Called to Serve in the Philippines Quezon City Mission
Speaking the Tagalog language
January 2013 to July 2014

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Ammah's Day after Christmas Letter. See all her pictures in the Blog below this one!

Hello Family and Friends! 

Well yesterday was awesome cause I got to talk to my awesome family,  Ever since then I've just been playing it over in my head.  I don't even feel like it really happened ha I feel like it was a dream, a really awesome Dream! But it was so nice and everyone looks so good:) 
I did have a pretty great Christmas and I wasn't really to homesick much.  We had some families that had us over for Dinner and pretty much every appointment we went to on Christmas Eve and on Christmas, they all gave us so much food.  Last night I felt like I was gonna puke, so stuffed! The families are so  awesome though and I already feel like some members here are part of my family.  One of them is Shyla, she's a member and I already feel like we are best friends,  she comes and works with us often and she wants to serve a mission too.  She started crying yesterday when we gave her our christmas present and card, cause her family is far away right now so we are basically like her family. And she wrote me a card as well and it was the sweetest thing ever and I'll keep it forever! 

We also spent all Christmas visiting investigators and giving them cards we made and a little gift comprised of The living Christ, The Family Proclamation and a Family History Paper.  Hopefully they all like it and can feel our love for them:) 

Well I'm pretty much loving this area and loving my companion sister Campbell.  She is from Idaho and she's crazy! haha we get along so well and I'm excited for all the work we will do this transfer.  Since we are Sister Training Leaders (STL's) we don't get to work in our area very much so the days we do have in our area are precious.  We decided to stay this week to spend Christmas with the families in our ward and starting next week we will start traveling around the mission and visiting the Sisters doing 24 hour splits with them.  I'm really excited! Some weeks we have 4 days in a row where we don't come home and just keep traveling and spending the night at the sisters houses.  It's a lot of work! and everyday in a different area ha but I'm excited to see the other areas of the mission and meet some of the sisters that I don't know to well.  It will be great:) 

The ward here is awesome and I already feel right at home.  This past week we have gotten so many referrals from the members, and they come with us and introduce us to their friends and families who are non-members.  They are awesome and working so hard to share the gospel with their friends:) awww.  It helps a lot because we won't have a lot of time to go out tracking and finding in our own area so we are getting new investigators from the Members, hallelujah! and some of them are so prepared to hear the gospel and they are great potential investigators. and it's so cool because when we talk to them they tell us they are interested because they have seen the examples of the members that they know and they see their families and how close they are and how good their kids are and they want that in their lives.  So Family and friends, you never know who is watching you but always be a good example and share the gospel through the things that you do because I know people see it and  they wonder about how they can receive the blessings that you have. AND don't be afraid to ask them if they would like the missionaries to come over and share with them more.  Members are a key instrument in Missionary work, I've realized that hear and I'm so grateful to the members who have been helping us, I'm so proud and excited to be in this ward:) 

Again to my family, it was so great to talk to you yesterday and I love you more and more every week and every letter and I can't believe it's almost been a year since I've seen you! so crazy! 

Merry Christmas and a Happy new Year Everyone! Maligayang Pasko at Masaganang Bagong Taon sa inyo lahat! Mahal ko kayo:) I love you! 

nagmamahal, Sister Ammah Jones

Mom-enjoy the thousands of pictures haha! I told you I had a lot:) just remember to save them..please:) love u! 


 Ammah and her brand new Sister Trainer Leader Companion Sister Campbell from Idaho, but she is Filippino. Ha.
 Ammah loves the kiddies
 Apartment in Pateros (she just left her)
 Sights she she's each day
 Ammah and Sister Dicisons Christmas Cards.
 Mrs Shyla and her family, our hosts for  Christmas Eve, we had dinner and she gave us all presents.
 Recent baptized girl and her little cousin that Ammah adores
 My new house is a Condominium and we are on the 7thfloor walk up, it has a pool and a basketball court in the basement. Am I still in the Philippines. Someone pinch me. We have a shower too!
Our Condo. Nice huh???? 
 Me and Sister Campbell on our Christmas Eve at Shyla's house
 Everyone dresses up for Christmas Parties here. I know weird...We went as "Sr. Companions" haha...Mom says I look like Granny Jones
 All my little friends from Pateros
 Two little boys of new members. We gave them piggy banks to save for their missions and put pesos in it when we see them.
 Me and Sister Dickison.
 The streets in my neighborhood
 I love the Pateros Ward
 Little primary girls who did the crazy Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie number for primary program. HAHA...only in the Philippines.
 Our little Punks from Pateros. haha
 Cute Puppy that looks just like Ruby when she was a puppy.
 More Christmas Eve
 Sister Sabiano, My first comp when I got here
 Sister Tereke...aka...Pocahontas Her hair goes all the way to her knees.
 Me and my new STL comp Sister Campbell. She is Awesome
 Sister Sabiano. Mom sent her a Christmas box and she is wearing the top and necklace that were her gifts in the box.
 Sister Campbell killing our companion with cockroach spray. Not really. haha.  

