Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The 40 Days and Nights Challenge


The most important message I could share with each of you is the power you have as member missionaries.

I know this is something you probably hear a lot, but do you really know the power you have in the lives of others?  Some of you may be Return Missionaries, and some of you may be living vicariously through your children's experiences…either way I want to share with each of you how Today is the day for you to stand up and be Called to Serve!

Missionary work is not hard, all it takes is a simple testimony of one truth, and that is, Jesus Christ lives!  The rest will come as you study the scriptures and “Open Your Mouth” or with todays technology…move your fingers!

A little over 5 month ago I had an amazing opportunity to help a Sister Missionary in our ward who was injured.  She could not do the work in “conventional” ways….I say this because instead of just sitting on our couch while she healed, I took it upon myself to find something that she could do.

I created a program called 
The 40 Days and 40 Nights Challenge.



I won’t go into all of the details here of how all this came to be, but you can read about it in the “
Prepare” Challenge.

In short, this challenge was about helping members prepare themselves for opportunities to experience what it is like to serve.  Not just as a missionary but as a child of God.

“I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” Mosiah 2:17

I wanted people to experience this, to know that missionary work is just as King Benjamin declared….it is Service!  As we search, ponder and pray the Lord will prepare us with opportunities to serve, and as we serve and do these things we have the ability to bear witness of the Gospel or Jesus Christ.  Heavenly Father provides ways for things to happen, ways for us to share our testimony.  As we live the gospel people come to us….we no longer have to search for them…Heavenly Father brings them to us and we know who they are when they appear in our lives.

As this challenge went on, I saw a need to continue them and to find new focuses, new activities, things that would keep people motivated to study the scriptures and invite these opportunities to build.

I cannot tell you how excited the missionaries have been as I have told them of the countless experiences I have heard. Members who have never read the Book of Mormon before, inactive members coming back into activity in the church, non members joining the church, families coming closer, and parents accepting the challenge by their missionaries to embark in this work.

Without fail these sweet Elders and Sisters want nothing more then to see their families stand beside them in this great work!  They get so excited when you get involved, when you have experiences that they can relate to, and when you take it upon yourselves to come closer to the Savior.

Every time I create a new challenge I am asked, will you friend my mom on Facebook and ask her to do it!  They know Mom is where to turn to in order to get the message out there!  They know they can rely on Mom!

Starting May 1st, we are doing a new Challenge on “Faith”, and as I thought about this challenge I thought about the “Faith” of those Mothers of the 2000 Stripling Warriors, and how these valiant Sons recognized their Mothers for all that they taught them.

How special these Mothers are!  They were such a significant part of these young men’s growth and dedication that the Lord saw it fit for this to be in scripture.  I am sure there were may uplifting word spoken by Helaman, but nothing was more important then the teachings of their mothers.

I know that there were more then 2000 young men that joined the Stripling Warriors, and I want for each of you to consider this as I talk about your roles as a mother in this work.

There may have been more or less then 2000 Mothers, the numbers really do not matter, what matters is what they did to have such a strong impact in their Children's lives.

Each of you are Mothers to a Stripling Warrior.  Each or your Children who enters into the House of the Lord becomes a covenanted child of God, one who promises to do all that is required or him or her.  Shortly after this time, they are set apart as a Representative of Jesus Christ himself!  Not only are they promising to give everything they have to the Lord, they are now official representatives of HIM! They are called to do those things that he himself would do if he were here upon the earth.  They are a part of a Royal Army! One that no flag will ever fly for, but one where the banner of righteousness is unfurled!  They are a part of a Modern Day Army of Stripling Warriors, one where both Sons and Daughters serve!  They stand amongst Hundreds of Thousands who have served and will serve!  Brothers and Sisters of the Lords Elect!

As Mothers you hold a special place in the hearts of these warriors and just as I said before they still come to you for strength and support!

So for all of your sons and daughters I invite each of you to take upon yourselves this Challenge…This Challenge on Faith.  To set aside a few min each day to read just 4 scriptures and a quote and to focus on just one thing or thought that day, that will help you draw closer to the Lord.  If you want to take this challenge one step farther you are welcome to but for now this is the minimum requirement. To read these 5 things and do the one thing listed that day to come closer to Christ and strengthen your faith as you share it with your children and the children of many other Mothers.

You are one of the 2000 Mothers of the Stripling Warriors!!!

