Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day Phone Call!

We got to talk to Hank was so great!  He sounds real good.  We put him on speaker, and we all talked to him for several minutes, and then one at a time, someone took the phone out of the room and went and talked.  I'm glad he got to talk to each of his siblings.  And from the length of it...he got some good conversation time in with each of them.  Then John talked to him for awhile, and then me...and then before we knew it, it was time for him to go.  I don't think he wanted to hang up...but we had to let him go.  We put him on speaker one more time, everyone said their goodbyes, we had a good family moment, said goodbye all together..and he was gone.  Ok, so I shed a tear or two.  (But not until after we hung up).   I have no idea what he said to each of his siblings, but I know Hank enjoyed the connection to his family, and I know each of the kids enjoyed their individual time with him.  He is still struggling with homesickness...more than I realized.  But he says he's just dealing with it, and it's getting better with time.  Being in an apartment of four has really helped him, he said.  He said he feels lucky, in that out of his entire mission, there are only two areas where there are four in an apartment, all the other areas (60 total) are two in an apartment. 

Transfers are this week, but he found out he's staying in West Monroe again, but getting a new companion.  He's sad to see his companion, Elder B, go...but knows it's part of the mission.  Elder B has been great for Hank, and has really helped him adjust to the first few months on his mission. He knows how to work, and knows how and have fun and laugh.  And I think he knows how to work AND have fun at the same time.   (Elder Belden enjoys being a stand-up comedian back at home.  You can get a glimpse of him here on youtube).  His new companion served the first part of his mission in Brazil, but due to some health problems, had to come back to the states, and is finishing his mission in Hank's mission.  We'll hear from Hank next week, after transfers, so we'll know more about his companion then. 
The other two missionaries he rooms with, Elder H and Elder B are also making some changes.  Elder B is going to Monroe, and Elder H is staying.  Change is good, though, and this will be the first big change for Hank since he got to Mississippi/Louisiana. 

After we hung up with Hank, I went in to hang up the extension in our room, and the line was still open.  I could hear a woman with a strong southern accent talking to Hank and the other Elders...she was joking around, laughing...and I could hear Hank and others laughing.  I thought "Ok,...he's just fine.  He's with wonderful people."  I called Hank's name...just couldn't resist.  But they couldn't hear me, so I went ahead and hung up.  After a minute, I picked up the phone, and the line was dead.  I'm such a mom. 

Anyhow...Hank learned yesterday that on Holiday calls home, they can now use Skype, which is an internet video phone call.  But because they found out just the day before, they didn't know anyone who had Skype set up, so it didn't happen.  I'd heard rumors all week that some mission presidents were allowing it, but hadn't hear anyhing from Hank, so decided not to get my hopes up.  But if they can find someone who has Skype setup...he can use it on the Mother's Day call.  He's pretty excited about it...and so are we!

Dec. 20, 2010

...hey i read your letter, I'm glad you liked the tape. that's cool that you were able to hear the train in the background. its very relaxing to just sit outside and and talk to you guys. thank you so much for all the Christmas gifts and stuff and also the cactus jelly! ha ha thanks for getting that for me!
...and also you guys know what geocaching is?! i had no idea what it was until i got out here! its a fun thing to do on pday! i took alot of pictures in the next email ill send them to you!  i am really excited about that!
we haven't seen the V_____this week because alot of their family is over, so were going to try next week sometime. they are still our top people right now. during all the other time we are "member hunting" as we call it and fixing our ward directory or just following up on people that we run into on the streets. its not bad though, I'm glad to hear that you are all doing fine. i do get a little homesick once in a while, but these emails and the thought that I'm talking with you on Saturday makes it better. i look forward to talking with all of you on Saturday! thanks again for everything that you have done. i really do appreciate it all. well that's about it! Bye!
love hank
PS when i call its going to be sometime in the day, i don't know when yet. just keep an eye out for it!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dec. 13, 2010

