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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

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Experiencias Espirituales (Spiritual Experiences)

Hola Familia y Amigos Míos!

There have been many incredible experiences here, and I thought you would like to hear about some of them. I will try to choose the best ones. :)

1) One of the Elders in our district hadn't had any prior Spanish training before coming to the MTC. This Missionary, Elder Matthews, struggled from day one but was always excited to go to the Dominican Republic, his mission field. I'm not gonna lie, we have all struggled a lot, but Elder Matthews had an especially hard time with the MTC life in general and with Spanish. He is a cool guy, and we all constantly tried to help him. After about the first three weeks here, he was about to give up. He had prayed, read the scriptures, and just didn't know what to do. In an effort to help, President Sanchez and a few others gave him a priesthood blessing. Now this is the amazing part: the very next day after the blessing, the travel office paged Elder Matthews, asking him to come to a meeting. One of the Elders assigned to attend the Dominican Republic MTC had broken his hand and needed to stay in America for medical purposes. So basically they told Elder Matthews that he would go to the DR the very next day if he was willing, as soon as they could purchase a plane ticket. So, he has been in the DR MTC for the last three weeks or so. He has written us and said that this opportunity has helped his Spanish so much! Usually answers to prayers and blessings come in more subtle ways, but this blessing couldn't have been better for Elder Matthews, and it really strengthened our testimonies. Amazing, huh?

- K, i'll try to not give as many details on the next one :)

2) This one happend about 3 days ago, when my companion and I were preparing to teach at the TRC (Training Resource Center)! We teach a lesson at the TRC once a week to a volunteer who is a member of the church. We treat it as a lesson that we would teach to an active member, so it's kinda more like a spiritual thought--kinda like home teaching :).
Anyways, for our 30-min lesson, my companion and I needed to choose a topic. There were like six sections in lesson 4 that we really needed to practice teaching. We couldn't decide which one would improve our teaching skills the most, but then we realized we should focus on the person's needs more than our own. We both felt like we should teach about the law of tithing even though we didn't really need to practice that one as much as other. Towards the end of our lesson, after we had discussed, read about, and testified of the Law of Tithing, we had an incredible experience with our investigador. We had taught a man named Geoff, a recent graduate from BYU who had served his mission in Costa Rica. For the last 4 months he has been unemployed, and it had been hard for him to pay his tithing for the first time in his life. He needed the money to buy the basic needs of life. Even though our Spanish was mediocre and Geoff had needed to help us conjugate some of our verbs, our lesson was still very successful. Geoff thanked us and said that he had needed to hear that message, simple as it was, b/c he was going through a kinda tough time. I need to move on, but this is definitely one of my favorite experiences so far on my mission. My companion and I helped someone out with a gospel message. That's exactly what our purpose is as missionaries. It's what we do :)

- alright, I'll try to squeeze one more in!

3) So sometimes when you run into another missionar who is wearing a Spanish nametag, you talk to him/her in Spanish for 2-5 minutes, just to practice. This usually happens in the cafeteria, the hallways, dorms, etc. Usually after a few minutes, you end up speaking English just b/c it's easier. Anyways, this is my story... One of the firesides had just ended in the gym. While I waited for my companion to finish talking to one of his friends, another missionary started talking to me. It was pretty simple (like usual), and we talked for about 3 minutes or so. We discussed the fireside, our missions, the MTC, our spanish programs, and some other random basic stuff. The whole time he sounded really good, and he looked like he didn't always understand me sometimes, but that's kinda normal since we aren't perfect at spanish :). A few minutes later when my companion was ready to go, I started talking to this missionary in English. Guess what? He didn't understand me very well. No wonder he sounded so good and I didn't understand everything he said. He was from Mexico and only knew a little English from school. I then found out that he was only going to be here at the MTC for 3 weeks b/c he already know spanish. I don't remember where he was gonna serve, but it was a spanish mission in America. Then we talked in English for a little bit, and I could understand him most of the time, and I needed to keep my phrases and words simpler than normal. This is probably exactly what he had done to me earlier. I have to go cuz I dont' have any more time, but this experience really strengthened my testimony as well. I was about to communicate with a native speaker without ever realizing it, though Im sure he knew my native language was English before he even began talking to me haha. Also, he and his companion were able to communicate w/me in English, their second language. It was a powerful and fun moment.

