Sunday, December 29, 2013

Goodbye 2013!
I have no photos this week.  Well, I did take one of Elder Jones taking a nap with his mouth open, but I was warned there would be retribution if I published it...

Christmas really was quite different this year.  We were not at our own home, so it did not seem lonely or odd, just different.  We spent all of Christmas Eve day in a Christmas devotional for the Philly and Valley Forge zones and then we took a load of late Christmas presents to New Jersey.  We traveled around to Cherry Hill, Woodstown, and ended up in Camden after dark in a Lexus with presents in the back.  Not too smart...but we got them all delivered.  We came back into Philly across the Ben Franklin Bridge and it began to snow lightly on us.  With the lights of downtown so colorful and the snow gently falling it was breath-taking.  I wanted that for my photo, but alas, I could not get a good shot as we were going to fast and could not pull over.  Christmas day we opened a few gifts and headed for dinner with 2 other couples.  It was very enjoyable.

This afternoon we spent 3 hours with the sister missionaries in our ward visiting partial member families.  Of the 6 we went to visit, only 1 family was home.  So we got a reality check on doing missionary work out of the office today.

We are realizing on this mission just how hard Heavenly Father and all of his angels have to work to protect these young missionaries as they proselyte.  This week another pair of our missionaries were held up at gunpoint (we had one about 3 weeks ago too).  All the robbers got was a phone, but the elders were a bit frightened.  Then today Corry got a phone call during church.  2 Sister missionaries had a car accident and their car was totaled.  They were not hurt except for the deployment of the air bags and the bruises from the shoulder harnesses.  We do pray daily for their health and safety!

We enjoyed eating on Christmas with our mission president and his wife and we learned from him that the calling of mission president is probably the hardest calling he has ever had.  He told us of some mission presidents who even have to have help to deal with the stress of the calling.  As we learn of the various situations they have to deal with daily, we can understand the difficulty of their job.  So we pray for them as well.  Actually we do pray for quite a few people--family, friends who are going through a hard time, missionaries, president and his wife, us...

2013 has been an eventful year.  Retirement in its fullness, renting our home and coming on this mission.  We are very happy for all 3 of these and we absolutely love serving in the Pennsylvania Philadelphia Mission.  We so appreciate the support of our family and friends and we do love keeping up with you through Facebook and e-mail.  Have a wonderful 2014!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013 from the Pennsylvania Jones'!

It is a very different Christmas this year.  Usually by now I have baked hundreds of cookies, made 10 pounds of candy, shopped, decorated and am so excited that I cannot sleep at night.  This year we are experiencing our first Christmas away from family--that part of Christmas we will miss.  But we are happy and engaged in good things.  Last Sunday night we attended a Philadelphia/Valley Forge Stake Messiah Sing-Along.  It was absolutely wonderful.  The orchestra and choir were very top quality.  All the area was invited to participate so we had musicians from other faiths as well as attendees.  It was fun to actually get to SING some of those wonderful songs.  Monday night we attended a Christmas party for all the Senior Missionaries in our Mission and that was thoroughly enjoyable too.  Just minutes before we came the Mission President and his wife were informed that their son-in-law fell off a wall and landed on his back.  They were very concerned about him and his family and it was hard for them as they were so far away that they couldn't do anything but pray.  The next day our entire mission held a fast for the young man.  He broke 4 vertebrae in his neck as well as his sternum.  They reconstructed some vertebrae from his hip bone and used screws and rods and braces for the rest.  It is a miracle, but thankfully he has no loss of feeling.

We have 275 missionaries x about 4 presents each, so we have been collecting lots of presents in the office.  Thursday we traveled to Nazareth, PA, then Cherry Hill, NJ, then Dover, DE for a Christmas movie, devotional, talent show and to pass out all of these presents.  We had a very fun time doing that.  Such talented missionaries and it was special to be part of bringing Christmas to them.  We have Tuesday left with 4 zones from Philly and Valley Forge.  Last night we had our ward party and today we had the Christmas Program followed by a trip to some investigators to take goodies and leave a message.  The Sisters accompanied us.  Not being busy doing my normal temporal things has given both Corry and I time to reflect on the Savior and to realize that that really IS the meaning of Christmas.  We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Wonderful 2014!
These are the presents we took to Dover and Wilmington Zones.  We have 11 total zones, so you get a hint of what we have been dealing with.  Each day we drive to the local post office to pick up the boxes (I think 60 was the most we got in one day), then we label them, sort them and then sort them again into zones and then into the van, then into the rec hall and then divvy them out.  The missionaries were super excited, but we have some who ride a bus and will have a really hard time getting home a large box!  For any Missionary Moms I suggest the 12" prepaid USPS boxes and gift cards...
The east coast is quite interesting.  We have had freezing temps for 2 weeks and the 6" total of snow we received did not melt.  It would freeze and we had lots of ice.  But yesterday and today have been 60-64 with rain.  In 24 hours all signs of winter left...

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Transfers and Christmas Prep
Monday was transfers and Sister Munson (blue sweater) got transferred out of our ward.  We knew she would be leaving, but we shall miss her.  She wanted a photo of the office staff..

