January 11, 2010 (First email from Argentina)
I finally made it to Argentina!!! Woohoo! The plane trip was really long and I got no sleep but I finally made it to my area which is called La Calera. The people are nice and the food is great, but I can’t understand a thing that they are saying. This was to be expected but I hate not understanding anything. But I have learned three different things said about me in Spanish in the first five days I have been here (They tell my companion and not me because they know that I don’t know Spanish)...
1. La gringa is really tall and skinny!
2. How do you say la gringa´s name
3. Why is la gringa so white?
So just to summarize really quickly - pretty much “I’m the skinny, little white girl with the weird name.” Yep, it’s kind of catchy. I want that to be on my gravestone when I die.
La Calera is tons of fun and pretty big. We are walking all the time! My poor feet were not ready. Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re going to tell me that I should’ve broken my shoes in, and I tried! What I should have done is gone hiking in them because I have had them for months but they still tore my feet apart. I have blisters, mosquito bites, and a pretty bad sunburn covering my feet. But I came across a good scripture in my personal study that you should all look up – Isaiah 52:7. It brought a smile to my face when I read it.
Even though I don’t know Spanish, I am loving it here! My companion is Hna. Brown from Ogden, Utah and she has 15 months in the mission and she has been La Calera for over 6 months. So she knows what she’s doing. We’ve decided that we are kindred spirits because we love a lot of the same things, one being Anne of Green Gables. A quick, funny story about her. So I loved her the moment I met her, but I remember the first night when she put her toothbrush in the fridge. I thought it was kind of weird but I didn’t say anything about it. After a couple of days, I was joking with her that I thought I had a crazy companion who keeps her toothbrush in the fridge. She told me that she does it so the cockroaches don’t get at it in the bathroom at night. I couldn’t believe it! I asked her why she didn’t share this useful piece of information with me and she said she forgot. But I learned an important lesson. Don’t judge or you’ll be brushing your teeth with cockroaches. Needless to say, I threw out my toothbrush that night.
Anyways, besides the cockroaches I have a really nice pension aka apartment. It’s two stories with two rooms upstairs and a kitchen and a study room downstairs. I had problems with the stairs the first day because the ceiling is really short and I kept hitting my head. I learned quickly, thanks to the bumps on my head, and I practically crawl up the stairs. But it is really nice compared to most places that I have seen here so I am blessed.
Speaking of blessings... I got to witness a baptism my very first week here. It was amazing! I couldn’t understand anything that was being said but I could feel the Spirit so strong! Valeria was who was baptized and she had been taught the lessons for over a year. So it was really a tender mercy that I was there when it happened. She got to get married on Friday and then baptized on Saturday. I went to the marriage and it was interesting. I definitely enjoyed the baptism better. A few of her friends and family came, so we have more people to teach. I’m excited for that!
Anyways, we have a lot of awesome investigators. We have four with a baptism date and they are keeping their commitments! How amazing is that! The hard thing is getting married. They make it so hard with paperwork and everything. But they have the desire. It will be exciting to see the results in the next few months. I am trying to contribute and help with the teaching. I don’t understand much but we usually take turns teaching and I can usually understand what Hna. Brown is saying so I comment and testify on what she is saying. I am willing to do whatever she asks. I’m doing contacts in the street and knocking doors. It is so exciting! I feel like I am a lost puppy following my companion sometimes, but I am trying to be more of a help than a hindrance.
I have met most of the members in La Calera and they are really nice and patient with me. They asked me to bear my testimony in Sacrament Meeting but I didn’t even understand at first. I thought they were just welcoming me there and then my companion leaned over and told me that I needed to go bear my testimony. That might’ve been the scariest moment of my life! Just imagine me trying to talk in my broken Spanish to a whole room full of Spanish speakers. I think it went alright though. I didn’t get too many weird looks.
So you asked about the mission president and I don’t really know what to say. He’s amazing, of course, but I don’t know too much about him. We met him that first day and he explained our purpose to us and the Spirit was really strong. I’m excited to get to know him but he’s obviously a busy man so I’ll be content with getting to know him at a distance. His wife was really sweet and nice and their house is very pretty. Their house is connected to the mission office, of course, and right next door is where the temple is being built. Right now there are tennis courts, but they are tearing them down in two more weeks because they just bought the property for the temple. They are till in the planning stages but it sounds like we will be here for the ground breaking and building of the temple. I’m very excited!!
Anyways, I am excited to be here in La Calera. It has been a crazy first week but I hope that I am going to get the hang of it. It’s pretty scary to try to talk in my broken Spanish to complete strangers, but I just try to remember that you can’t have faith with fear. So that is my goal - to put all my faith and trust in God and to teach His gospel to the best of my abilities. I am grateful for the opportunity to be here and to do His work. I know the Church is true and everything is possible through Him. El Reino de Dios o Nada!