Monday, May 30, 2016

Tolhuin, Zona Rio Grande - Week 3... Dog Fight

Alright, here's the report. 

This week was a total grind! Once again, Elder Wilhelm and I had 150 contacts and 21 lessons, with 8 new investigators, so were slaying the numbers. As for actual progress, that's another story. Around here, it's really easy to get in the door and teach lessons. The hard part is coming back. The people here are lazy as ever, so even if they seem interested, they don't answer the door or they send their kids to the door to say they're sleeping legit 80% of the time. Another 10% is them saying that they "actually can't meet today, and need to reschedule." We cherish the 10% that we actually get back in and teach again. As for progressing investigators, none of the new or old people are really progressing yet. We didn't have any less actives at church yesterday, even though they all told us that they would come. No investigators either, even though we taught a house full of wasted people, and they SAID THEY WOULD COME. Alchohol lies man... I didn't actually expect them though haha. The surprising thing though is that there were actually only 9 people at church yesterday, counting me, Elder W, and the group leader from Rio Grande with his wife. So that was a bit discouraging haha. But I've gotten really good at staying positive and having perfect hope through Christ, so were gonna keep grinding, keep praying, and hope for miracles. And even if we don't get any baptisms in this area for a while, I know that every contact, every lesson, is adding a square foot to my Celestial mansion so if all else fails, that's gonna be dope. 

To answer some of Mom's other questions, the pensh is still awesome! Elder Wilhelm and I have been keeping it clean and semi tidy, so that's good. For laundry, we have a crappy little washing machine, and we air dry everything, so that's fun. I've got a load of whites going right now haha. The sleeping bag is good, it's just suuuuuper hot. I never sleep in it, only on top of it. I think getting a 30 degree bag would have been better because with the calefactors in other pensions and the floor in mine, it never dips below 30. But it's okay, I sleep with mine open, and pull it over me if I get chilly. As for other interesting things... I hate dulce de leche, but I had some churros filled with a creamier dulce de leche and they were incredible. I also ate a ton of empanadas again this week which were bomb. Oreo alfajores (little Argentine cookies) are also adding to the calorie count. Experience wise, I threw my first rocks at dogs this week. These two tiny dogs kept following us for hours, and they were getting brutally mauled by all the other dogs because the dogs here are way territorial. So yeah, we were in the middle of a dog fight the whole time, in which the weiner dog kept trying to use me as a shield, and I had to kick a couple rottweilers. I ended up stepping on the little a guy a couple times, which was her own dang fault. They finally left us alone when I softly tossed some pebbles at em (yes Sofia, it was soft). We also had divisions this week with the District Leaders from Rio Grande, so I saw other missionaries, which was sick. They stunk up our pension though, which sucked. Real Madrid beat Atletico, so that's whatever. No fechas this week, but we've got a couple investigators that I'm really praying a lot for, and were trying really hard to find a chance to pass by their houses. Spencer Smalley sent me a really sweet email, so he's a champ. 

Anyways, really vanilla week, Im gonna keep on grinding and praying for you guys! Thanks so much for your prayers, love, and support! I have the dopest eternal family, so everyone else be jealous! Love you guys, especially you Mom - Elder Jimenez 

So, how does church work with so few people? Do you hold all three hours? Do you have to teach/speak every week?
We do all three hours, which is rough. We also had 2 combined classes this week, 2nd and 3rd hour, and in 3rd hour essentially all that happened is that the members were all arguing with each other about their favorite loopholes to the commandments. How it's not okay to break certain commandments, but okay to break others, and I ended up bearing my testimony on how we can do 99% of the things the Lord has asked us to do, and enjoy el Reino Terrestre (the Terrestrial Kingdom) for eternity, and that kind of settled things down haha. I included about how Dad would always tell me to remember the goal, and that seemed to strike a chord with most of them. 

