Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Week 39 - Transfers

Hey everyone!
Sorry for the late email. Yesterday was transfers and was a bit complicated. Elder Mingo was transferred and I was tasked with training a new greenie (again)! At first I thought President Ahlander was trying to kill me, but this new companionship is turning out pretty good so far. His name is Elder Rathjen, and you'll never guess where he's from. He's from Kansas City as well, and he even went to Shawnee Mission North High School. We get along great so far; I'm excited to train him!
The rest of the week has been sorta same old, same old. Nothing too crazy happened.

The highlight of the week was our lesson with Dan and Pat. Dan and Pat are still doing awesome! They didn't come to church on Sunday because they were sick, but we had an awesome experience last Tuesday. Dan had been struggling with the idea of temple ordinance work, but he was grabbing some water in the back room when it "hit him like a ton of bricks". Then he teared up and said, "I can help save my grandmother."

Those moments, when you see that light switch turn on in somebody and they feel the influence of the Holy Ghost, make all of the stress in between worth it! Thank you Spirit of Elijah! I really do love these people; hopefully, they have good fellowshippers after I leave.
I'm also coming up on my year-mark in about 3 months. Is that weird to anyone else? My time is flying by so fast and I won't really be able to get it back... It makes me a bit sad sometimes, but missions are certainly worth it.

Hope y'all have a great week! Love ya!

Elder Jones

Monday, March 16, 2015

Week 38 - Best teaching week of my mission!

Hey everyone!
I hope y'all are having a great week (I've gone pretty redneck since I've been here, as you could tell).
I probably had the best teaching week of my mission! We taught 13 lessons to investigators and less-actives (it would be more if I factored in the lessons taught to active members). Numbers aren't supposed to matter, but it really was a good week.
We taught Dan and Pat about temples and family history work. Dan didn't quite get it at first, but Pat (who has been doing family history research for over 40 years) told us she realized why she'd been doing it all that time. She told us that she potentially has over 4000 names of people whose work could get done for them. That was really awesome!
After helping the local butcher cut up some meat, we went to a restaurant called Sugar's. This place has some seriously oversized food. I ordered the pancakes. What I got was 3 pancakes the almost the size of plates that were almost a half-inch thick each. My stomach did not feel too good after that.
One of the counselors in our mission presidency referred me to a scripture in D+C 101 that talks about Abrahamic trials. Apparently, we will all have one at some point in our lives. After I read that, I found another scripture on the same topic.
In D&C 132:50, the Lord says,
Behold, I have seen your sacrifices, and will forgive all your sins; I have seen your sacrifices in obedience to that which I have told you. Go, therefore, and I make a way for your escape, as I accepted the offering of Abraham of his son Isaac.

Sometimes things don't go our way and they're hard, but the Lord will provide a way for each of us to escape. This is the promise made to us as long as we are obedience. Obedience really is a sacrifice.
Have a great week!

Elder Jones

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Week 37: Working!

March 9, 2015

Hey everyone!

I hope y'alls week is going great! Like it says in the subject line, I'm out here working. Like always, that's what you have to do in missionary work otherwise nothing will happen. And sometimes that work yields unexpected results. The stories can be really spiritual and uplifting. They can be hard and difficult. Or they could even be hilarious. I'll start off with a funny story.

Our allotted service hours got bumped up from 4 to 10 hours this week. This meant that we could help the local butcher twice! We went to help him kill another cow, but the cow was in a big pasture. Brother O'Dell (the butcher in town) drove his backhoe to the pasture and dropped off some hay to lure the cow, but the cow was a little too smart for us; he wouldn't eat it. Brother O'Dell then told us to go into the pasture to herd the cow toward the front so that he could shoot it. The .22 rifle wasn't big enough, so we took him to his house so that he could grab a bigger gun. This one was a .45 hunting rifle, and we kept trying to herd the cow without being in the line of fire and without getting run over by some cows and bulls. He ended up hitting the cow about 4 times, but it wouldn't go down. We went back to his place, and he grabbed a bigger gun. It was a .308 long range hunting rifle. This time we got the cow closer to Brother O'Dell and he shot it in the head. The cow finally went down after 6 shots, 3 guns, and 2.5 hours of chasing it in the pasture. That was one long morning.

