Monday, June 26, 2017

Seventy Seven Weeks

Hello Everyone!

This has been a very busy week. Exciting(?) news is that the next time that I write you, I will have a new mission president. Thus, in the offices it has been quite busy preparing for that change. There's not really all that much exciting to tell though, but there are a couple of fun little tidbits of the week to share.

First - One thing that made this week especially busy is that last P-Day there was an Elder playing soccer that accidentally stepped on the ball as he was going after it and fell, doing some serious damage to his knee. Thus, we had to go and pick him up and take him to the doctor to get an MRI. Following that, he was stuck in a knee brace and couldn't go out to proselyte and so there was yet another change of a couple companionships we had to help coordinate so that his companion could go back to his area and keep working while he stayed in the offices with us, waiting the diagnosis from the doctors in the USA (we sent the MRI images to them to look at). Well, after the diagnosis came back he had a ruptured ACL and some other minor problems which would entail a surgery and a 6-7 month recovery. Thus, he was sent home to receive treatment. It was kind of weird because normally you can receive treatment and then come back to finish your two years as a missionary, but once you have already passed 18 months then you can't come back. This missionary had 19 months and so his mission ended just like that without warning. He took it really well though and was super good spirited even as we drove him to the airport. The pictures included this week are of two missionaries we had to pick up at 11:00 at night from Liniers as part of that last minute change, and then him in the airport just before catching his flight. The entire week he was getting around with just crutches, but in the airport they were nice enough to get him an attendant to push him around in a wheelchair to make the whole process easier for him.

Second - We were able to get an investigator to church this Sunday! This new area I am in is a really good area, but it is going to take a little bit of work. There haven't been that many people that have received a lot of teaching from missionaries in this past few months and thus very few that have actually made it to church. There is one though that has been taught already a large majority of the lessons normally taught by missionaries, but after more than a month had still never made it to church. She expressed one concern being that she didn't have a skirt to wear, and so we found one that was left behind by sister missionaries who had finished their mission and brought it to her, and then got her excited to be able to come on Sunday. She got prepared then on Saturday to go, charging her bus pass and everything to be able to make it. Last minute though, her son needed to go to the hospital since his baby was sick and so she lent her bus pass to him with the promise that he would bring it back before Sunday morning so she could go, but she called us on Sunday morning stating that he still hadn't returned it but that she was all dressed and ready to go already. Thus, we waited in the entrance of the chapel for the members to start coming and the first member that passed by in a car we asked if they could take us to her and pick her up to bring her. They agreed to help, and so we were able to get her a ride to church and she ended up loving it, as well as her 8 year old son that came with her. It was an awesome day and probably the victory of the week for us as missionaries as far as I am concerned haha.
Other than that though, there is not all that much new to tell and so I hope that you all have a great week! Love you all!

Elder McCollum

Monday, June 19, 2017

Seventy Six Weeks

Hello Everyone!

So this has been a very busy week! (But awesome nonetheless!) To start out, we had transfers on Tuesday and almost the entire mission had changes so that everything could be well set up for President Resek when he gets here and so he won´t have to change around a lot of missionaries right off the bat. Well, that was a very busy day and it went off without really any problems... ...except those that had to take a micro out to their area in campo (a micro being a two story busy that they use to travel long distances) were not able to take all their luggage with them, and so the next day (Wednesday) Elder Cespedes and I took it all out to them in the truck, once again going all the way to 9 de Julio (the farthest point in the mission, making a round trip drive of 550 kilometers or about 350 miles). It was pretty funny because along the way we saw a Mate dispenser along the side of the road as we went through a toll booth (Mate being an Argentine herbal drink that has a cup with shredded leaves in it and hot water which you drink through a special kind of filtered straw - making a dispenser kind of a bizarre item). Also, we replaced a couple of mattresses for the Hermanas in 9 de Julio, and the old ones we were able to fold in half with ease to get them to fit in the truck bed again. I think their lifetime was just about up haha. 

On Thursday then we were also able to go to President's house to have breakfast with him, his wife, and his son as they were going to be moving out Friday. It was really delicious and a really fun time. They've only got about a week and a half left now of their mission, and then they too will be on their way home.

The biggest news for this week though is that I was also changed in transfers! I will be staying in the offices a little while longer, but I got switched to the other area the office Elders work in. There are 6 of us in the offices, and before we worked in two trios, but President didn't want that and so I got switched and am now in a companionship of 4 missionaries! (With my two old companions staying in my old area). It is definitely an interesting experience, I have to say that haha. It means though that I am now in my 8th area and now have had 16 companions (17 with my MTC companion included). I am really excited though because this new ward is super eager to help the missionaries in what we do. I have had people on all sides offering to go out and visit with us, and there are lots of people that have been sharing the gospel with their family and friends that they now want us to visit as well. It ought to be a really awesome time here. The ward in and of itself is pretty interesting though - my new Bishop's wife is the daughter of one of my MTC companion's Mission President (and she had heard plenty of him from her dad as he was in the offices for some time as well in his mission). There are also a couple of members that gave us dinner one night that had lived in Australia for 7 years! Most people here dream of living in the states (and some do go there to stay, and lots go there and then come back), but they had decided to live in Australia right after getting married (and both of them are Argentine). I thought it was awesome, but they have now been back here a long time since that had happened. Another Hermana too then had some fairly recent Italian roots (her parents or grandparents) and it showed. One day she made us lunch that we went and picked up from her son while she wasn't there and took it back to our apartment to eat. At the end of that day though on our way back to the pench, we stopped by (just me and one of my companions - though we are a companionship of 4, we normally work in pairs all the same to cover more area) to thank her for it and see how her family was doing. She invited us in though, and sat us down to talk for a few minutes and while visiting she served us even more food - a bowl of soup each and a miniature chesecake too. It was very tasty. :)

Other than that though, there hasn't been all that much new. It has been getting really cold here and so we have been progressively putting on more and more layers haha. Oddly enough too though, I found a coconut in a vegetable store and bought it (this being the only time of year I have ever seen one for sale). It was tasty too. :) I am excited for this new area though and looking forward to finding even more people to help and to teach. I don't have any pictures of me with my new companions, but I will get some to you all next week.
I hope you all are doing well though, and hope you have a great week!