Hello Family and Friends!!

First off Thank You for all of the Birthday Wishes:) I can't believe I'm turning 22 I'm getting old! haha jokelang but really! Since tomorrow is transfer day we are celebrating tonight, we are going to pick up a cake on the way home and have a small party later tonight with the other 4 sisters who live in our same apartment complex.  One of them has a birthday as well this week on the 19th so we are celebrating it all together.  So it should be fun:) 

Whew! I don't even know where to start because this week has been crazy great and so many things have happened.  First off, Transfers! I got a call from President Revillo on Sunday night and he asked if I would accept the calling to be one of the new Sister Trainer Leaders in the mission.  So because of this it means that I will be transferred and will become companions with Sister Campbell who is currently a STL.  I'm so excited because I love her and I actually just worked with her last week on Thursday for the day and we just work so great together and talked the whole day while working so we already know each other pretty well now haha:) Happy Day!  I'm a little nervous for this new calling it's a big responsibility, We have about 25+ sisters in our route and will travel around the mission working with them and doing training. but I am really grateful that I get this opportunity to work with the sisters in our mission and help them in their missionary work.  I hope that I will be able to Strengthen them and be a good example for them.   I am very sad to leave Sister Dickison though:( We were hoping that we would be together one more transfer but I guess the lord has other plans.  She is still in my group of sisters that I am over so I will get to work with her again in these next 6 weeks.  Thank goodness:)  But her new companion is one of my past companions and I know they will get along great! 
We had 2 Christmas parties this week, one for the mission and the missionaries and one for our ward.  They were both so fun:) Our mission party was great they even let us watch a movie called "Arthur's Christmas" which was insanely cute and I recommend that you rent it and watch it! It has such a great message:) It made me miss watching movies though haha! All the zones performed skits and they were really funny and some super creative!  Our ward Christmas party was...different...haha! different from the States you will have to ask me about it when we skype hehe but it was fun and the members even brought some non-member friends with them so that was great and we had fun meeting them and talking to them.  We have plans to come to their houses and share a message with them later this week.  It was a costume party too actually (I know weird...cause its Christmas)  but yah so sister DIckison and I dressed as Senior Sister missionaries haha we looked pretty legit and everyone called us "the Lola's" (the grandmothers) all night haha It was fun.  Mom, don't worry I took lots of pics;) 

I am also sad to leave this area, it's really progressing and we have progressing investigators who are going to be baptized in January.  One of them being a 14 year old girl named Angelica.  The family she is living with referred her to us. She is a survivor of Typhoon Yolanda, her school and house and everything got washed away so her family sent her alone here to live with extended family and continue her schooling.  She's very shy and quiet but very kind and sweet and we just fell in love with her! She gets sad sometimes and starts crying if she talks about home or her family, wish I could be here to see her get baptized but it's okay.  I know she will be blessed and find strength and comfort in the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. 
We have also been finding many great families! Yay:) I am so sad to leave them but I know they are in good hands.  During our first lesson with one specific family, the spirit was so strong and by the end of the lesson the Dad in the family and I were crying, he was talking about how much he loves his family and how he didn't know why he had stopped us in the street and asked us to share a message with him.  We shared our testimonies about the special message we had for him and his family and how Families can be together forever, I told him that it was not an accident that he stopped us and that we happened to be there at the right time.  It's just a testimony to me that the Lord truly guides us in everything, he guides us to certain places at certain times for a certain reason.  I'm grateful that I've learned better in my mission how to listen to the spirit and let go of my wants and desires and let the Holy ghost be my guide.  And I'm grateful for this past Transfer and for my companion and our unity in teaching and in the same righteous desires.  

I can't wait to talk to you next week family:) I will email again on my next p-day on Monday, we will work out the specifics more than.  Have a wonderful week and enjoy all the Christmas celebrations coming up, and again thank you for all the Birthday wishes Everyone!  love you! 

