Sunday, August 17, 2014

Returned Mission President Observations

Diane and I have been home a little more than one month. Here are some re-entry observations:

1. There are a bazillion fast food restaurants in the United States.

2. You can turn right on a red light unless it says not to...and people quickly honk their horns to remind you if you don't.

3. It is easy to commit to have lunch with more people than there are lunches.

4. You pump your own gas and clean your own windshields here.

5. Many people do not know how to react to an abrazo. And the second time you see them can be even more awkward..Will he hug me? Do I just shake his hand? What is this "air kiss" on the cheek thing?

6. You better have a 10 second answer prepared for the hallway question, "So, how was your mission?"

7. There is a hint of independence when one of your returned missionaries ends an email with "ex-Elder _______" or "ex-Hermana ______".

8. There is also a hint of independence when the phone rings and neither you nor your wife feel a moral obligation to answer it.

9. There is nothing more boring than a televised baseball I know why, when I was a child, my family used to play Scrabble during the New York Yankees telecasts!

10. Although I have plenty of colored and patterned dress shirts, I still exclusively wear white ones.

Bonus: Heat is heat regardless of humidity, elevation or time of year...and it is HOT in Arizona!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Oh great, now I come across this....

I wish I had this when I was in the mission to share...

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Thank you once again Argentina

I left Argentina never knowing if I would return in 1977...once more in 2005...also in 2012...and now again this Tuesday, July 1, 2014:

Don't cry for me Argentina
The truth is I never left you
All through my wild days
My mad existence
I kept my promise
Don't keep your distance

And as for fortune and as for fame
I never invited them in
Though it seemed to the world
They were all I desired

They are illusions
They are not the solutions they promised to be
The answer was here all the time
I love you and hope you love me

Don't cry for me Argentina

Don't cry for me Argentina
The truth is I never left you
All through my wild days
My mad existence
I kept my promise
Don't keep your distance

Have I said too much?
There's nothing more I can think of to say to you
But all you have to do is look at me to know
That every word is true

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hotel Tips

For the last three years I have lived in hotels more than in a home. Hotels in the United States, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. Here are some tips:

1. Tip. Any tip is better than no tip. Make sure you have enough small denomination bills so that you can tip often and reward good service. Hotel employees remember who tips.

2. If you have a cell phone and a computer or tablet and especially if you are traveling with family bring an extension cord. You will want to charge all of your items overnight.

3. Even though they say the mini bar operates on "the honor system", they will not check you out of the hotel until they ask you what you consumed...and then have an employee go into your room to verify what you have told them.

4. Always make sure you know which faucet is hot and which is the sink AND the shower. It may vary from hotel to hotel and even from sink to shower. And, just assume that when you lean over to turn the water on in the shower it will first come out of the shower head icy cold.

5. If you can hear them talking or singing in the next room, they can hear you.

6. When you enter into a non smoking room that reeks from smoke, the bell boy will swear he does not smell anything and that you should not worry because it is a non smoking room.

7. The motorcycles always park in the best spots.

8. If you leave your room and forget to take down the "Do Not Disturb" door tag, you will return to a dirty room.

9. You are not destroying the universe if you want clean towels everyday.

10. 9 out of 10 times that you put your electronic room key card in the same pocket as your cell phone your card will be deactivated.

And the bonus tip: Every now and then some wise guy will set the alarm clock for 2:00 am before he checks out....

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Confessions of a Mission President, Part II

Due to the many requests for more confessions, I thought I would post some more....

1. It seems that the toughest questions to answer are the "why" in "Elder....why?"

2. These days you have to realize that any photo taken of you is likely to appear somewhere on the Internet.

3. You are not as smart as half of the people think you are nor as dumb as the other half think you are.

4. When someone calls on the phone without identifying himself, you miss the first 30 seconds of what he says because you are trying to figure out who he is.

5. Beware of people who in the middle of a conversation say, "I like your watch."

6. If you are the only missionary in the meeting who still has his jacket on we all know you did not iron your shirt.

7. When we say "no one is perfect", we are speaking from experience.


9. Sometimes we are smiling because we are happy when we get to see you do something you could not do, or thought you could not do and are, in fact, doing without even realizing it.

10. Think, make that three times before you ask the Mission President's wife, "And, so, what do YOU do all day..."!

And the bonus confession...When someone only has one question to ask, he just asks it. When someone has several questions to ask he says, "I just have one question...."

Monday, June 2, 2014

Confessions of a Mission President

1. I am a better Bishop now that I am not a Bishop than I was when I was a Bishop, a better Stake President now that I am not a Stake President than I was when I was a Stake President, and if you talk to me in 10 years, I will be a better Mission President then than I was when I was a Mission President!!!