How is the Spanish coming along?
The Spanish is coming, very slowly. It's really hard because we always speak English when we have a choice (I even taught an Atheist in English this week which was actually way fun). I need to speak English less, but the temptation is way strong. The Spanish is still coming though, very slowly. The understanding is what's really slowing me down. I'm okay though! Con el tiempo (With time), everyone understands me, so now I just need to understand them, and everything will be copado. 

Last, but not least... it sure looks cold in Tolhiun!!!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Tolhuin, Zona Rio Grande - Week 2... Worked our Butts off!

So, I know you are all waiting for Alex's next letter, but I just had to share a little bit that I have discovered about where he currently is... Tolhuin is actually on an island - called Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego (Large Island of the Land of Fire). This island is actually SOUTH of the Straight of Magellan. Right now, it's going in to winter, so it is cold, but even in the "summer" it is Cold!

Alright family what's up! 

To start it off, I'm still alive which is good. I'm also a lot more emotionally stable this week, so that is also good. As far as things that happened this week. WE WORKED OUR BUTTS OFF. It has never been harder in my entire life to get out of bed, but our hard work payed off. This week, Elder Wilhelm and I taught 20 lessons (the standard of excellence) and had 150 contacts (50 more than the standard of excellence, as well as by far the most that Wilhelm has had in a week on his mission). We also found 19 new investigators, and set another fecha. The numbers are great because they help me recognize that I'm working hard. I'm also focused on helping the people too, because we teach people not lessons. 

Anyways, our previous fecha, Luis, can only meet on weekends, and he went to Rio Grande to look for work, so we didn't see him. That's the problem with people around here: 1) They're all super flaky. We've got a brand new army of investigators that want to meet with us, but half the time they don't answer the door, even if they're home (that's an Argentine thing... uggg) and 2) They all want to talk about religion, but most of them believe that they'll be saved in their sins (dang evangelios) so they're all un-invested or lazy. The goal is to just be patient, work with peoples schedules, and be consistent with visiting them. I really have faith though that some of these people are gonna progress, so we're gonna keep hitting it.

 As for food this week, I ate a ton of empanadas which were super good. We also had a vianda (take out lunch) that was pollo with alfredo which was incredible. The two main families that feed us are the Zeniquels and the Vidals. Pretty good people, really grateful for the food. Elder Wilhelm also made some fried chicken that was bomb this week. There's a famous panaderia (bakery) in Tolhuin, so I bought some bread from there for sandwiches. So if I'm not eating with members, it's usually a sandwich, some cereal, or some rice with hamburger patty (even though we ran out of hamburger yesterday). So yeah, livin' the life out here. We did get one less active to church which was good, but no investigators. So with the two guys that came up from Ushuaia, there were 15 people at church (including us). 

Tell Nikki I say happy birthday (even though I'm gonna send her an email) and wish Sofia good luck on that Spanish project cause it sucks. 

Know that I love you guys, and pray for you guys every day. Thanks soooo much for your prayers! Oh and by the way, read the talk The Fourth Missionary. Really good. 

I loooooooooooove you guys, so glad I get spend eternity with a family like the one I have! 
- Elder Jimenez

I asked Alex for more info on the church and members in Tolhuin...
It's a weird mix. The Vidal's are made up of Hermana Vidal and her kids, her husband is living in Buenos Aires. The Zeniquel's have 3 kids, but one of them just moved in with her boyfriend in Salta, and the other two don't come. There's the Amarillas, who don't bring their kids, Hermano Cruz, who hates the group leader haha, Hermano Sieles, the group leader (wait... what's a group leader? does he mean Branch President?) from Rio Grande, and his wife (they drive an hour and a half to go to church down here). Also, we had Dora Jara, one of the less actives, who came the other day, and then there were two guys from Ushuaia who are part of our stake. All in all, if you take out the non-locals, there were like 9 people from Tolhuin. Some old. Some kids. No young men. So yeah, that's what were working with haha!

