Sunday, January 24, 2016

DOGS! (Week 9)

So this week was super hot. Like what the heck??? Hot!! But… you know…. What’s preaching without a little dehydration, right?  There’s a TON of dogs here by the way. And they absolutely hate us missionaries!!! Dogs are constantly running at us and barking.  The other day I had to rip off my bag and start swinging it around to keep the dog’s away, haha,  super funny stuff. All the local kids just stand there and laugh at us as we try to kick dogs away from us. I wish I could get a picture of it. Oh, that reminds me, my camera isn’t uploading my pictures today for some reason. This is probably a blessing because I let Elder Schoonover cut my hair….and it is…. something!  My mom would have a heart attack if she saw a picture. 

  Also, I gave my first blessing this week and it was in Spanish too! double score. 

My comp was super paranoid about getting robbed again so we always had to look as “non- American” as possible. This was slightly harder for me, considering I’m taller than everyone here, have skin as white as snow, and light colored hair, but I did my best! 

 I had an encounter with a drunk guy  that was interesting. He really liked us, at least it seemed like he did (I still can’t understand most of what people are saying. Especially when they’re saying it while drunk). Anyway he talked to us for a while and the climax of the encounter was when he gave me a couple of loving slaps in the face.

 Oh yah, I had to play the piano in church yesterday, so that was super traumatizing! Luckily it wasn’t an organ or that would have been something else entirely. 

One thing I love here though is that you can find a lot of cheap knock offs. I found beats pill for 20 bucks the other day and they were selling Rolex watches for 30 bucks by the mission home.  Also they have delivery ice cream here and it is the greatest thing I have ever been the recipient of! 

So, we did divisions again this week and elder schoonover accidentally insulted one of the inactive ladies in my area hahaha. He felt super bad about it but I felt like she needed it. Plus, she hates him now and not me so I’m still allowed to go over and teach her. All he did was read a scripture to her that said she needed to come to church, but apparently that was all she needed to kick us out.

My spiritual thought is that you should always stay strong and always have a good attitude, even when it makes no sense that you should be happy. Jesus was never to tired to do good, so we shouldn’t be either. Just be happier, it makes hard days go faster. See you when I see you.

Elder Ren porter

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Division Splits (week 8)

This week went by super fast. We met a lot of cool people. Some really kapo people (kapo means "super awesome"). One guy we found read the Book of Mormon and he now knows that..........evangelicalism is false, which was not our real goal but we will take what we can get. We also met this really nice kid, he's a kapo too. He came to church yesterday and seemed to really like it. We also went on divisions this week. Divisions are where you switch companions for a day and proselyte in your area or the other elder's area. So on friday we divided up and I went with elder oaks (who has been here as long as me)! We stayed in my area so I had to kind of be the leader, but since it's only my second week here, it was like the blind leading the blind as we walked around in this foreign country, which I still don't really know, using a language that neither of us can really speak or understand. I was very scared and nervous about  this experience unfortunately, so I decided to say a prayer which did end up helping with my faithlessness. So elder oaks and I walked a lot that day. We prayed a lot that day too because we had no idea what to do and I did not want to make the decisions about where we should go, but in the end I did have to make most of the decisions because we were in my area! Thank goodness God helped us or else that would have been a really wasted day. Towards the end of the day we saw a man peeing on a wall in public, so that was interesting. And some members tried to rob us right around the time of day we saw the peeing man. It took us a good while to realize it was a joke haha. Actually, Elder oaks was able to figure out that the members were trying to fake "rob" us but I just thought they were asking for directions. If I ever got robbed for real, I think I would end up telling them a joke or something. One of the scariest points of the day was when I got a call on the phone right before we were going to give a lesson to an investigator, because I didn't know who was calling or what they wanted or how I was going to understand and talk to them. But, in an act of faith I answered and it was my real comp Elder Ortolano (I sighed so hard it made the investigator laugh at me).  Unfortunately, I couldn't really understand what he was saying to me, even in english. I found out later that him and his "division comp" had just got robbed for REAL and were telling me but because I couldn't understand what he was saying, I just said "okay. good". And then hung up the phone. They told me later that that really confused them hahaha. They said some "pibes" (street thugs) (there's lots of kids here that just smoke and drink all day and annoy people. The older people hate them and call them pibes which is almost like "street rats" or something) were following them around and then they just came up from behind and grabbed them and held them up at knife point. My comp said one of them had a gun too. They took my comps bag and phone and the other elders bus card and then took both there watches. We had to go get a new bag for elder ortolano the next day at the office and they gave him a sick fanny pack. I want to get robbed now to so I can get one. Just joking mom (but not really). The funny thing is that because we didnt know they had been robbed, me and oaks were trying to call them all day and we were getting super mad that they weren't answering their phone. The other scary point was when we tried teaching a first lesson to this scary grandma who looked a little like ezma from the "emperors new groove" movie. 

