Letter, 24 June 2013

Ma famille,

I miss y’all! I love getting your letters in the mail! They make my day, and they make everyone jealous because I get so many letters! I love hearing about Girls Camp and all your shenanigans. I’m so sad I missed it (other than the super sweaty parts). But I’m glad to hear you all were eating better food in the middle of the woods than I am in the fine institution that is the MTC. I even finally got a letter from dad! Nice to know that he hasn’t forgotten about his first-born.

Did you guys watch the broadcast on Sunday? I WAS THERE! With like, ALL the Apostles. And like 6,000 missionaries (more than half of which were sisters.) It was crazy cool! Pretty awesome about missionaries & technology, huh? Well . . . so the Church is putting up a new website section about it and putting together pamphlets to give to missionaries to guide them on using such technology. Anyways, today I was in class and a random man came in holding a picture of my face . . . creepy. And he told me they wanted to use me in some pictures they’re taking to be in the pamphlet! I’m gonna be Mormon famous! haha. So, I spent like two hours yesterday posing with other missionaries using iPhones and iPads. So . . . we’ll see where my face ends up!

So, our visas still haven’t come, which means we have to move, as new missionaries will be taking over our room on Wednesday morning. But, this is probably good as two rooms on our floor have been evacuated and fumigated because of bedbugs. The sisters in those rooms had to haul out ALL of their stuff in hazardous waste bags to be sprayed and washed. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

We’ve spent the last couple days in class covering the fundamental “teach people, not lessons.” It’s really cool how much time we spend talking about how to connect to and love our investigators. We spend more time on that than we have on the teaching material. I really like this part of learning. I think I’m probably a better people person than lesson teacher.

Anyways, the comps and I went to the scheduling office this morning (after much grief because the whole building is on lockdown because all the new mission presidents and Apostles are inside). They told us we don’t have to move and we’ll be getting a new schedule tonight. We’ll be put in a French class starting tomorrow. Yeesh. I hope our visas come soon . . .

I love you guys and I miss you!
I’ll e-mail you as soon as I have travel plans!

Love,

Jordan B. Jones
AKA Soeur Jones

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E-mail, 21 June 2013

Hey family!
 
Sorry you haven’t heard from me! I didn’t get a P-day last Friday, because I was in San Francisco getting my Visa. I did, however, send you two letters last week which you apparently haven’t recieved yet. I heard mom called and freaked out the MTC people because she hadn’t heard from me. But I’m okay momma. I’m alive. I’m happy.
 
My first two letters outlined the details of last Wednesday through Saturday, so hopefully you’ll get those soon and you can read all about my first day and going to San Francisco.
 
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So I started out with two companions. There is Sister Kimball. She’s from Salt Lake City and she’s 21 and she’s going to Paris. There is also Sister Johnson from Riverside, California. She’s 20 and going to Lyon also. It’s really nice that I have the two of them in my district because we can all speak French together. This week, another French speaking Sister moved into our district, who was accidentally put into a beginning district at first. Her name is Sister Gordon. So, now the four of us stick together and practice our French when we can. My district is entirely either people going to foreign countries who already speak their language, or people coming from foreign countries to the US. So, we have a ton of international missionaries in our zone, which is super fun! We have missionaries from Bolivia, Cameroon, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Finland, Albania, Mexico, and the Phillipines. I got called to be the district leader on my second day here. (There are more details on all of this in my first two letters, so I’ll move on.)
 
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The MTC is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I’ve been a member of the church my whole life, and I felt (at first) like I knew a lot about the Gospel. However, coming here, I’ve learned that there’s so much more that goes into actually being able to teach people about the church. We are completely busy every second of every day. We have six hours of class a day, working with progessing investigators (teachers pretending to be investigators), TRC investigators (paid actors), and a TON of personal and companion study.
 
