Thursday, September 26, 2013

Buen Dia Todos!!
This week has just flown by! Im so glad to hear how everything is going back home. One of the CCM Presidency members teaches a lesson here every sunday (his real job in sud america is head of the FBI in this area) and he told us about the BYU-Utah game. He was a little disappointed that he stayed up until 3am watching it and it was terrible. Personally, I just shrugged, typical BYU football.
Its hard to believe this has been one month! We feel like we have been here forever, but it really isnt that long at all. It was super hard to see the last transfer of Latinos leave because we were hear for two weeks when they got here, then they left, and we still have two weeks to go. But we are starting to get the new group today and there are fifteen North Americans, which we are super pumped about. These are the first new ones since our group. Someone that will hopefully understand us because all the Latins think we are crazy. En serio. My district is super fun, but it is hard to be DL sometimes because there are people that want different things and I have to be the middle man that balances the two wants and then try to make the most people happy.  I know the Lord only calls us to do what we are able, and wants us to succeed.
I hope I didn't make last weeks proselyting sound too bad because this week was even crazier! We were in the same exact area, but the weather took us for a loop. It was nice all morning I just wore a long sleeved white shirt. It was nice until about two hours in and it starting raining. Not as hard as it usually does but it sure got us soaked. With three hours to go. We were able to have a solid conversation with one guy before the rain, so once the rain came no one was outside. It was freezing and I couldn't believe I didn't bring anything. We had one other real conversation the whole time. Simpson (my companion) and I were jumping from dry spot to dry spot, and while we were getting a break underneath a balcony a man came out to his gate to the house next to us and I started talking with him. He was pretty old but I was having just a good conversation about the weather and how he thinks we were crazy without umbrellas. Then he saw my name tag and he went crazy about I have no right to tell him to repent because we all need to repent and I am just a boy. Its frustrating to have someones attitude flip that fast. The most frustrating part is knowing that I could walk up to anyone in any situation and have a good conversation in English, but I'm not very confident in my spanish yet, so I have a hard time connecting to the people. That's why we are trying now though. This Saturday will be our last day proselyting because next week is general conference! Never been so excited in my life!
I love my district and have some friends I hope to keep forever. We are all really different and come from different backgrounds.  It is a super wierd mix but we get along like family.
Love you all and hope all is going well!
Elder Degn

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Zach with his awesome district!

Hey there kiddos! So glad to hear that everything is going so well back in Utah! I feel like time is flying down here. We are halfway done with the CCM! But the group of new latinos leave in a week, so its a little tough to see them come and go while we are still just chilling here. We are still learning and trying to stay on top of everything but the same shedule everyday is a little tough to work with after this long. Spanish wouldnt be so bad if it werent for GRAMMAR! It coming, just taking its time.
The weather here has been impossible to understand! After we had our super wierd last week, we dropped into a serious cold front for about five days. Freezing temperatures and rain. Its crazy, but the past few days have finally felt like spring. We went to the temple this morning and I love this temple! This was our first session in spanish and I was surprised to see how much I was able to understand. The rest of p-day is just chilling with the district. Our district gets along so well, its awesome. different personalities, but we each fill a perfect role. It really is one of the strangest mixes of people ever, but we just end up laughing all the time. There has been a couple of times that we are all crying and trying to breathe because we have been laughing so hard. I love it. Also, I was talking to an Elder Ence, from ol´ Idaho Falls. He loves the Pattersons and spoke very highly of Tyler. Great kid. His group only has one week left.
Is it a bad thing when I get the most homesick during meals? Almost half of the time we have some sort of stewed meat and beans and corn and other stuff over rice or beans. And I feel like im right back at home. Except Im not drinking Coke with it. Whenever the cook hands me my meal I almost say, ¨Thanks Pop.¨ It is exactly like something he makes. But the main meal is never enough so I get a salad from the salad bar and smother it in dressing because their vegetables taste terrible, but I just need more food. And my district has become addicted to Ducle de Leche. Sooooo good.
Saturday was absolutely crazy. They dont let us go to the ¨city¨, just to the middle class suburbs. But the only way I know how to describe the place we were at is to picture San Diego, houses like that that are super cramped and close together. Only if San Diego went through a depression and then civil war. That is what it felt like. Trash everywhere and very worn buildings. It was tough because no one wanted to talk to us. I think a lot of them know who we are because a lot of people would cross the street to not have to talk to us. Then when we finally got someone to talk to us we could barely understand what they were saying, then try to get something that makes sence together to say back. It was intense, and definitely a humbling experience. It was really cool though because we had a really good conversation with some teenage boys on the street and one was really pretty interested. We gave him a Book of Mormon and told him when and where church was on Sunday. He said he would go and I hope he did. It is interesting to see the whole mindset change. This is the scariest place I have ever been but I never once felt scared or afraid, I just wanted to talk to people. It was also freezing. I was wearing all my winter gear. Thanks for putting that beanie in there, saved my poor ears. We are going to the same place this Saturday, so hopefully we will be able to talk to some more people.
Its crazy to think it has been three weeks, and scary to think we get out in three more! I cant wait to get to Uruguay though, Im excited to see a new country. I miss you all and love hearing from you. I still havent gotten all the letters yet because it takes two weeks to get here. Glad you guys got mine though! I cant think of anything I need right now but it would sure be nice to see a DP waiting for me at the Montevideo mission house;) Love you all!!
Elder Degn


