Monday, January 25, 2016

Tragic Bike Accident (s)

Dear fam-bam and peeps, 

  I hope you all had a good week! Before you begin reading, what is an experience you had in the past week in which you have seen the hand of God in your life? Ponder on that and how that situation would have been different, hadn't He intervened. You'll be amazed at the moments that He is closer than you think. And if you can't think of anything, look for His hand this week. 
Cute handouts I made for district meeting about obedience. Yes, those cookies are TINY!

  This week has been a BUSY one! Mercy. I kind felt like we were chickens running around with our heads cut off...but that is a very gruesome image, so we'll go with "we were extremely busy!" :) 

  On Wednesday, we received training from the First Presidency and the Missionary Department of the church. The training was given world wide and was filled with SO much good advice. One of the points that was made, was that we as missionaries are called to bring the word unto the children of men, but that the Holy Ghost is 'called' to bring the word into their hearts. I thought that was quite interesting and a great reminder. We bring the gospel to them and it is up to them whether they act on the promptings they receive from the spirit or if they ignore/diminish that special prompting. 
Flat inspection pic from last week

  The remainder of the week was filled with less-active visits, meeting with members, and teaching Anthony (a.k.a. the man!). It has been busy! We got a lot done and were able to catch up on so much.

       *Tragic bike accident story coming attcha.* On Friday, as we were headed to a lunch appointment, we were just riding a long, riding a long, having a nice ride down the busy streets of Caerphilly and I see my companion get up on the sidewalk without any warning..So I was like, well, "I better get up on that sidewalk quick!" *Only thinking that I had 1 tire to worry about. Then, SLAM! My back tire doesn't make it on to the pavement and I slid sideways for a good 5-6 feet. I totally felt like Batman when he slides underneath the moving semi on his Batmobile. But this was a heck of a lot graceful than that! Sister Scherk heard me slam to the ground and immediately stopped and came back, but I swear I was skidding for AGES! It was wonderful. As soon as I came to a stop, the elderly man in the car behind me gave his horn a little tap and waved and I was like "Yes, thank you Gramps for the consideration and for not running me over." -very kind man-. Anyway, I popped up and found that I was still intact! Nothing hurt and I was ready to continue biking!

  *Another tragic bike accident.* Nearly five minutes later, when we got nearly 30 yards from our lunch appointment, I decided to hope off my bike and walk. Well, my skirt had another idea..It gets caught on the seat as I am swinging my leg around and when you feel it get caught, there's no much you can do! You just have to accept the fact that you are about to fall to the pavement hard, very very hard! Holy moly. Hahah so, SLAM! My tights ripped, my knee was bloody, and I wrenched my wrist while trying to stop myself from falling (I know, stupid). All I could do was sit up and put my hands into my face, speechless. I could not believe how much one person could struggle in a matter of 5 minutes! My luck with bicycles in incredible. Sister Scherf helped me up and as we walked, all I could say was "There better be pizza inside. Warm, cheesy pizza." And guess what this member had on the table?! Warm, cheesy pizza! She saw my bloody knee and took us right in and treated us to pizza and cheesecake. Moral of the story is...Pizza can fix most things. :)
We set our ipads in the middle of the road so we could take these sweet pictures, cool huh?

  As we were riding home later that day, we found ourselves at the bottom of a hill that I have before decided to walk up, instead of attempting to bike up. But not this time! I put my bike into the lowest gear possible and peddaled m litle heart out. While I was peddaling, I uttered "Don't you quit. Don't you give up. Don't you give up." A little sweat tears later, I made it. As we came to the top of the hill, legs burning, I looked up to see another hill! But this time, it was downhill! I related this experience to life. When Heavenly Father asks us to peddal a little harder, to go a little farther, to have just a little more faith, HE WILL GIVE US REST! He will give us the help we need to get over the trails we are given and he will give us the rest we need and deserve. And if you feel like the hill you are on will never end or if you came over one hill, only to find another steep mountain to clime; your Sunday will come. You day of rest is near. Hold on just a little longer. Give him a little more faith and a little more courage and he will give you rest. Pray for strength and it shall be yours!