Since the comps and I are french speaking, they sent us a French speaking tutor. He just got back from the Lyon mission (he says it’s the best mission in the world and that the Roneys are totally cool) and so he works with us one hour every day. He pretends to be an investigator and we teach him the lessons IN FRENCH. Yikes. Our investigator’s name is Christoph. He’s from Switzerland. He has a wife and two kids. He’s Catholic, but he doesn’t practice. Our first two lessons with him were SO HARD
 
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Our first lessons with him were so hard! We had no idea what were doing. Much less what we were doing in French! But, as the days went on and we learned more about teaching and connecting with our investigator, the lessons got a little better. Two lessons ago, we taught him about the Atonement and he really connected with it. We invited him to pray to ask Heavenly Father if he could feel his love and know that the Atonement was for him. He didn’t do it. Yeesh. It’s so frustrating when investigators don’t follow through, because you just want them so badly to understand and to feel the Spirit. But then, in our lesson on Wednesday, we asked him to offer a prayer for us asking God if Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and if the Book of Mormon was truly the word of God. As he offered the prayer, the Spirit filled our little classroom completely. It was amazing. It was seriously the best feeling ever to know that he was finally getting it. It makes me so excited to get to teach more in France. 

I’ve been getting really frustrated with my French. It’s so hard to know what you want to say to an investigator and not be able to say it. So after one of our lessons, I was feeling really discouraged, and one of our teachers, Brother Jensen taught us a lesson on grace. How we just have to do the best that we can and the Lord makes up the rest. So I’m just trying to do my best. I bought a big thing of flashcards from the Bookstore and started making some vocab cards to study. I’ve been reading the Book of Mormon in French aloud, hoping that will improve my grammar and ability to speak. So…. hopefully, it will come quickly. I’m impatient.
 
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Once we got to Sunday, everything seemed to get easier. We had church, I had branch council, we had relief society, where Sister Marriott from the General Young Women’s Presidency spoke. It was great. We had an amazing devotional from General Manager of MIssionaries for the church, and a movie night where we watched The Testaments. It was so funny to watch that movie in a room full of missionaries. Every time Jacob would awkwardly flirt with the girl in the movie, all the missionaries found it hilarious because most of them haven’t seen romantic interaction in over three weeks.
 
There’s a virus going around the MTC. Yikes. The stomach flu. Three girls in my room have been sick this last week. Our room got turned into a hospital room, so the healthy sisters had to move into the room next door. I’m staying far away and washing my hands A LOT.
 
I fly out MONDAY!!!! I fly to France on MONDAY. I’m obviously freaking out. I can’t wait. We have a LOOOOOOONG flight though. We fly from here to Chicago to Heathrow to Lyon. Yeesh. It’s like 23 hours in total of traveling. And we get into France at 11:00am, which means we’ll be awake for like 48 hours straight. Because apparently, missionaries aren’t allowed to have jet lag. So, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to e-mail next week since I’ll be traveling on my P-day. Erg.
 
On Wednesday night, since I’m a district leader, I got to help welcome all the new missionaries to our zone. It was so fun! We took them on a tour of the MTC, had a general information meeting with them, and took them back to their dorms. It’s great cause I felt all knowledgeable even though I just got here a week ago. But it’s so fun to work with the new missionaries. 
 
FUNNY STORY:
We were in class the day before the virus broke out. We were sharing experiences related to some Gospel principle I can’t remember at the moment. One of the sisters in my district was sharing a story and she started laughing. All of a sudden, in the middle of her laugh, she barfs everywhere. BARFS EVERYWHERE. It was so hilarious and disgusting at the same time. Oh dear.
 
Having been at the MTC for a week, I totally understand why missionaries come home from their missions so weird. This place makes you crazy. It’s kinda fun though. The girls in my room have become such good friends, we have so much fun (when we have time for fun) together. 
 
Love,
Soeur Jones
 
 

Letter, 14 June 2013

Mom,

I just got all my letters! I picked up the first mail today for our district. I got 12 letters! A lot of girls didn’t get any letters and that was kinda sad. I sent a letter this afternoon, but here’s another to answer your questions.

