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Monday, July 30, 2012

Random Info.


Another random week. Here are some of the most interesting parts:

Letter from Nelvis and David. I found and brought them into the church during my time in Santa Fe, just right after arriving into the mission field. For a quick recap, they used to attend a congregation of Jehovah´s Witnesses but always had some doubts about certain beliefs in practices. However, they felt alright after having searched for a good church for many years. Still a littel curious about other religions and wanting to find the exact truth that made sense to them, they allowed us to teach them the missionary discussions. From their baptismal date to today, they have gone to church regularly and enjoyed every second. They sent me a letter this past week, which surprised me! They thanked me for my time and service in Argentina and told me of their many great experiences. These are the most interesting details:

-David will receive the Melchizedek preisthood this coming Sunday

-They both have callings now, one as Young Women´s advisor and the other as a counselor in Elders Quorum

-They invite their current missionaries over to eat every once in a while during the week

-All of their baptismal pictures are saved on thier computer, and they have a handful of us, the missionaries!

-David gave his first talk three weeks ago, felt a little nervous, and did a great job--at least according to Nelvis and the members :).

Simply put, it was a great letter, and I enjoyed reading about the blessings in their life. On this topic of converts, Marcelo and Araceli plan to attend the Buenos Aires open house this coming month. We are helping them coordinate with the Bishop and other members to set up travel plans! I love to see the church change/bless people's lives; it´s why I´m a missionary!

Sore Muscles. SUPER SORE Muscles. haha. I know, kinda random. So here is the quick sparknote version of what happened to me. When Elder Benson left, he gave me a great deal on all of his weights and workout schedules, totaling to close to 50 lbs of weight along with a full guidebook on exercises to do when you have little equipment. Basically, it is the perfect package for a missionary. I have run kind of regularly here, but I hadn´t dont weights since the summer before my mission. I know . . . a super long time! haha. So one morning, I decided to pull them out and work out my chest, back, and arms. Normally I just run, but I am trying to work in more exercise time! I did pushups, and other exercises with the dumbbell and weights for like 30 minutes. Then I went through our typical cross country ab workout. I didn´t think much of it but just showered afterwards and got dressed for the day. Oh man, not having worked out for such a long time absolutley killed me!! The next day, I could hardly brush my teeth since my arms were so tight. This isn´t an exaggeration! :). I had to stretch a bunch before putting on my tie too. Hahaha. Man, it was really funny but really annoying at the same time.

Despite the soreness, which lasted like three days, I am really grateful for the weights. It is kinda hard to find time here in the offices, but when I leave them, I plan to set up a regular workout schedule that hopefully involves running, stretching, abs, weights, and jumprope. It is really hard to workout during the winter here too, so right now it´s just kinda tough to exercise in the morning. When running with Elder Benson, it was cold but not THAT cold. So right now, I just do some simple exercises insdie the offices in the morning where there is a heater. Cuz in the apartment it is like 50 degrees sometimes in the morning. Don´t worry, though. I love the jump rope. I am going to use it a bunch when everything heats up here in a few months.

Sore Throat. After like two weeks of coughing and sneezing, I finally gave in and went to see a general doctor. He prescribed me some simple medication, adn it´s helped a bunch. I feel quite better, even though my throat is still a little irritated. This part of the week was pretty lame, so I don´t wanna talk about it too much more. I´m doing a lot better, though :)

Goals for the Second Year. Alright, I am currently companions with Elder Hull. Brenton Hull, as all his friends know him outside of the mission, is from South Jordan, Utah! It´s actually kinda funny because I have been companions with two secretaries to the president now: Elder Hull and Elder Benson. Both are from South Jordan, and both of their dads are doctors! haha. Anyways, just to give you a brief lowdown, Elder Hull played soccer all throughout high school and attended Utah State University for one year before the mission. We actually have quite a bit in common too, like boating and snow sports. He is cool, and we get along well! Basically, I have been really blessed with good companions here in the offices.

Anyways, so the goals. On July 27 this past week, I COMPLETELY A WHOLE YEAR AS A MISSINOARY. Yeah! 365 days with the name badge and everything. Wow, it has been FOREVER! It´s all downhill from here, or at least that´s what Elder Hull and I said this past Friday. We ate with investigators that night and had a special celebration dinner! We made 60 empanadas, which are like small Argentine tacos! It was tons of fun. Also, that night we talked about some goals for our second year and came up with some great ones. The biggest one is this: To speak only Spanish. We are striving to only speak Spanish for the entire second year. We made a list of the benefits of doing this, and here are some that we came up with:

-We will understand our investigators better

-We will have a better accent by the end of our mission

-We will later earn more credits in college since we will do better on the oral part of the exam

-We will help new missionaries learn the language

Of course, there will be some times when it´s necesary to speak in English, which is totally fine. If we are teaching English to a family or helping people with English homework, we then would speak in English. Some of the South American elders are learning English too, and we speak with them so they can practice. This happens every once in a while. Some new missionaries need explanations in English, which obviously is fine too. With these things aside, we can speak in Spanish. It can only help. A couple other missionaries in our group are game too. Elder Yorgason, my MTC companion is going to do it too!! We used to practice a bunch together, and now we are able talk to each other in Spanish, which is really cool.

