July 11 2016

I know it's a long one but bare with me and I think you might find something to take away from my experiences this last week!

On Monday night we celebrated the wonderful day of our nations independence. Famous rebels such as John Hancock collaborated together to write a "we're going to do what we want" letter to King George III. We as missionaries, celebrate this rebellious holiday by obediently returning to our apartment at 7:00pm, before major festivities commence. From our four-story apartment just outside of downtown we could see impressive firework shows in a 360 degree panorama that kept us occupied for about an hour. I would have taken a picture but it just does not capture the splendor of the moment, and sloppy attempts to do so would be attempting to describe the indescribable. Watching safely from our building we did see some firework accidents though, and bottle rockets being shot at sheds and not the sky. It was probably better that we stayed inside then, because I heard that 60 people were shot in Chicago.
There was a member from a nearby ward who wanted to go on visits with us since he is preparing to serve a mission in a few months. We meet him at our church building and he had a few contacts he wanted to go to. We said heck yeah and rode our bicycles to the address. Before we knocked on the first door he told us that the grandmother of the person who we would visit is nice enough but will tell us straight off the bat that she is not interested. We knocked the door, and the grandmother answered anf let us in. She ended up being the only one there and we started to talk to her a little bit.

It turns out that a good portion of her family are members of the church and have been talking to her a while. However, she knows little to nothing concerning our doctrine, and it amazes me the things people think about the Book of Mormon. Her assumption was that it was a biography of the life of Joseph Smith. We left her with it, and invited her to read some passages in it. Speaking a little bit more about the Book of Mormon is also ceases to amaze me how disinterested people are in the Book of Mormon. Our claim that there were Christians on the American continent 3,000 years ago who wrote a book that we can read, understand, and be edified by should in my mind peak more interest than a response that all religion is the same and nothing matters.

Speaking of the power of the Book of Mormon I would like to share a story of a man who's life has been changes by faith derived from this piece of holy writ. Two months ago Elders Phillips and Erekson were walking in the park and a man ran up to them and started to yell at them. He screamed a bunch of horrible things about Joseph Smith and said that he was a pervert, and then walked away. Three days later when they were walking down that street they see the man again. He walked up to the pair of wary Elder's and apologized for what he said. He accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon and they parted ways. A few days following that they found him siting in a park. He was exited to
share with the Elder's what he read in the Book of Mormon. He was reading in the first chapters and was confused how Laban was in possession of the brass plates, and then embarked in research to find
out how he received them. He found out how Laban (I am unaware of any historical background to that personally, though) was in possession of the plates at that time. He has been reading the book consistently ever since that point, as well. A little background on this man, to make this story a little cooler. He is a really intelligent man who was formally quite wealthy and successful. However, due to a drinking problem he has been unable to work, and has been roaming the streets. He has no telephone, and he does not want to meet at his impoverished apartment. All the contacts that the Elder's have had with the man have been random encounters in the parks and streets. A week later
during a District Finding Activity that we held in another park he came up to us, and told us that he gave his Book of Mormon away. A friend of his saw that he was reading the book, and asked him about it. The friend, being wary of it, asked how the book can actually help him. Not really knowing how to answer his question, he just decided to share how it has helped him, and gave his Book of Mormon to his friend. We gave him another and since then his life has really been changing. Even though he has not completely quit drinking yet, he has gotten sober enough to start working again. His anger towards Joseph Smith has been replaced with faith in him, as a prophet of God.

Other than that our investigators are doing well. We have a baptism in two weeks, and this week put another one of our investigators on date to be baptized the following week. Marco, an investigator who has been meeting with missionaries for the last two years is finally ready to take the step of baptism. After fighting with alcoholism for a long time, and fear of his employer to give him Sundays off halted it for a while, he is ready to take that small step for man, and big step for mankind. If anyone would like to do some praying for investigators that we are teaching pray for the Muñoz family.

Elder Jones

Happy 4th of July!! 2016

Leaving late from the apartment we hustled through the Chicago streets to make the twenty minute ride to the chapel. Arriving just on time we quickly locked our bikes, wiped off the sweat, put on our suit coats and tried to look as dignified as we could walking into the building. We entered into the chapel and saw forty missionaries sitting in wait with white, blood-less, confusion upon their faces. Elder Vandenhazel and I sat on the third row and sat in eager anticipation along side them. Ten minutes later we hear the door open and a bunch of people hurry in. A short, stout farmer walks in with a big smile. "Well, don't you all look so serious," he said, as he walked over to shake all of our hands. Welcome to Chi-Town President Bingham. That was our introduction to our new mission president. The week before we went to the famous Chicago botanical gardens with President Woodbury as a goodbye gift on P-Day. I have gotten quite accustomed to the tender natured, tall, older businessman and it was sad to see him go. It is amazing to see the variety of people all fighting for the same cause. President Bingham is from a tiny farming town near Manti, Utah. He was a seminary teacher for many years, and an institute teacher at Snow College. He is a farmer and his stature and speech display such a lifestyle. He has like ten children as well. His youngest two are twin girls of sixteen years. They, along with a son who returned from a mission in El Salvador a week earlier, are here with the president. He is a strict, fiery man and so we will see what more changes will occur in the near future.

