Week 51- Carlisle is Wonderful!

What a great week!!
The highlight of the week was definitely talking to my family. I loved getting to see all of you. Everyone is growing up and changing. It’s crazy! Thanks for talking to me and making my laugh. It definitely gave me the motivation I needed to keep going on my mission. I am so grateful that we have the ability to use technology and talk to each other even though we are thousands of miles away.
Christmas Eve and Christmas day were a ton of fun.
Christmas started out really great. Trash day is Wednesday and the sisters before had left a lot of trash because they didn’t have a chance to throw it out. Well there is a rule in Carlisle that you have to put your trash bags inside of a green bag in order to keep it clean. We didn’t have any green bags to put our trash bags in. I went outside to see what we could do with our trash. Our neighbor saw me and he came outside. He told us that we had to go to Walmart and buy the green bags or else they wouldn’t take our trash. He said that we couldn’t let the trash sit outside for another week because his landlord was already trying to report us for it. We had no other option than to go to Walmart and go get a green bag. As we are putting on our shoes to leave our doorbell rings. It is our neighbor standing outside with a green bag. He hands it to us and I asked if we could give him money for it. He replied that it was just a bag. It was so kind of him to give us one of those bags for free. Those bags aren’t cheap either. (hold onto this story for later)
Christmas Eve we played flag football with our ward in the morning. It was raining, but still fun. I love getting to play sports. Jokingly the members told us that our rep in the ward depended on how well we played. They were blown away at how well we played. We were soaked by the end of the game, but it was well worth it.
After that we went home and got cleaned up to go sing at a Nursing home here in Carlisle. We went to the dinning area and sang to the residents there and then we went around to individual rooms and sang to the residents. The residents would smile as we sang and were so happy by the time we left. It was so nice to be able to uplift the residents there. I loved just focusing on other people and helping them feel the Spirit of Christmas.
We then went over to our neighbors’ house to give them cookies for the bag they had given us. They invited us in and we talked with them for an hour about what we do as missionaries and about the gospel. I invited them to learn more and they said no, but then they kept asking questions 🙂 One day they will be ready!
Later that night we had dinner with the Greenways, a member family, and we got to participate in their telling of the nativity story. It reminded of being home when we retell the birth of Christ.
Christmas morning President Johnson gave us permission to sleep in, but I decided to wake at up 6:30 still. I wrote in my journal and spent my morning reflecting on what the birth of the Savior meant to me. When Sister Amendola got up we opened our gifts and took some Christmas pictures (those are attached to this email). We then got ready and went caroling at another nursing home. We did the same thing as before and it was just as fun. I really enjoyed singing and seeing their reactions.
An update that happened two weeks ago that I didn’t get a chance to talk about yet:
We had a really awesome experience with OYMing our second day here. We were leaving the library from emailing our parents our new address when this guy with his hood up and glasses on was walking past us. I decided to stop him and talk with him. This was the first time we had OYM someone since being in Carlisle. We shared He is the Gift with him and then I asked if he had a faith in Christ. He explained that he believed in God and prayer. He said that he always tried to end his prayers in the name of Jesus Christ. We kept talking to him and then he opened up to us. He took off his glasses and explained that he has been trying to change his life. He has been going through some major changes and he thought it was amazing that we had stopped to talk with him. He opened up more and told us that he was trying to quit smoking. I told him that was so awesome. I bore testimony to him that Jesus Christ knows exactly how he feels. Christ knows what it is like to be addicted to cigarettes and what it is like to try and quit. This man started to cry. He looked up at us and smiled. He told us that he was so glad that we stopped to talk to him. It was such a spiritual moment for me that I couldn’t help but cry with him. I know that Heavenly Father was aware of him and his situation. I also could feel the love that Heavenly Father had for him and how proud He was.
Things have been going well with Sister Amendola and I. We have been working hard trying to find new people to teach. We decided that we are going to try an approach where we do a survey with people and see if we can find people who are interested in learning more. We are going to try it out this week. I will let you know if we have any success.
Training has been going good. I have been trying to come up with new and fun ways to help Sister Amendola learn the lessons and feel more comfortable teaching. So far so good. She is a visual learner so I am trying my best by using sticky notes to draw things out for her. She is working really hard and doing really well.
We have an investigator that we are teaching named Christine. She is pregnant and has three kids. Her house is always crazy. The tv is blasting and the kids are running around crazy. She and her fiancee Chris always have tons of friends coming in and out. Needless to say it is really hard to focus and have a lesson there. Christine is very shy and timid while her fiancee Chris always voices his opinion. Chris believes in science and proof and has a hard time accepting the Bible and some other things. He always asks a lot of questions and has something to contradict what we say. This past week we went in to have another lesson. We prayed before hand for there to be peace in the house. We went later at night so the kids were all asleep, they turned the tv off and the friends that were in the house were downstairs. We could actually have a lesson with them. We taught them the Restoration. It went really well. Both Christine and Chris opened up a little to us. We hope to keep this going and help them progress in the gospel as an eternal family.
On Sunday Sister Amendola and I taught Gospel Principles. It went really well. The Spirit was definitely there and the members really liked it. We talked about forgiveness and how essential it is for our salvation and for others. We talked about how we must seek forgiveness, we must grant forgiveness, and we must learn to forgive ourselves. We little preparation we did a great job at teaching together and following the Spirit.
Carlisle is wonderful. I love it here! Missionary work is so much fun. I am coming up on my year mark and I really want to make sure that I continue to work hard for the rest of my mission and give it my all.
I hope yinz have a great week! Love yinz 🙂
Love,
Sister Jones