Sister Ammah Jones   

December 9

Hey Fam:) 
I finally was able to watch Amelia's dance from her concert, Solo and the hip hop one.....I'm speechless...Amelia: where the heck did my sister go?! Why are you so tall now haha and oh my goodness the technique was amazing and I'm so impressed the choreography was beautiful and unique, I'm so proud!:)  Both of you Andelyn and Amelia just look so beautiful up on stage your dances looked so good, Great Job!  I love technology haha It makes me feel like I'm not missing to much. 
Andelyn sounds like you had a great time at the Dance as well, pictures please! and your date looks like a cutey haha.  
Well this week we had zone conference, 3 zones were present each has about 25 missionaries in them from around the mission.  Sister Dickison and I sang the musical number for the program haha we were pretty nervous but it went so well.  Heavenly Father helped us out and we were able to bring the spirit to the conference.  We sang "Brightly beams our fathers mercy"  it was the best we had ever practiced it and we got tons of compliments and everyone loved it.  I even got to see Sister Wilson again:) We both can't believe we only have 7 months left, time is flying!  We had a lot of great workshops there and I learned a lot of things.  It's always great listening to the President and his wife speak, I really love President Revillo he just has a strong spirit about him.  
This week was good, found a few more investigators and lost a few as well.  It's always discouraging when you've taught people for a while and they just really don't have the desire to be baptized.  I've found that it's always one excuse..."I'm to busy"  I'm to be busy to go to church, I didn't read the book of Mormon cause I had to many things to do.  I can't be baptized in your church cause I'm just to busy.....ughhh After my mission I promise you won't ever hear me say those words!....  All we can do is continue to strengthen their faith and love in our Heavenly Father and maybe they will gain a desire to put the lord first in their lives.  Their are so many things to do in this life and responsibilities we have, BUT most of the things we feel like we need to do are just temporal things that are important just for this life, we need to prioritize the things that are of Eternal importance.  I have always loved the story of Martha and Mary in the new Testament.  Christ comes and is teaching in their house and Mary is sitting at his feet listening while Martha is cleaning and doing chores and preparing food etc..She gets frustrated and asks  Christ to tell Mary to help her but Christ tells her that the things she has chosen to do are good but that  Mary had chosen the better part, which was to listen to the words of the Savior.  That also reminds me of the talk by Elder Dallin h. Oaks about "good, better & Best"  As a missionary this has been something the President and his wife have been talking a lot to us about as well.  Choosing the best way to use our time in the field and being the most productive.  Their is a difference to being "busy" and being "productive".  I love you my sweet family, please remember to always put the lord first and make time for him! 

2 more weeks and we get to skype!!!! Also reminder next week is transfer day so I won't email till Tuesday and I'll be day away from turning 22 what the?! That's pretty crayyyyy haha.  

anywhaysss! Love you guys so so much stay sweet:) 

love Sister Ammah Jones

Sunday, December 1, 2013

we've had people literally walk up to us and ask us to please come teach their families and help them have a better life.

Hi Fam:)

ahh sounds like thanksgiving at the beards was great:) I couldn't open some of the pictures but I'm sure they were cute hehe.  
This past week has been great, we worked really hard and our numbers showed it.  They were the best we've had all transfer!  We found 22 new investigators this week, in my last letter I said that 20 might happen and we even got 2 more than we thought!! The lord has really been blessing us for opening our mouths and teaching the restored gospel.  Some of it hasn't even been from our own efforts, we've had people literally walk up to us and ask us to please come teach their families and help them have a better life.  ummm...Yah of course!
It feels so good to help people and teach them about our Savior Jesus Christ.  It brings me so much joy and I love feeling so tired and worn out at the end of the day because I know that we worked hard and are doing what the lord would have us do.  This Sunday was also a good one, we had a few investigators come to church, and tons of our more less-active members attended as well, we were so proud:) One of these families is the Lopez family, and I just love them.  We teach the grandparents and all their grandchildren once a week.  They officially are considered active now cause they've come 4 weeks in a row to church.. Yay:) one of the grandkids is my absolute favorite he is 2 years old and his name is Patrick.  He shakes our hands about 10 times each visit he just loves when we come over.  I have a picture of him and his older brother Jef (10yr)  with little plastic piggy banks they are using to put in extra pesos to save up for their missions one day.  Sister Dickison and I donated a few pesos to add to their banks.  They are darling! one day I'll be able to send you the picture when I get my camera card fixed:(
Me and Sister Dickison wished each other Happy Thanksgiving on Thursday and than studied and went to work but on Saturday we went to a birthday party of the anak of our less actives and got stuffed so I guess we will count that as our Thanksgiving dinner ha!.
Also I got to have dinner at Grandma's mission Grandmother! Her name is Karen she was actually the Trainer of my trainer  S. Sabiano so that is why she is my G-ma, she just got married in July and lives with her husband Gilbert in our ward and they are so awesome and feed us every Sunday night.  
This past week in my personal studies I've read a lot of talks and scriptures about our Heavenly Father and how great his plan is for us and how well he knows each of his children so well.  It's so amazing that the most powerful being in the universe knows us each by name and has a perfect plan for each one of us.  How Grateful I am for the knowledge that I am a daughter of God, and that I am not forgotten.  Throughout my mission I have felt his guidance and influence so strongly, and my mission has helped my relationship with him grow.  Multiple times each day we are on our knees pleading with him to help us and guide us in his work.  And through that...I've learned to trust in him more...and have more faith in his plan and in his timing.  Jesus taught that the first and great commandment is to love God with all our hearts, if we love him...we will WANT to return to him and that makes us WANT to keep all his commandments.  And has great things in store for those that love him and keep his commandments.  One of my favorite scriptures lately has been in 1 Corinthians 2:9-  "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man, the things which the lord hath prepared for them that love him"  We cannot imagine what is waiting for us, but when we understand and study more about who God is...the more we love him...and the more we love him..the more obedient we are to his commandments...and if we are obedient in this life we will receive Eternal Life..that is his promise to us.  

