Monday, February 29, 2016

Bear in the Big Blue House

Me with Bear from that one show that I loved as a child!! I cannot even remember the name of it. Bear and the big blue house? I was just stoked to see it! 

Hello family and friends!

     I hope you are all doing well and have had a memorable week!
Ours has been seriously the busiest week Sister Scherf and I have had together. We have taught so many lessons, talked to so many people, and have learned so much! We were able to find two people who formerly had contact with the missionaries. One lesson in particular, we got to know this family quite well and it was time to go, so we asked if we could share a video called "Because of Him". We did so and when we looked up, the less-active wife's eyes were open wide and she was speechless. No one said a word and we were able to let the spirit work with them for a little while. We then had the opportunity to bare powerful testimonies on life of our Savior Jesus Christ. We left that home filled with the spirit and it was very evident that the family felt something. We hope that as they come to recognise the power they felt, that their desire to grow and change will become stronger. 

Sister Marsden and I during exchanges! She is tiny and SO awesome! 

      We had the opportunity to go to Merthyr and go on exchanges with our Sister Training Leaders! My first exchange! It was such a blast! I felt so privileged to be learning from such incredible missionaries. 

     I went on exchange with Sister Marsden from Shelley, Idaho! Woot! I actually know her brother from home. It was so fun to talk about home and the people that we both knew. She taught me so much. She helped me to understand that growth is a gradual thing. That even though it's nice that I want to be the perfect missionary right now it's not logical. I can do everything in my power to follow every prompting I receive, but I won't magically become "superwoman" overnight or even over the next 15 months or 50 years! It just isn't possible. 

Hilarious V-day letter from gram! Seriously, I cannot tell you how hard I laughed about the piece of gum! I had been longing for normal gum all morning and then I got this! Super special moment. Gram knows whats up

      I am learning to understand that it's okay to not be perfect right now or ever. It's okay to struggle and to grow slowly. It's okay for you (whoever you are) to not be 'supermom' or dad. Chances are you are doing a heck of a lot better than you give yourself credit for. I know that if we continue forth and do all we can to follow in His footsteps, that we will soon find ourselves at His feet, standing in His glory, rejoicing at that blessed day!
     Smile at your imperfections and your shortcomings. Smile when the hard times seem to nearly break you, because He loves you enough to test you and make you into something far greater than you could ever imagine. Shortcomings simply mean that we have room to grow! So why not smile when we stumble? :) Nothing better than a little struggle! 

      This week, it has been made known to me how much music is apart of my life. I have always loved music and singing where ever and whenever, but now, it means so much more! I sing when I am frustrated, when I am happy, when I am tired, when I need a laugh, all the time! Sister Scherf and I have been searching for a stress-reliever for quite some time now and we finally figured it out this week! Making videos! We find so much joy in doing it and love it so much! I know music speaks to us in a way that normal words cannot. It is incredible. I am so grateful for Emma Smith and the contribution she made to the church in putting together the hymn book. It is filled with scripture and powerful stories/testimonies! I love it all so much! 
Pizza lunch on top of the castle.

    This week has been one of hard work and submitting to His will. We have been working very diligently and have seen many miracles because of that dedication! My eyes have been opened to see the true desires and intents of my heart. I have been able to reflect on the person I was before my mission (prideful, selfish, stubborn) and I am still very much those things but now that I see those weaknesses, I have such a great desire to overcome them! I know that this experience is meant to humble me and cause me to have a "mighty change of heart", which I am so grateful for! I am not quite sure this mighty change could be wrought in me, without having these trying moments here in the mission field. 

Ranch is goonnneeeeee.... :( BUT, Deb is bringing some home for me from the great USA. We will be celebrating with pizza! 

    My mom just informed me that I have been out for 90 days! 3 months! What in thee world? Where has the time gone? It is scary how fast the time is flying. I am trying to grasp every single second that I have here in Caerphilly..these moments are so precious to me.
This work is sacred. These moments are some that I will draw much strength and growth from for the rest of my life. I know these experiences will be consecrated for my children and future family. I feel so privileged to be here in the England Birmingham Mission for a whole 18 months! It is just mind-boggling to me how blessed I am! 

