Tuesday, January 31, 2017

This last weekend we were blessed by a visit from Elder Stevenson from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, as well as Elder Bragg from the Presidency of the South America Area, along with their wives and a couple other area authorities such as Elder Salas and the Buenos Aires Temple President. What a powerful and memorable experience. On Saturday we had a conference with Elder Stevenson, Elder Bragg, and their wives with the WHOLE entire mission. What a cool opportunity! He was only supposed to be with us for about an hour, but he just kept teaching and it turned into two. The man knows Preach My Gospel inside and out so we had such a great discussion about inviting people to repent through commitments and also the importance of promising blessings. We also were all able to shake his hand. It was cool because President had me stationed at the door of the chapel to let everyone know when he was walking in so we could all stand up. So when he comes around the corner, I signaled to everyone and opened the door for him. He stopped when he saw me and said "Well there's a missionary! What's your name Elder?" I told him and he asked me where I was from and stuff. I think I had a permanent stupid grin on my face for the rest of the day. Meeting him and Elder Bragg was a very impactful experience for me. Such genuine and happy people, and it's so contagious! On Sunday they came for a luncheon at the mission home, and Elder Bragg asked President if my companion and I could be there as well, and because Sister Cifuentes had to spend the afternoon with the wives on Saturday, she requested that I make a salad and a few other things for the lunch. Aaanyway, so I got to spent some time prepping and cooking some delicious food (thanks to my mom's recipes ...you're the best mom!) in the nice mission home kitchen on Saturday. No complaint here :) On Sunday we had a special Stake Conference from Elder Stevenson and his wife about prayer and missionary work. Then the luncheon afterwards. We were able to chat a bit with them when they first arrived to the mission home, then for the first part of the lunch we were asked to stay in the kitchen and help so they could have a meeting over lunch. Then towards the end we were invited in to chat, and Elder Bragg set us up with a photo opportunity with him and Elder Stevenson! (best. wingman. ever.) Heavenly Father could beam me up right now and I'd be content with that kind of happy ending to my life haha. Totally kidding... but it really was such a memorable experience and a huge blessing to be around such genuine, humble, and powerful men.

p.s. Elder Stevenson had a bodyguard there named Michael. I was chattin with him a bit afterward and I asked to see his "church security" pin on his lapel (it's cool). Such a funny guy! I feel like they hardly ever talk cause they have to be serious, but when you get them going it's hilarious. After lunch we were sitting there and he said "Ugh... I'm gettin fat..." President right next to him looks over and says "Dude... you sound like a girl.." The bodyguard just looked side to side, shrugged his shoulders and says "...ya... you're right." haha! It was hard to keep the laughter in.

p.p.s. We ate something called Vitel Toné, with parsley garlic fingerling potatoes, orange glazed carrots, and a spinach salad with strawberries, candied pecans, tilei cheese, and two really good dressings from the list you sent me, mom. I think everyone liked it. Elder Bragg even said "Excellent salad, Elder Jolley!" probably just bein nice.. but I'll take it. ; )

I'm so blessed to be a part of this work, and I am continually reminded of that. Doesn't mean it's easy at all, but the blessings received out here outweigh the trials by far. I know this work is His, and I'm proud to be a part of it.

Elder Jolley

 On our way to Mar Del Plata last week for Zone Conferences it was getting dark on us while we were still a ways out, so we decided to stay the night in Necochea and finish the drive in the morning. All the better because my two best buddies in the mish live right there in Necochea in the same house! We snuck into their house and scared the caca out of them haha. It's always refreshing to see Elder Tannyhill and Elder Price and have some good laughs. They're both zone leaders together right now so we all get to interact a lot more, which is super fun.

Doing divisions with Elder Schiess (from the first group I welcomed as AP with Paleka) and his son, Elder Muzzi (been in the mish for 2 weeks). Unfortunately Elder Schiess got super sick from food poisoning and threw up like 20 times during divisions... sooo Elder Muzzi became the nurse and had a nice study sesh while Elder Schiess was passed out in bed. Poor guy. We had a great time anyway though.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Received a sweet email today...

Dear Jolley Family

I had the wonderful opportunity to be with your son this afternoon in Bahia Blanca with Elder Stevenson. Your son is an impressive missionary and is a great blessing to President and Sister Cifuentes. He is happy, healthy and working very, very hard!

