Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Feliz Navidad!

So, we got back late from NY on Saturday and are only just now finding a quick bit of time to send an email home, but it probably won't be that long because hey, I get to call home in 3 days!

New York City is amazing! I will never live there but it was way fun to visit. We woke up on Saturday morning at 3:30am in order to catch the 4:30am train to Penn Station. Then we (Hna Andrews, Minetto, and Binning) got lost for about half an hour trying to find the right subway to take us to the temple in Manhattan, got on it, and come running up the steps to the sight of the angel Moroni in the middle of the city at 6:25am (and the session started at 6:30am). Luckily they waited for us. It was ALL in Spanish! I loved it! I just love the temple, basically. We got out of the temple at about 9:00 and had a little over an hour to kill in NYC before one of Hna Andrews' converts from Jersey City, Enrique, met us there to do baptisms. So guess where we went? We wandered around Central Park! It was so neat! Call me a sinner, but everything I saw made me think of the scenes from "Enchanted" but whatever. :) Then we went back to the temple to meet Enrique and afterwards, met us with the elders in our district, Davis and Lebaron, to take taxis to Times Square and find a pizza place. It was way fun. We decided to walk back to Penn Station and on the way, Hna Andrews and Elder Lebaron had a little competition on how many people they could get to say hi or Merry Christmas to them as they passed. In the 20-30 blocks we walked, I think they got 30 people total to even acknowledge them! Dang, people here are intense. Oh the east coast. :)

As our train pulled up into Morristown, we were greeted by a light dusting of snow...which over the next couple of hours turned into a little over a foot. Yeah. I definitely slipped as we were walking to an appointment when I had trouble distinguishing where the curb was on the sidewalk. Hna Andrews just laughed. Haha, oh well. The snow storm caused them to delay church for 2 hours on Sunday so then we just held Sacrament meeting. Plus they had cancelled the branch Christmas party the night before so they pulled out all the food after church and we had our Christmas party then. I don't know how kosher that was but hey, they had roasted a pig and they were not going to let that go to waste. :) (See the picture... :)

We had a lesson with our new convert, Jose, and his family on Sunday night where we taught them how to hold a Noche de Hogar (FHE). It was so cute! He invited his parents over (both members) and they brought the dessert, arroz con leche...my favorite :) He and his wife prepared a lesson all about faith, and Hna Andrews and I were in charge of the activity. It was so amazing! They wanted to take a picture to remember their first of many noches de hogares. He was talking to his little son about serving a mission and everything. It was just really neat.

Ok, I have told way too many details and now I won't have anything to say on Friday. I guess mostly this was for those who aren't in my family...hm, oh well. :) On the phone, don't let me forget to tell you how yesterday, receiving no inspiration was inspiration in and of itself.

Thank you so much to everyone who has sent me a letter/card recently to make my holiday season! I really appreciate the love and support. It means a lot to have that from home.

I hope everyone in doing well and that they have a wonderful Christmas. I miss you tons but I love you more!

Feliz Navidad!

Hermana Jackson

Monday, December 14, 2009

Crazy Lessons!

Feliz Navidad!

How are you all doing? First off, next Monday I will not be writing an email because we are doing our p-day for next week this Saturday instead because we get to go to the Manhattan temple! I'm so excited. We are taking off way early in the morning to hit the 6:30am session in Spanish! I have missed going to the temple so much. We only get to go here once in December and once in June so I have got to live this up. The strength that I get from the temple is amazing and going there as a missionary, I feel like I just learn so many things each and every time.

This week, we had some CRAZY lessons. It was pretty funny, actually. We taught this old Mexican lady named Maria who, apparently, majored in music and performed back in the day for some big name Spanish performers. She writes her own songs on the guitar and sang some for us (don't even fret, she gave us a tape recording). One of them was quite catchy all about the Virgen Maria being our defensora and conquistadora. And then she told us the story behind these songs...you know, like having visions of Jesus and the 12 apostles and the virgen Maria sitting at her kitchen table having dinner with them and her being like Moses commanding the hurricane to flee, and it did. :) Another crazy lesson, I am pretty sure we taught some pastor of some church and he just loved what we were saying about the Plan of Salvation. I have never had someone ask so many questions about agency but he was just loving it! We have a return appointment this week. :) Oh, and also, we went to go do a follow-up appointment with this one guy, Julio, but he wasn't there. So we taught the guy who answered the door who livevs in the basement. By the time we finished with him, Julio got home and brought a friend for us to teach as well, so then we taught them. And then when we finished with that lesson, the guy who lives in the front of the house came and stopped us on our way out to our car and wants us to teach him. Yeah, wild, but amazing. The way the houses work here is each door you knock on leads you to basically a different family so when we go contacting, we knock the front, the side, the basement/back door, and usually yell up at the top floor windows too. Love it. :)

Last Wednesday, we had the annual mission-wide zone conference here in Morristown. It was so good and rejuvenating! President Bahr spoke to us about the talk given in General Conference several years ago called "Come What May and Love It." That is our new mission motto to just help us get through things when they get tough. Hna Andrews and I have loved applying what he taught us. There are 4 things we can and should do to conquer discouragement: Learn to laugh, Keep an eternal perspective, Remember the law of compensation, and Trust in the Lord. Sometimes, people just stress too easily but really, as long as we are being obedient and doing what we can, we have no need to be getting discouraged. But don't get any wrong ideas from this tangent, we're not getting discouraged right now. The Lord actually blessed us with an amazing week, for which we are so grateful. So many little miracles each and every day.

On Saturday, all the sister missionaries were invited to the mission home to have a Christmas brunch with the Bahrs. It was so nice. Each companionship had to make an ornament for the Bahr's Christmas tree that represented them/their area. So Hna Andrews and I got quite creative. We discovered that together, our name is Andrew Jackson. So we had a lady in the ward print us off a picture of Andrew Jackson and we made this scene of him getting baptized. Ok, so I didn't explain it very well but it was awesome, trust me. :)

Oh, and to anybody reading this who is thinking of going on a mission, learn how to paint houses! I'm not even kidding. I am so glad Dad taught me a little about that because that is probably the most common thing members ask us to do for them. Two weeks ago, we painted a bathroom and last week we painted a living room. Haha, creates for some pretty good times, that's for sure!

Anyway, I guess that is about all. I can't wait to talk to you at Christmas time. I can't believe it is coming up so fast. This transfer is going by really fast and it's sad because I am loving things! Maybe there's a correlation...haha, I don't know. :) I miss you tons but I love you more!

Hermana Jackson

Monday, December 7, 2009

The gospel blesses families in all situations

So this is a little bit more of a somber start than my other emails. Hna Bushman called me Saturday morning from Paterson to tell me that Lupita (the mother of the girls who got baptized) had been rushed to the hospital and was dying rapidly. She passed away yesterday morning. I just collapsed to the ground crying Saturday morning. I thought about those girls and what they must be going through right now and I thought about Raymundo and the stress he now has on him. They have zero money for a funeral or anything and they will probably be going back to Mexico sometime this week or next, who knows if its for good or not. I remember the last time I saw Lupita and she basically told me she was ready to get baptized but her health and circumstances just couldn't permit. She knew it was true. She saw the way it changed her family and the lives of her girls. I am so grateful to our Heavenly Father for the plan that He has for us. If everyone could please pray for the DeLazaro family right now to be able to push through with their faith on the Lord Jesus Christ. They need all the prayers they can get. Thanks.

On a bit of a brighter note, we had a baptism yesterday here in Morristown. Jose Morales, a 26 yr old guy, got baptized and it was beautiful. He basically grew up around the church because his mom joined when he was little but he never joined. His wife is an inactive member and everyone else in his family has joined the church and he was just the last one. This is the end result of about 15+ years of missionaries trying to teach him and he just fell into our hands. Definitely our "freebie" baptism. We didn't even challenge him to get baptized; one of the members called Hna Andrews one day last transfer and said "Hey, I've set Jose with a baptismal date for the 6th of December." Amazing. His whole family was there and everyone was crying. We asked him what finally made the difference for him and he just looked at his 2 yr old son and said he wanted the gospel to be able to bless his family and he wanted them to be able to be together forever. I love it! This gospel really does bless families. I have seen it change so many people's lives. I forgot my camera cord today so I'll have to email a picture next week.

As I sat and watched the First Presidency Christmas devotional last night, I thought a lot about how the gospel has blessed my family. When those missionaries baptized Mom and Dad, two teenage kids at the time, they had no idea the difference they were making in the lives of so many people. As President Monson said at the beginning of his talk, the Christmas season always brings back fond memories of times with family and friends. I know that even though I may not be physically with you as my family this Christmas, I can use the things you have given me over the years to help other families feel the love of the Lord in their homes and in their hearts. For me and all the other sisters in my apartment, this is our first and only Christmas on the mission. I pray that the Lord will help me to make the most of it by helping others to make it the most special yet.

