My brother is on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Argentina. For two weeks after he arrived we heard nothing from him. My mother called the mission home daily, only to get a ring as infinite as the integers. (That was a very complex math pun. I only suspect a few people to understand it, but know that it's clever and funny, and you should laugh if I repeat it in person.) We received zero emails and even less snail mail from him. We were worried. Then, today, I received the following in my inbox, in all capitals: HEY DAVID, MY EMAIL IS BUSTED IM STILL ALIVE. LOVE THOMAS preceeded and proceeded by several hundred #35s, which I am still trying to figure out. It was somehow sent to me by me, from the www.lds.org website. I wouldn't put it past my brother to hack into the mainframe and send out emails through a foreign server. Anyway, he sent out another email later that almost made me cry. It made me extremely grateful for all I have this Christmas season. I have attached portions of it below for your enjoyment and humilification.
It turns out I finally made it to Buenos Aires. It was a long travel day but I got to sit next to some friends so it went by quite quickly. I´m afraid I don´t have many positive things to say about a mission right now. I´m pretty frustrated with my situation and the language is not even my biggest roadblock. My first problem is I´m exhausted; I got 10 hours of sleep in 3 days and anyone who has served a mission knows its impossible to make up sleep in the field. I have fallen asleep during lessons, every personal study, two hours of church and there is no time to catch up. The hardest thing about my mission is getting out of bed in the morning, I have to heat up the water in the kitchen and even then the showers are so cold I trade off washing my hair and body each day so I only have to be in the shower for 45 seconds. Our bathroom is quite nasty and I plan on putting in an official complaint today; we don´t have any light in the bathroom and no toilet seat, and you can´t use TP because the flush is not strong enough. I forget to mention where I am ¨camping¨, I am in one of the furthest areas away from the city, a small town called Chacabuco, only about 5,000 people and we are the only missionaries in the whole mission who get bikes. Granted the bikes are so old and terrible I prefer walking. It has poured rain two of my 5 days in Chacabuco and consequently by my standards many of my clothes are already ruined- thankfully the people here have different standards. Almost all the roads are dirt and the bikes shower us from head to toe in mud; it's not very pleasant. I mentioned my largest fear is not the language, but rather my health. I´m very glad I bought that filter, the water seems clean enough but the houses we eat at and the food we eat make me fear for my health. Also we don´t have a working refrigerator so a lot of our food should be refrigerated but is not. We have submitted a complaint about that also and the reason it´s not fixed is the mission can´t find a car to bring us a new refrigerator. Other than that the apartment is... about the same as camping. I have a constant stream of ants crawling between our window and into our ceiling which is about 8 inches from my head, and at night we have cockroaches in the kitchen. We do have a good sized apartment; it's large, and only me and my companion, but it would be nice if we had a vacuum, or mop, or paper towels, or any other cleaning supply. Food is interesting here, In Chacabuco people are too poor to afford steak, and we have only eaten at a member's house twice. The first time we had bread and jam, the second time we had cold rice and cheese. Elder Zapata and I eat eggs for breakfast, which is a little scary because we don´t have a fridge. Then we had pasta or hot dogs for lunch, and we don´t always eat dinner. I have been eating candy for dinner because I brought it from America, I know its safe, and it's delicious. We did have Empanadas one day which were pretty good. I have not eaten much but mostly because I´m trying not to die in my first 4 days. Elder Zapata promised me that I will get sick within the first 2 weeks and it's normal, that was not really encouraging. We had 12 people in church yesterday, two elders (Zapata & Me), the branch president and his wife, the branch mission leader, a mute deaf man, an intelligent family of three and a man who slept the entire 3 hours. It made for an interesting meeting in which I gave a 10 minute talk, and my companion conducted and also spoke. Elder Zapata is the secretary of finances for the ward and so I became one also, I showed them how to use Excel and then I proceeded to fill out receipts in Spanish.