Monday, December 6, 2010

Tears of Gratitude

I never knew what to expect. I have cried many tears this week as I've reflected over the last 18 months serving the Lord. The best thing is, is that these tears haven't been tears of regret nor tears of what might have been, but rather they are tears of joy, love, and true gratitude to my Heavenly Father for having given me this privilege to represent His Son.
This last 3 weeks I have felt an overwhelming feeling of peace from the Holy Ghost that my missionary service has been acceptable to my Heavenly Father. Those tears are tears I am not ashamed to shed. The people I have met here have their names engraved on my heart forever. They each have a very unique story and I love each one of them more than I can explain. As Miguel said at the fireside last week, if I never see him again in this life, we will meet in the spirit world and we will rejoice to see each other.
I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church of Christ upon the earth today, with all the authority necessary to perform the saving ordinances to make it back to live with our Heavenly Father. We have a living prophet of God on the earth who receives revelation to guide us in this crazy world. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. It has been the key to conversion for everybody I've taught. I have seen huge changes in the lives of the people here as they have "come unto Christ and be[en] perfected in him" (Moroni 10:32). Something that is not true cannot change lives like I have seen happen. I know that my Heavenly Father loves me and I know that true joy comes through following His Son Jesus Christ. The world can fall down around us but we can have joy through Him. I am His representative; I have come to know Him and feel what He feels for my brothers and sisters in New Jersey. I love them and I love Him.
Thank you once again for your faithful prayers on my behalf. I hope these emails have strengthened you in whatever situations you have been going through. I love you and will see you soon.
Hermana Jackson

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

We're gonna drop them like a FLOJO!

Haha, don't ask about the was just something Hna Cornish and I came up with this week and it made me laugh.
So we have TRANSFERS tomorrow...last one! Hna Cornish is packing up and heading out and I will be getting a new companion to finish off my mission. I LOVE change because it keeps me energized so don't even fret, no worries of trunkiness here. :) My new companion is bound to be another repeated companion because I've already been with all the Spanish sisters except 1, who isn't transferring, and the one new sister coming in, who is being trained by my hija (Sister Evens)! So yes, I am officially a "grandma" now.
I can't believe I'm on my last transfer. It's...I don't really know how to explain it...but whatever, I'll write my thoughts in my journal and figure it out. This transfer is going to be a transfer of MILAGROS! I'll just ignore that the other day when we were knocking doors someone essentially told us we were going to Hell! He was trying to "save" us and preach to us all his doctrine and we just stood quiet and stared at him until he was done...then we said, "Cool. Do you know of anybody that speaks Spanish around here?" Haha, it was so funny! I love being a missionary.
Claudia and Larry came to church yesterday! Claudia is a 16-yr-old girl from Oaxaca, Mexico we've been teaching who has a baptismal date for Nov 14. Her uncle is a member in New Brunswick and gave us her name as a referral. She is so amazing and has come through some huge trials in her life to get her to where she is today. But all the YW at church loved her and invited her to mutual and everything. Yay! As for Larry, we didn't end up getting to meet with him all week because he couldn't get the webcam hooked up but I talked to him a couple times over the phone about his reading assignments and everything. The people in the ward LOVE Larry! Yesterday at ward correlation meeting, they were telling us about how wonderful his comments were in gospel essentials class and how much he seems to just get everything. I know he will get baptized so soon, it's just a matter of when. He reminds me of Miguel in Morristown and Maria DV in Paterson...haha, I get really stubborn investigators!...probably because I'm just as stubborn back to them. Haha, love it.
My testimony of the Plan of Salvation was strengthened a lot this week and the importance of the temple in our lives. Last Tuesday, Borther Weller, a man in the ward who had been battling with cancer, passed away. I never got to meet him because he had been up in the hospital in Morristown for the last couple fo months, but I frequently heard updates on him from members of the ward and there were a lot of prayers offerred in his behalf. On Friday, we went over to talk with Sister Weller and help her pack up her things to move into a retirement home this week and then on Saturday morning attended the funeral. I got to thinking a lot about God's plan for each one of us as His children. It is a plan of love, of mercy, of justice. It is a perfect plan that allows each one of us to use our agency to choose whether to follow Him or no. But then once we choose, it's not done. We must keep choosing day after day, to follow Him -- that includes the big decisions and the little ones. We choose to keep the commandments each day, even the little things, which reaps the blessing of being able to choose to enter the temple and make covenants with our Heavenly Father, which we must choose to keep. If it weren't for the temples, the plan would be pointless. So He hasn't just created this plan for us, but He has put in our paths all the necessary steps we need to take to be able to follow it. But we must choose, every day!
That's all I have to say for today. I'm trying to decide if I'm going to write less this transfer to save some stories for when I get home but I'm kind of using my emails as a journal so...we'll see. "THANKS. GIVING. is coming." yep, be ready. I miss you mucho but I love you mas!
Hermana Jackson

