Guess what? I have lived in Pergamino, Argentina for a week and a half already. Though tough at times, I have enjoyed my experience so far and plan to stay here for three more months. When we hit the three-month mark, the president will tell us the next game plan. As for now, I can´t complain. Here is some solid info. that gives a quick lowdown of my mission right now!
The Apartment. I already briefed you guys on the format and layout of our little apartment last week, which actually has served us pretty well up to this point. However, I still have some more to tell everybody. First off, IT IS CRAZY. For my whole mission, all of my companions have been from the states. This go around, not only is my companion from Chile, but everyone I live with speaks fluent Spanish. It is a completely different and unique feeling. I love it. I feel as though the different, legit culture shock has finally hit me, and boy did it take me by surprise haha. I will do my best, but you just have to serve as a missionary to really take the rollarcoaster ride. Here are some bullets, just to give you a sample:
- My Spanish has improved dramatically in these past few days because I live in a complete Spanish world right now haha. I am learning a lot of non-gospel vocabulary. It is nuts, and I wouldn´t have been prepared for it earlier in the mission. I am able to speak well enough to always keep up with the conversation, and they can´t make fun of me like they do with other Americans. haha.
- Elder Rodriguez is from Mexico and has to train his new companion as well. We work together sometimes, formulating ideas and planning out weeks. He is hilarious--absolutely hilarious. He knows English better than the other two, but we just always talk in Spanish since it is easier. He eats spicy eggs, spicy tacos, spicy jalapenos, and spicy everything. Man, I thought Elder Camacho (from the offices) ate spicy food. Boy, was I wrong! :) Elder Rodriguez always jokes around too, and I have learned a lot of Spanish words with two meanings, depending on the context of the sentence. A lot of jokes in Spanish have a play on words, just like in English.
- Elder Eliosoff is the one from Buenos Aires. He speaks super fast, but it helps me with Spanish conversations, which is the hardest part for Americans learning the language. He speaks really formally in the streets (obviously, since we are missionaries), but then a little less formal in the apartment. He is kinda like a skateboarder, and he cooks all of the Argentine food really well. He is a pretty cool and chill dude. :)
- Elder Valenzuela is my companion, and I described him a bit in last week´s message too. He loves to play tennis!! We haven´t found a court here though.... We will have to see if we can play within the next few weeks. His Spanish from Chile is a lot different from how the Argentines speak here. He is learning fast, however, so it´s no big deal. There are just a lot of small words that change across countries. It happens in the states too. Is it a coke, a pop, or a soda? They all mean the same thing, but sometimes people get confused haha. We speak English together like 30 minutes a day, just to practice some. He really isn´t too bad and took three years in high school. I imagine he speaks English like a new missionary from the states speaks Spanish. Long story short, things are going well.
- Not ever speaking English is really weird. On pdays, I finally see some other Americans, and it feels kinda strange. When I´m in the apartment or sitting in on a lesson with an investigator, it´s as if I am in a completely different world. English means absolutely nothing to them, which still blows my mind sometimes.
- I finally feel like the missionary I´ve always wanted to be since my arrival. I finally have a good grip on the language and improve some more everyday. I finally understand the Bishop, the people, and we all work together to better the ward and members within the boundaries.
Alright. I have some other quick points to tell you guys!
- We walk on average 10 miles a day. Yeah, we hit the hay hard at night haha.
- It rained three times this past week, and half of the streets are made of mud here. We both almost ate it in this slippery sludge a handful of times.
- My area is poorer compared to Rosario, but it is much better off than Santa Fe.
- Our ward had 30 people in attendance yesterday, which is really good for us. The average is 22. We have close to 300 members on the roster, so we are doing lots of visits to less-active families. A lot of people have lost their jobs and have to work on Sundays to help provide some extra change for food.
- I am completely used to the food and diet here. I eat Argentine food almost everyday since I don´t live with Americans anymore.
- The bills come to the apartment every month, and we divide them between everyone. The landlord thinks we are crazy since we all live together and get along, forming four different nationalities! haha.
- My zone consists of 10 companionships. There are eight here in the main city, and the two other ones work out in in the outskirts of the city, called "pueblos," which basically means "small town" in English. We usually get together in groups of eight missionaries, with whichever companionships live closest. We plan to play soccer today at one in the afternoon. The majority of the zone is Latino, so the game should be pretty intense.
- The companionships in the pueblos come up to the main city like once a transfer, but they have to pay an expensive cost and travel for like an hour each way.
Basically, everything is pretty chill. I´m living the good life as a missionary, despite the tough circumstances. Long story short, I feel used to everything and know you guys support me. I appreciate your prayers and letters, too. We haven´t found a post office yet.... Hopefully we will come across one this week.
Thanks for everything!