  "For with God, nothing shall be impossible."
                                                -Luke 1:37
      On Sunday, Anthony came to church, along with three of our recent converts and two less actives! It was GREAT! Throughout our meetings, Anthony would lean over and genuinely express his gratitude for bringing him to church and for teaching him the gospel. He was filled with the spirit and was so excited to meet all the members! It has been the greatest experience to see him recognize and feel the spirit. We can literally see it in his eyes. He loves learning more about Christ and about the plan of happiness that was made just for HIM! He will be baptized on the 6th of February and we are so excited for him!
Sisters in my Zone, and we all wore Polka Dots!
Went all the way back to Adam & Eve on FamilySearch!  *Super Cool*

   All in all, this week has been one of spiritual strengthening. I am grateful for the busy days, for the moments I think I can take no more, and for the miracles that I get to witness. I am so grateful for my trainer and for her patience with me. I am so thankful to be here and to be serving a mission in such a beautiful land. How blessed am I? This work is wonderful and so is He!

   Remember, "Come What May and Love It!" Make the most of every situation you are put into and every opportunity you are given. Be positive. Hope for the best. Look for God's hand in your life. And instead of groaning, learn to laugh! :) It's the best medicine of all!

   Thank you for all the support and prayers. I love you all so dearly.

                                                                Sister Sydney Elise Jones

Monday, January 18, 2016

How Blessed Am I?

(First I have to include Syd's personal letter to me, I just love and miss her so much!)

My sweet mother that I get to be with for eternity,
 How are you doing my love? I included that eternity part because it is eternity and this 17 months is just a blip in time. I know it will fly by, just as Katelyn's has and we will have a joyful, teary-eyed reunion! Know that I love you and I am doing SO well here in Wales! 
Doesn't she look so good?

 The rest of the week was SO WONDERFUL! I'll tell you all the detail in the family letter, BUT WE HAVE OUR FIRST BAPTISMAL DATE SET!!! Gosh, it was amazing. Absolutely amazing! I cannot wait for you to read all about it! 

I got your package mom!! President and Sister Leppard brought it to interviews! Thank you thank you thank you! I was so excited to open it and see what was inside! The popcorn!! Mercy it is SO yummy! I have only had one bag and i'm trying to limit how much ranch I use because I want it to last! We went and bought a frozen pizza just so I could dip it in my ranch! Oh it is just complete heaven! Thank you for that! And the water flavorings are great! They don't have normal lemonade here, so I loved the lemonade one :) And the Muddy Buddies.. Man, we ate almost half of it on the first night. They are SO yummy! I am going to try and make them sometime soon. About that, could you possibly send me some quick recipes over email? They would just be nice to have on my Ipad. Maybe put them all in a PDF and send it? No rush, just whenever you have time off from working. And the photo album! How cute is it! Thank you! I already started putting it together, as you can see.. I haven't decided quite yet what I want to put in it, but I'll be sure to send you pictures when I do. Thank you for the deodorant and the face wash. That was a nice surprise! Not having to buy those little things will be nice for a while. And the whiteout and the tide pen are BLESSINGS! Thank you! I will try not to use it all too fast. The Rigby Star was super boring, but nice to see something straight from home. :) And thee best part of it all....the teddy bear. That last line of your letter "All you need to do is hug it back and I am there with you, my darling." Nearly killed me on Tuesday morning. Way to hit it straight to the heart mommy! ;) Thank you so much for that. I snuggle with it every single night and it really does feel like my Cooperbear. Sis. Scherf thinks I'm a little weird, but 'whatever makes you sleep at night', right? :) Just thank you for it all! It made my day/week/month!

 My rash is gone. We found out it was the hand soap that we bought. It never occured to me that it was "new" because we just went out and bought some cheap hand soap.. Hah well. That's a struggle. But so grateful that it's finally gone! It was on my face because I use my fingers to spread my foundation around and I usually do that right after I go to the bathroom and wash my hand so...There's that. And no worries about doctor bills, expenses, etc. because healthcare and prescribed medication is free in Wales! Can you say blessings or what? I was so relieved. We just found out that our STL Sis. Crowley's appendix burst on Friday night! She is doing well, but I know that my trials could be so much more, so I cannot complain one bit!
 I am going to put some videos on Dropbox right now and I just sent you the link to view them, so take a gander. :) I hope it works! Let me know if it does. There will be some good ones! Hah.
 Mom, I have received SO many emails from people, quite a few that I never thought would email me! I am most definitely overwhelmed with the love that I feel from home. I am truly blessed. Please express my gratitude to anyone and everyone who asks how I am doing. I am so grateful that they are thinking of me and for the emails that they send to me.