So do you have a Branch President? 
Nah we don't have a branch here. There is no one that lives in Tolhuin that would be a good Branch President, Hermano Sieles is from Rio Grande which is an hour and a half away. We are technically part of one of the Rio Grande branches (so I guess he is in the Tolhuin Group of the church!). That's one of the huge problems the church is having here. The structure is horrible because there is no local priesthood leadership, so it's a struggle. That also means that we don't have a ward mission leader, or ward council, so essentially, me and Elder Wilhelm have to keep tabs on every member and less active and do all the visits according to our own knowledge which is a total struggle.

And do you have an Area Book to keep track of everyone? Where do you meet? And where do you baptize people?
The Area book is a mess, so were trying to sort it out. We meet in a rental building next to my pension, so that's nice. As for a baptismal font, we build it and fill it up for each baptism haha.

Yep, Elder Wilhelm is really awesome! 

Anyways, I need to go. Mom, I LOVE YOU. So lucky to eternally have the best mom ever. If you guys need want anything that I can give, let me know. I love love looooove you! Tell Sofia that I love her. And Nik and Kevin and Dad and Abuela. And you. I love you. I'm gonna work hard this week! 
- Elder Jimenez, ALEX

Finally... in his letter to Jose:
Sounds like you're having an absolute blast back home. You can probably sympathize with me, cause I'm pretty sure were both at the same hard work party right now, or something like that. Anyways, thanks for the sports update! I'm surprised the the Thunder are doing so well... I hope that Cleveland can finally get their title... Thanks so much for the tips, I wrote down Zions Camp, so I'll look at that. I'm also gonna make sure to be completely unapologetic, so well see how that goes. Dad, I love you. Thanks for the good example that you always set for me. I think about you all the time! I'm learning the things here that I think you'd want me to learn. I miss you! 
- Elder Jimenez 

P.S. I thought I'd let you know, tell Abuela and the fam too, that Abuelo is doing good :)

Here"s some pics by the way:

The sky this morning. 

A family of dogs out by the church a couple days ago. BTW, I hate dogs. Hate em. Those ones were cute, but still, if they died I wouldn't cry haha. 

And, last but not least... Alex :) 
check out those shoes... 
he's only got about a week on them in the field and they are looking well used!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Tolhuin, Zona Rio Grande - Week 1... A Taste of the Good

Alright, super crazy week. I don't have much time, so the summary might be kind of basic, but I'll make it work. 

So on the flight from SLC to ATL I was sitting next to a Christian lady who I proceeded to teach 4 out of the 5 lessons, so that was sick. I also did some really basic missionary work in the ATL airport, which was cool. 

I arrived in the mission Tuesday night. We ate pizza with eggs on it, which was strangely good. That night I slept in a suuuuuuper ghetto house on a very unsafe, rickety, three story bunk bed (second story). 

AP's Pension with one of the AP's coming out the door.
Where Alex spent his first night in the mission.

The triple-decker, ricketty bunks at the AP's pension for traveling, arriving, departing missionaries!

Wednesday morning I went to the mission home, which was sick, and met my companion. His name is Elder Wilhelm. He's from Virginia and this is his last transfer, so I'll be trained by two people. 

Alex and Elder Wilhelm

Yep... Alex's first area is almost to the bottom of the world... He's in Tolhuin, which is the only city in between Rio Grande and Ushuiah (the end of the world).

Late Wednesday night, we started heading down to my first area. We made it all the way down to Rio Grande on Thursday, where we spent the night in another super gross, smelly pension (that's my life though now haha) (oh and BTW this is totally the third world down here, I was wrong about development haha). Friday morning we went to a quick zone/district meeting, then we hitched a ride with a guy out to our area. (Remember that he left the MTC at 9am Monday morning... He traveled for 4 1/5 days to get to his area!)

The name of my area is Tolhuin. Elder Wilhelm and I are the only missionaries here. It's super isolated, really cold (average high in May-August is in the low 30s - so Alex went straight to winter!), and legendarily muddy. It's the muddiest area in the mission. I don't even try to fight it anymore haha. 

The road that their pension is on, looking right.

The road their pension is on, looking left.