Excerpt of Hank's email sent today.  I LOVE hearing from this guy!  It's why I look forward to Monday's more than ever.
....Thanks for your letters! I'm pretty excited for these packages coming in! I'm just curious. what did you get for B____, H____, and (this is how you spell his name) B____? haha! I'm sending home a package for you guys too! i hope you like it. i haven't heard from Jake yet actually. i wrote him last month but i haven't heard from him yet. oh thanks you again so much for the money to fix the bike. I'm sure the guy feels bad for us because we come in all the time to fix our bikes. my bike repair was worth around 60 dollers-ish but it only cost me around 30. i was pretty happy about it. that would be awesome if you just surprised me with Christmas presents. there is only like 1 thing that i actually want. ...some cactus jelly? i know that sounds really strange, but could you send a few jars of cactus jelly. I'll explain on Christmas more about this, haha.
...well that's about it. now I'm going to update you on the V____. well it didn't really go well this week with them. we taught the "stop smoking lesson" and it didn't go well. he told us that hes never going to stop smoking, but he said it in a nice way. he still wants us to come over and stuff and they come to church still. so that's whats going on. they are like our only people right now that we visit regularly. well I'm sending a tape home and its going to explain alot more stuff. that's why this letter is a little short today. so you guys should look for a tape in the mail in the next few days. anyway thanks for your letters again! bye!
love hank
PS its good to hear about Tanner. i remember the last time i saw Austin Dewitt, I was at Cinemark working at the midnight showing of Live Free Or Die Hard and he came in and i sold him his food. anyway i don't know if i ever told you that.
Hank's Zone Conference in Shreveport, LA.  Nov. 29  2010.  (He's on back row, 2nd from left.) 
Eating lunch at Zone Conference.  I love even getting a glimpse of him!  These pictures came off his Mission President's blog, and I copied them on to here.  I'll take any pictures I can of him!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dec 6, 2010

Excerpt of this week's letter, dated Dec. 6, 2010
hey mom!
thanks for your letters again! nothing has happened much since i last wrote you on Wednesday. we just did the same type of stuff and taught lessons to people. oh with the V____ things are going well. we were teaching the word of wisdom and then we discovered that he smokes. so were going to have another appointment with him this week. things are still looking good with them. that was like the biggest thing that happened this week....
....Shreveport was pretty cool, it was bigger than Monroe and nicer. I'm actually going to be in Monroe today because I'm doing exchanges today with the Monroe people again. ill be in Monroe until Wednesday afternoon.
....I'm so glad to hear that aj is going to the school dances! and that he is actually enjoying them! after i got out of high school my biggest regret of high school was not going to any of the dances. I'm glad aj is not doing what i did.
.....well that's about it so far, I'm going to write a letter back home this week-ish with a tape. anyway I'm looking forward to actually talking with you on Christmas! thanks for the letters! Bye!
love hank 
Part of email to John:
hey dad!
 ....thanks for all these updates, i really do love reading them. Its crazy that Caleb is already leaving! When does he get to Columbia? For our zone conference in Shreveport we had to drive around 100 miles there and 100 miles back.It did count towards our miles for the month. we had to save a lot of miles this month for that reason. well i didn't tell mom this i forgot so you can tell her, but this week I've been sick. I'm just coming out of it now and I'm glad too. this week should be better. i look forward to talking with all of you on Christmas, thanks for the letters and write back soon. bye!
love hank