 This work is incredible and I am so excited for the week ahead! 

I'll talk to you soon!

(Now for the Family letter...)

Hello lovelies! You alright?

 I hope you are all finding joy in your days despite the weather. This week has been a busy one filled with countless miracles and so much growth! 

 On Tuesday, we passed our first flat inspection (few!). I heard horror stories of senior couples going through with white gloves and calling the President if the missionaries didn't pass, but thank heavens the Libutti's were as cool as they come. Our flat passed and our cleaning paid off with flying colors! That night, we went to ward council and received some great information on the ward and the members. We were able to talk about our desire to grow close to the ward members, so that they might feel comfortable with referring us to their friends. The counsel was impressed with our desire to work hard and build our teaching pool, it was cool to see them get excited about missionary work too! 

 Wednesday! They best day of the entire week! We went to meet up with our potential Anthony at the library. We had extremely high hopes for him and he did not let us down! This man was prepared by the hand of God and put right in our path. We taught him about the Restoration and the spirit was unquestionable. During the lesson, we learned that he prays daily, has a desire to quit working on Sundays and come to church, and he is the absolute kindest human being on the planet! Following his commitment to read the Book of Mormon, we were inspired to invite him to be baptized. AND WE ACCEPTED! *freaking out* I was so excited I could've hugged him! (jk, that's definitely against the rules) But goodness, that moment was the coolest. He is so incredibly excited to be baptized and become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! I know he will make it to his baptismal date of February 6th and be an incredible member. I have such a love for him and want him to experience all that this Gospel has to offer. Anthony is the man!! Please keep him in your prayers if you could.
**The 'cold to the bone weather' here is FOR REAL**

We went to the doctors on Wednesday and found out that the fun face rash that I had came from our hand soap. Who knew I had such sensitive skin? I'm relieved it was such a simple fix, but a little embarrassed that it was right in front of me the whole time. Hah, greenie struggles :)
On Thursday, we had interviews with President Leppard. He is such an inspired and careful man. I am truly grateful for his advice and the example he is to all of us missionaries in the EBM.
 On Saturday, we witnessed many miracles. First thing, we traveled to the Davies home who are less-actives. They live in quite a sketchy part of town and we had no idea what to expect when we knocked on the door. We went there knowing that no one had got in the door in quite a long time. We knocked and before we could even open our mouths, they welcomed us in! We were stunned. We talked with them for about 45 minutes and ended with a wonderful prayer! They accepted a return appointment and will hopefully be coming to church this week! It was marvelous! Such a miracle.
 Later that day, we found ourselves reverting from our planned schedule to get some other things done beforehand. Little did we know, we were being guided by the Lord. 

**Don't put the "pasties" picture on my blog, I'm just sending it to you cause I thought it was hilarious!! They call pastries, "pasties" here. Hahahah man. Hilarious! 
Also, we're related to Barak Obama.....I'll just leave it at that. 

On Saturday afternoon before we left the flat, I was filled with the worry that I had not yet fulfilled my purpose as a missionary for the day. I said a silent prayer, asking my Heavenly Father to give me the opportunity to fulfill my purpose. We eventually came to Blodwin White's home, she is a home bound in our ward and is 86. When we rang the door bell the first time, we received no answer. So we knocked once more and heard a faint "who is it?". We explained and she told us to come in. Upon walking in, we found her laying face down on the bathroom floor. We jumped into action to get her up and make sure she was okay. Thankfully she had no broken bones, just a sore arm. After we cleaned her up, we learned that she had crawled from the living room to the bathroom over an hour before. She proceeded to tell us that she had been praying so hard that God would send someone to help her. Mind you, someone comes to check on her everyday except Saturday (I have no idea why not). And the door is usually locked for that reason, but she decided to leave it unlocked that day. Low and behold, we came to her door and were granted the opportunity to serve our sweet Blodwin. I was overcome with great emotion as she grasped my hand and expressed her gratitude for us, saying we were her "angels sent straight from heaven".

