A Rather Blustery Day

25 November 2013

Ahojte! It’s a cold, blustery day with a fair Siberian wind blowing –I’m so grateful for those hats you sent me out here with, Mom!

So this week was eventful, yet statistically unproductive – we spent far too much time for comfort travelling out of our area and back, and our investigators were all unavailable on the days we were in town.

On Tuesday night we were packing to leave for Brno, when the Sestry there called to inform us they were holding a concert of their own on Wednesday night. Our train would get us there just in time to participate! Would we like to sing “Cítíme Lásku” with Sestra Johns’ awesome ukelele backup? Would we?! Need you even ask?  😉 

*“Cítíme Lásku” is known as “Love Is Spoken Here” in English, and is a  beautiful children’s song about learning the gospel and feeling love at home. The sheet music and an mp3 download are available from the Church’s website free of charge, provided it is for non-commercial home or church use.screen shot 2Click here to listen to“Cítíme Lásku”.

It was such a blessing to be there, and we learned a lot: their Branch members did literally half the work for the concert (poster designing, performing, etc.) and they had a good turnout of around 60. Some of the contributions I enjoyed the most were: Mao, the YSA music student from Taiwan who played his Asian two-stringed-lap-instrument- like-a-violin (no idea what it’s really called!);  Prezident Saun, the newly-called Branch President from Manchester (his wife is Czech and their kids are GORGEOUS!);  and the stupendous S family (yes, the same family as the Elder S serving a mission in England – they’re one of those powerhouse kingdom-builder clans that just radiate with testimony). The Spirit was there that night and I even got to use my French with an Italian investigator of the Sisters’.  🙂  Magnifique! What a good show.

The next day (Thursday) we had our training, and four of our elders – Elders Pet (my first District Leader!), Wy, Rob, and Cl (we were in Žilina together: he baptised D) – bore departing testimonies before completing their missions this transfer, and I am so sad to lose them. Seeing great missionaries I look up to come and go is daunting; I feel I cannot possibly fill their shoes, but it motivates me to be better. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room – it’s wonderful to spend time with my mission family and I love and respect each of them so much!

screen shotMission family jam session; Sestra Johns accompanies on guitarlele.

Despite the discomfort of uncertainty and change, I am so stoked for transfers! I want to emerge from this transfer feeling PEACE: deliberately and spiritually giving my all to help people. Slovakia is a beautiful country with beautiful people, and missionary work is so challenging and rewarding beyond words. I know that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world. The world needs His light!

Out of time already but lots of love to you, please keep us in your prayers that this week we will be successful in finding new investigators and recognise the Spirit’s guidance so we can start the next transfer with a bang! 😀

S laskou, Sestra Jones

Advertisements

A Concerted Effort

18 November 2013

ConcertOur concert on Tuesday night was a dazzling success, and the Spirit was richly poured out on all present! We weren’t sure how many people would attend, so we planned for the worst but hoped for the best. We needn’t have worried: we had a great turnout of around 30! That included friends of Branch members, former investigators, and English students, it was great! So far we have had 2 meetings come from that evening, one of which resulted in us picking up a new investigator. The Branch members in particular were very uplifted by the good turnout, and it was so special that P performed with us.

P was just fantastic at the concert! He played so well on his electric bass, and dressed up for the occasion, complete with bowtie. He even brought his little brother along. Sestra Johns and I both feel strongly that P is ready to be baptised, and we are praying that the Lord will provide the necessary means.

One of our Sister Training Leaders, Sestra Bar, and her companion Sestra H participated in the concert with us, and we also had a brief training exchange. Although it was short, I felt it was very instructive. I’m so grateful to know that we are not alone as missionaries – that there are members and missionaries and unseen aides all pulling right alongside us in the great work of salvation. I was shocked to realise that as of the end of this month I will only have 4 more transfers of full-time service to give! It’s an awful prospect, and I’ve finally begun to catch the sense of urgency I’ve seen displayed by other seasoned missionaries. Elder Guy put it perfectly: “My mission has taught me that I can never do enough for the Lord.” I’m trying to adjust my attitude: when I face an obstacle it’s an opportunity, and every sacrifice I am asked to make is a sacred privilege.

