Monday, January 30, 2017

Tender Mercies from The Almighty!

Top of the world...or Wales.

Dearest fam,
      On Tuesday evening we went to Val's home for tea(dinner). She welcomed us gratefully and said "prepare yourself". Great. It began with half a melon and 5 strawberries each. I braved it through the melon; nervous for the next course. She then brought out a full cooked dinner. All the veg, delicious meat, and blessed yorkshires. Of course it was already smothered in gravey, because that's how they do it here. Sister Tarapi and I were struggling to finish it, but alas, our left legs were opened and the food did go down! And for the final course, what else but a famous British trifle?! Mercy, this thing was the size of a small car tire! Just FYI, trifle is the one thing, next to brussel sprouts, that causes me to have a gag-reflux like none other. Sorry, TMI. Trifle is basically a layered mixture of jello, soggy fruit, and sponge cake. She gave us each MASSIVE scoops. I choked a few bites down and then Sister Tarapi, a sweet little Filipino sister, gave me the head nod to switch her bowls while Val stepped out of the room. Tender mercy.
Meet Thor. (Awwwweeee)

                 Merthyr exchanges. Da bomb. 

          We LOVE tracking in the sun

      It has been mostly cloudy, most of the time this week. We had a few patches of sunshine which we are indeed grateful for! I am so looking forward to the happy, smiling people of the United States of America. The weather tends to be quite miserable, so the people begin to be the same. But, we enjoy the opportunity to invite light into their lives by way of the Gospel :) Whenever the sun is shining in good ole Wales, it is indeed a tender mercy!!
British rock walls.

I <3 this girl!!
      We went to the doctors twice this week, once for my wrist and the other for my eyeballs. After I fell on my wrist a second time, I was pretty sure that I broke it. But after some fervent prayer, we went to the A&E, I took the brace off, moved my wrist around with no trouble, and told the doc that "the Lord healed me". "The Lord healed you?" "Yes sir! The Lord had healed me!" Therefore, he proceeded to write down "the Lord has healed her" on his special doctor papers :) We then got to share a bit of the Gospel with him! #ABF #alwaysbefinding #tendermercy 
My beautiful Andrea & Lowri

       On Sunday, we went to the Williams for Sunday dinner and our beautiful Andrea and Lowri were our special guests! Our starter was fettuchini alfredo, then we had tarragon chicken with veg and potatoes, and then we topped it off with Ben & Jerry's ice cream! It was gorgeous. We discussed our GOLD from church and had a lovely time. I was so grateful to hear little Lowri testify about how she felt the spirit so strongly at church. They are both absolutely thriving and I am so grateful! Without a doubt, I know that I was sent to this mission to find them. I am so humbled to know that the Lord is mindful of me and these precious 18 months.

      I have reflected this week on how incredibly quick my time is flying out here. I have 130+ days to give my all to the Lord. I desire so desperately to be a changed woman and to understand His will for me. I know that as I humble myself and ask for His guidance, that we will be able to see many mighty miracles here in Pontypridd. We have had some very significant spiritual experiences involving our obedience and following the spirit this week and I know that they will not cease! The Lord has a plan for this area and we only desire to fulfill it! 
     Just for your information, Wales is beautiful.. 
       I love you all so much! Thank you for your continued love, support, and prayers! I feel them! 

                Sister Sydney Jones

Sunday Will Come

Dear fam,

      Boy did I experience a HUGE learning curve this week. Trials and opposition have been around every corner this week. From busting up my wrist in basketball on Monday, to people cutting us off, and every other little thing that could've caused us to murmur. Satan had his grasp around me reeeaallll tight this week. I would complain when I dropped my pen, saying that "He has it out to get us this week!" Mercy.. Not my proudest moment. I didn't realise how difficult was making my own situation. I'm sure the adversary played a small role in the trials that we received, but I made it worse with my own murmurings. How silly is that? 
 This is Maizey, my new pal.

      As I read in my scriptures this morning, I came to the part where Nephi was tied up on the boat for hours. When he was finally released, he "praised him all the day long, and did not murmur." What a great example. He could've rebuked his brothers and complained to the Lord for his trails, but no, he thanked the Lord that he was alive and free. Oh how I desire to be like the courageous Nephi!
First pic in the new wheels! So fun! 
      On Sunday morning, we found the reason for so much opposition; Jack. Originally from Zambia, but from Norway most of his life. He learned from missionaries a few times back home and then lost contact because he came over here for Uni. Has a wife, son, and daughter. Beautiful. He looked up the chapel and showed up 10 to 10, dressed in his Sunday best of course. We were shocked. I mean, you hear these miracle stories all the time but just assume that they will never happen to you! He has been reading the Book of Mormon for two years and has been praying to know if it is God's word. He said that "There is something special here, and I feel like it is changing my life." Wow. His testimony is powerful and his intentions are clear.  He loved church and we will be seeing him again this week. He said he had nothing better to do on a Sunday, so he might as well come and be with God's people! :) AMEN! HALLELUJAH! His new fellowshipper is Brother Isaksen from Norway. We can't wait to have lessons in Norwegian with them! The Lord does provide!! 
Brand-spankin-new. (Only 86 miles to be exact)

