Hermana Jones

Hermana Jones

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas Miracle!

Merry Christmas all the way from good ol D.F. MEXICOOOOOOOO!!!! Hello everybody! I hope you are all enjoying plenty of hot chocolate and snow and everything Christmas in northeastern Nevada. Christmas here in Mexico is pretty fun and very different than anything I have ever experienced. I mean my goodness. Every night since Dia de La Virgen there have been fiestas and posadas in every street. In our apartment complex there is a group of people who gather together every night RIGHT below our window and hold their posada while we are planning. This is a nativity of sorts but it is all focused on La Virgen María. They start out by singing a song as they all light each other's candles. Then they gather around the alter and nativity set they have made and chant prayers. They pass around a white rose and each person says something they love about her and then they chant again. Afterwards the adults string up a piñata and the kids take turns whacking it to more chanting. There is plenty of coca cola and ponche (a cider type of drink with fruit that doesn't exist in the U.S. and it is really tasty) to be had. The festivities continue for a few hours. One night there was a party until 4 am. Fortunately Hermana Carrasco and I slept just fine but poor Hermana Wong couldn't sleep, thanks to both the party and me apparently teaching lessons/praying en español in my sleep haha. It has been interesting to experience this new culture during December. There are so many alters and nativity scenes set up everywhere. People go all out. I will try to send a few pictures and maybe a video if possible. We had our combined Fovissste and Oriental Wards party on Saturday and I had the great honor and privilege of hitting and breaking a piñata blindfolded! Never in my life before my mission did I ever think I would be in Mexico hitting a piñata.

This has been one rollercoaster of a week. We successfully scheduled a baptismal date with Ingrid for January 9th! (I most likely will not be here because President Stutznegger told me that I will likely change areas. If I do get moved I hope I can get permission to come back for her baptism.) My companions and I are very happy and grateful for that. It's a Christmas miracle! :) On the other hand, we have had a lot of difficulties this week, just stressful situations and a few problems with the ward due to miscommunication. Finally on Sunday afternoon I just broke down and cried. Everything finally just built up and had to come out, and with it being my first Christmas away from home I just let it out haha. It was kind of pathetic actually but we sat down on a sidewalk curb and my companions let me cry for awhile. We have been through a lot this week and it brought us all really close together. I am so grateful for my companions and the people I am meeting here in the mission. I have met a few of my best friends here. I am also learning so much too. In our district meeting tonight one of my zone leaders said something I really liked. In English, basically what he said was that the easy things pass but the difficult hard things are what matter the most to us. Ingrid for example. We have been working with this family for 3 months now and I have been blessed to witness the change that has occurred in their home. Now, Ingrid is getting baptized and Aide is totally on board with her daughter's decision. This baptism will mean so much to me because it is something I have worked on for a long time. It is the hard things that in the end are the most worth it. 

I am so grateful for each one of you and the impact you have had in my life. There is one quote I would like to share with you. I am sorry I don't have it written down in English but it is from a talk by President Monson called The Best Christmas Ever from a few years ago. He says, "Si queremos tener la mejor Navidad de nuestra vida, debemos prestar atención al sonido de los pies calzados con sandalias; debemos tratar de alcanzar la mano del Carpintero. Con cada paso que demos en sus huellas, abandonaremos una duda y ganaremos una verdad." It basically says that if we want to have the best Christmas of our lives, we should give attention to the sound of sandaled feet – we should reach for the hand of the Carpenter. With every step we take in His footsteps, we abandon a doubt and gain a truth. I know that this is true. Our Savior Jesus Christ was born in the humblest of circumstances and suffered more than anyone ever has in the history of the world. He lived and died over 2000 years ago so that we might live too. I am so grateful for the sacred opportunity to work shoulder to shoulder with Him this Christmas season. I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, the best one you have ever had in your lives. Remember that true happiness comes from bringing happiness to others, as President McKay once said. I love you and, more importantly, the Savior loves you. Merry Christmas :)

Love Hermana Jones

A few of the Missionaries from my zone. We have been going a lot of contacting and tour giving of the church throughout this month and have had a lot of success.

