That Our Joy May Be Full

13 August 2014

“Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.”

2 John 1:12

Everlasting beginnings: Sestra Jones enjoys one final day of sharing the gospel in the Czech Republic before beginning her journey home, and Sestra S prepares to begin training a brand new missionary. "How grateful I am to my Heavenly Father that in His plan there are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings." President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Everlasting beginnings: Sestra Jones enjoys one final day of sharing the restored gospel of Jesus Christ in the Czech Republic before beginning her journey home, and Sestra S prepares to begin training a brand new missionary.
“How grateful I am to my Heavenly Father that in His plan there are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings.” President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Nazdar! (Hi!)

At the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, USA. "Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength" Doctrine and Covenants 4:2

At the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, USA. January, 2013.
“Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength”
Doctrine and Covenants 4:2

I´m emailing from the Centre for YSA in the Prague church building. Monday was not a Pday for my makeshift companions (the new Sister Training Leaders Sestry B and Kra, assigned to Trenčín): our area was blinded out to become an elder area once again, and we spent the day handing over investigators and finishing other last-minute business for their fresh start. So with my first and last transfers, I saw Žilina North area both open and close to Slovak Sisters. And who should blind in behind us but Starší F and M from Bratislava? 🙂

Good and bad news about investigators´ reaction to transfers: L has been BFF with them from the first second, but D was deeply shaken by it and has decided to take a break for a while, so no baptismal date at present; but at least he came to the Se’s place for a halušky party on Monday night.

I´m convinced that those Elders have been hand-picked by the Lord to carry on the work in my dear Žilina: our beloved members and investigators are in good hands.

At the mission home in Prague, Czech Republic. " His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." Matthew 25:21

At the mission home in Prague, Czech Republic.  August, 2014
“Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”
Matthew 25:21

I travelled here to Prague yesterday (as did sisters B Min, C, R, D, and H), and we just made it in time to teach a bench lesson and tag along for Prague Walk (traditional introductory tour) with Prezident McConkie and the new missionaries. They are lovely! No Slovak missionaries arrived this transfer, but 5 Czech sisters and 1 Czech Elder did.

We spent the night in the mission home with the McConkies! There is such a special Spirit here. We just participated in a little morning devotional in which the new missionaries were paired with their trainers and sent off to their first areas. The rest of the day is ours to be tourists or missionaries as we please (I´m opting for the latter as much as I can without a phone or area! 🙂 ), then we´ll have departing interviews and dinner together before flying out tomorrow.

See you soon – love you lots! x Sestra Jones

Be Not Weary

04 August 2014

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap , if we faint not.” Gal 6:9

“Holding aloft our colors,
We march in the glorious dawn.
O youth of the noble birthright,
Carry on, carry on, carry on!”

Ruth May Fox, 1853-1958

Čaute, ludia! *(rough translation: “Hey, peeps!”) 🙂

Here comes the penultimate instalment of my marvellous mid-European ministry!

Fun news from Žilina Branch: P got her mission call to London South! She leaves for the Preston MTC (that’s the Missionary Training Centre in England) in November.

I’m absolutely exhausted but can’t afford to slow down. I feel like normal life is reaching out its odd-job tentacles prematurely to pollute my glorious last week of missionary service. There’s so much I still want to do and contribute: Slovak tips and concert scripts to gather and submit to the mission office, farewell notes and catch-up journal entries to write, etc. Plus Sestra B and I are still drowning in paperwork from the Jurassic period of our transfer together! Packing is bitter-sweet, and not just because it makes my departure real; countless nostalgic memories have resurfaced, accompanied by reminders of some unrealised goals. It’s easy to get sidetracked with “good” and find oneself robbed of the “best” one sets out to accomplish. Really trying to avoid that death-trap!

