Argentina, Buenos Aires West Mission
May 2012 - May 2014

Monday, July 30, 2012

Adjusting to Birmingham

Hello family!
Wow so much happens in a week. It's insane! It's still hotter than Death Valley here, and the hills I have to ride up, and up, and up (it really seems like I hardly ever get to ride down) seem like they're getting taller and there's super glue on the pavement and I have sandpaper for tires. Seriously, this bike riding business (especially here with the heat and the hills) is the hardest physical thing I've EVER had to do. I don't know if I'm just weak or what, but it's a big challenge for me.   
Preguntas que no fueron contestados: On pday we do laundry, studying, shopping, emailing, and we go back to work at 6 pm. The members in my branch are awesome. It is extremely small, but the faith is very strong. They are all very nice and loving. About 10 of them aren't baptized for this or that reason, but they still pay tithing! It's strange...
So, I lost my camera. I have absolutely no idea where it went or what happened to it. It's stressing me out. I feel like it will turn up eventually, and I keep praying to find it. There's always so many things I want to take pics of, then I realize I don't have a camera. I reallllly hope it turns up.  
Me and Elder Thayne had a rough start this week. We were both feeling really down and discouraged. We both felt completely lost and useless, and we weren't getting help from anyone. We were trying to be the best missionaries we could, and we felt like we weren't getting anywhere. See, our situation is that we don't have anyone to tell us HOW to be a missionary. So, we have to rely on our own limited knowledge and resources, and mostly the spirit. Back to the story: we were feeling really discouraged. But, after many prayers and blessings that we gave each other, we started feeling a lot better, and we started having success. We have both received undeniable impressions, both from feelings and physical evidence, that Heavenly Father is very, very pleased with the work we are trying so very hard to do, and to do it right.
Another story: Yesterday (Sunday), Elder Thayne and I had our first baptism. No, I didn't stutter, and no I didn't typo. Her name's Jennifer, a little girl who lives in an english ward pretty far from my area. She and her family are spanish, so they wanted the ordinances done in spanish. Our zone leaders, who work in the ward this family lives in, picked us for the job. I was both amazed, humbled, and excited all at once. Elder Thayne did the baptism, and I did the confirmation. I gave my first blessing in SPANISH!!!! It was a powerful manifestation of the gift of tounges. It was an incredible experience.
Another story: Our very first day out, me and Elder Thayne met a man named Felipe. We found out he had talked to missionaries before and that he wanted a Book of Mormon. Unfortunately, we didn't have one because we were just thrown out there without knowing a single thing about what to do other that knock on doors and talk to people, never mind the fact that most of the people talk in spanish and neither of us know spanish very well. Okay, I'm done ranting now (: ANYWAYS, we went back a few days later and gave him a B.o.M. We went back multiple times after that to see him, but he was never home. Last night on our way home from a very long, yet very good day, we decided to stop by one more time. We didn't see his truck in the parking lot, so we assumed he wasn't home. So, we decided to write him a note inviting him to church. As Elder Thayne was writing, Felipe walks out the door. Neither of us knew the other was there. He proceeded to tell us that he's been thinking a lot lately about us missionaries and how he really wants to change his life and start coming to church. I was blown away. It was a miracle. This is just one of the many. many little experiences such as this that happened that day. Best day of my mission yet, by far.
Another interesting experience: We talked for about an hour and a half with a Muslim couple yesterday. They were very affixed in their beliefs, as were we. We talked about the different things we believe and we both asked each other questions so that we could better understand each other and overrule those common stereotypes people have of Muslims. They were really very nice and respectful. He even got water for us, gave us a plate of figs (which I'm not a fan of but I ate 5 because he kept telling me to "eat more!" hahah), and got us some juice. There are so many good, wonderful people in the world. It's so awesome to be able to see that there is still good in the world, despite the wickedness.
Well, I appreciate your continuing updates on what's happening at home, prayers, and faith in me. It helps. It helps a lot. More than you know (unless you've been on a mission). Adios for now! Les amo mucho.
para siempre dios este con vos
con amor,
elder jacob bentz

