Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Arrived in Argentina!!!

After one month in California Riley has finally arrived in Argentina.  We received his first email yesterday and he begins by describing his long journey that began last Wednesday.  His description reminds me why I don’t like to travel.


Alright. We started in Anaheim meeting at the mission office at 830 am. From there we went to the airport and our flight left at 11.  So our flight left and we got to Atlanta. It brought back great memories of our fam there. ( running through the airport to catch a plane, getting our flights canceled, then canceled again) Great memories! There we met a guy from Kaysville. How funny. Then I talked to dad and Alex.  It was so great to hear your voices. You both sound good. Next we got on the plane. It was pretty rough, 10 hours about. Good food though so I was grateful for that. I actually slept a lot though. Of course I got up to go to the bathroom and the dumb kid in front of me put his seat back. So annoying. But the flight went fast. I was so happy to have Elder Anderson with me. We have become such good friends since the MTC. On the plane I could have sworn they were speaking a different language. The Spanish here is not Spanish! It sounds so different. But really cool. Our plane landed and we got our stuff and went through customs. No problems there. Then we met our guide guy named Aleberto. We went with him to the LDS embassy place in Buenos Aires.  It was about an hour away.  When we got there it was about 12 Argentina time. At this point we had been traveling for about 25 hours.  By the way Buenos Aires is crazy!!  It’s so big! It’s like London.  Really, really dirty though.  So we were at the Embassy for 10 minutes is all... We picked one paper and got back in the car.  Then we drove to the domestic airport in Buenos Aires.  Now its about 1:30.  Alberto bought us pizza at the airport.  He was so nice to us.  And so patient with our Spanish. ha ha. It was funny.  We were SOO lucky to have a plane to Cordoba.  I guess a volcano erupted in Chile and some planes couldn’t fly.  Without plane it is a 12 hour bus ride ha ha. But we got on our final plane.  It was about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  I tried to sleep but couldn’t.  The plane was too small.  Luckily the seat next to me was empty.  When we were flying I was so grateful I am not in the mission below us.  Its just corn fields the whole way.  Cordoba is gorgeous though!  Its so pretty here.  So green.  So we flew in and got our luggage and had no clue what to do ha ha.  We kinda walked around for a little and then decided to go to the curb pickup.  We waited there for a little while and after a few prayers our president pulled up.  I’ll talk about him later.  So then we got in a van with some of the office workers and drove to this embassy in C√≥rdoba. This was to start the renewal of our visas.  We signed some papers there and then left for the mission home.  We finally got there at 6:00.  There we officially met the president and his wife.  Let me just say he is the coolest guy ever.  I love him so much.  He told me what he got out of his mission and how I will be able to do the same and how he’ll help me.  It was like an answer to my prayers and cleared up so many doubts.  He is so amazing.  Then we got all of our information and had a little orientation and ate some Empanadas. (Argentina’s claim to fame) They were very good.  At 10 pm we left the mission office with the assistants to go meet our new companions in Ville Maria, about 100 miles away.  The bus terminal was crazy.  People just running all over.  So we missed the bus at 11:00 but got on the one at 12am.  Pretty much slept the whole way.  I have never been so tired in my whole life.  Finally made it to Ville Maria at 2:20am. It was weird I woke up right when we pulled up to our stop.  It was really lucky.  We took a cab after that to our Pencion.  Last time I looked at the clock before sleeping was 3:00 a.m.!!  Then we woke up at 6:30 to start the day ha ha. So that is my journey here. I have counted the total hours, but its a lot. I’m so grateful for our safe arrival.