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dec 1, 2010

Hank had a zone conference in Shreveport, LA this past Monday, so his p-day was today instead.  Here's part of the emails we got from him today:
Hey Mom! 
Ahhh, its been an exhausting week! our last p-day was last Monday, so we had and extra long week. but on the bright side we have another p-day close by so that's going to be cool. not much has happened this week, other than thanksgiving. on thanksgiving we went to 2 families for lunch and dinner. we went to the B___ house for lunch and ate their thanksgiving lunch. their dinner was pretty much the same type of dinner but they cooked a lot of sweet potatoes! Dinner was a little different, we had the same basic stuff but the turkey was deep fried! deep fried turkey. it was pretty good but it was a little overcooked. And that's all we did on thanksgiving. the rest of the week we didn't do much because everybody is out of town. on Monday we went to Shreveport and went to zone conference. let me tell you, zone conference is LONG, haha! we started at 10am and it went till 4pm! oh and i said the opening prayer. the main thing that the zone leaders and president were saying is that they want 42 baptisms in the month of December. speaking of December, today is December 1st! i get to call home in 24 days! I'm pretty excited and I'm sure you guys are probably too. I'm actually going to send home a package to you guys, but you cant open it until Christmas! its a Christmas present. i hope you like it.
....oh last week we went to a service project in the morning and their was THICK fog! you couldn't see 20 feet past you! it was awesome! i took a ton of pictures of it! anyway it rains alot also, but that's a good thing. i enjoy the day alot more when its raining outside. well i hope you had a good thanksgiving it sounds like you did. and thanks for reed address I'm definitely going to write him.
.. ill write back soon, and ill write a letter if i forgot to put anything in here. I'm glad to hear that things are going good. well that's been about it. i cant wait for your next email on Monday! Bye!
love hank
Part of the email to John: 
hey dad,
hey I'm finally able to write back now! I've been looking forward to these emails. I'm glad to hear that you all had a good thanksgiving....thanksgiving was good, i felt a little homesick though this week, but emails home and knowing that i get to call you on Christmas makes it better.
... well most of the stuff i wrote is in moms letter....
...I'm glad that your game went good! anyway ill write back on Monday! Bye!
love Hank 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nov 22, 2010

Hey mom!
this week has been crazy. I'll tell you about it but first I'm going to answer some questions. i got your Thanksgiving package! it was pretty awesome there was a lot of food and stuff in it. I'm definitely going to be eating all of it over the course of this next week. I'm glad to hear that your having thanksgiving with the Renteria's. its always fun when they come over. I still don't really know what I'm doing. were going over to members homes i think and eating. oh that member family i told you about who was from Gilbert and the mom went to Westwood, i don't know there names. i met them when i was on exchange in Monroe. I was there for a day and a a half, and i forgot there names. sorry. about the Christmas tree, you don't need to send one ha ha! were all thinking about buying a cheap 20 dollar tree to put in our apartment. I'm also looking forward to Christmas, to calling you.i still don't know how this phone call is going to work out. i think were going to a members house to make the call. sometime in December I'm going to send a Christmas package to you guys. i think youl like it.
...Also this week my bike broke again! Ahh! so i have to take it into the bike shop and get it fixed. but i wont be able to do it this week because of money. next week we get "paid" again so I'm taking it in then. on the 29th we have zone conference again and this time its in Shreveport! I'm pretty excited to go to Shreveport! were only there for a day though. oh on a side note, last night we were at a members house and the amazing race was on. i was like, i bet my family is watching this right now. they were like in India or Brazil or something. anyway it was just cool thinking that "somewhere out there my family is watching this exact same thing" ha ha! anyway i just thought i would mention that. so ya that's been my week, write back soon and thanks for the packages! Bye!
love hank
PS tell aj to email me back haha

Part of letter to John:
Hey I just got your letter. the familiy that we are teaching are not from arizona. the people i met who were from arizona is a completly diffrent family. hes from new mexico and shes from texas. hes not a member and she is. its going really good. they came to church twice now and things are looking good. they have 3 kids and the oldest is 3. shes pregnant with her fourth right now.
about the harry potter movies. i heard that part 1 was really good. im going to definantly see it when i get back. so megamind was good? i was at the comic con panels for both harry potter and megamind and i wanted to see them both. how was it?
this week i also, my bike got busted again. i dont know how it happened. im taking it into the bike shop next week when we get "paid" again. ive only had the bike for a month and a half and i already have to fix it twice. anyway thats been about it, moms letter is my big detailed letter to the familiy, so theres alot more info about my week in there. bye!
love hank