Wow, tender mercies. I know we were instruments in Gods hands that night, for I'm sure she would've been on the floor until the next morning if we had not followed our promptings to see her when we did.
I know that Blodwin was an answer to my silent prayer and we were an answer to hers. Goodness me. I cannot fully express the gratitude that I feel for these special experiences. It is incredible to see just how closely and carefully God is guiding us to help His children!

On Sunday, we were able to see Sophia Williams give her farewell talk. She is heading the the California Ventura Mission. She is a legend! Man, I watched her speak on how the spirit can guide our lives and was in awe at her preparation. She will be incredible! We then went tracting and received great revelation on where to go and which doors to knock. We set up 4 return appointments and had 1 lesson on a doorstep. Hello miracles! The work here is beginning to take fire. It is being guided by the Lord and we are simply his physical hands here on earth. Isn't that neat?! Coolest calling in the church if you ask me.. (:

All in all, this week was marvelous. We are given the opportunity to be witnesses to miracles each day, big and small. We are blessed to be learning and growing so much in all we do. I know this work is guided by the Almighty. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity!
 Thank you to everyone who sends me emails and letters of encouragement! I am ever so grateful to you! Thank you for taking the time to think about and pray for me. I feel the love!
So much love from the EBM!! 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Trials, Triumphs, and Testimonies

(Last Week’s Letter first, sorry.  Mom’s super busy.) 1/4/16

Happy new year to you all!

    I hope you all made it through 2015! It was a great growing year for me and my family. So much has happened. I ended my senior year, which I loved SO much, and graduated Rigby High in May of this year. It was the time of my life and I was very sad to see it go! Then we then endured the longest summer ever while waiting for my call. I filled the time with working at Mobley PT, which taught me so much. I finally received my call on August 14th to the England Birmingham Mission (coolest experience ever). I went through the temple on September 24th and went nearly every week until I left for the Preston England MTC on December 2nd. The MTC taught me much and helped me to meet some of the greatest people ever. We left for the field on December 16th and I was assigned to serve in Caerphilly Wales, with Sister Scherf as my trainer.

    I have now been out for a month and am serving alongside my beautiful sister who is currently 'killin it' in the Louisville Kentucky Mission. It is a great blessing to be serving at the same time as my big sister, for her advice and words mean more to me than anything…especially here in the field.
    I have been blessed beyond measure this year and cannot help but wonder how I got so lucky to have so many wonderful people fill my world! Thank you for helping me to laugh, to grow, and to fulfill my dreams. I am ever so grateful for each of you and the support you have given me and my family this past year. Thank you! :)

     On Wednesday, we went on an exchange to Cardiff. I spent the day with Sister Huh from New Zealand and Sister Larsen from Utah. They both taught me so much and helped me to see missionary work in a new light. We went Going in City Center, which is what we call asking people 'the golden question'. For example, "what makes you happy?", "do you believe you can be with your family forever?", "what would it mean to you to know that you have a Father in Heaven who loves you?", etc. It really is such a cool experience to watch people ponder on these questions, as if we just opened a door that they never knew was there..the door to heaven:). We were able to get quite a few people who wanted to hear more, which was great! We then stopped by a few less-actives and investigators. We met a woman named Cerys, who is a less-active. She has scitsophrenia(excuse my spelling), multiple personalities, and is trying to stop smoking. Needless to say, it was one of the craziest, scariest, most fun lessons I think I will ever have! Mercy. But we didn't leave without her committing to stop smoking. She has already gone from smoking 40 cigarettes a day, to only 10!! So that was wonderful. Crazy, crazy wonderful. (: 

     On Thursday we met with two of our recent converts, Nathan and Lisa. They are both beginning the process of receiving their patriarchal blessings! Woot! They are pretty excited about it! The next step is getting them through the temple doors…isn't it great?! We are excited to see them both progressing so much.
     That night, we met a woman named Angela. She's about 55 and has SO many trials filling her life right now. We were able to walk with her & her dog Riley and talk about families and prayer. Before we left her, I felt the prompting to say a prayer with her. She accepted and we taught her first how to pray, then Sister Scherf offered a prayer. When we looked up, we could tell that she felt something. Something wonderful! :) She was our miracle of the day. We hope to see her again soon and begin tech in her about this happiness!
     On New Year's Eve, we had to be in the flat by 6p.m., so we decided to order pizza from the Domino's up the road. First of all, they put corn on pizza here...what? We didn't participate in such things, but we did order a normal 3 topping pizza. The man came to the door and said £18.89 please. We paid it, then came inside to admire our pizza. As we ate it, I began to do the math. This was a $32.00 PIZZA! Mercy. I could've choked. Hah never ordering pizza again! We were going to stay up until 12, but our bodies and mission president wouldn't allow it (: so we slept through until 2016! It was great!