Anyway, Saturday was the first full day of proselyting. It consisted of everyone turning us down, slamming doors, and me getting depressed. I started thinking that that was how the whole mission was gonna be, and I got really, really sad and tired. Sunday started off good with church (BTW I understand maybe 10% of what these people are saying so that's hard). I gave a talk, cried in my testimony cause I'm pretty sure I'm emotionally unstable and sleep deprived right now. After church, we had the second lunch with members thus far (the first was on Friday). The food here is super good. So I was feeling pretty good, but then we went through another couple hours of getting doors slammed in my face, except for the fact that most people don't even have the decency to come to the door. The people are pretty cold here. Anyways, I was really down in the dumps, already thinking about coming home. I said a really sincere prayer, and just asked for some kind of success. Then, right before we were about to go home for the night, we knocked a door that we weren't going to knock but I said that we should, and the guy let us in, we taught a really good lesson, and now he (Luis) is working towards a baptismal date in a month. Blessings. Life saver. Now I'm doing a bit better. It's still hard to adjust to the mission life, but I got a taste of the good with my huge heaping plate of the bad. All I needed was the good though, so for now I'm okay. 

As for other news, YOU CAN SEND ME PACKAGES. This is the only mission in Argentina that allows it. They have to have my name and Elder Caseres name on it, and it has to be a shoe box or smaller. But that's sick. Anyways, I'm sure you'll have questions, so I'll just leave it at that for now. In my time, without lag, I have about 50 mins remaining. I love you guys soooooooo much (especially you Mom) and I actually miss you guys, so feel special. 

Church is true. - Elder Jimenez

Alex's last week in the MTC he asked me to send him another coat - only of those packable ones that he could use or stuff up in his backpack... Anyway, i asked which one he is using in his cold area, and how his boots are working out...

I'm using both, depending on how cold it is, both are super bien. It feels like it's been a year since we talked last. Anyways, I've actually just been using my regular shoes, they're doing fine (although muddy). 

Elder Wilhelm cleaning the mud off his shoes...

So, what do you eat when you don't eat with the members?
Cereal for days. I also bought some stuff for ham and cheese today (money is tight here because everything is getting more expensive but they're not giving us more money). My companion makes popcorn with hot sauce. Strangely good. 

How long is your internet time? And besides your answered prayer on Sunday, what else has been good this week? 
We get 90 minutes with President Rogers. Anyways, as for good things, I wont lie its been pretty sparse. The members are pretty good, although there are only about 15 in total, lots don't come every week, and although we only have 15 people, there are ward rivalries haha. It's hard. I have already eaten with members twice though, and both times were very good, so that's a good thing. Honestly, this is a rough mission Mom. But God sends his strongest soldiers to where the battle is the worst, so I'll just keep telling myself that until I believe it, and I'll be okay, haha!

Anyways, Mom, I've got to go, but I really just want you to know how much I appreciate you. I miss you so much! I appreciate every thing you've done for me, and that you still care about me even though I'm a couple thousand miles away. I'll write you again next week, hopefully I have a better week. Tell everyone that I love them, make sure to tell Sofia too. I miss you guys a ton! Have a good week, and be good followers of Christ. 

With love, Elder Jimenez

A few more pics...

Final Pic with Elder Thomas - He's headed to the Dominican Republic.

The travel info from my flight from ATL to ESE (Buenos Aires). It was so hard to try to not watch everybody's tvs around me haha. What made it worse is that they were all watching Deadpool (very rated R).

my first pic in Argentina

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires Temple
(the closest he'll get to a temple for the next 23 months...)

Comodoro Rivadavia at night

Then its my travel group taking a picture with one of Elder Yapias's sons who was headed home while we were heading out. 

Tambien, my first meal in the field, a crappy, airport, $180 hamburger. 
And by $180 I mean 180 pesos, haha! Still a rip off though, but I needed food.

Our pension
(which is actually quite nice. Super small, ghetto by American standards, but I stayed a night in Cruz and Nelsons pensh in Rio Grande, so I consider my pension to be a Hilton haha)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Argentina - Day 1... Safe Arrival!

