Monday, December 11, 2017

One Hundred and One Weeks

Hello Everyone!

What a great week this has been!

We have had pretty much the whole week to be out visiting and teaching, but the best day by far was Sunday -  we had 4 investigators in church, including the following people that we have been visiting and teaching:
A little old lady named Gladys who has very very poor vision (near-blind), but that regardless arrived on her own without help. She was making friends with tons of people super fast - it was awesome, and there are already a bunch of members that want to visit with her.

The father of a recent convert (and his wife) that had always put himself hard opposed to the church (and hadn't been to any church in more than 20 years). I was stunned, because during the week he just told his son that he was going to go to church on Sunday, and he did - all on his own! And he loved it! He really enjoyed the classes, the music, and the talks given (and so I expect him to be back next week as well, but hopefully we can visit him before then).

And lastly, an investigator that is going to be baptized this coming Sunday! :D She is a 9 year old girl named Guadalupe that is a capa! We taught her the 10 commandments the other day for example with hand signals and her mom told us that for the rest of the day she went around teaching them to everyone that she met. It was really awesome to hear and I am really excited for her. 

This coming week is going to be awesomely busy as well - it will be a great way to "finish" the mission. It will go as follows:

Monday (Today) - District Meeting, Weekly Planning, and Ciber (which I am doing right now).
Tuesday - interviews with the mission President - I'll have my finally interview later so it'll be just my comp, but we'll have to travel to the mission offices and then back to our area.
Wednesday - We have service to perform in the morning (hopefully).
Thursday - P-day
Friday - my final interview (an hour long interview with the mission president where you go over your mission and your plans for afterwards)
Saturday - The ward that I am serving in is going to have an end-of-year lunch with all the members present
Sunday - In the morning there is church (where I will be giving a class, and then during sacrament meeting I'll give my testimony), immediately following which we are going to have a baptism! :D And then lunch with a member (probably an asado - Argentine BBQ), and more or less at that time they will take me to the mission offices where I will be for meetings, etc. until getting on the plane Monday afternoon.

Other than that though, there is not too much new to tell (though I'm sure this week will bring plenty of experiences to share). Love you all though and see you in a week!

Elder McCollum

Caseros Zone! We got these pictures today, but I spent over a year of my mission here - I arrived in October/November-ish of last year and haven't left since except for a 6 week stint in Ramos Mejìa. It has been an awesome time for sure! :)

Monday, December 4, 2017

One Hundred Weeks

Hello Everyone!

This has been an eventful week, though I somehow managed to forget to take pictures... All the same, it was really good.

We started out the week on divisions with the Zone Leaders. I went with Elder Markle to Villa Tesei and had an awesome time working there - he is a capo and I was able to learn a lot from him. My comp then stayed in Hurlingham with Elder Santillan and during the day they visited a 9 year old girl that we are preparing for baptism in order to teach her. Well, in the process they invited her to be baptized this Satuday (the 9th of December) and she was super excited to say yes! So, we ought to have that to look forward to this week. :D

Later in the week then, I got to return the favor to the zone leaders then and perform a baptismal interview for them (my first time doing so) - and the person passed awesomely, and will be getting baptized this Saturday as well. It was a really cool experience to have.

This last Sunday in church too then, a newer member brought most of his family with him that aren't members (5 of them) and they all loved it. We are going to pass by and hopefully be able to teach them tomorrow and so I can hopefully give an update on that next week.

Other than that though, there isn't a whole lot new to tell for this week, and so I hope that you all have a great week!

Elder McCollum

Monday, November 27, 2017

Ninety Nine Weeks

Hello Everyone!

This has been a really great week! There have been lots of small little moments that really made it awesome.

First of all, there was one day that we were headed to the radio but running a little behind, and so we were just barely going to make it (if the bus were to get to the bus stop quickly). As we were walking towards the stop however, someone driving by stopped their car and asked if we were heading to morris (where the radio is located at). We told him that we were and he said that he was headed in that general direction and could leave us close. I thought about it for a split second, then took a look at my comp and we decided to let him give us a lift. It turns out that he lived in the next neighborhood over (where there were other missionaries), but at some point in the past he had listened to them and even gone to church there once or twice. Getting caught up talking with him then, he took us even closer than he originally intended leaving us right where we needed to be (with a couple minutes to make it to the radio station and get ourselves set up and comfortable to begin), even though by doing so he had to make a loop back to where he originally wanted to go. It was awesome though to recieve help from such a cool person though and hopefully he can start meeting with the missionaries again in the near future.

