Monday, October 17, 2011

{my Argentine adventure begins}

Disclaimer:  I've been fighting sinus problems for a few weeks.  I've resorted to sinus medicine and it makes me loopy.  I'll probably kick myself tomorrow for posting after taking Benadryl but if I keep procrastinating due to medicine I'll never blog.  My apologies in advance.  I just hope I'm not too embarrassed tomorrow!

Where do I even begin?  The past two years have been the slowest of my life while these past two weeks have flown by.  So much has happened!  

Of course, life has a way of derailing my best plans. I didn't have time for my blog in Argentina.  I didn't have time for sleep!  There were far too many things to do and people to meet.  Then, when I got home and started uploading pictures with great plans for my blog . . .  the graphics card went out in my computer.  Such luck.  My computer is home from the Mac doctor and healthy once again.

Argentina was amazing! I intend to share as much as possible on my blog.  I would love for you to read along and share the journey but I have to do this for my own benefit.  I can't forget the gift I've been given to fall in love with so many amazing new friends.

We flew to Argentina to pick up my baby - he'll always be my baby - and I left part of my heart there.  I love the people, the culture, and the precious experiences we shared.

We arrived in Buenos Aires Saturday morning, September 24.  Elder Moore was touring the city with all the missionaries also concluding their missions.  The mission president wanted them to see some of the city's famous sites before heading home.  Nice treat after lots of hard work.

Nolan was quite proud of himself for getting one of these stoic guards to laugh.  They aren't supposed to even crack a smile but Nolan had the perfect joke and the poor guy broke his silence with a laugh.  He quickly remedied it before the picture!

It was interesting to combine all of our pictures with Nolan's pictures when we got home.  The camera / computer knew when each picture was taken and organized them accordingly.  Kinda cool to see what he was doing compared to ourselves!

This is Florida Street (Calle Florida) - a very famous tourist shopping street in Buenos Aires.  So popular that it is now a pedestrian street.

We were SO blessed to have Charles and Norma Romano help us with our trip.  Charles is pictured above with Sir Thomas and Keaton.  Charles is originally from Ghana and fluently speaks FIVE languages!  I can't tell you how fabulous he and Norma are but you'll get to "meet" Norma in a later post.  (P.S. If you ever go to Argentina and want a tour guide or transportation - these are your people!)

The architecture was incredible.  So very European and Italian in many of the older areas.  We did well to get pictures without graffiti.  It was everywhere!  I was really sick to see graffiti on the beautiful, old historic buildings but I loved the buildings anyway.

Alto Palermo Mall - soooooo nice!  We would be leaving the "nice" area in just a few hours.  (We actually stayed in Palermo - a nice, safe neighborhood in Buenos Aires.  I should correct myself . . . we rented an apartment in Palermo and were only there long enough to get a little sleep . . . as in 2 -5 hours a night.  We missed out on the great Argentine tradition of a daily siesta but it was an upgrade to fabulous adventures!

Our TGI Friday's meal wasn't the best experience in the world but it was a great introduction to meals in South America for Sir Thomas and Keaton.  There are several customs to be aware of:

*Plan on L O N G waits for your food.  They are very relaxed and provide time for you to visit while they prepare your food.  They also don't want you to think the food isn't fresh - nothing is prepared in advance.

*No ice.  Ever.  It's funny to watch the straws float up and down as the waiters carry the drinks.  The waiters at this restaurant let the drinks slosh all over and spill everywhere as they carry the drinks to the tables.  Most glasses arrive half-full!

*There is a fee for sitting at the table.  This isn't the tip but an actual sitting fee.  Just expect it.

*You must request your bill when you are preparing to leave.  I guess they consider it rude to ask for money or perhaps they don't want to offend you and make you feel that they want you to leave so they really won't bring it until it's requested.

There are a few other interesting customs but those should be enough fun trivia for now.

Elder Moore with a few missionaries also preparing to go home along with his companion, Elder Calderon, on the far right.  (Elder Calderon is from El Salvador but we adopted him!  Such a great guy!)

Miracles!  I just love them!  Arsenio is an amazing young man and was Elder Moore's final baptism - about 36 hours before his mission ended.  Nolan had promised himself that he would work hard until the day he was released and he definitely did.  It was a miracle for us to actually attend the baptism!
Elder Moore, Arsenio, Elder Calderon, and Patricia - Arsenio's adorable girlfriend!  I love that girl!  She loves the gospel and is beautiful inside and out.  We were privileged to attend church with them the following day and she knew just enough English for me to see her wonderful personality.

Our first time to see Elder Moore in over two years!  We took this picture after the baptism with our hook 'em horns!

