Greetings from the far eastern end of the mission in the Ixtapaluca Zone. First, great news! I talked with Hermana Wong on the phone this week (she is still in my previous area with a great sister named Hermana Vazquez who left the CCM with me). Ingrid was baptized and apparently the baptism was absolutely beautiful and everything went so well! It won't be long before Aide, her mom, is baptized too. I just know it. I'm really sad I that couldn't be there for the baptism (I am so far away from everyone now) but I feel so blessed to know that I was involved every step of the way and was able to serve and teach that wonderful family for so long. I hope to be with them in the Temple one day.
Now, about my area. I will try to give as much information as I can, so here goes. Our area covers two little pueblos (towns) that are nestled in the mountains. The air is much, much fresher and cleaner and it makes me very happy. I am covering two Wards, one of which takes up the upper side of the "hill" in one pueblo and the other which takes up the bottom half of the "hill" as well as another pueblo. We walk A LOT. Also, to get from one pueblo to the other, we take a combi (taxi) for about 20 minutes. You have to time it well because it runs on a very strict schedule and only comes every two hours. To email, I come back down to Ixtapaluca where we have our district and zone meetings. We take a combi to get there as well. It is about a 25 minute drive in a combi down a very looonnngggg curvy road on the mountainside (I understand car-sickness now).
Working here is very different than working in the city. There are not nearly as many people to contact but there are a ton of Church members who are some of the most wonderful people I have every met in my life. I almost cry every time I enter their homes or talk to them because they are so humble, sincere, loving, and willing to help. I have been receiving referrals left and right - more in just 5 days of work than I ever got during my five and a half months in my previous area. They tell us "hermanas, whenever you don't have any food to eat or need anything, please come right over. It is a blessing to have you in our home." Basically I don't have to worry about going hungry or doing laundry here because the members are climbing over each other to help us. This morning Hermana Yolanda knocked on our door and basically told us that she would be expecting us at her house for lunch today because she knows it's P Day and we don't have a place to eat. Eight of her nine children have served missions, so she understands. She and her family are some the most amazing people. She wanted me to send a hello and a hug to you today as I write to you. The hermanas who were here before left us lots of lists of potential investigators to look for. We will be doing that, working with the people who are less active in the Gospel, and contact the referencias we have received to find people to teach.
My apartment is actually a little house and it is so pretty, but FREEZING. I haven't been this cold in a long time. We work and sleep in our coats. I can see my breath inside the house. President should be getting a space heater to us today but we have been sleeping under 6 or 7 blankets to keep warm. We study in our beds too because it is so cold. The bathroom has water that condenses on the ceiling but we have a shower with hot water that works when we turn on the boiler outside. I periodically have to turn off the water and wait a few moments for it to heat up again while showering though because it doesn't last that long...but I am grateful for it. My first morning there I enjoyed a bucket shower - splashed myself with water using a bowl and a bucket - because we didn't have gas. That was fun :) But we have lots of flowers, and cactus, and peach trees outside our house which I love. It's in a beautiful place. I don't have time for pics this week but I will try to get them to you next week.
As for other little details, I ate rabbit leg in a bowl of salsa for lunch yesterday with the usual rice and tortillas - can't leave those out - and it was really tasty. I loved it actually. I am definitely not in the city any more. I am walking older cobblestone or dirt roads at times where people ride their horses or pull their donkeys along. I can see the horizon and wake up to the mountains every morning. President talked to me the other day and told me that I didn't live in Nevada in the country for nothing. He firmly believes that I was supposed to be the one to work and continue training Hermana Carrasco in this area. I am so grateful to be here right now.
Being a missionary is just the best :) No matter what comes our way, we have the decision to make the best of things. Life is too short to be unhappy. Being happy is so much more fun and fulfilling.
Love you all so much!
Love, Hermana Jones
Parent note: The pictures below are courtesy of President and Hermana Stutznegger last week at changes. Hermana Jones got to help give vaccinations. This is quite humorous because this is a child who would cry and have anxiety when receiving vaccinations as a little one. We did not see this coming. However, she did have valuable experience giving vaccinations as she grew up...to cattle on her Grandpa and Grandma Jones' ranch. As we liken the scriptures to ourselves we see that "all these things shall give thee experience and be for thy good."
Parent note: The pictures below are also courtesy of President and Sister Stutznegger, who brought much needed supplies to the missionaries in the Ixtapaluca Zone. The Stutzneggers reported that they found the missionaries happy, cold, and excited. We are grateful for the way that they lead, love, and care for their missionaries!