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Monday, April 30, 2012

Una Semana Bastante Buena

Hello Everybody!

Hey, so we had an incredibly busy week here in Fisherton, Rosario, where tons of missionaries came to visit, went home, or started the mission just after finishing the MTC. Almost every day, morning or night, we had tons of people here in the offices for interviews, training meetings, councils, and even for lunch. The days flew by, taking me for a spin and giving me a headache every once in a while! Right now, I serve as the main driver for the mission home! Cool, huh? I already have a lot of practice with stick shift and never kill it anymore! I really enjoy driving and liked it before the mission too. As tons of people arrived and left from Rosario, I drove to the bus terminal five times and also went to run some errands for the president. :)

We also don´t have tons of time today. We had to drive two sister missionaries to the bus station, from which they would head on home. In the morning, I worked on some data sheets for the upcoming mission council and put together the weekly powerpoint presentation. After all of that, we finally made it to the grocery store, Koto, which is really similar to Walmart and really nice for Argentina. Kinda pricey too. Right now it is three o´clock, and we are about to leave and play ping pong/soccer at a nearby church since this is our only free day. We will leave in about five minutes, so I will type as much as possible with my current time. When we finish playing, I will write a bit more if possible. It has just been a hectic but good week!

Alright, we just got back. Since I have little time, the main highlight of the week, all transfers and mission home duties aside, would have to be the baptism we had this past Saturday. Marcelo and Brandon had listened to Élder Benson and I for about seven weeks before making the important decision. He is about 45 and his son, Brandon, is eight years old. We all had a great time during each visit, and Elder Benson and I would pass by their house about three times a week. Their mom, a soccer player who likes to cook, grew up in the church. Obviously, she already knew most of the lessons but didn´t really help out often. In the end, she ended up coming to church again and loved the baptism. I will attach a photo that hopefully makes it to you guys. Tonight, just to celebrate a little bit, we are going to cook tacos for them at their house and eat fried cake. I can´t wait, and we have to go and start preparing. Sorry for not writing very much; next week I should have more time.

We are in a threesome for three weeks. To get trained on how to do all the government document stuff in centro takes about three weeks. If the papers get messed up really bad, a missionary could have to go home. So the president always makes sure the new secretary has a really good grip on stuff before the old one goes home. Sometimes the training goes for six weeks. We will just have to see how fast and how comfortable the new secretary is with everything with time. He is cool.

As far as speaking English versus Spanish in the pench, we probably do about half and half. If a native is with us, we will usually speak in Spanish just so they can be included. Other than that, a lot of the time we do just speak in English b/c we can express ourselves a little better. :) It is also nice to have reached the level where all of us can communicate pretty well in Spanish!

I feel old sometimes, and other times I feel super young. It just depends on who I am around. When the brand new greenies come from the MTC, I feel like a grandpa. But when I am just around Elder Benson and some of the other guys, I fell really young! They go home in July 15, before I even hit my year mark. I studied SO MUCH at the beginning of my mission, and it has helped a lot. I will tackle "Jesus the Christ" in Spanish pretty soon :)

Like always, thanks for everything you guys do for me, both through letters and prayers. Hopefully my package will come by my birthday on May 17th! I have grown on my mission and recently finished nine months! That´s so crazy. The time goes by really slowly some days, but others . . . not so much haha. Transfer weeks are just a little hectic, both inside the mission home and even in the field. Once again, things should slow down a little bit and get into a routine again with time.

I hope you all are doing great.

Talk to you later,
Elder Jones

Monday, April 23, 2012


Ready? Here is the week´s lowdown :)

