Knoxville TN

Sunday, March 24, 2013

First area...Sevierville, TN - March 12, 2013

Jordann left the MTC March 12 bound for Knoxville, TN, but not before calling us from the airport. We got to talk to her and hear how excited she was to go to the mission field and meet her new mission president and his wife. She had lots of thoughts, where was her first area, who would her companion be, what is it going to be like there...etc. There was not a doubt in her mind she was doing the right thing by serving Heavenly Father. She had learned a lot in the MTC and was now ready to go and teach.

Arriving at the airport she was greeted by President and Sister Irion who are from Salt Lake. They went to the mission home for dinner and the first night stay.

There was excitement as they filled out paperwork, had a little devotional, and found out who their companion was and where their "birth area" was going to be. She is serving in the Seviereville ward. The area is by Dollywood and Dolly Parton is portrayed all over, even a statue by city hall. It also covers Pigeon Forge and Smokey Mountain National Forest. Her companion is Sister Malloy who was a roommate at the MTC. They have a trainer who is Sister Hollis, and also from California.

They left their things at their first apartment and started right off tracting. The first door they knocked on got no answer. The second door was shut in their face after they explained who they were. The trainer insisted they go back and walked in. Much to the new sisters' surprise after hearing yelling inside they were introduced to the young men president and his wife. Just a a little initiation, and enjoyed their first dinner there. Because of the number of Spanish speaking people in the area and in the ward, Jordann was encouraged to learn Spanish so she will get to learn a language after all, along with the way they speak English there. They are working with six investigators already and when a newly baptized older woman, who she described as stubborn, found out Jordann loves to sing she insisted Jordann sing the hymns to her every time they are Her talents will come in handy as she is able to break the ice and make others comfortable around them.

In Jordann's words from her last letter, "Every moment I am here I am learning more. The Doctrine is different every time in how I teach it because each day and each person brings out something different. I have noticed that trusting in the Lord is essential because I not only need my two companions in the flesh but the companionship of the spirit. This requires faith which does not seem to be in short supply in the south but I have been truly humbled. Alma 32:21 "And now as I said concerning faith- faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

It's time to go...February 27, 2013

The long awaited time has finally come. It was a shorter wait than some have, but the excitement made it seem longer. Everything was packed...well almost everything, and so we started down the road. A lot of thoughts were going on in all of our heads as we were wondering what was in store. Who was Jordann's companion going to be, was she going to eat well, etc. After a stop at Wendy's so Jordann could have a bacon cheeseburger and chili cheese fries, although I'm not sure why she chose that combination, we finished our trek to the MTC. We shortly arrived and what an amazing site to see! The sidewalk was full of elders saying hello in all different languages waving as we drove down the driveway to the designated stop. As we got out of the car to get Jordann's suitcases, we were told we had about two minutes. WOW that was a quick two minutes! Just enough time to snap a few pictures and give hugs to all. The elders took her bags, and she followed them up to the doors but not without turning around to give one last wave with a great smile on her face that the time was finally here to start her next journey.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Go & Do...

   Well, this is it! I am finally being set apart. The stake presidency will arrive at 6:45 p.m. along with the bishop and my grandparents. I can only imagine my family is as anxious as I am. The anticipation waiting for something as huge as this cuts like a knife. But I can't think of anything I would rather experience at this moment in time.
   I wish I could tell you this past little while waiting for this day has been easy, but that would be a lie. The devil seems to be present every moment of every day. He has pushed and pulled, tugged and teased at every possible nerve he can. The emotions I feel when the oppression is present are indescribable, and the thoughts that had come to my mind I would not wish on anyone. Lucifer has given his all in attempting to fill me with doubt, but that is all it has been-an attempt. Meaning he failed in his efforts to push me down. All those moments of darkness and loneliness have given me is an extra boost of confidence and strength. For in those moments, the Lord has shown me the light and lended his hand. He never left me alone, and I know he will continue to stand by me every second of this 18 month journey.
   To all the friends and family that claim they will miss me while I am away, I have this to say:
Do not worry about me, for I will not be worrying about you. As you and I go about our daily routines whatever they may be there will be an angel, a guardian watching over you. How do I know this? Because this is what I asked of him and will continue to ask of him in every prayer I say and with those that remain in my heart. Time will fly by, you will see. And with that time that we are apart, I do not intend to count the days. For I intend to make those days count.
Write me earnestly is all I ask of you, and I will do my best to respond. I love you all!
Sincerely, Sister Jordann Jones

