Monday, February 27, 2012

Sounds of the Sabbath

Oh that Fam of mine!

Wuz up? Glad to hear everyone is superb! Sounds like it was an awesome week for you guys! I had a pretty good week muh-self! It seemed long (oh, and by the way, dad, as I’m writing this the Heineken beer commercial with the Punjabi swing music is currently being blasted in the cyber) but it was a good week.

Yes, we have a new Elder in our midst, Elder ****.  He is a very small, dainty man and he is pretty cool. He knows absolutely no English except for the phrase "Yeah baby!" that he loves to yell. He also loves to play “Sounds of the Sabbath” music (you know, the ones with the lyrics that always seem to have something to do with "the seed of Abraham").  As I’ve mentioned before, everyone south of the equator seems to have no perception volume control so when they play music, they really crank it up! If I get much more of this music at this volume, I will personally find Ryan Shupe and hit him in the eye with that dang Rubberband of his. Other than that, the kid is pretty chill.

We had divisions this week with both the zone leaders and the hombres jovenes (or young men) and it went somewhat smoothly. I got to lead out the lesson and it was surprising how much Spanish I knew! And not surprising how much I didn’t know. But it was good, good stuff.

Yes, I did see Mo Jennings in a mall in Centro and we met up and talked there.  He is a way chill kid. Yes, my hair is buzzed and, while I’m religiously putting on sunscreen, I’m still getting tanned—who’da thunk!  I’m also getting a bit skinnier lately as well and I think when I get home I could look like Pearl’s boyfriends from SpongeBob (the one who she said was “long, tall, and handsome” but, in fact, was a nerdy sardine). With the buzzed hair, glasses, and a short-sleeved white shirt I kind of feel like I should be working for Mission Control at NASA in the 60´s but that’s great! I hope.

The ward is doing good:  The elders are still the only ones singing in sacrament meeting, everyone thinks we are 25, and everyone thinks my last name is the most hilarious thing ever because the Spanish translation of "the end" is "el fin". Allphin also reminds our bishop of Alvin and the Chipmunks so every time he sees me will say, in a tiny voice, "Alvin!" Personally, I wish he would do it in Dave’s voice.

The drunken people are still drunk.  We have a park we call “drunken man” park where I saw a guy down a whole bottle of rubbing alcohol. I could only applaud and yell "PARTY!” as the paramedics got to work on him :(

People have really cool vineyards around here. They have vineyards that are over head. It’s kind of hard to explain but I’ll take a picture of one. Who knows? Maybe we've stumbled upon a whole new way to make our grape juice....and booze. But well, that was my week. I’m tired all the time but happy and if there is nothing else, I guess its question time!

  • Do we get the Ensign down here?
They have the Liahonna here (in Spanish and English) but an Ensign would be very nice from time to time (:

  • Do I get to teach much? Any cool experiences with teaching?

I put in my 2 cents with lessons and I get to lead them sometimes. We are teaching this lady named Laura and we taught her this great lesson where the spirit was incredibly strong and was just undeniable it was there.  We gave her commitments and everything but she is kind of a tough nut to crack cause she’s been investigating for almost 2 years now. But we have had some nice lessons so far. Our progressing investigators are super cool and they are really patient with me and my learning the language.

  • How are my clothes working out?

The clothes are working out *click* “real nice”!

  • What do we usually have for Sunday dinner?

Sunday lunches (and every other lunch) is about the same kind and quantity of food. We usually have a Milanesa with cheese or eggs or we could have empanadas (and pretty much just every tasty thing).

  • Do we eat the same things every day?

I do eat about the same things but my eating clock is screwed up. We eat a MASSIVE lunch then like little snacks throughout the day. So the days we stay home for lunch are grueling for my poor stomach. But it’s all good, I have lots of snacks and what not...especially these things called alfahores (dulce de leche cookies), they are soooo good.

  • How am I getting on with the dogs?