I love you all so much:) Please be safe and be good;) Ingat kayo! 

Love, Sister Ammah Jones

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

We had a few adventures I guess you could say.

Today at 1:15 AM
Hello my sweet family:)
 I forgot to tell you that I had temple day this week so our pday was on Wednesday this week. Sorry! But I'm kind of glad cause I get to wish you all a HAPPY THANKSGIVING closer to the actual day hah.  so Happy Thanksgiving sa inyo lahat! They do not have thanksgiving here unfortunately so we will just be working as usual ha but that's okay.  I don't mind I love being here:) Thanks Dad for all the videos...the many many videos haha your so sweet, but sadly It won't let me watch any of them, don't know why..sorry! And also I must admit....I am sooooo jealous that you guys went and saw Catching Fire! How was it?? can't wait to see it! I've been seeing billboards all over the place for it.  We drove past one on our way to the temple this morning and me and Sister Dickison just looked at each other and than pretended to start crying! oh the missionary life.  Sometimes we will be on Jeepneys and a great song will come on and we have to restrain ourselves from lip-syncing or nodding our heads to the beat haha! Not gonna lie sometimes it happens though! It's just the dancers within us!  
This last week was a long week....We had a few adventures I guess you could say.  Thursday we went out and just were having bad luck no one was home and we ended up walking back home to grab a map to find an address we were trying to find with no success and I think it was inspired that we did go back cause than Sister Dickison got super sick.  So we decided to stay so she could rest and she starts throwing up over and over again it just wouldn't stop so we kinda start freaking out.  We ended up going to the hospital around 7pm, they admit her and get her all hooked up to IV's and stuff.  Turns out that she had a bad infection and we ended up staying in the hospital for 2 days. stuff! We were actually dying of boredom, no tv, no music, no change of I think at one point I pretended to bang my head against the wall haha and I'm pretty sure I sang almost the entire hymnbook while we were there too.  The hospital was actually SUPER nice...unlike the one Sister Andersen was in last week  (oi! that just sounded bad) yah this hospital was nicer than any I'd seen in was so nice! Now that i think of it I've been to the hospital now 5 times in my whole mission, but it wasn't for me ha.  I kind of felt right at home there though, it reminded me of my past life before the mission in the hospital drawing blood.  They came and drew blood from her and I just watched the whole time haha and after the girl left I said awww I miss that!! I also got to watch her get an ultrasound on her kidneys...which was SO COOL!  I loved it and I can't wait to do that someday.  Anywhaysssss so that was our adventure to St. Luke's this week... the end hehe.....On a good note though she is doing much better now and we are back working again yay:) 

Just in the past 2 days we have found 7 new investigators and have been talking to EVERYONE! We met even more people and rescheduled appointments with them and we are thinking by the end of this week will have found 20 potential investigators. Yah....we are so excited!  and they are all Families....aww:) Families are the BEST.  Heavenly Father has been answering our prayers..truly! We have been praying since the beginning of the transfer to find those prepared and to help us recognize them and to give us the courage to speak to them.  I have been so proud of the both of us for being so courageous.  Maybe not all of those we found will accept the gospel but at least I know that we are doing our part and opening our mouths and Heavenly Father will fulfill his promise to us and fill our mouths with the words they need to hear.  One of the most spiritual experiences of my mission happened on Monday night during our lesson with Sister Puri (the 65 year old i mentioned a few weeks ago).  We are trying so hard to help her understand how the holy ghost works because we've been asking her to pray about the things we have taught her about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon...We've been getting discouraged..but this last lesson we went in planning on talking about prayer some more and than she asks us "what's different about your church than the church I go to now?" -PERFECT QUESTION,  the spirit was so strongly present as we testified of President Thomas S. Monson as our living prophet on the earth today who gives us guidance and revelation to return to our Loving Heavenly Father, about the Priesthood authority of God restored through the prophet Joseph Smith and about the Book of Mormon.  I teared-up many times as I shared my testimony with her...I have no doubt that she also felt the spirit as much as I could she not? We extended a baptismal date to her and she explained to us her concerns...she didn't accept...but we asked her to include the Lord and pray about it.  We will continue to teach the lessons..maybe she just needs time but I'm excited to continue to teach her... we left that appointment and started walking home...we both didn't say anything for a minute or so and just walked in silence.  When we finally looked at each other we had big smiles on our faces and talked the whole way home about how strong the spirit was and how we didn't even feel like it was us who was speaking we just knew the perfect things to say to her and we knew..that it was the Holy Ghost guiding us.  One thing it says in Preach my that you can know you are being a successful missionary when you feel the Spirit working through you...that lesson was a testimony to me that This church and this gospel is so true, and I knew that I am doing my part as a missionary and representative of the Lord Jesus Christ.   In the spirit of thanksgiving I'd like to end by saying what I'm grateful for at this tagalog:) hehe   Nagpapasalamat po ako sa inyo, ang pamilya ko.. at yung support na ibinibigay po ninyo sa akin...mahal na mahal ko kayo lahat nagpapasalamat din ako para sa ang mission ang lahat ng mga karanasang na tumanggap ko dito sa pilipinas..Nagpapasalamat din ako para kay Jesucristo at sa kanyang pagpabayad-sala case alam ko na sa pamamagitan sa kanyo..tatanggapin ko ng buhay na walang hanggang kasama ang aking pamilya.  Nagpapasalamat din po ako sa ang aking Ama sa Langgit, at ang mga biyaya na ibinibigay niya sa akin.  
Translation by google: I thank you, my family .. and those who support you please give me ... I loved you all really ... and I am also grateful for the mission i .. and all the experience that I received here
in the philippines .. I am also grateful for Jesus Christ  and his atonement pagpabayad case I know by the kanyo .. I receive eternal life with my family. I am grateful also what my Father Langgit, and the grace that he gives.
I love you guys:) Have a great week and a great Thanksgiving day with the beard family, the Jones party looked fun to, I really miss everyone.. 4 more weeks and we get to skype! hehe excited na ako sobra...  

