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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to Everyone


Hello! First off, I CAN´T BELIEVE IT´S CHRISTMAS AGAIN! Wow, I hope you all enjoy the snow and Christmas spirit. As missionaries, we´ve had a white Christmas as well, just with a little twist: no snow. haha. Better yet, we had the baptism of Juan Sarli.
 
Juan Sarli. I didn´t have time to describe his incredible conversion story last week, due to an occupied schedule and crazy week. Plus we ended up playing sports on Pday, which is always a blast. But yeah, we had taught Juan for almost two complete months, passing by his house about two times a week. From the first visit and to this very day, he has always invited us in with a smile on his face, showing his teeth underneath his HUGE mustache. :). With roughly 60 years under his belt, he knows life well and always has many stories to share with everyone. He is a complete cowboy and grew up on a ranch, basically out in the middle of nowhere. For almost 40 years, he worked with tractors and other farm machinery, leaving him with his dark bronze skin and interesting sense of humor. Everyone can see his humility, and I have really enjoyed teaching him.
 
After going over every missionary lesson two times with him, he felt ready for baptism, ready to make the sacred covenants, and ready to "start a new life," as he likes to say it. He really has seen some changes, and after listening to the discussions he realized the church could help him out substantially in his maturing years. He accepted his baptismal date at the beginning of Novermber, and with that goal in mind, we worked diligently with him, little by little, right up until that special Saturday when he entered the water and started his life as an official member of the church! 
 
He is doing great right now, and we pass by his house once a week to teach the lessons over again. Plus it´s just great to see an old friend's face. If I ever have the opportunity to come back to Argentina after my mission, his house would definitely be on my list of houses to visit! We ate dinner with him just the other day, which was also just great.
 
Though tough at times, the mission has really blessed my life. Seeing the change in people´s lives, even though it takes place thousands of miles away from my house, makes me smile. Sometimes I feel like my past life didn´t even exist haha. I have been here for almost 17 months. Man, i am officially Argentine! :)
 
I really appreciate everything you guys do for me. Hopefully Santa makes it to each and every one of your houses!!
 
Merry Christmas,
Elder Jones 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Another Week Down!


Wow, what a crazy transfer here in Pergamino! I feel exhausted and tired, but we have had two baptisms these past couple of weeks. I sent some pictures earlier and will try to describe everything briefly right now.
 
Mirta Cascardo. We have taught her for nearly two months now, going over the basic doctrinal lessons, having family home evenings, and just passing by to see them. Her husband, Miguel Cascardo, has known the church for many years. When he married Mirta, they both made the decision to receive the divine blessings of the temple one day. With that goal in mind, they starting listening to the missionaries and investigating a little bit, in order to understand the basics of the gospel.
 
Since Miguel was the only member in his family, we taught everything from the first vision to the smallest commandments of the gospel, just to make sure everyone understood the gospel principles. Miguel helped regularly with the teachings, and having a member alongside in the lessons always helps us convey the message better. He has a powerful testimony. As a family, they had started listening to the missionaries about five months ago, so Elder Valenzuela and I continued the teaching process after our arrival here to the zone.
 
One night after having worked in the streets all day, we passed by their house to share a quick spiritual thought before heading back to the apartment. In the middle of the lesson, Mirta interrupted and asked for a bit of time to think it all over. A few deep breaths later, she told us she had prayed and read the scriptures regularly over the past couple of weeks and felt ready for baptism. We all felt something special that night, and my companion and I showed our support and excitement as we planned the program out. 
 
The ordinance went well, and we had a reasonably large amount of members attend the sacred service. Like always, a baptism brings blessings into the lives of those we teach as well as helps the local members receive strength to their testimonies. We all enjoyed the service that Saturday night, and the Bishop helped us plan everything out smoothly.
 
We serve as missionaries for this very reason: to invite others to make sacred covenants and receive the blessings of this restored gospel.  
 
It really was a great day.
 
I hope you all are enjoying the holiday season. It is really hot down here, but it´s all good. I just try to stay positive while we bake in the streets haha.
 
Juan Sarli got baptized as well, but I will have to write about his conversion experience next week, due to litte time.
 
Thanks for everything.
 
Elder Jones :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Elder Jones Sent Some Pictures for this Week's Blog

                                                 Elder Valenzuela and Elder Jones on P-Day

Elder Jones with four of his previous/current companions

 Elder Jones's Thanksgiving Spread

Mirta's Baptism

Thank you for supporting Elder Jones. We are grateful for both letters and Dearelders that have been sent to him.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Faith

As a missionary, my testimony has come from experiences in my youth and during my first year at BYU. While pondering it over these past few weeks, I have realized that almost every one of my spiritual experiences has come after a trial of faith. For example, at BYU, I was incredibly nervous about accepting my calling as an Elder´s quorum instructor. Everyone is generally really intelligent at BYU, and my Bishopric was composed of mostly BYU professors. Some students were RMs too, which meant they knew and understood the scriptures better than me. I prayed about it a lot--more than ever before. This was one of my first real, legitimate experiences with sincere praying. I decided that if my calling as instructor had come to my Elder's quorum president as revelation, I should have faith and trust in him and the Lord. 

In the end, it turned out to be a great experience for me. I was later called to teach during Spring term as well, which entailed teaching to a quorum of 75! It was like teaching a college lecture, and I had to use PowerPoint and study in depth before each lesson, aside from my weekly load of normal class studies. It was a great experience for me. Throughout the year many people, even some professors, complimented me and said, "Good Job." What more, I even enjoyed preparing the lessons since I learned so much about the gospel, the scriptures, and other people. What would have happened if I had never accepted the calling? All of those blessings would have been withheld from me.

More often than not, we have to show faith before we receive blessings. Unfortunately, we commonly do just the opposite in the world today. For example, we buy the new HD tv and pay the debt off later, taking in the reward before performing the hard work or enduring the trial to pay it off. In the church, however, we often have to work before the blessings come into our lives. Though tough at times, in the end the Lord´s system makes more sense. We really appreciate the divine blessings after having had worked so hard to receive them. They take on a new value. They make us better people. And with time, they make our faith even stronger.

Just like the Bible Dictionary says, "Faith is to hope for things which are not seen, but which are true" (Heb. 11:1Alma 32:21).

Though one of the most simple gospel principles, it is one of most applicable in our daily lives.

A little bit further down in the Bible Dictionary, it says this: "Although faith is a gift, it must be cultured and sought after until it grows from a tiny seed to a great tree."

I know many of you have faith in the church, faith in your families, and faith in yourselves. I admire your example. I am also so grateful for everything you all have done for me. Many of you have served as youth leaders, teachers, scout masters, or just simply as friends. Much of my testimony comes from special experiences that happened before heading off to college and then on to Argentina. Simply put, my youth was just great. Thank you for making it so awesome.

Like always, I really enjoy your letters and support. I hope you all have an incredible December and that Santa Clause treats you well! haha. Happy holidays, and I will write more next week.

