Monday, August 28, 2017

Eighty Six Weeks

Hello Everyone!

This has been a lot more easy-going week than last. 

We got to spend most of the week in our area, but on Tuesday I did divisions with the Elder in Loma Hermosa, which was an old area of mine. It was really interesting because there were some things that I remembered just as well as the Elder currently there, and was able to guide myself around just fine as well even without a map. What was really cool though is that we were able to visit a couple of people that I knew from before - including an investigator named Esteban that is super super awesome but that I haven't seen since I left. It was really cool because when Elder Dosdall and I were there we taught him all the lessons and he made it to church every Sunday without fail, but for paperwork problems in getting married he didn't make it to be baptized while I was there. Well, he still isn't baptized but all the paperwork is just about finished up so I might even be able to go back and see his baptism too. It's really cool though because since I have left he has almost entirely finished the Book of Mormon as well as other books published by the church and he loves it all and keeps going just as strong as ever.

Back in our own area then too, there is a family of brothers and sisters all living together in the same house without any parents (the oldest being a little more than 25, and the youngest being about 15). They are all members, but haven't been to church in a long time, but we were able to get two of them to go with us to a youth activity on Wednesday to play soccer and they really loved it and it got a lot of good memories flowing back to them. It was pretty cool to be able to help them out though and hopefully we can get them to go again this week too.

We also found a cool new investigator in our area this last weekend. He is married to a member, but he himself is Evangelist. Both him and his wife were working but they have 3 young kids and it made it really hard for them to get time together as a family (or for the kids to have their parents really present in their lives) and so he left his job for the wife to keep working (she had a better job) and is now a stay-at-home dad. He is going to be starting making things out of wood though in a workshop at home to be able to sell but I thought it was neat that they were that dedicated to their kids (super not common in Argentina). We had a cool visit with them and then the next day he called us to have us over for hot chocolate and to visit and so we are going to be going over today - it ought to be pretty awesome. We'll have to see.

Other than that though, there isn't really all that much new to tell - my companion woke up one morning pretty sick and so we had to spend a day in our apartment for him to be able to recover (which was pretty boring actually haha) but other than that it was a normal week. I hope you all are doing good though and hope you have a great week!

Elder McCollum

1993 - A cool old building right next to the train station where we always take the train.
2000 - It was raining a lot this week. One day the intersection right outside of our apartement also flooded out.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Eighty Five Weeks

Hello Everyone!

So this was a very crazy week indeed. There was lots of stuff going on. There are a lot of fun quick little anecdotes that I want to share, so hopefully I can get them all in.

First of all, there is a recent convert in my new ward that is super awesome. He is 22 years old and got baptized just before I got here, but speaks perfect English and went from being atheist to now being a member of the church. He spent more than a year investigating but is now a stud. He went visiting to Rosario this last weekend and came back on Sunday (taking a train starting at 2am to get back) and once he arrived, the first thing that he did was go to church without even stopping by his house first. It was pretty awesome.

On the other hand too then, we have another recent convert that hasn't been going to church all that much that confessed to us when we visited him this week that he now doesn't believe in god (but that he wants to). He first asked us what we would say if he told us he didn't believe in God though, in the form of a rhetorical question, and so we were just sitting there thinking for a split second, and then he said "because I don't". It caught us totally off guard, but that ought to be a fun issue to address here in the future.

One more really ...interesting... teaching experience from this week too then was while contacting a house. We clapped outside and there was a young woman that came out that told us that she had a friend that was a member that was actually currently sharing the gospel with her, and they had just been talking about the Book of Mormon. We asked her then if she had one, and she said no and so we dedicated one and gave it to her. We didn't teach her in the moment because her parents weren't home, but in church the next day her friend was pretty excited and we got her excited to keep sharing with her and hopefully we'll be able to do some follow up this week with how things are going. The really interesting part though is that in the house that we contacted, there was a dog on the roof (not uncommon in Argentina, roofs are normally flat here and so they often have stairs going up onto them to use as a workspace/storage space, etc. and often dogs will be up there too). This dog though was sick and super super skinny, but still muscularly defined on it's legs and chests. It was barking at us a little bit, but as we were talking to the girl it wasn't so bad. As we were talking though, we just heard a fleshy splat on the ground next to us, and the dog was laying on the hard dirt just next to the sidewalk; it had fallen off the roof. My comp and I were in shock - we had no clue what to say (thinking the dog had died in the fall), but after a second it stood up and started walking around, eating grass and using the bathroom. The girl dismissed it - explaining to us that it was sick as if nothing had happened, but that she'd have to wait for her dad to get it back in since it was still super strong - but it took us a couple more seconds to process what had happened and just keep talking with her too. As we were walking away though after we finished talking to her, my comp and I just about died laughing from the astonishment.

This week we were also able to perform some service for a less active family that we visit quite a bit. They had a dirt walkway between all their houses (about 5 houses with all the family living there) that often got washed out and muddy every time that it rained, and so they got a day off together and poured a new concrete sidewalk there. We showed up as they were partway done, but we were able to help them out mixing some more concrete and putting on some of the finishing touches, which was awesome. Afterwards, we sat around a small campfire they had built for the wheelchair-bound grandpa as he came down from his house to watch and just talked a little bit (they had some crazy stories to tell - including some ridiculous fights they had been in when younger - one of which was 20 versus 20 and involved a couple people with machetes and another that was swinging a doorframe), and then finished singing a the hymn "How Great Thou Art", which was really awesome and set the spiritual mood perfectly there with the campfire (it had already gotten dark when we left). It was a really awesome moment.

