Monday, January 30, 2012

¡Hurra por la intoxicación alimentaria!

Hello Hello,

Glad to hear all is well on the home front. That’s crazy that it’s snowing and all back in Utah. It is blazing hot here and I ‘m sweating a ton! It’s just so hot all the time! Yeah!

I ‘m not gonna lie, this wasn’t really a great week. We went to a member’s house to eat and the dad of the family (he looks like a turtle) just loves to egg on new missionaries. So he kept saying stupid things in Spanish to try and make me look stupid...and it worked. I just felt kind of down. I know the language takes time but, man, sometimes I really wish I could learn it all the sudden, you know.

We had an o.k. work week. Elder Rasmussen is the district leader so he does the baptism interviews so we went to do this interview with this guy who does nothing for a living, just bums around. I was waiting in this house while Elder Rasmussen did the interview. The house I was in was about 10 billion times worse than the stinky house you guys went to in Spanish Fork (except this house had a tin roof so was HOT and stinky) so I had that going for me, which was nice!

We had a baptism on Saturday night but then I got some kind of mean food poisoning from a nasty pizza. I was throwing up and had diarrhea all that night (hooray) so was confined to my bed all Sunday. And for no reason I got really homesick as well. It was just the worst combo to have--diavomithomsickorrhea. I was really down all Sunday and was still a little down earlier today but now my stomach feels kind of better and so does the homesickness.

It was so nice to hear from you guys today and to know you guys pray for me all the time. If you could pray for me to feel better I would really appreciate it. Sorry if this letter is kind of a downer, I don’t want it to sound bad but, truth be told, it just wasn’t
really a fantastic week...

Some good things, though, are that I got the letter you sent me, Mom. You sent it to me a little bit before I went out of the MTC and It was so nice to hear from you.

I don’t know if I told you guys yet but there is a mountain right by us and this mountain is about 19,000 ft—you should see it, it’s huge!

And now to answer your questions:

Mom’s Questions:

Other than this week I have been well. Some weeks are really cool and then some weeks just really aren’

I have stayed dry. We did have rain and we did get muddy but so far I haven’t had a dire need for boots as of yet but I ‘m staying dry.

The Spanish is coming along. Little by little. It’s frustrating at times but I’m trying not to stress about it.

I did get the Molly photo ha-ha-ha it’s brilliant! I’m glad to see the shampoo-horn tradition is being kept up. Yes, I can see the photos on the computer so keep sending them. But here is a heads up: A lot of the cybers here don’t accept usb input because people have viruses on usbs then infect the computers. So until I find I cyber that will accept usbs, I can’t upload photos, sorry.

Dad’s questions:

I played the guitar at one of our investigators houses and I played the charango at a member kid’s was sooooo cool!

Yeah we cover the whole spectrum finding investigators. We clap doors, talk to people on the street, referrals—the whole shebang!

About our investigators: We have this lady named Griselda who is this really nice, sweet old lady that is ready to be baptized. We also have two investigators named Maxi and Nuella that are a young couple who are going to get baptized pretty quick here. We are also teaching a 10 year old kid named Jesus who is getting baptized pretty soon too. His family are all members and are so nice. It’s interesting that there are houses where you can really feel the spirit more than others. Jesus’ house is always really strong with the spirit. It’s easier to speak and to listen in his house cause it feels so nice. We’ve taught just about all the lessons and they are, at times, pretty easy to teach. I got to lead the lessons a few times and that was very cool. But yeah, if you want just pray for the investigators in general, that would be way cool of you guys.

I forgot to tell you guys: Last week we actually had a zone conference and it was all in Spanish so I had no clue what was going on much of the time but it was nice! I don’t know anybody in my zone yet but I’m making all the friends I can.

Have I eaten anything gross? Argentinians love their hard boiled eggs and put them in the most unnecessary of dishes (like salads and stuff) and you know how much I love eggs. But other than that we haven’t had any Andrew Zimmern-type foods.

We have a place called the "Comodin" it’s like the Wal-Mart of Jujuy...cept there is a guy whose only job is to chase dogs out of the store.