Thanks again,

Elder Jones

Monday, November 26, 2012

Progressing Investigators!

I have already talked about Mirta in one of my earlier messages. We went by her house last night to share a message with the entire family, kind of having a family home evening. Towards the end, she looked at us and started to ask some questions about temples. She also talked about her baptism and told us she felt ready, which really made everyone smile in the room. Her husband, who has served in the church for the last couple of years, felt great and shared his testimony with all of us. All of their kids have already been baptized, but Mirta always had her doubts. However, after listening to the missionaries for these past six months, she has studied and really thought it through. In the end, she has come to the conclusion that it all makes sense, and she wants to go with her family to the temple, a great goal that requires her personal baptism. Everyone in the room that night had an indescribable light in their eyes, and we left feeling great as we walked home to the apartment.

I felt extremely grateful and excited for her family, as well. A mix of emotions has hit me, and I realized why I came here to Pergamino. Elder Valenzuela and I have done over 500 contacts and worked incredibly hard these past couple of weeks. After all the strenuous work, the conversion process seen within the life of Mirta makes it all worth it. We plan to go and plan the baptismal program at her house this Wednesday. If all goes as planned, we should have the baptismal service on December 8th. 

We have already talked to some members and plan to have a musical number, refreshments, and basically just a solid program with numerous members. We are excited, and so is our Bishop. :)

I have little time today, but I really appreciate everything you all do for me. The letters, prayers, and encouragement really hit home with me. As we all work together, we will really build the kingdom and see its blessings throughout the world, little by little, day by day. 

We finally made it to the post office!!! After five long weeks, we finally found a post office! I sent a letter to each of you, Kailey and Malia. Thank you for your support and awesome stories. I have a few more written and will try to send them soon, Shantel and Kimbz!!!! It is like a 30 min walk to the post office, so I will have to convince someone to go with me again. I will try to mail those today.

Like always, thanks for everything. I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.

Elder Jones

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pergamino's Preparation Days

Editor's Note:  Due to Transfer Week, Elder Jones' P-Day was moved to Tuesday, so the post comes a day late!

Hello from Pergamino, Argentina. My companion had a migraine this past week, which left me with a lot of free time both in the hospital and apartment while he recovered for three days. While he was recovering, i wrote up an ESPN article in Spanish, just to practice my translation skills. It isn´t perfect, but it turned out alright. Then I decided to translate it back from Spanish to English. Every part of it is true, except the quotes, which are obviously made up from scratch, but basically portrays how everyone feels. I hope you enjoy it. Here it is:

ESPN UPDATE

Pergamino´s Preparation Days
Elder Rory Jones

For as long as anyone can remember, the missionaries here in Pergamino, Argentina, have always played soccer on Monday, their famous preparation day when everyone rests from the strenuous work and simply just takes a break.

"I´m not gonna lie, Mondays are totally rad and chill," said Elder Hixon, one of the current district leaders here in the zone. "If only they were a little longer. . ."

With a mere seven hours of free time, these devoted missionaries really have to use their time wisely. Just like Elder Hixon, the majority find themselves wishing for more time as the day comes to a close.

"At least three more hours to relax would be perfect," responded Elder Rodriguez at the last press conference, when asked if he thought Mondays should be extended in the future. "I mean, who doesn´t want more free time to eat, sleep and recharge yourself," he added later while yawning and further debating about the official preparation day schedule.

Whether the typical Monday schedule changes or not, everyone will always enjoy the leisure time, regardless of its length!

"I just go hard all day and never stop," said Elder Sáez, one of the largest missionaries know for his immense stature and limitless strength. "Sometimes people call him the `human tank.´"

And there you have it. From the crack of dawn until the end of each day, Elder Saez keeps plowing forward, always accompanied by his faithful companion, Elder Welsh.

"On Mondays, every second counts, just like in BYU football games," exclaimed Elder Welsh, when asked for his opinion during the last mission council.

Currently serving as a zone leader here in Pergamino, Elder Welsh has chosen to suit up for the Lord these next two years, leaving behind his fame and putting his future career and football scholarships on hold. He does it with good intentions, though.

"We are glad to have him on our team," reported President Hugo Giuliani, the current leader and president of more than 200 missionaries here in southern Argentina. "He was a beast on the field in Provo, and he´s a spiritual beast here in the mission field."

One might say that Elder Welsh´s prayers were answered this past week and his sacrifices recognized. Why? Well, surprisingly enough, the whole zone gathered together and played American Football this past week, breaking traditions and giving some Latin Americans quite the experience. Despite the fact that 95% of them had never touched a football before the mission, two of them managed to score touchdowns!

"I caught the ball and just took off running," said Elder Valenzuela, the newest missionary in Pergamino who arrived with Elder Jones about a month ago. "Everyone kept screaming, so i just kept running like a madman."

The saying "Third time is a charm" really defines this extraordinary play of the game. After bobbling and dropping two previous passes, Valenzuela grabbed ahold of the third one and bulleted into the endzone.

"Yeah, there you go, man!" shouted Elder Jones, the quarterback at the time who threw a perfect, spiral bomb to his companion.

One hour later with the score tied at 14, all 12 missionaries lined up and waited for the hike. As soon as possible, Elder Eliosoff shot off the line at lightning speed, showing no sign of fatigue. Later, before anyone knew what was happening, Eliosoff was launching himself into the air to avoid the last defender and belly-flopping into a bunch of knee-high weeds and untamed grass.

"Everyone went bonkers," he exclaimed during his post-game interview. "Even though I got a bunch of weeds and prickles down my pants, it was worth it in the end," he later commented.

Eliosoff´s team came out with the win, and each missionary celebrated differently. All in all, it was just a chill and eventful day. Everyone enjoyed themselves--Latinos and Americans alike.

When asked about his experience, Elder Salt said the following: "I got pegged a few times like a kid in dodge ball, but that´s just part of the game, ya know?"

In sum, preparation days leave all companionships exhausted and satisfied--a goal quite hard to achieve.

I don´t think anyone could have put it better than Elder Nelson, known as "Nelly" by all missionaries, when he described preparation days like this: "Mondary are just flat-out sweet."

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Reflection


I had a great week. Due to little time, I will only contribute a paragraph or two about this past week. Overall, I must say that everything has gone well up to this point. I have lived in Pergamino for almost a complete transfer now, which means we have already completed half of our training program! Like always, we have a full plate, loaded with investigators and tons of members. We try to help out wherever possible, and during our service this past week I had a really powerful experience, one worth sharing with you all.

