Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Rainy Week and a Broken Patio Door

5/26/2010 A Rainy Week and a Broken Patio Door
Well, from the title you´ve probably already guessed that it´s been rainy this week and our patio door is broken. It rained ALL week, and when it finally stopped I put some clothes out to dry... and when I came back inside the lock on our door broke. We can´t unlock the door to get back outside to get my clothes...Oops! "Go out the window!" you say. Well, bad news about that, our window has bars on it. All the windows here have bars on them. So we just have to find someone to fix it.
Speaking of finding someone to fix our door, we couldn´t get anyone this weekend because it´s a national holiday. Argentina is now 200 years old, which means that nobody worked this weekend. They ate and slept and cleaned their houses and went to the campo to see their distantly-related uncles. It was nothing like the 4th of July. Sure, they had asados and took days off from work, but let´s face it: they do that all the time. Maybe it was bigger in Buenos Aires, but they didn´t even have fireworks! So light off some extra fireworks for me. I know I left some at home, and they might even still be in the trunk of the Hyundai.
For the holiday weekend, we had a branch FHE. Everyone came to the capilla and we (Hna. Perkes and I) shared a spiritual thought, then we all played some crazy games together, and then we ate. Eating is a very popular thing here. And everyone makes amazing desserts. Hna. Perkes made brownies and I made bread pudding and everyone loved it.
They really love American desserts here. But here they have something called pasta flor and one of our investigators makes the best pasta flor EVER. It´s like a... pie/cake base (bready but sweet) with dulce de membrillo on top and she makes us one every time we go to her house. Anyway, she came to the activity (hooray!) and she made two, and some kind of pound cake, and I´m not sure if I mentioned this yet, but Mom, she´s going to come live with us and cook for us. Ok? So anyway, I hope everyone is content now that they know everything I´m eating. Ty requested that I talk more about what I eat for every meal.
And this week I finally learned the Argentine version of "Eenie Meenie Miney Moe" (if that´s even how you spell it). For anyone who is interested:
Ta te ti,
Suerte para mi.
Si no sale para vos,
Sale para mi.
So that was a major victory. I´m very content now and I feel like my mission is complete. Ok maybe not. I´ll keep working.
We had two really great lessons yesterday. We met with Mirian and we were talking about 3 Nefi 11 and she had a lot of questions about baptism. She doesn´t believe in baptism for children, and she thinks that people should be baptized by immersion (like Christ). I´d say those are some pretty good ideas. So we talked to her about baptism and priesthood authority, but we still need to get her to the capilla. She wants to come to the district conference this weekend, so I hope we see her there. We also taught Guadalupe. We´ve been to her house 5 or 6 times, but we´ve only taught lesson 1 and we usually just end up sharing random scriptures to answer her questions, but yesterday we came in and sat down and asked us how we resist temptation, and that led into an entire lesson 2 with her asking questions the whole time. She really understands everything well and loves what we teach. She tried to fast with us this weekend, but after about 12 hours she changed her mind :) That´s ok, I´m glad she tried. At the end of the lesson, she said she´s trying to change her work schedule to be able to go to church. She went once, but she hasn´t been able to go back.
The work here is still great. Hna. Perkes leaves in 4 days, but she´s still going strong and I´m very grateful for that. I´ll find out who my new companion is at the end of this week, and I´m excited to know who it is :) Since it´s only my second transfer and I already have a new companion, she´ll be my "step-mother".
I know I say this every time, but the mission is great. I get to meet so many great people and have all kinds of awesome experiences sharing the gospel here.
I love you all, and I hope you have a good week.

Hermana LaPray
P.S. Mom, tell Josh I got him a sweet knife with a raptor claw handle.
We talked about it on the phone. Now he just has to wait a year for it. :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Us....being fools.

1st transfer vs. last transfer shoes.

The traditional mission "big bug" photo.

The district on top of the "castle".

