Monday, August 25, 2014

Week 21 Hermana Jones

OK when Dad told me it has been 46 degrees here in El Oro, I could not even believe it because it seems so much colder. I think its because it rains almost every day so then we are wet and cold.

Sounds like everything is going great with schoool picking up again. I love it that there is school again because it is easier for people to meet with us because they actually are home. El oro looked like a ghost town during the summer.

This week has been good.  On Sunday I felt like a proud parent because they called on Diana, my new convert, to say the closing prayer in sacrament. She forgot to say in the name of Jesus Christ but there is just something so happy to see someone who just a month ago didn't know anything about the church is now up there giving the prayer. We also take her out teaching with us all the time because she loves to walk and she loves to talk which is pretty much perfect for coming out with us because that's pretty much all we do all day. Also we have been having a lot of success with inactives coming back to church, which is super good because if we can get our attendance to 170 people they will start building a chapel.

I am trying to send lots of pictures because I have not met one missionary here who has not gotten their camera stolen. One sister missionary has been robbed 8 times in the mission!! I was in shock when I heard that.  Some pictures are to show what is like after seven straight days of rain and us hiking around and some are because my companion likes to get pictures of me when I'm doing weird things.  The one hiking with us is Diana, and we were hiking to visit some investigators in Santa Rosa.  One picture is the view of our back yard.  The flower picture is a neat real flower that looks like metal.  One shows what most of the houses look like here in the pueblos-- they all have these metal rods sticking up all over the roof just in case they ever want to build a second story but they put plastic bottles on them because there is a ton of lightning here and they don't want it to strike their house.  The others are of a cactus tree, my companion, and my best friend-- the donkey that bit me!

Anyway, this week has been good but it is always a little hard to find new people to teach. Especially because a lot of the members are afraid to give us names of friends or family.  This week, though, we changed what we were asking.  Instead of asking if there was anyone we could teach we asked if there was anyone who needed help.  Painting their house, doing their laundry, doing dishes, any type of service and all of a sudden we started getting lots of names of people we could visit.  So this week we helped paint and lots of other type of service but it was so worth it because we have people to teach! People are so much more willing to listen when we do some type of service for them first.

There are a few areas here that are a  little hard to teach like the Jordana and Santiago Ixtempan because there are a lot of churches that were started by ex members there. One of the churches in the Jordana was started by an ex missionary so it is a little hard to teach people because they believe in a lot of the same things that we do like the plan of salvation, baptism by immersion, the priesthood. So that has been one of our struggles here.

Anyway, we were talking to the only member of the church in Tapaxco and she has been a member for 15 years but her story is crazy. She was talking about how when she first joined the church all of a sudden pastors from all types of different religions would start coming to her house to try and convince them that what they were doing was wrong and then when they wouldn't listen the pastors started telling people not to talk to this family because the church they belonged to was of the devil. Then their water, lights, and gas all got shut off for being members of the church and she said this all happened in the first 4 months of being a member of the church. She talked about how parents would tell their kids not to talk to her sons in school and all types of hard things. It was just so sad to hear but at the same time she is one of the strongest members of the church I have ever met so it just shows that realy our trials do make us stronger. She said that she has been a member for 15 years and just recently people started talking to them again but it was because she was hit by a car and had to have half of her face reconstructed. Every time I listen to people's stories here in Mexico I am just amazed at how easy my life is.

Also something interesting is I have been looking at the Bible Dictionary and topical guide in English and Spanish and there are some things in the English one that aren't in the Spanish one and some things in the Spanish one that aren't in the English. It is great knowing two languages just lets you learn more about the gospel hahaha!

Anyway, we also have the best family ever that we are teaching and they are progressing so well. I don't remember if I told you about the family that has a daughter who is 15 and has a 1 year old baby but they are just so excited about the gospel and it is just crazy how prepared they were for the gospel.

Sometimes we experience trials but it is to put you on the path that Heavenly Father planned for you. There have been so many days on the mission where I just think that nothing else could possibly go wrong but thinking back on those experiences we either found someone or learned something that we needed to.

