Monday, December 26, 2016

Feliz Navidad!

Feliz Navidad! (that means happy birthday Jesus in Spanish)

Hope everyone had a mega good Christmas! It has been going great up here still. You know everything is always great so how about you just assume I'm good and I'll tell you if its ever otherwise. Idk if my mom would be down for that, she's too big of a fan of "happy" words.

View from the back of our house of freshly fallen snow and the Carson Range of the Sierra Nevadas.

Anyway, Christmas was really special up here. The members took care of us and I got to Skype the fam so not bad. Not sure if they have been really pounding the egg nog or if the webcam was stuck on a "wide-angle" mode or something. I'm joking the Jones family is beautiful.

Saying hello to the family alpacas at the home of some of our church members,
where we ate Christmas dinner and got to Skype with our family.

Received packages from home for Christmas, which was great. Food and goodies, clothes, and cash/gift cards. Santa provided Nerf guns for Elder Guzman and myself for downtime, bad weather days or just a break from our Scriptures and lesson preparations. Cards from all of the grandparents were special including a package of steaks and sausage from my grandmother in Lubbock.

It's very cold here! We definitely had a white Christmas. We had a snowball fight with our Zone Leaders and we did some snow drifting. Most of it was on purpose!

Posing in the snow with our church vehicle while out on calls.

Been dividing our time covering our area between riding our bikes and our car. We have a limited number of miles in which we can drive in a week so we must decide when to bike or drive. Obviously any trip to Carson City eats up the mileage.

Showing our Christmas spirit with fellow missionaries.

We found a little Mexican market and we got a bunch of ingredients to make ponche, a Mexican drink thing that is made around Christmas. As well I had some Pan Dulce or Concha which is basically a big donut with frosting but Mexicans go loco for it. It was pretty good tho.

A local Mexican market which we frequent. 
Elder Guzman enjoying some tastes from home.

Sorry this blog isn't very long but time is a tad short this week. Love you all and hope you have a Happy New Year!

i Feliz Cumpleanos Pequeno Jesus !

Elder Jones

Monday, December 19, 2016

It's Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas!

Hola mis amigos.

Elder Jones coming at you live from Gardnerville, Nevada.

This week has been pretty great! My comp and I are really starting to get into the Christmas spirit, and by that I mean we went and got a Christmas tree from some guy on the side of the road on Thursday. Picture included. Elder Guzman for scale (don't judge-Mexicans are short).

Elder Guzman posing with our new tree.

Don't worry it won't be bare. We found a tennis ball in our closet that I promptly cut open to be our star and we just got some lights to chuck on there as well. Elder Guzman and I got some presents to put under there also. Probably all just socks.

This week has been going really well. We were planning on getting dinner from a cool pizza place in South Lake Tahoe with some young members, but instead got a call that a past investigator really wanted to have a lesson that night. I was like ugh, but pizza, man, but I knew that if I forewent a lesson just for some bomb za' I would go straight to the Telestial kingdom so we went to the lesson of course. And it was totally worth it! She told us she really wanted to be baptized, which sounds amazing. She has been investigating the church for 5 years and has told that to missionaries a ton of times and backed out, BUT this time she said she has nothing holding her back and she is really ready to commit, so we will see. I committed her (yay) to be baptized on a date in January and I believe this is the first time she's actually committed to a date, so fingers crossed she sticks with it.

Our view from Gardnerville.

We went tracting a ton this week which was fun but also freezing cold. We have a car but our area is very spread out, so we use our allotted miles up very quickly. Entonces, we used our bikes a lot. The area that we were tracting in also happens to be extremely hilly, which was good and bad, but mostly bad (character building). Because on the uphills your legs are en fuego, and on the downhill you have 40 mph winds hitting you riding 20 mph when it's 20 degrees out. But its ok, I got numb pretty quick and was able to enjoy it after that.

Enjoying the cold weather as we travel our area tracting.

Wednesday we had our Zone Christmas party which was sweet. Got to meet a bunch of missionaries and see some of my pals from the MTC. Also there was lots of food that we didn't have to pay for so that was nice.

