Yea! We have internet in our apartment. OK so for right now it is only 512KB/s so don't expect me to be uploading any pictures anytime soon! But at least it will allow me to post some text and let people know what is going on with us.
So first a little catching up . . . our trip here was, well shall we say, exciting? Frankly, the last thing you would wish for anyone having an intercontinental flight is exciting. We flew out on January 6 and the weather on the east coast was awful so our plane showed up in SLC about 3 hours late. We landed in Atlanta with about 45 minutes to make the flight. Tight but doable except that there were no gates available to let us off the plane! By the time we finally got off the plane, our flight to Buenos Aires had already left. They rerouted us through Santiago, Chile but there were mechanical problems with that flight so we missed the connection from Santiago to Buenos Aires. We finally made it to BA at about 5:00 in the afternoon and met the good brother that had been waiting for us in the airport since before 8:00 a.m. Unfortunately, while we made it, none of our luggage did. We spent the night in BA and were advised to just fly on to Comodoro Rivadavia and our luggage would catch up to us. Three days later it finally mostly made it. There were a number of items missing out of our luggage and I am still working through that with the airlines.
We retrieved the last piece of luggage from airport on our way out of town on Friday, January 10 to drive to Rio Gallegos. Rio Gallegos is about 500 miles from Comodoro. Stop and think about that for a minute. That's like driving from the center of Utah, say Fillmore, to Disneyland. This is all one mission and we aren't even close to the end of it. Ushuaia is at the end of Tierra del Fuego and is another 350 plus miles from Rio Gallegos over dirt roads and including customs for both Chile and Argentina plus a ferry ride. Comodoro is more in the center part of the mission. If you haven't gotten the picture yet, this mission is geographically huge!
Wikipedia lists the 2010 census population of Rio Gallegos as about 100,000 people. From walking and driving around it, I have to say that it doesn't feel that big. The downtown area is fairly compact and very walkable. The city feels to me more like Missoula, MT when I was growing up and that was more like 50,000 people. President Rogers told us that as a couple we should plan a weekly date. However, when we ask people what they do for entertainment here, they just kind of shrug their shoulders and say they go visit friends or go to Punta Arenas, Chile (we asked but that is outside of the mission and we don't get to go there). Since we go visiting people all the time our dating is going to have to be a little creative!
As we meet people here they are always asking us how we like the weather here. My response is that the people are really kind and friendly. They say that Rio Gallegos has four seasons in every day. This morning early it was calm, sunny and a little warm. This afternoon the wind blew relatively hard only about 30 mph with a few stronger gusts. Tonight it is cold and rainy. That is a typical summer day here. (Remember that this is the southern hemisphere so while you are having winter we are having our summer.) Very seldom do you see people walking around without a jacket or sweater on. I think we hit 70 on one day but that has been the high and most of the time it is quite a bit cooler. Winter could be interesting.
We got here in the month of January which is equivalent to August in Europe. Everyone was on vacation and not much was happening. We bought some furniture from a store that had free delivery except all the delivery people were on vacation until the beginning of February. So we got one of the members with a truck and the Elders to do the delivery. Our first Sunday here, all the of the branch presidency was out of town, as well as the Relief Society Pres. and the Elder's Quorum Pres. We now have all of the branch leadership back in town and it feels like things are moving forward. We have been called to teach the Temple Prep class and we are contacting people that the branch council has singled out for that class. President Rogers said he was going to call the branch president and let him know that we should have 3 or 4 callings in the branch, one is just not enough! It reminds me of my parents in our small ward in Montana. I'm sure there were times when my Mom normally held down at least 4 callings just to keep things working!
We have met a number of people in the branch and we hope to get into all the homes eventually. I am amazed by the faithfulness of many of the people here. There are many who are classified as less active but I am astounded by the level of sacrifice it takes just to get to church for many of them. We walk into a home of someone who has not been to church for sometime and we read a scripture with them and the whole family runs to get their personal scriptures to read along. I feel a little embarrassed about the complaints that I sometimes made about having to run over to the church for something. It is incredibly humbling being here and working with these people.