Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Week One in Argie-land

April 28, 2010


Well, here I am! I´m serving in Tandil with Hermana Jessica Perkes from Washington. (Hermana Hansen, Joelyn´s sister who I was emailing before the mission trained her!) She has about a month left in the field, so my "childhood" is being cut in half. Usually Americans are with their trainers for two transfers, but I only get mine for one.

She went through the list of other Hermanas in the mission and next transfer my companion will either be a native Argentine or Hermana Wilding, from my friend Daniel´s ward in Texas. It would be really helpful to have an Argentine companion to learn Spanish faster, but I already met Hna. Wilding and she and I get along really well so it would be fun to serve with her, too. So we´ll see what happens next transfer!

OH! This is important. My mission address has changed. The street address is now "Chacabuco 1755." Everything else is the same. So if you sent anything to the old address, it isn´t going to get to me. Pouch letters take about 1 week to get here and other letters take about the same. Dear Elders are sent with the pouch and I´ll get them every Thursday (the day after P-day). If anyone ever wants to send a package, send something under 4 lbs in a BUBBLE ENVELOPE. They won´t make me pay for those and they always get through customs. Don´t send beef jerky or penut butter (because it´s a law AND because I don´t want them). Also, DON´T use FedEx or UPS. That is really expensive (for me and for you). Know what, just don´t send anything, ok?

So on to the good stuff! Argentina is awesome. The food is still incredible. Luckily we do a LOT of walking. In our area the streets are paved... sometimes. It´s about 50/50 but most of the streets we tract on aren´t paved. Dad would love it here because everybody drives like him. There are lane lines sometimes, but they usually ignore them. I think there´s one stop sign in the entire town and one street light on the main highway. Aubrey would love it here, because there are dogs all over and people ride horses in the street. We don´t carry our cameras around with us during the day, so I don´t have any pictures of that for you, but I´ll get one some day.

I live in a tiny little house (Mom, smaller than my apartment in
Provo) and so far I haven´t seen any cockroaches. But I´ve heard we do have them. And we have a washing machine! That is a luxury here. And our back yard is big enough to hang our clothes to dry. AND we get to choose our water temperature in our shower. I´m really being spoiled here! In the house live me, Hermana Perkes, Hermana Villegas, and Hermana Sommermayer. They´re both from Chile, so we only speak Spanish at home. Sometimes Hna. Villegas tries to correct my Spanish with the Chilean way of saying things, but don´t worry, I´m learning Argentine Spanish.

Speaking of Argentine Spanish, they don´t actually call it that...
They call it "Castallano" (in English, "Castillan"). All of the members have been surprised at how well I speak and understand... they always ask, "Did you speak Castallano before at home?" So that makes me feel good, but I know and they know that I´m still not very good. But I´ll get better! My goal is to be able to communicate without my companion helping by the end of the transfer.

The branch here is great. I think there are only about 30 active members, but the ones who are active are REALLY active. There´s never been an emphasis on members doing missionary work before, but I talked to my trainer and we´re going to really push that. We´re meeting with the lider misional on Friday to update the branch mission plan and we´re going to pump them up for missionary work on Saturday at our branch picnic. Saturday is Labor Day here, so we´re having a party with food and games--basically everything good in life.

There has been one convert in the last 3 months--Jorge. He´s a great guy and he loves to learn about the gospel. We´re trying to work with his wife now (Alicia). She definitely has a testimony and she loves everything about the church, but there´s something keeping her back from baptism... we just need to find out what that is to help her along. They have two kids: a 15-year-old girl and a 19-year-old boy.
They didn´t have their kids take the lessons with them, but I hope we can somehow start talking to them, too. They´re all really nice and it would be fun to have them in the branch.

Since we do a lot of walking, my feet are getting really gross. I wore my chacos today for p-day and it was excellent. Pray for my foot--it´s starting to hurt again. Nothing serious, I just don´t want it to get worse. Today for p-day we went on a little hike to a tiny fake castle. Haha. It was fun. They we went to a little lake and swam (haha, just kidding) and played soccer. After that we went back to the chapel and played ping pong and ate empanadas. I would call that a successful day! Don´t worry, we´re going out to work after email :) Next week we´re going up the Sierra, the small mountain they have here. I already told the Elders I´m going to beat them to the top. And I will.

