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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

More Info. From Rory!

Hey! Well, it's transfer week, and I have worked in my area for four and a half months now. In other words, there is a good chance that I'll change locations and send my next email from a different part of Argentina! We'll just have to see what happens, and I'll let you guys know a soon as possible. Like always, there is the chance of me staying here in my current area too, which would be alright. I really would like to visit a different part of the country, though :).

Anyways, we have had another busy, hectic, long, and service-filled week. To brief you guys a bit, the Bishop called a new ward mission leader for us named Alejandro Cocentino, who has already helped us a bunch! He is pretty cool, about 45 years old, has a family of 7, and kinda looks like a wrestler at his height of 5'5". He works out a lot haha, and I'll try to send a picture if there's time, just so you guys can get an even better glimpse into my mission :). But yes, he works really hard for the church and his family, especially at nights after he has finished his shift at his job.

One night during our ward counsel meeting while we were brainstorming, he came up with an idea to help us with missionary work in general: service. At first I didn't totally understand, and Elder Birky and I didn't know how much time we should invest since we already had many plans. After thinking it over a bit and looking through our agendas, we decided to set aside our evenings for service, despite out busy schedules. And guess what? It has worked out great! Through service over the past week or so, we have formed better relationships with some of the members and have received some strong references! To explain a little better, I have decided to talk individually about each service activity and its benefits. Ready? Haha.

1) The Duran Family. We gathered a group together of about nine people and went to their house to start the process. A brick wall in their front yard, which had served as part of the fence, had collapsed, leaving crumbles of brick and rock everywhere. With our shovels, buckets, and carts ready, we went to work. They didn't have wheelbarrows, so we had to use this bike with a huge metal basket instead. Yep, it was pretty interesting. :). We would put shovelfuls of the earth into this huge bike basket and then wheel it out to a nearby field and dump it. Since we had a decent size group of people, we finished in about an hour and a half. We also cleaned up the big trash pile in the backyard. This part of the service almost killed me haha. It smelled horrible and we had to pick up all these random articles of trash covered in moss, dirt, and bugs. It still felt great to help out this family, even though we had to do some pretty nasty stuff!

2) Gloria's House. She is a member who lives alone in a small, two-room house by the church. We had a bigger group gathered this time, and since she had a pretty big project for us, we used all the help we could get! In her backyard, nothing had been maintained for over a year. So yeah, I'm sure you guys already have a pretty good mental image of the forest we had to work through that night haha. The grass went up to my knees, the weeds alongside the fence and in the flowerbeds were HUGE, the patio and small shed had really weird bugs crawling everywhere, and it was just interesting haha. Nobody had a lawnmower, so we ended up cutting the grass with sharp shovels and long knives, which actually isn't that uncommon here :). We also cleaned her patio and helped tidy up her garage, both of which were pretty nasty. It was just a huge process and took like two hours with everybody working hard. She really thanked us for our work and helped whenever possible, which is pretty impressive since she is about sixty years old! It was just a good experience :).

3) The Italo (ee-tah-low) Family. This project = most interesting. Haha. He has a small little stream by his house full of weeds, frogs, and minnows. It actually looks pretty good and adds to the appearance of his house. When it rains, however, that's another story. Since the drainage here practically doesn't exist, any kind of rain makes his little stream flood and go EVERYWHERE. So this time with a small group of about five people, we went to work. We dug, dug, and dug some more, adding a couple extra inches in width and a foot of depth to the stream. We also pulled out the majority of the weeds and just tidied everything up a bit. This family is one of my favorites in the ward, and I enjoyed helping them :). This project, though a bit nasty, was probably my favorite. We had to move tons of mud and bend over a lot. Ya know what that means? I was SUPER sore the next day. SUPER SORE!! Haha. Oh well, that is just how it goes. I'm not in the best shape ever right now, as many of you know :) Afterwards everything looked really good, and we gazed at the newly designed stream for about a half hour while sipping lemonade on the porch. Alright, gotta move on.

So we performed service like this to help out some of our members, and we really reaped some rewards from doing so. Just to let you know, we did six of these projects :). With my time to write to you guys, I decided to describe the three most interesting! That's not all, though. After every service activity, we held a testimony meeting to end and close out the night, the final part of our mission leader's plan.

