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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to Everyone

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

Monday, December 17, 2012

Another Week Down!

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

Monday, December 10, 2012

Elder Jones Sent Some Pictures for this Week's Blog

                                                 Elder Valenzuela and Elder Jones on P-Day

Elder Jones with four of his previous/current companions

 Elder Jones's Thanksgiving Spread

Mirta's Baptism

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

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks again,

Elder Jones