Alright, i guess that´s about it for this week. I hope you guys are doing great. I love to read your dearelders and letters. I´m doing well and guess what? The mail system strike finally ended and everything is up and running again. So we have been received tons of letters and packages two or three times a week.

I love you guys. Like always, thanks for everything. I hope you're all doing well.

Hasta Luego,
Elder Jones

Monday, July 23, 2012

ESPN Top 3

Another ridiculous week has come and gone here in the mission field. We have a highlight reel ready, so here we go!

1) Grizzled Vets Head Home. Some of the most well known missionaries threw in the towel this past week, completing two years of selfless service and leaving behind their legacy. Justin Benson, a former mission secretary and faithful companion of Elder Rory Jones, arrived home and reunited with his family just this past Wednesday.

“I honestly couldn´t believe my eyes,” said Benson, now living back home on American soil for the first time in two years. “Man, it´s just great to be home.”

Alongside of Benson landed Travis Buhl, a previous Assistant to the President, accompanied by David Larson, Jorge Vera, and a few others. Though a small group, they sure packed a punch and racked up some solid service over their last 24 months.

Travis Buhl, known for his pervasive enthusiasm and constant drive, finally reached home after almost 24 hours of straight travel.

“I thought the journey would never end,” he said on Sunday in part of his homecoming talk. “We rode in two different buses, had three separate flights, two long layovers, and a two hour drive home from the airport!”

Every six weeks new missionaries come into the field and the old ones retire, just like Buhl and Benson, among others.

“Though an expected and well planned event, we always have surprises,” said Presidente Giuliani. “Travis Buhl about rocketed through the ceiling with excitement.”

And it´s all true. Overall, the week played out successfully, and we will have to see how the new missionaries manage with their new responsibilities.

Best Preparation Day Ever. This past Monday, Elder Rory Jones enjoyed the most thrilling—and possibly the best—pday yet with many of the old office missionaries.

“Hanging out with all the good old guys couldn´t have been better,” said Jones. “It felt as if the old office group were back in action.”

A lasting memory for everyone, this pday included many exhilarating activities: a three mile run, a soccer juggling showdown, a trip to downtown, a buffet lunch, a bowling match, a soccer game, a pizza dinner with members, and even a couple hours of simply reminiscing about the mission.

“Running down the roads early in the morning with Elder Benson brought back memories,” said Jones, “If only we could have played some tennis too!”

With the old crew together again, the fun never stopped!

“We had almost every minute planned for the entire day,” said Buhl, completley whipped and exhausted after a long day on his feet. “I´m not gonna lie; we just dominated!” he said later while laughing hard like usual.

Who could ask for more? With one free day a week to relax, these missionaries planned well, took advantage of the opportunity, and made it a great one.

“I couldn´t have asked for a better last day on the mission, “ said David Larson, a previous Historian who trained Jones and served in the offices for about 7 months. “It was GRREEATT!”

And there you have it. This special day packed with fun left many missionaries exhilarated and ready to continue with the week, whether it was as a missionary back out preaching the gospel or as an RM heading home to his family. All in all, the impact was positive.

"We all felt renewed energy, and the mission is slowly changing like always," said Jones later that day. "The new office crew is fun and coming along well."

Baptism Scheduled for August 4, 2012. Carlos Morin, a humble argentine dweller living in Rosario, Argentina, has his baptismal date scheduled for the month of August.

“After three months of steady listening and learning, I feel ready,” he said to a member who asked him this past week. “It has really been a blessing to hear about this restored and unique message.”

The missionaries found him standing outside his house last April, pondering and tired after a long day of work. After the initial contact and a few minutes of small talk, Elder Jones and Elder Benson ended up chatting with him for about 20 minutes, discussing the basic details and blessing of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Intrigued, Morin later accepted the invitation and received the 4 doctrinal lessons taught by missionaries.

“At first I was just a little interested and curious,” Morin said at the church soccer activity this past week. “With time, however, I realized that the message has a lasting impact that always leaves me feeling comforted.”

For these past three months, the missionaries went by his house two or three times a week to share a quick message. Little by little, lesson by lesson, Carlos began to recognize the truth.

“It was a process,” said Elder Brenton Hull, a missionary currently teaching Morin alongside Jones. “Just like with everyone, it takes a little time, and the decision is always theirs.”

