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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merrrry Christtttmassss!

Hello, hello. I have some news for you guys during this great time of year! I don´t really have that much actually, since it has only been like three days. Anyways, here it goes.

93 degrees. Yes, that´s right. We hit 93 degrees in our apartment. I am so grateful for fans b/c I would probably die if we didn´t have them. We just sit by the windows and sweat it out sometimes as we try to feel the breeze. Maybe you were right, dad. We should probably hide Elder Birky´s thermometer since it just kinda puts us down anyway. It´s definitely a cold Christmas here in Santa Fe. haha. NOT :)

Special Conference. I just realized that never before have I talked about these special conferences. To fill you guys in, we have a zone conference every three months or so, when the President and his assistants come to our zone, give some talks, and we usually have a big lunch afterwards. They are usually about four to six hours long, and we learn a bunch. I have already attended two conferences and one special conference for new missionaries and trainers. Sorry for not writing about them before. Anways, this last (my third) conference was special. We still had talks and everything, but its theme centered on Christ and Christmas. And guess what? Last Pday, almost directly after I had sent my email to you guys, one of the president´s assistants called our phone. Elder Birky gave it to me and said that the assistants to the President wanted to talk to me. So I picked up the phone and started talking to them in Spanish. One of the assistents is from Chili, and the other is from Utah. They are cool, and I know one of them a little bit from my trip to Rosario about a month a half ago to do all of that paperwork to get my DNI. So we were talking, you know, just some small talk. Then after a litle bit, they said they had a special question for me. "Elder Jones, as you know, we have the special Christmas Conference coming up in a week. We have thought about it, and we think that you should give a short 5 minute talk." This really caught me off guard because I am still so new in the field, but they said they had heard my spanish before and felt like I should be the one. Just to fill you guys in a little more, since this was a special conference, it consisted of three zones. Or in other words, I had to give a short talk in Spanish in front of about sixty missionaries, the assistents to the President, and in front of the President himself with his wife. I prepared whenever possible during our short amounts of free time, practicing my spanish and deciding which thoughts I desired to share. Finally the day came. It was yesterday actually. :) We arrived, and just like during all of the other conferences, there were tons of people everywhere talking and getting ready. After a couple of minutes and prep, the conference started and we all filed into the chapel of the church in which we were meeting. I felt a little nervous, especially since this talk was in spanish, but felt excited at the same time. Generally, I really enjoy giving talks or teaching classes like Elders´ Quorum, which I did at BYU :). Anways, they introduced everyone, we sang, and everything went like normal. While sitting there, I counted and realized that there were about 55 missionaries, plus the president and his wife. And guess what?? Half of these missionaries are native speakers from South America!! Oh No haha. Anyways, they called my name, and a lot of the missionaries looked at me because many of them didn´t know who I was. haha. Usually the missionary who speaks has a little more experience. My talk went really well though. I told a story about a young boy and how he showed the spirit of Christmas one night long ago. It is a great story from the Liahona that I read a long time ago. I also talked about the true purpose of Christmas and the birth of the Savior. I talked a little bit above my natural ability right now, and I believe this happend becuase of my practice and the Spirit's presence. A lot of the natives talked to me afterwards and said that I did a good job. So, as of right now, I am a little more well known in the mission :)

And that´s about it for this week. There is a bit more to say, but I will have to type more next week since other missionaries need to use the computers to write to their families. They have to set up when they are going to call their families. We are pretty packed in this small computer shack! Thanks for all you guys do, and Merry Christmas to all! I love Argentina.

With love,
Elder Jones

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ho Ho Ho From Argentina

Hey, it is almost Christmas! Sometimes I forget the time of year because it was about 90 degrees yesterday. Crazy, huh? It has been another crazy, busy week with a bunch of interesting events. Anyways, I better get started since we don't have tons of time.

First off, all we have is a microwave right now. So, with my amazing cooking skills, I tried to make a mini cake in the microwave :). We did this for FHE one night at BYU, and it tasted really good. Well, let's just say that my cake here in Argentina wasn't quite as good. haha. I tried three times, but I think the microwave doesn't have enough power. Haha. It always makes weird noises and sounds tired. Oh well, it was a good idea, at least in theory :). My FHE mom was Emily Evans, and I guess I'll just have to ask her how to do it again sometime. I'm just gonna blame the crappy microwave.

Another kinda crappy thing happened too that I forgot to mention in the last email. I've had an eye infection for the last two weeks, so I've been rocking my awesome glasses. Some people tease me, but a bunch of missionaries and people wear their glasses b/c it is so easy to get an infection here. So it's not really that bad. My infection never really hurt, but half of my eye was super red for a pretty long time. It was actually my first eye infection ever. At least it wasn't that bad :). I am wearing contacts today, which is really nice.

Okay, some good stuff DID happen this week. One word: hamburger stand. There is this guy who works right outside a restaurant and sells hamburgers and a bunch of Argentine food like milanesas, chorripan, and some other good stuff. We usually don't eat at places like this b/c typically they have some pretty dirty equipment. This guy, Jorge, is really clean so we decided to try him out. For 10 pesos, which is like 2.50 dollars, I bought a hamburger the size of a dinner plate. It was SUPER good :). I had heard about stuff like this from other missionaries, but it is difficult to find stands like this that are clean enough. Now we are going to go eat there a lot since we know of this guy and didn't get sick after eating his food. If you guys come to visit me after I finish my mission, one of the days we will have to eat huge hamburgers. They sell them in real restaurants too, where we know it will be clean enough. :).

Oh and guess what, I am officially Argentine. All of that paperwork that I completed in Rosario about a month ago has been completed, and I received my DNI, which is a Spanish document kinda like a driver's license. It has my picture and a bunch of other information. I guess a good way to describe it is this: it is like a small version of my passport that is used like an ID card here in Argentina. Almost all of the citizens have one too. It is a really cool looking document and makes me feel official here in Argentina.

For example, my companion had to use his DNI number to buy appliances for our apartment this week. We bought a fridge, oven, stove, table, and basically everything we need for our apartment. We are living with two other missionaries right now, so there are four of us in total. Normally there would only be two of us, but this other companionship doesn't have an apartment right now, either. Our apartment is actually pretty nice, but it is pretty cramped with four people. It's all good, though. We still don´t have gas, so the showers are cold and we still can´t cook anything. That´s just the way it goes.

So basically, I carry this DNI card around with me everywhere now instead of my photocopy of my passport. (my real visa and passport are in the offices of the mission home, just for security purposes)

Also, I just found out that I am not getting transfered. Elder Birky and I are still together.... We finally got the money, did some more shopping, and bought all the general appliances. We still dont have gas or electricity. We have been using a cord from our neighbors to have power in our house. We should get it the week after Christmas or something like that. This is really frustrating, but it has really humbled me. I have been living on the floor for three months with nothing except one table and two mattresses. We buy stuff off the streets for meals since we can't preserve anything without a fridge. It really stinks sometimes. Finally, we got a fridge and can use our neighbor's power to run it. We put our bed together last week. I think I mentioned this in the last email. So now we are doing alright. It has just been super hard. I love you guys so much, and you have taught me many things that have prepared me for my mission.

Aside from our crappy circumstances, the mission work is great. We had four people come to church with us!! Two of them are Jehovah´s witnesses who say that they have always had doubts about their church. We are probably going to have at least two, maybe three, baptisms this transfer. We will have to work hard for them though.

Whew, I am sick of typing and wish that I was skiing with you guys. I know there is a purpose in everything, though.

Thanks for everything guys. I love you and Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mountains of Information

Alright, make sure you guys are in a comfortable chairs because I have a bunch of information (two weeks worth) to share!

1) Poem. I know, I know. This doesn't really sound like me haha. Two pdays ago, Elder Birky was sleeping and I didn't have anything to do. I had already studied, written letters, and drawn. So I was just sitting there and decided to start writing a poem to pass the time while birky slept since I couldn't do anything else until he woke up! Anyways, here it goes!

A Missionary´s Message

Consecrated by the Prophet,
Testifying to the world,
Guided by the Holy Spirit,
To preach a gospel unfurled,

Travel the young around the globe,
Teaching of the salvation,
That through Christ, Redeemer ours,
Will come to every nation.

It´s this sacerd contemplation,
That divine message of love,
That through the restored gospel,
Lies the church of God above.

Nonexistent then a resaon,
To not testify this truth,
From the humble, tender hearts,
That reside in every youth.

Nonexistent then a message,
That contains a greater truth,
From the ancient dispensations,
When dwelled Christ, a tender youth.

It´s this, this so special knowledge,
Anchored in our hears of love,
That through our testimonies,
Is relayed from God above.

Travel us, the missionaries,
Relaying this salvation,
That through the eyes of those we teach,
Is seen in every nation.

Consecrated by God divine,
We venture throughout the World,
Guided every sacred second,
To teach a gospel unfurled.

Not bad, eh? haha.

2) Christmas Tree. Elder Birky and I bought a tree from a small store and it is SUPER small. Still serves its purpose though :)

3) Shell Stop. Guess what, Dad? We were walking, and I saw a Shell off in the distance. I went there and bought ice cream to help you out a bit haha. It was good and actually pretty similar to ones in the states. They are really nice here compared to some of the other gas stations.

4) Horse Meat! So in the states, you guys have ham and cheese. It is pretty good, and sometimes we eat it here too. But guess what? We were eating at a member's house, and she started cutting meat that looked a little different. We found out it was horse and tried it. It was actually really good. It tastes kinda like salami or bologna. I like it a lot more than cow intestine and all of the other stuff i tried earlier :).

5) Divisiónes. I think this is called companionship exchanges in English, even though it translates into divisions in English. But yes, we did them about two weeks ago. I went with Elder Contreras, who is from Paraguay. I met a bunch of new people, and it felt nice to work in a different area. We had Bishopric counsel meeting that night, and while I was sitting in the room, I realized something cool: I was the only one who knew English in the room! Crazy.

