Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Arcor- The Real Wonka Factory

If you're a fan of bin candy, root beer barrels or any number of other sweet treats you may be interested to know that many of your favorites are likely made in Argentina. There is a little town that was in the Cordoba mission when I was there called Arroyito. It's kind of a backwater place except for the gigantic candy factory. The factory is owned Arcor, a huge multinational candy company that started right there. Arcor actually stands for Arroyito Cordoba. They make a ton of gummi candies, fizzy candies, and fruit flavored hard candies. Sometimes they have different names for distribution purposes, but if you're lucky you will find wrappers from time to time that carry the Arcor logo.

When Upon Life's Billows Cartoon

Here is another fun piece by Elder Gutierrez. This one shows some of the trials and blessings of tracting as set to the words of "Count Your Blessings". It is the Spanish version of the hymn, I will translate it a bit more literally, but it would be just as funny to the English words.

"When you are surrounded by pains and strifes..."
Angry Man- "I'm Catholic!"
"When temptation roar with fury..."
Attractive Girl- "Come on in, do you want to read me the bible?"
"See your blessings, count them and you will see..."
Woman- "I made Milanesas!"
Missionaries- "Again?"
"How many blessings from Jesus you have."
Friendly man- "Come in!"

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Teaching as a Companionship Cartoon

This is another cartoon by Carlos Gutierrez. I loved his witty ways to teach us how to be better missionaries. He is a native of Chile, but his English got really good, good enough to use plays on words. This cartoon is all about sharing the teaching and not leaving your companion out in the cold.

Effective Tracking Cartoon

This was a cartoon drawn by one of my mission buddies, Carlos Gutierrez. When he was a zone leader he would draw awesome cartoons for us, mostly in a sort of anime style, to illustrate points about being a missionary. This one is all about effective planning. I will put a translation below:

Chapter 8 Predicad Mi Evangelio (Preach My Gospel).
Effective planning
- Plan appointments and contacts by sector
-Do not enter areas you are unsure about (I think this meant in reference to safety)
-Less walking, more talking.

The sister missionary is saying, "I think it's on the other side of the dunes".

The sign points to a place called "Enter if you wish" which is a parody of the name of a town called "Sal si Puedes" or "Get Out if You Can".

I speak Castellano!

If you already have your mission call you may have heard about the unusual Spanish that they speak in Argentina. It's no exaggeration, they really do speak a very different type of Spanish, but it is really quite beautiful in some parts of Argentina. This Spanish is referred to as "Castellano" or Castillian Spanish. It's supposed to more pure (it's really not, they just like to say it is). But this graphic down below sums up the Argentine attitude toward they language pretty well. It says "I don't speak Spanish, I speak Castellano!"

Monday, November 26, 2012

Missionary Art- Map of Cordoba

Near the end of my mission I saw a guy in my mission who had drawn a map of Cordoba that was in the style of Lord of the Rings. I loved it, so I decided to draw one myself, and show on it the different areas that I had served. If you look closely you will see the different areas I served in within the province of Cordoba.

Advice I Wish I'd Gotten

There is a little yellow card they give out at the MTC for Spanish speakers. I suppose other languages have something similar. It has a bunch of useful tools on it for learning the language. Find someone who served a mission speaking the language you are going to learn, and see if you can borrow or make a copy of that card, then memorize that card. You might not understand what it all means, but when it clicks for you, you'll be leaps and bounds ahead on learning that language.

If you are in a ghetto area and a shady looking group of guys calls you over, trust me they don't want to hear the gospel. But they might want your watch.

Study the scriptures in depth. A lot of missionaries have this sort of contest with themselves to see how many times they can read the Book of Mormon through as a missionary. I finished it only 2 or maybe 3 times. In my first year as a missionary I only read it through once. Instead of rushing through I took copious notes, studied meanings, tracked cross references etc...I was able to fill 3 study journals as a missionary, and they have been a huge blessing to me ever since. God will reward you with more learning the deeper you dive, and the more you record of the revelation you recieve.

Develop your talents wherever possible. You are actually smarter and more capable as a missionary than you have ever been before. Your capabilities and capacities are expanded because you carry more of the spirit with you and it will amplify your abilities. Improve your talents, and try to use them in ways that will benefit the work and you will see amazing things happen.

Take a nice camera, a digital one if there are going to be cyber cafe's or other places to download your pics. Take a nice camera, don't carry it everywhere with you.

Take a bazillion pictures! You have no idea how much you will cherish those memories later. Even the dumbest things at the time can be so much fun later on.

I was prepared for a mission to be hard physically. I was not ready for it to be hard mentally. I thought I would be happy all the time, not a care in the world. The truth is the mission will push your emotional and mental limits just as much, if not more than your phsyical limits. Be prepared for that, and you will be fine.