I hope everyone is continuing to do well. Know that I am praying for you and can feel the strength of your prayers working through me. I am still loving life here in Morristown and my companion is absolutely amazing. My emails the next couple of weeks might be shorter so I have something to say to you on the phone at Christmas. Have fun Christmas caroling and making the breads. Send me one if you can :) I miss you tons but I love you more!

Hermana Jackson

Monday, November 30, 2009

So one time, I thought I had transfers figured out...and then I didn't.

How was everyone's Thanksgiving? Mine was amazing but not anything like I thought it was going to be. So here's the deal...last Monday night, we were at a teaching appointment with Silvia, who is getting baptized this week. Our phone started ringing and usually we don't answer it but it was the AP's so we did this time. They asked for Hna Bushman and asked her if she would be a trainer again for this transfer. She said yes and then said, "Wait, in Paterson?" To which the AP's replied yes...and she just stared at me wide-eyed and we both started crying. Haha, yep, that's how it all went down that I found out I was getting TRANSFERRED! So I packed my things in what little time we had on Tuesday amidst going to all our investigators and converts and members and seeing them one last time. I started crying as I sat in Raymundo and Lupita's little basement bedroom, their girls all sitting on the bed. Dang, it was hard saying bye to them. The little one, Danniela, gave me a card and her teddy bear before I left. I love that family and miss them a lot. One of the YW in the branch gave me her teddy bear as well and Hna Socorro let me keep her guitar to remember her. We couldn't stop by and see Rafael but we called him and he was basically crying over the phone. I think it was just that none of us were mentally prepared for the change that happened, and it threw us all off. But hey, that's the mission.

So now, I am serving in Morristown, the Spanish branch, with Hermana Andrews. She is from Auburn, CA (my 3 comp from CA :) and she is AWESOME! We seriously hit it off right off the bat and have just been going strong ever since. She is only 2 transfers older than me on the mission, so we're basically in the same boat as far as a lot of things go, and I like that because we are really a team. She served here last transfer with an English sister (Spanglish companionship) so she had to do all the Spanish lessons and everything and they had to try to juggle both the Spanish branch and the English ward but now we are able to just focus on the Spanish branch. My Spanish has been skyrocketing as we have just been taking on a "fake-it-till-you-make-it" attitude. No more playing the "I'm brand new" card. Haha. We have also been making it a goal to speak Spanish any time we're outside of the apartment. It has been really good. We didn't do that in Paterson at all.

I absolutely LOVE my life here in Morristown. After seeing a sister last transfer hate her whole transfer because she kept wanting to be in her old area, I decided that every area I serve in would be my favorite while I am there. So life is good. The members here are great. The branch is about a third of the size of the one in Paterson, so it's interesting. We have three baptismal dates for this month, which is way exciting! :) One of them, Judith, has been being taught for years and years by missionaries and we are the end of a long line trying to get her baptized. We did a Word of Wisdom lesson with her on Saturday and she had a question about which teas she could and couldn't drink. Hna Andrews offered to look at her tea for her and tell her which ones were herbal. So we looked at them and none of them were. She gathered all her tea back up and we thought she was going to put it back in the cupboard when she headed straight for the trashcan and dumped all her tea right out!!!! It was amazing!

Another cool investigator we have is named Lady. She is this young Columbian mother with 2 really rowdy kids and a husband in jail for drugs or something. She has made a lot of mistakes in her life but it is amazing to see the changes she is making. She started reading the Book of Mormon and is already in Mosiah (reminds me of Rafael, a lot)! She told us about how she prayed about Joseph Smith and she was like "Oh, I know it's true. Everything you guys are saying is true. I want to get baptized and show God that I am changing my life." Yeah, amazing. And then all we had to do was get her to church and the branch fellowshipped the heck out of her! Haha, it was so cool.

We had a really neat mission-wide fireside last night where all the missionaries sang a bunch of Christmas songs and there were talks. It was held here in Morristown and another one will be held in 2 weeks in Union City. I accompanied for "This is the Christ." I just love playing the piano. And also, all of the YW from Paterson got together and drove down to Morristown for it so I got to see them all last night, which was nice.

It's weird to think I am already in my second area and have possibly already said bye to people I may never see again in my life. But when I started crying as I left Paterson, I took that as a good sign because it meant the Lord had answered my prayers and blessed me with the ability to really love those people.

I love this work and I love seeing how this gospel and the Savior's atonement can cover every possible thing. The people we teach are so varied in background and needs but the amazing thing is that every one of them can be whole through the Atonement of Christ. I'm so grateful for that.

I hope everyone has a great week. I miss you tons but I love you more.

Hermana Jackson

Pictures: 883 - me and Hna Andrews
849 - me and Hna Bushman in front of a really famous tag out here in NJ...and we drove past it every time we went to the chapel in Paterson
851 - my old Paterson zone in front of the Silk City tag

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Yee Kee's in the parking lot!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!!!! El dia de accion de gracias is swiftly approaching and so is the end of my 2nd transfer. Our branch had a massive thanksgiving dinner on Saturday night, which consisted of turkey, potato salad, platanos, and all different kinds of rice! Haha, gotta love the Hispanic style thanksgiving. :) Oh, and of course the Spanish music playing throughout the night. By the way, did you know that there is a song called "Spanish Hotel California"? You have got to look that one up on i-tunes. It just might be my favorite new thing. :)

So probably my coolest news of the week is that from Friday-Saturday, we did mission-wide exchanges for the sisters! It was tons of fun. I hung around Paterson and Hna Minetto came out from Jersey City to be my comp. I learned a ton from her and we had a lot of fun together. We had one of the YW (Andrea) out with us all afternoon and evening and by the end of the night we were just starving so Andrea kept telling us to go to this place called Yee Kee's. It's one of many Hispanic-Chinese food restaurants...there are like 5 on every street corner. So we picked up all this Chinese food to-go and drove to our next appointment, which was at a library, got out of our car, sat down in the parking lot, and had a feast. It was pretty dang awesome. Oh Paterson.

Oh, I inherited a guitar temporarily last night from one of the branch members. She wants me to play and accompany them to go Christmas caroling over the next couple of weeks. I got so excited when we got home last night and we just started jamming out to some stuff. It made me think of this time last year when I wrote that Mistletoe song...haha, good times.

So what are everybody's plans for Thanksgiving? Is everyone going over to Mom and Dad's or to the in-laws or what? Malcolm, tell me about your tour! I heard you're sick? Get better soon! So, I'm not really sure what our plans are as of yet. I'm pretty sure we have several dinner appointments...mmm...details surely to come :) Transfers are on Wednesday, the day right before, and this time we are pretty sure Hna Bushman is leaving but...who knows? The whole branch is assuming it too.

So we taught a LOT of lessons this week, but none that particularly stick out to me. Oh wait, there is! Haha. So, on Tuesday, it was just a rough day. We weren't teaching very much and we just weren't feeling like we were in the right place all day. After about the 5th appointment that bailed on us, we were nearing the end of the night and Hna Bushman was like, "We are just going to knock this one more house. Every time we drive past it, I feel like we should knock." So we did...we knocked about 3 times and nobody answered. I was just praying, staring up to the top floors of this building thinking somebody please answer! Right as we were about to turn around, we heard the door handle turning and this guy named John answered. He invited us right in and we taught him all about the Book of Mormon. He was asking so many questions and was so interested. We have been back to see him twice already since then and things are going really well so...we'll keep praying for him! :)

Well, that is about it for this week. I think I got your package mom, so thank you! What happens is the ZL's pick it up Monday and they give it to us Tuesday (unless we see them on Monday) and they told me that I have a package so I will probably open it tomorrow. Thank you thank you! I love this work I am doing. It is amazing being able to be out here and serve the Lord. I love seeing the changes in people's lives as they come to accept and know this gospel. Thank you for all of your love and support. Take care and have a great Thanksgiving. I miss you tons but I love you more!

Hermana Jackson

Monday, November 16, 2009


Hola, que tal? What's new in everyone's life? How's the tour going for Malcolm? Dad, did you get your book all reviewed and stuff? Mom, tell Nana I said hi and I love her!

