Wednesday, February 29, 2012

8 months is like No Man's Land!

Diane and I have been in the mission 8 months. But really, an 8 month anniversary is kind of weak. Wonder why no one makes a big deal about an 8 month anniversary (except for junior high school girls)? Because you are stuck in no man's land.

6 months is a big deal because it is HALF of a year. But just 2 months later...? What has changed? We're not even into the double digits yet! People don't want to celebrate again with you until you have hit a year. And you certainly are not getting a meal, party or present for your 8th month anniversary.

Think about it, does a pregnant woman celebrate her 8th month of pregnancy? No, she talks in terms of weeks before or after her "due date".

A teenager can't wait to be 15 years and 6 months old so he can start driving with a permit. He's not celebrating when he turns 15 years and 8 months old, he is focused on turning 16 so he can drive without his father in the passenger seat.

And there is no cute "tag" for 8 months in a 3 year mission. It is not a tenth, fifth, quarter, third or half of our mission. It is just 8 months! You get the point.

Nevertheless, Diane and I have taken note that today is our 8th month anniversary in the mission. Here are somethings that I have noticed after 8 months:

I still have no clue what a person's last name is. Ricardo Perez, Ricardo Perez Diaz and Ricardo Alberto Diaz Perez can all be the same person or 3 different people. I stick to Señor, Señora, Hermano, Hermana or Elder and Presidente.

I can not figure out the phone numbers. Sometimes you dial 0 first. Sometimes you add a 9 in the middle. Sometimes you put in 15 for a cell phone. If you are not preset in the "contacts" in my phone...I won't be calling!

Only the uber-wealthy can afford the financial consequences of making a left turn in the city. Ask 10 people the rules and you get 10 different answers. If one of the 10 people you ask is the policeman who just pulled you over, you will be handing him some cash as a thank you. (yes, I am still a little sensitive about that one)

After extensive research I have concluded that Terrabusi makes the best dulce de leche alfajor.

"Chiquita Banana" is actually spanish, not english.

In the big scheme of things the NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB are irrelevant. But, FIFA is king!

98 percent of the birds are fast enough to just barely get out of the way of a speeding vehicle.

It does not matter what time zone you live in, if you wake up at 2:00 am and fall back asleep at 3:00 am, you are going to be dead tired at 6:00 am.

If you are speaking a foreign language and can't recall the exact word you want to use, so you use 20 words to describe the one word you mean, your listeners will wait all the way to the 20th word before they tell you the word you are searching for. Example, "You know, that machine with a motor and hose that you use when you have dirt on the floor that you want to clean up...(pause)...that uses electricity and makes noise like a sucking sound...(pause) use it instead of a broom and sometimes it has wheels...(pause, now desperate) English it is called a "vacuum cleaner". Finally, "Oh, sure, you mean an aspiradora...."

And...we have missionaries in Fontana, Chaco and Fontana, Formosa. Missionaries in Roque Saenz Peña, Posadas and Roque Saenz Peña, Chaco. Eldorado, Misiones and El Colorado, Chaco. Jardin America not to be confused with Jardin! Puerto, Formosa and Puerto Rico, Misiones. Laguna Blanca, Formosa and Laguna Seca, Corrientes...we are down to 3 Elder Taylors from 4 and 1 Elder Moore from 3. Elder Diaz and Hermana Ruiz Diaz. Elder R. Fernandez and Elder A. Fernandez. 2 Elder Estradas, Elder Rivera and Elder Riveros and on and on and on. In 8 months, we have learned to love them all and everywhere they serve. But we promise, no more mention of anniversaries until July!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Off and Running

Starting in Posadas this weekend we are scheduled for a Stake Conference or District Conference virtually every week through the middle of June! We will watch General Conference in our home stake center. For three days in April we will be in Montevideo, Uruguay for the Mission Presidents' Seminar. To fill in the rest of the time during those months we will have mission wide interviews, zone leaders' councils, zone conferences, coordinating councils, presidency meetings, transfers and visits to different member districts and missionaries' areas for special interviews. Sprinkle in a few office days here and there and that should just about cover it...until the phone starts ringing!

Even though there are patterns and cycles to missionary life, you definitely have to be flexible and prioritize based upon the needs of the missionaries. There is always the unexpected phone call that can change everything in a moment...but that is all part of the challenge! And, some way or another, it all comes together and is accomplished. So, Diane and I are off and running...and before we know it we will be looking at the conference cycle for August to December!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

¡Que los cumplas feliz, Taylor!