Me and the mutts are getting along fine. If I don't look at them weird, they won’t bark. But the cats! They are another story...

  • Where did I meet up with Mo Jennings?

Like I said in the letter, I ran into Mo at the mall. He is serving in Centro Jujuy so he’s not in my zone but we’ve talked with him a couple of times, he’s way cool.

  • Have we done any service projects?

We did one service project were we shaved tree branches to make a roof (I got to use a legit machete) but other than that, really nothing much. We moved some people’s furniture in their house but a lot of the people around here like to do things themselves so we have to work to find service projects here.

  • How do I like my new roommate?

Other than the Ryan Shupe poop music and the awkwardness of not knowing a ton of Spanish on my part, he’s a great, funny kid!

  • Is it still hot?

It’s supposed to be getting cold soon, from what I hear, but it’s still a little bit hot as of now.

Well, well family. I best wrap it up about now. I really love and miss you guys so much. I pray for you all the time and I’m so grateful you always pray for me and go to the temple for me. What an amazing family you are. Thank you for your letters and for everything you do. Until next week! I love you sooo much! It’s all good!

Con Amor,


Monday, February 20, 2012

Whoopee, It's Carnival!

Russ and Mo Jennings from P.G.


What up!? It´s so awesome to hear from you guys and it was sooo nice to chat with you for a second, Mom :)

The bolsa got lost last week and we got it back this week and I got to read all your letters. And then, just barely, we saw the ZL´s and they got me some more mail which included some letters from Grandma Molly and Grandma Ann so I look forward to reading those today.

It´s so good to hear you guys are happy and well, it always makes me feel so much better to hear that life is normal as usual back there. That’s so cool you guys saw Ethan! I hope you gave him one of those awkward kisses like the one Michael gives to Fredo in the Godfather II, that would have been sweet! It’s also cool you get to help the priests out this week with mission prep stuff.  In all honesty, I really, really, really wish I took more advantage of PMG month and seminary and stuff like that—f´reals.

Sorry I haven’t been sending written letters as of late, I’ll for sure start writing more letters when I get the chance. These last few p-days have been hectic but today will hopefully be pretty tranquil so I’ll try to get some letter writing in today. Also Mom, I talked to Elder West about sending packages home and he said that it should be less than 1 kilo and if it’s over than it costs 600 pesos so, when I get the chance, I’ll send some light-weight souvenirs home for everyone.

Well, on to the week.  This week was eventful. The baptism I thought was happening this week for us is actually going to be on the first Saturday in March (so cross your fingers for that) but this Saturday Elder Joey "Razz" Rasmussen and I went to El Carmen and baptized “the most interesting man in the world” (you know, from the Dos Eqquis commercials) like, he was that cool!  His name is Ramon and he is the ultimate grand old Argentinean man. He was a gaucho and climbed the Andes and has a million crazy stories. It was a really nice baptism and the spirit was very strong there (despite the fact that, during the whole baptismal service, a dog was running around in the church and tried to jump into the baptismal font.  It was like the plot to the next Homeward Bound movie—I can see it now!

Yes, it is Carnival this week. Every single store is closed and everyone goes around armed with fake snow and water balloons. It’s quite the sight (I’ll tell you more about it in the questions part of the letter). Other than that there’s really nothing new. "Someone Like You" by Adele is playing 24/7 on the streets and in houses along with and Dad’s favorite singer Lykke Li, Coldplay (thank heavens) and Justin Beiber (thank HEAVENS!).  But what is being played the majority of the time (no exaggeration on the 24/7) is music called "cumbia". Listen to cumbia on YouTube and, after about 5 seconds into any song, you will want to break the computer, guaranteed.