Washing the dishes for the Bishop´s family. Like I´ve said before, the people here struggle economically. Amongst those that struggle, which is the majority of my area, is the Bishop and his family. They come to church faithfully every week and offer us food each Friday. Overall, I feel accepted and really comfortable in their house. However humble or difficult the circumstances might be, they always extend a helping hand to everyone else--members of the church of not. This past Friday, we ate some sandwiches with them at their house. After the the meal, a quick spiritual thought, and a prayer, we prepared ourselves to head back home. We offered to assist with the dishes, explaining that we would like to contribute a bit since they always do so much for us. They gladly accepted. Long story short, my companion and I had to clean plates and cups for close to 30 minutes because this poor, faithful family doesn´t have running water. We had a small tub that we filled up with water from the hose. Later on, using the same hose, I then filled up a liter jug of water, which we later used to pour on the dishes and rinse the soap off. It was quite the process, and it really hit home withe me. The saying "you never appreciate something until it´s gone" really has profound meaning for me now. Just running water and a faucet makes everything so much easier.

At the beginning of my mission, I always complained since we didn´t have a dishwasher and had to do everything by hand. Now, I am grateful just to have a faucet since it takes almost twice as long to wash with just buckets of water. This humble family really taught me a lesson, and I admire their faith and commitment.

May we all count our blessings a little more in our lives is my hope and prayer, and I leave this quick thought with you guys as my main weekly message today. Thanks for all you do.

Elder Jones

Monday, November 5, 2012

Another Week Down!


Another Week Down!
 
I have had a crazy adventure during my first month here in Pergamino, Argentina. Here is some quick info about our two main investigators.
 
Mirta. About 40 years old, she already has a stable family with three kids and lives on a ranch.  About half of the population here in Pergamino has a ranch. Miguel, Mirta´s husband, takes care of their horses, chickens, and dogs. They have tons of land, forming a few acres, I think, just to give you guys a rough estimate. Miguel has served as a counselor in the Bishopric, and he has gone to church for many years. Due to job and money complications, they all stopped attending on Sunday for a decent chunk of time. For the last month or so, they have come every Sunday. We started passing by because we wanted to get to know Miguel better, especially since he is one of hte best members right now. With time, we became good friends with Mirta and all the kids. We pass by about twice a week to teach one of the missionary discussions or to have a family home evening with them. Something we said sparked Mirta´s interest, and right now she is reading the bible and book of Mormon regularly, a huge plus for us! She has a baptismal date for November 24th, so we will have to see how everything plays out! I¨ll keep you updated.
 
Juan. He worked on a farm for his entire life before retiring at the age of 65. He always ran tractors and worked with cattle and horses. He is kinda like a cowboy, and his Spanish has a slightly different accent. We passed by his house our second week here in the city, and he listens well and actually does in depth studying during his free time. He has already come to church twice, where he became good friends with Miguel and Mirta! We have a lesson with all of them together this week, when we will watch a church movie together and hopefully eat dinner together. Having Miguel as a friend and fellow member works great for both Mirta and Juan. After working for many years, Juan has developed a successful lifestyle and has a really nice house, especially for our little town here in Pergamino. Its bright bricks nad wooden roof really stick out when compared to the other cement or metal huts in our area. Also, he only received and elementary education, so we have to teach every thing on a basic level. He loves going ot church and still reads well enough to study on his own, so we will just have to see how everything goes here in the next few weeks. He accepted a baptismal date for the last week of November, as well!
 
Elder Valenzuala and I are really excited with our success. We have passed by the houses of many less-active families, and this past Sunday we had 42 in church. This is a huge improvement from a mere attendance of 16 our first week here. Work hard, fly right haha. It is kinda a joke here. If you work hard here for your two years, the flight back home should be really rewarding.
 
I have to go since we have little time this week to write home. We all got together and played American football today, which was a total blast. The zone leaders finally got mail, so i will have to read it throughout this week. I will have comments next Monday, no worries.
 
Thanks for everything. Many of you are in my prayers.
 
Elder Rojo.
 
 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pergamino Info.


Hello to everyone. I have absolutely loved serving as a non-office missionary these past few weeks. The only downside is the mail system. Now, I have to wait until special conferences or meetings with the zone leaders to receive mail. So long story short, I haven´t heard anything from the outside world for close to a month now. Pretty crazy, huh? No worries though, since the mail should arrive this week with the zone leaders, or at least that´s the plan. :) I enjoy reading about school and activities in your letters, especially after a long day of work. I know I´ve said that like a thousand times, but it´s completely true. I love serving as a missionary, but at the same time, there is nothing like getting a letter from a good friend or family member. Letters are treasures for us as missionaries, and they always make me want to work even harder! So thank you, like always. I´ve decided to focus this week´s message on the small little town of Pergamino here in Argentina, which actually lies with the providence of Buenos Aires.
 
Pergamino. Including my service here in Pergamino, I have now served in four different cities of Argentina: Santa Fe, Paraná, Rosario, and Pergamino. Each one has its own pros and cons, and Pergamino has the smallest population, that´s for sure. I don´t know the exact statistics, but we only have about 10 missionaries in the whole city, forming a small, legit zone. I already know almost all of the missionaries here because we all live within walking distance except for two companionships. They take the bus, which is no big deal. I really love it. It reminds me of my experiences in Paraná, the other smaller zone in which I served before heading into the offices. Like Paraná, this city is so small that all the missionaries get together every pday--every single pday!!!!. We played indoor soccer this morning with a mini soccer ball. Tons. of. fun. I had a blast, and everyone is really tired right now. We will probably head back to the apartment after writing home to take a nice long nap before heading out to work this evening.
 
Aside from the zone and its missionaries, Pergmaino has a ranch/cowboy feel to it. About 40% of my current area contains ranches, fields, and lots of dirt paths. We walk on rocky streets half of the time and on cement whenever possible. The people aren´t as educated here, but they are a little more open and treat us well. Some of them even give us food and a glass of water during the first visit. Many own horses or cattle. So cool. Whenever we head out to the ranches of our area, the majority of the men don´t wear shirts and have big mustaches. It makes me think of El Paso sometimes. haha. Due to the fields and wide spacing, we have to walk two to three minutes between contacts sometimes. It really is quite the experience. The other half of our area is the border of downtown. It has a suburb feel to it, although most of the people still lead a simple life with little technology.
 
Let´s be honest, it is really quite different than all of my other areas. I really like it; however, and I learn some more each week. The people here have passionate feelings towards soccer in Buenos Aires, even more so than Rosario and all my other areas in the mission. We talk about the league and the teams during almost every visit :), which is good as we're having some solid small talk before starting the lesson. I´ve enjoyed my time here. Due to little time here in the computer shack, here are some other quick facts about the little town of Pergamino:
  • Little groups of young adults and kids always play soccer in the street.
  • A large chunk of the population goes to an Evangelist church, which helps us out while teaching them. Usually they have a reasonable understanding of basic gospel concepts and accept the Bible without any problems. 
  • It rains here three to four times a week. I don´t know if we have just had some random weather, but it does seem to rain here quite regularly.
  • Our apartment has a car garage. It is really small, unlike the typical garages in the states, but we use it to do exercises. We can even play small soccer games inside when the relentless rain keeps us inside.
  • We starting having missionary activities in the church this past week, inviting many members and investigators to come and get together. It was a great success, and we plan to work with the Bishop some more this coming week.
  • Our first Sunday, only 16 people attended. This past week we had 36! We can´t demand unrealistic goals, but we sure can demand improvement :)
I have tons more to say, but I would like to dedicate some more time to writing my family this week. Thank you for all of your support. I´m doing well down here, thousands of miles away from home. Actually, I will experience a reverse culture shock upon my return home to the states haha. Seriously. Hopefully I won´t be too weird! haha.
 
