Week 20 Joyeux Noël

Wow! What an incredible week. The Christmas season is truly the best time of year. I loved looking out the bus window on Christmas Eve and seeing people's smiling faces on the streets. And all the people walking around with their family and bags filled with presents. I have always wondered why people are just a little bit happier during Christmas. Now I finally have connected the dots. It is the light of Christ. It is Jesus Christ and his love that make people a little more
bright, a little more giving, and a little more happy. Everyone told me Christmas on the mission is the best. And it WAS the best. It was the best because I was with people I love and just living 100% in the moment.

We ate the Da Silvera's apartment for dinner Christmas Eve. They are the sweetest family from Brazil. So it was fun to eat Brazilian food for a change. There was also WAY too much food than we could even eat. And Ana (the 16 year old daughter), told me it was because in Brazil, you always prepare more food than you are planning for. We talked and
sang Noël hymns after the meal. Such a simple, beautiful night.

Christmas day we got to sleep in!!! We were planning on sleeping in until 8, but my body automatically woke up at 6:30. So yay for 17 minutes of extra sleep. Lol. I then wrapped myself up in my big blankey, turned on "Hawaiian Christmas" (just like my parents do back home) and went to open presents under the Christmas tree. Thank you so much family for your cute package you sent me... and Grandma Gayle, you are so thoughtful.

Later we went to sacrament meeting. It was joyful to see all the members in the ward and everyone bissing and wishing each other "bonne fête" and "joyeux Noël." I also gave my very first talk in French at church! It was terrifying but also cool to be like, HEY I'm doing it!!! I'm speaking in Français! I talked about how Jesus Christ is helping me become the best version of myself. With repentance and change in our lives, the Lord can help us become something so beautiful.  The members came up to me after and said, your French has progressed SO MUCH this past month. AH! It was really nice hearing that.

After church we went to Donna's apartment and hung out and ate there all day. We also went with the other four elders in Nice. Elder Carlson, Elder Wiberg, Elder Rimerez, and Elder Hoopes. 

We watched "finding Dory" and seriously, every little joke they cracked in the movie we were laughing our heads off at. We were all just at the edge of our seat. You'd think it had been 5 months since we'd seen television, oh wait, IT HAS! Donna made a gourmet meal. 

We started out with foie gras and toast (duck liver), then had a mozarella mango salad, then steak with this creamy mushroom sauce on top, then we had warm molten lava cakes and mince pies with homemade cream. Ohhhh what a life I live.

And for the BEST part (what I had been looking forward to for
literally 5 months)... SKYPING WTH MY FAMILY!!! Words cannot describe the joy I felt when they first appeared on the screen. All squished around the kitchen computer smiling so big and squealing. What joy. OH what joy. It was reassuring to just talk with them and realize that even though I miss them, that I am where I am supposed to be right now
in my life. I love my family I love my family I love my family.

 The Jones clan is the best family in the world. So whoever marries into this family of mine, you better know how lucky you are. I especially loved seeing my families faces when they opened the gift I sent them. I also loved talking in French with Jamo.... hahahah Bahhhhh ouiiii?! It was weird to see how grown up Eliza and Madeline are. I loved seeing how happy my parents were. Their smiles were enough to carry me through the next year of my mission. (And Spencer, It was fun to see you too:) I was a little disappointed you were not wearing the Tiger onesie though. I hope you come every Christmas!!!)

There were 2 other moments on this Christmas that were very special moments. Christmas Eve we were walking briskly down an street trying to get to a less actives house to deliver cookies for her birthday. We were already late so we were trying to hurry. We walked past a homeless man counting his coins he had earned, and I said, "joyeux Noël really fast" and kept moving. As we were walking away I looked down at our cookies we had made all wrapped up perfectly with a big red bow. And the spirit told me. You made enough cookies. Go give him one. And I was SO close to ignoring the thought but almost instinctively I turned around, ripped of the bow, pulled out a cookie and walked back and handed him one and said "Would you like a cookie?
He smiled and accepted it and we said Joyeux Noël" It was one of the best movements of my life. I felt like Christ's influence was so real and so apart of me. All it took was just slowing down for 5 seconds and following the holy ghost.