Interesting people abound.  There are the drunken guys (burrachos) who always want to talk and have us forgive them of their sins—which is a blasty blast. There are also these people called "The Snakes".  Snakes are ridiculous girls who are insanely flirty (and not at all attractive). I'm fairly certain that even a cadaver could find a girlfriend among the snakes. Also, we have the kids who love to say, in broken English, "hello" "how are you" then try to swear in English but never get it right—it’s oodles of fun. The Jehovah Witnesses are always out and about and actually stopped by our neighborhood this week to give us a pamphlet—nothing but awkward.

Oh, and by the way, our hair was so bad that our pench decided there was only one way to fix our hair so we joined the ranks of skinheads and Sinead O’Connors everywhere and buzzed our heads.  Yes, I know... I took pictures of my horrible, old haircut but our hair was just sooooo bad that there was no real way to fix it. But on the bright side, it feels so nice!
Yes, it is the end of transfers and yes, I am staying here with elder Rasmussen (YES!) but Elder Shaw had to go so it’s a little sad but nice to have a new man in the pench. The new elder is Peruvian so it’s nothing but Spanish in the pench from now on but that’s ok, I need the practice. My Spanish is almost up there with Peggy Hill’s now. Well that’s all for me this week, its question time!

  • Is Carnival going on right now?
Yes, Carnival is happening as we speak.  We passed by some parades and got sprayed by this fake snow stuff that smells like pee and 7-up (I'm pretty sure that’s what its made of) but Carnival hasn’t really affected us yet but it’s going to get in full swing today so who knows what’ll happen.

  • How did Zulauf and I get to Salta?
We took a nice air-conditioned double-deckered bus to and from Salta—it was sooo nice!

  • What is the apartment like?
The pench is super nice, big rooms, two bathrooms. I took pictures and movies of the place so when I send the sd card awhile from now you can see the pench, its awesome!

  • What is my schedule like on Sundays?
Sunday we take the bus to go to church at 9:30 then every other week we have ward council meeting.  After church we always eat at the familia Largos house and they are very nice. After that we go home, study and chill for a little while then, at about 5. we go out and teach. I love Sundays!

  • Do you walk a lot?
We do walk a lot...a LOT! But the Eccos are keeping up and doing just fine.

  • Are you keeping out of the lightening?
We stay away from the lighting for sure but yesterday there was an almost-tornado in our area. I was very excited to finally see a tornado but it tuned out to be just a normal storm. That Fujita-San got the best of me yet again, dang it!

  • How is the Spanish coming?
The language is getting better. I’m doing divisions this Saturday with a nice native kid in the ward but I’m nervous about it so if you could put that in your prayers it’ll be awesome but yes, the language is going good.

  • How is the whole getting up early thing going?
It surprisingly easy to wake up now, it’s like 7 a.m. is the new norm for me, it’s nice!  Because of siesta our hours in Argentina are from 7:00 to 11:00.

Well, well family, it was so nice reading your letters and answering you. I’m going to go back to the pench and write some more letters. I miss you guys a bunch but knowing that you are happy makes me so happy. Thanks for all your support and prayers, I can feel them everyday. I love you guys so much and I hope you also have a terrific week. I love you all so much. Have a great Carnival! it’s all good!

Con Amor,


P.S. A shout out to Bro. Sandburg and Mark and Edna for the letters! and the most happiest belated birthday to my best good bro-in-law-friend Brian Taylor!

P.S.S. the blog looks awesome!

P.S.S.S. I just barely got another email that says my package arrived in Salta...HUZZAH!

P.S.S.S.S. I love you guys so much!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Feliz Día de San Valentín

Family family!

