Monday, December 29, 2014

Week 3 Christmas and Snow in Belgium

Kerst en Sneeuw in België!



Oh I love Christmas!  We woke up early to open presents from home.  My family is the best!  Love you guys!!  And then we had a Christmas service, and that was super nice.  Me and my companion sang with the Elders.  They also read scriptures about Christ's birth from both the Bible and the book of Mormon. 
 So cool to see how they both witness of that special event!





Funny story:  We had a service project with our zone and afterwards one of the Elders ran into a lady he knew.  She was SO sweet!  And so excited to see all of us missionaries.  She was determained to buy us lunch, for all 22 of us, but we assured her that we we were fine.  But she really wanted to get us something, and before we could convince her otherwise, she went into the closest store to buy us all Fantas.  About a minute later she came sprinting out saying "They don't have 23 Fantas!!!" as she ran down the street to find another store.  She seriously made my day!!!



Also, it snowed here the other day!  Rather cold, but so pretty!  It was funny, because Christmas day was sunny and gorgeous, and then 2 days later it snows!



Anyways, I hope you guys had a good Christmas!  
There's this really great little video that the church published on mormon.org :


I love it how in the begining it shows getting gifts and more the commercial side of Christmas.  Which I think can be a lot of fun, and getting and recieving gifts can bring us a lot of joy.  But then as the film goes on you see the things that really bring us joy.  Little things, like little siblings playing together, handwriting a letter to a friend, being with loved ones, reading the scriptures, praying.  Its the little things we can do every day that can bring us real joy.  And then of course Jesus Christ.  He is the first, the most important, and the best gift we have been given for Christmas.



Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Second Week in Belgium

How to describe Belgium...

-Most of the buildings are made out of bricks.  They are SO PRETTY.

-Every door is different.  And they are all SO COOL!  I love seeing all the different kinds, different doorknobs, etc.

-They have bread vending machines.  Like pop machines, but you can get a whole loaf of bread.

-THE FOOD IS SO GOOD

- Biking is a big thing.  And I thought Oregon was big into biking...  It's nothing compared to Europe! ;)

- The whole week from Christmas to New Years is pretty much a holiday week!  They call it "Feestdagen."  There's Christmas Eve, Christmas, Second Christmas, New Years Eve, and New Years day!


Ah I'm so excited for Kerst! (Christmas)




Things are going well here!  Love the people, and I love the work!

Delivering banana muffins to the neighbors

Also, I love this verse: 
Luke 1:
 79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.


Christ is our light and our Redeemer!  

He is the BEST gift we have been given for Christmas, and I'm so thankful for Him!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Goodbye MTC - First Week in Belgium

Ah I can't believe I'm all done with my time at the MTC!  It was a lot more enjoyable than I thought it would be!  I learned SO much, and grew so much as both a person and a missionary.  The people I met there were wonderful!  I'm going to miss them!

Before we left, my zone took some pictures on our last day! :)

                                                         Here's one of my district!  (37A is by far the best! ;) )




                                                                                  And one of our zone!






Last Monday we took a plane to Amsterdam.  We arrivied Tuesday morning!  We were SO tired! We all got our assignments that night!  It's kind of sad going our seperate ways, but also SO exciting!  Here's a picture when we first opened our "2nd calls."  (We were SO dead, we had gotten hardly any sleep the past two days.  But we were also all so happy and excited to finally be in Europe!)



I got assigned to this awesome town in Belgium!!  I LOVE it here!  The people are great and the town is beautiful.  They speak Vlaams here, which is a gorgeous language.  I'm not the best at understanding it yet, but I'm working on it! 



                                                                                    1st day contacting!


My trainer is also wonderful!  I love her! She's only been here 6 weeks, but she's super helpful and SO sweet!

Anyway, I totally love her and I am so excited to be doing the Lord's work in such a wonderful place!

Last week at the MTC!

This week was amazing!  So much happened this week and I feel like I have been so spiritually fed, I don't know what to write about!  (I also have a lot of pictures, so enjoy!)

Well for starters: WE GOT OUR TRAVELS PLANS!

We thought we were going to get them on Friday, like I mentioned last week but we ended up getting them not longer after my last post!  After sending out all of my emails, me and the Sisters in my district went on a walk around the temple.  We were waiting to cross the street to go back to the MTC when we saw Elder Harrop and Elder Gross with a bunch of papers.  At first we got excited because we thought it was just a lot of mail (lemme tell you, missionaries get REALLY excited about mail - don't hesitate to send any!), but then Elder Gross started waving his arm up and down and making flying motions and then it clicked!  They had our travel plans!

