Monday, December 31, 2012

Adios 2012!


Hello-hello again. I do agree that, yes, 'twas a most splendid Christmas. I really enjoyed talking to you guys; it was the best gift ever. Can you believe we only have one phone call left! Crazy thought. I was so happy. I love you guys so much and I'm sorry I forgot but the most happiest birthday to ya' Lauren! wow!

Well, well I'll tell you, this week has had some crazy turns to it. We had another baptism of this lady named Cristina. She is 60 and she is so funny. She always insisted on having a tea time (mate cocido) at her house during the lessons. She got baptized this Saturday and was super content and happy.

We had a rather regular week this week. We ran in a lady from Scotland and we talked to her in the street. She wished us good luck in everything. She also gave us a great word of advice for the new year. She said this in her Scottish brogue” "Just look up at a star and say, t'ank ya." I think she was trying to say "thank you" but it sufficed. It was a cool little moment.

Some news though. Because of the lack of people here in the mission with all the visa problems they did some changes. One of these changes included me. The zonies called me last night to tell me they are moving me back to Jujuy—in Areoparque, my old area! So yes, I'm typing from that same old cyber and is just as ghetto as ever. I'm in a tri-compainonship with Elder Carrillo from Tennessee (who's going to end his mission) and Elder Corrales from Peru (who replaced me when I went to Chijra). From the looks of it it's gonna be good few weeks. Super chill guys and they send their best!

Well, I'm gonna make it short this week as we got some stuffs for the New Year. I hope you guys have a great New Year and that it's just a smashing as ever! And yes, I'll be home next year. This cyber is one I can't send pics so please don’t think I'm starving you guys of pics but next time for sure for sure. I'll hurry and do some questions now:

So, when you called on Christmas were you in the middle of the living room with everyone smiling expectantly at you?
  • I wish. No. I was in this super nice office room. It was totally chill and private and with air conditioning!
How was the live nativity?
  • We ended up with a ton of booked citas so we couldn’t go, blast it!
What did you end up doing for Christmas?
  • Nothing, just worked. We visited people and made cookies beforehand and gave them to people. It was super nice and chill. On Christmas Eve at midnight they had crazy fireworks that were just incredible. I have pictures of them—just so crazy!
Do they celebrate New Years in a big way in the land upsidedown under?
  • Fireworks, and boxed wine—always the best decision. Pretty much just that. Oh, and people have crazy big dinners as well.
Did you get to do any of the baptizing at your big baptismal festival?
  • Yeah, I baptized Florencia from the familia Ruiz and it was really nice. The water was spider free. I'll send you a pic of it next week.
Well famz, I'm heading out. Thank you for everything: Prayers sacrifices, and love. Please pray for me this week that all will be good. It will be. Well, I best go by by the house of Maxi and Noelia now. Crazy I'm back here; cool blessing. I love you guys, it's all good. And happy 2013!

Con amor,


Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve Call

We got to talk to Russ on Christmas Eve at 2:30 in the afternoon.  He sounded great and told us to give everyone a holiday shout out.  He was excited because they'd had 4 baptisms this week.  He also said that it was about 85 degrees with comparable humidity so it makes it extra Christmassy.  He'll spend Christmas Eve having dinner with member family then he and Elder Inman will go back to their pench and open presents late tonight as that is the custom in Argentina.  After that they get to watch a demonstration of military might as the entire country sets off fireworks at the stroke of midnight.  His mission president gave them permission to stay up late to watch and Russ said they have a great view from their pench.  On Christmas they'll have a dinner with a family but will spend the day working as usual as much as they can.
He is loving the area, his companion, the ward members and the investigators he is teaching.  He is happy, loving the work and grateful to be serving a mission.  He spoke Spanish to us and sounded very impressive especially since we had no idea what he was saying.
It was a wonderful Christmas gift to hear his voice and know that he is well and happy.
Merry Christmas!