The second moment happened yesterday. One of the Elders in our district didn't get a Christmas package from his family and he doesn't have a lot of money. So Soeur Allen and I decided to go buy him a present. We bought a really nice toy army helicopter cause he loves army and airplanes. And when we brought it to Donna's for him to open, I seriously thought he was going to cry. He was so happy, he took it
right out of the package and started pretend flying it around the room. I felt SO happy inside.

Both of these experiences were something so small but they both had to do with "giving." We feel joy when we give. When we feel the influence of Jesus Christ in our life and serve and give to others. I do not want this Christmas spirit to die. I want to continue to give my time, my talents, and gifts to people all year long.

I love you so much family and I am the luckiest girl in the world to have you.

Also, today for Pday has been quite the low to the high weekend. Lol. I got a fever and I think I have the flu. I have been so tired and cold all day long. Luckily it is Pday so I was able to sleep a lot of today. But ohhhhhh the highs and lows of a mission. 

Get pumped for the biggest/ best/ most rewarding/ hardest/ most spiritual roller coaster
of your life if you are planning on coming out on a mission.

I love Christmas! I wish it could be Christmas every day. But then I wouldn't appreciate it.  I love Santa Claus and I also love the Lord Jesus Christ.

Love, Soeur Jones

Sent from my iPad

Week 19 "Christmas Conference in Lyon"

This week we hopped on a train and traveled to Lyon for our Christmas Conference. Elder Sabin, from the Europe area presidency, came and spoke to us.

 President Brown also spoke to us and encouraged us to give these last few weeks of the year our all because people are PREPARED TO BE TAUGHT. I felt like my faith meter just SHOT up straight to the sky after President spoke. It felt like a wall of the spirit and faith and power all mixed together just hitting me like a tidal wave. My desire to work hard, be obedient, and love the Lord and his children exploded.

It was also the biggest fête to be with all the other missionaries from the mission. I loved seeing Soeur Goold (of course) and Soeur Cusick. I was happy to talk to Soeur Goold about some of the hard things I was experiencing right now in the mission and hear that she was struggling with those things too! Some of these things include:
How do I know if I am making the most effective use of my time every day? I still don't understand sooo much of the conversation when people talk in French. But talking with Soeur Goold also made me realize how much we have both progressed in French and just grown up a lot!

We had SUCH an incredible rdv with "A" this week. We even had Clément and Elton (members) at the rdv which made "A" have someone to relate to. I would say this rdv with "A" was the best rdv I have ever had on my mission so far. We talked about Jesus Christ, his atonement, and repentance. "A's" questions were so sincere and honest. 

Elton in the Liahonna for January 2018. It is the French one that you can look up online!

When I told him about the joy I have experienced from repentance and the atonement in my life, "A" asked, "But why share it? Wouldn't it be easier to just be selfish and keep this joy to yourself? Why leave your country and family for 18 months to come share it with me?" It took me a while to respond. As tears filled my eyes and I took a deep breath in I explained to him that sin hurt me. That my mistakes I have made were difficult for me to forget. But because of Jesus Christ, I have had that weight from every mistake I have made taken from me. The joy I feel from repentance is impossible NOT to share. I needed to share this joy with others. The room was quiet which gave "A" time to think. The spirit was so tangible in the room. I asked "A", "how do you feel right now?" He thought for a second and replied, "... I feel.... calm." And we told him that feeling was the spirt of God. He needs and wants this same peace in his life. And this message and Jesus Christ is where he is going to find it. Before we left he said, "Alright. I am going to read it. I am going to read the Book of Mormon." Wow. What a miracle lesson.

