Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Buenas Tardes from Chile, Rebecca's first letter from Argentina



November 4, 2013

Buenas Tardes. how goes it on the northern half of the planet?

I was glad to hear your trip to Minneapolis fue bien.  It is awesome the Cross Country team made it to state. Go International Falls Broncos!!!  The pictures you emailed were really fun to see. 

Thanks so much for your weekly letters.  The family updates are exciting to read.  You will have to take a good picture of the fall leaves.  Nice job on crossing the bridge to visit Wisconsin.  Bridge crossing - that is something the world needs more of nowadays.  

I love the ``Thought for the day``.  It is something I really look forward to in each letter and email.  I love you Mom.  The word ``mommy`` is used in Chile just like in the U.S.  The word ``daddy`` hasn’t caught, but give Chile 20 more years and they will be saying that as well.

I loved the picture of Sam being a wild man with a shopping cart.  I am definitely going to think of that picture when people ask me about my family.  I hope you have a good time in 6th grade.  

We are looking at getting bikes here in this ward.  We are going to ask the bishop if there are members who could help us out with that.  On average we spend about 2 hours walking daily, which is a huge time killer.  It would be better to use that time to be teaching.  

We got the transfer information today at our zone activity.  As a zone we rented a turf soccer field for an hour, and just before eating a lunch of hot dogs we got the news.  (Sam, I made some nice goals, 3 or 4 of the 15 or so)  I am staying in the same area with the same companion.  I hope that this transfer we can find an entire family to baptize.

I don’t know if I told you yet, but I am in ward Libertador, Stake Chillan.

I love being a missionary,
Elder Withers


Dear Family,
Holy smokes this week has been nuts.  I am in a little town out in the middle of nowhere.  In the province of Entre Rios, in a city called La Paz.  The city is about 35 years behind in technology and so we are using the computer of one of the more well off members.  The keyboard is insane......so please forgive my punctuation and grammar.  

President Giuliani gives us only 1 hour on the dot to write our letters, and there is just no way I can write everything that I saw and experienced this last week, but I will do my best.  My journal is staying caught up, so don’t worry!

Travel to Argentina was good.  The plane was nice and big and I just slept most of the time.  We landed in Buenos Aires, went through immigrations and customs which was relatively painless, and then gathered in the airport to wait for the other missionaries.  It was fun to see my MTC district.  Then some nice lady from the offices in BA gathered us up and put us on a double decker bus for a long day of visa paperwork. She didn't speak English so understanding her instructions got tricky sometimes, but we got it all done and I think I am good to go.  I should get a card sent to the mission home soon that is my official visa card.  After all of that paper work we finally got to go to Rosario.  It’s about a 5 hour bus ride from BA, so we didn't get there until super late.....but it was good to finally meet president and his wife.  

All day Wednesday was interviews with president, learning about the money, how to not get robbed, how to do reimbursements, and so forth.  It was a nice day of rest to be honest.  We just sat there, ate, and spent time with the office Elders and President and his wife.  

Thursday was the day I got my companion and area!  My companion is Hermana Sainsbury (another Hermana who served in DC South too) and she is awesome.  She has only been in Argentina for one month longer than me.....so we have a lot of fun adventures up ahead, but it’s going to be fun.  My calling as a missionary so far seems... to be sent to one of the most isolated parts of the mission with a companion who has only one transfer more of experience than me.  But she is really great, and can speak Spanish pretty well because she spent 8 months in DC.  She is an experienced missionary, just not so much in Argentina.  We are going to learn a lot together.  Our area is way out in the country....where we see cows tied to trees, chickens run around like squirrels, dirt floors (I don’t know if I will ever be able to describe what these houses smell like),  and motorcycles everywhere.  We live off of a dirt road, wash our clothes by hand in a bucket, and when it rains electricity is on and off.

I have learned that drinking Mate is the most Argentine thing you can do.  They do it ALL THE TIME, at church activities, at the store, and basically everywhere.  Did you know that Argentines are the best motorcycle bike riders in the world, because they pile 3 or 4 people on one bike, assign the guy in the back to be the thermal man with the hot water, another to hold the sugar, another to hold the mate leaves grass stuff, and they pass the thing around WHILE RIDING THE BIKE...pouring stuff in as needed.  It’s awesome.  Really grateful that we aren't allowed to drink mate, its gross looking and I don’t think I could share a straw with the world.  People invite us sometimes, and it’s nice to just say our President has said no because of the time commitment....but in reality it’s also probably because of the germs (but we don’t tell them that part).

Rain rules the world here.  My very first day in La Paz it rained soooo much.  I have never seen so much rain or mud in all of my whole life.  It was nuts.  When it rains, school is cancelled, shops close, and everyone goes home.  

Siesta is nuts, and is insanely long.  Argentines sleep so much.  I don’t know how they make any money to pay for anything because they don’t work early in the morning, or during the siesta which is from noon to 5, or late at night....so basically the whole day.  But the pace of life is really slow here, and people just take their time, and are soooo kind.  I don’t know how much of this applies to other parts of Argentina, because we are pretty isolated (I had a 6 hour bus ride from BA) and before I left missionaries told me that La Paz is one of the most unique areas and also one that all the missionaries want to serve in.  So I am going to enjoy it while I am here!  

My mission debit card got stuck in customs, so my money is being sent to my companion’s card and I just make weekly withdrawals.  Hopefully it comes soon.

President told us to tell you guys not to put Hermana on letters or packages because the government is offset by it.  Getting anything from America into Argentina can tricky if anything looks suspicious...so just so you know!

I can get dearelder letters at the very latest every month when zone leaders go for monthly training, sometimes sooner.  Letters apparently take about 1-2 weeks to get here (just send them to the mission home) and about 1-2 weeks for a response to get back to America.  So about a month in total!  

I am healthy, and so far food hasn't made me sick.  Although one lunch with a member was soupy rice with mystery meatballs and the whole thing looked questionable but they stood nearby the table talking and watching us eat (it was sort of bizarre) so I had to eat it.  I prayed really hard that the food would be blessed and not make me sick, and it didn't.  I felt kind of funny later that afternoon, but am just fine now.  

We walk a ton, and bikes would be nice to cut down on walking time...but my shoes are holding up well.  

Before I forget to tell you, I saw Thomas and it was awesome.  I saw him at the bus station before my trip to La Paz.  He is doing well, he gave me a big long hug (had to explain we were related to a few missionaries) and I have pictures but no time to send them.  Next week for sure.

I don’t have time to write much else, but know that I love you sooooooo much.  I am well, and love this work.

I love you more than all the frogs in the road when it rains!
Hermana Withers


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