Today Taylor turns 19! Diane said he can't have a birthday without a cake and a she baked a cake and we enlisted the new missionaries that arrived last night to sing, "Que los cumplas feliz", the Happy Birthday song, Argentine style...via Skype...

Explaining what we were going to do...

Waking Taylor up in his dorm at 7:15 am Utah time...And singing to him!

Diane telling Taylor to make a wish and blow out the candles...

(She helped him from our end...)

Taylor thanking everyone in Spanish...everyone loved it! Happy birthday, Scooter, we love you!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tablero Madness!

Transfers of missionaries are announced every 6 weeks by emailing a mission roster (called a "Tablero" or tablet) with the new companionships and assignments to the Zone Leaders, who then call each of the affected missionaries and inform them. The Tablero looks like this:

The Tablero is emailed around 9 pm at night. The 15 Zone Leaders have to download the email from their local internet cafe (missionaries do not have their own computers).

The day of transfers the rumors and speculation reach frenzied proportions...think the human equivalent of this...

Yesterday was transfer day. Yesterday was also day 2 of the national holiday celebrating the start of Carnaval. Guess what closes for national holidays...the internet cafes!!!

So, this is what the Assistants did all...night...long...("Hola Elder, tengo noticias!)

Until the very last call was made and the very last question was answered...

We just love it when everything goes smoothly!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Unfortunately the answer is "Yes"!

Did I turn left onto Avenida Rivadavia?

Was there a policeman on a motorcycle right behind me?

Did I negotiate a four thousand peso fine down to a five hundred peso "donation"?

Two days later did the police detour traffic so that it HAD TO turn left onto Avenida Rivadavia?

Do I want a refund of my five hundred pesos?

Am I dreaming?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Whoa, Nelly!

Elders Hunt and Shirley live in the town of Jardin in the province of Misiones. They decided to change pensiones. They realized that they needed some help moving their possessions from one pension to another. So, they did what you and I would do in the same situation, they found a local moving company to handle the matter...

A bucket of oats and a few pesos later they were all settled in their new home!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Taylor's Mission Call

Came on Wednesday.

He waited until the evening to open it. He had family join in via Skype and telephone and some friends there with him. Allison and Sam were there in person, too. Cousin Chelsea manned the computer on the far right and Diane and I watched from the computer that is the second from the right.

He has been called to serve in the Chile Concepcion Mission and begins June 20, 2012!

Alli did a good job representing us there in the moment.

So, our little family will have 3 members who served missions to Argentina (me twice!), 1 who served in Brazil and 1 serving in Chile for a total of 14 years of service...amazing to think that we would all be so involved in South America from Chandler, Arizona!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

And, My Sister Missionaries Are Prettier Than Your Sister Missionaries!

The Teacher Always Learns More Than The Student

For Zone Leaders' Council, I decided to emphasize that we are all fellow servants in the missionary work. So, after my initial message I surprised the missionaries and asked them to remove their shoes, place post-its in the shoes with their names and tie them together. While Diane and the Assistants conducted the rest of the meeting, I polished their shoes. I took them to another room...there were 34 pairs...

I changed my clothes and started the task of cleaning, polishing, brushing and shining each pair.

And then something happened. As I picked up each shoe and read the name of the missionary, I thought about each person who had worn the shoe for days and days, and miles and miles, through the dirt and the heat and the mud and the rain. As I did the hours flew by and it did not seem like work at all.

When I was finished I realized how much appreciation and respect I have for these missionaries and what they are doing.

I changed back into my suit and had the shoes lined up in the room where the Zone Leaders' Council was taking place.

I asked each missionary to come forward when I called his name. I asked them not to thank me or hug me but to just come look me in the eye, take their shoes and think about how they felt. I then handed each one his pair of shined shoes. It was a meaningful and powerful moment. When we were finished, I simply said, "We are all fellow servants in this work". And I realized that I had learned more about sacrifice and service than they had.

Use Your Imagination

This week we have Zone Leaders' Council and start our tour of Zone Conferences!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My Missionaries Are More Mature Than Your Missionaries!

Give them a is 110 degrees and 95 percent humidity out there!