Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dominick Learning Spanish Part I - How My Study Time Quadrupled In One Night

Hello everybody,

So this is the first, in what I hope will be an interesting series here on my blog. While not my main reason for being here, one of my many objectives is to learn Spanish. As any of you who have learned another language know, this is a long and arduous journey. Full of many ups and downs, skirmishes and battles, victories and defeats. But above all else, deeply satisfying, and humorous to look back on. Therefore i hope you enjoy this series...

I dedicate this particular chapter to Amanda Wozny. For all of those times you told me how it takes you 3 hours to study your Watchtower, and then I made fun of you...and tried to get you do to it faster so you could come to soccer...

Part I - How My Study Time Quadrupled In One Night

So a few days ago I decided that despite believing that I was trying hard to learn Spanish while living here, I wasnt making enough progress. So I decided to up my game one step at a time and see how it goes.

When i first came here, I was so overloaded with things, that to save space i left out whatever I thought I would be able to get here. In my mind it all seemed so right..." Its an English hall, they will have all of the books in English there for me. So I dont need to bring my "Follower" book, I will just get one there". Now this completely ignores everything I had previously experienced here with regard to procuring literature. So needless to say, for the last 2 months, I have been using someone else's English book, while they used their Spanish one. (Thanks Abby)

Since I was so sick and tired of waiting for new books to get shipped to us (From Brazil), I decided to go and get a book in Spanish, and that from now on, I was going to study for the Congregation Bible Study in Spanish. I figured this would give me the chance to learn some new words, and force me to spend time each day studying.

So tonight was my first night of studying in Spanish. And to be honest I really thought it was going to go a lot faster than it did. I seem to remember that when I had a Spanish Watchtower back home that i understood a lot of it. And so it goes, that I do understand a good deal of written Spanish. But that doesnt mean that I understand all of it.

My first delay came almost right away, when after about 10 min of frustratingly trying to find the LL section in the only Spanish dictionary I have in my apartment, I became so upset that I threw the stupid book across the room, and resolved to try this another night. Only once it hit the floor and closed, did i notice that this "Stupid" dictionary that was lacking a whole letter, was a English to Portuguese dictionary (Left over from my trip to Brazil).

After resigning to myself that "at least no one saw that" I got my computer and started using an online dictionary (funny how wrong that thought was, it took almost no time at all for me to start writing this post). Now here comes the part that was quite humbling. I managed to get through only 6 paragraphs,  in about 2 hours and 15 min! So now feeling a lot less sure of myself, but strangely enough, feeling more confidant that I can learn this language, I decided that it was best to call it a night.

It is amazing how when you have to study in another language, it makes you understand the material so much better. Because it forces you to focus harder, and take your time covering the material. Now I am not saying that from now on all I am going to do is study in Spanish, but I think I learned my lesson. And have gained a valuable determination to redouble my efforts to learn this language.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Proof That Our English Group Works

It seems like the last few posts I have done, have been lacking in Spiritual content. As that is the main reason I am here, I figured that it was about time to have a nice spiritual update from Argentina.

This last weekend we had our Circuit assembly here in Buenos Aires Circuit 1A. Here is the breakdown...

Pioneer Meeting = Lots of Funny Spanish Words & Cake!

So this friday began the weekend, with the meeting for regular pioneers. A great experience as always to get this special meeting with the Circuit and District overseer. We had exactly 100 pioneers at the meeting. Here are a few pictures and videos to show you what the hall was like.

Translation: Stay off the Lord's Grass!
Reality: Not so much grass...

Why dont we get Cake at our pioneer meetings in IL 15?

My notes from the Pioneer meeting. For those of you who speak Spanish you will find this funny....

Once i lost a speaker, I would start working on this list...

I Will Never Think Its A Hassle To Go To Romoville again…
Saturday & Sunday both started at 5:50 AM for me. 5:50 AM! You might be wondering (If your not wondering about the stupid happenings of my life, then perhaps you are on the wrong blog!) why I got up so early just to get to something that starts at 9:30. Well the answer lies in just what it takes to get to the assembly here. 

"El Jefe" brother Daniel giving a talk, along with Seba & Lionel doing a demo. 
The assembly hall is far outside of the city here, in a place called CaƱuelas which is in the province about 1 and a half hours bus ride from Downtown. For most of us in the city here, public transportation is the only way we have of getting around, since we don't have cars (An American from the Suburbs without a car…I know right). Normally this is not a problem with all of the countless buses and the subway. However since the assembly hall is in the middle of nowhere, (Think DeKalb but by bus from the city) there is no public transportation to get there. The solution to this is that the various congregations charter buses for use by the brothers to get there. Our bus left at 7:00 am about 15 blocks from my house. The bus is unforgiving about leaving without people (The one instance in this country where being on time matters). Therefore, to be on time, I needed to leave my place at 6:40, add to that getting dressed, and making pasta salad for 15 people (We all pack things to share with everyone in the group) you arrive at me waking up at 5:50 just to get there by 8:45. 

