Friday, August 13, 2010

Greetings from Villa Mercedes!

That is my area.  I am 1 hour outside San Luis.  Elder Cabranes my trainer is so amazing!!!  He is a latingo, latin plus gringo.  Yes, he speaks english fluently, but obviously his native tongue is spanish.  He was born in Ecuador, his father is Argentine, he lived in Peru for awhile and went to BYU for a semester in 09.  He is such a great missionary and teaches me lots of things and just rocks!  So life is good.  I have 1 hour to email home so I will start from the first class flight.

The first class flight was amazing!!  This keyboard is different so it's hard to type.  Yeah, hot towels, steak and potatoes, orange juice in glasses, french toast, sausage, ice cream, more hot towels..... yes, first class is everything it is cracked up to be!  I loved it.  I probably logged 4 uninterrupted hours of sleep.  The seats laid out almost completely flat.  So awesome!

We got off the plane and it was COLD!  You weren't kidding at all mother, it is so cold here!  When we got off the plane I was definitely nervous because, you know, spanish.  Customs was easy though because the people spoke english!  So we all handed over those white envelopes with secrets inside and we were set.  No problems entering the country.  But there was a slight problem with baggage claim.  Thankfully all of our bags were there!  But on my big bag, it got toasted and the handle doesn't come out.  Darn.  So the next two days of hauling my bags around were no fun.  We met alberto and he was so nice, but didn't speak a lick of english.  So that was exciting.  He drove us around Buenos Aries which was nuts!!!! because there are no rules here for driving.  Yeah, a bit scary.  But no accidents and he dropped us off at the other argentina airport where we waited all day until we took a flight to mendoza.  He would try to talk with us and tell us things, but he just resorted to writing down the time he was going to return and then leave.  So we would just sit on these metal chairs forever and wait, so excited.  It was our time to fly and we went through security.  We waited a bit because our plane was delayed, what do you know, another hold up getting to Mendoza.  But eventually it was our time to fly.

I am so happy I made friends with this guy waiting for the plane because apparently our plane switched gates and we obviously had no idea because the spanish coming out of the loudspeaker is yeah, impossible for us to understand.  So he looked at us and said, in spanish obviously, that our plane had switched gates.  Thank goodness for him or we would probably still be in Buenos Aries.

So we go to the gate and there is no plane!  We had to take a bus a couple hundred yards to where our plane actually was.  Pretty funky.  We landed, got our bags and President and Sister Lindahl were waiting for us and 2 awesome aps.  They were so nice and it was awesome.

We got in their car and went to downtown mendoza where we went to their house.  We ate dinner at their house with the aps and our trainers.  Wow!  Dinner was heaven!  Lasagna, fruit, just so so so good.  Then we were interviewed by President Lindahl and then driven to the office elders pench.  It was a nice pench where there are 12 beds upstairs for all the newbies to sleep in.  Um, it was really cold.  And we didn't have coats or nothing that first night.  But I slept really good.

Then we woke. . . o we slept upstairs with our 3 trainers and talked and had some fun.  There were Elders George, Wetzel and Cabranes.  I was so hoping for Cabranes.  I really wanted as close to a native as I could get.  The others were way awesome too.  The next day we ate at the office where the office elders work and then the aps took us for some fun.

We went to this famous place in mendoza and hiked to the top where there is this statue thing that is on one of their monies.  Cerro de la gloria, I think.  It was way cool.  There, the aps helped us contact 1 person each.  It was kinda scary, but basically we started talking to a person, then when the person talked back, the aps would take over.  I talked to an old guy who was way awesome.  They sat us down for a bit and told us about the mission and just had a good talk with us.  The aps are so awesome, Elder Wies and Gonzolez, I think.  Elder Gonzolez is a native and trying to learn english, so that was fun.  We went back to the office where President and Sister Lindahl met us.

It was probably noon by now and it was time for President to unveil the assignments.  I was so nervous and excited.  He took the six of us into the office and talked to us a bit.  He said, "Elder George . . . . with Elder Huntington.  Elder Cabranes with me!"  My heart jumped for joy.  I was so excited.  And so Elder Wetzel is with Elder Allen.

We went to McDonalds for lunch then were dropped off at the bus station.  Elder Cabranes and I waited an hour for our bus.  He is so awesome.  We talked mostly in Spanish for awhile.  We took a double decker bus and we were on the top, to villa mercedes.  I slept a little, but mostly just looked out the window and marveled that I was actually in argentina.  After 6 hours! on the bus, we arrived.  It was late, maybe 9:30 PM, and I got my bags and we walked through empty streets for maybe a couple blocks before arriving at the pench.  It was crazy walking through the streets that night just thinking, wow, I am actually here!  It was amazing.

So, the pench.  Yeah, you can't really send stuff directly to the pench.  There are 3 rooms to it. One main room and 2 bedrooms and a bathroom.  The bathroom is way small and there is no separate space for the shower.  Just a shower head right next to the pot.  Our pench is super dirty, so we're cleaning it today!  Just a side note there.  Oh, there is not a door with hinges to the bano so when you use it you just put this door like piece of wood to block the entrance.

I took a shower that first night and the elders said there was no hot water.  No way!  Wow this is really nuts.  So I got in and figured it didn't matter what handle I turn so I took a FREEZING COOOOOLD ducha.  Wow.  Like so so so cold.  I got out and they laughed at me because there is actually hot water!  And I turned the right handle, but the hot one is the left one!  But it was a good experience.