For example, we gathered together after cleaning and extending the stream by Italo's house that one night. Everyone sat in a circle, filling every chair within sight and enjoying the break from labor :). We chatted for a while before starting the testimony meeting, which Elder Birky and I directed with the assistance of our mission leader. To the small group of about ten strong members, Elder Birky and I explained the purpose of missionary work and testified of its power. We then each gave our testimonies of the restored gospel of Christ and its light that we had seen manifest through these members during our time here. These members then bore their testimonies and beliefs too, one by one, until we had gone around the entire circle. We could all feel a special feeling in the air as we all listened to one another that night under the starry sky. I really enjoyed the testimonies, and once everyone had finished speaking the mission leader gave a short speech. He explained that we all have our own testimony, or knowledge, of these truths. As missionaries in the ward, we wanted to share this grand message with the members and to help them out by doing a bit of service. At the same time, we wanted each of them to think of somebody--a neighbor, friend, relative, or anyone--who could also use some help. We left the members with a promise that night. If they could think of someone in need, we would go and help that person out however possible. We promised that the same blessings they had received as members in the church (including the service that night) would be seen in the lives of their references too. We then offered a prayer and left them with a copy of the scriptures to gift to this friend/future investigator. I really had powerful experiences during these meetings. This illustrates just one example of what we did SIX TIMES!! Yes, we did the same in every home. Everything was really similar each time. First we did a church service activity, which isn't that uncommon, and then held this testimony meeting directly afterwards, which was a little more uncommon :). And guess what? We have already received some references from some of the members and have worked hard to teach them or at least introduce them to the church :). Our mission leader rocks and has helped us tons.

Editor's Note: Most Recent Update-second email:

AAAAHHHHH. I am going to Paraná, a city close to Santa Fe. One of the Elders I live with has served there. He says that it is super nice compared to here and that there are a bunch of hills!!!!!!! I actually have two wards this time. My wards are called San Agustìn and Anac Medina

I have tons of packing to do tonight and I have to say goodbye to investigators!!!

Love you guys!

Hasta Next week,

Elder Jones

Monday, January 23, 2012

Argentine Bloopers/Random Info.

Well, like always, I hope that you guys are doing great and that you have had a great week :). I received mail again, which always gives me a small lowdown of the happenings up there in the states. Sometimes I feel so caught up in the culture, language, and work down here that Argentina feels like my permanent home haha. Throughout my life and especially as a missionary here in Argentina, I have learned and grown everyday. I have a strong testimony of the gospel, but I also wanted to let you all know that I have a firm belief in Jimmer too! Thanks for the updates, guys. All the information just strengthened my testimony of his extraordinary abilities. Haha. But seriously, I want to thank everyone who has written to me, both during my time here in Argentina and at the MTC, because it gives me motivation, and it is fun to hear about what's going in your lives right now. Sports stuff is great too, like the Jimmer details many of you sent me :).

Also, I have talked to tons of different missionaries here about the mail, its process, and the best way to do it. This is what like 90% of the missionaries do, and apparently it works really well. At least that's what I've heard :). So here's the info:

1) This works fine and should never have problems. They get delivered every week, and it usually takes another week or two to get to me. :) Many of you have used this. Thanks!

2) Handwritten Letters. There are a couple of options: LDS pouch mail and U.S. postage. I think that U.S. postage works best. You handwrite your letter and then just mail it in a normal envelope to my mission address. An international stamp costs 98 cents for a half ounce. It works great, and should be easy since you can mail it like a normal letter. The only difference is that you have to buy an international stamp instead of a normal one. If you want to use the LDS pouch, click on the link to the right of this blog. There are instructions, and you can see the pouch requirements.

Also, it's been a long time since I posted my address:

Elder Rory Jones
Argentina Rosario Mission
Blvd Argentino 7935
2000 Rosario
Sante Fe

And alright, I've got a boat load of information again. This time I've decided to share all of the funniest moments/bloopers here in Argentina :).


