Tuesday, November 29, 2016

And Back to Wales she goes!

England. Hills. Cows. Puddles. Mud. Cute missionaries. 

Apparently this clock is the oldest in
Stourbridge...so I had to a picture with it.

Surprise, surprise! 

       On Sunday afternoon, we were waiting for tea to be done at our ward mission leaders house and I got a call from President Leppard. He said "Sister Jones, how are those shoulders?" "They're fine President.." "Great. Well, the Lord has called you to be a Sister Training Leader. Welcome to the MLC!" Aannnndddddd, that's basically the jist of the conversation! Mercy. Haha. And get this.... I will be heading to Merthyr Tydfil, Wales! Back to Wales for Christmas! 
      I spent 6 months in Wales at the beginning of my mission, the next six months in England, and now I am headed back to Wales! I'm going home for Christmas... Isn't that just beautiful?! If you have followed my mission, you know how much I love Wales and you will understand how happy I am about my new assignment! :) 

My new companion will be Sister Berrett, previously my STL. Pretty sure she is from Utah and is wonderful. 

      Some fun things that come with this new assignment are that I will be learning to drive on the left side of the road...HA. It actually feels quite normal, having been here a year now, but it's still scary. The roads are a heck of a lot smaller than back home. Suck in! I will be able to work with the sisters in the Cardiff and Merthyr Zones. A.k.a. My lovely Caerphilly sisters! Dreams do come true. And basically just work and serve in a bigger capacity, which I am so looking forward to. It will be brilliant!
Serenading Margaret... :) 

The Woodbridge district! Elders are dumb. ❤

Our investigator, Karen

My Andrea and Lowri at the visitors centre in London!

Chips as Big as Your Face!

       We had a good hard week! It was filled with nearly every ailment imaginable. Colds, coughs, sneezes, congestion, pre-frostbite, second-hand smoke, exhaustion, cramps, dizziness, bruises, too many emotions, back/shoulder pain, homesickness, weepy eyes(from colds and sadness), numb body parts, and of course aching legs from running after buses. Mercy. Our patience and motivation were tested, but we have lived to see another week!

My favourites, Ann and Margaret! Legends.

The Stantons! We LOVE this family. 

Our neighbours cat Jasmine. She 23. Never thought
 I'd ever see a cat that old again in my life, so we took a picture together :) 

Christmas jumpers!

      MY LAST WEEK WITH SISTER PUGGY. Guawh! It's not fun at all to have so many "last times" with someone that you love so much. We have had a lot of trials come our way this transfer, but have been able to overcome them and still see success. We helped Adam get to baptism and were able to strengthen our ward. And all the while, building a friendship that will last far beyond the mission. Sister Pug has taught me how to play the ukulele, make cinnamon rolls, how to talk with EVERYONE, and has shown me so much love. What more could a companion want? I am so grateful that we were able to serve together in this blessed country! She will be getting Sister Timu from Australia and I know they will get on great. I look forward to all that they will be able to accomplish here. 

      Saying goodbye to the ward was not my favourite thing ever. I was asked to give a departing testimony, in which it was hard to hold back my emotions with all the love that I have in my heart for these wonderful people. We really do become apart of the ward, especially when it is so small. Only a few tears were shed, but the comfort of these eternal friendships will keep me going! The Lord indeed has a plan. I will miss this ward very much, but know that it is in good hands. God speed!
Havin' a laugh and eating Thanksgiving pizza. 

How we actually felt this week.... (: 

      Our Thanksgiving was spent in our flat, in our pjs, with a freshly delivered pizza. Hahaha. That's one for the books. It was actually quite fun. We played Phase 10 and enjoyed the thought of our families gathered around a beautiful turkey, having a laugh without us. Actually...we were struggling not to cry, but we did fight through it! :) I hope you all had a wonderful day with your families and were thankful to be around them. (:

       Onward and upward! Time to get packed and move back to Wales tomorrow. The change will be good. There is no growth in the comfort zone and no comfort in the growth zone! I'm prepared to be uncomfortable! It will be good to see Sister B and Sister Swasey tomorrow. Sister Swasey is training, which means I will be a mission grandma! 3 generations in the field! Woot! She will do great. 

      Right, time to go! May you all be blessed and fill your lives with the light of Christ. Visit Mormon.org and watch the new Christmas initiative for 2016. It's brilliant. Let us all serve someone new every day of December! If you do your part, I know the world will be a little brighter this Christmas. 

       Happy holidays beautiful people!

                 Taa-bit from the Black Country. 


                           All my love,

                             Sister Sydney Jones🇬🇧

Monday, November 21, 2016

The "B" Word. Baptism.

Baptism Day!

BAPTISM. Adam and his fiancé Linda and John "the baptizer".
 Such a fun day! 