I had a good experience with that this week when it was probably the worst day of my life. I was super wet and cold and no one wanted to listen to us, the people we were contacting were being super rude and I just wanted to go home, so we were about to cross the street when all of a sudden one of the stray dogs tried biting my legs. I was getting annoyed and tried to cross the street when all of a sudden it bit my dress and started pulling me back. I was super annoyed and tried hitting it with something when all of a sudden it pulled on me so hard I fell off the sidewalk into the mud. So I was completely covered in mud. Almost the second I fell over, though, a car passed half on the sidewalk half on the road where I just was. I just sat there and was amazed. The car passed exactly where I was just a few seconds ago and even though I was cold and wet and now covered in mud , I felt like I just needed to give a prayer of gratitude right there.

Sometimes it seems like our challenges are never going to end (and they probably won't because just a new one will happen) but our trials and challenges are always strengthening us and preparing us for the future. I was super annoyed that I had to experience the trial of the dog but it helped me to avoid the bigger problem coming that I couldn't see which was the car. The trials of loneliness help us to be more compassionate when someone else is feeling the same thing, the trial of sickness helps us be more grateful when we are healthy. Jesus Christ experienced every trial every temptation, and every problem but he overcame it all and because of that he is able to understand and have compassion on others.  He is able to be our Savior because of the trials that he had. When I think of all the people I look up to here in Mexico and at home I can say that they are the people who have not had a life was easy because the majority have suffered a lot but that's what made them the people that they are today. I hope you guys have a great week and remember that miracles are the resuly of obedience (I have definitely needed to learn that here on the mission).

Have a great week!
Love Hermana Jones

Week 11 Elder Jones

Hey guys! So this week was still so great, still being productive, still insanely happy, still love the people to death, still doing a ton of service, but somehow I`m still way happier than I was last week and last week I was so much happier than I was the week before.  I`m just not eloquent enough to express how happy I am now.  Especially since English doesn`t exist for me any more. I'm really glad that I'm in a foreign language speaking mission because sometimes I have these moments where we`re having a conversation with a person or a family and I'm on the same page as everyone and it`s an awesome conversation and it just hits me that the language I`m speaking isn`t the language I`ve been speaking for the past 18 years of my life. 

So yeah, the mission is great.  Sometimes I feel like I`m doing something wrong because before my mission all I heard about missions was how hard they are and how there are going to be times when you`re really discouraged or that it`s just really difficult all the time.  In all the training we have they tell us to just get past the first few months and then it starts to get easier, but I can honestly say that so far I haven`t ever felt discouraged or frustrated or felt like I wasn't able to do this. I look forward to every day and honestly I'm just so happy. 

So with our investigators and less actives that we`ve been working on, they`ve all been really receptive and have a desire to progress, but very few of them have been progressing because they haven`t been attending church. But yesterday out of nowhere almost all of our investigators showed up to church and all of our inactives, and also a bunch of members just decided to bring friends that we had never met before. It was amazing.  There weren`t enough seats in the chapel for all the people that showed up. And we hadn`t really done anything different-- it kind of just happened. Oh so I got a letter from sister Dawson this week and it sounds like our ward is really getting serious about missionary work and that`s awesome because it`s so much easier to find people that have been prepared to receive the gospel through friends of members than by knocking on doors. 

Okay so the lady that I told you about last week that recently became inactive because she was listening to one of her antimormon friends, we didn`t give up on her. We visited almost every day this week and each day she wouldn`t let us into her house and would try to fight with us about something new her friend had told her like how interviews with the bishop to enter the temple are evil because only God knows your heart and she was under the impression that you had to pay a ton of money to receive endowments, and I`m pretty sure you only have to pay for the clothing which is dirt cheap in Peru. But anyways, on Friday our goal was just to enter into her house and we were persistent and eventually she let us in.  The difference was immense. She didn`t try to fight with us or anything. We shared a message about the Book of Mormon and testimonies, and it turns out that she didn`t even know what the Book of Mormon was. She didn`t know what a testimony was. Her whole life she had been attending our church because the members where nice and they have fun activities.

