Tuesday, January 31, 2012

que mundo chico

The day started off plenty early for us when we met two new missionary waiters and one of our own in the CCM for breakfast. It started off way earlier for the assistants who had already taken five of our waiters to the airport. Ouch! We love our waiters and it is so distressing when their visas come. Well, distressing for us! I am sure their own missions are as thrilled as we are when visas finally come through.
Arrivals seem to take on a personality and life of their own and no two have ever been the same. DSC01093

We went back to the office to pick up one of our two Brazilian elders. He immediately got tasked with translating duties.

Then we went to the regional airport where we met our three new Brazucas. They assured me that they would not be offended if I called them that on the blog and said it was similar to calling an American a Yankee.
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DSC01106When we were in the car traveling to the mission home for orientation, these two elders realized that they both have older brothers serving in the same mission in Florida!
What a small world!

Today we welcomed three Brazilians, one Chilean and two Argentines to the mission. Tomorrow we will receive seven of our eight North Americans…as one is still awaiting his visa.

Monday, January 30, 2012

atahualpa yupanqui

Tomorrow the Argentine Folk Music world, and actually folk music lovers from all over the world will be remembering Atahualpa Yupanqui. He was born in Pergamino, just north of Junin, but just outside our mission boundaries. His name, which is actually a stage name, is a combination of the names of two Incan kings.
He traveled extensively in Argentina, during which time, he developed his genre. Later, he spent considerable time outside the country avoiding the repercussions of the messages his music sometimes provoked. Atahualpa recorded over 12,000 songs. By the 1960’s he was considered one of the most important Argentinean and Latin American folk musicians of all time. However, he went in and out of favor in Argentina depending on the politics of the government that was in power.

  These days, however, his music is considered a national treasure by many.
Los ejes de mi carretaThe axles of my wagon wheels
Music: Romildo Risso
Lyrics: Atahualpa Yupanqui
Tr. Jake Spatz
Recited 18 Jan. 2006
Porque no engraso los ejes,
me llaman abandonao;
porque no engraso los ejes,
me llaman abandonao...
Si a mi me gusta que suenen,
pa' que los quiero engrasao?
Si a mi me gusta que suenen,
pa' que los quiero engrasao?
Because I don't grease up the axles,
they call me a careless man;
because I don't grease up the axles,
they call me a careless man.
If I like the noise they're making,
why should I want to grease them?
If I like the noise they're making,
why should I want to grease them?
Es demasiado aburrido
seguir y seguir la huella;
es demasiado aburrido
seguir y seguir la huella—
andar y andar los caminos
sin nadie que me entretenga...
andar y andar los caminos
sin nadie que me entretenga.
It's far too boring a life
to follow and follow the pathway;
it's far too boring a life
to follow and follow the pathway—
to go down the same old roads
with nothing to entertain me...
to go down the same old roads
with nothing to entertain me.
No necesito silencio,
yo no tengo en quien pensar;
no necesito silencio,
yo no tengo en quien pensar...
Tenia, pero hace tiempo,
ahora ya no pienso más;
tenia, pero hace tiempo,
ahora ya no pienso más...
I ain't got no use for silence,
I got no one to think about;
I ain't got no use for silence,
I got no one to think about...
I used to, but time's gone by,
and now I don't think no more;
I used to, but time's gone by,
and now I don't think no more.
Los ejes de mi carreta,
nunca los voy a engrasar.
The axles of my wagon wheels,
I'm never gonna grease them again.

just so you know

P-Day is Wednesday this week. If you didn’t get a letter today, that is good Smile

Sunday, January 29, 2012

we wish you many more


The missionaries have learned to sing the chorus of our favorite family birthday song called Cut the Cake by John McCutcheon.

Today was Presidente’s birthday and we enjoyed spending the Sunday at church together and a family dinner at home with new friends.

However, the day was pleasantly interrupted by well wishers and even missionary singers.

The best birthday gift of all came quite late in the day.

number-58On Sunday nights, all of the missionaries call in their data from the preceding week. This information is then organized and reported to Presidente. On this Sunday night, if you can believe it, they reported 58 baptisms for the week. I am sure he will never forget it.

That made it a very good month for the mission as a whole and many missionaries were reporting their personal best.

Happy Birthday Presidente!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

family baptism

The only thing better than going to a baptism on Saturday, is going to the baptism of a family on Saturday. This cute family met another LDS family in Bolivia that told them they ought to check out the church, but they didn’t and then they moved to Argentina. In Argentina, they met another LDS family that told them they should check out the church AND, they brought them to church. We LOVE working with the members!

