Okay, so another week has passed! Can you believe it? I can't, that's for sure. I feel like this is really all just a dream and that one day I will wake up and my mission will be over. It's crazy. This place hardly seems real sometimes, but it is real and it is awesome and I love it.

So this last week was kind of crazy. My companion had a training meeting for 2 whole days and so I was exchanged into another couple of companionships in a nearby area called Handumanan. It was really different from where I am now, but it was a good experience. I got to get to know some other sisters and also got to see another kind of life and how they teach as well. It was a pretty cool experience. At one point we took a tricycle ride out to what seemed like the middle of nowhere and then trekked through a field, passed a few cows and various other animals and then got to this house that was really out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by sugarcane fields. That's what the big export is here, sugar, so it is EVERYWHERE. It was way cool though. We were teaching a young couple and a ward member also came along. He bore really powerful testimony. It's crazy because I really don't understand much of what is being said, but I can just feel it. That truly is the power of the spirit. When there are concerns, when people are feeling the spirit, when people are upset or stubborn, I can just feel it. It's awesome, because I don't understand much of anything else. The spirit truly is the key to this work. I will testify of that until the day I die. It is incredibly remarkable what the spirit can do.

So we had a couple of disappointments this week. We lost our most promising investigator. She was SO solid and followed through on EVERY commitment, but she had a child and was not yet married to her boyfriend and so she couldn't be baptized. He had gone to Manila to find work and so he wasn't even there so we could just seal the deal and then get her baptized. He did find work and so she moved there to meet up with him. We are just hoping and praying that she goes to Manila and seeks out the missionaries, gets married and is baptized. She is SO prepared. We were pretty bummed. We also had this experience with an older man who's wife is a member but he is not. He has been taught MANY times, but he does not want to be baptized for 2 more years until he is "ready" to give up his vices. Yeah, it's a pretty lame excuse and we know that is not really the problem, but he is SO stubborn about it. We went to visit him and had a really spiritual experience with him (after a very non-spirit start to the lesson). But the next time we came to visit he told his wife that he would not come out to meet with us. We figure that he did feel something last time and just didn't want to own up to the responsibility. It's so sad because he really needs it and his wife is desperate to have an eternal family. We are determined to soften his heart thought and find out what is really going on so that we can help resolve his issues and get him baptized. I'd appreciate the prayers if you get the chance.

We also have some promising things going on as well. The Relief Society President's husband is not a member. She is an RM and all the kids are members, but he is not. So we have been working with him. His issue is getting to church. He had another baptismal date, but could not do it because he wasn't coming to church. So we gave him a new one and prayed he would be at church. And after a lot of anxiety, he came! We were so happy and I know his wife was WAY happy to see him there too. It was great. We have also started teaching a young boy who is the only non-member in his family. He is 12 and way cute and way shy. It's crazy here, you will often see half of a family get baptized and then it will be forever before the other half gets baptized, or maybe never. And sometimes it's just some random kid who decided he didn't want to when the family did. I don't really understand it, but maybe they understand the responsibility more than I think and they just don't feel ready for it. I don't really know, but it's kind of crazy. But we are happy to be teaching him. We gave him a baptismal date and he accepted. Now we just need to keep him going to church and following commitments.

We are also working on reactivating some of the less-active families. We got a whole family to church on Sunday! It really was a golden Sunday. I can't describe that feeling when you see people follow through on their commitments. It's so awesome. You feel like they are a member of your family. I love it!

So there hasn't been a whole lot of exciting stuff going on other than the work. That is the most exciting part for me. We do have a crazy cat with one eye that has taken up residence by our front door with it's crazy rabies-filled kitten. We don't actually know if it has rabies but it sure hisses like crazy at us every time we come outside and it's the ugliest kitten I have ever seen. We always watch our ankles when we hang up laundry... just in case.

And speaking of laundry... I did it for the first time! And let me tell you what, it was an adventure. You do your laundry all by hand here. So I got to sit on a tiny bench over a big tub and scrub all my laundry and then rinse it and ring it out and then hang it out to dry. It may not seem like that big of a deal, but let me tell you... it is. Your back hurts, you get way sweaty, your hands cramp up and basically feel like they are going to crack open. But in all honesty, it was kind of fun. I have an awesome companion who just laughed with me the whole time I did it and that helped me not get overwhelmed by what I was doing. And I really do love anything that is "Filipino". And let me tell you, laundry is definitely a "Filipino" experience. I don't know if I will ever use a washing machine again! (okay, that's probably a lie, but your clothes do get WAY cleaner by hand).