Missionary Art- Jacob 5

As a missionary I discovered new levels to my drawing talents. I had never been anything too impressive as an artist, but I found myself getting better at it. On p-days, and at other random times I would sketch a bit here and there. This is one of my favorite pieces. It is a combination of the literal, and figurative inspired by Jacob 5.

Cordoba Argentina Mission

 My name is Brian, and I served in the MAC (Mision Argentina Cordoba). It was a great place that I loved to serve in. Argentina is a 3rd world country, so keep that in mind when I say this, but Cordoba, La Rioja and Catamarca (the 3 provinces in the mission when I was there) were pretty well to do as Argentina goes. They aren't very American in Argentina, so there aren't a lot of companies that you will see that you will be familiar with, but there are a few.

In several of my areas there was a Wal-Mart near enough to my area that we could go shop there on preparation day and get the occasional jar of peanut butter, or chips and salsa. 

If you didn't guess it from that last statement the folks in Cordoba aren't much for spicy food, so if you are headed down there expecting mexican type food, prepare to be surprised. The Argentine palate is fairly bland. But the foods they eat there are tasty, and most of them won't be big culture shocks for you. They eat lots of pasta, mashed potatoes and other simple solid foods like that. Empanadas were my favorite. They are basically a turnover with tasty fillings. They have a unique kind in Cordoba called Arabes that are delicious.  There is also my second favorite, milanesa, which is similar to a chicken fried steak, but way more delicious.

 Here is a look at a farily typical street on the outskits of Cordoba capital. This was my first area, and it was very poor. As you can see it's dirt roads, and small, humble brick houses. They do have electricity anywhere you go, which is nice, but in the more ghetto areas such as this one most of the electicy is being stolen.

 You'll see loose wires just randomly hanging off of the main powerlines. After being in the ghetto's long enough you start to wonder how anyone makes money off of electricy in Cordoba. You can see here a car in a driveway. They do have lots of cars in Cordoba, although many of the people that own them in areas like this are taxi drivers or Remis drivers. (A Remis is a kind of taxi, but you are supposed to call ahead, and not flag them down.)

You will have indoor plumbing everywhere you go, but usually you won't have access to a washer and dryer. In my first area I had to wash all my clothes in a basin in the yard. Occasionally there are members who are willing to do your wash for a small fee, and that's nice, but otherwise you mostly end up washing by hand.

Here are a couple of pictures of a more well to do neighborhood that I served in. The way it tends to work is that an area of the city is "settled" by people who just build slums there. Houses that are shoddily built, dirt roads, and only stolen electricity. The people who started out living there slowly improve their houses, add finer touches, and
 over the course of years the slum will get   
 nicer and nicer until the city officially recognizes it and comes in and gives them
proper roads etc...

This neighborhood had probably emerged from being a slum 5-10 years before I served there. You can see the houses are nicer, and there are even road signs and a couple of two story houses. This area was nice because it was safe, had a nice church building and a decent sized ward. But there was an area about 2 miles that was part of this area that had not "emerged" yet. It was still a dangerous slum.

Here you can see a picture from the back door of my apartment (pension) in this area. As you can see, and might have seen in the other pictures, there are odd tanks on top of the houses. These are water tanks. They store water for drinking, bathing etc...theoretically the water that comes out should be fine, but the problem is, especially in poorer areas, they often don't have tops on them. You don't want to think about what might be in
there. So it's best not to drink the water. On the plus side all of your apartments will have filters, so you can drink and use the water there just fine.

You  may have heard that Argentina is very European. There are a lot of very European things that you will see. This for instance is a little plaza in La Rioja. You will also see cathedrals and big churches all over the place. There is also the central "Plaza de San Martin" which is the biggest shopping area/tourist attraction in the capital city of Cordoba. It is a really fun place that is very European in its feel, and there is a lot of awesome old architecture there that is totally worth checking out on a p-day.

There is so much more to say, but I am sure it will come in future posts, so I will finish for now. Cordoba is a great place with wonderful people. Even the people who don't want to talk to you tend to be a lot nicer than Americans would be in the same situation. Remember that God loves each of them as you serve them. Stay upbeat, and appreciate the beauties that Argentina has to offer while you are there. I know that this is a true work and that God will bless you as you give your whole self to his service. If you wish to as me any questions about Argentina or missionary work please feel free to leave a comment on this post with your question and I will get back to you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Royal Army: Mission Statement

There is an urgency to missionary work in these last days like we have never seen before. There is also a need for missionaries who are truly prepared to teach the people of the world. The church has ramped up its program of spiritual preparation to new heights to make sure missionaries are prepared to teach the doctrine, however there are so many other facets of the work that many missionaries are not prepared for. There are language barriers, culture barriers, and a million tips and tricks that can save a prepared missionary headaches and heartaches. This website is dedicated to helping prepare missionaries in this way with advice from missions all over the world, advice specific in many cases to a certain mission or area. If you or a loved one is preparing for a mission please browse around, pick the brains of returned missionaries from all over and above all prepare for a whole new kind of mission preparation experience!