Monday, December 29, 2014

Week 27 - Happy New Year!

Hey everyone!
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. It definitely was fun to be able to Skype home with my family, and to talk with them. What wasn't exciting was having to hang up...
However, it is exciting to start a new year! We have been asked by our mission president to sacrifice things that are holding us back from being consecrated missionaries. The new year gives all of us the same opportunity; to change something so that we can become more devoted to our Heavenly Father and to Jesus Christ. I know that if I follow that counsel and show my love for God by sacrificing something, that I will be able to feel the Spirit more effectively in my work! I can promise the same for each of you.

Since Christmas we've been able to see some neat things happen. We went to visit a less-active in one of our wards, but ended up teaching a non-member who is now one of our investigators. He's a 19 year-old kid with a smoking problem. The Spirit was interesting in that lesson because Elder Crabb and I felt like we should promise him that as long as he kept meeting with us, that he wouldn't want to smoke anymore. At the end of lesson, he pulled out his cigarettes and said that he could already feel that promise working. I was super excited! I'm glad to be able to be apart of this Work!
Anyway, I hope you all have a happy new year! Keep in touch!
Love,
Elder Jones

Monday, December 22, 2014

Week 26 - Merry Christmas!

Dec 22, 2014 
 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Week 25 - Almost Christmas

Elder Crabb
 Friends and Family,
It's crazy to think about it, but I have already been serving a mission for almost 6 months. I just can't fathom how fast the time goes. I blink and it's just gone.

All in all, I have had a really awesome week! It's rained a bunch this past week, so my companion Elder Crabb and I have sloshed along in the mud while tracting several times. My shoes pretty much got caked with mud. It makes me look like I work hard ;)

Rain tracting is fun, but it makes it even better if you have a good companion. Elder Crabb is awesome. When we do missionary work, it's really fun because we can just laugh and enjoy each other's company from appointment to appointment. To be truthful, companions really can make or break your mission! If both missionaries are on the same page, so many things can get done!


Since our priority for this month is to hand out the He is the Gift pass along cards, we have made it our focus to hand out 10 a day. For missionaries in Vegas, 10 cards should take no time. But here in Logandale, it's an ordeal. One day this past week, we handed out cards from 10:30am all the way to 6:45pm. It was definitely hard, but one of our APs put it best when he quoted D+C 58:27 to us upon hearing about our day:

Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

Although we don't have too many investigators now, we are working as hard as we can to find people to teach. My testimony has grown, especially as we've contacted more less-actives and potential investigators this past week than my entire time here.

Yesterday in church, a lady walked up to me and said, "Zachary Jones!" The fact that anyone knew my name caught me off guard. Turns out that she is the close friend to my great-Aunt Darlene. It's always cool when you run into connections like that.

I love you all! Make sure to write and let me know how you all are doing. I hope you all have a merry Christmas!


Love,

Elder Jones

Monday, December 8, 2014

Week 24 - Lots of work=Lots of fun!

 

Hey family and friends!
My companion and I have had a really exhausting week. Elder Crabb is the district leader, so he is supposed to go on companion exchanges with everyone in the district! Unfortunately, we had three days of exchanges back-to-back-to-back. That was a really long three days, but we were able to get a ton of stuff done.
On Wednesday, we hit the ground running. We contacted 6 referrals and gained several new potential investigators. On Thursday, we did the same thing and ended up contacting 4 different referrals. On Friday, I went on exchanges with my Zone Leader Elder Kennedy and we worked in his area. Everyday, my companions and I would tract and hand out 10 of the He is the Gift Christmas cards. After we went home, I was just about finished. I pretty much went to sleep as quickly as possible.
However, the work continued into Saturday as we helped a non-member lady move into our ward (she's a potential investigator) around 8 am. Then we helped one of our wards set up for the Christmas party. We had the Christmas party around 6 pm that night, but we left early to hand out our 10 cards for the day.
It's so fun being a missionary when there are things to do. When there aren't, it can be pretty brutal, but as long as you keep a good attitude about the whole thing and then work hard, the Lord will help you to feel satisfied with the work that you're doing.
I hope you've all been utilizing the new He is the Gift video! We've had a lot of cool opportunities in sharing that!
Have a great week!

