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

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