USA sized dodge minivan here. Unfortunately they went through the list of things to not do to a minivan and did them, for example:
-Don't put a spoiler on a minivan 
-Don't put a body kit on a minivan
-Don't put a hood scoop on a minivan
-Don't put aftermarket blacked out headlights and tail lights on a minivan
-Don't put aftermarket shiny chrome wheels on a minivan.
It was amusing to see though for the least haha.

That really is all for this week though! Love you all and talk next week!

Elder McCollum

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