Russ and Santa Claudio


Monday, December 17, 2012

Feliz Chrimbus


Hey diddle ho-diddliy! Goodness sakes, is it Monday already? Well cool beans, I get to talk to yálls t´day! Oh man, where to start? Probably with the Skype.   Here´s the news:  Like, none of the members ever Skype or don’t have web cams or something.  So I’m thinking, if it’s cool with you guys, we could just do it the old fashioned way—the much more stress-free, tranquil way—and call on the card. Sorry for the Skype teaser but yeah, it’s like, the internet is just too sucky here and I don’t really want to use a cyber to be able to Skype. So if that’s cool, that would be great.  Again, super sorry. 

But yes, this week was a success! We had a baptism! Camilla was baptized!!! I would send photos but we are at different cyber with the other missionaries and I forgot my usb thing but I’ll be sending them soon.  The baptism was great and went off without a hitch. The Argie thing here is when our kids are having some event (birthday party, baptism, etc) you have to go all out and just deck out a massive party!  So that’s what happened, Camilla’s mom decked out an enormous shin dig. Seriously, there were like 70 people there at the baptism—It was massive! Super impressive. Camellia’s dad baptized her and the next Sunday we confirmed her.  We are hoping to baptize 4 or possibly 5 next week so cross your finger for the Familia Ruiz. I’m stoked!

I’m doing good.  Its blazing hot in Salta but, none the less, we had a very successful week.   The tacky/tiny/plastic/china made/are you f`reals?!/highly flammable what they call “Christmas decorations”, are out in full force.  More about that later.

This Sunday I gave a talk it church! It went smashingly! My talk was on the true meaning of Christmas and the best gift of Christmas. I used the story of the Grinch as an example. I’m paraphrasing here but I said that the Grinch hated Christmas because of all the toys, lights and material stuff like that.  So he went and stole Christmas from the Whos.  After he put all the stuff in his sleigh he was about to throw it off a cliff. Then he heard he Whos singing and had a change of heart; he finally got the true meaning of Christmas. I said that we too can have a change of heart and realize the true meaning of Christmas. In our case, we know that it is Christ. I then shared the story of the Savior’s birth when the angel visited the shepherds.  In verse 17 of Luke chapter 2 we find something very interesting:   The shepherds, after seeing the Savior, immediately went and told others about what they had just seen. I said that we too can be like the shepherds and share the good tidings of Christ with others. That could mean sharing the gospel or doing service. I talked about the experience we had a few years ago during Christmas vacation when we went and shoveled snow at the house of the sister down the street.  I remember not being too stoked to go over there at the time but went grudgingly over there with you guys.  I said as I was shoveling the snow I started to feel a change in my attitude and in my heart.  I realized that we were doing service for someone who couldn’t do it for themselves. I don’t know if you guys remember this but I remember afterwards we talked a little bit about this act of service and how we felt. I remember we felt the spirit, we felt love. I then quoted a verse from “O Little Town of Bethlehem”.  The same one President Monson quoted when he spoke about a Christmas act of service he did many years ago. The verse says:  "No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin, where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in".  I remembered Christ entered into our hearts that cold December night and, that through this act of service, all the participants were blessed. My challenge to everyone was to have a change of heart about the meaning of Christmas:  To follow the example of the shepherds and share with others "concerning this child (Christ)", to share his gospel, to live it and to love and help others.  By doing this we will be giving everyone the best gift of all, which is Christ. Preparing that talk really made me think about the true meaning of Christmas. Christ is our Savior. What a wonderful time to reflect on that. What a wonderful time of the year.

Well enough of that for now. Nothing else too significant happened last week but this week is shaping up for some adventures. As for now, we move onto questions:

  • Does your ward do anything for Christmas?

They are having a "Pesebre Viviente" or a "living Nativity scene" this Friday at the chapel.  We are inviting a lot of people to it. I’m for sure gonna hit it up. I wanna see how it’s done here.

  • Do they sing Christmas hymns in sacrament meeting in the weeks prior?