Elder Jones

Monday, December 1, 2014

Week 23 - He is the Gift!


Hello friends and family!

I hope that you all have had a great week. Things here in Logandale and Overton are definitely interesting! It's a lot different from serving in Vegas. There aren't as many people around, and the ones that are end up being Mormon. That doesn't mean there isn't work to do. We're trying to work a lot more with less-actives and part-member families, and we even have a couple investigators that we're working with!
We helped an older member in our ward put up a 12-foot star with lights in his front yard. After which he began to tell us about all the people that lived on his street. He gave us 3 referrals! After that, he told us that he has 3 grandsons on missions. We told him him where we were from. After we talked, I asked him if we could pray with him. He responded by saying, "Heck Yeah!!" (Keep in mind this brother is probably in his late-80s). It was a really fun service-opportunity.

I really want to tell you all about the new initiative that the church has put out! It's called He is the Gift. Along with the initiative, the Church has put out a new video in regards to the Christmas season. I encourage all of you to go to christmas.mormon.org, watch the video, and then share it with #SharetheGift. The Church is really pressing this in terms of missionary work. Along with your December Ensign, you should have gotten a pamphlet with a bunch of pass-along cards. Christmas is probably the easiest way to share the Gospel. Handout a pass-along card and share the video. Also, the video is so important that the church has bought all the ad time on YouTube's homepage from December 7th all the way through the New Year.  It's super important that you invite friends to watch it.
My new roommates are pretty interesting. They're Spanish speaking Elders. One thing they like to cook for lunch on occasion is cow heart... I haven't tried it yet (and I probably won't) but they tell me it's good.
My Thanksgiving was great! We only had one appointment (thank goodness), but we still ate too much (never mind). I hope all of your Thanksgivings were good too! It's definitely weird not being with my family for the Holidays...
Love you all! Keep in touch, send pics, and let me know how you all are doing!
Love,


Elder Jones

Monday, November 24, 2014

Week 22: Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey friends and family!

My week has been one unexpected circumstance after another. Like I said in my last email, I've been transferred to Logandale, NV. I cover two wards - one in Overton and the other in Logandale. My new companion is Elder Crabb, a missionary from Colorado. We work really well together, probably better than my last couple companions.

We had some cool spiritual experiences. The one I will tell you about involves prayer. So here in Logandale, most everybody's Mormon so it's hard to find non-members to talk to. We were walking around, and we decided to say a prayer. After saying the prayer, we contacted and tracted into member after member. I even told Elder Crabb that I thought my Spidey-senses were off a little bit. We were walking back to our car when we saw someone coming are way so we contacted them. They turned out to be non-members, so we shared a scripture with them. After that, we asked if they were interested in learning more (they weren't) but they said their friend Larry might be. So we followed them back to their house. We met Larry and his dad Robert. Larry is a non-member/atheist but Robert turned out to be an inactive member of the Church! Robert is hard to teach, but he said we could come back whenever. Hopefully we will have the opportunity to teach Larry and Robert so that we can help them come to church sometime! Heavenly Father literally put us in the right place at the right time to meet them that day.

We've also had some interesting adventures. On Friday, we were driving on some dirt roads and got our car stuck in some really soft sand around 8 pm. The wheels wouldn't turn so Elder Crabb tried to get the wheels unburied while I tried to use the accelerator to get us out. Our minivan doesn't have a 4-wheel drive so we ended up getting pretty stuck. 
We got back on the main road around 9 pm and knocked on a random house for help. An older-woman answered the door gave us a ride back to our car, and we ended up knocking on another door. The man who answered is a cop. He called one of his friends (who just so happened to be the second counselor in our ward) to come pull us out. We had some crazy coincidences that led to us getting our car pulled out. It's safe to say that Heavenly Father was aware of our situation and helped us to be safe.

