Monday, November 28, 2016

Forty Eight Weeks

Hello Everyone!

This has been a pretty awesome week so far. I must say that it is a lot of fun being in a trio - we get a lot of work done, but we also have a lot of fun together and are able to relax a whole lot more as a result. In turn, we are able to carry that same happy spirit to others and this week for example we had 21 lessons, and have found a whole lot of new people to teach as well. For example, people sometimes like to crack jokes in our direction, and one day as we were walking there was a 14 year old girl out front with her family that shouted at us "Amen!" as we walked by, and so instead of continuing on as we normally would, we went back to talk with them and they turned out to be pretty awesome. We still haven't been able to go by and teach them yet, but we gifted the girl (Evelyn) a pamphlet to read, and she was so excited you would think she had just opened her first christmas present. 

Another big thing from this week is that the church has launched a new christmas campaign called "Light the World" with a website that has a video of things that Christ did to help others in his lifetime and in turn an advent calendar of things that we can do each day leading up to christmas to follow his example and "light the world" (such as christ healing the sick = we can visit someone in the hospital/someone who is sick, etc). It's a really cool campaign and really helps us to remember the meaning behind christmas/the holiday season and so I invite you all to visit to check it out and even if we don't change the world, we can change to world of those who we help, and our own world personally.

Another fun thing that happened this week is that on Thursday (thanksgiving in USA, but not celebrated here) we just so happened to end up with both Lunch and Dinner provided by members. It was really more a result of our two areas being joined together and us being in a trio, but hey I'll take it. I must say that I was really beyond full though. For lunch it was Milanesa Napolitana with a ton of super tasty rice, and for dinner we had Roast Beef, rice, and a corn salsa type deal that was super tasty, as well as gravy (gravy doesn't exist here, but that family made it for us). 

One night we were visiting a different family for dinner as well, and they all spoke fluent italian (for being descendents of italians, even though they have lived here their whole lives) as well as spanish, and after finishing dinner, as usual we shared a scripture but I grabbed a Book of Mormon that they had off of the shelf to use but quickly realized it was in italian. We were running short on time though so I looked up the scripture anyway and read it to them (in what I thought it should probably be pronounced as) and they said that it was actually very understandable Italian and asked if I had ever studied Italian before so I confessed that I had never studied a day in my life. They were pretty surprised (and so was I, I figured I had butchered it) but I guess I might have discovered a new talent. Maybe I'll have to study a little bit of Italian too if I have a bit of free time haha.

Other than that though, there really isn't all that much new. We're still in a trio (The Argentine, The Yankee, and The Brasilero, like the start of a good joke) but next Monday that should change because it'll be transfers, which also blows my mind because it means that I will have been here a month and a half already and it doesn't feel like it at all. Anyhow though, hope you all have a good week and sorry for not having any photos again. I want to see if I can maybe send out a short video clip next week, but we'll have to see.

Elder McCollum

Monday, November 21, 2016

Forty Seven Weeks

Hello Everyone!

Yet again, I have had another very interesting week. 

This Tuesday I got a haircut because my hair was getting pretty long at it's starting to get pretty hot here (getting to 30 degrees celsius, 90 degrees fahrenheit, but with almost 100% Argentine humidity). So for all of you going into winter, for me summer is just starting. Supposedly in February it'll get up to 45 degrees celsius, 110 fahreinheit (again with humidty) so I'll let you know how that goes once we get there.

We also found a really receptive man to teach this last week named Pedro. He is 76 years old, was Diagnosed with Parkinson's last year, and lives in a one room house with his dogs Mateo and Cual (Cual = which/who in english). He always recieves us well and loves to listen, but he also has bad vision so it makes it difficult for him to read and with his Parkinson's it's hard to get out of the house, so it makes things kind of hard but we keep visiting him regardless.

During the week we also saw a man walking 12 dogs, with all the leashes tied to his belt. We asked him how he did and what he would do if one took of running (because the others would follow) and he said be dragged along behind them (they were all big dogs, for example 4 or 5 were German Shepards and the rest were about that size. As he kept walking though most of his job seemed to me was just untangling the leashes. It was certainly an interesting sight.

