Monday, September 24, 2012

The Dust Bowl

Hey Hey!

‘Sup guys! Good to hear from all of you and that you all had a great week. It’s always good to hear all´s good.

Yeah, it was a bummer that I got transferred but it’s all good. The Millians and all my good buddies from Chijra all have Facebook so we´ll keep in touch.  Yeah, as you can tell from the letter, Salta hasn’t eaten me alive...yet. Nah, this place is really cool; its got a very Salt Lake-ish vibe to it. The food is really good (so much better than Jujuy) and everybody is European! It’s such a heavy Italian influence here that everyone is just like, European. Its really weird to see this but it’s a tight place!

The ward is really cool, everyone is very nice. We have a recent convert named Oscar and he is a spitting image of Morgan Freeman—I’m f’reals, he looks JUST like Mr. Freeman. The secretary of the ward is Hermano Reales. He is way, way cool. He served his mission in Los Angeles. He spoke English, Spanish, and Korean. I told him “An-nyung-ha-se-yo" and he spoke Korean back to me.....Of course, that and yoboseyo are the only words I know in Korean soooo....I had no clue what he said back to me...but still. Cool! Good guy. It was very "shingihada".

The first full day I got here we had a massive dust/wind storm.  Dust was blowing everywhere that you couldn’t walk or see and at the end of the day when you showered you had about a kilo of top soil fall out of your hair—very nice! We had to be careful a lot that day because everyone makes their roofs out of corrugated tin and a bunch of them were destroyed or twisted up. The next day we helped a member disassemble his roof and then put it back up. It was nutz man!

The members are really nice here, very chillaxed. They are always willing to help us. We are starting English and family history classes in hopes some cool investigators will show. Our English class is tomorrow so we´ll see how it goes. We won’t try to teach anyone TOO many swear words.

My Spanish is coming along fine. One guy thought I was from Buenos Aries (which was much flattering) but heaven knows it’s not even close. We also have a city in our area named San Lorenzo that is really close to being a branch so we are working with the members there a lot to make that happen. How tight would that be? The area is really cool. No manzana neighborhoods, just streets they name after countries like Cuba, Panama, Columbia, and a street named Maipu (pronounced "My-poo") it’s good, endless fun.

The pench is very nice! We live in a giant loft and have a ghetto shower. You have to fill it up with a bucket of water and then heat it by a switch and you can only take a tiny, very short shower. I don’t mind it. It’s just so high on the ridiculous factor that I actually really like it. We also have a new fridge and comfy mattresses so what more could you ask for? Larsen is a cool kid. He´s like a combo of Brian and Zach—just a really good guy:  Hard worker and just chill. We make a good team. So it’s all good. Love my area, pench, ward, people, food, drunks, and all that.


  • What do you like best about your new area?

Like I said, everything really. The food is awesome (we have the McDonald’s nearby, but in the next zone...perhaps for general conference.....)?

  • Who else is in your pench?

Nobodyz...just me and SeƱor Larsen.

  • Are your beds any better there?

Yeeeesssssssssss!!!! So much better. So much better on my back.

  • Is the pench clean?

Super clean. We have a new fridge that is spotless. It’s the cleanest pench I’ve seen in the mish.

  • How are the members there?

Again they’re great. Really, they are way cool—very Argie friendly (they want to talk with you for hours) but great.

  • Are you getting your letters from Grandma Molly?

Yes.  Thanks so much Grandma for the letters. I really do appreciate them. They are so detailed so it’s really fun to read them and know what’s up. The mail is interesting here. There are some weeks I just get dearelders and other times I just get Grandma Molly letters. It’s all awesome! I love the letters, the love, everything. Thank you so so very much.

  • You don’t have a microwave do you?


  • Anything in particular you want for Christmas?

Not really, just Christmassy candy such as Cadbury, Reese's, Dove, chocolaty stuffs. I like the idea of you sending money so I can buy toys to give to the kids in the neighborhood. That sounds like a cool idea!

  • Do you have access to a CD player?

Yes I do.

Well famz, that’s about it. I’m so thankful you guys write me and are praying for me. Life right now is really great: Working, finding people, and just being stoked. Thanks for everything. I hope you all have a great week and that it’s all good.  Thanks so much for the letters and the love. I love you, it´s all good!

