Dirt on the Shoes: a guide to missionary service

Hahaha, okay so I know the subject line is a little crazy, but today I definitely got some major dirt on my shoes... literally and it was a representation of our hard work this week. So I feel pretty good about that. We had some fun adventures. I'll get to those later.

So this last Monday was awesome. Well, the P-day part was okay, kind of long and tiring, but then we had a FHE at the Pastrana family and it was AWESOME!!! It was by far the best FHE I've had on my mission. We had a great lesson about the Word of Wisdom. Sister immediately said she was giving up coffee and switching to Energen (it's this cereal drink here... it's tasty) and she hasn't gone back. She just turned and changed. Awesome. Brother put up a little bit of stink, but he came around and has also been obediently following. So awesome, especially when that can be a huge hindrance to our work here. That was a huge blessing. After the lesson we played some way fun games and they are HILARIOUS! Brother Pastrana has the best sense of humor. We were playing this game where you are a specific fruit and you have to pass your fruit to someone else (by saying the name) and then they accept by saying there's and passing again. The catch is your not allowed to show your teeth when you talk. So basically we all sound and look like a geriatrics club at free time at the nursing home. Brother Pastrana decided to just try and laugh like an old man to get everyone else to laugh so they would show their teeth. Sister started laughing so hard that she fell off her chair... while holding the baby... whoops. She immediately started crying which meant Sister was out of the game. Hahaha... she calmed down eventually and then sister just watched and laughed a ton. We had such a good experience with them building trust and having fun. And now things are awesome. They were good before, but now they are better. The spirit is stronger in the lessons, they are really seeking to follow. They had come to church twice but had been late and had to take sacrament in the other ward. Well we committed them to come this week and to come early. They showed up a half hour early!!! It was amazing. We are so proud of them. They really are progressing. We extended a new baptismal date to them so they will be more prepared and they accepted. We explained how important it was to make that commitment to the Lord. They understand and they are ready. There questions was "what time is the baptism?" hahaha. I wish it was always that simple. They are amazing and a huge tender mercy for our work here.

This last week we were trying to apply the new council from our mission president and the area presidency in the Philippines and focus on finding the Unordained members in hopes that we can get them back to church, ordained, and contributing to the ward. So this week we had a couple of days, the "in between" days of our proselyting where we didn't have specific appointments with our other investigators. So we decided to go adventuring as much as we could to try and find these people. Well we learned a lot of information. We didn't really get to teach anyone, because most of these people have moved or died, but we were trying way hard. And we got to go trampling through sugar cane fields and cross scary bridges over rivers and all sorts of fun stuff. So that is why I got so much dirt on my shoes. It was funny, we were in a kind of far area trying to find someone. Everyone just kept telling us to keep going, that he was at the end. Well the end meant crossing a bridge, a road, walking through a cane field, saying hey to some cows along the way, walking through another little community until we did indeed actually reach the "end". It didn't get any more "end" than that. And he wasn't home. So ya know it didn't yield the best results, but that's just part of our work. And at least it was a fun adventure.

After we had traversed through another campo (that's a sugar cane field) we came out into another community we were looking for people in. It's the Philippines and the common practice is for people just to take you to whoever you are looking for. Well this time it was two of the cutest little girls ever that took us all over this place trying to find their grandma. Turned out she just wasn't home, but bless their hearts, they took us everywhere trying to find her. I just couldn't get that scripture in Isaiah out of my head "and a little child shall lead them". It was just so precious. The children here are really the most beautiful things in the whole world. There is just something so special about them. To be honest, I think it's the poverty. They aren't distracted by a million different toys, or electronics, or other ridiculous things. They have the outside world as their playground. They have eachother. That's usually about it. And it maintains an innocence in them. You can see it in their eyes. It's beautiful. It just reminds me that I may not be able to take them from the realities of their lives, but I can offer them and their families something that will bring them to God's reality. It's hard to see all of the poverty, the suffering, but that at least bring some consolation. I have the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's the greatest gift I could offer to anyone!

So this week we were finally able to contact a referral we received awhile ago. He had been visiting here, but now actually lives here, so we will be able to teach him. He's 21 and the boyfriend of the granddaughter of one our most active families. He's a way good guy and listens really intently. After teaching him one time he was at church and stayed the whole 3 hours. We taught him that night and he had these great questions. "How did the living prophet today get his authority?" And "How can you say that you are the true church?" Such great questions! And of course, because Heavenly Father is in charge of everything, it happened to be that that was what were teaching him about, because we were teaching him about the Restoration. It was a great lesson. He told us how we really answered his questions and the spirit was strong. I actually recited the first vision in English (that was weird) because he is really educated and prefers most things in English. But the spirit was SUPER strong. It was so great. And so we have great hopes for his progression. He's smart enough to understand and want to ask questions, but he also has a sense of humility that makes his heart open. Thank you Heavenly Father for such a wonderful gift with this investigator. And we needed him! I've really been seeing His hand in our work a lot this week, more than I have in awhile and it is doing wonders to build my faith and gratitude.