Us in blankets at the wonderful Williams home for Sunday tea yesterday.

     This week, I had many members and missionaries tell me to enjoy these mission moments because they go by so quickly. No pressure. Once in a lifetime opportunity. Try to take in all that you can and don't forget it. Oh, and don't forget to convert others while you are learning to become truly converted as well.. Hahah it's incredible! I love being out here so much. I know that this is His work! I know this Gospel is true. I am learning so much!

     This morning, we work up at 5am and hiked to the top of Caerphilly Mountain to watch the sun rise! Cute huh? Crazy? Yes.. It was SO worth it though! Standing on the edge of the mountain, looking at the village that has stolen my heart, was a very precious moment for me. I had the opportunity to thank my Father in Heaven for sending me here, for giving me this beautiful opportunity to learn and grow and teach here in Caerphilly. It was just a magnificent moment that I am so grateful I could have! 

Castle Coch 
     Sister Scherf and I are sure packing a ton of memories in before the next transfer calls, just in case one of us leaves. I know these memories will last us a lifetime! 

      Thank you so much for all your support! I appreciate your prayers and love so much! Thank you thank you! 

I hope you all have a splendid week!! Write to me and tell me how you're getting along! :) 

I'd love to hear! I'll talk to you soon! 

Taa-daa love!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Faith Over Fear!


Yo yo yo, how is it going? 

It has been so fun to hear about all he happenings back home! Thank you for your emails, updates, love, and prayers! I feel them and I am SO grateful to know that I am loved by so many. I LOVE YOU! 

Fun facts:
-The Welsh say "bril" instead of "brilliant".
-When something is super nice or tastes good they say "Man, that's lush!" (I am already using these words way more than I should, but I love it!)
-When something or someone is extra classy or dresses nice, they say "That's posh!"
-All the kids who attend schools here have to wear uniforms (kinda like Harry Potter, but without the capes and wands:) 
-A lot of the kids are taught in Welsh schools, which means they literally learn everything in Welsh. It's a dying language, but hey, gotta keep the tradition going! 

 This week has been a busy one filled with loads of service, meetings, and cool experiences. I just have to start off by expressing my gratitude for my Savior. I have never been more sure that my Redeemer lives! I know it. I know he is there. Every single day, I see His hand is in my life. I know that He is ever so aware of my circumstances and my feelings. He knows me. He knows what I need, when I need it, and in what way. I know that this is the work of our Father in Heaven. That He is so mindful of the miracles that we get to be apart of and witness. I know they are there! Every good thing on this earth is evidence of a higher being. Every answer to prayer is proof to me that He loves us and knows the feelings of our hearts. It is such a blessing to be out here, on the other side of the world, experiencing miracles ever day. I know that when we show our desire to grow closer to Him, He will grant us those experiences need to help our faith to grow. Always.

We went to the castle today!!!! It was so much fun!
They actually did some reenactments and other fun things. It was really cold and super old! Sorry this explanation is super lame.

We visited Castle Coch today! It is a beautiful castle that a man made for his wife in the late 1800's. It was GORGEOUS! 

The courtyaaarrdddd.

It is a literal fairytale castle that is tucked away in the woods, set on a beautiful hill. 

 One cool story from this week, happened when Sister Scherf and I were talking about what to do with an allotment of time in the next day's schedule. As we discussed what to do, we decided to get on our knees and pray about some streets to tract. When we do this, we pray sincerely for guidance, end the payer and wait for the inspiration to come as we go through our individual maps. Once we both feel that we have received specific and clear direction from Heavenly Father, we say "ready?". This time, in particular, there was quite a long amount of time before we decided our streets. We waited and eventually were both ready to discuss the revelation that we had received. I said my first street, then my second street, then my third. Sister Scherf seemed to be okay with them, so asked her which streets she chose, but she want to know if I had a fourth street in mind. In fact, I did. And guess what happened next? She turned her Ipad around to reveal the streets she had chosen previously. 

And to my astonishment, 3 of the 4 streets that we had chosen were the SAME. 