1. Ingrown toenail. So my companion, Elder Benson, has had an ingrown toenail four times on his mission now. For the past few weeks, his toe had bugged him almost every time we ran in the morning, and eventually he couldn´t even walk without a limp. He really, really didn´t want to go to the doctor especially since it had happened three times earlier in his mission. We both decided it was necessary though. So I had the adventure of going to the hospital here in Rosario with my companion. After a quick synopsis, the doctors noted that the badly damaged toe needed surgery, and they scheduled it for the next day at 11:00 am. That day, I accompanied Élder Benson to the hospital, through the waiting room, and off into the operation room. Everything felt kinda strange, but the doctor was cool and spoke really good Spanish. They gave two huge, numbing shots into Elder Benson´s big toe before starting the procedure, just to make sure he would feel almost nothing. The needles to the shots were like two inches long and penetrated almost all the way to the bone. Benson is a tough dude! With the chemicals in his toe, he couldn´t feel anything afterwards, which allowed the doctors to go on with the surgery. I had never seen an ingrown toe before, and I couldn´t believe my eyes. The two doctors worked together with scissors and a scapula to cut his toe nail and unfold the skin. 45 minutes later, they had opened up both sides of his toe and removed two huge pieces of ingrown toenail. I couldn´t believe the size of the pieces they cut out, which both were about half the size of a penny!!! NO wonder his toe hurt so bad. At times, I felt a little queasy but didn´t faint or anything haha. So then we limped back to the mission home, and we haven´t been able to leave for a couple of days. He should be able to walk with a pretty heavy limp starting tomorrow. It was quite the experience for me.

2. Divisions with the Assistant. I left and worked with one of the assitants, Elder Artunduaga, this past week. He is from Columbia and really cool. I´ve known him my whole mission, and I finally can talk to him like a normal person. At the beginning of my mission, I struggled to communicate with him since Spanish was so hard! I really enjoyed the divisions, and it is always great to work in another area. We taught a couple of lessons, and everything went really well.

3. Milk Incident. So people ALWAYS borrow (without permission) other people´s food here in the mission. So let the games begin. One of the assistants got really upset because someone kept taking his milk, a pretty expensive drink here. We don´t drink milk anywhere near as much as in the states due to the price. So anyways, the assistant kept saying and accusing people, but everyday someone drank his milk as if nothing had happened. Three or four days later, he couldn´t stand it anymore becuase he went to the fridge and someone had drunk a half liter of his milk. . . AGAIN. It wasn´t me, by the way :). So he just left and didn´t talk to anyone for a while. But then, guess what? he took his next milk box and urinated in it!!! Nobody knew about it, and then he put it back into the fridge. HIS OWN MILK BOX. Technically, he didn´t do anything wrong. He just urinated in his own milk liter box that nobody should drink except him. Later that night, the victim was discovered. I shouldn´t have to describe the details, as I´m sure you all can imagine. He poured the milk on his cereal and ate it all, only to hear afterwards of what had happened. I gotta give props to the assistant. It was a good idea and pretty clever. haha. People probably won´t drink his milk now for a long time.

4. Baptisms. We have three baptisms this Saturday. One is a husband and son. The other one is a young lady who listened to us for about five weeks. We have some other quality investigators, so I will probably donate a section to that in my next week´s email since there isn´t tons of time right now.

5. Ward we serve in. As far as my ward goes, we have about 80 people every Sunday, which is a blessing for Argentina. Remember how in my last area in Parana, we only had about 8-20 people each Sunday? Our Bishop was really excited when he found out that we have three baptisms this Saturday. We have a meeting with our ward mission leader this week to plan out the details. I really like serving here in this area. I will give more details on this next week too.

I will write a little more later today if there is time. We still haven´t left for bowling since the financiero has to get some paperwork done before we head out.

Your missionary, son, and brother,

Elder Jones

Monday, April 16, 2012

At the centro in Paraná.

Elder Jones with an investigator.

Eating with a family who are church members.

Elder Jones and Elder Benson (his companion).

Another Week Down

We have tons of small, random events here in the offices every week. I have really enjoyed my time here, and we will have three baptisms this Saturday! Working with Élder Benson has been a great experience. Honestly, having a great companion makes all the difference in the world. Finally, I feel pretty used to the office life and working alongside of the president. At first, it felt strange to spend half of the day inside working with computer documents, but no worries. It is the best :). I still can´t believe how fast time flies, too! I will hit my year mark in two more transfers. Anyways, to give you guys some updates, here is a solid list of the random events from the past week:

-I had the opportunity to email chat with one of the área authority´s assistants in Buenos Aires multiple times this week. He is about 25 years old and helps us here with office work almost every day, making sure we enter in data correctly, verifying statistics, and checking up on visa and legal status of different missionaries. We might have a video conference again in the next feel weeks. :)

-Transfers begin next week, and we get to find out about a week early here since we have to use the information for the mission data and financial purposes. In other words, we have to set everything up a week in advance so that everything is in order when the missionaries move to their new apartments.

