Monday, October 31, 2011

We've started teaching English Classes

Recent visit from Elder Zeballos.  Joshua's Mission is divided into three Zones.  This is Joshua's, Zona República.

Close up of a poor quality photo, but you can still see his big smile!

Hello everyone! :)
The work's been going really well.  Elder Barrett and I are working better together every day. :) Now when we knock doors or talk to people in the street, we're chatting for 10-25 minutes and getting return appointments. I'm learning that just about everyone can feel the Spirit when we testify and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ -- IF we're in tune and listening to the promptings of the Spirit.  When we're being obedient, praying fervently, and staying happy, we know which aspect of the gospel to start with and how to present the message in a way that people's hearts, spirits, and minds are touched. 
Some days are rougher than others but, in all...I'm really having fun. Like, seriously. I never get enough sleep and I'm already 100% fed up with soda, but I'm really having a blast down here. :) I'm scared I'm going to get transferred to another area before we have time to do everything we want to here.  So many people to meet, teach, and love!
A lot of citas fell through this week but we found 12 new investigators this week, including some great families. We're really excited about that. This one sweet lady has six kids and they're very active in another church right now. They were very sweet and the young girls (though a little giggly at times) were very attentive and I think everyone felt the love of Jesus Christ when our prayer and message were through. We found several other solid people. In short, I'm very excited for this upcoming week.
Also, we're starting our English classes. We were trying to find ways to meet and get to know more people and I remembered all the English classes they'd teach in Japan.  Like there, everyone here in Chile wants to learn English and we've been able to invite a lot of people. Elder Barrett gets annoyed (and I just crack up) when people who are practically running away from us stop dead in their tracks and whip around to talk to us when we stop inviting them to come to Christ and invite them to English classes. I just think it's hilarious. I'm thinking, "You just told us you wouldn't care if God existed, if He loved you and had a plan for you, or if there was a way your family could live together forever....but you'll practically have a heart attack when you hear 'Clases de Inglés gratis.'" One lady actually said, "Now THAT (referring to English) I'm interested in."  My favorite guy was the one who was "too old" to try and figure God out but apparently thought in his remaining 2-3 years he would be able to use our classes. XD In short, a lot of people are more excited at the prospect of learning English than finding out if eternal life is real and they can have it. Priorities, for the win.
I'm saddened every time I hear people, especially the self-proclaimed, "open-minded," "truth-seeking," or "prayerful" who refuse to simply pray to their Heavenly Father about our message humbly, with real intent, and in the name of Christ. If God exists, and this is really how he are you ever going to know if you don't try the steps He's outlined? If He doesn't exist, you won't get an answer. If we're liars or deceived, He'll tell you. What do you have to lose? On the other hand, if we're really messengers from God, you're keeping yourself out in the cold from all the blessings of the Gospel- the greatest feelings of peace, cleanliness, and true happiness in this life and in the life to come. And what else do you want God to do? He literally has us knocking on your doors, stopping you in the street. He has his prophets and apostles broadcasting the good news through television and internet. I don't know...It just seems so simple to me. :) We have nothing to lose and everything to gain by simply trying and proving God.
It's not super relevant but there's this guy in our ward that I LOVE. He's just this super sweet old guy and he joined the Church a little while ago. He's still learning a lot so he's in our Gospel Principles class.  He can't hear anything and says, "Huh?" anytime anybody talks. He accelerates from 0-1 MPH in approximately 2.5 years.  He's like a cross between Mr. Fredricksen from "UP" and that little old guy from "Emperor's New Groove."
Anyway, I should go! Love you all! :) Miss you! Sorry if my English is terrible, this computer stinks and I have Spanish on the brain!
-Elder Jones

Monday, October 24, 2011

First Impressions of Chile

I have no photos from Chile yet, so here's the day we dropped him off at the MTC.

So mail is weird. They don't really have all that prevalent of a system here in Chile (nothing gets delivered to doorsteps and there aren't a ton of post offices) so for missionaries it's a little sad. Everything gets sent to the mission home and then each week it gets distributed through our pouch system during our Wednesday zone meetings. 

