When I left the MTC, I thought I knew spanish. Then, when we got here, I realized I don´t know a lick of it. I said "¡Hola!" to a lady at customs in Buenos Aires, and she spoke in such insanely fast with a crazy accent. I didn´t understand one single word she said. That pretty much continued to be true for just about everyone I´ve met. It´s gotten better though. Now I can more or less understand the main message people are trying to convey when they speak. Oh well. It´ll continue to improve. Ether 12:27 has been a pretty big help. You really know that you don´t understand one bit of Spanish when little 5 year old boys start making fun of your accent and inability to speak haha. The Branch President also makes fun of me a lot haha. As far as speaking goes, I can convey what I am trying to say. It´s slow, and I sound very much like a Gringo, but it is understood. Also here, in Argentina, the words they use mean different things. For example, the main word we used in high school and in the MTC for "to choose" means the f-word here. So you really gotta be careful.
I like it here though. This place is the most laid back country in the world. I say that for two main reasons: 1. They have a national nap time. From 2-4:30 people go home and sleep. That is so genius! We need that back in the States. 2. They invented a drink that when you are drinking it, you can just pass hours doing nothing but talking. It´s sweet! If you feel like doing nothing for a few hours, no matter the situation, you just ask if everyone else wants some mate. And everyone always says yes. Mate (mah-tay) is basically Word of Wisdom approved tea. But missionaries can´t drink it because you do nothing while you drink it, it wastes of time that could be spent serving or proselyting.
It was a real shock the first time I saw to guys kiss each other on the cheek. I´ve gotten over it though cuz it happens all the time. Missionaries can´t do it though, but it´s impolite to tell someone not to kiss you on the cheek. So old ladies put you in tough situations. The trick is just to not kiss back. The idea is eventually they will understand you aren´t about that life and don´t want a kiss. It doesn´t seem to work very well though. They keep doing it.
Anyway, my first area is Casilda. It is pretty small and condensed. It is one of the safest towns in the country, so thats nice. There are dogs and horses everywhere. I don´t know why there are so many horses in Casilda. They are only used and rode in Rosario. In Casilda, you see people walking around pulling buggies, and a horse tethered off to the side of the road in the grass, just grazing peacefully cuz it has no responsibilities, other than to just chill there. Pretty much everyone has a moped or bike. Even if they have a car, they will have a moped or bike. My first night it rained like crazy and was freezing cold. Woke up with a raging cold that hasn´t left. The mornings just keep getting colder, even though they are supposed to be warming up cuz we are going into Spring and Summer. Both me and my trainor are new to Casilda. But the previous missionaries got some baptisms lined up for us. So it´s kinda nice to jump right into the miracles. The people we are teaching for baptism are the Avalos family. The husband isn´t very interesed, but the wife and daughter are. The wife is gonna be baptized next saturday, and the daughter will be baptized as soon as she decides to come to church instead of sleeping in. We taught them the word of wisdom on saturday, and apparently the wife already gave up drinking alcohol tea coffee and smoking for her kids. So she´s all ready to go. It was awesome to hear that. And the daughter is 9 so she hasn´t had problems with any of that.
My trainor is Elder Yaques. He´s from Lima Peru and can´t speak English. So it´s a pretty solid motivation to learn Spanish. Also, my mission President is a native to Argentina so he doesn´t speak English either, he only knows basic words, like "You´re welcome" and "I don´t speak English. Only Spanish" and "slowly" (I´m know sure why he had to pick that one up, but he did). Anyway, my trainor likes to play guitar, piano, and sing. Suffice it to say that the Guatemalan lady I taught in the MTC wasn´t that far from the mark when she said that Latinos can´t sing. He´s really nice though and encouraging.
The Spirit is really strong out here. I like it a lot.