-The missionaries in the MTC have TONS of visa problems and over half of them might get reassigned to the states for a transfer or two! ugh.

-The president has a mission president conference with all the area authorities this week in Uruguay. He will learn and receive instruction there for five days!

-The Finaciero (financial clerk) got in a car wreck. . . . Luckily, it wasn´t his fault. Still, it will probably need some serious work in the shop before we can drive again. So my stick/manual excitement will have to wait for a while.

-My companion and I started running six miles twice a week in the morning. I never thought one of my companions would willingly run with me that far in the mornings. We went really hard this past week, running all the way from the mission home to the Rosario Airport, and finished at 6:45 pace. I started keeping an excel running log, just like the good old days. We will try to break 25 miles this week! Some mornings we can´t run since Élder Benson has to wake up early and head down to centro to start with government paperwork. Other than that, we get to run almost every morning. I need to take advantage of this while it lasts.

-We found out recently who the new secretary will be. In one of my last emails, I said something about Élder Benson´s time. He will finish the mission in two transfers, right about at my year mark, so he has to start training the new secretary. This training process takes about 4-6 weeks since the secretary has so many random duties for the president and with the offices in Buenos Aires. Hopefully Benson will stay for quite a while longer, but the new secretary will probably come in about a week or two, causing Benson to head out into the normal field in about a month or so. It all makes sense, though, cuz he has served as secretary for almost 7 months. He liked it a lot but is ready to go back to the normal missionary life at the same time. I lived with the new secretary at the beginning of my mission. He is pretty cool too! Little does he know of his new big job. He will be incredibly busy the next half year!!

-I want to call some of the missionaries from my group and tell them where they are going. Obviously that´s against president´s policy, even though we have the list a week early. It makes sense, so no complaints.

-We are gonna go hit the courts in about 30 minutes. I will probably get semi-slaughtered again, but hey, it´s just great. I love playing tennis, especially since my opportunities are pretty limited during the mission.

-The Financial clerk had to burn a wart off of his finger for the third time this week. He bought this liquid nitrogen spray. Watching him burn it off was crazy. He has a huge blister right now.

-I have already entered into the system and created accounts for 58 recent converts. I enjoy working with some of the spreadsheets and everything too, just to see how we are doing on the mission scale.

-I started writing this email in the morning. We just finished playing tennis about an hour ago. I lost 6-0, 6-4 this time. Not too bad, eh? :) The clay courts are AMAZING, and we are going to try and play at least every other week--if not more :)

-For general conference, we were able to watch almost all of the sessions on our computers here in the offices. For one of the Sunday sessions, we have to go and attend at the stake center since Elder benson and I had an investigator who wanted to see it.

-Yes, the rosario weather is FINALLY cooling off, which feels great. After walking seven miles a day in the heat, a little cold is better than ever.

That´s about it for this week. Everything was pretty routine. I hope you guys are doing great.

Elder Jones

Monday, April 9, 2012

An Incredible Week

Alright, I have even less time this week than usual because of the intense tennis match that took place this morning. :) I´ll just go ahead and start since I only have 45 min left of Pday!

