Monday, November 18, 2013

¡Hasta La Vista!

Russ comes home Wednesday!  This is a picture of him with his group at the mission home.  He'll hang out here for the night then it's off to Buenos Aires and a flight to the States.
Last photo with Pres. and Sis. Levrino

Monday, November 11, 2013

Vaya Con Dios


Sup? sorry I ditched you guys last week. We had a monster storm a couple of weeks ago and the lighting messed up the internet here but now, I'm here! Glad to hear all is good in Utahville. Its been pretty chill here this week. Well, actually more hectic then chill. I’ve haven’t been able to work in my area all week!

So Monday was my kid's birthday. Elder Allan turned a healthy 20 years old. It was a fun-filled day. We had nepolitana for lunch and in the night we had his birthday party. There was cake and everything. Here it's the custom to shove one's face in the cake so Allan got crubstomped in his cake by Presidente Angel which escalated into a full-fledged cake war and well, the picture explains it. Other than that, my comp was gone almost the whole week in Salta to do his papers. He went with another elder from San Pedro that had to do his papers so I stayed and worked in San Pedro with the other elder's comp. His name is Elder Membreño from Honduras, he's a cool kid. I think he knows Tanner Colledge.

The pench of the San Pedro elders is in a members house. It's like a super exception because they live with the district secretary (who is 40+ and unmarried) and his mom who is this little old lady. I woke up in the morning to find the Hermano (the 40 year old guy) in his undies looking for his gaucho boots and his mom yelling up from down stairs, "Little Miguel! Have you found your boots yet?" and him saying, "No mom! Gosh! I'm looking for them! Gosh! I can find them on my own!"   That’s all I have to say about that.

We got back to the area and worked for just like a couple of days. It was district conference yesterday and guess who got sustained/received the Melchizedek priesthood? Hermano Alderete! Yes sir. I gave him the Aaronic priesthood last week and yesterday I gave him the Melchizedek. It was such a cool moment. They were so happy the Alderetes. Oscar is the new branch mission leader and Hermana Alderete will be in the relief society presidency. President Levrino and the Hermana Levrino met them yesterday and Presidente Levrino told their story in his conference talk about of how the Alderetes met us. What a cool moment, I was thinking about that yesterday and how grateful I am for that experience. To see them just bask in the blessings of the gospel. What a great day it was.

Well, yes, it is my last week. It doesn’t seem real it is all coming to a close but it is. This is the last week to really just work hard and do great things in Yuto. Pray for me that I can do that, teach up a storm and what not. But yes, that’s about all for this week. ?´s

  • Do you have anything planned for your last week?
I have a leadership conference in Oran this Wednesday so I'll be gone for all of Wednesday But I think Saturday we´ll do something cool in the capilla.
  • I saw a photo of your shoes. What did you do about that?

  • What's the first American food you want?
First thing we do when we leave the airport we are heading to Crown Burger. I WANT A BURGER SO BAD!!!! NO JOKE!!!! That and some legit chocolate milk. We´ll start with that for now.

  • Am I right that this will be the last letter? You won’t have computer time next Monday will you?
No I wouldn’t imagine. I'll be traveling to Salta that day so yeah, I don’t think so. Maybe I could drop something short but I would imagine this is the last letter.

That is pretty weird saying that. Man, oh, man. I never thought this email would come. I really don’t know what to say. I guess the only thing to say is what we've been saying all my mission: "It´s all good." Its always been good, even when it wasn’t looking good it was all good. It has always been good. What an experience. What a trip. Going home seems like a dream and I'm sure when I am home the mission will feel like its been a dream but what a good dream it is. I'll write a bigger sum total of my mission when I'm home, for the blog and such but till then, I'll see you in a week. The church is true. I love you guys so much. It´s all good. #seeyousoon

Con mucho amor,

I'll do anything for tasty cake!

See you in about a week!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Skunked Again

A few weeks ago there were fires in the jungle around Yuto (the town Russ lives in) and since then they have had sporadic internet connectivity.  Today there was no internet available.  We received a message from someone in his branch telling us we would not be able to hear from him today.
We did get a photo earlier in the week from another member showing the sad condition of Russell's shoes.  This is his last pair and he was hoping they would last him until the end of his mission.  I am not sure what he is going to do between now and then but luckily he only has to make them work for 16 more days.  Maybe he will come home in flip flops.

Viva Zapatos!