      We had a district meeting on Saturday which was a blast. We were able to unify our district and receive some information from the presidency. Our area consists of one ward and one set of missionaries. We were told that our goal of baptisms this year is 12. Twelve. No pressure (: they had 3 last year and 3 the year before, but we are determined to get 3 BEFORE March. Buddy buddy, we've got a lot of work to do, but we are so excited!! 

      Yesterday, we attended our 9 o'clock meeting and went right to work after church. We needed to contact 3 referrals and stop by a few less actives. We walked over EIGHT miles from 1pm to 530pm. And wouldn't ya know it, every referral we received had moved. And all the less actives we stopped by weren't home. Then we needed to walk up a mile long hill, which was nearly vertical, to contact a referral. Another NO. Goodness me. Being positive is key. And it is so hard sometimes…BUT, our tender mercy of the day was a woman named Alma. (I know!). I saw her walking on the other side of the street and she gave us a smile. As she kept walking I couldn't help but feel that we needed to talk to her. I acted on the prompting and told Sister Scherf that we needed to hurry! We talked to her for about ten minutes and found out that she has met the missionaries before and she has a Book of Mormon in her home but she hasn't read it, ahhhh! Miracles. We gave her our number and she said she would try to find time to read sometime soon. She was so wonderful and we hope to hear from her again!

      All in all, this week has been good and hard. Our companionship goal was to be more positive in all we do. And the Lord has given us plenty of opportunities to be positive this week. I know we are given these trials so that He can see how we respond to them; with positivity or anger. So we may grow. So we may be tested. So we can learn. It is not easy. Especially with all the rain that never seems to cease. But I know that I am in this difficult area for a reason. I know I am being given these trials for a reason. I am learning to be more positive. I am learning to lean on my Savior. I am learning so much about myself and how much I have to change. As we dive more into this work, I know I will begin to understand, more clearly, that these trials were for my good. I also know that the sweet experiences, like meeting Alma and Angela, make up for the mile long hills, the endless rain, and all the rejections. 
       Happiness comes when we are humble and submit to HIS will. I know we will soon see the fruits of our labours, through obedience. Positivity. Smiles. :) LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. I am blessed to be here. Blessed to know of the truth. Blessed to be challenged to grow and each day. 
      I hope this year will be filled with much change and HAPPINESS! I love you all and am thankful for your support. Stay strong and continue in faith! Even when it rains.. :) 


Good morning from Wales!

I hope you are all doing well and are continuing to see the good, everywhere you look! :) 
This week has been a good, memorable one! On Tuesday, we were able to pick up my bike and ride them home! Mind you, Sister Scherf lives in Holland where they have more bikes than you can even imagine, so she's a total pro. We turn a corner and here comes this round-a-bout and I, like a normal human being, stay on the sidewalk. But not my companion! She says "alright, let's go"! Seriously?! So, we get in the lane behind all the cars and get ready to enter this 4 lane round-a-about...I know. My heart is beating a 1000 miles an hour and then we just go! I literally screamed the whole time "I'm gonna die!! I'm gonna die!! I'm gonna get hit, then I'm gonna die!!" Sister Scherf thought it was hilarious, but man. Total adrenaline rush! She makes me do hard things, which is lovely :)
Me staring outside at the life I could be living if I didn't have this rash.
On Wednesday we had a zone meeting in Cardiff. The church building is in an actual office building which I thought was pretty interesting. We were trained on the importance of allowing the Holy Ghost to lead our every footstep. When we do this, it allows God the opportunity to change us into who HE needs us to be. Isn't that cool? Let Him change you!
real bell for a door! (tracting is AWESOME!)