In short, missions are awesome. You get the opportunity to rely on Heavenly Father as much as possible. And the best part is that he actually responds by giving you what you need.
I love you all! Keep in touch!
Sincerely,
 
Elder Jones

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Week 21: New Transfer, New Area

17 November 2014

Hey everybody!

As you probably could tell from the subject line, I'm being transferred from my home here in the Meadows 8th ward to a ward in Logandale. Based on the teasings by my fellow missionaries in the Meadows Zone, I've been "exiled" from the Las Vegas Valley... Oh well! I'm pretty excited to serve in Logandale for the next couple of months. I hear there's lot of service opportunities (farm/ranch work), no Walmart, and lots of mormons! It's certainly going to be an adventure.

What's interesting is how you grow to love the area you serve in. To be honest, this area had been a struggle when I first got here, but I've met so many new people and have gained a lot of new friends who I hope keep in contact. That's the way the Lord works; you first show Him your willingness by enlisting in His army, then you show your humility by being obedient to His orders, and, lastly, He helps you to feel satisfied with your work when the job is done. I really do love this place; I'm sad to leave.

I watched a Mormon Message this past week called "You Never Know". It's about a mom who wants to go and spend a couple hours with her cousin, but her day seems to be eaten up by babysitting, kids' science projects, comforting and consoling friends, making dinner for people, etc. At the end of the day, she is upset because she was unable to hang out with her cousin. She feels like a failure; but when her son says the family prayer, she's able to realize how much good she did that day. At the end of the video, President Hinckley gives a quote:

"Many of you think you are failures. You feel you cannot do well, that with all of your effort it is not sufficient. We all worry about our performance. We all wish we could do better. But unfortunately we do not realize, we do not often see the results that come of what we do. You never know how much good you do."

President Hinckley is the man! I hope and pray that you all can feel satisfied with whatever work the Lord gives you as long as you do your best. That is certainly how I feel now that I'm being transferred.

I love all of you! Keep in touch and be safe!

Love,
 
Elder Jones

p.s. congradulate Maddie Widgren for me! She'll do great!

Week 20: Work in Progress


10 November 2014

Hey everyone,

I hope you all have had a great week! 

This week was one of those weeks in which Heavenly Father had a lot to teach me. A lot of the days I felt a bit frustrated as to why our area struggles. Is it just a slow area? Is it my companion's fault? Is it my fault? Having a slower area in a high-baptizing mission like this one can be fairly discouraging. It sometimes makes you question why you're out serving a mission. I prayed a lot for help, for improvement in the area, and improvement in my attitude. 

It was funny because one morning I was reading through the footnotes of a scripture and the footnotes took me all the way to D&C 67:10, in which the Lord says:

10 And again, verily I say unto you that it is your privilege, and a promise I give unto you that have been ordained unto this ministry, that inasmuch as you strip yourselves from jealousies and fears, and humble yourselves before me, for ye are not sufficiently humble, the veil shall be rent and you shall see me and know that I amnot with the carnal neither natural mind, but with the spiritual.

Isn't that a cool promise? He says that we, like the Brother of Jared, will eventually be able to see him if we rid ourselves of every ounce of pride, doubt, and fear that we have. It probably won't be now; it might not even be in this life, but one day, if we have used the Savior's Atonement to the fullest extent that we possibly can, we will see him. I'm so grateful that my Father in Heaven loves me enough to give me comfort and counsel in order to answer my prayers.

In other news, we were also able to set a former investigator with a baptismal date! She said if she knows that the Church is true then she will be baptized. 

We also had the opportunity to watch Meet the Mormons at our Zone Conference! That was really awesome. I especially loved the story about the Candy Bomber. I hope we all can find our own unique ways to give service like he did!

I love you all; be safe and keep in touch!

Love,
Elder Jones

Week 19: Book of Mormon!

Zone Conference
3 November 2014

Hey everyone!

