Monday, June 27, 2016

Twenty Six Weeks

Hello everyone! 

Well this has been a pretty interesting week so far in Parque San Martin - it's a little rougher of an area than my last one, but still not very dangerous I wouldn't think. We have to do a lot of walking though so at the end of the day I am definetely tired, especially since there are very few paved streets - only the ones in the very center of town where there are a lot of stores or parks are paved - the rest is just super hard packed (and very uneven) earth, so I suppose it's kind of like hiking all day long, just in a shirt and tie.

First of all though, my new companion's name is Elder McDonald, and so we make a McCombo haha. The poor people here have a hard time with the "Mc" in spanish, and so our names are kind of hard for them. They can at least say my companion's name because of the restaurant, but my name still gets either an "oh", a solid attempt at saying it right (I am getting better and better at saying it with a spanish accent, so it becomes easier and easier every time for those that we visit), or a joke that I should be Elder Burger King. What can you do haha. Elder McDonald is 6 feet 3 inches tall as well so combined with me at 6 foot 2 we are both taller together here than almost any other person that we meet, which can also be amusing. He is from California though and loves photography, but instead of landscapes or things like that he prefers National Geographic type photos of people or places, showing what they are really like. We get allong pretty well though and he only has a few more months than me in the mission and so we both have practically the same amount of experience, and so working together is really fun.

The members here are really nice too though, and we always have lunch with someone, with the exception of maybe one day a week or less, but they all love having the missionaries over so that is pretty awesome. I have also seen a bunch of miracles since being here in finding new people to teac,including: one house that we contacted that resulted in us getting 5 new investigators, on top of two more that we had already gained that day from a member, someone calling us during our personal study time asking us for a book written by Bruce R. McConkie (an apostle of the church more than 20 years ago) and to have a teaching visit with him in the chapel - and it's a person that not even my companion had met before, people that have stopped going to church for a while approaching us in the street and asking us to pass by their homes to visit them (with some of them even asking us to baptize their kids now that they are old enough to be baptized), as well as a few others. So, pretty interesting indeed haha. I am looking forward to working here.

We also had the opportunity to perform service a few times (something that we are supposed to do for a few hours each week, but before there has been nobody that has wanted our service) - one time loading up a truck with dirt and rocks because someone asked us to help as we passed by down the street, as well as a member asking us to help him a little in the construction of a house for his mother-in-law. For that we got to tie together some rebar with cable to make it more structurally strong before pouring more concrete to set it all, and so I got a picture of that as well. So now I can say that I helped to build a house during my mission here in Argentina. Pretty cool. We're going to help him with more this week I'm pretty sure, so the service will continue.

Other than that, it has been a pretty tranquilo week, and that is all the time that I have for this week so I will talk to you all next week and hope that all is going well for everyone!

Elder McCollum

Monday, June 20, 2016

Twenty Five Weeks

Hello everyone! This week has been pretty long (but in a good way) - there has been a lot going on. First of all, it's the end of the transfer, and I'll be going to a new area with a new Companion! (Parque San Martin with Elder McDonald). It's a little sad because I'll be with a Yankee but his last companion before me was my very first companion (dad) here in Argentina (Elder Groen). What's more is that my second companion in the mission (stepdad) (Elder Wolfe) was in that area just before Elder Groen was, so it's kind of funny that I'll end up there now too. Other big news is that my companion here (Elder Quezada) is also going somewhere different because they are going to close this area for a few months, as well as the area of the hermanas so the ward where I am serving right now will be without missionaries for a time. It was awesome getting to know all the members and other people that we taught though, and they are all super sad that we are going to be leaving so the last few days have been spent visiting them and saying our goodbyes and as soon as I'm done here, we are going to have lunch with yet another family in the Ward.

Also, I got to perform the baptism for someone that the Hermanas have been teaching (Mariela), so that was a really awesome experience (as always). 

One day during the week all the missionaries from this zone also all got together to do a bunch of contacting (finding new people to teach) in one of the other areas. I ended up with the zone leader on divisions for the rest of the day as well, and we had to travel to yet another area to perform a baptismal interview for someone that an Elder who goes home today was teaching. Because of that, we also ate lunch over there (an incredible Asado, I have included a picture of the pile of meat that we shared, but we also had french fries, potato salad, and some homemade sauces to eat with the meat ------ it was super good). After all that though, we had to figure out how to get back to Atalaya and we ended up arriving at 7:30pm (we were thinking we were going to be back at 4:00) because we spent a lot of time waiting for various different busses and at the end we ended up accidentally travelling into the Buenos Aires South Mission on accident (it borders our area), then taking another bus to somewhere where we would actually know how to get back to Atalaya, and then finally the bus we needed. It was a bit of an adventure to say the least.