      We stopped by a Less-Active named Elizabeth on Thursday and she let us straight in. Single mom, desiring to come back to church but hasn't had the opportunity just yet. We knocked on her door and it was an answer to her prayers. Bless! We are so excited to see her and her little girl tonight.
      I am so grateful for my wonderful companion Sister Funk. She reminds me that things are actually going to be okay and gives me every opportunity in the world to talk to her about all of my little concerns. This has been one of the hardest weeks of my mission, but she is such a rock to me. It is such a blessing to have a spiritual companionship. I have missed it so much. We are in tune and on the same page. Nothing better than that. So grateful.
Sister Funk went from a girl, to a woman this week! Hello 1 year mark!
(I know it looks like we're in a pub, it's because we are.
And I know that bottle looks like beer, but it's not.
We were just there for the carvary and to see Andrea, promise.)

      We picked up a brand new car on Friday. This one doesn't sound like it's going to break when it goes faster than 50mph! Woot! It smells so nice and rides so smooth. #blessed.

      We played basketball last Monday and I was in a skirt and boots. I made the shot and started jogging backward and fell, catching myself on my right hand. Mmmeeerrrcccyy. The doc thinks it's a fracture in my scafoid(?), but we find out for sure on Friday. I think I'll be alright though. Fingers crossed that I won't have to get a cast. 
Exchanges with Sister Jampapan and Nkomo!
Seriously THEE funnest exchange ever!! 

       Exchanges were awesome as always and I absolutely LOVE my calling. I learn so much from the sisters that I am able to serve! As I was telling Sister Jampapan about my worries of going home in 5 months, she said "I don't have to worry, because I know that the Lord has a plan. And if I am faithful to the Commandments, then I know He will bless me." Well of course He will! Don't waste time worrying, when the Lord already has everything sorted. All we have to do is be faithful and obedient and we will be blessed! 
On our way back from B'Ham and we caught this sign! Woot! Welcome Home. 

The one and only Sister Willmore that I absolutely adore so much.
 She gives hugs just like mum does.

      In closing, I know that Sunday will come. No matter how terrible the day or the week, your "Sunday" will come. The relief from the troubles and the struggles of life will pause for a small moment so that you may recieve the reassurance that you need to move forward. My 'reassurance' came in the form of a blessing that I received late yesterday evening. "Be of good cheer. All will be well." It is true. I know it. :) 

Love from the UK, 

Sister Sydney Jones

Give Me Your Heart

 P-day last week at Cardiff Bay! FYI: This is where they filmed Doctor Who.

Good morning from the UK,

     What a week. On Tuesday, we headed to Merthyr for my driving test. I didn't sleep too good the night before and really needed a pep-talk before we left. I went into the bathroom and looked at my reflection in the mirror and simply said "You can do this! You can pass any driving test, no matter how hard!" PUMPED! We got to the testing center and Robert was the man! He asked me to pull over on the side of the road during the test. I did as I was told and totally bumped the curb. AHH! I had heard before if you only bump the curb, that it is an automatic fail. My confidence went out the window and I didn't say a word for a few minutes.  He then asked me to parallel park. I had only practiced this once. I actually did quite good until I bumped the curb...again. That's it! I thought I was done! I drove in fear for the next 30 minutes and we eventually came to the end. As he made some marks on his paper, I couldn't breathe. "Well........ya passed!" Wwhhhaatttt? It must've been my American charm or something! Haha. We had a dance party and celebrated with ice cream later on. I am now legally licensed in the UK  and as a result, I won't have to pay as much on my insurance when I get home because it is so difficult to drive over here. There are perks everywhere! What a blast. 
Cardiff is the coolest

A screenshot from when we were popping Mormon
bubbly after I passed my test. Hahah, it was terrifying! 

      After we got done visiting a member on Wednesday, we found that our car was boxed in by somebody.. So I jump in the car and decide to try and maneuver it out of at small gap in the back. This guy come out of his house swearing and telling us that he has children and that we are very inconsiderate for parking in his (non-marked) spot. He threatened us multiple times, even when we just tried to calmly apologise and ask him if he could move his car so that we could get home. "You can try to get out of there, but I'll make sure that you don't! You're not going anywhere tonight!" PANIC. It's 8:45 now.. After being threatened some more and praying a little bit, he agreed to move his car, but the F-word was used to express his anger. We held back our tears and we're just grateful to have gotten out of there unharmed. Scarrryyyyy. 

