Hello! So, we’ve been anxiously awaiting word of his arrival in Argentina. I spoke with him last week, Monday, from the airport in Atlanta. Our connection was faint, but his soft, warm voice was so comforting. Wait ’til you read this and you’ll see why perhaps we’ve been a little worried! Truly, though, no news is good news, and I knew he was protected and having the adventure he’s been seeking! Wow! And, it looks like if you want to write to him, use this main address (Elder Steven Walker, Misión Argentina Resistencia, Entre Rios 435, 3500 Resistencia, Chaco ARGENTINA) or email him (firstname.lastname@example.org) and he’ll have to write you back via the pen…may take some time until you hear back. Thank you for your thoughts, prayers and support in every way. I’m so grateful and thrilled to be sharing this adventure with him and you! Hugs, Marsi 🙂
Buen Día família Walker,
Bienvenidos from Argentina. As always, my time is limited so I´ll try to get as much of my experiences in as I can.
I´m currently serving in Formosa, Argentina on the outskirts of the city. The poverty the people live in is amazing. Everything is made out of bricks, the roads in my area are all dirt, and after a crazy thunder/rain storm the other day, everything is mud. Cleanliness is not something we worry about here. I learned that quickly. It´s unneccessary stress if you do. But yeah, the roofs are all tin, houses have at most three rooms, and it´s all out way new and quite bizzarre. What´s even better is even though the houses are little more than shacks, tons of people have crazy soundsystems and giant TV´s. It doesn´t make sense, but that´s Argentina for you.
My experience so far has been rather interesting. I met my trainer Wednesday night, jumped on a double decker travel bus in Resistencia and took off for Formosa. On the bus, I learned that along with being trained, I would also be opening and white washing an area. That means we´re the first missionaries to hit this area. The people so far have been pretty receptive, but it´s been way hectic as of late so we haven´t had all the time to work that I wish we had.
What else is fun is I had my first baptism Saturday. Yamilda Escalante. Solid teenage girl. We´re baptizing her mom on Saturday between conference sessions. After that, we have one more baptism set for the ninth, two for the 16th, and 11 for the 23rd. It´s going to be a good month. We try to get a fecha (date) set with every person we contact and everyone we´ve hit has been, for the most part, willing to receive the invitation to be baptized. I feel sorry for other missionaries in other places who I´m sure would love to have at least one baptism. We have to have at least one a week. Mission goal.
The climate here is crazy. We´re talking +80 degrees with +90% humidity. The streets are lined with little things called sanjas – essentially little ditches of toxic water. There´s toads the size of my head that come out at night, mangy dogs absolutely everywhere, and chickens everywhere else. We get woken up a good hour and a half early everyday by the hundreds of roosters that go off in unison. I´ve already lost count of my mosquitoe bites, experienced the joy of diarrhea, and learned that sweating incessantly is the way of life.
Our area´s out in the middle of Africa so we either walk, take the bus (the bus systems are awesome here and way cheap), or take remisses (taxis). Im´s loving it. Still wide-eyed at how different things are half the time, but loving it. No lie, people have empanadas for every meal, or at least as part of every meal. The Argentine way to cook is throw it in oil and call it good. What they do have here that doesn´t exist in the states is this like cake cookie called an Alfajor. Pure deliciousness.
First night we got here, and every night since as we still haven´t moved into our own place, we´ve been sleeping at our zone leaders pencion. One of the companionships there has an Elder named Elder Holden. Remembering that Vicky Holden had told me to look out for an Elder Holden, I asked him about the relation and he confirmed it. I am currently living with Someone who is essentially a relative. Love it.
Every area has it´s dangerous parts, and I´ve been lucky enough to learn where those are. Yesterday while trying to get to know our area a bit better, we were walking through an open field and I got shot by a marble. No idea where it came from, but as we continued, I saw a few more fall around us. The mental note has been taken to avoid that area.
Small recap of the travel out here:
Left Salt lake at 11am, got to Atlanta 5pm. Waited in Atlanta till midnight to board our plane to Buenos Aires because the power in the Buenos Aires airport was out and they had no radar. Arrived in Buenos Aires around 11am last Tuesday, six hours late, and the only instructions we had to follow were we were supposed to find some guy named Alberto and he would take care of the rest of our travel from there. After two days of no sleep because there´s just simply no way I can sleep on a plane, we´re wandering around the Buenos Aires airport looking for Alberto. Some guy finally runs up, grabs one of our Elders and tells him to go stand in a corner and wait. Of course we´re a bit new to the whole spanish thing so it took a while for that message to be understood by any of us. Anyways, we´re eventually directed outside, told to throw our bags on some bus, give our passports to the guy we assume to be Alberto, and wait again. Not knowing what to do other than that, we followed the instructions we were given, threw our bags on the bus, and waved goodbye to them. A few minutes later, we were directed to jump on some other bus…so we did. The whole time we have no idea where we are, where we´re going, how we´re getting there, when we´re going to get to our respective parts of the mission, so forth. Finally we stop and are told to get off the bus at a domestic airport. The place was crazy. Oh, by the way, we came to find that our bags were already waiting for us in the domestic airport. Anyways, the place was crazy. Seriously. There was no room to move anywhere and we had a group of 20 people with two suitcases each supposed to navigate through the masses. Long story short, after being denied a ticket because my bags are too heavy, the guy taking care of us at this point worked wsome magic, got us tickets, and we proceeded to wait another few hours before finally flying to Resistencia on some plane barely fit to fly. Gotta love the adventure. I was honestly really too tired to care what was going on, sick of being in the same sweaty suit for 50+ hours, and ready for some water and sleep. That didn´t come till way later, but whatever the case, I´m in Argentina, I´m safe, and ready to work.
As far as I know, I get to watch all the sessions of conference this weekend. Now, whether I get to listen to them in English or not, I´m not sure, but we will find out. As I´m essentially the only person who really doesn´t understand Spanish all that great yet, I don´t believe they´ll make an exception for me.
Something else comical I´ve come to recognize is about 80% of the music here is American music. While typing this, I´ve heard some Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Enrique Iglesias (in english), and am currently listening to the song that goes ….I´m a material girl in a material world…. etc. I don´t know where the quotation marks are on this keyboard. It´s pretty different than and English keyboard.
A few matters of business, I can only receive four packages my entire mission – I´ll let you know if there´s anything I need. As for emailing, I can only email family. To any friends that may read this, Corey, Shane, I can´t email missionaries so just send emails to my mom at email@example.com and she´ll get it to me. Mom, you can still post my emails for everyone.
I love you all. This is going to be the adventure of a lifetime. It´s way tough, we have to fight off geckos in the apartments (if you can even call them apartments), and all other sorts of fun business. If there´s anything I can do for you, let me know.
Elder Steven Reid Walker