#1: My companion eats it. Alright, I gotta explain this well :). So when we had all the floods come about two months ago, Elder Birky and I did service for hours and hours, trying to help the people get the water out of their houses. Water covered EVERYTHING - the streets, the sidewalks, the soccer fields, people's yards, everything. Also, when we needed to travel, we just had to tromp through the water, which was about knee-deep in most places. So yep, we had been doing this all day, walking through dirty flood water and bucketing it out of houses. After finishing up at the last service activity of the day, we were exhausted and started our trek back to our apartment, once again shuffling through the deep water. Elder Birky was walking just a few steps ahead of me when he all of a sudden he fell down into water up to his shoulders. He screamed and a couple of people outside (including me) laughed at him once they realized he wasn't hurt. Haha He had fallen into a zanja (zan--hah). In the poorest parts of Argentina, like many parts of the area I'm serving right now, the sewage just runs along the side of the road. Normally we know exactly where all of them are for two reasons: 1) you can smell their NASTY and reeky fumes and 2) they just look like small little brown streams along the sides of the roads. But because of all the water from the flood, we couldn't see them at all. In fact, it was even hard to tell where the streets and sidewalks started and ended since many of them are just muddy, dirt roads here. So that's how it was. Elder Birky was walking and then slipped and fell into one of these sewage streams, which are like four feet deep. The water wasn't that dirty since it had mixed with all of the rainwater, so that was good. It was just really hilarious to watch Birky go down like a torpedo into the water. I wish it was on video. You guys shoulda been there. :)

#2) Never-ending lunch. So we have lunch appointments almost every day with members, which is really nice since most of them can cook WAY better than us. Plus, it gives us a nice break from working out in the heat and contacting. Anyways, one day we were eating with a new family, getting to know them, and just passing the time in their cozy house for a bit :). For about a half hour, we had been drinking lemonade and eating empanadas, a special food here that is kinda hard to explain. Search it on the Internet if you would like to know more! Haha. But yeah, my companion and I had assumed that the lunch consisted of these empanadas and the small salad placed on the table, a simple but tasty lunch. O man, we were wrong haha. Apparently she had told us that the empanadas served as an appetizer, but we both hadn't known :). So I had already eaten like five empanadas and Elder Birky six when she brought out a meat platter, another salad, a vegetable plate, and more juice. Those of you who know me well know that I eat quite a bit, especially during CC season :). I already felt STUFFED, but we didn't want to offend her. We are men, so we just decided to keep eating. Bad decision haha. It did taste really good, by the way. So we ate, ate, and ate some more, finally thinking we had finished the meal, when they brought out two more kilos of ice cream. I still ate some of this dessert, even though my stomach felt like it was gonna explode. Then she asked us if we wanted something more haha. NO! It was a great lunch, and now we both know the word "appetizer" in Spanish so we won't get surprised like this again. :).

#3 Cake fail. Everybody loves cake, so Birky and I thought it would be a "great idea" to make one. Wrong... Haha. I think it would have been fine if we had had an oven that functioned properly. This happened about two months ago while living on the floor by the fridge for three months in the other missionary´sapartment. They did have gas, though, unlike us now :). But yeah, to keep the oven on, we had to use duct tape and some string to keep the oven door shut. It was pretty hilarious. So, all excited and thrilled to be making a cake, we waited and waited for it to cook to perfection. After a while, something started to smell funny. Oh no!! Haha. The oven heat-control buttons had slowly changed underneath the duct tape, despite our best efforts to make it work. In other words, the heat had moved up to a setting WAY too high. Half of the cake was burnt, but we still picked out the good parts and ate it :).

#4 Bread baseball. Best. Activity. Ever. Haha. Though a little bit different than in the states, the bread still tastes really, really good here! And even better, it's cheap :). They come in big bags from street vendors and can be bought almost anywhere. They are crunchy on the outside and nice and soft inside, kinda like french bread :). So anyways, Elder Limon, a missionary in my apartment now, bought three kilos of bread. Kinda weird, huh? Little did we know that he had a plan up his sleeve! He let the bread sit out for two weeks, until the small chunks of white, cheap bread literally felt like rocks. Haha. Then we went to a big field by our apartment one Pday to play ball. :) It obviously wasn't like real baseball, but it's about as close as you get here. And guess what? They don't sell bats here were I am--just soccer balls. So picture this: four missionaries on a free day out in a field, a broomstick being used as a bat, and about 50 bread chunks to pitch! :) Whenever someone made good contact, the bread would just explode into like 50 million pieces and even make a small dust cloud haha. It was the most fun I've had in a while, and Elder Limon deserves some credit. He´s awesome.