Cumplemes - first and last

May 19, 2010

So here we celebrate the "cumplemes". Mine is the 17th (because I entered the MTC on the 17th of Feb.) and so is Hna. Perkes´. But this one was special because it was my first in the field and her last. So we celebrated by eating alfajores. On the street. In the bitter cold. It was pretty awesome.
It is cooling down here. One night was freezing, and it´s really humid. When you exhale, your breath hangs in the air in front of you. But we wear a lot of coats and we´re just fine. It´s nothing compared to an Idaho winter :) Oh, I got a bunch of letters last week, so I guess that means that I´ll start getting those letters everyone has been sending. So Mom, that first DearElder you sent got here on Thursday, and the letter Baba sent through the pouch, too. I hope that now you have an idea how long it takes letters to get here.
I really am understanding more every day and I´m getting a lot better at talking. It really does help not to be afraid to talk. So I just start talking and I say whatever comes out. But it´s better that way!
Before it was easy to just tell Hna. Perkes what I wanted and let her talk for me, but I decided to just go for it. And now I talk all the time. Kind of like with English... Ha, I wish I could speak Spanish like I spoke English. But I´m getting better!
Last Saturday we ate dinner with a family from the branch. The husband is from Mexico and I told him that I like spicy food so he made us some AMAZING salsa and I thought my tongue was going to fall out, but it was marvelous. I had no idea how much I was going to miss spicy food! But the food here is still amazing. Today I ate some fried empanadas with beef inside and we had some AMAZING helado. It´s a good thing that our area is more campo, or I´d stop and eat empanadas and helado every day.
Oh, and I guess I had some missionary moments this week, too... let´s talk about those.
First, Guadalupe. She´s amazing, but sometimes it doesn´t seem like she has a lot of interest in the Church. Not so yesterday! When we got to her house she was very excited and she told us, "I can come to Church on Sunday! Not for the whole time, because I have to go to work, but I can come to the first two hours!" Towards the end of the visit, she was telling us about some problems she´s had recently, and asked if there was anything special we did in our church for that and we taught her about fasting. She decided that was something she wanted to do, so we´re having a special fast on Saturday. She´s really excited about it and she really believes that it will help her. This like that amaze me. The faith that I see from the people here is incredible. Sometimes they have practically nothing, but they are so faithful and they trust so much in God. They are awesome!
Hna. Perkes´ recent convert, Jorge, has a family and they are still unbaptized. His wife wants to be, but doesn´t feel ready, but I think I´ve written about her already (Alicia). He also has two kids. Julieta (16) and Luciano (19). When we go over, we help Julieta with her English homework and I´ve been making friends with her, too. So now when we come over, she always comes out and talks with us for a while. Well this time, we were showing Jorge and Alicia a movie about President Monson and she came out and watched part of it and prayed with us! I was really excited about that. Hopefully we can start teaching her more! Luciano is usually at work when we come over and he only says "hi" then goes to his room when he gets home, but lately he´s been more friendly. They are just an amazing family with good values and they are just very unified. Jorge and Alicia were married years ago, before he got baptized. That is pretty uncommon, but Hna.Perkes says it´s easier for people to accept the gospel when they already have that kind of foundation in their life. I just love the whole family! And Alicia makes the best pasta flor ever. And she always makes us one when we come over. Oh how I love Argentine food...
In my personal study, I´ve been working on answering the "questions of the soul" from Preach My Gospel, and I recommend it to everyone. You can use the recommended scriptures, but then look for more. There are a lot of good scriptures out there that can help a lot of people! A little bit of understanding goes a long way.
The work is hard and tiring, but I love it. Experiences like the ones I write about make all the "no´s" worth it. And maybe some of those "no´s" will be ready for the next missionaries who come along, or when a member friend talks to them. All we can do is be friendly and loving and give them a chance to listen. And if they say no, that´s ok. There are people out there looking for us, but they don´t know what they´re looking for so we have to go to them! And we won´t find them unless we knock on every door in Villa Aguirre! So that´s what we´re going to do. And then a second time. The Church is true! It helps people. It helps families. That is what we are sharing.
I love you all!
Hermana LaPray
May 13, 2010