6) Waterproof shoes. I remember that we weren´t sure if we needed to buy these. Definitely worth it. I love them, and it rains quite a bit here, so they really come in handy. Zach, you will have to be sure and get some when you serve your mission :)

7) I gifted a tie and one of my button down shirts to Pedro Mariano, who recently got baptized. I have enough anyway, and he really liked it. We taught him how to tie his tie, and he proudly wears it every Sunday now. I will try to send a picture :)

8) Speaking of ties, every once in a while I wear the tie that Brother Rumsey gave me. Everybody compliments me on how cool it is!

9) Service. Whoa, I don't have enough time to describe all of this, but we did A TON! Her name is Rita, and she has a gargantuan backyard. She hadn't done anything with it for over a year, so in some parts the grass was up past our knees. We had a small electric lawn mower and some other equipment to use. It was a fun experience, and we worked with her and her family for about three hours, pulling weeds, mowing, moving rocks, watering, and fixing the fence. It was really cool. I have pics of this too and will send them if there is time!

10) Haircut. Well, let´s just say that we have completely said goodbye to any sort of long hair. Everybody just gets it buzzed here, so that´s what I ended up doing. Something cool happened, though. We were eating lunch at a member's home one afternnon when I mentioned that I was going to get my haircut later that day. Guess what? They offered to do it. I was a little hesitant but accepted their offer. They just used a machine and buzzed everything, just like they did at the MTC :)

11) Pday. Our next pday is on Tuesday because we have transfers. I just read part of our weekly message, and it says that there are going to be a lot of changes. The clock is ticking, and I have no idea what is going to happen to me :)

12) Teaching English to a family. MagolÍ and Monica, some of our best investigadores right now (who showed us how to make the pizza), had a couple of appointments with us last week. After one of our lessons, they wanted us to teach them English. It went great, and we taught them some random phrases that they could use if they met someone who speaks English :) They are great people.

Alright, and to polish up, I am going to talk about the baptisms we have had, which have really kind of touched me. I had so much to say and sorry for not having too many details above. I thought you guys would want some pretty solid info about the baptisms, though. So i am going to donate a lot of time to this :). Alright, so first off, we had the two baptisms of Pedro and José two Sundays ago. We had taught them for about nine weeks when they accepted their official baptism date. Elder Birky and I each had the opportunity to baptize one of them. I baptized José, and I can´t really explain the amazing feeling of these baptisms. I´ve decided that baptisms are by far the best part of the mission.

I just realized that I had spoken a bit about this last time, so I will focus a little bit more on Sergio. We found him through a reference. It is actually kinda of complicated. Other missionaries who have an area near ours were tracting when they found this lady. She stopped them and informed them that she wanted to start going to church again and leave behind a lot of her bad habits. After talking to her a bit, they found out that she lives in Elder birky´s and my area. So they wrote down here phone number and info and then eventually gave it to us. When we went to teach here, we met Sergio, a neighbor of hers. He is 18 years old and had a lot of interest in our message right from the beginning. He is a great guy and progressed extremely fast. We taught him for about two weeks and he felt ready to get baptized. Right now he is waiting to get the Priesthood because he wants to pass the sacrament. It was great. Elder Birky Baptized him two days ago. :)

This mission is definitely hard some days, like when we are outside for 6 hours just talking to people who don´t let us in to their houses. The baptisms and changes in people´s lives make it worth it though :) Thanks for all of your support guys and everything. Some people have told me that my English can be a little weird sometimes, and every once in a while I type a sentence and am not sure if it makes perfect sense. If anything sounds kinda weird, that is probably why. :) Life is good, though. Happy holiday to everyone!

Also, thanks for the emails and dearleders. I really liked reading them and look forward to getting my package soon! Just to let you guys know, I really like the mission. The baptisms, the language, and everything is great. I am a little frustrated with the office though. I am living without hot water right now. We don't have a stove or fridge and had to steal a table from the church to use to study. All I can buy right now is fruit and dry cereal since we don't have a fridge. Yes, we did move to our new apartment, but things are still pretty meager. I really really appreciate what I had in the states, and this has truly been a humbling experience. We have worked hard and have had five baptisms! People tell me that I sound good too! I really do love the people and my ward, but the stuff like with apartments is really frustrating. We should get the money sent electronically from the mission office to the bank by us in Santa Fe this week. I finally slept on a real bed four days ago for the first time in my mission haha. We got the tools and assembled our bunk bed. Anyways... We will just have to see what happens with transfers:)

Overall, it really is great though. I just downloaded all of the General Conference in English to listen to on my ipod speakers. I will keep you guys updated and everything. Thanks for everything. I cant believe that you guys are almost of vacation from school. Keep me posted.

With Love,

Elder Jones

Monday, December 5, 2011

Craziest Week Yet!

Alright, guess what? We played soccer this morning with our zone, and a lot of the elders lost track of time. By the time we had finished playing, we were in the siesta. So all of the computer places were closed. I wanted to go to central, but nobody had money on their bus card. Also, we didn't have enough money in coins to ride the bus. We tried to get change, but none of the stores in our area were open either. It was just bad luck and bad planning. So right now we are using the bishop´s computer, and we only get about 30 minutes each to write to our families and to the president. :( Birky said that we can type for like two hours next week, though. I hope so!

I have tons to say and only have about ten minutes. So first and foremost, we had two baptisms this week!! Pedro y José got baptized, the two guys that we have been teaching for about two months. They are great people, and we are going to eat dinner with them tonight to celebrate! We are having chicken and cake, along with some other foods that the mom is going to cook. We are still talking and teaching their dad, who is a little bit stubborn at times. The mom has been a member for about 10 years, and she absolutely loves the church. Her name is Norma. Actually she has a calling and everything. The dad is really nice and super busy with work all of the time. We have become pretty good friends, and he has come to church a few times! Anyways, I would write a ton more, but I only had like 10 minutes!!! This is kinda lame, but I promise I will write a ton next week.

Alright, I guess thats it. I will make a super quick bullet list cuz other elders are waiting to use the computer.

- We did divisions this week, and I spent a whole day with Elder Contreras. He is from Paraguay.
- We FINALLY moved, but our circumstances are still horrible!!! We don't have gas, a stove, warm water, or bed stands yet. So I am pretty much camping haha. We are going to do a bunch of shopping, and most of this week should be dedicated to buying all of the stuff we need to live there. We better have hot water soon!!! The showers are SO COLD!

Alright, i really have to go. I love you guys though. I have a ton more to say, but it will just have to wait till next week since we have so many restrictions today.

Have a great week!

Elder Jones

Monday, November 28, 2011

Another Gnarly Week

Hey! I have quite a bit to say. First off, thanks for all of the mail. I received letters from the zone leaders during a training session. It was really great to hear from all of you, especially since it had been like almost a month. Seriously, all of the letters where great. I have a few comments for you guys!

- I cant believe that Thomas S Monson spoke at the BYU devotional. He better come again when I come back haha.
- Dad, you asked about 10-days of work and special pdays. I think they only happen like once or twice a year. There were special circumstances this time because the president had a special meeting in Buenos Aires, so we had to do the transfers early, which is what caused the early pday. Since we had an early pday, we had to work 10 days until the next pday to balance things out.
- Mom, it was great to read your letters too, and the new fridge sounds incredible! I also enjoyed the story about the elders and the hornet nest.
- Grandpa and Grandma Jones, thank you for the updates on sports and everything. Im praying for rain to come in dallas so you dont have those crazy water restrictions. Also, the BYU game in the Cowboys stadium sounds like it was fun to watch on TV.
- And hopefully the NBA will get things figured out too. It would be lame if they dont have a season.
- And I cant believe cameron went to hawaii haha. He sent a letter from hawaii, just to rub it in. That punk haha

Reading all of the dearelders really was a nice treat for me. I would talk more about them, but I should probably write a bit to fill you guys in with the argentine life :)!

Anyways, it has been another pretty busy week, and I have some good stuff to share.

1) Baptism Talk. Some other missionaries who live in my apartment had a baptism. We invited a bunch of our investigators to come, and after planning and getting ready, we went to their chapel to see the ordinance in action. In my area, we use the stake center, which is really really nice. The ward for these missionaries have a much smaller building that kinda resembles a big house. It was a great experience to see the baptism performed by other missionaries. But guess what? While talking to some of the members in the chapel, I saw the ward mission leader from their ward come in. We were still setting everything up, and after talking to him a bit, I found out that everything was great. Well, everything except one thing: the person to give the talk on the Holy Ghost hadn't shown up yet... So guess who got the opportunity? Yep, it was me :) I gave a five minute explanation with testimony tacked onto the end. I was a little nervous since so many people had their eyes glued on me, but it still went really well. I felt great afterwards because many people congratulated me and thanked me for the spiritual thought. Spanish is coming! Im still far from perfect, though :)

2) Parrot. One of our investigators has an argentine parrot that is INCREDIBLY exotic and amazing. It talks in simple spanish phrases too, which is really funny :). I will try to get a picture with it to send you guys.

3) Pizza with Magoli! She is one of our prime investigators now, and we stop by to teach and share a spiritual thought about every other day. In my last email, I mentioned that we had planned to make a pizza together one night. WE DID! Magoli (Mag--oh--lee) and her mom, Monica, helped us. We started from scratch, using flour, oil, sugar, salt, and a whole bunch of stuff. We made the crust, poured on the salsa, loaded it up with cheese, and everything. It tasted amaizng, and when I come home, I will have to make it for you guys. Elder Birky and I are going to try to do it on our own here in the next few days hopefully. We will have to see how it goes without the guidance of the professionals.

4) José y Pedro. They are the two guys we have been teaching for almost seven weeks now. We stop by about two times a week becuase they are super busy. They both play for a club soccer team. Anyways, their mom is a member and has been for 10 years. They have their baptism scheduled from this Sunday. Everything is going great, and the mom is really excited to have shared the wonderful blessings of the church with her family. The Dad is coming around too. At first, he wouldn't listen to us, but with time, we have gotten to be decent friends. He has come to some of the church activities and plans to attend the baptism of his two sons too. We hope he comes around as he sees the positive changes in his family. He loves the food at the Ward activities haha.