      We left a passalong card on a less actives door and got a text a few hours later that she did not live there. But this guy then said that he looked up the website and ordered a book of mormon from us. WHAT?! Blessings. We are excited to see him this week!
I am now a legal U.K. driver! Woot!

 First snow in 13 months!!! So fun! 

I love this place..

      I have been reminded to read the fourth missionary this week and have really come to understand that these last 5 months are the "refining period" of my mission. I know how to do the work and it's not as terrifying as it once was; therefore I have no excuse but to work hard and give my everything to the Lord. C.S. Lewis put it best: "Give me all. I don't want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work: I want You. All of you. I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man, but to kill it. No half-measures will do. I don't want to only prune a branch here and another there; rather, I want the whole tree out. Hand it all over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them all over to me and I will make of you a new self in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart, shall become your heart." (Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis, p. 167)
First exchange in Ponty with the Blackwood sisters!

My beautiful Sue and her fancy new haircut!
So grateful for Welsh mums! 

There is no excuse!!!!

      You know, we give up a lot during these 18 months/2 years. Everything that brought us joy beforehand, is back home in a box on the shelf and we will pick them up when we come home and some of them will no longer hold the appeal that they once did. We give up our time, talents, friends, family, education, movies, music, and even gum for 18 months/2 years! Why? All to be refined through the refiners fire called a mission? Yes. Absolutely. Of course! We have to grow up quite quickly, we have to trust in our testimony, we have the choice to be encouraged or discouraged by the hardships that we face, we have to figure out who we are in this country where nobody knows us...and we do it all by choice. Some come for different reasons, but my reason was and still is solely because I love my Savior. No, this journey has not been easy. But I know that if I submit my will to the Lord, I will reap of every possible blessing that He has in store for me. GOD IS SO GOOD! 

All my love,

Sister Sydney Jones

Monday, January 9, 2017

Welcome to Paradise.

Picturesque Welsh ponies & fog.

Dear fam, 

       So here's how the story goes... We got to our flat at about 7:30p.m., after a full day of travel. Keep in mind that we were about to walk into a flat that has been used by elders for 10 years (hence the pink-washing phrase). It was dark and damp and our luggage was heavy. I unlock the door and the smell of musky elders invades my nostrils. I turn on the light and trip over a banana. "What the heck?" I look up only to see bananas on every other step of the stairs. Thank you elders. Our first 20 minutes consisted of us searching every nook and cranny for 41 BANANAS! On the toilet, in the cupboards, under the beds...everywhere. Not to mention, they were all mostly brown. The note that they left said, "Welcome to Paradise". Hahah, we found a lot of other hidden treasures too. A DVD player, movies, sound systems, smelly socks; the lot. The biggest kicker was that we spent a few hours scrubbing mold off the walls. Needless to say, we have got A LOT of work to do before it reaches any type of paradisicle glory! :) 
41 disgusting bananas.

Our two story chapel here in Ponty. Cool spire, eh?

      We have had a lot of hard things to deal with this week and as a result, only spent about 8 hours in our own area. Pontypridd is beautiful. There are a lot of humble people here and I know that we are here for a reason. We have a beautiful girl named Melinda on a baptismal days for the 21st of January. We have a lot of work to do, but all will be well! 

       At church yesterday, it was fast and testimony meeting and we had the opportunity to introduce ourselves to the ward. About 45-60 active people. After we bore out testimonies, nearly everyone after that spoke about how grateful they were to have Sister Missionaries in the ward. Many of our members were originally converted by sisters, so that's cool! The spirit was STRONG! The final testimony was from President Spragg of the Stake Presidency. With tear-filled eyes, he told the ward of the high reguard that Sister Funk and I were held under. That they have got the best of the best serving in their midst. "Pontypridd is like a sleeping giant. And I KNOW that these sisters are here to awaken that sleeping giant!" He then told us of how just a few months earlier, members of the ward and Stake Presidency went a-top the tallest hill in Ponty and dedicated the area for missionary work. That the people here would be prepared to receive the gospel. They called down ministering angels and I know that we will be witnesses to the miracles that they will work among us. 
Thank you H&M for these lovely additions to our wardrobe! 

 As my eyes filled with tears, my heart swelled with gratitude, and I received the confirmation that I desired. I know that Sister Funk and I are here to make a massive impact on this ward and this area. There are 5 young woman here that are seriously considering missions, and if they are anything like I was when my ward got sisters, I know they will eventually make it to the beloved mission field! We look forward to going on many splits with them here soon. 
Last time together. #byebyeMerthyr 🙁

      This has genuinely been an extremely hard week. We were brought to our knees more times than we can count. The pressure is real and it is quite overwhelming majority of the time, BUT 'Bloom where you are planted' right? I know that we are surrounded by ministering angels and the miracles will come. All things are possible. 
It's been a rough one..