The touring concert (Žilina/Trenčín) was great. Everything came together at literally the last minute. B and E (an investigator who shared her talents), Sestra Se, and the Wrightsons were indispensable as always, and we were blessed with 7 non-members present. B even accompanied us to Trenčín, where a sudden and violent cloudburst prevented all but members from coming. Still so worth it though: the most rewarding thing was on the train home B started singing the song I’d translated, and you could just tell he was SO happy. He seems so at peace with himself and is practically a missionary already. While the concerts over in our corner of Slovakia did not produce the amazing turn-out we were shooting for, the Košice concert kind of made up for it with 19 guests attending. 😉

kosice exchange

Good times on exchange in Košice. Photo courtesy of Sestra B, ďakujem!

Our exchange in Košice was very positive. Our meetings with investigators fell through, but Sestra Seni and I had wonderful experiences contacting and trying to get back in touch with a few key former investigators. It was fun to work with Sestra Seni again, and see how we have both changed since being companions. We had a cool experience together, of being led by the Spirit to contact a young lady of the exact description we had planned for – in the very time and place we had planned to do so. Sestra Seni has good command of the language and asks very inspired questions in contacts. She is bold and hard-working and loves the people she teaches – especially the Church members. She and Sestra K are happy as companions (and their District seems very united). Those two are keeping their vision, effort, and spirits high; Sestra B and I were slightly at a loss with what they could possibly do better!

Our own lesson count was rather low last week (we barely managed Slovak standard of excellence: 14 lessons), but those investigators we taught are all progressing. D is fantastic and practically a member of the branch already! He’s the man we found last week; he accepted a baptismal date in his bench lesson.*(for those unfamiliar with the term “bench lesson”, it refers to a lesson that is taught while seated on a park bench. Teaching al fresco seems to be fairly commonplace in the Czech/Slovak Mission!). Sestra Se joined us for a great lesson with him on Monday, in which HE taught US half the Restoration (had looked it up online, and got most of his facts right!). Then we had a combined lesson with our other investigator L, and member P to study the Book of Mormon. It felt like an Institute class, and both investigators have continued reading consistently on their own since then! D also came to the concert and English class and even church: when he walked in in his suit and tie I was filled with joy, and the members loved him. I really feel that he will make it to baptism – and soon. He’s taking charge of his own learning and marking on the Teaching Record what he’s learned and the lesson up next.

It seems to me that the W family enjoy discussing the gospel even more than they like our English lessons 😀 They are exactly the family the Žilina Branch needs right now, so I pray we get the chance to leave the entire family with a lasting spiritual experience to smooth any changes that happen with transfers. I fear that I may not have been bold enough with this beautiful family from the beginning and hope that we haven’t wasted an opportunity to bring them to Christ sooner rather than later. One VERY encouraging sign is that Pani W asked us first chance she got: “what is the difference between your church and the church I was raised in?” We testified of living prophets and the Book of Mormon.

Yesterday (fasting!) we were struggling. We’d been blessed with many investigators at church and had successfully recruited Z’s help to teach Relief Society from Preach My Gospel (what a success!). But after a few hours of contacting families on the námestie (town square) and tracting a row of paneláks (apartment blocks) we had physically hit rock bottom and gratefully counted the minutes until a well-deserved meal. After dinner we dragged ourselves back out the door to visit the Se family. Call me a Prezident McConkie copycat, but we went around the table telling each member of the family how much we loved and appreciated them, and specifically WHY. The Spirit in that home was beautiful, and we floated out. Sestra B remarked: “That was SO much better than taking a nap.” It’s wonderful to physically experience just how much we need the church members: the change we felt was tangible. One good miracle deserves another: we regained contact with M by showing up at her door right as she got home. She had fasted, just like we taught her! 🙂 We’re still unsure how to help her overcome her concerns with church, but it occurred to us that we might try focusing our teaching on her exuberant daughter T for now. If M had an example of how to interest her daughter in the gospel, that may be a greater help to her than any other.