Saturday we had South Lake Tahoe's ward Christmas party, which was another place where there was lots of food that we didn't have to pay for! Also, two exchange students (workers?) from Peru moved into the ward and we got to talk to them there, which was cool. I taught them all the Mexican slang I have been learning, like "Que transita por tus venitas" (what's up?) and Buena esa calamardo" (good job, octopus). It was a lot of fun and I got most of what they said. They even tried to call me a white guy (theres like 15 different ways to say it) but I caught them on it a few of the times!

 Photo from our Zone Christmas party.

Overall, it has been a pretty good time this week. I am super excited for Christmas, and apparently we are eating Christmas Eve dinner in a casino with some members. Perks of serving in South Lake Tahoe.

Hope you all have a Feliz Navidad, adios.

Elder Jones

Monday, December 12, 2016

Week Two - Mexican Food and Lake Tahoe

Howdy Everyone!

Elder Jones here, second week in the field! It's all going by so fast, seriously. It seems like a cliche but I swear I just got into the MTC last week.

Elder Guzman and Elder Jones

Incoming Missionaries - Nevada Reno

Anyhoo, things are pretty rad here in Nevada/California. We have two young boys getting baptized here on Saturday. It's been awesome to watch them grow and understand so much. It might also be because I'm an amazing teacher ;) I wish I knew as much as them when I was their age! 

I also had an opportunity to go on an exchange with my zone leader, Elder Peterson. I got to live in his apartment for a night and do things a little different than how my trainer does things and it was a lot of fun. Also Elder Peterson is a total Utah Bro so that was pretty lit. We did a ton of knocking on doors and that was fun. And we talked with everyone and their mom on the streets. I got to pet like 80 dogs so that was the best. 

You know whats not the best? Being a super gringo and getting sick from one Mexican meal. I had my first real taste of Mexican cuisine out here (beef tongue tacos) which actually tasted amazing. But then it had a very adverse affect on my digestive system, to put it lightly. Eventually I got over it and you know what they say, whatever doesn't totally destroy your innards makes them stronger. I was just on that brink so hopefully they'll be stronger now.

Me, shortly after my first taste of an authentic Mexican dish, beef tongue tacos.

In more reverent news... I gave my first blessing! Our recent convert Claud was going in to his neurologist to see if he needed neck surgery (which would be bad news), and he asked us for a blessing. So we went over and had a nice long talk (because Claud is the coolest grandpa-age dude I've ever met) and then he asked me to do the blessing! I was like wuuuhhh idk, but then I composed myself and went for it and the Spirit just talked through me! It was really great and he was tearing up at the end. He was super thankful and then we went to another appointment we had afterwards. Then later that day we get a text from him and he basically said that he doesn't need neck surgery and he said he thinks the blessing really helped, nice! Preisthood power!

Elder Guzman and myself, visiting members in South Lake Tahoe.

South Lake Tahoe beach, newly covered with snow.

Yesterday I finally got to go up to Lake Tahoe during the day time! We had Sacrament meeting up there and then had lunch at a member couple's house. And then they invited us to go down to the lake with them while they met another member couple to walk dogs and such. So of course we went down because what better way to start a conversation with random people than with a dog! Well the walk through the woods and the icy beach was super beautiful, but it turns out not that many other people thought so, because there was exactly zero other people there. But at least we got some pictures and strengthened relationships between members, yayyy.

I've really been enjoying it up here and I am super thankful for everything the Lord has given me. 

Love all you guys and will talk to you next week!

Elder Jones

Monday, December 5, 2016

First Week in the Field!

Hola everyone! 

Wow, this place is great! I am now officially in the Nevada Reno Mission field. Along with a large number of fellow missionaries heading to various locations, I left the MTC in Provo last Tuesday, flying out of Salt Lake City. My group headed west and arrived in Reno Tuesday afternoon. After meeting with the Mission President we were assigned the zones in which we will be serving in the coming days.

At the Salt Lake City airport. Elder Gurr, myself, Elder Wilson and Elder Abbott.

I was welcomed to Reno from the Nevada Reno Mission President,
Brother Bruce Chesnut and his wife Sister Tamara Brown Chesnut.