I was speechless. Absolutely speechless. I know that we were provided that experience to truly understand that God wanted us to go to those streets. No if's, and's, or but's about it. We were told to go! As of right now, we haven't found out the elect on those streets yet, but we still have on to go and I know the Lord will give us that opportunity to find those who have been prepared!
We were asked to help with the Young Men's activity on Wednesday night, which went SO well! We were able to go through a day in the life of a missionary with these young boys and it was so fun to see their excitement! We split them into three groups and they were asked to prepare a lesson from Preach My Gospel. As they taught, it was incredible to see how much they knew! The spirit was there. Especially when the little Deacons taught. I could just imagine the missionaries that they would become, the men they would be, and the role they would play in this precious work. It was such a privilege to be apart of that experience!
1) The sisters in our zone!! 5 of us are from Idaho (I know, right?), 1 from Canada, 2 from New Zealand, 1 from Washington, 2 from Utah, 1 from Wyoming, and 1 from Holland (my favourite). 

The next day, we had Zone Conference and were able to have time with just the sisters and Sister Leppard, We were told to bring pillows and didn't find out until we got there. Our lesson was on the divine nature that we have as women and specifically as missionaries for the Lord. That we have a destiny that allows us the opportunity to become queens! Woot! A Queen. How miraculous is that? We were then instructed to lay on the floor and close our eyes. Sister Leppard then took us through a relaxing meditation exercise, which required no exercise at all! Holla! Hah, it was amazing, So relaxing and much needed!

On Sunday morning, I woke up to find my desk decorated for Valentines Day by my awesome companion! It was such a nice surprise! She actually wrote down 100 things that she loves about me! I have no idea how long it took her to think about them all, but it definitely made my day! Some of my favorites were: 
#14 I love how you have a cute round nose 
#32 You make the best weather reports
#94 I love how you eat with me when I don't want to eat on my own
#86 You have beautiful cheek bones
#30 You are BOLD

#40 You are courageous. 

 I have just been overwhelmed with love this week and I am so grateful to have had such cool experiences this week! It is such a blessing to have the constant companionship of the spirit and to know that I can be guided by Him if I am worthy. I know this church is true. I know that when we are spiritually prepared to receive revelation from God, that He will never fail to give us that guidance.

I challenge whoever is reading this (yes, that means you) to prepare yourself to receive guidance from your Heavenly Father. That you may be a clean vessel for the Lord to guide your actions. I promise you that when you do this, you will see a change in yourself and be able to recognize those small, simply promptings from the Holy Ghost. He will ALWAYS answer you because He wants you to be happy! You are a miracle. You are important. You are loved

 Thank you for blessing my life with your words and your examples! I am so thankful to know you! May your week be filled with love and so much FUN! Life is not meant to be endured. It's meant to be enjoyed! :) Make the most of every second you are given!
Taa-daa for now,
Sister Sydney Elise Jones

2_15_16 Faith Over Fear!

Good afternoon from Caerphilly!! 

  I hope you all are well! How has your week been? How is the weather? How is your family? Let me know!   This week I have really felt like an actual missionary, rather than a clueless greenie. I am finally understanding this area, the bus and train systems, and door approaches. As we were out tracting yesterday afternoon, I found myself knocking on doors without the slightest ounce of nervousness. When the door opened, I just spoke! It was that easy. It has been something and will still be something that makes me nervous, but I seemed to conquer that fear for a small moment! It was a pretty cool feeling :)

