Monday, December 19, 2011

Coming Home

Before heading for home the mission president and his wife take the missionaries on a tour of Buenos Aires. To read about it follow this link.

Monday, December 12, 2011

"My life is like my shoes, to be worn out by service..." 
- President Spencer W. Kimball 

Final Week - San Alberto

So this is the last time that I am going to writing home. Next Monday is going to be a work day and the other missionaries will have P-day next Wednesday, which is the day that I get home. So here it goes.
These past two year have been pretty nuts. Lots of ups and downs, but has been the most worthwhile thing I have ever done in my life. I say that a lot, but it is because it is true.  When I came out onto the mission I really had no idea what I was getting into. I knew it would be hard. But I didn't realize how hard. I have gone 2 years without a single full day to just do what I want. I haven't had a vacation, a weekend, haven't watched a movie, read a non doctrinal book, gone on a date (or anything close to that) in the past 2 years. Looking back, I see how my time wasn't wasted at all. I didn't have any distractions. I have learned more in these 2 years than I have in any other 2 years of my life. It is interesting talking to strangers all day trying to help them have a better life without making any money of my own. Without having any physical compensation at all. I have lost most of all the physical progress that I had made in the years leading up to my mission. I am kinda formless now. It will take me a long time to get back to where I was. But that is all okay. 
I now speak another language. Still not perfectly (or good) but i can still get by. Yesterday I had a fun experience, I was sitting next to a senior couple of missionaries from the states at a stake conference. They didn't speak Spanish, so I translated for them. It helped me realize how much I have come along with my Spanish. I was able to speak in English at full speed translating everything that I heard in Spanish. I did that for a whole 2 hours. By the end I had a headache but it was a cool practice.  I really have learned a ton out here. Being a missionary is so worthwhile. Everyone should do it.
But every good thing needs to come to an end. It seems weird to me that in a week I will be in America. I am excited for that. I miss everyone at home. I miss the family, the friends. Being in America for Christmas is going to awesome, especially being with the whole family. I am ready to see everyone.
Now being the end of the mission I have also prepared a note for the preparation of me getting home. Argentina is very different from America, so there are some steps on helping me adapt to American and non-missionary culture. Read it with care. It will help you out. I love you all very much. I will be seeing you all next Wednesday at 1 pm in the seatac airport! It has been an adventure. Thanks for all the support you have given me. and have a great last week free from Daniel Walsh!
-Elder(for the last time) Walsh

                By virtue of the astounding time wonderfully accumulated and composed of equal parts of toils, drops of sweat, bug bites, tears, chills, hospital visits, and joys, the Argentina Buenos Aires West Mission has declared that the time has come for the remains of a callused, dusty, and forever sunburned body to take a permanent vacation from their presence.  The before named elder WILL appear clothed in rags, be tanned to the collar and elbows, have holes in his shoes, but will be full of love for the gospel, to once again take his place amongst you in the gentile world.

                In making preparations to welcome the before mentioned elder into an organized society, it is advised to keep in mind the different circumstances that have influenced his life since you saw him last.  He has been living in a completely different environment and it may take some time for the adjustment to normal life again.  The following are a few suggestions and helpful hints that will allow you to make his transition more comfortable and pleasant.  Please study and review well, and follow carefully all instructions.

                First, be advised to stock the kitchen with Tortillas, Doritos, Ice Cream(Sub Zero of course), frozen orange juice concentrate, peanut butter, hot sauce, Mexican food, cold milk in gallon jugs, pure apple juice, Root Beer, cinnamon rolls, donuts, bacon, peanut butter cookies, and any other food that you cannot find in Argentina even if you tried.

                Dispose of any signs of rice, potatoes, noodles, and any part of the cow, hot dogs,  all cooking oils, and orange-colored water that is supposed to be OJ.

                Please be patient when the newly arrived “RM” (returned missionary) only takes a tiny glance at the TV out of the corner oh his eyes as to not get distracted from his current conversation. He will get nervous doing any normal everyday thing that is prohibited in the mission (watching tv, sleeping past 6:30 am, being awake past 10:30 pm, talking to girls, reading the newspaper or website, touching a cell phone or computer, text messaging, etc...) You may also be advised to just ignore his complaints every time he goes to the bathroom about the absence of a bidet. TP will be a new thing to him and it will take him time to adjust to the now and chafie world.

                Next, remain patient when he begs you to describe in detail everything that has happened since he has been gone, please explain everything in detail, even the unimportant parts.  Tolerate his frequent trips to the “corner store” even if it’s not “just around the corner”.  Be patient when he accompanies you to the grocery store and argues with the vegetable man to lower the price.  When you find him looking for a bucket and scrub brush gently remind him of the washing machine and dryer.

                Please have the water heater in good working order and have all the luxury items available, especially a huge fluffy white towel which has been dried in the dryer.  When he enters the bathroom, don’t expect to see him for a few hours.  He will want to walk around barefoot everywhere even outside in the cold. His feet have been imprisoned in proselyting shoes for the past 24 months. Accept him as normal if he sleeps with the covers over his head to ward off mosquitoes, cockroaches, and rats.