So the showers I've taken since then have been good.  But it certainly isn't America!!  The other elders in my pench are interesting.  Elders Figaroa from Canada and Elder Orozco from Boston.  Both natively speak english but both could pass as natives.  I am the only white kid in my pench.  Them 3 are all brown.  So that's fun.  This is Elder Figorao's last transfer and he just has a really strong personality.  He likes to mess around, but when it is time to work, he works.  Elder Orozco is kinda the same.  Both are so so funny.  They are both pretty nice to me, but you know, I'm new so they like to gimme a little crap.  But it is all good.  Elder Cabranes is great and keeps me on the straight and narrow.  He was an office elder for 3ish transfers and so was Elder Figaroa.  So they know each other very well.  Wow I have heard so many crazy office stories and working in the office isn't a shooze like I always pictured it being!

So that first night I kinda unpacked and pulled out my sleeping bag and had a good night sleep.  It was great.  But when I crawled out of my sleeping bag it was SO COLD!  Wow, what an adventure. We got ready to go, studied, and then went!  O yeah, I guess our case isn't rare in this mission, but we live a 30 minute walk away from our area!!!!  So that is nuts.  That first day, Saturday, was so hard.  My body and brain were both DONE at the end of that day.  We walked so much.  So much.  And I'm not used to that at all so I was so tired.  For lunch we went to an inactives house and ate meat and noodles and bread.  Pretty good.  It's like italy down here.  We had the exact same thing yesterday after church with the Bishop and his wife.  It was so good, but yesterday they fed us so much!!  So Saturday we each got our 10 alb. abrir la boca, and basically just walked over the whole topography of Argentina!

We (Elder Cabranes) taught the best lesson about baptism to this lady.  The spirit was overflowing.  But in the end she said she didn't want to change.  Because I didn't really know what was happening I wasn't to disappointed at the end, but after this lesson Elder Cabranes was pretty uhh, let down.  It was an awesome lesson and I even said some comprehendable sentences.  But she at the end said she didn't want to change.  So we left disappointed.  Then we went to a newly baptized 9 year old and her newly activated mother and taught them a little lesson.  Just a nice visit and I shared a scripture at the end.

This other time we were knocking this door and this drunk guy came up and was asking money from Elder Cabranes.  He showed him he didn't have nothing but keys.  He left and went a bit away with his buddy, pointing at us and talking with us.  A few seconds later he made his way towards us again with his buddy, so we got out!  Elder Cabranes said that was a close one and they might have robbed us and Elder Cabranes knows about getting robbed!  It's happened to him and that same time they took all his stuff he got pistol whipped which means cranked in the head with the butt of a pistol!  So he knows whats up and is very safe.  He is teaching me so many awesome things.  Usually we speak in English when we are in the pench, etc, but when we are walking around outside, we use spanish.  And especially when we are in the ghetto parts we always speak spanish.

Saturday my head was spinning with spanish!!!  Oh my gosh.  I can understand next to nothing here.  I can talk, but the problem is I don't know what to say because I don't really understand what they are saying to me.  But it is ok.  I am improving.  And everyone says that my spanish rocks for how new I am.  These members said that I have better spanish right now than elders they have seen out 1 month.  That makes me feel good.  But it is still so hard.

We had a zone meeting last night for 90 minutes which was good.  I met the zone, they were excited to see me and many of them were smelling me and my clothes because I am fresh from the states.  They promised me that I will never get this smell back. And right now we are in this internet cafe place all together and about to go play futbol!!  I am about to play futbol in south america.  Yeah, that is pretty much awesome!!

Those first 2 days were hard.  Missionary work is really work!  I am tired already!  And that first day I was just thinking really, 2 years of this. O man!  This is tough.  But it will get better, especially when I can understand people.  That will rock.

Yesterday evening we went to the bus station, not in our area, and did some alb.  My companion was talking with this lady and I really felt like I should talk with this other guy about my age, just on another bench.  So I did.  I was nervous because I didn't have my comp to bail me out and when I had no idea what they said to me, but I did it!!!!  It was so so so awesome!  I said, hey I'm new and want to practice my spanish.  He said sure.  We talked about some easy stuff, he has 7 kids in his family too!  And then the gospel came up.  Way awesome!  That just made me so happy.  He was way nice but I couldn't get his direction before he hopped on a bus.  And saturday I had a great contact where we got the address and yesterday committed her and her brother to read the Book of Mormon and they said that if they knew it was true they would be baptized.  So life is good.

Went to a panadería this morning and that was sweet.

Nope, no baptisms yet.  Hows that, a pretty long email.  Pretty good huh.  So in the mornings I try to stay awake and do my studies around this heater and it feels so so good.  But during the day I am fine and have plenty of warm clothes.  And I probably shouldn't say stuff like this, but yesterday I almost got bit!  My comp saved me because he swung his funda at the dog.  Yes, there are tons of dogs here, but this was the only one that took notice of us.  He almost had his teeth around my leg but my comp, like I said, saved me.  So life is good!

I'm in argentina!  I'm excited for this.

Well, I'm about to go play some real futbol!  Later.

I love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Elder Ostler
August 9, 2010

Well, I got an extra second here.  We had 2 investigators come to church!  And I fell asleep in church which was no good.  During church I bore my testimony.  But it was just impossible to understand what people were saying to me.  The Bishop is like 28 and speaks english!  So that was way awesome.  He learned by reading the Book of Mormon twice in english and that is it.

We have zone conference in 2 weeks, so I will get to hop on a bus and ride back to Mendoza.  The Elders in my zone are way nice to me.  I really like them all.  I think there are 3 who don't speak english.  But the older white elders are SO Awesome.

Sometimes we walk to the area, but because it is so far away we take the bus sometimes.  It is 2 pesos.  Well got to go.  Till next week . . . .