I do think that that is pretty much all for this week though, so enjoy the photos. Love you all and until next week!
Elder McCollum

1) Our zone gathered together for the contacting activity.
2) The giant pile of Asado that was so very delicious.
3) A photo of me and the Zone Leader when we finally made it back to Atalaya (We are holding our Sube, the card you use to travel in the busses).
4) Mariela just before her baptism.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Twenty Four Weeks

Hello everyone! All has been going well this week and I do have a few short stories to tell but the keyboard for the computer that I am using is pretty bad shape so we'll see how they turn out.

First of all, the Familia Suarez keep on being capos. There was an activity for family history this past Saturday in a different chapel held by the church to teach people how to do genealogy work and fill out your family tree and keep looking for people. The dad and his daughter went (the mom was working) and learned a ton and then came back and kept working on it on their own. He has already filled out his family tree past his great grandparents and keeps on working on it, but it was super interesting for him.

Another really cool thing that happened is that we have been visiting a member that hasn't gone to church in years and talking with him and then this last Sunday he came and almost every person was giving him hugs and saying hello because they hadn't seen him in forever and he seemed to be in a lot better spirits seeing a lot of old friends, as well as going to church instead of just working working workinga all the time.

As for some funny things that I have seen this past week, we were trying to contact one house when a little old lady of about 70 years or more came out of her house next door to see what we were up to. She said that her neighbor (the house we were trying to contact) wasn't there and as soon as we said thank you and started to head her way to talk to her she turned around on the spot and practically ran back into her house. I've never seen a little old lady move so fast, but I guess she didn't want to talk to the missionaries haha.

Also, walking down the street the other day we saw a police car parked on the side of the road with the hood up as if something had gone wrong and someone was fixing it before walking away to get something, but as we went by we noticed that somebody had been stealing stuff out of it because it didn't have a battery at all. That was mildly amusing to see.

Lastly, I got a haircut (no photos yet, sorry) and ripped my first pair of pants in the mission haha. We were leaving someones house and they caught on a very roughly cut metal gate/door leaving their property and ripped right over the pocket (including the pocket). For that one, I do have a photo (only photo of the week, sorry) but I have  other pairs of pants so there is no need to worry. What's more, the tear is actually two perfectly straight lines so it can be fixed without too much trouble (and still look normal unless you are trying to find problems) and I can keep them as a spare pair.

Other than that, it is getting colder and colder. Our pension hovers right around 16 degrees (60 degrees fahrenheit) and outside it can get down to around 4 degrees (40 degrees fahrenheit) so we are almost always bundled up nice and cozy. We drink lots of Mate Cocido (Argentine herbal hot drink that everyone drinks starting at about age 1.5, literally) and my favorite visits are in the houses of members that have awesome gas heaters (we can only use electric heaters for safety, but they normally have gas which put out way more heat). 

Other than that, there is not really much new. Transfers will be next Tuesday so I will find out whether I stay in this area or if I will end up going somewhere new on Sunday. I'll let you all know my fate next Monday. Hope everyone is doing well though!

Until next week,
Elder McCollum

Monday, June 6, 2016

Twenty Three Weeks

Hello Everyone, I hope you all are doing well. We again had a pretty relaxed week - it has been raining a lot (which paired with the cold makes for an interesting time haha) so it's been kind of hard finding new people to teach, and it's also a little difficult to visit and teach some of the people that we normally do because if there is not a man in the house, we can't go in for respect of the woman and her partner (so we normally sit outside on the doorstep to teach if it is just a woman, which oftentimes it is). The families that we have been able to visit are doing awesome though - Familia Suarez now has a marriage date so that they can be baptized (don't know if I mentioned that last week) but Elder Quezada and I are super excited for them - their baptism is planned for July 2nd and we are now teaching their daughters as well that are about 13 and 15. Normally when we would teach, they would listen but if we asked them to read something or participate they would leave but they are showing much more interest now so we are super excited to hopefully be able to baptize them as a family instead of just the parents. There is also someone that has been coming to church for a long time that isn't yet baptized, but her daughter (Belen, 8 years old) came up to the point where she could be and so we had to teach her all the missionary lessons about the church and the gospel, and she was baptized this last Saturday. It was super awesome and both her and her mom were super happy (I included a photo of them together). Other than that though, we have just been working a lot with members. If you remember the Familia Perez that I mentioned a couple weeks ago (the one that was watching a video about opening the door when god knocks just as we arrived) - we have visited them a few times since. We also have extremely spiritual visits with them and the Hermana has opened up to us wide open with all the problems she has with her own faith and doubts, as well as how all that mixes in with her and her family. Every time we go though, I feel as though we are able to genuinely help them and it leaves me dumbfounded at times how a couple of twenty year olds can really help people that already have a family with kids our same age, a house, businesses, etc. It really is crazy the work that we do here and I love every minute of it.

Other than that though, we haven't had too many crazy adventures now that I don't have a bike haha. We did have a meeting with all of our district though and the Zone Leaders were there so we took the opportunity to grab a selfie of all of us together, so now you can all know who are the missionaries in the area near me.

Other than that, nothing new so I'll talk again next week!

Elder McCollum