Deliriously Happy

23 June 2014

Feeling the joy Sestra B and Sestra Jones

Feeling the joy
Sestra B and Sestra Jones

It was an eventful week! Sestra B and I are exhausted but deliriously happy. I can imagine nothing greater.

Moving P-day to the end of last week really pushed our physical limits. It takes careful juggling to keep in contact with dozens of people with differing schedules and needs, and stay on top of what they need spiritually. If I struggle this much with stewardship over a companion, a few branch members, investigators (potential or progressing), and sister missionaries, then how does God manage to direct the entire universe? It boggles my mind.

But it is all so worth it, even waking up at 04.30 to travel to Bratislava on Saturday: S’s baptism was such a victory. Riverside baptismal services rock. The view over the glittering Dunaj (otherwise known as the Danube) was glorious, and the Spirit we felt was sweet. I’m happy beyond description that the Zone Leaders’ investigator M will soon be joining S, as yet another addition to the Bratislava branch.

Baptism in the Blue Danube: Sestri Jones and B, S, Sestri W and B-Min

Baptism in the Blue Danube:
Sestri Jones and B, S, Sestri W and B-Min

The Teixeiras’ training was great, as were the McConkies’, as always. Elder Teixeira promised us that we will return to our mission 25 years from now and see STAKES here in Slovakia. We’re bound for success! 😀

Love you!

Sestra Jones

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Best Week Ever

16 June 2014

We’re emailing and then rushing back to work today: we’re moving our Preparation Day to Saturday this week, so that we can attend S’s baptism in Bratislava. 🙂

This has literally been the best week of my mission so far. EVER. Sestra B is a tender mercy from the Lord. I feel that her companionship and consecrated, Christlike example have given me new wings to fly and be the best that I can be. Sestra B is great about emulating charity: greeting everyone with a smile, sincerely seeking to share their life by asking inspired and thought-provoking questions. One of my favourite things is that she seeks to leave everyone with a prayer. She asks “what are you grateful for?” or “what do you need help with today?” and then she prays for just that. Service is like breathing to her – she just yearns to help everyone and spiritual power is the result. It is an answer to my prayers to learn from a Sister like her.

Posterity of Pyšňáková: Sestra Jones and three of her companions were all trained by the same sister. l to r: Sestry Jones, Barney, Pyšňáková, B and Johns  Photo courtesy of Sestra Barney. Ďakujem!

Posterity of Pyšňáková:
Sestra Jones and three of her companions were all trained by the same sister, pictured here in the middle.
l to r: Sestry Jones, Barney, Pyšňáková, B and Johns
Photo courtesy of Sestra Barney. Ďakujem!

From the word “go” we’ve been trying to spend every waking thought focused on the work of salvation. Tuesday we had no lessons set up, so we went out contacting in the morning and taught several good bench lessons. By the end of the day we’d taught 7 lessons and helped a distraught mother calm down and feel the peace that comes from prayer. She and her boyfriend and daughter had a great next lesson with us on Wednesday. In addition to careful planning and seeking frequent guidance from the Spirit, we’re applying the age-old principle of just getting out and working our socks off. The Lord has been so good to us: we taught a whopping 36 lessons! That’s the mission-wide record this week and my all-time high! We were blessed with 13 new investigators (including three families) that have great potential to accept baptismal dates and make immense progress in the coming weeks. We’re teaching a group of people in a Roma community, and thus far they seem very sincere (taught them family prayer and Word of Wisdom). Some of them are even related to a less-active member of the Church that the Sisters tracked down last transfer. We visited with his wife and daughter yesterday and hope to help them progress to baptism and reactivation as a family. *Sheffield miracle, please! 🙂

*Sestra Jones is referring here to the rapid growth of the Church amongst the Slovak Roma in Sheffield, England, which continues at a tremendous pace. Last year (2013) saw the formation of the first Slovak-speaking congregation of the Church outside of Slovakia, the Sheffield 4th Branch. You can read more about the exciting work taking place there on the mission blog of Starší Zachary Brown, a Slovak-speaking missionary of the England Leeds Mission.