Mail OUT is even worse. According to my trainer, since we don't have a post office in our sector, we're supposed to wait until we have big mission-wide meetings every 2 months or so and give our letters to an Elder who lives in a sector with a post office. That sounds a little ridiculous to me so I'm going to ask around and see what I can find. Right now I'm lucky enough to have an Elder in my zone who can take my letter every week to some other random guy he knows in HIS sector to mail it. Yeah....I'm trying to find a less sketchy way to send stuff, but I guess what I'm saying is that even though I'm writing letters, you might not get them for a little bit. Especially with the approximately 13-day trip one way for each letter. We'll see what happens in the coming months and eventually, I'm sure I'll have a good system worked out. :) For now, here's the address:

Elder Joshua DAVID Jones
Mision Chile Santiago Oeste
Casilla 149
Pajaritos 1921
Maipu, Chile

IMPORTANT: You MUST write "Joshua DAVID Jones" because we have another Joshua Jones serving here and omitting David is going to tack another week or so on to mailtime. :) I thought about it this morning haha. :) And apparently another (third) Elder Josh Jones went home from here just a little while ago. Parents giving me a unique name for the win. ;)

The mission's going great. :) We're working hard to find people and getting to teach a lot of lessons. We had a few slow days with citas (appointments) falling through but when that happens, we try to make up for it by contacting more people. Sometimes I still feel like a coward or a dinkus but little by little I'm getting bolder and less awkward. ;) I have to keep in mind that there is NOTHING "creepy" or "irrelevant" about sharing the message of eternal families and how people can have happiness without money and without price. Sometimes it's hard to get people to realize we're normal people (with normal hopes, dreams, and problems) and that we don't "want" anything from them. We're genuine. Santiago's a different beast, too, because there are lots of preachers yelling on the streets (oftentimes not talking to anyone in particular). We've had a few guys jump onto micros (buses) after us so they can yell at everyone that we're preaching false doctrine or going to hell.  :) When there are quiet, peaceful missionary gatherings of other faiths on the street, though, I like to go up, smile at them, and shake their hands. My trainer thinks I'm funny but it's all good. :)

Spanish seems to have its on and off days hahaha but I know the Lord is blessing me. Sometimes I know what they're saying and what I need to say back even when I don't entirely understand the words that are coming out of their mouth.  Does that make sense?

I'm amazed that we have like four hours or more of studying a day and I still feel like I never have time to just relax and read the Bible or the Book of Mormon.  And I have so much to do on preparation days that I never have time to take a nap. I'm SO tired....but after two and a half months on the mission, I'm kind of accepting it as my new way of life.

My sector's pretty awesome. We do a LOT of walking haha. :) Sometimes it feels like half the day. I guess it's just more motivation to find appointments that don't fall through.  

There are some pretty- for lack of a better word- "sketchy" areas in my sector but it's a great blessing to be able to talk to people of so many different walks of life and see how the Gospel could uniquely bless/better their lives. It's interesting because we know a TON of bad stuff with drugs and whatnot is going down, but we don't ever really feel in danger.  The only trouble we have is with the Chilenas who blow kisses, whistle, or shout things like "que lindo, Elder" at us from their corners or cars. :P We mostly avoid younger women like the plague because a lot of times they're more interested in Americans than they are in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but it's a hard balance between trying to be friendly to everyone (and share the gospel) and making sure our only objective or purpose here is clear.

We had an investigator at Church this week. He's a great kid. We had lots of no-shows though, including some who committed to baptismal dates. :( Hopefully they still have desires to take the steps towards finding true happiness in this life and in the life to come. :)

Okay, I should probably wrap up my time here. I miss you all and hope to hear how you're doing soon! :)

Elder Joshua DAVID Jones ;)

Monday, October 17, 2011

First Official Letter from Chile

First view from the plane.

At the airport with his fellow "greenies."