Another day then, as we got on the bus to go to a different part of our area, someone seated waved for us to come over and speak with them. He asked "Are you the missionaries in this area?" We told him that we were, then came his follow up question: "Do you want a referral of someone you can go teach?" - It was awesome. We noted it down and will be going in these next couple of days, but turns out that he was a member in a ward closer to the capital, but had moved there not that long ago from Santa Fe (a different province). Thus, he knew a couple of missionaries in the mission that he asked after, but was just travelling through our area to visit his wife in her work (and thus passing us the referral of someone he knew along the way). It was awesome, and I hope that it turns out well.

This last Saturday too then, we had an activity "Open Chapel", where we had the chapel set up with a bunch of different banners of basic teachings that we share and then go inviting anybody and everyone to come in and learn a little more or at least see what it's like inside. It wasn't my first time participating in one, but it was really cool because a couple of members were able to bring friends along (who really showed a lot of interest in the gospel,). Thus, we will be arranging appointments to be able to go and teach them hopefully this week. There were also some members that haven't been to church in a while that we have been working with that showed up too (and a couple of them showed up on sunday morning in church too. It was really awesome.

Last of all too then, we had a zone conference with Ramos Mejía and Caseros today, and it was a really cool and a really spiritually uplifting experience. There was one thing that was really weird however. Normally in those meetings, those who are in their last transfer (and thus about to finish the mission) stand up to give their testimony. I have listened to many of them haha. What was really weird however was that today they asked me to give my testimony. I never really could imagine myself at that point in the mission (and still can't...), and so it was a pretty surreal experience. 

Other than that though, there wasn't really anything else new this week and so I hope you have a great week!

Elder McCollum


2538,2539,2540 - As I was looking through some seasoning packets that had been left behind by the former mission president and his wife, I realized that I had grabbed one to make enchilidas. Looking at it, I realized how easy they were to make and so I obliged. They were tasty. They were also the first mexican food I have had in over a year and a half, so I quite enjoyed it.

2542 - A table that we set up at the entrance of the Open Chapel event.

2546 - Today at the end of the zone conference, they took us to a restaurant to eat instead of just ordering food to be delivered to the offices. It was pretty nice and I had some pretty tasty chicken. (The picture includes about a fourth of us who were there).

Monday, November 20, 2017

Ninety Eight Weeks

Hello Everyone!

This has been a pretty occupied week - we have been balancing a lot of different things in our area but perhaps the most exciting has been the radio program that we started. It is pretty fun because we have to go writing the programs quickly, but they also have to come out well. The really entertaining part though is the lack of a computer to help us out. We have been going writing everything by hand and then getting photocopies but on Sunday for example when we couldn't pay to get copies I had to type out the portion of the program that my comp had written on the typewriter in the pench in order to have my own copy. Our program also includes music, but the music that we use I have on a really small memory card in our really simplistic phone, and so using the phone I had to go organizing folders of the music and renaming files, and then copy them over afterwards to the computer in the radio station using a memory card adapter.

All in all though, it turned out quite well though (or so it would seem). The first night I finished the program a little earlier than time, and so after a brief snippet of Shakira, we got a violin piece to fill out the last couple of minutes. The second one then there was a few minutes of silence there at the beginning because I had forgotten to turn on the microphones... Thus my comp and I were doing a program for ourselves haha. Last night though, the third night it all seemed to come out a little smoother.

In other fun news, this coming Saturday we are going to have an event know as an open chapel, where there is going to be a nice presentation of some of the basic teachings of the church inside, with visual displays, and then the whole ward goes out trying to invite friends and just whoever else they can find to come and learn a little more. It ought to be fun, and I have been using the Radio to announce it as well so hopefully there will be a decent turn out.