1) Tennis Match. Best. Pday. of. the. mission. so. far. Seriously, I will have to tell you guys all of the details. So Elder Benson currently works as the secretary to the mission president and manages all of the visas/governmental work, and he is my current companion. We both have a lot in common, like boating, tennis, running, and snow skiing. Since the beginning, we have always had a bunch to talk about, especially in the streets in between appointments. Even in the offices, every once in a while we find a quick time gap in which we all just reminisce a bit about the past and get to know each other a bit better. Then it´s back to work and helping the president out! Almost every day, Elder Benson and I end up talking about boating, tennis, or college. We had each talked some smack about tennis, you know, just because it´s fun. Then one day while contacting about two miles away from the mission home, we found a house with two clay tennis courts in the back yard. Score! Of course, we went up and talked to the owners, asking about the schedule and trying to figure out when we could play in the near future. With a little bit of luck, we reserved a court for 10:30am on Pday morning. The owner is really cool, and actually kinda looks like Nadal haha. He offered us a great deal: 50 pesos (about $12) an hour for a clay court, all equipment included. He had some nice rackets too! So we went there this morning, all pumped to actually have the opportunity to play on the mission. Most places don´t have courts unless you go to centro, and there they usually restrict all playing to club members and nobody else. I can´t describe how nice the courts appeared as we approached the house this morning. For those of you who don´t know, I have never played on clay before, making this quite the experience for me. We ended up playing for an hour and a half, and it was THE BEST. Elder Benson had talked quite a bit of smack, but it wasn´t until today that the whole truth came out of the bag haha. He had been rather humble the past few weeks. Guess what? He was number eight in all of the state of Utah and ranked nationally. He plans to play college tennis at the U or BYU Hawaii after the mission (he has three months left). People have already tried to recruit him, and he will let me know which college he ends up picking. One year in high school, he went completely undefeated until the state finals. Crazy, huh? I actually felt quite satisfied with the results of our match after hearing of his history. We played three sets, and he won 6-1, 6-0, 6-2. But hey, I still beat him three times!!! hahaha. It was just a great experience for me, and he had a great time too. He had only been able to play two other times during the mission, and both times the other people didn´t really know how to play very well at all. I´m not that great, but good enough to get those three games, which kinda pumped me up. He was a litte rusty, and I obviously was too, considering that neither of us had played for like eight months :). But his first serve is about 110-120 mph, and his second serve is like 70-80 mph with ridiculous amounts of spin. All around, he plays like a total beast, and I respect him a lot. He never brags, and most missionaries don´t know of his abilities. I found out all this today after asking becuase he had obviously played elite or something. I could tell during the match pretty quickly, as you might have asked :). He played eight hours a day over the summer at tennis acadamies, and it´s basically just his favorite sport. His backhand is better than my forehand, and his forehand just dominates. The three games I won consisted of a bit of luck, with me serving as hard as possible and getting them in somehow, and a few unenforced errors on his part. We just ralleyed for like 20 minutes too, just to warm up a bit and get the old muscle memory pumping again. We are going to try and play every pday until he leaves. He will serve as secretary for about four more weeks. The president will have to send him out into the field pretty soon since he has almost completed his mission, and the president never wants someone to have their last transfer in the office. So he will go out into the field for his last six weeks or so, probably to work with a recently new missionary. So that´s about it, and we had a great time. I have huge blisters on my hand from gripping the racket, and my shoulder is SUPER SORE. haha. It reminds me of pitching with you in the backyard, dad :).

And then there is just all of the small stuff that has happened this past week. I will have to include everything in next week´s email since we don´t have very much time left. Elder Benson and I have to leave and go out to work in like 15 minutes. The president just called a new financial clerk, and we have some old missionaries coming in to do a bunch of government paperwork tomorrow. In other words, everything is pretty busy here in the mission home. Things are going great though, and I will write a lot next week. Just to give you a quick lowdown of the missionary work, we have some baptisms coming up here pretty soon! About five people came to church yesterday, which just made us feel great. We have worked with these people since I got here--about 5 weeks!

And that´s about it for now. I get dearelders every Friday now, and it is great to read about everything that you guys have done up there in the states. Many of you are in my prayers, and I hope you have a great week. Y tengo que irme ahora, así que vamos a tener que hablar más en la semana que viene. Muchas gracias por todo lo que hacen Uds. en cuanto a la obra misional. Ya puedo ver su fe, y su apoyo me ayuda cada día. Que tengan una buena semana. ¡Nos vemos el Lunes!

Elder Jones

Monday, April 2, 2012

Another Week Down

As you guys probably have guessed, I have had some pretty random and cool experiences over the last couple of weeks. Here is a list filled with small details worth sharing. I hope you enjoy it!

-I have already created baptismal and membership records for 44 recent converts!

-Driving manual transmission felt pretty strange at first, but now it feels kinda normal. I am still adjusting though.

-My companion, Elder Benson, is the mission secretary, and he has needed my help quite a bit lately. We get to go to centro to help with visa papers and do other legal documents.

