Monday, September 1, 2014

First Week in Buenos Aires!

Hola friends and family!

 Si, after 6 months of waiting I am in Buenos Aires Norte, serving the Argentine people. I know everyone says that serving a mission is hard, but I didn´t really understand what that meant until I got here. Argentina is an entirely different world, with different customs, foods, language, and way of life. I think I can safely say I´ve experienced culture shock coming here. However, Argentina is a wonderful place, and I´ve already enjoyed being here. I´m serving in Parque Patricios right now, which is in the city.

(Mallory was unable to get the computer to upload her photos today so I have added stock photos of Parque Patricios from the internet of things she mentioned and the area there.)

 It´s a lot like New York in some respects. Looks of taxis, buses, people, and shops. Everything, clearly, is in Spanish, and although I learned Spanish for 6 weeks in the CCM I´m nowhere near fluent. Everyone who has heard me speak says that I speak very well, which I think is kind and somewhat generous. I can speak well enough to get my point across and bear my testimony about the gospel and about Christ, and that´s all for now. My ability to speak actually isn´t the concern: it´s understanding Argentine Spanish! Some accents are almost impossible for me to understand, while others I can understand good portions. Finding the courage to open my mouth and speak to strangers in the street in Spanish is also challenging for me. I´m not always the most outgoing person in English, but in a different country and different language I can sometimes be quite shy, although I´m working through that.

 There´s an interesting beauty and lure to the city. Some of the streets are paved like the ones back home, which others are cobble with tuffs of grass popping through. The buildings all have one thing in common: graffiti. There is no lack of human expression here. Thankfully I don´t know any cuss words or bad words in Spanish, so whatever is written I can´t understand:) The joys of being naiive;) The sidewalks are a mix of concrete and different styles of tile. In some places the tile is pretty badly broken and we have to work around it a little bit, while at other times the tiles move up when you step onto them. Buenos Aires always smells like a mix of frying food, smoke, and dog poop. Which I know, doesn´t sound terribly appealing, and at times isn´t, but it´s not too distracting.

My new companion is Hermana Megan Arnsten. She´s been on her mission for 15 months and sounds like a native, although she´s from Arizona and speaks perfect English. She´s been my lifeline as we go around the city, as I never have any idea where we are, when to get on or off the bus, or how to read any of the signs. Needless to say, I stick pretty close.

Speaking of buses, my first bus ride I have to admit I was a little terrified. Here people drive as though there isn´t a speed limit, and personally I don´t think there is one. If there is I haven´t seen signs of people knowing what it is, or an actual sign for that matter. People frequently weave around each other, and are constantly on each other´s tails as they use their horns. Meanwhile people are walking in front of and around and behind these racing cars and buses, texting and listening to music and somehow not getting ran over.  Perhaps this is just big-city life, but I wouldn´t know. It´s definitely new to me.

I live way up in an apartment overlooking the city. It already kind of feels a little like home, and I certainly love the time when I get to go to bed and curl up with my pillow pet Ammie. Best decision ever, bringing him along.
(Example of an apartment bldg. in Parque Patricios)  Mallory has been here and says it is called Torres.

Now, teaching here is nothing like teaching in the CCM. I don`t think we´ve had a sit-down, in the house lesson yet with an investigator. Very often it´s standing in their doorway, or standing in front of the house as they talk to us through the bars of their door. The lessons are always very quick and I don´t contribute a lot yet, as I really don´t understand a lot of what´s being said yet. I did bear my testimony in the street to a man, Hugo, who we ended up giving a Book of Mormon too. Since coming here it´s amazing how much closer I feel to my Father in heaven. I have been so humbled since coming here. I feel like a young child clinging to their parent´s hand. Not knowing the language, how to get anywhere, not having any close friends or basic knowledge of the world. Through it all, Christ has been so patient with me, holding my hand when a wave of homesickness hits and assuring me that I will be alright. The veil between myself and heaven feels very thin at these times, and anytime I bear my testimony I cry. I´m not a cryer, but here I can´t help it. I want so badly to share what I know, but am so limited in my ability to do so right now.

The members here are very loving and kind, although I don´t really understand what they´re saying, which kind of bugs some of them. In Argentina all the women greet you by giving you a hug and a kiss on the cheek. The guys give you a handshake or a variation of one. Something I´ve really liked is how we almost always have a member present when we teach a lesson. One of our most frequent members to come with us is Guillermo. He´s an RM and quite the sass at times.

My journey to Argentina itself was an adventure. On my last day in America (at least for a while), we got up at 4:30, as the bus came at 6. We frantically finished packing, throwing out the trash, cleaning, and getting our luggage down three flights of stairs down to the chapel where the bus would be. We then checked the weight of our luggage one more time. A white van then came, in which we loaded up our suitcases before boarding a bus and heading to the frontrunner, which certainly brought back memories of college. From there we went to the airport, where I nervously handed the man my luggage for him to weigh. 49 pounds and 50! Talk about close. We then grabbed some food and flew to Georgia, where we went in search of payphones. That itself was a mess. My first call wasn´t terribly successful, and frustrating, as I could barely hear my family on the other end of the line. 
However, Hermana Downs and I took the little subway to terminal C and found some payphones that worked. We then ran back to terminal F, where we boarded our international flight. The plane was huge! 2 seats on the left, 3 seats in the middle, and 2 on the right. The entire plane was mostly missionaries. 70 of us in total heading to Argentina. Sitting right behind Hermana Downs and myself was a lady and her two little boys. We ended up talking to her about the gospel and gave her a Book of Mormon with our testimonies inside of it. Talk about getting down to business! The flight went from 8 at night to 8 the next morning, or around that, and I tried to sleep, although I really wasn´t successful. Then we went through customs, got our luggage, and were greeted by President and Hermana Ayres! How nice it was to see Americans who spoke our language and knew their way around! They took us by the temple, the Casa Rosada (the Argentine version of the White House, but pink), and a beautiful Catholic cathedral. Then it was off to the mission home. There I got my new companion and said goodbye to three of my very best friends: Hermana Johnson, Downs, and Hawkins. I usually do ok during goodbyes, but I couldn´t help but be emotional. So much was new and everything that I was used to was gone or waving goodbye. One of the Hermanas was getting ready to leave to return to the states and was crying too. She said it was harder on her end, as she loved the people and didn´t want to leave them. Then we were literally off to put my bags in the apartment and go off and teach. The first day was very long and emotionally rough, and I couldn´t wait to take a shower and go to bed.

Life here is very different, and it´s going to take time for me to feel comfortable here, but know that I love you all and prayers would be much appreciated.
Much love,
Hermana Mallory Dickson

(I had asked Mallory some questions which she answered in her emails to me.)
(What is the bathroom like there?)  There are 2 toilets.  I use the one that looks like the kind we have there, there is also one that looks like a sink, I have not used that one.  (probably a bidet)
(Is it cold there?)  It was cold when I arrived and then warmed up, now it's cold again.  Don't worry they gave me blankets.  It is starting to be Spring here!

1 comment:

  1. Love that account. Pretty awesome experience, appreciate the photos and love of missionary work!