Well-well family, it’s been a blast talking to you guys. Sorry if I forgot anything. If you have any more questions, do ask. I do miss you guys a whole bunch but I know you guys are all good and that you’re all happy. I’m so thankful to have the greatest family on earth. I love you guys so much. Keep praying for me and, yes, I will for sure pray a lot as well—for everything. I love you It’s all good.

Con Amor,


Monday, January 23, 2012

Week 2 and all is well

Ahoy hoy!

It’s the second week here and it’s still going great! I had a great week this week; it’s BLAZING hot but it’s great!  We taught a lot of people this week and a few people we’re teaching are going to have their baptisms pretty soon.  It’s really fun to teach even though you're sweating up a storm because no one (and I mean no one) has air conditioning so that’s a blasty blast.
The Spanish is coming along pretty good. I did a couple of street contacts and taught and testified in lessons but there have been more than a few times that I just don’t know what the heck anyone is saying.  But it’ll come along soon.
Again I have to apologize cause this keyboard I’m writing on is pretty much the poorest excuse for a keyboard. I tried to send some photos on the card but this computer is not reading them (they said that happens sometimes) so sorry, no photos this week but I’ll keep trying.
I got to play a guitar again! It felt sooooo nice. It was so weird to play it again but it was very nice. I also got to play this thing called a Charango which is like a mix between a ukulele and a mandolin and it is soooo cool. I think I might get one in the future because they are so fun!
I love it here cause they have little stores like everywhere! Just randomly, in a quiet little tiny neighborhood, there are little stores where you can buy soda and treats and stuff ( I wish we had that in the States).  I also had some Argentine pizza, finally. Elder Rasmussen and I bought these 10 peso pizzas and ate them on the roof with Elder Shaw and Elder West (our roommates).  All the sudden, out of nowhere, it started raining like crazy and we were instantly soaked (including the pizza). So we got down from the roof and watched the storm from inside the pench.  The lightning storms here are nuts! They are way cool! There are also about a bajillion-billion dogs here.   In this one part of town the dogs are kind of mean and we were walking through it and some dogs tried to get me and Elder Rasmussen so we picked up all the rocks around us and clocked every dog in the head. It was comparable to the Shoot Out at the O.K. Corral.  The people here hate the dogs too so they cheered us on for getting rid of the dogs (or "perros" but here you pronounce it like "pear-ja-os").
Here you can run into some odd people. When we were going to lunch this guy came out of his house and, in incomprehensible Spanish, "cursed" us. It apparently happens a lot and when it happens it’s about the most hilarious thing of all time cause this drunky, John Ratzenburger-looking  guy stands in his doorway, flaps his arms around and tells you: "I don’t want religion in my neighborhood!"  It’s quite the sight, I almost had to clap after that.
We went to a city called El Carmen today which is like the equivalent of St. George here. It was fun.  We got to eat a bunch of Argentine desserts and walk around. We also got to watch a futbol game on TV at a member’s house. We watched the Barcelona vs. Shakhtar match and idk if it’s because I haven’t watched TV forever but I have become a huge futbol fan as of late. We play it a lot in the morning and, for some reason, it’s just about the best thing ever ha-ha.
It smells like Disneyland here;  there’s always a lot of cigarette smoke in the air mixed with motorcycle (or here we call them “motos”) fumes but you get used to it. Everyone here drives motos, like, nobody has a car and it’s just better to have a moto here because of the roads.  All the roads are just dusty and rocky. The buses here are a trip! We don’t take them all that often but the buses here are meant for off-roading cause they make for a very bumpy ride when they go!
 Now I’m going to answer your questions Mom, in the order you sent them:
  • I’ve  got 2 “dear elders” so far.  They were ones you guys sent me right before I was about    to  leave the MTC.  They were very nice! Thank you so much for them.  It was a very nice surprise to get them.
  • Elder West from San Diego and Elder Shaw from Sandy are my roommates and they are awesome. Elder west is a really cool guy who likes the same music I do and he is a skater.  Elder Shaw is also a cool, nice guy.
  • The pench is nice! we have a super  air-conditioned sleeping room and it is so nice. We have two bathrooms and a kitchen and everything. It’s the nicest pench in Jujuy.
  • I do take warm showers. There’s a science on how to work the showers but I’ve got it down.
  • The laundry is quite the process but it’s all well and good. It’s exactly like we saw in the pictures but there is this thing we have that looks like a little garbage can that spins your clothes dry. IT’S AMAZING!  I want one back in the States.
  • We have a good-sized area. It’s really close to the pench so it’s really easy to work in.
  • Our ward is about a good 50 people. They are very nice, especially our bishop--he is way cool.
  • We eat at the members houses about every other day.
  • There are about 6 wards and 3 branches in the stake here...nice!
  • I’m not sure how many missionaries there are in the area. Our district has 8 people in it.
  • The food is soooo good here. I’ve had Milanesa, empanadas, pizza and a lot of little desserts and stuff so far.  The soda here is actually amazing and, yes, they have the 3 liter Cokes--it’s just the best!
Well, that’s what I’ve been doing this week. Teaching, preaching,  and having a ton of fun to boot. I hope that sums up this week well enough and answers all your questions. Again, if you have any more questions, just ask them.
This mission is so amazing. The people are just so amazing and I know this is really where I’m supposed to be.  I’m so thankful and soooo happy to be here. I love you guys so much and I miss you but just know everything is great here and I am fine and dandy and I’m having the time of my life.
 I love you guys sooooo much and I’m looking forward to possibly getting some mail from you guys tomorrow in the pouch. I love you guys so much, it’s all good.
con amor,
p.s.  Elder Rasmussen and I are the same exact, it’s crazy how similar we are, so just know that I couldn’t have asked for a better companion!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Send lawyers guns and money

