Well I hope that everyone had the most amazing Christmas this year. I was of course missing plenty of things about American Christmas, but I also got to have some great experiences. So I'm definitely not disappointed. First of all, we had a baptism. So it was actually a White Christmas here in the Philippines! At least for us. Kenneth Plaida was baptized on Christmas day and confirmed on the 26th. He is amazing. He is so solid and has such a strong testimony. He's one of those "still waters run deep" kind of guy, but they definitely run deep. It was a great morning. He will make such amazing contributions to the church and hopefully in a year, he will serve a mission. He will make an awesome missionary. Did I mention that in 4 weeks of teaching he's already mostly through Alma? Yeah, he's a rockstar.

So Christmas day here was kind of crazy. We had present time in the morning and a big breakfast of french toast and hot dogs (yeah, there's no sausage here... we make do) and I made homemade syrup. It was delicious. Then, after the baptism we came back to the house so Sister Elwood could call her family. Then we went to one appointment and then went to a Christmas Celebration in the plaza sponsored by the other ward. It was awesome. There were a ton of people. They showed the "Joy to the World" video and The Restoration. We got up and bore our testimonies of Joseph Smith and then sang them a song. It was pretty awesome. We had a great time. Then some guy let off a firecracker right by our feet and we decided it was time to leave... Satan....

So this week was a great one too. On Tuesday we went to Bacolod to participate in a Christmas concert and presentation for investigators and recent converts. It was pretty cool, there was a missionary choir and we sounded pretty awesome. The spirit was strong and it was a great experience. It gone done late so we stayed in the mission home that night (which I LOVE doing because I get to spend time with President) and then the next morning we got driven the 2.5 hours to our Christmas Conference. I don't know if you realize the blessing of having President drive us... we didn't have to take a bus. It was a huge day. Christmas Conference was awesome. Inspiring and awesomely fun. Our district was in charge of putting on a little presentation (it was meant to be fun). So I re-wrote "Twas the Night Before Christmas" about missionaries in the Philippines. It was pretty funny. We presented it like a Family Home Evening with one elder and I as the parents and our district mates as the kids. It was hilarious. Everyone enjoyed it and it was a great time. So we definitely got plenty of opportunities to celebrate Christmas and it was great.

So this week was really good too because, and maybe this is because it's the end of the year, I did some self-evaluation and found some good places where I need improvement. I never thought I would say this, but I love those opportunities. They make me more effective as a teacher and a better missionary and so I love them. Don't get me wrong, they are incredibly difficult, but much more rewarding than they are hard. So pray that I will be able to achieve my goals and become an even better missionary. I need all the help I can get! :)

So being that it's almost the new year, I have a challenge for everyone. Get yourselves immersed in missionary work. Some of you might already be doing that, then keep at it. As a missionary, and especially with the focus we have here in this mission, I have really been able to see how simple efforts can make a huge difference. Maybe you won't find 12 people for the missionaries to teach, that's okay. Work at strengthening your ward. You may not realize it, but that is an INCREDIBLE form of missionary work. It makes it easier for missionaries to get people to church, and keep them there, if the ward functions properly and if ward members fellowship! Volunteer to go out with the missionaries, even if it's just for one teaching in a week, or even a month. They need your help SOOOO much. I'll let you all decided how best you can help, but I'm a missionary and so I can't do anything without wanting to commit people. So I'm going to ask you all, "Will you find ways of doing missionary work, no matter how large or small, to help further the Lord's work?" It will bless your lives, the lives of others, and the missionary efforts going on worldwide. I know it. I see it!

Okay, I love you all and hope you are all having the best holiday season. Keep in touch if you have the time, I love getting mail! :)

Lots of love!

Sister Jackson
Well Family and Friends, Merry Christmas or Maayong Paskwa here in Negros Occidental,

Well I hope that everyone is having a great and wonderful Christmas season. I'm sure that I can imagine pretty well what everyone is doing... snow... christmas music... lights.... good food... (sigh). But it's totally great because I love being here and Christmas is still in the air. Christmas starts in about September here in the Philippines so I have been hearing Christmas music (although it sounds awful) for months! And there are lights and decorations up all over the place. Everywhere you go people call out Merry Christmas. Every night there are homeless, caroling children that break your heart. They come for money. They sound atrocious, but they are totally cute. All in all, there is a lot of the same "spirit" here, just delivered in different packages. But this Christmas will be especially awesome because we have a baptism on Christmas day! Talk about an awesome gift... for us and for him! He's an investigator that obviously was mostly taught before I got here, but I have been there for a few lessons and he is AMAZING. He has already ready through almost all of Alma... seriously... it's incredible. He is so solid and is going to do great things for the church here. He's also 19, which means hopefully a mission in a year! There is definitely a different teaching pool here than I had in La Carlota. Our investigators are all pretty solid. They just get it, ya know? We don't have to do to much to convince them of the truth of the gospel and most of them respond to commitments. I feel like I'm on a whole new mission here in Victorias.

So yesterday, Sunday here, was awesome. I had been sick for a couple of days, but still got to church because I had to speak and we had to sing. Yeah, it was the Sister Jackson and Sister Elwood show yesterday. But we had one of our investigators there that we did not expect to come and she came without having been taught the day before and without a reminder. WHAT A HUGE BLESSING! I'm sure only some of you can appreciate what this means to us, but it was awesome. She came to the ward Christmas party the night before too, with her whole family. Seriously, I feel like I'm living some other missionary's life here. It's so different. I'm also learning to have more faith here. My companion has INCREDIBLE faith. She is such a great example to me and it encourages me to exercise mine better. And when we do, miracles happen. This week we did a lot of walking and teaching and we found 12 new investigators. 12!!! I didn't even know that was possible after my last area. But it is and we were so blessed. The Lord literally put people in our way, people we never expected and it was awesome. My gratitude is increasing exponentially in this new area.

So I can just stay again how much I love this place and the people in it. I love everyone, but I especially love the kids and the old people. I've always loved those people the most, but here, I love them even more. The children just immediately become attached to you (mostly because we are huge white american women) and they always want to be around you. The old people are SOOOOO nice and so cute and I just want to hug them all the time. They grab onto your hand when you shake it and they just hold on and stare into your eyes and you just fall in love with them. I love old people!

