Thursday, 27 December 2012

23rd Dec 2012 Mthatha, South Africa

Mom and Dad
I have not yet received the package, so I guess I will have a late Christmas this year... But that's ok! Sounds like a classic Canadian Christmas at -20. It's about +35 here right now... Sweltering hot! But my next Christmas is going to be frigidly cold that's for sure.
 It's crazy how soon Ben and Anthony will be home! It feels like we were just in Ontario for Anthony’s farewell! Crazy taco! I'll email for sure just after I finish this! Well I don't need to say much more because I'll talk to you all tomorrow! Merry Christmas! I love you!! TOO MUCH!!!
Remind me to sing Happy Bday for you mom!
Now for the week…The work is slowing down alot for the holidays that's for sure! We did have a couple really cool experiences though! We went to an investigator's house for an appointment and she wasn't home, but her backyard neighbor was outside and we were able to talk to him, and he wanted us to come back to visit his family! It was pretty sweet! Potential Father-led family! I love Missionary work!
 Also we were Christmas Caroling (but not really because they don’t go to other houses, they just sing a bunch of carol's in the home) at a members home, and she had her backyard tenants there as well, and after talking with her for a bit, she told us how her husband was in the hospital for a month now because of an accident of being pushed off of a moving train! He had blood clotting in his head and internal bleeding in his head. He was in the hospital and was recovering but slowly. He was at the point where he could move a little bit and could mumble a couple of words. We suggested that we could give him a blessing and she wanted it. The next day we went to the hospital and my companion gave his first blessing. It was awesome and the spirit was strong and I just felt such a love for this man and his family. We still need to follow up and see how he is doing, but that is a potential father-led family! This work is great! I love it too much!

We were also invited to a circumcision ceremony this week of a member who went to the bush! When you are a xhosa, and you become old enough, they send you to "the bush"
where you go to get circumcised. They do that to become a "man." In order to be a man you have to go to the bush. So we went to a member's ceremony once he returned from the bush. It was pretty cool and there was a lot of dancing and singing and stuff. I attached a couple pics.

 We also were invited to a new investigator's Bday party which was fun! But at every social event in this country, there is always alcohol, which is really annoying...

 Also the weather is getting very hot!!!! Up in the mid to high 30's every day! And every night a thunder storm rolls in and it dumps rain! It is really strange weather here... oh well... Also at church on Sunday there was a member from Khayelitsha who was home in Mthatha for the holidays! That was awesome! I got to chat with her about the people in Khayelitsha! It was awesome! I miss that place! But this week is Christmas! Woot!!! I'm so stoked to skype home tomorrow! We can't go anywhere unless it is a set Dinner Appointment, and we need to be in our flat's by 6pm. Plus today is pday and tomorrow Christmas, so 2 pdays in a row!!! Woot! haha! Well I best be getting off here! My time is far spent! Thanks to everyone for the support! I love you all! HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! Don't get caught up in the worldly stupor of Christmas!
 Remember what matters most! The Birth of the Son of God! The one who performed the Atonement and made it possible for us to all return to live with Heavenly Father again if we but learn and live the Gospel of Jesus Christ! I know that Jesus Christ Lives! I know that His church has been restored to the Earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith! I know the Book of Mormon is the Word of God and is true! I know this now better than I ever have before! Mission is a tough time and it has given for lots of times of struggle and sometimes doubt, but through it all, the truth prevails, and I know for a surety of the truthfulness of these things!

 I challenge anyone who is reading this to come to know of the truth of these things for yourself by reading the Book of Mormon, ponder and pray to ask God himself of its truthfulness! When you come to know it is true than it is the greatest knowledge you could ever receive, EVER! But you need to try. There's nothing to lose, only Eternity to Gain! I know it's true, and I love it! And I live it!

 I wish you all a Merry Little Christmas (I've had Marshall's Christmas Card from last year posted on my wall for a year now!) I love you all!
-Elder Jones-

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

17th Dec 2012 Mthatha South Africa

No pictures this week. Sorry.

Hi mom and dad,

I love you both so much! Thanks for the pictures! I really enjoyed them! Paha! Dad as Santa! Thought I’d never see the day! I bet you did an awesome job dad!

