Sunday, October 23, 2011

Recent pictures of Sister Jones :)

Quilts at the Trail Center!
Sister Jones & Sister Hawkes

Omaha Zoo! 


Sister Jones and Sister Hawkes outside the Winter Quarters Temple

rainy day! 

Apple picking! 

After cleaning the temple! 

Winter Quarters Sisters


"This is what all of Nebraska was supposed to look like!"

Workin' on their fitness

Leaves change?! What?!?!

Sister Jones with our dad at the Trail Center! 

Baptism :)

Omaha, Nebraska Week 9

October 18, 2011

How are you all doing?! Anything new in life?

Things are going well here! This week it is starting to show signs of winter! Scary! Yesterday was one of the first cold days but it's not too bad. Today Sister Hawkes and I are going to try and find some boots for me. What an adventure! I'm going to have to gradually start accumulating some winter clothes. I have lots of tights and spandex but now I need to layers for on top. As the weather gets colder all of the colorful leaves are now falling and things are getting a little bare. That is the saddest part!

Well guess what?! We had some visitors from the general church leaders come on Saturday. We met Sister Wixom (from the General Primary Presidency), Sister Dalton (from the Young Women's Presidency), and Sister Thompson (from the Relief Society Presidency.) They stopped by the Trail Center for a little bit and we were able to meet with them. That was a neat experience. They are such amazing ladies!

That same day I gave my first tour to a deaf family!! I was nervous when someone grabbed me and was like, "You know some sign language, right?" I said something like, "yeah... but not much and it has been forever." Well, that qualified me so I hesitantly walk up to them and sign the best I could to them asking them how they are doing and where they are from. Thankfully I could remember how to sign that! haha! I was much better at reading their signs than remember how to talk back. Luckily I could make out them signing something to the effect of, "we are waiting for our friend who will be the interpreter." My thoughts, "HALLELUJAH!!" So their friend came and was able to interpret for me. I signed what I knew and could remember and he did the rest and would help me understand what I could get from their signs. It was such a fun time being able to use sign language though! A lot came back to me throughout the tour so that was good! This family wasn't members so it was kind of difficult to try and explain things very simply to them and keep their attention to focus on the interpreter. Something went well though because they took a Book of Mormon out with them and said they would look at it.

Also, I have some exciting news!!! We now get to do the chat service! They just added in a 6 hour shift where we will be chatting with people on and answering their questions. It's so cool At first it was just going to be 1 hour but I guess the head department said that wasn't enough so now we will be sitting for 6 hours talking to people. We talk to people as a companionship and we can only do one chat at a time. Some sisters have already had some really neat experiences! We also can set return appointments with people and can continuously teach them online, no matter where they are in the world. Pretty sweet!
Pretty much everyone we talk to has seen the commericals here. Most people are connecting it with Mitt Romney though. Everyone thinks they are pretty cool but so far it hasn't necessarily increased our teaching pool. Although it does let us talk to people on their door steps a little easier. We're excited to see how this push will increase the missionary work and efforts in our areas! The ward members are excited about it though!

This week we got to do a good amount of service! For one family we helped them clean out their garage. That was a good time! We also are doing a good amount of leaf raking! Oh man, Nebraska has SO MANY spiders... everyone! It is rare to not see spider webs outside of people's front doors. I don't think they even care to try and get rid of them because there are monstrous spider webs everywhere. Perfect for Halloween though! Also, Nebraskans really get into Halloween decorations. I have been thoroughly impressed so far!

So we had a cool experience earlier this week! So if you didn't know, we have our entire day planned out in 30 minute increments with a back-up plan to everything. So there is never a minute when we don't know what we should be doing or where we need to go. Anyways, we randomly feel like we need to go visit a certain Less-active family in the ward who we didn't plan for. We walk up to the house and see another woman in her car in their driveway and she says they aren't home and she just tried. So we get talking to this lady who is sitting in her car with the window down. She is way nice and asks what we are doing... we tell her how we're missionaries and about the message we have. Then she politely asks us if we will pray with her right there. She was so cute, probably in her mid-30's. She grabs our hands and then I said a prayer for her. Afterwards she is a little teary eyed and says, "Thank you. You have no idea how much I needed that." It was so grateful we were able to see here there and were at the right place at the right time to help her out. She said she has been struggling a lot and really needs to come to God. She doesn't live in our area so we were able to refer her to the missionaries who work in her area. I love going around and constantly getting to meeting amazing people and serve them.

Well, that about sums up my week! Met lots of good people, have had some nice lessons, and we're working hard!! :)
P.s. Lex, thank you so much for my amazing Halloween package!! My roommates and I love it!! I also enjoyed the pictures. Gracias!!

Have a great week everybody!!
Sister Jones

Omaha, Nebraska Week 8

October 10, 2011
Hello family!!!

This week has been incredible!! Probably one of the best so far!
Here are the highlights:

