So, while Diane and I are in Argentina doing this:
Our son Taylor is at BYU in Provo, Utah doing this:
Tonight as we were driving through Resistencia to go to the airport Diane was getting Facebook updates on the BYU Lacrosse game on her iPad from the mothers of the two other young men in this picture...Taylor Lythgoe on the left (thank you, Angie) and Joey Mecham on the right (thank you, Christine).
Congratulations, Taylor on a great game and have a great time! Keep those emails, pictures, Facebook posts and phone calls coming. Can't wait for ESPN Deportes to start carrying your games live in South America! (That was part of the deal between BYU and ESPN, right?)
3. I think in terms of liters and kilometers instead of gallons and miles.
4. I carry a handkerchief with me.
5. I wave and smile at the military police when they let me through a checkpoint without stopping me.
6. I go grocery shopping with Diane. (I love being with Diane even more than I hate shopping)
7. I unpack my suitcase the same day I come back home.
8. I am patient when I am ready to leave and others (that would be Diane) are still getting ready. (This may be a genetic breakthrough as I believe "pre-trip impatience" is a Heyman family trait handed down from generation to generation).
9. I don't tip waiters (they don't do that here and I feel like I am cheating them) but I do tip the man who cleans my windshield at the gas station (they still do that here, but I don't think you are supposed to tip them...I can't help myself).
10. When the guy with the red car parks in front of my garage and blocks me from backing out almost every single morning, I do not get mad, I just push his car down the street a few feet (or houses) as he always leaves it in neutral. The neighbors watched me do this the other day and didn't think twice about it, the strange thing is neither did I.
11. I habitually end phone conversations by saying, "chau-chau".
12. I carry some cash with me everywhere I go. No more dipping into Taylor's lunch money jar for me!
We drove through Posadas again and stayed in Obera Friday, Saturday and for Church this morning. I had a few meetings yesterday with the Branch President in Obera and then I interviewed the missionaries there. After the interviews Diane and I treated the missionaries to ice cream at a place in the centro.
Our drive from Obera to Eldorado was incredible. We took some backroads through the Yerba and Tea fields and then into thick jungle along a winding road. Why did we not take pictures? Because we were in thick jungle along a winding road.
When we got to Eldorado we met some of the local leaders and then Diane and I drove to the costanera...every town bordering the major rivers has its own costanera. We walked a little in the vegetation by the river. Here's Diane...
And me pointing to Paraguay when I didn't realize Diane was going to take a picture...
So, do you wonder what a "hotel" is like in Eldorado? Welcome to the Cabañas Don Juan...
Outside of our room..
Standing in the door looking in...
Sitting on the bed. Lots and lots of one night-two night hotel stays across northern Argentina!
Thank you Mark Mabry for giving us permission to use one of your photographs as our new Mission Logo. It reflects a lot of what the missionaries feel. The caption translates into "We are fellow servants in the work".
Click on the logo to see a clear and full size image. Looks like the best mission in the world just got the best logo in the world!
At 1am this morning I received a call from Salt Lake City saying the new missionaries will not be arriving today because they are stuck in Dallas as flights were cancelled due to "ceniza" in Chile. Here is a mental picture for you when you hear the word ceniza...
This is what the dictionary has to say about ceniza...
Translation s.f. ⇨ ash (pl ashes) reducir a cenizas ⇨ to reduce to ashes El árbol quedó reducido a cenizas tras el incendio The tree was reduced to ashes after the fire
Yesterday, October 16th, was Mother's Day in Argentina. I wished Diane a Happy Mother's Day while we were having breakfast in this Hotel in Apostoles, Argentina.
1. We drove Thursday from Resistencia through Posadas and down to Apostoles (4.5 hours). I interviewed the missionaries in Apostoles and we drove back to Posadas (1 hour) to stay the night.
2. I interviewed 28 missionaries in Posadas Friday and we even made a little time to have pizza with some of the Hermanas down at the Costanera. I have shown this area before...it is where the bridge goes to Encarnacion, Paraguay. The Hermana with her back to us shall not go unnamed...Hermana Callie Payne.
3. Saturday, we picked up Elder Esteban Resek at the airport and went back to Apostoles where we had District Conference meetings until 9 pm. We stayed the night at the Hotel.
4. Sunday, after wishing Diane Happy Mother's Day, we had more Distirct Conference Meetings until 1:30 pm at which time we drove through town...
And headed through the yerba fields back up to Posadas...