Muah Muah Muah! be safe lagi please! Till Monday:) Ingat! 

nagpagmahal, si Sister Ammah Jones 

p.s. Amelia- I couldn't watch the videos dad sent but I don't have to see to know that you did great in your dance concert:) so proud of you and happy that you enjoy dancing so much like I did.  

p.s. Andelyn- Write me another letter someday ya?? I think about you often and keep you in my prayers every night hope na know:) love you. 

p.s. Mom- Haven't recieved my packages yet, probably on Tuesday.  Love you:) 
P.s. Dad- thank you for all the pictures and videos...makes me not miss u guys too much hehe love u!    

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

air conditioning! say whaa? haha yah it was awesome

Magandang Araw sa inyo lahat! :)

I hope your week went well my sweet family,  I have thought about you all often through out the week and I am just so grateful that Heavenly Father blessed me with such a great family.  Over the past 2 weeks we have taught a lot about God's plan for our families, and how families are part of his great plan for us.  Last night I shared with one of Our less-active families about how I'm so grateful for the spirit that was in our home while I was growing up and how I am here serving a mission because of the things I learned from my family.  I just want you to know that you are always in my prayers and I pray that you can feel my love thousands of miles away every day! I'm grateful that because we were sealed in the temple we will be an eternal family.  I love being here and helping other families understand that they have that possibly as well.  Many of the Less-actives we have been visiting with are preparing for family sealing's and it warms my heart to see them have such a great desire to be together for forever. 

I keep hearing more things about the typhoon that hit Tacloban last week I've spoken with sister Sabiano about her family, and from what I've heard her home town wasn't hit too hard but her older brother (the only other member of the church in her family) was in the city when the typhoon hit and everything in the city got wiped out.  She still hasn't heard from him or the rest of her family, but she was able to check her facebook, and go to the Mtc to talk to missionaries that were evacuated from Tacloban and get more information.  I pray that her brother is okay....I know that they were really close.  I don't know what I would do if I didn't know that you were all okay and safe.  Please keep her and her brother in your prayers this week. 
* I heard from Sister Sabiano by email this week and Ammah is right, she and her family need your prayers. She has tried several different ways to find out about the fate of her family but she has no information at all. She is trying VERY hard to be a "good missionary" and not let her feelings and thoughts about her family get in the way of her calling as a missionary. She is a very humble servant of the Lord and wants only to please him in thought and deed. She feels guilty for thinking and worrying to much about her family and is trying to put on a happy face and serve. Please, keep her in your prayers. Her family name has been added to the prayer roll*

Well, I've said it before and I'll say it again I love my companion! We have been working hard since we have been together and the lord is blessing us for our work and obedience.  We found 9 new investigators this week! All the times in our schedule where we don't have appointments we just pray about a place to go finding till our next appointment and just start walking around saying hi to everyone haha it's fun! We get a lot of attention because we are Americans, so we use it to our advantage.  People always smile and wave to us and than we just walk up and start chatting with them and invite them to listen to our message.  We attracted the attention of some Bakla's (men who dress,talk, & act like women) the other day,(Ammah says there a LOT of these type of people there in the Philippines) and let me tell you it was quite entertaining.  According to them I look like Adele and Sister Dickison is Avril Lavigne haha! They were selling laundry detergent, it was actually a pretty great deal and they were absolutely hilarious so we bought the detergent and they were so excited haha it made our day.  One of the new investigators we found this week is Sister Puri and she is a doll! she is 65 years old and just one day she came up walking beside us and asked us if we were Mormons.  We continued to converse with her and she agreed to let us share with her our message about the restored gospel so we followed her to her house and turns out she lives in a huge house with...wait for it....air conditioning! say whaa? haha yah it was awesome, but than we end up freezing each time we teach her and de-thaw as we walk away from her house haha. She actually reminds me of Grandma Thalman, I feel at home when we go to visit her.  She was taught a lesson by Elders 30 years ago and never forgot it, and she always tells us how excited she is that we come and teach her.  She's Golden!! and a plus she feeds us Peanut Butter Sandwiches yum:)))  It's funny how people are just put into our path, and I'm so grateful that we have been learning to follow promptings of the spirit and know who to talk to.  We also have two baptismal dates for December, they are children of a less-active family in the ward and they are excited to be baptized.  The rest of the family has also been coming to church as well which is great!  Sister Dickison keeps saying how much the work has progressed here just in the last two weeks that we have been together.  I know the lord put us together for a reason and I pray that we get to stay together for Christmas! fingers crossed! 

