The House of Crazy......

Well hello there folks!

So I'm happy to report that there were no natural disasters or any crazy illnesses this week! I definitely appreciated that, but the week was not uneventful. So last week we got transfer announcements, and as you will all remember (because you follow my blog religiously) that my wonderful companion, Sis. Elwood was transferring. Well on Tuesday we went to visit everyone we could so she could say goodbye and give a little goodbye testimony/message. It was so hard. I wasn't even leaving, but I got emotional at almost every place. It was ridiculous. I think I just started to feel a bit of the weight of responsibility as I am now the only person that knows this area right now. It was terrifying actually.

On Wednesday we went to Bacolod for the transfer. They changed everything, so we didn't have the big meeting like normal. They just got right to the announcements, well they told us who was going to what "checkpoint" but they didn't tell us where our companions were going! I hate that so much. So I just bugged one of the APs who used to be my Zone Leader until he told me and Sister Elwood went to La Carlota! Can you believe it? My first area! Well, she's actually going to the other branch, Sis. Stadler is still in 2nd branch. But I was so excited. It will keep us connected! I was definitely bummed to see her go, but of course that's just how things work around here.

So now... I have a new companion!!! And... she's a Filipina! I was so excited. I mean, I love Americans and all, but I'm in the Philippines and I haven't had a Filipino companion yet. So I was pretty stoked, and I already know her from when I went on an exchange into her area. Her name is Sister Tambolero and she is awesome. She's 5'2" (yeah, I stick out even more now) and a ball of crazy energy but she is HILARIOUS and awesome and I know I will be learning a lot from her. It's going to be a fun transfer. And in other news, Sister Vaipulu moved into my house! I couldn't believe that! So now we are together again. She's in the other ward with her companion, but it's like old times in the MTC.

So here's some updates about who we are teaching and all the amazing people I love here so much. First of all, lets talk about Kenneth Plaida. He's the one that got baptized on Christmas day. Yeah, he's pretty much the most amazing person I have ever met. He is ready to serve a mission now. We went to go see him (so Sis. Tambolero could meet him). I was following up on his reading. I was a little disappointed that he hadn't made more progress in the Book of Mormon, but when I asked him if we was studying other things like PMG, preparing for his mission, he told me that he read the entire Gospel Principles manual... in 2 weeks! We had just barely given that to him and he just raced through it. And it's in English! Seriously, he just amazes me. He told us also that he had taken a break from his readthrough because he wanted to study the sacrament prayers in Moroni more so he would be prepared to bless the sacrament in the coming weeks. Seriously, we need so many people like him in this world!

Okay, that's enough about him. So then we have Jeannette. I don't know if I've written much about her before, but she is solid. When I first met her I was pretty concerned. She's really smart, maybe even a little too much and she asked a lot of questions that were good, but just off topic and not really important for her progression with the gospel. I was always pretty frustrated after her teachings. They would last over an hour and were just exhausting. So S. Elwood and I had decided we would give her some space for awhile. She wasn't progressing at that point--no church, ya know. So we let about 2 weeks go by and then we went back. Let's just say that was the best decision we could have made with her. In that time she went from only having been in 1 Nephi 8 (after over a month) to being in Jacob 2. She read that far in 2 weeks! And she was different. She recognized the difference when we weren't there, she recognized the difference not having the spirit. And she knew it for herself. We had a really powerful lesson with her and S. Elwood extended baptism. We had done it before, and usually it was a fairly non-committal answer. But this time she gave a resounding yes. S. Elwood started crying, I started crying, Jeannette started crying. It was awesome. Since then she has just been progressing so well. She's been at church, she asks the right questions, she doesn't try to argue everything. She accepts the doctrine, she prays about it and she follows it. She's great!

Then there's John Ray. HE IS AMAZING. He is 15 and is the nephew of two of our other recent converts. Since he lives with them, they have been teaching him everything they can about the church. He lives WAY far away so we hadn't planned to teach him, but when he came to church 3 weeks in a row in a white shirt and tie and with his Book of Mormon, we decided we should teach him. And when we did, he taught us. He knew everything about Lesson 1, he was already praying and reading his scriptures. He is amazing. In fact he had all these deep questions for us. Can I just say how blessed we are with such solid investigators? We don't have a ton, but they are all QUALITY! They are the kind of people we know we can bring into the church and they won't just leave it. Seriously, I love being a missionary. I love everything about it.

Well, that's all for this week. I hope everyone is doing great. I hear there's been crazy snow all over the country. Well it's sunny and warm here everyday! Okay, actually it's been raining like CRAZY everyday and it's totally out of the ordinary and just about every missionary is getting sick. But not me!!! HALLELUJAH!!!!! Thank you for all of your prayers and love. I miss you all dearly!