Interviews with President Kunz: Earlier this week we were able to have interviews and that was really neat! It was great to talk to him one on one and let him know how everything was going. We talked about what I liked from conference and what the talks motivated me to do/ change. It was way good! Then after we were filmed saying an "I'm a Mormon" phrase that they will make into a movie for the next mission president next year with all of the missionaries. I felt super cheesy being filmed saying, "Hi I'm Sister Jones and I'm from Arizona! I'm a tennis player and photographer. I love to laugh, smile, and work hard. I'm a Mormon." Sister Hawkes begged me to include at the end, "I can lick my elbow.... and I'm a Mormon." But I couldn't get myself to say it on film. BUT President and the assistants who were filming made me lick my elbow in front of them! haha! It was hilarious! Before I showed them my (what used to be hidden) talent I made them all try and lick theirs first. It was great! What a bonding moment. :)
Remember when I was telling you about Stephen? The amazing investigator who is incredible and said that he wants to do whatever God wants him to. Well we finally were able to meet with him again this week. He is super busy so it had taken forever to actually have a sit down lesson with him. The other meetings were standing on his porch and seeing how he was doing and reading a scripture. (We have a lot of those kind of lessons.) Stephen is very interested in learning about the Book of Mormon and came to church this Sunday! That was very exciting. The ward was very welcoming... so much that it was pretty funny how many people were stopping him in the hallways. He's African American, loud personality, very sharp and educated, and funny. So it's hard to miss him. He is great so we are excited to continue teaching him.
GUESS WHAT?! Dad and Michelle came to the Trail Center on Saturday with their Bishop, his son, and another friend. (I wish I could remember all of their names, sorry.) They were in town for a SUU football game and decided to come to the Mormon Trail Center. It was so much fun to see them and take them on a tour. It was almost surreal though! Another perk to working at the Trail Center is that we can see family and friends if they happen to be in the area and want a tour. I of course got permission from President Kunz before I gave the okay for the family to visit me here and had to make sure I was working in the TC that day. Everything worked out very smoothly though. I am so grateful I was able to see them and show them around my stomping grounds! It makes sense we can give our families tours here because it's still not as personal as a real visit would be because I was still Sister Jones and not Jenn and resisted the temptation to ask tons of questions about home.  I was grateful Dad and Michelle helped me stay in missionary mode though. It was great being able to introduce them to Sister Hawkes and other missionaries! Yay! ALSO, Elder Naylor, who is a senior Elder and loves genealogy, researched a TON of my family history on the Jones side and gave me a huge family history chart (that rolls out a few feet) and a binder full of facts and stories!! So amazing! He gave me this stuff a week ago and I was so giddy and happy I could hardly speak! He also gave Dad a binder and the scroll of family history. He said his next project is to work on the Auteri side of the family. What an amazing man! I just love him! That was a neat experience for everybody to receive all of that family history and for Elder Naylor to give it to Dad in person. Normally he just mails that to the people's families.
Later on Saturday I had my first baptism!!! A girl named Gabi that we have been teaching got baptized this past Saturday. I was so extremely happy for you. She has such a strong testimony and is a great example. She is around 20 years old and so we decided to let the singles ward missionaries teach her towards the last couple weeks before her baptism. We started out teaching her because she didn't want to go to the singles ward. We suggested it again later on and she agreed that would be good for her and that she would fit in better in a singles ward. Sister Hawkes and I were so grateful we were still able to go to her baptism though. Sometimes it doesn't always work out like that. Gabi was so happy after her baptism and was just glowing! That was such an incredible experience. Oh how I love being a missionary!
Well that about sums up my week!!! As you can see, it was an amazing week!
I love you all!! Thanks for your emails and letters. Just so you know, my next p-day is on Tuesday.

Sister Jones

Omaha, Nebraska Week 7

October 4, 2011
Hello there!!

How is everybody doing? What's new in life? Things are going well here!! This week has been busy even though we hardly had any time in our teaching area... kinda sad, but it all works out in the end. We were scheduled a lot at the Trail Center this week. That is always really great and I have lots of good experiences there. Sometimes it's just hard not to have a balance of time to work in our area in Omaha.

We had two great lessons this week that really stood out among the rest. They were each to less-active members. One woman is trying to quit smoking and she really opened up to us and we were able to talk a lot about how she can be strengthened as she puts her trust in the Lord and continually strives to think of her goals. She really wants to go to the temple so that is her ultimate goal. We are trying to help find ways to avoid the temptation to keep smoking. One of those ways will be to keep a picture of the temple in her wallet so when she gets to the drug store hopefully she'll be able to stop in her tracts. She's such an amazing woman and I really hope she can break this habit so she can feel more confidence and strength and really be able to dive into the gospel. The other family we visited hasn't prayed or gone to church in a very long time. During our lesson the spirit was so strong and everyone could feel it. The wife is a member and the husband is Catholic. It was so great to be able to talk to each of them about love and the Holy Ghost. The dad was participating a lot and talking about his love for his wife and family and how that has changed his life, so that really invited the Spirit. They committed to praying together each night this next week. You could tell they were full heatedly committing to this and not just doing because we asked them. Those are the type of lessons that we love as missionaries. Where people feel the Spirit and are motivated to act because of it. It wasn't because we gave a great lesson or anything, it was all the Lord touching their hearts. So exciting!

General Conference was great!! We were able to watch it at the Trail Center. I wish I had my notes on me so I could say all my favorite parts. Maybe I'll include that next week or send my thoughts in a letter home. We'll see! But is was great and such a cool experience hearing the talks from the missionary perspective. I still need to watch Sunday morning's talks though... we had to give tours during that time. We had conference pulled up on a lap top at the front desk but we were so busy I only could sit down for about 3 minutes for about 5 hours straight. (Which is rare during this time of the season lately.) What were you favorite talks? What stood out to you in conference?

Just in case Brother Calton (the Tempe Institute director that I worked with last year) reads this... I met and gave a tour to the Dunford family this past week and we were talking about how much we love and look up to him. This family used to live in Mesa but now lives in either Snowflake or Showlow now. I think they taught together at Westwood HS (or somewhere like that.) They were such an amazing family and it was so fun to give them a tour. I loved that we both knew Brother Calton and could share how he's touched our lives. (Thanks for being such a great example Brother Calton!!)

Something else that is exciting is that the leaves are changing colors here! YAY! It's so pretty and I love it. The weather has still been really nice so that is a blessing! Winter is just around the corner though! (Dun, dun dun...) haha

So do you all like these emails or should I spend more of my email time separately emailing people? What do you think? I just don't get much of a response about what I write so I'm not sure what to say anymore.
I hope you are all doing great! I'm going to write more details about what is going on in actual letters I think. I am super happy here and loving being a missionary! I am so grateful for the support I receive from my family and friends. I love you all!!

Lots of love,
Sister Jones

Omaha, Nebraska Week 6

September 28, 2011
Hi family!!

