Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Week 6 Elder Jones

CHRISTER IS IN MY BRANCH!!! It was so crazy because I didn't even recognize him until we were all introducing ourselves their first night and he introduced himself as Elder Mercado from Texas and then I looked at him and I was like "Wait, is your first name Christer??" and he looked at me and recognized me and we hugged. Its so crazy seeing him after 13 years. I don't even know what to talk to him about because the last time we talked was when we were 5 when we were friends in the ward in Wisconsin. But he's so nice and I can tell he´s going to be a great missionary. I've just been thinking about all the memories we had and it makes me really happy.

Also JAKE JENSEN from our ward in Ohio is here and he looks the same, and he's so nice.  We talk together sometimes at meals.  The Mormon world is very very small. 

I'M SO EXCITED FOR ELDER DUBIEL and his mission call to Chile...that's crazy.  Tell him that I wish him the best and I'll keep him in my prayers as he prepares. So is he going to go to Fall semester at BYU since he doesn't leave till December?

I´ve been so happy this week. I don't think I've ever actually been this happy. Maybe happy isn't the best way to put it because I've had such a happy life so far with all the memories I have with our family and the people that I've known. What I'm feeling now I think is the closest thing I've ever felt to true joy. I love the people I teach, I love the missionaries around me- especially my companion, I love myself, I love the reasons I'm here and what I know I can accomplish. I think I'm just getting lost in the work and it´s amazing and I'm not even in the field yet.

So I got my flight information yesterday!!! We leave at midnight on Monday night and its a 6 hour flight  to Lima. I cant wait to meet my trainer. I just hope he only speaks to me in Spanish because I really want to learn. I'm sorry to hear about Allison´s toe. I hope it gets  better before the vacation. Ill keep Matt and Hayden in my prayers. 

Our district has grown so close and I feel like I'm at the point where I'm really really close friends with all of them even though I haven't known them for that long. I'm really close friends with the type of people of all types and I'm really glad that I'm becoming less judgmental and I hope that's something I can keep with me after I'm home. Missions are awesome. I highly recommend them.  I've gone through such a change in such a short period of time.

I love you guys and Ill be able to call from the airport before I leave on Monday night, Also when I said that I can email as long as I want the day before I leave that was false. I don't know where I got that information but It´s false. I still have class on Monday.   I hope you guys have a great vacation!  Also I got a letter from the Chapmans yesterday and it made me really happy because I hadn't gotten any physical mail yet.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Week 16 Hermana Jones

That’s crazy that Allie broke her toe. I hope she is feeling better for your  vacation. Are you guys doing a big kid hike? I feel like I am on a big kid hike everyday with all the mountains :)

This week was super good, first of all, because we got our water back! Also this week was super amazing because we baptized Diana!!! It seems like every baptism has tons of problems beforehand though. We went to visit her on Saturday, and her sister said she left really early in the morning.  So we went back to see if she was home at about 7:00pm and she still wasn’t home. Her sisters had been calling her phone but it was going straight to voice mail so they were all worried. We called her sister before bed, at about 10:30pm, and she still wasn’t home! We were super super worried because there have been people going missing around here for the past couple months, and it didnt help that her family was frantic with worry. I think this was the hardest that I have ever prayed in my life-- not that she would be baptized, just that she was safe and nothing bad happened to her!

Finally we decided that we would visit in the morningto see if she was there, but church starts early and it takes about 20 min to get to her house in a taxi, and then once you get there we sometimes have to wait an hour or more to get back because the taxis dont leave until they have 5 passengers. We went and visited her and it was the biggest feeling of relief when we saw her and she was excited for her baptism.  It turned out that she was only planning on being gone for a few hours, but her car broke down in the middle of nowhere and she had to walk 15 kilometers to find a place to fix her car and then drive back. She was going to just sleep at a place there, but she remebered that her baptism was the next day and said she needed to come back.  It is amazing how hard Satan works against people who are trying to do something good.

Anyway, we picked up Diana and while we were waiting for the taxi to fill up, I was writing a talk because the Bishop called in the morning and asked my companion and I to give talks because the speakers called in the morning to say they wouldnt be able to make it to church. It was a pretty stressful morning but it was all worth it in the afternoon to see her finally baptized after tons of work on our part and on Diana’s part. I will send a picture of our baptismal font because it makes me laugh a lilttle. This week I talked about repentace in my talk and how sometimes we have more confidence in ourselves than in the wisdom of God so we do our own will but it isn’t until we suffer the consequences that we look for repentace. How much greater is a person who can repent before they feel the consequences.