Missionary work is WORK it´s true! It´s hard and frustrating and I go to bed exhausted every night and wake up exhausted every morning, and I know it´s not going to get any easier, but I´m excited to be out here! This is the Lord´s work and I want to do whatever I can do help it along. People are out here for me to meet and teach as long as I´m working hard to find them. Yeah, it´ll be easier to find them when I speak Spanish better, but in order to learn Spanish I have to get out and PRACTICE! This is going to be a long mission, but I know when I look back at the end it will seem SO short. And I know it´s going to be incredible!

Let me know how everyone at home is doing. I love you all.

Hermana LaPray

Thursday, April 22, 2010


April 22, 2010

Querida Familia Lapray:

Este mensaje es para comunicarles que su hija, Hermana Lapray ha llegado bien a nuestra mision y su entrenadora sera la Hermana Perkes, de USA. Ellas trabajaran en Tandil, una bonita ciudad serrana de la provincia de Buenos Aires.
Se ve que Hermana Lapray viene muy bien preparada y con grandes deseos de servir al Señor. Muchas gracias por enviarnos a su hija. Con amor.

Presidente y Hermana Detlefsen.


April 21, 2010

Well, after 4 airplanes and a LOT of hours of traveling, here I am in Argentina! It is incredible! We met the President and his wife last night at the airport in Bahia and spent the night in a pretty awesome hotel. (We flew from Buenos Aires to Bahia Blanca instead of taking a 10 hour bus ride--I am VERY grateful.) The food here has been AMAZING (empanadas, helado, everything!) and I´m pretty sure that I never want to leave.
I´ve talked to a few people, but unless they talk really slowly I don´t understand very well. When I first heard someone talking on the airplane, it didn´t even sound like Spanish for a while.
Hermana Seegmiller and I spoke the most Spanish out of our travel group. This wasn´t a problem in the states when everyone spoke English, but when we got to Argentina there was almost a disaster.
Some of the missionaries didn´t hand in their immigration envelopes at the check point (BIG problem) and the guys working tried to tell some other missionaries and then they started yelling so finally I went over to see what was going on. I figured it out and calmed the workers down and went and got the other missionaries. It was probably one of the scariest moments of my life. I am really grateful I learned enough Spanish to figure that out... whew!
Then in the airport flying to Bahia Blanca, our guides only spoke Spanish. Whenever they wanted to relay information to the rest of the group, they did it through me because I understood them. It was amazing!
Second: I had a great neighbor in the plane... Felipe, from Buenos Aires. He´s 25 years old and he worked in Aspen all summer and we had just the greatest "gospel" conversation. Haha. It started with me telling him I was going to Argentina to be a missionary. Then he invited me to get drinks with him in Buenos Aires. hahahahaha! I said, "No, Mormons don´t drink and missionaries don´t go on dates." So he asked "What else can´t you do?" Which led into a wonderful hour long discussion on the law of chastity. hahahahaha. It was awkward for me, but Argentines are much more open. So we talked a little about the Church, I gave him a pass along card and he gave me his phone number, hahahahahahaha. It was really funny and awkward and I guess it was good, because I need to get used to talking about that with people!
I have taken a ton of pictures, but I forgot my connecting cable so I can´t send them this week, but next week I will. In a couple of hours I´m headed up to Tandil. It´s in the north of the mission and my companions says it´s been her favorite area so far (and not just because she has to say that because I´m new).
What else? I heard the best way to send letters is through Dear Elder--so start sending! :) You should be getting an email from the President (I gave them mom´s email address) with a picture, feel free to post that on the blog. In case you were wondering, President Detlefsen and his wife don´t speak English. They are VERY Argentine and I´m really excited for this. Nobody speaks English (except for me and the other missionaries, and not even all of them speak English) so I´m going to be sooo good at Spanish... hopefully I´ll forget how to speak English at all!
Also, in one year I will apparently be an Argentine citizen. My visa lasts one year, but after that I get residency and I can come back whenever I want without a visa! So maybe I won´t come home...
Oh, I guess some other stuff happened at the MTC before I left, but who could remember that???
I heard that I´m going to live in the "best" house in the mission. All I´ve heard about that so far is that it´s "big" (whatever that means) and there aren´t a lot of cockroaches (cucarachas). So that´s exciting, right??? Hermana Seegmiller left me for La Pampa--out in the middle of nowhere with the Gauchos. That is apparently the "real"
Argentina and she´s going to be amazing there and really stand out with her red hair. I´m going to miss her, but she´s going to be awesome.
The people here are much whiter than other Latin Americans, but nobody is as white as me! And nobody has blue eyes. My companion is 5´10" (VERY tall here) and I´m 5´6" (definitely above average) and we are both very blonde and very blue-eyed. Isn´t it great to know that I´m a freak here? I´m definitely excited.
I also heard that in my new area there are "mountains" (my comp. says they´re really just big hills) but next week on P-day they´re already planning on hiking! My first P-day I get to go hiking! This mission was definitely made for me. By the way, P-day is today (Wednesday) and I´m 3 hours ahead of you. The humidity is wonderful. One of the Elders who works in the office is from Potomac and he says the weather is a lot like there. Yeah! I´m so excited.
Also, every city has a plaza or park in the center with statues and trees and cool buildings surrounding it. They are really cool. I´ll send pictures next week. Basically I´m going to send 5 billion pictures next week, so get ready! In my area there´s only one bus we take every once in a while, so we´ll do a lot of walking! I´m excited to start walking again, since they don´t let us in the MTC :)
I´ve already contacted two people, but it´s not as exciting here because I might not ever see them again. I think it will be more fun when I´m actually in my area because I´ll get to teach those people! But it still was fun to talk to people, even when I had to ask them to repeat things 5 times. The Spanish here is beautiful to hear, even if I don´t understand all of it!
I can´t think of anything else to say right now... oh I didn´t tell you my comp´s name because I forgot it... and she´s over at another computer so I feel awkward asking her haha. But you will definitely find out :) Sister Hansen (Donne) who I emailed before the mission was actually HER trainer, so now Sister Hansen is my grandma! It´s pretty exciting to at least hear a familiar name.
Also, this entire country smells like smoke. Everybody smokes (except the Mormons--go Mormons!). And there are stray dogs EVERYWHERE. Like at least 2 on every street corner. Some of them are missing legs, and I´ve heard there´s a lot of mange, but I haven´t seen any really gross dogs yet. My comp says she´s never actually had to kick a dog yet, and she´s never been bitten.
Also, my this is my companion´s last transfer! She´s going home next transfer.
What else does everyone want to know? It is incredible here! It hasn´t quite hit me that I´m in another country yet. Or maybe it has and I´ve just taken it in stride a lot better than I thought I would. I am so excited for these next 16 months! And mom, if you don´t come to pick me up at the end, we are coming back to visit some day for the food alone! Remember those meat pastries you made a few months ago? Flaky dough with beef or elk inside? That were the most delicious thing I had ever eaten? The empanadas are like that... but 400 times better. Now think of the best ice cream you´ve ever had. It´s better here. I don´t like soda in the states... but I LOVE it here. Oh the pastries... Facturas are what they´re called and I can NOT get enough of them. So it´s a good thing we´ll do a lot of walking in our area, because I feel like I´m going to do a lot of eating!
So let me know what questions you have for next week! What do you want pictures of? I´m excited to get out there and share the gospel! The APs told us that the mission is on FIRE right now. People are so ready to accept the gospel, we just have to go out and find them! I´m sure all APs say that about their missions, but it´s going to be awesome here, I just know it! I love you all and I will write again next week!

