Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rafael Castillo- Week #9

Hey Everyone!

Umm...I did send an e-mail last week, I don´t know why you didn´t get it, but here it is in this one:

Help I can´t breathe! Just kidding, I think more has happened to me in the past 24 hours than the cumulative time between ages 9-12, or possibly my whole life. Yesterday was P-day, but there were some complications with transportation so things were a little behind schedule. So mi Papi(trainer) wanted to do e-mail today because he didn´t get to yesterday.

First thing is first though, we got off the plane and went through customs and the first people I see in the airport are two Argentine women kissing each other...welcome to Argentina! So we got our bags and things and got out to the lobby where the assistants and President y Hermana Benton were waiting. He is a firecracker...i love him. Then, the assistants all gave us some milk and candy to enjoy on the ride to...the temple! At the temple we took pictures and walked around. It was pretty neat. Then we went to the mission home, which is actually in the North mission, and let me tell you, it is SWEET! It reminded me a lot of Seal Beach because it is only about 10 blocks from the Rio de la Plata. So we spent about 4 hours there eating a nice meal and writing you letters...which will probably get there in a couple of weeks...and we had our interviews with the President. He said he liked my resume, by I don´t know what that means...

Anyways so after that we went to a chapel by the mission offices to meet our trainers and I´d have to say that I was nervous. All my buds from the MTC, the only familiar thing in this country were about to be ruthlessly taken from me. Haha but it wasn´t too bad. When we got there there were a bunch of American elders so I relaxed a little bit. Bad idea...the Americans all just worked in the office, and then President had us all stand up so our trainers could come in. In walks 13 natives...and 3 Americans...the trainers...my heart sank like a ton of bricks. All three Americans had been assigned by the time my name was called so it was kind of staggered whirlwind...but now, almost 24 hours later I am glad I got a native, and I will tell you why.

My trainer is Elder Torres. He is from Paraguay. He doesn´t speak English...let me rephrase...except for "What the freak!?!" he doesn´t speak English. haha it has been a hoot with him. He laughs at me so I laugh at him back, which makes him laugh more because we both know I don´t know why I am laughing. We serve in what the Assistants call the most humble place in the mission. aka "dirt poor" It is Rafael Castillo, in the Catán Stake. When we got to our apartment I didn´t think it was too bad, at least the roads are paved. By the way, there are two other Elders that live with us who are both American so that helps.

Anyways, this morning I found out why it is most humble. Turns out we live on the outskirts of the area....the rich outskirts...this morning we went around and almost every single road is just thick mud. It isn´t too bad though, I am having a good time. I am surprised how much I understand Elder Torres. This is his last transfer before he goes home. So he is my first companion, and I am his last. When we walk we talk about random things, and I teach him English. He can´t figure out why we say "I am hungry" instead of "I have hunger" but he is getting it. He contacts people like crazy, everyone we see he is walking up to, I am picking up tips all over the place. Most people say, "another day another day, i´ll call you" which is their way of saying get lost. We did talk to a lady about the restoration and made an appointment to go back tonight. I get nervous and freeze in front of other people haha so i am not much help to Elder Torres.

Also, there are dogs everywhere! just roaming around on the street. I kind of like it. I have literally seen more dogs today than in my whole life, and that is not an exaggeration. Also traffic is crazy...I have almost lost my life many times, that is a joke, don´t call the mission office. But seriously, there are no lanes except on the big highway, so people are all over the place. some places have four cars lined up driving where there is only supposed to be two, but I guess oncoming traffic doesn´t bother them. Anyway, I want to attach some pictures so I am going to go.

Love you, and keep praying! I need it now more than ever!

P.S. Spanish keyboards are weird.

Ok that was last Wednesday, and now this is Tuesday the 26th...

Ok so this has probably been the hardest week of my entire life I am not going to lie. I understand very very little. My main goal for my mission is never be discouraged, and I am happy to say the goal is on course for completion in 22 months, but that doesn´t mean it is easy. However, I find comfort in the words of Elder Holland, "Salvation is NOT a cheap experience! It was NEVER easy!" He is great...we don´t really see his personal side in General Conference, but in the MTC addresses he gets fired up.

Anyway, I realized about Thursday that I already love these people, which makes it 10 times more frustrating because I don´t feel like I can help them or teach them. Basically I teach the Joseph Smith story and bear testimony...or pray. Elder Torres volunteers me for prayers a lot. Actually though, yesterday was pretty funny. We taught about 7 or 8 lessons and in every one he would stop at a random place and say, "What IS the (random principle) Elder?" and then I stumble through about 3 sentences, and then he picks it back up again...and probably reteaches what I attempted to say. I don´t know what it is...but gospel doctrine is different in Spanish...i think they changed it all. That was a joke, referencing my lack of understanding of the language.

Ok, the one boss diggity thing in Argentina is the children. I LOVE talking to them. Especially the 2 and 3 year olds, and for one specific reason. THEY TALK LIKE I DO! I speak like a 3 year old in Spanish ahahahahahahaha. So I talk with them a lot while Elder Torres teaches the adults. Also, kids don´t look at me funny when I take a long time to say something. We were at one house that actually 3 families live in together and there were 8 children all under the age of 5, and let me tell you I was having a ball. I´ve never laughed so much. They would all start screaming at me, and I had no idea what they were saying, so I told them, "Ok, we are going to play a game...(they all get quiet and stare at me as if I am about to tell them the secret of life...which by the way, Elder Torres was telling their parents)...the game is, you have to say the magic word I am thinking." BAM! They start blurting out words like crazy. I just kept saying, "No entiendo, no entiendo" (I don't understand) until I heard a word I recognized...it kept them entertained, and me too.

Church was fun, it was the first familiar thing to happen to me since being here, so I enjoyed it. I bore my testimony at the bishop´s request, so that was good. Not much else happened at church. I am understanding more and more every day, but still am lost when people are talking to each other. People practice their English on me, which is fun sometimes...when it is appropriate. Most people just say Hi, or How are you? Some girls walked by us one time that we didn´t know and they said Hi, and I asked Elder Torres who they were, and he said he didn´t know, but, "Su cara dice USA." So my face says USA.

It is strange contacting people in the street because I don´t know what they are saying, but I keep talking about the church anyway...Elder Torres told me that one lady rejected me after my first sentence, but I just talked like she was interested...and so THE WORK ROLLS FORTH!!!!! Well, I am going to end here because I have to reattach all the photos from last week, these computers are slow so hopefully it works.

Love, Sean

(Sean attempted to send pictures in a separate e-mail, but it didn't work, so he has to figure something else out. He said technology in his area isn't that great - too bad! would have loved to see them!)

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