      This week, my thoughts were turned to the question, "What am I becoming?" With the multiple areas and plethora of companions that I have had, am I learning what I need to be from them all? I hope that I am changing, growing, and being stretched and in all the ways that the Lord needs me to be. My testimony of the Atonement is strengthened every day that I fall to the side of my bed in exhaustion and ask for strength and forgiveness. I am being humbled constantly and reminded that I absolutely cannot do anything without my Saviour. He is my strength and my guide. We look forward to a good week and many miracles to come! 

      Have a good week and don't forget to look for those tender mercies!! 

              All my love,

                      Sister Sydney Jones

Monday, January 2, 2017

The World is Your Oyster

REPRESENT. #keepingupwiththeJONESES

Dear fam,

      What a week. Biggest news first I guess. We got dodge calls last night (expecting Sister Berrett to leave), only to find out that we are being WHITE WASHED. Sister Berrett will be going to the Forest of Dean (where they filmed Harry Potter 7) and I will be going 10 minutes up the road to Pontypridd (ponty-preeth). Talk about an absolute blindside. I am absolutely gutted that I am leaving after only being here for 5 weeks. I love this ward and will miss it so much. I know there must be something so much greater behind all of this. It's hard to comprehend now, but there just HAS to be more to the story.

      So, I will be getting the wonderful Sister Funk from Idaho! We will be pink washing this area and it will be Sister Funk’s first transfer as an STL. It will be an exciting adventure! Last night as I was pondering why in the world this is happening, I was reminded of my favourite scripture, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13 No hill is too big, no area too hard, no challenge too impossible to overcome...with Christ and a great companion. ALL WILL BE WELL! :)
Serving in paradise.

The beautiful, freezing coast. Going to miss this girl!

      This week we had the priviledge of meeting Elder Paul V. Johnson of the seventy. We had an MLC with him on Tuesday and it was brilliant. President Leppard chose Sister B and I to do a role play with Elder Johnson and his wife Jill as the investigators. We had no time to be nervous! So, we taught them about repentance and at the end I extended the invitation, "As representatives of Jesus Christ, will you repent of those things that are holding you back from moving forward in life?" The spirit was so strong. They accepted, of course, and then President said, "Well, now you'll be able to say that you've invited a seventy to repent!" Haha. We had a good laugh.
Jenga with the Miles fam! We absolutely adore these kids. 

      After the meeting, I was asked to be interviewed by Elder Johnson. It was such a cool experience. We talked about my family for a bit and then the things that I personally think the mission is struggling with at the moment. He was very genuine and listened closely to what I had to say. The following day at the quad-zone conference, we received training from the Johnsons and Leopards on many topics including repentance. I felt like the trainings were given just to me. It was an absolute spiritual feast and I loved it. It was such a priviledge to be taught by such an inspired man. 
Just thought you might like to see what it looks like to go
through a drive through on the other side. It's still quite trippy! 

      We met with a man named Layton this week whose father is a Jehovah's Witness. Throughout the lesson, his dad would come out with the most ridiculous questions and we would do our best to answer them before her barged in with another one. One question in particular, Layton stepped in before we could even answer and explained exactly what we would have. The spirit was incredible as he, an investigator, bore testimony to his father of why Adam and Eve had to partake of the fruit. POWERFUL. We are extremely hopeful about him and his family!
The Davids.. This family is full of so much talent and love!

Laser tagging today.

       On Sunday, Brother Jones gave an excellent talk on who we need to be this coming year. He explained how we need to be as galloping horses running towards a fresh bale of hay, verses a stubborn sheep who won't listen to its shepherd. I desire to be the one who runs willingly toward whatever task I am asked to do. I know that there are far better things ahead than anything we leave behind. Onward and upward this coming year! Be a horse, not a sheep. 

-After stopping a man on the street, "have you ever prayed before?" "Yeah, I'm gonna be praying that I don't meet anymore religious people on the way home this morning!" Haha

-I passed my theory(written) driving test! Woot!

       I have loved serving with Sister Berrett for the past 5 weeks. We've had a lot of fun building up this area and are excited to see what will come of it, with the new sisters coming here. She's got 6 weeks left and then she's homeward bound! I'm so grateful for all of my incredible companions. 
We found the Weesleys car. No big deal.

      I'm a little terrified about what the next week will hold for us, it will be an interesting one. President is REAL good at putting me in uncomfortable situations. I'm on my 5th area and 9th companion in 13 months. I must be a problem missionary or something ;) all will be well. 

       This church is true. The Atonement WORKS. I am so grateful to be here, no matter the challenges that lie a head. God is good! 

All my love,

Sister Jones