Just 5 more weeks till I get to chat with you on Skype!! yes I am counting down the weeks haha cant wait! Namiss ko kayo lahat sobra! I hope you have a great week this week.  Always rely on the spirit in everything you do, and I always pray that you have opportunities to share the gospel.  Don't let a great opportunity to share your testimony of the Restored Gospel go by! Mahal ko kayo!! hugs! 

Love, Sister Jones 

p.s. sorry no pics again this week, my memory card is all messed up now since it got wiped from that picture place.  I'll try to get it fixed some time.   Just find pics on Sister Dickisons blog from this week they are pretty much the same things I took pics of haha! love u!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Miraculous story of 10 sister missionaries surviving the Typhoon in Tacloban Philippines.

LDS News room:
It was such a terrible thing we witnessed, but I learned so much about how people will come together to help others, expecting nothing in return. I saw that from other missionaries, and I saw that from the Philippine people. It's a lesson I hope I never forget.”
Amanda Smith, LDS missionary

Vignette V6 006d67a11f35657af5f53f6a580720cf8a11ddee Sun Nov 17 09:41:48 2013

EDITOR'S NOTE: Deseret News journalist Jesse Hyde and photojournalist Ravell Call are in the Philippines and will file dispatches throughout the week about the recovery efforts underway following Typhoon Haiyan.
MANILA, Philippines — The water was rising fast.
In the darkness of early morning, Amanda Smith moved away from the window to shield her face from the slashing rain. She had shut it just moments before to ward off the raging storm whipping through the palm trees outside.
But now the wind had ripped it open, and the wooden shutters were slamming violently against the wall again and again. Sister Smith, an LDS missionary from Elk Ridge, Utah, couldn’t see anything outside, but she could smell the sea, which seemed to be getting closer and closer. They had to get out of here.
She had heard about the storm three days before, from a driver of a pedicab. It was typhoon season, and tropical storms were common in the Philippines. Still, the last storm warning had produced nothing but blue skies. Some of the missionaries wondered if this time would be any different.
There were nine missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with her in the house, a two-story structure made of cement blocks. They were young women from Utah and Alaska and the Philippines, all about her own age, 19. They had done what they could to prepare, hastily assembling 72-hour kits, and had even bought candles and rope, just like their mission president had asked, even though no one in the house thought either would be necessary.
Now, as water roared down the streets toward them, Sister Smith realized no preparations were too small. The worst storm in generations had just hit landfall.
Bracing for the worst
More than 300 miles to the north, in an apartment in the capital of Manila, Elder Ian S. Ardern sat watching CNN. A former mission president with salt and pepper hair and an easy smile, he couldn’t help but feel a looming sense of dread about what was unfolding. On the screen, the typhoon churned, a monster on a path no one could stop. Winds would eventually reach 200 miles per hour.
As first counselor in the Philippine Area Presidency, Elder Ardern worried directly about the 675,000 LDS Church members living in the Philippines, particularly the thousands living in the eye of the storm in and around a city of 235,000 called Tacloban, as well as the entire population.
A native of New Zealand, he had seen his fair share of typhoons, and knew firsthand their destructive power. He hoped the members, and the young missionaries, had heeded the call to prepare.
Days before the storm hit, his office had been sending out warnings to the 21 mission presidents in the Philippines, with maps regularly updating and charting the course of the typhoon. Prepare emergency kits, they had advised. And get to a safe place, which for many members meant a chapel.
The area presidency had asked each of the mission presidents to call in when the storm subsided to report damages and the status of their missionaries. Elder Ardern watched the news as the sun began to rise over the Philippines and waited for the first phone call to come in. He braced for the worst.
Rising panic
Sister Smith had always wanted to be a missionary, ever since she was a little girl growing up in Minnesota, toting her scriptures to Primary, learning to play hymns like “I am a Child of God” on the piano. She’d put in her mission papers as soon as she turned 19.
She had been excited to go to the Philippines. But in some ways, she seemed too delicate for this place, with her long, willowy build and fine porcelain skin. The Philippines wasn’t exactly clean, and some things had taken getting used to — rice for every meal, the choking smell of exhaust on the clogged streets, cold showers from a bucket. But she had also fallen in love with the place — the sweet smell of mangos, the effervescence of the people, the way the language of Waray-Waray had started to roll off the tongue.
One day she sat down on a stool to teach a lesson in a dirt-floor shack and out of nowhere three fuzzy chicks materialized and walked around her legs, the way birds landed on Cinderella’s shoulder, and she thought: What is this magical place?
She had been out five months, her latest area called San Jose, where some of Tacloban’s richest and poorest residents live, some in nice apartments, others in shacks of bamboo and cardboard, a tarp stained by the smoke of cooking fires the only thing passing for a roof, roosters and stray dogs running at their feet.