Friday, January 27, 2012

january pastores tour


It was a beautiful summer day for the tour. Not too hot, but plenty of sunshine.


We took the Pastores to all of our favorite places including the Casa Rosada.





However, we actually started the tour at the Teatro Colon.

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Hermana Claros, Hermana Clark, Elder Wilson, Elder Bush, Elder Scott, Elder Vogler, Elder Hull and Elder Gonzalez.

In addition to all the other sites, there was a craft fair at La Boca.


We had lunch at Siga La Vaca and ice cream at Freddos.


We had a picture perfect walk along the Puente de la Mujer.


Then we took a minute to enjoy the “dry beach”. Because there are no nearby beaches, many people sunbathe in the parks or greenbelts.


However, this dry beach was sponsored by the government and was actually right next to the Flor de Metal.



As always, the last stop on the tour was at the park, Tres de Febrero. It is a wonderful experience to share the story of the dedication of South America for missionary work by the apostle, Melvin Ballard. I  think of his grandson coming back so many years later to confirm that this indeed was the place. We are very grateful for this group of missionaries who have added to the veracity of his prophecy.



Thursday, January 26, 2012

i scarce can take it in

Although it doesn’t always happen, we try to email every missionary before they enter the MTC. This is one of the responsibilities that has been delegated to me. I receive some information which is not always complete, and so I have to try and contact the missionary by phone to get an email address. If the missionary is not at home, I will leave a message, or, I will ask for a parent, in hopes of obtaining a current email address.

Actually, it is a very special experience--talking to “pre-missionaries” or their parents. A few weeks ago, I began working on a new group of missionaries. My very first call of the day was answered by a mom, who told me that her missionary was not at home, so I then requested the information that I needed. What happened next surprised me.

She told me that she knew me, but that I didn’t know her. She went on to explain that when she was a child about ten years old, her parents explained that some other people in the ward had daughters that were hurt very badly in an accident and they were going to have a special fast for them. She said that it was her first experience with fasting and that it was a memorable experience for her.

She continued by saying that when her missionary opened the call letter, she saw the name and current picture of one of those girls that she had fasted for so many years ago. That girl was the wife of the mission president.

My sister and I were traveling home from BYU for the Thanksgiving holiday, and we had a car accident that nearly claimed our lives. Neither one of us was able to return to school for nearly five months as we were recuperating. Everyday of my life since then has been a gift founded on the faith and prayers of a ten year old girl, her family and others like her. It is daunting to imagine the debt of gratitude I have to all of them. I wept even more as she shared a little bit about what the experience meant to her.

How blessed we are to have one another in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Those who are known to us and those who are unknown to us but felt in wonderful and positive ways.

As it turned out, on Sunday, when I arrived at church, the Bishop came up to me and asked me if it was true that I had not yet spoken in the ward. I smiled and said that it was true, expecting him to ask me to speak in a few weeks. What he actually asked me was to speak in Sacrament meeting because there had been a problem with the scheduled speaker. I explained to him that I normally only speak in Spanish for about 5 minutes, and my husband takes the rest of the time. His request that I speak for 20 minutes was way outside my capacity. He smiled and told me that I could speak in Spanish for 5 minutes and then he would translate the rest of my talk.

What talk??????

(Perhaps I should give a little explanation here that the mission home is not in our mission. I attend church in the Buenos Aires North Mission with our daughter and my husband attends various wards and branches in the mission. Brianna and I normally accompany him only when there is a special request. So, Presidente wasn’t even there.)

I went to a classroom and prayed for help. Then after the Sacrament, as requested, I stood and spoke in Spanish for 20 minutes. I know enough about Spanish to know that I was making plenty of grammatical errors, but I felt as if everyone in the chapel was helping me. I felt their love.

I shared the experience of the phone call that I have just related. In truth, there are many miracles that brought me to Argentina. I think perhaps every missionary could say the same. Sometimes, they share their joy in being a part of miracles as they see themselves as tools in the hands of the Lord. Many are like me as they personally see the miracles of change in themselves as they do things that they consider far afield from their capacity.

When I was having a chat with one of the missionaries last week, he  told me that he arrived in the mission field just a few weeks before we did. Presidente and I spent the first couple of weeks talking with every single missionary. He said that he was embarrassed because my Spanish was better that his at that point.  It was hard to imagine that it was really true, but we both certainly know that his Spanish is way better than mine today. He was helping me though, as the missionaries often do. I am so grateful that it is one of the ways that they show me their love. (Apparently, it is also one of the ways the Lord uses them as tools to prepare me for future assignments!)