Okay, well that's really the only updates for this week. I know some of you have been asking about where to send mail and packages, so I will tell you right now. Send them to the mission office. The mail is really pretty reliable here as long as it comes through the mission office and then it will get to me via District meeting every Monday. The address is:

Sister Hayley Lillian Jackson
Philippines Bacolod Mission
Galo and Lacson St. PO Box 660
Negros Occidental 6100

I know it seems a little weird, but just do it that way exactly and it will get to me. And of course, I would always appreciate any letter or package. :) Also, if you want to keep using dear elder you can definitely do that as well. It's like 0.70 to send a letter, so it's not too bad. Okay, I look forward to hearing from you all! Love you much!

Sister Jackson
Well hello everyone!!!

So I am writing you from one of our local internet cafes on my first P-day in the field!!! Yeah, let's all just take a moment to realize what is happening.

I am in the Philippines.

Okay, while that sinks in, I will share with you about this last week and the craziness that I have experienced so far. So on Monday we all trekked to the SLC airport and boarded our plane for LA. we got to stay there for 5 hours. That was awesome. The international terminal at LAX is crazy and lets be honest, those of you who have been there before, it's pretty much just Asia. We already felt like we were in Taiwan. Finally we got on the plane and started the longest plane ride of my entire life. Luckily I was sitting next to the 3 elders that I loved the most from our district. I handed out pink earplugs and niquil and we called it a night. The airline we flew was interesting (totally asian) and the flight attendants decided it was necessary to turn on all the lights and make us put our seats up anytime they served a meal. Even thought we didn't want to eat, we still were yelled at in broken english "Sit up please! You want food?" Crazy Asian!!!! You all know how I feel about them... Anyway, finally we got to Manila, had a crazy experience trying to get from luggage claim to the ticket booth ( I don't remember what real words are.. so these things may sound weird) and then finally boarded that plane for Bacolod. As we were flying in I looked out the window (and what did I see?)... the most beautiful place EVER. It is So green and lush and incredible here, seriously, it is unlike anything I have ever seen.

President Tobias and his wife and some office staff were there to pick us up and take us to the mission home. That's where Sis. Vaipulu and I stayed. The elders at a hotel. We had our first Filipino meal and then went to bed. We were exhausted. The next day we had this really long orientation and were introduced to the trainers, just not the ones we were getting. That night we had dinner with President and then spent our last night in the mission home. Let me just say that I LOVE my mission president. He is the sweetest man. He is a native Filipino and is kind of a quiet guy, okay, he's super quiet when he speaks, but he's hilarious and amazingly dedicated and obedient to this work. He just has such an amazing spirit. I love him.

Friday we had the transfer meeting. So the day before, before we left the orientation, I started chatting with one of the American trainers (a sister). We became instant BFF's. We were having a blast and jokingly we said that we should tell President we want to be companions. But really, we both did want it pretty bad. At the transfer meeting they made us all get up in front (greenie tradition) and then announced our trainers. And lo and behold... I got Sister Stadler. I'm pretty sure we let out shrieks of glee that only dogs could here, we were so excited. Seriously, I love this girl. She is amazing and pretty much just a carbon copy of me, but in a good way. haha. We get along so well because we have SO much in common. It is incredible. I am so grateful, because when things get overwhelming, she calms me down and we laugh. It is the perfect set-up. So along with the assignment for her to be my trainer, also came the challenge of "whitewashing" an area, which means it hasn't had missionaries and we are re-opening it. It hasn't sisters FOREVER. So everything is new. I mean, it's all new for me, but it's also new for her. So we are learning together which is great. I actually feel like I contribute, even if it is in really small ways, like remembering where we live. It means something to me!

So we are now in La Carlota, which is south of Bacolod City and out in the Province. I LOVE it here. Seriously, it is so hot all the time and I feel like I have bugs crawling on me all the time, which they probably are, but I seriously don't even care. I love this place so much. I love the people even more. We have already met so many people and they are all so amazing. I can't even believe how much they mean to me, how much I love them. And I don't even speak their language. Oh yeah, sidenote, but they don't speak Tagalog here. I mean, they can, because everyone learns it, but they don't. They speak a dialect called Ilonggo and I don't know it at all. But it's okay because I have faith I will learn it and in the meantime I speak broken Tagalog and English so at least I can teach. Everyone understands English too here, which is good. So yeah, we are working hard to find people. The goal in this mission is reactivation. It's a huge problem here in the Philippines, so it's pretty much everyone's focus. But here especially. The branch we are assigned to used to be a ward, but the leadership got totally corrupt so they are a branch now. Our job is to get them to be a ward again... basically. woohoo!!! It's awesome. The people here really are so incredibly nice and really honest and just awesome. I get told that I am Guapa (beautiful) every day and every person that learns my name asks if I am related to Michael Jackson, but it just adds to the charm for me. I do tower over EVERY single person here, like in a huge way. I get stared at ALL the time, but I love it. And the love us, so its great.