Another day we were knocked on the house of someone to see if they would be interested in visiting with us, but they said no. So in turn we asked them if they knew anyone closeby that was passing for a difficult moment that we could visit and leave with a prayer to lift their spirits a little? His response was "Yes, Macri (The President of Argentina that nobody likes). He's passing for a very difficult moment." We thanked him and carried on our way, but we definetely got a good laugh out of it.

This Friday as well then, Elder Pinheiro was having dental problems and so we had to go to Capital Federal (The heart of Buenos Aires) so that he could get a Root Canal. So, we got to travel - it should have been a half hour drive more or less but with traffic due to manifestations going on by people that didn't have a job, it took 2 hours to get there, the operation lasted another 2 hours, and then 2 hours to get back. It was fun at least to visit the really nice city area of Buenos Aires though instead of just the outskirts where our mission is at. It is a lot different with a lot of pretty views (for a city), but I'm happy to be where I am at regardless.

This last weekend as well then was Stake Conference, and there were meetings on Saturday night and Sunday morning. As missionaries we were going to go on Sunday as if it was regular church, but last minute they gave us permission to go on Saturday if we didn't have teaching appointments. I wanted to go, and my companion too, but I kind of felt as though we should stay in our area and keep working instead of going even though we didn't have appointments, but we got on the bus to go back to our apartment to change and go anyway. As we got off though, I felt almost sick to my stomach that we shouldn't go but I was doubting it anyway, so I asked to borrow the Book of Mormon that my companion was carrying and planned to flip it open and read the first verse that my eyes fell upon. As I was flipping though, the number 17 came to my mind and when I stopped on a page, I read verse 17 (Mosiah 7:17) that says: "And now, it came to pass on the morrow that king Limhi sent a proclamation among all his people, that thereby they might gather themselves together to the temple, to hear the words which he should speak unto them." The literal translation in Spanish as well says on the next day instead of on the morrow. We took it as a sign and decided not to go. We didn't end up teaching anyone that night, and I'm not sure what would have happened if we went, but I feel good about having stayed.

Last exciting thing of the week then is that I have another companion (WHAT?) Of the other Elders in the same ward as us, Elder Pulli and Elder Aguirre, Elder Pulli got sent to another area and instead of Elder Aguirre getting a new companion, we are now in a trio (Elder Aguirre, Elder Pinheiro, and I) for the next two weeks until transfers come up, and we have to be able to cover and teach both areas, which separated are already pretty big but combined are gigantic. I am looking forward to it though, and it should be a fun two weeks, and I hope to learn a lot from the experience as well. Also, my previous companion, Elder Dominguez, was only in his new area for 1 week but got flashed again as well because now he is going to be working in the offices of the mission. What in the world? Everything is going crazy haha.

Other than that though, there is nothing new to share for this week, so I hope everyone is well and that you all have a good week to come!

Elder McCollum

p.s. photo of the trio

Monday, November 14, 2016

Forty Six Weeks

Hello everyone!

Well this has been a very different week than the usual, to say the least. We didn't have a whole lot of lessons, for various reasons, but it has been a very eventful week regardless.

In chronological order:

First, we had divisions this Tuesday, so I got to spend the day with a Chilean. It was a lot of fun and I learned about some things that I can improve on to better my abilities as a missionary, and we also had a couple of interesting lessons, but more or less nothing too out of the ordinary.

Next, on Wednesday we had a meeting with our Ward Mission Leader, but the other Elders had the keys to the chapel (where we normally have the meeting) but couldn't make it to the meeting so we had to have the meeting just sitting in his car. It was mildly amusing, but he brought pepas and juice, so it was okay.

Thursday we were able to perform service for a less active member, helping her to clean things off of her roof that the previous home-owner left behind so it was fun being able to help out with a project like that. Doing service like that in the mission is super fun because it doesn't happen too often, as you normally spend most of your time teaching so we enjoyed it.

Friday then came the biggest change - we were eating lunch with a member when one of our mission president's assistants called us to say that we were going to have a flash (when someone changes to a different area on short notice in the middle of a transfer) and that my companion Elder Dominguez was the one that was going to leave. 