5) Still livin on the floor..... :( The offices are still working on a contract and apparently had to switch lawyers or something. We have been told that it will be at least another week or two!! It is definitely a little frustrating, but it is all good. I will be sure to let you guys know if we ever move. If it ever happens, that is. :)

And thats really about it for this past week. It was kinda routine, and I should have some fun stuff to write about next week. Also, Magoli has her baptism scheduled for the week after this one. So if all goes as planned, we will have two baptism weeks in a row. We have worked SO HARD, and I really hope everything goes well. :)

I love you guys! Oh and the whole visa story. Alright, Im gonna need another paragraph haha.

Okay, so you guys kinda already now the story. The "Link" atm machine we use for the mission visa card has never worked with my visa, and we can't figure out why. I even brought my card to a different link when we were in a different area and tried it there. Still no success. Plus Dad has been filling me in with info, and for some reason it is still charging me 2.50, even though it isn't giving me money. This was really FRUSTRATING!!! But I have good news, we came to central today. It is kinda like an outside mall/downtown Santa Fe. It was like a 20 minute bus drive. There was a different bank with a different atm machine here. There are only "links" everywhere buy our apartment. I tried it just to test my luck since it was a different type of machine, and it worked. It has been super frustrating, but at least now I have some personal money.

Thanks again,

Elder Jones

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Hello hello!

Wow, it has been a great week, and I have a ton to write about. But first off, Happy Thanksgiving to everybody :). Unfortunately, they dont celebrate this holiday here in Argentina. Oh well. You guys better eat a bunch of banana cream pie for me. haha Anyways, here we go!

1) Bread Salesman. A bunch of people sell stuff on the sides of the roads or from motorcycles here in Argentina. Most of them are pretty cool, and we buy food from them every once in a while to take a break from the exhaustive work. Most of them are just typical people, but we have this special guy who sells bread. He is this old man with a HUGE mustache. He rides by our apartment (we still haven´t moved by the way....) almost every morning on his wobbly bike with two huge baskets of bread. He makes like every kind and flavor possible. Anyways, the actual sales are pretty normal; it´s his chants that make him famous in my book. He reminds me of those beer or cotton candy salesman at Minute Maid Park baseball games. He has a gut and comes cruising by our house shouting, "Yo tengo pan para comer!!!" which basically means "I have bread for the eating." His voice is deep and bellowy. Basically, he is just really funny, and I think that is what helps him be so successful :).

2) Heat. Houston, we have a problem. We have set a new temperature record inside Rory´s apartment: 89 degrees F! Yeah, this only happened one day, but I just about died. At least we have our huge commercial fans to help us cope with the massive heat wave. :)

3) Pants Rip. Dont worry, it wasn´t my pants, but it´s still a story worth telling though! Alright, so I am still living with Elder Artunduaga, a great missionary from Uruguay. Just to brief you with some details, he has gained 30 kilos on his mission, which is about 65 lbs, más or menos. So, as you might have guessed, his pants are a little tight around just about everything haha. So here is the story. He was doing service with a family in his neighborhood with a few other missionaries. They had to move a fridge and a handful of boxes and tables to another room. Moving fast--probably a little too fast--Elder Artunduaga bent down and heaved to lift up his side of the fridge. A huge ripping sound shot through the air and his facial expression changed almost instantly. His pants had ripped straight down his seam. It was really funny. He sewed them up that night, but then they ripped the next day! haha. So...he sewed them again the day after. He is wearing them today. We´ll have to see if they last. If not, he is just going to buy some new ones, some nice hefty ones haha.

4) Language. Todavía, no voy a mentir, estoy luchando un poco con el idioma, pero me encanta el castillano. Las personas hablan rápido y yo hablo más despacio, pero podemos comunicarnos! Cada semana aprendo un poco más del idioma, y las personas me ayudan un monton! The language is coming, and it´s coming fast. I´m still definitely not considered fluent yet, but I can carry a conversation without elder birky now. Sometimes it is still pretty rough, and it depends on the vocab. It truly is amazing how much you learn here. I really enjoy talking to the people. Learning a new language has really changed my perspective of communication, and I have actually learned a lot about English just by studying spanish. I´ll dedicate more time to this topic in another email cuz I have more stuff to say :)

5) Special Lesson. Alright, so Elder Birky and I were tracting one evening and just doing the normal routine b/c we had a few hours before our official appointment later that night. It was my turn to do the contact, and this lady let us in to her house. We talked a little bit, and then I looked to Elder Birky cuz that´s usually when he takes the lead and I chip in a few remarks here and there during the lesson. Guess what? Elder Birky just looked at me and winked. That punk! haha. I´m glad he did it, though. So I actually did the small talk, and she understood me, even though I had to repeat myself every once in a while. Then I asked to start with a prayer, after which I taught the whole first lesson. Then I did a little small talk at the end and wrote down some information so we could visit her again. I wasn´t expecting it at all, and Elder Birky surprised me pretty darn well. It actually went pretty great for me. I´m definitely not as good as my trainer, but it was rewarding just to see that she understood me :). She was a sweetheart, an old widow of about 85 years.

6) Magoli (Ma--ga--lee) is one of our prime investigators right now. She came to church with us this last Sunday and absolutely loved it. She came to all three meetings and had a lot of questions for us. Of course, being missionaries, we love to answer questions :). We have almost finished teaching her all of the fundamental stuff, and her baptism is scheduled in about a week and a half if she feels ready. We visit her about 4 times a week, and usually we just chat a bit and then share a quick message. One day we were talking about food, and she gave me a special recipe to make a pizza. It was awesome. We are also going to her house this week to make empanadas and maybe some other Argentine food. She is going to teach us. She is awesome, is 21 years old, and her mom is really cool too.

And that´s about all for this week. I love you guys. The mission is pretty hard some days, but overall it´s pretty great. I really hope that we move soon. Living out of suitcases on the the floor in the kitchen is really starting to bug me. I have been living on the floor with nothing but a mattress and my suitcases for 8 weeks now. Other than that, everything is good though. :) I can´t believe you guys are having Thanksgiving this week. I´ll be out knocking on doors why you guys eat pie and watch football haha.

Love you guys.

Elder Jones

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tons of Information

Hello! Wow, I have a TON to say. We´ve had some pretty incredible experiences during these last 10 days. I´m gonna talk about the most interesting ones in the next couple of paragraphs, along with some other random information. Just to brief ya´ll, I´m gonna talk about mail, crazy foods of the week, the heat, investigators, and more :)

1) Mail. Guys, I finally got mail again, and it was great to hear from all of you. Camille, it sounds like you had a great homecoming. I can totally understand why you guys didn´t go to the dance cuz they are usually pretty lame at the schools. It sounds like Spencer definitely was a gentleman haha. That stud. Congrats, and hopefully you´ll have a great prom too. That was my favorite one :). Mom, thanks for all of the work you've put into the photo album! Zach, it sounds like football has made you a beast. If you don´t play next year, that´s alright. You know you´ve always been able to hit hard, though. So think about it at least. You might be taller and stronger than me when I come home haha. And thanks for the picture. Dad, I can´t believe those two guys left your team. They were kinda lame anyway. Tell Zeljko (I have no idea how to spell his name haha) hi for me! Hopefully you´ll still dominate with the numbers on that chart that you showed me that one day when I met everyone and got my teeth cleaned. A lot of the lunches we have hear are for just five dollars. We have rice, pasta, and crazy types of meat. Also, all of you BYU buddies send awesome mail too! I would write a short clip to everyone, but that would take forever. Hopefully we will get to the post office for a second time soon, so I can send some more letters. I have your bday letter ready mom, and I think we are going to send it tomorrow if possible. I hope it gets there in time. Anyways, so we get mail about once every 2 1/2 weeks seems to be about average. It is one of my favorite things to read here in good old Argentina :). O, and Aunt Karen, we have about 25 sister missionaries in the field right now out of about 200. I haven´t met any of them because I¨m in one of the sketchier areas where sister missionaries don´t serve, just for extra precautions.

2) Heat. For those of you living in plush america, you better appreciate your ac haha. We don´t have any, but we use huge fans. They sound like airplanes and blow all the papers off you desk when you try to study. haha. They feel absolutely amazing, especially after a hard day of work. Guess what? My companion has a thermometer on his clock, and it has gotten to 87 degrees inside our apartment! Crazy. I felt like I was gonna die that day. I sat in a lawn chair outside to study cuz it was cooler with the breeze haha. Oh, and I don´t think I ever gave you guys that many details, but my pench is kinda like Glenda´s place in Colorado. It´s more run down, and the kitchen is about half the size. But I think that´s still a pretty good comparison. We live in one of the nicest complexes in my area, but it´s still pretty rough when you compare it to the states. I thought that MTC was kinda rundown, but this is pretty worse haha. I still love it though. We only spend a little time in the pench, so it doesn´t really matter. It´s too bad we don´t go fishing on pdays like we do when we are in Glenda´s place haha.

3) Rabbit. So we were eating at a members home, and I´m pretty accustomed to the usual stuff here, but every once in a while we get something extraordinarily weird. They brought out this chicken thing on pasta, but the chicken looked kinda weird. It smells a little different than normal meat too. Guess what it was? Rabbit! haha. It was so good. I felt kinda weird eating it, but it tasted like a soft and juicier piece of turkey/chicken combo. I actually really liked it, and they are probably going to make it for us again. Birky liked it too.

