January 19, 2015

Leading out the Area

Hello Hello!
It is burning up in Iquitos-but we had such a great week! On Tuesday early morning I dropped off Hna Arone at the Offices and picked up my new companion Hermana Astete. She is 20, from Chile, and has 14 months in the mission. She was sister training leader before so I just pick her brain with all sorts of questions. She is so great--our personalities are very different, but it works really rather perfectly. Which is such a relief--our personalities just seem to complement each other perfectly!

This week was really fun as I am "in charge of the area." I feel like everything is solidifying--the language is really getting there (Hooray!!), And just as a missionary I feel like I am understanding how to work here in Iquitos with limited resources (I`m sure this will come in handy one day :) (Please excuse my horrible grammar--my brain is getting jumbled with Spanish)
Although it was transfers, we worked hard this week.  We taught over 50 lessons finding new investigators, setting baptismal dates, and reactivating members. Love it! This week we also got some sad news--the young family we`ve been teaching (Carmen and Jack) are leaving for Lima for 6 months while he goes through a training for his job (he works in the Marines). They came to church this past Sunday and really liked it. Jack grew up with a Catholic background so he had many questions afterwards. So sad that they are leaving--really just a family of gold. Just yesterday we taught they word of wisdom and they commited to living it! We will send their new address to the misisonaries in Lima and keep theire teaching record until they return in June. Hopefully I`ll be able to see them once more before I leave in  December.

Other than that we`ve been teaching two families. The Manihuari Family--Laura received a testimony of the Restoration this week!! And commited to getting baptized in the end of February. Working more with her partner Balmas to received the same testimony and so they can get married!
Life is good--it is busy, but busy is good! It is the way to live life in my opinion. Taught gospel principles yesterday to a full class on Obediencia--so fun to teach now :)

Love you all--You are always in my prayers!!
Hermana Jackson

Miracles and Blessings in the Jungle

Hello Hello!

Another great week here in the jungle--it really was a good week. It was the last week of this transfer, today is transfers. We`ll see what happens! I`ll let you know next week :)

Several weeks ago as we were walking back home after a long day of work a kid stopped us on the street. He told us that there was this lady that wanted us to come visit--we were totally skeptical but we wrote down the address and went to visit several days after. We found Hermana Josefa who is just a gem. And from Hermana Josefa we found a pool of investigators--a little family tree in a sense. Hermana Josefa (70) lost her site in her 40s--her partner took of when that happened. She was baptized in Pucallpa but when she moved to Iquitos it was difficult to find the church and go so she stopped--that is until we found her. She`s been coming to church ever since with her daughter Diana who is also a less active.
The first visit we had with Josefa her daughter Diana and grandaughter Carmen just so happened to show up right before we started the lesson. Both Joesfa and Diana are now activated in the church--they paid their tithing the second week of attendance (which is a miracle as the number of full tithe payers is so little right now in our ward--think less then 10).
We are currently teaching the daughter of Diana, Carmen and Jack her boyfriend. Carmen came to church yesterday--they both are reading. It is so fun to teach them as they read and have great questions!! We love intelligent people!
Yesterday at church the other son of Hermana Josefa, Nicolas (Less Active) and his spouse Angelica (investigator) came as well. It was like Christmas Morning to see this family grow in their church attendance and more importantly their commitment to the gospel. Sweet Josefa has started giving out her pamphelets to her neighbors since she personally can`t read them. We are getting so many references!!
It is miraculous to see all that has happened just from one boy who stopped us on the street. Yesterday we had a lesson with Josefa on Temples and Family History--this week we`re planning on filling out the My Family pamphelet with her so she can do her family history. Her sincere worry and concern for being able to go to the temple was so dear. We are going to make sure she gets there!
Overall this week has been so great--December was full of dead ends but this month and the end of this transfer has had our area just blossoming with people who want to learn about the gospel.

As we work I feel like I`m learning so much about myself as well--how to be more Christlike. Less critical, more understanding, to have more paciencia and be more humble (because Heaven knows that humility is a trait I`ve always needed to work on :) So glad to be here. So hoping I don`t leave my area so I can help this little family keep moving forward.

Love you all! You are always in my prayers.

Hermana Jackson

New Years in the Jungle

Dearest Family,

Happy New Year!! I hope that all is well as we get started again for another full year. This week was long and had some ups and downs but overall just fine.

