Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Ok, I'll Do It!"

Those 4 words (in the subject line) are the best words I have heard so far on my mission. Let me tell you about our AMAZING experience we had this week...
Tuesday night, we went over to see Maria DV and her husband, Danny. A couple of days previous, Hna Binning and I both felt very strongly that we needed to have a set appointment with both of them there in order to really help Maria progress and help their family. Maria had been praying about getting baptized on July 25 and told us that she didn't think it was right. We were devastated, clueless on what to do next with her, until finally we received the promptings to meet with them both. So we went over, she gave us dinner, and we got to talking. Our lesson was on faith and repentance. Danny had tons of questions about different things and then Maria turned to him and started explaining to him the same principles we have been teaching her for weeks about really just relying on the Lord for your support. As she explained it to him, I could see it all just clicking in her mind and she was really gaining a testimony of it. We went on in the lesson and talked about the blessings of the temple. We shared a story from the Feb 2010 Ensign (she LOVES the Ensigns) about a family who wanted the blessings of the temple but it says they weren't ready to keep all the commandments. It was so applicable to Maria and Danny's situation. As we read the story, I looked at Maria and said, "Maria, we have felt the promptings of the Holy Ghost to tell you that now is the time to get baptized and get your family to the temple. We fear that if you don't do it now, you never will. Now is the time to receive these blessings." After a little more discussion with them, I was looking down at my scriptures, wondering where to turn to next, when suddenly Maria said, "Ok, I'll do it." I thought I was dreaming it. I looked up and started laughing in disbelief and asked about 3 times, "Really? Are you serious? When?" "On August 1. I just checked the calendar and Danny has it off work. It hit me as you were reading that story. I just need to do this." So basically, to summarize that entire huge paragraph, Maria DV is getting baptized on August 1 and she has just been glowing!!!!!!!!!!
With the excitement of all of this, I have been thinking a lot about the tender mercies of the Lord that he gives us every day as His missionaries. We were clueless a couple of days before that lesson on what to teach her, but through diligent study and prayer, the Lord led us in our studies and planning to plan exactly what she needed to hear and blessed us with the spirit to touch her heart. Also, ever since I came back to Paterson, the members and other missionaries have been asking me, "Sister Jackson, when is Maria getting baptized? You know that you're back for her, right?" Yes, I knew, and I felt the pressure big time, especially when things weren't going as well as we had hoped. But the Lord blessed us. This is not a chance every missionary be able to serve in the same area twice. I know that it is another tender mercy of the Lord that he has given me to remind me of His love.
In other news, Eric (the 9-yr old) is also getting baptized on Sunday and we are way excited for him as well. Minerva, on the other hand, is having some doubts and will probably take several more weeks to be ready for baptism. I would rather have that though so that she is really doing it for her and not her son.
Oh, and just so you know, Mom and Cari, I think I like reading now...yeah, I know, it's hard for me to admit :) but I do enjoy reading and have this thirst to read lots of books after the mission...of course, that could just be because I can't right now, so I want to (maybe that's the rebel in me). Anyway, there's the update on me. :)
I think that's about it for this week. Prayers are being answered every day out here. I am so grateful for this time in my life the Lord has given me to serve Him. I'm humbled by the trust He has in me to teach and testify to my brothers and sisters about the doctrine of salvation. Our theme this transfer in our companionship is, "Love it. Every day." And I do. Thanks for all your love and support. I miss you tons but I love you more!
Hermana Jackson