This was us at the Temple Visitor's Center with Erick and his family. Ingrid and her younger sister, Kamilla, is with us as well.

Ward Christmas party. It isn't Christmas in Mexico without piñatas. There were 5 at this party :)

The altar that was outside our apartment window. Now there is a huge nativity in its place. 

Me eating a torta de tamale -- basically a tamale sandwich -- and Hermana Carrasco eating an elote. Yes, that is the real Nacho Libre corn with mayo and cheese on a stick and it is SO GOOD.

Us with out "Mesa de Navidad" and our gingerbread house haha that is about all the decorating we can do in our apartment.

Also, me holding my Christmas Cactus with a little silver star on it :) The cactus was a gift from a few Ward members.

We love Hermana Stutznegger!

More Christmas pics.

I love the missionaries here. So many cool people.

The group of us missionaries who won an activity at zone conference. Champs :)

This was at the tiangis (large street markets). One of the Church members was packing up all of her stuff that she was selling so they loaded me up and I carried a lot of it back to her house. Apparently I am "strong" haha.

Some of the graffiti here. It is EVERYWHERE.

Playing futbol.

Area by my apartment where I often run early in the morning.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

This is the perfect time of year to give the gift of service and see the blessings and miracles that come from it.

Hello family and friends! I don’t have much time to write today because we had our mission Christmas party today and we have a short bit of time to write before going to teach (we are going to meet with Erick and his family...I told you about them last week!). So, sorry about that but just know that I am doing well and having a swell time here in Mexico! What a fun, memorable day. We first had a devotional and then a talent show. After that we enjoyed participating in various events including limbo, hula hoop, arm wrestling, and stick pull. We finished off with some free time. Let me just say that I am blessed to be in this mission with wonderful missionaries, and with the Stutzneggers!

This week we had a neat experience. My companions and I walked in the dark and cold and rain from 5:00 to 8:00 in the evening because every single one of our appointments and backups fell through. So, we hoisted our bags up and walked, and knocked, and talked. I decided right then in my mind that I love walking and knocking doors. It’s fun! I decided that I would fear no man and talk to everyone we could. I also decided in that moment that I would do this instead of giving up because I love our Savior, Jesus Christ and that I would find someone new to teach for Him that evening before going back to the apartment. My hair was a wet mess and we were all shivering, but we talked to a lot of people, got rejected a ton, and had ourselves a grand old time! I am not joking when I say that. I was happy to be in that situation for Him. After awhile, I had an impression to knock on a specific door and so we did. After a few moments a woman opened the door and said “que milagro” which is a saying here that means, wow I am so happy to see you! She invited us in and explained to us that she had been meeting with two other Hermana missionaries about a year ago and had loved the lessons. She even went to Church a few times but eventually work got in the way and the sisters changed areas and she lost contact with the Church. She hadn’t seen another missionary since then and had felt the absence of God in her life. She was so happy to see us because a little before we had knocked on her door she had been really sad and dealing with some family issues. She cannot wait to begin taking the lessons again. This was a miracle for my companions and me. The Lord had blessed us after hours of walking and being rejected. Many of you may be feeling this way in your lives right now, but this is the perfect time of year to give the gift of service and see the blessings and miracles that come from it.

I had a great time helping out with zone conferences last week; I also got to be in a little group that sang “The First Noel” in Spanish. A highlight of the week was watching the three sessions of the Tijuana Mexico Temple dedication. President Uchtdorf, Elder Oaks, and Elder Wilson (from the Seventy) were there. It was so beautiful and I loved their words. Hermana Wong knew many of the people who participated because it is very near her home so that was fun! I am sorry I don’t have more time to write more but I love you so much. And Dad, thank you for your email to me last week. I have read it several times since then. Also, the new stake in our mission is the Ixtapaluca Stake and it takes in a large chunk of land. We are all very excited over here.