This week has been pretty great! We cleaned the temple with our district, had a few good lessons, Aaron visited me at the trail center, had exchanges with another Sister, and found out that Sister Hawkes and I are staying together in the same area this next transfer!!

For our district service project we cleaned the temple and it was such a neat experience. Everybody was jealous that we got to do something so unique and special. I took a picture of the district after cleaning with the temple in the background that I'll send you. 

This week we had a couple first lessons with people. Right now we are almost starting fresh as far as the people we are teaching. There was a few people we had been continually teaching that weren't keeping commitments to read or pray about the Book of Mormon and weren't progressing so we are going to give them a rest for a little bit. This past week we have found a good amount of people who could have potential, so that's exciting! I'm starting to like street contacting better. Yesterday we had a cool experience... There was a younger couple standing outside of somebody's house and we walked up to them, introduced ourselves, then basically said we had a message of hope for them. The man was like, "Alright, that sounds like a good message to me!" Then we talked a bit about trials and how the Lord knows what we're going through. At one point in the conversation I said something like, "Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love each of you so much and know you personally. They know the different trials you face and are always there for you." (Something to that affect.) Just a plain and simple truth, yet powerful. He said, "Wow, I felt that." And rubs his arms as if he got the chills. It's amazing how the Spirit can touch people! It definitely wasn't me that made him "feel" that, it's the Holy Ghost telling him that what was said is true. We got his phone number and hopefully we'll be able to get in contact with them to teach the couple. They were super nice. The other day when we were knocking on a random lady's door she opened and was in the middle of something so we asked if we could come back later and she gave me a dead stare as she was thinking for a long 5 or more seconds. It was just a silent, sole searching stare and then she was like, "Yea, please come back later." That was an intense moment, but I think shew as able to tell we were there for good intentions and had a good message to share with her.

The other day Sister Atkin, a fellow missionary here, told me that a woman in her ward was working at the zoo reading the Book of Mormon on a bench and that some random woman, who isn't a member of the church approached her. The lady came up to her and told her she was just at the Mormon Trail Center and asked if she was mormon. The Zoo lady and other woman got into a conversation and the nommember woman asked her if she knows Sister Jones. Zoo lady said she didn't. Then the other woman said that Sister Jones gave her a really great tour that really  touched her and so she was curious to learn more about the church. (Sooo coool!!!) So the zoo lady gave her a card (that she happened to have on her while at work! yay!) and told her to check it out and to ask for missionaries to come visit her if she wanted to learn more. (Hopefully that story made sense with how I referred to them. haha) I was happy that story came back to me! It's nice to know that we are making a difference and planting seeds in people's hearts. I was also really excited to hear that the member was prepared and ready to share with that woman so she can learn more and act on her desire to learn more about the church. 

Have you all made your profiles?? If you have send me your link! :)

So guess what! Aaron Brown came to the trail center on Friday and I was able to give him a tour! I was so surprised!! His sister had called the trail center that morning to see if I was working so they asked me if that was alright to let them know. Of course I said yes. But I assumed just her and her family were stopping by. It was really fun/ funny to see Aaron standing in the front of the center when I casually walked out of the back room. Crazy! I guess it would be slightly weird/ different to see anybody I knew from back home in a totally different setting. I had a good time taking him around on tour though. It was nice of him to stop by since he was in the area because his other sister got married in Iowa. He said it was kinda weird calling me "Sister Jones" haha! 

On Monday we had exchanges! That's when we trade companions and areas for 24 hours. I was with Sister Vanderdoes in the Bellvue area of Omaha. She is awesome and it was fun seeing other teaching styles. Their area of town is also really pretty. I think it has bigger trees than our area... BUT we came upon a street that looked exactly like what we imagined in our heads before coming to Nebraska!! It was so perfect that we had to take a few pictures of it during our lunch time. It had the essentials... farm land, corn, barns, and the works! The rest of the area doesn't look like the stereotypical Nebraska image so this was exciting for us! I'll send pictures for you!

So overall, life is great and I am living it up! I love teaching people about the Book of Mormon and about prophets! I am SO EXCITED for General Conference this weekend!! EVERYBODY should watch it! It will also be on so go ahead and check it out! I promise it will be great!

Picture explanations: We had a blast going apple picking last week for preparation day! Picture of my district: after zone conference and after cleaning the temple. Picture of all of the Sister in our mission (minus 2 who are full proselyting right now) after our Saturday morning training. Always a good time! Then the pictures of me and Sister Vanderdoes during our exchanges in stereotypical Nebraska area.

Also, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAVE!!!! (I'm sorry this is a little late.) I love you and I hope you had a fabulous day! You are amazing!!

Well I will talk to you all later!! Bye!!
Sister Jones

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pictures of Sister Jones

Winter Quarters Visitors Center! 

Sister Jones at the MTC! 

Omaha, Nebraska Week 5

September 20, 2011
Hello familia!!
How's life for everyone? Things are going well here! It's starting to feel like Fall! The weather is all over the place though... one day it's way cold and rainy and the next it's warmer. I've been wearing scarfs and tights this week. I still feel a bit goofy wearing those particular items of clothing but whatever will keep me warm! lol!

This week was an exciting one!! It was Sister Hawkes' 22nd birthday this past week! We had a good time! My roommates and I woke up pretty early to decorate our apartment with balloons, streamers, sticky notes, and the works! (I had a blast because I LOVE doing that type of stuff for people!) We also made her a cake! I coordinated with our district leader and he made her brownies and brought ice cream to our district meeting that we had that day. She had a great day with LOTS of desserts! Since I'm her companion I can't leave her hanging so of course I had to eat right along with her. I believe we had 5 different desserts throughout the day. :)

Everybody in the whole mission had to take time this week to clean out their entire apartments. Since there are so many missioanries going in and out of the apartments they start to collect a lot of junk and randomness. Since we don't have much time on preparation day to clean they made everybody take time within two days to make sure it was spotless. We spend 7 hours total making a huge pile of things to donate, items to take back to the mission office, and scrubbing things that probably hadn't been cleaned in forever. haha! It actually was pretty fun and time flew by fast! Now the place actually feels like ours and is much more organized! I was finally able to get all my stuff situated in our room as well.
-Mom, the picture of the room is for you... do you like my sheets?? Sister Hawkes was cracking up when I took those out of the package that you sent me. What a lovely surprise! Her and my roommates think you are pretty funny for sending me those wonderful Spongebob sheets! I think they are fun though and how can you not be happy laying down on Spongebob's happy face! So thanks for the fun sheets to spice life up a bit.