And she had been reactivated several times in her life by the missionaries. We shared the parable of the man that built his house upon the sand and the man that built his house upon the rock. And we explained what a testimony is and how it`s like a house. If we build our testimony upon things that can change, like the members and the activities in the church, when the rains and floods (anti-mormon friends) come your house will fall. But if your testimony is upon things like the Book of Mormon and Jesus Christ, things that can not change, when anti-mormon friends come you will be able to testify of what you know to be true. And usually when I`m teaching I usually try to be sensitive and tender towards people but I had the impression that I needed to be direct with her and I told her that the only way this can be the last time she is reactivated is if she receives a testimony of the Book of Mormon. And we explained Moroni`s promise and how she can receive a testimony of the Book of Mormon and if she does that also means she will have a testimony that Joseph Smith was called as a prophet of God and that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and that the church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints is the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, because it`s impossible for the Book of Mormon to be true without those things also being true. And she`s going to find out for herself and she`s going to pray about it. And she came to church yesterday. 

So we`ve given four priesthood blessings this week and I`ve always been the one that does the anointing with oil because I`m not experienced enough to give the blessing in Spanish, but I feel like I`m ready now. Even though I`ve only ever given one priesthood blessing in the CCM and it was super short and I was scared to death the whole time I feel like I'm ready to do it. I`m ready to magnify my calling and use my priesthood to bless others and I`m not afraid to do it anymore. 

Okay so I'll tell you something crazy that happened this week.   There is a 3-story tall house that is on one of the staircases on the side of the mountain, and they have this huge dog, probably 150 pounds,  that is always standing on top of the building and is barking at us whenever we walk past.  One day this week we were walking up the stairs and the dog got really excited and started barking and lost his footing and fell 3 stories onto the staircase and then started rolling down the staircase. And we were freaking out because we seriously thought this dog was dead but just got up and pretended like nothing happened. The next day it was on top of the house barking again. 

I`m feeling a lot better than I was last week. I think I`ve gotten used to the bacteria or whatever it was that was making me so sick, so yeah-- that`s good. I had cow stomach and cow heart this week! I never find out what I`m eating until after I`ve finished eating it.  It was pretty good. I also had blood, I don't know from what animal or anything just straight up blood with some plants baked into it with some sweet potatoes on the side.  I liked it, and apparently it`s good for you. 

Okay, so the earthquake I don`t know anything about, but a couple weeks ago there were some weird noises coming from the mountain that we`re on and it turns out that it`s actually a volcano. Supposedly it`s dormant and everyone`s freaking out that it`s going to erupt but I think we`ll be fine.  

Oh, one other thing-- the way the transfers work out, my group is going to finish our missions 3 weeks earlier than 2 years, so I'm going to be a 19 year old returned missionary! 

Glad you guys had such a great week that`s really exciting that Tyler Allison and Dan are starting school I hope they have a great year.

Love you guys, bye!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Week 20 Hermana Jones

Six months in the mission!!  Thanks for all the emails. Especially Dad for the talk. Usually I don't have time to read all the emails but I just print them out so I can read them when I get back to the house.

This week was super good. We went to the doctor in Taluca and he checked out my foot and said that I just have to keep it wrapped every day and gave me all kinds of things to put in my shoes to keep the stress low so that was good.  It was really weird because I loved the city in my first area but after three cambios of being in an area where there are hardly any people I felt really uncomfortable being surrounded by so many people. When the sister training leaders came here to visit, they said "wow, why does everyone know you here?" and I just said it was because I have been here for 3 cambios and there is hardly anyone here.  There is this one dude who said "Guera de la Jordana what are you doing here in El Oro?" which means white girl who lives in the Jordana. It's super funny though, because every pueblo  thinks we live in their pueblo. We just work there every day.

Literally no one calls me Hermana Jones here. Everyone either thinks my first name is Jones and calls me Jonita or they call me Guera( white girl) Everyone! Even the ward members.  Now I respond more to Guera than Hermana Jones.

