Layna (Argentina Rosario Mission)
–Paraphrased from Layna’s mission interview–
They have supermarkets just like we do, but something unique they have is these small stores called kioskos where you can get milk, bread, crackers, cookies, and maybe some basic hygiene supplies as well. You go there when you need something quick or if you’re on your way home and just want to make a convenient stop. If you’re doing bigger shopping you can take a taxi. For internet they have places called cybers. It’s not very expensive. You take your assigned mission time to email there. They have post offices. The mail system is actually pretty good unless you’re out in a rural community. They do have full sized malls in certain places. They have a place like Home Depot.
Bugs and Animals
When you first get to Argentina we went to a city just outside of Rosario. There are a lot of trees and when it gets hot you hear these loud bugs that make a specific noise. There are a lot of other bugs as well, but you get used to it and learn how to deal with them.
It’s a lot of flat land and there is a lot of agriculture. There is a big river down the middle of the mission and another one on the eastern border of the mission. People talk about how it’s a humid cold. Even though it doesn’t get cold enough to freeze the water, it does get down to your bones as the people say. It can be a little uncomfortable with the collared white shirt and long sleeves if you have that. You get used to it eventually. In my first area we had some pretty heavy rain storms. I remember going to a grocery store when the power went out because of the rain.
In Argentina they have a wide spectrum of food. You’ll notice the Italian influence in it because a lot of Italians migrated there. There are a lot of pasta type dishes. They have a harder type of cheese that they will grate on there. They’re very well-known for their meat. They have asados which are barbecued meat. They have these sausages called chorizos. They just season the food so well. I highly recommend it. There is this dessert called alfajores that are really good. They often have dulce de leche. It’s probably best not to eat too many of them, but they are delcious. They also have alfajores specific to a certain place like certain cities have their own. They’re really good. Sometimes the bakeries make their own cookies with dulce de leche and other things. They’re big on bakeries. People go there to get fresh bread because they eat it with every meal. Another thing you can find are these meat shops where you can buy your meat. They don’t eat as much as they would like to; I think they used to eat more when the economy was better. Chicken with rice is a pretty common dish as well. They’ll have these slices of chicken that they’ll cover with bread crumbs and fry. One time they even did it with eggplant. Another time they did it with cat liver. I didn’t like that as much. I just love their pasta dishes.
Nicholas (Argentina Rosario Mission)
–Paraphrased from Nicholas’ mission interview–
In our mission, you could take a bus ride from the center 8 hours north, 5 hours east, 3 to 4 hours south. It was a big mission. There are quite a few stakes, but I served in a couple areas that were just branches so it can really very. You could be in branches in with 25 members, but there are other places where meetinghouses have two giant wards. There isn’t a temple in the mission.
You’re in a different country, so you can expect a totally different culture. They greet people with a kiss and a hug. They talk really slow in Rosario at least. That’s really nice. They speak really long and drawn out. They use their hands all the time. It was surprising how open they are. I remember the first experience I had with a member and she just had a baby and she pulled up her shirt and showed us her scar from her C section. Women will just openly breast feed their child as well. Don’t be surprised by that.
The food is amazing. Asado is the most famous dish. It’s barbecue basically. They get these huge fire pits with a big grill and they pour salt all over it. When I saw it I almost gagged, but for some reason it tastes so good. They bring out a huge platter of all the cooked meat and they will have a little salad and they put whatever you want on their plate. They have mayonnaise with everything. They have these things called milonesas as well that they will give you with mashed potatoes and some vegetable. They’ll give you a little lemon wedge sometimes. They love tomatoes too. For dessert they usually bring out fruit. They love canned fruits too. They make tons of different kinds of soups. The flavors aren’t really spicy. They’re wimps when it comes to spicy stuff. The food there is really mild. A lot of pasta too. Italian stuff, pizza, and hamburgers are common too. It isn’t exactly the same as it is here, but it’s good.
Anything can happen, and you hear stories about crazy stuff happening to an Elder here or there, but you just have to follow the rules and the Spirit and make sure you aren’t in the wrong place at the wrong time. They have a lot of places where it is poorer and you just don’t go there at night. These places have alleys that go on forever. There are tons of run down houses with Directv satellites on them. Stay away from those places at night time. Pray a lot for your protection. It helps. You’ll have stories of situations that were riskier than you wanted them to be.