Life here in Paterson is AMAZING, as always. Probably one of the things that makes it most amazing is that Jesenia (14), Vanessa (13), AND Danniela (8) got baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday! They are the coolest girls ever. After Jesenia got confirmed, she cam up to us and she's like, "I am coming on a mission with you guys tonight because I'm a member now!" Haha, so she came out on visits with us and she loved it. We have been teaching their whole family, which was a referral from a member of our branch and they are just a wonderful family. Raymundo and Lupita are still investigating but mainly because they need to get married and Raymundo needs to find a new job so he can come to church on Sundays. But they really want to get baptized. I think what is coolest about them and about Rafael is that they were converted entirely on the Bok of Mormon. I think I told you a couple of weeks ago that we decided to do a Bible fast for a week...well, we kept that up that whole transfer. We have just been using the Book of Mormon in all of our lessons and that is what is converting them, I know it. There is such a power in that book. I just finished reading it on Thursday and prayed like Moroni instructs. The feeling I received was so subtle but I know it was there. It was peace, comfort, and knowledge that Heavenly Father knows me and is aware of me and my needs.

Rafael had us over for dinner this week and it was so nice! He has this pet turtle named Suzy that just wanders around the floor of his house and he would call to it like a dog and it would come! It was wild. Oh turtles. :)

This morning we drove to Morristown to practice for a mission music fireside and on the way there, we came up with our own words to the NJ state song (we don't know how it goes or anything, but the title is "I'm from NJ"...so we got something good). We found out that we get to do exchanges this week amongst all the sisters so Hermana Minetto in Jersey City has been assigned to come out here to Paterson and be my comp for a day while Hna Bushman heads out to JC with Hermana Cornish. That will be kind of fun.

Ok, so I'm going to attach some pictures from the baptism and of Rafael with his turtle.

I love you all so much. Thank you for your letters and emails to me. I really appreciate them a lot. I will try to write back as soon as I can. I miss you tons but I love you more!

Hermana Jackson

Monday, November 9, 2009

It all started when Hermana Bushman kicked a rock...

STORYTIME! So, this one beautiful day during the summer, Hermana Jackson was in the MTC praying for her future companion in New Jersey. Meanwhile, Hermana Bushman was wandering around with her companion in the streets of West New York kicking rocks and talking to people. One rock was really big and busted her shoe. She was sad about this but decided that since her shoes were just so comfy anyway, she would wear them out till the end of her mission and then just junk them. Fast forward to a still beautiful day in November in Paterson where Hermana Bushman and Jackson are companions, visiting some members of the branch. But instead of the missionaries doing the teaching, it was the members. You see, you can ask people if they need anything from you or any help and they will always say no. But the familia Campos observed a specific need and got to work. "What size shoe do you wear?" Yes, they were pointing to the ridiculous nature of Hna Bushman's shoes and offered to buy her new ones...more like, insisted. We tried to resist with everything we could (yes, I just switched from 3rd person to 1st person) but they would not let us leave their house until we told them. So they found out her shoe size and mine and saw us on Saturday with a brand new pair of shoes each...Clarks...yeah. We felt horrible about it but they would not let us decline the offer. So we got new shoes. Then on Sunday, another member of the branch was supposed to be giving Hna Bushman back her bashed shoes because she was going to get them fixed but she comes walking in with...a brand new pair of shoes each. So we got another new pair of shoes. So from the shoes to the Ecuadorian stretchy pants to crocheted scarfs and beanies for us, we are getting taken care of. Wow, yeah, the members here are the most giving people I have ever met. And Hna Bushman has vowed to never kick rocks again...though she did this morning. :)

So, how is everyone doing? Megan, how's the new job? And you and Chris, how is everything with the girls and such? Michael and Cari, how was your trip to California? Did the boys just love Nana? And Malcolm, you're on tour?!? Crazy! I heard about the craziness beforehand but I'm glad you got to go. I hope everything goes well with that! I'm praying for you and am excited to hear all about it when you get back! And mom and dad, thank you so much for the constant emails and letters and everything. They really help to keep me going. I now know why missionaries love getting letters so much. Wow, yep.

I'm glad to hear the Guy Fawkes party was fun. I was definitely thinking of you all and wishing I could have been there. I've only been at one out the last 4...weird.

As far as the missionary work goes, Rafael got confirmed yesterday and it was wonderful, Maria had her cute little baby, 2 of the daughters of Raymundo and Lupita (Jesenia and Vanessa) are getting baptized this coming weekend, and we have 1 (hopefully 2) more baptisms the next weekend! I love it. Heavenly Father is blessing us so much here.

I am so grateful to have it reaffirmed to me over and over again that this is where I'm supposed to be right now. The youth in our branch have really been struggling a lot and we as missionaries have kind of taken them in under our wing. Well, for anyone who know me, they know how much I love working with the youth so it has been a great blessing to be here right now. We are beginning to see some great changes in them, really strengthening themselves and each other a lot.

I have officially figured out that Mexican cheese makes me sick. You know the white crumbly cheese that usually garnishes their food dishes? Yeah, I can't eat it. Every time afterward I am just sick the rest of the day. Hmm...what to do? I don't know. :) Oh yeah, and I remember whenever we had the missionaries over to dinner growing up, Mom would always say, "I just trust that one day you all will be fed and looked out for the same way on your missions." Yep mom, don't fret, definitely happening. :)

Anyway, that's about it for this week. Thank you all for your love and support to me. It really means a lot to know that people are praying for me. Know that I'm praying for you too. I miss you tons but I love you more!

Hermana Jackson

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ecuadorean stretchy pants

Hey! So, first things first, I am still in Paterson and Hna Bushman is still my companion! Woohoo! That's exciting. Maria Del Valle was really happy too. She told us she prayed every day that we wouldn't get transferred out. (Oh and sorry I keep referring to her by her full name but when you're teaching 6 Maria's, that's kind of what it comes down to.) :) She came to church yesterday on her own because her husband is pretty sick right now so that means she didn't have a translator so guess what? I ended up translating Sacrament meeting for her. I had no idea what I was doing! Haha, but it was good and everything turned out ok. Selena was sitting behind me and she said she was listening to what I was saying and I didn't do too bad so hey life is good. Ok, and Maria's mother-in-law is this way awesome lady in the branch from Ecuador who comes out on visits with us all the time. Anyway, she came with us on Thursday for a couple hours and it was freezing cold, rainy, and even a little snowy at times, and she gave us these stretchy pants/capri things to wear under our skirts that her husband brought back for us from Ecuador! Oh man, they were a lifesaver! And quite fashionable, I must say! They especially helped us out when we drove to Newark that afternoon to do the "Fearbuster" with all the new missionaries just arriving from the MTC! Yep, I was just in their place 6 weeks ago and it was way fun but we were completely drenched afterward...and cold. We were each paired up with a newbie straight from the airport to take them around downtown Newark contacting anybody and everybody for an hour. It was fun, to say the least. :)

Probably our coolest news this week was with one of our investigators, Rafael. He is a media referral we started teaching a couple weeks ago but we can only meet with him once a week because he is crazy busy. But he had requested a Libro de Mormon so we went over to deliver it to him and started teaching him. That was 3 weeks ago. Then he came to a session of General Conference and came to church the last 2 Sundays and when we met with him just this last Friday we asked him how his LdM reading is going and he had read from the beginning all the way to Mosiah 8! So then we asked if we could set him with a date for baptism and he told us, "Whenever you think I'll be ready, I will prepare myself for that day." So we're shooting for November 1. Woohoo! He is awesome! :)

We are also teaching a whole family, Raymondo and Lupita and their 3 daughters. They have accepted the invitation to be baptized but are kind of hesitant about setting a date. Everything for this family depends on Raymondo, I think. Lupita is really sick and can't get out of the house much and they all just look to him so basically, if we can get him to commit, I think they all will because they all feel it. Pray for them! :)

Hmm, what else? OH! Be careful when you eat soup...you may find chicken toes...

Hermana Bushman has been really sick this week. I feel so bad for her. All the ladies in the branch are trying to insist that she go to the doctor or take their home remedy or something but she is getting better just fine. The weather here has been horrible though...pretty drizzly and cold all day every day. I think I have put off buying my winter clothes long enough. :)

Well, I think that's about it for today. Thank you for all your love and support. I love the pictures I've gotten from Michael and Cari and Chris and Megan. Thank you for those! And Mom, I think I will probably get your package tomorrow. Remember, I always write my letters on Monday and then get my letters and packages on Tuesday so...yeah. This is the best thing I can be doing right now. I miss you tons but I love you more.

Hermana Jackson

Monday, October 12, 2009

Buenos Dias!