Also, my package and all of the letters came! Thank you so much. I look forward to reading them all on Christmas. Gosh you people are so good! I have been enjoying chugging hot chocolate the past few days and my companions LOVED the gingerbread house, especially darling little Hermana Carrasco. She has never done anything like that before and she was squealing with joy the whole time. I love you. Say hi, and Merry Christmas, to everyone for me!

Love Hermana Jones

The pictures are courtesy of Hermana Stutznegger :)

Hermana Wong and Hermana Carrasco.

Don't forget the reason for the season!

I love Christmas carols.

What would Christmas be without the feats of strength? :)

...and volleyball

Merry Christmas!

I love my mission.

Monday, December 7, 2015

One year left!

Yep, that`s right. One year from TODAY I will be on an airplane home. So crazy! Time is flying and most of the time I feel like I am flying by the seat of my pants but so far this whole thing called a full time mission has been an amazing experience that is changing my life. 

Well I have had a fun/interesting week this week. On Tuesday I watched poor Hermana Wong as she was wheeled out of the little prep room in the hospital for her medical procedure and was later there when she began waking up from the anesthesia. All I can say is it was fun to listen to her talk while still being loopy and seeing the looks on the nurses' faces. Hehe :) Then, as we were all leaving the hospital and heading back to President's house I began to feel pretty lousy. He and Sister Stutznegger sent me straight to bed and I laid there for three hours, not able to fall asleep because of the aches, pains, and chills I had all over my body. Later Hermana Stutznegger came in to check on me and we realized that I had a 101.3 degree temp so they pumped me with a bunch of ibuprofen and aspirin. I slept for 12 HOURS that night (first time in six months). My comps went back to work on Wednesday and I just chilled with President and his wife. Best time ever :) They are SO WONDERFUL! I even got to help plan for zone conferences this week.
Ok funny side story here - I will be helping give flu vaccinations to all of the missionaries because vaccinating calves on grandpa’s ranch totally qualifies me for this kind of thing hahahahahaha I am so excited and hope all you ranch folk back home are proud of me! Also I am putting a musical number together the morning of so that should be fun - this and helping with the shots means I will get to see Los Reyes tomorrow! I stayed with the Stutzneggers until Friday morning to get my temp back to normal. Feeling just fine now so don't worry :) Still waiting to get sick from the food which hasn't happened yet. Many opportunities lie ahead.

