Okay, so this week has been kind of crazy and so I actually have some events to share. I can't believe it myself, usually my life is just always the same, but this week things got interesting. So here goes...
Well, first of all, I got sick... again. I don't what the heck happened, but one night I just started to feel achy. At about 3am the next morning I woke up with a fever which kept returning in varying degrees all day. It was awful. I thought it was just the flu and so I just tried to push through it, but to no avail. I even slept during study time to try and recover, but I was still a mess. The next day I broke down and went to the doctor. He was actually pretty worried about it since I still had that cough and then was now showing symptoms again. He said it could become pneumonia. Well some of you know, I have had that and it is AWFUL! So he prescribed TWO antibiotics to make sure and do the job right. So I've been on those since Friday and am happy to report that I am starting to feel a little better, not great, but okay. I refuse to have pneumonia. I refuse to be stuck here more than I have to be. I only have 2 weeks left. I will leave next monday. Where there's a will there's a way!
Okay, so enough of that. In other news, we got 4 new sisters! They are all awesome and I love that I am coordinating sister and I get to get to know them really well. It's great. And they are ALL going to Bacolod! We got 19 new missionaries and 16 of them are going to Bacolod. And the other zone got 9 new missionaries and 5 of them are going. I think it's mostly because they just made the new mission and so they need lots of replacements, but it is awesome that there are SO many of us going to the same place. I can't even tell you how excited I am getting to get out there. I have moments of absolute terror, mostly about the language, when I think about going, but mostly I am just SO excited. I've been preparing and now I am ready! 2 weeks from today and I will be out of here!
Okay, the best part of the week. Tuesday Devotional: ELDER JEFFREY R. HOLLAND!!!!!!
Let's just talk about how he is absolutely my favorite apostle. We got to the devo, which is finally back in the gym (they were building new bleachers) and we couldn't find any good seats. We got stuck on the side and I was bummed, but didn't really care too much (I didn't know who was coming at this point). Then they opened up some reserveved rows right in the middle, about 8 rows from the front. My comp and I booked it over there and got seats right in the center. Then Elder Holland walked in (they don't tell us who it is before, probably to avoid rioting outside the gym as people try to get seats). I just started crying. Last week had been really difficult and I had felt discouraged a few times. And then an apostle of the Lord walked in and let me tell you, it was easily the best tender mercy in the world. I was so grateful. I seriously just cried for his entire talk. And it was SOOOO powerful. Of course it was, it's Elder Holland. Honestly, he is so bold and teaches and reproaches with so much love. He has this incredible testimony and this physical spirit about him that just oozes love and gratitude. It was really just the best experience ever and I was so grateful for it. The Lord LOVES missionaries!
Other than the sickness, life is just really good. I am trying to absorb as much as I can in the last couple of weeks before I go to the field. I pray every day all day that I can get everything that I possibly can from my classes and study to prepare me for this work. I know that it will be incredibly difficult, but I am just so excited and I just want to do it so badly, that I don't even care how hard it will be.
Well I should get my travel plans on Friday and then I'll know for sure when I am leaving, but it will probably be Monday, Sept. 13th.
I love you all and look forward to hearing from you if you get a chance!
Mahal kita!
Sister Jackson
Oh my goodness, I really can't believe that it is already my P-Day again. It is crazy. There are 3 districts leaving today from our two Tagalog zones which means that we are the senior district in our zone now. That is crazy. Three weeks from today I am getting on a plane and heading to the Philippines!!!! I seriously cannot believe it. It freaks me out pretty much every day, but now I am starting to get really excited. The closer we get, the more stories our teachers tell us about it and although there are some things I'm not looking forward to (falling in the mud, freaking huge spiders, etc), mostly I am just totally stoked. I can't imagine that my Tagalog will EVER be good enough for me to teach anyone anything other than my name (Ako po si Sister Jackson), but everyone assures me I won't leave fluent no matter how hard I study, so I should just not stress too much about it. But I still work hard at the language because as most of you know, I like to talk. Well when you can't speak the language, talking is difficult. So needless to say, I am motivated. Haha!

This last week was pretty difficult. It was just one of those weeks. Nothing seemed to go right, the elders were driving me CRAZY! Our regular teachers were all out of town so we had lots of subs. It was just hard. I had one day in particular where I just felt like garbage, but have no fear, I am not quitter! And so I just pushed on, prayed my heart and brains out and after going to the temple this morning, I am feeling WAY better. The MTC just has the best kinds of medicine for a discouraged heart, if you look hard enough.