Buenos dias! Oh man, my first transfers are already this week! But they haven't sent out the transfer fax yet so...yeah, I don't know. I think it's pretty safe to assume that I'll still be in Paterson, it's Hermana Bushman we aren't quite sure about. Oh well, I guess you will find out next week. But anyway, we were talking in zone meeting last week about avoiding the "6th week slump" of transfers and just pushing through as if you're both staying for the next one so we did/are. And we had an awesome week! Lots of new investigators and the highest number of member presents Hermana Bushman said she's ever had in her mission! Woohoo! Oh, and we started a spotlight thing in Relief Society, which I am in charge of, and let me just say it is wild. The ladies just crack up when I'm up there because I have no idea what I'm doing and I'm just trying to get a whole bunch of little old Latin ladies excited about winning a candy bar. Haha, yeah, I'll let you picture that as you wish. :)

Maria Del Valle completely rocks my world. She has succeeded in reactivating her husband (who hasn't gone to church since he was probably 9 or 10 and hasn't ever sat in on a missionary lesson for the last 6 years with Maria). We did an FHE with them this last Monday night and it was the first time he joined us and it was amazing. Then they had us back over a couple days later and he has just completely opened up! I love it! Our goal here is to complete these part-member families and Maria's example to Danny made all the difference with that. They are so cool! You can just see the light of the gospel shining through their faces now and I love it. It is amazing what this gospel can do for people.

Saturday night was the long-anticipated "Noche de las Razas," where all the members in the 3 branches here got together and had this massive activity celebrating the different countries everybody is from. They were so hardcore in preparing for it. We could not get a single woman to come out with us on visits Saturday because they were all like, "Oh sorry hermanitas, we are cooking for the activity tonight!" And when we went by their houses, sure enough they had basically started the party early with all the Columbians and Ecuadorians and Dominicans cooking and practicing dances and songs to share. It was amazing. The activity had more food than you have ever seen in your life! Then of course every time I walked past the Columbian table, Selena's mom was like, "Hermanita, Hermanita, you need to eat more food! Try some of my rice!" and I would have another heaping plate of food thrown in front of me. But it was good so whatever. :) I think the Mexican table was my favorite though, with the tacos, taquitos, and tamales and horchata. Oh, and the American table had little pb&j sandwiches. Haha, it was just so fun. They were all so proud of their culture and so accepting of the others as well. I wish I had had time to make some roast beef and yorkshire pudding or something.

So this week I have been reading more in the Book of Mormon to complete it by Christmas and I am in the beginning of Alma reading about Alma and Amulek and all that they did to support each other as companions. It is an amazing story. I also love the story of Ammon, which I read this morning. One of my MTC comps compared me to being a type of missionary like Ammon...a little more laidback and just serving people by example until they start asking questions. But as I read this morning, I realized just how much I am not like Ammon but how much I really want to be like him. He was so selfless and giving in his service and had such faith that the Lord would deliver him if he just showed his love to the people. I love that.

Oh, and I also noticed a verse in Alma 1 (towards the end of the chapter) where it talks about Nehor dying the "ignominious death." If anyone would like to give me their insight on that, it would be greatly appreciated. Haha :)

Anyway, that's about it for today. Prep-days are wild. We went and played dodgeball with the elders this morning for exercise and might be playing water balloon volleyball with them this afternoon but it's a little cold so...we'll see about that one. Ok, just know that I am safe and doing well. The Lord is looking out for me and I can see that every day. He knows me and is aware of what I need. Thanks for your love and prayers. I can definitely feel the strength from them. I miss you tons but I love you more!

Hermana Jackson

And here are some pics: 740 - Columbians (basically half our branch), 741 - Dominicans, and 752- some Peruvian kids doing a traditional dance

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Hola Familia!

Hola familia!

What a wild week! So I don't know if I ever told you this but we had 2 new sisters move into our apartment in the 3rd week of this transfer because one was coming here from the MTC on a visa holdover for Belgium, Sister Powers. Anyway, she was one of my really good friends in the MTC so it was crazy that of all the places she got sent to wait, it was NJ Morristown, my apartment. So we had a blast and she just left this morning for Belgium so now her comp, Sister Child, is in a trio with us until she gets a new comp coming out here from Temple Square on Wednesday. Crazy huh? So on Friday, the 4 of us did an exchange and Sister Powers and I were in charge of teh Spanish area while Hna Bushman went to help out Sister Child in the English area (they had been struggling a lot because they were whitewashed in). So you know what that means? First, I got to drive for a day! :) And second, we had all Spanish appointments...and I was with a sister who had learned French in the MTC! Haha, yeah, for an entire day I had to hold down the fort with the Spanish world. We got a baptismal commitment made! Haha, I was so nervous going into it. I really wasn't sure if I could do it. But I just prayed so hard and I have never felt the power of the Lord working through me so strong as Friday. I understood more than I ever have and really had the chance to get to know the members who came out with us more because I didn't have Hna Bushman to fall back on to talk to them. :) It was a great experience, and way fun to get to spend the day with Sister Powers, both of us in the field for less than a month!

But now I've been out here for over a month! Crazy, huh? I was thinking about it and I am already 3 months down on the mission...that's like, 1/6. But I don't like to think of it that way so...I won't :)

Wasn't General Conference amazing? We got to listen in English in the Relief Society room with the English branch while the Spanish was bradcast in the chapel for our members and investigators. I especially loved Elder Andersen's talk on Saturday afternoon all about the arms of the Savior reaching out to us. I love that imagery and in the last month out here as I've been studying the Book of Mormon, I have realized just how many times it says something like "the arms of the Lord are extended continually before you," or his "brazos de misericordia" I don't know in English...arms of mercy directly, I guess. Anyway, it was great. And our investigators that came loved it. I can't wait until the talks come out in the Ensign to read again and study. And I hope everyone got the plug for member missionary work from Elder Perry :) Haha. Oh, and talk about a POWERFUL testimony from Elder Holland! That is definitely one that can't just be read again, it has to be watched. He just threw it all out on the line about the Book of Mormon! Wow. I am coming to feel that way more and more every day the more I read it. It is so important, even for just 5 minutes a day! I wish I had known that before my mission!

So I have officially made my first Spanish mistakes...that I know of... :) We were having dinner at the branch president's house on Thursday and she was asking about foods we like and then I said something like, "Me gusta comer jueves" (I like to eat Thursdays) instead of huevos (eggs). Yeah, that was a good laugh. And one of our investigators was talking about how she hurt her shoulder (hombro) really bad and I was trying to clarify the story when I said, "Que paso a su hombre?" (What happened to your man?) Yeah, another good laugh. We'll just leave it at that. :)

I miss you tons, but I love you more!

Hermana Jackson

Monday, September 28, 2009

"My mom only cooks weird stuff sometimes...and by weird I mean random body parts. "

To explain my subject line...Selena, the 16-yr old girl in the branch I told you about last week, told us this the other day when here mom invited us over for dinner. Yeah, the appointment is this week so I'll let you know how that goes. Oh, and on Saturday night, I definitely ate cow tailbone. Yep...Dominicans have some great ideas for cooking. :)

This week was definitely a wild one. Our key investigators, Maria and Alberto, dropped on us suddenly and didn't want to get baptized anymore or even talk to us. It was really hard. But we finally got in to see them yesterday. Alberto was way cold to us at first but then after we prayed and got to talking, he just let out all his doubts! It basically all led back to that he wasn't there when we taught Maria the first lesson so he had questions about prophets and Joseph Smith and everything, which we can definitely help him with. So we have an appointment with them this week. I am so grateful for this second chance he is giving us to try to help clear up his doubts.

Maria Del Valle (the one who is learning Spanish) committed to baptism! We don't have a date set yet but she came to church yesterday and was like, "Thank you so much for those 'Questions of the Soul' (out of Preach My Gospel)! I looked up the reference it said for how to make my family more united and have more peace and it was the first time in 6 years of investigating the church that I have really felt like the Book of Mormon was the word of God speaking to me! I want to get baptized!" Love it. But she's having a baby soon so we aren't quite sure what her baptismal date will be yet...she's praying about that. Anyway, that was a huge miracle.

The RS broadcast was good...I think. I didn't really understand a ton because they dubbed the Spanish over but I know that President Eyring was talking a lot about charity. Hey, like I said, comoprehension isn't my best thing yet. :)

On Saturday, the entire mission gathered in a city called Dover to do what is called a Blitz. We all were assigned 2 streets to basically conquer and contact every door looking for possible members who had converted in their home countries and not transferred their records properly when they moved or something. So they put us all in Spanglish companionships (one English and one Spanish) so I was with Sis Strommer, who is a sister serving in Jersey City. It was pretty sweet and pretty hardcore when we found a Spanish house because it was all me while she just looked on. But it was fun. Lots of slammed doors but then this Unitarian lady invited us in for cookies so you know, life is good. :)

And probably the coolest thing of this week was yesterday. I gave a talk in church! Haha, the theme for sacrament meeting was all about missionary work and so they asked me to speak. The Familia Soto (the people who we do language study with) came up to me afterward and they were like, "Wonderful! We understood everything you said! And you only made 2 mistakes!" Haha, they were counting? Uh-oh! :) But it was good. And then we had a fireside last night with all the ex-missionaries of the branch speaking abd sharing things from their missions, which was fun. So now I have some pictures to attach of the members of the branch at the fireside!