At the huge stadium celebration of 50 years
 of the Church being in Chile.
  He arrived the week of the celebration.
¡Hola everyone! I'm finally in Chile! :) I've only been here for five full days and already there's way too much to tell you all!  The flight was pretty good; it was definitely different being a missionary in public...people definitely look at you funny. I thought it was pretty funny how a lot of people in the States actually had panicked looks on their faces and tried to stay out of our way. Don't they know I'm already scared of them? I don't know how to share the Gospel in English! :D :P
We met this great cute old Chilena lady on the plane and I'm going to give her number to the missionaries serving in her area.  We learned pretty quick that Chileans don't speak Spanish (but seriously...I don't feel too bad because even other South Americans can't understand them at first) but despite the first few days being pretty rough, things are already getting better.
I'm serving in the Ochagavia Ward in the Ochagavia Stake.  It's in the city. Mom will be happy to hear that I'm already getting really humbled up with everything.  We thought our cinderblock house in Okinawa was small??  Yeaaaaah right. It's not like these people are living in huts or anything but they're entire houses can't be more than 1,000 square feet....if that. When they take us into their home, they REALLY take us into their home.  The members are so in love with us they make us lunch everyday.  Even though I've been pretty hungry this week, my first thought is always..."Wow...these people have nothing (compared to us) and they're here feeding us." Incredible. Makes you think about all we've been blessed with and reconsider all the ridiculous things we complain about or think we "need."
Basically everyone down here is nice and will chat with us but I still want to work harder. My trainer, Elder Barrett, is a stud, and we try to work hard but I'm realizing that there are a lot of things in the mission that are out of my control and I just need to relax during meetings and whatnot. We found a couple awesome people this week that I think we'll be able to teach and that will progress.
The Andes are beautiful. But here in the city there are filthy, ownerless dogs EVERYWHERE. Basically, Mom would die. There are literally thousands just wandering the streets (like 10 on a block) and they just poop everywhere and bark. It's kind of funny because they'll actually wait for lights to turn green before crossing and everything.  They're definitely their own breed.  For the most part, they hate us and we hate them. :P
The work is tiring but not overly difficult. I'm trying to keep in mind that I can only work my hardest and leave the rest to the Spirit and the agency of those I'm teaching. My testimony is getting stronger everyday, although I feel like I only have time to study for the investigators and never just to be uplifted or enjoy the scriptures for myself. And we study 4 hours a day! 
The Church is true. It really is the Church of Jesus Christ on the earth once more. Anyone can know that for themselves if they'll just be humble and open enough to read the Book of Mormon and ask God to tell them it's true.
The 50th Celebration was SO good. I hope you all can find a way to watch it on BYU TV.
I want to tell you all so much more but I am starving, exhausted, and still have to do shopping, laundry, write a letter, and prepare for a couple lessons tonight. I love you all and hope you're all well! By the way, mail is almost nonexistent here. We send everything and receive everything through the mission home. Use that address. It's the one with Maipu in it. Anyway, there's something like a 2-4 week gap (with snail mail) each way, so if you write me, just be patient. :) I loved your letter, it strengthened me, and I'm going to respond as soon as I can (the next preparation day, which is every Monday).
Elder Jones

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Letter from Joshua's Mission President & short note from Joshua

Dear Brother and Sister Jones,

Sister King and I were pleased to welcome your son, Elder Jones, to one of the finest missions in the world, the Chile Santiago West Mission.  He is well and happy, and we are impressed with his enthusiasm for the work.  After greeting him at the airport and a brief tour of the beautiful city of Santiago, we arrived at our mission home. I interviewed your son and gave him a priesthood blessing.  My Assistants and office missionaries then gave him a brief orientation to the mission.  We had a delicious lunch together, he met his new companion, and that afternoon he left the mission home and departed for his first area of labor.

Elder Jones has been assigned to work with Elder Barrett , who will serve as his training companion.  Trainers are chosen for their competence, patience and dedication, and are selected after prayerful consideration.  With this letter we are including a photograph taken of your son and his new companion with Sister King and myself.

Please accept our deep appreciation for raising such a fine son.  We feel a genuine fellowship with you in supporting and providing him this opportunity to grow spiritually as he labors to bring souls unto Christ.  It is my prayer that the Lord will inspire us all to sustain him in this challenging assignment.  Please write him frequently, weekly if possible.  Express your love, support, and confidence in him.  You will witness miraculous changes in his life as he engages fully in the service of others.

Being parents ourselves, we understand your desire to occasionally send packages.  For your information, packages sent to your missionary through FedEx often require large duty fees which must be paid by the missionary.  Those sent through Global priority mail, marked missionary supplies and valued less then $100 usually arrive duty free and within 2 weeks.

If you have any questions or if we can assist you in any way, please do not hesitate to write.