Pictures from Christmas morning. Yes, we grew mustaches over night 🙂

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Week 50- MERRY CHRISTMAS!

I can’t believe this week is Christmas. It’s really here. I hope everyone is ready for Christmas and taking time to reflect on our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Well. This week has been quite the adventure. I am not going to go into detail about everything because I am going to be talking to you in three days, so most of it will have to wait until then 🙂
But transfers were good. I am now in Carlisle, Pa with Sister Amendola. We are in one of the farthest areas on the east side of our mission. This place is beautiful! I love it! There is so much history here. A lot of the buildings are hundreds of years old. The houses are cute and quaint. Dickson College is also in our area. The campus is beautiful. One great thing about Carlisle is that we have a downtown area where we can go OYM people. Most of our time has been spent walking around the streets and talking to people about He is the Gift. The people here are very nice.
It has been crazy coming into a new area where neither of us know anything about the area. We have been making it work. We have picked up a couple of investigators and have seen some less-actives. There is always work to be done even when you don’t have a clue what to do. There is someone always ready for the gospel.
We have some fun things planned for this week and I will tell you about them on Christmas.
I have loved this Christmas season. It has been the first Christmas season that I have truly focused on my Savior, Jesus Christ. My faith in Him has increased and I am so grateful for the heavenly gift that Heavenly Father blessed us with. I know that Jesus Christ lives and that through Him we can live with our Father in Heaven again. I am grateful for the gospel and the knowledge and joy it brings to me. I love being a missionary and serving the Lord.
I hope you all have a wonderful week!! And a very Merry Christmas! I will see you in three days 🙂
Love,
Sister Jones

Sorry for no pictures… the computer I am on doesn’t have a slot for my SD. Pictures to come next week!!

Week 49- One Transfer Down With A Brand New Adventure Ahead!!

