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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Week One

Hola Familia y Amigos!

My first few days at the MTC have been exhilarating, spiritual, REALLY busy, and kinda hectic. On P-day (preparation day), each missionary gets alloted only 30 minutes to type an email, which is kinda lame cuz I have so much to say. But it's all good. Esta Bein. I'll start with the moment I stepped foot on MTC grounds and try to cover as many details as possible!

Alright, so after saying hasta luego to mi mama y papa, an elder escorted me to the main building at the MTC, where they game me my nametag, ID card, dork dot, map, and a 50lb blue bag full of gospel-related literature and teaching materials, mostly in the spanish language. Lugging this huge bag around probably burned like 500 calories and made me feel like one of those guys on "World's Strongest Man" who carries those random, heavy objects around. haha. Anyways, all of the new elders had them, so I didn't feel that weird. :) As I carried my HUGE blue bag, my escort wheeled my suitcase as we made our way to mi dormitorio! During the entire walk over to the housing area, my escort gave me tips and advice about the MTC. He was a pretty cool dude, and guess what? He reports to Madagascar this Lunes (monday)! Cool, huh? Anyways, he helped me find my room, gave me an extremely quick tour of of the dorms, and then took me to class. After dropping me off there, my escort left and went back to his district. I haven't seen him since, but he will serve as a great missionary in Madagascar. From this point in time, with my escort gone and while sitting in my classroom, my true advernture began..... :)

I sat down and met some of the other elders in my class. Six of us depart for the Argentina Rosario Mission, and the other four will serve in the Dominican Republic. We had just only briefly completed introductions, when one of our teachers, Hermano Reading, came into the class. Quickly, before any of us knew what was going on, he addressed and began teaching us in spanish. Yes, only in spanish. We elders are part of a program in which the our instructors only speak spanish to us! In fact, I've never heard any of my teachers speak english, even when we aren't in class. Our entire floor consists of missionaries serving in Spanish-speaking countries, so I guess it makes sense. I'm not gonna lie, on the first day most of what he said went through one ear and out the other, but I looked around and everyone looked confused--the entire time haha :). This method of teaching, though frustrating for us at first, has definitley helped us learn the language. I won't go into the details of what they have taught us in each lesson (i'm running out of time fast!), but I will try to describe to you a typical day at the MTC, for the people in my district anyway :)

Everyday we wake up at 630 am and get ready. We will have anywhere from 5 to 8 hours of spanish class. Yes, they only talk to us in spanish and are helping learn the language incredible fast. We have three meals in the cafeteria, and the food does tast just like the food at the Cannon Center at BYU. It's a little better, though, in my opinion ;) We also have 2 to 4 hours of personal language and gospel study spread out across the day. We have about 50 minutes of gym time, which is always one of my favorite parts of the day. And we also have an hour of companionship study too everday. O, my companero es Elder Romero! He is from California, and we get along well! He's awesome. Alright, I'm running out of time fast, so I guess that's about it. So many other things have happened, but I thought these were the most interesting. Even though we work about 15 hours a day, mainly studying spanish, It's all good. I've learned so much, and the MTC is great, exhausting, and exhilarating all at the same time!

To close my message, I would like to share a quote with you all from one of my lessons: "Missionary work is not about baptismal or other church statistics; it is about people and their relationship with Christ." This is why I serve as a missionary today. This is why there are over 50,000 missionaries around the world. Somos Misioneros de JesuChristo, y tenesmos una mesaje por Argentinians.

That's all for now. I want to thank you guys for the letters and prayers. Write to me, and i will write you back :)

Nos Vemos,

Elder Jones

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Parting Message

Well, as many of you know, I have been called to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Rosario, Argentina. I will report to the MTC (Missionary Training Center) on July 27, where I will learn to preach the gospel in the Spanish language. After roughly two months of studying and practicing there, I will head down to good ol’ Argentina, which will become my new home for the next two years as I share the “good news” with argentinians.

I have created this blog to keep my family and friends updated with my experiences in the MTC and, later on, in the mission field. I have given the rights of this blog to my sister, Camille, who will routinely forward my emails and stories to this page. If you want to contact me personally, you can ask any member of my family for my current mailing address, as it will change a few times during my two years in Argentina. I would love to get letters from all of you. And don't worry, I will write back :)! For my first two monts in the MTC, my address will be:

Elder Rory Ballard Jones
MTC Mailbox # 280
ARG-ROS 0927
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793

And that’s about it––for now anyway. I want to thank all of you for what you have taught me and for the examples you have shown. I will begin my adventure this wednesday. Let the journey begin! :)