Monday, April 24, 2017

One More Reason... And Counting!

Alright... so almost two whole years have passed since I returned home from serving a mission and the reasons I have to smile just keep coming and coming. At times I've had to remind myself that some experience I'd already decided to label as a trial really could make me smile, while at other times I found myself smiling without knowing there was even a reason at all. Life really is full of both ends of the spectrum. In all honesty though, I could not be happier with the way my life has turned out the past two years. I'm grateful for all the ups and downs I've experienced and wouldn't trade the growth I've gained for anything.

One of the most recent (and I would say THE biggest) reasons I have found to smile comes in the form of this handsome man....

On December 28, 2016 Hermana Jones became Mrs. Fillerup! It was the best beginning to a wonderful life and eternity with this incredible companion I can now call my husband.

As I'm sitting here thinking about how great the last four months have been I can't seem to put my happiness into words. I don't mean to boast, because believe me neither of us is perfect and there are times that life could be looked at with more distaste, but the overall flavor of my life right now is an ecstatically sweet one.

I love my husband. I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ (without that, I would no doubt linger too long on the bitter moments I've had). I'm loving life and I'm smiling away.

Con amor,

Hermana Fillerup

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Hope On

The opposite of hope is despair. The dictionary defines despair by saying that despair means “To no longer have any hope or belief that a situation will improve or change” Some synonyms with despair are: discouragement, anguish, unhappiness, misery, defeat.

Think for a moment on a time that you have felt the lowest, the most helpless, and the most hopeless. Personally these feelings have come to me at times that I felt I was failing. Times when I doubted my abilities and suspected that everyone else was doing the same.
I believe that desperation can lead to great things. Just as a diamond is formed from the weight of the world, so too can we be refined at our most difficult and desperate moments.

Here are a few examples that illustrate this principle perfectly:
  • In one of Fred Astaire's first screen tests, an executive wrote: "Can't sing. Can't act. Slightly balding. Can dance a little." He went on to star in over 35 films and multiple television shows.

  • After Harrison Ford's first small movie role, an executive took him into his office and told him he'd never succeed in the movie business. Ford's career went on to span six decades, not to mention he played the iconic roles of Han Solo and Indiana Jones

  • Vincent Van Gogh sold only one painting in his life, and the sale was just months before his death.

  • Albert Einstein did not speak until he was four years old and didn't read until he was seven. His teacher described him as "mentally slow, unsociable and adrift forever in his foolish dreams."
  • Babe Ruth had 1,330 strike outs in his career. He continues to remain third on the world record list of homeruns.
  • Thomas Edison's teachers told him he was "too stupid to learn anything." Edison went on to hold more than 1,000 patents and invented some world-changing devices, like the phonograph, practical electrical lamp, and a movie camera.

  • Michael Jordan: Most people wouldn’t believe that a man often lauded as the best basketball player of all time was actually cut from his high school basketball team. Luckily, Jordan didn’t let this setback stop him from playing the game and he has stated, “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Do you get it? Failure, a phrase we so strongly fear, if handled correctly, has the ability to turn us into just the opposite of a failure. In a talk by Elder Neal M. Maxwell he stated:

Hope is realistic anticipation taking the form of determination—a determination not merely to survive but to “endure … well” to the end” He went on to say: ‘a “brightness of hope” produces illuminated individuals...Such hope permits us to “press forward” even when dark clouds oppress. Sometimes in the deepest darkness there is no external light—only an inner light to guide and to reassure”

I know that life can be difficult. I know that sometimes hope seems like such an abstract idea, but I promise you that inside each and every one of us there is the divine nature to succeed. If your doubt continues within you I invite you to try your hardest to muster up the tiniest seed of hope and as Alma says  yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye [may succeed].”  Even if you only have a desire to hope. I know that through the Savior our desperation can turn to hope, our fear can turn to faith, and our failures to glories. I know that in the strength of the Lord we can do all things (Alma 26:12).
As an ending quote I live you with wise words from Dr. Seuss (whose first book by the way was rejected 27 times before it was published):

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.You’re on your own, and you know what you know. You’re the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Not the End

Well, it's been a while, I know. I've been home for 3 months now and life continues moving forward. It's harder than I expected, but I'm still going.

In missionary life it is common to hear phrases referring to death
when talking about a missionary coming to the end of their missionary service.
And as silly as it sounds, that is exactly what it feels like. It's like the best time of your life has ended (keeping in mind that most returned missionaries are around 20-25 years old) and everything you worked so hard to accomplish in the last 18 months/2 years is just abruptly terminated.

The very day that I returned home my parents took me to visit with my local stake president for a final missionary interview. As I walked into his office I knew that the end had definitely come, but I had this surreal feeling that I would leave that interview still a full-time missionary. In that short time with him he asked me to share my feelings about the mission I had served, what I had learned, what I planned to do now that I had returned, and he gave me various words of wisdom to be able to function in life as a normal human being.

Then he brought my parents into the room and said the fateful words:
"Sister Jones, I need your nametag." And I just started bawling.
All throughout the interview I would tear up every now and then, but I was generally happy, until that fateful moment. When he said those words, I felt like he was asking me to literally tear my physical heart from my chest. Like my identity, everything I had been for 18 months, was gone. I was left with nothing. A blank space.

After 3 months of thinking back on this experience, I feel that I can finally say that the blank space I so terribly feared represents not a loss
of who I was, but rather a glimmer of hope for who I can become. An empty page on which I can carve a new name tag. The shadow of the old will forever remain, but the one I am now forging is much more permanent.
I will never forget the mission.
I will never forget Mexico.
I will never forget what I learned and who the Lord helped me become.
But that does not mean that I must remain stationary on this path of life. There is a long road ahead of me with many more ups and downs to traverse, and I'm ready.