I used an experience from my last area when my companion and I were walking home in the dark when all of a sudden there was a car full of teenagers in our path. The boys started trying to get our attention and yelling and all I could think was I need to walk faster becasue if I can get past the car I will be safe because the town was ahead. The boys started getting out of the car when my companion said “Hermana wait!” All  I could think in my head was WHAT A TERRIBLE IDEA! If I want to die here in Mexico I will wait. I started walking really fast when one of the boys started running right at me. I realized in that moment that I should have listened to my companion because I had left her behind and was now alone with danger running straight towards me. How easy was it in that moment to be humle and want to repent and ask for the help of my Father in Heaven! I had no where else to turn!

After this experience my companion told me afterwards that she said wait because there were three people that could have helped us walking a little bit behind us and if we would have waited for them to catch up with us we would have outnumbered the boys in the car. The boy tripped really bad and pretty much fell on his face and then my companion and I ran home because in the center there is a police man every 10 feet. I thought though about how Heavenly Father can see the big picture much clearer than we can and sometimes we recieve promptings from the Holy Ghost like, wait! but we trust more in ourselves and we think we see the picture clear enough to make our own decisions. When we dont follow the promptings of the Spirit though he leaves and we are left alone and it isnt until we suffer the consequences of our actions that we really realize how alone we really are.

Also I told the story of the two taxi drivers who wanted the job and the person asked how close to the edge can you drive and save the car from falling off and he gave the taxi driver the job who said I don’t know..I never drive close enough to the edge to know.

Oh, I also learned how helpful scripture mastery can be because we were talking with a Jehovah’s Witness for about an hour because we kept wanting to leave but he had a way of making us want to defend what we believed. My head kind of hurt after talking to him, but he was talking about how Jesus wasn’t resurrected as a body but as a spirit, when I remembered a scripture mastery in Luke 24 which specifically says that he has a body not a spirit. Anyway, I dont have much more time so I hope you have a great week and I hope Allie feels better!

Love Hermana Jones

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Week 5 Elder Jones

Hey! I'm so glad everyone's doing well! I'm really proud of Dan for volunteering to talk in Primary.  That's really cool of him. So, a great week here. Only 14 days left in the CCM!

I gave my first priesthood blessing this week to Hermana McLean because she was throwing up and it was so difficult because I had no idea what to say. I honestly don't understand how Grandpa is able to be in tune with the spirit enough to give patriarchal blessings. I apologized afterwards for not saying very much and taking really long pauses in between my words but she said it was fine and that she was honored to be the first person I gave a priesthood blessing to.

So one thing I was thinking about this week was how its hard for me to write in my journal every night because I didn't do it before my mission.  I guess I just kind of assumed that once I left on my mission I would automatically get all these great missionary habits but no, you're still the same person on your mission as you were before you left. And I was thinking about how that's like the spirit world. Once we die we will have the same thoughts and desires as we had on Earth.  We won't automatically have Christlike attributes, we have to develop them here on Earth.

I promise I made up that analogy on my own I didn't steal it from someone. I'm the king of gospel related analogies. Also I'm the king of the subjunctive tense because I mastered that this week and I'm helping people in my district with it because our teachers are still learning English and people from like Idaho speak in sayings so it doesn't always make sense to our teachers what they're asking. I'm really glad I took Latin in High School so I actually understand participles and passive voice and subjunctive because this would be so much harder without that knowledge. So yea tell Tyler to keep taking Latin.  Also we got 2 new districts in our branch this week making it 60 missionaries in branch 12 and I'm the only one that isn't from Utah, Idaho, or California. 

Okay, so I got a haircut today and the lady doesn't even say anything she just cuts your hair and I don't think my hair has ever been this short ever. Also do you have any idea how I did on my AP tests? So, yeah I actually really like being a missionary.

One other experience I want to share from this week. This week on Thursday we were teaching TRC which is teaching volunteer members from this institute from some college nearby and Elder Baker and I were teaching these two young women Lila and Louis and when we walked in the lights were off but we didn't know we were supposed to turn them on because there was some light from the window. So we got to know them and then started teaching and 5 minuets into our lesson one of the workers turned the lights on and I said " Es como Apostasía y restauración" ("the Apostasy and Restoration") and all four of us burst out laughing for a good 2 or 3 minuets. 

