For the first time in seven months, I have the opportunity to write my weekly letter to home from a computer shack close to my apartment. This past week has blown by, leaving me exhausted and excited at the same time. I have less access to computers now, so I better get started. Some of the details will probably take you by surprise, so get ready!
Companion. I recently left the offices after serving for seven months as the mission historian and now work as a trainer right now with my new companion, Elder Valenzeula (Val--in--sue--eh--lah). I finally have the opportunity to work with a missionary from Latin America! He is from the heart of Santiago, Chile and has served as a missionary for almost 30 days. So yes, he feels extremely new sometimes. haha. I help him with the missionary work and explain how the schedule, appointments, and special missionary meetings work each week, while he helps me with Spanish. He speaks a little bit of English, but barely enough to hold a conversation. About 95% of the time we just speak Spanish, just to make sure we understand each other and everything. Much of the training program comes from either Salt Lake or the president, so we always speak in Spanish to make sure he understands. He loves music and always sings romantic Spanish songs, which basically sound like a Spanish radio for me. haha. I don´t really know of any good Spanish music, but I have learned a decent amount though just from listening to other Latin missionaries. One time he started singing while preparing breakfast, and I started singing along with him. Even though my voice is terrible (yes, all of my close friends and family know I can´t sing at all), he was SUPER surprised. I have a huge list in my journal completely full of Spanish music. I have asked each of my Latin American misisonary friends to write down their favorite artists. So I should have a pretty solid library for Itunes when I come home :). Here are just a few other quick details about him:
- He plays soccer really well and practiced a ton as a kid.
- His English doesn´t really make that much sense, but we are working together so he can communicate better.
- His older brother served a mission in Ecuador.
- His accent from Chile is really obvious right now, and a lot of the members make fun of him. He does alright though. There are just small words or sayings from Chile that don´t often get used here. So I have even taught him some Spanish stuff, which was really funny! :)
- As a missionary from Chile, he likes to hang out with the other missionaries from Chile, which makes sense.
- He is doing well, and we will have to see how it goes over these next few weeks!
Transfer Week. I have already explained the chaos of transfer week in other weekly messages, so I don´t have to explain the process this time! However, it did feel different being on the other side of the process this past week. I was one of the trainers who ate with his new companion and went to the special ceremony for new missionaries. I´m not gonna lie, it felt kinda nice not having to worry about setting up tables, cooking food, or running to do last minute set up for the ceremony in the chapel. I just took everything in and enjoyed it, smiling at my old companion since I knew what everyone was really doing outside in the offices behind the scenes! haha. The day felt as if it would never end. I woke up at 5:30 am since I still had to train the new historian a bit more, which started the day off with a bang. That´s for sure.
Finally, after all the ceremonies, the lunch, the interviews with president, and everything else, we took a taxi to the bus station. I also felt strange since I had always helped other missionaries buy bus tickets in the past, but I was on the other side this time. Some of the other office elders had already found my ticket, and the zone leaders helped us load everything up on the bus. After a three hour bus ride, we finally arrived to Pergamino, my new zone and area for the next four to six months! Guess what? We arrived, and nobody was there in the station waiting for us! My companion is completely new, and I had never been in Pergamino before, which made things a little hectic. I called a few people, and we finally got everything coordinated. The taxi dropped us off right in front of our apartment at 8:30 at night. What. a. long. day. We had to unpack, do groceries, and all that jazz. Let´s just say I slept great that night! haha. Anyways, moving on!
My New Apartment. I will have to make this short, but don´t worry, I will continue writing more next week! I live in another apartment filled with four missionaries. This is CRAZY. As of right now about 85% of all missionary apartments are simply for one companionship. I have never had one in my mission so far! haha. I haven´t met another missionary in the field like me. Everyone has lived in a two-man apartment at least once. haha. Alright, I´m sure there are at least a few other missionaries who have had the same experience as me. It is still pretty crazy though, considering the statistics. I lived with six elders in Santa Fe when I started the mission. Then I lived with four in Paraná. In the offices, I lived with eight missionaries. And now here in Pergamino, I live with four once again!!! There is a twist to this one: everyone is Latin except me! Crazy stuff. I am from Texas, and my comp is from Chile. Elder Rodriguez is from Mexico, and Elder Eliosoff is from Buenos Aires. So yeah, I am really having the foreign mission experience right now :) The bathroom is terrible, but overall, it is a pretty nice apartment.
Well, I would really like to say more, but we have to leave in five minutes! We played soccer and ate pizzas as a zone today. It was tons of fun, but we didn´t finish until like 4:30, leaving us with only one hour to write to both the president and our families. I will have to continue next week, and hopefully we will have more time.
I would like to thank everyone for your support, your cards, and your prayers. I got a few letters mailed off my last day in the offices, which was really fortunate. So Kimber and Malia, you should get one soon! I found out that sending cards here is really tough. Hopefully the zone leaders will be able to give me my mail quickly!! Thanks again for everything!