  We did a lot of finding this week. A few days in particular were pretty hard with regards to our success rate. The rain was endless and the wind howled as we trudged up the lovely Welsh hills. We didn't find much success, but we continued on because, well, that's just what you've gotta do! Then yesterday, as we were tracting and contacting, we found many people who were interested in learning more! By the end of the day, we came to know that the previous day's work to find was a test, to see if we would submit ourselves to His will. We did so and Heavenly Father saw our desire to follow the promptings that we received. We were so thankful to see our efforts pay off, in a sense. I love this work!
  One of the greatest things about this assignment is that I get to talk to literally everyone I meet! What?! My favourite thing in the whole world is meeting to new people and learning about them. I am fascinated by others and the stories that lead them to be who they are.  I feel so privileged to have such a cool calling.   Something that we have found is a good conversation starter is dogs! I don't think Sister Scherf understands my obsession with dogs, but it seems to be doing us some good! :) When we meet someone with a puppy, we tag team it; one of us occupies the puppy (gives it lots of kisses and bum scratches) and the other talks to the owner about this lovely gospel. Genius right? I've decided that I need to start keeping record of all the dog names we come across, we've definitely had some weird ones.   The best experience for me personally this week was that I was able to 'defeat' the two hills that defeated me on the bike a few weeks ago. We came around the corner of both of them and I just did it! (Shout out to Nike) As I rode to the tops of these hills, I looked to the left and could just see the sad, struggling greenie that I once was(hahah, still am), lying on the sidewalk with ripped tights and all. Part of me just wanted to have a laugh with my struggling self and tell her that everything would be okay! It was cool to see that moment of growth. Not only physically, but spiritually. I can see that I have grown from the person I was nearly 3 months ago and I am so grateful to have had a reassurance that I'm not doing as bad as I think I am :) THERE IS HOPE PEOPLE!   This week, we chose to support a less active in his pursuit to stop drinking tea, by us not eating sweets......Mercy. The first few days were brutal! Our energy hit the ground and we really had to dig deep to give our all to the Lord. But, the day's got better! We were able to adjust and find joy in eating fruits and such healthy things...Hahah it has been a good time. :) Our less-active is still going strong and so are we! I literally have no idea when this famine will be over, but it has helped me to realize two things. 1) I depend on artificial sugar way more than one human-being should. And 2) trying to stop doing something that you have always done, like an addiction, is not easy whatsoever! I have gained such a greater understanding for those who are struggling with an addiction. I know it is possible to overcome those temptations! Your temptation might be different than a homemade apple pie straight out of the oven at a dinner appointment, BUT it can be overcome! Christ can give us the strength we need and the power to resist temptation, but only when we use the Atonement. So use it! That's what it is there for! :)  I have learned so much about myself this week. The personal hurdles that I've had to get over have been many, but the growth that I am seeing in myself makes me want more hurdles placed in front of me! Because I now know that when we are experiencing those hard moments, is when God is testing our desire to become who He needs us to be. And if we can just hold on a little longer and submit to His will, He "will make weak things become strong." I know that the weaknesses that we have now, will someday be strengths in our lives.  I know that through Christ, all things are possible. If we but only have faith, we will be given the strength we need to conquer our fears! He will never leave us hangin'! He's got our backs! I can testify that there is nothing He wants to do more than to help us get back to our Father in Heaven. Let Him lead you. He knows you better than you know yourself and promises to lead us HOME.   I love this work and the miracles that are wrought because of it. I know I am supposed to be here for a reason...and I can't wait to find out why! :) Take care.

Taa-daa for now. 

Love, Sister Sydney Jones

Monday, February 8, 2016

Baptism Baptism Baptism!

Kentucky sign
It was Harry Potter day here in the UK!!! The Library went all out!  Super cool to hear English kids reading Harry Potter outloud.. Kind of like getting the total package if you ask me! Super cool!

Dear beautiful people, 

Hello! How are you? How is the weather? How is life? Write to me and tell me how you are doing! I would love to hear all about the little and big things happening in your life!! :)
At testimony meeting yesterday, the ward was relieved to hear that we were staying. It was really cool to see how many members bore their testimonies about missionary work and how much they love having Sister Scherf and I in the ward. We were flooded with hugs and kisses following sacrament-all glad that we were staying. This place has definitely become my home away from home. We have moms, dads, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, and grandparents all in this ward! It really is so special. We are a big family. And their desire to assist us in the work has grown as well. When they see our desire to work hard and help their ward to grow, they see that we are serious and want to help us. It is wonderful! 

Transfer news comin' atcha! We received transfer calls on Monday evening and found out that Sister Scherf and I will be staying together in Caerphilly for at least one more transfer! Woot! Talk about nerves. We were both super glad to be staying in this wonderful area, ward, and with each other.