So next week we get transfer announcements. I have NO idea what is going to happen. I would like to say that because I have now been here for 5 transfers that I am confident I will be transferring, but I haven't a clue. I don't really have any particular feeling or impression and I'm happy to say that I'm okay with whatever. The Lord is in charge, He knows what's best. I trust Him. I will go where He wants me to go. So that's the update for now. I don't really have too much more to say, this is long enough as it is! I love you all, hope everyone is doing awesome!

Sister Jackson
Sisters Conference Sadja!

Well this was one of the best weeks ever! Mostly because we had Sisters Conference and it was awesome!

So we went to Bacolod on Monday so that Sister Sheehan could have a follow-up doctor's appointment and then we went and had lunch and emailed. Then the fun began. We went to the mission office so we could get picked up and taken to the "O" hotel in Bacolod. It was awesome. HOT SHOWERS!!!! WITH WATER PRESSURE!!! Yes, these are the simple things in life that I don't even remember. Anyway, we got fun new t-shirts and then after changing they took us all to the Pana-ad Stadium, which is the big sports stadium here. It was so much fun. We had frisbee, volleyball, and basketball. I got to see my mission president in track suit bottoms and a t-shirt. It was the greatest thing ever. I played Volleyball the whole time and it was awesome. We had awesome food for dinner, I got to just hang out with my mission president and then we went back to the Hotel, had some sister hang out time and then went to bed. Tuesday we had to be at the local chapel at 8am and then we had training. It was amazing training and the APs had some WAY fun object lessons for us. One of them was actual fishing, like they got real fish and had some of the sisters try to catch them with a net. Needless to say it was ridiculous and people were crying they were laughing so hard, but it was actually a way good object lesson. I love trainings, especially from President Tobias, so it was the best. After lunch they had us go out and try to apply some of what we learned. So we worked just in the area around the chapel. It was fun. We got a couple of referrals for the elders in that area. After the afternoon events were over we had a talent show. It was ridiculous. President decided he wanted me to MC the whole thing, so I got to announce all the acts. Since I was in charge of announcing the acts I decided to on the spot call on the APs to present a talent. HAHAHA. I just didn't realize how the sisters would react. They got so excited they started chanting and banging on the tables in unison. It was hilarious. I'm pretty close to the APs, but they still wanted to kill me. Ha ha ha. But they were good sports about it and so they, the senior elder, and president all did a skit. It was great. Way fun. After the talent show we had dinner and then watched a movie at the chapel. It was way fun. We were exhausted when we got back to the hotel so we just crashed. On Wednesday we had more training and it was awesome. Then lunch and then everyone just kind of hung out for awhile.

I got permission from President for us to go to the mall before we went back to Victorias. So we went and got some things. Two others sisters were not going to be able to make it back to their area that night and so President gave them permission to spend the night at our house that night before going back. So we went to the Ceres terminal to catch a bus. There weren't any buses. We were a little worried, usually there are tons. I asked someone and he said there would be buses. So I stopped worrying. Well there were a ton of people all waiting, so anytime a bus came they would all RUN and jump on and they would all fill up before us, and all of our bags, were even close to getting on. While we were waiting someone started talking to us. He is a member in a nearby ward. He was waiting for a bus to take him to the Cebu temple. He was way nice. He left and then came back with Dunkin Donuts for us. So Nice. Then he asked us what we wanted to drink, we told him not to worry about it. Then he left and came back with 4 gatorades for us. We're pretty sure he got a store to open up just for him. Then he left again. When he came back this time he told us that he had made arrangements on the next Ceres for us to have seats. We have NEVER seen anything like that happen before, so we didn't really believe him. You don't save seats on a Ceres in this country. Anyway, he told us to get ready. We still didn't believe him. But then the bus drove up and there were 4 seats all saved for us by a terminal aide. We couldn't believe it. He got our bags on the bus and we were on our way. We figured he had to have paid they guy to save those seats for us. It was amazing. He was truly a guardian angel. It was getting late and we might have been stranded. We were truly blessed.