Hermana LaPray

Hermana Clark and I. She was the coordinating sister when I got to the MTC.

Me, Hermana Seegmiller, and Hermana Barillas acting like our normal selves! We're wearing all of my scarves, hats, and gloves.

After our Easter egg hunt.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Last Week in the MTC!

April 14, 2010

Hello everyone!

First off, I would like to know why Dad thought I was in the MTC for only 4 weeks! I guess time flies when you're having fun WITHOUT ME!

Just kidding, I still love you, but I have been here for 8 weeks and now I have....
TRAVEL PLANS! (Imagine those letters big and sparkly in your head.) I fly out of SLC on Monday the 19th at 8:33 am. And I get to Argentina at 7:45 am the next day. Yay for 23 hours of traveling!

What else to write... this week was great. My district is hilarious so crazy things happen every day, but if I just told you all the crazy things you would probably wonder if I'm even learning anything I guess I'll try to avoid that :)

Ok so I'll start with one crazy story. We were practicing door contacts with one of our teachers the other day. There are two different phrases in Spanish, one of them is, "sin compromiso" (without any obligations) and the other is, "con permiso" (with permission). My companion wanted to ask the "investigator" if we could come in his house, but she accidentally said "sin permiso" (without permission). I think I laughed for like... 5 minutes after he slammed the door in our faces. It was awesome. Hermana Seegmiller is really great at Spanish, a lot better than me, that's for sure. Accidents like that just happen and I know I'm going to make a billion in Argentina!

