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