The Final Countdown.... aka The Last Email

Well folks, this is it. The last one. The final email from the field. Can't believe it. Next Monday I will be on my way to Manila. I'll stay the night there and then Tuesday morning I will head off to America. Because of the time change I will actually get to America also on Tuesday. But it will be the longest day ever... To be honest, I don't even know what to write. It seems surreal...

Brother Tiva was baptized on Saturday! Perfectly successful baptism. And he was so ready. And excited. John Mark, my favorite recent convert baptized him. He's a priest. Such a great kid. He memorized the baptism prayer and Bro. Tiva's name and did it all in English. I was so proud. Such a great baptism! Now their family is complete and they are planning to go the temple next Christmas! It was a great last baptism for my mission. I couldn't have asked for better. Especially with all the miracles we saw with him. Oh and speaking of which, we stopped by to share a bit with him before his baptism on Saturday. We were following up his reading and he told us he that is wife said he should really read every work of the Book of Mormon so he went back (he had already started 1 Nephi) and decided to read everything: title page, intro, testimonies, etc. He was telling us that when he suddenly got all excited when he related to us about when he read from Joseph Smith's testimony about the appearance of Moroni. He was just so amazed by that experience. And then he just simply said, it has to be true. I don't even know if anyone else in the room actually heard him say that, but I did. It was such a quiet statement, but it was coming from deep within him. I could see it. He has the witness. It's a beautiful thing to get to see and be a part of his conversion. I'm so grateful. So many blessings.

Anyway, today is the last P-day so that means crazy fun times with my members here. We'll cap off the day with FHE at my branch president's house with I think most of the branch... ahahaha. You can't really keep people away from these things. Anyway, i have many crying days ahead as I say goodbye to these people who are very much my family now. I can't even express how much love I have felt here. No judgments, no criticisms, they just love me (of course I don't mean to imply that's all I get from my actual family... ahaha, just saying, they have never done that and I see it as a sign of their love for me... just clarifying that... ). It's been such a wonderful experience. I will definitely be leaving a big part of my heart in San Carlos. This is my favorite area.

Well I love you all and will very literally see you soon! Can't wait! Love you!

Sister Jackson
aka... the soon to be Hayley... yuck... I'll keep sister jackson I think... :)
Maayong Pasko!!

Well Merry Christmas to all!

Even though we have been celebrating Christmas here in the Philippines since September, now that is officially December I feel I can finally just let it all out. I think mostly I have been avoiding acknowledging Christmas because it just means I'm closer to going home. And now the clock is really ticking. 2 weeks. It hardly l seems real. So sorry again for the pathetic email last week. I'll try to send a bit more this week. My trunkiness is now manifested in a apathy to email. I mean, come on, I'm going to be seeing most of all of you pretty soon. :)

Okay, so great things this week:

The visiting teaching is officially organized in San Carlos Branch 1! The sisters have their assignments, we have supervisors, and great lessons have been taught about the importance of visiting teaching. I know for most of you this probably seems odd, but in the Philippines Home and Visiting teaching hardly exist. We are trying to change that. And so now its rolling here. It's awesome. Now we just need to get to work on the Home Teaching. That will probably fall mostly on my companion... poor thing. But it will get done. She is awesome and very capable.

The best news this week was that BROTHER TIVA PASSED HIS INTERVIEW!!!!! It went really well and we could just SEE his excitement to get baptized. And this is from a man who doesn't show a lot of emotion. He is just ready to unite his family and that is the best part. This is going to be one of the best baptisms of my mission just because of all that is has taken to get him baptized and all the miracles we have been able to see in his life. It's awesome.

We had a specialized training this week in Bacolod. The travel was KILLER, but the training was great. Our mission president just had a seminar in Cebu and received direction from the Area Presidency specifically for the Philippines that we as missionaries need to focus more on Rescue of the lost members. Well our mission president is really inspired because we have been doing that my whole mission. But now with the specific call from the brethren, we are increasing our efforts. Our primary focus is supposed to be on less-active and part-member families. We have been discouraged from tracting. It's just not helping when the foundation is already failing. Our training informed us that there are 647,000 members in the Philippines and only 114,000 active. Yikes! That's such a huge number! President Tobias compared it to the scripture in Jacob 5 about the branches being too lofty and they had outgrown the strength of the roots. The problem comes down to doctrine. We have to return to teaching the basics: the Doctrine of Christ. Faith, Repentence, Baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. And as I have been doing that as a missionary I have seen the miracles. Nothing compares to the doctrine.

So we have already seen the benefits. On Sunday we fasted specifically that we would be able to find the less-actives that really need us now. We started our fast on Saturday afternoon. On Sunday we had plans to go to a referral with one of our members (she's an RM). Well the family was amazing. They have one son who is not yet baptized and they are all LA. But they are SO ready to come back. There hearts were soft and prepared. Sister cried. She just wants that happiness for her family. After a great, spirit-filled lesson, our member took us to another LA family that we didn't know. There we found A TON of members of this family who are all LA. They were happy to see us and welcomed us in. Then we found 4 children who are not yet baptized and are 9. We didnt even know. I definitely saw the blessings of our fasting and of following the vision of our mission president and of our area authorities. We still have a lot of work to do with them yet, but I just feel good about it. It just felt like the right direction and that was something we were trying to find. Miracles. Nothing but miracles.

Anyway, that's about all for this week. Hope that was better than last week. I don't even know what I will write next week since it will be my last email home. That's a crazy thought. Hope you are all ready. I'm not. Hahahaha. :) Love you all!!!!

Sister Jackson
it's a short one... sorry

Well folks, there is just not that much to say this week. Hahaha. I'm really sorry. Life is just kind of going on with my mission. We are still trying to help our investigators to get baptized. There are still plenty of trials that seem to come our way. For instance our 2 part member men who didn't have jobs so they couldn't afford to get married now have jobs! It's great. Except now they are working so much that they haven't been coming to church. Not great. But that's just how it goes. We're still trying to help them the best we can, with the gospel.

Well I'm way sorry this is so short. But we have a lot to do today. P-days are becoming more precious to me because I only have so much time to spend with people here. I'm sure you all understand. But I love you all and I can't wait to see you in 3 weeks!!!! Love you!

Sister Jackson
Happy Thanksgiving!

Well this week had it's share of trials... I'll just start off right there. Ha ha. Oh and Happy Thanksgiving. I think it's this week. Not to sure... not really a holiday here. hahaha.

Sis. Cherryl was supposed to be baptized on Saturday. We went to her house every day but she wasn't home. We weren't really worried because she was SO excited to get baptized. But toward the end of the week we got a little worried. Then her sister told us that Cherryl's sister-in-law had a baby. I think there were some complications and so she needed to go straight from the hospital to her sister-in-laws house to help take care of things. Well she lives really far away and so Cherryl was kind of stuck out there. So Saturday, 1pm rolled around and no Cherryl. There was a child of record baptism that day too so we just had to start. She never came. I was pretty devastated. This has never happened to me. We still didn't know all the details. Then on Sunday she didn't come to church. More heartbreak. But then she texted to apologize and explain what happened. I guess it was kind of unforseen emergency kind of a thing and so there really wasn't much she or we could do about it. And she's still not back yet, so we're not sure if we will be able to reschedule her baptism for this week or if it will be a little while yet. Such a bummer. I know she is still excited to get baptized, but the more time that passes and the less contact she has with us, the harder Satan is going to work on her. Not so good. But we are just praying really hard for her. Hopefully she comes back soon.