So, Saturday morning he left for Moron and I received a new companion; a Brasilero with 3 months in the mission named Elder Pinheiro. I am his 3rd companion, and this is his second area, and so he is by far the newest in the mission that I have had as a companion. That combined with the fact that I only have 3 weeks in this area myself means that the coming weeks should be pretty interesting as well. He works really well though and we get on fine, so we should have some good success together.

Other fun tidbits to share then:

1. I found a gecko outside of our pench last Monday and was able to grab ahold of him. He had already lost his tail and his stomach was somewhat scraped up but he was a fun little guy. We're not allowed to have pets in the mission, or I would have kept him, but I do have a mint plant that has a few bugs on it that I have been fighting with and so I put him on it to rest and he helped me kill a few but was gone the next day.

2. The whistling man - every night, for the street that passes by right outside of our pench, there is a man that passes by walking his dog that puts a smile on the face of everyone when he goes bye (the entire neighborhood already knows who he is). The reason being is that he goes for a walk with his dog, a giant black mop of a thing, and he personally lopes along walking as if his joints were elastic, and he always has earbuds in listening to music, and so he also whistles. He whistles super loud, which is how you know he is coming but what makes it fun is that he doesn't whistle anything in particular, and doesn't even whistle in tune to the music (or if he does, I have no clue what music it is). It always puts a smile on your face at the end of the night though.

3. Kid that always says hi in the street. There is a kid (about 11 years old) that always runs up to say hi and talk to us when we pass by the street where we live. Elder Dominguez told me that he doesn't go to school, and just spends his entire day outside, without his parents even watching him. This last week though, he asked us  "Do the other kids over there (the other side of our area, where we told him we were heading) say hi to you?" It made me kind of sad, because really he just wanted someone to pay him attention and make him feel a little special, but there really wasn't anyone in his life to lead him or guide him. I hope everything works out for him in the future, but the next time that he says hi to us, I'm going to ask where he lives so we can try and teach him and maybe his family too.

Other than that though, there really isn't that much new. The photos are of me and the gecko, my old companion, and my new companion. I hope everyone has a good week though and until next time!
Elder McCollum

Monday, November 7, 2016

Forty Five Weeks

Hello Everyone!

Well this week hasn't been quite as eventful as my first week here in Loma Hermosa, but it certainly has been exciting regardless. The biggest change in general though is that it has been a lot hotter this week. The summer sun is already starting to come out here, and between the extremely high Buenos Aires humidity, button up shirt and tie, pants, and leather shoes you definetely feel it. A lot haha. It's all good though, for that I carry around a handkerchief to dry the sweat off my face every few minutes and it all turns out ok. 

As far as teaching goes, we were able to visit Enrique this last week and he is doing great - he reads and prays on his own now without us having to give him a certain part to read, and he is progressing really well. We also found two new people to teach that were very friendly to us when we contacted them for the first time. One is named Emilce and her mom is in the hospital, and her son has some kind of infirmity too that they are learning about. We shared a little bit about the Plan of Salvation with her and we plan to pass by this week to visit with her again. Another is named Clara and she is studying English. Thus, she was very excited for the opportunity to speak with a Yankee and wanted to know how she could learn English better, so we gave her one of the lesson pamphlets that we have (in spanish) and promised to find her the pamphlets in English too so that she can read them side by side and learn that way too, and she was very excited, so we hope to be able to get them from the offices and take them to her this week. (It's one of the things that I did to help me with my spanish, along with talking, so why couldn't it work for her?)

Other than that though, I don't think that there is all that much new to share. My companion and I are getting along great and now that I am with an Argentine, a lot of people think that I am Argentine too. I'd like to try and tell people that I am, but I'd have to say that I'm from Buenos Aires with my accent, but it's very rare that the send missionaries to a mission that close to their house so it'd be kind of hard to pull off. One day when I travel though maybe I'll be able to pull it off. 

As far as photos go, I haven't been taking too many, but thankful one of the other Elders for this ward has been taking a lot, so he sent them to me in an email and I'll forward them all to you. Hope you all have a good week though! Love you all and keep it real!

Elder McCollum