The Farewell Talk

Farewell took place on Sunday February 17th

The plan of salvation has been in place before even time itself. According to the plan we were to come to earth, gain a body, prove ourselves and return to him when God deems it appropriate.  It is a lesson that as members we have heard and taught what seems to be a million times over. At times the topic can seem overwhelming in how many areas of our life it can touch on. Whether, we are rejoicing in the birth of a child or mourning the loss of a loved one or taking the sacrament, the plan is present. It is never improvised. Yes the details are important but that is why God took care of them for us. And it was not until I saw through the eyes of small children, specifically the sunbeams I have taken care of this past month, how simple it can be. In class when attempting to explain to the 3-4 year olds that we all have spirits and that Heavenly Father is the father of our spirits, little Grant Craighead picks up his shirt, shows the class his belly button, looks up with a confused look on his face and says “I can’t see my spirit”. Sister Layton and I looked at each other and smiled as the rest of the kids looked for their own spirits. No, we cannot see our spirits, but that is because each one of us had the desire to become like our Heavenly Father. He shared this desire but it would not have been possible without the experience of living in mortality with a physical body. This is his work and his glory as it is explained in Moses 1:39.

            As we entered this world the veil of forgetfulness was placed over our head. Although we have no previous memories of our past life, God has not rendered us helpless. There is evidence of his love and aid everywhere we look. In every obstacle that we may come across he provided way to overcome them. We must not underestimate our talents and abilities to do so, especially when in reference to missionary work. Every member and every area of this church must feel that their efforts in this work are of great value. In D&C 18:15 it says “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my father.” Now the kingdom of God is built one person at a time, one covenant at a time. Brick by brick this work is progressing with the cornerstone of the foundation being Christ our savior and redeemer. We are to help it along and lend our knowledge and example to those sheep still lost. Many still believe that by grace we are saved, but it is through the covenants and ordinances made at the temple that we are guaranteed salvation. That is the key idea in any discussion with investigators and missionaries all over the world. The very word salvation means to be saved from physical and spiritual death. An individual can be saved by grace through faith in Christ, but this faith must be made manifest in a life of obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel AND…listen for this last part…through the service of Christ. It is needed of us to assist others in coming unto him, and linking themselves to him for an eternity to come. Our mission is to know him and to make him known.

Missionary work is a product of love. Its main purpose is to give all willing bodies, a chance to hear and accept this great gospel. As President Monson explained, “We must not always wait for a special occasion, life is a special occasion.” Close quote. The opportunity to teach is ours to grasp for it affects all of us. It was once said, “The call of missions is to love Jesus in such a way that you don’t need a specific event or place to witness but that from a heart desiring to see humanity saved, we live every single moment committed to being witnesses of the gospel and its transforming power”. We take this same oath when with our heads bowed we agree to the sacrament prayers with the solemn word of amen. Young Women recite this same oath while saying the theme every Sunday. And I firmly believe that before we came to this world, we gave a promise of a similar kind. Growing up, if you asked my very dear friend Sister Shannah Thorne what she wanted to be when older she would either reply a princess, or a missionary. I admit I was never one to have that lifetime desire. I always told myself that at 21, if nothing was happening for me only then would I serve, a lot can happen waiting to grow, and I believe my foot or two was achieved long ago. But with the age change, after the initial shock of being able to serve at 19 something inside of me changed. I believe it was partially my perspective in what was truly important. I knew that somewhere someone is looking for exactly what I have to offer. It may not be my great sense of humor, a voice well accustomed to choirs, or my passion for theatre but the Lord has blessed me with something I hold much dearer. The Lord has determined that I take this thing to the somewhere known as Knoxville Tennessee. And my desire to share it is stronger than ever. He has given me a testimony that no amount of trial or doubt, no devil, nay sayer or hater, or distance away from those I love can cause it to crumble. While trying to determine whether I was worthy to submit my papers, I had a good long talk with President Spackman. And before asking me all the required questions you would have in an interview with such an authority he made a comment that struck me. He said something along the lines of “Now Jordann, ya know you are not going to be able to call your mom or dad every day. Your contact will be limited to letters. You will get to see your siblings or friends on a daily basis. How will you handle this?” I sat there for a minute as tears welled up in my eyes and as my favorite seminary teacher handed me a tissue I sat up straight and replied. “I know that times will be hard, and that I will miss them all so much but it is because of those I love that I have will to do this. I could teach somewhere in a cul-de-sac with over 50 kids. I could teach a single mother and her kids, a couple which lost a child, an elderly man on the verge of death. I could give hope to high school students that go through their day feeling alone, when there could be an angel walking beside them. Maybe a girl that is in love with Barbie but there is someone on high that thinks she is more beautiful because she was created in his image. Or, if I am lucky a family where the parents work day in and day out to ensure that their kids are fed, clothed and go on to live a good life. In short, everyone in the world means something to someone, and I cannot bear the thought of people out there who are loved just as much as I love everyone in my life going one more day without knowing that there is a God, and he loves us. There is a scripture in Mosiah 28:3 that explain these exact feelings. “Now there were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that nay human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.” So here I am, quaking and trembling. Ready to fight ready to stand ready to serve. I know with all my heart that this gospel is true. I know with all my being that my Redeemer lives. That Joseph Smith aided Heavenly Father in restoring this gospel, and that Thomas S. Monson stands to defend it along with a couple thousand other witnesses.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Call

