Monday, December 26, 2016

Fifty Two Weeks

Hello Everyone!

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas - this week has been pretty easy-going with the holidays. There weren't a whole lot of people that we were able to visit with the Holiday rush, and so this email will be mostly about Christmas in the Mission.

First of all, I had a pack of Peppermint hot chocolate that I got in my stocking for Christmas last year that I never got around to drinking before going on the mission, so I threw it in my suitcase to drink on a rainy day. A little while back too then when I was in Libertad, I got a candy cane from a member that lives here but is from the USA (candy-canes don't exist here, or really anything peppermint for that matter), and so in that moment I decided to save it with my hot chocolate to drink on Christmas day. It didn't survive as well as maybe I had hoped but it turned out very tasty all the same. 

Also, in our family we always ate Cinnamon Rolls for breakfast on Christmas day, so I made some of those (with A LOT of cream cheese frosting). They were also very tasty.

On Christmas day we had a very tasty lunch with a very nice family (Familia Alfonso) and for the afternoon we visited with the Familia Le Pera (photos included of both). Also, I wore my ugly sweater christmas tie all day long and didn't get a single comment on it. I guess Argentines don't do ugly christmas sweaters.

Other fun things too though are the heat here (included is a drawing of our back-up plans for one day - we had to work in an area where we had three appointments in a couple hour time-span but nobody to visit in-between and so we had to spend that time in the sun contacting. Also, I got to Skype with my family on Christmas day and that was a lot of fun too.

Last of all, and it's weird to say, but this week I will finish a year in the mission (30 December) and so I will give a review of my time up until now:

Provo MTC (6 Weeks)
Chivilcoy (13 Weeks)
Atalaya A (6 Weeks)
Parque San Martin A (2 Weeks)
Libertad (16 Weeks)
Loma Hermosa B (6 Weeks)
Loma Hermosa A (3 Weeks and ongoing)

Elder Micah Casablanca (MTC, 6 Weeks, from Florida)
Elder Dalton Groen (Chivilcoy, 6 Weeks, Utah, my trainer)
Elder Andrew Wolfe (Chivilcoy, 7 Weeks, Colorado, my 2nd trainer)
Elder Daniel Quezada (Atalaya A, 6 Weeks, Santiago Chile)
Elder Jacob McDonald (Parque SM/Libertad, 12 Weeks, California)
Elder Lehi Mayorga (Libertad, 6 Weeks, Mexico/Texas)
Elder Matias Dominguez (Loma B, 3 Weeks, San Juan Argentina)
Elder Italo Pinheiro (Loma B, 3 Weeks, Fortaleza Brasil)
Elder Nahuel Aguirre (Loma B/A, 2 Weeks, Salta Argentina)
Elder Jeffrey Dosdall (Loma A, 3 Weeks and going, Utah, my son in the mission)

Diego Rojas (Chivilcoy)
Belen (Atalaya A)

People I taught that later got baptized:
Alberto and Aliana Suarez (Atalaya A)
Violeta (Atalaya A, daughter of Alberto and Aliana)
Cynthia and Marcelo (Atalaya A)
Hna Antonia (Mom of Belen)

Other than that though there isn't all that much new, and so I hope you all have a Happy New Year!

Elder McCollum


Monday, December 19, 2016

Fifty One Weeks

Hello everyone!

So this has been a pretty busy week, and yet another week of fun with my new companion. On Tuesday we had divisions for the first time, where another missionary came to work with me for the day and my companion went to work in the area of the other missionary and it went really well. Knowing that Wednesday was the birthday of my companion too then (he turned 19) I used my free time on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning to make a Jello cake that we could eat on Wednesday night, once I made the whipped cream to put on top. Well on Wednesday my companion came back (and didn't see the cake, so the surprise was going all good) and then in Lunch the member we were eating with offered him a choice between Flan and Jello for dessert, and he chose to eat Flan, explaining to me that he doesn't eat Jello because gelatin is made of Animal cartilage. It was then that I realized I made a mistake in what cake I was making. Well that night while he was showering I made the whipped cream to put on top anyway (whipped cream really takes a lot of whipping if you didn't know, and you can't buy it pre-made here in Argentina). I finished it just as he got out of the shower though and explained what it was and he was at least gracious enough to eat one piece (and the rest of the whipped cream I hadn't put on as topping). I ate about 75% of the cake then myself haha and gave the rest to other Elders that came over on Friday for a special kind of divisions. The two Elders that came over were travelling assistents to our mission president, whose role was just to go around the entire mission doing divisions with Elders to help train them in something (in our mission we are revising a little bit how we are teaching). So, on Friday then we had 4 Elders in our area, and we managed to teach 7 lessons and find 4 new people in just one afternoon, which was really cool.

