Monday, August 31, 2015

One week into transfer 2! 

This week was great. As I told you guys last week, I got paired up with a guy named Elder Baker. We've had a great week and have found some new people to teach and made a little progress with some of our current investigators.

Elder Baker is a great guy. He´s from Montana, has about a year in the mission, and might be the whitest person I know haha. He´s a pretty animated person and could probably be categorized as a musical theater/drama type. I have a personal history of not clashing too well with the drama this week has been filled with lessons on patience haha. The Lord is really keeping me on my toes here on the mission. It´s been weird going from a companion who hardly wants to say a word to me, to one who talks my ear off all day. Ha it´s been fun, and I prefer being with someone who can chat. It´s just the times when it´s like 10:45 and I´m in my bed after a long day, and right as I´m falling asleep I hear *hey elder.... which Disney princess would you marry...?* That´s where the patience comes into play haha. I´m really not complaining though cause I know every companion is going to have their thing so... here´s to week 2 everybody! :)

This last week we had some great lessons and experiences. I even had the opportunity to give 2 Priesthood blessings. I gave a blessing of health to Ema (the mom of the girl I baptized) who has been having some back problems that cause her lots of pain, and the poor thing works all day long and raises her kids as a single mother. Hard stuff, but she handles it with humility and it´s seriously inspiring. The other was a blessing of counsel to Gisela. We came to visit Cristian and Gisela one night, and I opened up my scripture case and one of the kids saw my vile of oil and said *what's that *So I explained that its for special priesthood blessings. That caught Gisela´s attention and she looked at me and said *Can I please have one.* I said yes of course. I asked if she had a specific reason and she just said *just for strength and patience in my life right now.* Makes perfect sense... anyone would need patience living with Cristian (love him to death... but he´s a pill). Both blessings went super well and I specifically noticed each time how focused and peaceful I felt, and I knew that the Spirit was guiding me and it made me so grateful to have the Priesthood and be able to help and bless those around me through the power and authority of God.

Fun fact of Argentina: El besito. I already knew about this and expected it before from Brayden telling me, but here in Argentina everyone gives each other kisses on the cheek to say hello or goodbye. I've never been huge on cheek kisses, so my first Sunday was a bit strange getting little besitos from all the hermanos in the ward. haha! As well as old ladies (as missionaries we aren't allowed to give kisses to women... but some of the old ladies get really offended if you don't so sometimes you just have to let it fly haha). It´s really not bad though. The nice thing is that it's not actually a kiss. All you do is touch your cheek to the other person's cheek and make a kissing noise, no lip contact involved :) That makes it a lot more comfortable and at this point of the mish I´m pretty used to it. You only do it to like family and really good friends... so get ready to get some besitos when I get back everybody! haha

This last week, after having to pay for taxis and buses with baptismal interviews and transfers, we ran out of money. That was the first time in my life that I've felt what it's like to not have food.. or money to go buy food. Luckily we get lunch from members about three times a week, but the rest of the days I lived off of bread, powdered milk, bread, some leftover noodles that we had from last week, bread, a couple apples that one of our investigators gave us (so nice), and this stuff that´s made out of flour, eggs, salt, water, and yeast... I think it´s called bread ;) It was a bit stressful, but I was so grateful to experience that because it made me realize how blessed I've been all my life, it´s such a humbling feeling.

Love you all. Happy Birthday to Clare, Kelly, and Linda this week! I love you all and hope you have a great birthday!

Elder Jolley

 Visited a cool Catholic Cathedral in Centro

 Elder Baker and I at the boardwalk in Mar Del Plata.

Picture on the boardwalk (it's actually just a cement bar the just goes out into the waves a bit... Argentina is creative)

Monday, August 24, 2015

First Transfer: Check!

Buenos Dias :)

Well, to start off... I´m pretty sure I ate the rear end of a chicken (organs and all) last week at a member's house and they say you are what you eat so.. Good Morning USA, this is Elder Chicken Butt reporting live from Argentina... and I don´t feel normal inside :) haha

Jokes aside, last week was awesome. Tuesday we did exchanges with our district leaders Elder Sanchez and Elder Inostroza. This time I got paired up with Elder Sanchez (I did exchanges with Elder Inostroza at the beginning of the transfer). Elder Sanchez is hilarious. It's the kind of hilarious that kinda makes you want to drop-kick him sometimes..but at the end of the day it's hard not to love him :) Ha we were together for 3 days and I actually really enjoyed it.