Where we met with my Executive Secretary and then drove Elder Resek to the airport where we learned that his flight to Buenos Aires had been cancelled (more volcanic ash from Chile). We then took him to the bus station where he bought a ticket on a bus that will take all night to arrive in Buenos Aires where he will (hopefully) get a connecting flight to his hometown of Mendoza. Diane and I stayed the night in Posadas.
5. Today, Diane and I drive back to Resistencia (4 hours), I will finalize the transfers that will take place on Wednesday, prepare for the 13 new missionaries that come Tuesday night and the 15 that leave on Thursday. Then I have 3 skype conferences late afternoon through the evening.
6. Tuesday I head to Reconquista in the Province of Santa Fe (2 hours) to interview the missionaries there and come back to Resistencia to meet the new arrivals around 6:30 pm. I will interview each one briefly before they (and I) go to bed.
7. Wednesday, we prepare the trainer missionaries, give an orientation to the new missionaries, pair them up and send them off. Not only do we house and feed them, but Diane sends each of them off with a freshly backed package of cookies.
8. Thursday I will interview the 15 missionaries that leave, have one of Diane's farewell dinners with them and then Diane and I will see them off at the bus terminal at 8:30 pm.
9. Friday, Diane and I head back up to Obera (5.5 hours) for...well, for now, let's just say we get back into Resistencia on Tuesday, October 25th.
As anyone who knows us knows...the busier we are the happier we are. The mission is giving us plenty of reasons to be happy!
So, you have to feed 40 missionaries (hungry missionaries) at our monthly Zone Leaders Council dinner. You have to make a presentation to them about staying healthy while working in the sun (in Spanish), you have to travel to Ibarreta and then Apostoles two straight weekends for a District Conference (where you have to speak during the meeting in Spanish) and you have your other everyday activities, too.
What do you do with your "spare time?"
Well, if you are Diane Heyman, you relate the five health tips for surviving the sun and heat to your five fingers (agua, sombrero, bloqueador del sol, repelente de insectos y pañuelo) and then you have the Zone Leaders promise to share the information that you present to them with their fellow missionaries by offering them one of these if they will do so...
(the flesh color of the sugar cookies is a peach glaze Diane made from scratch...notice the individual bags they are in...Diane said that just like in real life, no two hands were identical!"
I know she only has 24 hours a day like the rest of us but I can't figure out how she gets it all done. It is all I can do to keep up with her. I do know what fuels here though...reactions like this...
As Curtis once said, "Mom's language of love is cooking!"
My blog entry about watching General Conference in 1975 versus 2011 started me thinking about the differences in serving a mission as a 19 year old single adult in the mid 1970's and a 55 year old married man in 2011. Here are a dozen that come to mind.
Then: About 35,000 members of the Church in Argentina. Now: About 400,000.
Then: 10 companions over a 24 month period. Now: 1 companion for 36 months.
Then: My bicycle (I named it, "Trigger"), my feet or a colectivo. Now: The Toyota Hi-Lux 4x4.
Then: 7 pensions to live in. Now: 1 house to live in but 10 hotels to sleep in while traveling.
Then: It took 2 weeks for a letter to go between the U.S. and Argentina. Now: Instantaneous cell phones, Skype, emails, texts, Facebook and blogs.
Then: 3 suits, 7 white shirts and 2 pairs of shoes. Now: 15 suits, 20 white shirts and 9 pairs of shoes. (Diane takes good care of me)
Then: Wondering how, of all of the places in the world, I was called to serve as a missionary in Argentina. Now: Grateful that of all of the places in the world, I was called to serve as a missionary again in Argentina.
Then: A battery powered cassette player, unreliable film strip projector, Bible, Triple Combination (they didn't make the 4-in-1 sets yet) and a notebook filled with laminated pictures. Now: iPad 2.
Then: Looking for a great adventure. Now: Trying to avoid the types of adventures I used to look for.
Then: Tap water and its biological consequences. Now: Bottled water and its physiological and psychological tranquility.
Then: Hand-writing a weekly letter to my Mission President. Now: Reading and responding to 190 weekly missionary emails.
Then: Being somewhat of a knucklehead. Now: Being somewhat of a knucklehead. Ok, I know that is the same, but I am a knucklehead for different reasons now than I was then. I will say this, though, I loved being a missionary when I was 19 and I love being a missionary now.
Every three months the Mission President interviews all of the missionaries to see how they are doing. Last Saturday marked the three month anniversary of our arrival in the mission. So, I have begun my second round of interviews. On Monday I interviewed the 34 missionaries in Resistencia. Tuesday I interviewed the 16 missionaries in Corrientes. Wednesday I interviewed the 32 missionaries in Formosa. This weekend I will be in a District Conference in Ibarreta and will take time to interview the 8 missionaries there and on and on!