Maybe they are right, ending the mission IS kind of like dying, but just like our physical death is not the end of our existence, 
I know that my missionary death is not the end of me.

Monday, May 25, 2015

THAT Is Why Savannah Smiles

Brightly beams our Father's mercy
From his lighthouse evermore,
 But to us he gives the keeping
Of the lights along the shore.


Let the lower lights be burning;
Send a gleam across the wave.
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman
You may rescue, you may save.

Dark the night of sin has settled;
Loud the angry billows roar.
Eager eyes are watching, longing,
For the lights along the shore.

Trim your feeble lamp, my brother;
Some poor sailor, tempest-tossed,
Trying now to make the harbor,
In the darkness may be lost.

This last Sunday was one of the best I have yet to experience here in the mission. We were able to witness one of our brothers begin a new life 
as he stepped into the baptismal waters and covenanted with His Father 
that he would always follow Him. The first song we sang was 
"Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy" (Number 335 in the Hymnbook
and as we began to sing the chorus i could not keep the tears from flowing. 
This song describes perfectly our purpose as missionaries. 
Everything that I have been trying to do while here in Mexico this year and a half. 
"Some poor fainting, struggling seaman you may rescue, you may save."  

I love being a missionary. 
I thank my Father in Heaven each and every day for giving me the opportunity to represent his Son and to share this message of hope and love. 18 months have passed by so fast and I am amazed at all of the wonderful people I have been blessed to meet. 

If you have the chance to go on a mission
DO IT and serve with everything you've got
It will be one of the best decisions you will ever make in all of your  life. 
God loves us! 
He sent his Son to earth to save us. 
Our Father has restored The Church of Jesus Christ and His priesthood power. 
Forgiveness is possible. 
Miracles exist. 
We are children of God. 

That is why Savannah smiles. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Hermana Jones is coming HOME!

She will be reporting on her mission to Mexico on Sunday, May 31, at 9:00 AM, at the Brigham City North Stake Center.
(620 North 300 East, Brigham City, Utah). 

Don't worry though, she will be writing another post on her blog this Monday!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Gilberto's Miracle

I have a MIRACLE to share with you guys. 
One of the best moments of all of my mission. 

One of our investigators, Gilberto, has been progressing so much, and this last week we taught him about the blessings of fasting. 
On Friday we were able to fast with him for the baptismal date he had accepted (May 24), and the interview he needed to pass before being baptized. Saturday we went to a baptism service so he could see how it is, and he had his interview directly after. They were in there for about 2 hours, and when our district leader came out he said that Gilberto had told him he didn't feel ready to be baptized on the 24th and that he would rather wait till the 31st. Later, Gilberto told us that when he said that the elder looked sad, so he told him he would pray on Saturday night and tell us the answer on Sunday after the meetings. When our leader told us all of this I just kept thinking "It's ok. I just know he will be baptized in May. I know that everything will work out the way Heavenly Father wants it to." 

So then comes Sunday. In Sunday School the class was about Baptism (how perfect right?), and at the end of the class the teacher asked if anyone had any comments and Gilberto said "I do" and began to tell us that Saturday night after saying his prayer he dreamed that he was on an island, and someone came up to him and submerged him in water. He then told us that he knew the Spirit had baptized him in his dream. Then he told us "I have made the decision to be baptized May 24. I know that it is what I have to do." How amazing!!!! 
It was such a special experience. As missionaries we study and teach and worry ourselves about the progression of each one of the people that we meet, but when it comes down to it the most important answer they need to receive is the one that comes from above. God's plan is perfect. 
He loves his children and is so willing to answer our prayers. 

"The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that we must ask for in order to obtain." -The Guide to the Scriptures "Prayer"

PS This link doesn't relate to this particular blog, but Savannah wanted us to post it today.
Con Amor,
Hermana Jones

Monday, May 11, 2015

My Family

"..the family is central to the Creator’s plan 
for the eternal destiny of His children."                                                                                                 This last week two great things happened to me:
First, last Sunday my Mexican family 
came all the way from Atlixco 
to Puebla to say goodbye. 

Second, I was able to speak with my
American family for the last time
while her in the mission.

What a blessing. It has been so incredible to be able to leave my family for a year and a half, only to find a whole new one. 
My time as a missionary has helped me to really understand and appreciate the organization 
of the family. 

President Ezra Taft Benson, thirteenth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taught:

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints views the family as the most important organization in time and all eternity. The Church teaches that everything should center in and around the family. It stresses that the preservation of family life in time and eternity takes precedence above all other interests. There can be no satisfactory substitute for the home. 
Its foundation is as ancient as the world. Its mission has been God-ordained. No nation ever rises above it's homes. This Church will never rise above it's homes. We are no better as a people than are our firesides, 
our homes... The good home is the rock foundation, the cornerstone of civilization. It must be preserved. It must be strengthened.
Some people ask me as Church leader why we place so much emphasis 
on the home and family when there are such larger problems around us? 
The answer is, of course, that the larger problems are merely
reflection of individual and family problems." 
(Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson, chapter 14)

"The family [is] the most important organization in time and all eternity." 

Wow. The mission is important. Work is important. Church is important, 
but the family is the MOST important.
Not only do we know that all of lives problems can be solved from the front steps of our own homes, but we also know that the relationships we form here in our families do not have to have an end. We know that the "same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy." 
(Doctrine & Covenants 130:2)
God loves us. That's why he has given us families.
I invite you all to think about that a little bit this week. 
What are you doing to cherish your family? 
How do you show them you love them? 

Love you family. 
Con amor, Hermana Jones

click here to read "The Family: A Proclamation to the World"