Argentina, Buenos Aires West Mission
May 2012 - May 2014

Monday, August 27, 2012

Still in Fort Payne

Hello Family!
The photos were on my other SD card, which I actually sent out just this morning. It should get to you in a few days. I'm probably going to just start doing that now; it's so much easier. As far as news on the transfer, I am staying in Fort Payne for at least another transfer (October 10th). They're still working on my visa. Elder Whipple and I will be staying here, but Elder Anderson's getting moved. We are both getting new companions, so now there will be four of us in Fort Payne. When the Assistants called last night and told us all that, I was pretty disappointed that my visa still hasn't gone through. I spent a lot of time last night praying for peace and strength. I woke up this morning feeling much better about it; I felt at peace and comforted. Heavenly Father still has things he needs me to do here. My work here is not quite finished. It did make me feel a little better to know that none of the other visa waiters that came out with me got their visas either. I guess we'll all just keep moving forward here for at least another six weeks. At least I get to see the leaves change. I'm actually really excited about that. There will be plenty of pictures. (: Yes, we have been receiving multiple texts from President Holzapfel regarding the storm, telling us to make sure we have our 72 hour kits, gas in the car, and extra water. We have all those things. We also have a mission-wide conference call tomorrow night about the storm. With me being so far north, I won't have to deal with the brunt of the storm, but there is always a danger for this part of the country when hurricanes come through: the leftover energy and moisture from the storm will often spin off tornadoes (aren't you glad I used to be such a weather nerd? ;), and they're saying this fall will be particularly bad for tornadoes because they virtually didn't have any this spring. The weather's been strange here: unseasonably cool, and the leaves are changing way early. Is the weather acting up back home? I've also heard of a lot of earthquakes in random places. Last day prophecies are being fulfilled all around us it seems... I haven't had very much opportunity to use my Spanish here; I feel like my ability is slipping. I still do my studies every day, but it's not the same as being able to actually talk to people. I'm really really hoping that my new companion will be a full-time Spanish speaker. There are a lot of Hispanics here, but I'm just not good enough at Spanish on my own to be able to do much with them. Yes, I've been keeping up with my exercise, practically every morning except Sundays. At first it was REALLY hard for me to exercise in the morning, but I've gotten more used to it. I'm also trying to expand my diet. I'm going to try my hand at a few different pasta dishes this week. We'll see how it goes! We did learn a lot of good things from Elder Koelliker. The biggest thing we learned was the importance of getting your investigators to pray. I applied that to myself, and the importance of ME praying. Recently, I've been learning what it means to "pour out your soul unto God." I find my nightly personal prayers getting longer and more sincere. It's becoming more like a conversation than a "prayer." I truly believe that this is the ONLY, and I mean only, reason I am able to have such a good attitude about being here. I've had to ask for it. Always remember how important prayer is. I've adapted a motto for getting through the hard times on my mission: I take it day by day. When I can't handle days, I take it hour by hour. When I can't handle hours, I take it minute by minute. When I can't handle minutes, I leave it up to Heavenly Father. Living by this has helped me so much. I know it can help all of you as well.
Well, I think that's about it for now. Thank you for all your love, support, and prayers. Please continue to send me letters. They mean more to me than you realize. I love you all!
Love always,
Elder Jacob Bentz

Zone Conference

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What once was lost, now is found...

Hello family!
Sounds like everything is going decently well as school starts again. How does everyone like it? I remember when I was in high school.... it's kinda weird that I can actually say that now. =P I'm sorry Jenna's having a hard time. I'll be sure to keep her in my prayers. Yes, we do get fed here, more than we did in Lorna. I still make a lot of my own stuff though. I've been trying to eat at least an apple a day, and I've been adding more exercises to my morning routine. I'm getting a lot stronger (and quite a lot bigger than I used to be). I think Heavenly Father is blessing me for my efforts. Yes, I've been able to play and do all those things. I've played piano at a few member's homes, and I'm almost always singing something. I even taught elder Anderson how to play Lead Kindly Light on the harmonica yesterday. He thought it was so cool haha. Mom: You're helping with the choir??!! That's AWESOME!!! You're going to have a lot of fun (: What is it that you'll be doing? I've rediscovered how much I love photography. I'll send all the pictures I have in a bit, along with the ones from my other camera. Nope. No typo there. MY OTHER CAMERA!!! I FOUND IT!!!! It was right in my BACKPACK which I looked through like 50 times!!!!! We all freaked out when I found it yesterday. Well, I guess you were right, Mom. I had it all along. I do not understand how I didn't see it in my backpack, which I use every single day. So now I have two cameras I guess, haha. And about labeling pictures, we have limited time to email, and I don't exactly know how to do it with gmail. I wish I could, but I'll just have to go through them all with you when I get home. I will say that all the nature/CTR ring pictures were taken at this state park we stopped at to talk to people on the way home from seeing a contact. Just an update: as the 29th gets closer, I will be finding out if I'm going to Argentina next week. If I am, I'll be able to call home for about 20 minutes. Keep me in your prayers! Even if I do end up staying here, it'd be okay, because I've grown to love Alabama. Well, I think that's all for this week. I love y'all!
Elder Jacob Bentz