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ready, Set, GET ACTIVE!

Hey, how are you? This week, I actually have somewhat an idea to the answer to that question because I got a letter from Malcolm, Chris, Dad, Mom, and Nana in the last week or so. I loved every one of them, so THANK YOU so much for writing. It strengthens me to hear each one of you and how the Lord is blessing your lives. I can't tell if I got lots of letters because of my accident or because everyone figures that if they don't write me now, they will just wait till I get home or what :) but either way they are appreciated. :)
Wasn't General Conference so good? The 2 main scriptures that kept sticking out to me like crazy were Alma 41:10 and 2 Nefi 2:27. And the 3 main themes for me (which are all inter-related): agency, the Holy Ghost, and following the prophet. So so good. We watched the first session on the internet at a recent convert's house, Melissa, with her 3 daughters. So it was in Spanish and there were lots of distractions so while I understood it all, I wasn't able to focus a ton...I'll have to read that one. But let me just tell you that the Saturday afternoon session was just for me! I loved the talk by Elder Richard G. Scott all about developing true character. It comes down to our agency as well. He reminded us that Satan's destiny is fixed; we already know that in the end, he will LOSE. So now we have to exercise our agency to choose to follow Jesus Christ, who will WIN, develop faith in Him, and thus our character will form. He said that character is an evidence of how well we are using our time on earth. The better we use our time, the more our character is fortified, and then we can exercise faith -> repentance -> obedience -> self-less service.
Everything we do is a choice. Jesus Christ was not forced to do anything in his life, rather he chose to submit his will to the will of the Father because he knew of the eternal consequences it would have for all mankind (Elder Robert D. Hales). I know that as we choose to submit our will to the will of the Father, and remember the eternal perspective, we will be blessed with the happiness that was intended for us. His plan is a plan of happiness, freedom, agency, and salvation. As we choose to follow him, that is what we get. Satan's plan is a plan of misery, bondage, destruction, and "endless wo," which we will receive if we choose to follow it. "Wickedness never was happiness."
Basically everybody here watches conference at their house but we decided that we wanted them to be able to watch it with our investigators at the church at least for the Sunday morning session. So we invited all the little Hispanic members to come and to bring some food so we could have a potluck between sessions. It was a great success. One of the recent converts, Christian, was telling us how he was just going to watch it at his house but he was so glad we invited them all to the church because he was able to listen to the power President Monson's talk without any distractions. It was his first time watching conference, along with many other members, and they all truly felt the power of the words of a prophet of God.
We have a baptism coming up this Sunday, Jorge. He is from Peru and he is so awesome! He's been pretty easy to teach...already follows basically all the commandments...he's just been really prepared by the Lord. I'll send pictures next week.
Thank you again for all the prayers offerred in my behalf. My recovery is still going really well. I'm not using the crutch anymore and actually today I put on a normal shoe! We're being blessed lots. The work is still going forward. I miss you mucho but I love you mas!
Hermana Jackson

Monday, September 27, 2010

"No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing..."