the food here is fantastic, really unhealthy, stuff but totally worth it by the way. Also they give me grief here because I love honey and use it with everything here becuase its like the only flavoring I get, besides my beloved Tabasco sauce that I had to smuggle into the country. My mom bought me 400 little packets of Tabasco. They look like ketchup packets. Going two years without Tabasco was a deal breaker for me. They took up a big section of my suitcase, but it was worth it. Every time I whip out one of my packets I have to explain what it is because they don't have Tabasco sauce in Argentina. Of course my mission friends from America think I'm a freak, but I don't care!

Moving on, my spiritual thought for the week is this. This is based off of experiences I have had all this week. God cares deeply about each one of us and He knows perfectly how to help us. That being the case, me as a missionary am suppose to help these people come closer to Christ. And I'm suppose to do this with complete strangers. I know full well I am not capable of helping all these wonderful people here without Heavenly Fathers help. I am so grateful I have this opportunity to put my trust in my God and submit my will to His. All I want to do is let Him take the reins over the lesson and just help me to be His voice as I teach and say the things He wants these wonderful people to know. I had the opportunity many times this week to express the love He has for these people. And I was able to feel a mere fraction of that love He has for them and that "mere fraction" was more love than I have ever felt for anyone, ever. I have prayed in all earnestness and supplication for Heavenly Father to allow me to help some of the people I've met and I've been able to watch the spirit testify of Christ. Sometimes I think I'm to blessed. I love this work and this country.  I miss home a lot, but I'm so grateful to be here serving the Lord and His children. 

Elder Ren porter
Ren's email:
Ren's blog:
Also, my new favorite scripture is still Isaiah 49: 15-16

My pictures for the week. I can't take any outside because my comp says if I step outside with a camera, I'm basically asking to get robbed. 

This is the view from my apartment window.
My bedroom that I share with 3 other elders. I sleep on the top bunk (just like I did at home)
Our desk/work area
This is my bathroom. One thing everyone forgot to mention is that Argentinians don't use toilet paper, they use a bidet! Everyone keeps telling me I'll get used to it, but I won't! I hate it!

Villa Tesei, Argentina (week 7)

Hi mom! I'm doing awesome right now. I'm having a great time here. My area is called villa tesei. My comp is elder ortolano. He's a great trainer. He's from Brazil but lives in Canada now so he speaks Portuguese and English. When he speaks Spanish here he has an accent so people always ask him where he's from. It's a little bit scary here but I'm okay with it. I haven't been robbed yet but we have an area that could definitely be good for getting robbed. It is really hot here and I've been sweating a lot, but it really helps when you don't drink any water throughout the day. We pretty much have to rely on luck and the kindness of people to get water or soda. We get mostly soda though because we can't drink the tap water here. I try to drink more water but none is readily available. I have to make one bottle of water last for an entire day. We have water at the apartment but if we run out then we have to boil some of the tap water. But its all good. I pretty much only eat during lunch because we have no food at the apartment and I'm to tired when I get home to make anything. But the food is great here. They have very good fruit and soda. Anyway, it's hard but awesome! We ARE going shopping today though, so I'll get some food for the apartment.