Almost all of our Latin missionaries are learning English and are experiencing learning a new language, as well. I admire them because they are doing it without the benefit of people to practice with at church and in the street. I also admire their companions who seriously take on the responsibility of helping them.

As a mission, we are learning and growing in ways that can be measured and in ways that cannot be measured in time, but we know they will have infinite worth to us in the eternities. We are feeling the love and feeling the prayers of those who are known to us and those who are unknown to us, the sum total of which are miracles.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

driving tour of the city

Presidente and I spent some time downtown Buenos Aires this week. It is a really interesting city. There is beauty everywhere and graffiti almost everywhere, probably because there are no laws banning it. Some people even come here to take graffiti tours!
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I love the stately old buildings. Most of them were built In the late 1800’s when new methods for chilling and the freezing meat, innovations in shipping and the construction of rail networks inaugurated the golden age of Argentina.
Today they stand shoulder to shoulder with their neighbors that arrived during the next century and are sometimes reflected in their shiny exteriors.
One of those building is the beautiful Aduana, or Customs House, that gives us so much grief. It was inaugurated in 1910 and was refurbished a couple of years ago.
Here is a side view of the Colon Theater. It is massive. The Pastores tour guide tells us that Buenos Aires is built on a grid, which is mostly, but not exactly true.
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There are fabulous statues all over the city, you can hardly look in any direction without seeing one or more. The cast of Rodin’s “Thinker” was spray painted pink and given an arm tattoo and green hair last year. The sad thing is that it was damaged even more severely by the cleaning that followed.
DSC00943If it is not a building and it is not a statue, then I guess it is a monument. In 1910, the British residents of Argentina requested to build a clock tower. Most of the materials came from the UK as did the designer. It used to be called the Tower of the English, but after the Falklands War and a series of vandalism, it was changed to Monument Tower.
I captured many of these photos from the car. Driving in the city is always interesting. Even in January when there is “hardly any traffic.” The lines on the streets and freeways are truly there only as a suggestion. We got delayed by a group that decided to do a demonstration in the middle of the street.

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There are big beautiful trees all over the city. I have mentioned the jacaranda trees before, but there are many different types of trees. They reach to great heights and actually make for very uneven walkways, but they also make for very pleasant and picturesque drives.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

casa rosada

I recently learned that there are tours of the Casa Rosada. However, they are only on weekends. The Casa Rosada is the place where the government works. It is not the place where the President lives now. DSC00871
Actually, it is not the place where the government works now either, since all the government offices are closed for the entire month of January. Along with all the government officials, it seems as if everyone else in the city has gone on vacation, if you don’t count the tour guides and guards in the Casa. Travel on the freeways and certainly back and forth into the city has never been easier.

On the property where the Casa sits, there used to be a fort, and it used to be overlooking the river.  Since those days during which the structures on the property were changed several times, quite a bit of land has been reclaimed from the river.
I had imagined that inside the Casa, I might find everything in pink. Not true. This room was my personal favorite.
Actually, there was only one hallway with stained glass windows that were pink.
Having been on the pastores tour several times now and with various guides, I have heard at least two reasons why they painted the house pink. One is that the two political parties identified themselves, one by the color white and the other by the color red and it was a compromise between two parties. Another theory is that is was the only color available. Nobody seems to doubt, however, that the color was achieved from animal blood mixed with the paint.
Last year was the bicentennial for Argentina and apparently the house got a makeover for the celebrations. On the tour, we didn’t see much evidence of official government work except for one boardroom with a very long table.
Having always looked up at the Casa from below and trying to imagine what it was like to speak to thousands of people in the Plaza de Mayo, it was pretty exciting to take some pictures from the opposite direction. Of course, Madonna made the balcony even more famous in the movie Evita.

My husband was in town on business when they were doing the filming for the movie. The city was abuzz with the fact that Madonna and Antonio Banderas had lunch with the President to obtain the permission to shoot those scenes.DSC00875DSC00879
The country has had a stormy history. Most of their leader’s lives came to very violent ends at the hands of the people, who once loved them, but changed their minds.

DSC00852The house was finished in 1898. I have studied the architecture of that time period and loved the opportunity to view many of the beautiful details included in the Casa Rosada.