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Witch's Brew


Sup? Yes, its Lunes again and it’s still just—so—hot!  You don’t even know how much I’m looking forward to snow. There was like, NONE while I was in the MTC so I’ve had 3 years without it. I’m stoked to get back and love it for 5 minutes before I get sick of it. In the meantime, I’ll be working on my tan/melanoma.  Man, I’m pretty bummed old Metal Machine Music (Lou Reed) died. It’s not fair that Mick Jagger keeps on living and Lou-Lou Belle doesn’t.  But glad to hear things are a'Halloween'n with a witch's brewww! Here the kids just ask us about American Halloween and wonder if such a thing is really legal. I mean, free candy, after all!
It was the end of the politic madness this week. AHHH!!!!!!!!!! Yes, and I’m way thrilled about it: No more horrible campaigning! Seriously, they have these cars that go around playing super-loud propaganda and some idiot that was driving one of them was following us.  When we thought he wasn’t around we´d go try and contact somebody and he would just pop right around the corner with the loudspeaker blaring so we couldn’t hear the people we were talking to. AHHH!!! I hate it! But yes, it was a good week despite it all.
We baptized Nauhel but didn’t get him confirmed because ridiculous political campaign made it so we could only have church for an hour and his family couldn’t come the first hour.  But its good, we´ll get him confirmed next Sunday. We met a lot of good, new people this week including a young couple named Paolo and Belen. They are way chill and have a 2-year old little girl. They are progressing quite smoothly and things are going well with them.  Even though Sunday was a disaster we still had a good week.
So my district includes the areas of L______ 1 and L______ 2.  Turns out L_______ 2  is in complete rebellion.  F’reals, they don’t call to verify, report numbers, or even work. IDK why. I’ve talked to them dozens of times and so have the ZL´s—even Pres. has talked to them.  I’m going on divvies with them tomorrow to find out what the heck is going on because nobody knows what’s happening with them. Not even L______ 1 knows what’s up and they live in the same pench with them!  So wish me luck on that.
Can you believe it’s gonna be November this week! Gnarly, huh? We just keep on passing the time but it’s cool, we’ve got a great week heading for us so pray it’ll all go well. ‘Til then, queztonz?
Do they do much for Halloween there?
Nope, but on Canal Disney here they do play the greatest movie made (right behind Citizen Kane and The Godfather) namely, Hocus Pocus!  They kinda have  Día de Muertos here but nada que ver with the Aztec-inspired celebrations in Mexico.  I think everyone here  just visits the cemetery.  The cemeteries are cool. They are all crypts and such.
  • What do you want to do before you come home?
Not get sunburnt,  baptize. I can’t really think of any last thing to do. Maybe just eat some of the "You’ll never, ever, ever, ever find this in America" type of foods—cows head?
  • How are your friends, the Alderetes, doing?
They are doing really well. Oscar came to church yesterday and we stopped by and visited them. They send a lot of saludos your way
  • Do you get thunder and lightning in your area or just rain?
Just rain.  I remember in my first area we had the craziest thunder that would shake the whole house (and exceedingly sharp lightnings).  Here it’s just rain. I may have heard thunder a couple times here in Yuto, though.
Well that’s about it! I’ll send you guys a couple of more letters then I’ll be home. Until next week, thank you so, so much! I love you, it’s all good!

Con Amor,


Big Time!

Monday, October 21, 2013

It's Not The Heat, It's The Humidity......And The Heat!


As I was cybering this morn they cut the power and so I couldn’t write you guys then so we’re hoping that this email will go through—oh, how I pray. But yes, how goes it? Is it still hot in Utah? Seriously, it’s like "The Pump" kind of hot here. I believe I’ll answer your question of "What I will not miss about Argentina?" right now. THE HEAT!!! Man, and from what I heard this won’t be the worst. Like, it’s supposed to get to 120° F but I'll be peacin' before then. What a shame tsk-tsk. For the most part of this week when we haven’t had water or power I've been sleeping in a nice pool of sweat and the feeling of "Ahhh, c’mon! "  Kinda what Mick Jagger must feel like on a regular basis, I imagine.

Through the smoke and flames we managed to have a baptism this week—a young chap by the name of Misael who is the nephew of Pres. Angel. It went great! It was a hot, hot day so we planned to have the baptism in a pool at a place called (in Spanish and English) "Camping".  We got there to find—GASP—no agua in the pool! I panicked because we hadn’t filled the font in the capilla since the water was being weirdly gross there so we did the next best thing: I went with Angel and we found a good-sized irrigation ditch in an orange grove, dammed it up with an old tin roof, and had the baptism there—on the spot—yes! It was a most last- minute thing but it worked and it was a blasty blast.  He got confirmed the next day.

Speaking of the scripture in a bag thing (suggestion that he keep his scriptures in a plastic gallon bag), I really wish I would have done that because my scriptures got soaked. I have my fancy leather cases but I'm not going to use those out in the field. I’m using the scripture covers you guys sent me way back when. The zipper broke on my triple combination a few months ago so it’s just been open this whole time and bwahhhh! It got drenched.  They are all marked up so 1 Nefi had the pen all washed away and the paper stained. Yet, not to fear, yesterday I embarked on some serious scripture surgery.  After 2 hours with white out, tape, etc. they’re back to normal with just a few great battle scars.

Yesterday, Gabriel passed the sacrament for the first time. I was blessing it and told him if he ran out of bread or water he must go to the front, spin around 3 times and that will signal me tol go get more bread and water(I know, he thinks I am hilarious).  Alas, neither the bread nor the water ran out :(  

Well, other than that, it’s been a week of searching for newbies so my comp and his next comp will have a nice, fresh batch of people to work with. It’s kind of hard finding people right now because Yuto has a lot of stuff going on right now: Local bingo at the high school (no joke) selling bread and, of course, POLITICS! Every Yutan down in Yuto likes politics a lot, but the Elder Allphin, who lived in the middle of Yuto, did not. F´reals, I’m about to swallow a knife listening to all the politics here. They put up huge speakers and play propaganda with Chacarera and Cumbia music at volume levels that makes a train horn sound like a ladybug sneeze. We have the headquarters of the Peronistas right in front of our pench so every day they play the Peronista march song to wake me up. Nothing says “Good morning anti-radicalistas!” than Eva Peron (except without Madonna). That’s about all the buzz in Yuto. Everyone is practically naked with the heat on and I’m tempted to join them in on that. But first, some queztions.

  • How is the dog situation?  Has Angel’s dog stopped following you?
Good. Stewart doesn’t follow us anymore. I trained my comp to dislike Stewart too so he doesn’t follow us. When he wants to we both give him a stern "I’m not, and never will be, your friend".  In return, he whines and gives us a "I just wanted to help" look and walks away crying. Then me and my comp laugh and high five each other. Dad and lad I tell you.  Yes, we are heartless,

  • What will you not miss about Argentina?
HEAT!!!!!!!! I’m starting to dig the cumbia now (I think that’s a sign I need to come home and listen to "The National".) We had Tito y La Liga come to the club right by our pench. La Liga is like the ratty cumbia band of all the ratty cumbia bands in Argentina so it was kind of a big deal. I got to hear them blasting from a distance and Vanessa got me a poster. So tight!
  • When and where do you have your final interview with the Pres?
We did it last Friday. In our zones he goes from area to area because we are all so spread apart.  It went really well. We had it in the chapel, I got my temple recommend renewed and yes, IT’S IN SPANISH!