Elder Ballard gave an amazing talk this past General Conference on Following Up. There was a section in his talk in which he spoke about the power of sharing the things you are learning with your missionaries. “Brothers and sisters, can you imagine the impact if family and friends included things they are learning from their personal study of Preach My Gospel in their letters and emails to their full-time missionaries? Can you picture the blessings that will come to families when they know and understand better what their sons and daughters will be studying and teaching on their missions? Can you even begin to fathom the extraordinary outpouring of atoning grace that will be ours, individually and collectively, according to the Savior’s promise to all who bear testimony in the process of inviting souls to come unto Him—and then following up on those invitations?”

Mothers we have a vision!  This is just not my request but the request of several mothers and missionaries that you get involved in this challenge.  To those who wish to do more we have things you can do.  We can teach you how to be more involved in social media, or other ways that you can serve.

We are calling upon all the Mothers of our 107,000+ Missionaries… To accept this invitation to raise the bar as mothers, to stand beside your children as they serve.

I know the power that these experiences have to your missionaries! I see HOPE grow!  When you send letters and emails to your children talking about this work and doing these challenges they want to do better!

They want nothing more then to have you be apart of this great work with them!

They want you to feel the spirit that they feel everyday, they want to have those bonding experiences that they share in with their investigators.  They want you to feel the power of the Holy Ghost in your life as they do!

Mom’s they want for you to stand beside them as they serve…even if it is just “spiritually there.”

I promise you that they will feel of your presence, and you in turn will feel of theirs!

That time away will not be so bad!

I promise you, that if you heed to the council of Elder Ballard you will feel an outpouring of those blessings he spoke of!  I know this is true because I have experienced it in my own life, both now and while I served as a missionary.  I have seen miracles happen and I testify that they will happen in your life as you diligently seek the Lord through living the Gospel!


I hope each off you will accept this Challenge in your lives!  It is more then just 40 Days and 40 Nights, that is just symbolic of all that Christ did for us….he fasted for 40 Days and 40 Nights so he could prove himself to the Father before his ultimate sacrifice and then he came back after his resurrection for 40 Days to teach us.  

What are we willing to do to help our children to be successful? What are we willing to sacrifice to have the Lord in our lives?  Are we willing to prove to the Lord that we will do whatsoever is required of us to come unto him?  Are we willing to feast upon the words of Christ for 40 Days and 40 Nights and learn the things he came here to teach us?  Are we willing to face the challenges before us?  

You have a great strength!  As you do this not only will your lives be blessed but you will also bless the lives of a Warrior serving in your ward, a warrior to a Mother you stand beside in this challenge.  You will strengthen one another and your children will rise triumphant in their Faith through your efforts!  Do not underestimate your abilities!!!

You are The Mothers of the Modern Day Stripling Warriors! 

~Jessi 

For more information or to read about The 40 Days and 40 Nights Challenge please visit us at:

Please Join our Facebook Pages at:

Sunday, April 27, 2014

I'm Gonna Go

Ever since my boys were little, I have always talked to them about *when* they go on their missions, not *if*! So when Pres. Monson announced that young men could serve a mission at the age of 18, it was a very natural step for my 18 year old Senior to get started on his papers.  It's also a really good way to get your kids to eat fish and asparagus..... "WHEN you go on your mission, you might go someplace that they eat a lot of fish..." See what I did there  ;)



Here are some kids that are excited to serve, and I bet they eat their asparagus too  ;)





Music Soundtrack
"I'm Gonna Go"
Nashville Tribute Band


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

School Supplies for the Students of Tacloban

Please welcome guest blogger Julie Hess.  Mother to seven, Primary Pres, RM and 2012 Mother of the Year Nominee.  Her Daughter is serving in the Philippines Olongapo Mission.

Missionary Mommas!

Are you looking for a service opportunity? Well, do I have one for you! I hope you'll find a way to join in. I have recently started shipping packages for families of missionaries serving in the Philippines and have thus become connected with Sister Tracy Maurer. Tracy and her husband will be serving as President and wife over the Tacloban Mission come July. Tacloban is where the typhoon hit so hard this past November. Can you imagine walking into this mission that is working so hard to rebuild after something like this?

