Did you know the New Jersey state animal is the horse? Did you know that New Jersey has more horses than Kentucky and the Kentucky Derby? Did you know that on Colts Neck Road in New Jersey you can see amazing horse stables with beautiful horses grazing in the fields for miles? Well, hold onto your horses! The New Jersey Mission is in for a wild ride!! With the announcement from the First Presidency of the new missionary age we are sweeping the stables, shinning the saddles, locating more horses, gathering a lot more hay and learning to ride bareback!! Why? Because we are anticipating a lot more missionaries, as in 100 + more to come share the gospel with us.
Are we excited to be apart of this historic event? Yes we are! We are putting our riding boots on to receive new, young, elders and sisters to strengthen and hasten the work of the Lord here in New Jersey. What a race it will be and we are up for the challenge. We are adjusting apartments, companionships, areas and buying food, Whoa horses, a lot more food! All the missionaries are very excited to be a part of this event and are preparing to train these new missionaries that will be coming. They are striving to be exactly obedient so that they will be blessed with power to do the job. We trust them completely!
It has been a very busy and wild ride already this month. President and I had an exciting trip to Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan Temple with our wonderful departing missionaries who have become eternal friends and turned around to greet our wonderful arriving missionaries. They come and go every 6 weeks!! We have been in many meetings, trainers meeting, district trainers meeting, zone leader meeting, specialized training meeting, transfer meetings, zone conference meetings, oh, lots of meetings! Oh and lots of food!
And President and Sister Jeppson had training meetings at the Mission President’s Seminar in Kirtland, Ohio. Elder Donald Halstrom, our new North Area Seventy, gave council and advice to all 22 Mission Presidents in our area. We had the opportunity to tour church sites while we were there. Being in the surrounding sites of the early saints was a very humbling experience. The grounds of the Kirtland Temple were beautiful, well kept and even though it is owned by the Community of Christ, there was a feeling of reverence. Reviewing the miracles and visitations that occurred in the Kirtland temple brought us a sense of gratitude and appreciation for what the saints experienced. We also had the opportunity to tour the Whitney K. Newell store where the School of the Prophets was held. It was just a tiny room but great work was performed there. A CES (Church Education System) missionary instructed and taught us about the School of the Prophets. We were taught the Doctrine of Christ and how we must help our new members be truly converted so that after they are baptized they will continue to establish real growth in their areas.
Being as we are in the season of fall, the trees of Ohio were much like New Jersey, stunning! The colors along the roads of New Jersey are a sight to see. The climate is mild, not cold yet. We have had a lot of rain, but NO snow! We hear its starting to snow in the Rockies! We miss the mountains, that’s for sure.
But we are not missing the baptisms! We have the tremendous opportunity to see several every week! A favorite this week was the baptism of Sophie! Sophie is a 17 year old young woman who is a ballerina. In her class, she always watched one of the other girls and finally asked her “Why are you always so happy?” The girl replied, “I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints. That is why I am happy.” Sophie checked out mormon.org and decided to go to church the next Sunday with her mom. Her dad is Jewish and her mom Catholic. They were not very happy about her decision. The missionaries met them on the steps and invited them in and gave Sophie a Book of Mormon. She started reading, told her mom she was going to request missionaries and again her parents were not happy. She met with the missionaries, read the entire Book of Mormon and started on Preach My Gospel. She couldn’t get enough. She met with the missionaries and went to church again and again. She asked to be baptized and of course her parents said no, at least not until she was 18. Her Father said she had fallen in love with the people not the church. So he took her to Harlem, New York to find a church to see if it was the same. A senior missionary couple met them at the door, invited them in and the ward they chose happened to be a YSA branch who embraced and loved them. The dad was impressed. They went home and the dad said she could be baptized. Sophie read all of Preach My Gospel and started teaching the missionaries the restoration along with her parents. She was baptized last Saturday. She looked beautiful in the little white temple dress she wore. She was beaming. The water heater was not working so she was baptized in cold water, but she said the spirit comforted her and she was so excited it did not faze her. Her dad came up hugged the missionaries, kissed them on the cheek and thanked them for all they had done for his Sophie. She is one special young woman. It wouldn’t surprise any of us if she were to go on a mission in a year and half and be apart of this wonderful work of bringing souls to Christ.
As Russell M. Nelson said in conference. “The decision to serve a mission will shape the spiritual destiny of the missionary, his or her spouse, and their posterity for generations to come. A desire to serve is a natural outcome of one’s conversion, worthiness, and preparation.”
So we are getting ready. We won’t be trotting anymore. Get ready for a fast gallop! Yippy Kie A and Giddy on up to New Jersey! We are waitin for ya! We Love You, Dad and Mom, Jon and Bonnie, President and Sister Jeppson, New Jersey Morristown Mission – The best mission in the church!!!