Other than that, life here is pretty great. Being the coordinating sister is fun, I'm getting to know all the sisters better and i LOVE them. They are all awesome. This week we are getting 20 new missionaries and 4 of them are sisters! Seriously, it is awesome to have so many. We will have 10 sisters in our zone. That is crazy, when I got here there were only 5. It's nice. When the elders are out of control, there are always women to keep you sane!

Well, I know it's short, but there's just not too much to report this week. I will share one spiritual thought. I was studying in PMG about teaching people so they can understand and I was going through the scriptures and came across 2 Nephi 31:3. It talks about how the Lord taught to people's understanding and in their own LANGUAGE! So basically, if the Lord were teaching the Filipino people, he would speak to them in Tagalog. And that's exactly what I'm doing. I'm a tool in the Lord's hand and I'm trying to help them know Him. So that's why I have to learn Tagalog. They will come closer to Christ so much faster and with more faith if they hear it in their own language. It was a good boost for when I feel discouraged with the langauge, which happens often.

So anyway, that's my week. I love being a missionary. Keep me posted on all of your lives!

Mahal kita!

Sister Jackson
Well, I cannot believe that it has already been 5 weeks. I have passed the halfway point and am now on the downward slope toward the field! It's crazy! And pretty terrifying. I can't believe that I will ever be good enough at Tagalog, let alone in 4 weeks from now. The language gets tougher and tougher, especially now that we speak only Tagalog in class. We try to set goals for our district, our companionship and of course personal goals, but it's still pretty dang hard. But I have faith, it's pretty much all you can have to think you'll learn the language. Thankfully I am a missionary. The Lord does bless missionaries in special ways. Language is definitely one of those. Before I left a friend told me that I needed to learn the language as fast as I could so that I could share my story with investigators. I think she is totally right, and that has been driving me. I have so much to share about the gospel, and I want to be able to do it! So thankfully, all things are possible with the Lord. ;)
So, I actually have some news! Well it's news here, to you it may not be, but to me its a pretty big deal. The senior districts in our zone are leaving soon and so they had to reorganize the leadership. We got 2 new zone leaders and a new district leader because our old one became the new zone leader. And... I got assigned to be the coordinating sister. You probably don't know what that is if you haven't been to the MTC, but basically I am responsible for all the sisters in the branch and have to report info to the branch president. I figured it was coming because it's only me and my companion that are sisters in the senior zone now, so it was either me or her. She got called to be the music person... I'm jealous. But I am grateful for the assignment, it will allow me to get to know the sisters better and I'm hoping will give me greater blessings with the language and teaching since I will have to spend less time on that to complete this assignment. haha... I know that's probably not how it will work, and I'll just have to work harder, but I can hope, right?
We lost one of our teachers this week. She's taught here for 3 years and apparently the MTC has a limit. So she had to go. It was awful, she was crying, I was crying. She was such a great teacher and I felt a lot of commonality with her and so I just felt like I had a built in personal support system. I was pretty down about it for a day and then realized I had to just move along. I really like our other teacher and apparently our new one is pretty cool, so hopefully we don't miss a beat with anything. It's crazy how attached you get to people here. Yesterday I had to leave my companion to go to meetings associated with this new assignment. It felt so weird! I didn't like it. I also had to be with the zone leaders, which may have contributed to it. :) No, I love the elders too, but not as much as my companion.
Speaking of which, here is my best spiritual experience to date. We had to teach a principle only in Tagalog this week. We were practicing with the district in the other zone that is the same age as us. They went first and of course were struggling, because we all still suck pretty bad. Then it got to us. I was trying to do my best and then I turned to my companion. She totally froze up. One of the elders tried to take the pressure off her by asking me a question, but I still wanted her to have a chance to contribute. She froze up again. I could tell she was really struggling. She just couldn't get the words out. Then the same elder gave her this amazing pep talk. I chimed in as well. We just tried to encourage her to just tell us a simple testimony. She finally got out a few lines and I just want you all to know that I haven't felt the spirit more strongly since I've been at the MTC, than I did in that room. I could just feel her testimony. Even though she couldn't say it. It was amazing. It was exactly what all of our teachers have been telling us about. How to teach with the spirit. Keep it simple. That was exactly what happened and it was amazing. I don't think I'll ever forget that feeling. It is amazing what the Lord can do with weak and imperfect people. It's impossible not to have faith in this work and faith in yourself when you have such a power on your side.
Well, I love you all and hope everything is going well. Let me know how your lives are!
Mahal ko kayo!
Sister Jackson
Well I think it's week 4. To be perfectly honest, I can't even remember what day it is. I know it's Monday, because that's P-Day. Is it the 9th? I think so. Hahaha, the days just all run together. I can't remember one week from the next.