Con Amor,


P.S. could you get me the addresses of some of my friends again so I can write them down in a place where I can remember them? The addresses of Jeff Otterstrom, Zach Hulsey (when he gets to Paraguay), Spencer Donaldson, and Nick Wimmer would greatly be appreciated. Thanks.


Breakfast of Champions

Dust Bowled!

Luxurious Kitchen

The Wonder Shower

Monday, September 17, 2012

La Loma!


How’s it going? Wow! What a cool week it, sounds like--Mary’s wedding (which, do tell her I send my wishes and a high five) and such! How cool! It’s so very great to hear from you guys.

Man, have I got to tell you about this week. It’s twistier than an M.Night Shama-lama-dingdong movie. First off:  We had zone meeting and, thinking I was gonna get the birthday package, I got two other packages instead. But it’s all good; they were filled to the brim with goodies. Who knows what’s the deal with the b-day stuff but its all good, nothing to fret about. Thank you so much for the packages. Its was so very nice! I also got a letter from Ethan and one from Holly. Its was so good to hear from them, too.

That backpack I bought from Chango Mas (the Argentine Wal-Mart) finally broke. It was literally hanging by threads so I'm back to the dang man purse again. As it was Adam’s final week, the members threw a party for him, complete with apple flavored soda (which does not taste like apple at all) and classic rock hits from the sixties and seventies. Elder Angell and I danced to them the whole time--it was good fun. President Millian brought this fake snow stuff which is essentially shaving cream but, if it gets in your eye, then your eye will be bloodshot for....ever. Well, pretty much. They sprayed that stuff around and it was super cool and fun for the members.
And yes, as you know I killed Adams. Yesterday we packed up everything and said goodbye to everyone. It was really pretty sad, actually. After we got back to the pench I got the call from Elder Shoeman (our D.L.). I was expecting him to say who my new comp was and yes, I found out who my new comp was....after they told me they are consolidating Chijra into one area and transferring me to La Loma in Salta (which is pretty much in the capital of Salta). Yeah, it was a shocker. The area we are in is always in flux:  Sometimes it’s Chijra 1 and 2 and sometimes its just one. Now its just one. It made me a little sad and frustrated but I know its all for a reason so I just said "whatever dude". I gave the other elders the info of the area and got to packing. The members of the branch called and visited me before I left then I got on the same bus as Adams and headed to Salta. It was sad. The Millians called me another part of their family; it was really hard to say goodbye to them (and Debbie, and Andrea, and Fernanda, and all my best friends).

I got to Salta this morning and waited in the terminal where I saw some of my old buddies like Elder Ackerman and Elder Lopez) and I met my new comp. His name is Elder Larsen, he’s from Logan, Utah and he is way cool. He has about 13 months in the mish and his just an all around good, chill, kid. He’s got a ton fire to do some work so that will be nice to have--I’m stoked to be with him. The pench here is really nice.  It’s a loft and I’ll have to send some pics next time. Salta is HHHHHHHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But its almost spring so I guess it makes sense. Well family, yes, what a change it has been but I’m totally feeling chill about it. So far so good with everything. I’m stoked to work and just have a blast! It’s gonna be tight! Now for them questions

  • Did the president and missus approve of the condition of your Chijra pench?

Yes! They just said to clean out the giant iceberg that was in the freezer.

  • Are you staying well?

Yup, so far so good (:

  • Is peach pizza a main course or a dessert?


  • Did you give Adams an appropriate send off?

Yes:  A firm slap on the behind and a pat on the head as is standard with every farewell.

  • What have you been studying lately?

Book of Mormon! But in Spanish. It’s funny; you can pay attention better reading when you read the Book of Mormon in Spanish. Granted, they use a lot of funky old words but its still good. I’m in Alma 37 right now. Man, I’m telling you, these 30´s Alma chapters are gold!

Well family: New area, new province, new comp and its just awesome--fret not...I’m so happy (:. I’m so thankful for your prayers and sacrifices and letter and just everything. You are all more than amazing. I’m so thankful to have such a good family. Well I best get going now. The dripping beads of sweat are going to fry this keyboard if I’m not careful. Thank you so much guys. Lots of love! Its all good!