It's super funny because no one thinks my companion is from the United States because she is Tongan. One day there was this guy who asked in really bad English- "Where is she from?" and my companion was really annoyed afterwards because people think she doesn't know English. She just says "I can speak better English than that dude! Hahah!  It is super funny to have an American companion because I ask myself if I was I like that when I first got here to Mexico.

We lost our water again and my companion was super distressed! Also I love the food here because I have been eating it for like 4 months straight. Cactus (nopales) are my favorite food here but i remember how gross it was when I first got here. Because the people are so poor it is super rude if you don't eat all your food but my companion cant even get it down without gagging so when the hermana leaves we trade plates and I eat her food. It kind of hurts my stomach though because it is a ton of food. The only thing I still don't really like here though is chicharone because it is just like pieces of skin in your soup so I still make her eat that :)

Oh I also learned this week that corn stalk is edible.  We ate so much of that this week.  The best thing ever though is agua de horchata! If you ever get a chance to drink it, it is delicious.  It looks a little weird because it has rice in it but it is super tasty. Oh, I also got a letter from a lady from Dad's mission.  It was probably the most interesting letter I have ever read. I felt like I was reading a general conference talk and was sitting there highlighting parts hahah.

This week we had intercambios with the sister training leaders and because we are so far away it was for two days. I was with sister Garcia and she is probably the strongest missionary I have ever met. She was engaged to be married before her mission but then the changed the age of sister missionaries and she felt like she needed to go on a mission so her boyfriend said he would wait.  They had their house ready and everything for when she got back and then two months into her mission she got a letter from his mom saying that he had died in a car accident and it was all her fault for leaving him and going on a mission.  I nearly started crying when she told the story but it really goes to explain why I have never met a more focused or compassionate missionary here on the mission.

I had a really cool experience with her though. We have an investigator, Hector, who we visit at his house but when he isn't home his dad answers the door and is a little rude and just says Hector isn't there and shuts the door. This time though, it started raining and lightning harder than I have ever seen here on my mission which is saying a lot because sometimes it rains so hard it breaks our umbrellas here. We went to look for Hector and only his dad was home but because it was raining so hard he let us in and we started talking. He said he didn't believe in God because of everything that has happened in his life. He took off his hat and showed us a huge missing piece from his head because he had a tumor removed, last year his wife died from diabetes, and then a month later his son died from too much alcohol. Just listening to his story was painful but we told him that he could see his son and wife again and that God loved him. Then Hermana Garcia told him that tonight he was going to have a dream and his wife was going to tell his to go to the church of Jesus Christ and when that happens he should go to church the next day. I have never heard anyone say anything like that before in my life but the rain stopped and we left and then the next day came the miracle. He came to church! I feel like even our challenges can be blessings. If it had not been raining he never would have let us in and we never would have had the chance to talk to him.

Also it's crazy that we learned that two of our investigators that are preparing for their baptisms are the wife and daughter of Hector's brother. I feel like this family needs the gospel and they are coming together in ways that we never could have seen. Also I learned that if you ever feel like you should do something just do it. We went and visited an inactive member and when we got there, they just smiled and said "I prayed you would come today."  Also I felt like I should write a note to a lady in our ward. I did but it felt kind of weird because when I got to church she seemed super happy and was talking to everyone so I almost didn't give it to her because the note talked about how everything is easier with Christ and this life is difficult because we are disciples of Christ so in this life we will feel some of his pain. I gave it to her, though, and when she read it she started crying a lot and said that she has been having a lot of family problems and when she told me about them all you never could have seen it just looking at it. I don't think I have heard someone with so many problems.

I just learned this week first always listen to the spirit and second everyone has problems. EVERYONE. It doesn't matter how happy they look there is something you can help them with. With Hector's dad he was super grumpy and rude because he has had a hard life and then the hermana at church was super happy because she was trying to cover up how sad she was. Everyone needs help. Anyway we have been looking for ways to serve this week to find people to teach so if you have any good ideas let me know :) Have a great week! and have fun at school hahaha

Hermana Jones

Week 10 Elder Jones

Hey guys! I feel like you can already tell that I`m going to say this week was great because it was.