Anyway, it was a way fun week. I had a great time with all the sisters and President and the APs. We got great training and feel a new sense of urgency for the work. I love being here, I LOVE my mission. It's the best in the world. I hope you are all doing so awesome. I'm so grateful for all my friends and family. Tomorrow marks my 6 months left mark. I can't believe that's all the time I have left here. It's gone by SOOOO incredibly fast. I can't believe it. Anyway, this is the best place in the world. I know you're all jealous! :) Love you!

Sister Jackson
A FAMILY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well hello there one and all!

So this week was what I will refer to as recovery week... Yeah, the doctor told Sister Sheehan just "moderate activity" and she wasn't really feeling totally up to snuff so we still had a lot of rest this week. But that's okay, we just got to spend even more time becoming best friends and now we are a ridiculous companionship. Honestly, we may be too close. I don't think President will be letting us stay together for another transfer because we are both ridiculously buang (that's crazy here in the Pines). Anyway, I love my companion. period.

We did, despite our homeboundness have some way good experiences this week. So when I was with Sister Legayo we started teaching a family. Well I had only really taught the mom and dad. But when Shee and I were able to go back we actually ended up being able to teach their entire family which meant 2 parents and 3 kids that are old enough to be baptized. I've never actually had a whole family that I have been teaching at the same time. It's awesome. And they are awesome. Brother Pastrana cries almost every time he prays because the spirit is so strong. The last couple of times his wife cried too. Their kids just hang on every word we teach them. They are SOOOO elect and awesome. And then of course because they are so awesome they came to church! Not all the kids made it, but brother and sister were there with their daughter and they had a great time. And because Heavenly Father is awesome and is in control He definitely made it even more awesome. Remember how they just happen to know A TON of people at church and Sister Pastrana happens to be really good friends with Sister Jeannette, our recent convert and stellar fellowshipper?!?!?! It was SOOOO amazing. And of course because she is so awesome, Jeannette sits down next to them and immediately starts bearing testimony about how she knows the church is true and how important her baptism was to her!!! I LOVE THE GOSPEL!!!! Seriously, these are the most amazing miracles. They may seem so insignificant, but those are the things that we are desperately praying for every single day. So all in all... it was a pretty good week. Oh and yeah, we extended baptism to the whole family and they accepted... Hallelujah!

Well folks, I think that's probably about it for now. I know that I should probably have more to tell you, but time is short today. We have sisters conference today until wednesday and we are WAY excited. I get to hang out with all my favorite sisters, have tons of ridiculous fun and get awesome training from the most inspired mission president known to man. It's going to be a great week! Love you all! Stay classy!

Sister Jackson
Broken Bathrooms and Back to the Hospital

Well, let me just say that it was an eventful week.

So my companion has still been way sick. We texted our mission mom about it, she gave some advice, S. Sheehan followed it and started to feel better, then this last Saturday she had a way hard night with LBM and then all morning. So we had to go the doctor. We were on our way and I kept asking her how she was feeling, if she felt like she might barf (the buses here are really more like a roller coaster than transportation). She kept saying she was fine. I asked her if she just wanted to get off early and take a taxi to the doctor because it would be an easier ride. She said she'd be fine. Then we got to one of the stops and I saw her grab her mouth and her face went white. Well I could tell what that meant. I told her to get off the bus. She ran off and immediately started throwing up on the street with about 30 people watching from Jeepneys... Well then I wasn't really sure what to do. I texted Sister Tobias and her and president immediately came to our rescue and drove us to the doctor. Well, the doctor decided she had an amoeba and so she needed to be hospitalized. Yeah, so I went back to the hospital. Just not for me! Woohoo!!! So we spent Saturday afternoon until this morning (monday) in the hospital. Not the best place in the world, but her room was way better than mine last time, so that was nice. And of course we love each other, so we had fun too. Although telling jokes to a patient with stomach problems was not the smartest idea... hahaha. So now we are free. We were both getting a little stir crazy in there (there weren't any windows). She's on the mend now. Hopefully she just gets better now.