We have so much fun with this guy... 😀

Dear people that I love,

       BAPTISM. Adam was baptized on Friday and what a beautiful experience that was for us! We spent most of the day preparing for it, by cleaning the cobwebs out of the font (first baptism in over a year), sorting the necessary clothing, making the program, and getting refreshments. With such a small ward, we literally had to do and plan every aspect of the baptism which was incredibly stressful. My chest was heavy and I indeed felt the weight of my calling! 
       6 o'clock arrived and I had just sliced my finger open with a dull church knife while cutting our humble frozen pizza. Struggle. Time for the baptism was drawing nigh and we decided to change the song that we were singing to "I know when I am baptized". The service started and one of our speakers wasn't there, so I frantically told one of our zone leaders to prepare a talk, ASAP. 2 minutes before he was due to speak, this brother walked in the back door, thank heavens! His talk was great, then Sister Pugmire and I sang. We got to the middle of the second verse and I looked away from the words (thinking that I had it memorised) and completely messed it up. Mercy. I threw in some words that I thought would fit and could barely regain my composure for the chorus! SO EMBARRASSING. Afterwards, it was my turn to speak and I just put my hands on the podium, red-faced and all, and just had to laugh at myself. The struggle is real. But my talk went well on the Holy Ghost and then Adam was baptized. He did so great and was only dunked twice! ;) The ward showed up to support him and the spirit was nearly tangible. 

      On Sunday, Adam received the Holy Ghost and the spirit, again, was very thick. Bishop Watton blessed him with many things that were very individual to him. He said afterwards that he felt the difference and desired more of that feeling. Incredible. We was so excited and I could feel the power in his testimony. He has joined the church for all the right reasons and only has a desire to serve! 

What a legend. 

      We faced a lot of opposition this week; it being the week of a baptism. Satan nearly had us where he wanted us, but we were able to fight. One day in particular, we had a lesson with our investigator Samantha and put her on a baptismal date of the 10th of December. Woot! As we were walking out of the lesson, we got a text from one of our promising investigators, telling us she wasn't interested :/ that news is NEVER fun. As missionaries, we can go from very high to very low in a matter of seconds. It's like a blow to the gut that you weren't expecting...but it comes with the job and people have their agency. "Without the bitter, we could never appreciate the sweet." :) 
Elder Zegarra + basketball = a messed up finger

 Utah, England, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Idaho, Australia, Jamaica, South Africa, & Australia.
Zone Meeting with the B-HAM crew.

      In other news, we went over to Nadia's house on Saturday to make some apple pie. Background info: she has been taught by missionaries for 20 years, she comes straight from Russia, she feeds us VERY well every time we come, and does not hold back an ounce of her thoughts/feelings. A.k.a. she is highly offensive. The first time we met her, she made fun of my eyebrows and always refers to us as 'you very big girls, very big!' Yes Nadia.. we know. This time around she kept double checking our measurements and would sneak up behind us and say "Are you sure that's how you make it? That's not how we do it in Russia!" Mercy. Needless to say, she is extremely difficult to teach, but has a big heart. Patience tested? Check. It's basically a 'hug me or I'll strangle you' type of relationship between her and I. #smileandwaveboys #smileandwave 😀

Crazy, offensive, loving Nadia from Russia.

Baking apple pie with Nadia.
We made and ate a lot of food this week...

Apple pie.
So good.
      We put our 91 year old investigator Gladys on a baptismal date this week! So cool. We honestly thought she was 72 when we met her. She doesn't even groan when she gets up from the couch! When we told her that there was a living prophet on the earth, she said "Well, that's news to me! It's good to know!" How cute is that? We are excited to get her to church and progressing on the path to baptism. :)

We made/ decorated a Christmas fruit cake
for relief Society enrichment night.

      Sunday was wonderful and busy. We patiently waited for Samantha to get to church. She doesn't drive, so she got a bus halfway and then walked 3/4 of a mile to the chapel. She has MS and a load of other health problems, so we were thrilled that she made it! She came around the corner puffed, but glad to be there. After Sacrament, she said that she just felt PEACE. Beautiful. Sister Pugmire and I sang "Savior, Redeemer of my Soul" at the beginning of Sacrament and it was great. We barely need a microphone in our small chapel :) Then Adam was confirmed, we helped in primary for music time, were able to enjoy relief society for 5 minutes, went to a DA with a part-member family and beat the kids at Uno (holla), stopped by some less-actives, and tracted. We got to the flat and exhaustion overcame the both of us yet again.
 We had a high stress week that tested every ounce of patience and faith. But we are able to stand on the other side of it and know that it is only by our Savior and each other that we got through it. He is greater! :) Blessings. 
I made roasted sweet potatoes and American Ranch chicken.. mercy, this
meal was on point!

      My favourite holiday is this Thursday and funny enough we have a dinner appointment every day this week, except for Thanksgiving. Haha ironic. The good thing is that we have "cooked dinners" nearly all the time, so we will be celebrating at an Italian Restaurant instead :) 
Our investigator Alex. Such a cool guy.

