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DJ with his new washer

DJ with his new washer
Piedra Alta, Uruguay

Ramon's Baptism

Ramon's Baptism

DJ and new Companion Elder Craynor

DJ and new Companion Elder Craynor

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Week 3

another week gone by

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hello family!

Another week gone by. It’s really hard to believe actually. It seems like I was just writing to you. Time flies here. We were talking about it earlier and it makes a lot of sense actually. People measure time by change and since things are constantly changing in the MTC, time just flies. For instance, I measure my weeks by PDays and Sundays because those are the most different schedules. It´s crazy though. This week is transfer week so everything is crazy. All of the oldies left on Tuesday and there were only 8 of us left-4 from each district. It was kind of sad to see them go, especially some of the Latinos because I know that I´m not likely to see many of them ever again. We got so close in only 3 weeks. Anyways, the newbies came in today. You should have seen their faces. It was great, but I´m sure we looked exactly like that 3 weeks ago.

So proselyting last week was fun. That was the last time we’ll go out for only 2 hours. This Saturday we are out for 7 hours. Fun times. Last Saturday was very successful. We met our goal of 13 contacts in the 2 hours and we had a great time. I believe I told you about Carlos...our atheist "investigator." He´s really really nice, but he is so stubborn about not believing in God. Anyways, we didn't think we´d catch him since he said he wouldn't be around, but we went by anyways and he pulled into his driveway right as we were leaving his house. Divine intervention, methinks. So we talked with him for a good 20 minutes or so. We had left a Family Proclamation with him the week before and he took the liberty of correcting the mistakes in it...that is to say, he basically circled every thing that had to do with eternity and said it was wrong. So yeah, we have his information and we´ll give it to the missionaries in the area and hopefully they can talk more with him. We also met this guy who seemed to be some evangelical minister. We don´t know for sure since we don´t understand much, but we think he was preaching to us. I got the feeling as we were talking that he wanted to Bible bash, but unfortunately for him, we don´t have the vocabulary to do so. That was an interesting experience to say the least.

Chris: It´s really interesting how we do it. We combine grammar exercises, as in verbs and other grammar like that, with the lessons in Preach My Gospel. That is where we pick up most of our vocabulary. As such, we can teach fairly competently, but we can´t hold a normal everyday conversation with anybody to save our lives. I´m working right now on studying vocab on my own to increase my knowledge of random "need to know" garbage like clothes and food and family members and stuff. Make sense?

Okay: Pday...we have regular study time in the morning and then class until lunch. After lunch, we have an hour of language study and then the actual "pday" starts at 2 and goes until dinner at 615. During that time we can do whatever we want...sleep, write letters, study (idk why anybody would though), play ping pong, do sports outside, just whatever. After dinner, we have another class and then our nightly activities.

Thanks for the clarification on Cy´s message. I didn't much understand why he was proud of my parrots...success makes much more sense. :)

As for physical exercise time...we have an hour and a half time of which we use an hour to get ready and play around (basketball, volleyball, ping pong, whatever else they have), and then we have an hour to take a shower and get back into missionary garb. It's almost mandatory to take a shower since it´s roughly 2 billion degrees outside when you are running around. But yeah, it's a nice break to the day.

That´s also nice to hear about Travis. He must be doing well with the language if he is a trainer. Congrats to him.

Um, yeah. I can´t think of anything else that I really wanted to tell you guys. I think I covered everything. Hopefully those things will make it through customs and all. Have a great week. I´ll be writing again before you (and I) know it.

Yours in Love,

DJ :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Week 2

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hello all,

This past week was very good. It definitely flew by a lot faster than the first one. I’m going to try and answer all of your questions.

Um let’s see, proselyting last week was actually fun. It was kinda scary, in the sense that we know next to no conversational Spanish, and people talk really fast, but it was great. We went out for 2 hours in a beautiful neighborhood nearby (Yes the MTC is on the temple grounds, the temple is literally 100 feet from our building). We had fun talking to people, and it really wasn’t scary at all to just walk up and talk to people. The first guy we met was sitting at a bus stop and he gladly talked to us so I think that helped to calm our nerves. There was one guy that was really interested and asked us to come back. Regrettably he isn’t able to see us this Saturday, so we’ll send the real missionaries in, you know, the ones in Buenos Aires. But this guy was really awesome and he spoke a small bit of English. He was telling us that he was atheist because he believed in evolution and stuff, but more importantly he didn’t understand how there could be a God with all the bad stuff in the world. He was really nice though and we enjoyed talking to him. He was the last person we met during those 2 hours, so I think it was the Lord’s reward to us for working hard previous to that.

