This is so crazy!!!! So I have a lot to tell you but I'm not sure where to start. Well I guess I'll start with the flights. So my whole group traveled together all the way to Buenos Aires. I told you about our stop in Georgia, well Elder Russell accidentally put his passport in his checked bag so we had to leave him there. He had to wait until the next day. We had a four hour layover in Buenos Aires and when we finally got to Neuquen we met the presidents and did a bunch of orientation stuff.
So on Thursday we got our new companions. I'm sure you saw the picture, but my companion is Elder Carlotta. He is from Santa Fe, Argentina and he speaks little English. There is only one other English speaker from Texas in the district and in our zone. Elder Coyle (the one from Fresno) is there. I just now saw him for the first time since Thursday. We are about 30 minutes by taxi east from Neuquen and it is REALLY poor. There are literally people who live in houses smaller than my room back home, made up of logs or bricks. The nice areas, I guess the suburbs of Neuquen are about as nice as the ghettos of Stockton, but safer. It is definitely a humbling experience.
So I have a story from my first day...so be prepared and just know that I'm fine and safe. So on Friday morning we had a district meeting and it was kind of hard to understand but I got through it pretty well. The Elder from Texas said after the meeting that if I need to talk in English I can just talk to him anytime. Anyway, we had to drop stuff off at the pension (apartment), which is not really big and just as we were about to leave, we open the door and 3 guys were standing there, saying they were the police. The next thing I knew, Elder Carlotta was pushing the door so I started pushing too (the men were trying to get into their pension). It was super hard because here, the floors are either all tile or dirt, so we were sliding back on the tile and somehow we were able to shut the door and lock it. I know there were a few angels pushing with us, because we should not have been able to. My companion told me that they were thieves. We stayed around a while but ended up moving into another pension temporarily with another companionship (where I am the only English speaker) so that's where we are now.
On Saturday, I was starting to feel really homesick. That morning we started building a brick house and I got pretty sunburned. On top of that, while we were at the Mission Home the first few days, I got 40 mosquito bites, including the bottom of my foot and big toe. So needless to say, it was a rough day. I wasn't understanding anything. We ate lunch at a member's house and watched the RM (in English with Spanish subtitles) so I just wanted to speak English even more. When we finished one of the Elders shared a scripture about enduring to the end and I know it was for me. Ever since I have felt better and I have been understanding more. Obviously I can understand church talk because that's all we studied at the MTC really. So I'm fine teaching, I just struggle with every day talk. I can definitely tell I'm doing better though. Today I think we are going to see a man named Mario (which is weird because he kinda does look like Super Mario) but we are going to commit him to baptism today, and by "we" I mean me.
So that's about all of the important parts. Just know that I am doing better now but I still have a long way to go. Keep me in your prayers, I need all the help I can get. I love all of you guys so much and I'm sure this will go by in no time! I'll talk to you next week!
19 JAN 2015
You might be up now, its only 1130 am here. I sent Mom the story for the blog, you might want to read it first though, haha. Well I'm doing good, I was struggling a little these past few days. I'm getting better, I can teach fine, I just can't hardly have a regular conversation. I don't know when you'll get this but I just thought I'd tell you that I love you and I miss you guys. It's not easy here. We are in the San Lorenzo area, about 30 minutes east of Neuquen, its super poor. I like my companion, he kind of reminds me of a mix of me and Robbie. Because of what happened my first day (I talk about it in Mom's email) we are living with another companionship and yesterday we were doing language study and none of them speak English or at least very little. Anyway, I was teaching one of the Elder's who was with us at the mission home some English and we were downstairs and he was like "Come here Bishop!" and the others were like "No you came here!" It was super funny and lifted my spirits a little bit haha, anyway, I'll talk to you soon, I love you.
|25 New Missionaries with Presidente y Hermana Lovell|
|Teaching eachother: Darren teaching English, the other teaching Spanish|
|MTC Companions - Elder Bramell and Elder Lyman|
|There is a lot of training|
|There is time for meals too.|
|More language training|
|Role playing with new pass-along cards|
|These two are going to miss eachother|
|Meeting his new companion - Elder Carlotta from Santa Fe, Argentina|
|Elder Bramell, Presidente Lovell y Hermana Lovell|
|The 25 new missionaries with their new companions|
|Elder Darren Bramell|