Thursday, January 28, 2016

Hey all.

Well, it's been an interesting week. So last week after I wrote we went to our appointment with Nadia and Nicolas, and had another fall through. This time Nicolas forgot to tell Nadia and so Nadia had already made plans...I know they don't intentionally flake out on us, it's just been a while since we've been able to even get past their front door so it's a bit frusturating. We have another appointment marked for tomorrow though so cross your fingers for us.

Friday we had our zone meeting which went super well. We as leaders took over at the end to teach the lesson about being our "propios agentes" that President shared at the leadership conference. It went great and the spirit was definitely with us, and I feel like everyone left a little bit more excited to progress and work hard. Success!

Saturday we had a meeting with the Hermanas in the morning to talk about their area. That ended up being really productive and I think we have found a few ways to improve their area and other things here in Olavarria. We have been doing the same with the other areas this past week. Then after we made lunch for them at the chapel and helped them clean the baptismal font in preparation for their baptism last Sunday. woo! I want one...haha

The rest of the week up to now has been a lot different and a bit chaotic. Sunday I left for Bahia and got my documentation done. I saw President there in the office and he said "Elder Jolley? What are you doing here??" I told him I was finally getting legalized and he said "Well now you can relate to the Mexicans." Haha.

After Bahia I took the return trip back but stopped in a pueblito called Azul to do divisions with Elder Miller and Elder Howlett and to get to know their area better to see if there is anything we can do to improve there. Divisions was a blast, Elder Miller and Howlett are a great time. We went running in the morning, talked to a crazy old lady with purple hair that showed us all how she can still do a handstand (like what?), then we went out to walk the area and contact. Then we made tacos for a family, then they showed me more of the area and we had a meeting at the end of the day to go over everything. Elder Howlett also made banana bread which was deeelish.

Lunch with the Andia family. We made them tacos :) 

So that's pretty much it for my week. I love being a leader but I'm really excited for these random assignments and trips to slow down so I can just dig in to the work and focus on my area.

This week I did learn something really cool though. I was talking to some Elders about the difference between "Jehovah" in the old testament who seems to come across more strict and harsh, and "Jesus Christ" (who is Jehovah) in the New Testament and the Book of Mormon who is loving and compassionate and forgiving. A few of us were questioning about why there was a difference in His demeanor between those two periods. Then another Elder made a comment about how Christ is that way now because of the atonement, and how before the atonement and His life on Earth He wasn't perfect and didn't understand what our trials and pains were like on Earth and that's why He was a bit more strict and harsh. Light bulb! (name that movie). Maybe I'm dumb and everyone already knew that, but I had never looked at it that way before. I love being able to study out here and understand the gospel more through my experiences and also from personal revelation and studying doctrine. It truly is a blessing. All my life I have always thought that Christ was always a perfect being and that's just the way things were, but as I come to know Him more and especially as I study His life and doctrine, it makes me start to realize really how big the atonement is. Christ had to work and literally sacrifice everything to become the perfect and loving Savior that He is for us. I know I don't have the slightest clue as to how great His sacrifice was and how endless His love really is for me, but to steal words from the hymn.. "I stand all amazed."

Last but not least, I would like to wish a very happy birthday to my beautiful mother, Teri. One of my greatest examples of true Christ-like love. To quote Jeffery R Holland from last general conference: "no love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child." I know that is true and am so grateful for that selfless love that my mother shows to me.

Happy Birthday Mum :)
Elder Jolley

 Taxi ride to lunch

 Did somebody say...yoke?? *trap flex*

 Divisions in Azul with Elder Howlett and Elder Miller. Azul is suuper pretty. check out that Cathedral!

Plaza in Azul

 Jump pics with Elder Miller

 Found a friend

 Passed by to see the cemetery in Azul. This is the entrance. How coool is that! Azul is in the middle of nowhere, but it's filled with rich people and super cool/unique attractions.