Many members have already planned the baptismal service. Many friends of Morin have already planned to attend that day. Many missionaries have already planned lessons to help prepare Morin for the big day. Simply put, many people are receiving the blessings of this restored gospel.

The bishop couldn´t have put it better when he said the following this past Sunday: “We know the gospel influences and blesses the lives of each and every one of us.”

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cultural Note/Few Comments

Sorry, today was INCREDIBLY BUSY. I still thought I´d get on and send you all a quick cultural note plus a few comments!

Housing. More than half of the homes here in Argentina have almost the same design for one specific reason: they are homemade! This might sound crazy, partly because it is, but many people construct their own houses here in Argentina. I have had the opportunity to help an investigator with his house´s foundation this past week, so my knowledge of home building has grown, at least according to the manner of construction here in Rosario :) First off, we draw an outline of the house in the dirt, which usually consists of a big square with smaller squares included within the lines. Then we move the dirt a tad with shovels to make sure huge rocks or pieces of wood won't impede our progress. Then we have huge stompers. "Stompers" probably isn´t the appropriate word in English, but I can´t think of a better translation! Basically, they consist of a huge metal pole with a 40 pound weight glued to the bottom. You raise it up and them slam it into the ground, and boy does it wear you out fast. This process takes forever, and we spent like three hours in the "stomping phase." haha. Finally, we reached a pretty stable and flat point within all the lines of the house. Afterwards, we mix cement. This cement here is a special mixture of gravel, sand, cement powder, and water. Man, with tons of details and little time, I'm struggling to explain everything. Long story short, we mix the cement in a special and quite creative Argentine way. We pour it into our small, now smashed aread outlined as the house and spread it out as smoothly as possible. Then the process of using the cement and stacking brick is pretty self explanatory, so I won´t go into too many details. Later this week, we plan to place the roof on top!! I don´t know very many details about this process yet, so I will have to explain more another week. Many houses are just two or three rooms, all small and box-shaped like described above, designed with cement flooring. I have gotten completely used to these houses and forgot of the differences between them and those of the states. So, there you have it! Another cultural note from Elder Jones here in Argentina. :)

Being Transferred or Not. I just found out that I am staying for six more weeks! There are benefits to both the offices and the field. I will keep you updated on this.

Elder Benson (one of Elder Jones's previous companions). I just told Elder Benson "Go Coogs," and he laughed! He said that maybe our football team will hold its own this year haha!!!!!!!. He also told me he is going to clear the wake for me and try to play tennis an extra hour for me too! Hahahaha. It is so great to have him back for just a few days. (Editor's note: Elder Benson is concluding his mission, so he's at the offices for his last few days.) We have caught up, and guess what??? We ran three miles together this morning, even though there wasn’t that much time! We have also had a great pday so far. I went with Elder Benson and Elder Buhl (one of the previous assistants) to Centro. We went bowling at this small center. It’s really old and pretty rundown, but it was fun. Afterwards, we went to Las Tenajas, which is a special buffet. We are going to play soccer with others in the office and elders going home and then just tell stories about the mission until 6:00 PM! Then Elder Hull and I will go out and work in our area. All of the older missionaries will stay for their special ceremony with President and have their dinner meeting. It has just been a great day for me. A lot of days can really be tough.

I hope you have a great week! You guys mean so much to me.

Nos vemos en la semana que viene, locos.

Elder Jones

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Transfer Weeks


I want you guys to have a small look into what transfer weeks are like here in the offices in Argentina. So here is a day-by-day lowdown:

Sunday. Let the games begin. We wake up and go through our normal routines just as if it were a regular Sunday. Towards late afternoon, however, all of the old missionaries make their way to the mission home. Our mission has large boundaries, and for some missionaries, the travel time exceeds eight hours. By 8:00 pm, the missionaries have arrived, more excited than ever. We offer them some food and usually end up talking about experiences or random events. Like normal, all of the zone leaders call in with their data from each companionship, and we update all of the files on our computers as they call. So for the most part, Sunday is pretty regular and not much different than any other week.

Monday. This is pday, and we do everything like normal as well. Usually all of the older missionaries hit up main centro, where they buy tons--and I mean TONS--of souvenirs for their families. Sometimes they go to tour/site-see throughout town and by the river. As office workers, sometimes we get invited and accompany them on the adventures. We usually have big assignments for the week and usually can´t go, but it´s the thought that counts :). Then night hits. All of the older missionaries have a special dinner and ceremony with the president and his wife. The assistants are extremely busy, and they hold a special testimony meeting. It´s just a great pday, for both the missionaries going home and for us here in the offices. Before going home, they also receive special memory packets that we prepare and some other letters and official papers for their bishops, families, and stake presidents. There are also other small details, but I have to move on.