San Jose sits right on the sea, and so a few days before the storm, just to be safe, the mission president’s assistants (two young men, elders who help the president) asked her and her companion to come farther inland, which is where she was now, with nine other sister missionaries, in a house quickly filling with a black, mucky water.
As the storm worsened, she could feel the house shaking, metal poles outside snapping, animals howling and squealing.
At first, the sisters had all gathered in one central room on the second floor, thinking it the safest place in the house. But the water was now rising to their knees. Metal bars covered every window, preventing an escape outside. With no other choice they would have to go to the first floor, where the water nearly reached the ceiling, and try to open the front door to get out.
They knew the current could pull them out into the ocean, but if they stayed where they were now, they would drown in what had essentially become a box of cement walls.
One by one the sisters slipped into the freezing water on the first floor. A few couldn’t swim; they held tight to their companions. Some of the women started to cry.
Sister Smith was scared too, but she was determined not to let it show. She wanted to stay calm for the others.
The front door was locked with a metal latch on the bottom and the top. One of the sisters dived under the water and unlocked the bottom latch; another reached the top and did the same. But when they tried to open the door it wouldn’t budge. The water pressing from the outside and inside had sealed it shut.
What had been ebbing as a low level panic reached hysteria for some of the sisters, who began weeping and sobbing. Sister Smith could feel the panic rising in her chest too, but she had to stay calm. With a few of the other sisters who had become leaders of the group, she started to sing hymns, their voices muted by the stinky water rising to their chins. They quoted scripture. They prayed. Sister Smith put on a brave face, not daring to say aloud what she was thinking:
“I never thought this is where my life would end.”
Finding survivors
As the storm subsided, the phone in Elder Ardern’s office started to ring. One by one, the presidents of the 21 missions in the Philippines called in, reporting that all their missionaries were safe and accounted for. Except for one. The president from the Tacloban mission never called.
As Elder Ardern waited, the phone rang. Parents from Idaho and Texas called in, frantic for news of their children. The wives of the area presidency took most of the calls, assuring parents that as soon as they had word they’d let them know the status of their missionary children.
More than 24 hours passed and the area presidency still hadn’t heard any word on the status of the 205 Tacloban missionaries. Elder Ardern was pacing when an email finally came in from the mission president. The 38 missionaries in the city of Tacloban were safe. He had negotiated with local government officials to send an email on the only functioning Internet portal in town. As soon as he found the rest of his missionaries he’d be in touch, he promised.
Cell service was still impossible, and would be for days, if not weeks. Elder Ardern was relieved, but also worried about the rest of the mission.
The area presidency dispatched every church employee in Cebu and Manila — security and building maintenance and church welfare and others — to go to Tacloban to search for members. They would travel the six hours from Cebu to Tacloban to count survivors, return to Cebu to find a working phone or Internet connection to make a report to church headquarters in Manila, and then head back out in to the wreckage to find more survivors and help.
In one Mormon congregation alone, 95 percent of the members saw their homes destroyed. Scores had lost family members, many carried out to sea with the current, never to return.
Praying for a miracle
The sister missionaries worked together. Sister Schaap punched a hole through an opening in a flimsy wall, and the group of 10 swam through the murky water that would soon carry their journals and clothes and pots and pans out to sea. Those who couldn’t swim clung tightly to their companions.
Sister missionary apartment in Tacloban, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. This shows the water level downstairs in the apartment. (Art Maligon)
The sisters used the rope to reach a nearby roof. Sister Smith stood on the rain gutter, the other nine sister missionaries shivering beside her, the rain still coming down in sheets. Hours had passed since the beginning of the storm, and yet the sky above Tacloban was still gray, shrouded by fog.
Sister Smith said thoughts of dying left her mind. But some of the sisters appeared pale and their bodies were shaking. The water was still rising and they feared it would engulf them.
One of the sisters suggested they pray. They huddled closely together, bowed their heads, and with the rain dripping down their chins, asked God to make the water stop. And then, in what Sister Smith could only describe as the greatest miracle of her life, the sea stopped rising.
By the time Elder Ardern arrived in Tecloban four days after the storm, the water had receded, leaving a putrid scene of destruction in its wake. Bloated bodies lay exposed on the sides of the road, some covered by a blanket, or rusty corrugated roofing, others by a moldy piece of cardboard. The stench was sickening.
At one point, the city had tried to conduct a mass burial for 200, but had turned its trucks around when they heard gunfire.
The city had descended into chaos and lawlessness. Survivors of the typhoon had broken into stores that hadn’t been flattened to steal televisions and toys, food, even light fixtures, despite the fact that there was no electricity.