In happier news, Bro. Tiva is progressing! He finally said an audible prayer on his own in the lesson. That may not seem like such a big deal, but for us and him it was huge.I actually cried a little bit while he was praying. It was great. When we told him about the baptism on Saturday he said "Too bad it's not my baptism". He's so excited to get baptized. He can't wait. We just need time to teach him everything so he is ready and then he'll be on his way. Miracles. I love it.

So we're doing some great things with our branch and trying to strengthen it. We have activities planned for the youth, working on getting the VT really going with the RS. It's great and I'm excited for this branch to really take off and hopefully soon become a ward. It's great too because I love these people so much and I think they see that and so they trust me. That means everything to me. It makes all the difference too when we need to encourage them to change something or do something else. They are more receptive now then ever before. It's awesome. We are seeing progress, just little by little.

Well I know this was kind of short, but there's not too much to say. Life is good. Stressful. But that's how the end goes. I'm just trying to prepare myself mentally and emotionally for the transition back to American life. That's not going to be easy. I apologize now. I am going to be a weirdo. Guaranteed. Hahaha. Well I love you all, hope you are all doing great!

Sister Jackson

Hubog, NPA, and Trunky Letters

Well this has been an eventful week here in San Carlos. Craziness is really the best word I can think of to describe it.

So here in the Philippines, because of the massive amounts of Catholics everywhere, when there is a catholic holiday, it's a national holiday. So on Tuesday it was All Saints Day... and then on Wednesday it was All Souls Day. I couldn't tell you the difference between the two or even what either of them mean. What I do know is that EVERYONE goes to the cemetary, lights candles, brings flowers and does who knows what all day. Which meant lots of punting for us, especially on Tuesday because that was actually the national holiday. Wednesday we had a little more luck, but not too much. It doesn't seem to matter if you are Catholic or not, when it's a holiday, it's a holiday and everyone celebrates.

Thursday was our Zone Conference, I will get to that in a minute, and also the first day of the biggest fiesta in San Carlos called Pintaflores which lasted until Saturday. So Thursday we didn't really do much anyway because ZC was all day. On Friday we expected to get kind of punted, but we still got some lessons in. But then on Saturday, that was different. That is the biggest day of the festival. Parade, dance festival, craziness EVERYWHERE and a ton of drunk people. We had a lunch appointment and that was about it. And then there was this other little problem that kind of effected our work. So we have this rebel military group here called the NPA and they don't like anyone and basically just want to kill everyone. Anyway, there was a threat made on the fiesta and because I am white I am especially at risk, so we weren't really allowed to do to much. We had to be in early and weren't allowed to be in big groups of people near any of the military or police because they were targets for bomb threats and shootings. For the most part the Philippines is just a peaceful and happy place and then every once in awhile you get crazies. And then EVERYONE in this town got totally hubog (that's drunk) and so it was much safer for us to just stay in our house. Nothing ever really happened with the NPA that we heard about, but it was better to be safe than sorry. And we got to see a ton of military people in our city. So that was fun... Ha ha. Nobody worry. No big deal.

So back to our Zone Conference. It was great. But it didn't feel like my last zone conference. It was weird. I don't know how to explain it. But it was still really good. I also got a chance to have an interview with Pres. Tobias which was great. He told me that he put me in San Carlos because I have a strong personality and he needs someone mature here. Apparently he is worried about false doctrine here. So he's sent me here to clean things up... hahaha... or so to speak. Anyway, I was just so grateful for the time with him and having him tell me that he trusts me. That makes such a difference to my confidence as a missionary. If you have the trust of the mission president you can trust you have the trust of the Lord. It's a good feeling.

Well today is the transfer announcement but I still don't know what is happening. No news yet. Last night I got my trunky letter, basically it's the keep working hard until the end letter, but then it has all this other stuff in the envelope too which doesn't exactly scream "focus". More like "the end is so close!" I don't like it. Oh well. I did get info for coming home. Looks like I leave the Pines on the 19th of December and get to St. George on the 20th. Time is flying! Love you all!!!

Sister Jackson
Happy Halloween

Oh my goodness. This week has FLOWN by. I just asked my companion what happened this week so I could have some material to write this and she said "Um... we woke up and it was already Monday again?" Yeah, that's how this feels right now. Time is going by at an astronomical rate and I can't handle it. It literally feels like I was just emailing yesterday. I can't believe how fast the time is going. When this transfer started Sis. Vaipulu and didn't feel like we were getting anywhere near the end. Now we're getting x-rays, itineraries and it's all just way too much! I still feel like I just got here. I mean, I can still remember this time of year, last year with perfect clarity. By the way, Happy Halloween! I was still with my trainer a year ago. Crazy!

Okay, so now that I've had enough of a breakdown, I'll try and remember something about this week to share.

It was SOOOOOOO hot! Like the hottest I think I've ever felt on my mission. Ironically it's rainy season here but no rain... only hot. It's funny, in the morning while we are having studies a lot of big clouds will roll in and make this awesome shade, and then as soon as we step outside in the morning to go work all the clouds are sitting on one end of the sky opposite of the sun doing absolutely nothing. So then we just melt our way to our appointments, Sis. Vaipulu drips along as we walk. I just turn red. It's awesome. And still, not matter how much of a radish I become the call of "gwapa!" still follows me wherever I go... Oh the Philippines.Today though, of course P-day (when we are not working) there is a nice breeze and a cloudy sky. Let's hope it continues this week because I am getting black! Seriously, I have the craziest tan lines and it's not pretty. Hahaha. I'm going to be a bit of a freak when I get home, sorry family and friends.

So despite the heat it was still a pretty good week. On Monday we had an FHE with the Tiva family. They are one of my FAVORITE families here, I love them all. Anyway, brother Tiva is the only one who is not a member because he as a smoking problem that he cannot get over. It's been years and a lot of missionaries. We are determined to help him. His family is AWESOME! Anyway, we didn't expect him to come to the FHE (he drives a pedicab and so he is always busy) and neither did his wife, but he came! He was late, but Sister told me later she was so shocked and she was so happy. We also had made a plan with Sister that we would come every day to see if he was home so we could teach him (he hadn't been giving us any real time). So that's what we did until finally he was home. We started from the beginning with Lesson 1 and focused on the word of wisdom again. It was a great lesson. Then we came back again. They weren't there, so we tried the other house. He wasn't there but just before we were about to leave, he showed up! He thought he could run away or hide. We joked about that. He laughed. He is a wonderful man. Shy, but so nice and we just want him to have an eternal family. He wants it so much too, but he just can't seem to kick the smoking. Any ideas? It's like 20+ sticks a day. Anyway, he came to church on Sunday and so we took a family photo of them and we are going to give him a laminated copy so that when he feels the urge to smoke he can look at his family and remember why he needs to quit. Hopefully it works. I love them.

Our other investigators are doing great. We started teaching Cheryl about the Plan of Salvation. I've never seen anyone get so excited about The Fall of Adam and Eve. It was awesome. She was SO interested. She told us she might not be at church because a family member died and she needed to go to the funeral. But she came anyway and stayed thought gospel essentials and it was awesome. We're still trying to get our Law of Chastity men on track to get married. It's hard when they don't have jobs. We're praying hard for that.

