Hey, everybody! I hope you´re doing great. I plan to mix things up a bit with this email and will go in this order: Cultural note --> fun experience in the mission home related to the cultural note--> Info. about converts --> testimony meeting. We plan to visit a planet museum this afternoon, so I kinda have to hurry. I recently finished the weekly newsletter for the president, so I have a decent amount of time. We´ll just have to see. :)
Cultural Note. The most famous food of Argentina is called Asado (ahh--sahhdd--oh), which is a little similar to BBQ in the U.S. Most families have one Asada a week, usually during the weekend on a Saturday or Sunday night. Everybody loves them, and people ALWAYS do Asados when someone has a birthday or if there´s any other excuse to throw a party :). For example, on my birthday, the Bravo family made me an Asado. I wanted to learn how to cook one, it being the most common tradition/food in Argentina aside from Mate. To prepare your own, you need to buy the following:
-Meat. This is usually a quality cut of meat similar to steak.
-Salt. Lots of Salt.
-Mustard and Chimi Churri, a special Argentine sauce.
-5 to 10 kilos of coal.
So really, you don´t have to buy that much food. Just like with all kinds of meat, the quality comes with the price. One of the nicest cuts of meat here is called "Mar de Plata," which translates to "Sea of Gold" in English. I have only eaten it twice during my eight months here, and it was INCREDIBLE! haha. Anyways, so first you have to have a parrilla (pah--ree--sha). This is extremely similar to a grill, except made of a different metal. It´s very similar to the metal racks you flip over campfires. These are usually quite large, and you can cook enough meat for about 20 people all at the same time. Once the parrilla is in place, you light the bag of coal on fire and wait until everything appears dark red and hot. Then you use metal tools to move all of the coals underneath the parrilla, spreading them as evenly as possible. The people usually keep about half of the coals piled up and really hot just off to the side for a second batch of meat. With the heat baking everything close by, you place the meat on the parrilla, and it always makes a cool sizzling sound. Directly afterwards, you shake and rub salt into all the meat! Then you just cook it for about a half hour, depending on the strength of heat from the coals. You can adjust the height of the parrilla too, affecting how fast the meat cooks. Some Argentines like to cook everything really fast since it takes less time, which covers the meat with a crunchy outside and leaves a nice, juicy red interior. Other have slow-cooked everything for close to two hours, giving it a completely different taste. I like them both. :). I will make it for you all after the mission! Right before you eat, you mix mustard and this chimi churri sauce to make a special meat dip. It is really yummy!
Fun Experience in the Mission Home. Alright, so my time is short. I won´t give hardly any details. The president knows that Elder Camacho and I know how to work the parrilla and make asado. We have done it a handful of times here together for birthdays and just for fun every once in a while. So knowing this, he asked me and Elder Camacho, one of the missionaries working in the offices from Mexico, to prepare food for all of the new missionaries. Normally, Brother Bravo comes and cooks, but he had other obligations that day. So long story short, Elder Camacho and I went through the process above and made 162 hamburgers for all the new missionaries and their trainers!! We had enough for everyone, and most people ate two burgers. We were a little nervous, but it worked out great.
Marcelo Gomez. Even though we do so many random jobs here in the mission home, we still get a little bit of time to work as regular missionaries--some weeks more so than others. Elder Hull and I left to visit investigators only three times (about 10 hours total) this past week since everything was so hectic and tons of people needed help during transfer week. However, I will try to always share at least a little bit about our investigators, especially the best ones who have progressed incredibly fast. We have been really blessed here recently as two of our investigators entered into the waters of baptism this past month. With what little time we have, a difference can still be made in people´s lives. That´s why I serve as a missionary. I can´t describe my feelings of comfort and happiness as I watched Marcelo Gomez, a recent convert that Elder Benson and I baptized, pass the Sacrament and give a small talk in church yesterday. Seeing the change in his life has changed my own. He bore a powerful testimony of prayer and of his conversion. I know that the church can help everyone out, members and nonmembers alike. Though hard and challenging, my mission has changed my life bit by bit, molding me into a better person and strengthening my testimony. The next time you hear "Called to Serve," just know that we are doing exactly that here in Rosario, Argentina and also in over 400 missions around the world. With close to 70,000 of us around the world sharing the truth, miracles happen each and every day. I promise and know it´s true.
P.S. I was going to write more but will just save it for next week. We are about to leave for the museum and to buy groceries.