Hey everybody! How's it going? I am doing so well out here in my new area. North Branch is treating me well and the members here are amazing.
Heavenly Father is blessing me to heal a lot faster than I think any normal person should heal. I took the sling off Saturday night and determined to leave it off, no matter how much it hurts, because I was losing muscle use in my arm. It's amazing how quickly the muscle has deteriorated in my arm. Simply reaching up to change the CD in the car is painful I haven't exercised certain muscles there in just one short week. It would be so easy to just put it back in the sling and leave it there but that will only hurt me more. I thought a lot about how it's like the gospel. Sometimes, it's so easy to want to just realx in our little sling and coast on the weight of others. But if we want to really help ourselves and receive the help we need from the Lord, we have to go out of our comfort zone, leave our sling, and stretch ourselves. (see Alma 36:20-21) Sometimes it is really painful, and we may want to just give up, but our weaknesses can be made strengths in the Lord (Ether 12:27). Personal revelation in particular sticks out to me. It is hard to really learn how to receive and follow personal revelation and before my mission, I mostly just relied on the revelation others would receive for me and call it good. But that only gets us so far and we are not becoming as strong as we could that way. As we exercise faith in the Lord, and a patient, consistent effort, He blesses us with strength and revelation.
We had a mission activity last Monday out by the coast somewhere. It was a nice hike through the woods or something. I obviously couldn't participate much in the hike so Sister Child sat with me for a could hours in the shade and we just talked while we waited for everyone to get back. I was grateful to her for doing that. She is the best. (see the pictures) So yeah, all the missionaries got to see me hobbling around and the sisters were asking questions like crazy. And then when we did our shopping at Walmart, I got to drive the little electric cart all around the store! How cool is that?! Too bad I didn't get a picture. :)
So this week, we were really wondering how we were going to get new investigators because we can't go out knocking too much. But our prayers were answered greatly. We got more new investigators this week than I have almost ever gotten before in my mission! Crazy blessings. The English sisters ended up finding lots of Spanish people as they were out knocking and would come home every night with several names for us to go by for the next day. So good. So we were kept busy for the most part, which I'm sure also helped me to feel better. People keep telling me that I should put my foot up and rest for 6 weeks...Are you kidding me?!? I don't have 6 weeks to just relax! :) But don't worry, I'm good.
And we had a fireside last night up in Morristown for recent converts/less actives/investigators, which was so good. I got to see the members from Morristown branch! And the RS broadcast on Saturday night was amazing, as well. I hope that you (the girls) got a chance to watch it. There was definitely a common theme of love and how important it is to love everybody and not judge them. Love it.
Well, that's all for this week. I hope you enjoy the pictures. The one of me on the stretcher was when I got wheeled into the ER with all the EMT's. They thought I was crazy for wanting a picture but I insisted that this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. :) Know that I'm doing well and continuing to do the Lord's work, despite what tries to stop me. This work is too important for anything to stop it and I love that I'm a part of it. I miss you mucho but I love you mas!
Hermana Jackson

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Monday, September 20, 2010

They say you should go home on a stretcher...