My first area is in the Carson City zone. My house and one of my wards is in Gardnerville/Minden. It seems to be a great town and I've been told I live in one of the nicest houses in the mission. I don't doubt it, it's very nice. The other ward in which I will be serving is none other than South Lake Tahoe, the prettiest area in the mission, and arguably one of the prettiest places in the country! Although I have my bike, we are currently driving a Jeep Compass because the areas are obviously pretty spread out.

View from Carson City.

South Lake Tahoe, where I am also serving.

My trainer/companion is from Tijuana, Mexico. He knew zero English when he came to the mission about 4 months ago and now he is almost completely fluent! He works me like a red-headed step child because he wants me to become a trainer after 12 weeks, as it reflects both on his ability to teach and mine to learn.

My current residence.

Elder Guzman loading the Jeep. I will post a better photo of him next week.

My workspace.

Living room.

Anyway, this area is mostly English speaking so its pretty funny that I've only taught two lessons in Español. The Nevada Reno Mission covers from eastern California, up to the very southernmost part of Idaho, over to parts of western Utah and down to just north of Las Vegas. As I transfer to different Zones throughout my mission I will serve many Spanish prevalent Wards. Elder Guzman and I speak in Spanish almost exclusively while we are together so I won't get out of practice. Since I arrived we have already had a baptism and I have also been to participate in a confirmation and ordainment so that has been gratifying.

As today was my first p-day in the field I didn't have much as much time to write as I wanted. But I plan on spending more time on it in the coming week. 

Adiós! and more next semana I promise!

Elder Jones

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Finishing up at the MTC

Feliz Acción de Gracias!

That's Thanksgiving in Spanish haha. Hope you guys all had a good one. They make it pretty special here! We started out with a big devotional at 8AM from none other than Elder Neil L. Anderson! It was pretty awesome!

Elder Neil L. Anderson speaking at our Thanksgiving devotional.

After the devotional we all went and had Thanksgiving dinner (lunch) with some great turkey, stuffing, mashed papas, and even some pie. It was good but I did miss my mothers cooking, I'll be honest.

After lunch we went back and had another short devotional, all about the new LDS #LightTheWorld campaign, we got to see it a day early so that was cool! It's all about service and being Christlike, and what better to go do next than service! So then we went to the cafeteria where there were like 100 stations set up for a service project to put together food packages for the hungry. We worked there for a while and then we got a little break and just chilled in our classes and ate a sack dinner (PB&J).

Myself and about 1,500 other missionaries at the MTC, spent our Thanksgiving
afternoon preparing more than 350,000 meal packs for Utah children in need.

Then, we went back into the big auditorium and got to watch an awesome movie, Ephraim's Rescue! If you haven't seen it I recommend it, it's about Ephraim Hanks, a pioneer man who helped the Martin Handcart company come to Utah. After that, we stayed in the auditorium and went straight into the final devotional of the day. This one was all about Thanksgiving traditions and what not, so there were some awesome performances from different cultures. There was some Korean dances, a big Polynesian performance, and some other awesome singings and songs and such. All in all it was a pretty awesome Thanksgiving and I really liked it.

A group shot of myself and fellow District members.
In other news, we practiced street contacting this week and it was a lot of fun. We had to chase down our teacher and teach him a super short lesson in like 30 seconds because he was walking the whole time. It was a lot of fun and I'm excited to try it for real.

I played volleyball for my last exercise time, I'm gonna really miss it in the field.
Oh and I almost forgot, for the end of Thanksgiving they turned all the Christmas lights on and they are on every night now. It looks pretty amazing.

Christmas lights at the MTC
I'm excited to be out in the field. My next p-day I will be in Reno! Not sure what area yet but I'm super pumped.

Although I am looking forward to going out to the field, I will miss the friendships made at the MTC.

Talk to you all next week.

Elder Nick Jones

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Week

Hola everyone! 

Sorry for the lack of posts. I was sick for about a week and then last p-day was super hectic and I didn't get much time to email or anything. 

Everything is going super well here. I leave for Reno in 6 days! (the 29th). My Spanish is much better now and I can say pretty much whatever I want as long as it pertains to the gospel, and I can say mostly what I want otherwise.