 I got a really nice compliment from President Muchado on Sunday. He said I'm the only missionary in the whole CCM that is smiling every time he sees them. It's true I'm smiling 24/7 here. I love you guys. I only have 23 months left on my mission! This past month has not only strengthened my testimony tremendously but it has furthered my conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that a strong testimony will never be enough for anyone. We need conversion. I have felt what it feels like to be a vessel in the Lord´s work and teach through the Spirit. I hope you guys have a great week and also on my last day here I can email as long as I want. have a great week!

Week 15 Hermana Courtney Jones

Hi!  We didn't have time to write yesterday because we had a meeting with the mission president that lasted for 6 hours and it takes us an hour to get there from our area and an hour to get back to our area afterwards so they gave us a short preparation day today in the morning to write our family and do our laundry :)

Ok, so this week has been very interesting. First of all we didnt have water all week! Our whole little subdivision of houses didnt have water and everyone was kind of mad. Soooo...I went the longest in my life without showering....one week. Finally, yesterday it rained so I put a bucket outside to collect rainwater to shower in. Hahaha I have never been so grateful for rain. Also last night there was the biggest thunder storm I have ever experienced in my life. All the power went out in all of El Oro. We didnt get home from the meeting with our mission president until 9 at night and while we were walking to our house it was pitch black because all the power was out and there are no backup lights or anything like that. The only time we could see was when lightning would strike. It made me laugh because it reminded me of the plants verses Zombies game where you cant see where you are going or who is coming until lighning strikes and you can see for a second and then you are blind again. We went to bed at 9:30 because there was nothing to do with the power out because we couldnt see and when the power goes out no one comes to fix it until the morning. 

Anyway this week our ward got tons of clothes from people who were collecting clothes for members of the church in need. It was so cool to see how happy everyone was when they got their little packet of clothes for their family. It is so different here than my other area. In my other area I think I got close to ten skirts and 20 shirts from investigators and members of the ward in the city, but here in El Oro I have given away close to that if not more clothes to members and recent converts who don't have anything to wear to church. I think that is why I have come to start to love it here so much because I have never met people so humble in my life.

There is one family in the ward who lives at the top of a mountain in a pueblo, Santiago. When we go to their house it takes us 30 min to get from El Oro to Santiago and then another 30 min to get to the top of the mountain. WeE are always super sweaty by the time we get to their house but they walk to church every Sunday and back because they can't pay the 8 pesos or close to 80 cents for the taxi. The members say that the taxis always rip off the missionaries when they are both from the US because we are willing to pay it because it seems cheap. For example to drive in a taxi for 15 minutes is about 8 pesos or 80 cents. The taxistas will try to charge 30 pesos for them, which still seems super cheap which is why Americans are willing to pay it!  Also it is interesting because at church for activities a member of the church will teach everyone how to make something so they can go and sell it in the street. For example last week they learned how to weave baskets so they could sell them on Monday at the farmers market.

This week I also ate cactus and it was one of the best foods I have eaten here! Oh also I learned how to grind the corn for the dough, make tortillas, and cook them on the little stove. It was super fun because one of our investigators (Diana), who has a baptism date for this Sunday, own a tortilla store and we talked with her on Saturday and she said she couldn't come to church on Sunday because she was super behind on making her tortillas. So for our service project for the week we spent an hour making tortillas! It was super fun. My first few tortillas were terrible and she told me just to eat them but by the end I was a pro :)

Ok for the spiritual though for this week I learned a ton this time from the mission president yesterday. First of all our goal is not to see our investigators in white at the baptismal font. It is to see them in white with their family at the temple. Also we learned about different types of obediece in the mission. 1. difference between Nephi and Laman/Lemuel. Obey because you love the Lord and don't complain! 2. difference between Cain and Abel. Both gave an offering but Abel gave the best he had. We need to give out heart and soul to the Lord, all we have, time, thoughts, effort. 3. Difference between Satan and Christ. Why are we trying to do the best we can? Is is to glorify God and his kingdom or bring Glory on ourselves? Many missionaries want the recognition of other missionaries or the mission president to glorify ourselves but in truth we should be glorifying God. Also I loved when he talked about how if we cant be faithful to God for 2 years and close our hearts, how can we expect to be faithful to our future spouse for Eternity? That is one thing about the mission president that I love is sometimes he says things very strong but when you hear it you want to become a better missionary. For example comparing us to Satan and saying that we are being unfaithful to God.

