Monday, March 13, 2017

Sixty Three Weeks

Hello Everyone!
This week has been a pretty adventurous one full of lots of fun stuff. First of all, I'll talk about normal missionary stuff (which has been going awesome) and then about office life to be able to keep my mind straight haha. 

First of all, this Tuesday both of my companions had to stay a little over time in the offices and so I went out to work in our area with one of the other office Elders, and they went out later. It was the first time for me going out to lead this area by myself, but miraculously I didn't get lost, not even inside of the villa. :) We did find a really cool person to teach though named Rosa and so we will hopefully be able to go back and visit her this week. She's a very rare case for Argentina because she's not atheist nor agnostic, just doesn't know hardly anything about god, the bible, etc. and so we explained a little to her there in her door, but she was super open to learning more and invited us back and so we will have to see how that goes.

There was also another person that we taught for the first time named Nicolas - he is the husband of a less active member (whose family is all active, but in another stake) but that actually has sincere interest in learning about the gospel. He's a super cool guy - he has to travel a lot for his work (he works in a coffee brewery type deal where he teaches other how to make huge vats of coffee, and any other coffee drink under the sun, including drawings in the foam on top of lattes) and has his own outdoor van to be able to go on camping and travel adventures with the family. He just needs to load up the equipment and go - it's pretty awesome. We had a super spiritual lesson with him though and like I said he is pretty genuinely interested and so we will see how it goes over time.

Another thing that happened this week is that one day when we went to visit Cristian (an investigator that we have who is 15 years old) He had made me and my companions each a keychain out of some electrical parts he had that looks super awesome (hence it ended up on my keys). It was a super cool gesture though - it's not often that people you teach gift you stuff, much less things that they made by hand and I really appreciated it. 

Last but not least, is that this weekend we are potentially going to have 4 baptisms. They are all planned for this Saturday, but we area really going to have to work to make sure that they all can go through. The people planned are Cristian (the one that made us the keychain) and Fabian (his cousin, and then Armando and Milagros (brother and sister, children of a recent convert). They are all 15-18 years old though, and so it is super cool to be able to help people so close to our age and see them be baptized. I'll be sure to be sending photos next week of those who make it to their baptism. :)

Alright, now for the office stuff:

The biggest, and most fun, and most exciting news about office life for this week is that I get to drive in Argentina! :D Here in the offices we actually have a Volkswagen Amarok (a mid-sized truck with a diesel engine and a 6 speed manual transmission) because we often have to go around and run errands, bring materials to people, pick stuff up in the mail, move missionaries around, etc. It's really fun to drive, and I love it, but it makes me sad that it doesn't exist in the USA. :/ Part of the reason that I was able to be called to the offices is that I have a valid driver's license and I know how to drive manual. Everyone else in the offices is the same (except one that doesn't have a license, and one that doesn't yet know how to drive manual). So when I came to the offices they put in for me to get an international drivers license (and now I have one :D). It's a lot of fun driving in Argentina but a lot different than the states. There is not a single residential intersection that has a stop sign, and pretty much only major intersections get stoplights - a lot of the time it is only a flashing yellow caution light. Also, there are a lot of one way roads, and a lot of them are plenty wide enough to fit 5 cars across, but the only roads that actually have designated lanes are the highways and so in that 4 or 5 lane road, you just put your car where you need it to be, and often times you end up much much closer to cars on either side than you would were there to be an actual lane, and so it definitely keeps you on your toes. It sounds kind of dangerous, but it actual works out in a very natural and fluid kind of way (like people walking on a sidewalk) so it's actually pretty cool.

So, with that, this week I got to go on a few errands. The missionary that doesn't have a license is the one that is in charge of maintaining and coordinating all the apartments in the mission, and so he is often in need of going to sign a contract, or having to help someone move from one apartment to another. In my position in the offices though, I tend to have more free time than others as I can get my work done quicker, and so I imagine I will be accompanying him a lot. This last week though we got to do a move, from an apartment on the 3rd floor of a building (without elevators) to an apartment on the second floor of a different building. It was a pretty interesting time because we had to move 3 desks, 2 clothing wardrobes that you hang your clothes up in, beds, a fridge, and various other small things such as suitcases, carrying them all down the stairs of one building and lifting them up through the balcony of the other haha. It was a good workout to say the least. :)

On another day I also had to drive to Liniers (about the busiest part of Buenos Aires because it's a transportation center with taxis, big Micros (two story buses that take people long distances), trains, and street vendors all over the place, in the street and on the sidewalk, selling anything you can think of from any country in South America you could think of) with another office Elder to pick up and drop off a couple of sister missionaries so that they could travel to their respective areas via Micro. 

And the last of the driving errands was driving an Australian missionary to the airport because he got reassigned to work in Australia as a missionary instead of Argentina for various reasons. It was kind of sad because it was the hijo (like how I trained Elder Dosdall) of Elder McDonald, the companion that I had for 3 months from California and he had only been in Argentina for 2 weeks. I asked him how it was being the hijo of Elder McDonald though and he said he tried imitating his Australian accent a lot, at which point he would correct him on how he was doing it, and then Elder McDonald would try harder but come of with a New Zealand accent instead haha. He was super good spirits about it all though, so I know he'll be able to do just fine in Australia as well.

Other than that though, there is not all that much new to tell for this week, so I hope that you all are doing well and that you can all have a great week!
Elder McCollum

Foto0030 - One of the walkways in the villa we always visit
Foto0034 - Entering the Villa (in a different pasillo)
DSC01440 - Keychain that Cristian made us
DSC01441 - Keychain that Cristian made us (2)
DCS01436 - The Truck that we get to drive in the offices :D
DSC01437 - International Driver's License
DSC01438 - All the countries I can drive in
DSC01439 - The License itself
DSC01421 - Super huge row of toll booths (leaving there are no lanes until it goes back down to normal interstate width of 3-4 lanes, which makes it look very funny with a bunch of cars just driving on a randomly super wide patch of asphalt)
DSC01430 - The International Airport in Ezeiza
DSC01435 - Photo of Elder McKay with Elder Moreno and I

Lots of pictures, but hope you all enjoy! :D

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