Look what else we saw in the cemetery...that was comforting.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Holy henry it's hot :) (<- that's alliteration.. s/o to high school English)

Another great week, but the air is quite thick and steamy haha. This last Monday we had that leadership conference in Bahìa as well as a broadcasted worldwide mission conference yesterday afternoon. That was super cool to think that I was watching the same message as all my fellow missions and friends all over the world. The messages were pretty basic and fundamental, but it was definitely a good reminder and booster about our main purpose as missionaries.

As far as updates, we will be pretty busy these next couple weeks before we have a follow up leadership conference with President on Feb 2. Basically we are going to be walking through and analyzing every area in our zone to give a report to the President about conditions and any changes that need to be made in our opinions as leaders as we follow the spirit. So a little extra walking for us. yes :) ha It won't be that bad. I'm also going to Bahìa again on Monday to FINALLY get my papers done so I can be here legally. Double yess :)

That's pretty much it for me this week. That appointment with Nadia and Nicolas fell through last week because they left town, but we rescheduled for tonight in about an hour from now. We'll be going with our original plan to study Christ's visit to the Americas and watching The Testaments. Excited for that.

This last week I had a really cool experience. So last Saturday after our appointment fell through we tried to pass by some referrals and contact a bit. We had absolutely no success and quite a few rejections. Which has obviously happened before, but that night it just got to me a bit more. So we got home and I was just kinda done with it. Like I've said before, I would never go home, but mentally I was just complaining and thinking "Am I wasting my time here?" and "I really don't feel like doing this anymore." Just super bummed I guess. Then my comp put on some music like we usually do when we get home, but after the first song a talk came on by Jeffery R. Holland called "Lord, I Believe." It talked about that story about the man with the possessed son that I shared in my email. How he asked Christ "Lord, if though canst do anything, help us." and Christ says "If thou canst believe, everything is possible." and immediately the man says "Lord, I believe. Help me mine unbelief." That hit me like a freight train. He then continued talking about how there would be times where we won't feel like pressing on, or we will have doubts, but that we should always doubt our doubts before our faith, and that what we do know will always outweigh what we don't. I've heard that talk before, but in that moment it was exactly what I needed and it took on a whole new meaning for me. I knew that that talk coming on wasn't coincidence and that the Lord was specifically aware of and there for me in that moment. That helped me to forget about my complaints and humble myself enough to accept the trials I was having and remember that if I just pressed on with faith in my Lord and Savior, then I would come out on top and see the blessings and purpose of what I am doing now some day. I know He lives and that He is truly aware of us and here for us with our best eternal interest in mind. Trust Him.

-Elder Jolley

 Look what I found in Bahìa! My Christmas package FINALLY came! haha. My comp went and got the packages and at first didn`t see it so he told me it didn't come and I was suuuper bummed. Then I went and double checked with Elder Patricio in materials and we found it under a huge stack. Woo! I opened it up on the bus ride home, read the letters, got super giddy cause I saw the football you sent, then I opened one present that ended up being the English hymnal which also made me soooo happy. I just stared at it forever haha, its so beautiful. Even seeing the wrapping paper in the box made me excited. Then I closed up the package cause I didn't want to have wrapping paper all over on the bus. Then at home I have a blanket that is green and has leaves on it so I used it for a super ghetto Christmas tree and put all the presents around it and pretended like it was christmas. I even put on my comfy jogger sweats :) anyway so that was fun. THANK YOU, THANK YOU. Best late, Argentine, hot and humid, non-traditional Christmas ever :)

 This last week on Monday we had a Zone Leader Conference in Bahìa at the mission home. We got there Sunday night after a 6 hour bus ride (with fantastic views all the way...our bus schedule to Bahìa makes it so we catch the entire sunset every time as we are driving through beautiful green farms and plains in every direction. ahhh, blessings) we got there and stayed the night with the APs. Then Monday morning we got to the mission home for the conference. It went super well. Conferences are always such a good boost to get me pumped and ready to make changes and improve as a missionary and as a leader. President implemented a few new changes and we pretty much just had a leadership counsel after that of ways to help animate our missionaries. They also fed us breakfast and lunch. Hermana Cifuentes made us lasagna, salad, and garlic bread for lunch. All the Americans were in heaven haha! Soo good.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Ciao :) 