Hey family, 

I made it to Argentina safe and sound. The travels were uber long (at least 48 hours since he left the MTC... and he is not in his area yet), but I love it here so it's okay. I'll write you more on P-Day! 

- Elder Jimenez

Alex with President and Sister Rogers

Monday, May 9, 2016

MTC - Week 6 (almost)... Leaving for Argentina

We had a great (although short) chat with Alex yesterday for Mother's Day. It was wonderful to hear his voice and get to talk with him. He leaves the MTC today, and should be calling again from the airport. This morning he sent some last pictures from the MTC, so I'll include those here.

I'm really excited for him. He is ready to get to work, and his Spanish isn't too bad either. His accent is much better than when he was home, and he did a good job conveying what he wanted to say (with a few mis-conjugations, but we could understand what he meant).

He told us yesterday that his travel group is quite large. I think there are about 10 missionaries going to Buenos Aires, and then 5 will continue on to his mission in Comodoro. They are all prepared for the ~36 hours of travelling to the mission and then who knows how much longer to their first areas. I am anxious to find out where he will be serving. Hopefully I do not have to wait until next Monday!


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

MTC - Week 5... Travel Plans and Phone Calls

Alright, I have my travel plans. I'm flying Delta to Atlanta, I have just under a 3 hour layover there, then I'm flying Delta down to Argentina. It's an 11 hour flight to Buenos Aires. My group (which has 5 people) will meet up with a travel agent down there, then we'll get on a bus that will probs be around 14 hours. So yeah... it's gonna be an experience for sure haha! I'm leaving the MTC at 9:20am on Monday, May 9th. I can't remember when my flight is. I'm super pumped for Cafe Rio at the airport... (I read on one Elder's blog from Alex's mission that he left the MTC Monday morning and arrived in his area on Friday! It looks like Alex is on the same travel time frame... He won't even arrive in his mission until Wednesday!)

Tell Sofia and Kevin that I wish them good luck! Tell Nikki that she's nuts. 

As for the prepaid phone, I don't think it's gonna be necessary, they'll have a computer that I call you from (not Skype) here at the MTC. For the Mother's Day call, they actually only give us 30 minutes. My district will be calling from 3:15 to 3:45pm. I'm also gonna buy a calling card for the airport. Unless you want to get a prepaid phone, because then I could talk to you guys for a long time. If I use the calling card, I'll have to share a payphone with the other elders and sisters at the airport.

As for cool stuff that happened this week... my companion and I finished up with a couple of investigators. The saddest one was Nicholas. He was soooo awesome! He gave Elder Thomas and I his email and Facebook though, and told us to write him, so that's cool. Spanish is going fine. I'm trying to read the BOM all the way through, and I'm halfway through 3rd Nephi, so that's legit. Bonnie L. Oscarson came last night, which was cool, but the review that my district had after was even cooler, the spirit was really strong. 

There's a bunch of people I know here from random places, so that's always fun. 

For gym time, Elder Thomas and I have started playing vollyball with our zone, and it gets pretty heated, so that's awesome. I've grown to love the MTC, but I'm really excited to leave. When the travel plans came, the desire to be gone hit me like a wall. 

For breaking the fast on Sunday, my zone was written into MTC legend. We decided to see how many bowls of cereal we could eat. There are 21 people. 2 didn't participate. We ate 118 bowls of cereal. #ESQUADRON Anyways, this week was good, I get to call you on Sunday and Monday, so that will be fun. I'm really excited to talk to you! 

Tell the family I love em a ton. I love you Mom! Thank you sooo much for all you do! 

- Elder Jiménez

MTC Zone

After he told me he was excited for Cafe Rio at the SLC airport, I checked Altanta, and they have two Chick-fil-A's, so he'll get another treat there.  He's excited, but here's his response... As for Chick-fil-a, THATS GONNA BE SWEET! I'll probably spill though...