Love, love, love!
Sister Jackson

P.S. I promise there will be pictures next week. I can't send them from this computer. Sorry!!!

The Rains Came Down... And the Floods Came Up

Well if you think that last week was exciting with my hospital stay, hold on to your hats folks, because this week was even more exciting.

So on Tuesday we had a Zone Conference. It was awesome. It was so incredibly inspiring. My companion gave this AMAZING training about recognizing the spirit. The Assistants also gave amazing training and it was just a great day. Well the whole time we had been in the conference it had been raining. That's not such an unusual thing here, it is the Philippines. But apparently things were worse than we realized. Our district leader, Elder Newman, told me that the roads had been a little flooded but when we left it had subsided. I didn't think much of it until we tried to get home. Our whole district was going to go home together on a bus and so we tried to catch one, but there were none. So then we went to the actual terminal and saw a ton of people sitting around and no buses going anywhere. After asking for some information we found out that it had been raining A TON in the mountains and at the same time there was a really high tide at the beach. Those two things combined made for a HUGE flood. We sat around at the Ceres terminal for about 2 hours, hoping it would subside, but it wasn't. So we texted the AP's. They came to rescue us. They wanted to drive us home, but when we tried we found out that the bridges were totally washed out and nothing was getting by. So we went to take some of the sisters that lived closer home. When we got to there house there was a huge flood there as well. We all had to run in and try and save whatever we could. There was about a foot and a half of water. We put everything up high and the sisters tried to grab what they could. It was a huge mess. Meanwhile, we have no idea what is going on back in our area. None of our members are answering our texts. So the AP's take us to the mission home. President welcomed in the "refugees" as he called us. We stayed the night there and then the next morning he drove us back to our house on the way to another Zone Conference. That night we finally got a text from a member that said our house was fine and there was no flooding there. We were pretty relieved.

We knew however that not everyone in our area was so lucky. So that morning we put on our CSP clothes and just went to our investigators and members homes to see how we could help. Most of the water was gone by then, but they all told us it had come up about 5-6 feet. It was pretty crazy. Not a lot of people wanted in our help in one area, well they were just done, so we went to the place we knew it had been the worse. It was pretty bad, there was a lot of damage and the roads were just full of mud. But we just went from house to house and tried to help. It was awesome. Usually these people stay behind their gates and hide from us, but they couldn't hide after the flood. It turned out that we found a ton of new investigators, did a lot of cleaning, and also taught a lot of lessons. It was an amazing experience. We had made it a goal to just slap our area in the face this week and with the flood that made it a lot easier. People really respond to seeing us out, wanting to help. It was amazing.

This last week, even with the flood was just so good. I can't even really explain it all, but we just had some really great experiences. We were able to give out 4 baptismal dates to solid investigators, we had miracles occur with some of them, it was just such an a amazing week. The Lord was definitely with us.

So now for the big news. Today was transfer announcements.... and I am staying in my area. But my companion is transferring. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't bummed. I really thought we might stay together for one more, I feel like I still have so much to learn from her, but apparently the Lord has other things in store. So I will stay in Victorias 2nd ward and she will go somewhere else, where, we don't know. But I will miss her, she has been an amazing companion and has taught me so much! Pray for her and for whoever my new companion will be. I will find out Wednesday. We have a new transfer day. Crazy!

Well I love and miss you all. I hear that the weather has been kind of crazy in the US. I hope you are all safe!

Sister Jackson
Are you pregnant? and other fun experiences....

Okay, so I'm sure that you are all freaking out about my subject line. It's a joke. I'm not actually pregnant, and there is a story behind this. I will get to that in a second.