This week too then, we had a meeting where we got all the mission together to have a meeting with a member of the 70, Mark A. Bragg, which was a really cool experience. There was a lot to be learned, but it was also really cool being able to see all my old comps and friends from the mission that are still here. Even that meeting though had an interesting happening - there was an Hermana that sang a special musical number while an Elder played his violin (and it turned out super pretty) - but at the end as she was walking away from the microphone, she fainted. (In front of everyone the poor thing). She recovered quickly though and was just fine.

Other than that, since leaving the offices 3 of 4 wheels were robbed off of the car while it was parked outside, and the truck has been in two crashes, losing both side mirrors and doing a little damage to one of the fenders. It made me feel side, but I am loving being out in an area again and so it is all good.

Really not too much new besides though. We gave some treats to Relief Society for always giving us lunch and they were super happy to recieve them, and then yesterday there was a family that made us Tacos for lunch (that were super tasty - tacos don't exist in Argentina and so I have only had them once since being here and I made them myself). I hope you all have a really good week too though, and hope you are all doing well!
Elder McCollum

1978 - Train tracks that run through our area - more or less sets the mood off how it is to be here - super easy-going.
1981 - A picture of part of our area so you can get an idea what it's like.
1988 - Me, Elder Jarrin (He was my district leader before in the mission), and Elder Bragg with his wife
1989 - A hilarious ad we saw for "chinese karate classes" that was very poorly edited and had the very not chinese stonehenge in the background... 

0083 - The walkway we were helping to put in
0086 - Another part of the walkway we put in, as well as the grandpa with his campfire
0090 - Argentine sunset (taken from the same place where we were putting in the walkway)

9904 - All of the mission together in one photo

Monday, August 14, 2017

Eighty Four Weeks

Hello Everyone!

This has been a pretty great week in Hurlingham. On Tuesday I had to give my first district meeting (where you "train" the missionaries in your district how to do something better and then do practices of it")- it was pretty interesting haha. I had to prepare it on Monday night and Tuesday morning because I had no clue what to make the topic about, having gotten there just Monday. I think it turned out alright in the end, but we´ll have to see if they can get better in the future (and prepared with more advance notice haha).

Other than that, I have been pretty much just getting to know the area that I am in. The members are great; it´s a very Yankee ward. There are lots of people that speak English fluently as well as Spanish, and the kind of jobs that they tend to have are a lot more American than Argentine. 

It's a very easy going neighborhood though - there seems to be almost no danger or delinquency at all, which is a bit of a change from where I have been at before, but it ought to be a pretty fun time here.

There isn't all that much else to tell but I hope that you all have a great week and that things are going great for all!
Elder McCollum

1146 - My new companion, Elder Gonzalez. He's from California and actually arrived to the mission in my same group.
0010 - My comp and I on divisions with the Zone Leaders
1977 - More or less how our area looks. (Taken from aboard the train we use to travel from one point to another.
0291 - A hilarious car that we saw. Translation: (Come, Holy Ghost!). You can tell Argentina can be a pretty religious country at times...

Monday, August 7, 2017

Eighty Three Weeks

Hello Everyone!

Sorry for not writing on Saturday, but biggest news of the week is that I am now out of the mission offices, so my P-day is back on Monday (and that´s why I didn´t write). I was given the notices that I would be training somebody early in the week, but I was expecting to be able to train them up until transfers (one week from today). Well, President thought that he could have him just come in and replace me without any training (not realizing that it was necessary to be trained) but ended up calling him in on about Thursday to the offices and telling me that I had until Monday to train him and then I'd be going to a different area. Well, because of that I didn't get to get out all that much this last week to work, but I got Elder McLaughlin trained (hopefully) and now I am back to being in the field full time. It was kind of sad to say goodbye to the mission truck, but it´ll be a lot of fun being able to spend all my time visiting and teaching without having to worry about office stuff quite so much.

There was one last fun adventure though - since I was going to have P-day on Monday anyway, I got to drive Elder Suarez (AP - another Elder I was able to spend a lot of time with these last months since I have been in the offices) to a surgery for an ingrown toenail on Saturday, along with the mission nurse and her companion so that she could see what the treatment was like. It was a fun last little hurrah.

Other than that though, there wasn't really all that much new for this last week to tell you all about. Our investigator Serefina is really warming up to the idea of baptism, stating "one of these days I´m just going to surprise the missionaries and tell them that I want to be baptized." Her 8 year old son has really been loving going to church too every Sunday and asked her if they could keep doing so forever. On his second sunday he even sang with the rest of the Primary in Sacrament meeting. I hope that they will be able to be baptized here in the near future, but I´ll have to leave that up to Elder Cespedes who is still there.

My new area though is Hurlingham - only about 20 minutes from my old area in car, but supposedly it has lots of potential. It is a pretty good sized area too though, and has two trains that cross through the center of it in an X that we sometimes have to use to go from one point to another. It ought to be a really good time though, so I'll keep you all up to date in the coming weeks. Also, I´m going to be district leader for the first time (which basically entails helping to give a small training once a week to another companionship or so of missionaries, going on divisions with them and helping them to improve, and performing baptismal interviews for those they are teaching for baptism) so I am pretty nervous for that. It ought to be a very interesting learning experience for sure.

Other than that though, there really isn't all that much else new, so I´ll talk to you all next week!

Elder McCollum

1946 - One day for lunch this week, we recieved an entire rotissery chicken from a member to split between me and my companion. It was awesome (and delicious). :)
1955 - Elder Suarez and I waiting for his medical appointment.
1958 - The whole group of us that went to Elder Suarez´ surgery. (Last office adventure for me).
1959 - Goodbye to the mission truck - I got to drive it for the last time this morning. I liked it. (If it wasn't already obvious).