Monday, August 29, 2016

Bruised noses...Blessings, Blankets, and Blackberries

Note to reader:
to me (mom)
Please tell everyone that love them and sorry that I can't email them
back today. I don't hate them :) just no time.
I love you!

Sister Sydney Jones
This is the jail here in Leicester. It's literally a castle. 

Rivers on the motorway.

Beautiful flowers.

Brothers & Sisters,
      I will be completely honest; this time last week, I wasn't sure that I was going to make through. Doubt and self criticisms filled my mind. But I was able to receive a Priesthood blessing from a senior elder here and the Lord provided me with the strength and comfort that I so desperately needed. I am so grateful for the Priesthood power! 
 **Please excuse how long this email will be. We had an incredible week and it made for tons of fun stories that I get to tell you about today!** 
       Sister Swasey and I had a week full of beautiful adventures! We were thankful to see them as a result of our faith and diligence in doing this wonderful work.
Madelon :) 
       We went to contact a referral whose name is Madelon (mad-a-lon). We teach her a little bit and then she starts to tell us about her life, little did we know that she was a contortionist! Mind you, she is in her late 80's! While we were sitting there being amazed, she lifts up her leg and nearly puts it behind her head! I screamed and told her not to, in fear that she would break, but nope! No shame! Following that great experience we had to take a selfie with the first contortionist I have ever met in my life. We are excited to go back and teach her again!

      Throughout the week, we found ourselves picking blackberries from ever bush we could find! Our tongues and teeth were stained purple, but boy was it worth it! We need fuel for the road, right? :) We even went as far as sliding the bikes next to a rubbish bin so that we could reach the big juicy ones at the top! And there are no accidents to report! :) 
      This week we have been studying our US States and Capitals in our free time (thank you Sister Wiesner). On the first attempt, we both got like 17 out of 50, but now we are aiming for 100%! Now ask yourself, are you a real American? Would you get 50/50 if faced with the same test right now?! I hope so! If not, get to studying. Also, enjoy some classic American cuisine for me too.  You know, a proper BBQ and some good 'ole American football? Oh how I miss it! 
      On Saturday morning we were playing basketball with some investigators and other missionaries and it was great! At one point I was passed the ball and went to drive to the basket, when my face met Sister Swasey's shoulder. Mercy. Needless to say, my nose is tender, slightly bruised, and headaches are a thing. Hahah man, it's great. Just thankful that it isn't broken :) Basketball memories! 
Blankets, nickers, and cookies.

Dinner picture in the English countryside.

      Following the basketball game, we were biking clear to the other side of our area when the heavens opened the dumped it over Leicester City! Wow. There were rivers running down the roads, cars sliding everywhere, thunder shaking the ground, and us...hiding under a pathetic excuse for a shade tree. We were soaked. We braved the weather and eventually got to a members house where we asked kindly "Could we borrow a napkin or two?" Haha. They laughed and invited us in. The told us to take everything off and they would dry everything for us. Yep. They through some blankets in the front room and we through our wet clothes out. Mercy. We sat there for two hours while it continued to pour and ate chocolate chip cookies and hot coco! The member sat in her recliner and chatted to us the entire time. Haha, it was a experience that I won't soon forget! 
Cooper Gardens! Yes. I love my dog. *Notice the paw prints on the left, that is no coincidence!*

      Yesterday as we were nearly home, we decided to go tract Drury Lane. We bowed our heads to pray at the street corner and Sister Swasey asked for us to pick two house numbers to tract between 1 and 10. When she concluded, we both looked up and said "3". We knocked on this woman's door and and she was such a delightful human! 83 and wonderful! We talked to her about her faith, life, etc. and before we could even ask, she said "So when you come back next time, you'll teach me more, right?" We stuttered and began searching for our planners. "Of course!" we exclaimed! We were nearly screaming as we walked back to our bikes! Ahhhh! What a beautiful miracles she was! 

      And now, we are on our way to COSTCO with a member and it will be great! I am so thankful for happy things. God has richly blessed me and I am so thankful! Being here is great and I so look forward to the last week that I am able to spend with Sister Swasey here in De Montfort. We will be celebrating Christmas, mostly because I love it, but also because we won't be together in December. We a pumped! 
      I hope you all have a blessed week and are continuing to look for the good! A member brought up the question yesterday, 'When you look in the mirror in the morning, you choose whether you will be happy or sad that day. Whether or not you realize it, you choose!' Choose to be happy and to do wonderful things! 