(At first I thought that only meant goodbye.. but people here respond by saying "ciao" to you when you say hi sometimes. At first I thought "well, that's not very friendly.." but I guess it works for both hi and bye... Argentina :))

Well hello everyone. Another week here in the South American continent. Things are going really well here in Olavarría. This past week things have unfortunately been a bit slow as far as the work, but I have seen a lot of personal progress in myself. Lately, and especially last week, I have just been in a bit of a wall/slump as far as having the desire to really work hard. Also my relationship with my Heavenly Father has just felt a bit distant and weak. So recently I read in Jesus the Christ (I will be paraphrasing pretty hard here..) where Christ finds His disciples with a bit of a problem where there was a man who's son was possessed and they couldn't cast out the demon. They were confused and frustrated because what they had done many times before was now something really difficult for them to accomplish. Pretty much they had hit a wall/slump. So Christ asks them "Did you try fasting and praying for the strength to do it?" His disciples said they had not, and Jesus had mercy on the man and his son and cast out the demon.This story really hit me as right now I am facing this "demon"/wall/slump in my mission that I can't quite seem to push past and overcome. So this past weekend I fasted and prayed much to my Heavenly Father asking for the spiritual strength to be able to press on and have those desires to work hard and change myself to be a better instrument in His hands. That was a great experience for me and this week I have felt a lot more desire to change myself, be more obedient, and have more faith and trust in my Savior. Obviously it hasn't been a black-to-white change, and I still have much to improve as always, but this life is about progress and that's what I've had this week so I feel happy. 

Things are going really well as far as the new changes to the mission. I actually am loving everything about it haha. My budget so far is working smoothly as planned. I thought I would miss having free lunches with members, but this week I have discovered that (probably from watching/helping my amazing chef-mother cook all my life..) there's a section in my brain that knows how to cook! Like.. I cooked before the mission, but I never HAD to. Now that I do, all the sudden my brain turned on survival mode and I'm running my own version of food network down here. Haha that's an exaggeration.. but me and my comp have been getting pretty creative. So far we've had stuff like chicken pot pie, stir fry, Italian chicken pasta with sauted veggies, and today we had fajitas. "Top chef ya know?" (name that song... "i like my beat down low, down low"... sorry i'm done).

Things are going well with Nadia. We had that lesson last week with Rafael (Yanina couldn't come) and it went great. We talked with her about putting a goal for a baptism date. She gets a bit nervous whenever we talk about that but this time we asked her to think about it and make her own goal as she prays and included Heavenly Father. She said she would. We had a lesson yesterday with them but it fell through, so Saturday we are going by again to have pancakes with a little lesson and maybe watch the Testaments with them and we will see what she says. I am really hoping/praying that she feels the need to be baptized.

Funny experience: To start off you have to know that Argentines are always SO willing to help us/others if you have a question or something (but if you offer them salvation they aren't too interested.. it's weird). So this last week I wanted to make some popovers for some of our zone (just call me Paula Dean, seriously.. "buttah makes it bettah") but we don't have a muffin tin so we went to the store to look for one. We couldn't find one in the store looking around so we asked a customer service dude where to find it. There isn't really a word for muffin tin in Spanish so he was pretty confused. Then another service guy comes over and starts to help out... then an old lady hops in on the conversation... and before you know it we've literally got like 10 Argentines all in on the case. I wasn't even that desperate and after about 5 people, me and my comp just sat back and watched this giant debate go down. No one could explain or figure out what a muffin was. So finally I said "es como un.... cupcake." and the old lady yells "SI!! CUH-CAY! Eso es." Everyone was so content, then the guy said "ya we don't have that." Ha so after all that we went to another store and the guy there helped us find it right away. super :)

Well that's the weekly update. I love all of you. Hope you're all freezing your nalgas off in Utah...cause it's super hot here.

Ciao! (see what I mean)

Elder Jolley

 Me and my comp Elder Jackson. Yes, I do have fat cheeks.

 Photo from our dinner on New Year's Eve. Had some delicious steak with homemade fries and salad. Super good!