Ok BIG NEWS about our mission. Starting in January our mission will be significantly growing in size and there are new areas for the hermanas to work! I am so excited! We will be gaining a huge chunk of the northern part of the Mexico City Chalco Mission (southeast of us). I don't remember all of the details exactly but I am sure you can read more about it from Hermana Stutznegger's blog. I'll try to get more deets for next week. Anywho, so happy about this. Apparently these new areas are much more like little Mexican pueblas instead of the city so I really hope that I will have the opportunity to serve there at some point. I have been in the same area, the same 15 streets, for almost a third of my mission now. Haha basically it is time for a change :) President is aware of that so hopefully soon! Maybe after I finish training. By the way, my companions are great. Being in a trio is definitely a different dynamic, and training is draining (haha that rhymes) but I am learning and growing a lot.
Well needless to say I didn't get a whole lot of work done this week but there is one experience I had that I would like to share. There is a part-member family we have been working with for a long time now. Erick, the husband and dad, is a less active in the Gospel. His wife Aide and her daughter Ingrid, who is 11, are not members of the Church. Erick and Aide also have a little daughter named Camilla who is 3. For the longest time it was so hard for us to teach them, especially Aide, but over time they have really changed and opened up to us. This past Saturday we went with them to the Visitors Center by the Temple (after lots of stressing and trying to arrange plans we found a member from another Ward who took us in his van). It was a wonderful experience and we really focused on talking about eternal families and covenants. I had the opportunity to bear my testimony to them about eternal families. As I thought about my own family at home, and how this wonderful family right here had the potential to be eternal like mine, I felt words that were not my own come to me as I testified. It was a beautiful experience. They accepted our invitation to come to church the next day. That night as I prayed before going to bed I had the distinct impression to specifically fast for, and pray that, Aide and Ingrid would feel and recognize the Spirit in Church, desire to be baptized, and specifically tell me that they wanted to be baptized. Well, the next day they came to Sacrament Meeting and we had the most wonderful meeting where the members shared their testimonies of the Gospel - literally perfect for them. After the last person spoke, Ingrid, who was sitting behind me, leaned forward to me and whispered "Hermana, a lo mejor, yo quiero bautizarse" which means "sister, perhaps, I want to be baptized". In that moment, my heart was thumping so hard and so fast and all I could do was beam from ear to ear, pat her on the face and say "muy bien Ingrid". Then, after the meeting ended, Erick and Aide began asking when they could meet with the Bishop so that Erick could baptize Ingrid, and Aide could also be baptized. Literally that is one of the happiest moments of my life. Lately I have struggling because I have walked the same streets for weeks trying to help people and nothing has seemed to be happening. This was a direct answer to a specific prayer to Heavenly Father after following a prompting. I know that He is aware of me, and the people I am teaching. All of the walking and stressing and pleading is not in vain. Sometimes things happen right away and others take years, but I know that as we keep trying and doing our part the Lord blesses us. 

I love you all and hope you enjoy your second week of December! (I will be staying in on Friday and Saturday for security reasons - it's Virgin Day down here in Mexico.) 

Love Hermana Jones 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


First, I am sorry that I did not write much last week. I took the time to write to a number of friends and answer a lot of their emails. I am sitting in the mission offices right now as I read your emails and write to you and don’t have much time. This is an amazing city. It has been a very fun day, walking around Centro with President and Hermana Stutznegger, my companions, Hermana Jones and her companion Hermana Vazquez (she needed a glasses replacement). Then we went to this amazing artisans market where you can find everything Mexico handmade. I bought a sweet Mexican blanket, a pillow case, and two little tiny nativity sets. I am thinking I will look for bigger ones next year when I am close to coming home. That way, I don't have to worry about saving them throughout my mission. We met up with a few of the Elders there as well and Elder Miller found a sweet poncho. We will be spending the night at President's house because Hermana Wong has a few other tests at the hospital early tomorrow morning.

For Thanksgiving, the Hermanas in the mission were able to spend the day with the Stutzneggers. They are so wonderful and take very good care of us. A few of the Elders helped prepare food as well. This mission has the best missionaries! Thanksgiving was fun and I enjoyed counting blessings and remembering how much we all have to be grateful for. Gratitude is more than something we supposed to have, it is a gift, and allows our hearts to be soft. I am grateful for you.

A few weeks ago I made the decision to focus and make this the best Christmas ever because I am in the service of the Lord. What better way to celebrate Christmas than to share the message of Christ's birth and His restored gospel? :) I will be better about taking pics of the area and traditions etc. I am just trying to be careful and not draw more attention to myself with a camera than I already do haha :) Do you realize that this is my last week of repeated days in the mission!? Next week I will have completed a third of my mission. It is going by so fast, which both excites and scares me because there is still so much I need to do. It is HARD to keep investigators. Most people in my area work all day, every day, and have little time for religion (even if they claim to be set in a religion). But, I am going to just keep trying.