So I got letter #1 on Friday the 15th...7 days travel time...and I got Dads postcard on the 20th...10 days travel time. Go figure. Anyways, thanks for both. I really appreciate them. It was nice to hear. Hopefully you guys got (or will soon be getting) the letter I sent last Thursday...I had too much to put in email. (We received DJ’s letter today and I have included excerps from it at the end of the email.) Um, in response to Dad’s questions. Yes, a lot of the missionaries here who are leaving next week are heading to my mission. They are very awesome. Actually, everybody here is really cool and just fun to be around. It’s great. And then on Feb 18th or thereabouts, the next group of missionaries for my mission should be coming in (from North America)...the Latinos who come every 3 weeks for only 3 weeks kinda go everywhere.

Pres George arrived this past week, replacing the Wilson’s. They are really nice and friendly. I haven’t really gotten to know them, but they seem nice in passing.

Um...congrats to Kelly and Chris for their baby boy. That’s awesome.

I do get to write in my journal every night, which is really nice. Sundays are also the best day of the week. We have Church meetings from 8 to 11 and then personal study time, lunch, a bit of prep time to sleep or whatever, and then a large group meeting (with all the North American missionaries), dinner, movie (devotional or church videos, etc.), and then another large group meeting before bed. They’re really nice and relaxing.

So the food here is great. We consume a lot of meat, but it’s all good. However, the kitchen seems to feel the need to pick one meal a week that is pure squash, and it’s horrible on a scale from 1 to disgusting. I don’t usually eat much during those meals. hardly anyone likes them. We have termed them to be GBDs (green bricks of death), but they are good for a nice laugh.

Spanish is coming along. We just keep plugging away, and pray that it comes. I think it is...slowly, but surely. We can teach the whole first lesson in Spanish now...not well, but we can. I like it though. It’s way fun.

Um, my companions are great. We get along well.

Um, that’s about it. I look forward to receiving stuff from you guys. The Spirit is really strong here and the guys are great. I’m definitely enjoying myself here, but it’ll be so nice to get out in the field, finally.

I hope that everything is going well back home. I really can’t imagine snow right now, not with this weather we’re having here, but I’m glad it’s warming up a bit.

Oh quick message for Cy: Just let him know thanks for the well wishes and tell him that I hope school and everything is going well for him. I’m sure he’s heard about what’s going on here, at least in part, so that’s good.

It’s still kinda hard to believe that I’m in Argentina training to be a missionary, but all is well. Life is good. Have a great week, and I’ll look forward to hearing from you guys again next week. God bless.

From DJ’s letter dated 14 January 2010

“So, like I said, it’s hard to believe that it’s only been a week and a day. It feels as if we’ve been here for a small eternity. Spanish is coming along really well. Everybody in my little district sometimes gets frustrated about how much we don’t understand and with the issues we have remembering, but then we remember that it has only been a week. We can effectively teach somebody the basics about Heavenly Father, the Restoration of the Gospel and Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the Holy Ghost along with bearing our testimonies. God truly does bless the missionaries. I love the language itself, particularly its easy pronunciation. The vowels always make the same sounds so it’s relatively easy (oh and most of the consonants do too) to pronounce unknown words. My brain is going roughly a million miles an hour though. It only took about 5 days for the Spanish to creep into my journal entries and one of my companions randomly shouted a Spanish word in his sleep the third night here. It’s definitely on everybody’s brains.

Oh, I know, let me tell you a little bit about this MTC. It has a capacity of 88 people, but we’ve only got about 50 right now. Most people are going to the Montevideo and Montevideo West missions, but with other missions represented as well. There are 13 North Americans here right now; 11 boys and 2 girls. I think we have determined that I’m either the one or one of the ones located farthest east in the US. Most North Americans are from CA, AZ, NV, and UT.

Take care and I love you all."


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Week One mail from DJ

Week one letter from DJ
Hello All,

I’m going to try to type quickly and really without any sort of coherency because I have limited time...only a half an hour. The first week here has been great. Let me first tell you about the schedule a little bit. Wake up is at 630. We have an hour and a half to get ready and eat before personal study at 8 and then companionship study at 9 till 10. My companionship is actually a, Elder Young, and Elder Powell. They are both awesome guys and we get along so well. I’ve been really blessed when it comes to companions. After comp study, we have class from 10 to 1145. In all the classes, we learn a mixture of Spanish (both grammar and vocab) and preach my gospel. We are getting information shoved down our throats at an amazing rate, but by the grace and blessing of God, we aren’t exploding yet, and we’re actually remembering the vast majority of it. Lunch is after that class, and then another class from 1230 to 230. Then we have an hour of PAC (or personalized language study time) to do whatever we want to study Spanish, then an hour and a half for sports and recreation...just something to get us moving and exercising. Then we have another class from 5 to 615 then dinner until 7. Our last class is from 7 to 9. Then we have a half hour planning session followed by a half hour block where we practice lessons and contacts and stuff with other companionships, and then a half hour to get ready for bed and lights out at 1030. The day is definitely long, and the first couple of days were horrifically long. They’ve been going faster, but they’re still draining. I find myself being more tired in the morning, than in the evening actually.