Ok, I think that's about it for this week. I know I said we might be moving but we're not after all. The story behind that was that we are living in the basement of an inactive lady's house...but she was living with her boyfriend (whom she had been married to before) and the branch president didn't like the idea of us living there so he called her (Emma is her name) and basically told her that if she didn't get married, we would have to move out. So guess what? She got married on Saturday night and we were the only other ones there so we got to be witnesses! Haha, the mission is great. And now they're not living in sin anymore so we can try to teach her husband. :)

I love you all. Thank you so much for you love and support and prayers. I can really feel the strength from them as I go throughout my time here in NJ. There are times when it's rough but other times when it is just all made up for 100x better. I'm excited to hear from you all again. I miss you tons but I love you more.

Hermana Jackson

Pictures: 692 - me and Hna Bushman standing on Ellis Island with the NYC skyline behind us
703 - me and Selena. Love that girl.
705 - Carmen, Hna Socorro, and me (Carmen was the one who fed us the cow tailbone :)

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Monday, September 21, 2009

I'm a native!

Mi familia! Como estan? Um...I don't know why my mind is blanking on Spanish right now but it is...all I can think is Chinese, which is weird. Anyway, so guess what? I got my first comment that someone thought I was a native!!! Yeah, that's right. :) We were making contacts in the street the other day and I walk up to this group of gangster looking people and started talking to them (they were from the DR, and they often look gangster, haha) and telling them about the gospel and one guy was like, "Hey, where are you from? Argentina?" Woohoo!! That was definitely cool. I was like, no sorry, I'm actually from California. To which he replied, "Really? Because you have an Argentine accent!" Haha, I love it! And we've been doing language study with different members in the ward this week and they've all told me that I speak really well and have good grammar and pronunciation and stuff, just the main thing I need to work on is understanding people, which will come with time. That made me happy. Anyway, yep, it's good.

So this week was AMAZING! Talk about blessings from the Lord for pushing through last week. We got 9 new investigators and had 19 lessons with a member present (and the mission standard is 5). Yeah, we have just been praying so hard for the Lord to help us because when we started this week, we had about 4 people in our teaching pool, which is so rough. But now we already have most of this week scheduled out. I am so grateful for that. I needed this week big time to help me see that I am supposed to be here doing this work. I just can't even begin to explain the miracles we've seen this week, but I'll try. :)

First of all, one of our investigators, Maria Del Valle (different from the other one...we're teaching about 4 Maria's... :) is awesome. She only speaks English but is taking the lessons from us because her husband's whole family is in the Spanish branch (her husband is inactive). So we were trying to get her to go to the English branch and handed over to the English elders so she can actually learn and progress but she called us the other day and she's like, "You know what, I want to go to the Spanish branch with my family so...I think I'll just learn Spanish." Haha, I was like what the heck?!? She is awesome. She has been taught by the missionaries for years but never made any progress until now! So we were talking to the branch president about her and he says, "Ok, perfect. We can have her work with the Young Women because their class is held in English and then she can learn as she teaches." Life is good.

This other lady we started teaching, Maled, is pretty golden too. Her daughter is a member and so was her mom, who just died about a month ago, but she isn't. But her daughter told her that in order to see her mom again, she needs to get baptized. So Maled called us up to take the lessons! We brought her a Book of Mormon and she wanted to start reading it right there with us. She opened to the very first title page and started reading, "'The Book of Mormon'...Who is Mormon?" Then we explained and she continued, "'Written by the hand of Nephi'...Who is Nephi?" Anyway, it continued like this until we read the whole title page, and introduction, and then she wanted to read the testimonies of the 3 and 8 witnesses...Haha, I loved it. And everything she was just like, "Ok, yeah, that makes sense. But I don't really know yet so I'm going to have to pray about this and keep reading." Haha, who says that? It was cool. I am really praying for good things to come out of this one.

I did my first split yesterday away from my comp, which was kind of cool (I mean, I love my comp, but it was nest to know that I could teach a lesson and handle it in Spanish without her as a crutch). I went with a 16-yr old girl in the ward, Selena, who is awesome! We taught the little lady, Victoria, who has cancer, all about the 10 commandments and the sabbath day, which was fun. I loved it. :)

Anyway, I think that's enough rambling from me. I want to hear from you! I love the name you chose for Claire! I bet Mom was crying, huh? :) I can't wait to see pictures of it and Kiley's wedding. Tell Kiley congrats and I love her tons. I'm so grateful for this opportunity I have to be serving a mission. I'm excited to hear how you're all doing and how school is going! I miss you tons but I love you more!

Hermana Jackson

Monday, September 14, 2009

Did you know that Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty belong to the State of New Jersey?

Hey family!

How is everyone doing? What's new? Any cool stories? I definitely have some...well, maybe :)

Ok, so this week was crazy! We had SO MANY meetings that took up basically all of our time during the day and we didn't think we would ever get in all the teaching we needed to. When we looked at our numbers Saturday morning, they were grim, to say the least, and it was drizzling rain outside...all day. So I was feeling pretty discouraged, thinking maybe it was my fault our numbers weren't so great. But then I read some scriptures on faith and I prayed. I said, "Heavenly Father, we have been doing all we can this week to try to get our lessons in. Please help us to reach our goals now." And then I got up and went to work. Every one of our appointments Saturday morning and afternoon cancelled on us! Yeah, flaky, I know. But we just kept going and ended up getting to teach some lessons and when we got back to the apartment that night, the numbers were somehow there. I don't understand how it happened but we had met our goals. I know that was the Lord, for sure. I had been sick all day because the members kept feeding us random food but we kept going and it turned out. Yeah, it was a major testimony builder to me about the power of faith and diligence in the work.

In other news, we got to do something really cool all day on Thursday. Apparently Ellis Island belongs to the state of NJ and is a part of my mission. Well, the church has a huge investment in Ellis Island because of all the family history stuff, right? So we, as the sister missionaries, get to take turns and go every other week from April to October and volunteer in the family history center at Ellis Island! Yeah, it was pretty sweet. So if you have any names of our relatives, mom, who came through Ellis Island, send them to me and I could look them up. I'm pretty sure I found Papa Chuck's dad last week in the system. And since school has started again, it's not as busy anymore so they let us take a tour around all the parts that are corded off to regular visitors, like the parts that are being renovated in the old hospital wings and stuff. Yeah, and we get to take another tour when we go back again. Oh, and so yeah, I've seen the NY skyline and the statue of liberty and all that and actually been to NY (because part of Ellis Island is NY too). Haha, it was cool. And this one little man I was helping to do his family history with just started crying when we found his grandfather. He was like, "This has been my lifelong dream! Thank you!" It was definitely a neat experience.

I'm serving in the Paterson 1 Spanish branch. Yesterday after the closing hymn in Sacrament, I heard the branch president say over the pulpit something to which I picked out the words "mujeres jovenes" and "las misioneras"...yes, we found out we needed to teach YW right then! Haha, and it was all on the law of chastity, which was exciting, to say the least. :) But it was in English because all the younger generation prefers to speak English, though they can do both.

Maria and Alberto are doing well. Still progressing and looking forward to their baptism. I gave my testimony at a baptism for the elders yesterday, which was cool. Oh, and Maria and Alberto have introduced us to their son, Eddy, to take the lessons as well. He is Malcom's age and reminds me exactly of Malcolm! Wow, yeah. It's like he was sent into my path specifically because I know how to talk to him and stuff because he is so similar to Malcolm. So Malcolm, pray for him! And maybe I'll get you in touch with him because he is a way cool guy.

I guess that's about it. OH! I made a contact with a Chinese guy in the street and gave him a pass-a-long card. Woohoo! I am loving the work out here. Thank you so much for your love and support to me. Remember to put your faith in the Lord and you can do anything. I miss you tons but I love you more!

Hermana Jackson

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"What's Paterson like?" "Do You Like Ghetto?" "Yes." "Perfect."

(This is a long one...brace up :)
Hola familia Jackson (or as I'm called here, Hack-son)!

Woohoo, I am in the field! After a long day of flying, fearbusters hitting the streets right after the airport, and a night at the mission president's house, I am finally in my area and loving it! I am in Paterson (not really sure where that is on a map but...yeah.) It is ghetto as heck here and I love it. That subject line was basically the first words my trainer and I said to each other. We are in the weakest part of the mission as far as numbers of members is concerned. But the members that we do have are AMAZING! We don't ever actually have dinner appointments set up with them but they always end up feeding us something whether it's just a sandwich or a bowl of jello. Seriously, some of these people have nothing and yet they are so willing to give. We just have a Spanish branch full of Dominicans, Columbians, Peruvians, Puerto Ricans, and everything else imagineable. LOTS of inactives! And yes, I got asked right away if I play the piano so that is now just one of the many roles we are taking on as missionaries here.