2. Most of the times when I asked missionaries if they knew why I was calling them, they confessed to something completely different than the reason why I was calling them!

3. The reason I have such a stern look on my face when you tell me that you did something knuckle-headed is because I would probably burst out laughing if I was not your Mission President.

4. Most missionaries who tell me to expect emails from their parents are correct.

5. When you tell a missionary, "I am going to tell you something but do not tell the Mission President", you are really saying, "I am going to tell you something and I realize that you are probably going to tell the Mission President". That is why you are not surprised and sometimes relieved when the Mission President knows...and you do not ask, "How did you know?"!

6. You can not play a Mission President's wife off of the Mission President. She is too smart for that and has already raised children into adulthood.

7. The Kleenex box on the Mission President's desk is used more often by him
than by visitors to his office.

8. If your Mission President is speaking a language other than english to you, you probably should not be speaking english to him...even if you both know english.

9. It really is fun for the Mission President to just be with missionaries in their
areas working and visiting and talking...and he wants the missionaries to enjoy it, too.

10. Sometimes the reason we know something you do not is because we have the Manuals of Instruction where we can look it up!!!

And the bonus confession...Sometimes the Mission President is just as surprised by what he sees as you are to see him walk through your apartment door!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

May 25, 2014

I was thinking today about a few things that have changed in the mission since we arrived in July 2011...

1. The mission divided in July 2013. The province of Misiones as well as Ituzaingo, Virasoro and Santo Tome all were transferred to the new Mision Argentina Posadas.

2. Instead of having 10 member districts and 4 stakes, there are now 6 member districts and 3 stakes in the mission boundaries.

3. A new Walmart was opened in Resistencia bringing the total of Walmarts in the mission to: 2!

4. Speaking of openings, a new Subway store was opened in Corrientes bringing the total of Subways in the mission to: 1!

5. Missionaries were sent to: Fontana, Chaco; Puerto Tirol, Chaco; Quitilipi, Chaco; CGT, Chaco; and Avellaneda, Santa Fe.

6. Missionaries are making periodic visits to: Bartolome de Casas, Formosa; Herradura, Formosa; Ensanche, Formosa; and La Primavera, Formosa.

7. Missionaries returning home now fly to Buenos Aires in one hour and twenty minutes rather than take the bus sixteen hours from Resistencia overnight. (Aerolineas Argentinas stopped canceling the Resistencia to Buenos Aires flight).

8. Some (not all yet) interviews with local leaders in far away places are taking place via video conferencing...when it works.

9. Goya and Reconquista were combined to form the Rio Parana District. Maybe coincidentally an air shuttle business recently opened that will fly people from one city to the other in about 15 minutes...or you can take the 3 hour ferry or the 5.5 hour drive....

10. Missionaries have served in the mission from 30 different countries.

11. Young men aged 18 and young women aged 19 began serving in the mission.

12. The number of sister missionaries climbed from 21 to 80.

13. Sister Leader Trainers (Hermana Lideres Capacitadoras) began doing divisions and participating in Mission Leader Councils.

14. The toll to cross the General Belgrano Bridge that connects Resistencia and Corrientes has increased from 50 centavos to 4 pesos. The price of gasoline has increased from 2 pesos to 14 pesos a liter.

15. The mission no longer picks up packages sent to missionaries from outside of Argentina.

16. Heading south on the avenue 25 de Mayo leaving Resistencia you can no longer make any left hand turns.

17. Howard Johnson's is building a new hotel and casino on the outskirts of Resistencia.

18. We no longer have a backlog of visa waiting missionaries serving in other countries. At one point we had about 70 missionaries serving in other missions waiting for their visas.

19. Every ward or branch now has at least 2 missionaries serving in it, and all those with Hermanas also have Elders serving in the same unit.

20. The majority (but not all) of pensions have air conditioning units and are starting to get water filters installed.

21. The BMW dealership on the corner of where we live has become an Audi dealership.

22. I can understand what they are saying on the radio, and over the loudspeaker at airports, terminals and stores...(first time in 40 years of speaking spanish.

And....23. I think there is more grey in my hair than when we arrived!

etc. etc. etc.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Some Current Events

Sorry, but I have to still post screen shots for some reason...

Posted on the internet by one of my returned missionaries....

Monday, May 5, 2014

Multi-Zone Conferences

Every three months we hold zone conferences where we mostly do training. When we first arrived we would hold 7 conferences, each with 1 or 2 zones together. Going from Chaco to Corrientes to Formosa to Misiones to Santa Fe was pretty exhausting but we made it all work in a month.