Well, another week has come and gone, and boy do I have good news! A drunk guy in the street last night told me that somebody will marry me some day. So that´s a weight off my chest that I didn´t know was there! Hahaha... Other than that, I don´t know what to tell you. Nothing else is important! (Old men tell me this all the time... we call them "viejos verdes")
Oh wait, no, we had zone conference yesterday! That was awesome. I want to start by telling you a little about President Detlefsen. He is nuts. I think he and dad would get along really well. He is HILARIOUS. He´s always making jokes (and then laughing at his own jokes like they´re the funniest thing ever) and he´s always making fun of the missionaries. And everyone else. And himself. He´s definitely not what I expected a mission president to be like, but I´ve gotta say that I enjoy it. Besides that, he is brilliant and he has great doctrinal insights. Since he´s from Argentina, he really loves the Argentine people and understands how to work with them. And his wife is awesome.
She´s sweet and loving and also very funny.
Hna. Perkes and I gave a taller on asking for references and I think it went well. We had to prepare it the day before the conference, because that´s when we found out the assistants weren´t coming to give it, but Hna. Perkes is awesome and she put it together. The best part of conference was the food... empanadas and facturas! This might sound weird, but I actually haven´t gained weight since I´ve been here... Maybe I should eat more...
I feel like I´m really progressing with the language. I usually understand people (unless they´re really old or really young) and I can usually think of stuff to say back! But I still need to improve SO much. I want to understand everyone all the time and I want to be able to express myself all the time. I will keep working!
It´s starting to get colder. By "colder" I mean maybe high 50´s, but it still feels relatively cold. And it´s only going to get colder! But Summer will come. I just have to live through winter first.
We found a couple of new investigators this week. One family let us in just because we´re American but hey, we´ll take whatever excuse we can get! I really liked what Mom sent me from Hna. Seegmiller´s blog. Sometimes I feel like it´s true, that the people don´t really understand what they have. But our tiny branch has some really powerful members! They want to help the missionaries SO much but they don´t know what to do! Luckily I had Hno. Dallon in the MTC and he gave us a monton of ideas to help the members help us. We started the "Hno. Dallon" plan last week with the LĂ­der Misional and I will keep you updated on how it goes.
We were in the mission newsletter this week--393 contacts. 393 contacts and 4 new investigators! Whew! I heard that our area is one of the hardest in the mission because it´s harder to find people... That might be true, but it´s all I know so I have nothing to compare it to. Personally, I love Tandil. It´s a cool little city with wonderful people.
Since I just talked to you on Sunday, I don´t know what else to say! So I guess I´ll wrap it up and stick some pictures in here (I think I finally got them to work!).
One thing from conference that I really loved was when Presidente told us that even when our mission ends, it isn´t over. When we go back home we still have to share the gospel with other people. We won´t work in the same way or be as focused as we are now, but we still need to share it with everyone we can. It´s important to us, it´s essential for everyone. If we have this wonderful gift, we need to share it!
I love you all! Until next week,

Hermana LaPray

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Another week in Argentina (Tandil)