On Friday our whole zone got to go to the Winter Quarters Temple!! That was such an amazing experience! The temple is so peaceful and amazing! This Sunday we had our Omaha stake conference! It was a really good meeting with a ton of different people. One of the talks was really good... about being consumers and contributers. That can be applied to life in general or applied to the gospel. Are we letting everybody do things for us and taking the passenger seat in life? Or are we making contributions to society and making it a bette place? Overall he related it to being active in church and doing service. This Sunday was my first day in the mission where we have had to meal appointments right after eachother!! NEVER AGAIN!!! We didn't mean for it to be scheduled that way but that's just how it worked out. We had lunch at 2 with a family and then early dinner at 4pm with another family. I was still full from the previous meal, where they had served my plate so I couldn't get a smaller portion. Then they served my plate at the other meal so I was literally shoving food down... one bite at a time. It was bad! My stomache was hurting but I didn't want to be mean and not eat or look whimpy. haha! I basically finished the whole meal. Parents, I'm sure you're very proud! Then each of the families sent us home with a plate of cookies. Then another family we visited gave us ice cream bars. I may be waddling out of Nebraska when the time comes. We don't eat with families much anymore so it's ok to stuff ourselves on Sunday.

So if you didn't know, everybody in Nebraska is obsessed with the Huskers. There are countless Huskers flags hanging from people's porches and even carved into people's trees. Pretty funny! It's football season and so on Saturday it was hilarious to see how quiet the streets were during the times of the game. We can still go around and visit people but normally we select those who aren't really into football. People here are a bit crazy about it though. Oh well, go Huskers!!!

We have been meeting some great families lately and teaching them about the gospel. The hardest part is meeting with people after our 1st lessons with them. People still say they want us to teach them but them don't have the time. So we are praying to have more 2nd lessons and that people are more availiable. One lady we met and talked to on her porch said she was having a super hard day was was singing a song saying, "Lord, send me an angel." and that we just happened to show up right after that. She wants us to come back and teach her more about the church. We get to have cool experiences like that pretty often. Another person said they were praying to be guided by the Lord and know what to do in their life and then we happened to show up on their door. We don't randomly knock doors too much because we have appointments with people but when we do take time to knock people's neighbor we sometimes will have neat experiences.

Well I have to go now! I love you all and hope you enjoy the pictures I attached! Also, my p-day will be Wednesday next week!
Dad, I hope you had a WONDERFUL birthday!!! :)
Lex, Can you email me my family chart that I made? It's either on my computer or in my email. You can just send me the chart in an email! Thanks!
I love you all! Have a wonderful day!! I get to go apple picking with a senior couple today! I'm excited! The senior couples are all so nice!!

Omaha, Nebraska Week 4

September 12, 2011
Hello loved ones!

The weeks are flying by out here in Nebraska! I feel like I just wrote to you not too long ago but I'm glad I get to update you on everything! I try to make notes during the week of things I may want to mention in my email or letters so it makes it easier to write about when I have to type up things really fast. Now that I'm getting settled it's getting a little harder to think of what to write about... unless you want to hear in detail about how each of my lessons with people go or the tours I take. I'll get creative though so you can hear a mixture of things that are taking place on the mission!

To start off, there is a quilt show here at the trail center!! So downstairs there is a large room filled with amazing quilts! I have been inspired to take up quilting sometime in my life. So family, remember how one of my new years goals was to learn how to sew? haha... well obviously that didn't work out but when I get home I'll make sure that happens! Mom and Lex: In the meantime I think you two should start quilting so when I get home you can teach me and we can start our own club! :) How does that sound?! Maybe I'll send you some pictures of the quilts that I have been witnessing so you can be just as excited as I am. So after we take people on tours we get to send them downstairs to look at the quilts. Some people that live in the area stop by just to see the quilts. When I show people around I even get to wear cool white gloves to show them the backs of the quilts hanging on the walls since they can't touch them. It's serious business! haha

I'm sad to say I can't follow up on too many people I told you about last week because we weren't able to see them. Pretty sad! Both Stephen and Theresa weren't able to make their appointments. The hardest part about missionary work is people keeping their appointments. Life is way too busy for people's own good! This week was kind of odd though because we were in the trail center a TON! Although the trail center is nice it makes it hard with our proselyting area. We are still held to the same missionary standards as far as lessons taught and what not, but with half the amount of time in our area than normal missionaries. This week we were in the trail center 4 whole days and had zone conference another day so we were hardly in our area. That stinks but next week we are only in the Trail Center for 1 day. That's also really weird but at least we can have a week where we can really focus on teaching our people! So exciting!! We were able to visit a lot of less active people this week and also found a lot of potential investigators. After a dinner appointment this week we were in a neighborhood that was super cute with nice people so we went knocking on some doors. We found a lot of families who were interested in learning more about the church! We call it the magical neighborhood now because it was just crazy! We were at one house and the lady hadn't answered the door so as we were walking away she calls out to us to come back, so we walk back, talk to her a bit about her Christian religion, and she wasn't too interested so we just talked about her friends who were LDS. When we left a few minutes later she walks down the road to catch up to us and gives us some water bottles! What a sweetheart! (that was amazing considering we were pretty thirsty.) We have seen so many little miralces this week!