The first couple of days were so crazy. Oh my gosh.  I am still so tired. I’m not caught up on sleep quite yet.  The people here are so different.  I can’t describe them.  Some look really native with dark skin and are really short and others look really European and are 6 2.  But regardless, I’m the tallest person so far.  And the tallest in the mission, President says.  I’m not used to walking in to a store and having every person in there look at me. Or have heads turn on the street.  Sometimes I forget how tall I am. But it’s cool.  I like it.  I really like my Companion Elder Maude.  He went to Lone Peak.  He loves basketball too. I think he was a little bugged at first that his last transfer he has to train a greenie.  But he has really came around.  We will be good friends.  And we live in the same Pencion as Elder Anderson and his trainer Elder Puma!  I’m still getting used to it because its weird having 4 people in a place half the size as my apartment in California. But they said that next week they’ll send us desks and beds so that will help me adjust more.

I’m not going to lie.. I had planned on telling you all this stuff that was hard to get used to or that I didnt like about where  I live, but after going to members and investigadors houses I have no reason to complain. So, I´ll tell you what I love. The bottom of our pencion is a little argentine bakery! After working all day we usually buy a little something there. Then right next door is the grocery store. Its so sweet. We live kinda on the outside of town of Ville Maria. We mostly go to investigators houses that are outside of town. It’s so crazy because some streets are like the ones Dad and I saw in Honduras. No grass, no doors, lots of houses made of wood and brick. Some without roofs! Then you turn the corner and the houses are pretty nice. They have grass, and some even have cars. It is the weirdest thing you have ever seen.  I love it so much.  I feel like I am either just in some fantasy land, or I am adjusted well.  I mean I already saw how it was in Honduras.  Elder Anderson is shocked out of his mind ha ha. But I am feeling awesome.

Ok so about letters: I think you have the address but oh well

Letters and Packages:
Gay Lussac 5270
Apartado Postal 49-X5009ZAA
5009-Ville Belgrano, Cordoba
C.C 17 Suc. 9
Cordoba Argentina


So with packages you have to get this green form ---2976 custom form (green). Otherwise customs will charge me lots of money and it will take lots of time to get here. I think you get it at the postal office. They say not to use Fed Ex or UPS. Only USA mail or national service or something.

You can also send letters to the Pouch.  The address is:

Elder Riley Watts
POUCH
Agentina Cordoba Missioin
P.O. Box 30150
Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0150


Last story. Church was awesome! The ward is the bomb. They all love me so much not going to lie. I have to duck through all the doors so they really love that.  I only understood about one person while at church-- I was sitting in the chapel after sacrament and this little girl came up to me.  She said Hi and I asked her what her name was. He name is Valentina.  She is 4 years old and has long dark hair and big brown eyes. She is so cute!!  I talked to her for a little about where I’m from and stuff.  I could help but think of Olivia and realize that she is my sister too.  And we lived together before this life.  And the next two years I’m going to be sharing the gospel, this thing that makes me so happy with my brothers and Sisters in Argentina. I couldn’t be more happy.



 
As you can see Riley is doing great.  Thank you for your love and prayers.  They are working!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

VISA!!!

After waiting all day Monday we finally received Riley’s email as we were sitting down for dinner.  We decided it would be a good idea for me to read his email to the family around the dinner table.  I started to read but didn’t get very far before the tears started to flow.  I tried handing the letter to Jana but she wasn’t in any position to read either.  Alex offered to read as he looked at Jana and I in dismay.  Well, a few sentences in and Alex lost it too.  There we were sitting around the dinner table crying our eyes out.  The real funny thing was our nephew Gabe was eating dinner with us.  I looked over at Gabe and he was just staring at his food.  I’m sure he’d never had a dinner quite like this one.    

The Big news of the week is that Riley got his Visa: 

“VISA! So yes I got my Visa last Friday. I am feeling tons of different emotions! It’s so crazy. I’m way excited. I'm nervous. I'm sad to leave Santa Ana. I'm sad to leave my companions. I’m so happy to see what Argentina is like. But overall, I'm just really grateful for this opportunity to come here and learn some really valuable lessons. So I leave Wednesday morning. I think we leave our apartment about 8. I have no clue what my travel plans are or anything. I just know I’m getting picked up and that I am traveling with Elder Anderson. We are both really excited about that :).  I’m trying to pack like crazy and get ready for it.”