Before this rdv with "A", I felt anxious and nervous. It is
sometimes a lot of pressure to have members there and I was just hoping so badly the lesson would go well. But when Elton offered the opening prayer, I had this wave of comfort come over me. God told me, "Do not worry. This is my work. This is my child. I know what he needs. You are not the one who is going to convert him. It is the holy ghost who will touch his heart." And then as the lesson got going, I felt so at peace. Just warmth and at peace in my heart. I LOVE THE
HOLY GHOST. There are moments in my life where it is stronger than other times. But boy does the holy ghost's presence feel good to have in our lives. Comfort,  Peace,  Perspective, and  Calm. If there is something I needed to learn from going on a mission, it is that the holy ghost is the one who converts people. I had heard people say that
before the mission, but now I have found it out for myself that it is true. God doesn't require me to speak perfect French, or be eloquent with my words, or know the doctrine of the gospel perfectly. He requires me to be humble. Humble enough to listen to the holy ghost and follow its promptings. Humble enough to really listen to the ami and not just talk. Humble enough to love the people we teach, regardless of if they accept the message or not.

Madame Clemence Carbonne

This week we worked harder than ever! There were a couple days where I am pretty sure we didn't stop moving for more than 10 seconds. Okay I am just going to say it....

Contacting is not the most fun thing to do and it is really hard to have envie (desire) for it. The past few Sundays, we have had some extra time. So we were sitting here in the church and we both know in our hearts we need to get out and go talk to people. But it is such a struggle to have envie for it. But, the spirit told me, just get outside and GO! So yesterday we followed the spirit and just went outside to talk to people. We contacted for about 2 hours and only one person stopped when we talked to them. The rest just said, "No merci." Or "je n'ai pas le temps" Or "haaaa!" Or, "je suis CATHOLIC!!!" But I didn't even care because I knew I was doing what the Lord wanted me to do and was working my hardest. When we follow the spirit, we are happy. That is what I have decided. Also- even though no one was interested in our message on the rue, as we were just about to come back to the chapel... our ami, "A" texted us and needed us to teach him again. I was just like WHAT A MIRACLE!!!!!! It was so cool to see that little by little, his heart and desires are changing.

Soeur Carbonne showing me her scrapbook when she was in the Army.

I testify that this gospel is true. That many years ago, the best gift came into the world. That gift is Jesus Christ. He is full of understanding, patience, comfort, and love. He is my rock and my joy. How grateful I am for a Savior. For Jesus Christ, who was willing to suffer for ME. So that I could have joy and become the best version of Abby Jones. So that I can live with my sweet family of mine forever and forever. So that I can have agency and choose for myself and GROW.
And so that I can have eternal life and rest with my Father in Heaven once again. Oh what a glorious day that will be to meet my Savior and see him face to face and hug him. And even though there are a lot of people that say no to us.... that don't understand what an incredible gift we are trying to offer them... I am so grateful to be here. I am grateful to be a missionary in the best mission in the world. I am grateful that I get to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. What a joy.
OH what a joy.

Joyeux Noël tout le monde. Je vous amie beaucoup! J'ai HÂTE de parleravec vous en six jours!!!!!!

Love, Soeur Jones

We bought a Christmas Tree for 20 Euros!!

Joyeux Noel

Our cue little sapin with the presents underneath

Soeur Goold's cupcake presentation

My Mini Santon I bought today at the Noel Marche

Package from Grandma Gayle 

Week 18 "There is no better time than the present!"

Since Soeur Holmgren left last week, I have been reflecting a lot about life. Life is literally always changing. The minute we get comfortable with something... life throws at us a big fat ball of change! I loved being with Soeur Holmgren. I learned so many things from her. And I didn't even realize how much I loved her until she left (I guess that is just how life is). Sometimes I think about my future. When I will be home from my mission... Or fin- not even that far... just like where will I be NEXT transfer? But then I remember that right here, right now, I am in Nice. With Soeur Allen. And there is no better time than right now. There is no better time than the present. I love being a missionary. Seeing Soeur Holmgren go home made me decide that I will actually just stay out on my mission forever. I love France. I love the people I have met here. I know that right now, this is where I need to be in my life.

