Well I am happy to say that I am finally back in Neuquén! We just finished the last interview meeting here in the Neuquén West zone a couple of hours ago. We have been traveling for the last twelve days and we’ll be staying here for the weekend before I head out with the rest of the Comodoro office staff Tuesday night. But before we get to that, I should probably ‘splain what’s been happening since I last wrote.
So. Wrote my first letter after the craziness with the new missionaries. Sunday was nice and normal and we went to church here in Belgrano ward. Met a couple of youth that are about to go on missions and had the only lunch that I’ll end up having with a member here in Neuquén. That afternoon we met back up in the office to start planning what we would be teaching in the interview meetings. It took the rest of the day. President came over to the office to tell us that we would have a few more hours on Monday so we went home and went to bed.
That Monday started at our favorite place in Neuquén: The airport! Marta Veron, the travel coordinator for our mission came down to have a meeting with the assistants and the secretaries for both the Neuquén and Comodoro missions. She gave us a three hour presentation on Argentina Visas for missionaries, what they are, how to get them, etc. The best part was when she told us that the Buenos Aires office approved a plan that will bring all visa waiters into the country by the end of August, and possibly even sooner. Happy day! That should bring the Neuquén mission up to 200 and the Comodoro mission to 140 missionaries in the next two months. Success. 🙂 Aside from the business side of the visit, Marta just happens to be the funniest porteña (woman from Buenos Aires) I have ever met. It’s thanks to amazing church employees like her that missionaries make it here to the field.
And then there was Tuesday. In the morning we had our first Mission Leadership Council. This was the first time that our sister training leaders and Hermana Lovell participated with the zone leaders. It was a bit of work to get the chapel all ready for the meeting and lunch for 28 missionaries with everyone, but with all of the practice with the new missionaries and trainers we did just fine. (I just realized that a lot of the things that are exciting in my letters lately sound boring like meetings and visas. But to a missionary I promise they’re a bit more intriguing) Lots of exciting things to share. A tad bit emotional because that was when the goodbyes started. It’s so weird that the next leadership meeting is in a week and a half and will be with the new mission. Time flies. It’s weird to see how many missionaries have come and gone as leaders lately.
So Tuesday night will explain part of why I haven’t written for a while. We finished the meeting and headed back to the office to finish planning the interview training. That went without a hitch. Now the fun part came when at 8:50 Elder Heaps and I realized that our bus tickets to Trelew that night were for 9:15 and not for 10:15 with the rest of the zone leaders. So guess who jumped in the van at 8:51 to speed off to the bus terminal. What was I doing at 8:49? Writing an email home… oops. And thus began my first mission tour.
Wednesday morning we made it to Trelew our first stop on the interview tour. Wednesday we had a lunch appointment with Pte. Rearte the stake president of the Trelew North stake in Gaiman a small town just outside of Trelew. Elder Heaps served there last year and so it was fun meeting some of the members that he knew. Pte. Lovell wanted us to meet with Pte. Rearte because he was the only stake president that I hadn’t met up until then. After lunch I went on exchanges with the missionaries out in Gaiman. Who was my companion? Elder McAllister. 🙂 And there was much rejoicing. He has grown a ton in the last six months. He just barely got to Gaiman this transfer so we went out and found some new investigators. It was so nice to have the day and go to work instead of being inside all day. Really going to need to balance my time well so I can do that more often. 🙂
Thursday we started interviews with both of the Trelew zones. Long day in the chapel. We started at 9:00 paused at1:00 for lunch and finished up at 7:00. And! Right as we were packing up the truck getting ready to leave, Hno Paredes pulled into the office that is in the same chapel. For those who don’t remember, Hno. Paredes was my ward mission leader back in Comodoro. So we took a photo with him, Elder McAllister, and I. You gotta love random reunions.
Friday morning was a fun and early start as well. We had to get on the road at 7:00 am so that we could get to Comodoro in time for our appointment to stop by the new mission office and mission home. Check out Hna Lovell’s blog for the photos. The sign was just barely put up saying ”Misión Argentina Comodoro” and that made the upcoming change a bit more real. The new office is huge and so nice! It’s in a chapel and is only a few blocks from where my new pensión is. After checking out the office we headed over to the mission home. It’s quite the quirky home for being in Argentina. It’s like a huge brick barn house. It’s pretty small compared to the Neuquén home. But being that we have the office in the chapel with plenty of meeting space, we probably won’t be needing to have the missionaries go over to the house very often. They still had a lot of refurbishing work to do, but they should be able to finish by the arrival date on the 28th.