When the Mission divided in July 2013 and we no longer had the province of Misiones, it looked like the zone conference schedule would be a little easier. But with the increase in missionaries...we went from 190 pre-division to 134 post-division to 250 by December 2013, we now have 16 zones!

So, we now hold 4 multi-zone conferences and May is zone conference month. I post a picture on Instagram of each zone conference (user name: rayheyman). That way parents and friends can, with the help of a magnifying glass, see their missionaries. Here is an example of a multi-zone conference from our last series of conferences:

For those who want to mark the day your missionary will be on Instagram, here is the schedule:

Tuesday, May 6: Roque Saenz Peña 1 and 2, Río Paraná 2

Tuesday, May 13: Resistencia 1, 2, 3 and 4

Thursday, May 22: Corrientes 1 and 2, Río Paraná 1, Paso de los Libres

Tuesday May 27: Formosa 1, 2 and 3, Ibarreta and Clorinda.

Why so spread out? Because every weekend we have either a Stake or District Conference to attend and on May 19 we have the Mission Leaders' Council.

This month we will also have two very special guest speakers at our Mission Leaders' Council...our daughters Jennifer and Allison, who will be here visiting.

As you might guess when you pair these two women with their mother there tends to be a lot of laughter. Although my main role will be chauffeur, I am looking forward to hearing the laughter!!!

Monday, April 28, 2014

More Roger Pictures

Sorry, but you need to click on the picture to see them regular work around the Blog App not accepting my photos....

Thursday, April 24, 2014

News...You Are Not Going To Like

First, I have more blog entries with pictures that will not post. I save them and keep trying to post them, but I get a failure notice. I will keep trying.

Second, and most important for parents and loved ones of missionaries: Please do not send any more packages to your missionaries from outside of Argentina.

The Church has instructed us to discontinue to pick up packages from Argentine Customs Offices. This is mainly due to the increased and still increasing cost of retrieving the packages which has been paid by the Church up to this point and has become prohibitive. This does not apply to packages that are sent from within Argentina as they do not go through Customs.

We will continue to retrieve packages from Customs for the next several weeks. However, if you have not sent a package, please do not as there is a considerable delay in the time it takes for a package that you send to be released by customs. (For example, last week I received a small package of pen refills that my daughter sent to me in November.)

I know that loved ones want to send their missionaries packages. We enjoy receiving them as well as sending them to our son who is currently serving in Chile. But, for now please do not send them from outside of Argentina to missionaries in the mission. I am sure that some creative loved ones will find alternative ways to show their love and support for their missionaries. A few suggestions that have been passed along are to put some funds in the missionary's personal account or wire funds through Western Union for the missionary to buy what would otherwise have been sent in a package, etc. I am sure there are other suggestions.

The missionaries will be fine. You will be fine. My wife and I will be fine. We all hope that this restriction is temporary. Thank you for understanding...???!!!

Post Script: There is a part of me that was hoping that my Blog App would not accept or post this entry and I could have the satisfaction of knowing I tried to let everyone know...without actually disappointing anyone...but as my luck would have it, it looks like this entry posted just fine.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Two for the price of one!

This pretty well sums up the weekend. During the District Conference in Ibarreta I asked my brother Roger to share some thoughts and I translated for him. That was a great moment. As he told the members there, 50 years ago when we were wrestling in the living room, who would have dreamed we would be standing together in a District Conference in Ibarreta, Formosa, Argentina?

A bonus was meeting a man that our son Chris taught and was baptized years ago.

And, we met the first member of the Church in Ibarreta. Hermana Maldonado.

Plus, we took this photo and I stood on tiptoes to make sure I was taller than Roger!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

I think I found a way to beat the Blog App

For the past week I have been trying to post some pictures and text of the various forms of water in the mission. I have tried every trick I know and this is what I always get:

Well, ALMOST every trick I know. Here are the screen shots of the Blog post that will not post...

Friday, March 21, 2014

Los Hatch

We have been friends with Greg and Florence Hatch for years. This month they came to visit us for the second time since we have been here. It was a quick but fun few days.

They visited Paraguay first and crossed the border from Asuncion to Clorinda. You can not see the front of the line in this picture! But it was smooth sailing.

Their Paraguayan taxi cab driver was a retired airline pilot (notice the Mercedes Benz taxi) who immediately related to Greg who is a pilot that moonlights as a dentist.

They brought with them in those two suitcases over 500 pair of temple garments donated by our home ward for missionaries who might not otherwise be able to afford them. Thank you Pleasant First Ward!!!

While in Clorinda I visited with some missionaries and local leaders while Greg, Diane and Florence relaxed. Diane is on the phone with a missionary who is ill.

Greg reading a little bit in our home before we went out for a walk.