Other than that, there hasn't been a whole lot too terribly new. We've been out in our area a lot, but we have been in the phase of trying to find more new people to teach once again so there isn't too much to tell there, though there are some people that seem to be coming along nicely in their progress.

I love you all though and hope you have a great week!
Elder McCollum

2493 - A cool old car seen while out working (It was a chevy; normally cars of this age that are still around tend to be Ford)
2495 - The same car
2497 - First night on the Radio
2507 - The train that takes us through our area (or the tracks at least). We use it a lot.
2509 - The Radio station. Notice the red "On Air" light. (We were a couple minutes from starting here).
2510 - Better view of the radio setup we use.
2515 - The command center; the captain's seat
2519 - One completely written program, complete with handwritten pages, typewritten pages, and music organized with the phone shown.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Ninety Seven Weeks

Hello Everyone!

This has been a really busy (read fun) week.

First of all on Tuesday we had transfers - It was a pretty fun experience. I was there waiting with Elder Mooneyham for our new companions and he was pretty nervous because he was going to be living in an apartment with 4 missionaries, but where he was going to be the only yankee. All the rest were latinos (and one from Brasil at that). Someone told him though that his companion - despite being from Ecuador - spoke really good English and he seemed to relax a little. A few minutes later his companion showed up and the first exchange between them went something like this (all in spanish of course):
Elder Ruiz: "Elder Mooneyham! So you're my new companion! How's your spanish going?"
Elder Mooneyham: "Not so good - I understand more or less, but still have a lot to learn." (Though his spanish was already excellent for the time he had).
Elder Ruiz: "Well that's okay, I don't know a single thing about English, so we'll be able to learn a lot together."
I had to bit my lip hard and turn away to keep from laughing out loud. (It seems like he is doing well with it though).

The following days then were really good. On Wendesday we were able to visit an investigator that I have not been able to visit in a while, but that is really great (Antonela), and brought a member with us to the lesson. We taught her about the Plan of Salvation and invited her to be baptized and she accepted to do so on December 2nd. I was really excited, because she too was really  happy about the decision and seemed pretty firm in it. The next few weeks then we're just going to really have to help her out so that she can make it.

Friday then we spent almost the entire afternoon writing the script for the radio program that we are starting this week. In the end, we are going to be sharing the missionary lessons over the air (about the Restoration, the Plan of Salvation, the Gospel of Christ, etc.) at least to start, but we are going to be putting a big focus on using the scriptures to do so as well. It ought to be fun - it's just a couple days away. (I also found out that that was part of the reason we had changes - so that I could have a Latino companion that speaks well to be part of the radio program with me).

On Saturday then, we got to help a member of the ward mix cement by hand (with rock mixed in) to be able to lay a walkway to the entrance of his house. (Up until now it has been dirt with wood pallets). That was a lot of fun (and some good physical exercise). I end up doing more of the shovel work, and my comp ended up doing most of the work smoothing it out, but it turned out nice.

Lunchtime on Saturday too then (just before we had the service project) our bishop called and asked one of us to give a talk on Sunday of about 15 minutes long. I offered that I could, and he thanked us and that was that. I prepared it Saturday night, and then in church on Sunday morning the bishop pulled us out of the class we were in and asked my comp to also give a talk, of 15 minutes. I was thankful I had accepted the day before (since I had more time to prepare haha) but we both ended up giving 15 minute talks, with the only other speaker being a 5 minute talk by a member. It was fun haha.

Other than that, there isn't all that much else new. I was made district leader again this transfer, and so I am going to attach a picture of the district - three of the people changed from last transfer. We are now myself, Elder Tuncar (from Peru), Elder Wasson (Hawaii), his new new missionary (Elder Carrizo from Santa Fe, Argentina), Hermana Johnson (Moab, Utah), and Hermana Carvalho (Brasil). It ought to be a fun group to be with these next few weeks.

I hope that you all are doing good though, and hope that you have a great week!

Elder McCollum

2451 - Bye to Elder Mooneyham
2463 - Elder Tuncar, my new companion (on our way to service)
2465 - We replaced all the dirt here with cement
2471 - Mixing the cement. Just a patch of driveway, sand, cement, water, and a shovel.
2472 - Doing work
2476 - Elder Tuncar levelling it all out
2478 - An hour or so of work later
2480 - The finished concrete mix
2484 - Sunset over the railroad tracks
2487 - The district

Monday, November 6, 2017

Ninety Six Weeks

Hello Everyone!