I hope you all are doing great! My week's been pretty fun; we've pretty much had activity after activity. It all kind of culminated with our ward trunk-or-treat on Wednesday. My Ward Mission Leader is insane, but awesome. He literally put the activity together himself (with us missionaries doing the heavy lifting of course). He ordered bounce houses, brought a cooking trailer and cooking semi-truck, brought 20+tables, rented stadium lights, and even built a sand volleyball court behind our church building. It was a tri-ward event and was super-successful; we were able to get some less-actives, investigators, and potential investigators to come. It was amazing!

I also had the chance to go on exchanges with a couple of missionaries in my district. On Thursday I went with Elder Palmer, who is from the Calgary-Alberta part of Canada! He has become a good friend of mine, and even gave some good advice about missionary work. Most of the advice involved me being confident in myself and opening my mouth when I see people on the street. He told me that it was his desire to actually not want to leave Vegas by the time his mission was over. That night, we taught a pretty cool lesson. We taught a couple about the Plan of Salvation. The woman's daughter is a member, and she said that she didn't believe we were a cult anymore, and that it made her happy to know that that's what her daughter believed. She even said we could come back! Not sure about the chances of her getting baptized, but it feels awesome to share the Gospel.

Halloween was on Friday, so we had to stop proselyting by 6pm. After 6, we had approval from our mission president to watch some non-church movies. My roommates and I watched all three Toy Story movies! That was pretty nostalgic. Our mission president is awesome!

I also finished the Book of Mormon for the first time on my mission. That book really is amazing and I would encourage all of you to read it if you haven't, and then to share it. That book changes minds, it changes hearts, and it changes people. If you don't have a testimony of it, then get one! I promise that you will know it's true if you just read it!

I love all of you! Take care, be safe, and keep in touch!

Love,
Elder Jones

Monday, October 27, 2014

Week 18 - I love being a missionary!

Hey everyone!

 



This week has been incredible. Like I was talking about last week, we had a baptism set for Saturday;it was so cool! The girl we had set for baptism was so excited for Saturday, and to be honest, her excitement was contagious. I was pretty nervous about everything from the opening prayer to when she walked in the font, but really it was great.

Being a missionary is great! To think that the Lord is preparing people who are waiting for us to reach them is something I just can't wrap my head around quite yet, although it's true. My Ward Mission Leader Brother Truman said it best that there are people that we promised to find in the pre-existence. It seems crazy, but really it's awesome! Heavenly Father loves each of his children, and will prepare a way for His servants to find those people. If she were my only baptism, I think that I would go home happy.

That was probably the most exciting thing that happened this week. We helped out with a lot of different service projects, like removing bushes from a member's front yard. Another missionary and I even lit some of them on fire because there were spider nests underneath the bushes. It was pretty funny... 

We also were able to help a less-active woman in the ward come to church on Sunday! I've been working with her for the past 2.5 transfers, and wasn't until we gave her a blessing the other week that she actually came to church.

One last experience was that I got to attend our mission's monthly musical fireside last night. I'm glad that I get to be in such a musical mission (those tender mercies...). The performances were great. You all should go if you're ever in Vegas.

Anyway, I love all of you! Take care and keep in touch!

Love,
 
Elder Jones

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Week 17: New Investigators and an upcoming baptism!

Week 16: New Transfer!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Mission Pictures - Week 15

 Looking good in the neighborhood!



 Zach's Dream Car - Grandpa would love it!




Hanging out with fellow missionaries!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Week 15 - Press forward with a steadfastness in Christ

Monday, September 29, 2014

Week 14: Crazy Times!

Hey everyone!

I hope everything is going great at home because things are certainly going well over here. This area is actually beginning to pick up a little bit, and I'm super-excited to be a part of it. 

We have had some crazy fun experiences this past week. We were able to share three lessons with the 12 year-old girl that we have set for baptism. Whenever we teach her, her grandma (who is a less-active) sits in on the lessons and totally adores everything we teach. One morning, my companion were talking about teaching them about the law of chastity, but when I went to do my personal study, I had a strange impression that we needed to teach her about tithing and fast offerings. When we went to teach them that night, the grandma said that she'd been wondering about tithing because her mother-in-law was such an active tithe-payer, and she really wanted to follow that example. It's awesome to see gifts of the Spirit (in this case, discernment) in action!