May 5, 2010

Well, I guess I´ll start out with the not-missionary stuff... I hope you don´t think that I´m a big slacker because of it. We didn´t go on the long-awaited hike again this week... I´ll just beat up the zone leader and we´ll go next week. But I DID learn how to juggle. Just wait, by the time I get home I´ll be a juggling master. I´ll probably drop out of college and juggle on the street for money.
Also, last night with one of our investigators, we were talking about American music and she asked me what bands I liked and I said, "They´re not very well-known, but they´re called Bread" and she got really excited because she has their "very best" CD. So we were a little apostate and listened to some of it... Also, we´re teaching her English and she´s teaching me Portugese. Also, we´re teaching her the gospel. That´s why we visit her. haha Also, the other day on the bus we were talking to a 10-year-old girl, and when I turned around for a second she reached out and touched my hair, haha. There are some "blondes" here, but nobody as blonde (or white!) as me. I get stared at a lot...
We were visiting the Branch President´s family, and one of his daughters (7-years-old) was telling me all the words she knew in English. After that she asked me what words I knew in Spanish... Don´t worry, I know a few. AND we had a branch activity on Saturday for 1 de Mayo (Labor Day here). We had an asado and played volleyball... it was a lot of fun!
And yes, mom, they discovered my voice then. I was playing some songs on the piano with the kids and then I started singing and all of the sudden half the branch was standing there listening. So now they know I can sing. Dangit, my secret is out...
So now I´ll move on to "missionary" stuff. I´ll answer mom´s questions and that should cover it.
We have a few investigators but only one is really "progressing" right now (going to Church regularly). Her name is Alicia. Her husband (Jorge) was baptized a couple weeks ago and she really knows the Church is true and she wants to get baptized, she just wants to take her time and make sure she is ready. She really is ready, we just need to help her find out that she is. They´re a great family and I´m excited for them.
This week we started teaching Alejandra. She´s an Evangelist, but only because she´s looking for the "true church." Hopefully we can help her with that :) She seems very interested, but she´s busy trying to get divorced and support her family... So keep her in your prayers.
We also teach Marian. We were doing a bunch of contacts on Moday morning, handing out pass-along cards and we came across her. She wanted to talk more, so we came back the next day. She said, "What should I wear to Church on Sunday?" before we even said anything about it. THAT was incredible. We gave her a pass-along card and invited her on Monday morning, but usually people don´t listen when we do that, it´s just a contact. I guess I should have more faith that things like that can happen!
Also, we´re teaching an old man named Litto. His wife died a few years ago and they never had kids, so he´s really lonely. He loves to read from the Book of Mormon and pray, but he´s afraid of large groups of people, so he´s afraid to come to church. We´re working on that with him... I really hope he comes this week.
Our church building is tiny. There are about 10 rooms including the Chapel, which is the size of maybe two regular classrooms in a building in the United States. We have the one building in our area. In Argentina, the Church is set up in Branches because most people don´t have cars and they need to be able to have a church building close to them to get there.
For interviews with the mission president, he comes here for Zone Conference. That´s actually next week, so I´ll let you know how it goes!
We get fed almost every day at the member´s houses. We eat a LOT of meat, bread, and potatoes. And that´s about it... When I get home I try to eat fruit and veggies, because we never eat it outside of the house.
My companion is from Washington state, and she goes home in less than a month... I´m already killing my first companion!
My feet are doing great! Well, they are tired, of course, but my one foot doesn´t hurt like it was last week. The prayers are working! Keep it up!
I haven´t gotten any DearElders yet. I´m not exactly sure how the mail works. I´ll mention it in my email when I get them. Apparently we´ll get them on Thursdays. So we will see!

Also today for p-day we did a little "Trunky Shopping" for my comp to take some stuff home. I already found something for Dad. Hna. Perkes told me that some things are just cheaper here in Tandil because they make them here. I´m really excited about what I got for you, Dad, but I´m going to keep it a surprise... Even though I really want to tell you! I´m sure by next week I´ll have forgotten so it won´t be a temptation.
What else does everyone want to know? I finally got my pictures uploaded so I´ll send them in another email.
This morning in personal study I was reading in Mosiah, King Benjamin´s address. I especially liked 4:15-16. We give good things to the people we love, and that´s why I´m here teaching the gospel. I really do love the people I´m teaching! They are so wonderful and they have their good qualities and faults just like everyone else, but they are just special. I want to share the gospel with them because it makes ME happy. I want to spread that happiness around! The Church is true. It will make YOU happy, too.

Hermana LaPray