  • Will you be able to go to the temple when you swing through Buenos Aires on your way home?
I heard the rumor that the group that went home in August got to go but idk, I hope so. It’s a way cool temple I heard.

Well kiddlingz, that’s it for this week of the weekly stuffs. I’m currently in the process spending my change collection from my whole mission. It’s a healthy $26 pesos and a kilo of strawberries are running around $20 pesos. A kilo of strawberries for 5 bucks—good luck finding that in the States. So I gotta go hit that up. ‘Till next week, I love you all so much, thank you for all you do. Happy belated Argie Mother's Day Mom and everyone. I love you, its all good.

Con Amor,

Old Group Foto

Authentic Argentinean Garb!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Drink 8 Full Glasses Of Scorpions Each Day

Hey y´all,

How goes it? It's going pretty good here. Lots of rain which is kinda good, kinda bad. I like it in the sense that its not so horribly hot but bad in the sense that it got my scriptures wet and I gave my rain coat to Elias to take to Brazil. It's cool. I have my umbrella-ella-ella still but its kind of a pain.

This week went relativity well except there was a massive fire by Yuto and it cut the power and water for about 3 days but the great part was that for all those days it was awfully hot and with the smoke clouding the valley it made for a nice greenhouse-type feeling over us so it was even hotter and we got ashes all over our clothes. All this with no AC. I ever so envied the Vesuvius victims, lucky bums! Due to the power out (during which I was singing "Power Out" by Arcade Fire for those 3 days) at night it was impossible to work because the whole city had no power: So, DARK was the night!!! A lot of the work we have here is in the sketchy parts of town so we didn’t dare to walk there at night. But later we got power and water back just as it started raining. I'm soooo happy!! I missed the water so much. The baptism didn’t go through, alas, but we are planning on maybe 2 this upcoming Saturday. Pray for that.

The branch is doing fine. We had the primary program yesterday which was an adorable train wreck. I got to lead the kids in singing their songs. We sang "I know my Heavenly Father loves me" and a whole slew of others. I say we were supposed to sing that song but the kids were actually singing another song as I was singing that one. After the meeting I got to set Gabriela apart as the 2nd counselor in the primary presidency and I got to give Gabriel the Aaronic priesthood. It was a cool moment. They are doing so, so well and are gonna be a big help here in Yuto. And well, that's the news from Yuto this week. Quesztionz?

We heard that the fires drove the animals out of the jungle. Did you see any?
Kinda...with the lack of water and light I went to go pick something out of the sink and in the dark I saw something in there. Thinking it was just a cockroach or something I went to go get my flashlight to see it (as we haven’t had cockroach problems for a long time here). Turns out it wasn’t a cockroach but a scorpion! Nice! I always wondered what they were putting in the water here so now I know.

Well, that's about it. Thanks so much for writing. I love you guys a bunch. Keep on praying for Yuto and all. Have a smashing week. I love you. Its all good!

Con Amor,

Raise your marshmallow stick!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Merry Michaelmas!


Dang it all, how goes it? Sorry about not writing to you last week but El Presidente said, “No Señor”.  Buts its cool.  I hope you guys didn’t think I was dead.

Last week was chill, it was St. Michael the archangel day (he’s the patron saint here) and with that comes the biggest bash Yuto has ever seen! Yes, that included (but was not limited to) gaucho parades, fruit salad, fancy drinks, and all ‘dem skankity-dressed lady folk. It was almost forbidden to go out in public unless you’re sporting fishnets, mega pumped heels, and spaghetti straps. Even if you’re a size 15 you will wear a size one. Deal with it!! Despite all the mayhem I managed to get some souvenirs (hence the money withdrawal) last p-day. I got a bunch of cool stuff for you guys so just hold out for one more transfer and it’ll all be yours.

The festivities were great except one thing—IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO TEACH OR TO GET ANYONE TO CHURCH THAT WEEK!!!!AHHHGEEERAHHH!!!! Even the members got sucked into the "church vs. fun-party" dilemma. There were only about 7 or 9 in attendance for Elias’s farewell but he didn’t care. We had a good last lunch with him. Pres. Levrino called to tell me of Elias’s plans. The boy left early Tuesday morning for Salta then onto Brasil. We had a last dinner at his house Monday night and said goodbye to him there. I'm-a  gonna miss that kid a ton but I know he’ll do great. Those were pretty much the highlights of last week.

This week? Not much to report on except conference was awesome. Man, I love Elder Ballard’s talk a ton—so good!!! We took a Balut bus up there Saturday with Gabriela and Gabriel (the recent converts) and Alicia. It was nice. We ate a ton (including a hefty bag of sunflower seeds). We got back late on Saturday. Then on Sunday we took a bus with the rama (branch) up to conference. We managed to get 3 investigadors there (A GRAND FEAT!) and had a picnic with the branch there. We took a picture for the Ensign magazine with all the conference attendees, so maybe that’ll happen. All–in-all it was great. It was an awesome conference (last mission conference) and I learned a lot. I really got the message of putting God first and being wise with priorities both now and in the future. Man, I dig conference a ton.

I got the news that my buddy Elder Jara from Buenos Aries is gonna come open another part of Ledesma so it will be Ledesma 1 and 2. I'm excited because he’ll be in my district. It’ll be awesome to have him there for my last transfer. And speaking of which, yes, today marks the beginning of my last transfer. I’m still in Yuto so I’ll die here. Today the head honcho inspectors from the South America area came and inspected the church house. They were really nice guys (they all had apple products *gasp!*). I was talking with one and he asked me about my time left. I told him I had a few more weeks. He then told me something that really hit me. He said "Keep on working, even until the very last minute!" Everyone says that but what he said after really got to me.  He said,  “Can you imagine what would have happened if Christ didn’t work the last 24 hours of his life?"....Whoa! Kinda puts the "enduring to the end" thing in a bigger perspective, no? I’m going to keep working on and on until I pull the same move that guy does at the end of the short favorite film of mine "THE PUMP". There’s still so much work to do and still so much time. So many people waiting! Pray that we’ll find them and we’ll have the energy and strength to do so. Well anyways, questions?
  • Did you have a favorite conference talk?