So of course that wasn't the only thing happened to us this week, that would have been too easy! Earlier this week I was taking a shower before bed. I went to turn off the faucet and all of the sudden water started coming out of the wall around the faucet. I ran out to tell Shee and she came in and tried to jiggle the faucet (i'm not sure what she thought she would accomplish, she's not a plumber.. :D) and then it just got worse. I was texting elders like mad trying to figure out what to do. There was a lot of water coming out fast. Well finally we found the main valve and got the water turned off. So then we had a broken bathroom. Luckily the caretaker of our house is on top of things and so they had a plumber over there the next day. All the houses are made of cement here, so to expose the pipes is a big job. So they just rigged this outside plumbing until they can really get in to get the job done. It works. You're standards tend to get lower when you're in the Philippines. I mean, I've been using a bucket to shower my whole mission, a few exposed pipes are nothing. So anyway, the APs came to look at the house. They think we have a big mold problem, like in the walls. I've been worried about that too and so was President, especially because everyone that comes to Victorias gets sick ALL the time. So we may have to start looking for a new house. It's a bummer because we LOVE our house, it's huge and nice, but if it's slowly killing us all, we may need a new place.

So yeah, that was our week. We didn't really get to do any work this week because of sickness and then hospital time. I'm a bit stressed about our area, but I know Heavenly Father is in charge and he will help us in the way that we need. I just need to trust that. He knows what's going on better than I do. Hopefully my companion just continues to get healthy and then we will just go out and bust our butts for the rest of the transfer. So please pray for us both that we will both stay healthy and find lots of new, quality investigators. We need all the help we can get.

I love you all, write me if you get a chance!!!

Sister Jackson
Shee and Jacks!!

Okay so the best and most awesome part of my week was most definitely that I got a new companion (of course I love my old companion... just for clarification) and she is American! And I LOVE HER. So she was totally one of the sisters I knew in the MTC and was one of my new sisters when I was coordinating sister in the MTC. I lover Sister Sheehan. We got along awesome and we have probably more fun than we should together and I love it. Of course you all know now that I am staying in Victorias for another transfer, but I'm totally fine with it. Obviously Heavenly Father has a plan for me that I just don't totally understand, and that is okay. I have things to do in this area and possibly for this companion that I need to be here for. So I'm just happy that Heavenly Father knows me best and I'm just trusting him. So happy day!

The other awesome news that was probably just as good as my new companion is that we had a baptism on Saturday! Yeah, it was awesome. And our recent convert Jeannette gave one of the talks and her husband, who has only been a member for a few weeks (but has already blessed the sacrament and paid his tithing) baptized Sister Myrna. It was so awesome. They are great fellowshippers and we are so grateful for them. The baptism was great and Sister Myrna was so happy. She had a wonderful experience. On Sunday she was confirmed and now she is a member! We have had some really great baptisms in this area. So of course I'm happy to be here. There are more people to find that are elect and ready!

So we had some crazy experiences this week. We were walking to an area that we wanted to go work in that day. We didn't have any specific appointments and were just going to try and find and also contact some less-actives. Well it's typhoon season here in the Philippines and so we have been having lots of storms. It started raining a little bit... then it started coming down like crazy. So we stopped to wait it out under this little overhang. Well we saw some kids playing volleyball in the street, in the rain. Well... I love Volleyball, and so does Sister Sheehan and so we joined the game! It was so much fun! We had such a great time playing with those kids. They loved it and were SOOOO cute. Then of course, with two white girls playing volleyball in the street, the entire neighborhood came outside to watch/video/take pictures of us... hahaha. I can only imagine what is all over Facebook now... haha. But we had a blast and I got a contact out of it, so it was worth it. We were a little damp for the rest of that day, but it was awesome.

Then the other day we were riding home on a tricycle to our house. I was backriding so I was talking to the trike driver. We were just talking about the weather. Then he starts telling me that is wife and his kids were baptized into the Mormon church. Everyone always wants to tell us how they are connected to the Mormons. So I was just asking their names when we got to the house. As I stepped off the back of the motorcycle the driver suddenly says something to me that I didn't quite hear, or at least I wasn't sure if I heard correctly. So I asked a clarifying question... Yeah, he definitely told me that his wife had run off to Manila with a guy and that if he ever saw her again he was going to kill her. He said it cool as a cucumber. I was shocked. So I tried to understand the situation a little better and then proceeded to get all missionary on him and tell him about how we are children of God and that if he kills another person then he would be committing a great sin. He said "I know sis, but I can't let it go, if I see her I will kill her". Then I told him that if he did that he would lose his soul. He laughed... Yeah... That was a weird experience. I tried to help him see that wasn't the best reaction to his anger, but ya know, he was pretty much already set. So we made a goal right there and then to try to avoid that tricycle driver ever again... yeah... Welcome to the Philippines... crazies everywhere!

So yeah, it's been a great week. Sister Sheehan had some stomach problems this week, so our work was a bit limited, but we had great fun getting to know each other better, so I was grateful for that. Anyway, I'm doing great. I love my mission. I always say that, but it's so true! Hope you're all doing awesome!

Sister Jackson