Elder Jones
 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hello from Pergamino



Guess what? I have lived in Pergamino, Argentina for a week and a half already. Though tough at times, I have enjoyed my experience so far and plan to stay here for three more months. When we hit the three-month mark, the president will tell us the next game plan. As for now, I can´t complain. Here is some solid info. that gives a quick lowdown of my mission right now!
 
The Apartment. I already briefed you guys on the format and layout of our little apartment last week, which actually has served us pretty well up to this point. However, I still have some more to tell everybody. First off, IT IS CRAZY. For my whole mission, all of my companions have been from the states. This go around, not only is my companion from Chile, but everyone I live with speaks fluent Spanish. It is a completely different and unique feeling. I love it. I feel as though the different, legit culture shock has finally hit me, and boy did it take me by surprise haha. I will do my best, but you just have to serve as a missionary to really take the rollarcoaster ride. Here are some bullets, just to give you a sample:
 
  • My Spanish has improved dramatically in these past few days because I live in a complete Spanish world right now haha. I am learning a lot of non-gospel vocabulary. It is nuts, and I wouldn´t have been prepared for it earlier in the mission. I am able to speak well enough to always keep up with the conversation, and they can´t make fun of me like they do with other Americans. haha.
  • Elder Rodriguez is from Mexico and has to train his new companion as well. We work together sometimes, formulating ideas and planning out weeks. He is hilarious--absolutely hilarious. He knows English better than the other two, but we just always talk in Spanish since it is easier. He eats spicy eggs, spicy tacos, spicy jalapenos, and spicy everything. Man, I thought Elder Camacho (from the offices) ate spicy food. Boy, was I wrong! :) Elder Rodriguez always jokes around too, and I have learned a lot of Spanish words with two meanings, depending on the context of the sentence. A lot of jokes in Spanish have a play on words, just like in English.
  • Elder Eliosoff is the one from Buenos Aires. He speaks super fast, but it helps me with Spanish conversations, which is the hardest part for Americans learning the language. He speaks really formally in the streets (obviously, since we are missionaries), but then a little less formal in the apartment. He is kinda like a skateboarder, and he cooks all of the Argentine food really well. He is a pretty cool and chill dude. :)
  • Elder Valenzuela is my companion, and I described him a bit in last week´s message too. He loves to play tennis!! We haven´t found a court here though.... We will have to see if we can play within the next few weeks. His Spanish from Chile is a lot different from how the Argentines speak here. He is learning fast, however, so it´s no big deal. There are just a lot of small words that change across countries. It happens in the states too. Is it a coke, a pop, or a soda? They all mean the same thing, but sometimes people get confused haha. We speak English together like 30 minutes a day, just to practice some. He really isn´t too bad and took three years in high school. I imagine he speaks English like a new missionary from the states speaks Spanish. Long story short, things are going well.
  • Not ever speaking English is really weird. On pdays, I finally see some other Americans, and it feels kinda strange. When I´m in the apartment or sitting in on a lesson with an investigator, it´s as if I am in a completely different world. English means absolutely nothing to them, which still blows my mind sometimes. 
  • I finally feel like the missionary I´ve always wanted to be since my arrival. I finally have a good grip on the language and improve some more everyday. I finally understand the Bishop, the people, and we all work together to better the ward and members within the boundaries.
Alright. I have some other quick points to tell you guys!
 
  • We walk on average 10 miles a day. Yeah, we hit the hay hard at night haha.
  • It rained three times this past week, and half of the streets are made of mud here. We both almost ate it in this slippery sludge a handful of times.
  • My area is poorer compared to Rosario, but it is much better off than Santa Fe.
  • Our ward had 30 people in attendance yesterday, which is really good for us. The average is 22. We have close to 300 members on the roster, so we are doing lots of visits to less-active families. A lot of people have lost their jobs and have to work on Sundays to help provide some extra change for food.
  • I am completely used to the food and diet here. I eat Argentine food almost everyday since I don´t live with Americans anymore.
  • The bills come to the apartment every month, and we divide them between everyone. The landlord thinks we are crazy since we all live together and get along, forming four different nationalities! haha.
  • My zone consists of 10 companionships. There are eight here in the main city, and the two other ones work out in in the outskirts of the city, called "pueblos," which basically means "small town" in English. We usually get together in groups of eight missionaries, with whichever companionships live closest. We plan to play soccer today at one in the afternoon. The majority of the zone is Latino, so the game should be pretty intense.
  • The companionships in the pueblos come up to the main city like once a transfer, but they have to pay an expensive cost and travel for like an hour each way.
Basically, everything is pretty chill. I´m living the good life as a missionary, despite the tough circumstances. Long story short, I feel used to everything and know you guys support me. I appreciate your prayers and letters, too. We haven´t found a post office yet.... Hopefully we will come across one this week.
 
Thanks for everything!
 
Elder Jones

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Most Bizarre and Random Week of my Mission!


For the first time in seven months, I have the opportunity to write my weekly letter to home from a computer shack close to my apartment. This past week has blown by, leaving me exhausted and excited at the same time. I have less access to computers now, so I better get started. Some of the details will probably take you by surprise, so get ready!
 
Companion. I recently left the offices after serving for seven months as the mission historian and now work as a trainer right now with my new companion, Elder Valenzeula (Val--in--sue--eh--lah). I finally have the opportunity to work with a missionary from Latin America! He is from the heart of Santiago, Chile and has served as a missionary for almost 30 days. So yes, he feels extremely new sometimes. haha. I help him with the missionary work and explain how the schedule, appointments, and special missionary meetings work each week, while he helps me with Spanish. He speaks a little bit of English, but barely enough to hold a conversation. About 95% of the time we just speak Spanish, just to make sure we understand each other and everything. Much of the training program comes from either Salt Lake or the president, so we always speak in Spanish to make sure he understands. He loves music and always sings romantic Spanish songs, which basically sound like a Spanish radio for me. haha. I don´t really know of any good Spanish music, but I have learned a decent amount though just from listening to other Latin missionaries. One time he started singing while preparing breakfast, and I started singing along with him. Even though my voice is terrible (yes, all of my close friends and family know I can´t sing at all), he was SUPER surprised. I have a huge list in my journal completely full of Spanish music. I have asked each of my Latin American misisonary friends to write down their favorite artists. So I should have a pretty solid library for Itunes when I come home :). Here are just a few other quick details about him:
  • He plays soccer really well and practiced a ton as a kid.
  • His English doesn´t really make that much sense, but we are working together so he can communicate better.
  • His older brother served a mission in Ecuador.
  • His accent from Chile is really obvious right now, and a lot of the members make fun of him. He does alright though. There are just small words or sayings from Chile that don´t often get used here. So I have even taught him some Spanish stuff, which was really funny! :)
  • As a missionary from Chile, he likes to hang out with the other missionaries from Chile, which makes sense.
  • He is doing well, and we will have to see how it goes over these next few weeks!
Transfer Week. I have already explained the chaos of transfer week in other weekly messages, so I don´t have to explain the process this time! However, it did feel different being on the other side of the process this past week. I was one of the trainers who ate with his new companion and went to the special ceremony for new missionaries. I´m not gonna lie, it felt kinda nice not having to worry about setting up tables, cooking food, or running to do last minute set up for the ceremony in the chapel. I just took everything in and enjoyed it, smiling at my old companion since I knew what everyone was really doing outside in the offices behind the scenes! haha. The day felt as if it would never end. I woke up at 5:30 am since I still had to train the new historian a bit more, which started the day off with a bang. That´s for sure.
 