Among other things, I ask about the missionaries' health. I have asked them what they eat during a typical day. Now, remember, these are 19-25 year old single adults...here is the most common response.
Breakfast: Cereal, milk or yogurt and fruit. Best breakfast mentioned...pancakes and eggs with milk and juice.
Lunch: Most eat at the home of a Church member. A caserolle of pasta and chicken with a sauce, or other days potatoes or rice with meat or chicken and juice or water. This is the big meal of the day. The food that missionaries mentioned the most as either loving or hating...polenta.
Dinner: Very few sit down to eat dinner. They are home around 9:00-9:30pm, so it is generally milk and cookies, crackers or bread. Sometimes a light pasta dish. Only one set of missionaries said that it regularly has a sit down dinner at night.
Of course during the day they manage to eat cookies, bread, alfajores, ice cream and soda, etc. I encourage them to eat healthy because they are very active and outdoors and burn a lot of calories.
Then we talk about the hot season, which has just begun! I tell them to buy one of these:
Use plenty of this:
Make sure this is working in their pension:
And to keep out the bugs to have these in their windows:
There are a few, and only a few who have these little units in their homes:
But most of all to eat plenty of these:
And drink mucho, mucho, mucho of this:
Because for the next 6 months or so, they will be in this:
And we want them to feel like this:
They are amazing and adventurous and upbeat. I always leave these interviews feeling impressed and optimistic. If you ever want to be reassured that the future will be in good hands, spend some time with young men and women of this age group and just listen to what they think, observe and do...as we say here, "impressionante!"
General Conference occurs twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. The President of the Church and other leaders speak in five two-hour sessions over Saturday and Sunday. They provide counsel, direction and explain doctrine. I have always enjoyed General Conference and have been inspired by the messages. Sometimes I have attended in person, sometimes I watched satellite broadcasts at our local meetinghouse and more recently I watched sessions at home over cable TV.
In the fall of 1975, I was serving my mission in the small town of Villa Nueva in the province of Cordoba, Argentina. No one there had a TV. The owner of the pension in which I was living had an old, old shortwave radio that sat on top of the refrigerator in her outdoor kitchen.
One Saturday evening after dinner, I remembered it was General Conference weekend and asked if I could try and find a broadcast of it on the radio. Argentina is 3 hours a head of Utah. I tried and tried and tried...finally through ear shattering static I could barely detect the voice of one of the speakers at General Conference. The voice only lasted a few seconds before the static drowned it out, but I felt elated that I had made contact. And that was it for General Conference the two years I was in Argentina.
This is General Conference weekend, fall of 2011. I am back in Argentina. I watched all five sessions of General Conference! One session I watched live in the local meetinghouse via satellite in Spanish from 9pm to 11pm, Argentina time.
This is how I watched the other four sessions, live and in English...
On the web...even used my iPad!
Am I grateful for the technological advances? Yes, I am. Am I addicted to technology gadgets? Yes, I am. I inherited that from my father.
The phrase, "take a message to Garcia" means take initiative, get the job done and work through any and all obstacles without complaint.
A few weeks ago I shared, "A Message to Garcia" with the missionaries working in the office. Here is a summary of the background:
With tensions between the United States and the Spanish (who then ruled Cuba) growing, President William McKinley wanted to contact Cuban rebels who could prove a valuable ally in case of war with Spain. McKinley requested that a soldier be assigned to make contact with Calixto García e Iñiguez, one of the leaders of the rebels. Andrew Rowan was assigned and without question or delay traveled to Cuba via Jamaica. Rowan met Garcia deep in the jungle of the Oriente Mountains, delivered the message to Garcia and returned to report that the Cuban rebels had agreed to cooperate with Americans in fighting the Spanish.
I have established El Premio Rowan (The Rowan Award) in the office. It is awarded weekly to the missionary who on his own takes initiative and completes a difficult task.
A few weeks ago my Blackberry started acting up. I contacted the Church IT people and was able to get approval to get an iPhone if I could find one. There was a catch. Argentina has an embargo on iPhones. You can't get one here. I asked my counselor in Posadas to find one for me in Paraguay. You can't get one there, either. They are only selling them in bulk to Argentine corporations at a significant premium. So, I just figured that I was out of luck.
Then, today, I was handed this brand new iPhone...
By this week's winner of El Premio Rowan...
Elder Landon Martinsen, Mission Secretary. I will explain how he was able to do this after the statute of limitations has expired.