Sunday Greg and I went to Paso de los Libres for some business I had to take care of. It is a 4.5 hour drive each way, so that gave us plenty of time to catch up and solve the world's problems.

One of the things I did in Paso de los Libres was set apart Rodrigo Montiel to be a full time missionary in Osorno, Chile. After being set apart he shook hands with his former tango partner, Yamila Dos Santos....just a little more formal than the tango!!!

On Monday, our talented Office Elders put on a recital for us followed by a nice dessert that Diane prepared.

Speaking of desserts...along with walking all over Resistencia and shopping, etc., Florence and Diane managed to fill this bag with fresh treats for the Hatch's son, Ian who is serving a mission in Montevideo, Uruguay.

And all too quickly, they were off to Buenos Aires and then Uruguay. It was a great visit, thanks for coming!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

It is not my fault

I have received some emails and phone calls reminding me that it has been 2 weeks since I last posted anything on the blog. Believe me I have tried but my blogging App is conspiring against me. I have closed it, deleted it and re-installed it several times but it suddenly goes blank or simply will not post my entries. I think it has something to do with not posting my pictures. So, until further notice you will just have to use your imagination...

Here is a photo of when the President of Argentina, Cristina F. Kirchner came to Resistencia for her annual vacation here. You can imagine our surprise when we saw she was standing in line behind us at the Cafe San Jose buying some Chipa!

And how about this one of Diane with Pope Francis! Who knew that his favorite ice cream shop in the whole wide world was the Cremolatti store a half of a block from our home. How can you not love someone who asks for Sprinkles on his dulce de leche and banana ice cream?

I finally caught some Dorado in the Rio Parana! I will be talking about landing this huge fish for years!! I knew my fly rod would come in handy one of these days.

Diane took this photo of me just after I had rescued a family of 4 from the 6th floor of a burning building. I do not consider myself to be a hero. Some days you just happen to be in the right place at the right time.

Just another typical Monday night....I am in the kitchen making dinner and 12 dozen raspberry filled Hostess O's donuts from scratch while Diane is sitting on the couch listening to the radio and playing with her iPad with the T.V. on!

I had to capture this scene from the Plaza 25 de Mayo...young men on motorcycles were stopping young women on the sidewalk and randomly GIVING them handbags and cellphones and then taking off again before the young women could thank them.

I better stop now and save some of the really good photos for when I get the blogging App to work again.

Sunday, March 2, 2014


We keep on making connections with family and friends and family of friends and friends of is what I mean...

Future Elder Trotter and our daughter Jennifer at a practice of the Cultural Celebration for the Gilbert Temple. He has his mission call to Resistencia!

The Arringtons, our son Taylor's Mission President and wife.

Elder Taylor Lythgoe, one of "The Three Taylors"!

Hermana Saavedra, a dancer in Chile...

Hermana Saavedra, her twin sister a missionary in Resistencia!

The Sister on the right is a friend of my sister Barbara. The Sister on the left is the sister of my former Assistant, Will Gochnour.

Returned Hermana Rojas coming back to visit with us!

Our niece Chelsea at the MTC in Provo checking out our picture.

Hermana Skirvin, whose sister serves in Resistencia with Taylor in Chile.

Diane and me receiving a portrait of...Diane and me!

Elder Heyman and Elder He-man! A member artist drew that for him on the wall of his pension.

A missionary who served in Resistencia with our son, Chris.

Taylor with Andrew Lark, Chris' freshman roommate...both Andrew and Taylor ended up serving in the Chile Concepcion Mission...and there are too many friend and family connections to even begin mentioning.

Steve Rockwood and me. We knew of each other for years through our mutual friend Jeff Wells but met for the first time in Resistencia when he came with Elder Alan Packer on a family history tour!

This deserves its own blog post. Presidente La Pierre presides over the Posadas Mission, which split off from the Resistencia Mission. We met for the first time in the Posadas Airport. As we talked we learned that he had lived in Newburgh, New York at the same time I had lived in Poughkeepsie, New York...two small branches in neighboring communities in upstate New York. Who could have known that some 40 plus years later we would be presiding at the same time over the missionaries in Northern Argentina!!

Speaking of missionaries, this is just a great photo of Elder M. Russell Ballard and his wife at our Mission Presidents' Seminar in Santiago, Chile.

Now, these are two women on a mission!!! Diane and Debbie Carter were walking down an avenue in Buenos Aires with a purpose and determination. There was a large Carrefour Supermarket that Diane "just knew" would have canned tomato soup, which she could not find in Resistencia. One of the Office Elders gave her a recipe for his favorite cake and asked if she would bake it for him for his birthday...which is in April!!!! Anyway, it calls for a can of tomato soup and Diane was not going to let him down....