It’s so exciting to see what we can accomplish together (granted that we haven’t had to travel outside of Žilina for an exchange yet), and we’ve a firm confidence that we can work effectively throughout the transfer despite leadership demands. We’re still striving for temperance in all things: cutting meals and studies short to squeeze in another accomplished goal is not healthy over an extended period, and we can’t afford to be frazzled when we’re meant to minister to the other Sisters.

Quick FYI: As Sister Trainer Leaders we are responsible for Sisters in Košice, Trenčín, Bratislava, Uherské Hradiště, and Brno. We have a weekly call-in with each

Last year in Žilina... Sestra Jones and Sestra B from France, together with their friend Ra. Sestra B and Sestra Jones are the first sisters called to preach the gospel in the Slovak language. They were companions in the MTC, and follow-up trained one another too!

Last year in Žilina…
Sestra Jones and Sestra B from France served in Žilina together last year. Here they are pictured with their friend and investigator, Ra. Sestra B and Sestra Jones are the first sisters called to preach the gospel in the Slovak language. They were companions in the MTC, and follow-up trained one another too!

companionship and one with Prezident McConkie (so when you add the weekly call with our District Leader, Starší G, we have a call-in with someone from 21.45-22.00 every night). We check up on their areas and personal progress, and conduct a 24-hour exchange with each sister once per transfer. Exchanges are discouraged on transfer and training weeks, so our first exchange won’t be until next week after the Teixieras’ visit. (Elder José Teixeira and his family are from Portugal. He is currently serving as president of the Europe Area Presidency.)

Sestra B and I are so excited to get a lot of work done this transfer, and we feel we will. This week we’ve proven to ourselves that we can get bench lessons and new investigators, and that basically: missionary work works. But we need to ensure that our service to people doesn’t become distorted into a numbers game to top old statistics. We could be teaching 100 lessons a week, but if no one is brought to Christ because of those lessons, then we’re not fulfilling our purpose. (See Russell M. Nelson ‘Protect the Spiritual Power Line’, 1984 – great talk!)

The mix of missionaries here in Žilina is refreshing. It’s such a privilege to serve around both senior couples and new missionaries (like Elder Garn, who is from Bluffdale, Utah – he’s great!). It’s as if our District has an anchor of motherly love and father-like counsel, plus all the energy and adventure of limitless horizons and a mission ahead of you.

I wish I could write so much more, but there isn’t time enough to process let alone recount everything that’s happened. Remind me if I forgot to answer questions and I’ll try to cover them next time. I know that the Saviour is anxious for each of us to become the person we’re designed to be, and that through His Atonement we have the means to do so. I know that the power of the Priesthood is real and that the Holy Spirit can lead us to accomplish miracles if we will tune our heart to hear His voice.

Love you all to bits,  Sestra Jones

 

Full Circle

09 June 2014

“…wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.” 1 Nephi 10:19

Ahojte! This will be the briefest email ever, because I have to run for a train and probably won´t have time to email in my new area. Yes indeed, there are big changes afoot: I´ve been called back to my beloved Žilina! My companion will be Sestra B (the American one), and together we will serve as Sister Training Leaders for the Slovak and Brno Zones! Yippee! 😀

It is such a luxury to think that I´ll revisit the rest of Slovakia on exchanges before departing, but it´s such an immense responsibility that my head is spinning. I´ll tell you more when I know exactly what it entails. What I do know is that Žilina needs a branch president for when Elder and Sister Wr leave this year, so it´s reactivation stations for us this transfer.

My old MTC companion, Sestra B (the French one 😉 ) is transferring here to follow-up train Sestra W, so we’ve both come full circle and will be ending our missions right back where we started. ❤

On Thursday we had an amazing, tender mercy: a training and Fireside with General Authorities – right here in Bratislava! (Sister Linda S. Reeves, second counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, Sister Rosemary M. Wixom, Primary General President, and Elder Patrick Kearon, first counselor in the Europe Area Presidency).

It affected us all deeply, and I was overjoyed to see the room literally bursting with people, with a new investigator of ours (M) and Brat M present (what a victory that was!). The speakers spoke about teaching deliberately in our homes, and increasing our commitment to the gospel by extending invitations to share the gospel with those not of our faith. Sharing the gospel is an antidote for growing stale in our discipleship. Their remarks were super inspired.

