After 3+ weeks incommunicado, we finally have internet and can share our experiences in Roque Saenz Pena, Argentina -- definitely a 3rd world country. There seems to be a general lack of concern about the environment down here -- just about everyting's in a state of deterioration and neglect, altho there are some very nice well-kept homes in the area. Traffic is very interesting -- all the streets are one way and almost no intersections have any traffic control devices -- so it's whoever gets to the intersection first has the right of way, except for pedestrians, who must yield the right of way to all vehicles. Speaking of which, about half of the vehicles on the road are motorbikes. It's not uncommon to see a whole family riding down the street on a motor bike -- father, mother, child and infant, usually w/o helmets. And they just blast thru intersections like everybody else -- kinda spooky to watch. (It looks like a PI lawyer's paradise, but we haven't seen a single accident yet.)
Our apt is very comfortable but has no central heating or cooling -- we have an air conditioning/heating unit in our bedroom and an extra little space heater and that's it. It's been kinda chilly lately since we're coming into winter, but still pretty nice. Our building is a newer condo-type building with 3 floors and six apt's. We're on the second floor and have a front and back balcony -- the back one is where the washer and clothes line are -- no such thing as a dryer or dishwasher. But it's secure and in a pretty safe neighborhood. Our transportation so far has been by "remis" -- little beater taxis. We can get to most places we need to for 10 to 15 pesos (about $2.25 to $3.35). Addresses around town are such-an-such street between such-and-such and such-and-such streets -- very few numbered addresses. We live on Calle 23 entre 14 y 16. So if the taxi doesn't know who he's picking up, he just stops in the middle of the block and blows his horn. We haven't seen any mail delivery anywhere, but you can send stuff to the Mission and we'll get it:
Mision Argentina Resistencia
Entre Rios 435
Resistencia, Chaco 3500
Casilla de Correo #1
We're assigned to the Roque Saenz Pena District (about 100 mi west of Resistencia) to help it qualify to become a stake. There are six branches with hundreds of members each but only about a 12 percent activity rate, so we have our work cut out for us. The problem is enough MP leadership, but we have a plan of action and are moving forward. Those who are active are really fine people -- strong tesitmonies, committed yet humble. Many of them have been endowed and sealed. The District President for example takes a two hour bus ride into the city from an outlying town for his leadership mtg's on Saturday, sleeps on the floor in the chapel Saturday night, takes the bus out to visit one of the other branches on Sunday, comes back to the city, and then takes a two hour bus ride home Sunday night -- and he does that almost every weekend. Now that's dedication.
We've visited 4 of the branches so far and are treated like visiting authorities everywhere we go. Mom's already been called to provide music in Sacrament mtg and Primary in our resident branch and is getting geared up to share her children's activity bags project with the auxiliaries. So we're doing much the same thing we did at home -- I'm out and about visiting other units and Mom's doing humanitarian service -- in an area that really needs it. The spanish is coming along pretty well -- Argentines can be a lttle hard to understand -- they tend to speak very fast (they say so themselves) and tend to chop their words, but it's coming.
Well, not to be too long here -- Mom's chomping at the bit to get out the door and do some shopping -- things have reopened now that "siesta" is over. Everything shut's down between 12:30 and 4:30 pm -- not all bad -- makes for a pretty relaxing afternoon. Sure do love you. More later. Kiss hug secret to all ya's.
Dad and Mom