It's definitely different here. When you transfer areas you kind of feel like you've changed missions, especially here. The cultures are mostly the same, but there are some important differences. It's hard to explain, but it's definitely different. But I'm loving my experiences here. The language of course continues to be a challenge, but I am being tested in new ways and I am learning a lot because of it. The more I'm forced to use, the better I get. I have greater confidence in just talking to people on the streets, on tricycles, it's one of my favorite things. And then when they see you being nice to their children, you've basically just got yourself right into their homes. Of course I still hear "Gwapa!" everywhere I go. I'll admit, when I come home and that doesn't happen I will probably be disappointed! But now, rather than feel uncomfortable I give them all a huge smile and happily yell, "Maayong Hapon! (good afternoon). When they hear that I actually can speak their language, they usually stare at me, open mouthed, disbelieving, and I just laugh. I have a lot of fun here amidst all the work.

So it's starting to get hotter here. Depending on who you talk to, the rainy seasons goes anywhere from 5-9 months. It's ridiculous. But summer here is about April to June... who knows. Apparently it gets hotter... yay! You learn to love it. It's going to be weird not sweating all the time. I actually get cold here, though, believe it or not. At night I basically freeze and then sweat all day long. It's awesome!

Well, some of you I will get to talk to for Christmas and for the rest of you, I hope you all have the best week ever and find lots of opportunities to serve others and help them to remember the reason for the season. I love you all and miss you! Merry Christmas!!!


Sister Jackson
Greetings from the Philippines!

Okay, so this is the slogan of my new area! So I am now in Victorias. For those of you who aren't following my transferring diligently with a map (although I can't imagine that's any of you) this is North of Bacolod City and as you can probably tell from their slogan, they are all about sugar. It is EVERYWHERE! This also happens to be the favorite area of my trainer, Sister Stadler, and so I'm even more excited to be here. I am serving in her ward. It's crazy! We live in what is known as the "mansion" here in the mission. our house really is ridiculous. It's 2 stories and huge and really nice. But I do get to shower with a bucket now, so I feel like a real Filipina. Haha. The area here is more of a city too. La Carlota was pretty big, but this is bigger, or at least it seems bigger and much busier. So I am in a new area, district, and zone. It feels weird, but I'm also excited to be here. The area is a lot more fruitful which is definitely good for the morale. I got here and there is already a baptism scheduled for Christmas day! It will be a great Christmas. There aren't a TON of investigators here, but the ones we have are AWESOME. Seriously, I couldn't believe it when we went to teach them. It was so different. But I am way grateful to be here.

So obviously, if I'm in a new area, I must have a new companion, and I do! Her name is Sister Elwood. She is from Utah, but she also grew up in Washington! She's from Spokane, but I don't hold that against her... :) She's great. She's been in this area for 2 transfers so she knows what she is doing. I have a lot to learn from her. She's a great teacher, she asks great questions and she is TOTALLY invested in the work. I am really grateful for that. I think that we are going to do great things here and I am excited for it.

On Sunday we went to church, obviously, and I got to meet the ward. Yeah, I'm actually in a ward. With a bishop. It feels weird after being in a branch. The ward is great, the bishop is AMAZING. He just has this spirit about him and it's contagious. He is all about the work and he works hard. He actually looks like a Filipino version of that guy who plays Perseus in the OLD Clash of the Titans. I can't remember his name, but Grandma, you will. He even sounds like him. Weird. But awesome! I got to bear my testimony. No talk, thank goodness because of the Primary Program. But next week we are speaking and singing. That should be fun!

I hope that you all enjoyed the First Presidency Christmas Devotional. We got to see it a week later and it was great. It was amazing. I love the prophet and his counselors. You get starved for hearing their voices out here. I hope that the Christmas season is a happy one for everyone. I know that none of you will be so lucky as to be in the Philippines teaching the gospel, but try to have a good Christmas anyway... :) Seriously, I couldn't imagine a better place to spend the Holidays. Of course I will miss you all, but this work is so amazing, I don't ever want to come back. Okay, that's not exactly true, but I do love it here. This week I just got overwhelmed with how much I love these people. They are incredible and so loving.

Well, I think that's it for me this week. I love and miss you all!

Sister Jackson
Well family, unfortunately I am not bearing the best news today. Of course for you all it won't seem quite so tragic, but my whole life is about my mission, so you know... Well, today were transfer announcements and I am transferring. We were so sure that my companion was going to be the one to go, usually President keeps people in their first area for awhile, but apparently the Lord has other plans for me and so I will be leaving La Carlota. I would be lying if I said I wasn't bummed. I'm actually kind of devastated. I love the people here and I feel like this place is my home. It's just hard because this is my first area and I feel very attached here. But I have faith in the inspiration of my mission president and so I will go where I am assigned to go. I still don't know where, I won't find out until Friday at the transfer meeting, but there are a lot of possibilities. Please pray for me that I will be able to adjust to a new place and to a new companion...

This last week was pretty uneventful, sickness again kept us both from working too much this week. It was pretty frustrating, but we were still able to witness some tender mercies. With our one solid investigator, Ricky, we had to push back his baptism a week because we didn't feel like he was really prepared. He is doing well and following all commitments but he doesn't really understand everything fully that we have been trying to teach him, so we decided to make it more simple and it turned out great. We had to go over some things again, but we both felt better about it. I am super bummed that I will miss his baptism, but I know he will make a great addition to the branch here.

I can't believe that it is December!!!! It never ceases to amaze me how fast the time flies here. In one week I will hit my 5 month mark as a missionary and 3 months in the field. It is so crazy! I can't believe it. Honestly, I don't feel like it would ever be possible to do enough in such a short amount of time, but I am going to try my hardest. I am still progressing with the language. My companion tells me things all the time that I am doing amazingly and that she can't believe how fast I get it, but you all know me, I am a perfectionist and I never think it's good enough. I am trying to practice more confidence in my abilities. I would always appreciate your prayers, especially for the language.