Yesterday we had an amazing miracle: Sestra H invited us round for a farewell dinner and her colleague A unexpectedly asked if she could meet us too, so it turned into an impromptu first lesson! And her entire family are super prepared to receive the restored gospel: A told us how she handed her minister a letter of resignation from her former church because she doesn´t think the doctrine about the Trinity is correct, and she knows there can only be one true church. She told us she believes Christ´s church may be ours, because we actually apply Christ´s mandate to love one another. She wants to bring her family to church and is reading the Book of Mormon. What a blessing! 🙂

I know that the Lord´s hand is in the work. I intend to make these last two months count!
All my love, Sestra Jones x

Onward and Upward

02 June 2014

It has been a great week. We´re inching closer and closer to achieving our goals, and Sestra W and I are determined that this week will be the week that we reach them!

Sestra W and Sestra Jones  Bratislavský hrad (Bratislava Castle) can be seen in the background.

Sestra W and Sestra Jones
Bratislavský hrad (Bratislava Castle) can be seen in the background.

The picnic at the American Embassy to celebrate the success of the hospital service project was without question a highlight of the week. I hope it is not prideful, but it felt really nice to be invited as honoured guests and publicly recognised for the good we are striving to achieve. All of the Elders and Sisters in attendance were outstanding at mingling and helping others feel welcome and appreciated. We sisters had positive experiences inviting a young hospital patient and his family to attend English lessons, and another girl and her mother to learn more about our message over a lunch later this summer.

It was wonderful to see Sestry Val and Bat return from their business trip to England, refreshed by temple worship and a landmark visit to the Sheffield Slovak branch. It’s an absolute answer to my prayers for these stalwart sisters, whom I have come to love so dearly. They bore glowing testimony of the good examples those Saints are to the homeland Slovaks, and are advocating sending the Sheffield Saints some needed Slovak hymnbooks.

S is doing great! We and two Elders went to serve in S´s garden with one of the Elders’ investigators. We briefly taught about fasting, and challenged S to fast and bear testimony that week – which he did! I think it meant a lot to the members of the Branch to have a non-member come to the front and testify of the Book of Mormon, and express his intentions to be baptised in three weeks´ time. I feel he will be ready.

J is our other progressing investigator – a young father with a sincere desire to follow Christ, and a growing testimony of the Book of Mormon. We taught him the Law of Chastity and the Word of Wisdom this week, which he humbly and willingly accepted. It´s a struggle to be patient, but I hope that we can soon begin teaching his wife as well, and that J will be blessed with a new job that leaves his Sundays free for church attendance.

Brat M is making impressive progress. He has resolved to attend the upcoming Fireside with Elder Kearon, which I feel will be a turning-point for him.

Greenie days! In March of 2013, brand new missionary Sestra Jones and Sestra Pyšňáková, her trainer, became the first sister missionaries to serve in Žilina since 1998.

Greenie days!
In March of 2013, brand new missionary Sestra Jones and Sestra Pyšňáková, her trainer, became the first sister missionaries to serve in Žilina since 1998. Pictured are Starší U, Sestra Pyšňáková, Sestra Jones, and Starší Cl

Another highlight was meeting the Pyšňákovci (my trainer and her family) in town and going to lunch together. It meant the world to me to reminisce about all the blessings and growth I´ve seen in my life since Sestra Pyšňáková and I “blinded in” to Žilina, and to see the positive transition that she has succeeded in making from full-time missionary service back to normal life. She and her family are absolute heroes, and continue to build the kingdom in their homeland despite having re-settled abroad. So many Church members here just love them to bits.

I know that this is the Lord´s Church and that He is actively engaged in His work. So many times – usually when Sestra W and I were just starting to feel like we may have failed or that our work was ineffective – we have been placed in the right place at exactly the right time and truly had our mouths filled with the words people needed to hear. It´s beautiful and miraculous to watch conversion happen. Onward and upward!

S láskou, Sestra Jones

P.S. Transfer week again: eeep! What will my final area be and with whom will I serve? We find out this Saturday, so stay tuned for the next episode… Ha ha! 😀