Other than that though, there isn't too much new to report on (and I'm running a little short on time) but I hope that everyone has a very Merry Christmas!

Elder McCollum

Photos: Jello Cake, Handmade whipped cream, and the four of us on divisions Friday.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Fifty Weeks

Hello Everyone!

Lots to tell this week:

First of all, my son (the person that you train in the mission):
His name is Elder Dosdall, and he is from Centerville, Utah (about 15 minutes north of Salt Lake City). He is 18 years old and this is his first time away from home. He plays the trumpet, enjoys Math and Science, got a 36 on his ACT, was writing a Sci-Fi novel with his brother and his best friend before the mission. He hasn't gone to college yet, but got accepted into BYU for Aeronautical engineering (he couldn't decide between  Nuclear engineering or nuclear physics so decided to go with that) for when he finishes his mission. He is vegetarian since 13 months ago because he feels bad for the animals, but he is an herbivore in an entirely carnivourous country (seriously, they eat ridiculous amounts of meat here) so we'll see how long that lasts. I'm not putting pressure on it though, so it'll be on his own if he decides to change back. He is learning spanish very fast though and is already taking the lead in contacting (talking with new people for the first time and inviting them to hear our message) and the members are very understanding. One of my favorite stories was a little kid coming up to me in church and asking "How do you say Elder in english" "Elder" I told him (it's the same). He then looked at my companion and said "Hello Elder" then ran off smiling when my companion said hello back to him. I've also got a few photos and videos to share, so I'll get those up and then explain what they are later on (if I can upload them).

Other than that, it is a lot of fun being a papi (trainer) - It's a lot of fun being able to introduce someone to an entirely new lifestyle, country, and culture, and to be able to help him learn spanish. I've been trying to speak just spanish with him so that he can learn, and English only when he doesn't understand, and it gave me a chuckle when on his first day he said "I still haven't figured it out yet - is Spanish your first language, or is English?" It has been a bit of a challenge getting to know yet another new area though (which is huge by the way) while trying to be able to focus on him, but now I think that I've got it more or less down so it should be all good now. I will say though that any timidness that I had left in finding new people or sharing and teaching with them has pretty much gone out the window as a result of training and having to be the one to set the perfect example, and so now it is starting to become perhaps even more enjoyable to teach and work. Oh, and one nice thing about the area is that our apartment is one of the very few in the mission that has A/C, which is really nice seeing as it has been getting well into the 90s fahrenheit (30s celsius) during the day when we need to work so at least we have cool mornings. Also, for the two weeks that I was in a trio, my companions slept in the beds while I slept in my hammock to not have to sleep on the floor, but it is nice sleeping in a bed again haha.

Other than that, one of the coolest experiences of the week happened while teaching Roberto (the man that got in a car crash whose friend started sharing the gospel with him). We shared this video with him: which is basically the story of the restoration of the gospel, the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the early beginnings of the church and after watching it, he said "I know this is true, there's no way it can't be" - it was a super cool experience and I felt like I was on cloud nine with how good I felt inside haha. (note - I reccomend that whoever reads this watches the movie - it's really good)

Also, while sitting in the room waiting to get my companion, I was able to talk with someone who is currently in my first area who was also waiting on a companion to train. He informed me that my very first convert, Diego has started reading the Book of Mormon again and though he isn't going to church, he is doing pretty good, so I was really happy to hear that.

Other than that though, there's not that much new that I have time to share, but I love you all and hope everyone has a good week!

Happy Holidays!
Elder McCollum

1&2) In the mission we have agendas so that we can note down all our plans for the day and all the things that we need to do, so I made a cover for the agenda of my son (the missionary I'm training). The front cover is subtle, the back cover not so much. The translation to English is "A son is born unto me" (Being born in the mission is your first area, and your first companion is your papi). I got a lot of enjoyment out of making it and hope that you all appreciate as much as I did.
3&4) First moments together - At the end of our time together, my papi and I bought matching ties. That tie is the one that I am wearing in the photo.
5) The expression on my companions face after inviting someone to be baptized for the first time. (They accepted the invitation). He exclaimed after the lesson "I'm a real missionary!"