All aglow on the day of the show: "As sisters in Zion, we'll all work together; The blessings of God on our labors we'll seek. We'll build up his kingdom with earnest endeavor; We'll comfort the weary and strengthen the weak."  by  Emily H. Woodmansee

All aglow on the day of the show:
Sestra H, Sestra Bar (one of the very first Sister Training Leaders!), Sestra Jones, Sestra Johns
“As sisters in Zion, we’ll all work together;
The blessings of God on our labors we’ll seek.
We’ll build up his kingdom with earnest endeavor;
We’ll comfort the weary and strengthen the weak.”
by Emily H. Woodmansee

Transfers is also looming on the horizon; in just under 2 weeks we’ll find out what changes are going to take place in our area. It’s been confirmed that another Slovak Sister is incoming, and so Prezident’s adding a Czech sister over here to open a new area somewhere! I can’t wait to find out what will happen!

This week we went once again to lay concrete with Brat R (Brother R). He feels the absence of peace in his life, and knows that improving his spiritual health is the answer. He committed to read a chapter in the Book of Mormon, and promised to come to Church at least once before Elder Guy leaves.

A very creative but perhaps not highly effective finding idea we tried this week: inviting people to Game Night by setting up a table and chairs on the namestie (town square) and starting a game of cards. We had some funny looks and a couple of bold souls asked what we were up to, but no one joined in or committed to come that evening. Oh well! Sometimes you gotta just try things out to know if they will work or not.  🙂

We had a miracle: P K’ova, probably the sweetest soul ever, previously was dead-set against the Word of Wisdom and despite praying about it, felt unconvinced about committing to live it. Now (almost without any influence on our part it seems!) she told us that she has completely stopped drinking beer for her digestion and feels all the better for it. She is gradually replacing her coffee with Caro and chocolate and her despair at ever quitting has become radiant hope: “I feel I’ll be able to quit; I don’t really need it anymore.” The Lord is opening hearts and doors for us!

Another victory: Sestra Johnsova worked so hard to prepare herself to give her first sacrament meeting talk in Slovak. It was excellent! I have grown so much by being her companion – she has a gift of not only seeing people’s needs, but more importantly identifying solutions. I’m also feeling particularly grateful to our Elders Guy and Fe’l for righteously exercising the Priesthood and administering to those in need (me). I know now more intimately than I recognised before just how well my Father in Heaven knows and loves me personally. I am so grateful for prayer and the scriptures that shed light on the rocky path ahead. It’s not easy, but we have a glorious destination to look forward to!

Love,  Sestra Jones  ❤

Helping Hands

11 November 2013

Service with a smile

Service with a smile

It’s been a busy week but a good one (probably for that very reason)! Starší Guy encouraged us at District Meeting to feel the urgency of our work. Many of our goals (such as finding families to teach) are still evading us, and Sestra Johns and I are re-evaluating to ensure we’re giving our all every day. As we’ve sought to exercise more faith and obedience and use the Lord’s sacred time wisely, we’ve come closer than ever to reaching our District goals for church attendance –  our goal is to help 10 members of the Branch attend each week, and yesterday we had a grand total of 9 members present! What a blessing! In addition, we had 2 investigators (PK’ova and Rom) join us.

It was Rom’s first time to attend church services with us, and she had a good experience. Our lovely PK’ova made a heroic effort to be at church yesterday and took notes, actively participated and interacted with members. She understands the great significance of baptism, and feels that it’s right, however she’s still struggling to accept the Word of Wisdom.

Our English class this week was booming after we set up an easel on the namestie (town square) and advertised as a District. 8 new people came! Hudobny Vecer (“Musical Evening”, a concert we’ve organised) this week will be great! All is nearly in order for the performance tomorrow night: both P and Prezident van D are performing with us, as are the Sister Training Leader and her companion! I’m so excited to be having my first sister exchange and pray that I can learn as much from Sestry Bar and H as possible, so I can be a more effective and inspired missionary.

Starší Guy putting the shoulder to the wheel(barrow) "The world has need of willing men, Who wear the worker's seal. Come, help the good work move along;. Put your shoulder to the wheel." Hymns #252

Starší Guy putting the shoulder to the wheel(barrow)
“The world has need of willing men, Who wear the worker’s seal. Come, help the good work move along;. Put your shoulder to the wheel.”
Hymns #252

We had a sweet and spiritual experience on Saturday:  we had planned as a District to serve a member of the Church. He is renovating his house, and needed help mixing and pouring concrete. But Saturday morning, he called to cancel as his delivery of sand hadn’t arrived, plus it looked like rain. We were so disappointed – sure, we had a backup plan, but we had geared ourselves up for service and had prayed fervently all week that the weather and everything would work out in our favour. With a tense 10 minutes until the bus to his village left the station, we decided to go anyway and see what would happen. It was like I’d heard R say “no” with my ears, but in my heart and mind nothing had changed, we were going to serve him. We arrived at our destination and bought lunch at a little supermarket. As we came out of the shop and stepped onto the street, who should be standing right there but R himself! We sheepishly shrugged and said we’d come anyway and he cheerfully responded: ‘Good, the sand will be here in 20 minutes.’ We joyfully went to work, shoveled a half tonne of sand, finished pouring all the cement, had a meaningful conversation with R (or rather, the Elders did; we sisters had been invited in to speak with R’s grandmother, who wants us to bring a spiritual thought next week!), and there wasn’t a drop of rain until we sprinted for the bus home. Miracles happen.