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven

First things first, Happy 1st Birthday, Claire! Wish I could be there for it...haven't even met her yet but hey, she looks cute in the pictures. :) Be sure to send me some pictures of the occasion.
My address until at least August 2 is: 99 N 12th St #1, Prospect Park, NJ, 07508. The office address is still ok, I will just only get mail from there once a that's only about 4 more times for the rest of my mission, so I would prefer at the house now. Thanks!
Our emotions depend so much on these people we's quite entertaining. We have 2 baptismal dates coming up! Eric (the 9-yr-old) is so excited to get baptized on Aug 1!! We gave him a children's Book of Mormon and he read all the was to Alma 48 in 2 days. He says it's his new favorite book. He just gets it so much! His mom, Lucina, is still a little unsure of when she wants to/can get baptized. We are trying to encourage her to get baptized with her son but we'll see what happens. She is doing really well though. They both came to church again yesterday and loved it. And for our other baptismal date...Minerva has decided to get baptized! Her son, Cristian, just moved here in May from the DR and he is a really active, strong member of the church. We've been teaching Minerva but things have been going kind of slow with her but the more we see her, the more things just click with her. We did a fast with her last Monday (her idea) to help her receive an answer about if she should get baptized. Cristian called us on Thursday and said, "I think my mom is going to get baptized!" We tried going to see her but she wasn't there so when we saw her last night, we talked to her about it. We challenged her for Aug 1 and at first she hesitated a lot and then Cristian said, "Come on, mom, just put a date on it and if the date comes and you're not comfortable, we can put it off." She said yes! And then Cristian added, "Hey, you should get baptized on my birthday (typical Hispanic thing to do...they always want things to happen on their birthdays or holidays) and I can baptize you!" We asked when his birthday is and he told us July 31, and she agreed! It will be an awesome birthday present for him.
So yep, it has been a good week....really hot, as always. Up to Saturday morning, we had 0 new investigators, which was pretty depressing, but we ended up pulling it through on Saturday and Sunday hardcore.
Oh, yeah, and Eric's abuela, Matilde, taught us how to make Mexican flan the other day! It was so good! Sorry Mom, but flan from a box is just not going to cut it anymore :) This stuff tastes like the stuff you get in the restaurants. Haha. I am trying to learn how to cook some Hispanic things before I get home but it is really hard to find the time to learn anything other than desert stuff, because that's the quickest. But so far I can make flan, bonuelos, tostones/platanos, rice, and this way good Dominican drink called "morir sonando" (to die dreaming).
I think that's about it for this week. Just keep praying, do your best, and things will work out, no matter what's going on. I love this work and I know that the Lord is answering your prayers for me. Thanks for all your support. I miss you tons but I love you more!
Hermana Jackson

Monday, July 5, 2010

Hna Binning, what happened this week?

Hey family!
Oh my gosh, we worked our little tails off this week! We are bound and determined to see some results in this area and are not resting till we get it. But unfortunately, with all that, I have no idea what to tell you about this week. The investigators we have are just taking their time progressing so we are really focusing on finding LOTS of new investigators. I know Heavenly Father has people here who are really prepared, we just need to find them!
So, on Sunday nights after planning, my comp and I usually go through our week and talk about the good/funny/random experiences to tell about in our emails. Last night, our conversation went a little something like this:
Me: "Hermana Binning, what happened this week?"
Her: "Ummm...we reached our goals...but they don't really care about that..."
Me: "We found some crazy Dominican men working on cars...but that's really all there is to tell about them."
Her: "Yeah. I don't know. But it was a really good week! Why can't we think of anything to write about?"
Me: "Oh, I cut my bangs."
Her: "Yeah, you could write about that!"
Me: "Ok, good idea. Good night."
I don't know if I've just gotten more serious on my mission or if the funny things have just gotten so normal that I don't feel like they're worth telling or what, but just trust me when I say that we did have an amazing week. We didn't get to do anything fun for the 4th of July because it was on a Sunday. Hermana Binning and I were remembering last July 4th in the MTC watching the fireworks from the Stadium of Fire and we looked through our camera at pictures of us then. But hey, we did get to go over to a member's apartment for an appearance at his little gathering for the branch and share a spiritual thought about the promised land. This member lives on the top floor (13th floor) of a retirement home with a perfect view of the NY skyline and the fireworks. Anyway, I think I gained a new appreciation for the 4th of July yesterday. Most people that know me know that I'm not very patriotic at all. But last night all the members of the branch were so excited to sing "America the Beautiful" in gratitude for the life and opportunities that have opened up to them since coming here. We had people that have been here for everything from 2 to 33 years and they were all just grateful for being here. They still love their countries, surely, but they recognize the blessings they now have and that their children have been given. I realized how grateful I am to have been born and raised here. I think I finally came to grips that being grateful for my country and the blessings I have is not a sin and it doesn't mean I think I'm better than anyone else who lives in another country, it just means I love who I am, and I'm ok with that.
Anyway, that's about it for today. I think I will write a hand-written letter if time allows today, and include a picture if I can. Our p-days have officially been cut mission-wide by an hour permanently to utilize prime finding time. I hope things are going well. If you have any specific questions ask me and then it will give me something cooler to say. :) I miss you tons but I love you more!
Hermana Jackson