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Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday Missionary Message

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

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

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

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

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

Elder Jones

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Elder Jones, Elder Camacho, and Elder Hull :)

Another Update From Rosario

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

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

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

-He is about 35 years old.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elder Jones

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

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

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

Ant Invasion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elder Jones

Monday, September 3, 2012

Hey Hey Hey from Rosario

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-He decided to serve a mission!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elder Jones