Not the best picture.. but we had the BIGGEST storm this last week. The clouds were pitch black and it looked soo cool. Luckily it didn't start to rain until we got in the house at the end of the day.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Buenas :)

First week of the year: check! It went well and also crazy. I will start off with New Year's Eve. So that day we ate our last lunch with members ever. We ate with the Tapia family. They are super nice and it went well, but the lunch was a bit sketchy haha. So we got there and the dad had just got home from work and the mom wasn't even there. Then the mom shows up and asks her kids if they got all the food ready. Their oldest is like 14 and they have three others that are under 10. Not to be rude, but I barely trust food that is cooked by ADULTS here. So that was a nice surprise. We had burnt milanesas (breaded chicken pretty much) with a salad that I'm pretty sure was prepared by their 3 year old. So we smiled and ate it anyway. After I felt like drinking my hand sanatizer cause I knew it was going to come back to bite me.

So that night we go over to the other Elder's house in Independencia (Searcy and Tew) along with the Elders from Azul (Miller and Howlett). We all pitched in some money and Elder Searcy had made us some steaks, fries, and salad. That was delicious. Then we played cards and hung out until it got closer to midnight. Around 10 or 11 I could tell my stomach was getting a little upset... that days lunch had arrived in the station with a bomb aboard... dun dun duuuun. Haha I was scared. So 11:45 we were watching from their balcony, which I was fine with cause the bathroom was nearby. Then one of the Elders said "Let's go to the roof!" I was down for the view so we all went up. Midnight came and the fireworks were so cool! Our view was so cool as we watched fireworks in all directions. Everyone else there goes home this year and I was the only one going home in 2017 so I was getting a lot of comments like "Wow Elder... you're gonna be here a looong time..." ha what do you say to that? "Yaa... thanks buddy... happy new year?" haha it's ok though I don't mind. Anywho.. so as fireworks came to a close... fireworks began to go off in the depths of my stomach. Ha so I took off downstairs aaaaand... spent the rest of the night celebrating new years with the toilet. I went to bed at about 3 or 4am haha. Happy New Year! New year, new digestive system. yay :)

Things have been pretty normal as far as the work and everything goes since then... stomachly as well, thank the heavens. Sunday was so great this last week. Nadia and Nicolas came again which always makes me so happy. Also, I am getting really close with all the members in the ward. I LOVE my ward here. It is the closest thing to how a solid ward should be that I have seen so far in Argentina and I love it. They give us referrals and people ask us if we will take them out with us to work, ward council is productive, our bishop is one of the coolest people I've ever met, so funny and Christlike and works hard. I love him and everyone else in the ward, it's so great. 

Things are going well with Nadia. We unfortunately haven't had too many lessons with them lately due to random complications with Nicolas's job or whatever comes up, but she still keeps a lot of interest and self-drive in her conversion. I can tell that she is trying and wants to know this is true for herself and I love it. I also see a lot of effort on Nicolas's part to be supportive and change himself to come back into the gospel. We have an appointment on Saturday and I'm excited. Rafael and Shanina will be joining us (I sent a picture with them in it a couple weeks ago). It should be great. Pray for us.

A few changes to the mission. So this week President announced a huge change in our monthly funds. Long story short, the mission won't be giving us reimbursements for travel and almost every other cost. He raised our personal funds a bit and is basically handing over the wheel completely to us to budget our money. It's hard because that's a lot to manage on top of the work. I did the math and when you take out random costs it leaves us about 5 dollars a day to cover breakfast, lunch and dinner. We also have to make and buy all of our own food now without members to help feed us. I think I will be able to handle it ok with some careful budgeting, but I really worry for the missionaries that don't know how budget, or cook/eat well, or live in areas where you have to travel all the time (like Pedro Luro) and are left with maybe 2 dollars a day to feed themselves. It will work out fine and I really do trust President and support him in what he's doing. It will just be interesting to see how people handle it for the next little bit. From here on out there will be the good budgeters... and the hungry haha. 

Love you all. Sorry no pictures this week.

Elder Jolley