How’s it going? Glad to hear everyone is fantastic and doing so well and is all geared up for Valentine’s Day with all those tasty Hallmark-channel movies and such, what fun!
This week has been a crazy week! Nothing really happened Monday through Wednesday but on Thursday I had to go to Salta and do my papers (because I was an alien) so I luckily got to go with Elder Zulauf because he had to do his papers too. So we went to Salta and it took a billion years for the office elders to pick us up and we spent the night and their horrible pench then waited all morning so we could do our papers. I finally got my papers all done and went back to Jujuy on Friday.
It was a really hectic week and  with that Salta adventure but next week is shaping up to be pretty good. We are looking at a few baptisms this week and I’m very excited about that. Nothing really exiting happened this week except today I got just about the worst haircut I’ve ever had in my life. An elder told us about a lady who cuts missionaries hair for free.  It turns out it was actually 30 pesos for a haircut that looks like the lady said, "I want this guy to look like he has permanent helmet hair". But it’s all good! Our whole pench got the same haircuts so we all look ridiculous, ha-ha, so I don’t really mind it. It sure makes me miss Traci cutting my hair. Well, if there’s nothing else more for me, it looks like its question time!
·         Did the baptism go through?
Alas, the baptism didn’t come to pass last week but we are, for sure, planning on this week. We are praying really hard for another baptism by the end of this transfer. That would be soooooo sweet!
·         Did I have any cool adventures this week?
Pretty much just the haircut and the Salta adventure are all that happened this week. I´m sorry that I’ve been lacking on the cool stories as of late. We saw a fight in the street the other day and it rained a ton here so the streets turned into rivers and we got to go in a member’s house and have some hot chocolate with chunky milk...yum! I got to get another really good Milanesa sandwich and, believe it or not, a Milanesa sandwich is nothing without a sunny side up egg on it.   Sounds nuts—mentally nuts—but its soooooooo good!
·         Who is in my district?
Elders Rasmussen, Shaw, West and the 4 Hermanas (sisters) from El Carmen.  It’s a pretty tranquil district. And speaking of Elder Rasmussen, he is in that MTC documentary KSL did a few months ago. He was getting his haircut in the documentary and had to have subtitles for him because they didn’t give him a mic (ha-ha).  He said his family teased him relentlessly after that.
·         Am I learning to find my way around?
Yeah,  I’m getting the area down pretty well. It sounds like they call the streets here manzanas, which means "apple"...I still have no clue why they’d call them that.
·         What do I like best about the place?
I love the really nice members here—they are so kind and patient, I love them.  The clouds here are amazing!  They are so big—it really is pretty incredible! Oh and you got to love soda here—es muy rico!
·         Are the stars different here or is it too cloudy to see?
It’s been cloudy these last couple of days but most nights you can see them, they are sure different from the ones in northern hemisphere but are pretty.
·         How does the whole clapping at the door thing work?
You just clap outside a door or by a window and the people answer. It’s the poor man’s doorbell, I guess though I don’t know why you couldn’t just knock on the door
·         What are some of the strangest things I’ve seen?
Man girls, crazy bus drivers, the mic at church that makes everyone sound like they’re Boris Karloff narrating the “Grinch”.   Drivers here, in general, are all pretty weird and crazy but I haven’t seen anything super crazy yet.  I will for sure tell you guys when I do.
Well family, it’s been soooo good to hear from you! I pray for you guys all the time and I know you guys do the same for me. Thanks so much for all your prayers and sacrifices to get me here. I love you all so much and I hope you all have a great Valentine’s Day. I love you all so much, it’s all good!
Con amor,
P.S. Happy Valentine’s Day, Mom! I Love You too...Te Amo!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Fine And Dandy Like Sour Candy

 Hey hey guys,
Man, oh, man it’s good to hear from you guys! I got about 5 Dear Elder letters in the bolsa (the mail bag) at district meeting and it sounds like everything is (in the words of George H.W. Bush) "fine and dandy like sour candy!"
Sorry you got sick as well Mom. It really is no fun but I’ll pray for you to get better for sure! I am finally better and have learned my lesson to not tangle with Argentine pizza for awhile.

This week was great. We are doing a lot of teaching and I’m learning a lot more. We are expecting a baptism this week for this lady named Griselda. She is suuuuper nice! She is this sweet abuela who is really nice and is so patient with me and my broken Spanish. She is for sure getting baptized and I’m gonna get to baptize her so, cooooool beans! But yeah it’s been a good week:  A lot of good lessons and I got to jam on the charango again and I learned to play some Arcade Fire songs on it ha-ha.