This week will be showstopping – I just know it! Mission Leadership Council is on Thursday in Prague, so once again we’ll have a day outside our area. Plus D really wants to go to Trenčín on Saturday to witness the baptism the sisters there are having. 🙂 I REALLY want to hit standards of excellence in all areas (if I’m not mistaken it will be the first time my entire mission): 2 baptismal dates (we have one: D), 2 investigators at church (we had a high of 3 this week), 4 lessons with members present (we had 5 last week), 2 new investigators (none last week, ouch!), and at least 14 lessons in total (although we hope to beat that). Prayers much appreciated! I hope that all of these wonderful people will continue to progress even if Sestra B and I are not around to teach and support them next transfer.

I know that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and is essential to help each person to understand their part in His plan of salvation. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s kingdom on the earth, as led by His authorised representative, Thomas S. Monson.

I love you all! Until the next (and last) report from the mission field, Sestra Jones x

Continue in the Word

28 July 2014

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  John 8:31-32

This past week seemed like a bit of an anticlimax following the spiritual high of training in Bratislava on Tuesday, but even so the Lord blessed us to teach a good 20 lessons. Funny how it all works, many of our progressing investigators are struggling with the same things: recognising their growing testimony, and deciding whether to set a date for baptism despite not yet having a perfect knowledge.

Miracles and tender mercies: yesterday while contacting on Marianske Namestie, Sestra B stopped a young man wearing headphones. I remember a time on my mission when that sort of thing would have really intimidated me, but my trainer, Sestra Pyšňáková, helped me see that I’m never bothering people by offering them a chance at salvation (doesn’t mean they can’t choose to see it that way though…  😉 ). The young man, D, sat down for a bench lesson and is so excited to be baptised and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost in three weeks’ time before he moves to Canada.

Another miracle is that we’ve picked up an investigator that Sestra Pyšňáková and I found last year! She is a devout, but unhappy Catholic. We’ll see how it plays out with helping her work up the courage to try reading the Book of Mormon, but she is sensitive to the Spirit and LOVES Jesus so I trust that her “truth sensors” will win out.

L can’t see it in himself quite yet, but he’s changing for the better and starting to hunger and thirst for the gospel. He went running with us one morning, and we had a bench lesson in the park. He started a daily commitment to measure up to the Ten Commandments: he’s working on reverencing the Lord’s name, and keeping the Sabbath Day holy. It’s hard-going when he’s decided not to tell his family that he’s investigating the church – especially now that he became an uncle this week and is expected to be the krstný otec (godfather). Please keep him in your prayers!

The W family are doing great! We showed them mormon.org as part of our English lesson, which they enjoyed. They accepted our invitation to read in the Book of Mormon daily, and Sestra B and I are astounded at just how carefully the Lord has prepared them for the message. Our hopes are sky high for this beautiful family!

E is playing with us in our concert, bless her! 😀 She too is showing willingness to consider baptism out of a sincere desire to feel clean and give her little son a good future.

We taught Brat J M about tithing with Elder and Sister Wr, which was positive. For now we will no longer teach him actively, although we’ll continue to invite him to church. Truth be told, he has become quite the regular in our little congregation. I was teaching Old Testament Sunday School and asked him to present a brief portion of the lesson, which he did masterfully. You should have seen him glowing with pride at the opportunity to lecture on the subject he loves. 🙂 Sestra B and I are hoping that he will soon realise just how important the restored gospel is becoming to him.

Had some great moments with the Se girls, too. I love them; absolutely adore them. I think they would be amazed to see themselves as I see them. It is powerful to behold the great impact and potential they have: they are literally the future of the Church in Slovakia.

This next week looks packed! Tomorrow is Distrct Meeting with visiting Zone Leaders. Wednesday is our combined concert with the Trenčín District. Thursday morning we’re heading to Košice for our final exchange (conveniently overlapping with their concert, in which we will perform). Friday, on our way back from the exchange, is the concert in Trenčín. And finally on Saturday we’ll plan for the final week of my mission and maybe catch our breath in time for the Sabbath! How we’ve managed to teach and help investigators progress at all with these additional responsibilities is utterly beyond me. I have gained a renewed testimony that “whom the Lord calls, He qualifies”.

Love you lots! ❤ Sestra Jones