-Elder Benson works out all the time, and we have a three-mile course that we run every morning. I never thought I´d have a comp willing to run like that, which is just awesome all around. We do a double lap about twice a week, making it a solid six miles in the morning, just like the good old cross country days!

-I had the video conference with Pablo Schpilman, an area authority representative in Buenos Aires. We used skype, and he introduced me to a bunch of new online software that the church is implementing right now. It lasted an hour and fifteen minutes, and his Buenos Aires accent sounded a little different than the usual here in Rosario. It has always amazed me how accents change, even just from city to city. Obviously, the Spanish was still the same. :)

-I finished "Our Search for Happiness" in Spanish this week, a book written by M. Russell Ballard that's included in our missionary library. I would recommend it if you haven´t read it already.

-During my first three weeks in the offices, I have sent over 200 emails to other missionaries, the mission president, or to church leaders in our mission. There is like a constant flow, and I have five in my inbox right now haha. It usually slows down towards the end of the week, which is nice.

-New Argentine government officials have recently started working in the States. So yep, unfortunately, we have had major visa problems over these last few weeks. My companion has been pretty stressed out, especially since visas are his major priority and duty as secretary. 18 missionaries should have arrived at the same time three weeks ago at the beginning of transfers. Instead, due to visa complications, only eight could come in on time. Two more were permitted the week after, and then four more came this past week. The other four were temporarily assigned to State-side missions for now since they couldn´t stay in the MTC longer than 12 weeks, which is a real bummer. Over 300 missionaries who had planned to serve in some part of Argentina got held up in the MTC this past month. It´s not looking good for our next group, either. Many of them might have to serve in the States for their first one or two transfers. I hope they can come to a solid agreement, just so that these new missionaries can come into the field. With all of these irregularities, the President has been stressed too. Plus, we have quite a few trios out in the field and some trainers who haven´t received their new companions yet, all due to these new workers and policies form Argentina. Apparently this happens every couple of years, and with time we should solve the issue. I´ll keep you guys updated. In sum, our mission is slowly shrinking because old missionaries are leaving, but new ones can´t com into the country!

-After the President heard that I had learned how do drive stick and felt pretty comfortable with it, he assigned me a task to complete with the librarian, who is in charge of all apartments and rents. We had to drive from Fisherton, our current neighborhood where the mission home lies, to Arroyito, a nearby city where two hermanas live and serve right now. There, Elder Camacho, the librarian from Mexico who is really cool, had to do some analysis and inspection with some other workers. I don´t know all of the details, but the apartment definitely needed some work and we were glad to help. Then we had to drive to centro in the heart of Rosario to pay some special bills. Then we went to a special business to set up light payments for another apartment in the mission. So basically, I drove for like three hours all over Rosario and its nearby cities. What. an. adventure. To let you know, there are no stop signs or speed limits on 80 percent of the roads here. I drive with traffic but more cautiously than most, which is probably good. I´ll be sure to keep you guys updated too. I might want a manual car instead of automatic whenever I buy my first personal vehicle :).

-Elder Benson and I still leave at 4:30pm almost everyday and get to work out in the field like normal missionaries for about four hours. Some days the President needs extra help or there is just too much to do, so we don´t get those small time windows. Each day is different. Whenever the time does come, we try to get as much done as possible, especially since we have about 30-40 percent of the time of normal missionaries to work. We still might have baptisms here in two weeks!!!! I am so excited. We have been teaching this young mom and her kid for about two weeks, and she really showed interest when we explained the concept of modern-day prophets. Excited and interested to learn more, she came to conference! She is progressing fast, and we will have to see what happens over these next few weeks! Her name is Araceli (Are--aahh--sell--ee).

And that´s about it for this week. I have lot´s more to say, but my comp and I are going to try and play tennis on these clay courts close to the mission home. They only charge 20 pesos an hour, which would be perfect. Even though I say this a lot, I am really grateful for everything you all have done for me, both family members and friends. I learned so much before my mission that has helped me each day here in Argentina. I hope you guys have a great week. I look forward to your mail and have some more letters to send off soon, whenever we get to a Post office!.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Elder Jones