Ahoy hoy!

 I survived and I’m doing great! I’m writing this at a really crappy keyboard that has a bad spacebar so if some words are connected together, that’s why. 
The flight to Atlanta to Buenos Aries was long but I made it and customs was nothing; we just had to fill out this little sheet. Then we got on a van to go to another airport and flew to Salta. I met Pres. and Sis. Lavrino there and, since there was not enough room in the bus, I rode with them. It was nice but they pretty much don’t speak a lick of English so it was awkward but they are very, very nice.
We then got to the mission office and had some juice and empanadas and just kinda waited there for awhile.  Then we went to the president’s house to eat and had empanadas and steak (you can cut the steak here with a’s pretty cool)! Then I met my papi (trainer).  His name is Elder Joseph Rasmussen.  He is from Pocatello Idaho and he has been out a year and is just about the best. He is really funny and nice and is a big Sufjan Stevens fan and a huge Tim and Eric fan and is the coolest ever! We get along great.  Revelation is real stuff because I was afraid of getting some scary, stickler trainer but it was quite the opposite--he is pretty much the best! 
That night I slept in a pench (apartment) with about 17 other elders in a big living room where I slept on a broken couch in the un-airconditioned was miserable and I didn’t get a lot of sleep.  The next day we went to get some paper work done and then we went back to the mission office for some training. Then we went on a bus (and on the bus I got to talk to Mo Jennings on a cell phone) to my new area for 6 weeks:  San Salvador de Jujuy--and it is AWESOME!  
I got to the pench and got settled in and I sleep on the top bunk of a bunk bed that has about the same stability as the one from the movie Step Brothers but it’s nice. The next day we woke up and got the essentials.  The best snack to have here is a dulce de leche sandwich and a cold bottle of Tang. I drink a whole big thing of Tang/water everyday so I’m doing good on drinking  water.  After that (and pretty much every day after that) we teach and it is fun!
 This is a list of things I’ve done so far starting from Thursday to Sunday:
  • Invited 7 people to be baptized (they all said “yes”)
  • Ate an unhealthy amount of empanadas (cause you have to)
  • Made contacts
  • Gave an anointing oil blessing to a lady named Rosa
  • Lead the music in sacrament meeting
  • Gave my testimony in sacrament meeting
  • Stepped in dog poop
  • Ate empanadas at nighttime on a roof
 This place is awesome! It’s super poor but the people are really humble here. When we were doing contacts I met this lady named Paula and when I met her I just go this overwhelming feeling of sadness for her.  Like, it was amazing, I just wanted to cry when I met her cause I just got this overwhelming feeling of sadness  and wanting the best for her.  She accepted our invitation to teach her and her family so tonight we are going to teach her.  I’m really excited for that. It’s strange, like I really feel that I'm at home here. I don't feel worried or bad or anything.  Sure, It’s about a bajillion degrees outside and the language is hard (and a million other reasons) but I really feel like I've been here for months, it’s a really great feeling.
Thanks so much for all your prayers and fasting, I know it blessed me. It was soooooooo nice to hear you guys the other day. I miss you guys a lot but I know it’s all good, that whatever happens, it’s all good.  I love you guys so much and I hope everything is going great.
Well, I best be heading out. This cyber (cybercafé) I’m at (which is pronounced sea-bur) is really hot and is full of people playing Call of Duty on the computers.  Next week I'll bring my card reader and send some pics.  I hope I covered all your questions, sorry if I didn’t and, again, sorry about the keyboards here (they are nuts;  it’s hard to spell stuff here)  If you have any more questions please ask.
Well, I love you guys so much and I just want you to know I'm safe and sound and having a great time. I love you, it’s all good!
 Con amor,
 p.s. here are some crazy things about Jujuy:
  • Good news— I saw a dog today....or maybe, no exaggeration, 150+ dogs.  Seriously, they are everywhere.
  • The life of a speaker here is probably about 2 days. There seems to be no volume limit here so everyone blasts their music.  Like our neighbors blast Nirvana from time to time so that is enjoyable, ha-ha.
  • Liquid yogurt is awesome!
  • I cake myself with sunscreen every day but, alas, here it is inevitable to get sun burnt.  I didn’t get burnt bad (like that Vampire Weekend sunburn) but you do get a little burnt.   I’m ok, though, and still put on a ton of sunscreen.
  • I braved the water and got some “potty stomach” and had a cold for a little while (possibly from the jet lag) but I'm better now.
  • The bathrooms here are nuts.  Next to the toilets....we have bidets!
  • Our pench is nice! it has air-conditioning in the sleeping room and it’s heavenly, I’ll send some pics of it next week.
  • The members are really nice. The bishop is really nice.
  • You always hear people on the street yelling things in English at us like "hello" "1234!" It’s really funny.
  •  And overall this place is really awesome and I know it’s were I'm supposed to be, it really is all good!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Eagle has Landed