Hmmm, to wrap things up, I'd like to end with this thought: The gospel will roll forth and be taught to every nation and people in their native tongue. :)

I know this is true. These spiritual experiences are just a few of the amazing daily events here at the MTC, where we become men and missionaries for the Lord. One again, thanks for all your support and prayers. You guys are the best.

Elder Rory Jones

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Crazy Week!

Hola, Otra Vez!

I couldn't decide what to focus on this week b/c so much has happened. So, as you might have guessed, it's bullet list time again. Here it goes:

- 23 días más until my departure to Argentina. I'm excited, nervous, pumped, and a little sad b/c the MTC is so incredible and I've learned so much here.
- I scored a goal in soccer this week! Since we've playedalmost everyday up here, I've improved from the status of "Horrible" to "Decent" haha.
- Elder Holland spoke at the last devotional. Like always, he spoke with authoritative and motivating power. He covered many topics, some of which were God's love for everyone, the purpose of missionary work, and the power of an apostolic witness when it's guided by the spirit. Basically, he just totally dominated and inspired us all to work harder. He is definitely one of my favorite speakers. Es una bestia (He's a beast).
- President Sanches, the Branch President of our zone, called a new district leader about a week ago to serve for the 2nd half of our time here. I enjoyed serving, but it's nice to have less meetings and a break :)
- The elder on my floor who had 3 pounds of peanuts and a HUGE sombrero left last week. He was kinda weird but still a really funny guy, so we miss his personality.
- My district is the second oldest in my zone now! It's been exciting, especially since we are almost the oldest vets in our area :)
- I'll get to be a host my last two Wednesdays here by ushering new missionaries into the MTC and helping them out their first day. I still remember who my Host was six weeks ago. He was cool and left for Madagascar like four weeks ago haha. I think I wrote about him in my first email home but don't remember.
- We got a new teacher, Sister Salazar! Her Spanish sounds really cool and is apparently really similar to what we'll speak in Argentina. We don't know here very well yet (She's only taught twice) but she seems pretty cool.
- I can communicate in Spanish kinda well with my teachesr and other missionaries. The hard part is understanding everything the fluent speakers say. It's definitely tough, but it's exciting to see our progress.
- I can't believe BYU started last Lunes (monday)! Go Cougs!
- Some really funny pranks have happened in the dorms. I would tell you about them if there were more time. :)
- Hmmm, what else....
- I write in my journal only in Spanish now!
- Kyle Collinsworth was here, but he just left last week or so. Cool, huh?
- An elder here has gained 25 pounds in four weeks! If you come to the MTC, make sure to not use the buffet that much haha. Some people grow spiritually as well as physically here. Hopefully it's never at the same rate, or you'd be gargantuan when you leave for your field of service :)
- I love the updates form you guys. Thanks for the letters. B/c of you letters and info, I know that BYU will beat Ole Miss this weekend! Hopefully. But seriously, it's great to hear form y'all.
- Right now, we're studying the subjunctive tense in Spanish. It's can get a letter crazy, especially since this tense doen't exist in English. We're slowly learning it though.
- And thanks for all of the support, encouragement, and prayers. In my short amts of free time, I think of you guys.

To conclude, I want to say this: Missionary. Work. Is. Incredible. It's a special work that benefits everyone involved. My testimony of this divine service only gets strengthened, and I can't wait to share the wonderful message of the restored gospel with the people in Argentina. This is is the Lord's work, and it blesses people's lives in amazing ways. Moses 1:39 couldn't have said it better: "For behold, this is my work and my glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." O en otra palabras, "Porque, he aquí, ésta es mi obra y mi gloria: Llevar a cabo la inmortalidad y la vide eterna del hombre."

Well, I have to go. Thanks again for everything guys! I'll write as much as I can next week. Three more weeks until Argentina! Hasta Luego :)

The Lord's Missionary,
Elder Rory Jones