Swimming in the Deep End

15 April 2013

I’m afraid I have even less time for writing this week than I did last week! We’re cutting our P Day short to take a train to Martin. And I forgot to bring along both the letters I was going to respond to, and my camera cable, so individual responses and photographic illustrations will have to wait until next time!

Family, when I was at the mission office last week, I got the parcel and the macaroon recipe you sent! Thank you! How did you know we had 500g of coconut sitting around in our cupboard? Tried mixing choc cereal in macaroons – great!

Editor’s note: You can try the recipe for yourself, by following the link here. These delicious coconut macaroons are so easy to make, and are gluten free (unless you add chocolate cereal!).

Training was brilliant! I’ve still hardly seen any of Prague (again, whisked straight in and out), but it was so good to see our MTC group reunited – however briefly – and hear of the success we are already achieving.

Fresh off the plane! Our MTC group on our first day in the mission field, back in March.
We were sleep-deprived, jet-lagged, slightly bedraggled, and totally stoked!

We have a new senior missionary couple in the branch! Elder and Sister Wr from Idaho Falls. They’re lovely and settling in so well despite the language barrier and a rather traumatic arrival. Sister Wr broke her foot just before leaving the States, and when they arrived they found out the apartment had no oven. So then the Elders took them out for a meal and accidentally ordered cow stomach for them, poor things! And yet they are still chipper and eager to help in every way they can. It is so nice to have the Wr here; they are marvellous – they’re doing just fine and even taught in Slovak with us today, which was fab!

Our next transfer looks interesting (“transfer” refers to a specific day planned for moving missionaries from one assignment to another within the mission. Most missions have a transfer day every month or two): we have 4 Slovak sisters coming in next transfer – fresh from the MTC. The problem is that we only have 4 Sisters currently serving in the country (that’s Sestra B and her companion, plus us). When I asked President Irwin how he would train all these new sisters, he told me: “Well, let’s just say that sooner or later you and Sister B will be the senior sister missionaries in Slovakia. Just how soon remains to be seen, but start preparing now. No pressure, but PRESSURE, okay?”. I take comfort in knowing that it’s all in the Lords hands, and He obviously knows what He’s doing. =)

I just hope our Slovak will be good enough for us to get by if I end up training a new missionary next transfer (meaning she would simultaneously have to follow-up train me)!  As for the language, I’m slowly improving as I listen and do my best to express myself every day. One of our investigators recently said: “Sister Jones, you may be quiet but I can tell you know it’s true and that it’s changed you: it shows in your smile – you’re just glowing.” That meant so much to me! I’m grateful that despite my weaknesses and limited vocabulary, I can be an instrument in the Lord’s hands. Even as a new missionary, it is so good to be able to contribute however much I can.

Just by working closely with Sestra Py and interacting with the Church members here this week, I feel that I’m already learning great lessons about loyalty, optimism, and courage (among others). Some days I’m scared stiff to start contacts, but I’m finding that if I have a smile on my face and love in my heart, it doesn’t matter the scowls that greet me or the rejection I encounter. Besides, for all those who turn us away, it’s worth it when we find those who stop to listen. I’m already convinced that there are no coincidences in this work: time after time we approach one person in a crowd and they turn out to be previous investigators. (Besides the delight and fun of meeting fellow French- and Norwegian- speakers).

I loved General Conference – and one of our investigators came! I particularly appreciated President Monson and Elder Perry’s talks: I’m slowly learning that only absolute obedience can call down the powers of heaven in this work. It was lovely to be gathered as a branch in sustaining the Lord’s prophets and apostles. As we’ve been able to spend time with the members of the Church here, they’re each becoming precious friends and fellow-labourers.

Samo (a Church member) had volunteered to teach with us the other day, but the investigator never came and we were all so disappointed and felt awful that Samo had rushed over just to be there. Feeling foolish but trying to lighten the mood, I asked Samo for a referral: “Who do you know that needs our message?”. The next day, he called us up and invited us to meet one of his friends. We met in the park and chatted for a bit – Samo was the happiest I’ve ever seen him, and his friend seemed pleased to meet us as well. Samo came up and thanked us at Conference. He said: “It was your question that got me thinking, Sister Jones. Thank you.” I laughingly responded: “Who else do you know?” As the number of people to look after and pray for slowly grows, somehow so does my love for them and our desire and capacity to help.

I know that this is the Lord’s sacred work for the salvation of His children, and I feel so blessed to be a part of it.

Love you all to bits!

Smiles across the miles,

Sestra Jones

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2 thoughts on “Swimming in the Deep End

  1. I literally just cried reading through this blog. I was a missionary in Slovakia and got home in December, just before the first sisters got there and just before the publication of the Book of Mormon. I am thrilled to read about the progress and I miss my mission more than anything. Thanks for posting these!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Jerem, and for your lovely comment. Thanks also for your faithful service in the Czech/Slovak Mission. Everything that is happening today is being built upon the foundation laid by those who have gone before.
      Feel free to come on back anytime; next week is Transfers, so we’re sure to have an update from Sestra Jones posted in a week or two!
      All the best to you in your current endeavours; I well remember my first few months “back home” and the strange feeling of being adrift on an ocean of possibilities, yet none of them seeming nearly so shiny or meaningful as the life I had just left behind… Eventually I got used to the slow, steady, creative unfolding of purpose that is characteristic of non-mission adult life, instead of the intense, urgent, and structured purpose that is the hallmark of the mission experience.
      And in time I met my husband, and suddenly I was on a mission again! My lifelong mission of family life, together with my eternal companion. It demands all the best qualities learned both on my mission and upon returning home; there is intensity as well as creativity, earnest prayer as well as patient unfolding of purpose, planning and inspired vision but also (especially where young children are concerned) flexible, spontaneous service! It is exciting, fulfilling, and deeply meaningful and rewarding in a way that comes and goes in seasons that require employing different talents and activities, and at a pace that can be sustained for more than 24 intense, exhausting months.
      I’m sure you’re having fun right now finding your feet in that brave, new world we call the post-mission existence, so go forth young man, and enjoy discovering and creating the new mission that is your life! 🙂 May you be richly blessed for your service, and may you always be granted a ray of light to guide your path.

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