Hey yinz!!
Man oh man another transfer is now complete. We enter transfer nine today. This past transfer just flew by! We received transfer news on Saturday night and I am getting the boot out of Butler. I was not expecting this at all. I was really hoping to stay another transfer, but the Lord needs me somewhere else. I also got a call on Sunday afternoon from President Johnson calling me to be a trainer! I get to train again and I am so excited. The only thing is that I am going to be doubling into my next area. Meaning that neither me nor my trainee will know anything about the area. That makes me a little nervous, but I know that the Lord doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle. So on Tuesday I will drive down ot Pittsburgh and meet my trainee and then Tuesday night we will both be in a new area!
I am super sad to leave Butler. The people here are so amazing. I said my “see you laters” yesterday at Church. It breaks my heart, but I have plans to come back after the mission 🙂
Sister Tolman also got asked to train. Butler is no longer a Sister Training Leader area, but Sister Tolman will stay here and train a new sister.
To start off this week we went on my last exchange as a Sister Training Leader with the Brookville sisters. I stayed in Butler with Sister Purcell, who is also a redhead. It was a lot of fun as always. We went and saw some less-actives and shared He is The Gift with them. We have been working really hard to share the video with everyone that we can. So far it has been really good.
To spread the message past dinner messages and lessons, we went caroling with the Butler Elders and passed out He is the Gift pass along cards with a candy cane. People were really receptive to us. A lot of people thought we were coming around to collect donations, but we told them that we were just here to spread the Spirit of Christmas and invite people to watch the video.
Saturday we went out to see Tiny and Jeanette. At this point I didn’t know if I was being transferred or not, but I told them it could be a possibility. They told me it wasn’t happening. They didn’t want me to go. We had a lesson with them about keeping their vision of getting to the temple together.
We also went to see a family of potential investigators. Sister Thomas and I met with them twice and then Sister Tolman tried multiple times, but they were never home. This time we got them! We shared He is the Gift with them and then ended up teaching them the Restoration. John is very interested in learning more. The things we teach him intrigue him and they are things he has never heard of before. We picked him up as a new investigator. He wife still needs more time. But hopefully Sister Tolman and the new Sister will be able to work with them and get them baptized!!
Shana is still going strong and doing good. We saw her on Saturday night and taught her the Restoration again. We asked her how she came to know the Book of Mormon was true and she said that she prayed about it and she felt really good and peaceful after she prayed. I think having her say that helped her younger sisters understand what it is like receiving an answer to their prayers. Tiara is still working on knowing if the Book of Mormon is true. We told her to not give up and to keep exercising her faith.
It was a great last week in Butler. I am sure going to miss this place. I have been here for the past six months and I feel like I know it so well. I am going to be speding Christmas in a new place and with new people.
I am excited for what the rest of my mission holds. I look forward to training and starting this new adventure. I won’t know where I am going until tomorrow afternoon so I’ll let you all know next Monday!! Have a great week!
Love,
Sister Jones

Eberle Family!

Eberle Family!

The Piotrowski family

The Piotrowski family

The Cranberry Sisters

The Cranberry Sisters

Sister Curtis

Sister Curtis

 Nick and Jan. Love these two people!

Nick and Jan. Love these two people!

Sister TOlman's Birthday :)

Sister TOlman’s Birthday 🙂

 Sister TOlman's Birthday :)


Sister TOlman’s Birthday 🙂

The Hook family. They are so great. They helped so much with Shana and they always made me feel at home.

The Hook family. They are so great. They helped so much with Shana and they always made me feel at home.

Tiara on the left and Shana on the right. I miss going to miss these two girls!

Tiara on the left and Shana on the right. I miss going to miss these two girls!

 Sister Purcell and I on exchanges. We were twinners! Unplanned might I add

Sister Purcell and I on exchanges. We were twinners! Unplanned might I add

Last time at Katie's Soup Kitchen

Last time at Katie’s Soup Kitchen

Sister Eberle!

Sister Eberle!

Bishop Critchlow and his awesome family!

Bishop Critchlow and his awesome family!

Super awesome creation we found out in the middle of nowhere. We were driving past and we had to stop and get a picture. Check out this freaky guy!

Super awesome creation we found out in the middle of nowhere. We were driving past and we had to stop and get a picture. Check out this freaky guy!

Jeanette and Tiny!

Jeanette and Tiny!

Week 48- Couldn’t have asked for a better week….