We have transfers this week! It is really weird, because now all those that had more time than me in the mission have gone home and I am now in the group of missionaries that have more time than anyone else (6 weeks left to go). It's going to be an interesting last transfer as well because Elder Mooneyham is moving on to a different area and I am going to be with an Elder from Peru (Elder Tuncar). I was surprised; I had really been expecting to be sticking with Elder Mooneyham but it ought to be fun to finish with a latino companion. I've had one from Chile and a good few from different parts of Argentina, but never a companion from Peru. All the same, he will make it a nice round number of 20 companions that I have had haha.

Other than that, there is not a whole lot crazy new to be honest. We did find a lot of new investigators and then had 3 investigators in church on Sunday, which was really awesome. I also followed up with the Radio Station and learned how to work their system, and so now a week from Wednesday we are going to start with that and it should be fun. The site is for anyone that wants to look it up (9-10pm argentine time Wednesday and Thursday, 8pm-9pm argentine time Sunday, starting the 15th).

I love you all though and hope that you all have a great week!

Elder McCollum

2429 - A cool old Mercedes seen in Loma Hermosa while on divisions there
2431 - Same
2432 - Same
2438 - When you get to have a lot of time in the mission, your shoes can get a little worn out.
2439 - There was still plenty of rubber left, but the holes would get rocks in them, so I came up with a creative fix. "Dill with it"
2441 - Another repair to be made to our pench - the black plastic part was separating from the shiny part, spraying water everywhere and killing the water pressure. Once again, a creative (though hopefully temporary) fix.
2442 - Same
2445 - A huge district meeting that we had today - we had another district mixed in with us because of companions finishing the mission and going home.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Ninety Five Weeks

Hello Everyone!

This has been a really busy week with a lot going on, but it has been a really good one. We have been visiting lots of people this week, and have had some really awesome lessons.

On Tuesday we had divisions, and I stayed in Hurlingham with Elder Alexander. On that day, we found an elderly woman named Ramona and her almost as elderly son, Mario. They invited us in to teach them and we did, and they were really attentive and really kind with us. I felt pretty sorry for them though because Ramona had a really bad operation on her foot and cannot walk (nor even stand on her own it seems) and is hard of hearing and doesn't have the best vision, and then her son Mario that lives with her is blind. They have someone that comes and lifts her out of bed into a chair, where she sits the entire day (with Mario sitting in a chair right next to her) just looking at the door, and then at night someone comes and brings them dinner and then lifts her into bed. I was later able to go back with Elder Mooneyham and teach them once again (where they were equally receptive). We hope to be able to go back with members though to be able to get them some more help.

We then also had a zone conference this week, where we had some new announcements that are pretty big (at least for us). 
1) All the meetings we normally have throughout the week will all be consolidated to Monday, which means no P-day monday (though we will still write in the Ciber on Mondays). P-days however will be on Thursdays, but will be an hour shorter. All the same though, it should be awesome because it means that we might actually be able to get out and visit around some stuff in Hurlingham instead of just getting the pench cleaned and doing our shopping. :)
2) We can now contact and speak to new people in vos, the Argentine form of Tu. To explain there is a distinction in spanish between a familiar "you" and a more formal "you" that doesn't exist in English. Vos (tu) is the more familiar form and so normally you don't use it as a missionary (being more respectful). In Argentina however, that distinction doesn't really exist as much anymore and so now our mission president is letting us use the more familiar form. It is different, but quite fun.

On Saturday then, we had a zone-wide activity where we had a set-up in one of the big parks here nearby with different missionaries singing, playing instruments, etc. to draw some attention as we went around talking to the people there in the park. It was really cool, but the funny part is that they had a small choir of missionaries (just us in the zone) sing a few hymns as well. This was anticipated. The needed someone to conduct though, and so somehow (still not sure how) I ended up being the one doing it. This was not anticipated. It was fun though, and we had a great time.

