Where to start?
This first week has been QUITE an adventure! I) can´t remember what I thought missionary work was like, but it´s very different than what I thought. I had a lot of Ups and downs my first semana, but looking back I can mostly just remember the ups. I am in Bahia Blanca in a very poor area. Most of the streets are not paved, so my shoes are covered in dust! I´ve been to some of the poorest places I´ve ever been in - it´s truly humbling. One woman had dirt floors, barely enough rice, lice in her hair, the whole nin yards (that´s a Mom-ism! :) haha), and she wasn´t able to walk very well. I felt so sad, but I felt the Lord´s love for her. I just wish she´d come to church. Another man who we contacted and taugh the first lesson to barely had enough to survive. The members usually are alright, but there are a few families who are literally dirt poor. And those who have little give all - I have been learning SO much fro their charity and love!
So the city is full of motocicletas, autos, camionetas, and people walking. We walk in the calles all the time. There are palm trees in some parks, but it gets REALLY cold at night. Thank goodness our shower always has burning hot water- and it´s seriously BURNING hot water! OHHH, haha so remember in the MTC how my legs had bruises? well now they have BITES! TONS of bites from the mosquitos! Darn those mosquitos! They LOVE me and my legs are covered, I¨ll try to send pictures at some point, haha. I bought more bug spray and cream to try to stop it. I´ll keep you posted!
So, my comp. Hna Khar is a CAPA and I LOVE HER! She was made for me - I love her happy content attitude, her love for people, and how kind and service oriented she is. She has traveled a lot - even to Africa with a service program!!! She doesn´t work as hard as I do or like to plan as much as I do, but she´s taught me patience and kindness. Hna. Kjar very willingly gives all to others - i love her to death. She and her companion had 3 baptisms last, but their converts haven´t been coming to church. Our barrio has a LOT of problems right now and are not very willing to serve each other. But when we go visit them individually, they are SO wonderful! We´ve visited a LOT of menos activos and they are so loving and kind. They always invite us in and we sit and chat for a LONG TIME! it´s the Argentine way. And they sip Mate (this caffeine filled drink- I just know when the Prophet says no to Mate the church will struggle here because EVERYONE drinks it haha) and they just chat and chat and chat your ear off! It´s hard to get a lot done as a missionary, but it´s definitely teaching me patience. A big problem in the barrio is that everyone grew up together and knows eachother´s business and gossip. It´s sad because Argentine´s have a lot of pride. But they have devotion to their faith, family, friends, and futbol teams (haha!)
The comida is RICA and DELICIOSA! The members are really good cooks - I´ve had a couple Argentine foods, as well as Lasagna and Meatloaf (who knew?) but they tasted different than what we´re used to. Argentine food is meat meat meat, mshed potatoes or potatoe salad, salads of tomatoes and Lettuce with oil (but i´ve only had salad twice since I´ve been here), or there´s this stuff with beef and rice, or I dunno, carbs and protein. They feed us SOOO much! The members insist that we pack it down- good thing I practiced at Grandpa Tingey´s house! :) They hardly use verduras (veggies) or milk, so this week I¨m going to buy more and make sure I´m eating healthfully. The big meal is lunch and then they have SIESTA here - naps in the afternoon. So, we as missionaries go home from 2-3:30 to study the language and plan. The problem is during lunch appointments the members chat and talk and chat non stop FOREVER, so we get home at like 3 and never have time to study el idioma! But i´m going to put my foot down because I need to learn Spanish! haha
SO, LA OBRA (the work) is going well. The first couple of days I talked to EVERYONE but then we kept being late to appointments and it´s been harder and harder for me to contact with the same excitement. It is HARD to serve with all my heart, might, mind, and strength sometimes, but I promised the Lord, my mission president, and myself that I would do it! So I continue to press on and try my best. I have been working really hard, but I want to work harder. I know I have SO much in me to give. I talked to the President today during Zone Conference and I asked, ¨Puedo bautizarse mas de 20 personas?¨ (am i able to baptize more than 20 people) and he looked at me with his wisdom and love and said, ¨You can do it. It´s all in your heart. Miracles happen.¨ I want to bring souls unto Christ. I have 12 transfer (mas o menos) to go and I am going to work as HARD as I can and be as obedient as I can.
We don´t have anyone progressing towards baptism yet. We´re contacting a lot, visiting menos activos, trying to get the barrio to love eachother again through a ward actividad that Hna Kjar and her last comp planned. We´ve taught a few lessons - I really need to learn a LOT more Castellano!!! I can hardly make sense to anyone! but I try and always bear testimony of what I know to be true, like Mom taught me to do in seminary.
We taught a lady named Laura from Paraguay who was golden. I felt the Spriit so strong. And the second time we taught her I bore a powerful testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon in my broken Spanish and she told us after, ¨I think I was baptized in your church was I was 13...¨ awww man! We were glad, but also sad because she was golden (and now we knew why! haha). We´ve had a lot of instances where we´ve talked to very very religious people and they are just not willing to change their minds. It´s been interesting and hard for me, but I just try to bear my testimony with power from the Holy Spirit and hope they feel it.
The Spanish is SOOOO HARD!!!!!! Honestly, my mente HURTS after everyday and I honestly don´t know what´s going on half of the time! haha But everyone says it comes with time. I´ve really struggled with the Spanish, but I´ve decided to change my thinking about it and pray with more intent and fervor to have the don de lenguas and ayuda from my Heavenly Father. OH, and Ben you and Jackie would get a kick out of the Spanish here. They don´t speak Spanish, they speak Castellano (Cast-a-sha-no). ¨Como anda?¨ ¨Que tal?¨ ¨Tienes fiaco?¨ During contacting, they always nod their heads and say, ¨Claro...claro...listo...listo...bueno¨ haha