Alright, I have some comments just for you guys too! I like to comment on your mail, but in the past I spent too much time doing it. So i´ve started to do it at the end now, that way i can manage my time better :).

- Zach, good luck with your english project, and it sounds like the movie with Brennen was a blast!
- Xbox 360 slim!!!! Do you have it yet? One student did at BYU, and it was awesome!
- Jennie commented that she doesn´t think she could live in my circumstnces. This made me feel a little better haha. They are getting A LOT better, though :).
- Dad, it sounds like you dominated in that ward football game but are still paying the price hahahahaha. Pedal hard on that bike for me :)
- Camille, I have no idea what´s going on with Aquatic Science cuz you say stuff in dearelders and through email, so everything is time warped haha. I read stuff in the wrong order so it doesnt make any sense hahahaha.
- Mom, those shirts that you saw are HILARIOUS :) haha. And thanks for all of the updates. Also, you always rub it in that you get to eat sushi hahahahaa. I miss it SOOO MUCHH :)
- You guys got to go to the Texans' playoff game??!! I can´t believe it. I heard that it´s Patriots and Giants this year. Is that right? haha.

Whew, I have typed a ton and want to go to for a bit to watch some videos and stuff. I will try to send pics really quick too! Birky also received a call that he will be training again, so that means we won´t be together anymore. Most likely he will stay with his greenie, and I will leave out to another area! I will know all the details next week. My Pday is next Tuesday, so don´t expect an email on Monday!!! :) Hopefully we will get gas soon (Editor's Note: He's talking about gas for his apartment, not his own! Haha :D ). There is never enough time!!! I seriously love your mail, and I hope you all are doing absolutely great. I have struggled a lot somedays, but things are getting better--much better--very fast. Also, the language is really coming. Some people say that I seem fluent. I still have to practice and study, though :). Thanks for everything. For caring. For your support and updates. Gotta go.

Elder Jones

Monday, January 16, 2012

Another Crazy Week!

Hello, hello! I hope you guys are all doing great. Like always, I have
quite a bit to say and not as much time as I'd like. It's all good,
though. :). And basically, I was thinking about my past messages, all the things I still
haven't had time to share with you guys, what you might like to hear,
and what would be fun for me to share with you all. So after all of
this, I realized that we have had seven baptisms, many of which I've
never really explained very well. I could just talk about baptisms for
a whole email, actually. So guess what? That's what I plan to do today
because there are so many details and small parts that I've never been
able to describe completely. Ready? :)

1) Juan and Mikaela (mee-cah-el-a) on 10/30/11. This was my first
baptism in the mission field, and it really hit home with me. Juan is
eight years old and Mikaela is 14. They live in a very humble house by the
outskirts of our area, and we found them as a reference from some
members. They were a semi-active family who now are really strong in
the church. The mom had been a member for a long time who is about 50
years old, has tan skin, and is always smiling. She speaks Spanish
just as fast as her kids run around the house. Haha. Sometimes,
especially at the beginning, she was hard for me to understand. Eight
people live in their small two rooms, and every time we visit, we get
bombarded with cards, small toys, and jokes. They are one of my
favorite families, and I've grown to love them. As we began teaching
them, we realized that two of her kids hadn't been baptized, despite
their ages and willingness to perform the ordinance. So, of course, we
taught them all of the lessons and shared simple scriptures that the
kids could understand. We also would just play games with the kids for
short periods of time after the lessons, which always made me smile
:). After about three weeks, we had taught all of the basic doctrinal
lessons of the church from PMG, and they had attended church twice. In
other words, they were ready for baptism :). Both of them passed their
interviews with ease, and the Bishop felt like they were ready. So
we prepared the program and had the baptism directly after a Sacrament
Meeting, which is the last part of the block on Sunday. When I stepped into the
water and motioned to Juan to come join me, a bright smile crossed his
face and he came into the water by my side. I muttered a few
instructions to him in Spanish, just to make sure he remembered what
we were going to do, and then raised my hand and did the baptism. The
feelings in the room were powerful and there were some tears in our
audience of about 15 people. You have to remember that the church is
still developing here, so we don't have any where near as many members
as in the state wards :). Afterwards, Elder Birky baptized Mikaela,
and then we all went to change while the Bishop talked to everyone.
The program went really well, and I really truly enjoyed my first
baptism here in Argentina. I want to give mote details but have to
move on, else I'll run out of time :).