Craziest week of my mission, hands down! This might be long but you MUST read on...I promise it will be worth it (at least up to Thursday :) I will go in chronological order:
Tuesday: TRANSFERS! I was SO SAD to leave Paterson, especially saying goodbye to Maria DV was the worst but I know we are going to keep in touch forever so it's all good. Then we got to transfer conference and realized only one other Spanish companionship was changing...which puts me with Hna Cornish again! Crazy, huh? This is our 3rd time being comps...MTC, then the trio in Paterson, and now here in NORTH BRANCH. It is at the old southern border of the mission, before we got Cherry Hill added in. Talk about culture chock from Paterson! People have lawns here! :) We are in an English ward down here with a couple of rows of Spanish members we work with that wear headsets during sacrament meeting. But the Spanish program is growing a lot so we're excited to see what we can do. Very Spanglish environment though. I translated 2 talks during sacrament meeting, which was exciting. We live with 2 other sisters, Sis Neves and Tolman. And Sis Neves is from Sao Paolo and cooks for us every day. :)
Wednesday: Ellis Island...and then there was an accident on the way back so it took us close to 4 hours to get home (usually it's only 1) and got 1 lesson in.
Thursday: Walking day! The weather was gorgeous...even a little drizzly, which was nice so I had 0 fear of passing out...until at about 7:45 pm when we got hit by a car! Can you believe it? Here's what went down...We were walking across the street (in a crosswalk) when a car was making an unprotected left turn onto our street and I guess he didn't see us. Hna Cornish yelled, "Sister, look out!" and next thing I know, I'm flipping in the air or something from the impact and landed on my ankle/side of my foot. Basically head on the car hit me but Hna Cornish only got hit by the front corner of the car. So anyway, I couldn't get up, the guy stopped and called 911 and soon enough the street was closed off and there were police and ambulance and lights and everything. I could move my right foot or my left shoulder (don't ask why...I'm confused as to how I fell). They got me on a stretcher, put me in the back of the ambulance and drove me to the hospital. Talk about pain shooting through my body! Hna Cornish called President Bahr but he wasn't answering so she left him a message saying, "Hey, can you call us? Thanks." Haha. Don't worry, we took pictures of me with the EMT's (but I forgot my camera cord today...sorry) and I was smiling and joking around with them, trying to ignore the pain. We got ahold of President and Sister Bahr and they came down to our area right away and stayed with us in the ER until 1:00am. I got x-rays and everything and discovered that I have a fractured foot and possibly a fractured shoulder (the x-rays weren't too good for the shoulder). And a huge bruise on my hip from where the car hit me. Yeah, so that's the story. So now I have a sling on my left arm, a huge bandage on my right foot, and a crutch under my right arm...I feel like Tiny Tim. :) They tried getting me to use 2 crutches in the ER but my shoulder was killing me and I was in so much pain that I started shaking really bad and almost threw up/passed out so President Bahr put a stop to that. :)
Friday: We were in pain most of the day. Hna Cornish got a bruised tailbone and I was trying to figure out how to deal with life. :) Luckily Sister Tolman is a hair stylist so she did my hair for me since I can't reach up my arm. We got a couple lessons in with me hobbling around...I'm stubborn, I know.
Saturday: Went to the Manhattan Temple! We had this trip planned for a while because Matilde (a convert from Paterson last year) was getting her endowments and I was not about to let the fact that I got hit by a car get in my way! We actually got all the way there without getting lost at all and we were early for once! Changing trains/subways 3 times was exciting. So my right heel has touched the ground of all the NY subway system...and NYC is so fast-paced! But the temple was wonderful. I saw my old trainer there, Hna Bushman, and she freaked out when she saw me come hobbling into the temple like I was. Haha. I also saw my friend Aubrey from BYU because there was this huge YSA conference going on this weekend! So good. And I came home so TIRED!
Sunday: What a way to meet everybody! I stood up at the pulpit translating for some talks, and then Bishop Stone got up to introduce me while I was still up there (he hadn't met me yet) and we got to tell the whole ward what happened. Yep, good stuff. I played the piano in the Spanish sunday school...using my left foot on the pedal and not really moving my left hand at all. It was fun. And hey, mom and dad, I was talking to this woman before church who had lived in Bakersfield a long time ago. She asked who my parents were and turns out she lived in the apartments back in the early 80's when Anthony was a baby and had dinner with you guys all the time...and her uncle baptized you, Dad! Do you remember Linda Low? I showed her pictures of you all now and it was fun updating her on our family.
Ok, there you go. Sorry it was so long and not that spiritual but it is what it is. I know that my Heavenly Father protected me this week because my injuries weren't nearly as bad as they could have been. Thank you for your prayers for me. I'm trying to keep going out and doing the work the best I can...though door knocking isn't quite an option right now. :) Hna Socorro told me at the temple on Saturday that Satan knew I was planning on going out of my mission on a high and he tried throwing this in my way to stop me...but it won't! She said, "What Satan didn't know is that you are stronger than him." So the work continues. I love it everyday.
I miss you mucho but I love you mas,
Hermana Jackson

