Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Week 5

Hey everyone, So this is the last email from the MTC, which I am extremely excited about. I'm really looking forward to talking to real investigators, seeing the city, not having classes ...and perhaps parting ways with a few certain individuals. I honestly tried hard to not see my companion as a burden, but I'm truly convinced that God put me with him mainly for the purpose of learning patience. As I mentioned last week, we went up to Salt Lake on thursday to do some stuff for our visas at the Mexican consulate. I realized that we really don't get a taste of what it's like there at all down in happy little Alpine, there are people there of all shapes and sizes and completely different backgrounds. It made me think about how important spreading the light that we have is, but it was also strange to be in my suit and nametag outside of the little MTC bubble, I guess it's weird to feel everyone noticing you as those crazy mormon preachers out in the world where you used to more or less blend in. Earlier this week we were talking to a worker here who also went to Mexico City. I remember he said that it's worth it to eat the street food and get sick once and also to never drink the papaya juice. He also mentioned that the reason they tell you to bring a sweater is because it's cold in the mornings, but other than that the temperature is really moderate year round. It's ok if it takes a while since this is the last week, I can just use my suit jacket if it's really cold (speaking of which, he mentioned that I should tell you to put stickers of crosses or Jesus on any boxes you send me because people will be afraid to steal them). Obviously everyone was asking him about getting mugged, and he mainly told us we won't encounter much trouble as long as we're not looking for it. (before I forget, I'm almost out of toothpaste and also my toothbrush is starting to look more like a white thistle) Thanks for all the letters/messages/food. It's really good to hear encouragement and also everything that's going on with everyone. For Grandma, I finally met Simon at the devotional yesterday. I was really hoping I'd get to see him once and we just happened to sit close enough that I noticed him as we were leaving. He said he barely recognized me with my hair so short. I haven't managed to get through all the letters from the family yet, I'm glad that the reunion went well. I hope Oma is alright. For mom's questions, our ward is all spanish speaking and yes we have a few sisters, there won't be any sisters in Mexico City though, also yes all the elders in my district are in the same mission as me. On other topics of interest, I reluctantly approve of the piper who has enchanted my sister. Yes, Ryan, he is a girly man because he plays flute, but keep in mind that our taste in television over the past two years wasn't exactly the epitome of manliness either. Emily, I laughed pretty hard about people's comments when you're texting him. Even though I was never in a "real" relationship people would always make a huge deal about any girl I was remotely associated with. I guess that's our curse for being introverted. And no I'm not going to ask you to stop drawing pictures, we'll have to see if you manage to never run out of characters... Tyler, thanks for telling me about Genshai. Making people feel small is a good way to sum up all the bad things people can do to each other. I think people usually try to make others feel small because they want to feel like they're big. Everyone wants to feel like they're big in one way or another. Love you all! -Elder Jones