Speaking of trying, training a new missionary is hard work but I love my new companion :) I am training Hermana Carrasco. She turned 19 in September and is from Ecuador! So, my trainer, Hermana Llaguarima, is from Ecuador and now my first “hija” is from there too! Three generations haha :) Hermana Wong is with us as well. Hermana Carrasco is so sweet! She loves to talk and my brain was fried from a Spanish overload that first night, but she is eager to help and participate and I love her :)

More info next week, sorry! Love you so much! Hermana Jones

This was when we went to the offices last Monday to pick up Hermana Carrasco! This pic includes my trainer, Hermana Llaguarima and my new companion, Hermana Carrasco.

 ...and Hermana Wong!

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with the Stutzneggers (photo cred to Sister Stutznegger for the following pics of the Hermanas together)

Comfy clothes :)

Thanksgiving was sooooo nice. I am grateful for the Stutzneggers! (photo cred to Sister Stutznegger)

This is how we do it. We were storing a bunch of food in our fridge for a member -- not a lot of people have fridges -- but the door wouldn't close so we propped it closed with a chair and the microwave.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Sacrament and Obedience

Well it has been another great two weeks in the concrete jungles of Mexico and I am learning and growing a lot. Two things -- I am really beginning to appreciate the Sacrament more and I am realizing just how important obedience is. The Sacrament is such a special, sacred time that we have to reflect on the Savior. It is a very short time for us to put everything else aside to ponder His sacrifice for us and how we can resolve to be better each week. As a missionary, I don't have very much time to focus on lessons and classes at Church because we are taking care of investigators or meetings or whatever else it may be, so the Sacrament has become 10 minutes of paradise for me to completely clear my mind and focus on the Savior.

Now for obedience. As a missionary, it is extremely important to live with EXACT obedience. It really is so important that I live with exact obedience or things do not work out. Obedience is the first law of heaven. Even though the laws and standards of the world may change, God's laws and the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ do not. I know that President Monson is a Prophet called of God to guide us in these days. I know that I was called of God through a Prophet to serve as a missionary in Mexico City. It saddens me that so many people in the world today are not obedient and reject the counsel of the Prophet and Apostles. As a missionary and representative of Jesus Christ, I testify that what they say is of God and that it would be wise of us to listen to them.

Going to the Temple on Friday was such a wonderful blessing. Hermano Sergio, one of the investigators I had the opportunity to teach for a bit with Hermana Llaguarima towards the beginning of my mission, who was baptized with Diego, came and picked us up in his taxi and off we went! So wonderful. And, who should be there but my CCM maestra, Hermana Perez! She was serving in the Temple on Friday and she happened to leave the same time we did so I had a few minutes to talk to her. She was an amazing teacher and helped me so much during my first month and a half in the mission.

I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!

Love Hermana Jones :)

Zone Conference with Elder Brent H. Nielson a couple of weeks ago.

 Temple pics with Hermana Wong and me.

Herman Perez, one of my CCM teachers.

We walked out of the Temple and who should be there but President and Hermana Stutznegger! Haha always fun to see them. They are the best! :)

Comida with the Familia Oliver last Friday. Their children are sssooooooo cute. 

And, a mini b-day party for Hermana Wong with the Familia Castillos.

Two weeks ago President and Hermana Stutznegger came to study with us in the morning and brought me my Halloween package. Afterwards, Pres fixed my evil toilet and taught us how to spackle our walls in preparation for painting. Down with the pepto bismol pink wall! I feel like such an accomplished handyman now haha :)

Thank you dear familia for the Halloween package!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Mexico Moments

The title of this week's email is Mexico Moments. These are what I call special little interesting things that happen to me that otherwise would never have happened if I was still home. Please enjoy.
In the last two weeks:

1. I have been peed on by a dog. Hermana Wong and I were walking along under one of the many homes that has a porch on top and we felt a little sprinkle coming from above. We look up and see this dumb little dog lifting its leg and sending a shower of sadness upon us. Hermana Wong freaked out and I just started laughing. What are the odds? Not gonna lie though, I am ready to start chucking a lot of these yippy little dogs like a football. They are EVERYWHERE.