4) Cow platter. I know, right? two really weird foods in one week. That´s pretty random, but it happens. Alright, let me explain for you guys. Here in argentina they have ¨"asado," whick is a spanish word that describes a method of cooking specific to argentina. It is kinda like a bbq. They cook meet on a metal rock over a cement oven type thing filled with coals. It always tastes so good. We have had asado a bunch, but usually is just chicken or steak cooked over the coals. Yummy. Anyways, now for the story. Not last saturday, but the saturday before we were at a members house for lunch, talking about the missionary work and just a bunch of random stuff. They had told us, ¨"vamos a almorzar con comida del asado hoy (we are going to eat food from the asado today)." So we were pumped since we both like asado. The member then brought out a HUGE PLATTER. It´s a special type of dish here in argentina that includes almost every part of the cow. It´s kinda like a huge appetizer dish with one or two pieces of everything for everyone. The dish is so big that it is the main course of the meal. I tried a ton of stuff. Here is the list with quick description of each piece. Yes, I tried all of them. The member thought we were cool cuz most missionaries don´t try all of it. I just had to do it.
- Cow heart. This was my favorite one on the platter. It tasted like really chewy meat with less flavor. It was kinda like a soft pice of beef jerky. Elder Birky and I split a whole cow heart! Yum Yum Yum haha.
- Cow stomach. We had already had this cold one other time. It tasted a lot better when cooked bbq style. It was like chewing slim jims kinda. It´s hard to describe.
- Cow kidney. Yuck. This was probably my least favorite. You can´t really cut them very well cuz they are just too darn juicy. So, being the big confident missionary I am, I stuffed a whole one into my mouth while the whole family watched me. The whole family loved this entertainment by the way. They all eat this stuff once a week and have for their whole life. Anyways, it tasted like a huge gusher full of a really weird juice. I don´t even want to talk about it more. I barely got it down haha.
- Cow intestine. It took like five minutes to chew, but actually was better than I thought. I just had to pretend it was beef jerky while I chomped on an intestine. They kinda looked like flat french fries, but o yeah, they definitely weren´t french fries haha.
- Blood sausage. If you have a weak stomach, you might not want to read this. My companion would tell me what it was until after i ate it, or else I wouldn´t have tried it. Here´s the summary. When a person kills a cow, they collect all of the blood in huge jugs. They then put this bood in a machine where they mix it with all of the excess fat from the cow, forming a weird kind of past. Then the take cow intestines and stuff this fat/hardened blood mixture until it looks like a sausage. Kinda like a roll of sushi too, to give you guys another idea of what it looked like. It was GNASTY! I can´t believe I ate that. Elder Birky says that every missionary has to try it once, and the new guys never get told what it is before they try it because otherwise they get scared away haha. The adventures of mission life. I LOVE argentina.

Seriously, the heart was actually pretty good. I still think bunny is my favorite, though. Okay, I still like normal chicken and steak the best. Some of these other parts are bettre than you think though :).

5) Soccer Conversation at an investigator´s house. Guess what, dad? They started talking about a game that had been played the day before. We knew the teams, but then I started talking a little bit about the point system and leagues. I didn´t get all of the spanish right, but they still understood me and were like, "whoa, how do you know that?" haha. They think i´m pretty good for a yankee. They call us yankees here if you´re from america haha. Thanks for the info, dad. It made me look good :)

6) Investigators/baptisms. Life is great here. It´s busy but so good at the same time. We got one of our investigators to come to church with us last sunday (yesterday). Her name is juana, and she is about 60 years old. She is a sweetheart. She started crying during sacrament meeting, and afterwards told us that she had been to so many catholic meetings and even some other churches for her whole life but had never felt a comfort and peace like this before. It was SO powerful, and the talks were given on obedience and the opportunities of service we have in our lives. She plans to come to some of the activities during the week, and she has told us that she wants to come next sunday too! We have about 8 people who are taking the discussions from us right now, and the work is good. The two baptisms we were supposed to have yesterday got pushed back two weeks because José and Pedro wanted to study a little bit more and try to get their dad to come to church with them first. :) We have so much stuff going on everyday, but that´s what makes it great. We never get bored. We talk to people, help them out, do service for others occasionally, and just offer a hand to others in whatever way possible. That´s why I´m here in argentina for the next 20 months. We invite people to come unto Christ, and it´s amazing to see the difference in their lives as they become active members and friends in the church. We might have 5 baptisms before Christmas, but a lot of them aren´t quite final yet. We´ll just have to see. They people here are so great, and the language is coming around nicely.

Thanks for all of your support and everything. You guys mean a lot to me, even though you live like 1800 miles away right now. Sometimes I forget I´m in Argentina speaking a different language and eating different foods. I´m pretty used to it. I´ll be sure to talk to you guys next week too!

O, and there are a few more things.

- Nobody got transfered from my pench. My district got split, though. We have four people now instead of eight. A few missionaries in my district did get sent to other areas in the mission. One of them went to pergamino, i think. That´s somewhere in north buenos aires. I still don´t have all of the areas down. In 5 more weeks I might get transfered. We´ll just have to see.
- I´m gonna try to send photos again. A missionary gave me some tips :)

I guess that´s it for now. Hopefully I´ll get mail again soon. Everything is from like 3 weeks ago when I read it, which makes it kinda funny.

Alright, Im gonna use the last 15 minutes or so to write to the president and try to send photos. Love ya

Nos vemos en la semana que viene

Elder Jones.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Special Pday! (Sent Friday, Nov 4)

Hey! We have a special pday today for transfers. This is kinda cool cuz we have two pdays in the same week. It´s also kinda lame cuz next week we aren´t going to have a pday. You know what that means.. My companion and I will work for like 10 days straight until the monday after the next monday! U gotta love it haha. I didn´t get transfered since I´m still in the training program. :) After these next six weeks I will either get transfered or still have elder Birky. Some missionaries are only together six weeks, and other for 6 months. It´s all up to the president! So we´ll just have to see what happens in the future

Anyways, since it´s only been four days, I don´t have that much to say.

- I STILL HAVEN´T GOTTEN MAIL! Man, this really kinda stinks. It has been almost three weeks. Elder Birky told me that it´s just kinda random and depends on when the zone leaders go to the mission home for their meetings. The last mail I got was when dad sent a dearelder about Camille homecoming pics. I still haven´t received the one about the soccer info haha. I¨ll just have to be patient. Elder Birky says that he went 6 weeks once without mail. Other times it has come every two weeks. It just depends on your area, your zone leaders, and on the Argentine mail. Thanks for sending the few photos earlier Mom. I look at them every once and awhile when we have some down time. The people here love photos! They show us theirs all the time haha.

- Guess what? I am writing Tommy, and he has gained 12 pounds in his first two transfers! haha. He is serving in mexico city. Im just glad that my pants still fit. A bunch of missionaries have had to buy new ones.

- It´s getting SUPER hot here! Super super hot.

I don´t really know what else to say. There is a ton of stuff that happens everyday, but it´s usually kinda similar. I´ll try to keep my emails exciting still haha. This next week will be a bit weird since I won´t be able to write until the monday after next monday. I will have had another baptism by then (WHAAHOOO!), which is really exciting. Baptisms have been my favorite parts of the mission. There are so many photos I want to send you guys!

- Also, we still haven´t moved. :( We went and talked to a lawyer, and we finally have everything set. They are making a contract with the offices now. I really hope that we are moved by the time I send me next email. Living out of suitcases has been pretty uncomfortable. At first I didn´t mind, but it´s been six weeks!!!! haha

- Also, sorry I don´t know the exact address of our duplex right now. When we move, I will send you the address though. Elder Birky doesn´t know either, I asked him haha. You guys were right though. More than half of our area is dirt roads. We are in one of the poorest areas of the mission. The heart of Rosario is actually really similar to downtown Houston. My current area, though, is really humble, but the people are SO NICE! There are 13 or so areas in the mission, so I hope to experience almost all of them. Some missionaries change a lot, and some stay in the same area for half a year. I wonder what the lord has in store for me. We´ll just have to find out with time.
- Yesterday, I hit day 100 on the mission. Crazy, huh?

And I guess that´s about it for now. I love you guys. Sorry, I didn´t have as much to say, but it has only been 4 days! haha

Your missionary,

Elder Rory Ballard Jones

Monday, October 31, 2011

Water, Water, Water.

Wow, what a week. I don´t even know where to start. To briefly summarize, we had flash floods, two days of rain and service, two baptisms, and a crazy sickness that upset my stomach like a beast. I´ll talk briefly about everything with my available time. Anyways, here we go!

1) Flash Floods. So on monday night (last P-day), it started to rain. We work in the rain pretty regularly here and just went along with our usual routine. We taught a lesson in a member's home while the storm raged outisde. When we left, we got absolutely hammered by the tempest. We half walked/jogged to the bishop's house for shelter. With our raincoats and stuff, working in the rain isn´t a problem at all, but this wasn´t just your typical rain... It was a HURRICANE! haha. Not really. But it did remind me of the tropical storms we have back home. Äfter like an hour in the bishop´s home we left for the pench. We had waited for an hour with the bishop´s family, hoping for the rain to stop but didn´t have luck. We took off running into the storm. There wasn´t very much lightning, but it rained, and rained, and rained. Our pench is like 25 minutes away from the bishop´s house. No bueno. haha. The streets had already flooded over the curb, and on some of the worse roads, the water was above our knees!! This reminded me of the flood we had in Kingwood we had that one time guys! haha. Lucky, there were emergency buses running and picking up stranded people. Many people had cars stuck in mud or simply were stranded under trees! It was crazy. And guess what? The rain just kept coming! Finally, the bus dropped us off and we trudged our way to the pench, soaked and freezing, where we found something horrible. Our pench had flooded!! There was about two inches of water all over the floor. Luckily, two of the other Elders had arrived a bit earlier and had moved our stuff upstairs. Everything was soaked. Anyways, we all crammed into the small two rooms upstairs and slept through the storm after verifying with the zone leaders that we had all arrived safely. Then the next day can be defined with two words: service and sickness.