We started on Tuesday with our Zone Council. We have this at the end of every month--we report our numbers and talk about them. They were dismal--And we were burned big time by our Zone Leaders. It was slightly comical as one of Leaders told us it wasn`t his responsibility to encourage us or motivate us--that we just need to do better. Oh Elders--it`s okay, we keep moving forward. Didn`t phase Hermana Arone and I as we had a good week in terms of our numbers.
This week we met new investigators and dropped those that don`t want to progress or hear more. We had one lesson with the Bishop, his counselor and this young couple we found through a Less Active member. It was great! Jack asked a ton of questions and commited to start reading the Book of Mormon.
New Years Eve and Day was a trip. There were parties all during the day and night--everyone was drunk. It was quite the sight to see. One of the pictures I sent you is one of a muñeca--or doll. For New Years Eve people make these dolls and fill them with old clothes and things. They then burn them at midnight as a symbol to start the new year. We saw all kinds of them lining up the streets--didn`t get to see them burn though as we were back at our home by 9 like usual.
We had dinner again with the Lage Family. We lit some sparklers, took some photos all while listening to EFY music--it was prime :)
That night was rough as our neighbors across the street through a booming party. The music was so loud and played all night until 8 in the morning the next day. It was ridiculous--no sleep was had for me that night.
New Years day was long and hot--and it ended poorly as I ate something the previous night that did not sit well with my stomach. Got a priesthood blessing and rested all day Friday. Everything is ok now! Back in action :)
Saturday was full with citas (appointments) and Sunday was great. I love attending church each week--after a week full of running back and forth from lessons to service to meetings, it is so nice to have 3 hours to start the week on a new note. We had a great Relief Society lesson on Charity. I love that organization--we got into different groups with about 7 or 8 in each group and shared our experiences that we`ve had with charity. The common theme was that through the gospel we have found the peace and love neccessary to carry on. It was very sweet as we all wept--very sweet spirit. I am finding that each one of us has a different load (like the talk by Elder Bednar 2 conferences ago). My load as a missionary is distinct from the the sisters that sat with me in the Relief Socitey Room. We all have individual loads--and although we can`t fully understand and comprehend the load we carry our Savior Jesus Christ knows and understands. We can help by bringing others closer to the Savior of Jesus Christ, bringing them to his gospel.
Anways that was my thought during that last hour of Relief Society--as you say Mom--power in the sisterhood :)

Well--another week is ahead of me. Love you all. I am doing well, I am healthy, I am sharing the gospel of Christ!

Hermana Jackson

Christmas in the Jungle

Dear Family,
I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to see all of your smiling faces on Christmas morning--the conversations of each one of you keeps running through my mind at different parts of the day. I feel so blessed to feel so much love and support from back home. It really does help me to just take it one day at a time and keep pressing forward.
After we skyped that morning Hermana Arone skyped with her family while I slept. We had lunch with our pensionista and then headed back to the Lage Family to have dinner and watch the best two years. We ended Christmas singing in the Plaza with all the missionaries from my Zone. It really was a great Christmas--it was very simple, but for me I it will always be one of my treasures in heaven. I will never forget it.
Other than Christmas we have been teaching our heads off. Each day we put on our bug spray, strap on our mission bags, grab our umbrellas and head out. Less Actives, Investigadors, Recent Converts--each day our planner is full of lessons. One memorable lesson was with Cristian (Less Active) and Liz (Investigator). They have 3 darling girls. I am so hoping the family progresses. We had a lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ--faith, repentance, baptism, and marriage as they are not yet married (no one here is married). I really like Liz-- I can tell that she is a strong woman. Very honest about her current situation in life. She wants to change, she wants to be happy. Her husband is a bit of a bum but has a willing heart. The Spirit was present as we testified of the power of the gospel and how it is the key to lasting happiness.

 As we left the appointment and walked to the next I started to think about the inner strength that I`ve seen in the women in my life and really the kind of woman I want to be. It`s not neccessarily strength that the world thinks of, rather it is a quiet dignity, a spiritual strength and power that we should seek after. The kind of strength that is the means of doing hard things. To have the courage to look and evaluate our lives honestly and make the neccessary changes to align our lives to the Teachings and Gospel of Jesus Christ.

On Sunday it rained which meant that many did not come to church. Almost none of our Recent Converts or Investigadors came to church--BUT we had two of Less Actives come. Hermana Josefa (60--blind since her 30s) and her Daughter Diana (40s). They are sharp with there knowledge of the gospel. And so dear. We found Hermana Josefa through a boy that came up to us on the street. He told us that there was a lady that wanted us to vist her. And from there we found her daughter Diana and from there we have begun to teach her two daughters. Love it when that happens!!
Anyways life is good. It is definitely a roller coaster but it is somehow worth. Although somedays it doesn`t always feel that way, I know that is is something for the Lord.

Love you all--Happy New Year! Wow 2015--where did the time go??
XOXO, Hermana Jackson

A Hot Christmas in the Jungle

Dearest family,

Another hot hot week here in Iquitos. It`s getting closer to Christmas, but there aren`t a whole lot going on so it doesn`t quite feel like it. It`s funny to see a lot of American Traditions transfer over here in Peru. We drink a lot of Hot Chocolate although it`s 90 degrees :)
This week we had the opportunity to go to the new "family history center." Two hermanas run the it--I would love love love to be assigned to this area. We were able to do some family history for Julio and look at our own family history. Such a good spirit as we tap into that spirit of Elijah! The family search website is so great--so easy to send names to the temple.
We continue to find, teach, and find some more! We taught a lesson in a motokar which was funny (it wasn`t driving--just chilling in the moto). We taught the Plan of Salvation to grace--very receptive. Everyone here is receptive and super friendly--we just hope that they will progress!!
On Saturday we had a full day of proselyting. We taught a cute young family. It was a great first lesson on the Restoration. Jack had a lot of questions. Carmen`s mom is member of the church and we could see that she wants to learn more as she attended church when she was younger. We will see!
Sunday was solid--we had quite a few Menos Activos at Church which was exciting. And we have a baptism date for Hermano fernando--his whole family are less active but they are returning to church and he is planning to get baptised!
This week has been a good one--I finally got the Conference Ensign. Those talks are gold--I hope you are all studying them!
love you so,
Hermana Jackson