So I thought I would just share a bit about what I have been studying lately on the off-chance that maybe one of you is looking for a new study topic and you would like to join me. I've been studying about discipleship in the scriptures. As a missionary I am a representative of Jesus Christ everyday, it's my entire purpose and so I decided to start researching everything I could about it. I went through the scriptures and found all the places that the Savior has said that if you do something specific you are one of his disciples. It's amazing how many things there are. Now I am researching individually each thing and how I can learn more. I cannot tell you, it's probably the best experience I have ever had with the scriptures. There is so much to learn about being a disciple of Jesus Christ and it is something we should all attain to. I will share one of my recent insights.

I was reading about what it means to be a light to the world. It says that repeatedly in the scriptures and originates when Jesus gives the Sermon on the Mount. So I started looking into what it means to be a light to the world and found a lot of scriptures and alluded to being a good example and helping to lead people to Christ. I felt inspired to look up the parable of the 10 virgins. I have always loved this story and was always inspired by the need to be prepared and focused on what is important, but this time I found a different application. It wasn't just about the fact that the 5 foolish virgins were excluded from the marriage festivities, although that was incredibly tragic. But they also gave up their opportunity for discipleship. In Jesus the Christ, Talmage talks about how with marriage customs, it was necessary for the people in the wedding party to carry a lot of torches and lamps (it occurred at night) so that they could light the way and other people would see and know when they should come to meet the bridegroom and be admitted into the party. The lights of the 5 wise virgins provided them admittance but it also was a fulfilling of their responsibility to light the way for others so that they would be able to say that the bridegroom knew them. Basically if we are unwilling or unprepared to be disciples than the Savior will not know us because we did nothing to prove ourselves to him. This project has been wonderfully insightful and I have found so much application. If you're interested I highly encourage the project.

Well, that's all for this week. Next week I will be emailing you from a new area. I could use all of your prayers this week! Love you all and miss you!

Sister Jackson
Hello folks!

Well a belated Happy Thanksgiving to you all. We didn't do anything here for Thanksgiving on Thursday, but today we are having a feast. We have one Filipina housemate and so we want to give her Thanksgiving. However, there will be no turkey... they have turkeys here, but they are usually alive and they definitely don't sell them in stores. So we will be having a chicken. It's going to be a Filipino Thanksgiving to remember. I will send pictures next week with all the awesomeness. I hope you all had an awesome Thanksgiving and I hope you all ate yourselves sick for me! If any of you have any fun pictures send them my way, I love seeing American life!

So obviously it's only been a few days since I last wrote and I already updated about Sisters Conference. Well this last week was definitely not the best. They day after Sisters Conference, Sis. Stadler got a horrible fever and then on Friday I got some awesome stomach problems that kept us in for a few hours. So all in all, we didn't get a lot of time to work this week. But we also only have 2 investigators right now, so at least we were able to get to them and teach. Now things seem to be better and back to normal. Hopefully they stay that way. Pray for us to both have good health! We need all the help we can get!

We definitely had some sad news this week. When we came home from Sisters Conference we found that the kitten had died. I think you will remember the stories of the evil kitten that hissed at us all the time and ran like the wind whenever we even opened a door. Well in recent weeks he had started to get used to us and one day even walked into the house. Well we came home from our shopping and emailing on Wednesday and he was dead, sprawled out next to the storm drain. We don't know what happened. It could have been that he ate some permethrin (what we use to kill bugs) or that maybe he had drunk some water from the drain with bleach in it (we had just done laundry). We don't know, but now he is dead. We were pretty bummed. I went out back and dug him a grave. We put him in a Zesto box and had a little ceremony for him. It was sad, but also pretty funny. I will attach some pictures. But at least now we won't have to hear his incredibly annoying voice every morning as he whines for his mother. Thank goodness...

So things have been going well with our investigators. Ricky is progressing like mad. We had to go over the Word of Wisdom again with him. He slipped and had a cup of coffee. But we told him that one cup was okay as long as he stopped right then and didn't do it again. He understood, we taught him about what was more important and how he could access the atonement. He really seemed to get it. Hopefully he practices it now, otherwise we will have to postpone his baptism. But he eats up everything and loves coming to church. When he is baptized he is going to add wonderfully to the branch.

Erwin is progressing, just very slowly. He definitely has a stronger desire now then he had before. We can just see it in him. He doesn't make the same sarcastic jokes anymore, he takes things more seriously. Hopefully, although it will be a while I'm sure, he will be baptized. We have hope for him.

We are praying all the time for new investigators. This area is pretty hard and we aren't supposed to be tracting, so we are relying on our membership list for part-member families and on ward member referrals. Neither of those things have brought forth a lot of fruit, but we believe in the vision of our mission president and this is what he wants us to do. We have faith in him and his inspiration, so hopefully we will start to see greater harvest here. Pray for that too!

Well, that's all for this week. I love you all and hope you are excitedly gearing up for the holiday season. I know a lot of you are near Finals time and the rest of you are just ready for Christmas. Good luck with everything and let me know if you need any specific prayers. You know missionary prayers are pretty much golden. :) Love you all!

Sister Jackson

#1--The coffin, a Zesto drink box...
#2--The final resting place. A grave I dug with a rusty shovel
#3--After the grave was filled.
#4--The headstone... a piece of cardboard and some flowers.

Well hello there friends and family. This is coming a little late this week because we had Sisters' Conference on Monday and Tuesday and so we are just now getting to our emailing. So sorry if you were worried. I am still alive... barely. :)

So Sisters' Conference was awesome. We went to Bacolod on Monday afternoon and did activities at the mission home: games outside, a make-up demo, cooking demos, dinner, the Emma Smith movie, and then we stayed in a hotel for the evening. The next day we had a long day of training, but it was awesome. I LOVE my mission president. He has such a care a concern for us all personally and he is also so concerned with our spirituality as well. He is one of the best men I have ever known, for sure and I am SO grateful for him. We are all quite sure he will be called to be a general authority after he's done here in Bacolod. Here's hoping! Anyway, the training was great. There is this new simplified curriculum for Preach My Gospel and so we went over a lot of that stuff. President spent a long time teaching us about how we need to focus on the Doctrine of Christ and all of our teaching should revolve around. We also talked about the Holy Ghost and all that that entails. We did some practicing as well and it as great. I had a headache for the most of the day, but I still loved it and learned so much. Seriously, we have the best leadership in the world in this mission. I am blessed.