YES! Like I said I LOVED Elder Ballard’s talk about the missionary/member work. He impressed a lot of things from the capacitation that we saw in June that I really want to study and apply more. I also loved Dieter-Dieter’s talks a lot. He’s a conference fav of mine as well as is Holland. And I loved the talk McConkie from the Sunday school presidency gave. Lots of nuggety goodness there.

  • Do you get the chance to do much service in your area?

HA! *The Mrs. Krabappel laugh* no, not really. People here are kinda like the British guy the Griswold family nearly kills several times in European Vacation. They could be bleeding in the street (I’m not kidding. that happened once with a guy here) and they will politely say "No, no I’m totally fine! Thanks, though!".   A few months ago we moved a fridge from one house to there’s that.
  • So, how do you feel about riding buses now?  What is a typical bus ride like?
In the words of Sufjan Stevens: "There’s so much traveling!". I like bus rides. Granted, your riding on an old, rickety bus, with graffiti covered greasy seats but meh, you just get used to it. Here you really just get used to sketchy living. I can only imagine the cultural shock that’ll happen when I’m back in America.
  • Your branch president seems to be really doing a great job.
Oh yeah, for sures. He’s getting a lot done. The branch is getting a lot stronger as well.
Well that’s about it for the week. Have a smashing week as well. We are hoping upon hope to baptize Ishmael this week so pray for him and that we can keep finding people to teach. Thanks so much for all your love and prayers. Until next week, homies. I love you. It’s all good!

Con Amor,

With the branch at conference (and looking swell).

Gaucho Marx

Farewell to Elias


Tuesday, October 1, 2013


We received a short message from one of the members in Russell's branch.  She said the network was down at the cyber so there will be no letter from Russ this week.  In the mean time, enjoy these fine pictures Russ sent a while back.

Marcie also got a nice message from Russ's branch president reassuring us all was well:
     "Hermanita, su bebe no se pudo comunicar el lunes por que no habia seal de internet . Pero le manda  mucho besos y abrazo y que todo esta bien y lo quiere muchisimo y lo estraña y el lunes estara escribiendolo . Su hijo esta muy bien no se preocupe hermanita lo estamo cuidadndo."

Of course, we had to run it through Google Translate...

Old-Timey Preacher Man

Patty Hearst has got nothin' on me.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Back To The River!


Goodness snakes, how goes it?! Man, your crappy weather sounds just like our crappy weather. It’s either Satan-burn-all-your-skin-off hot or uncomfortably cold and swaps from one to the other about every 3 minutes.

Yes, t'was a most eventful week—one that had some ups and others, downs. The good thing is that we had a baptism!!! Yes! We had the baptism of Gabi (Gabriela’s son). It went amazing! We had it in the same spot as his mom’s baptism. It went super well! My comp got to baptize him and almost all the rama (branch) attended. It was really nice. Gabi was (and still is) super stoked about what happened.

And yes, it was zone conference. It was a pain in the rear to try to get all my district (which, keep in mind, is only a total of 4 now) together as a guy robbed Ledesma of their phone last week.  Ledesma is like the "city" so that’s why they got robbed.  They didn’t get hurt or anything, the guy didn’t pull anything on them he just said, "Gimmie your phone" and so they did. They called me from a phone booth to tell me and ever since then it’s been a hassle communicating with them but, miraculously, we got everyone together and headed off to zone conference. WHICH WAS AWESOME!!!! To begin, I got my last package which had the root beer barrels.  This is the best  as they don't have root beer here so when you give them to people it’ll either be super tasty to them or really nasty and they`ll say it tastes like Bengay and gag—classic! Then we learned about how to teach more with commitments and such. I loved it!! To top it all off I got to give my final farewell to the zone (which, to me, didn’t feel like it was happening) it was a punch in the tummy moment of "Oh man, I’m going home :( but we just gotta live it up until the end. It’s all good.

On a good note, we are planning another baptism this upcoming week. A kid named Ishmael. He´s a spunky 13-year old and we are teaching him and his fam. I’m stoked about that. Also, Elías got released as the secretary of the branch and now its Vanessa’s dad who’d name is Mario. I love that guy. He is so funny. His attitude is a continuous one of when Will Farrell and John C. Reilly go do their interviews in Step Brothers and the secretary says, "Alright Brenan and Dale, you can come in for your interviews now" and Brenan says, "Actually, we will be doing the interviewing around here" and they are dressed up in Nike Kicks and tiny tuxes....Yeah, that would be Mario.  His theme is: "Actually, we will be doing the interviewing around here". Great guy.

I’m sitting here listening to the cyber lady’s music playing and it’s actually a pretty cool cover of Harry Nielsen’s "Without You" by what sounds like the boys from IL Divo. Not sure for sure but one thing is for sure, the women folk here are under the spell which we call “Il Divo”. All I have to say is what Dr. Brule would say in a situation like this: "Just a bunch-a hunks!” Well, that’s about it for the week. ?`s

  • Have you been learning how to cook any of your favorite Argentine dishes?
YES!!! I’ve learned how to make the Argie pizza and asado. Paola has an amazing recipe for Empanadas from Tucumán that I really need to try. Elias's parents have taught us how to make some stuff. I really need to know how I’m gonna make Milanesa.  My favorite dish here is a food called Nepolitana and it's most tasty. I realized I’m going to come home around Thanksgiving and that might be a good or bad thing. Continuing on the food theme: I don’t know what’s gonna happen with American food when I get home, especially in large quantities. I’m afraid I’m gonna pull a Violet from Willy Wonka, we´ll just have to see…

  • You going to stay in touch with Elias on his mission?  Tell him we'll be praying for him, his parents, and Vanessa. 
Oh, heck’s yes. I love that kid! And yes, I’ll be sure to tell 'em that. We are all in a state of "No! It can’t be! The day seemed so far away!" I recall feeling exactly like that. Boy oh boy. But he´s stoked, along with everyone else.