Si señor. We sing “Silent Night”, “Hark the Heard Angels Sing”, “Away in a Manger”, “The First Noël”, etc. But alas, “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” hasn’t made it to the hymnbook just yet but pray for a miracle!

  • Do you know what you will be doing for Christmas?
Not really. I know we’re calling home and stuff on Monday the 24th but they haven’t given us any instructions or anything yet.  We have are having a massive two-zone Christmas conference tomorrow where I think they´ll give us more info on the hours and stuff.
  • Did you put up your Christmas decorations?  Will you take a photo of them up?

Yes I did but with the whole usb situation at this cyber... Next time I promise! But I assure you they look amazing.

  • Do they decorate or do trees or anything like the Americans?

Yeah. It’s like, super simple because a lot of people don’t have the cash to do a bunch of Christmas stuff. So they have tiny Christmas trees and decorations and not a lot of lights but several people want us to sing “Jingle Bells” (sigh).  This is not a new request. I got the same thing from the Hermana G------- back in September—Never too early for Chrimbus.

  • Have your taken photos of the virgin parades and that sort of thing?

Yeah, I have a few photos and a video or two for one. In the virgin parades they always have people playing drums to a funky Arab-sounding beat and its really tempting to not pass by one without singing "Prince Ali,fabulous he, Ali Ababwa " from Aladdin.

  • Is the gondola in your area and would you be allowed to ride it?

No, it’s in the next zone but we can get permish to go on it. I heard it’s not all that jazzy but we´ll have to see about that.

Well family bananaly:  It’s been real. It’s been fun. It’s been real fun. I hope you all have a fantastic Christmassy week. I can’t wait to call you guys. It´s gonna be so good to hear your voices. I’ll be calling around 7 at the church or something so get ready for that. I’ll try Skype if I can so be on guard for that but it’s most likely looking like the phone. Thank you so much you guys. You are the best. I love you! I’ll TALK to you next week. It’s all good.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Is It Hot Enough Fer Ya?

Dear Tanner family,

Man, oh, man and good stars, family! It’s good to hear from you. I’m writing this while the Simpsons or "Los Simpson" is on in the other room of the cyber and it’s the episode when their church sings "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida"( or however the heck you spell and pronounce it) and I’m just up in stitches about it.  Wow, what a week you guys had. Gearin' up for Christmas, I suppose. That’s pretty cool. We had ourselves a good week as well. I’m still in Salta, phew, and all is well.

We received news from president Levrino that the iron curtain has been lifted somewhat and we can now drink mate cocido. It’s not mate mate but close. Oh what a grand day it was. I bought a pack fully realizing that its 7,000 degrees outside but none-the- less, it’s a breakfast thing. That, and President said that we can use Skype to call home! Wow-wow wowie! So cool....I have no clue how to Skype—what is required for such a set up and all—so if you guys could give me some info on that then that would be great.  But pretty cool, huh?

Yes! It was a good week this week. We are planning a baptism for a girl named Camilia. She’s going to be baptized the end of this week if all goes well. She’s a shy, but very nice, girl. Her Mom loves the church and is a member but really couldn’t go to church because she has leukemia and lives in San Lorenzo, so so so far from the church. We’re pretty stoked about that.  It’s gonna be good.