We haven't heard from Russ yet but found the following pictures on the Salta Mission Facebook page so he is alive and in Argentina.
Russ at the mission president's house in Salta
Russ with Pres. and Sis. Levrino in Salta

Monday, January 9, 2012

I'm going to let the boat do all the work


Hey I’m writing this on Saturday to tell you about my flight plans. Both of my flights (Utah to Atlanta and Atlanta to Buenos Aries) are both Delta flights. The flight going from SLC to Atlanta is flight 1912.  The flight from Atlanta to Buenos Aries is flight 101. That layover in Atlanta is about 2 hours so I think I will call you guys from there.

I got the package with the card reader and the calling card, thank you so much! Also, I sent some stuff home today. I'm sending home 3 packages with letters, boots (I remember you telling me to send home my boots if I was short on room), Christmas stuff, etc.  I hate sending this stuff home cause I LOVE the letters and everything cause they mean a lot to me but alas, I needed the packing space. Also, as I have been packing stuff, my little carry-on bag is ok in weight and my medium bag is about 43 lbs.  but my big bag is about 58 pounds so I’m sorry. I’ll try my best to distribute the weight around but I may have to pay for the big bag, sorry. Other than that, everything else should be good. I'm starting to finish up the packing and I should be good. By the way, I can't find my Leatherman tool. Did I leave it home? I’m really in no need for it at the moment but I just couldn’t find it. Anyways that’s about it.

We had in-field orientation yesterday (which is like a day-long classroom workshop thing) and Bro. Littlefield was in charge of it so I got to speak to him briefly about airports. He said he sent his 15 year old daughter to the airport alone and she figured it out so if she could do… it ha-ha). 

Thanks for all the letters; they have given me a lot of confidence and hope. Thanks for all your letters grandma and for the money. I'm so happy and grateful to have a caring, amazing family like you guys. I know the prospect of going to another country is scary but it'll all be fine and Heavenly Father is looking out for me and you guys. It’s just the biggest combination of nervous/exciting emotions at the moment.

