Monday, April 24, 2017

Sixty Eight Weeks

Hello Everyone!

This has been a really good week!

To be honest, there has been not a whole lot going on, but one really cool thing that we did this week was go to our mission President's house for P-day (our day off) and we played American football, Frisbee, ping-pong, and tether-ball with his two kids, Dallin and Dallas. His wife then made us a super tasty lunch of a mexican-ish chicken and an ice cream dessert that was a base of crushed up oreos with ice cream on top, and a topping of frozen strawberries and strawberry jam. It was super super good, and President cut us each a huge slice of it with a grin, so that was awesome. :)

Afterwards too then, me and my companions had to go to Capital Federal (capital city of Buenos Aires) to look for a passport of a missionary that had lost in traveling. It was hilarious though because ElderSmellie and I were just in normal everyday clothes, but Elder Durfee had brought a shirt and tie and changed into before leaving President's house so we were walking around dressed completely different and it was pretty funny looking. 

I also had to drive out to Lujan with Elder Venecia this week and it really started feeling like Fall. In the city, you don't notice the change of seasons all that much but there were some awesome tree lined drives that got it really feeling like Fall. Also, we passed by the Basilica (a HUGE catholic chapel that is known by all of Buenos Aires and located in Lujan). It was a really cool sight to see but we didn't actually have a chance to stop and get out to look it at since we were working, but we managed to get a picture while driving bye.

We have been able to get out to our area a decent amount this last week though, which is awesome. I got a picture from a member's house of the area that we most work in, Villa de Los Russos, and so I will include a picture so that you can see what it looks like. One of our investigators (a 15 year old named Cristian) that lives in Villa de Los Russos has been sharing the gospel with all of his family and this Sunday he brought his sister and 3 of his cousins with him to church, as well as his older brother who is already a member. It was super awesome to see them all there, along with a few other investigators that came. We really are super blessed with our area - we see so many small miracles, and even though we spend less time in our area than I have been able to spend in past areas when I wasn´t in the offices we are able to have a lot of success with finding people to help and teach. It´s really awesome.
There isn't really all that much more that happened this week though, so I hope that you all have a good week!

Elder McCollum

1629 - Villa de Los Russos (Where we spend most of the time in our area)
1630 - Villa de Los Russos Panoramic

1635 - Tree Lined Drive Number 1
1644 - Tree Lined Drive Number 2

1648 - La Basilica - Giant Catholic chapel

8751 - All of us in the Office

0427 - Us with Dallin and Dallas playing Ultimate Frisbee
0429 - Ice Cream dessert at President's house

0443 - A Huge villa that we saw on our way to capital federal - it was a good few stories tall, many blocks large, and had just walkways to get around inside no wider than a hallway.

0452 - Skyscrapers in Capital Federal
0455 - Elder Durfee dressed up while Elder Smellie and I were in normal clothes during our trip to Capital Federal to look for the passport.​​​​

Monday, April 17, 2017

Sixty Seven Weeks

Hello Everyone!

Well this has been a very interesting week!

There has been a whole lot going on, though I haven't really been able to get out to our area all that much this week. I also don't really have all that much time to write, so I'll give a short little tidbit about a bunch of pictures. Needless to say as you see them, I didn't spend that much time in the office either - I was out and about running around doing a ton of different things. This coming week though we should be a lot more time in our area, and I look forward to it. I really enjoy being able to help other missionaries in the offices but I enjoy even more so being able to get out and help people in need. You have to learn to enjoy both though, so with that in mind, this was my week:

1598 - Traffic in Argentina. I did a lot of driving this week and most of the traffic was something like this. It gets heavier though and much more tightly packed than this. It keeps you on your toes though. :)
1604 - Not sure if you all remember at the beginning of the mission me being on a bike, and said bike always having problems but the mission is starting to replace them. Thus, one day this week we had to go look for nice, new, and shiny bikes.
1608 - One of the days we went almost to the farthest out area in the mission and it was very rural. Well, the GPS decided to send us down a pretty harsh dirt road that turned into a nice muddy road the last short stretch before we made it to the paved road we were looking for. It was a fun drive, but the truck got kind of Dirty.
1611 - Remember how Elder Ehlert is no longer in the offices and no longer my comp? Well one day, I had to take him a map of his new area and it turns out that him, the other Elder from the offices that went with me, and I were dressed almost exactly the same. We took a picture of it.
1613 - Elder Ehlert's pension is also super cold at night, so we got him a nice thick blanket. We gave it to him nice and folded and within five minutes I saw him like this.
1619 - One night as we were coming back from running an errand, Elder Venecia and Elder Alexander who were with me were hungry and wanted to get something to eat. We found a place called Maxxi Fried Chicken that was "interesting" and they bought food there, and I bought a peruvian soda "English Cola" that tasted like liquid red vines. It was interesting, but I wasn't going to pass up an opportunity to try it. They also gave us a huge calendar free with a picture of a winking chicken (their logo) on it and so we also took an opportunity to get a good picture there.
1622 - One day Elder Durfee's lock screen was eerily similar to him... (the pictures changed every day automatically)
8559 - Road trip dinner the day we drove out to the farthest area in the mission. It was a 350 mile round trip drive and dinner was from a gas station at the halfway point. It was a very tasty sandwich.
8533 - Scenic view that day we drove to the farthest out area in the mission. It was pretty. :)

Also, this morning Elder Russell M. Nelson visited both our mission and the Buenos Aires North Mission, and so it was super awesome to see and hear from an apostle in such a small-crowded setting. I don't have any picture of that though. :)

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

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Sixty Six Weeks

Hello Everyone!
In the offices we are in the process of going through transfers (which will happen on Tuesday) and so I will not be able to write on Monday like normal. They gave us today to write, and so hey! I am writing you all early. :) 

All the same though, there is not all that much to share because a lot of the super fun stuff (like helping people come to church) happens during the weekend. This week though with transfers coming up we have been super busy in the offices though and maybe not so much in our area. 