(I asked if they just handed you your name tag or if they made a show of it.) It was a presentation of course! A MTC lady pinned it on for me. Well, actually, it’s a magnet. She magneted it on.

(I also asked which MTC campus she was on.) I am living in the main MTC. It’s nice because my three buildings are so close. Through the whole day, I rotate in between the cafeteria building, my residence building, and the classroom. I’m ready to go to France so that I can have room to unpack. And not to have to sit through ten hours of class a day. Just kidding. Class isn’t boring — it is tres bien.

I went to San Fran today! My companions and I woke up at 2 AM. Barf. A worker from the travel office drove us in a ratchet MTC van. At the airport we met two sisters from the Salt Lake area who are coming into the MTC fast track next transfer. We got to San Fran at 7:30 (time change). A van service picked us up and drove us to the French Consulate. It was FREAKY. It was on the sixth floor of this giant building. You had to have a special card to swipe to even be able to press the “6” elevator button. That’s real stuff. We got up there and went through security. Then, this stern French man took our forms and passports, took our pictures, and fingerprinted us. He was kind of scary. And French. It took like . . . 10 minutes. So . . . we woke up at 2:00 AM and the Church paid to fly us all out there for 10 minutes. But . . . we had two extra hours, so the Church had told the driver to take us to Pier 39. We ate lunch and walked around and took some pictures. And we were like, “Being a missionary is awesome!” cause sometimes you get to play hooky from the MTC and party in Cali. Anyways, we flew back to Salt Lake and as we walked around, we would hear people say, “Hey, look! There’s the sister missionaries!” It took me a minute to realize they were talking about me.

I got my travel itinerary yesterday! I fly out Monday, June 24th. There are SEVENTEEN missionaries going to Lyon that day. We fly out of SLC at 11:15 AM to Chicago. Chicago to Heathrow. Heathrow to Lyon. Cry. And we’ll arrive at 11:15 AM in France. The Paris missionaries flying out the same day have a DIRECT FLIGHT! WHAT IS UP WITH THAT? Yeesh. Keep your phone nearby on Monday though! I found out that we have to use a calling card, so thanks for sending me one!

I’ll write again soon!

Love,
Soeur Jones 🙂

Passe un bon journee!

**Edited to add: She didn’t get her visa! So she’s not leaving on Monday. They are hoping for Tuesday or Wednesday. She’s not sure.

First letter

Letter dated 14 June 2013 (transcribed)

Ma Famille,

Bonjour from the MTC! Actually . . . I’m on a plane right now. But that’s just a technicality. I’m on a plane on the way to San Francisco to visit the French Consulate to get my visa. But we’ll talk about that later.

The MTC has been such a whirlwind! Aunt Rebecca and Uncle Chuck parked at the curb and within minutes, I was in the MTC, name tag on — a missionary. YIKES! Really the best part of the whole first day was getting my name tag. It made me feel so official and so happy! Still, each morning when I wake up and get dressed, I’m excited to put my name tag on. And I look at it all the time. It’s so fun. (Is that weird?) Anyways, after getting my tag and room assignment, I was brought to my classroom and met my teachers and my district. My district is nine sisters (only sisters — no stinky elders). But they’re all great! I have two companions, one is Sister Kimball. She’s from Murray, UT. She’s 21, and she’s going to Paris. She already speaks French too! So, it’s fun to practice together. She’s super fun. I like her a lot! My other companion is Sister Johnson. She’s 19, and is also going to Lyon and speaks French. She’s great too. After meeting my district and two companions, we jumped right into learning. We had two firesides. One was orientation for new missionaries with the MTC presidency. Another was where we had a big group and we practiced teaching investigators. It was humbling because we all quickly realized we have no idea what we’re doing.

