Hermana Jones

Hermana Jones

Monday, February 22, 2016

Eventful week!

This has been an eventful week! Hermana Carrasco and I received permission to go back to Oriental this weekend because GUESS WHAT. Aide, Ingrid's mom, was baptized! :D One of the most wonderful experiences of my mission. Hermana Wong and Hermana Vazquez had to go to the hospital so Hermana Carrasco and I, and the two elders in the Ward, essentially ran the baptism! I sang “O Mi Padre” to the tune of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” during part of the service. It was a wonderful event and I am so happy that we were able to be a part of it. Aide has completely changed. She couldn't stop smiling during the whole experience. She explained to us how grateful she was that we didn't pressure her into baptism. Eventually it was her time and she felt ready. I am so grateful for the time I spent teaching her while I was in Oriental. It is a wonderful, humbling opportunity to see the type of change that occurs when individuals and families come unto the Savior and His Gospel. It is a miracle to see a father change, and use his Priesthood authority to perform the sacred ordinances of baptism and confirmation for his family, with their sites set on the Temple and the opportunity to be sealed there.

We also received news that Hermana Carrasco is being sent back down the mountain -- something neither of us were expecting -- and Hermana Lambert will be joining me up here in the mountains! I will be teaching her the area and she will be teaching me how to be a sister training leader. That means the two of us will participate in mission leadership councils and go on divisions with the other Hermanas in our zone. It also means that will get to see Hermana Wong and Hermana Wolferts on a regular basis since they are serving in Oriental and Neza as sister training leaders as well. Super excited but very humbled and nervous. I feel like there are other sisters who know so much more than I do, but I am ready to do my best and just "Go for't!!" ;) Big news we were not expecting but it's going to be fun :) I will miss my little Hermana Carrasco though! I have loved being her trainer. We have gone through a lot together these past 12 weeks which has brought us close. There is probably so much more I could have taught her and could have done better as far as training but she is ready to go out and work. I really will miss her!

On another note, our investigator Rocio that I told you about last week prayed and fasted for guidance regarding wedding and baptism and and now has wedding and baptismal dates for April 16 and April 23 :) She acted on the invitation we gave her, kept her commitment, and received an answer :) So happy! Love you all.

Con amor,

Hermana Jones

(Parent note:  this email was "sent" on Monday, February 15, 2016, but due to what appears to be a server issue, it sat in our little Hermana's "sent items" box for a week and we just received it). Cheers!

Aide's baptism day!

Another of Aide's baptism day. I love love love La Familia Santoyo Chavez. Erick was basically inactive when we began visiting his family. Now he holds the Priesthood, has baptized his wife, and his daughter Ingrid (about a month ago), and they are planning to be sealed in the Temple next Valentine's Day :)

Hermana Carrasco and me with Kaori and Derrick, two of the cutest children in the world (their parents were baptized last April and will be sealed in the Temple this coming April -- I really hope I can go), During our visit to Oriental, we showed up unannounced at their door and the look on their faces was priceless!

This is us with Alicia and Salvador. They are progressing slowly but surely. Their son, Hermano Brautrelet, is here in the pic as well. He is the Ward Executive Secretary and was baptized 3ish years ago. He is a great guy, always helping us out with whatever we need. It was really nice visiting them again for a little bit during our stay in Oriental.

My new companion, Hermana Lambert :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

There is something different about us.

P-Day was great. We got to go to the Pyramids at the ancient city of Teotihuacan. Pictures do not do it justice and I absolutely loved visiting it today! I would really like to learn more about it. Well, this Wednesday I will complete 8 months in the mission (almost halfway...que triste ): and my companion will complete three months! Time flies. The work is hard and, I'll be honest, pretty slow right now but it is so worth and I wouldn't rather be anywhere else. This week was full of knocking on doors in one of my little pueblas where there is only one Church member that we know of. He joined the Church a year ago, is from Germany and speaks an interesting mix of German, English, and Spanish. He never has time for us because he works all day long in his very busy car shop. Hermana Tirado and I got to work together for a day in that same puebla and found ourselves surrounded by tons of people all carrying their "Niños Dioses" for Mass in the Catholic chapel there. The Niño Dios (which literally means Child God) is a tradition in Mexico of revering the Christ Child. Catholic Church members here have their own images of the Christ Child, which is honored and celebrated during the Christmas season...especially on Christmas Eve and on February 2 during Candlemas. One tradition is to dress the image in new clothing each year for presentation at Mass on Candlemas. We enjoyed learning as much as we could about the tradition from our wonderful Catholic brothers and sisters who were participating.

Neat experience this week. We have one investigator who is so wonderful and ready to be baptized! She is hoping to get married to her boyfriend whom she is living with. This past week during our lesson with her I felt impressed to simply invite her to fast and pray during this first Sunday of the month for two specific dates -- her wedding and her baptism. I promised her that if she did this with faith, Heavenly Father would answer her prayers. She looked at me with her large brown beautiful eyes that were filled with hope and said yes. We look forward to following up with her tomorrow. Also, this past week when we contacted a man named José who told us how he could tell that there is something different about us. He told us that he could see in our eyes that we are honest people and that we just want to help and that we have “a light” about us. I don’t tell you this to brag in any way; it just struck me that he noticed something different about us. I look forward to teaching him this Thursday as well.

We had a fun time last night with the Ward Mission Leader from one of the Wards and his family talking and laughing and singing hymns with their guitars. We are going to plan a Noche de Hogar (Family Home Evening) in the Chapel where we will have a music night and people can invite friends to join. I would also like to begin teaching children English classes again to bring more people from the pueblo to the chapel.