Last big thing of the week though is that we were able to follow up with the Radio station that spoke with us, along with our mission President and we will have one hour to be on the air, 3 times a week (Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday nights). That'll be starting on November 15th, but I'll keep you all up to date on that. (It'll be primarily online too though, so I might even be able to give you the site to tune into, though it'll be in spanish :D )

Other than that though, there wasn't too much terribly new for this week. I love you all though and hope you have a great week!

Elder McCollum

9089 - Elder Venecia and I ran into each other again (maybe for the last time) in the big zone conference. 
2383 - Elder Mooneyham and I walking alongside the railroad tracks to an appointment one day.
2387 - Elder Alexander and I on divisions, waiting on the train to finish the night.
2398 - The setup we had in the park.
2401 - Me directing the choir...
2402 - The choir!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Ninety Four Weeks

Hello Everyone!

This was a great week! We didn't have too much going on by way of meetings and other things, and so we were able to get a decent amount of time out in our area.

We were able to visit one of our investigators, Natalia, twice after not having had contact with her in about 2 weeks. Both lessons were great, and it was really awesome being able to help her because she was in a pretty emotionally bad state the second time. As a matter of fact, we normally teach her on her front patio (we can't go inside if there isn't another man inside), and this time she didn't even bother bringing a chair out for herself, rather choosing to sit on the floor. So, we too forewent the chairs and were able to set on the floor and visit with her. It was a really cool experience and I feel as though we were able to help her a lot by it.

We also foudn 4 new investigators to teach this week (we have been looking for a long time but haven't been having a ton of success). They are all super great, and we are looking forward to following up with them this week. 

We were also able to go on divisions with the Zone Leaders, and I was able to learn a lot from them. They definetely helped us to give a boost to our area as well and so we are hoping to keep up that pace now these next few weeks.

Other than that though, there isn't a whole lot super new. This next week is going to be full of meetings every single day, so we'll see how much time we get in our area to do things. I hope we can manage our time well enough to be able to work a lot too still, but we'll have to see how it all goes.

I hope you all have a great week though and love you all!
Elder McCollum


2347 - Sun setting over a cool large house next to the train station
2372 - An argentina public bus ride at night

Monday, October 16, 2017

Ninety Three Weeks

Hello Everyone!

This week we honestly didn't teach a whole lot of people, but there was a lot of interesting things going on. First of all, we had interviews with the mission president on Thursday, and so while we were waiting I got to run across a couple of other missionaries that I had made good friends with in the past but that I hadn't seen in a long time, which was really cool. Also while we were waiting though, there were some of the missionaries that had just made it to Argentina not that long ago that were talking about stuff going on in the USA or on the world stage that made me realize I now know more about Argentine politics than those of my own country haha. I got a laugh out of that one.

On Friday then we had divisions, and my companion got to go and work in my old area (Loma Hermosa) and got to teach Esteban while over there. He too affirms that Esteban is awesome. In our area though, I was with Elder Wasson (from Hawaii). While we were walking down the street however, we saw someone with a bunch of newspaper clippings and random things pasted on plywood outside of his house, among them a photo of Joseph Smith. We decided to contact it and the dude turned out to be a totally conspiracy theorist, drawing super tiny connections with everything that really had no basis in anything. He claimed that it was research in Jewish Vampiric history (no clue what that means...), and that it had to do with the government wanting to force everyone to work. It was interesting meeting him, however we were on our way after not too long.

On Saturday then we were approached by someone from a fairly new radio station that we walk by frequently that asked us if we would like to have a one hour spot on his station to have some kind of religious program. I was super excited because I have always wanted to try and get something put on the radio as a means of finding new people to teach my entire mission, but never got the opportunity to do so. I will be in touch (hopefully) with the public affairs representative for the church though to see if we can't do something. If we were able to, it would be awesome and he said that we could have up to 3 one-hour spots per week. More on that in the future. :)

Lastly, yesterday (Sunday) was mother's day in Argentina, so we got to speak with our parents. It was kind of an unexpected surprise, but it was a really fun experience and I got to enjoy calling home. After the call, we were visiting with the member whose home we were in and it somehow came out that he had an old typewriter. He got it out to show off some and when I showed interest in it (it was really cool), he lent it to us to take back to our apartment and use and so now I have a really cool way to write in my journal. It's pretty neat.