Elder McCollum

1810 - The truck loaded up with all the luggage and two mattresses for the trip to 9 de Julio (leaving all the missionaries´ luggage with them in their areas along the way).
1811 - Same
1812 - Same
1813 - Mate dispenser passing the Toll Booth
1819 - The sad looking mattresses that we replaced
1825 - The coconut I bought. It was rather hard. A hammer was needed to open it.
1826 - I noticed that our paper shredder had a warning about getting your tie caught in it. It made me laugh. Hopefully it makes you laugh too. :)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Seventy Five Weeks

Hello Everyone!

Well this has been a pretty interesting week. We have been having Zone Conferences all week long as President and Hermana have gone saying goodbye to everyone, and we have had to help out a lot in the offices with that. It was an interesting experience with all their last advice to us and the stories that they shared and it was actually pretty touching. It is going to be interesting when here in 2 or 3 weeks we receive a new mission president. It will be interesting getting used to someone that isn't President or Hermana Robertson but it will be an awesome learning experience at the least. 

Another interesting thing that happened this week is that Elder Dosdall went home. :( He had to go back to the United States so that he could receive better treatment for his ingrown toenails and recover for a couple months and so he was released to do so, but here in a couple months he should be able to come right back to the mission. It was kind of a blessing for him though because his "mission clock" was ticking away how much time he had left as a missionary but he couldn't really get out to do that much prosyleting and so now when he comes back he should be able to finish all of what is left in the mission for him without losing any time just sitting around waiting to get better. All the same it was sad to see him go, but he is awesome and so he will be okay.

As far as our area goes, it has been a little difficult to get out to our area some of these las few days with all the zone conferences, however the days that we have been able to get out and teach have been awesome. We have had a few investigators that I really felt a connection to, as if I knew them from before or something like that. One is a man that is in his 30s that lost his job after being there for 7 years and the last couple of months hasn't really been doing anything with his life, but rather just looking for answers. Another is a youth that is 16 years old (maybe a little more) that bounces back and forth a lot between living with his sister in our area and his mom in a different neighborhood, changing every few weeks. He has kind of taken a step back and looked at all his friends and the villa that he lives in, and just kind of the world around him and realized that none of them really do him a lot of good and is starting to become a little distanced from it all as he tries not to makes bad choices in his life. It was awesome being able to help teach and share with both of them, and they were both really attentive listeners as well. I don't know if I had ever felt that same kind of deep connection before, but it was a really cool experience.

I have a couple other funny stories to share, but I am already out of time for today, so if I can grab some time I will share them next week. Just want to let you all know though that I love you and care for you all.

Elder McCollum

p.s. Have a great week!

The office staff with President and Hermana
Elder Dosdall sitting on his suitcases the day that he went home, just waiting for the remis to arrive that was going to drive him to the airport.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Seventy Four Weeks

Hello Everyone!

This has been a really good week! Elder Dosdall, the missionary that I was able to train, has been in the offices the last few weeks recovering from an ingrown toenail and just this last week he got permission from the doctor to start walking around some again and so he was able to work in our area with us this week (and will do the same next week until he is fully recovered and can get assigned to an area). Thus, we have been a companionship of 4 missionaries, which has been quite fun living in a very small 1 bedroom apartment. More importantly though is that that means we have been able to work in pairs of two and cover a lot more ground, finding 4 new people to teach this week. We were pretty excited about that, but hope to find even more this next coming week as well. Something else really awesome is that we were able to establish contact again with Milagros, a 15 year old girl who was the last person that I baptized (with Elder Ehlert and Elder Moreno). After being baptized, she had a falling out with her father and went to live with her mother. After about 2 months though, she came back and is once again living with her father and so as we stopped by to visit him one day, we ran across her. It was something not quite expected, but it was super awesome and so we hope to be able to help her come back to church again and keep learning and growing.

Other than that, it has been a fairly normal week. This is the last week before transfers and so my next P-day will be on this Saturday, but these will be the last transfers for President Robertson and two weeks later President Resek will get here. As such, President was visiting last week (and will be visiting this week) all the zones in the mission to have a special meeting with all the missionaries to say good-bye, give some last spiritual thoughts, and some last trainings. It's been really weird seeing him start to wind down a little bit as a Mission President, taking all the pictures out of his office and leaving a little more room for President Resek to make the changes he feels necessary when he gets here instead of being bringing forth lots of new ideas on how to do things as he normally does. Us in the offices have been helping out with the meetings though, and so on Friday I was able to travel all the way out to Bragado again with Elder Venecia to help out. That likely was the last time that I have had a long drive with Elder Venecia too though, because in transfers he will go back to a normal area and Elder Cespedes will be the new office Elder in charge of apartments (and thus I will likely be traveling with him instead). Lot's of little changes though kind of spice life up I suppose.

Last P-day as well then, I had to drive Elder Dosdall to the MTC here in Buenos Aires so that he could visit an American doctor and get his opinion on his toes. Since the MTC is attached to the Temple here in Buenos Aires, we were able to walk around the grounds a little bit afterwards though there wasn't time to go in. It was a fun experience.

Other than that though, there isn't really all that much else new to share for this week, and so until next time I hope you all have a good week!

Elder McCollum

Photos attached are all of the temple. :)