That really gave us all so much excitement and energy for the rest of the week!

And then Thursday was Thanksgiving!

We had a big Thanksgiving lunch:


SO MUCH FOOD

Elder Bednar came and spoke to us. Which was so cool!  He did it Q&A style and answered a few of our questions, which was amazing.  The whole time he spoke, it was very obvious knows that Christ is our Savior, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, that the Book of Mormon and that this gospel is true, and he wants to help us strengthen our knowledge on these things.  His testimony was so strong

One of my favorite answers though was when someone asked him about how to make prayers more meaningful, and how to avoid vain repetition.  Elder Bednar said that prayers are about "a condition of the heart, not the function of the words."

And before he talked, the choir sang "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing." 




That song is amazing!  I LOVE the lyrics.  Also, I saw this on the water fountain by our classroom the other day and it cracked me up!

After Bednar, we all walked around the temple.  It was lovely.







Me and my companion Zuster Faa!








And a picture of my district!  Plus one of the Elders going to Iceland (2nd one from the left.)  They're so awesome!! 


On Sunday in Relief Society Sheri Dew came and spoke on receiving answers to hard questions and gaining understanding on topics you are struggling.  Often times we feel like when we are doubting our faith, we don't want to tell that to the Lord and feel like we should find the answer on our own.  But when you are struggling with a question or with understanding something about the gospel, you need to go about those questions by turning to the Lord and striving to find the answer through revelation and by asking for His help, instead of turning your back to the Lord when searching for answer or understanding. 

And then on Monday Zuster Walsh headed out to Suriname!  She was learning Dutch as well, so she came and studied with our district this week!  We're all so excited for her and am sure that she's doing great over there!





We are all SO EXCITED to head out this Monday!  :D :D :D

Speaking of which, FRIDAY is going to be the last day I will be able to receive dearelders and SATURDAY will be the last day that I'll be able to receive regular mail.  So if you want to write to me (which I knoww you do! ;) )  the best thing to do would be to email me at micah.jones@myldsmail.net or write to me at:

Sister Micah Jones
Belgium/Netherlands Mission
Schipolweg 66
2316 XE Leiden
Netherlands

I'll get a different address when I find out what are I serve in exactly, but that'll work for now!  I hope to hear from you!








Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thankful to Be a Missionary!

This week was fantastic!  I feel like it went by SO fast though!  And then tomorrow is Thanksgiving!  And then Friday I get my flight plans!  YAYAY! :D

So, funny story from this week:  One of our investigators had a question about what happens after you die.  So I was trying to explain to her that after death, our personalities don't change. Apparently though I had memorized the wrong word from my Dutch dictionary...  Our investigator kept giving me the weirdest looks and it took me forever to figure out why.  Instead of saying that our personalities don't change, I was saying that our personalities don't "undress"...  Haha oops!  We got a good laugh out of that.

Okay so, I have just a couple pictures this week.  Here's one of me holding a board that explains every missionaries purpose and our goal.  Love it.  It was the first thing I memorized in Dutch.



And one with the Zone Leaders!  They're fantastic!  It's been fun working with them this past week.




Also, Elder Oaks and his wife came yesterday and it was amazing!  One of the things he talked about was how the Savior taught that when you lose yourself in serving Christ, that is when you find yourself.  If you try to "save" your life though by earning praises of the world, that is when you lose yourself.  It has been something I've been thinking about a lot this week, and I really enjoyed his talk.  I am also just so thankful to be missionary and to have this opportunity to put my desires and my worldly ambitions to the side for a bit and lose myself in service.  So far it really has been amazing, and I'm not even in Europe yet!


Another thing I'm super grateful for is the Atonement.  I know, that sounds super missionary cliche, but it's so true!  Elder Oaks touched on it yesterday.  He said that "The Savior's Sacrifice is the ultimate good for the ultimate evil."  Linda K. Burton came last week and talked about it as well.  She challenged us to find a scripture or hymn that personally relates to us about the Atonement.  One of mine is Phil. 4:13. "I can do all through Christ who strengthens me."

 On our own we are so limited.  There is only so much we can do.  But through Christ and His Atonement we can do all things.  Sister Burton also said in her talk that "To make everything right through the Atonement we must choose, through our actions, to do our part."  If we are striving to be righteous, doing our best to do God's will, are "pressing for the mark of Christ," and are praying for help, Christ can help us with our struggles and he can make up for our shortcomings.

