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