View Larger Map
Snapshot of Uruguay – Spanish is the official language of Uruguay, though Portuguese and Portuñol are also spoken in the northern area close to Brazil. About 45% of Uruguay’s population belongs to the Roman Catholic church, while another 40% are irreligious; another 10% belong to various Protestant churches. Gaucho culture (somewhat similar to the American cowboy) is quite dominant in Uruguay, as seen in the wide consumption of yerba mate and a regional pride in rural traditions. Tango and candombe are popular folk music styles, with candombe being particularly dominant during Carnival, though Uruguayan rock is also quite popular.Soccer is Uruguay’s most popular sport, though rugby and basketball are also widely enjoyed.
Beef is extremely popular in Uruguay, and is often barbecued in the Asado style. Other popular dishes include Chivito (steak, cheese, tomato, and lettuce sandwich), Choripán (a fast food sandwich with grilled pork sausage, lettuce, and tomato), and empanadas. Pasta and Uruguayan pizza (similar to an Italian calzone) are also quite popular. A variety of pastries and desserts, including dulce de leche, are also common.
The LDS church has been growing rapidly in Uruguay, especially in the past two decades. The Church was first introduced just in 1944 (for North Americans in the country) and by 1948 there were already fifteen congregations! In 1997 the Uruguay Montevideo West Mission was created, making it the second of two missions in that country. There is one temple, located in the capital city of Montevideo. Nearly everyone in the country is Christian with roots in the Roman Catholic Church, so conversations about the Savior and religion are familiar to the people and easy for missionaries to engage in. To date, the total Church membership is 99,758 in two different missions; the country has near 160 congregations as well as over twenty Family History centers.
The food varies by region. In the south, pasta dishes are popular, due to the heavy Italian influence (much like people eat in Buenos Aires, Argentina).
In the north the food more closely resembles that of Brazil, with a lot of black rice and beans (Feijoada). The rolling plains of Uruguay are excellent cattle country, so beef plays a major part in many dishes. Chicken is also common. Some rare/exotic foods eaten here are carpincho—the world’s largest rodent, better known by the Brazilian name capybara—and armadillo.
Most Uruguayans travel by bus, motorcycle, or by foot. People do have cars, but they are not overly common. Missionaries travel mostly by walking or taking the bus for longer trips. The bus system is very advanced; the bus depot in Montevideo is as impressive as many airports. Most of the cities have taxis as well.
Petty robbery is experienced by some missionaries so they tend to carry little in the way of cash/valuables.
“It was a mission rule that your bookbag could only be slung from one shoulder, and that backpacks could not be worn over both shoulders; supposedly, this was to make the robberies safer, as the thief could easily take the bag and be on his way. A bag that was more difficult to remove could lead to a more serious altercation.”
Women almost always greet by kissing each other on the cheeks; men sometimes do. On the 29th of every month, Ñoquis (Gnochi in Italian) are traditionally eaten.
Che (kind of like “dude”)
Vos (very familiar form of “you”)
Resilient pants and shirts that won’t tear easily. Reusable water bottles come in handy for hot days.
The mission is great! People are friendly and generous, and missionaries will feel at home talking about religion with people there.
Enrique Martinez 1167
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/UruguayMontevideoWestMission
*What items were hard to get or not available?
“Just some food products, like soda and candy from my own country, but that was to be expected.” -Ty
“We had toothpaste and spices, but they were all local. Nothing was American.”
*What did you eat the most of?
“That’s a toss-up between rice with beans and pasta.” -Ty
“Beef, pasta, and mayonnaise on everything.”
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“Carpincho, which is a giant hamster.” -Ty
“Raw beef, where the cow was not only still bleeding on the plate, but was still mooing.”
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“To me it was the Italian influence. Huge numbers of Italians came to Uruguay and Argentina in the 20th century, and they left a distinctly Italian flavor on the culture.” -Ty
“Poverty. Extreme poverty.”
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Uruguay Montevideo West Mission?
“Enjoy every minute! It goes by quickly!” -Ty
“Break in your shoes before you leave home.”
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“The Preach My Gospel handbook is incredible. Use every bit of it.” -Ty
**Did you serve in the Texas Houston Mission? If so, we would love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.**