Love the emails and the letters!! I really appreciate all of them! <3

Have a great thanksgiving!

-Zuster Jones

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Wednesday, November 19th 2014 - Halfway Done with the MTC!

This week flew by!  It started snowing for the first time since I've been here.  That was fun - but SO COLD!  I brought out my big, cozy winter jacket.

On Monday the sisters in our zone who are going to Denmark left, along with an Elder going to the Belgium/Netherlands mission.  The Elder was in our district, and we all are super excited for him!

We took a picture of our district with him at the Provo Temple before he headed out.

One nice one...


Aaand one of us being goofs. ;)


We also took a picture right before the Sisters and Elders left of our whole Zone.  Our Zone is so cool.  There are Elders and Sisters going to Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, and the Belgium/Netherlands mission of course. :)  We have a prayer in a different language each night, it's so cool to hear.


We are getting a total of 14 new Sisters for our zone this evening.  My companion and I were recently called as Sister Training Leaders for our Zone, so we've been getting everything ready for them. We are so excited!  After today we are going to have a total of 30 sisters in our Zone!  The work is really hastening!

-Zuster Jones

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tis the Season for Coughs and Sniffles




I have been loving the MTC and the people I have been getting to know here!  I feel like I've been growing so much in these 2 weeks both a person and a missionary.

I have also just been loving the Dutch language.  When I first got my mission call, I looked up Dutch to see how it sounded.  It sounded so much harsher than the romance languages I had studied in high school and college, I was a little nervous.  But, let me tell you, Dutch is beautiful.  And it has so many fun words.  For instance "missionaries" is "zendelingen" and "baptism" is "de doop".  So much fun to say.  We also learned a Dutch hymn this week.  "Zullen Wij Elkaar Ontmoeten" which translates to "Shall we each other meet." It's basically the Dutch version of "God Be With You Til We Meet Again."  It's so pretty.  If there are any recordings, I would definitely suggested listening to it. :)

Also, apparently the season for colds started this week.  Our class, and the whole MTC it seems like, is full of coughs and sniffles.  We've been doing our best to share the gospel, not germs, with each other. (haha)  Our District Leader has been carrying around a bottle of disinfectant and disinfecting everything in class to try to keep us from getting any more sick.  It's rather funny.

On another note, one thing that has really stood out to me this week is that God loves each and every one of His children.  No matter who you are, where you are, what you are struggling with, or what choices/mistakes you have made.  Paul testified to the Romans that "nor height, no depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God." (Romans 8:39)  He knows you, He loves you, and He wants the best for you. (Moses 1:39)

This missionary also loves you, and all of your letters, dearelders, and emails feel like gold!  Dank jullie eel!



Thursday, November 6, 2014

I cannot believe I have already been at the MTC for a week!  (I only have 5 more weeks to learn Dutch!  6 weeks seemed like so much longer... haha.)  The MTC is moeilijk (hard) but it is so fantastic.  I have no doubts that this is where I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to be doinh.  I can't imagine myself being anywhere else right now.

So, I want to give a piece of advice to future missionaries.  (Because, you know, I've been here for a whole week and I am just oh-so-knowledgeable now. ;) )  When you pass through the doors of the MTC forget your worries and forget yourself. When you walk through those doors you are now the Lord's.  Dedicate yourself and your time to the Lord.

This attitude has helped me overcome homesickness and feelings of doubt.  It has helped me to remember to have an attitude simalalr to Nephi's in Nephi 3:7 whenever I start feeling inadicate. You are in the MTC preparing to do the Lord's work, and He will help and bless you as you dilligently strive to do His will.


So what am I doing at the MTC?  Here's an example of my average scheulde:

6:30 Wake up
7:00- 7:30 Personal Study (in classroom)
 7:30 - 8:00 Daily Planning (with companion in classroom)
8:00 - 8:30 Breakfast
8:30 - 9:15 Gym
9:15 - 9:50 Post-gym
9:50 - 10:50 Personal Study
10:50 - 11:50 Companion Study
11:50 - 12:50 Language Study
12:50 - 1:35 Lunch
1:35 - 4:35  Class
4:35 - 5:15 Additional Study
5:45 - 6:30 Dinner!
6:30 - 9:30 Teach "investigator" in your mission language, meetings, and additional study
9:30 - 10:15 Be in resident halls, prepare for bed
10:15 - 10:30 "Quiet Time"
10:30 Lights out

Pretty much every second of your day is planned, and there's no time for naps!  But it's good, each day it feels like you are learning so much and getting so much done!