2. I lost my cute little blue cardigan. As we were walking I laid it over the side of my bag and next thing I know it's gone. Heart breaking. It's probably long gone by now, sold en los tiangis (street tent markets that fill entire streets).

3. I watched a drug deal go down right in front of my eyes. A man in his truck waved us down to ask us about an Elder who used to teach him. As we talked, another man walked up and asked him, "So how many packets of marijuana did you ask for again?" as he was holding a mysterious looking bag. The man who had been talking to us hurriedly tried to shush the other guy and said that "We're not talking about this right now!" Hahahahaha I mean it was bad, but it was quite amusing too. Never thought I'd witness that one.

4. Another shower of sadness, this one coming from my own toilet. As I mopped my bathroom floor this morning I accidentally tapped -- literally just lightly touched -- the connecting hose of the toilet with the mop and it burst. Toilet water spraying EVERYWHERE. The entire floor of the bathroom and just outside the room became a full pool of water. I braved the spray and tried to shut the water off as I desperately called to Hermana Wong but she was no help whatsoever (teehee love you Hermana :) So as of right now my toilet does not flush. Que cosas.

Those are all the Mexico Moments I have for now but I am sure there will be more to come.

On to more uplifting things now. This last Wednesday we had a zone conference (a gathering of all of the missionaries in a particular geographical area of the mission) with Elder Brent H. Nielson, of the Seventy, and his wonderful wife. He is the executive director of the Church Missionary Department. What an amazing day. I learned and felt so much. It was one of those times where I could feel eternal truths touching my heart that I had once known before this life. Very, very neat. Afterwards, I had the very special opportunity of being one of four missionaries to have a special interview with Elder Nielson. We talked for maybe 15 minutes about my family, the mission, safety, areas of focus in the work, and doctrine related to a question that many people ask me here. Afterwards he asked to take a picture with me to send to you, mom and dad. I just sent him your emails today so you should receive that hopefully soon. He and his wife are so kind and hard working and wise. The Hermanas had a special meeting with Sister Nielson first thing in the morning. AMAZING. During that meeting she shared with us some of the factors and blessings associated with the missionary age change. Also, the opportunity to study the Gospel in depth every day and rely on the Spirit is preparing us to raise a future generation and build eternal families. She also spoke about the holiness found in every day life. There is so much beauty in the every day things around us. Sometimes we just need to change our perspective to see these things as God sees them. I loved that. This really helped me because my physical surroundings here, in this part of the city, are not exactly what I would call beautiful but there is SO MUCH beauty and holiness in the lives that people lead here.

It's been a great week and I'm looking forward to another one! Love you!

Love, Hermana Jones

 Zone conference. We love President Stutznegger:)

I love my companion :)

I took this picture of the Mexico City Temple back in August while serving at the open house.

 Enjoying pan de muertos -- very traditional for Dia de Muertos and Halloween here. It's pretty tasty.

Starting this past week Presidente asked for all the Hermanas to return home at 8 p.m. since it gets darker much earlier. We start working around 10:30 in the morning. On Friday night we made BANANA BREAD. For not having measuring cups and just barely figuring out how to work the stove, it turned out pretty well. Also it was gluten and milk free...hooray for Herman Wong! We ate almost the whole pan Friday night and finished it off Saturday morning. So tasty.

It looks burned but it was really good, especially for eyeballing it and not timing how long it was in the oven haha.

We were not allowed to work on Halloween after la comida so we returned home a little after 3:00 p.m. and had ourselves a grand ol' time. This is a little sugar skull that I ate after taking these pictures. Very traditional here for Dia de Muertos.

We also were not allowed to work on Dia de Muertos (Sunday...yesterday) after 5:00 p.m. so we made ourselves some pancakes! Super fun :) I'm telling you, this whole cooking and baking without measuring cups thing is fun. I think I'll be a pro by the time I come home.

Picture of our Zone Conference with Elder Brent H. Nielson, of the Seventy.