2) Service. This topic is a little bit more fun for me to talk about, so I´ll start with it. We spent the whole day--literally almost every hour--going to all the members' homes and helping. We also assisted a bunch of people in the streets with their cars and stuff like that. I obviously don´t have tons of time to describe everything, but we shoveled so many gallons of water out of people´s houses. To better paint the picture for you guys, a member owns an all-cement house that lies in a really low elevation, surrounded by mud mounds and a dirt road. He had a foot and a half of water in his house! It was really sad. Almost everything had been water damaged. It´s actually a good thing that it was made of cement. Had it been constructed with wood, who knows what would have happened. So anyways, we did service ALL DAY. It was actually a good experience. It was very similar to the service day we had after Hurricane Ike in Texas. We were a team of missionaries going from house to house, offering a helping hand. A bit crazy, but it was still a great day. You guys might be able to find the Argentine news about this flood on youtube. We watched a bit of it in a member's home. The entire city of Sante Fe experienced flash floods and waterdamage. Terrible loco.

3) Sickness! Uggghhh. All of the other elders had told me that everyone gets sick at least once during their first six weeks. I was hoping to be the exception, but nope... they were right haha. The morning of service I felt a little weird. I ate breakfast and then felt even worse. While doing some studies on my desk, my stomach was making weird noises. You guys know where this is going.... and it´s NOT FUNNY. haha. I ran to the bathroom, and we´ll just say that I didn´t have the best experience of my life. Then about two hours later, I threw up three times in the road. Yuck. I got some kind of bug. We think it was from the food that we had eaten in a member's house, but aren´t entirely sure. The next day, I felt a ton better. Then with a little more time, I was back to normal. It was something I ate cuz I didn´t have a fever or anything. My stomach and intestines were just killing me. Anyways, that´s enough about my infirmities. I´m sure more will come in the future. Hopefully they will pass quickly. Now, on to probably my favorite experience of my mission up to this point: My First Baptism.

4) Ba-ba-baptism! We had our servicio bautismal directly alfter sacrament meeting. Elder Birky and I had worked with this family for almost a month. They are great people, and the ward had helped us out a lot too. Changing into all white clothes and seeing Juan and Mikaela in their ropas bautismales (baptism clothes) couldn´t have been better. I don´t have very much more time, but we had an incredible experience. When I entered the water with Juan, there was just a great feeling. There were like 30 people watching, so I was a little nervous. I gave the prayer in spanish (obviously) haha, and then affter looking at the witnesses, baptized Juan. We took tons of Pictures before, and the entire bautismal program went really well. I think it was mentioned in another email, but Juan is 8 years old and Mikaela is 14. Their mom is an active member, but much of here family doesn´t attend and some of them haven't even been baptized. Her husband and older children still don´t talk to us very much as missionaries. We are working on it though. We also have two more baptisms scheduled in two weeks for another family! Hopefully all goes as planned. I´ll try to always keep you guys updated.

To end, I´ll leave you guys with a few funny Facts:
-while we were doing a contact, a bird pooped on my head!
-We were at a member's home, and they offered us a snack. Usually this is crackers, bread, or something similar. Guess what the gave us. Cow Stomoch! Ugghh!! Haha. I´ll try to describe it. It tasted like soggy beef jerky lined with weird ridges. I Only ate like two bites and then stopped. Haha. My companion had to hide a gag. It was really funny!
-The hot water didn´t work on the bautismal font, so it was freezing!

Anyways, that´s about it for now. Things are going great here, and I hope that all of ya´ll are doing well too. Thanks for everything guys. You are in my prayers.


Elder Jones

Monday, October 24, 2011

Trip to Rosario and Area Experiences

Wow, I´ve got another week under my belt. It´s been crazy and fun. I hope you guys are doing great, and thanks for all of the letters! Grandma Schank, I did receive yours. Thanks! The mail is definitely slow here and finally gets to my pench about once every two weeks. It´s great to hear about everything going on back home and at BYU. Sometimes I forget how far away Rosario is from the states :). Also, I´m trying to find the balance between small bullets and details. There is so much to say cuz a thousand things happen every week, but at the same time I could just talk about one thing for the entire email. haha. I´ll do my best. This week I´ll just share mis momentos favoritos de la semana pasada (my favorite moments from the past week) and also some random stuff if there´s time. I´m trying to send photos again this week. Hopefully the computer doesn´t freeze. Anyways, here we go:

1) Trip to Rosario. The offices in the Mission home manage all of the legal documents and passport stuff for all of the missionaries. The needed me and two other missionaries to come down to Rosario to do paperwork. It was an awesome trip. I went on exchanges with my companion and went with the other two elders to the terminal. The terminal is basically a huge bus station that´s kinda designed like an airport. They have gates and everything! Anyways, we rode on a double-decker bus from Sante Fe to Rosario. We were on the second floor and in the first row. So it felt like we were riding in the driver seat. We had a great time, both during the three hour bus ride to the mission home, and later in the city of Rosario during the next day. We went to different governmental buildings with one of the assistants, where they took fingerprints, updated photos, and did a few other things. I didn´t understand it all since everything was in spanish, but the assistant to the president helped us. Overall, we just really enjoyed ourselves, and it was fun to take a break from the normal routine of proselyting and teaching. The assistent said that I´ll probably have to go back down to renew my visa stuff when I hit my one-year mark. We´ll see what happens :),

2) Computer Repair! One of the member families in my ward is the cocentino family. They have five kids, love the church, and have been a great help to me and my companion, Elder Birky. Some of them have gone to teaching appointments with us before, which really helps. Anyways, one night we were visiting them and they mentioned that they had gotten a computer virus. The dad, hermano Cocentino, uses the computer everyday for his job. (He uses software to fix cell phones and other technological devices.) They had know idea what to do, and basically said that they couldn´t afford to get a new computer at the moment. I´m obviously not a computer genius. You guys already know that :). I still offered to help. None of their windows nor the start menu would come up when they started the computer. To be honest, I don´t even remember everything that happened. I used control alt delete to pull that small window up and then was able to launch the internet after clicking different links and exploring a bit. Then on the internet, I downloaded a free antiviral software. There were thousands to choose from. The computer needed some serious time to download the software bc their internet connection was really bad that night. So we had to leave but promised to come back the next day. That night we prayed for assistance b/c we really wanted to help this family out, especially since they had offered their hand to us so many times. I worked with it a bit the next day, and I really believe a miracle passed: The free antiviral software that I downloaded deleted the effects of the virus, brought all of the windows back, and the computer functions like normal now! I was so grateful, and the cocentinos were extremely excited. So they didn´t have to take it to a computer shop to get repaired or buy a new one. That simple software that I downloaded erased the whole virus. I don´t think it was just a lucky coincidence cuz I could probably never do something like that again, especially with the severity of their virus and my minimal computer knowledge. Great experience :).

3) How we get around. Our area is pretty darn big, but we don´t have bikes. We go almost everywhere on foot. Sometimes we take the city bus because it´s really cheap, but we can´t afford to use it everyday. Just to give you an idea, it takes 30 minutes to walk to our chapel from our pench, and about 50 minutes to walk from one side of our area to the other side´s limit. So we walk, walk, walk, and walk! haha

4) Ward Mission Leader and Members.. We meet with our ward mission leader, Marcelo, once a week. We go over all of our most important investigadores and plan a bit. He is really cool, about 22, and is trying to get on a mission himself. The members help us SO MUCH. We have a lunch appt everyday, which helps us get to know them. Also, we teach about 5 lessons a week with a member present. They help us out a ton.

5) I don´t know my exact address, but I live right by the intersection of Mateo and French. You should be able to find it on google maps, Dad! :) And yes, we are still living in the kitchen with the four other elders. It kinda stinks. I´ve lived out of suitcases since I got here. haha. Oh well, it´s all just part of the experience. I only have one table to work on and my bed is by the fridge next to my suitcases haha. I think we are going to move this week or next. The lawyer is working on a contract with the offices. For right now, we are still looking and taking pictures of different appartements to send to the offices through email. Thanks for all of your support and letters.

I gotta go. Love you guys. Chao!!!!!!!

Elder Jones

Monday, October 17, 2011

Rory's Third Week in Argentina!

1) Testimony Meeting. I forgot to write about this last week, so here it goes. Here in Argentina, they had testimony meeting the week after General Conference, instead of the week before like in America. So it was my second Sunday in my Spanish Ward, which is totally awesome by the way! Anyways, so there was like a 30 second pause in the meeting when nobody went up to share there testimony. I already knew the Bishop pretty well at this point, and something funny happened. Since nobody was coming up, the Bishop just pointed at me in the congregation and motioned me to come up and share my testimony. Everyone saw it, so I didn´t really have a choice. Plus the Bishop is cool, and I want to work hard for him. So I went up, introduced myself, and bore my testimony of the Savior and the Book of Mormon. It actually went pretty well, even though I had some grammar errors :). The people said that they understood me. I´m just glad that the bishop pointed at me like that cuz otherwise I probably wouldn´t have gone up and had the great experience.

2) Teaching people English. This is really fun, and since some of my current roommates are from chile or columbia, I get to teach them some English. They teach me so much spanish that it´s the least I can do for them in return. Anyways. It was really funny one night when we were teaching the vocab of stuff in a bedroom. We were teaching Elder Artunduaga how to say ¨"blanket," "bed," "window," and other stuff like that, and then he would tell us how to say them in Spanish. Anyways, when we were teaching him, something really funny happened. We taught him the word¨"sheet," and every time he said the word it sounded like he was swearing. It was really funny. He wasn´t doing it on purpose or anything. Plus we mispronounce spanish words all the time. Now i can understand why people laugh at me sometimes. It can be really funny. He would say "Sha--EE--tt."

3) WASHING CLOTHES BY HAND TOTALLY STINKS! I spend almost 2 1/2 hours this morning doing laundry. All I got done were all my socks, two shirts, and three sets of garments. It´s a total pain in the butt, but that´s just how it goes haha. It is part of the experience. We buy this special soap and then have two bins. One for washing and one for rinsing. You have to scrub soo much to get all the dirt off stuff and to make the clothes smell clean. It´s all good though. I just really appreciate washing machines now haha.

4) BAPTISMS!!!! We have two baptisms scheduled for a week from this Saturday. This is so exciting for me, especially since I´ve been able to teach them about the restauración and other parts of the gospel. I will give more information next week, when I know more about what will happen exactly. We have been to their house and taught them both three times so far. They are brothers and sisters, one at the age of 14, and the other 9. The mom is a member and has been helping us along. I´ll be sure to tell more soon!