As part of their preparations to serve, the Maurers have been collecting school supplies for a school in the Dagami area (about 1/2 hour south of Tacloban City). The goal is to have 200 to 300 packs of school supplies shipped over to Tacloban before they leave in June. They are asking for assistance in meeting this goal.This will require us to work rather quickly as school in the Philippines starts in June. Our first deadline, so as to expedite these materials, will be May 1st. If needed, a second deadline will be added.

There are a few ways to participate in this. We are looking for the following school supplies:

• 300 erasers (Pink Pearl type)

• 300+ glue sticks

• 1500 spiral or composition notebooks (80 pages)

• 300 crayons (12 ct.)

• 300 rulers

• 300 pencil sharpeners

• 900 pencils

• 300 red ballpoint pens

• 300 blue ballpoint pens

• 300 black ballpoint pens

• 300 children’s scissors

• 300 medium backpacks (we have found these for $10 and are accepting donations so we can purchase them)

If you'd like to get involved, please contact Julie Hess (https://www.facebook.com/mommaofthemadhouse) or join our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Taclobansupplies/.



I'm sure this experience will bring great blessings to the children of Tacloban as well as us and our missionaries.

Thank you in advance for your help!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Do You Want a Book of Mormon?



Watch this great video by Missionary Momma JoDee Edwards' daughter, Bella.   She made it for her big sister, Sister Edwards, who is serving a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Do you want a Book of Mormon from JoDee Edwards on Vimeo.



.....and if you do, click here... Free Book of Mormon

http://www.mormon.org/free-book-of-mormon






Friday, April 18, 2014

Elated

Elated vb : very happy or proud; jubilant; in high spirits

Last night I had the most wonderful experience!  I got to teach a lesson with the Sister missionaries here in this area.  There are 3 wards here and 3 sets of missionaries. Our ward DID NOT get the Sisters, I was a little sad because I love going out with the Sister Missionaries....SO, I steal them from the other ward...kinda  :} Anyhow, when they called and asked ME to come over to the "dark side" (just kidding) and teach a sweet Sister and her 18 year old daughter that live in the ward they are serving in....I was ELATED!!! 

It was fo fun to see the Sisters in action.  They bore the sweetest testimonies and the Spirit was so strong! They knew the right things to say and conversation came easily. I cannot speak for the investigators, but I know that my testimony grew a little stronger last night!

Here's to all the Sisters/Hermanas serving around the world!!!



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Wounded in Battle


by guest blogger Susan Peterson

 

Dear MMs,

There has been something on my mind for a while now.  I think it needs to be addressed, and I think Susan Petersen is the one to do it!  I met Susan months ago when she joined the Missionary Momma's FaceBook page. When her son went home, we became close sisters in the Gospel!  She private messaged me through several hospital stays... I love her...I look up to her...and I respect her opinion! ~Heidi


 

 

Wounded in Battle
 
So, Heidi asked me to share what I know about ERM’s. It’s a relatively new term, but not something new. Being an ERM is hard! Being the mom to an ERM is hard! My son entered the MTC in August 2013. He loved the MTC and had some great experiences there. He was to serve stateside, so he was only in the MTC for a little over a week. When I talked to him from the airport, ready to head to his mission, he was ecstatic! He was ready to go! He has that kind of personality. He’s very outgoing, confident, happy, and loving… At least he was. I knew he was struggling on the mission. So I did my duty, fasted, prayed, attended the temple, sent uplifting messages, talked to the Mission President, and prayed some more. I finally got an email from him that said, “See ya soon!” Later that afternoon I received another email. It was from the mission home with his flight itinerary and I was floored! I cried, like for days! And I’m going to be honest, unless you’ve gone through it, you don’t understand. You can be sympathetic and try to understand, but it’s just one of those things.
 
He had been a missionary for 12 weeks! Twelve weeks! I didn’t understand, and still don’t. All I know is that, through my tears, the Elder that got off that plane was just a skeleton compared to the one I dropped off.  His head was down, the light was gone from his eyes, and he was afraid to speak. It was heart breaking to see! He cried, I cried, younger brother and sister cried, and I cried some more! This was the hardest thing I have ever gone through in my life! Harder than burying my 4 year old nephew. Harder than watching my dad die of a brain tumor. It was completely out of my control and I wondered what I had done wrong! What had I forgotten to teach my son? Did I support him enough? The worst part was the rumors and pity looks that I would get thrown my way. Everyone assumed he came home because he wasn’t worthy to go in the first place!
 