Also, I saw Jeremy Clover last week. I've been trying to find out where he teaches for these last 8 weeks, and I finally found him! He actually teaches in a room in the building where I live... and I walk right by the door all the time! I was a new missionary host, so I brought one of his new students to his classroom and we both got excited and talked for a little bit. I should see him again this week, because I'm a host again and all of the hosts meet right outside his classroom.

The BYU Men's Chorus came for the Fireside on Sunday and it was really great. They are very entertaining and I love to listen to them. It was a little weird, though, to see some of my friends from BYU, haha.

Also, I would like to repeat that I LOVE THE RC! (Referral center) Yesterday, I talked to a guy named Efraín. He's originally from Guatemala and now he lives in Baltimore! He was very nice and he told me my Spanish was better than the missionaries he had ALREADY met (which I hope is not true for those poor missionaries' sakes) haha.

One of our friends here in the MTC is going to Baltimore, so I took down his address to give it to him.

Mom, the "bad things" about Argentina that the consul told us are that: 1. in Argentina we will see "real poverty" and 2. we need to always be aware of our surroundings, because it's not safe like the United States.

Also, I got a shot last Thursday! It was awful and I wanted to die, but only one Elder made fun of me (probably because only one Elder from my zone knew I was even getting a shot--I just didn't tell anybody). So that's where the $70 went from my bank account. I had to PAY someone to stick a NEEDLE in my arm, how dumb is that?

Well... next time anybody writes to me, I'll be in Argentina! If anyone wants to get anything to me, Dear Elder it before noon on Friday because I am leaving! Wahoo! Those poor Argentines won't know what hit them....

Me voy para la bella del sur!

Hermana LaPray

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Happy Candy Week

I mean... Easter. That's the holiday we were celebrating this week, right? Mostly I just remember the massive amounts of candy everyone in our district got. I think we all gained 10 pounds this week. It was awesome! I'd like to give a special thanks to Baba, who supplied the eggs for our easter egg hunt. I was delighted to get a package from her, and when I opened it, it was full of about 50 little plastic eggs! Well, on Sunday, Hermana Seegmiller and I hid them all over the floor that our classroom is on and then everyone else looked for them.
It was pretty intense. I'll send a picture tomorrow for everyone to enjoy.

When do Melissa's parents report to the MTC? Let them know that I HAVE MY VISA!!! So I'm sure everything will work out just fine for them, too. I sang at the new Senior Missionary orientation yesterday and I hoped I would see them, but they weren't there. But I did see Elder and Sister Kuta, who worked at the temple with Grandma and Grandpa.
After I sang my song, I left the meeting (because that's the
procedure) but today as we were leaving lunch they saw me and stopped me and said, "Do your grandparents work a lot at the Idaho Falls temple?" So, Grandma and Grandpa, they say hi! If you didn't know, they're going on a records mission to Eugene, Oregon.

I really enjoyed General Conference this week. The talks were all wonderful... I especially loved the emphasis on familes. That is definitely something we need these days. Families are so important and I'm so glad I have a great one! I also really love to hear President Eyring talk. He has such a wonderful spirit and he reminds me of Grandpa--very tall, and they have the same hair style! To get ready for conference, we watched the video "Special Witnesses of Christ" on Saturday night. All of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles and 1st Presidency (in 2003) bore their testimonies of the Savior and the restoration of the Church. It was very powerful--if you have not seen it, I suggest you do.

Today was exciting as well, because we met with the Argentine Consul to finalize our Visas! He came to the MTC to talk to all the missionaries going to Argentina this transfer. He told us a lot about it. Well, he told us the bad things because he knew that everyone else already told us the good things. At one point he said, "Now I'm going to talk about politics... as you know, the World Cup is happening soon..." and he talked about soccer for a while. So I guess Argentine politics and soccer are the same thing! Great! That will be really easy to understand. He also said that the public mail system is awful, so if you ever want to send anything then send letters through the Salt Lake pouch and packages through a private carrier.

No travel plans yet, but we should get them on Thursday or Friday!
Meeting with the consul today really made it sink in that I'M GOING TO ARGENTINA! Soon! Our district also gets to be hosts tomorrow for the new missionaries. I'm really excited for it!

But another exciting thing happening tomorrow is that my big brother is turning old! Happy birthday Shawny! 26! I hear that's a magical year in most men's lives.
Use it well, and write me a letter. Or else. (Dad, if he doesn't write me a letter, break his legs or something.)

I think that's about all I have to report on this week! I will let everyone know when I'm leaving and how the hosting goes! (Hopefully I won't scare off any of the new sisters...) Have a good week, and go Butler!

Hermana LaPray