Week 4

Hello everyone, This week has mostly just been the same old, aside from the fact that the end seems to be in sight now. Tomorrow most of the elders in my district will be taking the train to Salt Lake for our visas, which we're pretty excited about. I guess I haven't talked a lot about other members of my district yet and I recall a couple people were asking about them. First there's my companion, Elder Bryce, he's really into lifting weights and he plays electric guitar, he's mostly into metal though so we don't really talk about music. He's from (I don't know how to spell it but it sounds like "Preskit"), Arizona, and he went to NAU last year. Elder Garret is from Syracuse (in Utah) and just graduated from high school this year. He played football at his school and he's also really into history and political science sort of topics. His companion is Elder Scott, from Rigby, Idaho (or somewhere in the outskirts of it), he also went to USU last year, he's into math and science and was also in marching band at some point and he's majoring in some kind of engineering related field. He's our new district leader as of this week. The last companionship is a trio due to one of their companions not showing up. We've obviously come up with all sorts of theories regarding what happened to him. Anyway, the first is Elder Olds, who was our first district leader. He's from St. George, graduated this year, and was on his school's football team, and he's also into a lot of the same music as I am. Elder Hammond is from California, I don't remember what part, I think it's near LA. He went to BYU this last year and I think is going into mechanical engineering. Elder Esplin is from Orderville, Utah and graduated this year. He doesn't talk about his past much and he gets multiple letters from his mom and sisters every time we get mail, so we've concluded among our district that he's a secret agent. We pretty much just play basketball together during gym time and we've all gotten pretty good, I think I'm far better at it now than I ever was before. This week Elder Bryce and I were given the assignment of sacrament coordinators, and Elders Olds, Hammond and Esplin are the new zone leaders. Our teachers are Hermana Pinto and Hermano Zuzunaga, believe they're from Bolivia and Peru. They've always talked mostly in spanish, and as of late Hermano Zuzunaga pretty much never speaks in english and also expects us to always speak in spanish, which we've decided as a district to try to do as much as we can. The investigators they act as for Elder Bryce and me are Antonia, an old woman in a wheelchair who is almost blind and has trouble believing that god cares about her, and Alan, a man who's family has converted to the church but despises the idea of quitting coffee and not working on sunday. We've gotten as far as a baptismal commitment with Antonia but have not yet managed to get through the door with Alan. They've told us that Hermano Zuzunaga has the hardest investigators of all the MTC teachers, which I think is a great opportunity for us. I've heard multiple times from random people in our zone that they've heard our district has learned spanish very quickly. Thanks again to everyone for the letters. For Grandma and Grandpa, thank you very much for the Mexico City guide. I've looked through it a little bit, but I think my area is mostly on the more "suburban" part of the city along with the outskirts. But I have learned a bit about South American culture in my spanish classes and also from people in my ward who have gone there. For Mom and Dad, thanks for your stories and advice, and no the cafeteria isn't finished yet, the original date was July 15th and now it's sometime next month after we leave, meaning that its probable date of completion is next year maybe if they feel like it. and here's a copy of the list you made dad: -Testimony of savior Jesus Christ & fullness of the gospel -Loving family & friends -Healthy body & sharp mind, courtesy of beautiful, intelligent parents -Superb musical talent (and taste) -Opportunity to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ -Large box of unhealthy snacks -Blessing of being raised in a country with the rule of law -Can change light bulbs without a chair -Wonderful sense of humor -Guitar string used by Jeff Mangum safely tucked away in his father's gun safe -Name absent from daily chore chart Ryan, I'm glad you're enjoying your work, my managers were pretty cool, one of them had a short temper but I usually managed to stay on his good side, but one of my coworkers and one of the inspectors were loud mouthed hicks who were super obnoxious and I hated them. In my past I usually solved my problems with people by ignoring them as much as possible, but now that I can't usually do that anymore I have to be nice to people to avoid conflict. If someone has the desire to fight with you then the most you can do is not give them anything to work with, be nice to him and make him feel guilty. Love you bro. (also, I'd appreciate if you could give my email to Austin (my friend Austin not our cousin), he seemed like he was taking my departure pretty hard) Emily, I'm running short on time, but I'm going to need to hear more about this person of interest. I couldn't feel right about picking on a flute player, maybe if he played tuba or something. Also congrats on your commissions and on your driver's permit. Tyler, thanks again for your words of wisdom. Also don't worry about the guitar string, dad got it. Speaking of which I'll be expecting you to be better than me at guitar when I come back :D Love you all Elder Jones

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Week 3

Hello everyone,
first off, thank you very much for all the letters and emails.  Your support is a big encouragement when I'm feeling down.
I probably won't have time to write a sincere reply to Brother and Sister Jensen today so I hope you'll tell them that their words really meant a lot to me.
Things have gotten at least a little bit better.  I realized after my last email that in the busy schedule of the MTC I had forgotten my own advice in relying on the scriptures.  I've found that my mood very much depends on if I've read the scriptures or not, and have been learning to "thirst" for it more truly than ever before.
Praying for my companion has helped also, I've learned that I need to thank god for him even when I'm not really thankful.  There are multiple instances in the scriptures that really hit me when prophets say "this is a wise purpose in the Lord, which purpose I know not."
Your letters really helped me a lot and I'm feeling better now even though it's still hard.
I was really encouraged by your letter, Oma.  My companion isn't nearly as bad as yours sounded, though he's more or less of a handful.  I guess I should be thankful that he doesn't go into fits of rage and cuss at me.
If nothing else, I'll at least learn patience and be thankful for contrasting qualities in future companions.
Sorry I didn't reply to you last week, Grandma, I'm really pressed for time here.  It's really great to hear what's going on with everyone.  I'm praying for Grandpa, and I hope you guys tell Lexie that she's amazing and I know she'll do great.
To my immediate family - I always love the packages of letters you send me and also the unhealthy food
Ryan, I hope you know I really love you and I'm going to miss you for 3 years, I hope you do the best to be the example now and don't crash mom's car too many times.  I know you'll do great in life at whatever you choose to dedicate yourself to.
Emily, thanks a lot for your letter, I couldn't breathe for a good 20 seconds, I really miss you (and once again don't touch any boys they're all evil)
Tyler, your words of wisdom were great as always, I'm pretty sure you're a carbon copy of me except smarter.  Don't get discouraged about piano, it was hard for me to not just see music as a chore until nobody was forcing me to practice anymore, just try to see it less as a repetitive job and more as a form of art
To Mom and Dad
Thank you for your endless support.  I went through that checklist Dad made for me filling in every box and realized that I should stop worrying about me so much, because this isn't about me.  Thanks for all your help and for your prayers.  Even though I'm in a bit of a ditch right now, I know there's more to this that's still maybe just beyond my sight.
(oh and yes I really love the fish tie, I'll think of Ryan whenever I'm wearing it now)
Love Elder Jones