Finally, after all the ceremonies, the lunch, the interviews with president, and everything else, we took a taxi to the bus station. I also felt strange since I had always helped other missionaries buy bus tickets in the past, but I was on the other side this time. Some of the other office elders had already found my ticket, and the zone leaders helped us load everything up on the bus. After a three hour bus ride, we finally arrived to Pergamino, my new zone and area for the next four to six months! Guess what? We arrived, and nobody was there in the station waiting for us! My companion is completely new, and I had never been in Pergamino before, which made things a little hectic. I called a few people, and we finally got everything coordinated. The taxi dropped us off right in front of our apartment at 8:30 at night. What. a. long. day. We had to unpack, do groceries, and all that jazz. Let´s just say I slept great that night! haha. Anyways, moving on!
 
My New Apartment. I will have to make this short, but don´t worry, I will continue writing more next week! I live in another apartment filled with four missionaries. This is CRAZY. As of right now about 85% of all missionary apartments are simply for one companionship. I have never had one in my mission so far! haha. I haven´t met another missionary in the field like me. Everyone has lived in a two-man apartment at least once. haha. Alright, I´m sure there are at least a few other missionaries who have had the same experience as me. It is still pretty crazy though, considering the statistics. I lived with six elders in Santa Fe when I started the mission. Then I lived with four in Paraná. In the offices, I lived with eight missionaries. And now here in Pergamino, I live with four once again!!! There is a twist to this one: everyone is Latin except me! Crazy stuff. I am from Texas, and my comp is from Chile. Elder Rodriguez is from Mexico, and Elder Eliosoff is from Buenos Aires. So yeah, I am really having the foreign mission experience right now :) The bathroom is terrible, but overall, it is a pretty nice apartment.
 
Well, I would really like to say more, but we have to leave in five minutes! We played soccer and ate pizzas as a zone today. It was tons of fun, but we didn´t finish until like 4:30, leaving us with only one hour to write to both the president and our families. I will have to continue next week, and hopefully we will have more time.
 
I would like to thank everyone for your support, your cards, and your prayers. I got a few letters mailed off my last day in the offices, which was really fortunate. So Kimber and Malia, you should get one soon! I found out that sending cards here is really tough. Hopefully the zone leaders will be able to give me my mail quickly!! Thanks again for everything!
 
Elder Jones
 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hey Hey Hey

Alright, so another six-week transfer has come and gone here in the offices. I have served as the mission historian for almost seven months now, and time has absolutely flown by these past few weeks. Last Tuesday, the president called me into his office. This has happened regularly over the past months, and we usually just talk about reports or other topics related to my job. Not this time! He surprised me completely, informing me that a new historian would come to the offices in a mere two days!

So for this past week, I have trained Elder Rubio, a humble missionary from Buenos Aires Province. He has gradually learned how to use all of the programs and should serve as a great historian. Plus, it has been kinda fun showing him the ropes. All and all, I have enjoyed my time here in the mission home, but heading back out into the field should be a great experience. I will leave the mission home this Wednesday, heading for the small town called "Pergamino," a small city close to the southern tip of our mission. Even though I serve in the Rosario Mission, our boundaries include small parts of Buenos Aires Province, and Pergamino is one of them. I have never even gone south of the mission home, so we will have to see how it goes over these next few weeks!

Also, the president informed me that I will be training a new missionary from Chile! Wahoo, I will now have a companion from South America! So far, all of my companions up to this point of my mission have been from the states! Wow, that makes me feel old. While in high school, I remember looking up to other missionaries and thinking, "Wow, they are super old." But guess what? I don´t feel that old! Oh well, I will probably say the same thing when I become a grandpa haha :) 

Anyways, long story short, I will continue serving my mission and trusting in the Lord by listening and following my leaders here. Right now, Pergamino is calling my name, and we´ll have to see what it has in store for me. In one short week, I will change from an office elder with Elder Hull to a trainer serving along with a companion from Chile. I might not see anyone who speaks English for a while... 

Don´t worry, I will keep you updated. Thank you so much for your support and prayers. I know we receive divine help here in the field, and we most definitely need it on a daily basis. 

Thanks again, and sorry for writing so little. We have had extremely small amounts of free time today between as I've helped train the new historian and prepare for all of the new missionaries who will come tomorrow. I hope you are all doing well. 

Elder Jones

Monday, October 1, 2012

Weekly Wrap

Wow, that title made me think of ward wrapup from freshman year. Good times, good times. Anyways, here is a cultural note and some other quick details!

Cultural Note. Here in Argentina we use Argentine Pesos. Different from the Mexican peso, each Argentine 4.7 pesos values about $1 American dollar right now. As you might have guessed, it takes a while to adjust to the difference in value. My first few weeks, i always had to do the conversion between pesos and dollars, until I learned the true value of each peso. For example, soda might cost eight or nine pesos. This sounds really expensive when you only pay attention to the numerical value, but when you do the conversion it rounds to just under two bucks, which isn´t too bad for a half-liter. That reminds me, everything here functions on the metric system. So just like with the peso, I had to adjust to kilometers, liters, and all sorts of random measurements you would never really think twice about while living in the States. Even when I first started driving the mission van, I had no idea how fast the speedometer registered. 120 km/hr... (72 mph) What does that really mean?  Sometimes I just smiled to myself and went with the traffic, hoping it wasn´t too crazy fast. haha. It just takes awhile, that is for sure. It´s all part of the experience, though. The hardest for me right now is the difference between Fahrenheit and Celsius. My first few months, people would tell me, "hey, it´s 30 degrees outside." I wouldn´t have any idea what it meant, especially when you throw the language barrier on top of everything haha. So each day, regardless of what the dumb thermometer said, I had to go outside to feel how hot it was haha. Another difficult one was using kilometers per liter, which has basically nothing to do with miles per gallon haha. Even now, after living in Argentina for more than a year, when someone tells me their gas mileage, i don´t really have any clue about its efficiency haha, so i just smile and say, "cool." You just have to live in a foreign country to really experience the change of both simple and complex aspects of life, anywhere from the language you speak daily to how you plug in a stereo system haha. Some missionaries have blown stuff up, all due to the difference in voltage.