I had some really neat experiences being at the trail center so much this week. We are normally here for 6 hour shifts and have to pack 2 of our meals to squeeze in sometime while we're here. I feel SO blessed to be able to work at a historical site! There are so many amazing people that come through here. We give tours on our own so this is the one place where we aren't with our companions all of the time. It's so fun to take people on tours because for 45 minutes it's just you and them and you really get to know people. Not many people really get that opportunity talk about personal experiences with people and have them open up a lot, while relating it to trials and the faith of the pioneers. What's interesting is that the tours totally depend on the people and their openness. If they come in with a closed mind not willing to talk or learn much then the tour is alright, they learn facts, hear my testimony, but aren't strengthened as much as they could be if they were willing to be open and share. The purpose is to invite the spirit and strengthen their testimonies of Jesus Christ. When people are friendly, happy, and willing to share we have such a great time together and feel like friends by the end of the tour. I love it!!! Overall people are way nice and friendly and really enjoy learning about the pioneer history.

So I have some fun news! Our mission is no longer having dinner appointments after 5:00 pm. Overall we are doing this so we can be more effective during the best times to proselyte, which is between 5-9pm. Although this means we won't be fed too much I am very excited because we'll be able to teach a lot more. Normally we would have dinner at 5:30 and would be there an hour after eating and sharing a quick message with them. Now we have a solid 4 hours to teach!
Here is what President Kunz says,
"I recently learned that the most productive proselyting time is from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., so to help missionaries better fulfill their purpose, we are changing the daily schedule effective Monday, September 12th.  Missionaries will now be expected to proselyte from 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. on non-Preparation Days and 6:00 p.m. on Preparation Day (usually on Monday except for transfer week when it is Wednesday).  Missionaries will continue to meet with members to teach a 15 - 20 minute lesson on the doctrine of Christ to help members fulfill their missionary responsibility and be better prepared for the media campaign.  In conjunction with the daily schedule change, we are also increasing the standard of excellence from 5 investigator lessons with a member per week to 8 investigator lessons with a member per week to encourage more member involvement with investigators. 
 Missionaries will be able to have meal appointments with members before 5:00 p.m.  Missionaries will be able to eat with members after 5:00 p.m. if a progressing investigator or potential new investigator is present, these meals should be completed by 6:30 p.m.  Members can still feed missionaries by either providing meals to be picked up or by donating food to them.  We greatly appreciate the meals provided by members and the opportunity to serve and support them and hope to have continued support from members in even more productive ways. 
 I have a firm spiritual confirmation that by our missionaries spending this additional productive time proselyting from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. we will see more miracles in the mission and many more people baptized."

I am excited for this change and know that it will really help us to be better missionaries and to reach out to more people. Now we just get to budget our money better so that we can supply the majority of our meals. If you know any good and simple recipes let me know! We don't have much time to cook so lately we've been doing a lot of PB&J's and frozen meals. Luckily we work out every morning! It's probably better than eating large dinner meals with dessert included each night though. I don't think I've gained any weight so far. Then again I haven't weight myself since the one time I was able to step on the scale at the MTC. haha! I'm not worried about that though.

So a couple miracles from this weekend:
On Saturday we were in the trail center literally ALL day! We had training at 7:45am where all of the sisters and senior couples get together each week and have a devotional or do role plays. Then we had weekly planning which takes about 3 hours. Then we had our 6 hour shift of giving tours. It was crazy! Since we couldn't be in our area much this week we prayed that someone would be able to come to us that we were teaching. Without us even having to make a call to invite someone one of our less-active ladies that we teach texts us and asks if we were in the trail center because she wants to bring her mom to the quilt show. It was amazing!! Her mom isn't a member and it was fun to meet her and be able to show them around then have a mini lesson with them. It's super rare for someone to come to see us at the TC so we were very happy that worked out.
Yesterday (Sunday) we had to go straight from church  to the TC (trail center). It was also a car fast day so we had to get a ride to the TC from our church which is 30 min away. A wonderful lady in our ward, Sister O'Rourke, gave us a ride. She is sooo incredibly nice and we were so grateful. She asked what we had for dinner and lunch and we said PB&J. I guess she didn't like the idea of that so after she drove back home she came back and made us a dinner to eat!! We couldn't believe it! She had a total of a 2 hour trip just for us. I love our ward members because of selfless and wonderful women like her. We have to do something super nice to pay her back!
Our ward is great that we serve in! What's neat is that there area  ton of converts in the ward. They are so enthusiastic about missionary work and are great with team-ups. (where they come and teach lessons with us.) I never realized how important those were before my mission. I guess they didn't stress them much in our ward. In ward council I would hear about them but didn't realize that missionaries sometimes needed them or really would love people to go out with them. I would've loved to be more involved in that way. So family, you should all see if there is a way you can get more involved with the missionaries to go out and teach with them. They would greatly appreciate it! Member missionaries can be so powerful during lessons because people can relate to them better.

This week I organized my letters! I have a binder with letters from the family and another binder of letters from friends. Pretty exciting! I have them in sheet protectors and everything. I feel much better now that they are organized. I'm just working on writing everybody back. That's so hard when we don't have much time! Oh and guess what!? We are going to the zoo today! Yay! I'm excited!

Well I hope everyone is doing amazing!! Let me know how life is going and what miralces you have had recently. I love you all and will talk to you soon! Adios!!

With much love,
Sister Jones

Omaha, Nebraska Week 3

September 6, 2011
Well hello my lovely family and friends!!

I hope you are all doing wonderfully!! Thanks for the emails and letters you sent me! I love hearing about your lives and everything that's going on back home.