We had dinner after the fireside. Back to Cannon Center food . . . bleh. I was complaining (in my mind – as missionaries have to do) about it until this sister in my district came and sat by me. Her name is Sister Frost. She is from American Samoa and she’s going to St. George, Utah. It took her four days to get to the MTC! She sat down next to me and started eating and kept saying, “Oh my gosh! This food is so good! It is so nice, and this cake is fancy!” which made me grateful for what I have. She says the food she eats at home is much different and not as good (worse than Cannon? I didn’t think that was possible). But she’s great. She has a fantastic attitude and is really happy to be here. After dinner, we met our zone. We have so many missionaries from such diverse places (more foreign than American in my zone). We have sisters from Cameroon, Finland, Mexico, and Albania. We have Elders from Fiji, Tonga, the Philippines, and Cambodia. It’s really cool to talk with them.

We aren’t allowed to go back to our residences until 9:30 pm, so at night, we have personal study and daily planning sessions. After we get back, we prepare for bed, have scripture study / journal writing, and then lights out at 10:30.

The second day I already felt as if I’d been in the MTC for weeks! We wake up at 6:00 AM (it’s the only way you can get a hot shower), we have companionship study and personal study and breakfast. It’s nice to have French speaking companions because we can do our companionship study in French. I’ve already memorized the missionary purpose and First Vision in French. We have six hours of class most days in our tiny classroom. We study the lessons, Preach My Gospel, and practice giving discussions. For my companions and I, there is a French teacher (who just returned home from Lyon and says it’s the best mission in the world) who comes for an hour a day, and we practice with him the discussions in French. It’s really helpful (and fun!). I understand and can speak more French than I thought I could. Speaking French is my favorite part of the day! After class we have lunch, and then we have class until dinner. Right before dinner, we received our travel plans for San Francisco that said we had to be at the MTC travel office the next day at 3 O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING!

Needless to say, we freaked out since there’s no naptime in the MTC (which I find very wrong). Anyways, so we were totally stressing about it at dinner when I spotted Elder Andrews and Elder Oehler (*these are good friends from her BYU ward). I totally freaked out and accidentally called them by their first names (oops – I’m working on that). It’s so nice to see people you know — very comforting. I’ve seen five Elders from my BYU ward here, so that’s been really nice. After dinner, we had a branch meeting. We were 20 minutes early because our zone leaders told us that the branch president is very strict. He is. He has very specific and definite expectations of what a missionary looks like, what she says, how she acts. We each had personal interviews with the president – that was frightening but he was nice. After the interviews, he called zone and district leaders from our group and guess WHAT? I’m a district leader! Which is both very exciting and scary at the same time! As a district leader, I’m in charge of distributing mail every day, conducting weekly district meetings, conducting weekly interviews with the senior companions in my district and reporting these things to the zone leaders/branch president. I also have three hour leadership meetings every Sunday. It’s a lot of work, but I’m so excited to serve in my district! So, after the branch meeting I went to sleep extremely content. UNTIL. . . my alarm went off at 2:00 AM. BARF. I wanted to cry. But I dragged my fatigued missionary self to the showers and got ready. We were at the Travel Office at 3:00. We left at 3:30, and made it to the airport by 4:30. We made a companionship goal to speak only in French today as we travel and such, which has been really fun. Everyone stares at us while we talk. (I think they just wish they were us.) Also, everyone is really nice to us. Everyone (who is a member) walks up and shakes our hands and asks us where we’re from and where we’re going. Then, they usually tell us a long story about their child/grandchild/cousin/niece/nephew/friend/brother/ mother-in-law’s son’s best friend’s sister who is on a mission right now. It’s actually very cool.

I told my companions about my traveling curse. They thought it might be broken now that I have a badge on, but of course when we arrived, we found out our plane was delayed one hour. Yeesh. I have a problem. But, we’re in the air now and looking forward to getting there.

Love Always,
Soeur Jones 🙂