Starší Fe’l acting upon the instruction given in the Bible:, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
Mark 16:15

I know that Heavenly Father is anxiously engaged in His work. When we step up and give up our own interests to further His work, He opens doors that would otherwise remain forever closed to us. I am so grateful for the Atonement and for the experiences on my mission that are allowing me to develop Christlike Attributes and serve others.

S laskou, Sestra Jones

Wings of Lightning

“Time flies on wings of lightning; We cannot call it back…”  Hymns 226: Improve the Shining Moments, Robert B. Baird, 1855–1916

04 November 2013

Time does indeed fly on wings of lightning – we can’t call it back, so learn to live every moment without regret. The Conference in Brno was amazing! We were instructed on extending commitments to those we teach, to help them learn and progress. It helped me realise that in order for me to help others keep their commitments, I need to take my commitment to be a missionary more seriously and follow through on my end by keeping my eye single to the glory of God. Practice what you preach, as they say!

It took almost 3 of our working days to travel and attend and make our way back (waking up at 4 AM to catch a train home from Bratislava is not an experience I’ll repeat in a hurry if I can help it!). I tried to have a good attitude: after all, this isn’t a vacation or string of slumber parties. Although it was SO good to see dear friends from across the mission!

reunion

Those “Greenie” days: Sestra Co and Sestra Jones with their trainers, back in May

Sestra Co from my MTC (Missionary Training Center) group is now in Brno with her two companions. We haven’t seen each other since our first transfer, when she and her trainer visited Slovakia to share their musical talents at a concert in Trenčín.  She and I felt so relieved to catch up and talk about all our experiences, both successes and disappointments, since those first few heady weeks as new missionaries. It was unbelievably comforting to compare notes and find that we have each had our struggles (sometimes you can feel like you’re the only one!) – she and I are so similar and she’s a wonderful example, as are all the wonderful missionaries I’m blessed to work with here.

Having returned from the conference and taken a fresh look at our area, our teaching pool currently looks more like a teaching puddle. 😉  Finding new people to teach is like breathing, and we’re suffocating here! We’ve been quite focussed on preparing for our upcoming concert (next week is the big night!), but in the process I fear we may have been have been getting a bit distracted (our rigorous rehearsals do tend to break down into giggling sessions after awhile…).  I think I’ve just been dreading going out kontakting (why, I don’t know – I thought I’d overcome that fear in my first transfer), and searching for excuses to do anything else we could justify as productive apart from hitting the streets. So this week street-hitting is back on the menu! Our big goal for the end of November (in addition to our District goal of having 10 members out to church) is to find FAMILIES to teach. I have renewed my faith and confidence that the Lord would not send us here if He was not also preparing precious souls to hear our message, and we feel we can find 2 new families to work with in the course of this month.

The Elders’ investigator J was baptised and confirmed this weekend – what a beautiful, sacred experience it was! She is so sweet, and a lovely addition to the branch – plus she had a good turnout of 1 family member and 2 friends in addition to the 5 members and 6 missionaries present. Not earth-shattering crowds, but for our little area, a significant gathering!

One of the great missionaries of the 19th century: Welshman Dan Jones preaching the gospel in Wales Painting by Clark Kelley Price

One of the great missionaries of the 19th century: Welshman Dan Jones preaching the gospel in Wales
Painting by Clark Kelley Price

Plus we had a visit from the Zone Leaders (on exchanges with the Elders), and Elders Pet and Guy went in search of a “zastup” or multitude, thinking to soapbox Dan Jones style on the street corner. They said it wasn’t very successful (people mostly ignored them), but they got a whole multitude of 3 teenage boys to come to the building for the seminar they were organising: “What is the Doctrine of Christ?” 😀

Fun fact: we saw a university film crew on our way here to the library to email – they were all carrying instrument cases, acting as an orchestra or something – it was awesome!

Love you so much, please pray for our investigators and that Sestra Johns and I will be able to realise the Lord’s vision for this area before our time here is up!

S laskou, Sestra Jones