On the Thursday I took a bus with him to a city called Balcarce (about an hour away) to do a baptismal interview and returned that night to his house to find Elder Moraes and Inostroza. They had dinner plans that night and asked us to join. You don´t say no to free food so of course we did. The only problem was that Elder Sanchez and Inostroza´s area (Newbery) is the most dangerous in the mission and technically North American missionaries (me) aren´t allowed there. So the other Elders layered me up with a scarf, a beanie, and like three coats to conceal my American features, and we went to dinner! Haha. We took a bus to get as close to the house as we could and then went black ops through the sketchy/dark streets of Newbery. It was so fun haha. I felt like Krunk on Emperor´s New Groove when he´s going to throw Cusco in the river (badaladoo bop ba da...ahhh uhhh ahh uhh).

Dressin up like chorros before entering Newbery

We ate dinner with the Bericiartua family and had the best time. They´re hilarious and it was so refreshing to just chat and have some good laughs. They had me almost in tears laughing so hard haha. I haven´t had that since the MTC and it was much needed :)

Dinner with the Bericiartua family

Saturday was Elder Moraes´s birthday and I don´t think I´ve ever eaten so much in my life haha. In the morning we bought facturas (Argentine donuts.. crazy cheap and delicious), then for lunch we cooked Asado in our house with rice and a pasta salad. Then every house we visited that day gave us even more food (mostly cake) when they found out it was Elder Moraes´s birthday. Then that night a member family threw a little birthday party for Elder Moraes. It was super fun and it continues to amaze me how selfless people are here. People are so generous even though they don´t have much and it makes me so grateful every time.

Birthday festivities with the Gonzalez family.

Saturday night we received transfer details! Transfers are so exciting.. it´s like March Madness for missionaries cause everyone places bets on who will leave and who will stay. It´s a blast! haha. So I will be staying here in Monolito 1 and Elder Moraes is heading out (forgot where). We spent the night at the bus terminal sending off missionaries and waiting for the newcomers. My new companion is Elder Baker from Montana. He´s American so that´s nice and seems like a really cool guy. It´s a blessing and a curse to have an American.. It´s nice because it´s easier to communicate, but bad because you speak Spanish less. We both speak Spanish well though so I don´t think it will be too much of a problem. It´s exciting to have a change though and I´m excited for the transfer ahead!

I´ve been praying a lot lately for the desire to be here and to work. I want to be here because I know it´s my duty and I would never go home, but I want it to be a DESIRE to be here and consider it a privilege rather than a duty. This past week I have really started to feel that. Elder Moraes and I had a great companion inventory last week and he helped me to see that I need to enjoy myself a little bit more and be myself, and it´s true. I have been trying so hard to be the perfect missionary, that I´ve been leaving the fun and the joy out of it. So I´ve been trying to be myself more and mix some personality in with my calling, and it´s been going a lot better. I have inside jokes with our investigators and the members, secret handshakes with the kids, good chats, etc. Church was a blast yesterday and my ward is the best. I feel happy and I can feel my love growing for these people. They´re starting to feel more like MY people, rather than just the people I´m assigned to.

I love my people, both here and back home. I think about you guys and you´re in my prayers.

Elder Jolley

Monday, August 17, 2015

Hey Family!

Man this week went a lot better. We've seen some good progress in some of our investigators and I had the opportunity to baptize Aylen! That was amazing. The Spirit was so strong and I can really feel the Lord helping me and guiding me with the Spirit as I strive to work hard and be obedient.

Baptism! Aylen was a bit nervous before and we had to do it two times cause her foot popped out the first time haha. After we got out of the font, she said quietly to her mom *Mommy, I feel free.* She´s so cute and carries the Spirit so strongly. What a cool experience!

One more picture with Elder Moraes, her brother David, and her mom Ema. Great family!

Couple stories. So last week as we were tracting, one of our appointments fell through, so we went to visit a recent convert named Amalia. As we walked up to her apartment building, we saw her walking up to the door with a cast on her leg and her daughter helping at her side. Pobre cita! She´s a bit old and had fallen last week and broke her foot. With all the rain lately, the elevator was broken in the building, and she lives on the fourth floor. So we had her daughter go get a chair, and Elder Moraes and I carried her up four floors of stairs in the chair. I think I need to work on my cardio cause I almost passed out at the top haha... I was trying not to breath as hard as I wanted to so I wouldn't offend Amalia haha...but she´s definitely not malnourished, I´ll just leave it at that :) We then taught a lesson to her about the Sabbath day, because she is a bit inactive. Halfway through the lesson we realized we hadnt even invited her non member daughter (who was doing dishes in the other room) to participate in the lesson. IDIOTS. She came into the room a few minutes later and sat down with us. We then slowly transitioned to the restoration... which was a bit of a stretch coming from our Sabbath day lesson, but hey... you gotta do what you gotta do. The lesson turned out great and her daughter Angeles was really interested, asking the perfect questions the whole time! I love how the gospel answers every question with clarity.
The gift of tongues has been coming into play quite a bit as well. Holy moly. Last week there were a couple times where during a lesson I would talk and my Spanish just felt so natural. It was so weird and as I was talking I just kept thinking *wow...this is super weird.. but I like it..* ha I think the gift of tongues drains your language battery power really fast though because this weekend it's like it all left. I was forgetting how to say the simplest things. I´m tellin you guys... ups and downs.