He had been going on 45 minutes of sleep for over 8 weeks. He would have panic attacks so bad that he would stop breathing. We stayed up that night, for most of the night, because he couldn’t sleep without having an attack. His scared little boy eyes looked at me and begged for me to help. It tore my heart out! He wouldn’t talk about what happened and was so hard on himself. He still is his toughest critic and that’s hard to watch.
 
What I’ve learned since November is this. It’s okay. It’s not the end of the world, though I felt like it was. He’s lost and feels alone, but I need to be there to find him always, to be there for him, but he needs to come to me. He has the option of going back out clear up until he’s 24 years old, but if he doesn’t, that’s okay too. I found a ton of quotes on adversity, heartache, and struggles. I searched websites, read articles, and talked to a lot of people. These are humans! They are a child of God! Act normal. Ask them about their service. Talk to them. No pity, sad looks, etc.  Bottom line: he had a willing heart to serve. He was endowed in the temple. The Lord assigns the place they will serve, but the computer assigns the default time 18/24 months. “It is anticipated that you will serve a period of 18/24 months.” Isn’t that what the call says? I’ve come to believe that those who choose to come home are valiant servants. They were willing and that’s all the Lord asks of them.
I’m not an expert. Every child is different. Every situation is different. I found peace by praying, attending the temple, reading articles about ERM’s, and being validated in my feelings. I still have tough days! It wasn’t supposed to be like this! Yes, I’ve adopted other missionaries. But I want to write to MY missionary. I want to anticipate Email Monday. I want to see his plaque on the wall every Sunday when I go to church.
 
“Every early release missionary should be proud of his or her contribution and willing heart. I was told an analogy that has struck me inside again and again. In the military, the view of completing missions and of wounded comrades is quite different from our view of similar situations in religious missions. If soldiers rush into battle and are wounded on their first mission or 50th mission, they are treated the same. They are given medals. They are applauded for their service, no matter how long. Their brothers and sisters at arms risk their own lives to rescue and restore those soldiers to their homes. No one looks at them differently. No one says, ‘Well, you didn’t really help the war effort, did you?’ or ‘Toughen up, man. It’s just a bullet.’ These brave men and women are honored and respected for their service. So should it be with missionaries. We were willing to go where the Lord asked. Sometimes we get hurt. All we ask for is acceptance and love. We return with dread, hoping our partial offering will still be acceptable to those we care about most. My hope is that every missionary will be loved and respected. With your understanding and support, it can happen.” ~http://earlyreturnmissionary.wordpress.com/
 
 
What I wish I would’ve known. Go to the airport with signs and banners. It’s a homecoming and should be acknowledged as such. He hugged me at the airport and said, “I’m sorry I couldn’t stick it out Mom.” And I don’t have any pictures at the airport. I can’t get that back! Give lots of hugs. Let people know a head of time so they don’t have to try to mask their shocked faces or accidentally say something offensive. I was angry thinking he had just given up! As more of the story comes out, I feel horrible. Be open and receptive. Rather than praying for him to get back out there, I should’ve been praying that his testimony stays strong. I have since learned the error of my ways! I pray for his testimony and that he will be able to continue his mission wherever he chooses. I felt so alone and isolated. People would say it’ll be okay. I thought, “NO IT WON’T!” But it is and life goes on. It still stinks, but has opened my heart to be more compassionate and loving.  I love my son. I love missionary work. I love this Gospel. I pray every day to better understand the Lord’s plan for me, and hope that one day I will.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This was the day he went to the MTC. My mom cried more than I did. I thought maybe that was his problem and I didn't love him enough!
 








 
 

 He was never going on a mission. So when he came to me in March with his packet all done and submitted, I was floored! That being said, I still never thought he'd go and figured that until we drop him off, he could always change his mind! Once we dropped him off, and the younger sister is the only one that shed a tear, I thought we were home free! Him coming home never even entered my mind to be honest. I was always worried about him not going at all, not coming home early...

 

I didn't shed a tear until we got home, and that was because I was praying to my Heavenly Father, thanking him for answering my prayers. I love and supported him 100% but it was a huge relief to have him totally in the Lord's hands.  Maybe his coming home wasn't for him, but for me!

 

Susan Petersen :)



 


 

P-Day = Preparation Day




~My phone battery is almost dead by 10am from refreshing my emails.

~EVERYTHING is scheduled around Email time and you wonder if a transfer will mess everything up!