Hey yinz!
This past week was so awesome! It was a very busy and very crazy week. But everything went great 🙂 We went on two exchanges back to back, had Zone Conference, and had a BAPTISM!!!
Our first exchange was with the sisters in Franklin. I stayed here in Butler with Sister White. We went around to the hospital and a nursing home to see if we could come and sing carols and have a little performance on Christmas day. We found a place that is really excited for us to come and volunteer. President Johnson and Sister Johnson want us to fill Christmas day with service so that we can focus on giving. I am so excited for Christmas! Since then we have also found a warming shelter and hospice center to volunteer at as well.
Our Zone Conference was so good. We focused on sharing the He is the Gift Initiative with everyone that we come in contact with and going out and volunteering at different place to spread the Spirit of Christmas. Something that Elder Bednar said about the Spirit of Christmas is “drop the last syllable of Christmas and you get the Spirit of Christ.” That is what Christmas should be about. We have shared He is the Gift with so many people and when we share it as a dinner message we have been committing the members to share their He is the Gift pass-along cards by Christmas day. At Zone Conference we also gad lots of musical performances by districts, groups, and individuals. Our District sang “Angels We Have Heard on High” with a twist. We sang the first verse in spanish, the second in english, and the third both. It turned out really well. It was so much fun to hear everyone’s talents and it brought in the Spirit.
After Zone Conference on Wednesday I went on another exchange with the Beaver sisters. I sayed in Butler again with Sister Olvera. We had a really good time. We went and contacted some potentials down in Chicora and then headed to service at Katie’s Kitchen. It was fun there. We also found another service opportunity to go and help this lady who own a Theraputic Riding business where diabled children are able to come and ride horses. As missionaries we can’t ride horses, but I told her that I have cleaned lots of stalls before when I helped my friends. We’ll have to see what we can do to help her.
I know that Heavenly Father protects His servants. On Wednesday night we went out with a member to go visit a less-active member. I was sitting in the passenger seat. On our way back to the church I saw the legs of a deer on the right side of the road in the grass. At first I thought it was one of the fake deer statues that a lot of people in Butler put on their lawns, but as we got closer I noticed that it was very much real and alive. I started to tell the member driving us that there was a deer on the right of us near the road. She didn’t slow down very much and so the deer got spooked. He started running out into the road towards my side of the car. I started to lean over to the driver side because I was afraid of what the deer would do to my side if we hit it. I know that Heavenl Father was protecting us because that deer, at the last moment, turned away from the car and his antlers were the only things that touched the car. We could hear them sractch as we drove by. With the direction the deer was running and with how fast he was going we should have hit him. I am so grateful that nothing happened and that we weren’t in a serious accident. I have seen some cars after someone has hit a deer and it is not pretty. The car has scratches, my heart was beating really fast, but we were all safe 🙂
I have so many awesome experiences in being lead by the Spirit this week. On Thursday we had a lesson with this less-active family that is almost reactivated! During the lesson Brandi, one of the daughters, asked a really tough question that she has asked one of the first times I had met her. She asked,” Why does Heavenly Father send children to earth even though he knows they are going to fall short and not make it back to Him?” We weren’t able to answer the question last time and I had no idea how to approach it this time. I prayed in my heart for Heavenly Father to help me explain it clearly. All of a sudden an analogy popped into my head. This is what I told her:
So picture you have this bucket that is filled to the brim with water and it is really heavy. Your little niece comes by and she says that she really wants to carry the bucket. You know that your niece won’t be able to carry the bucket. She keeps on insisting that she wants to carry this bucket. With all of her pleas to carry this bucket, you let her carry the bucket even though you know she won’t be able to carry it very far or for very long.
