Monday, September 26, 2016

Thirty-Nine Weeks

Hello Everyone!

This has been an easy going week - we taught 15 lessons but all but 3 of them were with members that haven't gone to church in a good while instead of with new people that we found to teach. One of the people that we were teaching that was awesome (Carlos, the one that moved to our area recently because of the terrible landlord) moved to Mendoza during the week, and Julio (the man that is afraid of dying) is going to be about 6 hours away by plan for his work as well for the next week and a half and so the work will probably be a little slow for the time being haha. We do have the familia Martinez still in the area though, and they are really cool. One of the women in the family got baptized a little over a year ago with her children, but they live in the area of other Elders. When I was on divisions (where we change companions for the day) I met them though and they said that we could pass by for their sisters that live in our area and so we did and they were super receptive to us. We visited them for the first time a week and a half ago, and then this last week we visited them again and they drove us back to our apartment afterwards so that we didn't have to walk (they were our last visit of the night). They in turn then told us of yet another sister that also lives in our area and said that she could be found most easily in her work, a hair salon, which was perfect because I also needed a haircut. On Saturday then I went to get my haircut and met her too, and she said that she recieved Elders before as well and that the next time we visit with her sister (the one we have been teaching) maybe she can be there as well. Also, she didn't charge me for the haircut which was super awesome and super nice of her.

Another fun nice thing that happened to us is that we were heading back towards our pench the end of a different night and a man that had a handcart selling things stopped us and gave us each a bag of sugar coated peanuts, thanked us for what we were doing, and then said he hoped to see us some day on the other side of heaven, and kept going. It was something super small but super cool and it made my day.

Another bizarre experience that I had that doesn't happen every day either is that this Sunday in church there was a pure Yankee that didn't even speak spanish. There was a member that got married this last week that was companions in his mission (Brazil, speaking Portugese) with that Yankee for 6 months, and so he invited him to his wedding and he came. So, I got to speak with a Yankee that knew very very little spanish and that wasn't a missionary. It was kind of bizarre to be honest, especially when he pulled out his Samsung Galaxy in an OtterBox case (a very yankee thing - they don't have very nice smartphones here, nor OtterBox cases) to show us a couple photos.

Other than that though, nothing really new, so hope you all have a good week!

Elder McCollum

1) The nuts that the man gave us.
2) My comp was playing with my camera and this photo turned out. Figured I'd send it.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Thirty-Eight Weeks

Hello Everyone!

This has been a pretty easy going week because more than anything I have been showing my companion around the area so that he too can know how to get around and so he could meet all of the people that we regularly visit. After 3 months with Elder McDonald it is definetely interesting getting used to a new companion, but I am speaking a lot more spanish with Elder Mayorga now. A little more about him - he is from Veracruz, Mexico but he moved to the USA when he was 11 years old and his family is living in Texas, so he actually has dual citizenship. He speaks perfect english, but we speak only spanish between us because it's really good practice and it improves both of ours' accents as well (not to mention it can be hard from talking in english with your comp to teaching someone in spanish on a moments notice at times, because it's almost like two different modes that your brain goes into). He loves roadtripping and travel, and did marching band in High School.

Other than that, there was a day this week when we didn't have electricity from 6am until 10pm and it made me kind of sad, but give me a second to explain. Here the fridge and freezer are in the same compartment, or you can say that the fridge only has one door and when you open it, both are there and the freezer is just more like a shelf at the very top part. Well like many freezers, it was very frozen with lots of ice. When we didn't have any power though, all the ice melted and flooded a bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough that I had made 2 days before, ruining it... I hadn't had chocolate cookies since being here and so made the batter but only had time to cook 6 cookies before we had to go out and work, so I put the rest in the fridge to finish making later but it ended there I guess. Oh well, I have all that I need to make them again, except for butter but we'll see when I get around to it again haha.