Moving the work forward slowly and surely

Dearest Family,

Another hot hot week has come and gone. Nothing really new or exciting has happened--we are continuing to move the work forward slowly and surely. This week we started with a Family Home Evening with a Less Active Family: Familia Mozombite Lovera--we had the Primary President come and another member. It was a solid family home evening where we talked about the importance of family and then played some games. We received several references which was rad.
The rest of the week was spent contacting those references and visiting all of our Recent Converts. Although not many of them showed up to church we will continue to visit and evaluate!  The challenge here in Iquitos is that people say what you want them to and then they don`t show up, or they don`t follow through with the commitment. It can be sad and frustrating at times but I am learning patience and to just love people. The other challenge is that here families just don`t have problems--they have big problems. It`s hard to see so many broken families--but we know that really it`s the gospel that saves anything that is broken. Coming to Jesus Christ and having faith in him is the key.
These people are so loving. There are days when I`m just not feeling it--and then someone does or says something that just makes all the difference. It`s in these moments that I am reminded why I am here, I ask for forgiveness and then continue to do my best to have charity! Just this past week we visited a recent convert Flor and her daughter Rosita who has downs syndrome. We chatted, shared a lesson on faith in Jesus Christ and then had some Ecco before treking out in the rain. As we left I got a huge hug from Rosita--it was just what I needed. I am learning that the simple acts of kindness are the ones that make the difference!
I love you all--I hope you all enjoyed the Christmas Devotional. It was the highlight of my week. It was a little strange to see Christmas trees and such as it is currently 100 degrees and humid humid humid. Although my Christmas is going to be a little different--the message and meaning of Christmas is the same. Love you all!
Hermana Jackson

The Work Continues in the Jungle

Dearest Family!

Sorry I was skimpy on the details last week--this week has been much better!

Monday night we had a Family Home Evening with Hermano Jarry (ward secretary) and his less active family and another less active family. We talked about the importance of families and then watched that great and super cheesy movie Together Forever that the church produced over 30 years ago--people here just love it.

Tuesday and Wednesday were great days as we had a work visit with the Sister Leaders. One of the sister leaders stayed with me in my area and Hermana Arone went to another area. It was fun navigating our area on my own. It was just the boost of confidence I needed to end this transfer--my spanish is getting better and better and I feel more comfortable chatting with people and teaching lessons. And it was nice to have a companion that spoke English for 24 hours :)

My thanksgiving was spent in an all day Zone Conference--or I guess a multi zone conference. We received training from President and Sister Gomez as well as the asistants to the President. At the end as is tradition we bore our testimonies. I had my first Zone Conference my second day out in the mission field so it was fun to come again this time and to bear my testimony in Spanish with more of the language under my belt. I loved the training of one of the new asistants on effective planning. If we want to achieve more in our lives (and in my case as a missionary) we must plan more effectively--with more details/specifics. It was great.

Friday was a long day--by dinner time I was worn out and didn`t feel like working for those last 3 hours. I said a prayer asking the Lord for guidance and strength and boy is he looking out for me. In one of the devotionals we watched in the CCM Elder Holland said that as missionaries the way to recharge is to be out and about teaching and testifying of Christ. It is so true. We had a lesson with Julio--I just feel so much love for this old man!!! He received the Aaronic priesthood on Sunday and was just beaming. Really he is the perfect "investigator"--he always asks us to leave him assignments to read and is very attentive during the lessons. After we had a lesson with a recent convert Family--la familia Mozombite. We talked about the scriptures and the revelation and guidance we receive when we study daily. The spirit was very strong in that humble home--where the only light they have is by candles. They are such a dear family.

On Saturday morning we headed out in the pouring rain to walk 1 1/2 miles to our appointment. We were soaked within minutes. As we walked back home--still raining--after the various appointments that we had, my companion exclaimed ¡Somos Valientes! (We are Valient/Brave) We both started laughing as we continued to trek through the mud and rain, filled with gratitude to have this experience and sacrifice the things of the world to become more like our Savior Jesus Christ as we preach his gospel. In the December Ensign, Elder Uchtdorf spoke of the simple but profound life of Christ. Rather than hanging with the rich, he surrounded him self with the poor and humble. That struck a cord as I read as I felt that I am really learning to learn in such a unique way how the Savior felt. My life is very simple right now--crazy--but really we do the same things everyday. We exercise patience as we teach and teach and then no one shows up to church. It`s frustrating but I am learning through this process.

We also had a baptism!! Flor Mozombite age 21--very sweet. She has two girls. Good baptism--there is always a unique spirit during baptisms.

Sunday was great--I feel like the Barrio Secada is my little ward now. The Bishop gave a great lesson on tithing as very few are full tithe payers.
It was a full week and a good one.

Love you all to pieces!!
Hermana Jackson