Camille (Argentina Posadas Mission)
–Paraphrased from Camille’s mission interview–
I think the Posadas mission is one of the best and most unique missions, because it includes two countries. Paraguay was on one side of the river, and Argentina on the other, and the whole thing borders Brazil. Although we never went into Brazil, there were a lot of Brazillians who would come over and a lot of Portuguese being spoken. We also had the Iguazu Falls, which is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, which was so beautiful and amazing. It was a huge tourist attraction as well, so we got to meet tourist.
The Posadas Mission
The mission Language is Spanish, but a lot of the Paraguayan locals speak Guarani. It was a little bit overwhelming at first, but eventually you begin to pick up little parts here in there. It was such a fun language, and a huge part of our mission’s culture.
The closest temple is in Asuncion, which is about 5 or 6 hours from the mission home in Argentina. When we would do our visa work, we could go to the temple grounds, though we weren’t allowed to go inside because of time.
There is a lot of mixing between Argentina and Paraguay, but there are distinctions. The Paraguay food is more chicken. We ate a lot of fried milanesa. It’s chicken or meat that’s breaded and fried. I also ate cow heart. I also ate mondongo which you should look up. It’s not very good but some people like it. They also have this thing they call a tortilla which is like Indian Fry Bread. We ate a lot of rice and a lot of asado. We ate ensalada de fruta which is like every fruit you can think of in a soup. They also have alfahores. In Argentina you have more of the Italian influence so they had canolis and lots of pasta. The meat is amazing. They don’t eat many vegetables in my mission. There is a thing in Paraguay which is like a soup with corn meal balls and meat in it. It depends on who is cooking on whether or not the food is good. There is also a thing called chipa. In Argentina they have siestas which is when everyone comes home and has a huge lunch and then naps for a couple hours before going back to work. Lunch is the big meal. In my mission we had breakfast and lunch and usually no time carved out for dinner. I was kind of a picky eater before the mission, but that all changed. The bananas and all the fruit in general are so good in South America.
Travel and Culture
When they pick missionary apartments, they try to pick something that’s nice. We usually stayed in the nicest apartment complexes in town because of that. They had AC so you shouldn’t suffer too much when you’re sleeping. The bathrooms don’t have shower curtains so the whole floor gets wet, but that’s okay. Always wear your sandals because you never know what little bugs are crawling around. There are a couple cities in the mission so you might use buses. We usually used them just for transfers. I walked everywhere. Make sure you get really good shoes. Most of the streets will be just dirt or they will be cobblestones. When it rains it pours so the dirt streets are all mud or they’re puddles. Sometimes I would be up to my ankles in the water. Argentina is infamous for the number of holidays it has which is over 30. So everything closes. It made things hard for us sometimes when people were partying and didn’t want to see us. In Argentina they have signals that they use a lot which I really enjoy. The people in general are really friendly. They love Americans and they think it’s cool that you’re there. They want to talk to you. Most everyone there is Catholic and they have lots of images of Mary and things like that. One of the hard things with the members is you go to their homes for lunch and they want to just chat with you for a long time during the siesta, but you have to go work. It was hard sometimes when people would be sleeping. We tried to stay creative. The school system wasn’t very strong. Some areas had almost everyone over age 30 not being able to read or write. That makes reading assignments very difficult. You have to help people and really help them understand and comprehend what the scriptures mean.