One of my favorite things is street contacting. You would not believe the variety of characters you can find on the street. For example: Jose Luiz. As we walked home from an appointment we saw a man walking along,  next to his back with four chairs stacked on the back, a tv strapped to the front, and a covered basket on his other arm filled with bread (at  least I think it was bread... it very likely could have been drugs.. but we´ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say bread :)). We approached him and talked to him about the gospel. He was very friendly, like most people, but the thing about Argentines (or maybe Latinos in general) is that they love to chat. People will go off on huge rants about who knows what. We will ask someone a question like ¨do you believe in God?¨ Then they will reply, and five minutes later be talking about how their grandmother lost her leg and the strange behaviors of their friend's dog. It´s so hard not to start laughing haha, but it keeps me entertained out here. So anyway, as we were talking to Jose Luiz. Every time he said something, he would start the sentence with *mi nombre es jose luiz...* then go off on a random tangent. Haha! He told us his name maybe 7 times. I almost cried trying to keep from laughing my head off. Man these people..

One of my favorite parts of the mission is studying. I look forward to it every day. I started into Alma this last week in the Book of Mormon. Ahh it's the best. I´m so grateful for the example of ancient prophets like Alma the younger and to be able to read the stories that apply so well to our daily lives. With the help of the spirit, the Book of Mormon brings so much light and understanding of gospel principles and the way in which we need to live our lives. Paraphrasing Joseph Smith: It is the most correct of any book on the Earth and anyone may come closer to God just by reading it.

Like Nephi, my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them continually. I´m so grateful for the word of God in my life and for the opportunity to share it with the people of Argentina.

Les amo mucho. Ciao :)
Elder Jolley

Our investigators Cristian and Gisela with their two girls, Augustina (Ago) and Abigail (Abi). They're not married, but we're working on it. Last week we celebrated Ago´s birthday with cake and ham + cheese sandwiches (don't ask.. it's just Argentina..). Ago is the youngest and turned 4. She was bouncing off the walls all night and being so cute haha! Abi is baptized and knows a lot about the gospel. Gisela is awesome and super funny. Cristian is a nice guy, but also super crazy. He seriously has two sides to him. We teach these guys a lot, they´re great.

Cristian and Gisela

Ago (left) and Abi (right). *foto loca!* - Ago

Monday, August 10, 2015

Hello Everyone!

It's been another good week in the work :) Still lots of ups and downs.. and I think its safe to say that me and the mission have left our *honeymoon stage.* Don't worry.. I still love her, and divorce is not an option... but she's a piece of work sometimes haha. 

It's been a rough week in some ways, but the rough times are like sand paper for my soul, smoothing out the rough edges of my soul (just barely came up with that analogy...wussup). Nothing crazy hard, but the mission is definitely teaching me to be grateful for things like...

1. English. Spanish isn't a problem, but everybody says things almost the exact same way we would in English, it's just more complicated. The world would be a lot more simple if the Tower of Babel had never happened.
2. The US. Argentina is great and has a lot of character. They´re just a bit... behind, in the world. My mission president (who is from Chile, and hasn't quite built a love for Argentina yet) always says *It'd be nice if someone would invent the wheel around here.* haha! rude... but somewhat true.
3. The fact that I don´t have to spend eternity with a man. Hallelujah. Living with men is not my favorite. I really have to control the ´Teri´ inside of me and be patient when toilets aren't flushed and the kitchen looks disgusting. ya mom.

Last week we had zone conference and got to be with Pres. and Hma. Cifuentes for the second week in a row. yess. I love them. They´re seriously like my mission parents and it helps so much every time I talk with them.