Well frimlys, have a most kickin' week. Pray for us that it’ll be the same here and that all will be good and we´ll go through with our goals and all. The entire branch sends their best and pray for you guys always. Now I best go back to the pench, kick off my shoes and meditate...hey..its p-day after all. I love you guys, its all good!

Con Amor,

Russ and some of his zone.

Monday, September 16, 2013

"Come Thou Font"


How goes it? I’m glad the week was filled with all the goody, goodness of everything in Utah and everyone’s dreams coming true.  But yes, sounds like things in Utah are a smash. Give my best to the grandmother Allphin and all.

Yes, it was a grand week here in the Yuto, we had a baptism! Yay! This kid named José that we just call "Super" was just baptized. Although we had been hopeful it was a surprise to us as he´s told us “No” to baptism upwards of 15,000 times. We were just working Saturday morning around Pres. Angel´s neighborhood and he says "What’s up guys? Oh hey, Super says he´s going to get baptized today!" We were like, "WHAT!? When did he say that?" Pres. Angel says, "Oh, just yesterday when I saw him. I just totally forgot to tell you guys." So we booked it to Super’s house on the other side of Yuto, found him and said, "Is this true Super?"  He´s like, "Sure, why not?" So we said "Ok, so we´ll have the baptism at 6:00 p.m. Saturday, ok?" He said "Cool, at 6 O’clock then."  We had to affirm it over and over with him saying, "Ok, we are gonna have it at 6 and that’s gotta be for sure because we´re going to call a bunch of people right now to get things set up, ok?" He said "For sure Elders, no worries, at 6 I’ll be there". 

We went to go hurry and do last minute baptism preparations: Cleaning the font, setting up chairs, calling people to give talks, etc. It was difficult because President Angel left to go to San Pedro for a conference and Elías left to go fishing with his dad so we had like, zero priesthood. Luckily, we had this guy Mario who helped us so in the end so there was sufficient priesthood for the baptism. 

At 5:30 we headed over to Super’s house and, when we got there, said to his family "Alright! Are you guys ready for the baptism?" They said, "But isn't it at 9:00?"   We looked at them and said, "No it’s at 6:00"  The mom says, "Well Super thinks it’s at 9:00.”  That’s what I love here in Argentina: You can say, "Alright, so we´ll swing by your house at 7:00 pm this Tuesday" and for some reason they hear, "10:47 am Saturday". There’s no confusion in the language, it’s just plain ridiculousness. 

Once we realized we were about to have a baptismal ceremony with no one to baptize we started to panic.  "Where did Super go off to?" we asked.  Mom said, "He’s at a party that’s kind of by your pench." We booked it over there and about pulled a Will Ferrell scene from Old School. We looked everywhere but he was nowhere in sight. There are some members who live across the street so we went to them in hopes maybe they’d seen Super—no such luck.  I looked at my watch, it was 5:55 pm and beginning to look like all was lost until Super came walking around the corner. We almost applied the same tactic demonstrated in 1 Nephi 4:31.  We were like, "Dude! Where were you?" He looked at us surprised, "Elders! You told me 9:00 pm is the baptism!”  (I am patience!)  "No way che.” I told him,  “It’s right now! Let’s go!" So we all ran to the church and got there just in time.

We held his baptism with about 7 or 8 people there. It was very, very nice. I’ll have to have Elías put up the pics on Facebook because we tried to put the pics up on my e-mail but pictures won’t upload. Anyway, we got him confirmed the next day and he was super content in his weird "Super" way. He´s a good kid. He is 13 and is a really good kid.

Both Paola and Gabriela (the Hermana who was baptized last week) gave talks In which they were brought to tears for how grateful they were for the Savior and the Holy Ghost. The Hermana Paola talked about how last week her son was in arrested for some mistake he made in his business. He called her for help so she went to Ledesma frantically looking for someone to handle the situation but couldn’t find anyone. She was in her car praying to know what to do when the name of a lawyer came to her mind. She doesn’t know how she remembered the lawyer’s name but somehow found his number and he was available and helped her son out of the situation.

Gabriela talked about how she felt the Savior has been on her side ever since she started going to church. She was so grateful for the Book of Mormon, how it’s giving her great strength and comfort. President Angel is thinking about calling her to the primary as well. Man, it is just so boss to see the gospel working in action with those Hermana’s—they are so cool. That, and Gabriela is gonna make us fat, she is always giving us food: Chocolate milk, cake, pizza. Goodness sakes, it’s awesome! We are going to baptize her son Gabriel this Saturday in the other river, I think. They are super excited about the gospel.

We have an awesome group of members who follow us to all our citas: Gabriela, Alicia (Gabriela’s best friend), Gabriel, Sara (Elias’s mom), Elías, Vanessa, and Mario Cortez (Vanessa’s dad). It’s so great; they help us out a ton.  They basically teach the lessons for us which is fantastic because that was pretty much the whole purpose of that worldwide capacitation in June (for the members to do the missionary work).  We hope to keep going with that and, yeah. That’s pretty much it for the week; not much else to report on. 

But yes, quezstionsz?

  • Is Elias ready to go on his mission?