Thanks so much for everything! I’m thankful you guys will be praying and fasting. Thanks everyone for all your letters, packages, and support throughout my stay at the MTC. I love you guys soooo much (and thanks for those rolls the other day they were soooo good!) I'm so thankful to have the greatest family of all time. I love you guys so much and I’ll call you Monday night! I can't wait to talk to you.  It's going to be great and it's all good!

Con amor,


p.s. Give Grandma and Grandpa Allphin and Carl a shout out for me for the letters they sent me!

Just a note: Russ called from Atlanta Monday night. He sounded great. We talked for over an hour.  He said the trip to Atlanta was just fine (now all he has to do is endure 11 hours to Buenos Aires and another 4 hours from there to Salta).

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Final Week at the MTC

Ahoy, ahoy!

Hey guys, it’s p-day and, yes, it's the last p-day at the MTC! Pretty cool, huh? It seemed like just yesterday when I got here but now it's time to ship out. So, yes, on Thursday we got our travel plans. We leave on Monday the 9th and go to SLC at noon then get to Atlanta around 5pm and have a two-hour.  Then it's a straight 12 hour flight to Buenos Aires where someone will pick us up and tell us the plan from there.

The MTC decided they wanted a person who could only remember being on a plane once (when he was seven) to be the travel leader to lead a pack of 7 freaked out boys to another country—yeah that travel leader would be me. In the words of Gob Bluth from Arrested Development "COME ON!" It's not really that big of a deal (But in my mind I make it a big 'time to freak out' deal). From what I understand about being a travel leader (they gave me a little piece of paper explaining it) that if anything goes wrong (delayed flights, flight changes, Lloyd Christmas jumping onto the airport tarmac, etc.) then I have to call the church travel office and try to fix things. That and I have to make sure everyone is at the right place and everything. We have a pretty chill flight group. Half of the group is from my district and the other half are from another district who are also going to Salta. It's 8 guys including me and everyone is really nice and chill so I think we can figure this thing out. But on the days I am flying, will you guys pray that everything will be alright? I know it will be, I just get worried sometimes.

Thank you! It’s a busy p-day. I have to usher at the devotional tonight and go to the temple (which I thought was closed) today so sorry if this letter is sloppy. I'll try to write you another letter (and hopefully another email) before I leave.

Hosting was fun.  Seeing all the parents say goodbye to their kids made me miss you guys but, on the other hand, I’m glad I don't have to do the first day at the MTC all over again—that was a long day. El espanol es bueno. Es dificil un tiempos, pero puedo hablar las cosas quiero hablar (hopefully Carly can translate that) but the Spanish and the teaching are fine. It's surprising how much you can learn in 2 months and they said in Argentina you are going to learn Spanish much faster cause you’re speaking it all the time. I feel like maybe I should be worried more about Spanish and teaching but I’m really not.  I hope that’s a good thing, ha-ha.

I'm getting along with everybody. We had some guys that are going to the Guatemala MTC that bunked with us for awhile (3 weeks) but they are leaving today. We didn’t do anything for New Years, just slept at midnight. It was kind of a bummer but it was alright. I think that has been the only time since I was 8 that I didn’t stay up until midnight for New Years. Oh yeah, that kid from Farmington, New Mexico is Adam Morrow. I remembered you wanted to know what his mom's name was. Well, I forgot to ask him and I just remembered now, sorry.  He's a cool kid, though.

So what do we so about calling cards at the airport? I heard you can call home on a payphone then just tell you the number of the payphone and hang up and you would call me on the payphone and it would charge the phone bill to you guys...make sense? Whatever is the easier way, just tell me. I'll probably call you guys at Atlanta so just stay by the phone on Monday.

I may need more stamps and address stickers. Also, thanks to everyone that sent me letters this week and for Christmas. I wish I could all write you back, I love you.

Well, I guess I should go have Elder Leechman check the mail for that “Dear Elder” you sent and I’ll go write the other letter home.

I love you guys so, so, so, so much and hope you had a great New Year. Please, if you have any questions for me, write me. I love you guys so much, pray for me, it's all good! :)