      Sister Pugmire and I look forward to a great last week here in Stourbridge together. There are a lot of things that I still want to accomplish before I leave in a weeks time, so we will be working hard!! The rain hasn't stopped for a few days straight, which makes our work a little more difficult, but the Lord will provide! :) 
       We went to the German Christmas Market today and it was glorious! Granted, half of the booths were selling beer..but everything else was cool! So fun to be here at this joyous time of year! **Pictures to follow, there were like 30 of them**
      I love this work. Every hard moment that comes, is but another opportunity to grow and learn. I am amazed at the wonders that God is able to do with me, as long as I listen to Him. This church is true. The Book of Mormon is the most correct book on the earth. We have a living prophet who indeed guides us in these last days. 
How blessed are we? 

 Have a wonderful week! Enjoy Thanksgiving and eat some extra apple pie and turkey for me! :)

     I love you!  

           Sister Sydney Jones

Fun facts:
- Whenever we are offered a drink in someone's home, we never get ice. Ever. Sometimes the drinks have been refrigerated before hand, but most of the time it is lukewarm. :) Talk about a culture change from all our ice back home..

- It now gets completely dark at 4:45, which means that we have to work SO much harder to find people to teach after that time. When we knock on the door at 5:30, people look at us like we're knocking at midnight! Got to love these English winters.. 

- We were at one of our lass-actives last night and in the middle of our conversation, she says "I never liked Satan." Hahahah, good May. Me neither.

- One of our biggest obstacles when getting people to church is the lack of people who drive! Nearly half our ward has to be picked up by other members, simply because they don't want to or don't think it's necessary to drive. Granted, petrol is stinkin' expensive here, but driving is just not a priority. Loads of people just rely on public transportation, but it isn't reliable on Sundays

- People will not let us serve them. Members or non-members. They say that they would rather "plod along and drown in their own issues before they let someone help them." Mercy..we will keep trying though!!

- We helped one of our home bound ladies sort out some of her bins this week. She is a full-blown hoarder. Never seen anything like it. We went through this big bin of papers and she really had attachments to receipts from 1986! "Oh no, I might need that!" We would pull out a notebook and it would have 2 numbers in it from the 90's and she would keep the whole book. Mercy. Haha it was ridiculous. It was hard not to laugh at some of the things that she kept, but we will pray for her. :) 

Sister Sydney Jones

The German Christmas Market in Birmingham today!! So fun!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Exhausted & Happy As Ever

A traditional Philippines dinner.
4 types of meat and TONS of flavour! SO GOOD! 

Dear fam, 

      I'm writing this email while I am learning how to salsa by my Peruvian brother. Holla. My district is great and we are working hard! We are constantly laughing and sharing success stories from our missionary work. I'd have it no other way! 
Dominic was baptized just a month ago and surprised us with a FLOWCHART of the Book of Mormon!
How cool is he??? You can see how proud he is of it on his face!
Ahh. What an amazing man! 

      We have had a beautifully long, hard working week! Exchanges were wonderful and busy! I saw how busy and stressful the calling of a Sister Training Leader is and am floored at the stamina that they have! I learned so much from Sister Tenney. 
Selling poppies and sipping hot coco.

      In one instance, we were talking to a man on the street for about 30 minutes and were getting absolutely no where, because of his lack of listening skills. Sister Tenney goes to testify about how none of us are perfect and he stops her to say "Well, that's a woman's problem." "Excuse me?" "That's a woman's problem, men don't have to worry about not being perfect." "And we're leaving! Good by sir!" Hahah what a turkey. 
Coordination with the 5'2 Brother Stanton.

 P-days are the best.

      We have been flogged a lot this week, which isn't the funniest thing, but we are excited for the coming week! Adam is getting baptized this Friday at 7pm! Woot! We are so pumped! We know that Satan works hardest on baptism weeks, so we are PREPARED! He is so prepared and I have been privileged to see the change that has been wrought in him. After his baptismal interview he asked us "How soon can I start home teaching?" Man, can you ask for anything better? 
 Street tacos made by yours truly. Nothing better!
      There is so much that I desire to do before I leave here in two weeks time. We will be busy and probably exhausted...but it will be worth it! Our teaching pool is BIG and we are working on getting it to be a little deeper. We are working with some cool people right now and I'm excited to see how it goes. 
My best friend made me some pj's

      Sister Pugmire and I are loving serving with each other. We are laughing constantly and currently working on a Ukulele mixtape. Ha. Just kidding. But life is good and we are thoroughly enjoying every moment. The ward is taking great care of us. We are going to the Bishop's house tonight to play Clue and eat curry! Party.

                                                              French pastries!! Beautiful sweets.

      I know this work is of God and that the power of the Holy Ghost is real! I feel the truthfulness of this gospel every time I testify about it. We have some great goals this week to see miracles and know that the Lord is on our side! Blessings are many and I am so grateful! I hope you all have a wonderful week and are praying that He will show you the path that you need to walk. 

           All my love, 

                     Sister Sydney Jones
Sister Tenney and I on exchange. 
Our lunch consisted of these nasty fruit bars that smelled and tasted like dog food. 
Thank you, Whole Foods, for this waste of calories.