So this last week, I'm sorry to report was not the best. I was sick with some weird digestive thing that still hasn't completely gone away, but it took me out of commission for a couple of days. I'm feeling a lot better now, but it was definitely rough. I did get a lot of time to study while I was stuck in bed though, so that was nice. Unfortunately, we didn't get to go out to visit people as much as we wanted, but since we only have 2 real investigators it wasn't quite so bad. We did get to go teach them. We're excited for our new investigator Ricky. I don't know if I've mentioned him yet. He is the brother of one of our branch missionaries. He is just so excited to hear about the gospel. He is definitely one of those that the Lord has prepared. And he's 28! We finally have a male investigator (so priesthood) who is over the age of 12! We're pretty happy about that. He eats up everything we teach him and he absorbs so much. He reads everything hungrily and always has something to report to us about what he learned. We extended baptism and of course he accepted. It was way funny actually. Sister Stadler extended the commitment for Dec. 11th. He said, "Yes, what time?" Hahaha. Who does that? We laughed at that, but he seemed genuinely concerned about what time it would be at. Haha. He's great. Definitely an answer to prayer. Now we just need some more of him. Pray for us. We need investigators and especially priesthood candidates.

Well I hate to say it, but that's really all there is right now. It was a tough week, but I'm hoping this next one will be better, well all that we have left of it with sisters' conference. I hope that everyone is doing well and healthy. Keep me posted on your lives!

Love you all!

Sister Jackson

PICTURES!!!! ( in order)

#1 This is Canlaon, the volcano that is near our area. It is pretty awesome, just thought you'd want to see.
#2 Me next to a banana tree. They are EVERYWHERE!
#3 Me with all the Relief Society sisters on our way to the funeral on Sunday! I love those ladies!
#4 A GIANT spider that was on the wall outside. It's not that big for here, but was still huge. Stretched out it was the size of my palm.
#5 Okay, so this was sneakily taken while riding in the front of a jeepney in Bacolod. Yes, that is the gas can... right at my feet... yeah....
#6 The UGLIEST dog I have ever seen in my whole life. Seriously, it looked like it was going to drop dead any minute. It also looks more like hyena then a dog, but all dogs here are ugly for the most part, so this wasn't too much of a surprise.
#7 We decided to make a surprise candlelit dinner for the other sisters. It was awesome!
#8 The dead snake that we came across just randomly in the road while we were proselyting.
#9 Sister Vaipulu and I at Sisters Conference
#10 The coolest man ever... President Tobias who whipped out his saxophone and threw on a Santa Hat for sisters conference. HAHAHA! I Love him!
#11 Yeah, he also plays the guitar. He is amazing.
#12 The Ocean. I just snapped this one on the bus ride home today, thought you all would like to see what it looks like here on the other side of the world!

Okay so this last week was a rough one. Last week we got a new mission standard from President Tobias. They are high goals, but we knew that if we worked hard we could achieve them. Well, of course Satan is just as aware of our goals as the Lord is and so he was working just as hard as we were. We had one really good day where we got new investigators, taught a lot and found some LA to teach as well. But then every day after that was awful. We got punted everywhere. No one was home, some people just didn't have time, and then we had a few that just didn't really want to talk to us. It was frustrating, to say the least. We didn't know what to do. We just kept trying, but we just kept getting punted. It didn't help that on Sunday was a big boxing match. It was basically like the Superbowl here. It was a ghost town. Everyone was in watching the fight. Even our active ward members. It was a big deal. People told us on Sunday that we would have to reschedule. Then there was the internment for the guy that died last week. Between him and the fight, it was a rough Sunday, we didn't not get a lot accomplished. But we know that if we just show some more faith and diligence the Lord will lead us to the people we need to find, the ones that are prepared. We are just trying to do everything we can to make that happen.

There were a few tender mercies thought, for which I am very grateful. First of all we had a lot of people at church on Sunday. It was Branch Conference so there were bound to be more anyway, but it was good to see so many people at church. The best part was that we had a number of less actives there that we have been working with, including Brother Robles! We were so happy about that. He had told us he probably wouldn't come because he didn't have dress shoes, only sandals. Well there are 2 sets of elders here and one just left, so they had some extra shoes. We took them to him and he wore them on Sunday! We were so glad he was there. The other great thing was thanks to my amazing grandmother. She sent me a few pairs of reading glasses (bad eyesight is a HUGE problem here and obviously a hindrance for reading the Book of Mormon). We had 2 people with this problem, Erwin and Bro. Robles. Well we were able to give them glasses that were perfect for their needs. Hearing Erwin read the scriptures outloud and on his own was one of the sweetest sounds to my ears. And Brother Robles was SO grateful! He just kept reading everything he could while we were there and then he had them clipped onto his shirt on Sunday at church. It was honestly one of the most beautiful things I've seen. Reactivated members is sometimes sweeter than investigators at church because they have already made those covenants. Now the key is to keep them active. Pray for us! :)

Well that's about all for this week. It's short, but it was a difficult week. The work goes on, we are determined to meet the challenge. We will prevail!

Love you all!

Sister Jackson
So this week was an interesting one. We got a lot of work done, but we also had a lot of disappointments as well. We spent the majority of the week working on our CMIS (the ward list basically), trying to figure out who is still around, alive, active, etc. It is hard work because people don't have addresses and directions are very vague. So we just have to walk around and ask people if they no where "so-and-so" lives. We were pretty lucky that there were a few branch members that have lived here all their lives and so they know everything. That's part of the culture here. But we still had to do a lot of wandering. Because President wants us to focus on this right now we don't have a lot of investigators and after this week we now have one, at least that is progressing.