As far as classes go, they’re great. We have two teachers. One for the first two classes and one for the last two. Hermano Martinez teaches us first and then we have Hermana Davila in the evening. Both are superb teachers and we are learning a ton. The classes are focused a lot on application. So we study a lot of topics in "Preach My Gospel (from now on referred to as pmg) about how to more effectively teach lessons and cater to the needs of the investigator. We started off by learning how to teach lesson 1 (8 basic principles of our faith) in English to get down the doctrine and method of teaching and now, we’re moving to Spanish soon. For the Spanish stuff, we’re learning grammar and contacts. Well let me explain it this way: for grammar we’ve learned present tense regular and irregular, subject pronouns, articles, and other basic stuff as well as numbers, months, days, and stuff like that. But we’ve been more focusing on applicable Spanish. For instance, the first day, we learned how to pray and bear our testimonies in Spanish. Now we have progressed through being able to contact people on the street...that is so we can greet them, get to know them a little bit, share a short message with them about the gospel, ask them if they want to learn more, tell them about church, invite them to church, and set up later appointments at their houses. We’ve also learned how to talk about how God loves us, the restoration, the BoM, and the Holy Ghost in Spanish. It’s a lot. And it feels like we’ve been learning Spanish for about a month, but it’s only been 5 or 6 days. We also do a lot of practicing lessons in class, where somebody will be an investigator (teacher or student) and the others must teach a lesson, practicing the principles we’ve learned.

I know Patrick was curious to know how they pronounce things here. Most of SA pronounces the ll and y as a "y" sound. Argentina and Uruguay however pronounce ll and y as "sh" (as in sho me shama, instead of yo me yama.) that is what im learning. although I've heard mention that those here in Buenos Aires pronounce it more as a "zh" sound, kinda like the "je" in "je m´apelle".

Speaking of French, my brain seems to think that as long as im speaking a foreign language, then there's not a problem. As such, I continue to have Italian and French words and phrases pop up at the most random times. It’s kinda weird and somewhat annoying but it’ll go away. There are more Latinos here than North Americans here which is awesome because we can speak with the natives and both my teachers are natives too.

This MTC is so much better in that we learn so much faster and better because of the Latinos. My teacher was telling us that they had a student from Provo come here once with 2 months of experience and he understood less than the one month kids did here. A lot of that has to do with going out proselyting each Saturday (2 hrs for the first 2 Saturdays and 7 hours the rest of the Saturdays). That is why the contacts are so important, because we are actually going out to talk with people every week. This week it’ll be slightly nerve wracking, especially if they have questions, because we probably won’t understand too well, but it should be a great experience. Im really excited.

Argentina is beautiful, I think I told you about all the trees. And the weather is really’s warm to be sure, but it’s not as humid as everyone seems to think it is. It definitely isn’t anywhere close to New York in summer, let alone Missouri. Um, overall things are going well.

Its amazing to see how fast and how much testimonies grow here...I guess that’s bound to happen since we’re studying the gospel 16 hours a day constantly. And the spirit is really strong here, it’s so nice.

More than anything, I'm fine. Don’t worry about me. I'm doing great and learning lots. Hope everything is going well for you guys back in the states. I know you are praying for me and I thank you for that. As much as I pray here, I fear it’s not enough. Tell everybody I love them. Have a great week.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

DJ's Mission address for first two months

DJ will be at the Missionary Training Center for approximately 8 weeks. While he is there he can receive regular mail at the following address.

Elder David Joshua Thornton
Uruguay Montevideo Mission
Argentina MTC (US full training)
Autopista Ricchieri Y Puente 13
(1778) Ciudad Evita
Buenos Aires

Thanks for writing him letters. I know he will appreciate them!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

DJ arrives in Argentina at the Mission Training Center

DJ wrote in an email we received today.

"I have arrived in Buenos Aires safe and sound. The flights went well for the most part. The layover in Dallas was kind of boring as I had to wait over 2 hours for the next missionary to arrive, but all is well. The other guys and girls are awesome. I think we`re all going to get along great. Argentina is beautiful, well so is South America for that matter. It was dark for most of the ten hour flight but I was able to take pictures of the Andes mountains as we were flying over them just north of Santiago. Beautiful stuff. The weather isn`t too bad here. Nice and warm and balmy, although nothing compared to New York or Missouri.

It`s absolutely crazy here as I can`t understand a thing, and as such, I do believe I got scammed out of about 10 dollars. Fun times. I expected it to happen so don`t worry about it at all. The MTC here is great, very beautiful. The capacity is only 88 people. I`m doing well overall. Hope all is well back at home."