Here are some fun experiences/observations I've had so far:
*Our apartment is AMAZING. Usually they are pretty rough, but we have a hot water shower, an oven, and AC in the bedroom. That is not common here and is basically the Celestial Kingdom of housing. I do not have to shower with a bucket and a ladel (but that will come, I'm sure). We are totally spoiled. Like out of control spoiled.
*Driving here is OUT OF CONTROL! Like for real, it's crazy. But I kind of love it. We ride around in Trikes, which are motorcycles with side cars that you sit in, or hang off of. They are crazy and awesome. There are also Jeepneys, but we don't have those here. Only in the city. Today we went to the city and got to ride in them, and I don't love them, but they're a fun experience.
*The bathrooms do not have toilet paper. If you don't have toilet paper you have an interesting situation. I will not provide details, but I have an intimate relationship with this situation... Yeah.
*Everyone burns their garbage. It is gross and always smoky. Not awesome. My lungs are not loving that, nor is my throat, but apparently you get used to it. Yay...

Okay, I'm sure there is so much more that I could share but I can't think of much more. It is the end of the day here and so I am exhausted. We had a rough P-day. But it was good, of course! I want you all to know that this is really the greatest experience of my life. I am learning so much and experiencing so much. I see A LOT of poverty (Russia doesn't have a whole lot on the Philippines, Grandparents... sorry. ) but these people are so happy. I have so much to learn from them. I also have felt just an incredible outpouring of love from Heavenly Father. It's amazing. I prayed really hard before I left to be able to have a positive attitude throughout and I really have. Honestly, nothing really gets me down. I've been overwhelmed a few times, but I don't let it distract me from what is so important and it has made all the difference in the world. I am SOOO grateful to Heavenly Father for knowing me perfectly. What an incredible gift.

Ok, time is really spent and I need to get going. I will try and report more spiritual things next week. I hope you all are doing well and I miss you all terribly, but I love this a lot, so I don't miss you too much! :)

If you want to email me, do it at hayley.jackson@myldsmail.net. I put the wrong one on before, this is the right one and it will probably be a bit easier than mail. But you are welcome to still send mail if you want.

Keep me posted on your lives.

Love Love Love,

Sister Jackson
Oh my goodness what a week!!!!
Okay, so the first and foremost biggest news is that I GOT MY FLIGHT PLANS!!!!!!!!! If you haven't been on a mission, this may not seem like that big of a deal, but here at the MTC it's pretty much better than Christmas. The end is in sight and I can basically smell the Philippines, I'm so close now. I'm totally excited. I'm also terrified out of my mind, but mostly I am just excited. It's going to be awesome. No, the language is not perfect, anything but actually, but I know that that will come with time and with hard work. I worry about the giant spiders and the crazy hot temperatures, but mostly I'm just excited to serve those people. We've learned so much about them from our teachers and I am just so excited to love them and know them. It will be awesome.
So with the flight plans has come some other stress. Our district is getting antsy and very stressed out with the language, so there has been some contention and just craziness, but I think we all are just strung out and ready to get to the field. It's nuts to think that we have been here for 8 weeks already. I feel like it's only been 2 weeks. So along with all this stress has come some major impatience on my part. I'm sure that none of you are too surprised by this fact, it has always been a big weakness of mine. So after feeling terrible for a couple of days because I wanted to kill all the elders every day, I decided to try to work on the patience. I made it a plan to study the Christlike attribute in Preach My Gospel and study it out in the scriptures. I also prayed like you wouldn't believe so that I could work on refining myself. And let me tell you what happened. I was reading a bunch of scriptures, but none of them really seemed to apply to me in that moment. Then I came to Romans 5:3-5. And it says that we should glory in our tribulations because they try our patience. I thought that was totally a bunch of bunk, as my mom would say, but kept reading on. Then it said that with patience, experience, and with experience hope. In that moment the Lord let me know what I needed to understand about patience. Patience is not just something we have so that we can be nicer to those around us, patience is our opportunity to show the Lord that we have hope in Him, in His ability to change our hearts and the hearts of those around us. It's showing our hope in the atonement. Let me just say that this hit me like a ton of bricks. I had never thought about my impatience as being a lack of hope in the Savior. But that is exactly what it is. I just want you all to know how incredibly grateful I am for this lesson and I hope that maybe some of you can find application if you are struggling. Embrace the atonement with every part of yourself. Seek for the Lord to help refine your weaknesses. The atonement applies to ALL of them. I am learning that lesson so well here. It is an incredible blessig to be here in the MTC. I need this experience, as hard as it is and as hard as it will become over the next 16 months. The Lord loves me, and I have no doubts about that.
Well, that's really all I have to report. I am finally feeling WAY better from being sick, I think that the antibiotics have been helping a TON, thank goodness. So no fears there. I will be in tip-top shape for the field come next Monday!
I hope that you are all doing well and I hope to hear from you whenever you get the chance. I won't be here after next Monday, so mail won't get to me, but if you need to contact me my email is hayleyjackson@myldsmail.net
Mahal kita!!!
Sister Jackson