*Congratulations for making to the bottom of this email! Thank you for following my mission adventures and for living them with me. I know you are along for the ride and that makes every moment that much sweeter!*

I love you and I pray for you! 
                   God bless and take care! 

                                                         All my love,

                                               Sister Sydney Jones

Monday, August 22, 2016

In Christ Alone, My Hope is Found.


       Callum was baptized yesterday!!! It was great! He had over 15 family members there to support him! Wow. The faith that he has is incredible. He is such a wonderful example to his family. The baptism began a little hectic, but it turned out okay. Sister Swasey and I were able to sing 'Nearer My God To Thee'. Swasey played the guitar and we did some humming 'n stuff and it was wonderful. The spirit was there in great abundance! He was baptized and then we enjoy some vanilla cakes and Mormon bubbly. So great! 
Baptism, baptism, baptism. Beautiful moments. Callum is the man!

All of the missionaries that taught Callum. 
All the missionaries that Callum knows! We play sports on Saturday morning w/ them all.

      One of the biggest miracles of the week came from Callum's less-active Nan who is a member in our ward. She took my hand and pulled me down towards her wheelchair and said "Sister Jones, this is my grandson. He means a lot to me and so does his example. I want to come back to church! Will you arrange a lift so that Mick and I can come next Sunday?" WHAT? Absolutely! Her husband is not a member but loved coming to the chapel. Such a blessing! I encourage you all to search out those less-actives in your area and visit them. Many of them just need a friend and the spirit alone will do the converting!
Exchanges were great!
      Exchanges were great and it is always a priviledge to learn from our leaders. Sister Gillette and Sister Beazer are top notch when it comes to STL's! So we are richly blessed. 
Beautiful African food that our investigators the Mblou family gave us! Under all those vegetables is two, yes TWO pork stakes. EACH! They were massive!!!! Ahhh. And mind you, this was our second dinner appointment of the night! I made a good dent and Sister Swasey held her own as well. In African culture, it is frowned upon if someone leaves your home with an empty stomach, sooooooo we were STUFFED when we left their home. We had to bike 3.5 miles in 10 minutes, with bursting tummies. Mercy. It was so good though. And incredibly worth it! 

Beautiful river running by the De Montfort University

Swasey girl.

I'm in Italy mom! (Haha, not.) England is still cool though!*
They have an American Statue of Liberty in Leicester! WHAT? I honestly don't understand/don't know why, but it was cool!

       My testimony this week is simple. I know God has a plan. I know that these 18 month are sacred and will bless the rest of my life. I know that my two feet are exactly where they need to be at this moment. I know that Christ is our Savior and Redeemer, and only through Him can we be made whole. It is a priviledge to work alongside some of God's most valiant spirits here in England. What a blessing it is to be in this beautiful country and to know so many beautiful people. I am grateful for the time that I have to change whilst I am here. I am being broken down more and more every day, in hopes of being made into the woman that God needs me to become. 
Only through Him.

      I know that this work is of eternal importance. It is, by no means, an easy task; but we are promised "angels on our left and our right to build us up." We need all the strength that the Lord will provide in these last days. And YOU are no exception. We need Him. We need His guidance and reassurance. We need His help. Trust Him. Confide in Him. For He cannot lead us astray. 

       Have a blessed week all! Thank you for your prayers and encouragement! I feel it all! Thank you for who you are to me. I mean it. I love you! 

                  Take care and go out SERVE!
                                                 Sister Sydney Jones
Countesthorpe. Just a town in Leicester.
Just around town
Old jeep that reminded me of Pearl.

I know. I know. Just a boring missionary flat....but I thought you would like to see where I reside :)

This Gospel is a JOY!

