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!'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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