Hours after the storm, the president’s two assistants had made the walk from the mission home to the house where the sisters had been staying. The house was destroyed but they had to kick through the door to get inside. When they found no one, they feared the worse, a sense that only heightened when a neighbor told them they’d seen four sisters leaving for a nearby elementary school.
“There were supposed to be 10,” one of the elders said.
They found all 10 at a nearby elementary school, and soon learned the story of the escape from the house and the hours spent on the roof, praying for someone to find them.
With the sisters now accounted for, the assistants and other missionaries assigned to the mission office fanned out through the city, trying to find the rest of their mission force. A dense cloud cover prevented even satellite phones from working, meaning the missionaries had no way to communicate with missionaries serving in outlying areas.
But these missionaries, they said guided by the spirit and survival instincts, made their way to the mission home. Some walked for four hours. Others hitched a ride on a motorcycle, relying on the kindness of strangers unsure how to feed their own children. One group of missionaries cobbled together more than a thousand dollars and made their way to Tacloban by boat. All 205 missionaries were now accounted for.
The two assistants to the president, one from Dallas and the other from Fiji, stayed with the 10 sisters and others at the mission home, supporting each other, especially at night when gunshots rang out.
With their own food running low, the assistants, under the direction of their mission president, decided they had to make their way to the airport. So before dawn, four days after the storm but again in pouring rain, they headed out with their flashlights pointing the way through the darkness.
“It was the hardest thing,” said one of the assistants. “People had gotten so hungry they had begun to attack each other. The worst part was the smell, the stench of death.”
Some sisters, their feet blistered, could barely walk. The looting had become more severe, and the missionaries had heard rumors that prisoners at the jail, which had lost its electricity and its guards, had simply walked out. The assistants stood at the front and back of the long line of missionaries — dozens and dozens — as they made the long march to the airport.
As they walked, Elder Ardern tried to arrange a flight out. He had booked flights in Manila, but thousands of other survivors had mobbed the Tacloban airport. The ticket agent told him if he wanted a flight out, he’d have to pay more to get his 205 missionaries to safety.
As Elder Ardern tried other options, the missionaries milled about what was left of the airport terminal, its walls blasted out by the gale force winds of the storm. And then, a final miracle.
An Army sergeant with a C-130 airplane, assigned by the U.S. government to fly Americans out of the disaster area, said he had a feeling he should walk through the terminal one more time. As he did, he saw out of the corner of his eye what looked like the nametag of a Mormon missionary. The sergeant, a Mormon himself, asked if the missionary was American. When he said he was, the sergeant told him he could arrange flights out for all the Americans and foreigners in his C-130.
Before the day had ended, many of the missionaries Elder Ardern had come for were flying out of Tecloban. By week’s end, all of the missionaries in the area would be evacuated to Manila, where they would await a new assignment in other missions in the Philippines.
The Road Ahead
It’s a Saturday afternoon in Manila, a week after the storm, the air hot and sticky. Sister Amanda Smith and the nine other survivors are sitting on a bench on the well-manicured grounds of the Philippine Missionary Training Center, talking to a television crew from New York. Their story of survival and resistance will inspire millions, they are told.
Still, it is hard for most of them to talk about their experience, and the things they saw. They said night terrors awake them. And so, just as they did during the storm, they sing hymns and say quiet prayers, hoping for peace, and an ability to leave behind the terror of what they witnessed.
And yet, there is a part of them that wishes they could go back, to help those members and non-members alike, who are still stuck. They are comforted to know that the church has never stopped searching for those that are lost, and that in the coming weeks church officials, from Salt Lake and throughout the Philippines, will continue to push food and medical supplies, blankets and tents, into the areas most affected by the typhoon, to provide relief to Filipinos, whether they are Mormons or not, part of a rescue operation that includes dozens of non-governmental organziations (NGO's), faith groups and governments from around the world.
When the interview with the TV crew is over, Sister Smith and the other sisters hurry to a parking lot, where the missionaries evacuated from Tecloban are boarding vans that will take them to their new area. They hug and cry, bonded by a tragedy they never saw coming, but one they were surprisingly prepared for.
For many, their missions are just beginning.
“It was such a terrible thing we witnessed,” Sister Smith said. “But I learned so much about how people will come together to help others, expecting nothing in return. I saw that from other missionaries, and I saw that from the Philippine people. It’s a lesson I hope I never forget.”
Sisters Camille Dial, left, Rebekah Guy and Amanda Smith talk Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 about their escape from their apartment during a typhoon in Tacloban. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)Sisters Camille Dial, left, Rebekah Guy and Amanda Smith talk Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 about their escape from their apartment during a typhoon in Tacloban. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)