So, about my trainer...Her name is Hermana Bushman, from San Jose, and I absolutely LOVE her. Seriously, we get along great, and that is a good thing because we are the only sisters in our zone and the 2 zones next to ours so we never get contact with the other sisters. She graduated from BYU a couple years ago and was working in Washington DC when she felt like she should go on a mission, so here she is. She has been out 1 year this week. Oh, and guess what? Her trainer was Hermana Newton, Sister Power's neice whom I talked to before my mission. Yep, it's just a nice little chain going down. :)

We have been facing all sorts of things here from major success to not so good. The very first night we were out (last Wednesday), we had just left a member's house and were on our way to my first teaching appointment when she hit a massive pothole and we got a flat tire. Yeah, awesome. So there were some major gangster guys sitting on their porch who came over and helped us fix it up. Haha, love it. And we ended up making our appointment...though we were about half an hour late.

Probably the coolest thing I've witnessed so far is with a couple of key investigators we're working with right now. First is Maria and Alberto. The first time I met Maria (Hna Bushman and her previous comp had already taught them both the week before), we taught only her. Her husband wasn't in the best of sorts, smokes a lot, didn't come home one night because he was so drunk. Anyway, she committed to baptism for the 26th of September! But we didn't want to give up on Alberto just yet. So he was at the next appointment with Maria on Saturday and he totally felt it. He committed to baptism to and the faith that he has to quit smoking and drinking and everything is incredible. He wants to do it so bad. He told us on Sunday night that he fasted all day for the strength to quit smoking. He and Maria came to church on Sunday, invited all their extended family, and loved it. Anyway, so yeah we've got 2 people getting baptized the 26 of September! Another lady we're working with is Victoria. She is fairly old and pretty sick with cancer. She has to go in for chemotherapy twice a week and it's just really hard on her. But she is so close to committing to baptism! She keeps just saying she doesn't want to get pushed...but don't worry, we're making progress with her.

Oh, now for the news about my Spanish!...haha...well...it's actually not as bad as I thought it would be. I have to make all the phone calls in the car while Hna Bushman is driving so...let's just say that is exciting. :) The members here are so patient with me, it's hilarious. They've started to realize when it's me calling versus when it's Sister Bushman because now with me on the phone they just give me the basic information I'm calling to ask to know and we leave it at that. Because I don't know if you know this or not, but Latins love getting off on tangents and quite honestly, that's not my strongest point of understanding. :) Haha but it is so funny. We had a dinner for the Sociedad de Soccoro (Relief Society) and Hna Bushman and I decided we should sit at different tables to be able to talk to more people and oh man, I wish you could have seen the looks on the ladies faces as I was talking to them! They were cracking up...but I think AT me. :) Haha, we had a whole conversation about superheroes (which is not in my vocabulary) because one lady's son had just had a spiderman theme birthday party and then I told them about Tino and we just got going. But anyway, I couldn't explain anything so I'm trying to act things out for them and they were probably thinking "Who the heck is this new hermana?" But it was great and I got a couple of the ladies to come out to appointments with us this week because of it. So you know, life is good.

Anyway, I should probably wrap this up...I think I've gone on long enough. Just know that I love you all and think about you often. You are constantly in my prayers and I can't wait to hear from you next to see how you're all doing. In summary, I'm doing great. I love my companion, I love my area, I love the members, and I love this work. Thanks for all of your support. I miss you tons but I love you more!

Hermana Jackson

P.S. I can only email family but I can receive emails from whoever and I can reply through my mom (so mom, I may send you emails with the subject line like "Forward to _________" and then if you could just do that, that would be great!) I have an hour and a half for email, so that's nice. And for letters, I think you should just keep sending them to the mission home. I don't know that I trust the area I live in so...yeah. But it's weird because I get to write home on Mondays but I receive all my mail on Tuesdays, so it might be a little longer to get actual responses. :) But yeah, that should work out well.

P.P.S. The Pictures: 595 is of me and my district at the MTC coming out of our building...yes, air resistance. 611 is my MTC district. 654 is me and Hna Bushman (we took a hike yesterday morning for p-day to a point that looks out over Paterson with one of the members of the branch, Hna Soccoro). 657 is me eating my first pizza pie in Jersey! :) and 625 is me in my camisa fea (ugly shirt...yes, it took me 7 weeks in the MTC to build up the confidence to order that thing but I love it!)

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Last P-day in the MTC!

Wow, I cannot believe the time has already come for me to hit the field! I am excited beyond words. I don't remember what I told you last week in my email but yeah, I feel like the only way I'm going to learn more at this point is to just be absolutely thrown into it...I'm a hands-on learner anyway. :)

So, I received my flight plans at the end of last week. I leave the MTC at 6am on Sept 1 up to the SL airport. My flight leaves directly for Newark at 9:45am and we land there at about 4:20'ish. There are 13 missionaries heading out there (7 Spanish).

So last week and this, I got to be a host for the new missionaries coming in! Remember when I first got dropped off and I thought that day would never come? :) Well, now I get to help the new sisters around and show them where to go and give them a little tour and stuff. It's pretty neat. I love it!

We haad quite an interesting lesson in Relief Society on Sunday...President Smith (the MTC pres) spoke to us and basically "clarified" a bunch of the rules (It kind of felt like the guys say they feel after Priesthood session...haha). He told us to follow the "exact letter of the law"...which is risky saying because some missionaries could find lots of ways to get away with things like that. Anyway, he told us that at meals, we're not supposed to sit by the same elders all the time and to glare at the elders if they keep trying to sit by us. Well, that's kind of hard in our district, considering we only have 2 elders and 4 hermanas. :) So we devised this way awesome "seating chart" for our meals so don't even worry, we're obeying (I hope you catch the humor in this...it's kind of hard to write). Our plan is called Operation Transmorphers. I will send you a photocopy of the plan when I get the chance...it's like a really intricate football play that Elder Lamoreaux and I had fun divising. It rocks my world!

This Friday, our teachers have planned what's called a "Dia en el campo" (day in the field), where they have appointements set up for us with other teachers all over the MTC, back to back, just like in the field. We're teaching 12 lessons that day, and we have teaching records for all of them. Some are progressing investigators, some are new, some are recent converts. It will be a highlight, I'm sure. I'm looking forward to it a lot.

Last night I had another cool experience at the RC. Sorry that's what I bring up a lot, but it is what makes this work real right now! I called this guy, Juan, who sounded really depressed (it was in English). I asked him if he had received his Bible yet and he said no but he really wanted it. I asked him what was up and he told me that his wife just left him and he has no kids or other family. He then thanked me profusely for calling him because he had been contemplating ending his own life for the last several weeks. He talked to his pastor on Sunday who told him he basically has no hope and is evil for thinking about taking his life, but the pastor told him he would pray for him anyway. Juan told me over and over again that my call to him was an answer to his prayers. He has been searching for God in his life and wants hope. I bore testimony to him of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and told him I would pray for him. He wants the missionaries over as soon as possible. I don't even know all that I said to him but I know the Holy Ghost was working through me to bear the truthfulness of what I was saying. He was putting words into my mouth I didn't know were there. I am so grateful for that opportunity I had to share the love of Jesus Christ with him.

To close with a quote by a talk from Elder Bednar from a devotional here a couple of months ago. He answered the question, How do I know if it's the spirit or just me? He said, "Quit worrying about it. Quit fussing, quit stewing, quit analyzing, quit worrying about it. Press forward with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Be a good boy; be a good girl. Honor your covenants, keep the commandments, and I promise you, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that your steps will be guided. As you open your mouth, it will be filled. You will be in the right place at the right time, and in most instances, you'll have no idea how or why you got there. So quit worrying about it."

Thank you for your support and love. I guess I will email you all next from NJ! If you send me anything here at the MTC, make sure you send it by Friday so I'm sure to get it. I miss you tons but I love you more!

Hermana Jackson

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My first baptism!

Hey family! How's everybody doing? I'm glad to hear that mom found the camera so I can get some pictures of the new little one soon! I hope Michael and Cari are having fun with the boys in California! That sounds way nice. What is going on in everyone else's life? Oh, so my MTC teacher was apparently at the same RSL match that mom and dad went to a couple weeks ago. Too bad I didn't know beforehand! Haha.