So I`ve already told you about how much I love these people, but now I feel like that`s such an understatement. Honestly the day that I leave Caja de Agua will be the saddest day of my life. My heart is here. And obviously I`m going to love the people wherever I'm serving and I know I don't have any other area to compare it with but there is something special about the people here and we`re going to see some miracles here in Caja de Agua very soon.

One of the people we teach told us about a personal problem that came up in their life that is really hard for them and it broke my heart because I already love this person so much. Also a mother of three really strong active kids went inactive this week because she has a friend that has been trying to convince her that our church is evil.  She doesn`t defend what she`s known all her life and now she has become really really antimormon. She wont let us into her house so we talk to her kids outside.  I feel like if I had known this person back home before my mission I would have been extremely judgmental, but the love that I feel for this woman and her family is immense. I realize that this woman needs a missionary that is a lot better at being a missionary than I am right now. And I realize that my love for these people needs to be proportional to what I'm willing to do to be the missionary that they deserve. These people are my motivation now and I`m studying harder, praying more, and just keeping these people in my heart at all times.

Elder Torres and I started running in the mornings and it makes me really happy to be running again.  We run up the mountain 4 or 5 times and then run around the flat part of Caja de Agua for a while. Also, I`ve kind of become famous in our ward as the first white missionary in a long time that actually eats everything that the members cook for them. So now we have lunch appointments with members almost every day because everyone wants to cook for the missionaries that won't waste their food.

Some of the people here are just so prepared by God to receive this message, I'll share just a couple of experiences I had this week. We were looking for a reference that we got this week and he lived in a part of our area that we don't really know very well at the very top left of the mountain. We couldn`t find his address so we knocked on a door close to where we thought it was and an elderly couple, Evelin and Alfredo, answered the door and told us where he lived but that he was out of town. But they invited us in because they love talking about God.  We talked for a while about God and they told us every dream they`ve had in the past 40 years. And we felt that we should teach them about the plan of salvation, and when we told them that families can be eternal Alfredo stood up and gave his wife Evelin a hug and kissed her on the cheek. They then accepted the invitation to baptism.

Another experience we had we were talking in the street with one of the young men in our ward, Jairol. and a man came up to us and told us how much he loves working on his family tree.  It was really weird. Elder Torres needed to answer a question that Jairol had, so I talked to the man.  I told him that we also really like working on family history in our church and I showed him my family history booklet that I`ve been working on and told him that we have a family history class on Sundays and that we would like to visit him sometime at his house.  He got really excited about it and accepted, and that was crazy. I honestly never thought family history would ever be a beginning teaching point, but it`s really cool.

Okay I think that`s all I'm going to be able to talk about this week I`m physically exhausted from how much I threw up last night and this morning, so I'm typing really slowly.

Hope you guys are doing great! Love you.    

Monday, August 11, 2014

Week 19 Hermana Jones

So I just saw all of Hal's pictures from Peru and I am pretty amazed right now.  It looks so cool. You guys sound like you had a great week and tons of fun. Do you mind sending Dad's talk to me? I like reading talks haha. I also gave a talk this week and it was so funny afterwards because everyone came up afterwards and were like "oh Hermana Jones I remember when you got here to El Oro and I couldn't understand a word your were saying!" 

This week was super fun though and all I can say is I think it was the best week of my life. My companion is super, super funny and you are so right you love your Mexican companions so much but your American companions just become your best friends after one day. It was so funny this week because she got a box from home this week too and it was super, super heavy and when we looked inside it was a Tongan dress and 30 cans of corned beef hahahahahah! we were both laughing so hard I was nearly crying. Also I have a new Elder in my district who has been only one week in Mexico.  I did not remember how little Spanish you know when you start out in the mission, but it brought back all kinds of memories from my first area.  Anyway, I feel a need to help him all the time because I always remember Hal over there in Peru trying to learn Spanish, too.

