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


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