I hope you all watched conference and especially the part in the Saturday morning session when they talked about the saints in Cordoba, Argentina! Logan, way to rock the priesthood session. I thought it was cool that Orson F. Whitney was quoted several times. Conference here was a great experience–on Saturday there was no transportation so we caught this city bus with our recent convert Veronica and spent about an hour riding on the bus and then running through the streets of Cordoba to make it to our stake center on time. Sunday was even better–everyone from our little ward piled onto this rickety old bus and we all drove together to conference; then in between sessions all the families were drinking mate and eating their picnic lunches (of sandwich de miga, mostly) and then during the afternoon session there was this ridiculous rain storm and the satellite went out. It was a great time. And the messages were all good too, ha ha.
As a missionary I see miracles every day, and it helps me to know that we are all in the Lord´s hands. Several weeks ago we were teaching Veronica and I noticed that she seemed really upset. I asked, ¨Veronica, is everything okay?¨and she explained that because she had been out of work for nearly three months after being laid off from her job as a hospital waitress, she and her mom were going to be evicted from the house where she lived. She asked why we had to go through such difficult things in this life. I thought really hard for a moment and then told her about the promises that the Lord gives in Isaiah 58–that he is bound to answer our prayers when we pray in fast in faith. We planned to fast all together and I promised her in the name of the Lord that something would come up (intimidating!). Then we all fasted and held our breath, ha ha.
Then a few days ago we were going to teach a new investigator and we asked Veronica to accompany us to the lesson. But our cita (appointment) before went really late–we were 45 minutes late to meet up with Veronica and teach the other woman! When we finally got to the cita, the woman was their with her consuegra (the other grandma of her grandbaby) and wasn´t sure if she could attend us because she had company, but decided to anyway. We had a great lesson with them, and after the lesson we were all talking and the consuegra, Gloria, just happened to start talking about the hospital where her daughter-in-law worked. It turned out that the hospital was hiring waitresses! So Gloria gave Veronica her daughter´s name and the information she needed to inquire about the position. What if we had been on time to that appointment? Gloria might not have been there! What if we hadn´t brought Veronica with us to teach? She might not have heard about the job! And we had another lesson with Gloria and she committed to be baptized later this month!
Another miracle was with the family Peralta. They are this awesome family we taught but then weren´t able to find after that–whenever we went over they wouldn´t answer the door and we were afraid that the testigos de Jehovah had gotten to them or something weird like that. But one day we went to eat lunch at a member´s house but the member family forgot so we were walking back to the pension to cook something. We just happened to run into…Roberto Peralta! He told us that they would like to meet with us again and that his wife had been very sick. So we were able to get in contact with the Peraltas again thanks to our canceled lunch.
And one of the coolest investigators we have right now is Sol. We contacted her on the street–she had funky pretty tattooes on each arm and her shirt off her shoulders and a don´t-mess-with-me look in her eye. She said that she wasn´t sure whether or not she believed in God, but it was funny how she talked about life having a purpose, using the same words I often use in contacting: ¨Life has a purpose; we´re not just here to be born, work, sleep, eat, and die.¨ When I testified to her that the purpose of life was to become like Heavenly Father, the Spirit bore witness that that was true. And it changed her–she no longer had that hard look in her eye, and she was more receptive. We told her that she could pray to know these things for herself because God was her loving Heavenly Father who knew and loved her perfectly. ¨Voy a probarlo,¨ she said (I´m going to try it), beforewe had even invited her to pray. Ï´m going to try it tonight.¨ Then she volunteered her address, ¨so that you can come back and see how it went.¨ What!
Our second lesson with Sol was just as powerful. We asked her how her prayer went. She said that the first time she prayed it had been pouring rain and she said, ¨God, if you´re there and you´re listening to my prayer, stop the rain,¨ and instantly the rain went from a downpour to a drizzle–it nearly stopped. She told us she had been praying every day since then. Then she had all kinds of questions, from everything to tattooes to the law of chastity. But the best part was when we gave her a Book of Mormon. Her eyes got all big and she held it close to her like it were some kind of treasure (it is, of course), and she asked, ¨Where do I start?¨ I know that she will get baptized because she has such a desire to know and because she acts upon what she is given.
Other random things about Argentina/my life in Argentina:
I wash all my laundry in a bucket.
Theft is a huge problem here. All the missionaries have been robbed at one point or another. It is not uncommon that we´ll lose contact with an investigator or member only to find out the next week that their cell phone was robbed. Robbery is common during the day, during the siesta when there aren´t many people out on the street. The first robbery I witnessed here was a couple weeks ago. We heard this woman screaming and then we got closer and saw two young men speeding away on a moto with a handbag. When we got to where the woman was she was crying and bleeding all over the street from where her arm had been cut in the struggle. She was in her fifties or sixties, Grandma age! So needless to say, we only carry a few pamphlets and a Book of Mormon to give away when we´re proselyting. Too many missionaries have had their precious mission scriptures stolen. Also, because of theft and lack of space, everyone here keeps their dogs on their roofs. It´s kind of funny.
So I told you about the cockroach in the canelone incident. But it gets grosser. My companion got lice (lots of people have lice here, and we have to saludar everyone with besitos), and we´ve had to comb through her scalp several times to try to get them out. And we found these little parasitic worms in our shower. Eew!
I helped out with one flier for a ward activity and now everyone–Young Single Adults, the Elders´ Quorum president–asks me to draw fliers for activities. I´m happy to oblige them during my personal time because it feeds my creative soul.
Argentina´s government is really inefficient, so it makes missionary work difficult. No one can get baptized until they get married. Getting married is an ordeal because you have to show up at 6:00 AM at a government office and sacar turno, or draw a ticket, to get married. But if you´re waiting for a dirvorce from a previous marriage, forget about it. Several families we are working with have been waiting for divorces for YEARS to get married. One man we are working with, Gerardo, has been waiting for seven years!
I make my companion wake up at 6:00 to go running with me in the mornings. I wanted to go every day but we have compromised on three times a week. We live down the street from an awesome bakery so sometimes we grab fresh pastries on our way back from our run. Yummy breakfast.
I feel like I died and went to food heaven. I have eaten the best croissants, pastries, and Italian pizza (Napolitana style) I´ve ever eaten in my life. And I am learning to like French fries, believe it or not (I´ve eaten them three times since I got here!).
I saw my first real Cordoba rain storm. Oh my goodness! It was like buckets poured from the sky! And the streets all turned to rivers!
I love you all and I hope you are well. I think of you, pray for you, miss you every day.