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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Santa Vaca!!

Its is so awesome to hear how everyone is doing back home and Im glad to hear that everything is going so well. I cant wait to get your letters and I have sent some out so I hope you guys get them soon enough. The days here are going by so fast! Everynight I feel like the day just zoomed by. It is really awesome to be able to be doing this full time. We watch the provo mtc devotionals a day late because we cant watch them live due to the time difference, and we saw one with Elder Holland as the speaker. He gives us the chills. If you thought he was good, imagine listening to him as a missionary. He said that if we have one convert on our mission it should be us. I totally understand what he was saying. Just based off these past two weeks, I have had experiences that will keep my tesitimony strong for the rest of my life.

Also, the weather here is tripping us out. Last week was super cold but the Presidente said it will probably be the last cold front of the winter. It was chilly. Then we had nearly a two day rainstorm with plenty of lightning and thunder. It was super intense. But seriously, it doesnt just rain here, it pours. Everything was flooding by the end of it. Probably more water than Utah has gotten all year. Then out of no where, it got super hot. Our teacher who sees the outside world told us that two days ago was the hottest day in Buenos Aires for the last one hundred years or so 35.5°C. I believe him. Our district room is one of the two rooms that do not have A/C, and that place turned into a sauna. We had the window open and the fan on, but it was super hot outside with no wind to move the air around. it was definitely hard to focus because of the humidity, which kills you by the way. Ive got a nice brown collar ive got to wash out now. But the weather has really evened out and feels wonderful now.

The group of Latins that came the same day as us left on Tuesday for the field. It was hard to believe they got here the same time as us and are already out. It was super cool because on the last night they were here all the elders gathered in the hallway of the second floor dorms and we barely all fit, then we sang called to serve as loud as we could in spanish. It was awesome. We can't hear how bad we probably sound, but we shake this building. It was amazing. Then we all knelt down and one of the Latin DLs gave an awesome prayer in spanish. I wasnt able to pick up on all of it, but i got some good stuff. He asked for his North American friends to be watched over and that the spirit would help us learn spanish. It was super cool.

We go proselyting this Saturday! Crazy! I am definitly not ready Spanish-wise, but I am so ready to get out of the ¨compound¨. I really want to be able to see everything out there and see the people i will teach. The older missionaries say its tough but they love it. I cant wait. I also went and bought a mini spanish PME at the distribution center and it was one dollar. I love this place. I spent seven bucks and got twenty pesos back as change for my American ten dollar bill. Never felt like i was getting such a bargain in my life.

Also, please tell the boys to go to the temple as often as they can. The building right next to us is a hotel for families that are traveling hundreds of miles to go just one time. every other day huge tour buses come and drop of families that are here to go to the temple for two days, and might never go again because this is the only temple in Argentina. They hate hearing us say how I have two in my city, so dont let that go to waste.

Seriously though guys i love you and miss you so much. By the way my nick name here is old man Degn. Everyone thinks I am super old and I do a pretty gruff old man voice, and its pretty good apparently. My District is so much fun and I feel like we have known each other for ever. And yes, everything is funny here. We are laughing all the time. At everything.