We also got to attend the wedding of our ward mission leader last week. He is a 20 yr old RM named Berni and he proposed rather quickly to a 35 yr old named Andrea. Strange couple, buuut whatever floats your boat I guess! Their wedding was super happy and fun, and kind of made me a bit trunky/bummed that I won't get to see Brayden and Megan's, but it's all good :)

There is another analogy that Elder Kleinman told me this week that I really like:
* The mission is like learning to surf. Your first time, you spend hours in the water with waves passing almost constantly. Then just as your about to give up, you catch a wave and are able to sort of ´boogie board´ to shore. Just that small moment is exciting enough to bring you back the next day. Day by day you return, and eventually you are able to stand up! Each wave brings so much joy, and as you continue to return to the water, you progress more and more until you can catch almost any wave.*

This is a perfect way to describe the mission. It's hard and frustrating and sometimes I feel like giving up, but it's the small moments (or waves) where I can help someone to feel the Spirit, or help push a broken down car, or even carry an old lady's groceries, that bring me back out.

It's a trial and a process, but I love being out here in the water, chasing mavericks all day long :)

Have a great week! Love you all.

Elder Jolley

 Went to the beach for P-Day last week and played some futbol :)

I found Matt Damon! Actually it's my buddy Elder Giliam from Alaska. Great guy!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Hola mis queridos! (every time you say hello to an old lady in Argentina, she will respond with *Hola mi amor* or *hola mi vida* or *hola mi querido.* its hilarious)

My week was great! We have a few new investigators, and we even got a baptismal date! woo! Her name is Ailyn Barragon. Ailyn is 10 yrs old. Her family is all baptized, but inactive. We have been visiting them a lot to try to reactivate them and try to get Ailyn baptized. She is the sweetest little girl and has so much faith, but she didn't want to get baptized when she was 8 because she didn't want to do it just because everyone wanted her to, she wanted it to be her own decision (also cause she has a little case of water phobia). I love that though. We have been teaching and visiting her, but she is already so smart in the gospel. She has the *Book of Mormon stories* book, and knows it almost cover to cover. It's awesome. She will be baptized on August 16. I´m not sure who will baptize her yet, but I´m really hoping to be able to do it...we´ll see! I´ll send pics.

Life is good. The mission (especially at the beginning) is such an emotional rollercoaster. With huge ups and huge downs haha. There are some days where I wake up and I´m like *This is the most glorious day, and everything that happens is wonderful!!* and then halfway through the day I´m like *Well...I haven´t converted Argentina yet...and Jesus hates me.* Ha I don´t actually think that... but wow, it's exhausting sometimes. We got a surprise visit from Presidente and Hermana Cifuentes last Tuesday during our district meeting. That was a blessing from the heavens. They´re the best, and talking with them helped bring me back to emotional equilibrium. We did interviews with President Cifuentes, and I told how I´ve been really stressed with trying to be exactly obedient, and feeling like I´m not doing all that I need to. He told me that obedience shouldn't be a stress, but a desire. That helped a lot and I´ve been trying to implement that into the work this last week. Not that it wasn´t my desire before, but I´m trying to go easy on myself and put more happiness and fun into the work... but at the same time I know I have to be diligent and's a hard balance haha.

My eating schedule was almost consistent last week...that was cool! haha I bought some oatmeal and fruit for myself, and now I have breakfast! Man it's so nice. We had lunch with members about 4 times last week. Almost everybody feeds us pizza, and by pizza I mean bread with cheese on top. Ha! It´s good and I´m always really grateful for it, but they make so much..sometimes it's like 2 full size pizzas per Elder. I can eat a lot of food, so usually it's fine, but everyone who is familiar with missions knows that when they offer can't say no. So by the end of the meal, after all that bread and cheese, I´m in my chair like *SPASM...SPASM.* then the members are like *don't think about it, just look at that cow* and I´m like *ohhh..I just ate that cow!* ... only mom will understand that reference. haha! I was laughing so hard last week when you said *fester fester fester...rot rot rot.* ha! oh man... good movie.

You´d think I would gain weight after all the bread..but being a walking mission, I don't think it will be a problem. We seriously walk soo much. wow. I´m used to it though,  after walking 8-10 hours in Virginia last summer (finally one good reason to be grateful for Vivint haha).

I started reading Jesus the Christ this last week. Wow it's good. I don´t know a lot about James E. Talmage, but I can tell he´s a LOT smarter than I am. Holy moly! One chapter just about exceeds my mental capacity haha. It takes a lot of focus, but all jokes aside, I´m super excited to read it and learn more about the life and character of my Savior. So far I´ve loved it.

Everything is great in S. America. Hope all is well back in my beatiful home. S/O to the happy couple for finally getting things moving along haha! So happy for you guys. Refer to the SNL skit *surprise party* to get an idea of my reaction when I logged on to my email and saw the pics. *ohhhhh myyyyy gooooosh!* haha

Love you all. Look up the conference talk *Of Regrets and Resolutions* by Pres. Uchtdorf. It´s a good one.

Elder Jolley