Anyway, the work is going forth. We still have plenty of hiccups. We lost some investigators this week. They were formers and we had high hopes for them, but after a few times we realized it was going NO WHERE. Brother just argued with us the whole time about how could our church be true if the Catholic church was older, and "I was born Catholic and I'll die Catholic". I would add that I don't actually think he really even believes his own religion all that much, but he was a stubborn old man. It was sad. But that's how it works. Sister Vaipulu and I have been talking a lot about what it is going to be like to see all these people again who have rejected us. What will they say to us? What will we say to them? Hopefully they will all accept the gospel before they die and it will be a happy reunion. Sad. It wasn't something I really understood until I came on a mission.

Well, we have lots to do this wonderful P-day and time is a tickin! I love you all. I can't believe I will see most of you really soon. Crazy! Don't be surprised if the minute I get off the plane I just try to turn around and go right back. I can't imagine leaving this place. Every day Sis. Vaipulu and I have the "that's something I won't miss" conversation. Usually it's things like the constant smell of pee, creepy men calling after us, seeing horrible poverty, etc. But mostly everything I won't miss is far outweighed by everything I WILL miss. But that's how the mission is. Every one warned me. It's too fast and when it's over you don't want to leave... if you did it right. Well it has been WAY too fast and basically I feel like this place is my home, so I guess that's how I should feel... sigh... Love you all!!!

Sister Jackson
Failures and Successes

So I think this could probably the subject line of almost every week and every email I have ever written on my mission, but this week, the juxtaposition seemed to stand out to me more. As a missionary it seems that every minute of every day is a roller coaster. It's the first lesson of the day, it was one of the most spiritually powerful lessons of your life, you feel on top of the world and unconquerable faith is motivating every step you take. And then... you get punted from every other appointment that day, no one wants to listen to your message, people seem to actually scowl at you as you walk past and then rather than faith, you are fighting against discouragement that follows at your back like a shadow. But you just keep going. You just keep taking one step forward, even though you are tired, dehydrated, sweat is dripping in your eyes, your shoes are full of mud and rocks and you've just added about 5 additional pox to your already growing collection of mosquito bites. That's life as a missionary. And especially in the Philippines. But then, you have the tiniest of tenderest mercies and all of the bad, all of the difficult, all of the discouragement about faces and you press on with faith again. You know they always talk about how missionaries have such difficult work because they need to understand what is what like for the Savior. Now, I know, that what I have experienced doesn't compare in even the minutest detail to what the Savior suffered or felt, but I can say that every hard day, every day when you really do think that you just can't go on and that you are done, those are the times when, hopefully, you have the perspective to take a step back and say, "Man, what am I complaining about, this is so much bigger than me!" Never mind whatever your motivation may be, even if it's completely selfless, this work is the Lord's. period. It's a perspective that I have gained time and time again. And this week was no exception.

We found some good investigators this week, we found some families. We don't know if they will progress, but we have faith that the Lord's will will be done. And that's enough. We also got punted a ton. And we just keep going and witnessing the miracles that seem to keep on coming. We found this investigator last week and we weren't sure if she would progress or not. Then we had an exchange. Sister Vaipulu went with another sister into our area, I went to the other area. They had a great time with this investigator, Cheryl. Then she told them she wanted to come to church, asked if she was allowed. (disclaimer: This is the NO. 1 indicator that this person is golden) We of course told her she was and so on Sunday we weren't all that surprised to see her there 30 minutes early. I had to play prelude so Sis. Vaipulu sat with her and prepped her for the day. She had SO many questions, and good questions. She told Sis. V that she had read the introduction, testimonies of the witnesses and then the testimony of Joseph Smith in the BoM. Then she said that she couldn't stop reading so she read the entire book of Moroni. Holy Cow!!! We were so amazed. And she just wanted to know so much. During gospel essentials, she was answering the questions more than any of our other, more seasoned, investigators. She is awesome. We're excited for her.

We also had this crazy experience that we know had nothing to do with us. We were at the drug store for Sis. Vaipulu. We were waiting for our turn when this guy walked up. He didn't really look like a Filipino and so of course we start trying to guess what he is (it's a favorite game of ours). Vaips decides to ask him where he's from... in English... well he was from here, and only speaks Cebuano but he was from Spanish ancestry, so he looked Spanish. So he was happy to hear that we actually can speak that as well. Anyway, he was way nice and so we asked if we could come visit his home and share a message he was happy to say yes. we were excited. We got his address and went on our way. Well the next day we were talking to the Sis. Bevans (of the couple) and she was telling us about this man they met who was speaking to them in English who also looked Spanish but he was older. But they had the same address. We assured her it wasn't the same guy, because our guy couldn't speak English and was young. They told us they would give us more information later, they had written it down. Anyway, we went to their house (that was in the middle of literally nowhere) and lo and behold it turns out that the man the Bevans met was the FATHER of the guy we OYMed. Of course. Anyway, they were way excited to see us and were SOOO nice. We had a good chat and a good lesson and then they drove us home because we walked in the scorching heat for about 45min to get there. They were so nice and excited for us to come back and visit again. So another tender mercy.

Then we had an experience that was both a success and a failure all in one. hahaha. We decided to host a film showing, in hopes of finding new investigators. We were showing The Testaments. We made flyers, handed them out around town, gave them to all of our investigators, etc. Well the time came for the movie and NO ONE showed up. All we had were branch members. So we just decided to show the branch members. And it turned out to be an incredible powerful spiritual experience for ALL of them. Most of them had never seen it before. Everyone was in tears and it was just awesome. So while we may not have gained any new investigators, we did provide for the branch to which I say, still missionary work!

So anyway, that is just a bit of a narrative for my week. I love the mission. I love the successes AND the failures because of what I learn from them. It's amazing. I hope that everyone is great, I am!!! Love you all!!!!

Sister Jackson
Conference is the greatest!!!

Well clearly the best part of my week this week was General Conference. Basically it's the best part of my whole year! And this was such a great General Conference.

I had some really specific questions and things I was asking for this conference and I felt that basically every talk was crafted just for me. I think that's how conference always is and should be. I was especially excited to see Brother Matthew Richardson give a talk. I know him really well, he was my professor, session director at EFY, and has been a big spiritual help to me as a young adult. His talk was very direct answer to prayer for me and what a tender mercy. I was shocked at the state of Elder Hales. I had no idea he was so sick and actually didn't recognize him when he started his talk. But his talk was one of the most beautiful I have heard and touched my heart. It reminded me a lot of some of Elder Wirthlin's last talks. More personal testimony than anything else and that was what I needed to hear. I pray that his health returns, but if not, I have no doubt that he is fully trusting the Lord at this time. I was so grateful for this conference. Not only did it give me the boost I needed for these last few months on the mission, but gave me some tools and things that I need for when I come home. I wish we could just have conference every week! What a blessing!

So I was a total idiot last week and forgot to write about the best part of last weekend which was definitely that one of our investigators got baptized! John Mark Pepito. He's 16 and has been basically living at the church for ever because he loves it so much. He was going to seminary, participating in all of the youth activities and just loved the church. When I got here I didn't understand why he hadn't been baptized. Well some of the other missionaries had said that his grandma wouldn't give permission, well I didn't really believe that. So we paid a visit to Grandma. She totally gave permission and was happy he was doing something worthwhile with his life. So we had the go ahead. The teaching was fast because he is SOOO smart and he is always at a church. There were zero concerns. So on October 1 he was baptized. And let me just say it was probably the most spiritual baptism I have been to. Lots of people were there, good support, in fact his grandma actually came to his baptism. Sister Vaipulu and I sang and the spirit was way strong, then our branch president spoke and bore the most powerful testimony. It was awesome and he was SOOOOOOO excited to get baptized. He showed up 2 hours early to set up the whole room, chairs, everything. Such a great kid. I'm so grateful for his example. He is going to make a great leader one day and an amazing missionary.