We were on our way to church yesterday and, right in front of the church, this super-super plasteredly hammered drunk guy on his moto just biffed it face first in the street. We ran to go help him. Luckily some police were nearby and saw it happen too. The guy got taken to the hospital and his wife came and picked up his moto and started pushing it back to their house. We talked with her. Her name is Belen. She is such a sweet girl and is really concerned about her husband’s drinking.  We pretty much told her that it probably wasn’t a coincidence that her husband biffed it right in front (literally on the steps) of the church. We said this was probably a wake-up call and that we should talk to her about our message. Belen said it was cool if we stopped by later in the week and talked to them.  A few lessons learned here: One is that alcohol is just about the worst thing for you ever ever ever and just being here has sealed the deal that I never ever want to drink ever.  2:  Wear a helmet!  And 3:  God really works in mysterious ways. Whether it be God or drunkiness with what happened to the man, his family’s gonna be taught the gospel. How 'bout that, huh? Other than that, really just a chill, good week:  Teaching, preaching, all that stuff, and it is 5,000 degrees out. But, any questions?
  • Did anything ever materialize with your English classes?
No, a lot of people here talk big: "Yes, yes, yes, I’m going to that class for shures.  Si, o, si.”   But no.  We are helping people sometimes with their homework in English but the classes kinda tanked.
  • Are the people down there worried about the Mayan calendar end-of-the-world thing?
Yeah, there are some who are pretty freaked out.  A member yesterday was telling me he read in the news that someone already heard one of the trumpets from the Book of Revelation (I must have been asleep). But idk when it’s supposedly gonna happen. I heard so many versions from so many people here (it’s gonna happen the 12th, or the 22nd, or the 21st) and it’s gonna be a spiritual awakening, not the end of the world or something like that. It’s likely that John Cusack and his family will be the only ones to survive and they’ll make a movie about it. That’s my theory.
  • Do they give you medicine so you don’t get parasites?  It that a problem there?
As of now, nope. I heard it’s sometimes a problem but not really more than anything.  I did hear (and it’s just a rumor) that when you go home, you take like a super, worm-killer pill and then after you’re home you take a pill called "the bomb" that’s a super laxative.  That’s yet to be confirmed but it would be cool!
  •  Are you keeping cool and hydrated?
Yes! I’m using a lot of those tasty drink packets you guys sent me to keep me cool. I love them. I hope it’s okay but sometimes I share bits of my packages with like investigadores and stuff. They LOVE American goods:  Cookies, gum, candy, etc.  We made Hawaiian punch (from one of the packages you guys sent me) at the filia. Sanchez’s house the other day and they were just blown away by it. I was too. I miss America.
  • Do you need anything?
I’m totally content on like soup, ramen, mac and cheese (hot foods). But I would love some more drink packets like PowerAde (blue flavor), fruit punch and stuff.  And candy like Reese's or chocolate stuff and gummi "after sacrament" snacks like gushers, and the like. That would be wonderful. thank you, thank you, thank you!

Tell Grandma Ann and Grandpa Mick and Steve and Chris Thank you so much and bless their souls! Give them all a hug and a high five from me. I love them

Well, well. I best be going to prep for another family night. Family nights are just like the best things on earth.  I’m glad we were always having family nights and stuff—so much fun!  You can really feel the love and unity of everyone after family night. I hope you guys are doing something fun as well.  We are going to make cookies and watch the restoration video with the filia. Ruiz. 

Have a great week, family. I love you all so much—for your letters and love and everything.  I know you always are but do pray for our investigators, area, and for my comp, me with everything. I love you guys so much, have a great week and, until next Monday, I love you. It really is all good!

Con Amor,

The Life of Riley

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pear Show

Dear Frangly,

Yes. I am tearing out my hair and wailing uncontrollably in front of all the GTA (Grand Theft Auto) playing punks after the news of you all going to the Killers concert. AHHHHHH!!!!!! Man, what a teaser and what a week for you guys and all. Man, oh man! I'm really sorry to hear about Chalmers Bayless. Please give my regards to Wendy Sue—she´s in my prayers.

How was the 1st Presidency devotional? I wish I could have seen it. We were at a sacrament meeting in San Lorenzo during it--bummer. But it was all good; we had a great week. I forgot to say that last week they had the primary program. It was nice and made everyone all teary eyed and such, good show!