My companion is fine with his picture being on facebook. I told him about the missionary moms website thing and he'll tell his mom, thanks!

As for the phone number to call on, the office sent that number to every missionary, whether they were from the states or from Fiji or from England or wherever... so I think it's the same for everyone... I’ll ask though... But for the Skype, we are still not 100% sure yet, but we are at a 90% chance that we can Skype on Christmas. We are going to use a member’s laptop and he is arranging for us to get internet and everything we should know by today for sure what’s what, but definitely next Monday we will know for certain.
Paha! East London is here in South Africa. The English settled South Africa, so alot of names are similar here to there. East London is about 3 hours drive from Mthatha. We don't have to take any pills for malaria... There are no problems with Malaria here in our mission.

Now this week has been awesome! We went to East London on Tuesday (a city here in South Africa, about 3 hours drive from Mthatha... not in England!) In East London we had a multizone Christmas Conference! It was awesome! Queenstown Zone, East London Zone, and Mdansane Zone. We got some sweet training from the Assistants and also from President Wood and Sister Wood!

 It was really nice! I learned alot about Christ like attributes and about gratitude specifically! President Wood challenged us to go for a whole week only saying things that we are grateful for in our prayers! In every single prayer for a week not to ask for one single thing but only to give thanks! So I took the challenge and it is really awesome! I challenge anyone who is reading this to do the same thing! It's hard when it comes to blessing food because you can't ask for blessings, but you can say that you are grateful for the blessings you will receive from the food you are about to eat. I have only once slipped up and asked for something, but so far I've been doing well, and I have found that my whole perspective on praying has changed! I am really able to see the plenteous abundance of blessings that Heavenly Father has blessed me with! It's awesome! I'm really enjoying it! It's a little strange in appts though when I am asked to pray and I don't ask for anything but I just thank... anyways...

The conference was awesome! I got a plastic Sword for my Christmas gift! We did a white elephant gift exchange thing, and the limit was R20 ($2.25) and I got a sword! It's awesome! I wish I had pictures of it to send. I'll get some this week!

We also watched a movie! Each Christmas President shows a movie, and this time we watched a movie called "Courageous." I think everybody should watch that movie! It is really nice and has an awesome message! WATCH IT!!!

After the conference this week though, we drove back to Mthatha and started to work. It has been hard to work lately because of dropped appointments or people falling through, but we have been able to see some tender mercies of the Lord and some awesome miracles! We were shopping at a grocery store and a lady walked up to us and started talking with us and turned out that she was a member from Grahams town and she doesn't know where the church is and she hasn't been in 4 months and so we are going to get her a map and show her where and visit her! How awesome! It's all one work! Whether it's baptizing someone or finding the lost strays, it's all the same! We also had a lady walk up to us randomly and tell us that she used to be taught by missionaries in East London but hasn't for a while, so we arranged for missionaries to see her that side once she gets back! Cool stuff happening! I love mission! It's awesome!

 I'm just having a blast with my district! Especially my companion! He's a blast and the work is picking up! We just need to work a little harder and we will be having some baptism dates set and coming! Also in other news!

The 3 people in Knysna I was preparing for baptism for such a long time and having a bunch of problems with. They were all 3 baptized this Sunday! I wish I could have been there! I love them so much! I miss them too! I'm so happy for them though! And I'm so grateful for the opportunity I had to help them! I LOVE MISSION!!!
Thanks Aunt Terri for everything you do! And everyone else who continuously supports me and who writes me! Everyone who doesn't, I still love all of you! Whether you write or not, I still love you! I understand how hard it is to write people! For those who are still waiting for a reply, it's still coming I promise! I'm working my way through the pile! I haven't forgotten you! I love you all!