Erwin (that's actually how it's spelled, we found out) decided that his friends were more important than this family, once again, went away for the weekend and got drunk... again. It's like clockwork for him. The week before his baptismal interview he does something stupid so that he doesn't have to actually go through with it. This has now happened 3 times. So we have decided that it's time to visit him less frequently. We just can't help him if he won't help himself. The ironic thing is that he is at church every Sunday and is now reading in the Book of Mormon pretty regularly. Yeah, we can't figure it out at all. It's just not his time, I guess.

We also had some disappointments with the Angelico family. We know that the Mom and Dad know it's true, but they are so caught up in their social concerns with being Catholic that they refuse to do anything to test their knowledge, like go to church. It's ridiculous. Luckily their daughter, Mara is still progressing, comes to church and knows it's true. We have hope for her.

The most interesting part of my week was definitely Sunday. On Saturday the husband of the Sunday School teacher died. So, because we are in the Philippines and the world revolves around the dead, all of our meetings were canceled after church and we were asked to go with the whole branch to the wake. Let me tell you something about the Philippines. When a person dies they have the body embalmed and placed in a sealed casket with a plexi-glass viewing window and the body stays in the home of the deceased's family for a week or sometimes two. They have this whole crazy set up with curtains and candelabras and flowers. It's quite something. So we got permission to go and drove 30min to this lady's house. Then we just sit there and chat with people. No one was really mourning, most people were joking and laughing. This guy wasn't a member and apparently was a chain smoker and drank like a fish. So his wife just kept saying, "it's his own fault, he chose his lifestyle". It was all very weird. I'm not going to lie, I felt a little uncomfortable. I hate viewings, I always have and this experience was no different. Thankfully we didn't stay there all afternoon and eventually got back to our plans for work. All in all it was a crazy day.

We have found some new less actives to teach which is great. There is something satisfying in a different way than with investigators, about teaching less actives. I already have a new favorite. His name is Brother Robles. He and his wife have been sealed in the temple, he was in the branch presidency before. But he's become inactive. But he is the NICEST man! He is a trike driver and he always gives us free rides, he insists. But aside from that, there is just this humility about him. We are pretty hopeful that he will get back to church. He's a good man and he knows what he needs to do. We just pray that we can help him realize it.

Well that's about all for this week. It was a long week and pretty exhausting. I'm very thankful for P-day today. I hope all is well back home with all of you. I miss and love you all! Send me an email if you get the chance!


Sister Jackson

p.s. hayley.jackson@myldsmail.net in case you forgot. :)
Hello to everyone!!!!

Okay, lets start this email off with the best news of this week: I had my first baptism!!!! You will see attached the pictures of the cutest kid EVER! That is Ramzel, our favorite investigator. That kid is so solid. He will make the most amazing missionary some day. Let me tell you about his baptism. The day was a rough one, we had a lot to do and it seemed that people were making it harder, his family wasn't coming (except for his mom), people weren't going to be there who were supposed to give talks. Basically, Satan was working on us. But we prevailed. We have a great Branch President who helps us a lot and so we got everything taken care of. Because it's the Philippines we started about 45 minutes late, but it's okay. Ramzel showed up, we had enough witnesses and the jumpsuit fit. That's really all that matters. And then... right before the actual baptism, we get a brownout. I should probably explain that. See, here in the Philippines, they just randomly turn the power off in the cities. We don't know why, sometimes it's a political thing, sometimes it's just because (Grandma and Grandpa, I know you can relate). So yeah, we ended proceeding with the baptism. You can't really stop just because you have no lights. So we baptized him by flashlight. It was awesome. It was the first baptism of the elder who baptized him. You'll see a picture of Elder Clark below as well. He said it was the best experience. All in all, with all the crazy things that went on, it was the best experience for me as well. And then on Sunday he was confirmed and then right after church he received the Aaronic priesthood. It was a good weekend.

This last week was absolutely CRAZY. We had to go to Bacolod to sing at the Departure Devotional for the outgoing missionaries. It was President's favorite batch, so it was a big deal. It went pretty late and then President invited us all over to his house for a party afterward. It was crazy. So we had to go spend the night at some other sister's house because it was too late to go back to La Carlota. It was fun though. It took us awhile to get back to our area though, so we lost a lot of time. Then we had to go back to Bacolod again on Friday for the transfer meeting. We weren't transferring but we had to go get the new sisters we now have in our house and help them get back. So that was pretty much the whole day too. It was a crazy week with lots of traveling, but we also got to do a few teachings and we had a baptism, so I felt pretty good about it.

I'll give you a quick update on our investigators. The Angelico family has gotten a bit difficult. We know that the daughter, Mara, knows it's true and she wants to be baptized, but her parents are hesitant to let her before they have their answer. We know they know it is true, but for the mom at least, there is a social concern. Everyone they know is Catholic. It's a pretty common problem here. So we are trying to be patient. With Irwin we have seen some significant changes. He has been at church every week, without any prodding. He was even early on Sunday. We were amazed! He also has been reading regularly and he is able to teach us perfectly what he has read. But, we have seen him smoking a few times (he doesn't know that) and as much as we try, we haven't been able to get him to be honest with us about it. So we have been trying to teach around it hoping that he will come out with it. We also have a plan to catch him in the act and confront him about it. It sounds ridiculous, and it really is, but it's going to be the only way we get him to be honest. But we are determined with him. We know that he is ready, he just needs to have a firm desire to change. It didn't help this week that everyone we are teaching went out of town. We did too, so I guess that's just how it works.

As far as everything else goes, life is really good. I have managed to stay away from illness, although my MTC companion got Dengue her first transfer here. Yeah, I kind of laughed because she swore to me EVERY day in the MTC that she NEVER gets sick. And then like 3 weeks after we get here, she gets the worst possible thing. She's totally fine now, spent 2 days in the hospital and then went right back to work. She's a tough Tongan, that's for sure. But now she jokes about it. I saw her at transfer day and she looked way skinny (in a good way, from the Dengue of course) but she was all smiles and laughed about it. She has a great attitude. Pray I don't get Dengue... :)

It's still been raining here a lot. Apparently the rainy season goes til about January and then it will get blazing hot. I'm not too excited for that time. Right now, it's not too bad here. I mean, I definitely sweat my guts out everyday and constantly feel like I'm cooking, but you get used to it. At night it's pretty cool and we have fans. All is well here. I am very grateful for a lot of blessings that keep us safe and comfortable. Seriously, after visiting some of these people, I literally feel like I live in a palace. This place will change your perspective about EVERYTHING. But I love it. I honestly can say that I would not want to be anywhere else on my mission. I have met amazing people, I have an amazing trainer and mission president, this place is beautiful and the people are so humble and honest and loving. I am truly blessed to be here.