Last experience though is that one of the people that we have been teaching claims to have seen an angel. This investigator in question has been in very bad health for a while now - she has diabetes and diabetes here is much more dangerous than in the states with all the things they have to take care of you. Because of her diabetes though, one of her toes died and they had to amputate it and it was a painful recovery process for it all to heal and have the skin grow back. Right now another one is dying too, but last week she had a heart attack to top it all off. When she was in the hospital though, she was laying there in her bed with a nurse attending to her, when she saw someone dressed in white at the side of her bed, but she couldn't get her head up to see their face, so she only saw from the chest down. When she looked again though, there was nobody there and so she asked the nurse where the doctor went. The nurse said that there had been no doctor, and so she insisted that there had been, and that she had seen him just by the side of her bed. The nurse then told her "There was no doctor Lydia." "Who knows, maybe it was an angel?" and so she stayed happy and content with that. 

Nothing else new besides that though. There was one day when we walked from one end of our area to the other 3 or 4 times though, and so it should have added up to a little over 20 miles (about 35 kilometers) or more, so that was pretty entertaining but exhausting. That's the way it is sometimes though, and there is nothing to be done about it. Hope you all have a good week though, and love you all!

Elder McCollum


1) Elder McDonald and I (one last photo together)
2) Elder McDonald, me, and the Bishop of the ward we are (were) currently serving in.
3)Elder Mayorga (my new comp) and I

Monday, September 12, 2016

Thirty-Seven Weeks

Hello everyone!

Well this has been a really fun week, and I had a few cool stories but I am on a pretty slow computer so I've had time to pretty much to just read emails from everyone in this time, so it'll have to be kind of short. The biggest news though is that we have transfers tomorrow and so I will be getting a new companion (but staying in my area, Libertad). His name is Elder Mayorga and he has 10 months on the mission and is a Yankee as well, but I have heard he is part Mexican so it'll be somewhat like haveing a Latino comp again (not really, but he does speak spanish 100% fluent so there is that - I can get to improve mine a lot). 

This week though we had some really cool lessons, mostly with new people. One was with a Carlos that lives in a super humble house because he got kicked out of his old home because of really terrible landlords putting all kinds of false charges against him and his family, and even having groups waiting for him outside to beat on him, so they left their home and everything in a hurry. He also grew up as an orphan in the streets since 14 years old but never got into theft, drugs, or alcohol, and has had a very clean life besides up until now all things considered and with all the trials that he had to face.

We also taught Julio again and found out that he is scared to die. He is 60 somethings years old and has diabetes, and a couple other health conditions and so he has realized that he is coming up on the later years of his life, and so wants to learn what he can about what comes next and how to fix all the bad things he has done wrong in the past. He also said something that really got to me because I've never actually thought in that frame of mind before, but he said "I know I have to go, I just don't want to go now." We got him to pray to finish the lesson though and he actually starting crying while doing so. It was a really cool and a really touching experience.

That is about all for this week though. I got one last photo of Elder McDonald and I to send to you all but this computer doesn't have USB so maybe next week I guess haha. Hope you all have a good week though!

Elder McCollum

Monday, September 5, 2016

Thirty-Six Weeks

Hello Everyone!

Well this has been an interesting week. It has felt really slow and it seemed like we weren't teaching a whole lot but in the end we ended up getting 15 lessons in anyway, which isn't too bad for the cold that we've been having. There were some very interesting people that we taught though, so I guess my stories will focus on them.