This week was super good, but super hard at the same time. One day this week we were working in Tabaxco, and it was freezing rain and we were so wet and cold and I had so many blisters that my feet were covered in blood and then my feet hurt super bad so I was just walking in the freezing rain without shoes. None of our investigators were home even though we had appointments with them and then when pretty much nothing else could go wrong that's when we found a family who let us in. They are the best family ever, they have 4 kids and they are just super humble and I am so excited to teach them. It turns out that the reason my foot hurt so bad is because I have stress fractures in one of the bones of my feet from walking so much.  So we are going to Taluca today to got to the doctor... should be fun :)

Also this week was super hard because we were noticing all of a sudden people were super suspicious of us and wondering why we wanted to know their name and wouldn't let us in their houses. One of our investigators told us that there was a message that went out to all the phones not to let the missionaries into their houses. So that has been a little difficult this week and we have to try to gain the confidence of everyone, but where the work of the Lord is progressing there will always be opposition.

Anyway the picture I sent was iof our ward mission activity. We played Reinos de Gloria. There were 3 games and whatever team was first went to the celestial kingdom, whatever team was second was terrestrial, and last telestial. Telestial only got a tiny candy and then each team higher got a little more until the celetial kingdom got a giant prize. We talked about how the telestial kingdom was sad when they see the prize that they could have had and then we talked about how this life isnt a race the goal is for everyone to make it to the celestial kingdom so then they shared their prizes with everyone else. It was super funny because one of the games was you got 5 points for every referral card you fill out so at the end of the game we had 30 new referrals to contact :)

 This week was just great I really gained a testimony of faith without works is dead. Just in everything we do. If I have faith that we can have a baptism I am going to be doing everything I can to get one. I also feel super safe here because my companion is very tall and everyone thinks she is African, so no one messes with us hahaha!

I also had a spirtual experience in a taxi that involved faith without works. So we were in a taxi really late, well at 9, which seems really late, and the only taxi that passed by was filled with boys but taxis and buses stop at night and so we took it.  We doubted there would be another, but I started feeling really bad. Just a feeling I can't even explain. I started praying that Heavenly Father would protect us when a thought came to my head get out of the Taxi. I didnt want to do it because it was dark and if we got out we would probably have to walk the last 5 miles home in the dark and that seemed like a even worse idea. So I just kept praying Heavenly Father protect us. And I had the same thought come to my head get out of the Taxi. So eventually we got out and my companion was a little confused becasue it was super dark and there wasn't a way to get home when all of a sudden a bus came by that had left super late and picked us up. It was the biggest miracle I have ever experienced because there are no buses that pass after 8 at night. I learned a very important lesson... well two... first always follow the spirit and the other faith without works is dead. I had faith that Heavenly Father would protect us but faith wasn't enough he wasn't just going to put a wall between us and the other people.  His way to protect us was to tell us to get out of the taxi.  Sometimes we don't see what got plan is for us and all we can see is outside the taxi where it is dark and there doesn't seem to be anyway home but I know when we follow the promptings of the spirit and follow the plan that Heavenly Father has for us. Eventually there will be blessings that will come that we never even saw as an option for example the bus that came. I can't even explain the happiness and love I had for my Heavenly Father when I was standing in the dark in the middle of Mexico and then all of a sudden saw the lights of a bus coming for us.

 Anyway I hope you guys have a great week and that you continue to find ways to share the gospel in small and simple ways. Oh I forgot one more thing I read a really good talk by Elder Holland about why missionary work is so hard but I think it also applies to being a member of the church. He said many people ask why its so hard when we are doing what Heavenly Father wants. He wants people to be baptized! Holland says it is hard because the atonement was not a cheap experince. He said we are disciples of christ so we are going to end up walking a tiny bit of the path that he walked. He said that how can we ever bear a strong testimony of the atonement of Christ if we never experienced any of the pain that he felt. This talk just was the best talk I think I have read on my mission. Anyway I thought a lot about how the purpose of a missionary is not to baptize. It is to invite others to come unto Christ. The goal isn't baptism. It is eternal life. I know that this life isnt easy but there is a reason that we are here. 

There are people that we are supposed to help, I was reading in Jesus the Christ about how Jesus wasn't born knowing who he was supposed to be in this life. He learned through study and prayer and I thought a lot about my own life. I knew who I was suposed to be before I came to this Earth but I forgot. So the goal in this life is to learn what our purpose is here. What were we sent here to accomplish? Ok I am actually done now with all my thoughts. Hope you have a great week and have lots of fun. When does school start again?