Okay, that's all for this week. Enjoy the photos. I got a lot of emails this week, I appreciate it so much! You are all so wonderful! Thanks for the support!

Love, love, love,
Sister Jackson

The first and second photos are from an FHE with Irwin's family. Irwin is the one in the middle in the back, who looks like the dad.

The 3rd one is of me with a horse. A horse! Seriously, they don't exist here, but as we were walking one morning, we turned a corner and there it was! Crazy!

4th is my comp and I at a restaurant where we got pizza and it was WAY good. Also hard to find here.

The last few photos are from Ramzel's baptism. He is obviously the cute kid in the jumpsuit. There is one with Elder Clark, his family, and with us.


Well hello there friends and family.

First of all, it seems that some of you have been worried about the weather craziness here. I AM NOT DEAD. Clearly, if I am writing you, you can be assured. There was a typhoon that hit here not too long ago but because we live in this nice little banana belt, we just get a lot of rain and some wind. We are really lucky actually. So everything is fine here in Bacolod. I think the most of the damage probably hit the north, which is the opposite end of us. We are lucky to be surrounded by islands, so all is well. This week was actually just sunny all week, no rain. If anything crazy were to happen, they would notify you. Or so I'm told.

Okay, so today was the transfer announcement. Sister Stadler and I did NOT want to be transferred, but because there are 4 Americans coming in this week, she thought she might have to train again. But.... WE ARE STAYING TOGETHER!!! We were pretty worried that we would at least change companionships, but no, President Tobias loves us... :) So we will both stay in La Carlota. Which I'm way happy about because I love the people here and I did not want to leave. We also have our first baptism on Saturday and I love the kid that is getting baptized. He is hilarious. So I'm excited we are staying and staying together.

Okay, so from the subject line, you may be wondering what Isaw is. Well let me tell you, my companion had been threatening me with it this whole transfer but I wasn't too excited to try it. It's chicken intestine. Yeah, that's right folks, I have eaten chicken intestine. You just buy it from a street vendor. They barbecue it up and you eat it off a stick. It actually wasn't too bad. The texture wasn't great, but it tasted pretty good. Then it got to some bitter stuff, we won't talk about what I think that might have been... But I ate it. It's just what you have to do here. There are still things I am more hesitant to try, but my companion assures me that I will... awesome.

So this week was great because we had Zone Conference. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE my mission president. He is seriously the most incredible, spiritual, inspired man I have ever met. And so I love every opportunity to see him. He also has this hilarious sense of humor and we love him. Zone conference was awesome. They made some big changes though. We are no longer supposed to find people that are not within a 7 peso ride from the church building. They call it the "center of strength". So that cuts out some of our area. But President has an incredible vision and he knows what it will take to strengthen the church here. So we will do what we are told to do. It means that we will have to stop visiting some of our less active families that live further away, but we know that it will make the branch stronger and hopefully get it back to being a ward.

We also talked a lot about Christlike attributes. That is something that I am trying to work on. I've found that it makes all the difference in the world to the work, to your companionship, to yourself. I've already noticed a change and so has my companion. I truly feel a sense of refining as I've been here. It's amazing. I can't exactly describe what it is like to be here, I don't think I will ever be able to, but I can tell you that I am not the same person that went into the MTC 3 months ago. But that's the point, right? I love it here.

Just an update on the Pacheo family. We fasted for them this week and visited them as much as we could, and I just want to tell you that we saw a physical, noticeable difference in their lives. Right after that first meeting, Sister Stadler and I were trying to figure out if there was a way we could help them physically with food. We both know that we're not technically supposed to, but we had a plan to make it anonymous. Then I suggested that we let the branch president know first and if he didn't make an effort than maybe we would figure something out. Well, within only an hour he got our text, and went right over there with some food. It wasn't much, I'm sure, but he responded right away and I think it made ALL the difference in the world to that family. It was awesome. And we got to stay obedient. :) We also had the best thing. There is a man in our branch who used to be the bishop for forever. He got offended and worn out and become inactive. It was awful. His whole family is active. His daughter is our favorite branch missionary and wants to serve her own mission. He served a mission for pete's sake and was sealed in the temple. We didn't know quite how to help him, but we visited him often and reminded him of his temple covenants and his responsibility to the branch and to his family. Well after a few weeks... HE CAME!!! We were not expecting it at all. He had promised us before a few times and hadn't done it. But there he was, Brother Gatucao, with his whole family. Sister Stadler gave me a double high-five. It was a great Sunday.

Okay, so that's about all for now. I am attaching some pictures. One of them has a sign politely telling people "don't pee here", some fun shots after getting drenched in the rain, the one of me eating the isaw and the place where we bough it (yeah, the meat just sits out there til you order it and then they cook it...) some pictures from zone conference so you can see some missionaries I love and our cute mission pres and his wife, a picture comparing the types of housing here in the philippines: a huge house and a bamboo hut, a can of black beans we tried to eat and then realized had 2000mg of sodium, our resident cat wouldn't even eat them, some fun shots of us and a picture of a beautiful sunset. I hope you all are well and life is good. I love you all!!!

Sister Jackson

Well hello there family and friends!