To my wonderful family... I love each one of you and am so grateful for the support and love you have for me. Thank you for your emails. I love reading about how you're doing and what you're up to. Not gonna lie, feeling a little jealous that stinkin Jake P is taking my place in the family going to sweet home Chicago this summer but I guess if anyone is allowed to then he is a qualified candidate ;) haha just kidding super happy for you and I know it will be a lot of fun! Over this next month I will work on writing letters for people in Chitown and send them to you so you can take them with you. I love you and please remember the little things that we have to do to stay strong as a family (Alma 37: 6-7). Take good care of the missionaries in the ward. They are far away from home. Love you :) Keep my two pueblos in your prayers. We are starting from square 1 in a lot of ways.

Love your Hermana in Mèxico

My District :) Love them so much. The Elders are from Honduras, Bolivia, Guatemala, and North Carolina. The Hermanas are from Ecuador, Aguascalientes, Mexico, Guatemala, Tijuana, Mexico, Boston MA, and me! We had a really fun day together!

Hermana Lambert is just the best!

My companion, Hermana Carrasco, and me on top of the pyramid named after the sun or "el sol." Absolutely incredible.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Lord qualifies us for our callings and magnifies our efforts.

Hello all! I have great news to share about Alicia and Salvador, a husband and his wife that I had the pleasure of teaching in my previous area. During my last lesson with them, as we were about to end, I felt prompted to promise Salvador -- who suffered from a heart attack a few months ago -- that Heavenly Father was aware of his condition and that great blessings were in store for him. I also invited him to come to Church. He, his wife, and his son were all shedding tears. That Sunday they came to Church and thanks to the continued work of Hermana Wong and Hermana Vazquez, they have a baptismal date :)

As for cultural experiences, I ate a chicken heart this last week. I found it swimming in my bowl of various chicken parts. It was actually pretty tasty. Tasted like chicken :) Everyone was laughing at me as I incredulously looked at it; they wanted to make sure that I just put the whole thing in my mouth and eat it. Hahaha ooohhhhhh poor naive Hermana Jones :)

We had some really neat experiences this past week. One of which was a noche de hogar, or Family Home Evening, we had with a family here. There is a sweet older lady who has been a Church member for 4 years and has been striving to help her family accept the Gospel. She invited one of her daughters and granddaughters who are also Church members, one of her daughters who is a member of another faith, and her 3 daughters who want to be baptized. She also invited her 20 year old grandson who lives with her and is very atheist and studying philosophy. The one daughter and grandson were not too thrilled to be there and we could definitely sense that. Hermana Carrasco had a plan regarding what we were going to teach. However, the morning of our lesson, we both felt that we needed to teach about the Savior’s Atonement instead. We got some Clorox and red food coloring and did a little demonstration to aid in teaching about the Savior's Atonement. We started out with a glass of clear water and explained that it represents us when we are born - pure, clean, and innocent. Yet, as we continue on through life we make mistakes. As we taught, we wanted to involve the children in our lesson so we asked them to give ideas of things we might do that are not in line with our Heavenly Father's commandments and desires for us. We added a little more red dye with each example. The grandson took this opportunity to make some snippy comments such as "forcing people to do things they don't want to do" and "not being respectful or tolerant of peoples' beliefs." At that, the grandma said "not listening." So, that was all a little uncomfortable and my face was probably beet red, but we continued on as I pondered the great irony of his comment. Then we poured the Clorox into the red water and as it bleached out all of the red dye and stains, we explained how the Atonement cleanses us. We read about the doctrine of charity in Moroni and, as we did so, the daughter of another faith had tears streaming down her face. We then invited each family member to write down what they could do to develop this Christlike love in their lives. The grandson had grown quiet. We later heard from the active grandma that he had written that he needed to be more humble and listen to others more instead of proudly making comments. That filled us with so much hope. We ended with the video "Gracias a Él" or "Because He Lives", offered another prayer, played a game, and ate burritos. I feel so blessed to witness these small but profound changes that occur because of the influence of our Beloved Savior. He lives and He loves us.

My companion and I were put in charge of having a ward Family Home Evening last night (Monday, February 1) and talked about the great importance of accepting and magnifying callings (opportunities to have an area of focus in serving others in our ward families). I shared 1st Corinthians 12: 12-27 about how we are all members of the body of Christ and need to work together to make sure a ward is healthy and functioning. I took the opportunity to share with them about how I have played soccer and ran track for a good majority of my life and explained how happy I feel when my body can run, play, and function like it is supposed to. I told them how sad I felt when I couldn't compete and perform like I wanted to because something wasn't working right. The simple truth is we need one another and all play an important role. Also, as we serve, we realize an increase in love for those that we serve and for our Heavenly Father. We feel a deepened connection with them and Him. We recognize that WE receive great blessings when our focus is outward.

Also, random note, a few weeks ago I gave an impromptu talk in Sacrament Meeting on Alma chapter 19 about Abish and her courage to share the Gospel. I feel so grateful to Heavenly Father as I think back to when I first began my mission and how inadequate I felt compared to now where I can talk and teach in front of a large group in the Spanish language. The Lord qualifies us for our callings and magnifies our efforts and blesses those we serve (President Eyring's talk from this last General Conference Priesthood Session is wonderful). More stories and pics next week. I love you all so much and pray for you.

Love Hermana Jones

Alicia and Salvador

Hermanas Carrasco, Tirado, Lambert and I enjoying a van ride to the Temple last week.

My wonderful district members!