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