5) Juice. The juice here is absolutely amazing. This might sound insignificant. Well, it kinda is... But everything tastes homemade! You gotta love it. If any of you come down to argentina, be sure to try all the different types of tangs and juices !

6) Rory the Chef. You guys all know how great of a cook I am hahaha NOT. Anyways, being the great chef I am, I decided to make a pizza. I usually have something simple like eggs, pasta, or ramen, but I decided to go out on a limb and try something new. BAD IDEA. I thought I know what I was doing, but I ended up burning about half of the crust, which basically ruined it!!! If you ripped off the burnt parts, it still tasted pretty good. I´ll just have to try again sometime soon. The members keep giving me tips and stuff, which is awesome cuz they can all cook so good!

Nos vemos en the semana que viene!

Elder Jones

Monday, October 10, 2011

My Companion and First Lesson

Hola America! This week, I have about an hour or so to write home and to the president. I´ll try to cover the most interesting experiences of my mission so far. So, once again, I´m going to make a bullet list of my favorite things in the mission right now, just like one of my earlier emails from the MTC. Here we go:

-Living in Santa Fe and working with the San Martin Ward. The culture here is so different but so cool at the same time. I talked a lot about what the food and streets are like during my last email, so I won´t focus on it too much now.

-Learning from my trainer and living with four other missionaries. My trainer is Elder Birky. He is from Utah and has only been in Argentina for 4 1/2 months but can already speak fluently. Pretty impresive, huh? He really likes to dirtbike and snowboard. He also goes boating a bunch, so we have quite a bit in common. He helps explain principles of spanish to me, and for this reason I´m extremely grateful to have a trainer from the states. I want to have a native companion soon, though, bc it will help my accent and extend my vocab. Right now, Im just not quite ready cuz I still need English Translation every once in a while. We´ve gotten to know each other pretty well, and this is only his second area. So we are getting to know sante fe together haha.

-Living with other missionaries. Whenever we come home at night, after having planned and done a little bit more studying, we have time to hang out and do whatever for about 30 to 45 minutes. Right now, I am living with four other elders. I´ll describe each of them briefly.

-Elder Hull. He is from Arizona and is actually completely new to the mission just like me, so every night we have fun talking about our crazy days since we both are still new to Argentina. We could communicate in spanish, but it´s still tough. Sometime we speak catillano, other times just english. It just depends on the day and how tired we feel that night haha.

-Elder Hjempstead. All the natives here totally butcher his name. haha. He is from California and is completely new too. We are kinda in a unothodox situation right now, having three brand new elders in the same apartment. There are six of us living in a 4 person apartment right now. The assistents to the president are trying to help us find another one so we can split up, but it´s taking longer than we thought. Right now, Elder Birky and I are just in temporary housing with these Elders. It´s fun, but super crowded!! We only have one shower and Elder Birky and I have to sleep on the floor in the kitchen. Don´t worry too much, we still have beds :). They are just on the floor in the kitchen cuz there isn´t room anywhere else haha. We should have a new apartment by the end of this week. Hopefully. We´ll just have to see what happens. Oh yeah, back to Edler Hjempstead (sorry for the tangent). He went to BYU also and is a pretty cool guy. He likes to surf and has studied a bit of engineering in Utah. He´s a cool dude.

-Elder Rivera, one of the two latinos. He is from Chile and only has about 4 months left on his mission. He doesn´t understand English, but is a totaly beast at spanish. Obviously haha. I´ve learned a lot from him about the area, missionary work in general, and espeacially about spanish vocab. He wears a soccer jersey every night and can cook some AMAZING FOOD! To be honest, I still don´t know him as well as the other elders since I can only talk to him in spanish. With my limited vocabulary, it´s hard for us to just talk casually about stuff. Whenver he is talking about a lesson or something in the gospel, I understand pretty well, though :). Yesterday, he made this rice, cream, dip thing that we ate with his homemade french fries. Gnarly!

-Elder Artunduaga. His name is really fun to say. Here is the phonetical spelling: ARR--TUNE--DO-AWE-GA. He is from columia and is absolutely HILARIOUS. He is one of the hardest working missionaries in Rosario and is super good with people, even people with me who can´t speak the language fluetly yet. He has probably taught me the most, aside from my trainer. He has been here for almost a year and a half and already has about 14 baptisms! You don´t measure your success on number, but still that´s pretty impressive. He also has some cool casual clothes. He can sing like a total beast. AND He can cook really good food too. I quickly found out during my first week that about 40 percent of the missionaries in my mission are native to south america! Cool, huh? About half of my companions will be native!

Wow, I just took forever to describe the missionaries in my pench. Oh well, it´s good stuff :) Now, I´ll move on to the stories worth telling :).

About five days ago, on like my fifth day here in Argentina, my Compaion and I were teaching this mom and girl about the restoration. They were both somewhat practicing catholics, but still had interest in our message. Up to this point and time, and even now, I usually don´t say very much bc it´s hard for me to understand the Argentines when they start talking super fast. I´m still used to the slow spanish I heard at the MTC haha. Anyways, while we were teaching and talking about José Smith, she kinda just looked at me and basically asked me what I thought. I started talking and shared the Joseph Smith storty with her. The spanish wasn´t perfect--that´s for sure--but she still paid attention and seemed to understand. After we were done with the lesson, while talking on the doorstep outside her house, she turned to me and said this: "There were some times when I couldn´t understand what you were saying exactly, but I could understand with the feelings I received in my heart." This really hit home with me. My spanish doesn´t have to be perfect, thought I wish it was, in order to convey the message of the gospel. My trainer, Elder Birky, did an aweome job that lesson too. We were pumped afterwards. It was just a great experiene for me, it being my first lesson in the real world outside the MTC. The spanish is so much faster and harder here :). We teach to the people, and the spirit convers them. That´s how it works. It´s divinely appointed, and I´ve seen it happen here during my first week and a half. Rigth now, my tainer still takes the lead while I am learning the language, but we are still a team even though i don´t talk as much. It´s cool, really cool :)

Okay, I only have about five more minutes and haven´t really written much about what I had planned. It´s all good, though. I´ll just make a quick list of interesting facts that I don´t have time to elaborate on:
-We have lunch in a member home every day of the week except P-day. There are abou 80 active members in my ward, and most of them are so nice.
-I¨ve learned a bunch about soccer just from talking to people. Union, Colon, or Boca? These are some of the most popular teams in my area, and I can´t decide which jersey to buy yet haha.
-I´ve eaten some pretty weird food, but most of it has been pretty good. I´ve had lunch at a members home almost everday here, and everytime I´ve had something with steak or chicken. Gotta love it.
-The bishop of my ward is really cool and helps us everday after work.
-There are about 200 missionaries in Rosario right now
-We are having a member from the seventy come talk to us this week in a zone conference!
-We have about 14 investigators right now. It´s crazy for me!

Well, there is so much more to say, but I don´t have time. Darn... It´s all good though. We have a few lesons that we have schedule for tonight and we still have to go buy groceries.