We still have been meeting with the old man named Luis, the one who got mad at us for laughing. He likes to talk, and talk, and talk, and talk. We have been trying to figure out a way to actually teach him. We went in for a lesson with him on Saturday and he starts out by telling us that he is not going to talk, and let us teach him. I was very exited and we preceded. However, it was not the case because it was just the same as usual. We ended up teaching the Word of Wisdom, because he has shown his desire to quit smoking and drinking, even before we taught it. After the lesson we received a text from a member asking us to teach Gospel Principles class the next day, about the Word of Wisdom (God's Law of Health) as the topic. Well, Luis came to church the next day, and thought that we taught the topic just for him. Also huge blessing/side note to throw into this story about how the Lord watches out for us missionaries. I had accidentally left my bike unlocked for the entire hour long lesson and it was still there when we got out!! I have heard countless stories of missionary bikes being stolen and I thank the Lord I don't have one of those stories yet! I don't know how many of you remember me speaking of Elder Jensen, one of the biggest reasons I made it through my first area happy as a Jones, but now he is my zone leader after 6 months being separated! I am so stoked to have my great friend close again. Another big change in my mission district is Hermana Rowbury, from somewhere in Idaho, just went home last week and this is only significant because she has been in my district for over 7 months now so it's a bit weird!

Well I hope you all have a very explosive, fantastic, and safe FOURTH OF JULY!
Love you all so much and thanks for your support!

Also shoutout to my buddy Nate Taylor who returns home from his missionary service tomorrow! Which I could be there but the works still goes on and I am excited to be a part of it here.

Elder Jones

June 27 2016

We have been teaching an old man lately, named Luis. I will describe a one-of-a-kind experience but I first need to describe the investigator. He does not like the Catholics at all, and has not been attending church for a long time. He reads the Bible a lot, and knows it pretty well. He went through heart surgery recently as well. When he talks he looks, and sounds like he is yelling at you. He gets pretty worked up when he talks. During the lesson for some reason Luis was making an impersonation of someone laughing and he laughed for a second exactly like SpongeBob. Being myself, who is a pretty giggly guy in the first place, I starting cracking up and we giggled for a good minute straight while trying to hide it by looking around.  After that he preceded to yell at us for fifteen minutes in Puerto Rican Spanish about how we should not laugh becuase he is a serious guy. I cannot fully describe the experience and Elder Vandenhazel and I are the only ones who can really understand the grandeur of the whole event. He was so angry that at one point I could not understand what he was saying, like at all. It was a weird situation. He also came to church on Sunday. He does not like Elder Vandenhazel or I at all, but likes the message that we teach and wants to learn more.

This week I went on exchanges with Elder Erekson in my area. He is a really good missionary and we had a lot of fun. We came from the MTC together and our great friends. This exchange was no less than extraordinary because we had the fantastic opportunity to go to the temple with two recent converts. My one that we baptized a few weeks ago, Giovanni, and the hermanas convert Cristian. We are super close with him too so that's great. I was a little worried that we wouldn't be able to do the ordinance with them because that's an unusual one for missionaries, but to my surprise and great pleasure I was able to do the baptisms in English and Spanish for a number of people. Oh my
goodness it was such an experience!

Those are pretty much the highlights of the life of Elder Jones this week. Thanks so much for all the support and love. I know this church is true. Keep the faith and the faith will keep you! :)

Elder Jones
   My adobale face you all miss so much.
Didn't get to go to a game but seeing the stadium was pretty cool.

 My adorable face you all miss so much.

This is our calling card.

June 20 2016

I have been sick like all week. I think I'm coming out of it though. I told a bunch of people yesterday at church and all the little Mexican ladies start up about their age old family remedies and stuff so I was gifted about a pint of honey and some lemon juice plus cough drops for days! Haha way fun:)  Mom ,You think that's hot? I remember playing soccer in that weather in Utah. Here it is not even 90 and I have been about to drops all day! I think I lost about 10 pounds in sweat. No joke. Sorry I don't think I will get to send out my weekly letter this week but... Maybe.  If I have time during our noche de hogan (Family home evening) I will.