Hermana Jones

p.s. - Hey Allie, I haven't gotten any letters but I sent you guys letters in the mail that I am not sure if you got. This week one of our investigators was looking at my family pictures and he says that he is going to marry you....he is only 5 though so I told him that I don't think its going to turn out that well :) Hope you have a great week and sounds like you are having fun!

Week 9 Elder Jones

Hey guys! Okay I have so much to talk about this week. I'm so happy here-- so, so happy.  This is what the fruit from the tree of life tastes like. I`ve always wanted to know and now I know because this is it. And I want you guys here to experience this too, not because I'm homesick but because this is just too good for me to experience alone.

We had a companion exchange this week for 24 hours and I was with Elder Larson and Elder Bean, who was with me in the CCM, was with Elder Torres.  It was really cool, I learned a lot from Elder Larson. Also, the service we do here is chiseling rock from the side of the mountain to make room for members to build their houses. It`s so much fun. These are definitely the descendants of the people that built Machu Picchu because these people know how to chisel rock. It`s really cool because we`re actually doing a service that helps the people out a ton.  Yea, chiseling rock is huge here. A big part of ward council was figuring out how as a ward we can be better at chiseling rock for the people that need it. Right now we`re chiseling rock for a recent convert family with a mom and 3 really young kids. The dad died a couple years ago in an accident.

After we`re done chiseling rock we sit down with Josè who is 9 and his sister Mauffer who is 4 and teach them. It`s really humbling because this family has nothing. They live in a tiny plywood hut on the very top of the mountain but they're the happiest family I`ve ever met. We have 8 people in our ward that were baptized the Saturday before I came here so a lot of our time is spent helping the recent converts and teaching them and I`ve realized that I really do need to make an effort to develop my relationship with these people if I'm going to be here for a while.

So I'm not afraid to talk or go outside my comfort zone to be better friends with these people. It`s really cool because whenever I'm not afraid to make mistakes in the language I make a lot less mistakes and I can have really really cool conversations with these people and I feel like I'm already really good friends with all these people. We found a family one day just sitting outside eating oranges and we started talking to them and they agreed to have lessons with us and its really cool because every time we go they have so many questions and they read the Book of Mormon together whenever they have free time, and they`re progressing so much and we think they're going to get baptized. Whenever Elder Torres and I teach them we can feel the spirit really strongly. In the CCM they told us not to see our investigators as who they are today but rather who they can become.  I didn`t really understand that until we started teaching this family. And the best part is that the parents are married! We have 5 people right now that really want to get baptized and have super strong testimonies but aren`t married to their spouse.

One thing that kind of surprised me about being a missionary is the lack of contacting we do. We`re never knocking on doors we`re always just teaching references and people who want to listen to us. I'm super sick here all the time. I`ve had a cold since Tuesday but I also super don't care because I love it here.

This week I have experienced what I`m pretty sure is teaching by the spirit. Whenever I'm teaching and I can feel the spirit my ability to speak increases far beyond that of what I`ve practiced before. Things that I hadn`t ever thought to say I just get the prompting to say them and I`m actually able to answer people`s questions even if they're really complicated doctrine questions. I`ve never felt the companionship of the Holy Ghost like this before. I definitely feel like a missionary now. there`s no more "Ahh I can`t believe I`m already a missionary" feelings. No. Im a missionary and that`s who I am now. I can explain a lot of gospel principles using my pen for an object lesson.

Also the fruit here is amazing. It is delicious to the taste and it fills my soul with Joy and I desire for my family to partake of it also. Last Monday we went to the supermarket to get some food for the week because there aren`t places to buy food in caja de agua.  My companion and the other missionaries from Caja de agua immediately started getting soda and candy and I realized I didn`t want to live on soda and candy this week so I got a bunch of fruits and vegetables. You`d be so proud of me mom!  But, yes, the fruit here is the best. The grapefruit here is the same size as I`ve usually had in the US but like 3 times heavier because there`s so much juice in them. Also the bananas... amazing.