Nos Vemos Amigos y Familia,

Elder Jones

Monday, October 3, 2011

First Week in Good Ole Argentina

First off, missionary. work. is. incredible. It´s an adventure filled with profound experiences, especially for me during this past week.
-It´s giving up the cares of the world and serving the Lord
-It´s giving the bittersweet goodbyes to your teachers at the mtc who served you for 9 weeks
-It´s knowing that you won´t see them/anyone else in America for 2 years and still feeling happy
-It´s keeping a positive attitude, regardless of the situation
-It´s singing hymns everyday and getting them stuck in your head
-It´s having days feel like minutes and minutes like days
-It´s reading your mail and thinking about the ones you love
-It´s studying the gospel for hours and hours with your investigators´ needs in mind
-It´s growing attached to the mtc, loving it, and then having to leave
-It´s feeling so exciting to leave that you might go crazy and so nervous that you might poop your pants
-It´s going out of your comfort zone
-It´s being strengthened by the testimonies of others and sharing yours when the time is right
-It´s learning how to get along with everyone, even the weird ones
-It´s having new homes, foods, and friends
-It´s putting on your suit coat and name tag everyday and knowing that you’re a true missionary for the Lord
-It´s serving him with all of your heart might mind and strength each day you wear that tag
-It´s speaking spanish every day, whether you understand yourself or not
-It´s bearing your farewell testimony in your mtc ward and thinking of the farewell talk you gave back home
-It´s eating two huge bowls of ice cream at the last mtc meal and knowing that it wont be available in argentina
-It´s packing your bags and saying goodbye to your zone and knowing that you’ll be in argentina the next day
-It´s waking up the next morning and realizing that It´s your last day the mtc and in america!
-It´s getting your passport, visa, travel information, and then boarding the bus bound for the airport
-It´s watching the mtc fade away through the bus window and remembering all your incredible experiences there
-It´s seeing how the gospel really is rolling forth to all nations in over 50 languages
-It´s arriving at the slc airport with 460 other missionaries, all going to different parts of the world
-It´s feeling famous there because everyone knows who you are and asks where you’re going to serve
-It´s falling asleep at random times in random places because you’re so exhausted
-It´s waiting to board a huge international plane thats the size of 5 whales
-It´s taking off into the air and not looking back
-It´s wondering about the future and knowing that you’ll have some good stories to tell when you come back home
-It´s praying for and loving your future companion before you meet him
-It´s showing your faith every day, every minute, every second
-It´s studying the scriptures and Preach My Gospel for hours each day/preparing to teach & dominate
-It´s thinking about your friends serving in different parts of the world and hoping for their success
-It´s hoping and praying for your success too
-It´s enjoying the journey no matter what the circumstances, b/c you know that you’re doing the right thing
-It´s finally landing in argentina and then waiting in the visa line
-It´s contacting someone in the airport, feeling excited/nervous, and successfully giving him a pass-along card, knowing that he didn´t understand everything you said but got the gist of the message.
-It´s walking outside the airport for the first time and trying to take it all in
-It´s hearing catillano (which is more unique than i thought) EVERYWHERE
-It´s having people try to say you name and hearing "juh-owens" or hearing people just say it in spanish like "hone-es"
-It´s realizing that most of these people don’t understand a word of english
-It´s driving to the mission home in a van that´s similar yet different to vehicles in america
-It´s seeing tons--and i mean TONS--of soccer fields in every possible spot.
-It´s watching kids, teenagers, and some adults completely dominating at soccer. no joke. I´ve heard that everyone, sometimes even 5 year olds, can out play the missionaries here! crazy stuff. they are SO GOOD!
-It´s going through an orientation just like in the mtc and feeling pretty DISoriented again b/c there is so much new information
-It´s meeting your mission president and already looking up to his sabiduría (wisdom).
-It´s finally meeting your trainer, Elder Birky, and learning everything from him every second.
-It´s relying on him b/c he understands spanish so much better and learning how to speak from him every day.
-It´s improving your spanish so much so rapidly that it blows your mind, but still realizing that you have a LONG WAY to go :)
-It´s having a HUGE culture shock and loving that shock, even though it's more overwhelming than the mtc b/c it's so much more awesome
-It´s seeing over a hundred dogs the first day. This isn´t a joke. promise.
-It´s getting followed by and sometimes even chased by these dogs and quickly learning how to scare them off with certain words, actions, etc
-It´s seeing mopeds en cada calle (in every street) and realizing that they are more common than cars here
-It´s seeing 2, 3, or even more people than that riding one moped. My trainer says that in some small areas of town, when a family just needs to go a short distance, they will all just pile onto one moped instead of using the car. The most he has seen on one moped is 6! It´s really funny haha. I think the record for the mission is 8, but the most i´ve seen so far is three :)
-It´s eating empanadas and milanesas every day. There both amazing and that´s like all we eat here. Read about them on the internet if you want more info :)
-It´s eating more chicken and steak in your first 5 days here than you have eaten in the last month. Seriously, i´ve had some type of chicken, steak, or bread filled with chicken and steak for every lunch and dinner here. It´s great but a lot of missionaries gain tons of weight haha
-It´s seeing street salesman with horse drawn carriages and buying fruit (which is better here than in america) and other commodities from him
-It´s having lunch appts with members about 4 to 6 days of each week, which is totally awesome b/c i never have to cook
-It´s seeing really severe poverty in some areas and realizing how good we have it in america.
-It´s getting let into a home and teaching a family the first lesson about the restauración and feeling the spirit so strongly
-It´s understanding about 85% when your trainer is teaching about the gospel and anywhere from 0% to 75% when they are talking about soccer or other random things
-It´s getting to teach really small amounts of these lessons, feeling super nervous, and then feeling great when you find out that they understood your simple explanation of a scripture or your short testimony of the principle
-It´s living in a completely different world that I absolute love. Everyone is so cool.
-It´s learning about the siestas and watching the entire city shutdown from 1 to 4 each afternoon.
-It´s trying to contact and teach during the siestas and not having much success. Everyone, and i mean EVERYONE, sleeps during this time. Well, everyone except missionaries :) haha
-It´s wanting to live in argentina after your mission so that you can sleep during this siesta. You guys know how much I love naps
-It´s living with two natives in your pench (apartment), one from chile and the other from columbia, and just experiencing their different lifestyle
-It´s not understanding what these natives are saying at all sometimes, and other times feeling exciting b/c you know exactly what they are saying!
-It´s being able to roll your Rs almost perfectly sometimes and not at all during other times and not knowing why.
-It´s having an 8 year old make fun of you at church b/c you mispronounce a word while taking to him and have him teach you new vocab words
-It´s realizing how nice the people are here--much nicer in general than the people in america. Tons of people give us food and let us in, even if they are not really interested in the gospel.
-It´s feeling like a true missionary for the first time while walking down a dirt road in a different part of the world with your companion, holding copies of the BOM and pamphlets to hand out to people
-It´s having to do laundry by hand and remembering the good times you didn´t appreciate when you had a washing machine
-It´s seeing soccer jerseys everywhere of all the different argentine teams. A lot of missionaries collet them. They are a bit expensive, but i will most definitely buy one soon!
-It´s hearing "GOOOAAAAALLLLL" shout from every tv everywhere cuz all everyone ever watches is soccer, soccer, or soccer
-It´s getting so much help from members and the bishop of our ward
-It´s trying to cover a huge amount of area in a small amount of time
-It´s living in san martin, the best area of the mission for me so far haha
-It´s tasting different types of soda, candy, and juice here. Like everything is homemade here, so it´s all amazingly good
-It´s getting used to the new currency and figuring out how to gauge prices at the supermarket
-It´s going to bed at 1030 after one of the most crazy days of your life and sleeping like a brick for the 8 hours you get
-It´s getting up the next morning, studying for 2 hours with your companion, going out to tract, and realizing that people are STILL sleeping. What´s up with that? So let me summarize for you. All the people here sleep in two hours later than us and sleep for 2 to 4 hours during the siesta. They also go to bed SUPER late. I think that it´s pretty funny :)
-It´s just loving every minute and trying your hardest to learn spanish
-It´s telling funny stores with your roommates and having a great time
-It´s not understanding the story very well when one of the natives is talking and just laughing to yourself
-It´s watching general conference and hearing the entire congregation laugh at a pun or joke that one of the speakers said and not getting it b/c you don’t know spanish well enough. This was really funny. When the whole congregation laughed at one of President Monson´s jokes, i just looked back at one of the other new missionaries from the mtc. We laughed at each other b/c neither of us got it :)
-It´s talking about soccer with kids and then trying to share a quick gospel message with them
-It´s attending the meetinghouse in your area that a tad more rundown than the one in your hometown, but still really similar
-It´s realizing that the meetinghouse is by far the nicest building around other than offices in downtown area.
-It´s feeling grateful for everything you have and still realizing that the people here love their lives, even though they don´t have as much stuff as americans
-It´s having people ask you where you’re from b/c they can tell you are not argentine just by looking at you
-It´s talking to other new missionaries and sharing funny/exciting experiences that we have had
-It´s watching a native trainer study with his new companion and laughing b/c they don’t understand each other haha.
-It´s just having the best time ever
-It´s finding out that the mail takes about 4 weeks to go one way, sometimes longer b/c it has to get to the mission home first. Right now, I live about 2 and a half hours away from the mission home, which is average. So I think I get the pouch mail like every two weeks or something like that. With standard Argentine mail, it can take over a month to get form america to my apartment haha. I´ll just have to figure out how the mail works as I go
Hasta Luego!
Elder Jones
P.S. I am trying to write people back and will send a few letters in a couple days. If you really want to tell me something, email me! I can read your emails, but I am not allowed to respond to emails through gmail. I will have to handwrite back! Thanks for everything guys! Argentina, argentina, argentina. The best mission of them all! haha

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Favorite Experiences at the MTC & My Last Email!

Well, before making my list of favorite experiences, I want to share a quick experience with you guys in detail. So... last Monday my companion and I received a special letting in the mail from the MTC offices. It said that we had been recommended and selected to do something that blew our minds: teach in front of new missionaries as an example. I don't have much time to explain, but basically all the new missionaries go to special workshops during their first few Wednesday. One of these workshops is a demonstration of teaching to an investigator. Yep, so to summarize in one sentence, my companion and I demonstrated how to teach in from of about 75 new missionaries. We had wireless mics and everything, and it actually went well! We were both a tad nervous but ended up having a great time. I'd write more but need to move on. :) Alright, I have an hour today since this is my last email from the MTC! Here is my list of favorite memories/events:
1. My first day here. It was crazy, but I learned SO MUCH and remember it well.
2. Playing the "Rock of Shame" game. I don't enjoy carrying the tiny boulder, but the concept of the game has been hilarious. One of our teachers even had it for a while b/c we caught her off guard :).
3. Hearing and learning from general authorities who spoke at the devotionals. Holland's talk was definitely my favorite. He spoke with power and authority, teaching us how to really become missionaries for the Lord.
4. Scoring my two goals in soccer during gym. My first goal, which happened like a month ago, wasn't that cool. But guess what? My second one was pretty awesome--and lucky. So I'll try to describe it in just a few sentences. So... While running down the field with the soccer ball, a missionary here who dominates at soccer was owning everybody on the field. I was also running down the field, not knowing exactly what to do (like usual), when this missionary chipped the ball over two defenders in an awesome arc, landing it right in front of me. It took one bounce and then I just booted it as hard as possible. B/c the pass was so perfect, I basically got to punt the soccer ball right before it took its second bounce. It was a rocket, at least by my standards, and it went into the upper right corner of the goal. So lucky. So awesome. I give most of the credit to my teammate, and I just hope to be at least half as good as him by the time my mission ends. :)
5. Getting mail. That's one of the best parts of everyday here. It's fun to read about what's going on!
6. Watching my investigators progress and eventually get baptized.
7. Spanish. I want to talk a bunch about this topic, but I'll just say that it's WAY COOL. If I say more, it will probably take up the rest of my time haha.
8. Having spiritual moments, like the ones described in my last email.
9. Serving in leadership positions here with the Branch Presidency and other missionaries here. I have learned so much about the great work of missionary service and about myself.
10. Learning SO MUCH from my teachers. They all have different insights and have helped me in different ways.
-Hermano Reading. He has taught us for all 9 weeks. His grandparents are from Panama, and he's been a native speaker his whole life and speaks a little faster than my other teachers. He's super cool, laid back, and I've definitely learned the most grammar from him.
-Hermana Curtis. We only had her for the first half of out stay here b/c her schedule changed when BYU started up again. She served in Chicago and really wanted us to speak our language ALL THE TIME. It definitley helped, and we all like her a lot. I learned so much about Preach My Gospel and how to use it as a resource from her.
-Hermana Salazar. She taught us, along with Hermano Reading, for roughly the entire time of our second month here. She served in Los Angeles, and her dad is from Mexico. She would always laugh a lot and liked to have a good time. She DID always make sure that we stayed focused and worked hard too, with good intentions, just like all the teachers here. haha. She really taught me and my companion to teach people and NOT just lessons. That's definitely important, and my companion and I improved our teaching skills with her help.
I've put more detail into this point b/c it really has been on of my favorite parts of the MTC. All of my teachers (subs included) speak spanish a little differently and emphasize different aspects of the gospel, the language, and missionary work. Basically, they are the ones who have made my stay here beneficial.