Elder Bentz and Elder Thayne

Monday, July 23, 2012

Alabama Birmingham Mission

Well, here I am in Sweet Home Alabama!
Everything here is going well. Well, it is now. I'm not going to lie, the first few days were really hard for me. Me and Elder Thayne are both visa waiters, and we are living in an apartment with two other elders who've been here for quite some time. The first day in the field, they took me and my companion up to an apartment complex and dropped us off. They said, "Okay go knock on some doors. We'll be back in four hours to pick you up." Neither of us knew what to do. I was scared out of my mind!
So, we just started knocking. It went better than I thought it would, the people here are very nice, especially the blacks and hispanics. Just about everyone is willing to at least listen or talk to you for a little while. The next few days were pretty much the same. I felt so lost. I did't know the area, the people, or enough spanish to maintain an effective conversation. It was really difficult, but it taught me to rely on Heavenly Father like I've never before had to. That experience taught me how to have faith. Real faith. Luckily, Elder Abac, one of the other elders living with us, told me that we'd be doing a lot of team-ups, which is where me and Elder Thayne go out with one of the more experienced missionaries. I've been going out with Elder Abac. He's so awesome. He's from Guatemala, and speaks really good english. We have a kind of trade off, he teaches me spanish, and I teach him english (: I've learned a lot from him about doing door approaches and the mechanics of being a missionary. Elder Thayne is great too. He's a really hard worker, and a very dilligent missionary. He's waiting to go to the Buenos Aires Sur (South) mission. I am assigned to a spanish area and we do go to a spanish branch and work with the spanish members. One family, the Frias family, is actually from Buenos Aires. They live three blocks from the temple! They're very excited that I'll be serving in their former home. The weather here is.... interesting. I honestly did not think it was possible for a human being to SWEAT so much. The humidity mixed with the heat is just incredible! It doesn't bother me too much, though. Or, I should say, I don't let it bother me. I am going to have very strong legs by the end of my stay here. We do have bikes that we ride frequently. The other two elders have a car, but we use the bikes for team ups and other things since only one of the elders had permission to drive. Riding bikes through the streets of Hoover (a part of Birmingham) is.... fun!!! =D There's no bike lanes, and virtually no crosswalks. I've had to learn the art of "urban biking." The first time me and Elder Thayne had to ride home on our own was pretty intesne. I had no idea what I was doing and neither did he, because he comes from a small town in Utah called Aldemont. After going out with Elder Abac, I learned how to do it right, so it's all good now. There are a LOT of hills here. Big hills. Very. Big. Which makes for good biking exercise! First gear has become my best friend (; I have 4 potential investigators now, two of which are very promising, and one of which me and Elder Thayne found on our own yesterday!!! I'm very excited. Him and I are going to teach our first lesson on our own tomorrow to a guy who's dating a member in our branch. He's not hispanic, but he comes with her to the branch meetings and uses the translator headphones to understand what's being said. I can understand about 50-60% of what's being said at this point. I'm going to be so much better at spanish by the time I get o Argentina. This Alabama mission will be such a blessing for me. I will only be that much more confident and prepared by the time I get to Argentina
I am still doing my exercises in the morning and my spanish is actually really really good for how new I am (according to Elder Abac). Living on my own (without parents) is a cool experience for me. I've found out that I actually know how to do a LOT more than I thought I would (thanks to awesome parents who made me do chores and learn how to cook and such). MY confidence level is so much higher now. All in all, I'm very happy. (: All is good here in beautiful Alabama. There's probably sooo much more I want to say, but I can't think of it right now. So much happens in a day, much less a week here. Hope to hear (start getting letters) from you soon!
para siempre dios este con vos
elder jacob bentz

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Batman 
A little missionary stress relief? 

"Languages: Spanish, English, French, Italian, German"
Elder McBride from Gilbert
My Mission - Buenos Aires West, Argentina
Elder Jacob Bentz and Elder Taylor Reber 

Elder Bentz or Agent Smith?

Heyy family!
Thank you for all the pictures! Looks like everyone's having a fun summer. Oh, and when I get my reassignment tomorrow, I'm 99.99% positive that I'll get to call home and tell you where it is I'm going. Should I still call Dad's phone?
Is grandma okay? I sent her and grandma epperson postcards of the Buenos Aires temple. Do you know if they ever got them?
Everything here at the MTC is normal as usual. It should be interesting trying to pack all my suitcases without you to help me do it haha. It'll be really hard trying to make them all under weight because we don't have a scale in the residence hall (that I know of). So, it's a good thing I have all that extra money. I really don't care where it is that I'm reassigned to. I just care that I get to go out and do real work, and that I'll eventually get down to Argentina. I saw the picture of the plaque. SOOO COOL!!! (: Where in the church building is it?
Well, I wish I had more to say, but like I said before, everything is as normal here. So, hopefully I'll get to call thursday. Talk to you then!!
para siempre dios este con vos
Elder Jacob Bentz
One of my teachers thought I looked like Agent Smith from the Matrix hahaha (:

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

1 1/2 Weeks to Go

Hello family!
The first batch of pics you sent didn't show up, but I DID get the ones of Eli on the drums. AWESOME! Looks like he's putting them to good use (: We met with the Argentina Consolate yesterday, and my visa is signed for and ready to go. Now we just have to wait, which at the LEAST will take a month. Things at their office are moving very slow. So that's the bad news. The good news is that I am pretty sure I will still be leaving on time because the MTC can't afford to keep us here much longer than our assigned time. There's just too many people! Now we have about 2,000 missionaries. By the end of next month, they say, they will have just under 3,000. So, they need to get us out of here. Which is good. I'm not sure when I'll know where I'm getting reassigend to. I might not even find out until a few days before I leave. I'll keep you posted. Oh, and just something to be ready for, when I'm at the airport, I get to call home. Who's phone should I call so that the call doesn't get missed?
    My two (and only) weeks as zone leader have been a lot of fun. We got to train all the new missionaries in our zone and take them on a tour of the MTC. I feel like I've lived here for a really. Long. Time. Now I'm getting released on sunday so that we have a week to train the new zone leaders before I leave. That's the shortest calling I've ever had! It was good though. I learned a lot about being a leader. 
As far as things you can send me.... if you happen to come across any juggling balls (I'm being serious) you should totally send me some (: One of the elders in my room got some and I've been learning how to juggle. It might be good to know how to do for when I get to Argentina so all the little kids can laugh at me (:
   Well, I think that's all for now. Love you all!!
   Elder Jacob Bentz
para siempre dios este con vos