Yes and he´s pretty stoked. He´s coming out with us like almost every day. He has his passport type papers all done and I gave him a bunch of my stuff. He leaves on the 30th to go to Salta then takes an airplane to Brazil. Crazy, man!
  • Do you have to set up the baptismal font or is it already set up?  How do you fill it and how do you drain it?

It’s a big, blue tarp tub about 4 feet high, 4 feet wide and 6 feet long with a drain attached to a lever.  It is supported by trampoline-type metal bars to help support it up. There is a faucet next to the font and you hook up this makeshift hose to fill it up. Since it is a cold water faucet you have to equalize it with hot water from the kitchen so do a Chinese fire drill of filling it up, carrying, and dumping buckets of hot water all the way to the back of the building where the font is.  To clean it, (which it does get dirty a lot because the roof is made out of what I can only describe as a sort of Styrofoam which deteriorates and covers the bottom of the font with gucky, white stuff). So you hop in the font and clean it out with a sponge. To drain it you take the makeshift hose from the faucet, jerry rig it up to the drain part of the font, and put the end of the hose near the drain—Count your blessings.

Well, that’s about it. I have my last zone conference this week which means I will have to share my "final" testimony which is the custom for all the elders and hermana’s that are finishing up. I never thought the day would come, it’s unreal and sad.  I just never, ever thought the day would come. I remember looking up at the first zone conference and saw all these missionaries going home and thought, "I’ll never get there".  Alas, it’s about to happen to me. Just more of a reason to work harder and harder I guess. Do pray for us that we can do exactly that: That we’ll have a baptism this Saturday, that we can keep using the awesome members, and that all will be good. Well, I best be going to get a haircut. ‘Til next week, peeps. Have a most amazing week. I love you. It’s all good.

Con Amor,

"Super", Elder Allan, me and the travelling baptismal font.

Gabriella's Baptism

Monday, September 9, 2013

Take Me To The River!

Hey Grimlies!

Oh yes, It is another tasty week here in Yuto.  It’s good to hear that it was nuttin' but good storms, comic book conventions, and JAMES TAYLOR!!! Yikes. What was his set list? I heard a rumor he did a cover of Metallica’s "Enter Sandman" but I’ll have to see if that was a for sure thing or not.

Yes, it’s more than a thousand degrees here in Yuto and, from what everyone is telling us, we’ve yet to see the worst. They say the worst will be here in November. Alas, I believe I’ll be missing out on the 120 degrees of fun that comes with Argentine summer.

You ask why we were at the river, eh? Well, it’s because we had a baptism there!!! Yup, we baptized Gabriela ________ in the river over there by Yuto and I had the honor of baptizing her.  It was a way cool baptism. She is super stoked to be a member and President Angel is talking about putting her in the primary but we’ll have to see. While we were there we had an asado (an Argentine barbeque) and it was most delicious.

The rest of the week was pretty good. It’s just so blasted hot there. I guess it makes things interesting but all my dreams of getting all tan and hunky are all fading away as I'm just getting red. People are just baffled by this phenomenon asking, "Why are you so red?" I want to respond by licking the palm of my hand, smacking them in the forehead and saying "Why do ya' think?"  But that would be mean so I don’t usually do that...most of the time.

Nothing much else to report on, I’m afraid. I believe we are going to have another baptism this Saturday.  It’s a kid whose family is almost all baptized but him? No. We made a lot of progress with him and we are hoping for this Saturday. The kid’s name is José but we just call him "super" and yes, “super” is the same in Spanish as English. Like, people say "super duper" here.  Yes, it’s all super-duper down here. Questions...

  • What were you doing at the river?

  • Do you go to all the institute classes and FHE events that I see posted on Pres. Angel’s face book?
No, but we tell the members to invite their friends and when their friends come we patiently wait for the end of the class then attack!!...Well, that’s how we met Gabriela anyway.

  • How was branch conference?
We still haven’t had it yet. Its gonna be the 22nd or something like that.

  • Are you wearing your sunscreen or perhaps even a hat?
If I wear a hat than I’ll look like the JW´s around here. Sorry but NO HAT! Never hat!  But yes, I am using the sunscreen.

Well fams, that’s about it. Keep praying for us here in Yuto that all will be well, that we will do a lot of work, that we can baptize, and all that good stuff. I love you guys so much. Thanks for everything. It’s all good.

Con Amor,

The Lazy River

If you have to ask...        

I haven't been on a bike since I was 10!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Cell Phone Woes

Dear Finn Hudsons,

Yay, they’ve got Glee here too. Elías and Vanessa are big “Gleeks” and about came unglued when Finn died awhile ago. All I had to say was, "¡por fin!" which is to say "At last!"....That was until I found out Glee was still up and running :( C’mon!

But yeah, it’s great to hear from all you guys. I hope Labor Day is super labor-y today. Thing of it here is, if you want your own labor day you can get it!  If you don’t feel like going to work today you don’t have to and there really is little to no "consebence" to it. In the words of Morrissey:  "Everyday is like Sunday"....That goes for school as well. You talk to kids and ask them, "Shouldn’t you be in school?" and they’ll say, "I would go but I told my mom school sucks so she let me stay home for the day." Some kids just have it all, don’t they?

Well, it’s been a good week in Yuto. It’s burning season right now and, basically, the entire countryside is on fire and Yuto has a nice, greenhouse effect going so it’s super hot with double the temperature because of the smoke—I SWEAR!!!!  The smoke also makes the sun super red and not bright at all, like one of those nice, polluted LA sunsets. It’s pretty cool but goodness, it’s just so hot. Milk was a bad choice!

Elías has been out and about with us to our citas. He’s been a great help and loves accompanying us. We had Gabriela all set for baptism this Saturday then yesterday got the news that district (or stake) conference is this Sunday in San Pedro so we are going to have to see what we can do about her confirmation. But she’s doing good. Keep praying for her, by the way.