~I check my email before getting out of bed to pee. (Sad but true)

 ~Nothing gets done till I get my email from my Sister Missionary.

~You held FHE on Sunday night b/c your missionary sends emails on Monday evening and there is not enough time to do emails, dinner, AND FHE on the same night!

~I once told my missionary about how I sit at the computer, pushing refresh over and over. His reply was, "that's not healthy, mom" LOL

~You go ahead and do your morning run because you know the email won't come THAT early, but then you wait 4 hours  to take a shower because you don't want to miss the email:)

~When you are sure you will accomplish something after email time but reading other MM pday emails seems much  more important than laundry !

~Your 14 year old gets in the car for his ride to school, shakes his head and says "Mom, did you listen to that CD AGAIN?" Listened to the Nashville Tribute band CD with my twin girls this morning and they informed me that they can put in their papers in October of 2021. Guess I'll be a MM for a long time!

~When it's afternoon and you are still in your PJ's, haven't exercised or showered yet and you can't seem to pull yourself away from the computer.

~When you sit in RS presidency meeting checking your emails on your phone to see if you DD has emailed yet.

~When you tell the receptionist oh I'm sorry I can't come on Mondays I will be waiting for an email

~All of the above, and you cry when you are reading your e-mail...it doesn't even matter if it is happy or sad!

 ~You're waiting up until 1am on Monday morning to read the email from the Philippines, and them you check your phone again at 5am for the email from Armenia!!

~You only clean and organize the part of the house that's in eye-shot from the computer.

~You hope and pray he sends a picture this week!!!!!

~When you hit refresh every minute until you get the email and then read that email over and over until you've got it memorized!

~You take you lunch when they are supose to be on email and then stay late at work to make up for the extra hour you had to wait:) Not complaining at all I would work for hours just to have 30 minutes of email with her!

~When you as a teacher go to the bathroom around 10:45 am to check my phone....sad but It's true!

~You jump OFF the treadmill because you *thought* you heard the "you've got mail" tone.

~You wear out the "refresh" button on your computer and your house looks like crap!!!

~You phone your husband and tell him we have Missionary Mail!!!

~You're still waiting for that first email and don't have a scheduled time yet, so after you calculate the time zone difference, you decide 2 am is a perfectly respectable time to start checking and refreshing your inbox:)




What do YOU do on Missionary Mondays???

Here's what our Missionaries do....






Sunday, April 13, 2014

Africa

The Gospel in Africa 

by Terry Wilkerson




“This is a land, a people, and a place of great faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,” Elder David A. Bednar said recently about Africa.  And even though many Africans live simplified and even challenging lives, “an uncluttered life can be more significantly and singularly focused on Jesus Christ.”



Click here to watch the video on LDS.org - Unto All the World:  The Gospel in Africa



 

Our son, Elder Nathan Wilkerson, serving in the Johannesburg, South Africa, was thrilled to attend one of Elder Bednar’s conferences when the apostle visited Africa.  
 
The church really is growing in Africa.  Elder Wilkerson teaches 20-30 lessons a week.  Recently he wrote, “this past week we had 26, we are truly blessed.  


 

 
 
Elder Wilkerson has had to make many adjustments to life in South Africa.  He attended the Johannesburg MTC and went through the temple with missionaries from Uganda who started their mission without having had the opportunity to go to the temple yet.  His first companion, an Elder from Rwanda, spoke five languages but couldn’t drive a car, and on Elder Wilkerson’s first day in the field, he had to drive a stick shift car on the left side of the road, never having driven stick shift before in his life.
 
Little things are different.  It’s hot on Christmas and New Year’s and he wrote when he looks up at the night sky, he doesn’t recognize any constellations because none of them are the same.
 
He has had companions from a variety of interesting places, including Rwanda, Austria, Madagascar, and Utah.


Many people where he serves are poor, and many drink a lot, especially at Christmas time.  But, as Elder Bednar said, many also develop great faith and love for others.  Elder Wilkerson told us about how he felt love and welcome when he arrived in his first area.  “All the little kids call me ‘mahuwa’ which means ‘white man’.  Its so funny!  Lots will come up to me and hold my hand and give me their version of a high five, which is you put your fist together and then put your thumbs together and push to the right side, kinda like swiping something. It’s wonderful.”



Elder Wilkerson loves South Africa and tells us he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sorry Mister, I'm a Sister!

