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