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Week 2

week 2

(I forgot to tell you last week, Sonja asked me to make sure that she's on the mailing list, oh and also I've been worried that the steel strings on my acoustic guitar will bend the bridge over time, I'll have more peace of mind if someone loosens them)
Hey everyone, thanks a lot for the letters and the food.  (sorry mom about your m&m's, I'll think of you when I eat them)
and also thanks a lot for the pictures, the family pictures and Erik's picture of his new convert.  I didn't really realize how much I miss you all before seeing your faces again.
The language has been getting better.  Our first "investigator", Daniel, turned out to actually be our second teacher, Brother Zuzunaga.  I really like him, he has this permanent smile and he has this way of responding to people in a way that forces us to be real with the things we say, It's sortof hard to explain, I guess he's just a real no-bull kind of guy.  He says he doesn't believe me when I say I'm discouraged about the language, I guess I just have to believe in myself more.
Anyway, as of now both of our teachers have been playing investigator.  From what I've heard they usually act out people that they taught on their own missions.
For mom, we only go up to main campus for the tuesday night devotional and on p-day for buying stuff and haircuts, and also this morning we went there for some decent food.  We have a place here where we go to church and also watch the sunday night talks via broadcast.  There's always plenty of room in the laundry room and our cafeteria is small and quiet although its menu is also small, supposedly they're building a new cafeteria here which will be done next week.  The stream isn't running right now, I've heard various speculations as to why, but there aren't any ducks, just some dirty puddles.
I guess not much has changed in the past week, thank you everyone for their love and support, and also if Brother Pierce doesn't get this someone please let him know that I'm really thankful for his letter and I hope to see him again.
Love Elder Jones.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Week 1

Hola mi familia,
The first week has been a rollercoaster of emotions.  The first day was really tough, it was probably the most I've ever doubted myself and the idea of being a missionary, all I could think about was the day I'll come back and be released from my calling.  Things have mostly been better since then, there are times when I still wonder if I can really do this and then there are times when the spirit hits and I know everything will turn out alright. 
I still miss music, mostly in the mornings before we get going.  Leaving everything behind wasn't nearly as hard as it could have been just because this is so different from any situation I've been in before.  I feel like I'm too busy wondering if this is still real life to wish that I still had all my things or that I had time to take a nap or something.
Other elders in my district have similar feelings, so I'm not quite alone even though I've just landed in some kind of strange new world.  My companion - Elder Bryce is really cool, his main hobby in what we call "our past life" was working out, and he has all these complex workouts he does in the mornings and during gym time.  I've mostly just been doing push-ups and crunches in the mornings, mostly out of fear that I'll undergo the same effects that other people do and then either blow away in the wind or move up three sizes in clothes.  I actually ended up in west campus, so our gym pretty much consists of outside basketball hoops, a good chance for my base tan/sun burn for Mexico.
The other guys in the district are all really great and we've grown pretty close in our short time here (although we all agree that it feels like we've been here for months), most of them are into sports and my companion and others are always making comments on the carbohydrate based diet of our cafeteria.  There is one other elder who's more of a 'geeky' kind of guy, he has a sort of awkward sense of humor that I've learned to love from being in computer and band related things over the years.
My artistic/intuitive mind and appreciation for comedy has led much of my input in conversations among our district to be met with uproarious laughter and comments of "...classic Elder Jones".  Our district leader started an "Elder Jones quotes" page in his notebook that they add to throughout the day.
My Spanish has already far surpassed the ability I ever had during my school classes, though I've still struggled with discouragement particularly in that aspect.  Elder Bryce studied a lot with his dad who had also gone Spanish speaking and is really far ahead of me and everyone else in the district.  On the upside we can go to him for a lot of vocab and he keeps our lessons with the "investigator" from drifting into the infamous 20 minute awkward silences other elders have talked about, but on the downside I constantly compare myself to him and he pretty much carries the lessons.
It's been really hard, but the devotional last night especially was a turning point.  The church Sunday school president was the speaker, and he told a story about when he was at the MTC and a little girl saw them and was amazed at seeing actual missionaries, he particularly emphasized her line, "grandma are those REAL missionaries?", and everyone was talking especially about that part afterwards.  He also read a bit from his old journal entries and everyone was laughing about how much it sounded like all of us.  I was really encouraged by the knowledge that we're all in the same boat even when we think we're the only ones with unseen pain.  The spirit there was really strong and I know that things will get better after a while, my inner conflict right now is just the necessary pressure for a change of my character.
Thank you everyone for your great letters and packages, it's really a comfort to know you're all supporting me.  To Grandma and Grandpa, I was really excited about your mentioning Simon Barth, he was actually among the group of people I knew from my housing unit up at USU and was probably the only person I really befriended.  I would be really happy to ever run into him in Mexico.  I guess it really is a small world.
I hope that I remembered your email right and that you still use this one, make sure to reply so I know, otherwise I'll send a letter or something.  Thank you very much mom and dad for sending my wallet to me, also if Tyler gets more into guitar and wants to use my electric, make sure he knows that you have to plug it in before you turn the amp on or it can get messed up, and also there's this broken guitar string hanging from my music stand and it is not trash, it once belonged to Jeff Mangum and I will convert to Catholicism if anything happens to it, I'd be happy if you could just stick it into my drawer or something where no one will touch it.
(you can cut this out of the forwarded message if you want)
I love you all and miss you a ton, love Elder Jones