So, I got my first baptism. Well, it was a team effort from my whole district. Remember how I told you that our teachers have been acting as progressive investigators? Well, "Angie" was "baptized" on Monday night. It was quite exciting, I must say. We invited some other districts to act as members of the ward to fellowship her in, then me and Elder Lamoreaux did a harmonica/piano duet of "We'll Bring the World His Truth" for the musical number. Haha, yeah, that was definitely a first. :)

My first week with my new comp was good. She was in a wheelchair for the first several days but then we went to the doctor on Friday and he fit her with a new boot thing that doesn't put pressure on that part of her foot so now she is just walking around! It's great news. And while we were at the doctor, she was in the room and I sat in the waiting room and striked up a conversation with a lady who didn't speak a word of English. It was awesome. She told me all about how she slipped in the bathroom and messed up her ankle and about her daughters who are getting ready to go back to school next week and everything like that. It was fun.

Also, we went to the RC again last night and learned how to do calls in Spanish...and I freaked out but life is good. One guy called in and he was the nicest guy I have ever talked to in the RC. His name is Manuel and he's from LA. He said he had seen the DVD "Finding Happiness" and thought that everyone should be able to have that kind of happiness in their life. After we talked for a bit, I asked him if he would like the missionaries over. He said he was never home but wanted their address so he could visit them. Of course I couldn't do that so I got his address and looked up the nearest meetinghouse to him on mormon.org and invited him to go to church this Sunday and meet with the missionaries there. He said he would! He then asked me how I ended up answering the phone and I told him I am a missionary for the church as well. Then he asked me to send him a letter with my testimony of Jesus Christ in it! I wrote it this morning and he said he will write back when he gets it. I just love this work.

Other than that, this week has been basically the same as the others. I had a bit of a rough time on Friday thinking of Anthony and everything but that happens to me every year. It was a big comfort to me to recognize that I am doing the same work here on earth that Anthony is doing in the Spirit World. I know this work is true and we're in it together.

Thanks for all your support to me. I can't believe I leave in 2 weeks from today! I get my travel plans on Thursday so I'll let you know next week the approximate time I'll be calling you from the airport. What number do you want me to call so that you answer? One more p-day in the MTC! I am SO excited to get out there! So yeah, next week's email will contain all the logistics and such.

Ok, question time: Is Bobby home yet? If yes, tell him he better write me soon! If no, then give that message to him when he gets home. :)
Also, could you call Sister Power and ask her to ask her neice (Ali Newton) what classroom she teaches in? Just send the response in a dearelder so I can get it ASAP. I want to meet her because she went to the same mission as me. Thanks!

I think that's about it. I love you so much. I hope to hear from more of you soon. ;) Haha. The church is true and this is the Lord's work. I know it. It says so in Jacob 5:61 that it is His work and He is doing it right alongside of me, and for that I am so grateful. I miss you tons but I love you more.

Hermana Jackson

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hey Everyone!

This week has been interesting but good. I got a new companion today. I think I mentioned last week about Hna Barfoot having to get surgery. Well, her district left for the field this morning so I have been assigned as her new companion. My fourth one already! Haha, it's cool. She is in a wheelchair right now so it makes for quite a bit of extra pull on my end of the companionship but things are working out just fine. I'm greatful for the opportunity I have to serve her. And also, I had the same opportunity with my last comp, Hna Andersen, because on Friday at gym, someone landed on her during the volleyball game or something and she dislocated her kneecap. So she and our other comp spent all Friday morning at the hospital and I spent all Friday afternoon with her in the room while she was drugged up and napping. She is so grateful that nothing tore in her knee, which is a miracle to say the least, so she still gets to get out of here in time.

So yeah, it's been fun. :) I am doing well...no passing out or close calls even so we're good. And I even went running some laps with another hermana last week and did fine! This makes me happy. We had a devotional on Sunday that was so good! He talked about the importance of charity in missionary work, but he put a new twist on things. He first led us to 2 Nephi 32:2-3, where it says that angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost. Then we went to D&C 42:6, where it says we are supposed to declare the word like angels. The last place we went was to 1 Cor 13, where it says that though I speak as an angel and have not charity, I am nothing. I've thought about that a lot this week and how I can apply that in my mission. It is not enough as a missionary to say what Jesus Christ would say, but I need to feel as He would feel for these people. It reminds me of a quote I kept up on my wall in China that I have written in my journal here by Pres. Eyring that says, "The Lord will let you feel the love He feels for those you serve; the call is an invitation to become like Him." I love that. I love that I have that opportunity to become like my Savior Jesus Christ here on my mission and throughout my life. It will take a lot of praying and help from the Lord, but I know that I can come closer to Him everyday.

Spanish is good...I feel like I'm getting more fluent in what I know and getting more comfortable with the lessons and stuff. It's kind of neat to think of how far I've come so far and I know I didn't do it alone. We are now the oldest hermanas in our zone (my district is second oldest) so we're the vets now that the new missionaries in our zone look to for help and critique in teaching the lessons, in speaking Spanish, in getting around the MTC...It's fun. The new hermanas are way cool and I like getting to know them all.

So, we are holding a baptismal service this Saturday! Ha ha, I think I might have told you that our teachers have been acting as investigators that they had on their missions that we've had the chance to teach progressively. So now we have taught them all the lessons and prepared them for baptism so we're having a little service this Saturday for us to practice planning one. Don't worry, we aren't doing the actual baptizing part. But it's pretty fun. Last week, I taught "Eddy" how to fill out a tithing slip (all in Spanish, by the way, because English died) and we taught "Angie" the process for the actual baptismal service. The elders get to practice doing the interview this week. Haha, it makes it all seem so real...even though they're not... :) It's just been neat to have a chance to have to figure out what to teach in each lesson and help them overcome certain things to get to this point. I've loved it.

That's about all for today. I love you all and am so grateful for your love and support to me. Give all the little ones a big hug and kiss for me, especially the two birthday boys. And tell Tino that I am proud to be the aunt of Spiderman. :) I've sent a letter to Nana today. Could I have Grandma in England's address too? Thanks.

I miss you tons but I love you more!

Hermana Jackson

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ingles died and Life is Good!

Muchas gracias for the pictures of Claire! She is gorgeous! I can't wait to get some hard copies so I can show them off to everyone! I'm glad to hear you all are doing well. Thanks for your letters this week. Malcolm, congrats on the tour in California! That is way exciting that it was sold out!

So right now, I am sitting in the laundry room...a basement type place, for anyone who hasn't been here, with about 100 or so machines all going at once...so it is nice and hot. :) Oh, and I just finished putting some pictures in an envelope to send to Mom and Dad...you know me, I love pictures :)

This week has been great. Full of spiritual experiences and fun times as well. Probably the most exciting thing from this last week was our "Ingles funeral". Yes, we can no longer speak English in the classroom...ever...so we held a funeral to pay our final respects. My comp gave the eulogy, the elders gave talks, we sang "each life that touches ours for good" and "God be with you till we meet again" as the hymns, and I did the special musical number...an English tribute I wrote on the piano in about 5 minutes containing all of our favorite spanglish phrases. Then we took a walk out to the edge of the mtc campus where we buried English (a piece of paper with our favorite phrases on it :) It was pretty dang awesome, and I will record the song and send it home...though you have to understand spanglish so maybe Jessica can translate it for you :)

I think I have finally figured out how to infuse my personality into missionary work. It has been tough trying to know how to bring my outgoing-ness into the whole thing but this week has been good. We had a devotional on Sunday night where the international MTC director and his wife spoke. His wife was one of those ladies that tells stories basically exactly like I do...and it made me happy. I could tell that President Smith and his wife were just freaking out in their seats that she was a little wild (because they're really strict) but she had the spirit in her talk and I realized that the Lord needs all types of personalities in this work. He doesn't want people who are just serious or just wild but people who can take the spirit with them no matter what so that everyone can be reached in their own unique way. I loved it.

I learned something really cool during personal study this week. I bought a cheap copy of the BoM in Spanish this week to start reading and mark up all the words I don't know. The branch president promised us that if we would do that for 15 minutes a day, we would be fluent in the language by the time we finish the book. So I am doing it! But yeah, I started reading from the beginning and got through the first 3 chapters. I made an interesting realization about Laman and Lemuel. They had tons of spiritual witnesses of Christ, but every time they went back to their old ways afterward. Nephi, however, let the spiritual witnesses take place in his heart and change him. I thought about how often we are like Laman and Lemuel. How often have I been upset or discouraged, and the Lord demonstrates his hand in my life. I usually feel better for a bit but I eventually go back to my old ways and forget the witness. But I have had signs enough. I know that Heavenly Father loves me and that Jesus Christ knows everything I am going through. I want to be like Nephi and allow that witness to work in me so I never forget again.