Con amor,

Russ and Elder Carlson

The Lords of Chijra

Monday, September 10, 2012


Oh Fams!
How's it goin'? Sounds like it’s all good and busy and stuffs with you guys. Glad to hear it was a good week and that you saw a little bit about the temple dedication! It was great. They had a youth culture celebration and that’s why all those G.A.s were wearing the ponchos. They all spoke for a few minutes at the celebration and that was nice. Christofferson is amazing at Spanish! He sounds like a real old Argentine guy—that was way cool. We went to the stake center to watch it and I saw a bunch of old members and missionaries from Aeroparque including this one kid I recognized but couldn’t quite remember who he was. He then saw me and ran up to me and gave me a hug. It was Gisela’s little brother (remember Gisela, one of my converts). We were teaching him before I left and he got baptized about a week after I left. He’s a teacher in the Aaronic priesthood and everything! I was soooo happy. He had such a glow to him.
Also, I saw Elder Scipert who told me this next Friday that Maxi and Noiela are getting married!!!!!! I about passed out! Remember me telling you how hard it was to get all their papers and stuff in order (‘cause everyone’s records here are in shoeboxes upon shoeboxes of records....I wish I was kidding). They were super 100% ready for baptism. They just had to get married first. Well now they are finally gonna be baptized. I was so happy. For one reason or another this last week, I felt that I should pray for them a lot in my nightly prayers. Idk if that was just the littlest bit to help with them to get their papers but I hope it was. Such good news.
The temple dedication was very nice as well. Every one of the GA´s there spoke. The temple president’s wife spoke and she had the prettiest, clearest, most tranquil accent I have ever heard. It was so cool. The temple president told about a story of a 88 year old man who went to the temple every Saturday. The temple president asked him why he went every Saturday. They man said that he just kept going to better and better himself. President Eyring talked about when he first went to the temple. He said the first time he went to the temple he felt something. It was the Holy Ghost manifesting the truth to him so he kept coming back and he´s been coming back ever since.  It’s so true, that’s what I felt going every time. They had translators at the sides of Eyring and Ballard when they spoke, it was pretty cool. There was a very nice spirit there, it felt like being in the temple. I really enjoyed it.
That was about the highlight of the week. So cool. Oh, and also, Bruno accepted a fetcha for the 15th of September (Adams’s last real day) so we’re hoping to help him to achieve that this Saturday. That would be cool. We also found a guy named Francisco (that’s a fun name to say) who was really interested in talking to us and wanted to know a lot more. We felt the spirit really strong in the lesson with him so we hope to continue teaching him.
Guess what? The circus is in town! And, yes, it’s exactly what you’d expect. Just imagine how sketchy U.S. circuses are then times that by 5. It’s tight! Speaking of cool and sketchy stuff: I had the best pizza I have ever had today  And what kind of pizza was it, you ask? Why, nothing but peach pizza! Yes, and its sooooooo good! We ate at this fancy restaurant with Elder Carlson and his comp and my comp for my Adam’s last p-day. It was really good. We´ll have to make it.
Today we were at a member’s house and the kid there got a Wii with Mario Kart. Poor guy just couldn’t get past that Donkey Kong mountain level. Luckily, I remembered spending almost all of x-mas break 2010 just playing that one level so we helped him get passed it. Also, that same family has a banana tree in their backyard and they picked some bananas off it and gave them to us.  Just saying, natural bananas are super weird. It’s like eating a warm Monkey Bar; it’s just too texturally insane for me to handle. Oh, and yes, I forgot to say, we had some changes this morning. An elder on the other side of Jujuy had to get an emergency transfer so with that, Elder Langston got transferred and taking his place is good old Elder Angell.  You know, the one from my last zone? So that should be cool. But yes, this is my last p-day with E. Adams. Good kid. He's taking his leaving well but he’s really is ready to skedaddle. It’s all cool. I had a good time with him. Good guy.
Well, other than that, ?´s
Do you ever get to go to see any of the sights?
You mean like Argentina’s biggest ball of string?  We stick around Centro. President is pretty strict on everyone staying put. During the old president´s era yes, it was a big thing to go see places but we’re pretty much restricted to seeing the cool things in Centro. That’s okay, though. They have some really cool cathedrals there and stuff.
  • Do you keep your pench clean?
Yes.  Coincidentally, Pres and the hermana came today (for the first time ever in anyone’s memory) for pench inspections. So all our girly posters and cigarettes had to be hidden. But seriously, we always keep it clean, beds made and such.
  • Can you get everything you need at the Argentine version of WalMart?
Almost everything. Mr. Pibb and red vines are still nowhere to be found.
  • Is there anything you’ve had that you’ve thought, “This tastes just like home”?
With food, not so much but like, the feel of the air or the breeze and certain smells sometimes just feel so much like home it makes me a little homesick. But yeah, it happens every now and then.
  • How do you stay hydrated?
Of course. Tang, is the answer to that.
Well, well. I’m peacin' out. But yes, pray that we´ll have a great last shebang/kick butt week this week. We´ll do everything we can to have that happen. Thank you family so much for everything. You guys are most certainly keen! This is gonna be a great week. I love you! It’s all good.
Con amor,





Monday, September 3, 2012

I Gotta Go, The Christmas Tree Is On Fire

Sup dogs?