Well folks, other than that there is not too much to report.This week was a bit slow because Sister Vaipulu was pretty sick, so that got to our work a bit. But it was still good. We're still trying to find that family. We just need families! Pray for us! Love you all!!!

Sister Jackson
Sister.... Christmas is coming soon... AHHHH!!!!!

So yes. This week marks the beginning of my second to last transfer. I'm sure that next transfer I will probably send another email with even more freaking out. I am constantly hearing from everyone how close Christmas is (implying that I leave at Christmas and so that is soon) and then someone said something about 2 months and I almost had a mental breakdown. To be honest it hasn't registered at all that I only have 2 transfers left. I can't even wrap my brain around that and so I don't. Ha ha. I'm not trunky at all. Like really. I don't want to go home, so I don't really feel trunky at all. I just can't imagine not being here in the Philippines at all. Of course there are some things that I will NOT miss but mostly everything is going to break my heart to leave. Thankfully I still have time to just love these people more and share the gospel. I love my life.

So in the big news. I stayed in San Carlos! That was happy and relieving news. I figured I would probably stay, but there is always a little worry. But here I am and so it is likely that I will die here. (that means end my mission here, I don't plan on literally giving up the ghost while on my mission). I hope I do. I love this place and would love to end my mission here in a place that is really meaningful for me. Of course all of my areas have been that way, but if I transfer somewhere for my last transfer then it won't be the same leaving. I also stayed with Sister Vaipulu. I don't know how we got so lucky. She is one of the best companions I have ever had and I am so grateful for her. We work really well together and we are always united which is great. We get each other and have respect. We're doing great.

This was one of those weeks that always seems to come after a really good week. We got punted. All week. But you know what? We were still out there trying to get some work done, trying to teach lessons and trying to help people's souls. It was a rough week. But we stayed pretty positive and realized that not every week can just be awesome. The point is the trial of the faith. Then you dust yourself off and get back to work. I think that's probably every day of the mission and mostly I think that's just true about life. Let me just say that nothing could have prepared me better for the rest of my life than my mission. Aside from the fact that I literally will be able to live on rice and soy sauce if I'm ever bottom of the barrel poor, I've also learned so much about appreciating life and love and I can't wait to take what I have learned as a missionary and make my life into something to honor the Lord. It's just such a privilege. I love life. That's all I really have to say. And it's enough. Prayers are great and always appreciated, but things are good and I'm doing great. Pray that we can find a quality and elect family. If I could ask just one thing from everyone, that would be it. We just need a good solid family that we can get to church. We know that is key for success in this area and it will make a big difference with how the branch views the work as well. We have their trust but we need to strengthen it. So lets here it for prayers! Love you all and hope you are all doing great!

Sister Jackson
Well hello crazy week

So this week has been a crazy one and an awesome one all at the same time.

On Wednesday I went to a place called Escalante for an exchange to work with Sis. Rosina. It was fun. It was cool to get to work in a different area for a day. The time went by so fast. We taught some great lessons and I met some wonderful people. It was a good experience. I was exhausted though at the end of it.

The rest of our week was intense. We decided to work really hard this week since it's really the last of the transfer (we should be getting the announcement today or tomorrow). And we worked our butts off. We got 27 new investigators this week! And we exceeded almost all of our goals. Including getting 7 investigators at church!!!! That was the highlight. On Saturday I decided to fast because I knew we really needed to get people at church. Well I started my fast Saturday afternoon until Sunday afternoon. We had 8 teachings that Saturday! That was amazing. And then on Sunday we had 7 investigators at church. It was the greatest testimony builder to me of fasting. And the Verana's were there! We actually both started squealing and had a little melt down because of that. And then this old woman who is a incredibly stubborn catholic lady showed up and we NEVER thought she would be there especially when she basically told us she probably didn't have time. MIRACLE and THEN other investigators started coming. It was amazing. I can't even describe that day. I was just overwhelmed. All I did was exercise my faith and HUGE miracle occurred. Look out Brother of Jared! It was awesome. So now we have lots of investigators and I am just excited to find more and I really hope that I get to stay here and that I will get to see the harvest for all of them. Everything was so directed by the Lord that I am just excited to see what else He can do here. Let me just say that my testimony jumped about 16 stories high this week.

I wish I had more time to really write profiles about all of these people, but I just don't. But when I get home I can't wait to tell you all stories about all of these people. Yeah, I'm going to be one of those returned missionaries that expects everyone to listen to my stories and care about every detail... hahahaha. No, not really, but I am excited to share a little bit of this world with all of you. Everyone should come here and visit and I promise you it would change your life. It's the most beautiful place with the most beautiful people. Well I love you all and hope you enjoy the last week of September! I can't believe it's almost October! Have fun watching General Conference, I won't get it until a week later... :( Enjoy!

Sister Jackson
sorry but this one is going to be SUPER short

Well family, I am really sorry about the short email. I may have some time later to get one out for real, but we have this big thing today with our branch and I don't really have time. But please know that I am safe, healthy, happy and have no desire to come home from my mission! Hahaha.... but really. I just love the Philippines. I can't say it enough. I learned some really really important lessons this week that I needed and I will tell you all about them, but it's just going to have to wait! I love you all and hope you are all well and doing great. I'll get more off later!

Sister Jackson
sorry its a short one!

Well this week there is just not that much to say. Not every week can be an exciting one. We did find out on Monday that our golden family, the Veranas, had a problem they hadn't told us about. They are ACTIVE leadership in the "Couples for Christ" group which is a part of the Catholic church. That threw us a little bit. But we had made this plan for this lesson about faith and it turned out to be EXACTLY what they needed. It was great. And then our other lessons with them were about agency and making sacrifices. Eventually Brother told us that he know it's true, they just need some time to try and work things out with their family and with their church. It's going to be hard on them, but they know they need to do it. They are very faithful people. They also promised to rearrange their schedule with their other church group so that they could come to church with us. We were pretty excited about that. That is the most proactive I have seen them about church. It's the most proactive I've seen most of my investigators about finding a way to come to church. They are wonderful examples to me.

Well I am loving San Carlos. I want to end my mission here. I'm pretty close so that is a possibility. I hope so. It's awesome. I love the people, I love the branch and all the members. It's a great place. Well. I'm afraid that is all from me this week. It's short but there is just not too much to say! Love you all!!

Sister Jackson

New Digs and New Friends

So this was a busy week. On Tuesday we found out that we needed to move out of our house by Wednesday. So we spent all day moving on Wednesday... and just to another house on our same lot. BUT this house is awesome. It's HUGE, has air con in the bedroom, A MICROWAVE (which sounded much more exciting than it is, I haven't used it yet and I don't even know if I will... I forgot how to use microwaves!), I get to sleep in a queen size bed (it's too big to move and my companion loves me too much) and it's just a nice house. It's a little ostentatious for us, but it's where we were told to move. It was the old couple's house before, but the new couple has moved to another house. We don't know how long we will stay here, but hopefully forever. I love it! Anyway, the whole day was spent moving and we were EXHAUSTED by the end. I hate moving. I've decided that it's the thing I hate the most. Not really, but it definitely was a huge pain. Oh well, it's done now... for now, and we are just enjoying ourselves. Oh... and we have an oven. I really hope that I am still in this house in November because I am definitely making Thanksgiving again!!! And brownies... We're excited. Oh the simple pleasures of life. My dad wrote me not to long ago and asked me what I missed the most about home. Well aside from family and friends it would definitely be washing machines, carpet, and not sweating all the time. Hahaha. I appreciate so much more the simplest things that I took for granted SOOO much before my mission. Don't worry, I'm not going to come home and be one of those "i only live from the earth" people, but I definitely have a new perspective about things.

