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 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