|The beautiful Sister Olsen! She's my first blonde! Woot!|
Dear people that I love,
What a week! One of the absolute best! This time last week, I wasn't sure that I was going to make it through, but of course, the Lord ALWAYS provides a way! Sister Olsen is a beautiful addition to Coventry and seems to fit just like a glove! We have seen countless faith-confirming miracles and have been tested physically at every limit! Here's a little recount of our week; thanks for coming along this crazy ride with me! :)
On Monday evening, we went to a Chinese buffet called Wing Wah here in Coventry. Georgie and David insisted that Sister Cebollero go before she left, so we did! Little did we know, we would be struggling the whole night through with food poisoning! Yikes. I had trust issues with Chinese buffets before, but this just sealed the deal for me. NO BUENO.
Tuesday was a bit wonky. We went to the train station at the scheduled time to pick up Sister C's new companion and ended up waiting two extra hours! We thought she had died or something terrible, but the trains were just messed, so that was a relief. Sister Olsen arrived safely as well and we went on our way. When we got back to the flat, I had to give myself a pep-talk, "Sister Jones, the car is about to leave and you will have to bike for the last 6 weeks of your mission. Get used to it. It's happening. There's no way out of it. You will be fine!" And then BAM! We had to hop on our bikes and rush to an appointment! No time to think! Mercy, I was just a little terrified. Biking after 8 months seemed to be a big task, but it all came back quite quickly! Everything but the muscles! Haha.
|Love the journey...even when our bums are sore|
Wednesday was SO cool! The first full day with a new companion is ALWAYS the best! I tend to set my miracle expectation extra high that day! ;) We met two lovely women on the way to town centre, first a woman named Ilona from the Czech Republic. She was thrilled to meet us and immediately invited us back to her home to teach her more. We are excited to see her this week! Then we met Sai from Portugal. Tender mercy. I spoke a bit of my broken Spanish with her and her eyes filled with tears. She was on the way to the police station to take care of a hard family situation and was just having a terrible day. We were able to tell her our purpose as missionaries and then testify of the love that her Father in Heaven has for her. She began to tear up again and thank us profusely for stopping her and giving her courage to carry forward. Such an incredibly humble mother! We cannot wait to see her at her home in just a few days time!
That night we biked 6 miles to dinner at the Hannis's and then 6 miles back into town to have our second dessert with both Sister Olsen and I's favourite Welsh parents; Sue and Bernard. It was so wonderful to see them! We enjoyed scrumptious British pancakes (crepes) with hot Nutella and fresh strawberries and bananas scattered over the top; not to mention the cookie dough gelato! We were well pleased! The company wasn't bad either ;) It has been such a blessing to have such incredible support from this family throughout my mission. I know that these relationships began much farther back than just 17 months ago!
|Holla at us for biking after 8 months! Do you like my manly yellow mountain bike? #unintentionaltwinning|
On Thursday we had a wonderful district meeting led by our district leader Elder O'Hare. We counseled as a district how we could develop stronger relationships within the Coventry Ward and the specific people who could use some TLC from the missionaries. It is so nice to all be in the same ward and to be able to talk with each other about these situations/people that are under our influence. I was asked to give a spiritual thought on Christ following the meeting and as I tried desperately to find something to share, nothing came to my mind. I stood at the pulpit and began to relate how I felt as a greenie. When I first came to this country, I couldn't understand the thick Welsh accent, tracting absolutely terrified me, and I simply missed home! I had no choice but to rely on my Saviour, day in and day out! I was weak and simple and had seemingly no knowledge about missionary work. Then, as my experience grew and my fear lessened, I began not to rely so much on the Saviour because I just had learned how to do the work, you know? And then I was called to be an STL and it shook me a bit, but I relied on my Saviour a little more and got more comfortable with my new assignment.