The real face of Missionary work (expectation vs reality)

Dear family and friends, 

      Another week has passed us by here in England. The amount of sunshine that we have had recently has been absolutely magnificent! I haven't worn my wellies in quite some time and my tan is looking mighty fine! Blessings from on high! We had a good week full of finding, lots and LOTS of finding! It was great! With our lack of investigators, we knew that this whole week was going to be dedicated to finding which wasn't the most exciting thought. BUT, it went great! And if the only thing that Sister Swasey and I were supposed to get out of this week was a love for tracting, then we have achieved it! We didn't meet any crazy people or get screamed, I'd say we were pretty successful! :)
A spectacular American package found its way to our door this week! Thank you Deb! The Alfredo sauce has brought much joy to these American girls!

Old English house.
      We biked SO much this week and definitely felt it this morning. I know that Heavenly Father is providing strength sufficient enough for us to do his work, cause dang. We need it! If you would've told me before my mission that I would be biking this much, I would have laughed. But, the Lord does provide! Doctrine & Covenants 84:88 says, “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” I know that there are angles roundabout us to bear us up in our times of need! For without those angels, I would not be able to do this work.
These fields remind me so much home. (Idahome)

      I want to relate an experience I had in Sacrament meeting yesterday. We sang the sacrament hymn in great reverance and then bowed our heads while the sacrament was being blessed. As I leaned forward to place my arms on my knees, my eyes filled with tears. Every ounce of anger, exhaustion, defeat, failure, and utter pain from the week previous hit me in that moment. All the angry people, all the offensive words, the lack of success, the self-doubt...everything. I nearly felt as though I would be swallowed up in this pain. What a terribly hard moment, but what a wonderful place be amidst that trial of defeat. I imagined myself walking towards the Sacrament table and placing my broken self before it; humbly asking my Savior to make me whole again.Praying for strength and courage to carry forward. As my tears continued to fall, I felt my Savior putting me back together. The broken pieces of my body were not bonded back together with glue, but with His love. I felt Him literally help me from the floor, stand me up straight, and dust off the dirt from the week previous. What a sacred representation this was for me.
Leicester Zone! A bunch of goons

So, we drew a big family tree in town and found people through family history. So cool!

      The demands of mission life are, most days, more than I can possibly bear alone (hence why we need the angels to bear us up). We give every single ounce of happiness and joy that we have to everyone else and sometimes when we come home, we are empty. Drained from giving of ourselves and pondering how we could possibly give any more?! But, when we step back and think of our Savior, who literally gave His all, our "every single ounce" is only a small measure to what He gave to us. So, when I am asked why I would ever do something this hard for 18 months, I smile and say "Because I love my Savior. And I know that he will provide me with strength sufficient enough to serve him for these precious 18 months." 
Saturday morning basketball makes me rejoice greatly! I totally feel like Whoopie when I play in a skirt, but you gotta do what you gotta do! :) #nun

      It is true. I could not serve Him without the strength that he provides. For without His strength, this experience would be nearer enduring rather than enjoying. I am blessed to know that I am loved. I am thankful to know that I am not alone. I am thankful that the trial of defeat is but a small moment and to know that my rescuer is standing nigh, ready to save me from despair.
 I am thankful to know that my Savior loves me enough to cut me down and build me back up into who he needs me to be. What a blessing it is to be humbled and to be strengthened in my Savior. I feel so privileged to be serving Him here in England, alongside Sister Swasey. It is an absolute joy to be here, working hard to save souls. I love it! 

 I pray that you all know how joyful the Gospel of Jesus Christ is and can be once you dive into it. This Gospel is simple and only offers those who adhere to it, complete joy and eternal happiness. Dieter F Uchtdorf stated that "we should live the gospel joyfully!" If you are a member of this church and know it is true, there is no reason to be sad! Rejoice! You have the truth in front of you; so take it, soak it up, and then share it with all you know! Have hope in good things to come and work towards that happiness unceasingly. 

 I hope you all have a good week! Thank you for your prayers and all the love, please know that I am sending it all right back to you! 

               All my love,

                      Sister Sydney Jones

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Laughing is GOOD for the soul!

I just got a surprise visit from the WILLIAMS! All the way over here
in Leicester!!!!! Aahhhhhh!!! It was absolutely wonderful!