In District news:  They split my district!!!! “How dare they strike the royal hand!”  I was on the phone with the Hermanas in San Pedro this week, doing nightly verification.  At the end of the call I asked,  "Is there anything that you need or that we can do for you?" and they said "Yes! TAKE THE ELDERS OUT OF SAN PEDRO!!!" I was kind of like "What the heck?" because there are no elders in San Pedro. The hermana said that because of the arrival of all the new missionaries they opened up some new areas including a San Pedro 2. I was later informed by the mission office that San Pedro 1, 2, and Belgrano will be their own district. The president said there will only be Yuto and Ledesma as a district...for now. But still:  My district is so tiny! Its better, I guess—quicker verifications, easier traveling....still. Yeah, but it’s cool. But that’s about all for the week, I suppose. ?`s

Don’t forget to tell the story of your cell phone.
Oh yeah! So totally. We had an important cita in the night with a lady name Cristal who is the best friend of Paola. Paola said they would meet us at Cristal’s house. Because there weren’t going to be any other men in the house (and the rule is that you’ve always need to have another guy there) we went to look for Elías at his house. When we got there his dad told us Elias was at Vanessa’s house which is in front of a small park. We got to Vanessa’s house, found Elias, and headed off to our cita. I went to call Paola to make sure she was at Cristal’s house and, when I went to reach for my phone, it wasn’t there. I checked my pockets—not there either. I asked my comp, Elias—no one had it. It was lost, I was freaking out! Everything was going through my mind: "I have to call my district tonight!" "I'll have to pay a lot of personal money to replace the phone!” I’ve lost all my contacts!" I was super devastated and felt so, so bad.

We were still heading over to Cristal’s to teach her but I was planning to say: "Look, I’m sorry but is it cool if we could come back later? I’m a weenie and totally lost my phone so sorry, I gotta go look for it". When we got there she and Paola were waiting for us.  When I was about to tell them about the phone a scripture just popped into my head: "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God". So I thought, "Ok. I’ll do this first then we’ll go look for the phone". As I was sitting there at the start of the lesson my mind was churning, I couldn’t concentrate, all I could think about was that phone so, while someone offered a prayer, I silently said my own personal prayer: "Please, Heavenly Father, help me concentrate. Help me help Cristal then, after we’re done, help me find the phone." When I finished I got a confirmation in my soul with an "it’s all good" feeling. There was no fear. I could concentrate. I knew that whatever happened it would be all right. And the lesson went super! It helped out Cristal a lot.

After we left we went straight out to retrace our steps. We headed over to Vanessa’s house first because I thought I may have left it there but alas, she wasn’t there so we said, "Ok. Let’s go to your house Elias." As I was walking through that park, in the dark, with a bunch of people going to and fro, I saw, in the middle of a couple of shrubs, my phone. It was in perfect condition. Kissing it I leapt for joy.  I’m pretty sure a good number of people were looking at me like "Why is that goofy Mormon kid kissing his phone?" but I had total reason: I was so happy and it was a testimony to me of two things: Number one is that God answers our prayers. What’s important to us is important to Him. He knew my worries about the phone and He would hear my prayers to help me find my phone. Second: I learned that if we forget ourselves and do His will (even if it means risking the consequence of loosing a phone) then He will bless us enormously. It was a funny little learning moment for me and one that I’m super grateful for.

  • Besides the Pokebond, do you and your comp have anything in common?

Hmmmmmmmmmerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrruhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh....not much. Well, kinda. Like we like the same movies and stuff.  But we are good buds.

  • I’m glad Paola was called to be in Primary.  Do you ever get to teach Primary?

Nah! Like one time in Jujuy I did but no, we don’t get to teach primary too often. The primary here is like 4 or 5 kids. President Angel’s daughter and niece are always there and are the Anna and Lauren of Yuto. They remind me a whole bunch of them.

Well fambliys, that’s about it. It’s been a good week and we hope it can be an even better one this week. Pray for us, the area, investigators, and all. Have a most incredible week and enjoy your Labor Day with a bucket of the Colonel’s finest... I’m referring to Colonel Klink, of course. Thanks so much you guys. I love you. It’s all good.

Con Amor,

Member Missionary Work

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Motorcycle Diaries

Hey, Grimlys!!

Sorry this letter will be jet fast but man, oh man, its good to hear from youz guys. I'm glad to hear the wedding was a success. I told my comp about the possibility of an anime wedding and he was in full support. We both have the same anime background—that is, we loved Pokémon back in the day. We had a whole day where we talked about the games on the Game Boy and everything came back to me. Who knows? I could come back from the mission and fall hopelessly in love with Pokémon all over again.  Dreams do come true, you know?

This week was most excellent. My convert Paola got a calling to be first counselor in the primary presidency and is thrilled beyond belief. She reminds me of Dwight Schrute in the sense that, when Dwight was the "assistant regional manager" he was, in reality, assistant TO the regional manager. She is thrilled, happy, and introducing her friends to hear the gospel. We are talking with one of her best friends named Cristal. She had a teenage son die a while ago and we are teaching her and she is progressing really well. We are also teaching this lady named Gabriela and her son Gabriel. They made lunch for us one day and Gabriel made a ceramic pot for my comp and these rockin' bamboo wind chimes for me. I tell you, they would be the envy of grandmothers everywhere. I’ll have to send you a pic of them.

Transfers were last night and both Elder Murray and Hermana Jefferies left and their comps are all going to train which means everyone in the district is training—it’s a genuine nursery up in here. It’s really cool. They are all going to get their kids this Wednesday. I also have this really cool story about my cell phone but I’ll have to tell it later so remind me about it next week—stay tuned for the cell phone story, okay? Now on to questions!

What’s your favorite thing about training?

All the who-lou-dock-moo-frau´ (reference from Best Two Years about the difficulty of learning the language) and stuff like that. Just seeing myself, where I was so long ago. That’s the best part and just helping him take over the area and do stuff on his own. The kid is a stud and is doing so well and progressing so well.
  • Anyone we can pray for?