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


HoLa!!! How's everything going back in the real world? So, surprise, we had a baptism yesterday! I didn't tell you about it last week because things were a little up in the air until last minute. But Minerva Lugo got baptized and her son baptized her! It was so beautiful. We saw her on Friday night and she looked so different than before. She had such a light that was just radiating from her! And then she had her interview and now she's a baptized member of the church! How cool is that? At her baptism, she was crying and when she came up out of the water, she was really crying and she and her son embraced in the font forever. Everyone had tears in their eyes. I loved it.
In other news, I guess my time in Paterson has come to an end...again...but for real this time. :) We got the transfer call this morning and I am heading out tomorrow afternoon to...who knows where? I guess Heavenly Father answered my prayers kind of because I told him that either I get transferred now or I stay in Paterson until the end of my mission because I didn't really want to go somewhere new for just 1 transfer. So I'm going. But can I just tell you how much I LOVE Paterson?!?! This place has become so much a part of me. The members here treat me like one of their own. Last night we had dinner over at the familia Soto's and they were talking to me about the difference they saw in me from my first 2 transfers here to coming back this summer. We used to study Spanish with them once a week at the beginning of my mission and I was just pretty quiet and didn't say much (mostly because I didn't understand them) and then they said I came back and I had completely blossomed. I was the "chispa" this area needed. Haha. I'm going to miss the people here so much. It was hard enough saying goodbye to them the first time! But at the same time, I am REALLY excited to meet new people and see what else Heavenly Father has in store for me on my mission. It is going to be one crazy last couple of months!
This weekend was the Dominican equivalent of their independence day so there were Dominican flags all over the place! On the hoods of cars, draped over people, hanging from telephone wires. Haha, it was the same a couple of weeks ago for Puerto Rico's festival...and a couple weeks before that for Peru. Mexico's festival is coming up and hna Schleske wanted to get a mexican flag and put it on the hood of our car. Too bad I won't still be here!
Ok, so we have a ton to do today so I'm going to jet. We've got to do some ghettobump shopping, take some pictures, go to a zone lunch, and visit lots of members. I hope everyone is doing well and is happy. True joy in life comes from living in righteousness, not from our circumstances. 2 Nephi 9:18. i miss you mucho but I love you mas!
Hermana Jackson

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What did we NOT do this week?

Labor Day totally threw me off yesterday...I don't even remember what happened last week! hmm...ok, here we go...
Found a dead mouse in our apartment one night, contacted a the city fair, painted Hna Socorro's living room, passed out, good lessons, good finding, Ellis Island...
On Sunday, we had 6 investigators at church!! It was crazy good and testimony meeting was one of the best ever. Loved it. Martin came and he is still so excited a preparing for baptism. I love that man. When we went over to see him last week, he told us that he had had some trouble understanding what was going on in the Book of Mormon so, rather than give up like most other people would do, he decided to draw out what was going on! He showed us these huge, pro-style drawings of Lehi and his family with all their names and then the boat and them leaving Jerusalem with the corresponding scriptures written out beneath. He had about 3 or 4 drawings he had done. How cool is that? The Book of Mormon is so important and I am so glad he found a way to make it speak to him.
Rafael and Francisca came to church too. I don't know if I've told you about them but they are this older Dominican couple (not married, obviously) who are taking lessons from the JW's at the same time as us. He spoke a lot with missionaries in the DR and really liked it so they are progressing pretty well. They are getting closer and closer to realizing that while other people may teach good things to help them be better people, this is the doctrine of eternity! Every time someone bore their testimony about the Book of Mormon in church, Francisca just clutched her book closer and closer to her. I have wanted to see one of my investigators get married for basically my whole mission so maybe this will be the one!
We had a walking day on Thursday and it was REALLY hot (I think it was our last big heat wave for the year...due to that hurricane) so we went walking down to Lucina's, about 45 minutes walk away and by the time we got there I was passed out. That was exciting. Haha, but I'm good, don't worry. What else is new, right?
Yesterday was a great p-day. We hiked Garret Mountain with Hna was the same hike we did together last year on Labor first p-day in the field! But now when I looked out over Paterson, I recognized all the buildings as if I were looking out over Provo. It was really neat, and great weather. And last night for finding time we drove past downtown and saw a huge circus tent set up and a fair going on. It was packed with people so we decided to go and make some contacts and get some potential new investigators. It worked! We found some pretty cool people...and that's not even to mention our Mexico bracelets we got...and free ice cream...and saw several members/inactives. Very productive. I'll put some pictures.
So, it was a really great week. We had some very powerful, spirit-led lessons and spirit-led finding. I love that. I think that often as missionaries we take for granted just how much we have the spirit with us every day. I know it is a great blessing and it can truly guide our lives if we let it. Thank you so much for the packages I've gotten recently! Mom, the candy bar was exactly what I needed. And Chris, Megan, Michael, and Cari, I LOVED the pictures of everybody. I have them in my scriptures to show off to people. They are adorable. And my comp loves the little glowworm thing. :)
I am so grateful to be a missionary. I love it every day. Thanks for all your love and support to me. I miss you mucho but I love you mas!
Hermana Jackson

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