I cannot really remember what happened this past week, but we we are able to see the fruits of our labours come out in way of Anthony's baptism! All week he was expressing his excitement and also his nerves for taking the plunge. But he continued on and was SO excited to be baptized on Saturday evening. His face was glowing like a little kid at Christmas! As we sat down in the chapel before the baptism started, he leaned over and said "I feel so calm right now". :) Man. I was all of the sudden reminded of the calmness that this Gospel and Christ offers us, as long as we are willing to step away from the word and follow Him! 

His innocence and faith were such a testimony builder to me. He doesn't know a lot, but he does know that the spirit has testified to him of the truthfulness of this gospel. And that, that right there...that is enough. He knows it is true, therefore all the details don't matter so much right now. We are all on the same path, some are just a little further along than others. We are all trying to obtain the same knowledge and get back HOME. It's as simple as that. You don't need to know everything, you just need to know enough! 

      When the time came for Anthony to be baptized, I felt like a proud mommy watching my child make the best decision of their life! He came up from the water, so clean and so pure. Symbolism everywhere. His smile was HUGE!! Ahh, best moment on the planet! 

     On Sunday, he received the Gift of the Holy Ghost and that was just magical! The spirit was extremely evident and we could feel the ward wrapping their arms around him. Afterwards, it was like we saw a new man. He just glowed with the "after baptism glow" that is so special and incredible. He said "I feel the Holy Ghost with me". We just laughed and held back tears and said "Good! You are supposed to! We are so proud of you". I will forever have a special bond with this man and remember this special day in his life. 

      We ended the week with a sleepover in our living room last night! It sounds silly because we're already sharing a room, but it was SO much fun! Am so grateful for Sister Scherf and the bond that grows stronger every day. I feel very privileged to be learning from her and through her. The work here in Caerphilly is continuing forth and we are so excited to see what this coming week has in store for us!
I love you all! Thank you for all you do for me. I am feeling the love!

Fun facts:
-the leg muscles I am getting from biking up the hills in Wales are AWESOME! Hahah glad to see that all this struggle is paying off physically :)

-the rain here has NOT STOPPED at all this week! We get soaked through our jackets nearly every day. 

I love you so much!! ❤️❤️
Our district! Elder Zegarra, Elder Wagner (District Leader), Sister Infanger (from Salmon, Idaho), Sister Spangler, us. Love them all!
Sister Belnap and I in the MTC. Just loved this pic and barely got it.
We have a record of all the missionaries who have served here in Carephilly and I found some good ones! Do you know any of them?

Monday, February 1, 2016

"For I know these words aren't mine"

Hey mom, dad, and sis! 

I just wanted to send you a copy of the talk that I gave in church yesterday. I have never been so inspired in my life. The topic of choice came on Saturday evening and the words just flowed. The whole time I was writing, I just kept saying "Thank you, thank you. For I know that these words are not mine." 
Every word was inspired and the topic of choice fit perfectly into our Gospel Principles lesson and quite a few members came up to tell me that it was meant for them. It was definitely a cool experience to be speaking to a ward that has never heard me speak before! I thrived off that opportunity! It was so fun! Talking in front of people is something that brings me great joy! Writing is definitely my outlet from the world and the Lord is my guide. I know it is a strength that I have been blessed with and I will be given many opportunities to use it on my mission, which is the coolest!

Anywho, enjoy!

[Note to the Reader, I have included a copy of her talk at the end of todays blog entry]

Dear people that I love so much, 

 I hope you all had a good week! We had quite a few interesting experiences this week! No, there aren't any new biking accidents, but it was a good one! :) On Monday evening, we found ourselves knocking on a door 3 times before a man came to the door. When he answered, he sounded quite abrupt when he asked who we were. He was kind of deaf, so we had to say "Missionaries from the..." 3 times. Following the third time, there was a pause and he lunged forward and exclaimed "Oh no! You get out of here before I choke you! How dare you disturb my evening! Get off my doorstep before I choke you! Get out of here!" Mercy.  Have never been so terrified in my life. Literally scared the greenie spirit right out of me! We went to the next door on the street and received the prompting to go home instead of knocking the door. As we came around the corner, we ended up seeing a recent convert who reminded us of the goodness in the world. She was definitely our tender mercy! 
Me with my sad looking umbrella after the storm.