Also this week, I finished reading the new Testament and sometimes I am just amazed at what you can find in the scriptures. One thing I really loved this week was when I was studying the Last Supper. I was studing the sacrament and the blood of christ and wht it means and a scripture I really like 1 John 5:8 and it talks about the water, spirit, and blood. Baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and taking the sacrament. I liked this alot because it also goes along with our goal is not just baptism. It is to have investigators who take the sacrament every week because these 3 things are essential parts of eventually receiving eternal life.

Also this week we worked with hermano Max in our ward.  He is super funny but he brought his wife and his two daughters and we went and visited I think everyone he knows. He lives in a little pueblo in San. Juanico and they are the only members there, but he told us that his vision for his little pueblo was to have a branch there by the end of the year. I have faith in his vision becasue after one day of working with him we have 5 families there who we are now visiting.  It was so funny because one family said they weren't interested in listening to us and he was super insistent. He was like this gospel has blessed my life more than you can imagine just give them 5 minutes and I promise you will like what you hear. And what do you know they said we could visit again! I still can't believe that he was inactive in the church just 6 months ago. I sent some letters in the mail so do you mind telling me when they get there so I know about how much time it takes letters to get to you?

Anyway I hope you have a great week!

Love Hermana Jones

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Week 4 Elder Hal Jones

It's been a really great week. We got another district in our branch and their district leader is blonde, really good at Spanish, and has run 2 marathons. They're all going to Chile on their missions. My Spanish is really progressing. Every day I feel more comfortable speaking the language. We got new Hispanic roommates and surprisingly I'm somehow able to have actual conversations with them. They don't speak any English.  

We were able to go to the temple today as a district and it was so amazing. We couldn't go inside because they're redoing the foundation, but we were able to go to the visitors center and walk around the temple grounds. It felt really good to get outside the CCM walls. Sometimes I forget that I'm actually in Mexico because the CCM is nothing like Mexico besides the food. by the way-- my new favorite food is guava. Also the mangos here are amazing.  

There was a really really good devotional by Elder Holland that we heard Sunday night and I felt like he was talking directly to me most of the time. I think it's the greatest kept secret in the church that the best talks aren't at general conference. They're at MTC devotionals. The apostles will just get in your face and inspire you to do so much more than you currently are doing and become so much more than you currently are. One thing he said was that we need to be the missionaries that our investigators deserve and that meant doing things you've never done before.

I love you guys. I cant wait until Tyler and Allison and Dan are in the position that I am right now. Its the greatest feeling in the world. I'm really anxious to just leave and teach the people in Peru because I know the gospel will bless those families as much as it has blessed ours. I know that every good thing that will happen to me in my life will be as a result of my mission. I love you guys and I hope you have a great week.  

Monday, July 7, 2014

Week 14 Hermana Courtney Jones

It was very sad to hear about Brother Weagley. I was in shock because I never would have thought something like that would happen but I will keep them in my prayers. I will send you guys some pics and the poem that I sent is one of my favorite poems ever. 

This week I learned so much I, feel like in the Disney song "you will learn things you never knew you never knew". One thing I studied was about resurrection and I never realized that there was more than one! Maybe this is common knowledge but it blew my mind. I spent the whole week studying the millenium, judgement, and resurrection. Anyway that's why I love the mission, you just are constantly learning things.

This week was funny to read your letters about summer break and the 4th of July because nothing was different this week for us. Although I did read a talk this week that was super good and I think Allie should read it. It is called "Your wonderful Journey Home" and it is by Pres. Uchdorf. It was super good. This week I also had the best food ever that you guys should try. You put a tortilla in a frying pan until it is a little hard then you rip a hole in the middle and then you crack an egg in the middle and let it cook and then flip it. It is super super good especially if you put cheese in it or hot sauce. I ate the hottest pepper ever this week and felt like I was going to die. It was caled a chile manzana.