Our investigators are doing alright. Dan and Pat are still solidly set for baptism on April 4th. Rick (the 20 year-old) is still smoking. And the young couple still is not married. Even though it sounds like things are slow, we taught a bunch of lessons this past week. One of those days, I went on exchanges with my zone leader Elder Patterson. Our day was awesome! We found a potential investigator. This potential investigator is a 9 year-old boy whose aunt and uncle are in our ward, and he wants to get baptized! So we will try to start teaching him this week! Hopefully his mom (a non-member) agrees to let us teach him.

I love this area. I'm sure this is going to have been one of my favorite places to serve. The people are all awesome! If you all ever get the chance, you should pay a visit to Logandale, NV. This place has been a testimony builder to me. I'm really hoping I get to stay here another transfer!

Have a great week everybody!
Elder Jones

Week 36: I'm Exhausted... :)

March 2, 2015

Zach with EFY Speaker, Hank Smith
Hey everyone! 

I hope y'all had a great week! We've had so much going on, I'm just tired thinking back on it. I won't bore you with all the details, but I will mention two neat things that happened.
I helped kill and butcher my first cow and pig this past week. I really thought that I would be squeamish and not enjoy it, but it was actually a lot of fun! The other missionaries volunteered me to cut off the legs since it was my first time. That was weird. I didn't realize how much science and precision is involved in slaughtering animals. The things people learn on their missions. You might find it gross, but me and the Elder I was with took a picture with the cow head; the moment was too hard to pass up.

Our zone leaders had a baptism this past Saturday, and we wanted to invite Dan and Pat to go watch. We called them and left a message, but they never called back. So I had the thought to go over to their house and personally invite them. We got there and they said that they had already gotten our message and that they wanted to go. We somehow got talking about their baptism, and so Pat asked us to tell her what the baptismal interview questions were. We went through the questions, left made some visits, and headed to the baptism. They were already there by the time we got to the baptism. I played the piano there because they didn't have anyone to do it (that talent really does come in handy. Dan and Pat really enjoyed it; when we started teaching them, Pat was on board, but Dan wasn't entirely into it. After the baptism he told us that he was really looking forward to being baptized. At church yesterday, I decided to bear my testimony since they were there. I came back to sit with them afterwards, and all I heard was Pat say, "Wow, he belongs up there," and I also heard Dan say, "Good job, grandson." They always joke with me that they should adopt me! They are awesome and I am really looking forward to their baptism!

One more thing was we had the opportunity to listen to Hank Smith give a talk.If you have ever heard of Hank Smith (he spoke at the EFY I went to a couple years ago), he teaches Book of Mormon and New Testament at BYU and he travels around a lot speaking at EFYs and Youth Conferences. He came to the youth conference here in the Logandale stake. His talk (you shoulda heard it) was awesome! It was about building an unshakeable testimony. One thing he pointed out is people who leave the church always say they "lost their testimony". Brother Smith, in relating it to Alma 32, said you don't lose it, you let it die. If a testimony's a tree, you don't just lose a tree, you let it die. it was a funny, but true analogy. Makes me want to continue to pray, read my scriptures, and go to church! All the primary answers!

Hope you all have a great week!
Elder Jones

Week 35: Time Flies...

 February 23, 2015

Mending Fences

Hey everyone!

I'm excited (and a little nervous) to say that after next week, I will have been on my mission for 8 months! It's weird... But we're still working hard, and still having a lot of fun!
We having been teaching a lot of lessons, and most of our investigators are progressing, even if that progression is a little slow!