Soeur Allen is my new companion. She is from Birmingham, England... so yes she has "the accent." I like to imitate her after she says something. "Excuse me, could you please pass me the suggaaa for my cup of teaaa." Hah jk she actually doesn't say stuff like that but it is pretty awesome to have a companion with an accent. Soeur Allen is a little more on the shy side. Which means I have had to really step it
up a notch and speak more French here. Which is good for me. All the sudden all the members are coming up to me saying, "Woah, you're French has progressed so much." And I think it is just because now I am forced to speak French. Soeur Allen is a good listener and is very real. At home she played rounders (kind of like baseball for girls) and she also plays the cello.

It has been really good for me to kind of lead the area. Even though I am not senior companion or whatever that is, I am the one who knows the area, the bus routes, the amis, the members. It has really pushed me a lot this week to be confident and just speak French. This week has been a little hard but I also feel like I have never grown so much in one week. I was seriously so worried that when Soeur Holmgren left I would just not know how to do anything. But I realized "Woah, hey... I'm doin it! I am speaking French to people on the streets and I am making phone calls and arranging Rdv's all by myself." I'm growinnnn upppp Mom (Soeur Holmgren)!

There is a cute little old lady (96 yrs) named Clémence Carbonne who is a member here in Nice. I LOVE HER. Every time I go to visit her she tells me the same 2 stories. 1- how she used to be Catholic and then became Mormon. 2- how she met her husband in the army. She is so sweet. She will look at me in the eyes and say "Ohhhh Je t'aime." And
then pick up my hand and kiss it and then press my hand against her cheek. She is so full of life and energy. I sometimes just sit there and play with her skin as she holds my hand. Her skin is so squishy and stays in whatever place you mold it into. HAHA! Just trying to paint for you the relationship I have with the best old lady in the world. My favorite part is when I walk out of her apartment, and am
going across the street, and I hear "yoooooo hoooooo" up on the balcony. And there is Madame Clémence Carbonne flailing her arms around and blowing kisses from the fifth floor balcony.

This week we had our Noël activity with our ward. It was way too much fun. Donna cooked. Enough said there. And our Ami's "Q" and "A"  came! There was such pretty Christmas music, delicious food, and amazing people. Our ward is literally insane. There were these pinecone decorations on the table, and members started throwing them at each other during the meal. Then the bishop tried to take control of the situation but everyone started throwing pine cones at him! Hahaha. And it was like a food fight of pine cones. I keep thinking, hmmm, this is not what I thought of when I imagined France.

The bishop, his wife, my comp, and our ami ..

Our rondevous with "Q" went great this week. We read Alma 32 with him (the faith is like a seed chapter) and I think it really helped him understand more WHY we are asking him to read the scriptures on his own. It was so good to just follow the spirit during the lesson and go so slow. He said a prayer at the end and his prayers are getting more sincere every time! I really hope that he can pray and read on his own this week. We also committed him to baptism. He says he is not ready yet but will think about it. Elton was also there during the rdv and that was really helpful. Teaching with members is powerful. Everyone back home, go teach with the members. It is such a cool experience and we (missionaries) NEED YOU. Like before the mission, I thought I wasn't allowed to come teach with the missionaries or something? But guess what, you actually are allowed to. So do it! You will realize how simple the gospel is!

Pday was so fun today. Soeur Allen and I went to the view point of Nice. Then we went to the Noël marché! There were all these tiny wooden huts selling different trinkets for Noël. We also accidentally bought 24 churros. Sooooo... yeah. We ate 12 of them. HAHAHAHAH. I don't really know how that happened.

 I just went up to the lady and asked "Je vais prendre les churros avec nutella s'il vous plait."  And then all the sudden Soeur Allen and I had 24 churros in our hands.
Don't worry, they were not the regular size Costco churro that you have in America. They were cute and small and delicious. We ate them as we rode around and around the ferris wheel.