So this week was mostly uneventful. We had some great storms which made gym time a lot more fun and exciting. I've been sick for about a week and I thought it was gone and then it just got worse again. But I got a blessing from some elders in my district and zone and that's helped a lot. It's amazing what faith and prayer will do. It's amazing. I got to give a talk yesterday (I say got to, because we all have to prepare talks and then we get called on in Sacrament meeting... awesome). It was actually a good experience, it was about faith and that is an especially prevalent topic for me lately. The Lord always knows best. And for that I am glad.

So this Friday our district goes completely Tagalog. I can honestly say I don't feel ready at all, but oh well, we have to move forward and honestly forcing us into it is the best thing anyway. I learn better when I have to speak it. I understand it pretty well now, but speaking it is a beast. It's just such a weird language. For instance, the word for faith is Pananampalataya. Yeah... most the words are like that. Like 18 syllables. The Preach My Gospel is like 40 pages longer sa Tagalog. It's crazy.

So I'm doing really well. Besides being sick, I've had a lot of great experiences that have stretched me. I love my companion and we have had some intense growing experiences in the last couple of weeks, but they have been really good for us. I'm really grateful to her for what she teaches me. She has a very powerful personal testimony and she is so eager to learn more about the gospel so she can be a good teacher. It's been really inspiring for me to watch as she learns more and experiences more.

Well, the Lord is just loving me all the time. I feel it every minute of everyday. I am so grateful to be here, to be learning. I want to get out and into the field, but I know that this part is really important. So I'm learning to be patient. Woot!

Well I love you all!!

Sister Jackson

P.S. Conner, if you read this. I appreciate the walk quickly and with purpose principle much more now that I have a companion that is slow. :)
P.P.S. For those of you who know him... I have an elder in my zone who sounds EXACTLY like David Grant. It is uncanny. He even has the same sense of humor and mannerisms... weird.
I can't believe I've already been here for 3 weeks! It's really flying by. It just seems like yesterday that I had my P-Day. I like that it's going fast because I'm anxious to get out the Philippines, but it also terrifies me because I can't imagine ever knowing enough Tagalog to actually teach it to the Filipinos. But I am learning. It takes a great deal of patience with myself and more than that, it takes practice. Practice makes permanent as they say here at the MTC. And it is the truth. I am very grateful for awesome, patient, kind, teachers who care about us a lot and give us a lot of help.

My companion and I are becoming great friends, for which I am VERY grateful. We had a rocky start, but we had some really great talks and worked everything out and now we get along really well. We have a good time talking about each other's culture and laughing about all the crazy differences. I'm very grateful to have a companion I can talk to and who I know loves me. It's really important here, more than I would have thought before. I'm also getting closer to my district. We changed desks this week and so I sit by someone else. He's our district leader and hilarious, but I can tell he really wants to be here. We had a devotional every week and afterward we all get together and talk about it. This week was such a great talk and our review afterward became this amazingly spiritual testimony experience. The elders really bore sincere testimonies, there was crying, and loving of each other. It was awesome. It was a big turning point for our district. I also gained a HEAPS (my companion says that is the right word to use here) of respect for all the elders. It's a lot easier to love them now. :)

I got a little cold this week. I was really worried it would get worse because half of the elders had it and were miserable. But, and I attribute this totally to the Lord, I hardly got sick at all and it hasn't really kept me down at all. I had to sit out of one gym period. Not bad at all. The Lord LOVES missionaries. I have witnesses of this multiple times a day.

Well, I think that's probably it for this week. I'm having a wonderful experience. It is hard, and exhausting, but more than that it is amazing. I have never felt the spirit so strongly before, I have never felt closer to the Lord. I know I am exactly where I need to be. I don't think I really knew what faith was until I became a missionary. Now I have REAL witnesses of it everyday. I'm so blessed.

I love you all!!!

Sister Jackson