written May 13, 2013
It´s really nice to be back in the field and to feel like my days are being filled with wholesome experiences. I'm learning so much during my personal and companionship study times - it´s been very uplifting so far.
Monday night I flew from Richmond to Atlanta and met up with some other missionaries there. We had trouble boarding the plane right away because they had never seen visas like ours but we were finally permitted to board. The flight was a little over 10 hours and I got a few hours of sleep. When we landed in Buenos Aires we went through customs and it all went smoothly except I couldn't understand anything... I could tell they were speaking Spanish but they seriously sounded Italian; the cadence and voice fluctuations they use in Buenos Aires make them sound that way. We were met outside of customs by two Argentinean men who copied our passports and took us on a crazy ride through Buenos Aires... traffic laws are not enforced and motorcycles were squeezing between cars at speeds well over 100 mph on the highway. It was the same thing through the city but just not as fast. Buenos Aires is huge! I thought I was in a Bourne movie by the look and feel of it :) We spent a couple of hours at a headquarters of the church in South America and were taken on a bus from there to another airport in Buenos Aires. We flew from Buenos Aires to Mendoza and that only took a few hours.
We were met in Mendoza by the mission president, his wife, and the assistants to the president. They took us to their home in Mendoza and it was super nice! Standing on their balcony and looking out at the city made me want to live in Mendoza one day. We had a delicious dinner there, took pictures, and were taken to one of the apartments to sleep. There I had a nice little reunion with Elder Hone (one of the guys from my MTC district a year ago). Elder Hone and I were standing on the balcony of his apartment and I saw something in the dark running across the power lines about 20 feet away from us. I said, ¨Oh cool, they have squirrels here¨ and he replied that it was a rat... a giant rat.. that´s when it hit me that Mendoza wasn't quite so perfect after all :)
The next day I got to talk a lot with Elder Morley (another one of the guys from my MTC district) and met my companion Elder Egbert, from Sandy, Utah. He is a district leader so we stayed another day for his training. That next day I saw Elder Marsh (MTC companion!) and it was great reminiscing on old times with all of those guys.
Elder Egbert and I left Mendoza for our assigned area late Thursday evening. On first arrival we went to work right away and conversed with people on the streets of Tupungato (that´s where I´ll be for at least the next six weeks). I practiced taking the initiative in talking to people but Elder Egbert took most of it from there because I couldn´t understand anything...
The next day I had my first Tupungato meal. It was a pasta with some cow kidney chunks in it and about an inch of oil at the bottom of the bowl (oil is it´s own food group here... they put tons of it on everything). The dad of the family is kind of a jokester and he asked my companion, ¨Have you told your companion how to thank the women for dinner here?¨ to which Elder Egbert said no. The dad then told me to tell his wife, ¨gracias por su porkeria¨ which basically translates to ¨thanks for your crap¨ but I didn't fall for it.
This is my first blog post since being here so it´s kind of long but thanks for sticking in there with me. I´ll say some more interesting things now.
Tupungato has tons of vineyards and lots of the wine that Mendoza is world famous for comes from here. It is a town along "el camino del vino" which roughly translates to "path of the wine." They also grow garlic, onions, tomatoes, walnuts, peaches, pears, cherris, apples, corn, and the list goes on and on and on... it is pretty impoverished except for the few people that own the wineries and what not. Almost everyone here works in a field picking during the harvest season and don´t work at all the rest of the year.
There are dogs everywhere on the steets here... everywhere. At any given moment I can turn around in a 360 and see at least 8 dogs.
In Argentina they speak castellano.. not spanish. It actually is spanish but they will never call it that. I have to tell people that my castellano isn´t very good.
They have Sondas here which are very strong, warm winds that come down from the Andes and blow dust up everywhere. We had one on my first day here.
There are tons of Bolivians here in Tupungato that work in the fields... most of the people that we talk to are Bolivians.
The Andes are pretty far away from where I am but they are still huge! And I´ve been told that those are only the foothills...
Everyone here eats a huge lunch and then takes a siesta. We take an hour during siesta time to do language study and then get back to work. They don´t really eat dinner here - they stay up late drinking mate and relaxing. Also, alcohol is way cheaper than water here.
In respect for the people that we come in contact with I won´t ever be too detailed about our lessons but I will say that we have had A LOT and there is tons of work to do here. Elder Egbert and I are going to be making a big impact together, he's a great trainer and we have a lot of things in store for Tupungato. We've felt the spirit guide us many times in our planning and lessons (some times very strongly).
My first Sunday was great (about 40 people were there) and it´ll keep getting better as we keep working and get people coming back. My castellano is progressing rapidly. There are still so many things that I could say but I have very little time.
Emailing is the easiest way to contact me and I can now email anyone.
The work is plenty, the harvest is over here but not for missionary work, time to gather.