So this week was probably the worst week of my mission. Nothing could compare to it, I'm sure. I got really sick this week. I won't go into too many details, but I got some kind of stomach virus and couldn't keep any food or water in my body. The doctor was pretty concerned that I was getting majorly dehydrated and so she decided I needed to go to the hospital. I'm sure you can all imagine I wasn't too happy about that. I hate going to the doctor. My grandma will tell you all that I am stubborn about going and usually wait until it's worse than it should be. But this was kind of scary, so I took care of right away. So after not having worked all week, on Thursday I had to go to the hospital. Now, I don't know if you all remember, but I'm in the Philippines. Now, I love this place and sometimes I can't imagine going back to America, but let me just tell you that medical care here is NOTHING the same as the states. You all know, I know a lot about hospitals, I've spent a lot of time in them in my lifetime (not for myself of course) and my mom was a nurse. Hospitals are like my thing. This was pretty much everything you can imagine about a horror hospital. Okay, so it wasn't quite that bad, but let me give you some details. There were cockroaches in my room, the walls were leaking some kind of water, there was a crucifix hanging on the wall, I had to carry around my own IV bag (no carts or anything), the nurses never wore gloves to do anything, including removing my IV (yeah, she got my blood all over her hand... gross), they don't have any clean water ( you have to bring your own), they don't do anything nice for the person that has to stay all night with you and the food was... let's just say... anything but desirable. Back to my subject line: So my doctor is actually an OB-GYN. Her husband was our mission doctor but he is working abroad now. So she is taking over for him for awhile until their family moves to meet him. So because they all know she is an OB-GYN, EVERY SINGLE PERSON kept asking me if I was pregnant. It was ridiculous! I kept politely saying no, until finally I got kind of frustrated and said, "Um, no, I'm a missionary...", while I showed them my tag. I'm sure that didn't mean much to me, but I needed to make sure they all knew that I was definitely not pregnant. All in all it was a pretty traumatic experience. It scared me into NEVER getting sick again while I'm here, and hopefully never again in my whole life. It was also an incredibly frustrating experience since I wasn't able to go out and work. It was awful. But it also provided Sis. Elwood and I with some great laughs amidst all the craziness. And now, I'm totally better. The doctor thinks I just got the virus out and once I was rehydrated, she let me go home. After a little rest, I got back to work and I am SOOOO happy to be back. I was going crazy.

So that was really the majority of my week. I stayed in. I'm sorry to admit that, but that was my reality. But now we have these amazing goals for this next week. We kind of had to start over with this area because our investigators just weren't progressing. We're also supposed to be looking for the wealthy and the learned so that we can baptize leaders and not just people that will end up as a financial burden for the church or inactive. We have an area in our area that is perfect for that and so we are excited to find new people. We already have! And we have hope for a lot of referrals. Pray for us!!! :)

Well anyway, unfortunately that is all there really is to report about this week. All the illness stuff took a bit of a toll on my companion and our companionship. We ended up having a pretty intense talk about everything and then probably one of the best experiences of my mission talking everything out. I love Sister Elwood. She is amazing. She is teaching me so much. She is such a great example to me of faith and loyalty and dedication, and everything. She really is just incredible. And we have a lot of fun too. We have had some great experiences together, teaching, talking, etc. She's awesome! Next Monday we have transfer announcements (can you believe it?!) and she may transfer out. I'll be pretty bummed. I never feel like I am with a companion long enough to learn everything I need to. But the Lord knows best!

I love you all so much and hope that everyone on the other side of the world is healthy and happy and loving life. I am!

Love you all!

Sister Jackson

P.S. I know I said I would do pictures, but this computer is being retarded and I'm having problems, so hopefully next week! Love you lots!
Waterfalls and other such sadja

Okay, so for those of you that don't speak Hiligaynon (and I'm going to guess that's most of you) sadja means fun. So with that little lesson out of the way, I will tell you about my week. So this week was good. We had to do some weeding in our investigator garden this week, which was hard. But on Fast Sunday we fasted about changing our focus to another area and we both feel great about it. The rich and learned live there and that's where President wants us to focus so that we aren't baptizing people that won't just become a financial burden. We've already had some little miracles in finding people out there too which is totally awesome and gives us confidence that that is where we are supposed to be.

So this week was New Year's. It get's totally buang (crazy) here. You can't even imagine. They light off fireworks ALL day, but at night it gets out of control. So we get permission in this mission to watch Disney animated movies that night since we have to be in early and it's so crazy. Drunk people. Fireworks.... bad combo. So we watched Toy Story 3, Mulan 1 and 2, and Bolt. It was great. We ate ourselves sick on Filipino junk food and had a great time all sleeping together in the same room. It was a blast. But exhausting too, because we didn't really sleep well because of all they gahud (loud noise).

Today we had an AWESOME district activity. Our district leader got permission for us to go up to this resort in the bukid (mountains) and go hike and see all these BEAUTIFUL waterfalls. We have an awesome district right now and so it was just a total blast. A lady in our ward organized this whole thing so we had a van and a personal driver. They were awesome to us. We had a great time and all bonded even more. We have great district unity now! I will send pictures next week of all the awesomeness.

Well I wish I could write more, but we are crunched for time tonight and I'm not feeling too well. So next week I will write some more and update a little more about the area and who we are teaching and all that. I love you all and hope everyone enjoyed the New Year! Keep me posted on your lives!

Lots of love,

Sister Jackson