 I did not realize it, but when you ask a missionary how long he/she has been out, they respond by saying "x transfers".  The ones being transferred are on the right and they are matched with their new companions on the left.  They watch the power point presentation to see who their new companion is and then they run together, hug and Sister Anderson takes their picture.  It is very fun to witness.
 Thank you John Jones family and Jana Stevens family for the precious Christmas tree with decorations made in Family Home Evening by the grand kids.  That makes it even more special to me.  It makes our little apartment look like Christmas.  I have not done many of the things I usually do to get ready for Christmas, but I did make some cookies and caramel and Martha Stewart this week for gifts (and for us, of course).
Early in November each parent was notified to have their child's Christmas presents sent to the Mission office by Dec. 6.  This is the result.  We have 270 missionaries and most of them have 2-4 presents each.  One present cost $45 to send!  So we have LOTS of presents.  Since we had transfers last week we simply arranged them by alphabet and tomorrow we will separate them into zones.  Then Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday we will deliver them to each area and have a Christmas Devotional with them.  I think it will be lots of fun.  Elder Jones got a phone call last night from Sisters who had a slow leak in a tire.  They went in to a local shop to have it checked out and repaired if needed.  When they entered the waiting room they asked the others waiting if they could turn off the TV.  They reluctantly let the Sisters turn it off.  Then the Sisters began singing Christmas Carols.  After a few the others joined in and a lovely spirit of Christmas filled the shop.  When the shop owner was finished with their car he thanked them and did not charge them anything.  We were glad they shared their Christmas Miracle with us!  Tonight we are headed to a Messiah Sing Along at our ward.  They are praying for a miracle as the last 2 rehearsals were called off due to the snow.  Even the Ward Christmas Party was delayed a week.  We certainly miss our family at this Christmas Season, but are happy to be spending it with such devoted servants of Christ.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

We have felt our age this week.  Elder Jones continues to work on getting his back back to normal and Sister Jones came down with a cold.  We are feeling better today and look forward to an interesting week.  We learned that the transfers on Tuesday will affect our missionaries that serve with us in the Broomall Ward.  One of the Elders and one of the Sisters that we have become attached to will be transferred.  They were both a bit sad this weekend, but we got to have lunch with the Elders yesterday and dinner with the
 Sisters last night, so we tried to "pump them up" for the new areas they will be assigned on Tuesday.  Of the 270 missionaries in this mission, just over 60 sets of missionaries will be affected and change areas.  For Elder Jones this means assigning the service Elders on Monday to drive downtown and pick up the luggage of all those affected because they cannot take it on public transit, then on Tuesday to travel to Philly again and deliver the new Elder's/Sister's luggage.  It also means that he will be trading out 3 vehicles and assigning 3 cars to areas that have thus far not had a car.  For me it means updating the computer and then the phones so President has all of the information he needs in his phone.  We will be able to attend the dinner and testimony meeting for the outgoing 5 missionaries Monday, see the transfers on Tuesday, (that part is wild!), greet the 6 new missionaries Tuesday evening and have dinner with them (Elder Jones will be interviewing each one regarding driving privileges), then see the 6 new missionaries assigned to their trainers on Wed. and do some training at that time.  (Elder Jones does his presentation on Stress).
We attended Church today.  They dismissed Priesthood a bit early and began clearing the walkways so people could safely get to their cars.  It was just beginning to snow half way through Sacrament Meeting and by the time we finished the meeting block there was 3" of snow!  This photo is our church.
We took an investigator, Patrick, 11 years old to church today.  He is a very nice boy and wanted to attend.  We traveled slowly to his home and this shows about 4" in his front yard.
A colonial home we passed taking Patrick home.  I thought it looked like a Christmas Card!
The roads were clogged with cars that could not get traction, cars stalled on the side of the road, cars that slid into each other, and even a car being pushed by some Army young men and women.  If you look closely the cars are visible far ahead.  The walkers on the side of the road beat us up the hill.
 When we arrived at our apartment, Elder Jones dropped me off close to the sidewalk and then was unable to get up enough speed to make it up the hill to park the car.
Our apartment is located on the top floor, furthest from where the photo is taken.  We had plans to visit less actives with the Sister missionaries this afternoon but decided that we should all just stay at home and stay safe and warm.  

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013
 Actually, we did feel just a bit guilty to be on a mission and yet enjoy Thanksgiving with our daughter!  But we traveled the 2 1/2 hours early Thursday to be with Jen, Brant and family in Vienna, VA.  Jen prepared a wonderful dinner and we enjoyed plenty of food and games.  Grandpa caught up on TV sports.
 I participated in several "selfies" this weekend, so I decided to take one to prove I was at this dinner too.
Saturday the Bishop's had a large party in the early afternoon to play laser tag.  Each child invited some friends and they played for about 2 hours.  They had a really good time.  Notice Brant in his cammo on the right side of the above photo.  The weather was quite cold, but they seemed to be fine.
The girls outnumbered the boys.  They played 4 games and ended in a tie.  Jen welcomed them in from the cold with hot soup, cocoa, cookies, bread and a warm home.  Some stayed hours...
Now to sum up the weekend:  As we all voiced what we were thankful for, I thought about it all weekend and decided that I truly do have so many things to be grateful for.  Among my top picks, however:
My testimony of Christ and my membership in his church.
My family!  My health!   That I can still learn and think.
Serving a mission at this time with Corry.
Living in these United States.
My children and their support of us while on this mission.
A warm bed and car.
And this weekend, to see Jen's much improved health.