                Be prepared to accompany him to a few doctor appointments and to get the bug medicine as you are bound to hear of the four generations of bugs that have taken up residence in his stomach.  Try not to be shocked when the doctor suggests he have six months in a rehabilitation center or have his body recalled to the pre-existence for an overhaul.

                SPECIAL WARNING:  Don’t ever mention spiders, crowded buses, trains, barking dogs, shots, soccer, Yankees(shankis), gringos, milk in bags, small mission beds, breast feeding, district meeting, zone meetings, Datos, ZL, DL, AP, divisions, Ford Falcons, Hollow Bricks, cement, the ¨Play¨, ¨Face¨, cold showers, white shirts, ties, or “when is he going to get married”.

                Have dance shoes ready to go out to a studio immediately and don´t mind his obsession in learning every Argentine Tango step ever invented... Also, his beloved car, Archibald, surely is missing him and is ready to go on frequent drives to Redondo, Black Diamond, Seattle, and wherever else there is a good view of the bleak and rainy Pacific Northwest. Go with him happily to see normal things like Christmas lights or a grocery store with more than the noodles, yerba, and mayonnaise  aisles.

                It is important that you don´t get nervous when he tries to kiss everyone he sees. It is nothing personal, just a way to say hi. And give him permission to do every little thing that he will ask ¨permiso¨ for (starting to say a prayer, walking into a room, taking a bite of food, breathing etc...) He will also not be used to knocking on doors. So when he stands at the sidewalk and starts clapping at your house, act like that is a normal thing to do and shout for him to come in.

Also for the first few weeks (until he finds himself and gets over jet lag), be careful to accept his broken English in an understanding manner.  A simple request for a translation will be sufficient if he slips into Spanish while saying a prayer or talking about church.  Be patient with the pictures and stories…act like you enjoy them.

                To conclude, you are hereby warned and cautioned to treat the newly delivered “RM” with great care and good ol´American Courtesy.  Remind him that he is in North America now, even if he insists on shaking the hand of every person before he leaves the room or if he gives you the “Bro-shake”.  In your mind, silently replace your name if he calls you “Hermana” or “Elder”.  Humor him in every way.  Every once in a while remind him that he is not in the mission anymore.  He is used to having a companion 24 hours a day so just let him follow you everywhere you go for a while.  For the first few weeks he will feel paranoid about being alone.

                He will surely suffer from “Latinitis” and/or ¨Latin Fever¨ (extreme love for brown people)---but with lots of kindness, patience, and love (TLC) he will soon be back to his old self.  So get those tennis shoes, dance shoes, books, dates, and the car ready and send no more letters to this address because…..


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Week 95 - San Alberto

Here it goes. I am about to start my last full week of my mission. Next week I will only be having 5 work days. That means I am almost home. Kinda crazy right? My countdown is now down to 14 days. Next week will be my last letter home because my last day, the Monday, isn't going to be a P-Day. We are just going to keep on working. It is a new change that they are making in the mission. The group after me is going to start to go home the Saturday instead of Monday or Tuesday. So they will be getting 5 extra days in Argentina. that is pretty crazy. But I will be leaving from here Tuesday night at 10:15. There are 20 hours of travel between Buenos Aires and Seattle. It is a pretty far away place. Elder Gibson and I are putting together the plans to beat the boredom on the flight home. We are going to make it a party. 

So this last week we had a baptism. Jacqueline Medrano. She is 9 years old. Her family is coming to church now. Her mom just had a baby last week, so it is pretty fun to go over to the house and see the baby. The family is from Bolivia, and like almost all the other Bolivians here in the Argentina, they are really really poor. They are really nice though. In the next weeks we are looking to baptize the rest of the family. Just for right now(as usual) the little kid doesn't have all the problems the older people have, so she was able to be baptized first. We got some pictures and a kid in the ward said he would put them up on facebook. So we will just have to wait and see about that. It is kinda a bummer not having a camera anymore. 
This coming week is also stake conference, so I also only have 1 more time to be in my branch church meetings. Yesterday was my last fast Sunday. It is weird to be done with all my mile markers. The only one I have left is on the 16th which will be my 2 year mark, but they is pretty much the end. There aren't any more month marks, or new months, birthdays, or holidays. oh, btw, happy St. Nicholas day.
 I am overall really happy about how my mission has gone. Today I got to call some of my converts to invite them to a farewell meeting next week. I was so happy to hear how some were doing. There are a couple getting ready to go on a mission, Mercedes and Louis are getting ready to go to the temple, others have important callings. It made me realize how many things I got done during my time. I love the work. It is so great to look back and see 2 years of good work. It is something that everyone who has a chance to do, should do it. I need to go now. But thanks for all the support. Next week I will be sending you all the most trunky email ever. haha! 
Love you
Elder Walsh