2) Pedro and José on 12/4/11. Pedro is sixteen and José is fourteen.
Both of them are sport junkies and play soccer like ALL day. I really
mean it. One of them recently got asked to try out for a national
league in Buenos Aires. We messed around with a soccer ball for about
fifteen minutes one night at a ward activity and they could do SO many
cool tricks :). But yes, their mom is a member and comes to church like
every Sunday to listen and to help with some of the classes. She told
us one day that she really wanted to bring her sons to church, but
they always had soccer tournaments, especially on the weekends. So, to
help her out and to get to know her and her family better, we started
visiting their house about three times a week, usually in the morning
:). They live in the nicest part of our area in one of the very few
two-story houses made of all cement. They always gave us homemade
bread, and we would talk about soccer a lot--maybe a little too much
sometimes :). But like always, we would set apart some time to share a
spiritual thought or to teach them about the Restoration. At first
they never really showed that much interest, but with time and through
our testimonies, they realized that we were serious and really believed
that the church could help them in their soccer-filled lives :). One
morning while we were teaching them, they told us that they had
thought about it as a family, prayed, and had decided that a baptism
was right for their two kids. The father chose to remain Catholic but
still completely supported his wife and kids with their decisions. So
we put everything together and had another great baptism. We held this
one on a Saturday, just to see how it would work, and guess what? We
only had eight people show up from out ward!! It still went really
well, and José and Pedro were really exited. I gave them one of my
white shirts ans ties, and Elder Birky did the same because they both
didn't have white button-down shirts. I gave Pedro my tie that is blue
and gold, the same colors of his favorite soccer team, Boca! He loved
it and wears it every Sunday when he comes to church with his mom :).
Overall, it was a great baptism, and we all went to their house
afterwards to eat and celebrate a little bit. I loved it. We still
pass by them about once a week to see how they are doing and to
share a quick message. Alright, once again, gotta move on :).

3) Sergio (ssss--air--he--oh) on 12/10/11. This has probably been the
most interesting one that I've had so far for two main reasons: (1) it
all happened in about two weeks, and (2) he got baptized on his
birthday! Alright, I'll try to explain everything with the time I
have. First off, to find him, we went through a pretty lengthy
process. Two other Elders were out working when a woman stopped them
and told them she needed some help in her life. After talking with her
for a few minutes, these two Elders realized that she lives in our
area and not theirs, so they wrote down her address and passed it to
us that night. Then Elder Birky and I, pumped and ready to teach,
visited her the next day, basically as soon as possible. While we were
visiting this woman, we found Sergio, who lives right next door and is
18 years old. He tracked us down in the nighttime dusk and told us
that he had heard about our church before, knew the woman we had just
met, and had wanted to learn more about what we do as missionaries for
quite a while. Could we have met a better person? Probably not! haha.
People really are prepared. They are ready to hear our message. They
are ready to receive the blessings that come from Christ through the
church. Anyways, to make a long story short, we began to teach him and
his neighbors the very next day, explaining the Restoration and other
basic principles of the gospel. He accepted everything and walked into
the waters of baptism about 13 days later. And yes, we scheduled the
baptism on his birthday intentionally, just as he asked :)

