How are you all doing? I´m glad you got the email from my mission president that I arrived safely, I wish I could have called from the airport, but we left immediately after we got through customs, which was pretty nice! Anyways I have lots to tell you all about what is going on down here and not a whole lot of time! We get an hour a week for email and I am only supposed to email family, so mom and dad I may need some help from you as a forwarding service.:) Also I am going to try to send an email from my gmail account with some pictures. (Pres. Asay said we can use gmail as well as myldsmail.net) Sorry this email is very scattered, I´ve got so much I wish I could say and I´m just trying to get as many thoughts down as I can.
First things first, my companion is GREAT. His name is Elder Spence, he is from Sacramento California and he´s a great Elder. He´s been out for a year and he is a hard worker. I´ve already learned so much from him and luckily he hasn´t even played any pranks on me either. He´s a great teacher, which is good because he usually does most of the talking while I am still trying to even understand what people are trying to say to me! Everyone talks fast, but I am starting to be able to seperate words a little better now, my companion said it will be months before I understand everything people are saying... so for now all I can do is just keep trying! My speaking is pretty much limited to greeting, parts of lessons, and saying prayers. Apparently they dont´speak Español here, it´s all "Castillano".
My first day here we got picked up at the airport by the AP´s and pres. Asay and went straight to the Temple to talk (it was way too loud at the airport, very busy place). The temple was great, it´s a lot smaller than it looks in the pictures. Unfortunately we didn´t get to go inside and I wont get to go until the end of my mission most likely because it is going to be closed for renovations for a year and a half or so. After Pres. Asay gave us some instruction a the temple we headed downtown to do some paperwork for our Residence Visas. There are SO MANY people here. I took a couple pictures out the window as we were driving, and that will probably be the only time I get to be in the capital. It was nice and warm (probably about 78) and we spent most of the time just standing around while they figured out what we were doing. After we left the capitol we went to the mission home and ate lunch and the Pres. and his wife talked to us and gave us some more instructions, then we were assigned our companions and off we went! I miss the Elder´s I was with in the MTC but I´m sure they are all doing great. We dropped my stuff off at the pension and then went right to work.
Our "Pension" where we stay is at 2134 Plumerillo in Fiorito Argentina so you can all look it up on Google Earth. Our area is called Ingeniero Budge and I think the city is called Banfield or something. I was very suprised how dirty this place is! There is garbage everywhere and there are probably more dogs than people wandering around the streets. Also, people burn garbage here, so it´s not uncommon to see fires in the street all day long. Elder. Spence said he has also seen several cars that people have burned... basically it looks like a WWII war zone. The houses and buildings are very rundown. I haven´t been able to take any pictures in my area yet besides out the window of our pension and I probably wont´be able to for a while. Basically if we even take out a camera anywhere in our area we will get robbed... so i´m trying to avoid it. Despite all the "negatives" i already love this place. Also, most people´s houses have a fence and a locked gate to get to their door, so we stand outside the gate and clap our hands when we go tracting rather than knocking doors and they come outside to the gate to talk to us. It´s pretty cool :) The food here is fantastic! The members always feed us so much! The asado (grilled steak) is delicious as well as empanadas, helados, milanesa and lots more! Also today I did my first grocery shopping EVER and i got a weeks worth of food for about $60, which is a little less than $20USD, very cool! Also the bread here is really good, it actually reminds me a lot of albertsons french bread as far as taste and how hard the crust is.
As you all probably know, Futbol is HUGE down here. One night we were visiting a members house during a big game between Argentina and Uruguay, it was getting close to the end of the game and it was tied 0 to 0 when Uruguay scored. Outside there were people shooting guns in the air and so we had to stay at their house for a while so everyone could settle down. It was pretty scary walking home, but we didn´t have any problems.
The people here are amazing! I have met some great members and we have some awesome investigators! Although I can´t say or understand much, I already love them, and they are very nice to me. :) My favorite investigator that we actually found on my second day here is named Ernesto. He´s about 70 years old and he was actually a reference that we forced out of the lady we had my first lunch appointment with (Hna. Valquinto) He let us in to his house on the first contact and we taught him and he was very receptive. I felt the spirit so strong as we were teaching and he seemed to be very excited aobut our message. WE left him with a book of mormon and asection to read and taught him how to pray. The next day we went back and he had read the chapter, all of the pamphlet we left, and he apologized that he hadn´t read more. We taught him again and commited him to baptism on October 31, but unfortunately we didn´t get him to church yesterday, so he can´t be baptized until later, but I am pretty confident that he will be! I have been very suprised how many people are willing to listen to us (A very pleasant suprise) and I know the Lord is continually preparing people here to hear the gospel. WE have a TON of work to do!
The driving here is INSANE. My first day here we got a ride to our pension from the mission home with an unlicensed taxi driver, which was pretty scary. Basically there aren´t stop signs around here and people pass each other whenever they want and can and will squeeze their way through any gap they can find. I have never seen so many old beaten up cars in my life, and they are all VERY loud. Also there are lots of people that drive scooters and little motorcycles around, without helmets of course. As far as I know there´s no age limit for driving scooters and motorcycles because i´ve seen some pretty young kids driving around...
Here they have a ton of little mini stores that families run out of their houses that sell all kinds of things from snacks to little souvenier type things called Kioskos. Basically they are willing to give anyone anything as long as they have money for it, for example, yesterday we saw a 6 year old buy beer. Very sad but that´s how things are down here.
Anyways I have to wrap things up now, I have so much more I wish I could say but hopefully I´ll get better at focusing on the more important things. I love you all and I am so happy to be down here! I love this work and I feel so blessed to be in the best mission in the world with an awesome companion!
Les Quiero Mucho!