The churches here are quite the story, they are pretty much always available for birthday parties/soccer matches/ know, the works! We went to the church one
weekday and found a kid’s birthday party was going on along with an intense futbol match (which almost ended in a fight) was awesome!  Things have been pretty good. It’s hard to believe its 3 months in the mission this week and already a month in Argentina! The time sure does fly here.

I went to Centro today in Jujuy (Centro is kinda like the Salt Lake City of Jujuy) and bought a new pillow and a nice Argentine man purse. Apparently Jujuy is like the only place in the mission to get really good souvenirs so we will have to have a p-day
when Elder Rasmussen and I go souvenir shopping and what not.

I saw Elder Zulauf and his trainer today in Centro and that was way cool. We talked and ate lunch with him and his comp and it was really fun. That’s just about all the adventures I had worth mentioning this week. Oh, and yeah, that’s really cool to hear about Tom’s call. That Tom Andersen, he’s a good boy! Other than that I believe its question answering time.

Brian, Carly, and that Molly sent me a Dear Elder (thank you!) and asked me some questions:

First off, the weather—it’s hot, hot, HOT and, on occasion, humid but Jujuy is actually like, the most tranquil place weather wise in the whole mission so I guess I should be thankful in a way, ha-ha.

I’m not sure how many missionaries are here but I heard it’s a lot. Maybe 250+.

It’s a pretty gringo-heavy mission. Probably about 65% of kids are from the States and the rest are From Latin American countries. I gotta say, the Chilean kids are the coolest here cause they loooove all things American.  The locals can be a bit prideful and stubborn at times cause Argentina is like the Texas of South America.

I have had rice a few times but so far beans have never been featured (thank goodness) at the table.  Eggs, on the other hand...*picture me shivering in disgust*
We use Argentine pesos here and it is so crazy. Like, every week for groceries we spend about 100 pesos and I thought that was soooo crazy expensive but it turns out it’s about $25 American money and, yeah, they have debit cards down here.  They’ve got Chase ATMs just like everywhere else in the world ha-ha
Yes, my pench is all English speaking. We speak it a ton but in lessons and church and almost everywhere else we speak Spanish.
Now onto Mom’s questions:
What recipes  am I looking for?  I’m thinking stuff like pancakes and other things that are simple. The stores here are just like Allen’s so I can get flour and sugar and pretty much anything I need.
Do people have many pets?  Almost everyone has dogs as pets and some people just let randomly-wandering dogs into their’s...great?

We have a nice little Utah-looking church here with classrooms, a chapel, cultural hall, a stage—just about everything 'cept for drinking fountains :(
The houses here are pretty much all cinder block and have about 5 or 6 rooms.  Some are really nice but some are just horrid because they have a hot tin roof (and yes, sometimes there’s a cat on it). Carpet is unheard of here....I miss it so.
How long am I with my trainer?  It’s about a month and a half (that’s usually the time frame) but we could be together for another transfer. I hope so, cause Elder Rasmussen is like, my best bud.  We have rollicking good fun! We can talk about anything cause we are just like the same person and he is way way way way nice. We are, for sure, hanging out after the mish.
Our schedule is pretty much the same ‘cept we have to do this program that is called "the first 12 weeks" where we just fill out stuff and it’s not too hard or anything. Just kinda the basic need-to-know teaching stuff.
Well, well family. I love you guys so much. I had a few questions for you guys but I have to go right now cause we have an appointment and the questions aren’t that critical so I’ll save them for next week. But I love and miss you guys like crazy but I’m glad to know you’re all well. Thanks for all your prayers this week for me; I can really feel them. I love you guys so much and I’m always so glad to hear from you. Well, until next week. I love you and it’s all good!
Con amor,