4) Leonardo y Nelvis (Nell--vee--ss) on 1/8/12. Favorite. Baptism.
Yet. Oh man, I'm gonna run outta time, but I can't think of a better
way to end this message than to talk about these two incredible,
amazing people. Though it may sound kinda surprising, we found both of
them while contacting one night toward the end of the day. We
introduced ourselves to them, like usual, and then asked if we could
share a quick message with them before leaving. And that's how it
went. They chilled in their seats out on their patio and received
their first quick message about the church, not knowing it would
change their lives in just a mere few weeks. :). They were Jehovah's
Witnesses and knew the bible well--really well. They are incredibly
nice and always gave us snacks and juice, which always felt great after
having walked in te scorching heat. You guys gotta remember that it
hits 90 degrees or higher every day here, and sometimes I forget it is
January :). Haha. But yes, we actually learned a lot about their
church, and they learned a lot about ours during the first few visits.
Basically, we just treated it as Q and A and didnt want to offend them
or anything, but rather show respect and really try to discern their
needs and help them whenever possible. Eventually, they told us that
they had always had a few doubts about their church and that they
actually really wanted to learn more about the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-Day Saints. Plus they liked talking to us since they both
are in their sixties and get a little lonely. This happened about the
fourth visit, and from that point on, we really began having great
lessons. We watched some of the church movies, read the scriptures
together, and sometimes we just went over to eat dinner and to share a
spiritual thought :). They always had a lot of questions and wanted to
learn all of the basic principles really well before baptism. This was
great because they always kept their commitments and promises,
sometimes even studying even more than we asked :). After just over a
month, they told us that they really had studied, prayed, and even
done a fast to know if the church really contained the plentitude of
the gospel of Jesus Christ. We love to hear this because we never
obligate anyone to do anything, but instead ask them and invite them
to pray so that they can know for themselves. It really is powerful
because we share a few massages and ask them to pray and study the
Bible and the Book of Mormon. Because of all the talk and much of the
time wrong information about us, people sometimes don't realize that
we are asking them to pray and ask God. Really it isn't our church, it
isn't the prophet's, and it isn't the Mormon church. It's the Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, run and directed in the same way
as Christ's in the ancient times. I love it when people realize this
concept. They told us that they really feel like it's true, even
though they had gone to like five other churches during ther life :).
This would be the best translation from Spanish to English: "Elders, we
want to get baptized and help with your church as soon as you guys can
put it together." Wow! There progression and everything really has
amazed me, and they know the Bible SUPER well--way better than me and
Birky. They are just great people. So, to fulfill our part, we cleaned
the baptismal font and prepared everything. We held their baptism
right after Sacrament Meeting, and this was the best--and most
hectic--Sunday I've had here in Argentina. I don't have much time, but
during this Sunday I was able to do the following: set up the
baptismal font and room, give a 5-min testimony on missionary work in
Sacrament (Bishop's request), direct the two songs during the baptism,
baptize Nelvis, and help Birky baptize Leonardo. This is a story of
its own. Leonardo had hip surgery recently, so he can't support
himself very well. Plus he is old, around 70 years of age. During the
baptism we had to bring a chair in the water, just as an extra support
for him. Elder Birky said the prayer, and then we both had to work
together. Elder Birky held his legs, and I put my my arms through his
arm pits. We slowly kicked out the chair and lowered him into the
water. His toes still stuck up out of the water, so we had to do it
twice. It was a great experience and we really had to be sensitive
with this old and tender man. With time, we completed everything :).
Then I was scheduled to give the talk on the Holy Ghost, but luckily one of
the members volunteered to share it while we changed :). It was a
powerful experience, and they had tears in their eyes. They are
getting callings in the church next Sunday, and Leonardo and Nelvis have their own triples,
Bibles, and copies of other church literature. We visit them at least
every couple of days, and we actually had some ward missionaries called
who should go over and reteach them the basic doctrines of the church

Alright, I gotta end. These baptisms really are why I am serving here
in Argentina, the best country in the world. :). It's just like my MTC
teacher said: "We don't go to learn a new language or to just increase
our numbers in the church, but we go to share a special message--a
message that has blessed our own lives and will bless many lives to
come in these, the latter-days." :).

Gotta go soon, but these baptisms really have blessed my life.

Please keep sending mail! I love it, just like I love all of you.

Goodbye for another week,
Elder Jones :)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Another New Message From Good Ol' Argentina :)

Hey, guys! Happy happy new year. I finally got mail and have TONS to say!! I hope every thing is going really well for everyone up there in Houston. :). To start off today, I want to talk about the mail I received in general.

