Today I have been in Chascomús for 4 months. The time really has flown.
Yesterday it rained a lot here, and almost no-one came to church. It just happened to be the Sunday it was being announced that we are joining with a stake, and the stake presidency, the stake secretary, and all the auxillary presidents came to our branch. Before they showed up there were only 12 people! Most of the streets that aren't paved were flooded. One sister told us later in the day the the water came within a meter of her front door! Because of that, Camila wasn't able to make it to church, and so we are moving her baptismal date. We are going to see her tonight to make a new goal. The stake president was going to assign a new 2nd counselor yesterday, but decided to leave me. So at least for a while longer, I will be serving as 2nd counselor. It takes some time away from missionary work, but it is a good learning experience.
Here are some more interesting/random things that I heard, saw, or experienced this week:
While teaching an inactive member named Norma, she told us she doesn't like to take the sacrament because the water makes her feel sick! I have to admit, the water tastes gross here, but that tiny amount should be fine. Of course, she hasn't been to church in 3 years so not liking the sacrament water is the least of her worries.
There is a church here called the Universal Church. They are famous for there requirement of donations. They have a system of paying for better seats. For example, to sit on the front row, you have to "donate" $100 dollars. The second row, $90, and so forth. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday they have their meetings, and the people are asked to donate $50 pesos each time. They call this "tithing". It is amazing that every single member just happens to earn $1,500 per week! People who don't want to pay, or can't are allowed to enter, but as sort of outcasts, and have to sit or stand at the very back. These are some of the only people that actually are happy to obey the law of tithing that we teach. They end up paying less! haha
While teaching another inactive member, my companion shared this example: A home teacher went to visit an inactive member. They sat in front of his fire, and the inactive brother told him that it had been so long since he had gone to church, that he didn't feel the "fire" of his testimony anymore. He felt cold. Without saying a word, the home teacher took the fire poker, and removed one of the coals from the fire. He let it sit there as it slowly cooled and turned white. He let it cool to the point that he could pick it up with his hand. Then, he broke the coal in half with the poker, and turned off the light. There, in the very center, there was still a faint orange warm glow. The home teacher put the coal back in the fire, where it shortly shone again with heat. Still silent, he left the house, leaving this inactive member to his thoughts. Moral of the story? Even when it seems like someone is completely inactive, and completely cold to the church and their testimony, there always remains the soft glow in their heart from when they received their first testimony. All we have to do is put them back in the "fire."
On Thursday night we had a Family Home Evening with the family of the 1st counselor of our branch. It was stormy and raining, and shortly after arriving, the power went out. We were using candles and the flashlight from our cell phone to see and cook. (It was already dark outside, about 8:00). Our cell phone was about to run out of battery, and it was the light in the kitchen. I saw on a table a couple of chargers, and asked her if she had one that fit our phone. She replied that she did, and so I asked her if she would plug it in so we could keep using the light. She just looked at me like I was an idiot. Then her 10 year-old son looked at me and said "Duh, Elder Stobbe, the power's out!" I couldn't help but laughing at my own moment of stupidity.
This last week we went to go contact a reference we had received from a street contact. She had told us that her mom used to go to our church, but never got baptized. When we got there, we met Margarita. She is 78 years old. About 3 or 4 years ago, her and her "husband" (they were not married but lived together as a couple for over 40 years. He had a previous marriage and had never gotten a divorce) were investigating the church with their two children. The kids got baptized, but Margarita and Ceferino couldn't, because of their marital status, or lack thereof. In the time between then and when we met her, she had had some incredibly difficult trials. In the space of 3 years her daughter was hit and killed by a car, her house burned down, her husband died of a heart attack, and her left leg was amutated from the thigh down due to complications with diabetes. The last one happened less than 3 months ago. She is currently using a wheelchair, and waiting to get a prosthetic leg. In spite of all of this, she is positive, and knows that God has his reasons for allowing things to happen to us. A huge blessing she had was that she had almost gotten baptized before, and therefore has a testimony of the plan of salvation, and knows that she can be with her daughter and husband again. She was so happy to see us, said she has felt even better and positive since we visited. Right now, the only thing in the way of her baptism is her leg. We have to make sure she can be immersed, and then there is the issue of physically performing the baptism. My companion told her that we would be her missing leg --- http://www.lds.org/pages/mormon-messages?lang=eng&query=dayton's+legs#daytons-legs ---. She told us in our last meeting she told us, "¿Con pata o sin pata, me voy a bautizar!" "With our without my leg, I'm going to get baptized!". We have a tentative date for her to get baptized on the 10th of March, but we will have to see.
Another common sight in Argentina. 3, 4, and sometimes even 5 people riding on one scooter! Small familes use their scooter like we would a minivan. Mom, Dad, and 2 or 3 kids all on the scooter! I will try and get a picture of this at some point.
I have a goal of learning new words in Spanish until I finish my mission. Specifically, I want to learn a new word my last day in Argentina. I have been writing down words I see or hear and asking what they mean. I have realized that there are so many that I don't know. Even though I can speak great, and always understand conversations, every once in a while there are specific words that I don't quite understand. Hopefully I can keep learning.