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Monday, June 24, 2013

More Interesting Facts!

We watched a movie with two other companionships today, and I will write a few quick notes right now before doing groceries. 

  • Two Sundays ago, I presided and my companion directed Sacrament Meeting because the Branch President´s wife was sick. That was the first time I´ve presided in a meeting!
  • Sometimes Elder Thorn and I walk and give the Sacrament to members in their home on Sundays. 
  • This past Sunday we had around 20 people in Sacrament meeting, an increase from the roughly 10 people last week!
  • Elder Thorn and I are trying to work with the members, but it can be tough sometimes since there are few. 
  • I admire the faith of some members in this city, as well as in Argentina in general. Even though the church struggles in some aspects, we can see small miracles and progress as we work together.
Maybe I will write more next week, but I appreciate all you guys have done for me. I invite the people reading this message to pray for missionary opportunities.

Have a great week!

Elder Jones

Editor's Note: additional Q&A from Elder Jones

1.      So how is the exercise program going?  Are you able to run or jump rope at all?
I exercised today a little bit in the morning, using some weights. It was very minimal, but still something. I can´t jump rope due to fans inside our apartment as well as little space. Maybe one morning we will go to a nearby park, but it is usually really cold in our apartment and also outside in the mornings. We bought an electric heater and a metal stand that gives us more options to hang up wet clothes to dry. The heater can heat up one of the rooms in our apartment quite well if we turn it on, but we can´t use too much electricity since the light bill will eventually come!
2.      How has the luggage held up with all the transfers?  Are they really stuffed the last couple of times?
They have held up pretty well. Transfers can be tough! I have collected some souvenirs!
3.      Do they have scale in the office to weigh your luggage before you go to the airport?
I think they have a spring scale, or at least they did when I was in the offices!
4.      On your flight plans, do you bus to Buenos Aires or do you catch a flight from Rosario to Buenos Aires?
We should take a van to Buenos Aires, and then I think it is all flights from there!
5. Were you able to watch the missionary broadcast last night. Does your small branch have a satellite?
Yes, we watched the Spanish translation last night in the church. Some other Elders came from Colón, a nearby city, since they don´t have a satellite system there. It seems like missionary work keeps growing on a global scale, and the work is incredible. Was it in the Marriott Center?
6. Are you fed lunch every day by members or is it hit and miss since the branch is very small?
We have a handful of lunches each week. When we don´t eat with members, Elder Thorn and I usually cook some simple food in our apartment. I have eaten a lot of rice lately. haha. I really enjoy eating with members sometimes, especially since the quality of food is generally better and we can get to know them during the visit.
7.  Tell us about Elder Thorn?  What does he like to do and how's his Spanish speaking experience?
He really likes to juggle, is from California, and his brother was in my zone at the MTC. Small world sometimes, huh? His high school only had around 400 students in total, and his graduating class had 93 students. A little different than my high school experience, isn´t it? He already knew some Spanish from the MTC and from serving in the states temporarily, and he is improving during his time here. I´m still improving little by little too. There are still many small concepts and part of the language unknown to me.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Interesting Facts!

We have had quite the experience here during these past couple of weeks. Here are some facts you´d maybe like to know:

  • We are going to have a branch activity this Thursday and plan to watch a movie
  • Elder Thorn and I have already talked to more than 400 people since our arrival. How many people do you think talk to the missionaries worldwide on a weekly basis??
  • We made empanadas yesterday! They tasted great, and I will have to make some when I come home. One of my earlier entries might explain more about this Argentine food!
  • Elder Thorn and I might do a presentation in a private English school here in Concepción del Uruguay!
  • The Zone Conference last week was my last one, unless I serve again later in my life!
  • Our Branch President is only 28-years-old!
  • Not one active member has a car in our branch. Lots of people here in the city take buses, walk, or ride bikes, just like us :)
I also have some interesting info from scripture studies this week! Some of you may already know this information, but I´d like to share it:

  • Luke and Mark were not called as part of the twelve apostles
  • Although Luke wasn´t one of the twelve, he still wrote his gospel and Acts. He practiced medicine, and he maybe accompanied Paul in his travels.
  • Paul took three missionary journeys. Look at the scale on Map 13 in the back of the Bible. Elder Thorn and I walk quite a bit, but Paul traveled and ventured incredible distances!
  • Two of the twelve apostles have the same name: James. 
  • Paul´s Epistles in our New Testament are in order from longest (Romans) to shortest (Philemon), except for the epistle to the Hebrews, since he maybe didn´t write it. So maybe Paul didn´t even write the epistle to the Hebrews. Who else could it be?
  • During part of Paul´s early life, he was persecuting Christians. However, when he was on his way to Demascus, he saw a vision of the Lord. There are maybe some interesting parallels between Paul's experience here and Alma the Younger in the Book of Mormon. I might study that a bit more this week.
You can look up these topics in the Bible Dictionary if you´d like to learn more about them. I found these facts interesting.

