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Monday, September 2, 2013

First Week in Argentina/Paraguay

Hola, Everyone! 
     I´m currently in an Internet cafe typing on a strange, outdated computer and the lights are flickering a lot, and it´s kind of distracting but it´s a cool experience... It´s also pouring outside and walking in that is fun! But anyway, my last few days at the training center were good. I enjoyed the air conditioning and the American food! But the next morning at 6:00 a.m. I got my travel papers and took all my luggage and got on a bus that took me to the train station and then took a train to the airport where we were waiting until 12:30 when our flight to Dallas left; as soon as I sat down I pretty much fell asleep, even before the take off, which was dissapointing because I love the take-offs. But it's all good. We arrived in Dallas, went to Taco Bell and then right after got on a flight to Miami where I got to start my missionary experience by talking to the lady next to me about religion and about that kind of stuff and gave her pass a long card... which is a really good website. If you haven´t seen it you should! But anyway we got to Miami at about 10 p.m. (I think) and then got on our flight to Asuncion,Paraguay!  I ate dinner and then fell asleep and woke up about 6 hours later to look out the window and see miles of swampland and jungle which was pretty cool. 
     Then we got to Asuncion and got off and tried to go through customs, but they told us we needed to buy a $160 visa which we had no idea about and  I don't think the church (who organized all our travel stuff) had any idea about. So luckily the guy there spoke English (kind of), and he and I had to walk past security to find our representative that had come to pick us up. He didn't speak English either, and so after 2 hours or so of phone calls and such and working things out we ended up buying the visa and getting reimbursed later that day. So we got on this tiny bus, 13 of us, and packed all our luggage onto the back half and we all got on the front half which kind of made the bus lean a little so it was a bit scary driving. But we went to the mission home in Asucnion, and did fingerprint stuff and then went to the temple there which was cool! We waited around for a while to see how we were going to get down to Posadas Argentina where we needed to be. Thennnnn we went to the bus station and took a 5 hour bus ride down to Encarnacion, Paraguay.

     We unloaded all our luggage into a church meetinghouse there because crossing the border with all of our stuff would have been crazy, so then we all piled into taxis at about 12:00 and crossed the border and then went back across and crossed again.... I'm not really sure why because everything was in Spanish and I'm still not so great at Spanish. But anyway, I felt like I was in a movie or something because everything was really fast paced and crazy and passports and visas and I don't know!?!? It was just interesting. And there are no speed limit signs, and our taxis drivers were kind of like experienced NASCAR racers, just in old beat up taxis on super bumpy roads. But we finally got to where we needed to be, our mission home in Posadas, Argentina, ate something and went to sleep, got up the next morning, got to know our president, ate some more and then went and met our new companions. 

     We got to the bus station, and I met my companion, Elder Pizango, who´s a 5 foot 5, 22 year-old from Peru who doesn't speak English... well about 15 words and I taught him 10 of them. Soooooo it´s been quite an adjustment. But it´s fun; he´s really nice and he´s an excellent teacher which is great because I literally can barely understand what any one says here. It´s not really like the Spanish I learned at the MTC. They talk soooo fast, and in Ciudad de Este there´s a lot of people that speak Guarani which is a native Paraguayan language and a lot of them speak Spanish mixed with some Guarani... so I'm kind of learning two languages. Mostly Spanish though. But they also don´t really pronounce their S´s so it´s kinda like, how are you is: como etha or como eta instead of como esta. So it´s super hard to understand. 

     The first two days were kind of rough because I was kinda sick with a cold, super tired, could barely understand anything people were saying, including my companion...and we walk like 5 or 7 miles a day so it was  tough. But I fasted and prayed for a better attitude and for better understanding, and it really helped! It was cool. It´s still hard because I want to teach people and help people, but I can´t speak the language and I want to speak the language and I kind of can, but it´s slow and in an American accent and people can't really understand me and I can't understand them... so it´s kind of frustrating, but I just need to be patient. So that´s the last week in a nutshell.

     Today until 6:00 p.m. we get to rest and do whatever we need to do like laundry and stuff, but I do believe we are going to the center of Ciudad de Este which is the second largest black market city in the world behind Hong Kong. So that should be fun! It´s super different here. Everyone lives in shacks and there are tonnnnnss of stray dogs and cats and lots of chickens that are just walking around. And everyone that has a vehicle pretty much owns a motorcycle because cars are expensive and the the roads aren't too big and a lot of the side roads are just rocks with dirt over them, super bumpy, and not that fun to walk on, but its a cool experience! And I'm sure I will learn to like it. But the food is also pretty good... interesting but I'm not really sure what I'm eating usually. I know I ate some roots from a tree yesterday, and there is a lot of meat and rice. But the people here are super nice and humble and feed us a lot, so it´s cool.

     Anyway, I live above a little store in a little three room apartment, all tile. The bathroom smells interesting and the shower is just kind of in the corner. There´s no shower area; it's just there with a drain in the middle of the room. So that was pretty weird showering like that for the first time; and the toilet splashes up onto the floor sometimes... maybe that´s why it smells bad. I'll just say that I always wear shoes, always.

     But anyway, it´s a lot of fun! It sounds weird and like it kind of sucks and sometimes it is hard, but it´s totally worth it and and it´s a cool experience; and knowing that I´m helping (mostly my companion right now because i can't say anything) people come unto Christ and develop their faith by sharing the Gospel of Jesus Chirst with them and showing them how it can help them in their lives is pretty cool. And if it wasn´t true and it didn't help people, and if the gospel was just a make believe story, I wouldn't be here. But I know it´s true and that Jesus Chirst lives and is our Savior and through him our life can be fantastic! So, I hope everyone is doing well and getting adjusted to school and college and all that good stuff. Talk to you soon!
Nos vemos!

Elder Ben Roberts

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The new arrivals with President and Sister LaPierre

With President and Sister LaPierre at the Posadas, Argentina
Mission Home.

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