Ok, that was my spiritual tangent. Now for some other stuff. Did you know that 2 ladies in Provo have a calling to come to the MTC once a week and teach sisters how to do make-up? Well, they do! And they give us each $200 of NuSkin make-up in the process! Haha, it was awesome. And Naomi Andersen (from HOBY) was at the same make-up class as me so it was wild and fun. I felt like back in Jr. High when we always had the Mary Kay parties and I was the guinea pig for the make-up. Haha, good times.

Well, that's about it for this week. Thank you for you continued support and love. Can I have Matt Hunt's address in SLC? I'd like to write him. Thanks! I know this is what the Lord wants me to be doing right now. As I've learned each week to rely more and more on the Lord, I have been feeling better and better about things. I miss you tons but I love you more!

Hermana Jackson

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I have a new niece!

Ok, I just got kicked off after I had half my email written for some weird reason...so here is in summary what I had already written because now I don't have very much time left.

CONGRATULATIONS to Chris and Megan on the newest little addition to the family, Claire! I am so excited to see a picture of her! When I found out last night, I ran around telling any sister willing to listen, which when it comes to girls, any one is excited about babies. :)

Both my comps are sick today so I am on a temporary comp exchange with a solo sister in my zone, Hna Aquino. She is way cute and it has been a fun p-day with her.

This week has been way good. I remember before my mission people always told me that the MTC is what you make of it. Well, I had been struggling and I thought about how I need to make more of this experience. I prayed for help from the Lord to be enthusiastic about things and he for sure blessed me with it. I studied hope this week and learned so much about how I can apply it to this sort of lull right now in the MTC. But hey, this Saturday hits my halfway mark! I can't believe it. I am so anxious to get out to NJ but I know I still have so much to learn!

Tomorrow morning, we are holding an English funeral...que triste. I'm excited though to stretch myself and learn more. I have now taught parts of all the lessons in Spanish so I know it will just get better from here if I keep working on it.

We went in to the RC again during some free time on Saturday and I dialed for 45 minutes with 0 success. So while I was sitting there dialing away, I wrote a song (more like a rap...) about being at the RC with nobody answering. Don't even stress, I sang it for the hermanas at dinner. :) oh, and remember John, from the RC? Well, I called him again last night and talked with him again for a while. I realized that last time I talked to him, I let him do way too much talking and I didn't really get a chance to teach him anything so this time, I testified, hardcore. And I know he felt the spirit...he couldn't have ignored it, it was so strong. I kept telling him how he just needs to sincerely pray about it and then I shared some experiences of how the Book of Mormon has helped me personally in my life and when I finished, I didn't even have to challenge him. He said, "You know what Meagan? I can tell the Book of Mormon means a lot to you and that you care that it means something to me too. I am going to pray, sincerely about it this week and we'll talk again next Monday." It was awesome! It makes missionary work seem so much more real because quite honestly, it gets old teaching your companion. :) I'll keep you posted.

Some funny stories: There's this new Tongan sister on our floor and she has stopped me several times to ask me questions. The first time, she was by the microwave trying to make popcorn and she was like, "Hey sister, could you help me with this? How do you know when it's done?" Haha, I love it. And then another time she was sitting on the couch reading the Ensign when she says again, "Hey sister, what does it mean to 'gird up your loins'?" I explained as she furiously scribbled in the margins everything I was saying. It just made my day. Now she says hi to me everytime she sees me. I like it :)

Another cool story: Last week for service, my comps and I were cleaning out a vacated room when I heard shrieks coming from the bathroom. I, of course, ran in only to find some other hermanas from my zone completely soaked with water and a pipe shooting water all over the place! Yeah, a pipe or something had burst and it was completely flooding the bathroom for about 15 minutes before a maintenance guy came up. Good times. :)

Yes, I went to the doctor. He thought it was lame that the MTC doctor took away my driving priviledges but there's nothing he can do about it so oh well, now I just get to use the cell phone while my comp drives. :) I was thinking of getting a tape recorder at the MTC bookstore and recording on mini-cassettes to send home and then you can just record and send the whole thing back...I don't know, we'll see.

Thank you for the letters this week! Especially mom, dad, Michael, Jackie, Amber, Carla, and Meagan! Completely made my week. And yes, I like to reply to them because then it gives more incentive to keep writing me. :) Oh byt the way, Dad, my mailbox numbered changed to #320 back on July 6 so...yeah.. :)

Thank you for the flip-flops and the socks, they were sorely needed! And don't worry about sending me nylons, I can get those at the MTC bookstore on the missionary budget.

What is Malcolm's email?

Ok, that's all the time I have. I know that this work I am doing is the best thing I can be doing right now. I know the gospel is true. Thanks for your continued support to me. I miss you tons but I love you more!

Hermana Jackson

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Little Bit of Everything!

Hey family!

Wow, it was a hard week. Spanish is getting crazy (not like it wasn't already). We had 2 days last week that we called our "English Fast" or as the optimistic people like to call it, our "Spanish Feast." I'll let you decide what I called it. :) Haha, but it was a really good experience. Unfortunately, I found that when we have our "fast/feast" days, I just kind of clam up and don't say much of anything, but don't worry, I'm getting over that. My teachers are really good at being patient with me as I try to formulate sentences and with encouraging me to speak.

So the night before our first fast/feast, I think I must have been stressing really bad because me and my comps had to teach a lesson the next day on the Plan of Salvation, which we barely started studying, and in Spanish. Yes, my first lesson in Spanish. So anyway, I had the craziest dream! I dreamed that I wrote an entire song about the Plan of Salvation to cover all the points of my lesson, in Spanish, of course. I woke up the next morning and could only remember one of the lines (I would sing it to you but you can't hear me so...yeah, sorry :) but don't even fret, I will have a song written about it by the time I get home. Maybe I'll sing it at my homecoming talk! Haha. :)

Speaking of my song stuff, I played the love medley of hymns I played at my farewell in RS on Sunday. It went well, at least that's what I was told. Multiple sisters came up to me and asked me where I got the music from. Haha, love it. :)

Anyway, I have had some way cool experiences at the Referral Center this week. If you don't know, that's the place at the MTC where we can make phone calls following up with people who have requested Books of Mormon and DVD's and stuff like that. One night while making phone calls, I called 2 people who spoke only Spanish! It was awesome. I didn't hand the headset over to my teacher, like I've done in the past, but I talked to them and testified to them and they both want the missionaries to come to their house! I could feel the spirit working so strong in me. I was telling one of them to please excuse my Spanish because I don't know it very well and he was like, "Oh, no lo creo, no lo creo! Muy bien! (I don't believe it, I don't believe it, it's really good)" Haha, it made me happy.

Another cool experience at the RC - we went in to do some calls on Saturday during our free time and I went about 45 minutes without a single person picking up the phone. I prayed for someone to answer and finally this guy in NC did named John. He had met with the missionaries several weeks ago but they hadn't followed up with him on anything and he had a bunch of questions about things he had read in the Book of Mormon, so he decided to ask me. We talked for 45 minutes! And then I left him to read 2 Nephi 31-32 (because he had questions about baptism) and he asked if I would call him back on Monday night to answer any more questions he might have. So I did last night and we talked for another 45 minutes! This time I left him with parts of 3 Nephi to read and asked if he would pray about the things we talked about and he said he would! It was awesome. He wants me to call him back again next Monday night and I told him I can but that then I would get him in touch with the missionaries again in his area so he can have person-to-person contact, because that is so much better. But still, it was way cool. He's one of those types of people that knows the Bible front and back but he said that I was making sense to him so we'll see. :)

DID YOU KNOW? Fun fact of the week: An elder in my district, Elder Lamoreaux, came up with this hypothesis we decided to try out. He wondered if you mailed a letter with a fake address and no postage, but with the address you wanted it to go to as the return address if it would get there. So we tried it out. We wrote a letter to our teacher, put her address in the return address, and put his address as the address to go to but in Provo (he's from Phoenix). Sure enough, a couple days later, Hermana Cochrane, our teacher, came in and said she got it! Haha, we won't do it again, because it's kind of cheating the system, but it was a fun thing to try out and know that it works. ;)

After about a week of receiving nothing, I felt so loved because I got about 11 letters in just a couple days, so thank you! I got 4 postcards from Dad in England, and a letter from him, a letter from Celecta Moss, Amy Dyer, Alison Moreno, Amber Hendrickson, and Amanda Frey. THANK YOU THANK YOU! I replied to all of you to day! :)

Well that's about it for this week. I hope these letters are actually exciting to you because I look forward to writing these all week! :) Take care and know that you are in my prayers every day. Please keep me in yours to master this language and be an amazing missionary! I miss you tons but I love you more!

Hermana Jackson