Riley has had some great experiences in California and has mixed emotions about leaving.  He’s excited for Argentina but will miss the people he has met in the Anaheim mission.  Here are a couple stories he shared with us this week:

“Man I have so many stories to tell. Ok first I will tell you something that’s kind of funny. Some people would call it coincidence... But I don’t think so. So we had about an hour until dinner last Tuesday night. And with that hour we decided that we would try to track down some investigators in our area book. I picked one named Albundio and we went to his apartment. We knocked on the door and this kid answered. He said that nobody named Albundio lived there... But he said come on in Elders. It was weird. So we went in and found out that Oscar, is a member, but has been inactive for about 1 year and a half now because his sister who is the only other member in the family moved away. He was so happy to see us and said that he has wanted to come back to church but doesn’t know how to do it because his step dad and mom are catholic. He is 16 by the way. So we invited him to church and he came yesterday. He had a great time and is really glad to be back. Were we led by the spirit to "Albundios" house? Yes I would say we were. This is where it gets funny. So after we met with him we walked outside and went to the gate where we came in. Oh by the way this is in a gated in apartment complex. We went to the gate and it was locked. On the ground about 20 feet away I saw a pair of car keys. I went and picked them up and they had a key to the gate. Would we have been locked in there forever? No. I’m sure we would have found another way out. But I still would like to think that Our Heavenly Father loves us that much that sometimes stuff like that happens. Thought you might think that was funny. 

Ok so Jose is doing awesome! Yesterday he got the Aaronic Priesthood. He hasn’t missed church yet. 4 weeks in a row. Maria wasn’t baptized yesterday like planned though. Her husband is deathly ill and she practically can’t leave his side unless her daughter is in the house. So we're shooting for next week. We started teaching Jose's niece Anna! She is 13 years old. She is really cool. One thing that has really touched my heart is helping people pray. Especially with Anna. It was so amazing to watch her take that leap of faith. For the first time in her life she talked with Heavenly Father. The spirit is always so strong. Likewise I have been so amazed with Jose and his faith. He quit his job so he won't have to work on Sunday. Last night we went to teach Anna and after I asked him if he had found a job yet. With a smile on his face he said, “Nope. Still looking." Not one bit sad. If you didn’t hear what I asked you would think the question was, " hey have you picked out your new Camaro yet?" He just has so much faith. Not worried that he has to take care of his mom and dad. Not worried about what will happen. Just complete faith. I just couldn’t help but ask myself if I could be the same. It really touched me. Nope. Still looking. 

Ok so the pictures are of my favorite family here in the Garden Grove 10th ward. They are the Garcia family. I met them my second day here. We went to their house because they haven’t been active for 7 years.  Since that day they have us over for dinner twice a week, and haven’t missed church yet.  They are SO awesome.  I feel like family when I'm around them. They got me that fruit dessert because I’m leaving. I really love them. I know they'll make it to the temple.”

 We are so excited for Riley to be leaving for Argentina.  We hope to get a phone call from the airport today.  Thank you for all your love, support and prayers.




Monday, October 10, 2011

Last letter from California???

Dear Family!
 
     This week was really awesome. Lot's of really cool stuff happened. Every night we had dinner with a member. I'm so grateful for that. Some of them cook really weird stuff, and others its really delicious. But they are all so nice and so willing to help us out.
 
We found 3 new investigators this week! My second day here in Santa Ana I made a contact all by myself. Her name was Juana. She gave me her address and all that info. At the beginning of last week ( Tuesday I think) we went to go visit her. Well we got there and asked for Juana, the man had never heard of Juana. My companions just started laughing because I had been so excited to teach my first contact. Sweet little Juana had given me a false address. But, at the door we met Fernando. We are currently teaching him. He has lots of questions about the church. Also we have started teaching a family. They are hard to explain... None of them have the same last name. The mom and dad aren't married. And there are 5 random kids that come from the mom that live with them. This is a big problem here. But they are really awesome. They have a 17 year old girl and a 13 year old girl. They are both really interested in the Book of Mormon. Every time we go back they just have tons of questions. We are teaching them the restoration tonight. I'm really excited! And we are teaching a man named Art. I don"t think its exactly going anywhere... I think he just likes to hang out. So I think we're dropping him. 
 