My missionary is an Elder....so I have been into all things Elder for the past 6 3/4 months.  BUT, it has been brought to my attention that the Sisters and Hermanas are pretty darn awesome too!!!  There are things that these sweet Sisters are able to accomplish that an Elder just can't  ;) In the words of my Elder..."they're freak'n awesome!"



In honor of all the Sisters and Hermanas serving missions around the world, and their Mommas, I present...





Remember Who You Are

"Be the same person you are in the dark as you are in the light."



Possibly one of the hardest characteristics to develop is integrity; It requires more than desire alone. Today it is easy to be influenced by the world in almost every situation, every crowd of people, and even when we are alone. We must remember we Are children of our Heavenly Father- Mortal beings with Divine Potential. The only way to achieve our potential greatness is to do what is right regardless of who will or won't see you.
Do your actions reflect who you are?
‪#‎keepitreal‬ ‪#‎PowerToBecome‬

~Elder Zazueta

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Free Advice

My brother, Ryan, served in the Ukraine, Kiev Mission.  He said that the most
 valuable thing that he learned on his mission is that "You don't need to speak the 
same language to connect with someone when you are using the spirit."

Ryan recently set me this text- "If you had to offer your wisest piece 
of advice in 3 sentences or less, what would it be?"


Lucky for him....my advice is FREE  :)

So here's what I told him... "Take care of yourself, eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep and be consistent about your exercise.  You don't have to be best friends with everybody, but be friendly to everyone you meet. And, get to KNOW your Heavenly Father and your brother Jesus Christ!"

The best advice can be found in the Book of Mormon (if you don't have one, you can request a free one here http://www.mormon.org/free-book-of-mormon) and from our latter-day Prophets. 

If I asked you the question... what is your wisest piece of advice in 3 sentences or less...
What would your 3 sentences be?


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

It's Been a Rough Week

I saw this on Facebook the other day.  I know it's not the end of the week yet, but...this is how I'm feeling!  The life of a MM is not all fun email and creative packages...there's grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, scouts, soccer, (you get the picture)....not to mention all the things we do to serve in our church callings!



...and then I found this...


Which made me think of this...


In 6 1/2 months, the Missionary Momma's Facebook page has grown from just a few MM to now almost 2,900!  I have seen more miracles in these past few months than I think I have seen in my entire life!!!  Each MM is strong...but we are definitely unstoppable when we put our efforts together!!! 




Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Where in the World is the Vanuatu Port Villa Mission

Every day posts pop up on the Missionary Momma's feed that really speak to my heart. Ryan Jones's posts about his son's mission experiences are definitely some of them!

My name is Ryan Jones. I was added to the MM Facebook Page by a good friend because my wife doesn't do the Facebook thing. I realize I don't fit the profile of the rest Missionary Mommas, so I haven't posted anything because I feel a little awkward about posting on a "Mom's" page. However, I have loved reading the posts from everyone about their missionaries serving across the globe. I thought I would post about my oldest kid who is serving in the Vanuatu Port Villa Mission. No one knows where that is and neither did I, even though I am a high school history teacher and thought I knew the world map pretty well. Vanuatu is a small chain of volcanic islands in the South Pacific, just west of Fiji. It is a relatively new mission, only about 1 1/2 years old. My son's name is Elder Jesse Colten Jones and he has been there for 6 of the longest months of my life. He was on Tanna Island until just recently when he was transferred to Espiritu Santo Island. On Tanna he has survived 2 cyclones (hurricanes), one minor and one more serious. He lived within a few miles of an active volcano and has experienced several earthquakes of 6.0 or bigger. None of those experiences have bothered him. He said they were "very cool". The only thing he doesn't like about his mission is the food. He eaten dog, cat, and sea turtle. He absolutely loves the islands and the people. The people live a very basic, almost Stone Age existence, but they are the happiest people he has ever met. He says that time is flying by too fast for him. Time is dragging very slowly for me. This is a photo of my son at a place they call Port Resolution, where Captain Cook first landed when he discovered the island in the 1700's.
“Come Unto the Waters of Baptism”. This is my son, Elder Jesse Colten Jones, offering a steadying hand to a young man who is about to be baptized in a tidal pool of the Pacific Ocean. Colten is serving in the Vanuatu Port Villa Mission and he has been out just over 6 months. I love this photo because I think this encapsulates the whole reason why we are willingly to send our sons and daughters across the globe to serve. Not only is my son offering a physical hand of support to steady the young man against the pounding waves and slippery rocks in this makeshift baptism font. He, along with all missionaries, is offering a gift of spiritual support and salvation from the pounding waves and slippery rocks of the Adversary. I still miss my son terribly, sometimes almost more than I think I can bear. However, when he sends me photos like this, it makes me realize that there is no place that I would rather have him be, than those tiny islands of Vanuatu, extending the invitation to the people to, “Come unto the waters of baptism”