Also, my district (group of Elders and Zusters going to the same mission I am) is fantastic!  I can't believe I've only known them for a week!  (Probably because I spend at least about 75% of each and every day with them haha.)  Sometimes they (myself included) can be so funny, and occasionally entertaining. But very often I am amazed at how smart, caring, and what strong testimonies these Elders and Zusters have.

Lastly, this week I have just love reading 1st Cor. 2:1-5.  It is fantastic.

-Zuster Jones



Sunday, October 26, 2014

My Decision to Serve (Farewell Talk)


Hallo, mijn naam is Zuster Jones.  Ik ben Mormoon.

That’s pretty much all I know how to say in Dutch so far.  But I can’t tell you how excited I am to learn this language, and to be able to teach people the gospel in this language.  In greek the word gospel translates to “good news” and I just feel so blessed to be given the opportunity to be able to spread the good news of Christ’s church being on the earth today to the people living in Belgium and the Netherlands.  They might not be able to understand the good news that I'm trying to proclaim for the first few months that I am there, but I am excited to share it in some way, shape or form. 


My brother and I when I received my call.
Today, I can tell you without a doubt that serving a mission is something I feel strongly about, and feel like it is something that I was definitely supposed to do.  But I struggled for a bit with the decision of going on a mission.  I’ve always known that I had a desire to go, but I was worried that I didn't want to go for the right reasons, or if serving a mission was something that I should do, if it was the right choice for me.  Living in Provo last year and going to BYU, it was very common for a freshman to talk about serving a mission, and I did not want to be one just to jump on the bandwagon. I wanted to make sure that it was personally something I thought I should do.

I felt like I got enough “maybe” answers though, that I went ahead and started preparing to serve. But I wasn’t confident in my decision. I felt like I hadn’t gotten an “ah-ha” moment, I felt like I hadn’t gotten a solid, clear answer that just put my soul to peace.

Looking back on it, I feel like I was having an attitude similar to that of Laman and Lemual.  I was waiting an angel to come down and smack me over the head and tell me exactly what to do.  I was scared to make a firm decision myself.

One day though, while I was preparing, I was kind of frustrated by a couple things that were going on, and I felt like I might be missing out on some opportunities by serving a mission.  And so I sat and started praying hard, if serving a mission was what I was supposed to do.  Not because I felt like it would be bad to do per say, but because I wanted to receive an answer that made me feel very firmly that this is what I was supposed to do, and when something happened, even if it was something small, it wouldn’t even faze me and I wouldn’t waver at all from my decision.  And I remember not even finishing that prayer, when I had to pause and I started remembering all the little, and honestly occasionally big, answers I had received to to this question I had prayed about many times.

I had been, to spin off a quote from Uchtdorf, doubting the promptings I was getting instead of doubting my doubts.  As I was sitting there I remembered all the countless blessings and promptings I had been getting that pushed me towards serving a mission.  I remembered when the announcement was made about the missionary age being lowered at the beginning of my senior year. It was at a time when I was feeling so overwhelmed with choices about my future, but at that moment when the announcement was made I remember feeling such… excitement and such peace, no anxiety.  I also realized what a blessing it was to be in the ward I was in Provo, full of Returned Sisters who showed me and told me all about the blessings of serving a full time mission.  Who were, and are, great examples to me, and who made me so excited to go serve.   I also remembered, one of my bigger prompting, in my summer ward last year when I was seriously debating about not serving a mission, one of the Bishop’s counselors pulled me aside to chat, and he asked if I was planning on going on a mission and I told him that well, I had thought about it.  And then he very enthusiastically told me that they wanted to give me a calling having to do with missionary work.  I remember just thinking, are you kidding me?  I definitely started thinking about going on a mission again.  These are just a few examples where I had been given blessings and promptings, that after a few days I would forget how strong and sure they felt when I originally received them.  To put a cherry on top of it all, that evening I was helping a friend of mine pack up for a move and we came across a little short story she wrote back in middle school about how she pictured herself in 10 years.  In it, she wrote about receiving a phone call “from her dear Mormon friend who was currently serving as a missionary.”  Apparently I was so thrilled to tell her that I had met someone where I was at and we had just gotten engaged.  I realized then that not only I really had to explain the missionary rules a little more to one of my best friends, but it also added to the list of all the moments, and answers to my question. 