When you get your mission call, you get a list of what to pack and what to bring. I had talked with people beforehand, but I didn’t really know what to bring. It’s really hot and humid during the summer. You get used to it. You want to bring really thin short sleeved white shirts for the summer time. A lot of people will wear sweaters over their white shirts. It’s really humid, so the cold cuts through everything. Wear more layers. You’ll want waterproof shoes with good soles and good support because you’re walking all day every day unless you’re in the mission house. It doesn’t snow. It rains a lot. It can rain during the summer. If you can find a waterproof scripture case that would be good. I would just put mine in a plastic bag and that was kind of uncomfortable. Their buses there are like our airplanes. The chairs are super comfortable if you’re in first class. They’re really nice and have tons of room. It’s pretty cool . The other buses that move around the city are really crammed. Don’t expect the buses to come at the same specific time each day. You just have to show up and wait. They have taxis and other guys that just use their own cars.
Matthew (Argentina Rosario Mission)
–Paraphrased from Matthew’s mission interview–
Rosario Mission Weather and Geography
When I got called to Argentina, I thought I was going somewhere similar to Guatamala -rainforest and tropical. But when I got there I realized it was more similar to the Southeastern US. The Rosario mission covers three provinces: Santa fe, Entre Rios, and the very Northern tip of the Buenos Aires province. The Santa Fe and Buenos Aires provinces are super flat without a hill in sight. They are quite hot and humid, not like a desert, but not very green either. In Entre Rios there was more green and hills, and it was super lush. I was excited when I got transferred there since I hadn’t seen a hill in almost two years.
No matter where you go, it’ll be pretty hot and humid in the summer. Mold can get on everything, so you have to be careful to take care of your clothes and other belongings. Winters can get pretty cold, so be sure to pack some warm clothes. Argentina doesn’t experience much snow, and the people would get amazed when you told them what it was like. It was quite close to snowing though; sometimes it would get as low as 33 degrees (F).
The Food and the People
The food is very good. Argentinas don’t use a lot of spices, and they eat a lot of meat. They eat italian style food, with lots of meat and steak added in. They like to have big parties called Assados where they will grill steak and other meat, cooked really well without a lot of spices or barbecue sauce. Watch out, you might gain some weight if you’re not careful… For Argentinians, the fat part of the meat is the best part, and they like to fry. If its ever raining, go to the members houses, and they will feed you.
About half the mission is big city, and the other half is “campo” or in the countryside. I spent half of my mission in each area. In the city, there’s some very poor areas, some very rich ones, and its very crowded. Its very similar to European architecture. In the country they have a very cowboy like culture. In the city they call the very poor areas Vichas, where people will simply find a piece of land that they don’t own and build a house there. Some families have lived in this poverty for generations. While theses areas could be dangerous, it was easy to find people who were receptive to our message. They were good people, but you had to be careful because there were some shifty ones as well.
The Argentine people are awesome. Some people think they’re a little odd. Others think they are a proud people. I love the national pride that they have. They think that they have the best country in the world. Messi is from Rosario actually. They’re very proud of their culture. The siesta is a huge and sacred thing. It’s usually a two hour nap they take during lunch. Knocking on people’s doors during the siesta can be almost like a crime. Some people don’t care as much. We would do most of our studies during the siesta. Dinner is a very small meal. Breakfast usually doesn’t happen. They have this drink called mate that we couldn’t drink as missionaries. I think it just tastes like grass and water. The people love it though. Everywhere they go they bring their thermos and their mate. Most people there don’t have cars, but everyone has motorcycles. They’re like family vehicles. I’ve seen a lot of people on a single motorcycle. I spent a lot of time in the country. There are these gauchos who are like cowboys. They have very distinct clothing. They’re so fun and humble. I remember this one guy named Juan who had worked in the field all of his life. He kind of said yes to everything and so they didn’t think he understood the baptismal invite so they didn’t come back, but when we found him he still wanted to be baptized.