-Elder Jones

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

10th Dec 2012 in the city Mthathat, South Africa

I'm a little early but Happy Birthday!!!! I love you so much!!! It's crazy to think that it has been a whole year since I last saw you!!!! Only one more year to go. It has been flying by so quickly! I just want you to know how much I love you and appreciate all you do for me! I have the best mom in the world! I've learned so much from your constant example. I hope that you have an awesome birthday and just know that my B-day gift to you will come on Christmas! (When we talk at Christmas I'll sing you the Happy Birthday song in 3 languages! Remind me...)
 Lot's of love from your African son!   
Thanks for the pictures and email! I have not received the package yet, but we still need to go to the post office tomorrow and pick up our mail, I bet it is just sitting in there waiting. I'm really excited! There are gazillion different churches here in South Africa... You might have to Google it... It's mostly Christian though.
Dad your right, the house does look better with the tree in the window. It actually looks kinda cool with the lights like that! Good work Dad!  
Those chocolates look absolutely delicious! You could sell those here in South Africa for R150 ($16) a packet... That actually doesn't sound like much now that I've said it... R150 is alot of money here though! Just looking at them makes my mouth water! Thanks for sending the pictures of the pictures from Martin Cove. I loved Martin's Cove! Too much fun! Don't worry too much about the length of the emails you send me, but just understand that I might not be able to respond to everything you put in the email... I now pay R25 ($2.75) for 1.5 hours. Doesn't sound like much but that's a loaf of bread and 2 liters of milk here. I've been able to manage my time wisely so far.  
Also, as for whether we are skyping or calling for Christmas, I still am not 100% sure. Most likely it's going to be a call though. I will update you more the more I find out. There is still next Monday and the Monday after that that we can figure this out. I'm still on the hunt to find someone that we can go and Skype with. I'll let you know for sure next Monday though. I love you both so much!  
Well, you are probably wondering what happened this week. Did I get transferred or did I stay to see the 3 baptism that we are supposed to have next Sunday? Well... Drum roll…. if you'd like... I was transferred!
I flew to Cape Town and then I flew to Mthatha (aka Umtata) to be the District Leader of a 4 man District. My new companion is Elder Dolben from England. He is sweet! I really enjoy being his companion. He's a lot of fun! He just finished his 12 week training, so he is rather new on mission (same with a bunch of other missionaries these days). He's in the picture with me. 
Me and my new companion Elder Dolben from England 
In the pictures it shows a few things that happened this week. One shows how I was demolished by a flea (I killed the flea) and another shows the size of the hail balls that hit us last night, and another shows the countryside just outside Mthatha from a classic village, and another shows me and my comp. 
This Mthatha location is crazy! It's a completely black city (well there are a few white people that live here, but not many... probably 99.99% black, which makes for an interesting city. For driving purposes, there is practically no laws.. People kind of just do whatever they want. It's really fun! Mom would freak out if you saw the kind of traffic I drive in. For some reason though I find I am rather relaxed driving here... I don't know why but I actually enjoy it.  
To sum up Mthatha, its insane! The work here though is sweet! Well right now it's rather slow, but I'm going to try hard to get it up to be where it was in Knysna. Already had some really cool experiences with finding people and teaching people this week. The people here are actually fairly intelligent. More intelligent than other townships I've been in, and the here people know English very well! It makes teaching so much easier! It's funny because majority of the people are Xhosa and speak Xhosa, yet they are all very well versed in English! I like it!  
Mthathat is kind of in the middle of nowhere though... but that’s ok. This week we are going to East London for a Christmas Zone Conference. I'm excited! I've never been to one before and apparently it goes from morning all the way till night! And we get to watch a movie apparently! Sweet!  
 Thank you so much Grandma and Grandpa! I really appreciate it! And thank you to everyone who is supporting me! You have no idea how much help it is to me while I am out here serving! I love you all so much!  
This past week we also went to a wedding of a former investigator, which was pretty sweet! I took a bunch of video's but it's actually quite humorous to watch how the Xhosa's do things here! I enjoyed it though and we got fed nicely too! We were the only white guys there and I couldn't understand a thing that they were saying, but it was fun and the Former investigator really appreciated us coming, in fact he even gave us a table at the front. Out of the hundreds of people that were there, we were in the 3rd table. The 1st table had the reverend and pastor at it, the second table had his immediate family at it, then it was us at the 3rd table and then like 20 other tables. So we were pretty highly esteemed there! And it was funny how the people would just randomly burst out in song. Everything was awesome.
  I gotta go! Time is gone! Love you all!
Elder Jones