I didn’t receive a single “ah-ha” answer.  But I had received promptings to serve, and then while I was acting on this promptings and prepared to serve I became more firm and sure of my decision.
 
Richard G. Scott has said: “When we seek inspiration to help make decisions, the Lord gives gentle promptings. These require us to think, to exercise faith, to work, to struggle at times, and to act. Seldom does the whole answer to a decisively important matter or complex problem come all at once. More often, it comes a piece at a time, without the end in sight.”

It is important to act on gentle promptings from the Lord. God guides and directs us, but he doesn’t typical steal the reigns from us. 

Grant E. Baron, who was the director of teaching at the Provo MTC way back in 1996, back when I was all of 12 months old, he told a story about a missionary who had came to him because he felt like he wasn’t receiving any answers to his prayers.  "He was worried that the voice of the Spirit might be so soft and unclear that its message could be difficult to discern." Baron recalls.  "I asked the missionary: 'Why must the voice of the Spirit be so still and small? Why doesn’t the Lord simply write with his finger on your wall every morning the names of those he wants you to visit?'”
“Well,” the elder answered thoughtfully, “I suppose if the Lord did that, I wouldn’t have to make any effort myself. I would be living by knowledge and wouldn’t have to develop faith. I wouldn’t have to listen to the Spirit.”
Baron continues to say that "immediate divine intervention to solve every problem would invalidate the test that earth life was designed to be. Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote: “It is not, never has been, and never will be the design and purpose of the Lord—however much we seek him in prayer—to answer all our problems and concerns without struggle and effort on our part. This mortality is a probationary estate. … We are being tested to see how we will respond in various situations; how we will decide issues; what course we will pursue while we are here walking, not by sight, but by faith”

By making decisions by follow promptings we have been given we develop this faith.  We are also using the gift of agency we have been given.   If the Lord did simply write on your wall all that he wanted you to do, we not only would decrease our growth in faith, but it would also in a sense take away the agency that we fought so hard to have in our premortal life.  To quote Richard G. Scott: “OurHeavenly Father did not put us on earth to fail but to succeed gloriously. It may seem paradoxical, but that is why recognizing answers to prayer can sometimes be very difficult.”

As long we are living our lives righteously, and are striving to make righteous decisions, if we come to the Lord for help, he will help guide us.  It might not always come in the way we want or expect it to, but He will answer our prayers.

Baron also testified that “One of the beautiful truths of the gospel is that our Father in Heaven is very close and responsive to all who earnestly pray to him. ‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth’… the reassuring message of the scriptures is that all who pray in faith for divine assistance, asking for that which is right, will be answered in some way. The promise is sure. Our challenge is to discern our Father’s abundant and varied responses.”


And that is one thing I gained a strong testimony for while preparing to serve, is that the Lord does listen and does answer your prayers.  You are a child of God, and God loves you.  I don’t know how he does, and how he could possibly listen to every single prayer uttered, but he does.  And he cares about you and your concerns.

Another thing I learned while preparing to serve is just how blessed I am.  I love the hymn “Because I have been given much, I too must give.”  It is something I have thought a lot about while preparing to serve.

My siblings and cousin are something that I'm especially grateful for

 18 months is nothing considering how much the Lord has blessed me in my 19 years.  I am so thankful for the parents I have, who have not only taught me that “I can do hard things” but have pushed me and encouraged me to do hard things.”  I am grateful for my wonderful friends in my life, who have supported me in some many ways.  Including supporting me in this decision to go on a mission, even though they don’t share my faith.  I received a phone call this morning from one of my best friends who’s in the Middle East right now, just to quickly wish me good luck and say some encouraging words.  I cannot express how bless I feel for that friendship, and for the others I have in my life.  They have helped me grow and have shaped me into the person I am today.

I am grateful for having grown up in this gospel, and the guidience I have had in my life.  In 2 Corintians 4:13 it reads: “we also believe, therefore speak.”  Because I have grown up in this gospel, and I know the blessings from this gospel, how can I keep my mouth shut?  Because I believe, I will speak.  And I will be praying for the Lord to help me speak.

I would like to add my testimony that I know that Christ lives.  I know that he is my Savior, and that he loves me and I love him.  I know that the Bible is the word of God, and that the Book of Mormon is as well and that it is another testament of Jesus Christ.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve Christ as a full time missionary in Europe.

I also know that families are forever, and I am so grateful for mine.