Okay, lets get down to brass tacks here. This week was good. We had a couple of days where we didn't get to work much because Sister Stadler was pretty sick, but we did get out there and teach when we could. We even got a new investigator! One of our branch missionaries told us that his sister is finally ready to hear from the missionaries. We have only met with her twice, but she incredibly smart and she is very thoughtful. Our last lesson with her was especially great. The spirit was so strong. We just hope that we can maintain that and that she will really act on what we know she already knows. It's such an amazing thing to see how the gospel effects people. Their whole demeanor changes. It's amazing. I love it. Our other investigators are doing well. We've had some road blocks with the Angelico family. When we taught them about the Word of Wisdom it opened a whole new can of worms that caused us some setbacks, but we are determined. We know they know its true, but they are afraid to act on it. So that's what we are working on now. Our 12 year-old investigator, Ramzel is AWESOME!!! Seriously, we love that kid. He is SO smart. He gets EVERYTHING we teach him, can tell it back to us better than we teach it and he is absolutely hilarious. We are so excited for him. His baptism is on October 30th. This will be my first one. I am way excited!

We had a really hard experience this week. We went to visit one of our less-active families. They came to church one week and then didn't come again. So we went to visit them. They haven't really opened up to us much before, but this time they did. It turns out that their baby girl had a really bad fever not long ago and had to be hospitalized. Now, because of the effects of the fever she has to take some VERY expensive medication to keep her from going blind. It's so sad and this family is so poor. They go 3 days a week without eating. It's heartbreaking. Sister Stadler felt impressed to teach them about fasting. They joked that they do it all the time. It was so sad. So we taught about how fasting with a purpose will help us to receive many blessings, more than we can imagine. They agreed to do it. It amazes me how impoverished these people are. When you teach them, you don't always realize it, and then you hear something like this and it all becomes very real. But we know that the best solution for them is to teach them the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we follow his way then we will receive blessings. It's the following part that seems to trip most people up.

Okay, so I do have some epic news. I had my one month mark in the mission field last Friday! Technically I got here a month ago last Wednesday, but we weren't actually in our area until Friday, so that was what we counted. It's crazy! I can't believe it! And to celebrate we made these incredibly nasty brownies in our oven (which we finally figured out how to light, and I almost killed myself doing... ), they tasted like the plastic bag they came in... and not chocolaty at all. Oh well, it was still a fun experience. And also to celebrate... I caved in... and had made... 2 JODY DRESSES!!!! HAHAHAHAH. Okay, some of you will not understand why this is so funny, in fact probably only returned missionaries will get this (Megan and Tiffany, I know you are probably laughing ridiculously right now) But seriously, they are the best things ever. They are light, they dry quickly, which lets be honest is incredibly important in a place where it rains all the time and you sweat, and although they are pretty ugly and shapeless, I don't care. I love them. I plan to get more made. They are WAY cheap and we have a lady who is a member that makes them for us WAY fast. So now I am a true Sister Missionary. I feel like I'm really part of the club now. Pictures of the beauty of the Jodys will follow... :)

Okay, so that's about all to report for now. We have had CRAZY storms here lately with TONS of lightening and thunder. We heard a typhoon was supposed to hit. But we tend to not get the worst parts of it. We just get all the rain and stormy-ness. But let me tell you, I have seen some of the best lightening of my life here. It's awesome. Okay, that's all for this week. I look forward to hearing from all of you. There is nothing to boring for me!

Love you all!!!

Sister Jackson
Hello everyone!

Okay, so this may not be the longest email ever. Time seems to get more and more precious as the days go on. But I will do my best to fill you in about what has been going on lately.

First of all I have to tell you about the coolest experience we had last week. On Wednesday we had specialized training with the APs. It was about the new simplified curriculum that we have now and it was to help encourage us to follow the spirit more and also to offer the baptismal commitment on the first lesson. Yeah, it's pretty intense. So anyway, we had the training and then we had to practice it with the other missionaries and then we had to go out to the streets and find someone real to try this on. We had no idea where to go, but we started off in a direction. We thought we would try to contact a referral from the elders that we can never get a hold of. He wasn't home... typical. So we started walking. Sister Stadler said we should just try to see where the spirit wanted us to go. We had a branch missionary with us from the other branch and her and Sis. Stadler were just chatting as we walked. Finally I stopped and said "Okay, where are we going... seriously." We didn't really know what to do. So I suggested that we try to find the house of the 2nd counselor in the branch presidency. His wife is not a member but we haven't been able to find their house, or anyone that really knows. Well as we start off in the direction we know it is, we come across some members who actually attend the other branch but live in our boundaries (yeah there are a lot of problems with that here... It's the Philippines). Our branch missionary, Roxy, new them and asked them if they knew were the Tumunong's lived. And lo and behold they just happened to live exactly across the street from them. Yeah, it was definitely not a coincidence. We felt like this was directed. So we went over there to teach. Bro. Tumunong was there, but he said that his wife was napping (a common occurrence here, it's like a daily habit). We were a little dismayed to say the least, it seemed like we were meant to be there. Then Roxy asked Bro. Tumunong "who was that skinny girl that was just here". There had been another girl there when we first got there, but she had gone into another room. He called her out and then we met Rona. We asked if we could teach her a message and let me just tell you that what ensued was one of the most spiritual experience of my mission so far. We started teaching about the restoration and she was just so engaged. When we asked her part way how she felt, she just started crying. She actually had to excuse herself for a moment and then she returned. She was emotional (not out of control) for the whole rest of the lesson. The spirit was SOOO strong. And then we committed her to baptism! It was incredible. She accepted everything we told her, she was a bit shy, but you could just tell that she was ready, she was "elect" as president would say. Oh man, it was seriously so awesome. We left feeling totally overwhelmed by our experience. We went back to the training meeting and just cried telling the elders about our experience. It was awesome. Can we just talk about for a second how the Lord knows EXACTLY what people need?! Every day I see this more and more and it is remarkable. There aren't even words to describe it.

