Monday, September 28, 2015

La Marque

Hello one and all, I write this to you from a small "cyber" or shop that basically has computers and other random stuff, in Argentina! I'm so excited to be here, and so much has happened this week, so I'll start from the beginning.

I left Idaho at around 11:30 in the morning, flew to Salt Lake, where I met up with a group of missionaries going to Argentina from the MTC, and found none other than Spencer Messina there! It was crazy/awesome to see him, he's doing great. We left from Salt Lake to Atlanta, where I met up with Elder Davis from my MTC district who was waiting for his visa in Houston. It was fantastic! We talked a ton and just had a wonderful time being together again. We left Atlanta at around 10, and arrived at around 9 in the morning the next day in Buenos Aires. The flight was long, but Elder Davis and I sat next to each other, so we passed the time pretty well. In Buenos Aires I said goodbye to Elder Davis, and the rest of us took an hour-long bus ride to a different airport. We (three other gringos from the MTC going to Neuquen) met up with the latinos from the Argentina CCM, and waiting until about 4:30 for our plane to Neuquen to arrive. But it was good to meet and try to talk to the Latinos. I guess I know Spanish a bit better than I thought because we were able to successfully buy three pizzas together. The soda is so much better here. The coke is more sweet like Mexican coke, and the Fanta tastes like the Fanta in Europe. It was super good. We finally got to the Neuquen airport at around 7:30, met President and his wife and everyone else. They are awesome! Then we went to the mission home and had empanadas for dinner, which were so good.

The next day we were in the mission home all day with orientation stuff, interviews with President, and other things. The highlight was when we got to go out and pass out invitations to church in the street. It was super fun and a lot different than Idaho, because there everyone knows who we are and almost everyone is a member, and here people may have seen us before/know we're "The Mormons" but they're opinion to learn more because they don't know a ton. Not everyone is like that, but quite a few.

Thursday we did some immigration stuff in the morning, and then our trainers came! We didn't know who we were going to be with, and they didn't either, which was fun. We passed out more invitations with the trainers, which was also fun. I went with Elder Marzo from Argentina, and he was super cool. We then found out where we going and who with! My trainer is Elder McNeil from Mesa, Arizona, and we are serving in La Marque. La Marque is a town of about 8,000 people, and we cover the whole thing. It's about the farthest west you can get from Neuquen, but it's great, I love it. We didn't get into too many house in the two days we had, but we had a good time. On Sunday we had church in our "salon" which is just a random building. The nearest branch is 30 minutes away in Choele Choel, so we just have a group that meets on Sundays that we run. There aren't any other Priesthood holders in the city, which is really cool but stressful. We do everything; conduct, preside, bless and pass the sacrament, say prayers, give testimonies. But it's fun. Crazy stuff happens, like one of the members asking if he can say somehting in the middle of someone's talk, and the speaker denying him because it's sacrament meeting. They crack me up.

There are some amazing people here, one of them being Hermana Sandra. She's basically our mom here, and does so much for the church; teaches gospel principles, gives talks, is the only one that pays her tithing, comes up with ideas for church and helped organize the first primary today. She is a capo. (capo = awesome person).

Sunday was also kind of hard because there was a priesthood meeting in Roca that President told us to go to, but the earliest ticket we could get left at 3:45, which would have put us at the meeting about 45 minutes late. But President said to go anyway, and so we did. Well it turns out the guy lied to us and it took another hour than he said, so we got to the church building just in time from the closing hymn. But, what are you gonna do. President was at the meeting and just laughed and it actually was pretty funny. Then we walked back to the bus terminal, bought tickets from 30 minutes later to put us at our pension at around 12:30, but of course it was late so we got to bed around 2 last night, but such is the life of the missionaries in La Marque as Elder McNeil tells me. A lot of travel, which I actually love to do, but I just felt/feel like I wasted the whole day because we didn't even go to the meeting we spent the whole day traveling to. But I'm just trying to put my head down and work this week so that I'll feel better/be a better missionary.

Missionary work is incredibly hard, but so is salvation. It may not always be easy, but it will always be worth it.

Argentina is wild! I love it! Completely different culture, life, everything. I{m trying to pick up on the accent to help my understanding of it and everything, which is kind of hard. But I'm getting there. The people are very Italian here in the way they talk/act, it's very interesting. My head is still kind of swimming, but I'm getting through it. A lot of culture shock, and life is very different here than Idaho. It's a completely different mission, the only thing that is the same is the gospel. So I'm basically brand new again, but it's great. I'm super excited to progress and work a lot more this week and see some miracles! I love this gospel and know that it is completely and entirely true. The examples of people like Sandra who does not have a job, takes care of her daughter, and still pays her tithing faithfully is an incredible testimony to me of the truthfulness of this gospel. This is the truth. The Book of Mormon is the most true book on the earth. Read it. Gain a testimony of it. It will change your life.

Love and pray for you all!

Elder Grondel

1. Elder Davis y yo

2. Elder Messina y yo

3. Waiting in the Buenos Aires Airport

4. A cemetery we passed by because everyone was taking a siesta

Me and my compa!

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