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