Thank you for preparing such a tremendous young man to serve the Lord in this sweet area!

Un abrazo!

Elder Mark A. Bragg
Presidencia de Área
Área Sudámerica Sur

Elder Stevenson, Elder Jolley, Elder Valle and Elder Bragg

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Happy Transfers!

Long week as always, but overall things went smoothly and everyone is safe in their new areas, so mission accomplished! 

A few highlights out of the million things that have happened:

- The Laspina Family got baptized last week! Danilo is a champ and reached his goal of a full two weeks without ONE cigarette. I love the man. So impressed and blessed to be a part of his repentance process in that area. What a special family for me and for our Heavenly Father. I've always dreamed about working with a great family on my mission, and I have before, but the Laspina family was such a tender mercy in my life. Having helped them to flip their family around with their marriage and now their baptism has been an amazing experience. Hermano Maneiro (my other recent convert, from my time with Paleka, who had never baptized before) baptized Danilo, Baltazar Tidei (our neighbor) baptized Pamela, and I had the privilege to baptize little Selena. That was so cute. Right before performing the ordinance I brought her into the water and she looked up with the biggest smile and a cute little laugh. aww!  AND as a cherry on top it was a back to back baptism with Lucrecia's baptism just a week before. Lucrecia came and offered the opening prayer as well.

Pre-bappy selfie!

 Post-Baptism : )

 Love this group!
(left to right): Sis. Cifuentes, Pres. Cifuentes, Sabrina Laspina, Pamela Laspina, Danilo Laspina, Selena Laspina, Moi, Liam Laspina (only 6 yrs old... baptism to come), Isidro Maneiro, Baltazar Tidei

- Two Sundays ago there was a newcomer at church named Carlos. He's probably about sixty years old... he's kind of a larger fella, and is neighbors with Hno Martinez (a member who lives close to us and lets us use his gym in the morning). We talked to Carlos after sacrament meeting and he commented that lately he's had a lot of health problems and was actually told he might pass away. So one thing led to another and he ended up talking to Hno Martinez. Telling him that he noticed was religious and had something that he didn't. He asked him to help him have whatever that was and to help him die well. We've now had about four lessons with Carlos in the house of the Martinez Family (they have a son serving in Salt Lake), including an awesome family night where we were accompanied by Lucrecia as well. He came to church again this last Sunday and was being such a chatterbox in Gospel Principles. He won't stop talking about how much he loves the classes and our discussions with him. He reads the Book of Mormon (always more than we invite him to... stud), and is saying his prayers. I honestly LOVE this man. Such a gentle giant and a humble spirit who sincerely wants to follow our Savior, Jesus Christ. In order to do so, just last night he committed to be baptized on February 11th! He'll be praying over the next couple weeks about that decision, so please pray for him!

- Cool story: So last Saturday we were buying all the tickets for transfers, and in order to divide and conquer with a couple things, my companion and I did exchanges and I went with Elder Acosta to the bus station. We were there forever, then returned for a bit for the Laspina's baptism, then back to the station again. During all that time we never had the chance to eat, and neither of us had time to eat breakfast in the morning either, so we were just starving. We both kept saying "Wow... tengo tanto hambre.." haha! So after the baptism, during the second round of ticket purchases. We continued mumbling about how hungry we were. Then all the sudden this guy comes up to us speaking English and says to me "Hey Elders... my bus is about to head out, but I saw you guys and thought you've probably been here for a while and you're probably really hungry" then he hands me two sandwiches as my jaw is plastered to the tile. I said "Thanks so much! Who are you?" he said "I'm one of the three neph..." haha just kidding. He was a member from New Mexico. NO idea what he was doing there, but to me he was an angel haha. I think that was just Heavenly Father just saying "Congrats on the baptism... here's some sandwiches so I don't have to listen to you grumble anymore." Elder Acosta and I were super happy the rest of the night.

So the start of this new transfer means the start of zone conferences and interviews every transfer now. So for that we'll be heading out in just a couple hours to Viedma to kick off the first conference of the transfer. Luckily my companion and I will be able to take time to do divisions with various companionships while we travel. I'm excited to be able to work and teach as much as possible. As far as teaching in zone conference, my companion and I will be focusing on helping the mission to improve in personal study. I'm excited to teach this cause usually the teacher learns more than the student, and this is definitely an area I need to improve in. Here we go!