Dearest fam, 

 I have decided to put this weeks email in the form of bullet points... Enjoy! 
English 3 wheeled space cars


- Sister Swasey and I have laughed until we cried nearly every day this week! Oh yes, laughing is good for the soul!! :) 
- We had to give up 3 of our investigators to another area, because of boundary confusions; one of them being our Callum who was on a date for the 21st of August. It was very hard to say the least, but we knew it was exactly what needed to happen with reguards to their progression. Callum will still be getting baptized and we will get to attend! So all is well.
- We just received a crockpot from a member yesterday and we are so excited to use it!! 
- The toilets are taller and wider in the UK.
- "Can I use your toilet?" over "Can I use your bathroom?"
- We say 'Good morning' they reply 'You alright?'
- 'Cheers' instead of 'Thank you'
- It is incredibly diverse here, but everyone seems to get on great.
- We almost got killed on a roundabout twice this week.
- We are finally getting there with the ward, which is SUCH a blessing.
- The English love their dogs. 
- The accents change from town to town. 
- Public toilets are not a thing here. You either have to pay or pray that you find someone that will let you in to use the facilities. 
- The showers here don't have curtains to cover them. You just do your thing!
- The atmosphere here in England is laid back and quite fast paced. 
- We see nice cars everywhere; Bentley's, Lamborghini's, Mercedes Benz's, Ferrari's...on the daily.
- The people dress pretty posh here, but there are also a lot of styles that I can't tell if they are a UK thing or if it's world wide?
- The 'English Reserve' is very real. When we say hi to people, it takes them by complete surprise. They have a hard shell, but once you've cracked it, you've got 'em! :)
- There is a lot of weed here. Like a lot. Bad news bears. 
- You don't get free refills in this country. :/ 
- Being a missionary is the coolest calling on the planet. 
- I was asked out on a date this weekend by a nice guy in town centre. I nicely turned him down after I explained my situation, then put my hand out to shake his and he just walked away.. Haha.
- I got a flat tire on Tuesday night, but we were able to fix it all by ourselves! Holla! 
- We eat some awesome food over here. Always filled and satisfied. 
- Food that I eat now that I didn't before my mission: parsnips, turnips, sweet potato, fish, cucumbers, collard greens, jello, and Nutella.
- I received 5 letters in the mail this week! That's a record!! Thank you! 
Jerry! We found this wonderful man by asking him what his favourite sauce was. Following that we indulged in some McDonalds and taught him about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon! His favourite sauce is ketchup BTW.. :)
Biking selfie. Mom, I am getting SO tan! 

He was trying so hard to make me laugh by shoving a whole slice of pizza in his mouth and as you can see, I was having none of it. :) I won the stare off!

       This week has been a good one. It is almost as though we have to start from the bottom and build up again, but I know that all will be well. We are constantly improving and growing together here in Leicester. The blessings are magnified as we show the Lord our faith. It is incredible to be so removed from the world and to see everything going on around us, but then to still have one focus in mind; bringing souls unto Christ. I am so grateful to be here and to be growing in so many ways. 

my 'brother' in the mission, Elder Zegarra

Pickachu. Everyone here is addicted to that new Pokemon game. We've about hit 75 people this week who had their eyes glued to their phones, looking for the next Poky! Silly game.

      I cannot fully express how thankful I am to be here. There is absolutely no where I would rather be. I am so grateful for the support that I have received thus far and for the prayers that I feel daily. Your examples and never ending love is something that I hold dear to my heart. Thank you for helping me to serve the Lord! What a blessing you all are to me. 
We drew the Plan of Salvation in town and talked to people as they passed. Such a cool finding opportunity!

 My challenge to you all this week is simple; LAUGH! Goodness me. I have thoroughly enjoyed just laughing this week at everything! I truly believe that laughter breathes life into our souls. Without a little bit of laughter, this work would be 10x harder than it is. I know it is possible to be a great, hardworking missionary and to have fun while doing so! When I get old, I want my wrinkles to be from smiling and laughing rather than worrying and frowning. Life should be enjoyed, not just endured! :) 

 Have a blessed week and stay safe! ❤️
Sister Sydney Jones

There was a huge Caribbean festival in town centre. Thousands of people..we left quite quickly
Us with a member from Scotland named Will! 
Sister Swasey's new best friend.

Sister Swasey went into a members bathroom and came out with this picture. At first she thought it was a bar of soap! The member left it there after using the toilet and later gave us the explanation that she was really hungry, then forgot about it. HA! We had a good laugh about this one... :)