First of all, we have taught a man named Julio a couple of times - he lives in a nice apartment but in a fairly humble community because he travels a lot. He works in big business and helps companies make huge business decisions internationally. As such, whenever we meet with him he likes to talk a lot about business and about his work, but this last time he was talking about the Argentine peso to US Dollar conversion rate and how it makes more sense to have money here in Argentina kept as Dollars with the inflation, etc. etc. He then goes on to tell us about someone he knows (we'll say a friend) that had his hands in some pretty sketchy mafia type stuff that found himself with authentic paper from the USA to print dollars, authentic ink, an authentic plate to print the front, but one from Argentina to print the back. With all that, he proceeded to print $800 million of fake $100 bills that took forever for the goverment to realize because everyone only ever checks the front and never the back with the testing pen. When they did find out though, they had to treat them as good because they were already all over the world in circulation, which is supposedly part of the reason why they are printing new $100 bills - to get rid of all the fakes. Well the guy ended up imprisoned but wouldn't say anything about how he got his hands on the materials so the governement (according to Julio, he called this guy to ask him and he said he had nothing to do with it) went to his house and killed his girlfriend, framing him so that he would have to stay in prison longer and they could maybe get the information out of him with more time. So, that was a pretty interesting story to hear. Also, Julio said that everything he owns is put in his daughter's name so that if anything like that ever happens to him, there is nothing the goverment can confiscate from him. You don't need to worry about us passing by though, he's not a criminal in and of himself, he is just a bit conspirical and knows people like that because of his position in big business.

Also, if you remember a few weeks ago when we visited the super wealthy doctors that gave me and my companion each a little bit of meteorite, we were finally able to pass by again yesterday and it was super awesome. They also told us a number of stories:
First of all, it turns out that the man (Mario Paganini) was the personal family doctor of Isabel Peron, member of THE presidential family about 40 years ago, and so also personally knew that family. Well back in the day here in Argentina there were thousands of disappearances of people, and turns out that he and his wife were abducted as well. Mario was treating a patient and was looking into his history to figure out how to try and help him when somebody caught wind of it and decided that he was looking for something else that somebody didn't want found out, so they took him and his wife (also a doctor) to El Poso de Bomfield, where they were going to assasinate a lot of other people that were abducted. For whatever reason though, they let his wife go (they were brought there separately), though she had nothing but her night clothes on, with no money or anything. She crawled around and under cars though to escape, made it to a main highway and caught a bus back to a bigger town and then from there got a Taxi back to the royal family, assuring them that they would be paid well. When she got back she informed them of what happened and they sent the cheif of police to go look for Mario, and they said they had no clue who he was. They then informed them that they had 30 minutes to find him or they would be put to death, and he magically appeared, and so in that way he was saved as well. (I have no clue what happened to the rest of the people that must have been there.

On another occasion too though, he was waiting at the airport here in Ezeiza to recieve Isabel Peron and there were huge huge crowds of people as well, from a bunch of different countries - seemingly there to see her like any other political arrival. What ended up happening though is that there were different political factions there that ended up (trying to kill her? not exactly sure here) but there was a lot of gunfire from both sides and thousands of people died that day. He said he was able to escape but realized on getting back to the hotel where they were staying that his friend was still there so he grabbed a pair of car keys and asked who would go back with him, drove back and found him, then made it back to the hotel. He said people were dropping dead like flies there though. The name of the even was the Massacre de Ezeiza (Ezeiza Massacre in English) if you want to look it up, and he said that it happened in the 1970s (1972 I think).

Also, it is super popular here to have a song play when someone calls you so they can listen to that instead of just the ring until you pick up, and so every time that we call them we get to here the song they put, which is "Titanium". It gets me every time.

Other than that though, not too much new this week. My comp and I ate some bad sandwiches that left us pretty sick for a day and without an appetite for another, but we should be all good now. :)

As far as the photos I am throwing on, the one is of an "Apple" Lighter that I found. Like I said, people like to put english on a lot of things here to make them seem nicer (especially T-Shirts, which is really fun) but rarely ever does it make sense, and it can lead to some pretty funny sayings. Also, there is pretty much no such thing as patent or copywright infringement here so there is A LOT of fake stuff. The lighter was a combo of the two, so I figured that you all might enjoy a look too.

Also, with my comp's $10 for this last week we bought a bunch of Alfajores, a very common treat here, of a bunch of different flavors. We were going to eat them when we bought them but that just so happened to be the day we started feeling sick, so we are going to enjoy them today. :)

Anywho, that really is all now, so hope you all have a good week!

Elder McCollum