So we had to go to Bacolod this week. That trip was exciting. First of all, it takes 3 hours for us to get there on the ceres because we are so far away and because we have to take this gigantor bus up into the mountains... that means slow moving. On the way there our eyes and ears were assailed by a ridiculous and foul action movie. But luckily I was so car sick that I had to keep my eyes glued to the road in front of us and spent the whole time praying that Heavenly Father would keep this giant white girl from yacking all over these Filipinos. My prayer was answered. I was never happier to get my feet on solid ground. Before we went back I bought some motion sickness pills and was find and dandy the way home... thank goodness. On the trip back this man asked to sit next to us. We were disappointed because we wanted the extra space, but we were also curious because he had been speaking English on the phone when he got on (we have this weird fascination with english speakers or white people... the Pines will do that to you). Anyway, turns out he was half Scottish and half Filipino and Spanish. Yeah, weird mix. But he had lived in England for a long time and so he had this scottish/english/filipino/spanish accent thing going on. He was quite the character. Of course, being good missionaries we tried to explain our purpose and share our message. Well he knew who we were and no desire to discuss religion at all. He just wanted to chat. So that's what we did. Well he's British and so his sense of humor and comments were appropriate for a pub... not so much for missionaries. But he was incredibly nice, sometimes funny without being offensive, and it was nice to have someone else to talk to in English after so long. And despite the fact that he didn't want to talk about religion, he kept asking so many questions that the only way to answer them was to teach him about our beliefs. So you know, he got it anyway. Hahaha. I'll do whatever I can to share the gospel! But we made a friend and had some fun. And I didn't barf, that was the real accomplishment of that trip home.

Yesterday after church we had a really successful activity where the members came together to pool all the information they know about the branch so we could update the records. They were champions! They were so excited and serious about helping us. They wanted to get us all the information they could. They are SUCH good people. They do really care and they want to be organized. They just need some help and guidance and that is what we are doing. They are so receptive, especially Pres. Pacheco, the branch president. He's fairly young, only 34 but he is a rockstar. He knows what is most important and he earnestly tries to follow everything. On Saturday we had an auxiliary meeting/ward council/correlation and there was an AGENDA!!! I can't tell you how rare that is. I've never seen it my whole mission. They had the new handbook of instructions open and they used in consulting for all their activities and decisions. I know for most of you that must seem crazy, because it's how everything is in America. But here, that was miraculous and one of the most beautiful sights I have seen on my mission. In a way, because this is a district, they are lucky because they have President Tobias at the head. The stakes are strong, but no one is a better leader, administrator and steward than our mission president. This month we have district conference and an area authority is coming and we are excited. I'm determined to see good things happen in this branch, get it to where it needs to be so that the missionary work (ie. investigators, reactivation, etc) can really take off and be successful here. We need to lay the foundation first and we have a lot of resources to do that now and an incredibly unit that wants to comply and become stronger. It's awesome. I really do love being out here. I don't even miss Bacolod. :)

Well that's all for this week. Happy September to all. That means Christmas here in the Philippines (yes, I am serious... Christmas starts in September here) so Merry Christmas to all! I love you all and can't wait to hear from you!

Sister Jackson
"I found the smell.... it's a dead rat."

We've had a pretty bad leak in our kitchen. Every morning we wake up and there is a small lake in front of the sink. We were using old missionary clothes to soak it up. We thought that was the source of the smell so my companion put the rags in a bucket with some bleach. But the smell was still there, in fact it was getting worse. Well we had a bucket under the sink to catch the water from a DIFFERENT leak. Sister Vaipulu, being the fearless champ that she is, decided to investigate the bucket. We figured maybe just the water was the smell. I mean, it was bad. It smelled like death. Well turns out it was death. A rat had crawled in the bucket... somehow... and drowned. So she ran the bucket outside to be taken care of later. I was upstairs getting ready during this time and so I didn't see the whole thing. Well later when I was examining the bucket I couldn't see a rat in the murky water. I thought maybe she just imagined it (she's fearless, but she HATES rats). So I got something to stir the bucket around... bad idea. Apparently the rat had been in there for awhile and when I stirred the bucket around... pieces of rat floated to the top...

So now that I have officially made you all vomit (honestly folks, this is just a day in the life of a missionary in the Pines) how is everyone doing? I'm doing great. Rats aside, life is good. This week was a good one. There was some unforseen challenges, but still a good week. We found some new investigators using our part-member list, people who are genuinely interested in the church BECAUSE their spouse is a member, and we taught some great lessons and we had some adventures and it was just a good week. I really do love it here in San Carlos. We are nestled between the beautiful mountains and the ocean. The people here are wonderful live everywhere else on this island and I just love it. I am starting to not just learn Cebauno, but I like it! I'm not going to lie, it's pretty cool that I am going to come home speaking 3 1/2 languages (I only kind of know Tagalog these days...). It's a fun time.

We had a great experience last night. We have been teaching this family, the Verranas, and they are really elect. They are smart and hard-working people and they really have a strong desire to know real truth and follow it. They are the kind of people you pray for and don't expect to really find. Last night we brought the Bevans (the couple missionaries and our favorite people ever) with us to watch the Restoration and to bear testimony of Joseph Smith. It was amazing. The spirit was strong, they really were into the movie and they felt it. Afterward they had good questions about authority and baptism. Well all bore powerful testimony. My companion rocked it out by extending baptism if they received an answer that it was true and Sister Verrana actually interrupted Sister Vaipulu to tell her "yes, of course!". They are just amazing people. We are really excited for them. We are praying that the answer will come quickly so that we can give them a baptismal date. Huge tender mercy.

Other than that we are just working hard to upadate the really poorly kept records and help this branch get organized. They have great potential, they are just a little lost at the moment. But next month we have District Conference and an area authority is coming to speak so that should be awesome. And just what this place needs to give them a good jump start. I'm excited to see the progress this place will make before I go home. I love being a missionary and will just inform you all now that I am not really that excited to come home because I'm going to miss this place so much. So prepare yourselves for the fact that I may complain about how we don't eat rice with every meal, none of you speak my favorite language, and I can't just jump in a tricycle to go to the grocery store... hahahaha. Of course I'm just kidding and I AM excited to come home again, but I really can't imagine leaving this place. I can't imagine life without the Filipinos all the time. Sometimes I forget that I am a giant white person... then of course I am reminded by 6 kids on the side of the road that just stare, open-mouthed and then one brave one finally says "Grabe... dako!" That means, "Wow, big". Yeah, that brings me back. But still, I love this place. It's Zion to me!!! Well I love you all and hope you are all great. Christmas starts up here this week. September means Christmas in the Pines, so bring on the christmas music. If any of you have some good christmas tunes to send, just email them away and I will put them on my iPod! Love you all!!! Amping!

Sister Jackson
Do you know the way to... San Carlos?

Greetings from the other side of the island... and the world!