One last thing before I go, yesterday I realized how crazy it is how much trust we can put in Moroni`s promise and the Holy Ghost. Last night we were teaching this woman who lives in Rome but is in Lima for a month to visit her family and, as you can guess, she`s really Catholic. She knows a lot about the Bible and she agrees with so much of what we believe in and she didn`t try to fight with us about how to interpret the Bible and we explained the Book of Mormon and a brief history of what it is and we invited her to read it and she said she couldn`t because she only believes in the Bible.  I asked her how she knew the Bible was true, and she said because she has read it and prayed about it.  We had talked about God as our Heavenly Father and I told her that the only way she can find if what we told her is true or if the Book of Mormon is just something we made up to bring more people into our church, is by reading it and praying about it. I told her that God loves her a lot and he answers prayers and if the Book of Mormon isn`t true he`s going to tell her. I told her that I knew that she would receive the answer that it was true and after that she said she was going to read it and pray about it.  Afterwards I was thinking about how bold that is that we say that. We tell people to figure this out for themselves by asking God. No other church can make the promises we can. No one else can trust so much that the Holy Ghost will testify that what they are teaching is from God. Anyways yeah this was a good week. I love you guys! bye!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Week 18 Hermana Jones

I liked all the photos that you guys sent. They are so funny. I am a little jealous of all the things you guys do, but then I remember that I am here in Mexico so I think we are even :) 

This week was really good-- I am a little nervous for this week because I have to give a talk in church on missionary work and then we have a ward missionary activity this week and I have to do it myself because I have a new companion and the elders are going to be gone because our district leader is getting a new companion straight from the MTC:)

I am here in El Oro for another cambio!!! I was so happy when I found out that I would be here again. I also got a new companion and this cambio is going to be a true test of my Spanish because she is my first American companion.  I can't just look to my companion now when I don't know how to say something. I am super excited though because she is super nice. She is from Utah and her parents are Tongan so she is super tall. I will send you guys a picture. 

I am super tired because we stayed up super late (till 2 in the morning) packing up all of Hermana Rojas' things and then we had to leave here at 5 in the morning. Oh, also I got your package this week:) I was so happy. Especially because all the food that you sent they don't have here in Mexico! Well they have Nutella, but I am too poor to buy it hahaha. The Elders wanted the candy super bad. One of the Elders offered to carry the box up the mountain for me when he read on the label that says how much the contents cost when it said candy :) I gave them some though because I am such a nice person. There is only one food that I miss from the United States and it is chocolate. Even if you buy a crunch bar here it tastes different, also Doritos, Oreos, all those things taste really different here. It is very interesting that things from the same company taste different in different countries. Anyway my new companion says that she loves you when she saw all the food that I have in the apartment :)

This week I finished reading Jesus the Christ and I cant even explain how many things I learned from that book. I love when it talks about all the parables in the Bible because it talks about them in a way that I never thought about. Also this week I learned something very important. I believe that sometimes Heavenly Father talks to us specifically through the scriptures. I was reading in Mosiah and it is talking about all the things we need to do in this life, repentance, faith, etc. I was reading and in my mind I was yea I know, yep I know, Yea I know all these things and then I read in Mosiah 4:10 and I don't remember exactly what it says because I don't have my scriptures with me, but it basically says that when you believe all these things go and do them. After I read that verse I felt like I needed to repent! There is a reason that the scriptures say the same things and the prophets and apostles are always saying the same things. It's because we don't know! If we truly understood all the things that they were teaching we would be sure to do them. So that was a little lesson to me this week.

I hope that everything is going great there in Chicago and I hope everything goes well with me and my new companion here in Mexico. Oh it also made me laugh when Hal talked about how in Peru everyone talks so fast. That was how I felt my first day in the mission. I could not understand a word of what people were saying.  When I was at the MTC I was confident when I was leaving, so proud of all the Spanish I had learned :) hahah Hal's messages give me Deja vu

Love Hermana Jones

One of the pictures is of La Jordana, a pueblo in our area.