I also had another cool experience while on exchanges with another missionary on Friday. We just decided to go at it that day, and talk to everybody that we saw. We went to visit a less-active in the ward who I had never met before. The person who answered the door was a non-member lady who is the wife of the less-active. We asked if the less-active was home, but it turns out that he's stationed with the army in North Carolina. We asked if we could share a message with her, and she said yes! We taught her about the Restoration, and she told us a little bit about her husband's family. She said that her in-laws (who are LDS) would be thrilled to know that she was meeting with us. It's amazing to think about how many opportunities there are to teach people in part-member and less-active families, and really, the Lord isn't going to bless us with new converts until we've cleaned up and organized His house a little bit.

We were also able to finally help our ward agree on a legitimate ward mission plan. The last few months have been rough since the ward council has been a little difficult to work with, but we're making progress. The ward is becoming quite a bit more goal-oriented. Hopefully this continues because this area really will blossom if it does.

It's crazy to think about the times that we live in. This dispensation really is the final one leading up to the Second Coming. It is really easy to see that the Lord is hastening the Work. In D+C 4, the Lord talks about how the "field is white already to harvest; And lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul." The only thing required to hasten the Work is work! We have to do everything we can to help others receive the joys of salvation so that we can truly enjoy salvation ourselves. There's a parable in a book called House of Glory by S. Michael Wilcox called "The Parable of the Keys." I won't include it in this letter, but I would encourage each of you to look it up on the internet and read it. I can promise that salvation and exaltation will not be joyful without all of God's children. We are what brings Him joy. That's why it is imperative that we are member missionaries, and that we do our family history work.

I hope all of you have a great week. Keep in touch, keep up the good work, and keep sharing the Gospel!

Love,
Elder Jones

Monday, September 22, 2014

Week 13 - The Savior's Atonement

Hey everyone!

It's great to hear how you all are doing. After hearing about some of your experiences from this past week. It just makes me think about how thankful I am to have all of you in my life. I truly have been blessed to have been raised where I was.

This week has been pretty amazing. We have been able to teach a lot more lessons than usual, and even got to go on some crazy exchanges. On Tuesday night, I had the chance to go on splits with the high priests in the ward. We went to visit one of our investigators who just so happened to be standing out in front of his house working on his car (and smoking a cigarette...). We were able to have a good discussion about the First Vision and how we can receive answers from God. He and his son are non-denominational Christians who have very Catholic views in regards to doctrine. He told us how he believed in the Trinity, and had questions about our view of the Godhead. It was a wonderful conversation, and said that he still really wanted to meet with us. Hopefully we can find another time to meet with him (he has a crazy work schedule).

On Thursday, I went on exchanges with the two other greenies in my district. All three of us were put together because our trainers all had to go to a leadership meeting. I was the only one with driving privileges, so I got to drive (don't worry Dad; I didn't drive too fast ;) ) One of the lessons we taught was to a man who "really wants to find the truth". He had been dropped by other missionaries about a year and a half ago because he couldn't make a decision about baptism. We taught him about the Restoration, and he actually remembered quite a lot. I even extended the baptismal invitation to him at the end of the lesson, but he told us that he wanted to know for sure before he agreed. I can kind of see why he was dropped before, but hopefully the Spirit is able to touch his heart because he really is a receptive, golden investigator. He was quite thankful that we invited him to baptism, though.

One thing that has been on my mind a lot recently is the Atonement. We learn that the Atonement is the only thing that can change us, that we can't become like our Heavenly Father without it; but how can we more fully utilize it? The answer: live and learn the Doctrine of Christ. 
The Doctrine of Christ is the most important thing that we can learn about. It teaches us to have faith in Christ, to repent, to be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and to endure to the end. The only way we can internalize this doctrine is by having faith unto repentance. One scripture I read today really stood out to me:

And now, it came to pass that when king Benjamin had made an end of speaking the words which had been delivered unto him by the angel‍ of the Lord, that he cast his eyes round about on the multitude, and behold they had fallen‍ to the earth, for the fear‍ of the Lord had come upon them.