So this week was a week of adjustment. Obviously, with any new area that is the biggest thing of the first week of a transfers, but particularly when I am in such a different place and there is a different language. But I am happy to report that I love it here and I'm happy to be here. The language is coming a little at a time. Luckily I understand most of what people say (they are really pretty similar languages) and they understand my Ilonggo for the most part. I think it will take some time, which of course I hate, but I know that it will come eventually. It's likely that I will probably stay in this area until I go home so I do have some time to try to and get a hang of the language. I would really appreciate your prayers, particularly for this.

So this week was spent mostly getting acquainted with the area and the people. This area is really struggling so there aren't a lot of quality investigators and there are a lot of problems with records and other things in the branch. But I think that's why I am here. President Tobias knows how much I love working on the CMIS lists and just the lists in general. So I am excited to help this branch get back on it's feet and more prepared for us to bring in converts. As it is right now, the branch can't really sustain any more people. The memberships is HIGH but the attendance is very LOW. But that's what we will work on. We will get LA back to church and hopefully find some Part-member families along the way. Luckily this is a district so it's under the direction of Pres. Tobias. And he is sending the senior couple, the Bevans, to be assigned here now. I LOVE THEM and so I am way excited to work with them. We are going to do good things here, I know it!

We did have 2 baptisms on Saturday. They were the two little girls of a LA woman. Probably not a decision I would have made, but it was already in the works when I got here and they are smart little girls and they LOVE reading the Book of Mormon. Now we just need to get their dad baptized and their mom fully active. That's the most common situation here. It's hard on the kids. That's why we have the commission we have now from the Area Presidency to seek to strengthen the unit before we go out searching for new people. Deepen the pool before you widen it, that is Pres. Tobias' catchphrase. It's a good one.

I love being with Sis. Vaipulu. We get along well. We are best friends and like sisters. We are also really united in our desires here and in our purpose. We are helping each other in really important ways and I am grateful for her. She is awesome. Definitely a tender mercy!

Oh, before I forget, in other news. Sister Jeannette called me last Friday to tell me that the Pastrana family, the family we were working with in Victorias, were getting baptized on Saturday. So yesterday, Sunday, they were confirmed. I had a mild ecstatic fit in our apartment. We weren't sure what was happening with them. We got a letter from their young daughter, but it didn't say if they had been baptized. Well now they have been. So AWESOME!!!! That was my first and still only full family that we taught. They weren't all baptized together, but the parents and one or 2 of the children were (I wasn't totally sure). Such a huge blessing. I didn't get to witness the harvest, but we planted some hearty seeds. I love this work.

Okay, well that's all I have time for this week. I hope everyone back in the states, or wherever you are in the world right now is doing great. I am. I started my 3rd to last transfer last week. This last 4 months i going to be the best and I am so excited for everything... just not excited about coming home... But that is something I will think about when it's here. For now--- ONWARD!!!! Love you all!!!

Sister Jackson

Talk about one way out of left field......

Well folks, this is definitely going to be an exciting email. Last night we got transfer announcements. Yeah.

So... it turns out that I was the one of the two of us to transfer. I wasn't too happy about that. I only spent one transfer in Bakyas and I wanted to spend more. It was such a hard transfer and I just didn't feel like I got to do all I was supposed to do for reasons I couldn't control. But of course, the Lord knows what is best. So Elder Ili (our AP) told me that I was transferring and that they would be taking me to my area on Monday afternoon. I asked if I was whitewashing again. He said no and then told me that I was going to San Carlos. Now I know that that means absolutely nothing to all of you. But here it's a BIG deal. First of all, not a lot of white people go here because it is REALLY far away from the office. It's 2.5 hours away and through mountainous roads. We're actually closer to Cebu then we are to Bacolod. That also means that I am going to learn a new language. People don't speak Ilonggo here, they speak Cebuano here so I will be learning Cebuano. So yeah, CRAZY!!!! And then... on top of all of that I AM COMPANIONS WITH SISTER VAIPULU!!!! Yeah, we are both seniors now, but we will just be co-seniors. I AM SO EXCITED!!!! I love this girl with all my heart, she is my best friend in the mission and I am so excited to get to be with her again. I mean really, how many people get to be companions with their MTC companions again!? It's awesome. It's going to be really challenging, I have no doubts about that, but it's also something I know I need. I learned a lot of lessons this last transfer and I was constantly praying for the Lord to give me the opportunity to show my faith and put into practice what I learned. Well, I think this may be an answer to my prayer. I need to be a little more careful about what I pray for as a missionary. I tend to get things that I pray for, just not in the way I usually would have asked for them. But that's life. Especially on the mission. But I'm excited for the new adventure and the opportunity for growth. Woot! I can do it!

Well everyone, I am ridiculously tired right now. I didn't sleep at all last night because of packing and anxiety so I am afraid this will be kind of short. But I'm in a new place, new language, new culture, new/old companion. Pray for me. :) Love you all!!!

Sister Jackson
Stress Anyone?

Well folks, time is pretty limited this week and so this may be a bit of short one.

This week was difficult. I won't get into all the details because most of it is just not worth the time to type, but needless to say, my faith was tested. But in a good way. In fact I was faced with the choice to face it head on and be positive or get discouraged. I faced it and I am much happier for it. That is the mission in a nutshell. Everyday. My companion is facing more health issues. I'm pretty sure they are related to stress. I'm just trying to be supportive and helpful and hope that she can overcome them and we can get out to work. I have faith that we will!

So this week we had Zone Conference. It was a little different, less people and new trainings. We had the area mental health representative, Sister Aguilar, come and teach us about stress. Hahaha. Little did I know how much stress I was experiencing and what it was doing to me. That was a wake-up call. Isn't it ironic that the psychology major (that's how everyone knows me here) is the one that seemed to forget the most the effects of stress... At one point S. Aguilar asked me what stressed me out. I just laughed. Then everyone laughed. Everything. That's the answer. But it's good. It moves me to action. I thrive on stress... and then sometimes I almost die from it too. Hahaha. Really, I'm doing great, I just found some areas that I need to do some new things to keep the bad stress at bay. But all is well here in Zion and life is good! I promise!

So this next week is the last full week of the transfer which means next week things will be changing. We're not totally sure if our situation will be changing. It's possible that we stay together, but it's also possible one of us goes. I don't want to go. I am finally starting to feel like I have a purpose in this particular area and I want to work to do some good here. I don't think I am done being here. And I told President I didn't want to leave. :) We'll see what happens. I'll let you all know of course!

Yesterday after church we did a great Preach My Gospel training with our bishopric and ward missionaries and some auxillary members. It was great. They are all so excited to learn more about missionary work and work with us to help strengthen their ward. We have their support and their trust I hope so I have great hopes for this area. We can get these people to really work and so I think we can really strengthen their unit. That is all I ever want to do and that is President's vision so you know, we're on the right page.

Well that's really all the time I have this week. I'll try to have some exciting stories for you all next week. It's been raining like crazy here, one Baguio (storm) right after another. But we just get rain and wind. We're lucky. So don't worry, whatever you hear on the news, I'm always safe. I love you all and hope you are doing great!

Sister Jackson
Life As I Know It

Well I'm sorry about no general email last week. It was a weird day and I just didn't have a lot of time and there really wasn't anything too exciting to report so I just didn't take the time. But I'm repenting now this week.

So this week was full of lots of challenges and also lots of good things as well.

