Monday, August 25, 2014

Week 3!

Hey all! I´m already three weeks into my time here in Cartagena, it´s crazy! And this week has been rough, not gonna lie...literally EVERYTHING went wrong!

1. Our washer broke. This is a problem...especially because our landlord is out of town for 3 MONTHS in the US. We had someone come check it out, and he said it would be cheaper to just buy a new one. Hopefully that´ll happen this week.

2. The transportation here is a nightmare. The buses work pretty well, but the train that we use most often, from Cartagena to Torre Pacheco (one of our pueblos) is always late, anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. We´ve learned not to plan any lessons in that time.

3. We ran out of money, due to the transportation. The Church gives us an allotted 140 € per month, for food and transportation, although the transportation is reimbursable (is that a word?). It takes a week or two to get our reimbursals back though...and because we work so much in the pueblos, we are on trains or buses up to 4 times a day! That figures out to anywhere from 10 to 20€ a day, and if you do the math, that leaves us very little money for the last week or so of the month. We are due to get more money tomorrow, so it´s all good.

4. I got food poisening. I know! I´ve never had it before, but it was not fun. We spent all of yesterday, Sunday, in the apartment because I couldn´t walk around. But I feel great today! No worries there.

So, even though it´s been a nightmare of a week, it has honestly been the best week so far. We have seen so many miracles! People have stopped us on the street, and they ask who we are, what church we represent. There was one guy who said, ¨Do you know my father in your church? He said you could come teach me. When?¨ It was the most amazing thing. We also were able to get ahold of some old investigators who were really receptive, who love church and love the missionaries, but their work schedule is crazy so they can´t visit with missionaries very often.
And the last miracle...because I was sick, I got to sleep for like 20 hours! On missions, they say you never sleep in unless you´re sick. So it was nice to have that break.
I hope you all are doing well! 

Hermana Jones

Monday, August 18, 2014

Week 2

Hi! I´m doing great here. I´m starting to feel like a real missionary, to know the area and take a more active part in teaching the lessons. My spanish isn´t perfect yet, but people can understand me well, so I´m doing okay for now haha. It´s starting to cool down during the day, which is one of the best things that has happened so far haha :)
I decided to give an example of my daily schedule here:
7:30 wake up, exercise, get ready
9 start studying. We do (more or less) four hours of studying a day, Including personal, companion and language study. But, because my area is so large, and because our only form of transportation is by bus or train, I usually study en route, or during meals, or at 10 at night. We try to do it all in the morning, but we have to work around the bus and train schedules.
1-5 Medio dia! This is the best and worst time of the day. These four hours are when you do not contact anybody or set up appointments because it interrupts meal and siesta time. The stores all shut down, and no one´s on the streets...It´s very interesting. And every day members invite us to eat the main meal, called Comida, with them. It´s always delicious, and they usually give us some to take home as well. Then, if we have time, we relax and study some more. But the bad part is, we don´t take naps! Usually we´re teaching or studying for our investigators or something like that. She here we are, having eaten a huge meal and it´s like 100 degrees outside, and we can´t sleep. It´s a daily test of my self control haha.
5-10:30 More Appointments. This is when we usually meet with our investigators and I do the rest of my studies. There are days when we take a round trip bus ride, come home to switch materials, and then take a train to other appointments. We´re usually out until 10:30, cuz it´s still light and people are up till midnight or later.
10:30-11:30 prepare for the next day an sleep :) Bedtime is one of the best parts of the day.

I´ve started dreaming in Spanish, which you would think would be a good thing. It isn´t, though,because I dream of teaching the gospel lessons to our investigators! I can´t stop teaching even in my sleep.
But this work is amazing. I get to teach people how to have better lives, how to feel the love of God and how to be happy. And I get to do this in Spain, which is awesome :)
We have a family who recently joined the church, Aida and her kids. They´re completely amazing, and they talk to all of their friends about the gospel. Aida owns a store, and this woman, Monica, would always come in and want to talk with Aida, so finally she invited Monica to dinner. They gave her a Book of Mormon with their testimonies, and we started to meet with her.
The moment my companion offered a prayer at the beginning of the lesson, Monica started crying. She said, "I just want to change. I want to live a better life for my kids, and for myself." I think I sometimes take the Gospel for granted. As members of this church, we know that God loves us, and we know that we can live with Him and our families forever. We also know that one of the purposes of life is to be happy, and we know how to be truly happy. That is what I´m trying to teach the people here, that the way to be truly happy is through Jesus Christ and His gospel.

I love you all! It´s always great to hear from you. I hope your weeks are great!
Hermana Jones

Monday, August 11, 2014

Welcome to Cartegena!