Okay, one more update. One of our other investigators, Irwin has been causing us some grief. On two occasions we thought we saw him smoking (yes he had a baptismal date and everything) and we were also really worried that he just did not have the desire and dedication to the gospel enough to really get baptized. After we saw him the second time we immediately went home to pray about it. We both felt a sense of peace that we were not supposed to call him out on it and that we should just have faith in our investigator. Well it turned out that on Saturday night he went to visit some friends in another town and got totally drunk, but because of it, his family found out. We really felt like that as horrible as it was, that the Lord wanted it to happen that way, so that his family would know and he would have to be accountable, because he wasn't being honest with us. It was the craziest experience, and even after we found out, as heartbroken as we were, we knew that the Lord knows best. So that night we went to teach him, back to square one, about the restoration and we focused on gaining a desire and about the Savior. It was an incredible lesson. The spirit was so strong. Right before I was about to start teaching about Joseph Smith I felt prompted to share the part about the first vision where Joseph is overcome by Satan. In general, they teach us to not really bring this up because it might confuse or trouble people, but with Irwin's personal experiences, I felt that it was a good idea. I was able to relate it to how we all will experience a need to know if something is true and that Satan will do everything in his power to keep us from that truth. It fit together in ways I couldn't imagine. Every world I said was totally directed by the spirit. I felt so blessed and so grateful for that gift. He now has a new baptismal date and we are hopeful for change.

Okay, enough about people you don't know. Can we talk about how INCREDIBLY awesome General Conference was? We get it a week later here because of the crazy time change, so we just watched it this weekend. First of all, I hope you are all as excited as I am about the announcement of ANOTHER TEMPLE IN THE PHILIPPINES!!!! They just barely dedicated the Cebu temple and now they are going to build another one? It is crazy and so awesome. Huge things are happening here! Okay, I also just loved every single talk. There was this incredible theme of following the prophet, did you notice that? It was pretty hard to miss, it was almost every talk. Other common themes I noticed were faith, the Holy Ghost, and agency. I think there was definitely a call to action for the saints. We need to be more faithful and more dedicated to this work. As a missionary, I can tell you that it is vitally important. We need to strengthen every ward and every stake. We need good leadership and strong and faithful members. I definitely felt a sense of urgency in the words of our prophet and apostles and a bit of chastisement mixed with love. They are all so amazing. I especially liked Pres. Monson's talk about gratitude. That is something we could all work on. So with that I just want to express my gratitude to all of you. You are all always in my thoughts and prayers. I wouldn't be here without all of you. I recognize daily how much I have and how much I have learned from all of my family and friends and I am eternally grateful for your love for me. It just amazes me how the Lord prepares things, people, everything. I love it. I love Him. I feel so many blessings and so many trials and I am learning so much all the time. I am constantly overwhelmed.

Well, this wasn't as short as I thought it would be... :) But I hope you enjoy a little update from me. Life is so good here, I honestly cherish every moment of it. I have an AMAZING mission president who has an incredible vision of this work and what needs to be done. I am in good hands and so is this mission.

Okay, I love you all so much and miss you tons and tons!


Sister Jackson
Dear Family and Friends!!!

Okay so here is the 3rd letter. I cannot believe it. I do not feel like I have been here for 3 weeks already. The days are sometimes kind of long, but really the weeks just fly by. Everyone says that the first couple of months tend to drag. I feel like they are going pretty fast, so I can't imagine how fast they will go once I've been here for awhile.

So let me tell you about the last week. We had to go to Bacolod for another 2 days of training. But this time instead of me going out to another area to work with sisters, I just stayed in the office the whole time. That wasn't the best time I've had here, I would have rather been working, but I did get to know some of the elders in the mission a little bit more, so that was really good. I also got in some great study time, which I always appreciate. I never seem to have enough time to study. The time we do have just flies by. And as a missionary you never feel like you have studied enough or that you know enough to really teach the gospel. But then, somehow you do it. The spirit takes over for all of your inadequacies and you get people to make and keep commitments and eventually they will get baptized. It truly is an amazing work that makes that possible. But it is the most amazing and worthwhile work there is, and so the Lord makes EVERYTHING possible. It never ceases to amaze me.

So we did get to visit our investigators this week. They are progressing nicely. Ramzel, the 12 year-old loves when we come over. He is a pretty shy boy, but he gets what we tell him and he is so accepting. He is our favorite. We shouldn't have favorites, but it's impossible not to absolutely love this kid. Irwin, our other investigator is also doing well. He was at church and actually really enjoyed it. He is excited to get baptized. We are hoping that his desire will increase even more. He accepts what we teach him, but he seems to be a little uncomfortable with the spirit. A lot of people are, they just don't really know what it's like to feel it on a regular basis. And then we had the best thing happen this week. The elders had a referral for us and it turned out to be... an entire family! I can't tell you how excited we were about that. They are the Anjelico family. Their oldest son is working with the elders in their area, but his family lives in our area, so we will be teaching them. They are awesome. The mom is 5'8" which is basically gargantuan for a Filipina. I actually don't feel quite so tall when we go to teach them. It's awesome. One of their daughters is just totally into what we have to share. She just accepts everything. Everyone else is pretty willing too. They are a close-knit family and they listen eagerly. The dad (or Tatay as they are called here) seems to be a little skeptical and somewhat obstinate, but he listens intently and asks great questions. He also smokes, so that will be a challenge, but not one we can't overcome. They seem like one of those "prepared" families. They are ready and we are so excited to teach them.

So this week we didn't have a ton of time to work, what with missing 2 whole days, but we still tried to do our best with the time we had. And people seem to be responding well to us. We are also trying to reactivate families still. We had one of them at church on Sunday. If they keep coming then we have a reactivated family, which is a HUGE blessing to the branch. Mostly we just have to keep up the faith and hope and the Lord leads us where we need to go.

Today we had a huge rainstorm. We got SOAKED on the way home from Lopue's (the grocery store) so we decided to dance around in the rain. I have included some pictures of that adventure. It really does rain ALL the time here. And it's crazy hard rain. It's awesome. I love it.

Things are just awesome. Sometimes I think that I should be writing home something not so positive, because missions are hard. But honestly, as hard as it sometimes gets, it's awesome. I never really have anything to complain about. I mean it does get WAY hot here, and my legs are totally bitten up by mosquitoes, but I love it here. I love the people, I love our apartment, my companion, the branch, the investigators, the crazy people on the street who yell "Hey Guapa!!!" to us EVERY SINGLE DAY. I love everything. It's just awesome.

Alright, I think that is all for this week. I hope you all are well. If you send me an email, I'll be sure to write back, but it will be a little slower, because it will be a letter... sorry, but that's how it goes.

Love you all!!

Sister Jackson