 And they had viewed‍ themselves in their own carnal‍ state, even less‍ than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning‍ blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created‍ heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men.

 And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission‍ of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith‍ which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words‍ which king Benjamin had spoken unto them.

These people only received a peace of conscience and a remission of their sins because of their faith in Christ unto repentance. It was because they recognized the need for the Atonement and wanted to change that they were, in turn, changed.

I would hope that we all learn to have that faith and desire, because Christ is the only way we can improve. One of my MTC teachers said that "Christ is the answer to everything, including your French toast".

I love you all and hope you all have a great week! Keep in touch.

Love,

Elder Jones

Monday, September 15, 2014

The weight's not too heavy...

Hey everyone!

I just want to let you know that all in all, being a missionary is awesome! Sure there are tough times, but it is really neat to share the gospel with a ton of people. I have had so many cool opportunities this week, it's hard not to be grateful.

The coolest thing to happen this past week would have to be going on exchanges with my zone leader Elder Carson in his area. He's probably the nicest person I have ever met. He has made charity a part of himself. We were able to teach 3 lessons on Friday, and each of them were really spiritually uplifting. The last lesson we taught that day was with a young man who lives in a very sketchy part of Las Vegas. This young man has had so many interactions with church members in the last couple months that he is convinced that God is trying to tell him something. I'm pretty convinced of that too. We taught him about the Restoration. When we got to the part about Joseph Smith, I read to him the account of the First Vision and then asked, "How crazy is that? That a kid like that was able to talk to God is just incredible, right?" And the young man got the biggest smile on his faith, started to laugh, and said that he believed it. It was so cool! We even invited him to baptism. He said yes at first, but once he realized the kind of commitment that he would be making (keep the commandments, go to church every week) he backed off a little bit. He did say that if he was to get baptized, he would want me, the zone leaders, and his friend who shared the gospel with him to be there. It's so awesome to see the excitement that some investigators have!

Another awesome experience was that the young girl we have set for baptism came to church yesterday. Her grandma has not been active for a long time, but expressed interest in coming to church again. After sacrament meeting, we talked with the grandma and she said she really enjoyed it, and that she wants to come next week. Our hopes are if we can get the grandma active, to feel the Spirit, and become converted, that the girl will be able to find that conversion as well. One of our area's biggest problems is retention; I really don't want to see this girl get baptized and then stop coming to church because then we'd be responsible for having baptized someone who wasn't ready. That's not what Heavenly Father wants.

Even so, the responsibility that we have is what makes our efforts worth it. If I am doing everything I am asked to do and strive to accomplish the tasks at hand, Heavenly Father won't hold any blessings back. If I don't do what I'm asked, why would He even bother helping me? Everything in this mission, in this life, or in this gospel, is tied directly to obedience and effort. Heavenly Father actively tells us, "I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say, but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise." (D+C 82:10) It's not even our will that get's the job done; it is when we try to be like the Savior and say, "Not my will, but thine, be done." (Luke 22:42) If I don't talk to that person, I'm responsible for not sharing the gospel with them. Heavenly Father has commanded all of us (not just set-apart missionaries) to do missionary work, so it is really important that we show our the Lord that we are willing to do what He asks of us.

I would like to challenge each of you to look for opportunities to share the Gospel with someone this week. I can promise that if you are actively studying, praying, and searching, that the Lord will give you courage and opportunities to help change peoples lives. If you have any neat experiences, write me and tell me about them. We are uplifted and edified when we share our testimonies with others!

I love all of you so much. Thank you so much for all of the good things that each of you do in your everyday lives. It's not always the big things so much as it is the small things that we do for others that really influences other people's lives.

Keep in touch! 
Send letters or emails, and just let me know how you all are doing. I'd love to hear from each of you!

Love,
Elder Jones