***THE GOSPEL IS TRUE***

Monday, April 7, 2014

GOOFY!!!

I LOVE pictures... I REALLY love pictures of my kids.  One of the last things I said to my son as we sent him off to the Mexico CCM was... "Take LOTS of pictures"... I cried when he broke his camera before he even hit the mission field.  GRRRRRRR!!!  Good news...his Grandparents sent him another one...even better news...his iPad has a camera! SO, you'd think I would be getting some fabulous mission pics...right??? WRONG!!!



BUT GUESS WHAT??? I'm not alone!

Check out these pics...

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Missionaries Coming Home Mix

What a wonderful, uplifting weekend  :) Grab a few tissues....or a not-all-the-way-used-up-one left over from General Conference, and enjoy one of my favorite YouTube videos  :)

I can't wait to get a pic like this...
 
...or this...



  ...or this...
                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                        ...or this...

...or this!!!



***THE GOSPEL IS TRUE***
Love, Heidi  =0)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Do you Rock the Boat or Paddle?

WOW!  I love General Conference! I love hearing the things that Heavenly Father wants me to know. I especially love when they give the stats...oh how our church is growing! It's incredible! 

This morning I was supporting my daughter at an equestrian meet, so I was listening to conference in my car on the way down there.  I LOVE Elder Holland...he always speaks right to my heart, and today was no different! However, my brain heard something that was a little different (maybe because I was driving? maybe because I needed to learn something?) than exactly what Elder Holland was teaching...

 He said " It is a characteristic of our age that if people want any Gods at all, they want them to be Gods who do not demand much, comfortable Gods, smooth Gods who not only don't rock the boat, but don't even row it"

But, my brain heard "Are you just not rocking the boat, or are you rowing?"



My Dad is a kayaker.  He has built several kayaks and enjoys going out to "paddle" on a regular basis. He has even made a double kayak so that he can take my Mom with him. So when I heard this talk, my thoughts turned to the things that I know about kayaking....which is not much!   But, I do know that if you "rock the boat" you're gonna get wet...and, if you don't "row" you won't get very far! 

Are we sometimes this way in life? Is it easier to just NOT rock the boat? Or, are we actively engaged in the things that will keep us moving forward? Are we paddling like there's no tomorrow? I don't know about you, but I feel like I'm navigating rapids some days!

Missionaries around the world are "paddling" like crazy... as a MM I resolve to get my boat in gear. No more avoiding uncomfortable conversation about the Gospel, no more procrastinating, no more "not rocking the boat" If my son can do it...I can too!!!!

What's on Your Menu????

“When my son was about five or six he decided he wasn't going to go on a mission because his dad ate snails on his mission. He didn't believe me that he wouldn't have to. He decided to write a letter to President Hinckley and ask him. I was so touched when a couple of weeks later, he received a letter from President Hinckley's personal secretary, guaranteeing him that he wouldn't have to eat snails if he didn't want to. My son is on his mission now. And he hasn't had to eat snails.” ~Vicki Lloyd
 
 
Missionaries get fed some weird foods.  Deena Gose recently asked our MMs “what's the most interesting thing your Elder or DD have eaten while on their mission?”  Here are some of the responses…

* A whole fish with the head still on.

* Pig feet soup... He LOVED it!!
 
* Gazpacho. He said it's repulsive, but it's starting to grow on him. Lol.


* My son is in the California Arcadia mission and here is a photo of the cooked grasshoppers he and his companion  ate. He mentioned that "they really weren't that bad." 

* My son ate a Filipino delicacy called balut while he was visa waiting in the California Oakland-San Francisco mission.  Balut is a duck egg where the duck embryo has formed...gross.
 
* Chicken feet. Yep, what is there to eat on a chicken foot? But she ate it.
 