Actually, just to give a quick recap on last Christmas, i will tell a quick story. I just reminded myself about a funny experience! Last December, one of the missionaries couldn´t contain his excitement while opening his Christmas package, in which he found tons of Christmas lights. Super excited and with the biggest smile ever, he ran to the wall and plugged them in immediately, without thinking and completely forgetting about the Argentine voltage system. All of his beautiful lights exploded one by one, until everything was totally ruined and kinda smokey. His facial expression and excitement pulled a complete 180 in about two seconds HAHAHAHA. So yep, his Christmas lights didn´t really turn out quite like his mom would have liked last Christmas, but at least he made me laugh haha!

And that´s about all I have today. I will try to write a bit more later today, but i´m just worn out. It has been a long, routine week, without any really unique experiences. We did the normal stuff, worked hard, and had some great lessons. Many of our investigators have done some solid reading, and we have had some support from member too. I´ll probably give an update on some of them next week. That reminds me . . . next week is transfer week--"the week of chaos". I will probably have little free time, but it´s all good. Everything has its purpose, right? I have been here as the mission´s historian and data analyst for almost 7 months now. I know, pretty nuts, huh? I will probably serve in another area and get transferred from here next week, but whatever the President feels will work fine for me. I will willingly (and excitedly) go back out into the field, whereas staying here in the offices one more transfer for six weeks would really be an adventure too. Whatever the Lord wants for me. :). Rumor has it that i´m staying for one more, due to many other changes throughout the mission and since the President feels content with my work. At the same time, I have stayed here longer than most.... We will just have to see with time. I will know next Monday for sure!

Thanks for all of your support. I have had some of the busiest days of my life, starting at 630am and ended right at 1030, with very little break time. Like always, I really appreciate your letters. Malia and Kimbz, thank you so much for your mail!!!!!! I enjoyed reading your letters, and they made me laugh, like A LOT. Rojo was thrilled! haha. I will try to write back today if there´s time! Thanks again for your support. Also, i appreciate the prayers of everyone. Actually, i´m grateful for any type of support directed to missionary work. I want everyone to know of my gratitude, whoever it might be that´s reading this page right now. You help me keep going. I would like to leave you guys with a quote from my personal study this week. It is in Spanish, so you will have to put it in a translator. Those of you who speak Spanish should like it a lot. :) I just don´t want to translate it because it would lose some meaning, knowing that any translation isn´t 100 percent accurate. Alright, here it is:

"Podemos cambiar nuestro estilo de vida si lo deseamos de verdad. Si ponemos nuestra fe en el Padre Celestial, Él nos sostendrá en nuestro esfuerzo."

May we all strive to mold our lifestyles in a way that binds us closer to our loved ones and to our Heavenly Father is my hope and prayer, and I leave it with you as a missionary here in Rosario, Argentina. I know we are all one big family, and I really appreciate all you do for me.

Elder Jones

And that´s a wrap! :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday Missionary Message

Wahoo, another week down! Grandpa and Grandma Jones, thank you so much for your letters. I enjoy reading them every week and hope you guys enjoy mine. You always give me a good sports update, which gets me pumped :): Thank you so much! Alright, due to litte time, here goes the list:

Word of Wisdom Lesson. Alright, so Araceli (Ahh-rah-cell-ee) helped us out this past week by finding a new person to teach about the gospel. Her name is Laura, and she lives just around the corner from Araceli´s house, which is about a 20 min walk from the mission home. Araceli has attended church for the last five months, like a pro, and already seems like a regular member. The new missionaries won´t recognize her as a recent convert, which will be pretty cool :). Due to her help, we had a great lesson about some of the basic church principles. Laura, the friend who wanted to know more based on the changes she had seen in her friend, had many questions in regard to the Word of Wisdom. While explaining everything, we all sipped some herbal tea and ate crackers. Though it might sound a bit weird, almost all the people here chat over tea and crackers. Alongside the crackers, we ate bread dipped in special caramel sauce. In the middle of the lesson, we started talking about how we should strive to eat healthy food and avoid certain substances. Right as Elder Hull was sharing a personal experience about the benefits, Araceli took a huge bite into a spoonful of caramel! Everyone there, including Laura´s dad who arrived late (he had some interest too), started to laugh due to the rather ironic situation. Everyone was eating liquid caramel and white bread in the middle of a lesson about how to eat better and take care of our physical bodies. It was really funny. You probably had to be there, but in the middle of a scripture that had to do with eathing good foods, one of them slapped a huge glob of caramel on some bread and downed it like a little kid eating a Twinkie :) All in all, we taught the principle well and had a great lesson. It was just really funny, and the during the next lesson that we had later that week, everyone ate apple slices and drank a special fruit drink, kinda as a joke. Overall, it went well, and we are glad to have a new investigator since they are hard to find here in our current area.

Elder Allen. He served as my zone leader in Paraná. When I came here to the offices, he finished his mission and went home. So he has enjoyed being home since last March. Anyways, long story short, he is getting married on Sep. 28, in a mere four days!!!! He just recently went home, and it felt weird to see his wedding announcement.  A few months ago, he lived with me and walked the streets of Paraná as a Zone leader. Now he is Junior companion with his wife. Haha! Sounds like he did some solid contacts during his first few months back home :).  Anyways, I thought I´d pass along the info.

Cultural Note. Alright, so here in Argentina, they have what´s called Dulce de Leche, which basically translates into candy milk. Extremely popular and eaten regularly, I tried this treat my first week in Argentina and have eaten it at least once almost every week on my mission. Some families make it together in large quantities, whereas others just buy it regularly from the store in containers. It is a mixture of butter, cream, sugar, and milk. Real healthy, huh? haha. The best comparison I can think of would have to be the caramel you dip apples into sometimes. It is pretty thick, though, and tastes great. People here normally drink mate (remember, that was another cultural note) and eat small pieces of bread covered in dulce de leche, or liquid caramel. It sounds really weird, but everyone loves it here. AHH, I thought of a good comparaison. They use it just like we use peanut butter, so you get a better picture. Just type "dulce de leche" on google images, and you will see a bunch of pictures. Though less common in the states, everyone eats it here on almost a daily basis. It can be used as dessert too, after a big meal at night.

Alright, that´s the message for this week. I have some more to say, but we are going to play tennis again. Wahooo. I might as well take advantage while possible :). 

Elder Jones

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Elder Jones, Elder Camacho, and Elder Hull :)

Another Update From Rosario


Hello, how is everyone? haha. I had a pretty solid, busy week. I hope you are all doing well, and I received some great mail just the other day! Megan Thacker, thank you for your letter! I enjoyed reading it, and be sure to say "hello" to Camille for me. haha. I reallly appreciate everyone´s letters, and I sent off a handful last week. Hopefully many of you will receive them in a couple short days. It is kinda hard to write letters here since everything is so crazy.... I have definitely had an adventure here in the offices!