I then related this to us being in Heaven with Heavenly Father and we were all insisting on coming to earth and getting a body. There were some of us that Heavenly Father knew “couldn’t carry the bucket” but he let them go anyways because they had their ability to choose and He wasn’t going to deny someone the opportunity to experience mortality like He did.
After I finished saying this they all looked at me and said,”Wow that made a lot of sense.” I said good because I have never thought of that before. Brandi was finally content with having an answer to that question. I know that was Heavenly Father speaking through me to answer one of His daughters questions.
Saturday was such a good day! Shana got baptized!!! It went so well. The whole Relief Society room was filled with people to support her. She was so excited. I had the privilege of speaking at her baptism. I talked about the Gift of the Holy Ghost. As I was pondering what to speak on I was trying to think of an analogy to explain the difference between feeling the influence of the Holy Ghost before we are baptized and having the Gift of the Holy Ghost. This silly little idea popped into my mind, but I decided to share it anyways. So at the baptism I explained that everyone can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost regardless if they have been baptized/ confirmed or not, but they can’t always feel the influence. I used this analogy:
Say there is a young kid who only has a home phone. They only time they can use this phone is when they are at home so when they are out shopping, driving, walking, or at school that can’t use the phone to communicate. Now say the parents of this kid decide to give their child a brand new shiny cell phone. With this cell phone he/she can take it anywhere with them. You wouldn’t leave this brand new shiny cellphone at home you would take it everywhere.
This is how it is when we receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. We receive that brand new shiny cell phone that we can take everywhere. We don’t have to be at a specific spot to use it or to feel it.
Now fast forward to Sunday. We were getting ready to leave church and we stopped to say goodbye to some members and the wife says to me, “Guess what? Today in class I was teaching about the Holy Ghost and what it was and Madison told everyone the analogy that you shared at the baptism yesterday. My husband and I talked about it on the way home from the baptism and we thought that that was such a great way to explain it.” When I shared that analogy I had no idea if it even made sense or if anyone understood what I was trying to say, but Heavenly Father has been guiding me to say what people need to hear. I didn’t think of any of these analogies on my own, but they have graciously been giving to me by the Spirit.
Shana’s confirmation went so well. She is going to be such a great member and a huge factor in converting in her family. She is such a great example to me. She went and bore her testimony yesterday! It made me cry to hear her testimony. She said that she was grateful for the sister missionaries and that she was knew that this was the true church. It melted my heart! I am so grateful for the privilege of knocking on Shana’s door and being able to share the gospel with her. I have seen her the whole way through and it has been such an amazing thing to see her grow in the gospel.
Last night we had an awesome lesson with our investigator Nick. We have been reading the Book of Mormon with him and we are in 1 Nephi 2. We were talking about prayer and how we can have the mysterious of God unfolded to us if we pray to know. We asked if he had been praying and he said that he doesn’t pray every day but he prays a couple of times throughout the week. He then told us that he had received an answer to his prayers. I was so excited for him so I asked him to share with us. He told us that he was out hunting it was cold and they hadn’t gotten anything in the couple hours that they were out. He offered a prayer asking Heavenly Father to help them find something and then a deer came walking by. It was so awesome to hear him say that Heavenly Father answered his prayers. Nick is slowly but surely having his heart be softened. I know he will be baptized!
This week has been such an incredible week. So many great things are happening in Butler. I really am hoping that I stay here for another transfer. We will find out on Saturday who is going to be leaving next Tuesday.
I love you all! Have a great week!
Remember to share “He is the Gift”!
http://www.mormon.org/christmas
Love,
Sister Jones