Things in Nebraska are going well! This has been amazing week with some neat experiences! Well it's starting to get a little bit colder here... that's no bueno! So far the weather is still pretty nice though. Yesterday it was around the high 60's. We had a bigger rain storm earlier this week. It was fun! We were driving in it and it was really funny to see Sister Hawkes nervously driving on the freeway about about 35 mph or so. Good times! We get to have a lot of adventures here! Thanks for sending me some scarfs and the bigger coat mom! That will come in handy very soon. When missionaries go home they often leave behind their big coats so I was able to get a bigger coat from that selection! Some of those coats are hilarious! They look like sleeping bags that you wrap around yourselves and go to the floor. I can't imagine wearing that but who knows when it gets below 0.

So this week we had two people set for baptism!! YAY!! We also have a good amount of investigators that could potentially be in that boat next week. We had such a good lesson with a man named Steve! Missionaries had met with him a couple times about a year ago but it didn't go anywhere. So we randomly stopped by his house last week to say hi and see how he was doing. We talked to him for a few minutes on his porch and then made an appointment for a few days later. He has such a love for God and Jesus Christ. He was so excited to hear more about prophets and the Book of Mormon. He said with a huge smile on his face, "do you mean that there is a prophet just like in the Old Testament living TODAY??!" We were like, "Yeah!!" and he just sat there for a moment smiling... then he asked for his name and we talked about Thomas S. Monson for a little bit. Then we talked about the Book of Mormon and talked to him about how he can read it and then pray about it for himself. We testified and said that we KNOW that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. He was like, "that's a pretty bold statement... but you're making me really happy right now. I'm trusting you two!" Then we told him that he can trust us, but really is up to him and that he need to pray to know for himself. That's the great thing about it. People make their own choices. We are just the guides, not people who are forcing others to learn or join our church. He said he would read and pray about it and then he said he would be baptized if he found out it was true. He is sooo amazing! He's really smart, funny, and he's about 35. After I said the closing prayer he said, "Do you know what I just told God as you were praying? I said, "God, if you want me to be a mormon, then I'll be the best Mormon I can be!" I can't wait to meet with him tomorrow to see how everything went! He is the most prepared person ever. Sister Hawkes said he is the most prepared man she's met so far on her mission.

The woman we met is named Theresa. We have a lot more to teach her but we talked a lot about repentance and baptism and how she can be made clean. She said she really would like to be baptized to have that pure and clean feeling. She's an older lady who has had a lot of struggles in her life but has real intent. It will be neat to see her progess!

So Lex, you'll be happy to hear that I'm taking your challenge and writing down a miracle, tender mercy, something I learned, or a cool/ funny story down everynight on a note card. I'll gradually send them to you so you can get a better glimpse at what happens day by day. Can you keep them all together for me in a notecard box or something? Thanks! If there's anything good feel free to share it with the rest of the family. But since you asked me to do this you get to keep them. :) I also write in my journal every night so all of my expeiences are going to be well documented.

Well 2 weeks ago I recieved my first kiss on the mission... we were walking down the street and met an older man and talked to him about the church a little bit. He said he was interested so he gave us his address to meet him later. He smelt like alcohol but wasn't too drunk. When we were leaving we gave him a hand shake and he held on to my hand and kissed it! Yuck!! He just dove his head down right for the kill and there was nothing I could do about it. It was kinda funny though! Luckily it was just the hand... there would be no way he could sneak anything else!
Then this week one of our investigators (the one with the mullet) snuck a hug! He went in to hug me and i put my hands up and I was like, "oh sorry, we're not allowed to hug." So he quickly gave my comp a hug without her knowing. Then acted like he was giving me a handshake and gave me a quick hug. Once again, not my fault! I tried to avoid it. He was like, "come on, there's nothing wrong with a hug to a friend! Look, I even give her a hug! (as he gives his friend Theresa a hug.) He is a funny man but it's not happening again. So those were some funny experiences. I was warned this would happen but I thought I could avoid it a lot better. Practice makes perfect though...

The bugs here love me! It's ridiculous! I have random bug bites on my legs and on my neck. They are always flying around my face and I look like a crazy person trying to swat them away as I'm talking to random people on the street. They don't go near Sister Hawkes though. So bizzare!

Also, I've tried putting my pictures on the comp to sent to you but it's not working! It might be my memory card because it says, "connection error" but my chord works for other people's cameras and they get their pictures on just fine. I'm going to buy a new card today and try it later. I'm printing pics today and i'll send them to you all! :)
I have to go now!
I love you all!!! The work is going great here and we get to teach a lot of people. I love it!!
Sister Jones

Omaha, Nebraska Week 2

August 29, 2011

Happy Monday!! I hope you are all doing well with the new school year!! Thanks for your letters and emails! I really appreciate hearing from all my amazing family and friends! Just so ya know, throughout my entire mission you will be sending my letters to the mission home address that I have given you. So no need to worry if I'm every transferred because that address will be the same the whole time! 

So in my last email I totally forgot to mention how gorgeous Omaha, NE is! I know most people probably imagine that it is all cows and corn fields with a nasty yellow color plastering the state... but the area I'm in is so nice! There is a TON of greenery with big, green trees everywhere! It's fun to see so much grass wherever you go! There are also a lot of hills! In the western part of Nebraska is where you find the flat lands with cows and all that fun stuff. We may get to go visit over there in a few weeks for a zone conference! :) The weather is also amazing! Not much humidity and not even that hot!

Ok question for all of you... 
So I have new scriptures (the ones Dad bought me) and I was wondering if any of you have any good and organized way of marking them. Like different topics are a certain color or anything like that. Hit me up with your ideas! They are so new I'm almost afraid to mark them at all. haha!

The missionary work is going great out here! There is a huge push for out here and there will be a ton of advertisements starting in a few weeks. There will be billboards signs, internet ads, radio and TV commercials, and the works! We are so excited for this! I hear they will be starting this is Phoenix soon too! Our mission president said we need to talk to at least 30 members from our ward a week about and what they can do to prepare for this. Overall they want the members to be prepared for their friends to ask questions about the church. 
The 3 main things they suggest are to:
1. Connect the name "Mormons" with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
2. Tell them about how Jesus Christ is the center of our religion.
3. Invite them to do something... go to the site and look at the videos, go to church with you, or whatever you want!