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fort Payne

Hello family!
I hope everything is going well at home. I think this was everyone's first day of school right? I can't believe it's already that time! Everything is good here in Fort Payne. Here's some interesting facts about the area: It used to be spelled Fort Pain because the trail of tears actually began right here. The band "Alabama" is from Fort Payne. At one point in time, 3 out of every 5 socks in the world came out of factories in Fort Payne. Last of all: Remember the movie October Sky, one of my favorites? Well, that story actually happened not too far from here! I freaked out a little bit when I found that out (:
It is gorgeous up here. Everything is really spread out and all the towns are TINY. We have bikes, but we mostly use the car and have members give us rides because the area is HUGE. The branch members here are awesome, and I love the people. Almost all our efforts at this point are focused on helping strengthen the branch members and the less-actives. We also do a lot of service. In other words, this is SOOO much better than tracting all day, every day. So much better. I'm in a trio with two others, Elder Anderson and Elder Whipple (Elder Anderson is from Utah and Elder Whipple is from Showlow AZ), who've been here awhile. It's so nice not having to worry about not knowing what to do. It takes an enormous weight off my shoulders, and honestly helps me focus on becoming a better missionary.
So last week we went to a store called Unclaimed Baggage. It gets lost/unclaimed baggage from airports around the world and sells it for super cheap. They had a whole section for cameras. So, I picked one that looked decent and was relatively cheap. At least I don't have that to worry about anymore. I WOULD be nice if my other camera happened to show up though. I had a lot of pictures on there. There'll be pictures attached to this email, by the way. The computers here have a slot for sd cards.
So, this morning, I decided to cut my own hair. The razor setting I used turned out to be WAYYY shorter than I thought it would be. Like..... wayyyyy shorter. SO, I look like I either just joined the marines, or am undergoing chemotherapy. (: I also accidently took a chunk out of the back because my hand slipped. So it looks like I have a bald spot too. Awesome!!! So yeah, you'll all laugh really hard about that, I'm sure. (; At least I don't have to worry about doing my hair for awhile!
Another interesting thing, we have some pretty extreme weather up here. This is tornado territory, in case you weren't already aware. We have weather alarms in all our apartments to warn us when thunderstorms are coming. We've had some pretty big storms, but no tornadoes thankfully.
Well, I think that's about all I got for now. Hope to keep hearing from y'all! I love you all
con amor,
Elder Jacob Bentz

Fort Payne, Alabama

and After....


Monday, August 6, 2012

Transfer to Fort Payne

Hello family!
I'm getting moved to another zone. It's a place wayyyy out in the sticks called Fort Payne, which is about a three hour drive from where I am now. The Assistants will be picking me up at 9:45 tomorrow morning. They're moving me there because they need help with the Spanish members. I'm honored by this assignment, but I'm also very sad to be leaving here. I love the members here and all the people I've met and worked with. There are some amazing things happening in this branch, and I won't be able to see them happen. But, the Lord needs me elsewhere. I guess he's trying to get as much use out of me as he can in the extremely short time I have here. I'll either send the new mailing address home in a letter when I get there, or I'll just wait till Monday to send it. Exciting stuff!
By the way, when again is the next transfer date for BAW? Please continue to keep the visa in your fasts and prayers. A lot of times, elders actually end up getting reassigned to Alabama because their visa never went through. However, through impressions and answers to prayers, I do feel like I will still get to Argentina eventually. Your faith would be very much appreciated to help the process go as quickly as possible.
Camera hunt update: I actually had the camera for a week in Alabama. Then one day I realized that I couldn't find it ANYwhere. I've looked in the car, in the library, in the chapel, in my room, in my backpack, my closet, and I've asked just about everyone if they've seen in. And nothing. It's gone. I still have the extra battery, the charger, and the other two SD cards, but one was in the camera and had a LOT of pics on it from my last week at the MTC and first week here. I'm sorry you have to go through the hassle of getting me money to buy a new one and all that. I honestly have no idea what happened to it.
A very good thing about me being moved is that I'll actually get to have a trainer. Elder Thayne and I have been doing really good, and have finally started to figure everything out. But, like always, as soon as you're comfortable with your situation, the Lord just moves you to an entirely new one. Apparently, putting two brand-new missionaries together isn't an uncommon practice, especially for visa waiters. It just makes things easier, logistically speaking.
Other than that, I don't have anything particularly interesting to talk about. Hopefully all my stories from the last email were uplifting and inspiring. And Dad, thank you for that little quote you put in. It's so true!
Con amor,
Elder Jacob Bentz