Another cultural note of importance . . . don't make the "hook 'em horns" sign in Argentina.  It's a bad sign to them!  (Especially with your hands facing forward like Elder Calderon's.)  Like I said, Elder Calderon's from El Salvador and it didn't mean a thing to him so Nolan had already taught him our Texas sign! =)

We didn't want to be late so we arrived extra early for church on Sunday.  We had just discovered what real traffic is the night before and we wanted to give ourselves lots of time.  We'll discuss their traffic and driving habits soon. It was CRAZY - but a fun crazy. (We were there a little after 8:00 a.m. and their church started at 9:30 a.m.)

We arrived and met the very precious Martina and her little boy.  She was already there when we arrived and we were early!  The best surprise was discovering "her" missionary, as she called him, was our son.  He had baptized her a couple of weeks before and her dedication never ceased to amaze me.

A priceless moment forever imprinted in my mind . . . these two missionaries walking the streets of a foreign city in a foreign country with so much faith and courage.  Elder Moore was still a missionary and we watched him walk away to an appointment and everything in me melted.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is true.  There is no other way I could have let my son go.  Not to mention, all these 19 -21 year old boys would have destroyed it long ago.  They wouldn't sacrifice so much themselves if they didn't know it was true and Christ lives.

A funny but true story . . . we sat behind these beautiful people at church and I kept thinking, "Wow!  They look so Peruvian.  I guess Argentina doesn't have any specific physical characteristics since these people look Peruvian to me.  I'm just crazy."  They invited us to visit them in their sweet home.  I could feel their goodness just sitting there.  Imagine my excitement when I learned that they had immigrated from Peru a few years earlier!  Nolan was privileged to baptize two of these women.  They were befriended by this family who had long been baptized church members.

While we were there, they each shared their testimony with us and also the love and appreciation for our son.  The feelings and emotions of that day continue to play out in my mind.  I love these people.  They are so good, kind, and selfless.  I'll share a little more about them in a later blog.

I love this picture of these guys in the mission home!

Nolan's pension (apartment) was interesting.  I can easily see why he had such bad allergies!  They don't have mops in Argentina so Nolan made this one using yarn.  He's so industrious!  They also don't have carpet so I asked how they clean their tile and concrete.  My kids would love this system:  They fill a bucket with soap and water and then pour it on the floor.  To rinse, they fill the bucket with water and repeat.  The final step is to squeegee the floor.  According to Nolan, nothing is ever really clean.  Hmmm. I might have noticed in a few public locations.

The big question . . . why did Keaton get to go on this trip?  Why didn't we take everyone?  My best answer: just because it was right.  We prayed about it and that was the answer.  After taking Keaton, I understand the "why" a little better.  Among a million reasons, it was such a great experience for him and helped prepare him for his own mission.  I also think it would have been overwhelming for anyone to host six people - four was hard enough.  Money - it would've been too expensive.  Or, you might go with Keaton's answer, "I'm the favorite child!"  I hope they each think they're the favorite but I certainly don't have one.

Welcome to Avellaneda!  Such a happy sign for me at that moment!  Nolan was living in Avellaneda and I knew we were close.

Check out the cool keys and easy access to all the wiring!  This post is already too long or I'd tell you more about the driving NOW.  I love their keys!  From what I understand they aren't the safest option and the locks are super easy to pick but they sure are cute.

This was our remis driver and the owner of the cool keys and easy access wiring.  He was so cool!  He took us to Church and back to the apartment on Sunday.  Then he picked us up Monday morning to go meet Elder Moore.  You haven't lived unless you've ridden with this guy.  It's a fully-aware-of-your-life moment because you are often very aware of death during the drive. Meanwhile, he is as relaxed as ever.  We learned to relax too.  They just drive different.  Lanes . . . well, they're just suggestions.

We attended a testimony meeting at the church and took lots of pictures after.  Monday was his final day as a full-time missionary.  My boy was about to be mine!

It's such a small world!  Isn't she darling!?  Hermana Bisoni is from St. Louis, Missouri and I discovered that she was good friends with Josh Robinson, a.k.a. my nephew-in-law.  (Can I describe it that way?)  My gorgeous niece married Josh and now I know this fabulous sister missionary and we had to go all the way to Argentina to meet.  It was worth the trip.

Elder Levi Combs was Nolan's Missionary Training Center companion.  Love this guy!

It was such a treat to meet him and his parents!  They were the best!  I was so glad they got to go to Argentina too.

The actual mission was coming to an end.  Elder Moore was putting on his shoes at the mission home for the last time.  A few more pictures and we would be on our way.  The rest of the week was indescribable . . . but I'm sure going to try!