Anyway this week was great, our investigators are progressing and coming to church. One of Maria Teresas daughters who is 26 and thought she was baptized at 8 turns out that she was never baptized so we are getting things ready for her to be baptized. Also this week I learned how important members are, if not more important than the missionaries. There is a family who was baptized about 4 months ago and they were super excited but soon they stopped coming to church and then stopped answering the door when we visited, we were so afraid that they were going to go inactive after just a short time in the church, when a lady in the ward brought her kids to go visit this family. All of a sudden this family had new enthusiasm to go to church becasue they had a friend.

The most important thing a member can do in missionary work is be a friend to those who need it. We have a list of over 200 inactives here en El Oro and we went through and wrote what these people need to come back to church and for almost every single one of them it is a friend. Someone who cares if they come to church and visits or calls if they don't. There is little point of bringing new people into the church if they leave just a few months later. I know that there is no one in this world that can't change, that can't repent, that it is too late to have their heart touched, or that God doesn't love. Every person on this Earth has a special role and we need them all. I don't remember if I shared this in my last letter but I was reading in Corinthians and it says we are all members of the body of Christ and the eye can't say to the leg we have no need of you. Every person has their talents to share.

Love Hermana Jones

Here is a picture of a place called "Hidden Waters" in my area, and some pictures with other missionaries.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Week 3 Elder Hal Jones


So I´ve been having another great week! It´s getting harder to do 17 hour days but I´m glad I´m doing something all the time. Learning here is like drinking out of a fire hydrant, you get some water, but mostly your face just hurts.

It was hard to talk to people for the first week here because all anyone wanted to talk about was the first thing they´re going to do when they get home and what restaurants they miss the most. Their hearts were still at home, but now everyone's gotten over that, so that's good. The Spanish is going really well, and my lessons are getting a lot better. I finished the online language work that was supposed to take us 6 weeks so. I´m doing different language study during that time. Every Sunday we´re supposed to prepare a 5 to 10 minute talk about a specific topic and members of the branch presidency choose who will be giving their talks that week.  This week it was on faith, and the speakers didn´t take the whole time, so they asked for a volunteer.  I had my talk memorized, so I volunteered and gave a 10 minute talk on faith and that inflated my ego quite a bit because no one memorizes their talks in our branch. I think one thing I need to work on while being here is being humble. 

This week the people in Mexico City were shooting some sort of explosive in the air and it sounded like the cannons in the Hunger Games movie whenever a tribute died.  So whenever one would go off, we would make some sort of joke related to the Hunger Games.  Also I forgot to mention last week that I´m in district 12. Elder Baker, Elder Bean, and Elder Labrum and I have decided that we´re going to do 40 pushups every night until we leave the MTC, and then go up one every day while we´re in the field. 

Every day here is great, and I´m learning so much. On Sunday we watched this really good MTC Christmas devotional from a couple years ago by David A. Bednar. I don´t know what it was called but it was the best talk I have ever heard and if you can somehow watch it it would be worth your time. My companion and I are getting really close and we can´t wait to go out in the field.  Honestly, I feel like I´m ready to leave now. I just really want to serve the people in Peru.

Everyone in our district got really sick on Friday from something that we ate or drank -- I don´t know, but no one was complaining about it during class or felt entitled to slacking off because they were sick.  It was really hard for me to focus while I was sick but I prayed for strength and I got it. There are some days when I feel like I just really need a hug from Dan but President Pratt says that if you miss your family you aren´t working hard enough.

In our lessons we aren´t teaching volunteer members anymore, we´re teaching actual investigators or inactive members.  We started teaching José yesterday and I think it went really well. His wife, Esperanza, has cancer and he has 3 little kids. I stopped using notes for my lessons so I can just prepare what I want to say beforehand and then teach by the Spirit if there´s anything else I feel like I need to say. I´m just really happy here and I know I´m going to be even happier in 4 weeks. 

Every morning Elder Baker and I talk to this custodian here named Marco and he´s trying to learn English, so whenever he asks us how to say something in English he´ll write it down in a notebook he carries with him and he´s always so grateful and happy to see us. We found out today that he served a mission and he gave us some advice. We decided we´re going to get him some English scriptures from the store before we leave. also everything is really really cheap at the store so I have a lot of pesos that I haven´t used yet.

I´m really glad Allison had a good time at camp. I remember when I was her age and I was covered in mosquito bites after scout camp. Hope you guys have a great week!