As you guys probably have guessed, I have had some pretty random and cool experiences over the last couple of weeks. Here is a list filled with small details worth sharing. I hope you enjoy it!
-I have already created baptismal and membership records for 44 recent converts!
-Driving manual transmission felt pretty strange at first, but now it feels kinda normal. I am still adjusting though.
-My companion, Elder Benson, is the mission secretary, and he has needed my help quite a bit lately. We get to go to centro to help with visa papers and do other legal documents.
-Elder Benson works out all the time, and we have a three-mile course that we run every morning. I never thought I´d have a comp willing to run like that, which is just awesome all around. We do a double lap about twice a week, making it a solid six miles in the morning, just like the good old cross country days!
-I had the video conference with Pablo Schpilman, an area authority representative in Buenos Aires. We used skype, and he introduced me to a bunch of new online software that the church is implementing right now. It lasted an hour and fifteen minutes, and his Buenos Aires accent sounded a little different than the usual here in Rosario. It has always amazed me how accents change, even just from city to city. Obviously, the Spanish was still the same. :)
-I finished "Our Search for Happiness" in Spanish this week, a book written by M. Russell Ballard that's included in our missionary library. I would recommend it if you haven´t read it already.
-During my first three weeks in the offices, I have sent over 200 emails to other missionaries, the mission president, or to church leaders in our mission. There is like a constant flow, and I have five in my inbox right now haha. It usually slows down towards the end of the week, which is nice.
-New Argentine government officials have recently started working in the States. So yep, unfortunately, we have had major visa problems over these last few weeks. My companion has been pretty stressed out, especially since visas are his major priority and duty as secretary. 18 missionaries should have arrived at the same time three weeks ago at the beginning of transfers. Instead, due to visa complications, only eight could come in on time. Two more were permitted the week after, and then four more came this past week. The other four were temporarily assigned to State-side missions for now since they couldn´t stay in the MTC longer than 12 weeks, which is a real bummer. Over 300 missionaries who had planned to serve in some part of Argentina got held up in the MTC this past month. It´s not looking good for our next group, either. Many of them might have to serve in the States for their first one or two transfers. I hope they can come to a solid agreement, just so that these new missionaries can come into the field. With all of these irregularities, the President has been stressed too. Plus, we have quite a few trios out in the field and some trainers who haven´t received their new companions yet, all due to these new workers and policies form Argentina. Apparently this happens every couple of years, and with time we should solve the issue. I´ll keep you guys updated. In sum, our mission is slowly shrinking because old missionaries are leaving, but new ones can´t com into the country!
-After the President heard that I had learned how do drive stick and felt pretty comfortable with it, he assigned me a task to complete with the librarian, who is in charge of all apartments and rents. We had to drive from Fisherton, our current neighborhood where the mission home lies, to Arroyito, a nearby city where two hermanas live and serve right now. There, Elder Camacho, the librarian from Mexico who is really cool, had to do some analysis and inspection with some other workers. I don´t know all of the details, but the apartment definitely needed some work and we were glad to help. Then we had to drive to centro in the heart of Rosario to pay some special bills. Then we went to a special business to set up light payments for another apartment in the mission. So basically, I drove for like three hours all over Rosario and its nearby cities. What. an. adventure. To let you know, there are no stop signs or speed limits on 80 percent of the roads here. I drive with traffic but more cautiously than most, which is probably good. I´ll be sure to keep you guys updated too. I might want a manual car instead of automatic whenever I buy my first personal vehicle :).
-Elder Benson and I still leave at 4:30pm almost everyday and get to work out in the field like normal missionaries for about four hours. Some days the President needs extra help or there is just too much to do, so we don´t get those small time windows. Each day is different. Whenever the time does come, we try to get as much done as possible, especially since we have about 30-40 percent of the time of normal missionaries to work. We still might have baptisms here in two weeks!!!! I am so excited. We have been teaching this young mom and her kid for about two weeks, and she really showed interest when we explained the concept of modern-day prophets. Excited and interested to learn more, she came to conference! She is progressing fast, and we will have to see what happens over these next few weeks! Her name is Araceli (Are--aahh--sell--ee).
And that´s about it for this week. I have lot´s more to say, but my comp and I are going to try and play tennis on these clay courts close to the mission home. They only charge 20 pesos an hour, which would be perfect. Even though I say this a lot, I am really grateful for everything you all have done for me, both family members and friends. I learned so much before my mission that has helped me each day here in Argentina. I hope you guys have a great week. I look forward to your mail and have some more letters to send off soon, whenever we get to a Post office!.
Let me know if you have any questions.