Tuesday, April 12, 2016

New Experiences-- Week 87, 85 Weeks in Phoenix, 37 Weeks in Glendale

10 minutes after we found out I'm getting transferred. Elders
Rodriguez, me, and Bryan.

Juan! He just put in his mission papers! A convert of 2 years.
Gonna miss him.

Right before Frank's ordination!
Normal zone picture


Brother Taylor, our ward mission leader.

Rusty and Liz have a lot of cats. I said, "bring me your favorite
cats." And we took a picture. :)

The Stanleys! One of my favorite families!

Bye, Cesar!

Rusty and Liz after stake conference. I'm going to miss these people so much.

The Sesay crew! (Missing 6 of the crew...hahaha)

New Experiences

Week 87,  85 Weeks in Phoenix, 37 Weeks in Glendale

Dear friends and family,

The time has finally arrived that I will be leaving Glendale and transferred to another area. On Friday, President personally told me that I will be leaving. It was a pretty funny experience—I will write it out in this letter. As the title states, this week was full of new experiences for me. And the future will also hold "new experiences" according to President Griffin. Here was my week!

Trainer/Trainee Meeting
On Friday, we all loaded up in our roommates' Corolla and drove up to the Peoria North stake center for the trainer/trainee meeting. I always love meetings where we get to be instructed by President Griffin. The meeting really focused on being obedient and not complaining when hard things arise. "Putting your head down and working." President Griffin took the last 30 minutes of the meeting to instruct us. At the beginning of his discussion, he said, "Elder Jones, come up here." I was sitting in the last row with Elder Rodriguez. I was a bit puzzled, because it was extremely random that he told me to come up. I get up there and he puts his arm around me and looks out at the group of 40-ish missionaries. He says, "Everybody, this is Elder Jones. You probably don't know much about him, but he's a good missionary. He's a quiet, gentle missionary. And he's been in his area for quite a while—BUT HE'S GETTING TRANSFERRED. He's just finding out a little before you all." I was shocked. He continues, "And how long have you been a biking missionary?" I said, "My whole mission—20 months." He looks at me and smiles, "And HE'S GETTING A CAR, TOO!" Then I gave him the biggest hug ever. In front of everyone. Haha! He then went on to explain how no one has the right to complain about being on a bike. After I sat down he added a comment, "He never complained to me once—you think your President doesn't notice that stuff. He does. Thank you, Elder Jones." 
It was a very interesting experience I definitely won't forget!! 

Bedbugs scare
One morning in the beginning of the week I woke up with nine crazy huge bites on my arm. Over the course of the day my arm swelled up big time. It was one of the worst experiences of my life! They itched like crazy, and my whole arm felt like it was going to fall off! We called the housing coordinator about having our apartment sprayed. He hooked us up with a member who did it for free for missionaries. So he came, flipped our beds, and said that he didn't see any traces of bedbugs, so we either didn't have them, or they're really fresh. He said either way it should be easy to treat them now. Phew! Luckily I haven't gotten any more bites—we were seriously contemplating going to the ER. I'm seriously allergic to whatever bit me.

We had stake conference this week which is always wonderful. I had a very, very special experience after the conference. One I will never forget—another new experience for me. Let me tell you a little about Frank Gomez first. He is a member in our ward who has been married to a member for 27 years. He was always a die hard Catholic. He was one year away from becoming a Catholic Priest. He would attend church with his wife for 25 years. He was well known at church, just not a member. Well, about a year ago, a bold missionary told him he would be baptized. He said, "okay" and he said he felt a rush go through him. He had accepted a baptismal date. He was committed. He was then baptized last May. I got to the ward in July and have been teaching him the new member lessons since then. He and I have grown very close. Anyway, he was presented before the Conference to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. After the conference we all gathered in the little bishop's office and he said, "Elder Jones, I would be honored if you would ordain me into the Melchizedek Priesthood." I was shocked. His baptism missionary was there. His absolute best friend is the bishop and he was there. And he chose me. It was such a special experience to bestow the Priesthood upon someone I love so much. I met with him that night and gave him a copy of my line of authority. 

Stake Conference
We had a really wonderful stake conference. Elder Johnson of the Seventy came and addressed us. One thing really stuck out to me during the Saturday session. He was talking about having "No other Gods", the first commandment in the 10 Commandments. He started talking about English, so I naturally perked up. :) He said, "There are no such things as PRIORITIES." You can not have plural priorities. If you do, then you don't really have a priority. If God isn't your priority, you are breaking His first commandment. Wow! What a profound statement. The Spirit definitely spoke to me that I need to continue trying to make Him my first priority. Always. 

Zone Meeting
As you can tell, we had a week full of meetings. Sometimes that can be sad and boring, but I enjoyed every one of them. As the zone leaders Elder Gardner and Elder Katz were presenting their discussion, they randomly said, "Who in here wants some Taco Bell?" Of course I raised my hand. Everyone but a few raised their hand. They told everyone who wanted Taco Bell to go into the library. The zone leaders came in and gave each of us a pass-along card. Some were yellow, but Elder Plourde got a red one, and Elder Conover was denied one all together! So we went into the commons room where a member was taking our cards to enter the room with Taco Bell. Elder Plourde was denied access to the room because his card was different. And Elder Conover couldn't enter because he didn't have a card at all. As we are partaking of the glorious Taco Bell, we know there are others who unfairly didn't receive any. They likened it to us as missionaries. Sometimes we deny people the gospel by not talking to them. By not inviting them to partake of the tree of life which is the gospel. Another profound lesson learned.

Although I am so ready to get transferred, I have been reflecting on all of the lifetime friends I have made here in this area. Those friends range from youth, adults, missionaries, leaders—everything. This area has taught me to be patient. It has taught me to not judge others according to the circumstances they're in. It has taught me to be a better teacher! Sometimes you don't  know how much of an impact you've made until you're packing up and leaving. I will hopefully be returning a few times to witness the baptisms of those I have taught. Jamie will be baptized in the beginning of May, and Rusty and Liz will be baptized soon too. Plus a couple more. I love being a missionary. There's no place I'd rather be right now. 

Elder Bryan and I went on one last exchange last night. He is someone I will for sure stay in contact with after the mission. We get along so well. Most likely the next time I'll see him is in the mission home when we go home. On our exchange while I was gone, Elder Young put one of our investigators on a baptismal date. Yep, the area is in gooood hands. :)

This week we had another French baptism. This time, the daughter of RaphaĆ«l, Louise. She was very excited to be baptized and anyone who was there could have felt that sweet spirit. It's been amazing seeing this family of FAITH come into the Church. They have had way more trials than they deserve, but the Lord works in mysterious ways. He knows what he's doing. And this family has benefited from their perseverance through their trials. 

Well, that's about what happened this week! I have to pack today and I'm not feeling too well so I might not get a chance to email much. But I'll do what I can. Hopefully next week you'll hear that I'm in Flagstaff :)

Much love,

Elder Jones
Black Canyon Ward
Arizona Phoenix Mission

Note from Momma- Elder Jones is being transferred to Buckeye, AZ.  It is SW of where he is now and is the most western city of the Phoenix area.  It has a population of 6,500!    We will have an address next week.

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