Monday, December 5, 2016

Forty Nine Weeks

Hello Everyone!

First of all, the biggest news (and also the news that has me the most freaked out) is that this coming transfer, tomorrow, I am going to be recieving a NEW companion, and I am going to be training. I have no clue who it is or whether they are yankee or latino, but I will be finding out tomorrow. The poor refuerzo (reinforcement) that has no time in the mission at all that gets stuck with me haha, we'll have to see how things work out. The other fun thing is that it will be in a "new" area. I am currently in Loma Hermosa B, and when an Elder from Loma Hermosa A left in a flash, we ended up in a trio and had to work in both sides. Well I didn't pay all that much attention to the layout of things on the other side since it wasn't my area, and rather just followed the other Elder around, but now I am going to be staying over there (In Loma A) and my current companion, Elder Pinheiro is going to stay in Loma B and get a new companion as well. I'll let you know how things are going this next week though haha.

Other than that though, I have done a fairly decent amount of service this week. There is an Hermana in this ward that has a roof that has been leaking and so this Wednesday in the morning we climbed up top (most of the roofs here are flat by the way, like an office builiding or a school) and cleaned it up, swept really well and then sealed it up with liquid sealant that you roll on like paint. It was a lot of fun and the Hermana was very happy afterwards and so it was pretty gratifying as well. On Saturday too then, we went to visit an elderly couple at more or less 3 in the afternoon, the hottest part of the day, and they needed to cut the lawn out front so we helped them with that as well. To cut it they had an electric weed-eater though (almost everyone here cuts grass with just a weed eater) but I will say that electric weed-eaters aren't that powerful and the grass was pretty tall so it was a little laborious; I went to town cutting while my companions cleaned up the grass left behind. When I was halfway done then, the Hermano pulled out an electric lawn-mower to use instead (also with almost no power) so I mostly finished up with that but had to switch back to the weed-eater to go back over that part anyway. I will say though that we did get some funny looks from people going by and it is exhausting (and makes you sweat a lot) cutting grass at the heat of the day (31 degrees celsius, 90 fahrenheit) with 70-80% humidity in a shirt and tie. Again though, it was fun.

Spiritual experience of the week though is that there is an hermano that hasn't been going to church in a long time who has a friend that almost died in an accident going 200km/hour (120mph) but is still alive and now is trying to figure out why he is still here on earth, why he didn't just go straight to heaven and so the hermano told him that he could visit with us and we taught him in the house of the Hermano a few days ago and he said that he started to understand a little bit of why he is still here and what he might need to be doing. He said that he had asked his catholic priest as well as a couple other religions but nobody could give him an answer but with us he felt really good and is super excited to be able to visit with us again here this next week. For me it was a testament that what I'm doing is right and that I really am sharing the true, restored gospel with others. Lessons like the one that we had don't happen often but it was an awesome experience.

Last fun tidbit of the week is that we got to go back to capital on Friday as well to go to the dentist again for Elder Pinheiro, and so this time I was sure to take a few more photos to share. They are thus:
1) Graffiti of an old couple dancing the Tango - Tango originated here in Buenos Aires and I thought it was really awesome, so I'm sharing it with you all.
2) Statue of something; the truth is I'm not sure what (I think it's some kind of tribute to Spain and the origins of Argentina) but it was cool so I grabbed a photo.
3&4) Stadium of my soccer team here that we passed by (If you are in Argentina, you have to pick a soccer team because everyone asks what team you are from and they don't accept "none" for an answer. Also statue of a man outside wearing the jersey of the team.
5)Elder Aguirre and I took advantage of the trip to go out and buy dental and health supplies that you can't find in our part of Buenos Aires (capital always has more stuff to buy) while Elder Pinheiro was in his appointment (we left him with our choffeur, a member of the church so all was good).
6)We also found a lot more flavors of ramen noodles in capital than we can find here in our part of Buenos Aires, so we bought them as well.

And best photo for last - I felt as though my socks weren't getting very clean taking them to get washed, and so I decided to wash them by hand. The photo is how the water turned out about an hour after letting them soak - I changed it and it turned out the same again after another hour, so I kept going another 2 or 3 times with the same results. I am happy to say though that they should be clean by now haha.

Other than that though, I hope that everyone has a great week and love you all!

Elder McCollum