On Friday I got a call from the office saying that my Visa is almost done. They had me and Elder Anderson sign some papers. The Sister from the office said that she sent them on Friday and on Monday ( today ) Salt Lake will get them. I think then Salt Lake has to send me the visa. I'm not exactly sure how that works. So I think I'll be leaving this week! I was sad because I wanted to see Jose get baptized. But I got really lucky. Yesterday we were scheduled to have Ramiro get baptized. He is an awesome guy. His wife got baptized about 6 months ago. We are really excited for him. It was also fast Sunday yesterday. I had the thought to fast for Jose and his mom Maria. So I did. Jose came to church for like the 3rd time in a row. His mom hasn't come in a while. But the ward mission leader decided that Jose might as well get baptized today if he is ready. So they interviewed him, and he passed of course. Everyone was so happy. He has been trying to get baptized for 7 months. And yesterday I had the opportunity to baptize him! It was so awesome. I was pretty nervous going into it. But everything went well. I even said his name right. Jose Isabel Toro Garcia. Why do all Mexicans have 4 names? I know that the Spirit helped me. It was such a great experience for me. Now you can start looking at the pictures. So the first picture is of Elder Smith, Jose, Elder Arevalo, and me. Isn't he just awesome?! The next one is of us 3 and the man Elder Smith baptized, Ramiro. The 3rd is of all of us together. Man I didn't know that setting up baptisms took so much time. We had to print the programs, set up chairs, fill the font, it took some time. Since it was Elder Smiths 1 year mark one of the families he got to know really well while serving in an English speaking ward brought us Cafe Rio. They took this picture of us. They are really nice.
 
Have a great week everyone! I love you all so much. I'm so grateful to be a missionary!
 
Love Riley
 
Here are the pictures Riley sent this week.
 


 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

First Week in California

Riley spent his first full week in California this past week.  He has been blessed with two really good companions - Elder Arevalo and Elder Smith.  He has already seen some succes as described in his letter this week:

"Since last week We have committed 3 more people to baptism. Its way exciting. Yesterday actually we had our first baptism as a companionship. The day i came in before i met my companions they committed this lady named ana lilia to baptism after being taught for 8 months. So we let the elder that taught her baptize her, but I got to be a witness. It was really cool. Next week Ramiro is getting baptized. His wife got baptized about 7 months ago and now he is. Im really excited for it because i feel like i actually know him. And then in 2 weeks maria and Jose are getting baptized. So we're really doing well. We need to find some new progressive investigators because all of ours are getting baptized!"

He also had a unique experience attending General Conference:

"Conference was really amazing. We watched it at this huge church. It is the 3rd biggest in the world (lds churches) it has 2 basketball courts and 2 huge chapels. There was like 6 languages there. We did get to watch it in English though. I was really grateful for that. Between sessions the wards just stay there and make food. Its so awesome."

He loves the people and especially loves the food.  It sounds like the members really take care of the missionaries in Santa Ana:

"The members houses we eat at are so awesome. Oh my gosh. They have these tiny little houses and nothing. absolutely nothing. But they invite us over to eat every week. They cook all day for us. they're so willing. And so grateful for what they have. WE have dinner for us just about every night. In the mornings i eat oatmeal or eggs and then usually a  sandwich for lunch. Its good. I have gained 7 pounds since i got here. 197!! THis mexican food is killing me."

197!!  I wonder if he can still dunk a basketball :-).

Here are two pictures he sent this week of his companions and the first baptism he participated in:

Thank you for your prayers, love and support.