If you don't have a profile you should go and make one and then share it with your friends. A pretty effective way of doing this is posting it on your facebook wall! :)

Along with meeting with different families from the ward we visit with our different investigators and less active members of the ward. Everyone is really nice to us even if they aren't interested or don't have the desire to come to church. We are able to have great conversations with people about how their belief in Jesus Christ has brought them strength in their lives. There are a lot of Catholic and Lutheran people here in Omaha. The area we are assigned to is said to be the nicest in mission. There are some way nice houses and areas. We also have old parts where the area is a little more ghetto but really it's not that bad. I've also heard that the more ghetto areas are easier to tract in. On Saturday we had a "car fast day" where we don't drive the car at all. This means we have to get picked up by someone in the ward to drive us 30 min into our area and then drops us off. I feel like a pain when we have to do this but they are all happy to serve! For Saturday we had our day pretty well mapped out with the people we would visit and then we made a point to talk to everyone along the way! So far this isn't my most favorite thing to do because people act really weird and awkward around missionaries. I felt like before the mission I could carry on a somewhat normal conversation with most people and then stick a missionary tag on me and I'm struggling because of the response you get from people. When you start talking to random people that just pulled up on their driveway they just look at you like, "why are you talking to me and what do you want?" So it's fun to try and get past that and talk to them and then bring up our purpose as missionaries or something like that. The strategy is different with each person but it's definitely not easy! On Saturday we ran into a guy, probably around 22, and he was sporting an ASU t-shirt and cap! I thought that was so cool so that's how that conversation started out. He's never been to ASU but he's a big fan! We were able to share a little bit about what we believe and he wanted to set an appointment for later this week to hear about the church! Yay! Although trackting can be hard it's well worth it when you meet people like this kid who are excited to hear about the religion and truly are interested. There were a few people like that from Saturday's experience. 

Alright so my typical missionary day:
-Wake up around 6:15
-Work out from 6:30-7:00am
Normally for our workout we go running around the neighborhood with some other Sisters. We also have the option of doing work out videos at the trail center! We did that this morning for the 1st time and it was so fun!! There were 4 of us doing Turbo Jam in the theater downstairs. What a fun way to wake up in the morning!
-7:00-8:00-- shower, get dressed and ready for the day.
-8:00-9:00-- personal study
-9:00-10:00-- companion study
- Then we head out to our area and go to our appointments for the rest of the day!
- We normally have dinner at a member's house at 5:30 and are there for an hour and then are back to work!
- Continue with our appointments and visiting people then we drive home and are back by 9:00. we plan for the rest of the day. Then I write in my journal and get ready for bed. 
-Lights out at 10:30!

That's overall the main layout but there's a lot more we do.
The trail center is a lot of fun! I'm getting better at giving tours although we weren't scheduled much this week. 

Well I have to go now! Thanks for the letters and emails!

Have a wonderful day!! I hope you all got the pictures and letters I sent home. Lex said she didn't get some of my letters so hopefully other people are getting theres. Last week we only had 1 hour to write but hopefully i can write more today! 
Love you all!!

- Sister Jones

Omaha, Nebraska Week 1

August 23, 2011
Hello everyone!

How is everybody doing? I am great!! Nebraska has been treating me well and the weather has been pretty nice! Whenever we're inside teaching a lesson is when it rains or at night and I sleep right through the storms. Right now downtown Omaha is totally flooded. Crazy! Last week when we flew into Omaha it was sooo sad because there was one area that we flew right over that was really flooded! You couldn't even see the roads, just the telephone lines and top halves of the houses that were above water. I had never seen anything like that in real life before. It was insane! Luckily our area isn't flooded like that and we live more on a hill. Thank goodness!!

Ok so i'll try and recap the past week for you! We have an hour to use email so I think I have about 40 min left after reading your emails.

First day: We flew into Omaha and President Kunz and his wife were there waiting for us right outside of the security check point. There were 15 of us all traveling together! 6 Sisters and 9 Elders. We have an awesome group of newbies. So the President and his wife are incredibly nice and cute! They are such a loving couple! We then went back to the mission office where we filled out some paperwork and watched a defensive driving video. Even though we can't drive until we are senior companions, which will probably be a while. Then we had an interview with President Kunz and he gave us each a priesthood blessing. That was really neat and a good experience. He's an amazing man! After the business stuff was done we went to the President's home, had dinner, had a lesson and some role plays, and then called it a night. We stayed at a hotel near by the first 2 nights! That was fun! Sister Bergeson had the room all to ourselves!