11. Playing dumb games like slamball in the dorms before going to bed.
12. Chilling during P-days :)
13. Learning about the culture of Argentina from people who have served there.
14. Going to the temple every week.
15. Seeing our incredible progress as a district and individually.
16. Watching and getting familiar with mormon messages. Some of my favorites are "A work in Progress" and "Sharing the Light of Christ," along with a few others. Cameron, if you're reading this, you should definitely watch the second one b/c it's about a guy who does service in Honduras!
17. Seeing so many ppl from BYU here
18. Sleeping in till 8am on P-days. Yes, it is so nice to sleep in that late, even though that used to be early for me hahah.
19. EAting BYU creamery ice cream
20. Getting so close to my companion, teachers, and district.
21. Watching one of the missionaries in my district get mail. His girlfriend sends him hilarious stuff all the time, like ties, dumb games, stickers, and just a bunch of random objects that we use during our free time. Anyways, so one day she decided to send him a surprise: a live goldfish! She send it in priority mail and it made it to the MTC the same day. This missionary, Elder Logue, was super excited and opened the package just to find a big dead fish upside down in a big bottle. He still kept it for three days, and it was pretty funny. He still went around showing people for no apparent reason haha.
22. Talking about random stuff in class. One day we had a little bit of free time during class, and our teacher taught us a little bit of spanish slang. We didn't get it at all and said it didn't make sense. Then he told us to think of slang in English. Some person might say this: "Dude, do you know what's up? The Party is going down tonight! That's what's up, man!" haha. Think of how confusing that would be for someone learning English :)

Basically, it's been a great rollercoaster ride here. Though tough at some points, I have learned how to serve as a missionary and can't wait to get to Argentina. I have less than 48 hours until I board my first plane :) From now on, my new address will be:

Elder Rory Jones
Argentina Rosario Mission
Blvd Argentina 7935
2000 Rosario
Santa Fe
54 341-451-4503

I think you only need the phone number if you're sending a package but don't know for sure. There are three ways you can send me mail while I'm in the field: You can still use this, but instead of same-day delivery, It takes anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks for me to get it
The LDS Pouch Mail service. This system is awesome and run by the church, but it also is a little confusing and has really specific requirements. My parents said they posted information about it, so luckily I don't have to describe how to use it :)
The Regular Mail system. You can just send a normal letter from the post office, but you have to use one (possibly two) international stamps. They are little more expensive than regular stamps.
Honestly, I have know idea which option works best. I'll try to figure it out when I get down there. Regardless of the method you choose, I've heard from other missionaries that it can take anywhere from 2 to 5 week for the mail to go one way. So basically, my communication through mail is going to be a lot different and take A LOT longer. It's all good though. I'll still try to write back, but you guys might not get my letter until Christmas time or something haha.

Well, I'm SUPER PUMPED and can't wait to get down there. The first week is probably going to be crazy, just like my first week here at the MTC. I want to send thanks again to everyone who has supported me and encouraged me both before and during my mission. I have know idea when my P-day will be in Argentina. Honestly, I don't really know what my next email will be about. It will probably be a crazy long bullet list since I will have so much to say. I can't wait. The culture and language shock will be incredible, and I can't wait to apply what I've learned here down in Rosario. I want to help people, and that's exactly what we strive to do each day as missionaries: We invite people to come unto Christ. Invitamos a las personas a venir al Christo :).

I have to go. Wish me luck! Nos Vemos! My next email will come from some random place down in Rosario :)

Elder Rory Jones

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Update on sending a letter to Elder Jones.

Just a quick post to everyone that is a regular on Rory’s blog. He will be heading to Argentina on Monday, September 26 in the morning. Here are some things to think about if you are sending him mail!

Regular mail to MTC
US Postal service letters will need to arrive at the MTC by this Saturday. That is often hard to predict so maybe a DearElder Letter will work best.

Dear Elder mail to MTC
The last time you can use DearElder and have it delivered to Rory in the MTC is Friday, September 23 at noon mountain time. DearElder does not make deliveries to the MTC on Saturday or Sunday.

Letters to Argentina
The church suggests using the their “Pouch” delivery service for letters sent to Argentina. There are very specific rules for the pouch:

You may only send one page of copier stock paper. Writing on the inside and folding the paper into thirds with the address and stamp on the outside of the paper. Tape along the long end. If you use envelopes, it will be returned! You can read the following article for specific instructions.

The Pouch Address is:

Elder Rory Jones
Pouch Argentina Rosario Mission
P.O. Box 30150
Salt Lake City, UT. 84130-0150

The letter must arrive to Church Headquarters on a Friday to be send in Monday’s pouch delivery. The pouch is sent once a week.

DearElder Pouch Service

The is probably the best way to use the pouch and it is free too. You just select Rory’s Mission and address it to Elder #Rory Jones. Use the # sign in front of his name to insure it makes it to him. Type and send. Dear Elder meets all the pouch requirements and if you send it by 11:59PM Mountain time on Sunday night, it will go out on Monday’s pouch.

Letters to Argentina using USPS
Use a regular envelope and place a $1.05 postage stamp. This is for the first half ounce. it will take additional postage if it is heavier. Address it to:

Elder Rory Jones
Argentina Rosario Mission
BLVD Argentina 7935
2000 Rosario
Santa Fe

We thank those of you that read the blog and write him. He really appreciates the letters!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Almost done with the MTC!

Hola Familia y Amigos!

Pues.... I have TONS of information again and will make a bullet list. I'll probably start creating lists like this every other week or so, especially when I get in the field. And that's coming up so soon! Anyways, here it goes:

- I leave in 9 days. Loco, no?
- For the last week or so, we've taught anywhere from 1 to 3 30-minute lessons each day
- I've seen tons of ppl from BYU this past week: Reid Empey, Chad lanam, Austin Finch, Todd, Scott Swingle, Taylor Howard, and even more whose names I can't remember right now. It definitely seems like BYU ppl come here in waves.
- My companion and I got new roommates. 2 of the Elders in my district ended up going to the Dominican Republic MTC about a month ago (One of them was Elder Matthews, the guy I talked about about in my last letter :)). So basically, for the last four weeks or so, my companion and I have had an entire room to ourselves. Now we have to share again, but no worries. The new missionaries are cool and are learning Portuguese. Español es mucho mejor, pienso. hahah I already have some Spanish pride.
- Another one of my investigators was baptized last week
- I HAVE MY TRAVEL PLAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I leave the MTC @ 8am on Sept. 26. We will drive in a huge van/bus type thing up to the airport, where we will prepare to fly with American Airlines. After flying to Dallas Texas, we will climb aboard a hulk-like plane that will take us all the way to Buenos Aires, Argentina! It will take like 16 hours in the air! I'm so excited. So pumped.
- Also, right after my email last Friday, President Sanchez extended new callings to me and my companion: Zone Leaders. At first, this felt a little overwhelming b/c we are now over about 50 to 60 missionaries. It's been awesome, though. Here's a short summary of what we get to do:
Plan and schedule Priesthood/Sacrament
Teach a 30 minute welcome lesson to new districts of missionaries during their first day
Collect everyone's weekly reports for the Branch President
Follow up with and try to help the other district leaders
Give tours of the MTC to new missionaries
- And those are the main duties, at least that I know of at the moment. It's honestly not that bad. My companion and I love it, and sometimes we get to miss class :) Anyways, I should move on.
- I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but there has been construction going on for my entire time here at the MTC. And guess what? The new building opened this week. It has the new mailroom, barbershop, bookstore, etc. It's SUPER huge and incredibly nice
- Oh yeah.... speaking of barbershops... So I had to get a haircut last week, and let's just say it's a little shorter than my usual :). It's actually not as bad as I was expecting, though. I'll just probably wait a week or two before taking more pics haha
- I've been talking to some of the portuguese elders a little bit lately, and we can still understand each other a decent amount of the time. Cool, huh?
- The district above us leaves in 2 days. It feels a little weird b/c that means we will be the oldest district in our Zone and one of the oldest at the MTC. At the same time, it's really exciting
- We only have one more appt at the TRC (Training Resource Center)
- Alright, you guys r gonna love this. My district has started playing a game that helps us speak spanish all of the time, which is good since we've been here for 7 weeks and can communicate kinda decently. Anyways, so we got a 15-lb rock and wrote "Rock of Shame" on it in Spanish with a sharpie. Whoever speaks English in our district has to carry it until they hear someone else speak English. It's hilarious b/c nobody wants to carry the rock since it's so heavy. Plus everyone stares at you funny (especially in the cafeteria and hallways). So basically, I've hardly heard any English the last week or so. It's an awesome/funny game, and it really forces us to speak our language like our teachers always say every day. Also, the record is 7 hours. Yep, an Elder had to carry the rock of shame that long haha. He shouldn't have let an English word slip :). I've carried the rock a few times too. No bueno. haha
- hmmm what more.
- My accent is definitely getting kinda alright. I still definitely don't sound like a native yet though
- we found out that there are 50 languages taught here
- I found some other Elders who like ultimate frisbee, so I've played catch with them some each gymtime before soccer
- my next (and last) P-day here at the MTC will be next Saturday b/c our schedule here is different during our last week :)
- Some of the elders in my district and zone make fun of me for taking naps on P-day. What's up with that? We all know that naps rock. come on haha

And that's about it--or at least that's all i have time for. I'll send more next week on Saturday. Then I'll be in the field before I know it. Thanks for all of you support and letters. The MTC is great and so is everything about the work. Nos Vemos!

Elder Rory Jones