* Cow heart,stomach and tongue!! Our daughter is a trouper and said they were all pretty good. Weird textures. She loves Guatemala!!!     
 
* Bear and guinea pig!
 
* Menudo... know what that is?
 
* Hog Head Cheese!!!! Nasty!!
 
* Opossum (road kill) by a little old lady  in Alabama.
 
* Russia...sour milk soup, fat jellies with little meat and slices on bread, anything pickled.
 
* Goat stomach soup which includes everything the goat ate that day including grass, and even had a piece of wire in it.  Achebe is another dish which is sheep intestines stuffed w fat.

*  Cow and pig stomach/intestines.
 
* My son ate Python, Alligator, Pigs feet, Goat, Blood Dishes.
 
* My son has had cat and rat. He said the cat was dang good haha! He also eats fish...that is the whole fish bones and all.
 
 * He has eaten monkey, goat testicles, fish eyes (says they're crunchy).
 
* Ceviche, a raw fish salad is also a popular Peruvian dish.
 
* Iguana.. Guatemala City South. They also eat spaghetti in tortillas.
 
* Frog in the Philippines
 
* Jellyfish, guinea pig, and alpaca. He says guinea pig is good.
 
* My son is in the South Pacific in Vanuatu. Almost everything they thre is horrible he says, but his new favorite is dog.
 
* DOG! dog!!! Not ok! Ha...she said it was good. Lol!
 
* He has eaten chicken hearts, oxen intestines, and ox tongue. And armadillo on Christmas Eve.

 
What's on your menu...


Thursday, April 3, 2014

You are My Sunshine by Wendy Minks

Oh, I never know where to start a story! If I go back to the beginning, we could be here all day!  So, I'm going to jump right in to the middle of things and hope it works out.

The bright ray of sunshine that has lived in my home for the last 20 years is in South America.  She has been shining her light on the other side of the world since October of 2013.  She is having the time of her life with all sorts of grand adventures, but around here, things have dimmed just a bit.

Without the constant warmth and light emanating from our bright ray of sunshine, (let's call her Hermana Q), I have had to work harder to stay in the light.   I am so grateful that I recognized the impending darkness and looming depression before it gripped me with full force.  I feel like I have narrowly escaped the danger of falling into a deep, dark cave.

When Hermana Q left her grandparents were visiting and they stayed for a couple more weeks, and then I had a business trip.  The distraction of house guests and my trip kept my fire burning through the first few weeks.  I was just too busy to even really register the change. 

While flying home from my trip I thought about what I was coming home to .... an empty nest.  Oh, not really empty, my husband was there and our 3 dogs, but no kids.  For the last 2 decades they had been my main purpose, and now I had to figure out how to do this mothering thing from a distance.  A l o o o o o o o ng distance!  (Our son, who is the oldest, is married and they were living in China at the time.)  I wasn't sure how I was going to face this new arrangement.  Hermana Q is sometimes affectionately referred to as "the Dog Boss", and they were lost, and misbehaving in her absence.  She is my beach and hiking buddy and is always up for an adventure, with her, even Costco is fun.  I knew I needed a plan or it wouldn't be a pretty 18 months.

Here is my plan:
Walk my dogs every day for at least 2 miles, while listening to the Book of Mormon and looking for beautiful images to photograph and post online.

This simple plan has accomplished the following:

1. My dogs are happy and better behaved.
2. I get out of bed and get dressed every day. 
3. Exposes me to 30-45 minutes of sunlight every day.
4. Invites the Spirit into my heart through the Book of Mormon.
5. Focused my mind on the beauty that is all around me instead of what is missing.
6. Regularly pumps endorphins into my brain, keeping my brain chemistry in a positive state.
7. Keeps my body healthy and active.

I have stuck faithfully to this plan since the first of November.  Dogs are the best workout buddies.  They hold you accountable like no human friend ever could.  They do NOT let me stay in bed and wallow.  We walk every day, rain or shine. 



I am more than half way through the Book of Mormon again.  This time around I have learned much about how the Lord directs missionary work.  His work cannot be stopped.  The designs of evil can try, but God's purposes will be fulfilled.  That is comforting to me.  I feel the Spirit every day and that has opened my mind to inspiration and personal revelation.  There is no greater healing power than that of the Atonement, the ultimate expression of Christ's love for us.  His light, is the bright ray of sunshine that comforts my soul and calms my fears.