2nd day: We woke up nice and early and met up with the rest of the group! We went on our little tour of Omaha! First we went to downtown Omaha where there are life size bronze statues of pioneers along the side of the road on a park. I took some pictures of them because they are so neat! You should try to google it or something. They have handcarts all lined up along the side with random animals. My description isn't very good so try and look it up. LDS sculptors made it but it represents all of the different pioneers that came through, not just the LDS ones. Then we went to Council Bluffs and went through a tour there. That's where Brigham Young was sustained a prophet. Lots of neat history there! After that we made it to Winter Quarters!! I was WAY excited!! This is where I would be spending a good amount of my time and the place I had been researching since the day I got my mission call! We went to the temple grounds first and walked around the cemetery. I loved it! There's such an amazing spirit there knowing the sacrifice the saints went through throughout their journey. The President talked to us for a little bit about the cemetery and the temple. The Mormon Trail Center was the next stop, which is right across the street! We went on a little mini tour of the place. It's so neat because it has ALL of history starting from Nauvoo all the way to Salt Lake City! So I have a lot to learn but it's all coming!
After the tours we got partnered up with another missionary and went out to do real missionary work! This wasn't our official companion but mine happened to be! We found out later that night who our companions were! My companion is Sister Hawkes and she is amazing!! I will tell you more about her later. So the first place we went to was a family's house that they had taught 1 other lessen to before. The young woman answered the door and I was able to teach her about the Book of Mormon! It was a good lesson and it was really cool to see how helpful the MTC was and that the role plays we used to do apply to real life. This girl was so excited to read the BofM and to feel the peace that comes from reading and praying to God. After that lesson we just went around to different houses (tracking) and talked about religion to people. Good times! Peope are a lot more open to talk about religion than I thought!
Overall my first experience was a good one! After teaching with Sister Hawkes I was really hoping my companion would be as happy and nice as she was. We all had lunch at the mission president's home then we had some lessons taught to us by the A.P. (assistant to the pres) missionaries and then by Presdient Kunz. His message was mostly about obedience and how that is how we are successful and happy. It was really good! I wish i had time to type up the notes I took! Later that night we had a testimony meeting with all of us new missionaries. That was such an amazing meeting and the spirit was so strong! Loved it! After that we all were given an envelope with our new assignment in it with our companion's name. We got called up, they handed us the envelope and we read it out loud to everyone. Luckily I was the 2nd one to open mine because I was super anxious and excited! I felt like it was opening my mission call all over again! haha! Then I read where I would be serving (In an area about 30 min from the Trail Site.) And that Sister Hawkes was my companion!! I was SOOOO happy!! Ok let me tell you about how amazing Sister Hawkes is.... She is the happiest, most positive, enthusiastic person I know! She has such a good heart and is so kind. She is outgoing and so friendly to everybody. She is always so uplifting and constantly is giving me compliments on my teaching or random things like that. She is just a joy to be around!! I love her! I am incredibly blessed to have her as my companion and trainer.

The fist night in our place there was a big storm in the area with golf ball size hale! We missed the hale but while we were driving home the power was out in the city and we were lost! Since it's my companion's first time driving since she's been out on her mission! haha! I was laughing throughout this whole experience but Sister Hawkes was stressed and kept apologizing over and over. There were trees laying out in the road and all the lights were out and I guess we were driving in the ghetto. hahaha! It was a funny experience to say the least!! Then the 1st time we got to our apartment the lights were all out so I carried my luggage into our place in darkness, took out my sheets, pj's and toothbrush and called it a night! Then i woke up to a cute apartment that I finally got to see. We had flashlights so that's how i wrote in my journal that night. So fun!
Mom- thanks so much for the package you send me with my sheets, blanket, and all of the goodies!!! It was fun opening that in the dark! Lots of fun surprises in the morning! THANK YOU! That was the coolest package every. Btw, i like the spongebob sheets you sent me. My comp and i got a kick out of that. Gracias! I appreciate it!

We live in an apartment with 4 of us total, right down the hill from the Trail Center. We work at the trail center normally about 3 days a week for about 6 hour shifts. The rest of the time we are in our proselyting area where we go teach our investigators or visit less active members. The first day doing the normal missionary stuff with my new companion was on Thursday and it was one busy day!! Probably the busiest so far! We had about 6 different lessons scheduled and then did some tr acting between the gaps we had. Everything ran smoothly and I was able to hold my ground and teach the best I could. I noticed I was a little quieter than normal in our first 2 lessons but then I loosened up and went back normal. haha! I was nervous for our first day doing the Mormon Trail Center (what they call Winter Quarters). Threw us right in on the first day! I had to  give two different tours! SCARY! Considering we haven't been trained on the info and hadn't been able to study anything about it. The first tour I had another sister missionary with me who did all the historical talking and I was there to bear testimony and relate principles from the pioneers to our own lives. These people asked a ton of questions so i felt weird just smiling and turning to the other sister to answer. The other tour I was by myself with a family of about 5. Luckily I was able to focus the tour more on the younger kids so I didn't have to be a history buff. It was a lot of fun though! The tours are normally 45 minutes and shouldn't go longer than that. The place is arranged in a timeline so it starts out at the Nauvoo temple and wraps around the place till you end at the Salt Lake City temple. It's really neat! I've given a lot more tours since the  first day and I learn new things every time. I'm getting better with the historical stuff now that they gave us a packed to read. But mostly they want us to bear testimony and get the group to share experiences and have their faith strengthened.  THe main purpose of the historical site is to bring them closer to Christ.

I love teaching people as well. It's so cool to be in diffferent people's homes and to really get to know them and their lives. Everybody is really friendly and nice to us! We get fed pretty much every night! We've had pancakes, panda express, sloppy joe's, soup, and the works! Everything has been really good! On Sunday I got to meet a lot of people in the ward and it seems great! We had so many ward members there with us in the lessons and the missionary focus in the ward is so great! We also had to teach Sunday school! That was good. When I found that out earlier in the week i was kind of nervous but everything worked out and went really well.
Last night we went to a couple's apartment and had a really good discussion with them. It was so funny because the man that answered had no shirt, lots of tatoos, beer belly, and an AMAZING mullet!! I was so impressed! He and his wife were so nice though and shared a lot of their life experiences. Let me tell you, they have lots of different experiences and were very open with us. We shared our message with them how God knows them personally and loves them so much. We also talked about the Book of Mormon and they are interested. They believe in God and Jesus Christ. It just shows how you can't judge a book by it's cover! It's amazing how fast you can automatically love people! And I don't just love the older man because of his mullet... he has an awesome testimony of God and that he can perform miracles in our lives and same with the woman who had seen God's hand in her life. Pretty neat!  We also get to do lots of service! Sometimes we will do dishes for someone and other times we do yard work. It's a lot more fun doing it for other people than doing it for myself. :)

Well I have to go! Let me know if I left something out that you wanted to know!! We are going to walmart to get groceries and print pictures after this! We've already cleaned our place and have done laundry. Well i'll talk to you all later!! BYe!!
I love you all!!!

Sister Jones