First of all, our mission is going to be changing phone providers (I think that I mentioned this last week) but I have to figure out how to coordinate that all and make sure that everyone in the mission is able to keep going with their phone with as little downtime as possible. There are approximately 100 phones in the mission and each one will be receiving a new sim card, and about 25 of them will have to have the phone replaced as well. It has taken a little of my time to try and figure out how to coordinate it all (there is no written process for it, you just have to figure out what works best and do it), and so that has been kind of fun. I'm sending a picture of all 130 phone chips that we recieved (we received 30 extra as spares) so you can have an idea of what that looks like in case you were curious haha.

Also, Elder Ehlert is going to be leaving the offices this transfer, and so I already have a new companion, Elder Durfee, because Elder Ehlert had to train him in all his responsibilities that he has to perform in the offices as well. He is from Utah, but I have never met perhaps a single person in my life that smiles as much as he does. It's kind of freaky at times, but really contagious haha. 

Other than that, Cristian (our investigator) is still doing really well. He keeps on inviting all his cousins to listen to us, and so we have found yet a few more new people to teach this week. We have also been able to visit some other people that we haven´t been able to see in a while, but as I said we have been mostly in the offices with transfers going on and haven´t had a lot of time to get out to our area. Next week though, all should hopefully be back to normal. 

There´s not really all that much new for this week though, so the email for this week is kind of short. Hope you all are doing well though, and hope you all have a great week!

Elder McCollum

Monday, April 3, 2017

Sixty Five Weeks

Hello Everyone!

Well this has been a very interesting week. More so than the usual, that is.

First of all, with the normal missionary stuff:

This last weekend was general conference instead of just normal church meetings, and so we were able to go and watch it both on Saturday and on Sunday. On Saturday, the first session started at 1:00 and so we were able to have lunch with a member just before at 11:30. Well, it just so happened to be one of the tastiest lunches I have eaten since being here. It was asado (Argentine grilling) and it was super well done. In asado, you cook the meat with just the embers of a wood fire you have going on the side, and so it comes out super super juicy and tasty, and often you eat it on a wooden tablero instead of just a normal plate. I included a picture of it, and all the juices that you see on the tablero were just juices that came from the meat. Yum.

Saturday for the afternoon too then, one of our investigators, Cristian (15 years old) came, but not just by himself. Rather he brought along his sister and one of his cousins with him too, which is awesome. It was the first time that we were actually able to talk with his sister, because normally she is super shy and every time that we go over to visit with Cristian, she goes to her room and isn't there to listen with us. I'm super excited though, because we are going to visit with all of them tonight, as well as Cristian's cousin, Fabian, that has been going to church with him well over a month now (and who is also going to bring his sister that we have never visited with before). It is super awesome though, and it's really cool to be able to help so many teenagers that are living in or near a villa that are really great kids and are stretching for something more in their lives. 

For general conference then, you normally go to the stake center (a larger meeting house where they broadcast it to) instead of just your normal meeting house, and since my last area is in the same stake, I was able to come across Diego again! I'm not sure if you all remember, but Diego is the older man from Uruguay that Elder Dosdall and I found and were teaching a good while that made huge changes in his life as he started living the gospel. He's still not baptized, but he is doing super good and I was super happy to see him (and him me :D ). It was definitely one of the highlights of this week. 

As far as office stuff goes:

This week has been crazy - I have had a ton of stuff to do all week and on top of it all, the mission was going through trainings and so I had to go and help out with that one day, which cut a day off of the time that I had in the office. On another day too then, Elder Venecia (the office Elder that is in charge of all the apartments) had to take a new contract all the way to Chacabuco (about 2-3 hours west of the offices in car) to drop off in order to be able to open a new apartment there. Since he doesn't drive, I got to be the one to go there with him. It was super fun, and it was super rural, with nothing but huge open fields for a good part of the drive. Chacabuco itself though reminded me a lot of my first area. It had a main plaza just like Chivilcoy, with statues and everything, and so I have included pictures of that trip as well. We left at 9 in the morning and got back around 6 (we had to make a couple other stops as well). We used a full tank of gas though, and put between 400 and 500 kilometers more on the car haha.

Another super crazy thing then is that we are going to be changing cell service providers as a mission, and so the man that is our connection to those cell service providers sent an email to every single mission in Argentina (about 14 of them) since they all too wanted to make the change, asking for a list of the numbers that we use in the mission as well as a few other bits of information, and then at the end of the email he put in big bold letters and highlighted "The first mission that provides me with that information in the format asked for will be the first to change, and all the others will follow in the order that I receive them." The email arrived at 12:37. We responded at 1:14. We were hoping to be first because we are currently going through some decently big problems with the service we are using and so we were pretty excited when about half an hour later he sent us an email saying that we were the first to get him the information asked for, and so we will be the first to change. I was pretty excited and pretty happy, but now 130 sim cards arrived this morning, and so it kind of hit me how much of a headache that ought to be to get them all activated with a number and sent out haha. We'll see how that goes this week.

Other than that though, not all that much new. Still loving life and enjoying being a missionary. Hope you all are doing good though, and so have a great week!
Elder McCollum

1479 - Drive to Chacabuco
1480 - Drive to Chacabuco
1489 - Main Plaza of Chacabuco. Super green.
1490 - Cool looking Catholic chapel in Chacabuco
1491 - Statue in Chacabuco
1492 - Monument in Chacabuco
1494 - Elder Venecia and I in Chacabuco
1495 - ASADO (yum)
1497 -  Cooking asado - you can notice the fire to the right where the embers will come from
1503 - Diego and I