Cristal, Gabriela and Gabriel, Alejandro, and just everybody here but those guys in particular.
  • Did your rope-swing bump ever disappear?

Yeah, it’s last! I remember it wasn’t going away then I totally forgot about it and when I went to check it. It was gone! Yeah!
  • What’s your favorite thing about Yuto?

The Yuto accent!  It’s such a bad slur of coca leaf-Spanish so I’ll come home speaking like an Argentinean hillbilly but I do love that accent and just how Yuto is so tranquillo. It’s all good here!
  • I sent marshmallows as package filler.  Are they truly a novelty or is that an urban myth?

It’s a novelty. Elias has been eyeing them for quite sometime he really wants those legendary "s´mores".

Will you get your temple recommend renewed before you come home, in Spanish, even?
  • Yeah! Already did it in my last interview with president.

Well fambilys, thanks for everything. Sorry its short but I’ll be hitting you guys up more next week. Until then, I love you guys so much. Pray for us that all will be good. And keep on keepin' on. I love you, its all good!

Con Amor,


Monday, August 19, 2013

Al fin!

Russ and Elder Allan

Dear Alvin/Alshpin/Ajashfin/Alpin/Al fin!
Yeah, I haven’t heard the correct pronunciation of my last name for almost two years now. I’m really not sure how to say it anymore. All of the examples above are what people try and guess at when they read my name tag. For the most part I get called "al fin" which is cool cause in Spanish "al fin" means "to the end" so when you’re explaining the principal "enduring to the end" or "persevere hasta al fin" I get to point to my tag when I say "al fin" and it’s just a riot. HA!
But yes, I’m trying my hand at being one of those single-parent missionaries. It’s a trip!  Allan is a great kid—super culture shocked, trying to adjust and doing the common greenie things.
If you learn Spanish in Jujuy you can understand it perfectly in any other place because in Jujuy they have coca which is basically cocaine leaves they put in their mouths as a chewing tobacco type of thing. So it’s not uncommon to be speaking Spanish with a guy who’s talking a million miles an hour, using slang, smoking, and all with a mouthful of coca. The sad thing is I can understand it but my poor kid is just as lost as I was in the beginning. He got kinda mad about a few things this week. The fact that we don’t have dinner down here was like telling him his house had burned down (they have huge lunches and very light breakfast and dinner). Just stuff like that but he’s getting used to it all. Again, he’s a great kid and I’m sure a lot of it is the stress of trying to accustombrate himself to Argentina. But yes, it’s a good life. To tell him "WELCOME TO ARGENTINA" Oscar Ponce made us a cow’s head. So yes, my poor boy had cows head his 5th day in—what a welcome. He was a good sport about it and even thought the eyes were tasty but yes, face meat, it’s always good.
This week was a good week. It was Children’s Day here yesterday so everyone was having a block party of some sort. Because of that not a lot of people came to church! (Charlie Brown scream) but we aren’t giving up hope. The other day we were walking on the train tracks by a super poor neighborhood and, as we were making our way down to another neighborhood, I felt really impressed to go back so I told my kid “Dude, we gotta go back!"  We went back and it was one of those things like "Well, idk what’s supposed to happen. Maybe it’ll be nothing but let’s go."  We got back to the poor neighborhood and, out of nowhere, a teenage kid came up to us and said "Hey! Do you guys have like a pamphlet or something?" I said "Yeah! Even better! Where's your house?" He pointed to his house and we came back a little later and taught him and his little sister and brother.  They liked the lesson and all accepted baptismal dates! They are way cool: Nico, Erica, and Franco. They range from 16 to 11 and there are even more in their family so we`ll have to hit them all up on a later day. Good week; good following-impressions week! I love it. But yeah, that’s pretty much it on my part.

  • How are the folks treating your new comp? 
They love to joke around with him, ask him a million questions all at once, etc. It’s pretty much the way I was raised up. Here it’s totally chill to tell someone, "Hey man, you’re fat!" Allan is a big football player and when someone said this he was pretty much up in arms telling me "That’s really rude!” I remember that very thing happening to me when I was first here and thinking the same thing. After a while you come to expect it and people still continue to say things like that but you take it in stride because you know they aren’t trying to do any harm. It’s the native way and you just have to let it slide. I think I remember Dad telling me a similar story about how Koreans did that too.
  • Tell us a little about your comp.
Big sports guy, graduated in 2012, was a visa waiter in Mississippi for 9 months. His mom is from México but he doesn’t speak Spanish. He loves peanut butter, knows a few kids from P.G. He’s a quiet fellow but a good one at that.

  • Do you get to speak English with him?  Have you forgotten how?
Yeah, but not a bunch. It’s a rule that outside of the pench you only speak Spanish. Inside you can speak what you want but you want to try and speak as much Spanish as possible. But yeah, I’ve spoken a bit of English with him. The truth is, it’s best if it’s all in Spanish but, of course, there are gonna be times when you speak with him in English like when he turns to me and says "What did he say!!?"  But that’s normal.
  • Do you make breakfast for your comp?
I buy breakfast for him at times. Breakfast doesn’t really exist here. It’s like: Cereal, fruit, tea, etc. but nothing big. Kinda sad.
  • Do you exercise?
30 min. every morning—A few days running, a few, pushups and the like but nothing really specific.
  • Did your CTR rings work out?
Yeah! They are super! They fit so well, thank you!

  • Do you have to go back into Salta to make your comp all legal?
I don’t think so. I think they got him all legal there his first day.
Well fams, I hope all is good. It’s good here. We are really working hard to baptize this week so pray that we can do it and just do the best we can. I hope all is well there and that everyone is ready for some serious back to school funz. Enjoy! Thanks for everything! I love you guys. It’s all good.
Con Amor,