We had Elder Viñas come for mission conference and it was super cool. He´s such a good, good man. He said something that really impressed me: In a sense, he said that many times we see the “golden missionary” who seems like the perfect teacher, the perfect speaker—just all around perfect. Then we look at ourselves with our weaknesses and say that we aren’t much of anything (because, like Elder Uchtdorf said, it's much easier to see our weaknesses than our strengths). But Elder Viñas said that we each have our timetable of progress. If we are doing the right things, relying on the mercies of God then it´s all good. He is so very nice. Then, all the sudden, he whips out the recent convert sheets and lists of converts for each area and randomly calls on people talk about what their current status as a member is. Low and behold, he calls on the La Loma district to give a report so I had to stand up in front of the whole mission and give a report on our area. It didn’t want to make me pass out or anything and luckily, I was prepared (but it felt kinda like when the scene in Better Off Dead when Lane Meyer is called on to come to the front of the class to do a math problem). But it was all good. I saw many of my good mission buddies at the conference. Elders Ricks, Lepez, Muñoz, Garcia, Bleazard, Scipert, etc. it was nice.

We are making great progress with the Familia Ruiz, especially with Mauro. He is such a great kid. He really wants to get baptized but we are seeing some opposition from his mom. She says she doesn’t want him to get baptized but shes not being super stubborn about it so I know she will eventually let him be baptized. Pray for them—that the mom will have her heart softened, that she´ll let Mauro and the rest of her family get baptized.

I got a package today. It wasn’t a Christmas package but another one from November but with Christmas candy in it. Thank you so very much. We were on our way to Elder Clawson's pench to pick it up and in the taxi they were playing "That Thing You Do". It was a blast from the 1996 past and a good little gleeful moment. I had a mini freakout when I heard it. I now have all the Christmas packages except for number 5 but I'll keep a steady eye out for it.

Well it´s the last week of the transfer and wow, it went by fast. Elder Rasmussen, my dear papi, is going to die this week along with a ton of my best good friend missionaries. I'm probably not going anywhere (pray I don’t go anywhere this transfer) but just in case, this is the transfer warning none-the-less. Well, that’s just about that, queztions?

What are you using to get up in the morning? Is it easy?
  • The alarm on the phone. How I absolutely hate (with a passion) alarm clocks but they get me up. I'll say its getting easier and, really it is but I highly doubt that the human body should be getting up so early everyday. Sorry, its my natural man but I'm a good boy and get up on time every day.

Are you getting to know the people in your neighborhood?
  • Oh yeah, the bread store lady always knows what we are going to get and we are currently teaching a guy that works at the cyber I'm at right now. Heck, its a regular Mayberry...minus Andy, thank heavens.

If you needed to buy new shoes could you find them easy enough?
  • Oh yeah, we live right outside Centro and I could go to the mall nearby and get some new kicks if i wanted.

Any favorite slang?
  • Oh heavens, there are so many:

Fwahhh! = Wow!

De Diez = Cool

Porquería = Bunch of garbage

Me allegro = I´m happy

Dalie = Hurry!

Pear-show! = The word for dog in Spanish is "perro" but the people use the Catellano "juh" here for double L´s or double R´s (and many other consonants) so when they say "perro!" it sounds like "pear-show" but its in like a pirate accent, horrid!

Papí, maestro, vacino, che, changito, papa, primo, voz, etc. = Dude. All the words have slightly different meanings but are used to say “dude”.

Don't count on the spelling. I'm trying to show how they sound but I love these words and much more, I'll make a bigger list for sure some time.

How do you typically contact people?
  • When we see them just hanging out on the street in front of their houses, or people jamming, trying to start their car, or when they need help with something. Heck, just the other day we saw a kid alone and we simply said "sup" and sat down and talked to him. Through talking to him and getting him to talk about himself (what he likes to do and such) we started talking about the gospel and he accepted a baptism date. There are lots of ways—some more better and less awkward then others. I love the jamming one the best.

Well, parentals, I'm glad all the photos I sent last week got through--me allegro. I best be heading. We are making cookies for a noche de hogar we are doing tonight. Elder Inman and I made some cookies and just about cried. It's been along time for the both of us. Okay famzy, take care. Les amo muchísimo. Thanks for your packages, letters, and most of all your love, prayers and sacrifices. Have a great week. Share the gospel, love one another, pray, eat, love. (or whatever the heck that movie is) until next week, I love you all, it´s all good.

Con amor,