On Tuesday we had district meeting and then I was supposed to have an interview with President Tobias at 3pm. Well the interview turned out to be really long and then President decided to give Sister Sheehan and I training right then about planning. It was awesome. Then he interviewed her and so we didn't end up leaving the office until about 6:30pm. Not the most productive day for the work, but it was a much needed experience with President. I didn't really know what I was going to talk to him about in the interview, but then of course, the Lord knew what I needed and President spent the time really talking about what I can do improve. He was frank with me but in a really loving way. There was no chastisement or anything, but I got the clear message and it was exactly the "pep-talk" I needed for my last 5 months. I was so grateful for it. And then the training he gave us was awesome. We put it into effect this very week and our weekly planning was SO much better. President Tobias really is the most inspired man I've ever met. I am so grateful for such an incredible mission president.

On Wednesday I was totally jazzed to get out and work, to put into action my new goals and resolves. We went out and we were going good, and then we just started getting punted like crazy. We had all these plans and nobody was around, it was POURING rain and we weren't having much success. But I tried to stay positive, this is just missionary work. Well I could tell that something was off with Sister Sheehan but she hadn't said anything. Well then she kind of snapped at me over nothing. So I asked her how she was feeling. She was actually feeling really sick didn't want to tell me about it because I was all excited for the work and she just wasn't feeling it. Well that wasn't going to help us have any success. She was sick and had no energy and felt like she was going to pass out. So we went and got something to eat and got her some water. She still wasn't doing well so we went home. The next day she was pretty sick and slept most of the day. Well, it was a bit difficult for me because I wanted to work, but this is the opposition that comes when you are trying to do what you're supposed to do. I understand the principle of "the blessings come after the trial of your faith". It's not enough to even just go and do, but you have to be able to go and do in spite of many challenges. And that's just how it works. So we both learned some good lessons.

So on Friday we were trying to find some other people and we were doing a lot of asking around to find them. Well we finally found the house of one of our Part-member, unordained, less active situations and actually got in the door. Well it turns out that the missionaries here before had been teaching Brother Robert, who is the son of Brother Roberto (the less active member). So we were excited to get a lot of work out of these people. Well, it turns out that Robert, the son who was only 25 had died just a month ago from an accident. We were shocked. But we knew what we needed to teach about. Sister Merlinda (the mom) came in and listened as well. She is not a member. So we were able to testify to both of them about the Plan of Salvation and how they will be able to see their son again. The spirit was so strong. Sisters heart was open. We are excited to help them progress and they have a lot of other family that all live right there. That was a tender mercy.

So like I said challenges and tender mercies. We have an amazing ward who are really supportive to us and are really eager to help strengthen their unit. That is awesome. There is priesthood leadership and they want to take responsibility. Miracle! So we have great hopes for this area. It's great. So that's about it for this week. I hope everyone is doing great and enjoying August! Love you all!!

Sister Jackson
Happy One Year to Me!!!!

Well folks, it's happened. I have officially been on my mission for a year now. And I can't believe it at all. It seems like just yesterday that I was a brand new, scared-out-of-my-mind, missionary in the MTC and now I am on the downward slope. It just never ceases to amaze me.

This week was an interesting one. I don't know if it was stress or maybe a bug of some kind but Sister Sheehan and I both got sick with stomach problems. She was barfing. So I stayed up with her that night. I think that just contributed to me becoming sick as well... Who knows, but I'm fine now. Weird week. We're still trying to get this place figured out and all the people. Thankfully we have amazing ward missionaries and a great ward mission leader which is helping a great deal, especially as we get to know the area and the people. We have a lot of fun with them too which is great. So I'm happy about where I am and what I'm doing. It's hard and I definitely don't feel really comfortable in my surroundings but that is part of being a missionary and also being a brand new area, whitewashing. That's life.

So I don't really have a whole lot more to say so I figured I would send a bunch of photos since it's been forever and I know that you all care more about that anyway. Okay I love you all!

Sister Jackson

1. Mexican food in the Philippines. My prayers were answered that day...
2.Sisters Conference with some of the sisters. We're all wearing Jody dresses... :)
3. Me and Shee... that's pretty normal looking for us.
4. My first ride in a Sikad which was driven by my bishop. It was awesome.
5. Me and Shee at the Beach
6. A Jellyfish! There were tons.
7. Beautiful sunset
8. Holding a brand new piglet... so cute!
9. A Handful of Cats! Our Cat had kittens
10. Me and Shee on the 4th of July
11. At the Cathedral... hehehehe
12. Famous mural called "The Angry Christ" It was weird but kind of awesome.
13. My favorite family ever! The Demandars!
I'm sorry.... what?

Okay, so because I am in one of those moods this is going to be one of those "you have to read the whole thing to get all the information" kinds of emails. But trust me, it's worth it. I promise. It's been a crazy week.

Okay, so of course last Monday was 4th of July. We celebrated by eating a ton of food. We were having lunch with some elders and I commented that in America 4th of July is about eating and Fireworks. Well we didn't have fireworks, so we made up for it by eating more... hahaha. We all got burgers, it was great. So after that we went exploring at some local catholic churches, one in particular has this mural that is really unusual but famous here on this island, so we went to go see it. It was crazy, i'll attach a picture. Anyway, after our lago-lago (that's like a word for wandering around looking at stuff) we decided to go back to the apartment. We still didn't have the transfer announcement and we were going crazy. I was sure I was transferring and I just wanted to be sure so I could go say goodbye to people and then pack. Well we waited and waited and waited and there was no announcement. When 9pm rolled around we came to the conclusion that there was no way they could expect us to transfer the next day because we would have NO time to pack, so we figured we would just get the announcement at our district meeting on Tuesday morning.

So district meeting was good, and then we had to sit around and all wait some more to get the transfer announcement. It took forever. We were all freaking out. Well, finally it came. And I was totally shocked. So all of us sisters were being transferred out of Victorias (one of our roommates was going home, so it was 3 of us) and they were going to whitewash the area with elders. If you forgot what a whitewash is, it's what I did in my first area in La Carlota. No sisters had been there and we were the first ones in a long time. So everything is new, foreign and you kind of have to just figure things out on your own. Well of course I wasn't too happy about this. I have been in Victorias for so long. I have such strong relationships with EVERYONE. I mean, I was pretty sure I was transferring, but I was leaving the place in the hands of my companion who I trusted and knew would take care of the are. So to find out that NO ONE was going to be there was pretty difficult. After district meeting we all went out to lunch and I just basically sat there and full on bawled. I was a mess. I just wasn't as ready to leave that place as I thought. It was probably the most difficult time for me. I just didn't want to leave these people with any risk that they could fall through the cracks. So yeah, I just cried and cried. And then I had to suck it up and get it together because I was in charge of the choir for the departure devotional that day and we had to get ourselves off to Bacolod so we would be there for that.