Along with the assignment came the cozy car in the dead of winter. No unnecessary freezing of body parts or terribly long walks/bike rides to appointments; just comfortable. And then I got a wonderful companion who I just clicked with and the work was easier and we enjoyed laughing with each other all day long. This didn't go unnoticed by God or by President or even by myself. I needed a change. I needed something that would quite literally throw me out of my comfort zone and 'compel' me to rely on my Saviour more. I raised my fingers in the air and said "Being "dropped" from leadership has already been such a blessing for me." By this time, tears were already flying everywhere, so I just decided to go with it! I explained how humbling it has been to be a "real missionary", on a bicycle, struggling with hard things and constantly being tested. Not that being an STL wasn't ever hard, but this is just a different type of hard. I simply testified of the knowledge that I have that God knows me. That He knows exactly the trials and tests that will challenge me to grow and to reach my full potential. I stated that I could have only made it through those two days (and now 6 days) with the strength provided to me through my Saviour Jesus Christ. For He has already gone through this part of my mission and suffered for me, all so I don't have to...I am literally speechless at the love that He has for me. I know that He is aware of me and I know that I am in exactly the right place/situation to end my mission. No doubt about it!
|Creams with the Williams! #blessed|
After district meeting, Sister Olsen and I enjoyed some rice and chicken strips bought from Asda (Walmart in this country). When I got to the 3rd chicken strip and Sister Olsen was already done, I looked down only to see raw chicken meat staring back at me! AHHHHH! Not good! Definitely not good!! I could've hurled right then and there. We called Sister Leppard and her response was "You silly billy's!" Lol, I'm sure she was thinking much worse! It turns out that the chicken strips needed to be cooked in the oven, not simply nuked in a microwave oven for 2 minutes! Bless. I worried myself sick for the first 30 minutes and then it was just a waiting game! Food poisoning twice in one week?? That's not possible! Sister Leppard instructed us to stay near to some facilities for the rest of the day. HA! That's not possible when you have 3 lessons to teach all across Coventry! Luckily we survived and continued to work and no medical attention was needed. The Lord surely blessed our stomachs! LESSON LEARNED!
Saturday was THEE day!!! Wooohooo! Saving the best for last! We went finding in town centre and stopped a man from Portugal. He wasn't super interested, but just as I was reaching for a pass-a-long card, a woman in her jazzy scooter rolled up and said "Sisters, can I have a Book of Mormon please?" We delivered and she put it in this man's hand and said, "Listen, I'm not an active member of this church, but I have read this book and prayed about it and I will NEVER be able to deny the truth!" She then boldly exhorted this man to read Moroni 10:3-5 and to pray about it. He walked away, a little stunned at being rebuked in the middle of city centre. Our eyes lit up and we turned to this woman in awe at what she had just done. She just smiled and said "Wow! That was good, wasn't it? We should say a prayer to thank God for that." So, we literally bowed our heads and folded our arms in the midst of hundreds of on-lookers and she spoke some very tender words and asked God to bless this Portuguese man that his heart would be softened. Immediately after she said 'amen', she asked if we could stop someone else. We gave her another Book of Mormon and just as she was whipping her jazzy scooter around, a man named Muhammed came from behind Sister Olsen and said, "Hi, sorry, could I have a Book of Mormon?" My jaw dropped in disbelief at this miracle and Louise just said "Man, He is quick isn't he?" with the biggest smile EVER on her face! Haha. We gave him the book and were able to testify of its truthfulness. We set up a return appointment, but we're unable to make it. We hope to see this man again soon! We decided from that moment onward that this less active woman from Birmingham needed to come finding with us every day! I hope to send home a selfie with her next week! :) God is greater!
|Coventry is actually the coolest.. #architecture|
As we introduced the Book of Mormon, he stared at the Book and said "I've seen this book before. I think an American man at my work had one back in Italy. I asked him if I could borrow it, but he was soon sent back and stationed in the states so I never got an opportunity to read it! Finally! After 4 years I can finally read this book!"