Love, Soeur Jones


Noel Marche

Me and Felix (he forgot his teeth today at church)

The creche I made for the primary. Donna needed help since she is the Primary President. I thought Eliza and Madeline would appreciate this. I was going to draw a hampster for Madeline...but I don't think a hampster was at the nativity:)


Week 17 "Je rest à NICE!!!" A New Companion

Soooooo.... today is transfer day. And I am staying in Nice another 6 weeks! I am seriously so happy. I love Nice and I love the people I have met here. I will be receiving a new companion today. In fact, I am just sitting in Montpellier right now waiting for her. Her name is Erica Allen and she is from England. I think she has been out for 8 months or something? I don't know much about her but I met her once and she was really sweet. She is a little timid but I will spice her up a little bit.

My New Companion Soeur Allen!

Change is a always weird. But change is also something you're constantly doing in life so I better get used to it. I kind of feel like my mother just left me stranded (aka my trainer). I know that this will help me grow a lot having to lead the area though. I am truly grateful for Soeur Holmgren and everything I learned from her. She is so teachable, hardworking, and humble. I love how patient she is with people and that she puts people as her first priority. 

She doesn't worry or stress about things she cannot control. She just takes life as it comes and embraces the moment she is in. She was so patient with me as my MTC training wheels came off. Thank you my dear Soeur Holmgren. Je t'aime!! Time for her to get married!!!  Ha... I give it 4 weeks before she is engaged. I just went around telling everyone in our ward she was getting engaged soon, HAHA!!!!

Final Activities before saying goodbye to Soeur Holmgren

This week we saw miracles. We had such a good rendez-vous with our newest ami, "A". We taught him at the chapel with our bishop and his wife. I think I am learning how important it is to love the people before trying to teach them. To love them and try and see where they are coming from and then just listen. REALLY LISTEN. When I actually listen to them and don't just try and think about what I am going to say next, I have so much more love for them.

 And I can hear what the Holy Ghost is trying to tell me and discern their needs. There are a lot of people in this world who talk, but not a lot of people who really listen. So the next time someone talks to you... really listen. You will be so surprised at how liberating it is. "A"  asked a lot of good questions during the lesson. He doesn't really have any base of religion but he knows something is missing in his life. His prayer was so raw. Really- I think that is one of the sweetest moments as a missionary- hearing an ami pray for the first time. He prayed something like this, "Dear Heavenly Father. Thank you for this moment in my life. I feel a force here that I know I need. I am not believing but... (turns to me and asks, how do you close again?) ok... in the name of Christ amen."

Something that is really cool about our two progressing ami's right now, is that we met both of them at the end of the day. My companion and I were tired, we had already talked to a lot of people that day, and it would have been so easy to just be done for the day. We were 3 minutes away from our apartment when we saw a man carrying a pizza box and we decided to talk to him. He told us he wasn't religious but maybe his mom would be interested. We kind of forgot about him... but then a month later, he called us. So no, we didn't see the results right away. But now... we are teaching him. Faith is sometimes hard to have. Because you can't see the end results and you just have to trust that Heavenly Father knows what he is doing. And he knows what is best for his children. I've decided that miracles happen when you give that extra push. When you are tired, or fearful, but you decide you just keep moving forward. You give what you can. But then you give a little more. And you see miracles!!
I am so touched with how giving and generous people here are. This weekend a member, Kevin, took Soeur Holmgren and I to a specialty Niçoise restaurant and then he bought Soeur Holmgren a 30 euro "tree of life" bracelet that a lot of members here have.

 And Soeur Holmgren has been looking for a Santon nativity set to bring home. But they are really expensive here. We told Elton we have been searching for this, so for the past two weeks he has been looking around Nice trying to find some good ones. He called us the other night and said Santons are expensive, so that he will give Soeur Holmgren his own Santon nativity that he got in Italy. 
And them in church Sunday, a Tahitian member, Tania, gave me and Soeur Holmgren two fat Tahitian kisses on the cheek and then pulled off her necklace from her neck and put it on Soeur Holmgren as a gift. They give without expecting and are so happy. I hope a can be this Christlike and giving one day too.

Gros Bisous xxx Soeur Jones

Going away gifts for Soeur Holmgren. She popped her 18 month ballon and out came confetti!

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