Monday, January 28, 2013

From the Land of Fire 1/28/13

Dearest Family,

So, things here have been very interesting and different. Dad mentioned that the latitude here is further south than Missoula is north, and I believe it... all too much. The temperatures have hovered as a high at about 60 and a few days have gotten below the 40's. It's really weird to have temperatures like that in a time frame that's supposed to be summer. The town is pretty small and abnormally quiet, as I'm used to the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires. Even the dogs here don't bark all that much.

Now to answer some questions from Mom and Dad. (Sarah, I'll get pictures as soon as I can, working with a member to get a new battery charger, and I have a disposable camera with which I've taken a few, but those'll take longer)

The area is quiet, small town feel with a large surface area. We actually belong to the Austral branch which is located in the city of Rio Grande, about an hour and a half drive north. About a year ago, a few members mutually found out they were members and found a way to communicate with priesthood leaders and were able to form a family group here. We're not even a branch, just a family group, but we hope to form a branch here by April. On that note, Dad, what are the requirements to form a branch? Sunday meetings are held either in the house of a member or in a local school house, depending on circumstances during the week. They should be in the school house, but sometimes we can't get the key to the school. I'm thinking about making a copy, but to do so would have to talk to the director of the school. That and at the moment we have lent the keyboard we have to an investigator who is waiting for divorce papers to get married here with an old member so she can be baptized. She'll be directing the music for the meetings and is beginning to familiarize herself with the music of the church. Dad, she's also an excellent guitar player and she asked to see pictures of your guitars. Could you take pictures of the walls and email them to me?

The nearest church buildings are about equally far, in Ushuaia and Rio Grande. My companion and I are in this area which coveres eveything in about a 10 km radius, perhaps more, but we stay in the central "city" for the most part. The maps on Google lie, there has been some growth recently that is not on there yet. It takes about 45 minutes to walk from one extreme to the other of the city area, and we don't have a car or bikes. But the walking is good for me. I need to start me pre-return diet so I look good. I won't be able to woo many girls with my current form (wink ;D) And Mom, I left my license in the offices and at this moment am not sure where it is. I may have to get a new one when I return.

Tolhuin is more like home (Montana) in respect to seeing mountains daily and walking in hilly territory. The apartment is located close to the center of the town. Mr. Clean will be coming out again today, though it's no where near as bad as other areas have been. The dirt and dust is terrible here with all the wind, and there are very few paved roads, though the projects of pavement have recently begun.

My companion's name is Elder Rosazza. He's a latino from Peru and is a very joking character, though in ways slightly different than me. We get along well and joke around all the time with each other. He's also only in his third transfer in the mission field, and I'm his third companion. Together we're trying hard to find the men and married families that will help the church really grow here.

In that train of thought, we are teaching a couple whose names are Francisco and Patricia. They're great people and have already invited us twice for dinner (and they're not even members!!) They like all the things that we've taught them thus far and are in agreement, the only things they have trouble with are daily reading and prayer. We're hoping that Francisco will get baptized this weekend, and then the following receive the priesthood so he can baptize his wife himself! How cool is that!!!

There are lots of opportunities to serve here. Most of the people run their houses on lumber stoves like in the old days, so we've been able to lend hands and strength to chop plenty of wood. And I up to now do not have a cool check mark for chopping like Dad does, though I almost hit my foot the other day. Most people are also building their own houses out of wood frames and lumber, altough there are also several built out of metal frames and tin roofing (think of the houses from The Other Side of Heaven during the huricane).

We've also heard some interesting stories about this little island. Apparently, when some of the first settlers came here, who were Christians, they converted many of the people and the place was formally named Tierra del Fuego del Espíritu Santo (the Land of the Fire of the Holy Ghost). Also, those explorers found the three local native tribes building gigantic bonfires for warmth and ceremony. The history here is really interesting, and many of the animal species that are found here were actually brought here, among which are beavers, salmon, and parrots. Don't ask me why parrots, I haven't a clue. People are also paid to hunt beavers because there are no predators to keep the population in check and they have been wiping out many of the local forrests. So, Marvin, if you want a shot at some beaver, come on down.

Anyway, we need to get going so we can get some things prepared for the week. A general authority is coming on a mission tour this week and it's possible that he'll pass through Tolhuin and want a look at the apartment... And at this moment, I wouldn't want him to... But by the end of the day it'll be sparkling.

I love you all!! Keep asking questions, I love'em.

Elder Dewsnup

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