Thursday, 6 December 2012

3rd Dec 2012 In the city Knysna, South Africa

Hi Mom and Dad  

Time is just flying by! Transfers are in 2 days, so Wednesday, but we won't find out what our transfer news is until tonight! Arg! That is always poopy... so I'll let you know next Monday what happened to me and what’s going on with the Christmas call.
 So Riley ended up settling for a small one eh... It's good to see that the family is doing well though! Just mentioning fish'n chips is making my mouth water! All the food from back home I just miss so much! I am managing to make my eating habits more like home though. I have a good method of frying burgers in the oven, and then I get all the fixings and I have burgers! They are pretty good actually! And here and there I'll have smokeys aswell, but the smokeys and burgers here aren't as good as home... It's honestly like I'm living off of dollar store food...


I attached a whole bunch of pictures and I'm going to send another email with a series of pictures that if possible you should put into a panorama or just look at them consecutively and see what we were seeing! My camera doesn't have the panorama feature.


We haven’t seen the Christmas Devotional yet... I don't even know if we ever will... This part of the world is way out of the loop! We are so blessed to live in Canada Serving here has given me a huge appreciation for the country which I call home! I love you both! Not much time today to respond. Yet another week! How crazy! I bet it's getting old hearing me start out my blogs the same way every time, but honestly, the time is flying by!


Transfers are this week and I won't know until tonight what my transfer news is, so I'll keep ya updated next week. It should be time for me to go though... I've only had 2 areas and it's been a year! I've only had 5 companions and it's been a year! Time for a change I think! But I really really love Knysna! It's an incredible place! Literally the most beautiful area in the mission and I was lucky enough to be here for 6 months! Not to mention the work is great here! If I get transferred, I will miss 3 baptisms that we have set for the 16th of December... this week we were able to give out 5 Baptism Dates. 3 for the 16th of December, and 2 for the 20th of January.

There's good stuff happening here! I love it! One of the most successful areas in the mission. The Zone Leaders were telling me that Knysna is leading the mission in stats. So that's pretty cool! But I can't just sit in this area my whole mission... I need to have challenges and to be tested! I need to grow, and it’s hard to grow when the area goes so well.

 Anyways... This week it was raining alot but we had some awesome experiences! We had exchanges with the Zone Leaders too, and Elder Critchfield and I had some powerful lessons! One lesson with a less active, who has been a member for 11 years, opened up after sharing most of the lesson and shared how he doesn't think he has ever tried getting a spiritual confirmation that the Book of Mormon was true and now he was willing to read ponder and pray about it to get a testimony for himself. He had always just believed it, but now he wanted to KNOW for himself! That was sweet! 


Also we went tracting in town and got a couple potential white investigators, which is awesome! One had a GIANT dog in its front yard and we almost died! but not really... we were fine... then we shared a powerful lesson on eternal families with the Myingwa family and the spirit was so strong and we committed them to prepare for the temple, even though 2 of them aren't baptized yet.

We also had one of the worst days yet this week. On Saturday, the senior couple from Cape Town, Elder and Sister Oldham, came to inspect our flat. Well it was raining and they took us out for dinner after, which was nice, and then we were planning on having them join us in a couple appointments afterwards. Well our appointments all dropped us then we tried our backup plans, and they all didn't work out. So we tried our double backups, and they didn't work out either... That was crazy! I have never had an experience like that here in Knysna before! We always have someone to teach, for the most part, and for a backup then a double backup to fall through is insane! So that was a bummer... and the Oldhams ended up just taking a tour of the township, and we popped in on Sister Yoliswa to say hi and then they left... Oh well... sometimes it happeneds.. 

. Yesterday at church we only had 7 investigators this time. But that's pretty much it for the update this week. Today we are going to the Heads (place again) with the George Elders. They have never been before and they wanted to do a joint P-Day. We were going to go to an animal sancuary or something, but It didn't end up happening... so the Heads instead...


Thanks for all of the support! I love you all so much! Take luck!


-Elder Jones