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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