June 13 2016

Every Monday night we have a Family Home Evening with the bishops family, that we can bring investigators or less-active members too. We brought two less-active members and they brought a friend of theirs. It was a great night. Elder Vandenhazel and I also brought the dessert. I wanted to get a little bit creative instead of something normal like cookies or brownies,  so we made mashed up some grand crackers to line a dish, and filled it with pudding. It was super weird. Especially since the pudding was neon green. Anyway, I say that it was a success, and we really got our creative juices flowing. Just for the record everyone loved it so if any of you receive my companions weekly
do not believe what it says about this night... 😉

President Woodbury conducted his last Zone Meeting this week. It will be weird to see him go, but he is happy to. He showed us pictures of President Bingham and his family and told us a lot about them. He is a Seminary teacher from the Manti area. He is a ranch guy who I hear "feeds sheep"...hehe, missionary joke...anyway...

An Elder from Chicago 3rd who served a mission in Mexico City just came back on Wednesday and so we had a party for him. There are a few missionaries who came back from South America recently and it has made me very grateful to serve in a country that has water without parasites, and food that is edible. He shared a story about teaching a man who came to church every Sunday with his family, and had been doing so for thirty years. He had talked to a lot of missionaries but was never baptized. He baptized the man when he was in Mexico. Small world because the recent convert I talked about who came here from Mexico City, named Adrian was baptized by that man. The returned
missionary has been coming out with us finding a lot and Elder Vandenhazel and I have learned a lot about getting in the doors to teach people. He is a really dynamic guy, who is also a really good

Alright so time for the highlight of my week!! :) I was thinking about what I could say for this a few days ago and was a little worried because this week was... Boring. My companion helped me out though last night when we arrived home. We enter our house to find a giant man eating moth on our blinds! (Well he has said it was man eating. Honestly it was about the size of maybe two fingers. Still
considerable size...) So I tell my companion to kill it as I go to put my bike away. I come back to find him standing on a chair in front of our sink with a napkin in hand about to put it over the bug. As he gets close however, the bug made it evident that he wasn't going down without a fight. As Elder Vandenhazel goes to put the napkin over it he flies up and starts fluttering like mad and my comp gives a little scream as he jumps off of the chair. To both of our dismay (and I'm not gonna lie a little to my personal enjoyment) he flung the chair backwards into our oven which proceeded to shatter into a million pieces all over the apartment. The moth was then lost for another twenty minutes till we tracked it down and went HAM till my companion threw it out of the apartment and slammed the door. I will send pics:)

I love you all and thanks for the support:)

Elder Jones
OOPS that is broke now!

June 6 2016

One of our members who lives on a third story apartment complex was getting rid of their television and needed some help hauling it down the stairs and into the alley for disposal. We get there and discover that it is an enormous, old-style television with thicker glass than that of a nuclear bunker. We hauled that baby down the stairs and into the alley. We took it around the back staircase and I momentarily contemplated the consequences of just throwing it off the ledge instead of the long and awkward decent to the bottom, but we fortunately did not throw it off a three story building. With that in mind we have been providing weekly service for a charity organization called La Casa Norte. At one of their locations we sort, and...sort clothing for a few hours. Those we interact with there can only be described as a perfect product of Chicago's modern, younger, and more liberal culture. It is way different from first generation Hispanics living in the US. Hispanics that require our time and focus. Sorting though much clothing for a few hours every week has taught me some other things as well. First, I do not know a lot about women's clothing, but should be proficient enough when I
return. Second, based upon the clothing donated and given out at this location, the homeless may be looking like church going folk, or bald CEOs more than homeless. There is an unbelievable amount of both women and men's suits, brand-new $60 button up dress-shirts, and purple
three-piece suits that come through this place. Way weird.

We met with several new investigators this week. I think that some of the most prepared people in Chicago are from reformed Christian churches. The best way to describe one family who we began teaching this week would be people who are searching in every way they know how for truth
and direction. We ran into the father a few weeks ago and during our lesson he said that they have been praying for religious direction before we came by. There is such a difference when we teach and talk to those who actually are searching for truth. Those who are actually doing as much as they know how to follow God without hypocrisy, and with full intent.

I went on exchanges with a missionary in our District named, Elder Phillips on Friday. This week has been especially hard so it was a nice break to just go out on an exchange. We ended up using the day to fix my iPad in downtown Chicago (obviously Elder Phillips wasn't complaining) and were there for a good couple of hours. By the way the Apple Store in Chicago is a must see for all you iPhone lovers. We also went to this little old ladies apartment to help her put in an air conditioning unit for her house. We were supposed to meet this member there with a hand drill but the guy never even showed up! We ended up walking away from a hot house and an unhappy lady:( not good. All in all I say it was a great week though!
Building with pieces of stone from all over the world in it.  This is from SLC temple