 Tuesday, on the way to a dinner appointment, a winter storm the size of China swept right over the whole of Wales! The wind totally demolished my umbrella and soaked us straight to our bones! It was pretty miserable, but we couldn't help but laugh because it was so bad! 
We made chocolate crinkle cookies at the bishops last night and Abigail made them with us! She has the voice of an angel. So much fun!

 Wednesday came and so did the follow-up trainers meeting! We hopped on a train at 6am and didn't get home until 6pm! And I must say, I absolutely love riding the train! I just feel so metro and ssmmmooottthhh. Hahah man. I don't really know, it's probably just the fact that we don't have to ride our bikes anywhere, but I love it nonetheless. :) The meeting was great and President and Sister Leppard are genuinely the greatest people I have ever met. Their training was about having faith in times of strife. It was extremely encouraging! I was also able to see the day 1 crew and our family from the MTC. Ahhh, it was a breath of fresh air and so good to see everyone. Seeing Sister Belnap was just wonderful as well! 
The best family in all of Wales! The Williams/Schuck family makes Caerphilly feel like home! :)

 On Sunday, I was asked to talk and it was such a cool opportunity to speak in front of people who have never heard me speak before! Just a really cool experience for me. While preparing my talk on Saturday evening, I have never received such incredible revelation about what to speak on. I knew I was being lead and guided to prepare in the ways that I did, which was extremely reassuring! The topic I spoke on was that of CHOICE. How we were given a call in heaven to come to earth and this is our mission, an earthly mission. We all have a divine purpose and reason for being here. And while we are here, we have to make choices each day that will either bring us closer to our Father in Heaven or further away. It was great and I learned so much through preparing! 


Richard! He is a recent convert and we love teaching him!
Anthony came to church on Sunday and is so ready to be baptised on Saturday! I feel extremely spoiled to be having a baptism so quickly on my mission, but I know that it is all because of the Lord and we are just stewards in this great work. He is so prepared and the ward is great with him! I cannot wait to brag all about him next Monday because he really is so great! Miracles are real and they happen daily! If you open your eyes a little wider, you will be able to see God's hand in everything! 

After church, we were able to spend time with the ward and enjoy our time together. This ward treats us like we're one of their own and I really am feeling like home here! (: This work is something that brings me so much joy and I am learning so much! I am so grateful to be here and to be in the midst of so many wonderful people. I don't know what I did to receive these incredible people in my life, but I know I am richly blessed. Thank you for all of your support, love, and prayers! Your words do so much for me.

My brothers and sisters, CHOOSE joy. CHOOSE to be an example of the believers. CHOOSE to live each day as the Savior would. Be strong. Fight the good fight. And hold to the rod! God is oh SO good!

I love you and I love this work! 
Talk to you soon (:

Sister Sydney Jones
Sister Scherf and I with Sophia who is going to California next week!

Explanation of pictures: 
The day 1 crew! Sister Belnap, Elder Ofasi, and Elder Turnbow

