Monday, September 29, 2014

1st News from Dallas!

Dear Missionary Family,

We just want to let you know that your missionary has arrived in Dallas and is part of a wonderful group of 20 new missionaries today!

Attached you will see the pictures taken at the Dallas Temple as they came in from the airport.  The group had lunch on the way, and are spending the afternoon and evening in orientation and training.  They will have dinner at the Mission Home with President and Sister Taylor and their family.  Then they will stay the night with a nearby companionship, and in the morning will be introduced to their trainer.  After a little more training together, they will leave for their area and begin their work.  We will follow up with a letter letting you know where they are serving and who their trainer is.

Monday is their preparation day, so you should receive an email from them telling you about their first week in the Mission.  I’m sure you’re looking forward to that!

Thank you for sending us your missionary!  This will be a great experience for them.

Sister Larsen, Secretary
Texas Dallas Mission

Melina with Pres. & Sis. Taylor at Dallas Temple
Melina's Group - New Missionaries

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Hey everyone!
I LOVE the MTC!! The spirit is so strong here and I love that we get so much study time (sometimes even three hours is not enough!). There are three districts in my Zone. One district has 8 Elders and the other two districts have 4 sisters and 4 elders each. My entire district is going to Dallas together! we leave at 4:30am Monday morning. My companion is from Mesa Arizona and attends BYU Idaho. She couldn't be more different than me personality wise, but we both understand that we have the most important thing in common: a strong desire to serve the Lord! That is all that really matters and we love each other and work really well together despite our differences. I was called as the online coordinator for my zone in the MTC, it's a pretty easy job. I just have to be sure everyone knows and follows the computer rules.
We got to participate in the Ogden Temple dedication last Sunday. Elder Ballard gave a devotional on Tuesday night. Both events were super cool! 
My favorite part of the MTC is the TRC investigator lessons. My companion and I have an investigator that comes to the MTC everyday to learn from us for about 45 minutes. TRC investigators may or may not be members of the church, we don't know. The investigators that are members are converts to the church playing themselves before they were baptized. I am not sure if our investigator is a member or not, but because of a number of small clues we don't think she is. Our lessons with her have been amazing and completely directed by the spirit! I love her so much! Through getting to know her we have been able to help her with some of her concerns, and through the spirit bring her closer to Christ. She recognizes the spirit she feels and she LOVES to learn about the church! She agreed to be baptized after our first lesson and she prayed with us and now prays on her own all the time. I KNOW Heavenly Father loves her so much. When we told her we are leaving the MTC Monday she  was sad, but gave us her email so we can keep in touch and she is excited to learn from new missionaries in the MTC next week (we are the first MTC missionaries to teach her!!!) She was so excited about the gospel that she wants missionaries to go teach her family in Korea! She also said "why can't everyone know about this!?!" She also wants me to sing with her in our last lesson with her on Saturday (she was in a lot of choirs as well as me)! 
I know that not all of the people and investigators that I talk to in Texas will be this excited about the gospel, but hearing her excitement motivates me to bring the "good news" of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Texas.  It is a good reminder and example for those of us who have grown up in the church to be excited about the gospel! Her awe and amazement helps me to realize how wonderful the God's plan for his children is and the attitude I should have about it instead of taking it for granted. 
I get to go and do a session in the Provo temple today! I am very excited!  
I don't have a USB chord to connect my camera to the computer and there isn't a memory card port here so I will try to send MTC pictures from Texas when I get there.
Sister Melina Lillie Jones

Monday, September 15, 2014

MTC Address (leaves by MTC Sept. 29)

Sister Melina Lillie Jones
2009 N 900 E Unit 148
Provo, UT 84602

Mission Scripture - Matthew 5:14-16

 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Melina's Talk 9/14/14 - Agency and Accountability

Robert D. Hales said: “Agency used righteously allows light to dispel the darkness and enables us to live with joy and happiness.” Agency and accountability are gifts from God that help us progress toward everlasting joy. So how can we use our agency righteously to partake of happiness and joy?

