Tyler (Argentina Santa Fe Mission)
–Paraphrased from Tyler’s mission interview–
I originally started in the Rosario mission which has parts of three provinces. When the mission got split, it took the middle of Santa Fe and the new mission is just the middle of Santa Fe and a little more. All my mission I served in the boundaries of the new Santa Fe mission. Santa Fe is pretty big, but not as big as Rosario. There have been missionaries there for 50 years. There are lots of wards and a few stakes.
The people are really great. There are some very poor areas and also some very wealthy areas. Santa Fe is probably more than 80% Catholic. There are some Evangelists and some people joining the Universal Church from Brazil.
The people will say that the missionaries are spies from the CIA. There are people that try to spread rumors about missionaries doing bad things like going to clubs with girls, but for the most part they accept the missionaries and it’s part of the culture having people in the streets talking to you about religion. There are a lot of people that like to argue with you and bible bash.
There are a lot of people that smoke. It’s hard for some people to get over it, but if they do the basic things and read their scriptures, pray, and go to church then they can get over it. I had an investigator that had been smoking for 15 years and her family told her she could never quit. We started teaching her and she ended up quit smoking. That miracle in their family lead to her mom, brother, and daughter getting baptized. A lot of people won’t be able to quit, but if they keep their commitments they can. That goes along with any challenge.
When I first arrived I was afraid of what the food would be like, but I ended up liking it a lot. It’s not that good for you though. It’s a lot of meat and fried food and pizza and things. A lot of days we had rice. We had a lot of pasta as well. They have every kind of pasta there. We ate asado. It’s the thing I miss most about Argentina. They grill every part of the cow until it’s really tender. They only season it with salt and it turns out amazing. I would love to go back. They drink a lot of tang. They eat every part of the cow. They eat heart, liver, just everything.
Transportation, Work, Crime
It’s a very industrial city. A lot of people work there and it is very fast paced. To the north and outside of the city are the poorer areas and more dangerous areas. To the south are the wealthier people like the doctors and lawyers. There are also some famous islands there. There are a lot of shoemakers, teachers, tutors, but most people work in construction. Santa Fe is right on the Parana river. It’s very humid there. In the summer it’s very hot and humid and you sweat as soon as you leave your apartment. The housing for missionaries is very good. There is always one unlucky companionship with a bad apartment, but usually you have a great apartment. The crime is pretty bad, but nothing happens if you’re paying attention to the Spirit. I served in the poorest area of Santa Fe and missionaries got robbed there pretty often. I was with a brand new missionary and on his first day in the mission field we were walking back to the apartment when I saw two 20 year olds standing in the street in front of us and they robbed us. They only took 15 pesos from me, but they took a camera and a watch from my companion and I felt pretty bad about that. It happened to us because I wasn’t paying attention to the Spirit. You have to be very careful. People will be high or drunk or desperate for money and that makes them dangerous. Most of the time they fake that they have a weapon, but one time I was robbed at gunpoint and that was scary. Carry a little money, but enough that they don’t get mad that you have nothing. Obey the white handbook rules. Santa Fe has a very good bus system. You’ll get a yellow bus card and you can get right on the bus. The price is always going up. You can get to most areas by bus. They don’t always arrive on time, but for the most part they’re good. In the poorer areas things cost less and I could make it to the end of the month with money to spare, but in the richer areas I had to be more thrifty.
The area of Entre Rios is between two rivers. It’s a lot of country, farmland, chickens, and cows. It’s a lot different than Santa Fe. It’s a lot less educated. Everyone there drinks mate all day and pass it around from person to person. There’s a lot more of that culture. They sit around a lot more. They seem more willing to listen to you because they aren’t in as much of a hurry. It’s really close to Uruguay. A lot of people from Uruguay live there. They share a lot of their culture as well. People with Uruguay drink more mate though. There is a lot less crime in Entre Rios than in Santa Fe. In La Paz they are famous for their hot springs. It’s a very old city. There is one of the biggest triathlons in La Paz.