Other than that though, there is not a whole lot new with me and so I hope that you all have a great week!

Elder McCollum

catholic chapel
elder venecia
jose smith and the conspiracy theorist
radio dude

2300 - A cool catholic chapel in our area
2309 - Elder Venecia, a friend from when I was in the offices that I came across during interviews.
2314 - Conspiracy therist clippings
2315 - Picture of Joseph Smith among the clippings
2318 - Elder Wasson (from Hawaii) during divisions
2330 - The typewriter case
2332 - The typewriter! (A Remington 20)

Monday, October 9, 2017

Ninety Two Weeks

Hello Everyone!

This has been a really good week!

First of all, on Wednesday my companion had to go do his documentation paperwork in the capital, and so during the morning I got to go with another missionary that is training to Atalaya - my second area that I haven't been back to since June of last year. It was a really cool experience because I got to some converts that I have there who got married and baptized 2 weeks after I left (that was a sad time to go...) but that I haven't seen since. It was Aliana Suarez and two of her daughters (her husband was working so he wasn't there), but it was really really cool. We also got to visit a member family that we had made really good friends with but that I also hadn't seen or heard from since.

That afternoon too then we were able to teach a new investigator named Antonela that is super awesome. She was a referral from a member and he and his wife were both there for the first lesson. It went really well because they were able to testify to her too and be the ones that were able to extend all the invitations.

On Friday then I got a nice 1st degree burn from having some boiling water fall on my arm. Here they like to drink mate, which requires having a thermos (normally insulated with double layered glass with a plastic outer shell) full of hot water to pour in the drinking recipient. Well, I was visiting a member and one such thermos started to fall and I reached out to catch it, but had it break in my hand, which blew all the broken glass and hot water out onto my arm. Luckily I didn't get any cuts, but it means that I get to put on burn cream and gauze every morning and night and walk around with a cool sleeve during the day that I made out of a blue sock by cutting the toe off haha. (It really is okay, just a little inflamed the skin so no need for anyone to worry).

All of Saturday morning then we got to help our ward mission leader with service. He bought a new house (that had been practically abandoned) and so we got to help him clean out his entire patio. It was a lot of fun because it involved moving all kinds of heavy stuff out, cutting down trees and branches with a hatchet and then shoving around a little Fiat 600 to get it ready to be hauled out of there. 

Elder Mooneyham has been doing great too then; he has a spiritual power that I don't even think that he is aware of. The other day we visited a less active member that is really great but has only been to church a handful of times since he was 16 and went inactive (he is now in his mid 20s). In just talking, it came out that Elder Mooneyham was a convert of just over a year and that his parents weren't really supportive of him in the church. I didn't realize it in the moment, but it really touched him (the less active). We were then sitting in sacrament meeting in church on Sunday, and out of nowhere that less active walked in and sat down (in jeans and a t-shirt). I was stunned because it was someone who has had almost constant contact with missionaries even while he has been less active, but he said afterward that what really touched him was Elder Mooneyham's testimony. He also said that he was so choked up with emotion being back in the chapel that he could barely even speak (and it showed), and was already talking about when his 2 year old daughter serves a mission too, etc. It was a super awesome experience, and though I'm not sure Elder Mooneyham grasped the depth of it, he really can make a big impact in people's lives.

Other than that though, I don't think that there is all that much new to share for this week, so I hope that you all have a great week!

Elder McCollum

2227 - Aliana, Violeta, and Stephy Suarez and I
2237 - Toad was trying to copy a contacting card from easter last year...
2238 - Bandaged up arm (During the day I put a sleeve over it too)
2242 - The burn - fun!
2245 - A toad rescued during service
2252 - Me inside of one of my favorite Argentine cars (Fiat 600)
2256 - They see me rolling...
2259 - The patio that we cleaned up. It's actually cleaner than it looks, we just shoved the car around to get it out some and it is taking up most of the space that we had just cleaned...
1010361 - Elder Mooneyham and I with Elder Mooneyham's MTC teacher, who just so happens to live in our area! (We had lunch with their family following the service).