The people here are really funny. Everyone is really nice. They always try talking to me but I don't understand them so I just smile and shrugg my shoulders and look at my comp. Then they say something like "he doesn't  understand?" and my comps like "yah". And then they just laugh. They call americans here gringos or yankee (but they pronounce it more like "shonky"). The spanish is hard of course. I can either, barely follow a conversation or not at all, but I've been told I can speak it well when I know what I'm supoose to say, so I guess that's good. I'm in a suburb like area most of the time. People ask me how tall I am every now and then and then they laugh when I tell them (I guess being tall is funny). Also, people are always asking me what spanish words are in english. Like how do you say "play ball" "kleets" "girlfriend" "best in the world" random stuff, haha. I tell them and they laugh (are you sensing a "laughing" trend?) And for some reason people are always using english words around me and then I laugh and try to get them to say more but they just look at me confused (this is my pathetic attempt to let them see what it feels like to be in my shoes, I cherish these moments).
There's actually one youth in the ward who is as tall as me. His name is alan. He's really cool. Yesterday we had a lesson with some columbians and they were having an uproarious time measuring themselves next to me. That was the lesson that some girl asked me how to say "girlfriend" in english (not at all subtle)! Me and elder ortolano got out there real quick.

So, this is my first area of my mission and it is.....something. yep! sure something. New sights, new sounds, and new smells. I almost got into a crash getting to my apartment on day one.  People here are very offensive drivers and if the bad tap water doesn't get me, it'll be a grandma in a volkswagon! Also, I think everyone takes the mufflers off their cars and adds train horns. And they really like driving at about the time that we go to bed. Did I mention it's very hot? But I like it here. Lots of people wear american shirts but they don't even know what it says on them or they just don't wear a shirt at all. People here always say the same chiste (joke) when they see my name. "Oh, elder porter, elder harry porter". I laugh at the joke every time though because that's usually the only part I understood in the entire five minutes they've been talking to me. So, yah, the language is hard, of course. It comes and goes based on the person I'm talking to. Which I'm actually kind of grateful for because I've been trying to be more humble since I first entered the mtc and having no ability to talk to people gives me the perfect opportunity to rely heavily on the assistance of Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. I know that relying on the spirit to help me speak is a test of faith and a witness doesn't come until after the trial of your faith. So I've been able to speak mas or menos because I just opened my mouth and spoke and I know God helped me at those times. 

On my way to the airport there was a train worker who came to the missionaries and shared some words of wisdom. He told us "that the Lord is with us wherever we go and that the church is true because if it wasn't then the missionaries would have destroyed it a long time ago". And that is as true, as it is hilarious. The first part especially is true. I was reading in Isaiah during personal study one time and I read Isaiah 49: 15-16. There is a part in verse 16 that I love. If I remember correctly it says "yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands".  I find it very comforting to read that personally,  because being out here in another country, living with four guys I've never met before, speaking a language that seems to change everyday and sharing personal testimony to people who seem all to willing to look at anything else but me, can be and has been,  tiring already and anxiety inducing. But I can't allow these thoughts and feelings to grow and become stronger because they will cause actions to occur, if circumstance allows; Selfish actions or lazy actions. So in a frantic scurry to motivate myself I was desperately searching for these motivating scriptures and I was blessed to find that scripture in Isaiah and it has helped tremendously.  Another thing that helps me is remembering something that president eyring said once. Which was that whenever he starts to feel tired or selfish, he remembers how Jesus Christ was never to tired to do good.  Even after the pain and agony He suffered in the garden of gethsemane and the great price He paid for it,  He still healed the ear of that man who came to take him away to be crucified. 

le amo este la Evangelio y yo estoy muy agradecido por los muchos oportunidades he tenido para enseƱar mis hermanos y mis hermanas. yo se que los escrituras son muy poderoso y que oraciones pueden contestado. love you guys.  hope i was understandable...

Elder Porter

My apartment
Me and the other elders who live in the apartment. My comp is right behind me (Elder Ortolano)
Me and my new comp (standing right next to me), then Elder Alexander and Elder Meyers (who was with me in the MTC)
Me at "the map" right before I left the MTC.