Tuesday. The special transport van arrives to the mission home around 11:00 am, and we all sing "God be with you till we meet again" in Spanish and say goodbye to the leaving group of missionaries. This moment is always a mix of excitement, tears, hugs, and more. It´s really powerful, and even though we get all caught up in our jobs and everything, moments like this make us remember our purpose as missionaries and why we came in the first place. After they leave, we start to prepare everything for the new missionaries, which later come in in waves of anywhere from five to 30. At least we know in advance! We prepare food, the workshops, rooms in the mission home, talks, interviews, the beds, and basically everything. Finally, we finsih everything and wait anxiously until the new ones arrive. The van usually pulls up around 3:00 in the afternoon. We get all the suitcases unloaded and help all the new missionaries get situated into one of the main rooms. Behind the scenes, everything is crazy and nuts, but we make it look really good and professional in front of all the new Elders and Sisters. They have a workshop first, get to know the president, have a special dinner, get to know us office workers, go to the police station with me and the secretary for official paperwork, and have a testimony meeting as well.

Wednesday. This is probably the craziest day of them all. It´s filled with workshops, interviews with the presidet, presentations from the financial clerk and the assistants. Plus, all the trainers travel to the mission home this day! Once they all get here, all the companionships get introduced to each other. Then we all eat!!! Last time we had over 50 people eating a HUGE lunch. I helped the president´s wife in the kitchen with Elder Hull, my current companion and secretary to the mission. We made all of the fried onion rings! After lunch, they take tons of pictures--somtimes for almost an hour. After a few more meetings and a special ceremony with all the newly formed companionships, everybody leaves the mission home, off to their respecitve areas to begin the adventure. Finally, we as missionareis have some time to leave and do some normal missionary work with our investigators. It just depends.

Thursday. Cleanup day. I don´t even have to describe this one, as Im sure you all can imagine the remains after all these activities. It takes forvever to clean everything up. We sometimes all eat together just here in the office to celebrate another successful transfer week. haha.

Friday-Saturday. Catch up days. We have to try and do all of our normal weekly duties in just two days. This can be stressful, especially for the financial clerk, as we all get pretty backlogged. Basically the week itself is a long adventure full of fun and stress.

So there you have it! This next upcoming week is transfer week, so I will be SUPER busy. I will still try to write at least a cultural note or something! Thanks for all of your support like always. You guys are the best. Thanks!

Elder Rory Jones

Monday, July 2, 2012

Some Quick Information

Hey! So I have about 45 minutes more of pday. Here is a quick note since time is short this week.

Different Pday. Right now, there are like three companionships without anywhere to live, just like my situation at the beginning of the mission. So I try to end that as soon as possible. Elder Camacho is great, and we work together a lot to make the mission better. Today, we went to Centro to pay a contract and set stuff up for three new apartments. That way the missionaries can move into their respective areas a day sooner. A small sacrifice on our part might make a big difference for some companionships this week. Plus we got to tour Centro a litle bit after since it is pday!!

Cultural Note. Many Argentine cities contain at least one Villa (Vee--sha). Villas serve as small living areas for people usually living on the outskirts of town. With little resources and tough economic situations, these villages have the most humble circumstances and situations in Argentina--the most humble I´ve ever seen in my life. My first area of service in Santa Fe contained a really large villa, covering about 1/4 of our assigned area. As missionaries, we must always follow saftey precautions and venture into these areas only during the middle of the day. Great people and sometimes even a handful of members of the church live in these areas. We had lunch with a member who lived really close to the villa in my first area, and the little home consisted of a bed, small fridge, and a toilet, which formed one small room with a little door and covering for the bathroom. Seeing these people and having these experiences as a new missionary changed my perspective of life in general. The simple blessing of a bed or running water provides us some daily necessities that often go for granted. Most of the houses consist of one room supported by sheets of metal stuck together with mud. Almost every area in the mission has at least a small villa. Even here in the heart of Rosario, there is a small one in our area. Since we only work in the evening, we avoid it completely for saftey reasons. I have seen it from the distance, and it has made me appreciate the simple things in life. In Santa Fe, I had the opportunity to teach about 20 lessons in the villa, and it really makes you feel grateful for simple blessings. All these people have is bread to eat and little tanks of water. All in all, count your many blessings. I read a quote the other day that goes as follows: "If you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for the day before, how much would you have?"

I hope we can all appreciate the simple things in life. I would like to challenge all of you to not use your hot water one morning, just to see the difference a simple water heater makes in our daily lives :).

Baptism/Service. As a quick summary, we have a baptism with a great investigator this Saturday. Elder Benson and I found him, and then Elder Hull and I have been teaching him for the last seven weeks or so :). We also did some service and are helping some people build onto their house!!

Like always, thanks for the support, and I hope everyone has a great week!

Hasta la próxima semana.

Elder Jones