All 3 of us at Shana's Baptism!

All 3 of us at Shana’s Baptism!

Our Christmas tree

Our Christmas tree

Members in our ward. Sister Larimore and Cassidy

Members in our ward. Sister Larimore and Cassidy

Filling up the font!

Filling up the font!

Filling up the font!

Filling up the font!

Filling up the font!

Filling up the font!

Katie's Kitchen with Sister Olvera and Bandit :)

Katie’s Kitchen with Sister Olvera and Bandit 🙂

We were cutting onions so one of the ladies let me borrow her onion googles. They are specifically made to wear when cutting onions and they actually work!

We were cutting onions so one of the ladies let me borrow her onion googles. They are specifically made to wear when cutting onions and they actually work!

Exchnage with the Beaver Sisters. Sister Romero and Sister Olvera

Exchnage with the Beaver Sisters. Sister Romero and Sister Olvera

Shana's Baptism. Sister Tolman and I

Shana’s Baptism. Sister Tolman and I

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The oxtail from Thanksgiving. Yum!

The oxtail from Thanksgiving. Yum!

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day

Shana and Anthony who baptized her

Shana and Anthony who baptized her

Week 47- Where to begin! So many things happened this week….

Where to begin! So many things happened this week!
For starters, on Tuesday we did lots of service. We helped the Stansburys clean up the leaves in their yard and clean out their gutters. I have never seen so many leaves in my life! We each got a turn to drive his tractor and pick up the leaves. I had never done that before. at something called Produce to People. I’ve talked about it before, but it is a place where anyone in the Butler community can line up and get food for their families. It only happens the last Tuesday of the month and I love going every time. It was really cold this time, but still so many people were lined up because they needed food. It has allowed me to see how much I have been blessed with in my life.
Thanksgiving was so awesome! It was such a great day. We went over to the Adduru’s, who are members, and helped them cook Thanksgiving dinner. I was in charge of mashed potatoes so I made them like we do at home. We were able to play some games with their family and just have a good time. This Thanksgiving was a little different in some of the food choices that we had. Elder Alexander is from Jamaica so he made us ox tail. You bet I tried it. It was actually really tasty. It was made into a stew with all kinds of spices and peppers. Their were habenero peppers in it so of course it was super spicy. I had turkey too. After the Adduru’s we went to the Bonetti’s, another member family, and had dinner there. I haven’t eaten that much food in my life! I tried to limit myself when I was at each house. It turned out to be a really great day. It snowed that night and covered the ground.
Friday morning we left to travel to Pittsburgh for our Mission Leader Council. MLC was good as usual. We talked about the new “He is the Gift” Initiative that the Church is putting out. It is so amazing. If you visit http://www.mormon.org/christmas you can check it out! It is so powerful! The Church is trying to help others remember what the true meaning of Christmas is. Our Savior is the greatest gift we have received and will ever receive in our lives. We must discover Him, embrace Him, and share Him with everyone that we know.
Friday night we were able to play volleyball with all the sister training leaders and zone leaders. It was a lot of fun. After that Sister Tolman and I traveled back to Swissvale! We stayed their for the night. It was so neat being able to go back to my old area and stayed at my old apartment. Saturday morning we woke up early to make all the sister training leaders and zone leaders to have our own Turkey Bowl. It was a ton of fun! It was freezing that early in the morning, but I enjoyed it. I am always up for playing sports.
We had something so awesome happen last night! Shana had her interview for baptism. Side note: Tiera decided that she wasn’t ready to get baptized on the 6th, but we set her with Jan 3rd so she can prepare more fully. Back to the interview. Our District Leader Elder Garduno and his companion Elder Stallings showed up to do the interview. When they got there Shana’s father, Marvin, came out to greet them. Keep in mind he hasn’t ever come out to talk with us he always sits in the kitchen. Cool thing is is that the kitchen is where they did the interview. The best part of the story is after the interview. Shana comes out happy as can be and Elder Garduno said she is definitely ready to be baptized. As we were talking Marvin came out and talked with us. Marvin said that he is happy for Shana and that she is being an example for their whole family. He asked what church we went to and then Teresa said that we are the one true church. The Elders asked what he thought about that and he said that he would have to come and see. I bore my testimony to them of the blessings that would come from having the gospel in their home. I told them that they could be a forever family. Teresa started crying as I bore testimony. I felt prompted to commit them to meet with us as a whole family during our next lesson. They said yes! I think that this is what the family needs. They need to do it together and support one another. They are super accepting of the things we teach and I think that they will all desire to be baptized. We are meeting with them all tonight!
So many good things are happening in Butler. I seriously love this place and the people here. There are two weeks left of this transfer and I am going to make every day count!
I love you all and I hope you have a fantastic week!
Love,
Sister Jones

P.S. Sister Tolman left her camera at home and she has the Thanksgiving pictures, so those won’t come until next week. But we did get to go the overlook when we drove through Pittsburgh. Isn’t it beautiful! I love this city!

CIMG1971

Sister Tolman and I

Sister Tolman and I