Daniel Giving His Talk - This was one of only a few talks, where I understood almost everything he said. Thank you Daniel.

Best lines that came to mind:

1. Bigger people need...smaller amounts of juice?
2. It take a real woman to take down a whole liter of Orange Juice by herself.
3. This size is the biggest I could afford :(
The Assembly itself as is always the case was a delight. Even though my Spanish skills still leave something to be desired, it is always nice to be a such a large gathering of Brother and Sisters. Once again, the brothers for some reasons had enough faith in me, to make me an Acomodador (Attendant) along with the rest of the brothers from the group. Our job was basically to watch the two doors of the offices of the Superintendente (Circuit Overseer) and el presidente de la asamblea (Assembly Overseer) who happens to be our own brother Daniel (aka El Jefe "The Chief"). We joked all assembly that our only job was to take a bullet for Daniel should someone try to assassinate him...we never could think of any reason why someone would want to kill him though...

Go Ben Go!
But without a doubt, the highlight of the assembly came on Saturday, when our newest brother Bernard (Ben) got baptized. A native African, he is the first bible study to get baptized in the English group. Almost 6 years (I think) of being a group and now we have our first real success from the field. He even got a special nod during the "Needs of the Circuit" part when the circuit overseer speaking about the great growth in the foreign language fields,  mentioned him being the first African (and therefore Native English speaker) to get baptized, eliciting a loud applause from the entire 1,100 in attendance. After we congratulated him, the way Jehovah's Organization does, we patted him on the back, said "Great Job" and then sent him off to work watching the doors for us while we all ate lunch. Once you dipped, its straight to work! Just the way it should be.

In between diving in front of gunman's bullets for Daniel, and trying to figure out what was being said on stage, we all enjoyed our time together. Lunch outside tailgating with a few of the people who have cars, and then sleeping on the bus ride home. As always a day in Jehovah's house is better than 1000 spent elsewhere. I hope you enjoyed hearing about our good times here. 

Tailgating for lunch at the assembly

Why can't we do this in the States again?

Gilda, Abby, & Suzanne - Que Linda! 

I think this guy had it figured all out...He was the only one with the guts to do what we all wanted to do

Bret & Ryan jiving about life...

1. Thats some good Mate!
2. Taking a hit off the Mate during lunch.
3. Nothing like passing "The Herbs" around at the assembly

1. Its just so hard sometimes
2. At least he was awake during his part on stage earlier.

Me and Jess

Ryan & Jess

I swear she is a happy person despite what this picture seems to convey. 

My turn with "The Herbs"
*Mate: the green stuff in the cup is called Yerba or Herbs hence the joke...

Interesting facts about the Assembly:

Apparently Argentina is ahead of the IL when it comes to getting spiritual programs. This weekend was the brand new Assembly, "No Part Of The World". This is the first staging of it in the whole country, and among the first in the world, as this is the assembly for the 2010-2011 service year (If i am correct the one back home should be sometime around March or April).

What am I doing here?

This was only Half of the circuit, part A. The rest of the circuit, part B is made up of around 7 Quechua language (The indigenous language of the Mayan peoples from Peru, Bolivia, etc…) congregations.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dead Presidents

Have you ever wondered what its like living in a nation's capital when a national icon dies? Well I found out last week when the former president of Argentina, and current First Gentleman (husband of current President Cristina Kirchner) Nestor Kirchner, died suddenly of a heart attack at age 60.

It is simply amazing how fast people will change their opinions of a man, after he dies. While not being George Bush, this man had plenty of people who did not like him. And his current wife, in her role as president has an even larger set of detractors than he did. However these two are kind of viewed as a package deal. He was her main adviser, and they were planning to switch back and forth as president each election. With him slated to run again next year.

Either way those plans now are not possible. In the week since he died, the country has pulled together to mourn him. Within hours, the Peronista machine (Followers of Peron...Evita's Husband) has already placed posters glorifying the dead president all of the city. Political graffiti baring his name appeared almost instantly across the entire city. As you can see from these pictures and the video, people gathered in large numbers for the chance to see the president laying in state at the Casa Rosada the presidential palace in the heart of the city, despite the rain and cold weather.

Its a shame that i didn't take out my camera when i first walked through this plaza early in the morning when it was filled. I managed to take a few shots later after i had finished with service. Enjoy the pics, and watch the videos.

A woman crying her eyes out as she watched the video monitors set up in the plaza showing the people as they walked by the casket, and the president and her family.

This is the kind of graffiti that showed up over night across the entire city