Hello! It's been a long week since I last wrote. On the 5th I left Madrid for Malaga (where the mission home is) and then went from Malaga to Cartegena (where my area is). I was pretty much constantly traveling, but it's alright, cuz I'm here!
My trainer is H. Herrera, who's from Ecuador. She´s hilarious. But she only speaks Spanish. We communicate well though, so its alright.
There's another hermana, H. Brown. She leaves in 2 weeks to go home cuz it's the end of her mission. It's weird for both of us haha.
I really like my area. We're in the city of Cartegena, but we're only in charge of 2 or 3 streets. However, we have ELEVEN pueblos ( or small suburb/towns) that we are also in charge of and have investigators in. Every day we take the train or the busto some small, run down town in the middle of nowhere to see investigators (people who are interested in the church).
The Ward (congregation) here is amazing! They´re so welcoming and love the Hermanas. There's about 170 members, and it's one of the biggest wards in my mission. In fact, there are THREE pairs of missionaries in this one ward. We have visited members a lot, and they always feed us and send food home with us.
I'm not kidding. One member gives us a melon every time (in Spain they don't differentiate between types of melon, it's all just melon). Another recent convert is from a tribe in Africa where it's very rude not to give gifts to visitors. So we're just checking up on him to see how he's doing, and out he comes with two HUGE bags of food! We had to carry them between the three of us cuz they were so heavy. There was a ton of fruit and an entire frozen chicken. And get this, last week he gave the Hermanas a chicken as well! We now have two whole chickens in the freezer.
So. If anyone has recipes for how to cook whole chickens, I would greatly appreciate it! There's a store next to us, so we can buy potatoes or anything like that. (PS if you do send recipes, it would be great if you could convert the temperature to Celsius haha). But on the bright side, I never am hungry, cuz the members always feed us! It´s a great system.
Oh, and on my first day here, I committed someone to baptism! It was great. Hopefully this coming week it´ll happen, but we'll see.
So, I've enjoyed being here. The language is a struggle, but as long as I'm looking at the speaker, I can understand what they're saying. I don't know much about the area here, but I think it's good. H. Brown said that you see more miracles at the beginning of your mission than at any other time, and I think it's because newbies rely on the Lord. Without the Lord or my companions, I literally couldn't survive here! It sounds dramatic, but it's not at all haha, I am completely incompetent without them. Eventually I'll be more capable, but right now, I'm just relying on the Lord.
Well, I miss everyone! Thanks so much for your letters, it's great to here from you.
Hermana Jones

(PS this picture is my new area and H. Herrera! The two Elders in the background are Assistants to the President, we needed them to hold the map haha)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Moving on to Malaga!

Hi everyone! 
I'm on my way to Malaga tomorrow, where I think my normal emailing day will be Monday. So yeah...I'll be back in touch then.
These past few days have been great. It's sad leaving the MTC, but I can't wait to be off! I will be going to the Malaga Mission presidents home on Tuesday, sleeping there, and then will hop on a train to my next area. How exciting is that?? Incredibly exciting!
Well, that´s the main news...I´ll let you know more next Monday!
Hermana Jones

Made it to Malaga!

Well, the subject line says it pretty well...I'm finally here!
It was crazy. We had to wake up at 5 and be on the train by 7:30, and then there wasn't room for our suitcases...But my companion and I were able to talk to this family from Argentina, and they seemed interested in learning more. Even though I was tired, it was a good day.
And I met President and Hermana Deere! They're great.
I can't wait to serve the people of Malaga.
Hermana Jones

Friday, August 1, 2014

Week 5/6

Hey everyone!

It's been a good week. We had an Area Seventy come and talk to us, Elder Reina, this past Sunday. He said 3 important things we need to tell investigators about our church: We are Christians, and Christ is the center of our church; This is the same church that Christ organized 2000 years ago; and that when I live according to the principles of the gospel, I am happy.

This past week, I (well, the Church) started my residency process! I´ll be a resident of Spain for a year, and then have to start the process again.

Now for my park story. I was with my temporary companion, H.M, (who goes to BYU too!) and we ended up in the random far corners of the park. There was an older man we talked to, Luis, who was hardcore Catholic and asked us plenty of questions about the Church. Thankfully, between the two of us, we were able to answer them all. At one point, I started to explain to him the Restauration of the Church (in Spanish, of course), and he interupted me. He said, "You know, people go to America and learn English. They go to Japan and learn Japanese. You should learn Spanish. How do you expect to be able to convert me if you can´t speak my language?"

I was shocked! Who says that stuff to strangers!?!? But I held my head up and said, "By the Holy Spirit." I was so embarassed and mad (my Spanish is NOT that bad), and it felt like the most awkward moment in the world! But its okay, because I know what I said is true. I don't convert people. Nothing I say will make them believe in the gospel. The feelings they get from the Holy Spirit will convert them. So it's okay if my Spanish isn't great (and besides, I've only been here 6 weeks!).

Speaking of that, I leave the CCM on August 5. So don't send me any more letters here! Send them to this address:

Sister Alexandra Jones
Spain Malaga Mission
Av. Jesus Santos Rein Nº2, 3 D-E
Edif. Ofisol
29640 Fuengirola, Malaga

My email is still, and I love hearing from you all! Miss you, and have a wonderful week!

Hermana Jones