Good Luck with everything!

Love you all, Elder Degn



Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hola Niños!
This week has been so crazy but I will do my best to cover everything. The first two days of the CCM were the most stressful days of my life. Mostly because we were paired with our companions and put in districts and rooms right away, but my district was not given a schedule, so we just followed the other new district around like idiots until we finally got one the next day. We also had to just take what we would need out of our suitcases for the next six weeks and then our lugguge is put in a big container until we leave for our missions. So I am not even using half of my stuff yet. We flew in with about 21 other missionaries. There are in total around 35 North Americans here split into three districts. All the Americans are either going to Uruguay or Paraguay, and the Canadians are going to Argentina. Then there are four districts of Latinos that are all serving in Argentina. My companions name is Elder Simpson. He is a cousin of the Jewkes family! Except he is like a mix between Brigham Jewkes and KJ. We are starting to work and live pretty well together. Since we are just coming out of winter we get some really cold weather for a few days in a row. The mornings are super cold, but it warms up enough to go play outside in the afternoon.
Also, on the second day the CCM President called me to be District Leader! I said yes really fast and then later realized how much responsibility came with that. The North American DL¨s meet with the Presidente three times a week, and we run all the meetings on Sundays and have to make sure everything is working in the District. My district is awesome, I just wish I wasnt always in charge. There are ten of us, eight elders and two hermanas. The weird part is that we are mostly all eighteen but there is an elder that is 21, one that is 19, and a hermana that is 22. I have to interview all of them every other week to see how everyone is doing, and it feels super weird because I am younger than them. Its all good, I am just trying my best. Also the food here is awesome! They try to serve ¨normal´ food so they dont freak us out, but it is still different and the Latinos dont like it. We love it and just love seeing them try to prepare an American meal. I honestly prefer it when they make Argentine food anyway. It mostly reminds me of home because it is some sort of stewed meat over a bowl of rice or beans or potatoes. The best part is that no one is sick, and the worst I have felt is sometimes at night I have a headache from working all day.
We have to get up at 6AM because our district service assignment is to clean the kitchen at 6:30 before breakfast. Its not bad because I get to use one of the few showers with warm water since no one else is up. There are six elders in a room, and ours has two other NAs, and two Latinos. They are from Chile and Peru. The Chilean speaks decent English, so we are able to talk pretty well in a terrible sounding spanglish. Spanish is nuts. I have learned more in the past week than I have any other time in my life. Im still not very good, but I can communicate pretty well with the latinos and can teach a somewhat decent lesson. I can actually understand Spanish pretty well but just have a hard time remembering how to say things. We have a morning teacher and an afternoon teacher, both native Argentines that have been off their missions for a year. The afternoon teacher speaks better English and is the one that gives us grammar instruction.
We were really thrown right into things by having our third day here be a fast Sunday. Hello first 24 hour fast. It was pretty intense, but we fasted for the gift of tongues as a district, and I know for a fact that fasting works. On Saturday we taught our first investigator and it went terrible. We barely understood him and could barely get anything worth while out. PS the investigator is our teacher. But after fasting all day sunday and working hard to prepare, on Monday almost all of us had a super successful discusion. I was shocked at how much I understood and was then able to say. It still wasnt anything super impressive, but the difference was too much to deny. This has honestly been the most testimony building experience I have ever had, and I have only been gone a week!! Everyday is like a spiritual high, especially since today we went to the temple, which was awesome! We are litterally right next to it. From where I am sitting right now on the top floor of the CCM I could stick my head out of the window and throw a rock across the street and hit the temple. Its the most beautiful building I have ever seen. We are pretty sheltered here but when we look outside of the complex we can tell we are in South America. A lot of trash and shacks. But I love it and cant wait to get out! Oh and we can't take pictures until the last couple days here so sorry your imaginations will have to do for now. The inside of the CCM is not much to look at but this complex sure is.
It was awesome to hear from you all and Im glad to hear everything is going so well! Josh I hope you sleep well knowing I am on a tiny bed on the top bunk. I know you still will.
I love you all and cant wait to tell you more! The days are finally moving faster!

All my love,
Elder Degn