Elder Jolley

Said goodbye to some good friends this transfer:

 Elder Way (featuring a photo bomb from Sis. Cifuentes)

 Elder Tew

Elder Miller

Monday, January 9, 2017

Fam Bam.

I'll start out with a few highlights:

- Over the last 2 weeks I've driven through the entire mission. With a total of about 30 hours in the car. Woof! Definitely not as long as me and Brayden's coast-to-coast road trip a few summers ago, but wow, long time.

- Lucrecia got baptized on Saturday, and the attendance at her baptism was a close second to our normal church attendance! She invited so many of her friends and we had a decent member attendance as well. So great. Her baptism was a special experience for sure (even though I didn't really see it cause the font room was so packed...but I heard the splash :) ).

- Yesterday was one of the best Sundays of my mission for sure. My week had been a little spiritually dry just from all the traveling and I was feeling a bit slumped, but wow what a spiritual feast we had yesterday! We had two random people just show up to church (one of them was brought by a member) who are now investigating, along with a few of Lucrecia's friends. Lucrecia is a powerhouse. She bore her testimony to the new guy who came (named Ariel) in Gospel Principles. I love her desire to share the gospel and share her testimony. It's so raw and super contagious. Then after her confirmation in sacrament meeting she bore her testimony near the end. One of the most beautiful testimonies I've ever heard. Especially as she described the happiness that has entered her life since knowing the gospel. With all the missionary respect in the world, I really love her, she's been a huge blessing.

- I found out recently that my converts (Luisa and Ronald) from Villalonga got sealed in the temple about a month ago! Also my converts here in Bahia (Isidro and Gladys Maneiro) are some of the strongest members here and will be sealed in July!

- Pretty soon (the 28 of January...*eh hem* mom.) we'll be receiving a visit from Elder Gary E. Stevenson! We're working on preparations right now and are excited for what he'll teach us.

Con amor,

Elder Jolley

 Elder Valle, Lucrecia and Moi

Lucrecia in white with Walter... her member friend from another ward.

 Missionaries can take cool pictures too, right? (getting breakfast before a long drive - Puerto, Mar del Plata

Me & the homies. (Elder Precio y Elder Tan-gil)

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year!

Congrats to the newly weds. The pictures I've seen so far were just as great as I expected. Love you both.

Not too much from me this week. Skype was wonderful, despite the bummers of poor connection and what not. I always enjoy those opportunities to just breath and chat with you guys for a few good minutes. I think that's one of the hardest things in the mission sometimes. I have a lot of good friends and people I love out here, but there's no one that I feel 100% comfortable with, or that I can be completely myself around. I strive to be myself and make others feel comfortable around me, but it's definitely not as organic as being with your family.

My life right now is still traveling, traveling, visits to our great investigators a couple times a week when we get a second, and more traveling. I enjoy it overall, and it's nicer right now because we are doing leadership training, which is more spiritual than just Christmas activities. Then next transfer we will be able to spend a lot more time going out and doing splits with the missionaries all over the mission. So it's only uphill from here :)

This Saturday our investigator Lucrecia is going to be baptized. She is so wise, humble, and excited to take the name of Christ upon her and improve her life. It's been a blessing to know her and see the beginning of the process to her conversion in the gospel. I'll send pics.

The Laspina family got married last week! (pics to come...later, sorry). It was a really special experience to see them take that step. There baptism was planned for last week, but Danilo has been having a hard time quitting smoking, so after talking with him and setting some goals, we made a plan for him to quit and be able to be baptized on the 14th of January. He's determined, but needs all the prayers and support he can get from his family and the ward to be able to get this weight off his shoulders. We know he can do it, but extra prayers are more than welcome if you will.

I've thought a lot about the past year. All the changes and blessings that I've seen in my life. I remember thinking last new year's on top of the roof in Olavarria.. suffering from food poisoning..that I would NEVER see 2017 haha, but it's here and it definitely came faster than I expected. I anticipate the changes to come this year and hope to be worthy of the blessings that my Father in Heaven has in store for me. Out of the giant list of goals I want to set and things I want to do, I think the principal goal I would like to set for myself is something that President advised in a recent interview. "Forget about you..." I hope to think more about others and to align my will with that of Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ. I hope all of you in your own way can accomplish the same.

Felíz Año,
Elder Jolley