However, I still do have a lot off comments about your letters. They were incredibly fun to read.

- dad, you asked about watching DVDs in people's houses. Like 75 percent of the people have a small tv in my area and like half of those people actually have a DVD player. We have used the "Restoration" video four times. It works really well, but a lot of people don't have the equipment. I think it is just b/c my area is so poor. I thought it was funny that you had to use car batteries and extension cords on your mission in the reservations. :)

- I cannot believe that Jake Heaps is leaving and then will only be able to play during his senior year. That's really too bad since there was all the hype about him and everything. He kinda failed. Haha

- Zach, you said that you ate my piece of pie for me at Grandma's house. I wanted to thank you and let you know that I will DEFINITELY eat yours for you while you are on your mission :):).

- One of you asked about wards in our buildings and if they change at the start of te year like in the states. No, my times stayed at 9am. There are two wards in my small building, but they don't change because they are both satisfied with the schedules that they have :)

Anyways, as all of you know, I also received my DearElder package full of just American candy. I ate my two favorites (Twix and Starbursts), but then decided to do something cool with the rest of the candy. Guess what? I took it to investigators and members, just so that they could try it. It went extremely well--much better than if I'd eaten it all for myself. Just to fill you guys in, I will give a short description of every member or investigator that invites us to lunch. Ready?

Lucas y Vicki. They are some of the strongest members in our area and come to church every Sunday. Lucas is first counselor of the bishopric, and Vicki is over our small nursery. We have about 50-60 people attend every week, just to give you a ballpark estimate of the size of our ward. I've heard that ours is one of the biggest in the mission :). Anyways, they are both in their twenties and have a kid names Lorenzo, who is about 3 years old. They are so nice, friendly, and humble. I am currently serving in one of the poorest parts of my mission right now. Just to paint the picture a bit, their house is about 3/4 the size of a standard bedroom, just a little smaller than my room, for example. They have their queen size bed, a small fridge, and a stove, with a tiny electric box that heats their water for their showers. They are amazing people, despite their circumstances. We eat lunch with them every Sunday after church. They sit on the floor in between the bed and the fridge and always let us sit on their mattress cuz they insist and cuz they don't have chairs. Last Sunday, I decided to start this whole candy expedition and brought Sour Patch Kids to their house. There is a ton of candy indigenous to Argentina and people eat candy all the time. However, there is nothing like Sour Patch Kids down here. So I let them all try it ad part of our dessert. There faces were hilarious as they cringed and revealed their surprise. Lucid and Lorenzo, their son, ate them right up :). Lorenzo chomped on it for like two minutes and just made really funny faces as the sour juices squirted out. It was priceless. Alright, I always put too much detail. Gotta move on :).

The Duran (doo-ran) family. Their dad is our Stake President and has served for seven years. They are one of the six strong families in our wards, and they invite us to eat a meal with them almost every week. They live in the best-off part of my area, which is really close to our small apartment complex. They have two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a small living room. Everything is made of cement, and they have church pictures taped on their walls. I love this family of six, and they are absolute soccer fanatics. They actually have a tv that works well ,and they always watch the games. Just over half of the people have a tv. Anyways, since they are a big family, I brought two treats: Butterfinger and Sour Patch Straws. Once again, I showed it to them during dessert, and it was great fun to watch them try these candies which are really rare and weird to them. The Stake President's wife started coughing cuz she got a bunch of sour straw sugar down her throat without knowing. The kids loved the Sour Straws and downed them fast. Once the president started cutting up the Butterfinger, that's when everybody honed in the snack. They licked it a bit and then chewed it. All of them loved it, and there was a scramble to try and get the last bits. One of the kids even licked the wrapper. It was a great experience for me because with such simple means I could make their day :). Plus it was fun to watch!

Alright, I really want to write more but gotta go, like always.

Your missionary,
Elder Jones

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

Hello! Well, first off I want to say that it has been a pretty crazy week, chuck full of lessons and all of the normal good stuff. I still have about 45 minutes and thought that maybe a bullet list with smaller facts would be interesting for you guys.