Received Letter on January 9, 2013...

Dear Sister Jones:
You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Tennessee Knoxville Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 18 months.
You should report to the Provo Missionary Training Center on Wednesday, February 27, 2013. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the English language. Your assignment may be modified according to the needs of the mission president.

Advice For the Undecided Missionary

   On October 6, 2012 church members all around the world gathered to listen to the words of our beloved prophet and his apostles. Whether present at the conference center or listening to conference by other means, the words were received the same. At the 182nd semiannual session, In a move to expand the opportunities for young members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to serve full-time missions, President Thomas S. Monson announced that, effective immediately, men may now begin serving at age 18 and women at age 19. You can imagine the initial shock of this change. Plans that youth had for themselves had drastically been altered.
   While this was happening, I was 5 miles away from home working at the local mall. I received the news from a text message from my mother saying boys could now serve at 18, and thought it amazing. But when the next text came into my inbox saying girls could serve at 19, I admit I was stunned. Did I immediately think I was meant to serve? No I did not. And that's okay. A service and commitment like this is not for everyone. However, as time went on, my daily activities became meaningless. The thought of attending another semester of college did not seem satisfying. I had been praying for an answer as to whether a mission was the path I needed to embark on. It was not until in a simple conversation with a friend at the university that I got my answer. When asked what classes I had chosen for spring semester, I simply stated, "I am not going to attend those classes anymore..." and when asked why, "I am going on a mission." Those 6 words were so simple, but the urge of confidence that was sent through my body at that moment was unmistakable. The spirit was with me in that moment.
   I went home, and too excited to wait for their return home I sent a text to my parents with my decision. I then ran down the street to talk to a close neighbor who served and now had four kids of her own, what I was thinking. She claimed she already saw a change in my attitude that day. I talked with my parents more that night, and the answer had not left me. I proceeded to tell the guy I am currently dating and although I was fearful of his response, nothing would have shaken me at that moment. The only words that left his mouth were all supportive, and I felt relieved. I feel so lucky to have such supportive family, friends and leaders. This is not always the case, but it was another moment that I knew I was loved and blessed.
   The decision to serve is different for everyone. It is a moment of conversion within ourselves. Whether you are a young man who knew of the duty at hand since you sang the popular primary song I Hope They Call Me On A Mission, a senior couple who sought opportunity near the end of life, or a spur of the moment individual like me it does not matter. It is all the same in Heavenly Father's eyes. It simply had to be the right decision for you. It is not something the world, peers, or your parents can decide for you. The verdict is between you and God. So if you are currently questioning if a mission is for you, do so on your knees. And if the decison is already made and done, I'll see you in the field!