President Richard W. King
Chile Santiago West Mission

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Book of Mormon—a Book from God

Tad R. Callister
Together with the Bible, the Book of Mormon is an indispensable witness of the doctrines of Christ and His divinity.
Years ago my great-great-grandfather picked up a copy of the Book of Mormon for the first time. He opened it to the center and read a few pages. He then declared, “That book was either written by God or the devil, and I am going to find out who wrote it.” He read it through twice in the next 10 days and then declared, “The devil could not have written it—it must be from God.”1
That is the genius of the Book of Mormon—there is no middle ground. It is either the word of God as professed, or it is a total fraud. This book does not merely claim to be a moral treatise or theological commentary or collection of insightful writings. It claims to be the word of God—every sentence, every verse, every page. Joseph Smith declared that an angel of God directed him to gold plates, which contained the writings of prophets in ancient America, and that he translated those plates by divine powers. If that story is true, then the Book of Mormon is holy scripture, just as it professes to be; if not, it is a sophisticated but, nonetheless, diabolical hoax.
C. S. Lewis spoke of a similar dilemma faced by someone who must choose whether to accept or reject the Savior’s divinity—where there is likewise no middle ground: “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. … You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. … But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”2
Likewise, we must make a simple choice with the Book of Mormon: it is either of God or the devil. There is no other option. For a moment I invite you to take a test that will help you determine the true nature of this book. Ask yourself if the following scriptures from the Book of Mormon draw you closer to God or to the devil:
“Feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do” (2 Nephi 32:3).
Or these words of a loving father to his sons: “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation” (Helaman 5:12).
Or these words of a prophet: “Come unto Christ, and be perfected in him” (Moroni 10:32).
Could these statements from the Book of Mormon have possibly been authored by the evil one? After the Savior cast out certain devils, the Pharisees claimed that He did so “by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.” The Savior responded that such a conclusion was nonsensical: “Every kingdom,” He said, “divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every … house divided against itself shall not stand.” And then His compelling climax: “And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?” (Matthew 12:24–26; emphasis added).
If the foregoing scriptures from the Book of Mormon teach us to worship and love and serve the Savior (which they do), how can they be from the devil? If so, he would be divided against himself and thus be destroying his own kingdom, the very condition the Savior said could not exist. An honest, unbiased reading of the Book of Mormon will bring someone to the same conclusion as my great-great-grandfather, namely: “The devil could not have written it—it must be from God.”
But why is the Book of Mormon so essential if we already have the Bible to teach us about Jesus Christ? Have you ever wondered why there are so many Christian churches in the world today when they obtain their doctrines from essentially the same Bible? It is because they interpret the Bible differently. If they interpreted it the same, they would be the same church. This is not a condition the Lord desires, for the Apostle Paul declared that there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5). To help bring this oneness about, the Lord established a divine law of witnesses. Paul taught, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Corinthians 13:1).
The Bible is one witness of Jesus Christ; the Book of Mormon is another. Why is this second witness so crucial? The following illustration may help: How many straight lines can you draw through a single point on a piece of paper? The answer is infinite. For a moment, suppose that single point represents the Bible and that hundreds of those straight lines drawn through that point represent different interpretations of the Bible and that each of those interpretations represents a different church.
What happens, however, if on that piece of paper there is a second point representing the Book of Mormon? How many straight lines could you draw between these two reference points: the Bible and the Book of Mormon? Only one. Only one interpretation of Christ’s doctrines survives the testimony of these two witnesses.
Again and again the Book of Mormon acts as a confirming, clarifying, unifying witness of the doctrines taught in the Bible so that there is only “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” For example, some people are confused as to whether baptism is essential for salvation even though the Savior declared to Nicodemus, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). The Book of Mormon, however, eliminates all doubt on that subject: “And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, … or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God” (2 Nephi 9:23).
There exist various modes of baptisms in the world today even though the Bible tells us the manner in which the Savior, our great Exemplar, was baptized: “[He] went up straightway out of the water” (Matthew 3:16). Could He have come up out of the water unless He first went down into the water? Lest there be any discord on this subject, the Book of Mormon dispels it with this straightforward statement of doctrine as to the proper manner of baptism: “And then shall ye immerse them in the water” (3 Nephi 11:26).
Many believe that revelation ended with the Bible even though the Bible itself is a testimony of God’s revelatory pattern over 4,000 years of man’s existence. But one incorrect doctrine such as this is like a domino set in motion that causes the fall of other dominoes or, in this case, the fall of correct doctrines. A belief in the cessation of revelation causes the doctrine that “God is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Mormon 9:9) to fall; it causes the doctrine taught by Amos that “surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7) to fall; and it causes the doctrine that “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34) and thus speaks to all men of all ages to fall. But fortunately the Book of Mormon reenthrones the biblical truth of continuous revelation:
“And again, I speak unto you who deny the revelations of God, and say that they are done away, that there are no revelations. …
“Do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever … ?” (Mormon 9:7, 9).
In other words, if God, who is unchangeable, spoke in ancient times, He will likewise speak in modern times.
The list of doctrinal confirmations and clarifications goes on and on, but none is more powerful nor poignant than the Book of Mormon’s discourses on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Would you like to have emblazoned on your soul an undeniable witness that the Savior descended beneath your sins and that there is no sin, no mortal plight outside the merciful reach of His Atonement—that for each of your struggles He has a remedy of superior healing power? Then read the Book of Mormon. It will teach you and testify to you that Christ’s Atonement is infinite because it circumscribes and encompasses and transcends every finite frailty known to man. That is why the prophet Mormon declared, “Ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ” (Moroni 7:41).
No wonder the Book of Mormon proclaims with boldness, “And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ” (2 Nephi 33:10). Together with the Bible, the Book of Mormon is an indispensable witness of the doctrines of Christ and His divinity. Together with the Bible, it “teach[es] all men that they should do good” (2 Nephi 33:10). And together with the Bible, it brings us to “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” That is why the Book of Mormon is so crucial in our lives.
Some years ago I attended one of our worship services in Toronto, Canada. A 14-year-old girl was the speaker. She said that she had been discussing religion with one of her friends at school. Her friend said to her, “What religion do you belong to?”
She replied, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons.”
Her friend replied, “I know that church, and I know it’s not true.”
“How do you know?” came the reply.
“Because,” said her friend, “I have researched it.”
“Have you read the Book of Mormon?”
“No,” came the answer. “I haven’t.”
Then this sweet young girl responded, “Then you haven’t researched my church, because I have read every page of the Book of Mormon and I know it’s true.”
I too have read every page of the Book of Mormon, again and again, and I bear my solemn witness, like my great-great-grandfather, it is from God. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Final Letter from Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT

Josh and our Okinawa friend Troy were in the MTC together.  And their moms both thought they needed Route 58 shirts!

The famous MTC map pose.
Hey everybody!  :) Sorry, the MTC is pretty busy and I haven't had a lot of time to specifically write anything to share with everybody in general!
I'm really excited to be leaving; I've definitely needed all the spiritual growth (and more importantly, the Spanish classes) that I've gained here, but I am so ready to leave and head out to share the gospel of Jesus Christ! Did I mention I need to get away from the food? ;) I am going to miss lifting weights though, even if it is just on machines. 
I got my travel plans last Thursday and I'll be flying to Chile this Tuesday, October 11.  We'll be passing through Atlanta and it looks like we'll be having plenty of time to feel like missionaries in the real world, both in the airports and on the planes. Pretty nerve-racking! I haven't had my in-field orientation yet (kind of like our last crash course where they try to help us understand better what we'll REALLY be doing in the field), but I'm pretty sure we're allowed to call our families during our travel day. I'm also 95% sure we'll only be allowed to call family but we'll see. I like how they expect us to remember how to use a phone! ;)
I'm getting more and more excited...and more and more nervous every day. My Spanish is definitely going to get rocked when I have to talk to the native speakers but...I can teach the principles of the gospel and I'm counting on the Lord to help me with the rest!  I've studied so much, so hard, and I feel like I've done my part (thus far, haha, I still have plenty to do now and in the field).  I guess that's all I can ask for.
Yesterday was an interesting experience. My companion and I were asked to be one of the companionships to demonstrate how to start lessons for the new missionaries coming in to the MTC.  I'm sure this was supposed to be a kind gesture of confidence in us but honestly, it just made me feel like they were expecting things out of us that we didn't really have.  We have no experience with "real" people yet.  On top of having to "set the tone" in front of 30 new missionaries with an investigator we'd never met, we had to do the whole thing in English. I know it sounds lame, but that was actually REALLY hard. I've been practicing for weeks in SPANISH.  It's hard to stay as focused, clear, and simple.  It's easy to get derailed when we really just need to have Christ's love shining through us and the Spirit teaching the lesson.
Thank you so much for all your letters!!!  You have no idea how much they really make my day!  The mission is very rewarding and wonderful, but equally as difficult and discouraging. Hearing about how you're all doing and hearing your words of encouragement feels so good. You are my angels! I feel so bad for all the missionaries I didn't write consistently. I finally get it. :)
I love you all and hope you got to watch Conference!  It was so amazing and I wish I had time to share my thoughts with you all (and hear yours as well)!  Mom, could you post that awesome Book of Mormon one from Elder Clayton?  Elder Holland's was absolutely amazing, too.  Sister Dalton brought the house down. ;)
Okay, I'm over time!  Got to go!  Love you all!
-Elder Jones