Thomas Metcalf, my friend from Cy-Fair who played ultimate frisbee with me all of the time, has been writing me a bit too. Guess what? He is serving in Mexico City and started about 6 weeks ahead of me. He weighed himself this week and has gained 32 pounds!!! hahaha. He actually had the opportunity to skype for Christmas, and he said that his girlfriend and family laughed at him for a long time b/c his face was so fat :). He says we are going to have to play ultimate to lose our weight when we get back.

Speaking of weight, I have gained a little bit too. We haven´t found a scale that works yet, so I don´t know how much. Maybe that´s a good thing :). My pants still fit fine, and I guess that´s all that matters!

I am living with Elder Stephen Winert right now. We were talking one night, and guess what? He knows the Weavers and ran for Cedar Park cuz he lived in Austin. He grew up in Spring, though, and knows Mary Lyman, Anna Morris, all of the Weavers, and a handful of other members like Spencer Guerrero haha. O, and there is more. He lived in J hall at BYU for fall and winter term, he has slept in the Weaver´s house before, and he had the same dining plan as me at college. So we are living together now in our small apartment down here in Santa Fe in the Rosario mission. We had never met before but still know a lot of the same people, which is really funny. He says "hello" to spring, and especially to the Weaver family :).

Dog bite. A dog chased me and Elder Birky this week. It ran fast and caught up to us quickly, snarling loudly and biting Elder Birky´s leg. Luckily it didn´t puncture anything and wasn´t too terrible of a bite. It was funny though. There really are dogs everywhere here.

Hermana Rita. She is a member who we found through a reference. We have visited her, on average, about twice a week. She is really nice and lives in extremely humble circumstances. She has less than most people in my area, and I found out last week that my area is the poorest in the mission. One day last week we taught about how the gospel of Christ can help us during difficult times. She enjoyed the lesson and towards the end looked a little touched. As I was talking to her about the scriptures and the blessings of going to church, she began to cry. Tears rolling down her cheeks and with a smile crossing her face, she looked at us and said that she feels so uplifted in the church and during our visits. She is a really heavy smoker (almost three boxes a day) and really wants to make some changes in her life. I will keep you guys updated. She is a really sweet lady of about 50 years who stuggles to get to church b/c it is a two mile walk and she stuggles to even afford a bike. We are trying to help her.

Sloppy Joes. We found some American sloppy joe mix in one of the other missionary´s apartments. We asked around and nobody wanted to use it, so we took the contraband back to our kitchen. We had a special lunch appointment scheduled with an investigator the next day and decided to do something interesting: make them Sloppy Joes. That´s exactly what we did. After calling and telling them that we were going to cook for them, they couldn´t believe it. They did accept our offer though, and so the next day we traveled over there and cooked Sloppy Joes for them. They absolutely loved them, and it was really fun to watch them eat since it was completely foreign to them. :)

Electricity. We finally got electricity because the offices finished the contract and finally got it sent to us. So we went to Centro and talked to some of the employees of the business who later turned the electricity on in our apartment that night. So after three weeks of using an extension cord from our neighbors, we could finally unplug it and use our own electricity :)

Gas. We had an inspector come to our apartment to verify if we could have natural gas sent through our system. When we began renting, the contract said that the we could get gas once we obtained the contract. Since we didn´t pass the inspection (which was completely the fault of the last people who rented before us), we have to do buy some other saftey equipment and have the inspection done again. The people didn´t tell us this when we were looking for an apartment. They told us that it was ready to have gas sent to us, which we now unfortunately know was untrue. We were told that we will probably have to wait anywhere from 2 to 3 more weeks to get gas. So yep, cold showers and no real cooking for a while longer!! Gosh haha. At least we finally have our own electricity and a fridge. :)

Baby blessing. One of the members in my area has a baby who is currently really sick. They asked me to give it a priesthood blessing, and I did it for the first time in Spanish. They thanked me and I had a great experience helping others down here in Argentina :).

And I guess that´s about it. I hope my English makes sense. We always speak Spanglish or complete Spanish now, just because it helps during the lessons, and I didn´t ever think this would happen, but it is actually harder for me to say some stuff in complete English.

With love,
Elder Jones