After the tours we had interviews in Comodoro. The entire zone is abuzz with the new mission opening. All the members are pretty much the same in the stake. So much work to do, so little time! It’s crazy to see how big the Comodoro zone has gotten in the last couple transfers, and now with the addition of six more office elders it’s going to get even better. There’s even Hermanas in the zone for the first time in 10 years!!!
Friday night after more interviews we headed over to Caleta Olivia!!! Yeah…I was mildly happy to go back so soon. Jenny the landlady of the zone leader’s pension made pizza and soup when she heard that I was staying the night. Oh how I miss Caleta. Elder Smith and I spent the evening laughing off all of the crazy things that happened in our short six weeks together. Saturday morning we had the interviews in Caleta and for the lunch the Relief Society pulled out all the stops to give us the best lunch ever! We had beef canelones. Think of tacos but with a pancake instead of a tortilla. They’re really good. After that Elder Wagstaff and I headed back up to Comodoro for the rest of the weekend. Back in the day when Elder Wagstaff and I first made it to Argentina, he was in the Kilometers ward in Comodoro, which happens to be where my new area is. So we surprised the ward by showing up Sunday morning for church. I am so excited for that ward! They are pretty excited to have Pte. Rogers in the ward as well. Right before sacrament meeting started, a high council member that I met last year called me over to ask if I could give a 10 minute talk on missionary work. Hooray for improv! After sacrament meeting we ran into a couple that Elder Wagstaff found and taught last year named Marta and Jorge. They invited us over to have lunch after church so that we could also meet an investigator that they are helping! This ward. Is going to be great. We spent the rest of the day going and meeting a few members and going by converts and investigators of Elder Wagstaff. Guess who is excited to get down to Comodoro!!!
Well the travelling started again Monday morning, and this was the part that I was most excited for. Why? Becauseon Monday we headed to the mountains! We made the seven hour drive to Esquel and I couldn’t have been happier to see mountains again! It was so beautiful! Everyone talks about the mountains, but I finally got so see them!!!! So Dad, you remember how you told me that you knew Elder Asbell from high school? Yeah ran into them! He’s serving as the branch president in the Trevelin branch right outside of Esquel. Monday night it SNOWED!!!!! It dropped two inches down in the valley floor and dumped tons on the mountains. Yup. Took tons of pictures. The snow made it really fun to drive from Esquel to El Bolson. We saw a ton of sheep on the way over. Apparently they group together during storms and it makes them really easy to spot.
So we had interviews in El Bolson on Tuesday and headed to Bariloche for interviews on Wednesday. Then was the real road trip treat that afternoon. The only bus that would take us from Bariloche to Zapala on time went through the 7 Lakes Route. It’s a dirt road that runs by 7 lakes that are surrounded by the Andes mountains. Pretty much the best looking sights I’ve seen in my year and a half in the Patagonia. Sadly, my camera was dead. So I need to grab photos from Elder Heaps. Memo to me…
And then we had interviews Thursday in Zapala and Friday with Neuquen and today we finished up with Neuquen Oeste. Oh yeah forgot about interviews in Roca yesterday. Roca 1st ward had an activity that ended right when we were finishing up interviews! So I got to see and say one last goodbye to all of the members that are in that amazing ward!!!! Flaco and Mamá were even there! So yeah…Interview tour. It was amazing. I couldn’t be happier. I was able to say goodbye to everyone that I won’t see because of the mission split.
So here I am back in the office, a few thousand kilometers later. My schedule the next few days is as follows: Tuesday night we head out to Comodoro. Wednesday morning we get there and we’re going straight to the office to start working. My companion Elder Martinez will fly in from Buenos Aires that afternoon and we’ll start getting the office opened up. This next Friday is when Pte. and Hna. Rogers fly in to the mission. So there’s a lot to do this week and I’m not really excited to say goodbye to my comps here and less Pte. and Hna Lovell.
Well that’s about it. We’re going to go and run some errands before calling it a night and heading home. I am loving the mission. It’s such a great blessing to be working with the missionaries and helping them be successful in their areas. In the interviews we focused on the doctrine of the Atonement as relates to Baptism and the Sacrament. Our missionaries are super awesome here in the mission. It’s not the funnest thing having to say goodbye to so many people, but it’s time for some huge growth down south. This week is going to be INSANE. But luckily, I like insane. It makes for the best of stories. Thanks again for all the prayers and the letters. I’m the luckiest most blessed missionary alive. I’ll be checking in again on Saturday from the new mission office in Comodoro! Until then!!!!