Anyways, this week I want to write a little more about one of my favorite recent converts.

Marcelo Gomez. Up to this point on my mission, he is probably the best convert and coolest person with whom I´ve come into contact. I think I described him a few months ago when he was baptized, but now he has attended church regularly for nearly four months! Wahoo!!! That´s what I´m talking about :). So yes, he has progressed rapidly and now serves as a regular member. Here are a few more quick facts about him, just so you can all get to know him a bit better:

-He is about 35 years old.

-He has a family of four with one on the way.

-They have very humble circumstances; he is a contruction worker in the heart of downtown Rosario.

-Everyone in his neighborhood speaks really informal Spanish with a lot of slang. It is kinda hard to understand sometimes but can be really funny.

-He really wanted a suitcoat to look like the people in the Bishopric as well as other active members, which made me smile. About half of the people dress up in a suit. The rest wear slacks with a button down, and some come in jeans. We let anyone in, knowing that physical appearance doesn´t matter that much. People still try to do their best, which is great. Marcelo diidn´t feel embarrassed or anything, but he said he wanted to look like the Bishop and really show repect when he comes to church. So guess what? We talked to the president´s wife, and she found a donated suitcoat for him! He loves it. :)

Last Sunday, he came to church dressed like a champ. I don´t remember if I mentioned it earlier, but one day Elder Hull and I gave him a few gifts. We both gave him a tie and one of our shirts. We both know he is a great member, does his best, and works hard. While providing for his immediate family and some of his extended family who live close by his house, he stuggles financially sometimes. However, he refuses to accept help or money. I really like his attitude, and he works like 12 hour shifts to provide for his kids. Anyways, long story short, Elder Hull and I wanted to help him out. He was extremely grateful, and this past Sunday, he used the suitcoat, my shrit, Elder Hull´s tie, his own pants, and shoes that a member gave to him as a gift. He looked great, and we took some pictures. This Sunday he also received the Melchizedek Priesthood, honoring it well with is suitcoat and faith!

-He would be considered lower middle class, as many people are worse off than him, like some of the families I taught in Santa Fe who live in little huts. This was way back at the beginning of my mission.

-His youngest son, Kevin, will turn eight soon!!! Marcelo is really excited to baptize him by himself.

-We are teaching some of his extended family right now, many of which have promised to come to church and some of the activities. Little by little, we are seeing miracles in his life. He has shared his testimony a handful of times in an incredible, powerful manner.

-It really is a blessing to have known him. He also built his own house!! Crazy, right? What if you came to eat at my house one day and later found out that I had built it myself??? haha. You would probably be a little scared and feel like something seemed sketchy and not sturdy! ahaha.. He really did a great job though, and we enjoy chatting with him inside his own cement house. Seeing the gospel help his family has really changed my life!

-He now serves as the Ward Secretary. You have to remember that the wards down here don´t function quite as well, so any calling or service really makes a difference and contributes to the ward success! More than half of the members just come to listen about twice a month. Not Marcelo, though. He comes about 95% of the time, unless he has to work or do something urgent downtown! What a boss :).

-Okay, there are even more details about Marcelo, but that should be enough for now. He makes me laugh, and we visit him about every other week right now. As a current member, he now receives visits from some other members of the high council and Bishopric. Basically, he is doing great :)

Alright, sorry for the kinda short letter. I wrote a bunch to my family, and we plan to play tennis today! Yep! So we have to go head out there before it rains. Like always, thanks for all your support and prayers. I think about you often. Go cougs! Go Jimmer! Vamos Argentina!

Elder Jones

Tuesday, September 11, 2012



Both of these pictures are Elder Jones with "some good old grandpas in [his] ward." :)


This is the ant invasion photo that Elder Jones refers to in his letter!


Ant Invasion

Hey, this is one of the pictures from our ant invasion! They are EVERYWHERE. We have had special people come to spray gases and kill them all. We had to clean forever, and finally they are gone. Well, at least we think so.

We have had another good and crazy week here in Fisherton, Rosario, Argentina. I´ve decided to share a bullet-list, just because I have tons of small facts to share. I hope you enjoy it and get a small glimpse into our life here as missionaries. :)

-Elder Hull and I put together a church activity this past week. About 12 investigators came, we watched a church movie, and everyone ate tacos afterwards. Great day :). Our Ward Mission Leader came and helped us out with everything. His name is Yamil (Sh--ahh--mill), and he is pretty legit. We have a meeting weekly with him. About 20 years old, he is strongly considering a mission and plans to send his papers off soon.

-Yes, I cooked the tacos. I don´t know that much about cooking and don´t really want to become a chef or anything. However, many members have taught me how to cook a lot of the Argentine food here. I hope you´re hungry when I come home! haha. Elder Camacho and I have made tacos together over 15 times since our arrival last March.

-The new librarian came to the offices. Elder Camacho, one of my good friends in the mission, has trained him for the last week or so. Due to the complicated job and all of the contracts for apartments, Elder Camacho will have to train the new librarian for about another three to four weeks. Elder Paez (Pah--ice) will serve for the next five to seven months here in the mission home. Wahoo!

-Remember, the librarian manages more than 100 apartments and all of the supply flow throughout the mission, including everything from the standard copies of scriptures to new member pacakges. Yep, he is usually pretty busy, you know, just like me :).

-I will probably leave after this transfer, which ends in four weeks. I have been here since the beginning of March. Pretty crazy stuff! I really have enjoyed working here, so no complaints. Plus we have a really great ward in this area.

-The Buenos Aires temple was rededicated this past week. On Sunday, we were able to watch the broadcast as our worship service. Elder Christofferson speaks perfect Spanish. This was super cool!!! President Eyring and Elder Ballard also attended the service. President Giuliani sat in the same room as President Eyring and the other general authorities! We saw him on camera two times :)

-On Saturday night, Elder Hull and I gathered together some less active members together, and we all headed down to the stake center. They had a cultural celebration for the new temple. Some general authorities spoke, and then some special Argentine rituals and dances were performed. One word can describe the performance: incredible.

-We have people from all over the world here in the offices right now.
Elder Jones --> Texas
Elder Hull --> Utah
Elder Fernandez --> Chile
Elder Camacho --> Mexico
Elder Bruin --> Utah
Elder Hepworth --> Wyoming
Elder Paez --> Buenos Aires
So yeah, we have a bit of everything! Sometimes the cultures clash, which can be pretty funny sometimes!

-I´ve practiced my soccer skills lately. I might record a video just for fun!

-A missionary recently returned home (in Argentina) from him mission in Chile. He has been here in his home for two weeks now. He kissed his girlfriend on the lips in front of us and said, "You will be rewarded with something beautiful after the mission." It was really funny. His girlfriend didn´t expect it, either.