Pretty good? So good to hear from everyone.  What a good letter day, I do love it. Love to hear life marches on and that it’s super hot in Utah as well.  It’s just so stinkin hot here but it was a good week none the less. It’s almost primavera, which is spring and it was so nice yesterday but now the weather has just decided to be really, really hot!

I kicked off my week by getting a haircut. It basically looks as if I went in to the barber and said, "Hmmmmm...I’ll have the Jeffrey Dahmer, please." Sorry but it’s just a bad haircut. I had to fix what I could with my scissors and now it’s starting to fill in.

It was a somewhat normal week but with a lot more progress. Ol´ Bruno is coming along quite nicely. We fasted that he might be able to come to church and feel the spirit and just what do you think happened Sunday, you ask? He showed up and felt super good! I’m stoked. He is such a good humble guy. The branch is really helping him feel like a friend. The people that help in the branch are 100% at it. Such good people. So keep praying for him and such if you would. That would be nice. We also have an investigator who is a friend of the Millians named Dolores. She is an ex-investigating Jehovah’s Witness and she is legit. She has a son who’s 17 and we talk music and such when we are together. We are hoping for some progress with her as well. There’s also this other former J.W. kid named "Angel" who is a friend of Andrea (a member) came to church yesterday and we are hoping to talk with him more. Good kid. We are also making progress with Florencia and Jessica (well, for the most part Jessica—she’s a goofy kid). Other than that, that’s about it. As always, we are trying to find more and more so the good fight goes on but it has been a good week.

Thanks for your prayers and fasts and such. I could really feel them and I know they helped a lot as well. What good guys you are. Well, other than that fam, the yogurt is still liquid and the 10 year olds are still buying cigs here but don’t worry! I get them to give me at least one for the road. Speaking of which, I got to hold a genuine Cuban cigar the other day at a store. Be jealous! Doesn’t make me want to smoke but it was cool to hold the holy grail of tobacco products. Now onto them questions:

  • What does a typical p-day consist of?
Wake up, go to Centro, buy Pringles and Tody cookies (which are legit) buy some other groceries at the store by the pench, go to pench and watch a church movie or sleep, soccer sometimes, write you folks, and end! Pretty normal stuff but hallowed be the name of P-day, that’s for sure.

  • Did you ever get your birthday package or is it still in Salta?
Today I met up with the ZL´s going to Salta and gave them the money to pick it up.  With all do luck, I’ll get it tomorrow (;

  • Some time would you post a photo of your pench and the washing machine?
Next week for sure!

  • What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen in Argentina so far?
Oh dear, so many things. Soooo many good things.  I’ll tell you something that happened last week: On my way to church, within the space of 15 seconds (no joke ....15 seconds) a virgin parade passed right through us, we got yelled at by a drunk guy, a Fiat cut off everyone in a roundabout, and a drunk guy was peeing insanely in the corner..... That’s what I love about this place, just so many “what the heck?” moments but I love every single one of them, I really do, ha-ha. This place is alright!

  • Any advice you’d like to pass on to Zach?
Tell him to read the Book of Mormon and PMG in Spanish, have fun, and (in the words of Elder Jennings to his old comp Elder Redd whenever he got stressed out or anything) "don’t even fret dog" and that he’s awesome!

Well family I gotta go; the Christmas tree is on fire. Thanks for everything: Letters, prayers, etc. I love you guys. Whoa, 10 months this week (I think) that’s just too crazy. Keep on keeping on. Pray for me, Grizzly Adams, investigators, the area, and the drunks. Well, ok, maybe not the drunks. I think it’s sufficient that Adams and I go pass them singing "God Help the Outcasts". I love you and miss you so much, family. You are so great. Have a great week. I love you, its all good!

Con Amor,


p.s. Tell Carly I met someone named Carlito. Hopefully she remembers that reference from Jimmy Neutron.