I got tinglies from head to toe as he relayed this experience back to us. He took the Book of Mormon in his hands and treated it with such care. He told us that they will read it and ask God if it is His word! He offered the most genuine prayer following the lesson. Thanking God for sending us to his family, thanking our families for letting us come here and be missionaries, and even asking God to give us strength to continue with this rigorous work. Following his inspired prayer, he thanked us with a bro-hug and a kiss on both cheeks and pointed at both of us and said "Don't you get tired! This is God's work! He will sustain you!" We could've cried. He had no idea how badly our bodies were hurting nor how much those words meant to me specifically. Absolutely amazing. We are SO excited about this family!!!
|The breathtaking painting in Renol and Sharin's home.. |
We had no words. The spirit was in grate abundance!
We then went on to tract a street that we were previously guided to. We knocked the first three doors and they all preceeded to tell us that our "colleagues" had already come by earlier and then showed us The Watchtower. Lol. Dang it! The JW's got there before us! So, we picked up camp and went to the next street over. We knocked on number 10 and as soon as the man came to the door, I knew they were going to let us in. It was a beautiful couple from the middle east named Renol and Sharin. He is a surgeon and she is a dermatologist; a.k.a. very well off, but SO incredibly humble! They told us that they were originally from a Christian background, which was great to hear! We began with a prayer and then taught them about the plan of salvation. We testified that we were together as families before this life and have the opportunity to continue with them into the next life. Renol's eyes began to wander and he looked up and said "That is amazing! It's something that I have never thought about before. So, we were together before we came here....wow. So I knew her before I actually knew her?? Wow." The spirit did indeed testify of truth in that living room!
We were able to share with them how we pray by relating it to food (holla). The 1st piece of bread is "Dear Heavenly Father and the 2nd piece of bread is "In the name of Jesus Christ, amen." In the middle, you might like ham and cheese and I might like PB&J! Fill it up with whatever you like! They thought it was brilliant. We committed them to pray about what we taught them and then agreed to have us over in a weeks time.
To end the lesson, Renol said that he would like to pray for us. In that moment, the spirit took over and every single one of his words were guided by God. He thanked Heavenly Father for sending these two angels to their door to remind them that they are still apart of his plan. He asked God to bless our families that they might be kept safe and sustained until we return home to see them. He asked for forgiveness for his sins. He thanked God profusely for the opportunity to hear our message. Sister Olsen and I were holding back tears; absolutely stunned at the remarkable prayer we had just heard. We, in return, thanked him for allowing us the opportunity to hear him pray.
I looked up from the living room flower, only to see a massive painting of Jesus walking on water, in the next room. They explained how Christ has always been their guide and their goal. AMAZING. Upon our departure, they would not let us out of their sight without filling our rucksacks with sweets, fruit, and water bottles. Renol then said, "Sister Jones, you're the one who likes PB&J's, right? I can make you one real quick?" Awe! They are the absolute sweetest! Sharin said, "If you ever need anything, anything at all, call us!" Oh my word. We may or may not have cried after that experience! We will be seeing them on Saturday at 11am! Sharin said she's going to make us some traditional hot Indian curry as well. Bless.
This has to of been one of the highlight lessons of my mission! We are over the moon for this couple!!! I cannot wait to tell you how our lesson goes with them next week!
|Lumiaire(?) #BeautyandtheBeast. Renol and Sharin's |
prized mantel piece; next to the Statue of Liberty, of course.
Overall this week has been an incredible testament that the Lord knows me. He knows exactly what I need to grow. He has POURED blessings on us every single day and I am overwhelmed at it all. I know Christ lives. I know the Book of Mormon is the gateway to a better life. I cannot deny the spiritual experiences that I have had this past week. What an incredible privilege it is to be His hands for these 18 months. There is absolutely no where I would rather be than right here in Coventry!! May God bless you all!
All my love,
Sister Sydney Jones
So sad to leave this stellar companionship!