We were also trained on how our testimonies are like a sword. We need to sharpen it each day; scripture study and prayer. Then we need to practice with it as much as we can so it can become stronger; bearing simple, powerful testimony. And soon enough, you will be armed with the most powerful tool man could never buy! Don't let your testimony get dull, don't put it in it's away and only pull it out when times get tough. Use it. Strengthen it. Share it!

We were also able to find 12 potentials this week in the city center which was awesome! We set up two appointments on the street and we were SO stoked! The next day, as we went to both houses...wouldn't ya know it? Flogged. (definition: when you set up an appointment with an awesome person and they don't show.) Heart broken. It was my first experience being flogged, which was a total bummer. But that's the mission life isn't it? :) We have a lesson tonight with a man named Anthony that we met Going and he seems like a great guy, so faith up! 
A huge bag of potato chips.

Our recent convert Nathan is going to the temple this Saturday!! We are so excited for him! Our less active Lisa is preparing to go and to receive her patriarchal blessing! Our other less active Richard is progressing and we hope to see him improve more this week.  

On Thursday, while heading to a DA(dinner appointment), we decided to bike up a busy, hilly road. :D yay! Mercy. This is gonna end good isn't it? Sister Scherf was nearly to the top of the hill when the side of my tire hit the curb and I kinda fell off. HARD. I tried to peacefully get up when my skirt caught my seat and I fell again, scraping my knee pretty good. Lol. I can't help but laugh at how funny it is now! After I fell the second time, I look over to see a bus driver stopping the bus and asking if I was okay. I just smiled and said "Yes" and thanked him for his concern. Gosh, it's a struggle. But it makes for good stories later on, huh? We told the family why we were late for dinner and we all had a good laugh about it! 
REMEMBER: biking in a skirt, in Wales, is not for the weak! 
Hot dogs chillin' in a jar with hot dog juice surrounding them...barf.

Now, the funnest part of the week.. On Wednesday morning, I woke up with a rash on my face (I know, disgusting). It was red, bumpy, itchy, and covered most of my face. On Friday night, the rash spread to my ears and my neck. It was very uncomfortable and hard to resist scratching. At first, we thought it was an allergic reaction to the salmon that we had at the Wilkinson's the night before, but it was progressively getting worse, so we don't think it could have been a fish allergy (darn it:). So, we went to the hospital on Saturday and spent most of the day there, waiting and other things. It was extremely exhausting and I just wanted to figure out what the hem was wrong with me! 

So, moral of the story is, we still don't know what it is from. It is still not gone and has since spread to my hands. The medication has worked a little bit, but nothing substantial. We are waiting for a call from Sister Leppard today because she will be referring us to a GP (doctor) that can actually test me to see what the deal is. It is hard because all the doctors and nurses have asked me is 'what have you eaten/done that is new' and I just have to laugh because everything is new to me here! So, it'll be a fun process trying to figure out what is wrong. But hopefully it'll be resolved soon. The ward members have taken SUCH good care of us. So kind and helpful and willing to do anything to help us. I am so grateful. 

I was able to receive a blessing from President Jones on Saturday night that gave me great comfort. I am so grateful for these trials and the hard times that I have and are experiencing. I do not yet know why I am experiencing them, but I see the opportunity that they are for me to grow and I feel so privileged that my Father in Heaven wants me to grow and become more than I ever could without these trials. I know He loves me and is carrying me at this time.I know it. I am so grateful. I have felt so close to Him through these trials and I know that He is giving me the strength that I need.

It has a been a quick, great week! This work is beginning to speed up and I am SO excited! I am grateful. I am where I am meant to be. I am learning so much and am given opportunities each day to share my testimony, which is the coolest! I know this church is true and I feel so blessed to be trusted with such an important task. It is great. God is great! 

Thank you all for your support and love! It means more than you know. 

Fun facts:
Family history is one of the biggest hobbies in the UK right now. (interesting or what?)
They also put sweet corn on McDonald's hamburgers...why?
They have baked beans for breakfast here, I thought that couldn't be a thing but it most definitely is!  
Riding a bike in the skirt is a huge struggle. 
I love what I am doing!  

My current mailing address is:
Sister Sydney Jones
20 Castle Mews
North View Terrace
Caerphilly Wales
CF83 1PY

So much love, 

Sister Sydney Elise Jones