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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