It's starting to get pretty cold here in Utah. I actually had to whip out a scarf a couple days ago! Also it snowed! The mountains are starting to get some snow on them too so that's pretty awesome. It's nice to look right outside your classroom window and see some picturesque snow-capped mountains.

Newly fallen snow in the Wasatch mountains.

I'm super excited Thanksgiving is almost here. Hopefully they have some killer food for us, because that's what Thanksgiving is all about right? Just kidding. But I am super grateful for my decision to come on a mission and come to the MTC. It has definitely changed me for the better. 

Our district has been going to the Temple every day early in the morning so afterwards we are able to eat an amazing breakfast that they serve there. Its truly a blessing to have one so close. Oh yeah and last week a few of us went a Spanish session in the Temple. It was difficult but super interesting!

Myself, along with my fellow missionaries after attending a Spanish session in the Temple

I'm excited to be fluent in another language. The other week we were doing a Temple walk and we met someone who asked us where we were serving and we said "Reno, NV Spanish Speaking" and he started asking us questions in Español and we just had a whole conversation, it was sweet. It was a little difficult because he is from the Dominican Republic and talked super fast but we got most of it and it was awesome.

I get to play volleyball pretty much every day now. I've gotten a lot better and I'm going to miss it since I probably won't have much of a chance to play in the field. But I'm sure there will be plenty of fun p-day stuff to do in Reno. Like Ball-in-a-cup or drinking water! I'm joking, I'm super excited to get out in the field.

Miss you all and talk to you in a week!

Elder Jones

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Settling In

Hola everyone!

The second week in the MTC was pretty great. We went to the temple on Sunday which was truly beautiful. Living in Texas most of my life, having mountains looming over you at all times can kind of throw you off, but I would definitely say it's a plus.

Provo Temple

So many things happened this week it's hard to remember them all. Our district participated in choir, we went to two devotionals, we taught investigators, etcetera. The Spanish is coming a long a lot faster than I thought it would, thanks Don del Lenguas! Sometimes I wish we could just do all 2 years in the MTC but I doubt that would be a very effective use of our time, haha.

I've nicknamed our district "The Chosen Ones" because of how awesome we are. Were our branch presidency's favorite district and we taught our "practice" investigator way faster than most districts do. I feel pretty blessed to be a part of it.

Me with my companion Elder Wilson

I am also enjoying the weather quite a lot. Coming from Texas it's quite refreshing. It might be a bit "too" refreshing soon, meaning I will have to wear more than a t-shirt and shorts on p-days, haha.

I have been playing volleyball like every day, and yeah, of course I'm amazing at it. Our district tends to kick butt at it.

Some of my Sister Missionaries in my District

The time seems to be going incredibly fast and slow at the same time. I feel like I've known everyone in my district for years, yet almost seems impossible that I have already been here for a week and a half. I look forward to the next 5ish weeks.

Also they put up Christmas lights already so I guess you could say it's pretty "lit."

Christmas Lights at the MTC
Looking forward to the coming week and I will update you next week on my next blog. Adios everybody!

Elder Jones

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

And it Begins

Hola Everyone!

My 2-year mission has begun! I arrived last Wednesday to the MTC (Missionary Training Center) in Provo. Everything is going great these first few days! My companion and roommates are awesome, the food is great, and the Español is coming along very nicely. 

LDS Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT
This one will be a bit short since I have already used most of my email hour answering my mom's endless questions (thanks mom), but next week will definitely be a bit more detailed. My P-day will be Saturday for the duration of my time in the MTC, so If you want to email me personally, I will most likely be on around 8:30 AM every Saturday morning.

As soon as I figure out how to upload pictures to these MTC computers I will send some pictures from my activities and my stay.

I think I hit the jackpot with my district here, as all of us get a long super well. Our teacher is great, even though she only speaks Spanish to us for the whole immersion thing. We taught our first "investigator" yesterday, but he was really just an actor that no-one told us was an actor so we could practice our lessons in Español and be super nervous at the same time . 

Everyone makes fun of the way I say Nevada because apparently it's not Nev-aw-duh, its Nev-ah-duh, but I refuse to conform myself to a bunch of northerner-speak.

Anyway, these first few days have been really amazing for me and I can't wait to see what the next six weeks holds. Adios everybody, be back next semana.

Elder Jones