Updated: Mar 31
In last year’s edition of ‘Holi’ we interviewed Aled Jones, the vice-president of NFU Wales and dairy farmer from Caernarfon. This year, we’re interviewing his wife, Eilir Jones about her life and Welsh upbringing.
Thank you for agreeing to share a little with us – why don’t we start at the beginning. What was your upbringing like?
I was brought up in the best place in the world – Anglesey – in a little village called Gwalchmai. My parents loved and supported me always and I had a lovely childhood and the freedom to wander around the village and beyond. I greatly enjoyed wandering along the public footpaths and country lanes on my bike – often on my own as I was an only child. Most of the social activities were through the chapels and spending time with school friends.
I enjoyed primary school a lot, but the same was not true of secondary school, as I struggled with self-disciplining myself to complete my homework, giving instead a thousand excuses to the teachers for the lack of home work! I was also quite shy, which isn’t a nice thing when you’re a teenager.
So what next – which career did you follow?
When it was time to select a career, I decided that I wouldn’t be able to go and do an academic course in the university, so I chose to try for a nursing course instead, where I could do practical work and meet all sorts of different people through the work.
So I packed my bags and went off to Manchester to study a course in nursing, which included general nursing, nursing in the community, and a qualification to be a health visitor. The course helped an only child to overcome their shyness, as I mixed with a wide range of people and saw the circumstances of families which were so different to the background I had come from. It was lovely to care for people and to see them get better, but it was also difficult to see people suffering, especially the children.
After finishing the course, I had experiences in nursing in a general hospital, completed a midwifery course, and worked also on an intensive care unit for adults. It was a privilege to work with and learn from so many different co-workers over the years, and a pleasure to get to know the patients and their families.
After having children of our own, I went to work as a health visitor – very different work to general nursing – but it was good to be able to support families in the very difficult work of parenting and bringing up children. I didn’t realise how hard this was before having children of my own!
It’s clear to see that you have had a very busy life – a nurse, mother, farmwife and everything else. What about the spiritual side of life? Your husband Aled shared about his experiences in the 2017 issue of Holi – what about you?
When I was a teenager, I began to feel like there was an emptiness in my life, but I couldn’t work out what was wrong. When I was in Manchester my best friend on the course was a girl named Sandy from the Stoke area. Something about Sandy was different to all my other friends – there was some sort of foundation in her life and a contentment that I did not see in my own life. As I questioned her about this, I discovered that she was a Christian who had a real relationship with Jesus Christ. I could not say the same, even though I had gone to chapel all my life. I saw Jesus Christ as an example of how we should live, and I could not understand at all why he had to die on the cross. Sandy was very patient as she answered my questions and invited me to Christian meetings, and was a very faithful and caring friend.
I wasn’t content in myself at all during this time. When I was 20 I saw an old school friend – Anwen – on the street in Llangefni in the middle of August. We spoke at length and then she invited me to a Christian conference taking place in Aberystwyth the following week. Something told me I should accept the invite, so the following Monday off I went in a little Mini with Anwen and Gwenda.
The next morning Gwilym Roberts from Caergwrle was speaking on the book of Zechariah – I had never heard of the book before, let alone knowing that it was in the Bible! I was floored by the reading taken from the first chapter:
Return to me, says the LORD of hosts, and I will return to you’ … ‘Return from your evil ways and from your evil deeds.’ But they did not hear or pay attention to me, declares the LORD.
It was as though an arrow had been shot through my heart as I realised that I was not acceptable to God because of my wrong ways. I began to cry, and I could not stop crying for the rest of the day. It was an awful and hopeless experience to realise how far I was from God.
A friend accompanied me out of the meeting and I was given a booklet on the Christian faith to read overnight. As I went through it I saw for the first time why Jesus Christ had to die for me – because I was bad and it wasn’t possible for me to reach God’s standards through my own efforts. Jesus was not just an example, but a Saviour. I also did not need to be afraid of dying anymore, because he had risen from the grave, and offered eternal life to me.
Thank you for sharing with us. Lastly, how has all of this affected you?
That was the turning point in my life – depending on Jesus and trusting in him – there was no emptiness in my life after that.
Over forty years have passed since I decided to trust in Jesus, and although life has not been easy at times, I can’t think of a single day where I have not felt God caring for me. Knowing that God and Christ love me still gives me a thrill and makes me want to sing. Me – valuable in the sight of a mighty God.
One of my favourite verses in the Bible is ‘See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.’ We are God’s children through Jesus Christ – Hallelujah.
First published in Ask Magazine August 2018