-We celebrated a birthday with some members this past week. They made a large amount of food and the most delicious cake ever, which was covered in special chocolate icing. Plus, it felt as if we were all one big family, which felt really nice for me. I miss you guys. I miss my FHE group from the Y too.

-One of our contacts this past week surprised us. Her name is Ana, and she lived in England a couple years ago, where she learned English perfectly. So as you can imagine, we had a nice flow of accents in that house. She spoke English with a British accent, whereas we spoke Spanish with an American accent! Also, her parents don´t know English, which complicated things a bit. We ended up speaking both languages the majority of the time.

-There is a mosquito plague in Rosario right now. The pest control has sprayed various types of gas and chemicals, but we get eaten alive everytime we go outside.

-On average, Elder Hull and I walk around seven miles a day. My feet get pretty sore sometimes, and we always express our gratitude when we enter into a house of a kind family.

-Right now, we have quite a large group of people listening to us, but many of them have extremely hard and hectic lives. Little by little, we help them learn and study the basic principles of the church. On Sundays, we usually have at least one person come to learn a bit more of our beliefs.
Elder Artunduaga, the missionary from Colombia who lived with me for more than six months of my mission, has now been home for two full weeks. He sent an email, and we all saw a few pictures of him. Wow, crazy!

-I finally sent a bunch of letters off in the mail. Hopefully they will arrive in a week or so!
We plan to play tennis today on the clay court close to the mission home. If everything goes as planned, we should have a blast! Nobody plays as well as Elder Benson, but I will still enjoy it :)

I really appreciate all of the moral support and helpful words from everyone. You are all in my prayers, as well, and I hope you have a great week!

Elder Jones


Monday, September 3, 2012

Hey Hey Hey from Rosario

I´m still here in the same seat! haha. Finally, all the craziness of transfer week has died down, leaving us all exhausted and ready for Pday. I will probably take a HUGE nap this afternoon, just to catch up a bit. Aside from the trasfer week rituals, we had some unique experiences as well. I want to keep you guys updated, so here we go!

Elder Ampush. He came to the mission along with the other new missionaries this past week. However, he came with his own interesting story, far different from the rest of them. Born and rasied in a jungle forest in Perú called "wawaim," Elder Ampush had never seen electricity until he turned 15. Pretty crazy, huh? His small jungle located in Perú provides shelter to many different tribes, each with their own specific language. So yep, for almost his whole life, he has spoke his special (and extremely rare) language. It doesn´t even have a name! Less than 500 people speak it, and when people travel from one jungle tribe to the next, the language changes!! They live off of river water and vegetation that is grown naturally in the forest, which just about blew our minds--president´s too! At the mission welcoming dinner, he only ate a few bites because he had never seen noodles and didn´t know how to eat them! Pouring milk into a glass cup, amongst almost everything we do at a dinner table, felt incredibly awkward and weird for him. Can you believe that? Trying a noodle for the first time when you turn 20 years old.... I almost couldn´t believe it. He had us look some pictures up online, and here are some other quick facts about him:

-His tribe lives in a small section of the forest surrounded by water, and they travel in these homeade canoes from tribe to tribe to do trades!

-They sleep under big tents that are composed of mud, sticks, and leaves.

-Luckily, one of his friends knew Spanish and the native tribe tongue. Together, they left the tribe for a few years and lived in a nieghboring city.

-Elder Ampush lived with his friend´s family for a couple years in this city, where he learned Spanish and found out about the church.

-They had to walk eight hours to get to the chapel every Sunday.

-He decided to serve a mission!

-His parents still live with the tribe, only know their native language, and don´t know what computers are.

-Elder Ampush speaks almsot perfect Spanish, and his native language--the crazy tribal tongue that nobody knows-- is spoken extremely well too.

So basically, he is my favorite missionary right now. His story is incredible. His knowledge of languages is ridiculous and incredible, whereas his knowledge of technology and modern stuff is practically nonexistent. He is learning fast, and I think people will listen to him. He is a pretty cool dude!

Helping out as Secretary. So one day we had tons of government paperwork to handle downtown. Older missionaries needed visa renewals. Newer Missionaries needed ID card applications. Other missionaries needed fingerprints to match their names on the Rosario´s computerized system. Long story short, Elder Hull (the secretary for the offices) had TONS to do throughout the week, espcially since we were in transfer week. Me too. One morning though, I had a bit of free time and offered to take some of the load. Guess what? We worked together and made a game plan. With a little bit of cooperation, we split up into two groups, went to different government buildings downtown, and finished in about half the time! It felt weird for me but was a great experience all the same. Let me explain why. :)

A long time ago, during my second month in Argentina, they called me down to the mission home for government paperwork. I didn´t understand the language very well, had abosolutely NO CLUE about the process, and just kinda enjoyed the trip. Now as a worker in the offices, I do all the behind the scenes. For example, this time I was the one who took three newer missionaries downtown to do the paperwork and had to talk to the government workers in Spanish. It was just cool to be on the other side of things. I don´t know, it is kinda hard to explain. Basically, it´s just a small miracle for me. Just nine months ago, I could barely speak Spanish and didn´t know anything about downtown Rosario. Now, about nine months later, Elder Hull and I work with all the government officers as well as manage the visas, documentation, passports, and certificates of more than 200 missionaries. And it´s all in Spanish! Plus we are still only twenty years old, which really cracks me up sometimes :) Every once in a while, we chill downtown in a line to get some type of documentation, just completey surrounded by older businessmen and other extremely high-up people. I like to call them "high-rollers." You know, people cruising along with other top dudes and CEOs. Sometimes we feel like the "high-rollers" ourselves since we carry a check or cash close to 10,000 pesos at a time to pay for special documentation or certificates. It is just amazing and lets us see the divine hand in missionary work. Actually, try to put yourself in my shoes....

You´re at your house reading this letter, right? Let´s say you get a letter in the mail this afternoon, informing you of a mission in France and that they need your help. First, you will go study French for nine weeks in a special training center, where you will also learn a bit about French culture. Then you will be sent off to serve your mission in France and be expected to learn the language along the way, trying to understand as much as possible. Thirteen months from today, you will work with another person in an office who has gone through the same experience. No, he doesn´t know French yet either :) You both will learn it though. No worries. With him, you two eventually will both be in charge of the statistics, quarterly/semi-annual reports, and government paperwork of more than 200 people. And you will do it all in French, leaving behind your native English tongue. Alright, sounds like a plan! Good luck!

This is similar to what Elder Hull and I have done, alongside thousands of other missionaries around the world. When you really think about it, nobody can deny the divine help we receive day by day thoughout our service. I know Elder Hull and I are here for a purpose, and Elder Ampush as well. All of us missionaries fufill our niche in the mission, and with faith as our fuel, we will continue changing people´s lives by bringing a message of great joy to their homes :).

It really is cool for me, even though many days can be hard and difficult. Like always, I thank you all for your support, prayers, and cards! Especially the cards!! Seriously, thanks for everything.

Elder Jones