Second Nephi 2:26 says: “And the messiah cometh in the fullness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.” The line that really stands out to me is: “free to act for themselves and not to be acted upon.” When I read this line it reminded me of a quote I read given by M. Russell Ballard in 1983. He advised us to be creators of circumstance and not creatures of circumstance. To me this means that I need to be productive with the choices I make; I need to use my agency to progress spiritually and temporally. Not only can we choose how we will react to circumstances, but in many cases we can also influence what circumstances we get into. When we make righteous choices our freedom to progress increases. This means that, we can become closer to our Heavenly Father and attain joy. Someone who is a “creature of circumstance” is trapped without the freedom to progress because they have allowed temptation or tragedy or even just tough trials to prevent them from actively seeking to make the choices and changes that will bring them lasting happiness. Something we can ask ourselves is: ‘Am I choosing to let passivity to my surroundings stifle my progression toward Christ? Or am I actively using my agency to create an environment in which I can become more like Christ?’ I had a friend in high school that would constantly come to me to complain. I knew she needed a friend so I listened to her and tried my best to comfort her. Soon her complaints turned into verbal abuse toward me. She would call me unkind names and tell me that I would never understand because I had everything so good. I started to apologize to her because I knew she was struggling and I didn’t want her to be mad at me, soon my apologies turned into begging her for forgiveness for things I knew I had never done. I was stressed out and upset. This affected the way I treated my family at home and the amount of sleep I was getting. I allowed myself to be a creature of circumstance; instead of promptly trying to find a solution to this, I encouraged unkindness by bowing down to it. What I should have done earlier that I eventually did, was talked to my parents and gotten help instead of trying so fruitlessly to please someone at the expense of my health and relationships with family members. I didn’t create for myself an uplifting environment. In contrast, I was a “creator of circumstance” in the choices I made with my school work. My sophomore year of high school, I had an infamously difficult honors English teacher. She was very stingy with the B’s she gave out anytime someone got an A on any assignment, essay, or test it was a miracle. Halfway through the first semester many of my classmates had given up on her class. I did not give up. I went in for extra help from her several times a week and I spent hours on every assignment. I gave up a good portion of winter, mid-winter, and spring break to study for her class. My efforts paid off in the end and I received an A in her class. Junior year was even more of a struggle; I took more difficult classes and participated in more extra-curricular activities. I would be up at 1 or 2am still doing homework and shivering in a 70 degree house because my body was too exhausted to keep itself warm. I was able to rise to the challenge and make the study choices that would form the habits that would lead me to receive A’s. I never gave in to the temptation to skip an assignment or do less than my best on an essay or inadequately prepare for a test. When it came time to apply for colleges I had used my agency to become a “creator” of freedom. I had the freedom to choose to apply for and attend any college that I wanted to. This allowed me to choose a university that would let me to defer attendance for a mission, making it much easier for me to serve a mission. Being a creator of circumstance is a useful skill for a missionary to have. Missionaries have to choose to act in obedience to the mission rules and choose to devote their entire efforts to the work instead of letting their circumstance get the better of them.

                In the October 2010 Ensign Robert D. Hales said that “agency is to act with accountability and responsibility.” This means that we need to be ready to take ownership of our actions and their consequences. Each action has a consequence that can draw us nearer or push us further away from our Heavenly Father. I have strived to use my agency to strengthen my relationship with God. Accountability isn’t only about considering and owning consequences, but it is also related to keeping commitments and promises. How can we remember to consider whether or not each action and each commitment we make will bring us closer to God? I attended four years of seminary. This is a before school gospel study class that meets at 6am. I was committed to the class and I knew that the things that we studied in seminary would bless my life. I was never late to seminary once all four years. This meant that I had to leave my house by 5:40 every morning. Sophomore Year my seminary teachers challenged us to be to class five minutes early so we could be unrushed and spiritually prepared to learn. Most days I was five minutes early. I knew this was an important part of my life so I choose to take my commitment seriously. One night I forgot to set my alarm so I woke up at 5:38, brushed my teeth and was in the car by 5:40 to be to class on time. As a consequence for my choice to take seminary seriously, I was able to feel the spirit every morning and learn more about the scriptures and gospel principles that shape my life and draw me closer to my Heavenly Father. My accountability to seminary attendance will be a blessing for me on my mission. The scriptures I have memorized and studied, the spirit I have felt, and the gospel principles I have learned will be available for me to share and teach others while I serve. I will also be able to be accountable for my actions while I am on my mission and be fully committed to serve.

                In Abraham 3:24-25 Jesus Christ tells God: “We will go down, for there is space there and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.” This reveals to us that the purpose of our lives on earth is to prove to our Heavenly Father that we will obey him. We can prove our love, devotion, and true conversion to God by choosing to do his will and live righteously through our actions. The Holy Ghost or the spirit, scriptures, and modern day prophets can guide us so we know God’s will for us personally and individually. Once we pray and study to find what God would have us do, we can use our agency to choose righteously. As girls do not have the same responsibility or pressure put on them to serve a mission I had to choose between two good options: starting college right away or going on a mission. I had to pray, study it out, weigh the consequences of both choices, make a decision, and pray again and again to be sure a mission was the right choice for me. Serving a mission is part of how I can prove to my Heavenly Father that I love Him and am willing to serve him and put his will above anything else. When I serve a mission I will choose to live on God’s agenda completely for 18 months. The cool thing about it is that it is for my own good to live on His agenda rather than my own agenda. Heavenly Father knows what is best for each of His children because He knows each and every one of us personally. When I ask investigators to live God’s commandments, I will be inviting them to use their agency to show true conversion to the Lord. Without freedom of choice--whether or not to follow Christ—we wouldn’t be able to demonstrate our conversion to the Lord.

                Agency and accountability facilitate progression when we choose to be “creators of circumstance” and own up to the consequences of every action while keeping the commitments that will bring us closer to God and more like the Savior. Lastly, the way we use our agency and accountability is how we prove to our Heavenly Father that we are devoted to him, which will lead us to salvation. So to answer the question: ‘how can we use our agency to experience happiness and joy’—we actively use agency to create joyful circumstances by being accountable to God’s will. This is my testimony, I know that we have the power to choose eternal life and choose to return to our Father in Heaven after this life. We are all God’s beloved children and we have royal potential. On my mission I hope through the spirit to teach others the essential knowledge that will help them make the right choices that will bring them to closer to Christ through His atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. I want to thank my family, friends, and all of the teachers in my own life that have led me to my own testimony and righteous choices. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.