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.