Sacrament Talk January 31, 2016
- Good morning brothers and sisters. I am greatly honoured to be speaking today with the Williams family and for Sophia. 
- I was in her shoes only two short months ago and I remember having all the same feelings/worries. 
- This time is so very precious. Just before you embark on a monumental adventure and your trying to capture every single special moment with family and friends. I remember this time being particularly hard for my mom and I.
- It's hard to let your baby go to the other side of the world. But you know that this time will be one of so much growth and dedicated service to the Lord.
- I look at Sophia and I wonder how she got so darn prepared because I definitely missed that boat, but regardless, I know she will work many miracles because of her faith in Christ and obedience to God.
My talk today is focused on choice how it relates to our mission here on earth.
- Let's start from the beginning. The very beginning.
- ***Please close your eyes***
- Once upon a time, we were all in the spirit world, with our wonderful families and friends, doing whatever spirits do in heaven.
- While there, we made the choice to follow God, so we awaited our calls to come to earth. 
- An angel comes to you and hands you a letter. As you open it, you are filled with great anticipation and excitement! Just as Sophia was before she received her call.
- You begin to read "Dear Sister/Brother, You have been called to earth in a special time and to a special land. You may or may not be born into the true church. You will be born into a land of plenty, in a land of freedom. You will be born in Wales, America, South Africa, Holland, whatever the case may be."
- Filled with excitement and ready to begin the journey. 
- ***Open your eyes***
WELCOME TO EARTH! (Arms stretched out wide) YOU MADE IT!
- When we received our calls, we thankfully accepted and made the choice to come here to experience miracles, growth, and complete joy. 
- But upon beginning our journey, we also knew we would have to deal with unimaginable heartaches, sicknesses, and turmoil.
-       Yet, we still CHOSE to come.
- Just as Sophia and many of you have made the choice to serve missions, you knew that it would be a time of hardship but also that you would experience joy beyond anything you could imagine. 
- You are here, in this chosen land, on a mission. You were called at a specific time and to a specific place and to a specific family. 
- You all have a divine purpose, you all have a mission to complete. Isn't that so cool to think about?! 
- When we got to earth, we were immediately given the gift of agency. We were then free to make choices, according to the will and intent of our hearts. 
- As we grew, we learned to make choices; good and bad ones. 
-      One choice of a friend of mine, in particular, was that of stealing a cookie out of her Great-grandma's cookie jar, when she was 7. This friend remembers distinctively walking by that cookie jar a good 5 times before she decided to make her move. She grabbed the step stool from the cupboard and placed it down gently, hoping grandma wouldn't wake. As she stepped up, she remembered thinking, "Should I really do this?" And the answer came quickly to her head, "Probably not" BUT the answer that came to her stomach was a little louder saying "Feeeeedddddd me!" 
-       As she reached far across the counter to pull the top off the cookie jar, her foot slipped; dragging the whole glass cookie jar with her to the floor. She remembers wincing from the pain of the fall, but more from the scream that came from her sweet sleeping granny in the other room. 
- From this experience, she learned, very well, what the difference was between a bad choice and a good choice. And of the quiet prompting she received right before she chose to steal a cookie from Grandma's cookie jar. 
- That day, her Grandma taught her about the importance of the Atonement. She said, "When we do things that we aren't supposed to, we feel icky inside, don't we?" "Well, this is why we have the Atonement to get rid of that icky feeling." 
- From that day forward, she told herself that she would never do anything again that would make her feel icky inside, ***didn't work too well***
- Thank heavens for our Savior Jesus Christ who knew we would make these mistakes and granted us the opportunity to be clean again through baptism. 
- Coincidentally, just a few weeks later, she chose to be baptised and become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 
- Just as Jarom did last Sunday and Anthony will get to do this Saturday
- Soon enough, Sophia will be extending that chance to her brothers and sisters in California. And once that invitation is extended, they will have the opportunity to chose to be baptised, just as many of you have, and to experience the joy that this Gospel brings.
- After baptism, we must choose to use the Atonement daily to become clean again, through repentance and having a true and sincere desire to come closer to our Father in Heaven. 
- As we continue on our journey here on earth, we learn of the many decisions we have to make that will bring us back to our Heavenly Father. Many of these choices are simple, but are hard to make because of the visions of the world. 
- Let me give you a few examples of these decisions. 
1. Chose to follow God and the example of His son Jesus Christ.
2. Chose to use the Atonement to become clean each week with the sacrament.
3. Chose to to be an example of the believers at all times and in all things and in all places that you may be in.
4. And finally, CHOOSE joy! 😀.
-     In 2 Nephi 2:25 it says that "men are that they might have joy." 
We are literally here on earth to experience joy! Isn't that neat? Sometimes are easier than others to feel true joy, especially when you have those days of overwhelming stress and nothing seems to go your way, it can be quite difficult to find the joy in your day.
- In missionary work, we often have those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days where doors are slamming constantly, appointments fall through, and no one wants to hear a word you have to say. On these days, if we don't choose joy, it can lead to destruction. 
- So for these hard days, I challenge you to dig a little deeper for that ounce of optimism and chose to find joy in the little things. Ponder on this thought as I read the poem called "Finding Gratitude in all Things".