Endless Improvement

23 July 2014

“The works of God continue,
And worlds and lives abound;
Improvement and progression
Have one eternal round.”
– William W. Phelps, 1792-1872

I am happy and well. Exhausted though: absolutely shattered. What a crash course in relying on the Lord!

On exchange with the Uherské Hradiště sisters. l to r: Sestra Ro, Sestra Bru, Sestra B, and Sestra Jones

On exchange with the Uherské Hradiště sisters.
l to r: Sestra Ro, Sestra Bru, Sestra B, and Sestra Jones

Our exchange in Uherské Hradiště was fantastic. We completely dropped the ball on planning transportation, though: the bus we planned to take home ended up being full (and with the crystal clear vision of hindsight, we see that we should have booked it in advance…). Two full buses later and we had to opt for the long route on the train. So in the end it was more like a 36-hour exchange, but we learned a lot about spiritually making backup plans. 😉 Sestra Ro seems to be very happy: she teaches so well, speaks great Czech, and her love for the people is abundantly evident. I am overjoyed at the growth of their branch: their new members are simply awesome! It goes to show what amazing things can be accomplished when members of the Church and missionaries work together in unity.

The Zone Conference training was yesterday! We were adjusting plans until the very last second and I hardly slept a wink on Monday. The topic was setting expectations for baptism and confirmation in EVERY conversation. We had to challenge the missionaries to be very bold and direct. We compared clearly stating our purpose upfront to a juicy nectarine with fruit evident on the surface, ready to taste. In contrast we may be hesitant and beat around the bush in seeking to help the investigator to baptism, but that’s like handing them a peanut with a hard shell to break through. Some people are motivated and persistent and will eventually crack through the shell, but others fail to recognise the true fruit we’re offering inside and cast it away. It takes courage to display our vulnerable nectarines when it’s what means the most to us (we don’t want them thrown back in our faces), but it’s the only way that gives everyone a clear choice to align with the Saviour and heed His call to “repent and be baptised.”

When we sat down I heaved a sigh of relief, but felt a pit of disappointment in my stomach. Like Sestra McConkie tells us, every speaker has three talks: the one they plan, the one they think they give, and the one they actually give. I tried to be positive and leave it in the Lord’s hands (Sestra B is GREAT at that!). Then so many missionaries – Prezident McConkie included – praised us highly and thanked us for what we taught. I believed them 😀 and now feel at peace with our efforts, which I’m not sure I would have at the start of my mission. I’m changing for the better and learning to accept the Lord’s approval instead of clinging to unrealistic expectations for my performance.

Bearing departing testimony was a treasured experience: I see in myself that I have been allowed to grow closer to my Saviour and reduce my skewed perfectionism. Before my mission I always thought that in order to be successful I had to be effortlessly flawless, but a mission has taught me that that is not the case. Heavenly Father himself has endless room for improvement; it’s an opportunity, not a fault! 🙂

Sestra B Min and I sang a musical number in French/English/Slovak, which was a nice farewell to the Elders and Sisters here who have become my second family. It is a bit scary to be so close to the end – the edge of the unknown. But my time’s not up yet, and I don’t feel sad. Besides, Czech-Slovak missionaries never die! 😀 You can take the sister out of the mission field, but you can’t take the mission field out of the sister.

All my love,  Sestra Jones

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