Anyways, I hope you are all having a great week. I have learned so much on my mission and appreciate your support.


Elder Jones

A few Q&A from email: 

1.      Are you focusing more on new investigators or working with less active members?
We try to focus on both. We only had around 12 people in church on Sunday, so we really need to get some more families active in the church, whether they be less-active members or new families that we find on our own. I also found out that our Branch is independent, which means there is no district president due to a shortage of active priesthood holders. So our Branch President reports to President Giuliani and his counselors. We are a pretty small unit here in this town!
2.      How was your Zone Conference?  Where did you have to travel?
The zone conference went well. We had roughly 20 missionaries there, so it was smaller than other typical zone conferences. We practiced teaching methods and listened to some workshops from the President, his wife, the assistants, and the zone leaders. We had to travel to Concordia! So yeah, we took another three hour bus ride. I slept most of the trip on the way there. If I´m not mistaken, the alarm went off at 4:30am that morning!
3.      Guess the weather is pretty cold.  Equivalent to January???
To be honest, it really isn´t too cold. I am in a sweater right now, but there defintitely isn´t any snow here! Maybe in another couple of weeks or so the temperature will drop more. We plan to gather prices together today so we can buy a heater maybe next week.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Modern-Day Pioneers

The mission has changed my perspective of life. It´s been a long journey, a learning experience, and it´s still not over! I believe that each of us keeps moving onward. We are modern-day pioneers.

Here in Concecpión del Uruguay, for example, I have seen some extremely dedicated members. These people sacrifice their time and render service to the church. They are definitely modern-day pioneers. This small little branch could be compared to a handcart company. We work and strive to press forward, serving in our different callings and positions. We might not be as strong as others, but we keep striving to move forward.

I believe that each of us is a modern-day pioneer, to an extent. Just like the pioneers of old, we can accomplish amazing goals over time.

The Pioneer

Step by step, little by little,
Moves a Pioneer.
He has no doubts weighing him down,
His Savior is near.

His progress cannot be denied,
Each and every year,
As he follows the Prophet´s voice,
His modern-day seer.

His family gathered around him,
The loved ones so dear,
Will strive to keep moving forward,
With hearts of good cheer.

When the hardship comes upon him,
He might shed a tear,
But later he continues on,
With no signs of fear.

He always has his goal in mind,
From which he´ll never veer,
As he listens to the Spirit,
With a careful ear.

Step by step, little by little,
Moves a pioneer.
He has no doubts weighing him down,
His Savior is near.

Thanks for everything you guys do for me. I hope you have a great week. Keep trekking onward!!!

Elder Jones

Editor's Note- here are some Q&A from Elder Jones:

1.      So how big is your Zone and where do the Zone Leaders reside?
Our zone is pretty huge, with 18 missionaries! The Zone leaders work in a city called Concordia, which is like a three-hour bus ride from Concepción del Uruguay, my current location. We had a zone meeting this last week, so I had some long bus rides :)

2.      Is the Branch President the only active Melchizedek Priesthood?
The Branch President definitely carries a big load. We have some other active Melchizedek Pristhood holders, but there aren´t very many. Despite the small numbers, everything seems to function rather well. We help a lot as the missionaries. This past Sunday, I taught Priesthood with the help of my companion, and then I gave a talk in Sacrament meeting.

3. You back to doing your own laundry?  
Yep. Yep. And Yep. We wash by hand. In both San Nicolás and here, we have been on our own with the laundry. I guess it is a good experience and makes us appreciate washing machines and dryers. Anyone reading this can try to handwash all of their clothes in a bucket this week and then hang them up on a line if they want the experience. Then you could say that you feel like Elder Jones haha.

Monday, June 3, 2013

More Info about the City!

Wow, so we have TONS of ground to cover on foot while walking to all of our appointments and looking for new investigators. The downtown area is rather wealthy, but the economic classes vary depending on the part of town. To be honest, we have a little bit of everything, since the city includes many different types of houses/layouts. It all just depends on where we go to do missionary service. We have both cement and dirt roads too. 

We have also ran into a handful of people who speak English, which is kinda fun. There are a handful of schools here, and the English teachers seem to be pretty solid.

We have a couple of plazas throughout the town as well. The biggest one is downtown! Sometimes we proselyte in these plazas since we can find some families there together every once in a while. The plazas include benches, fountains, and just plenty of space to take in some fresh air.

It is a great city filled with great people. Elder Thorn and I will keep working hard, and hopefully we´ll bring a few families to the knowledge of the gospel truth!

Thanks for all of your support.

Elder Jones

P.S. On Sunday, we had 27 people including us, which was an improvement from last week! And I like the city a lot!