So we went to Bacolod and had our choir practice and then performed a beautiful rendition of "Jesus the Very Thought of Thee" for the departing missionaries. It was a great meeting, I always love being in the presence of and hearing from my mission president. Well after the meeting I needed to talk to him about a couple of things. I talked to him about coming home in December and so now that is the definite plan, just for all of your information. So I will be home in American on like December 23rd or something like that. Anyway, I had been thinking that because they were whitewashing Victorias with elders that meant we would be short on sisters areas so they must be whitewashing sisters in somewhere else. So I went up to President (we're pretty close, just FYI) and I just asked him, because I had a feeling, "President, am I whitewashing this transfer?" I was answered with the Filipino eyebrow raise which is a very definite "yes". I asked again to be sure and he nodded his head and said yes. Enter in overwhelmingness times 10! Then he told me that he area had great records and lots of female ward missionaries so it would be a good place. But he still wouldn't tell me where, he said I would have to wait for tomorrow to know for sure. Then he told me that Sister Sheehan and I would actually be staying together! We would be whitewashing together! I couldn't believe that. That NEVER happens. So I was way happy about that. At least, with all this new crainess, I would have a friend and an awesome companion. I tried to ask President again where I was going, but he told me that he would remember tomorrow. Hahaha. Oh President. I'm just surprised I got that much information out of him.

So on Wednesday, because all of us in the house were transferring, the AP's came to get us and all of our stuff. We went to the mission office for the announcement of assignments and we found out that we were being assigned to Bacolod 2nd Ward, which is in an area called Bakyas. So now I am right in the heart of Bacolod City. I've never been assigned in the city, and it's totally different, but there are a lot of conveniences, which is nice. So on Wednesday we had a lot going on. We had to get fingerprinted and then we had some errands we needed to run because we had to wait for the APs so that we could move into our new house. They were actually in that area and had thought they could handle their own proselyting area which didn't work well, so that was why we were going in. Anyway, they hadn't packed up their stuff yet so we had to wait. We were exhausted. We had been up all night packing and saying goodbye to people and were just way tired. Anyway, we finally were able to get out of the office and the elders took us to our new house. Well we had heard stories from lots of people about this house, that it was pretty awful. The APs themselves told us that it was bad. But we were just thinking, it probably wasn't too clean and maybe a little rugged and probably some unwelcome guests (like rats and stuff) but we weren't too concerned about that. I mean, we didn't want that, but we were prepared to tough it out. And they had told us that we could start looking for a new apartment right away. Well then they took us to the house. They had already unloaded our stuff, so it was just us. They waited in the truck of us to get in and then they left. It was pretty awful, definitely the worst place I've ever seen for missionaries. It was disgusting. And things were really broken and the place was just creepy. Neither of us felt good about being there. Sis. Sheehan suggested that we just sit there and read our scriptures. We went into the bedroom to put our sheets on the bed and just started feeling really sick. I mean, like I really thought I was going to throw up. We couldn't even do anything. I felt paralyzed, so did Sheehan. We just stared at each other. We were trying to make jokes to keep things light, but there was just this awful feeling in the house. It started to get really bad. We both got terrible headaches and we could just tell that the spirit wasn't there at all. Like there was no room for the spirit, even though we had it. I texted the APs. I was kind of joking with them at first "when are you taking us to the real house?" and "you're not really leaving us here are you?" Well then they called. I told them that the place just didn't feel right. They immediately came back to get us. When they arrive they came into the house as well. Elder Hernandez said that he could feel it the minute they walked in. He even said later "We have the priesthood, that shouldn't have been that way". I guess when they had lived there they had felt this pretty much all the time, but they spent so little time there, with all of their responsibilities, they they didn't really think much of it. But when they came back that night, they could both feel it. It was a horrible feeling. I won't describe it much here. Anyway, it wasn't a place we wanted to stay. So the elders took us to the house of the nearby sisters and we stayed there. Then the elders, who are AMAZING, went to work to get things figured out for us. They called President that night and told him that we couldn't stay there anymore, the place had evil spirits, and that we needed to move. They had found an apartment before and so they decided just to get it. They worked things out really quickly and were just so great about it. I was way grateful for that. I mean, we are supposed to be whitewashing an area. We need all the spiritual help we can get. And there was NO spirit in that house. We even went back the next day in the daytime to get some things and even in the day time we felt the same spirit. It was just horrible. So anyway, now we are staying with the other sisters for 2 weeks before we move in to our new house, which is apparently really nice. We're excited.

So all of that stuff combined with some illness on both of our parts made this week kind of rough one. On top of that we don't our area AT ALL and were not able to make contact with our ward missionary to show us around until later. So it's been a rocky start. Fortunately the transfer doesn't actually start until today. We have a lot of work to do in this area. Because the elders weren't really working here there has been a lot of neglect of investigators and recent converts. But we have an incredibly supportive ward. We had a great correlation with the WML and the WMs. It was great and even Ward Council. The ward is awesome and we are already really close. They know I'm a little crazy and ridiculous and like to have fun, but they also recognize that I like to work and I am serious about it. So there is trust there already and good relationships. So now we just need to kick things in gear and get people taught and ready for baptism. We have our hands full, but I know we can do it. For some reason President has a lot of trust in me and decides to give me big assignments. I don't know exactly why, but I'm grateful for the trust. He is an inspired man and I at least know that I have many things to learn from this experience. This transfer begins my 4th to last. I can't believe it. I am truly on the downward slope. In fact... this week... I HIT MY ONE YEAR MARK!!!! This July 14th I will have officially been on my mission for a year. It is crazy. I don't even know what to think about that. It doesn't seem real. Time is just flying by at a breakneck speed and I can't handle it. 6 months left. It's not enough time... :(

Well, this is already ridiculously long and I have other stuff to get to. But I love you all and I miss you. I hope you're all doing great, had a great 4th of July and are having great summers. Wish me luck with this new assignment and I would greatly appreciate your prayers!

Sister Jackson
Don't Drink the Water

Well this was a good week for the most part and then had some rocky points.

We had a really good day on Tuesday visiting our investigators and getting lots of work done. It was a great day. On Wednesday the Bevans (our couple missionaries) came to our area with their truck to go with us to our really far areas so we could find out what was going on with some of those people. We also brought our Young Men's President (Miemie) with us as well. It was a lot of asking around and not a whole lot finding people, but we got some good information and we had some great experiences with the Bevans. They are AWESOME. We love them. And I got to translate, that was kind of weird. It was the first time I've really done that. But I was happy to realize that I am capable of translating at least simple things. Happy day! But we had a way good time with them.

That night we went to visit our investigators and teach a few lessons. At our second to the last lesson of the evening we were teaching this older woman, she's a little bit crazy, not like really, but just weird. Anyway, it was kind of hot in her house, but nothing new to us. Well she decided to make us some juice... Well here in the Philippines you cannot drink the tap water. We call it the liquid death... it's not good for you. Well she definitely made us the juice from the tap water... And normally we just say no thanks, but she was SOOOO insistent and actually forced it into my companions mouth, like held up the glass to her lips. So before she could do the same to me, I just took a drink. Well she made us finish the pitcher before we left... Yeah. Not the smartest choice I've ever made, but we didn't really have a choice. So then for the next few days I spent a lot of time in the bathroom. Not the best time of my mission. I'm feeling better now, I think most of the garbage has gotten itself out my intestines, but it was not pleasant. I learned my lesson. I've had unfiltered water here before, but this was from the city and probably the worst and just not good. Sorry stomach!

So I guess that's really all I have to share this week. I know it's not much, but at the moment I am a little preoccupied. We get our transfer announcements today and I still don't know what is going on. So unfortunately you all probably won't know until next week. But since last weeks email was pretty epic, I think I've earned a break. Hahaha. Well I love you all and hope everyone is having an awesome week. Oh and of course: HAPPY 4th OF JULY!!! My companion and I are wearing red, white, and blue in the spirit of things. Not really any celebrating over here in the Philippines. But I'm thinking of my awesome native land! :)

Lots of Love!

Sister Jackson