We had an experience on Saturday that was an answer to a prayer. We had a service project at 7am and a lesson at 10am; however, we weren't able to prepare for the lesson because the service project went a little too long. Elder Mingo and I had decided to teach the Word of Wisdom, but I was definitely worried since didn't get to role play. We made it to the appointment and started talking to our investigators. Dan (the investigator's name) said before we showed up, he was reading in Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants (the Word of Wisdom). I couldn't believe it, mostly because we hadn't asked him to read it. He read the section out loud to us, and started asking us questions about it. Then I said, "Well, since that was the lesson we came to teach, we clearly don't need to teach it." Dan laughed and called it "divine intervention". That was definitely a miracle, even if a small one.
The service project that we did on Saturday morning involved putting up a non-member woman's wire fence that had gotten knocked over during the flood. That was fun because I was able to work with tools that I have never heard of before (like a comealong winch)... I'm sure everyone else knew what that was.  The project took a while, but it definitely was fun working with our ward members to put the fence back up!

I signed me and my companion up to help kill a cow this week. I'm anxious, but I have to try it at least once before I leave Logandale!

We also ate with a family who makes Alligator Jelly. It's a mix between pomegranates and jalapenos and it's awesome. If you ever go to Logandale, buy some!

I found a scripture in Mosiah that I thought was awesome! It's in Mosiah 23:9-11--

 But remember the iniquity of king Noah and his priests; and I myself was caught in a snare, and did many things which were abominable in the sight of the Lord, which caused me sore repentance;
 10 Nevertheless, after much tribulation, the Lord did hear my cries, and did answer my prayers, and has made me an instrument in his hands in bringing so many of you to a knowledge of his truth.
 11 Nevertheless, in this I do not glory, for I am unworthy to glory of myself.
I don't usually recognize enough that the good things that happen while I'm working aren't because of me, they happen because Heavenly Father sees fit to bless His missionaries as they do the work that they have been asked to do!

Have a great week everyone!

Elder Jones

Fencing Service Project Attendees

Alligator Jelly

Week 34: Training!

February 16, 2015
Hey everyone,

As the expression goes, if missionary work were a barrel of monkeys... I don't even know what I'm trying to say with that one. Even so, I have had a pretty interesting week. I met my new companion last Monday. His name is Elder Mingo. He is from a country in South America called Guyana, and has only been a member of the church for 2.5 years. He was converted as a result of two missionaries knocking on his door, and has been serving as a missionary ever since. He already served an 18 month church service mission, so guess what? I don't have to "train" him very much; he came pretrained!

We've had a good week! We have been working on meeting with several of our investigators. We have a couple of our investigators who are progressing really rapidly. Dan & Pat have made it to church the past two weeks in a row and plan on getting baptized on April 4th. I am so excited for them.

On Saturday, we went around delivering Valentines' Day cookies that a member of one of our wards made. That was probably one of the most fun activities that I have done in a while because it was such an ice-breaker in terms of talking to less-actives, non-members, and investigators. We were able to set up a bunch of appointments will try to help these people progress, even if it's just a little bit. Even one less-active who we were about to put on the do not contact list talked with us for several minutes because the cookies were such a nice gesture. For those of you out there unsure of how to do member-missionary work, making cookies for the missionaries to deliver is definitely an easy way to do it!

As for the rabbit we accidentally killed last week, we ended up eating it on Tuesday. It tasted like chicken. It was funny...

One of my favorite quotes from Jesus the Christ is about prayer. Talmage says, "It is well to know that prayer is not compounded of words, words that may fail to express what one desires to say, words that so often cloak inconsistencies, words that may have no deeper source than the physical organs of speech, words that may be spoken to impress mortal ears. The dumb may pray, and that too with the eloquence that prevails in heaven. Prayer is made up of heart throbs and the righteous yearnings of the soul, of supplication based on the realization of need, of contrition and pure desire. If there lives a man who has never really prayed, that man is a being apart from the order of the divine in human nature, a stranger in the family of God’s children. Prayer is for the uplifting of the suppliant. God without our prayers would be God; but we without prayer cannot be admitted to the kingdom of God. So did Christ instruct: “your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”

As long as our prayers are heartfelt, we don't need to worry about the words we use! That is what I will try to work on in the coming months. As I do that, I know that the Lord will bless me in ways I can't imagine. I can promise the same for all of you as well.

Hope you all have a great week!

Elder Jones