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nov. 16, 2010

Hank's emails for the week...this one came to me:
Hey mom!
I just got read your email! let me first update you for whats going on. transfers were this week. sorry i forgot to mention to you that they were coming up. all four of us are staying in west monroe again. the next transfer day is december 28th. so that means that were all staying for the holidays! i get to call on christmas so thats going to be pretty exciting. anyway this week was pretty good. the familiy that were teaching their names are Josh and Sandra Valencia. Sandra is a memebr but Josh isnt. we tought him the 1st and 2nd lessons. then we got a baptisimal date for him. so things are going good with them. they are our top investigators right now. the rest of the time was just trying to figure out what to do.
so your freaking out because of carbon monoxide poisioning! haha, thats prety funny! you can send the detector thing if you want, ill use it. i know it will proboly make you feel better! well i got only 1 letter this week by mail. it was from the bishopric. i think that the rest of the letters are being held up at the mission home. my companions tell me that they do that sometimes. when we get our mail we have like a ton of letters. 
oh this week we went to waffle house for the first time in my life! i actually really enjoyed it! we ate waffles and hamburgers! 
so thats pretty much it. seriously not alot of thigs happened this week. thats been abput it. next week is thanksgiving and i dont know what were doing. oh and the reason why im writing today and not yesterday is because transfer day is pday. and today is transfer day. so yah ill write back on monday! thanks for all the letters and write back soon! and tell aj to email me back! bye!
love hank
This one came to John:
Hey Dad!
hey sorry i didnt write yesterday. its because yesterday wasnt pday, today is. on transfer days are the pdays for that week. i cant belive that great grandma jackson is 98! i wonder if shel make it to 100! thanks for keeping me updated. and also im so glad that you made the sale! i was a little nervous as if you were actually going to make it or not. so this media refferal is really good. its Josh and Sandra Valencia. Sandra is a member and Josh is not. we taught the first 2 lessons and then i extended a baptisimal date. i was so nervous to ask but he accepted so its all good. thats pretty much what's been going on with them.
.....anyay thanks for writing, hopfully on monday i can write a longer letter. oh and i got the bishopric letter, it made me feel good that you wrote somthing in it. anyway ill write back on monday! thanks bye!
love hank

And then I got this one from Hank as a P.S.  (I had written him, and told him that our dog, Juliet, has lost about 15 pounds since Hank left.  She's either sick, or it's because Hank isn't here to sneak her food anymore!  We actually think it's Hank not feeding her junk food anymore!  --I'll take her in to the vet just in case-- So this is in response to that....)

hey! i read this is funny! i only fed her a little bit i promise! haha, im glad to know that shes losing weigh though!

Monday, November 8, 2010


Hank sent us his SD card today to download his pictures.  He is such a funny guy!  There were 208 pictures on the card, from the MTC up to last week, and in the letter, he included a list of every single picture, and a description of them.  It was six and 1/2 pages of descriptions!  And apparantly I'm very predictable.  I decided to download the pictures on our computer, and caption each picture with Hank's description.  I just thought it would be a great way to document his words.  Jonna came in as I was working on it, and said "I called it, Mom!  I called it!!"  I had no idea what she was talking about, and then she went on to explain that when she got home from work, John was home, and had shown Jonna Hank's six and 1/2 page list of photo descriptions.  Apparantly Jonna told John "What do you want to bet that when mom gets home, she spends the afternoon putting in every single description on the computer???"  Ok, so I'm predictable.  

 The following captions are exactly as Hank described. 
Me and Elder Clark (MTC Companion)

My district at Temple.  (MTC)

The exact same bunkbed I had at home. (Mission Home- first night in Mississippi)
Me about to go to bed in Mission Home.

A lake that becomes a swamp.  (Lisa's Note:  I LOVE this picture- taken in Louisiana)

A street we tracted on.


Grass next to freeway.  Crazy!!  (Only from an Arizonian!)

Me with clock at 10:10 PM.  (It was 10/10/10 at 10:10 PM)

Elder Belden really happy about 10:10 PM

Micky Mouse Ave.  I thought of Jonna when I saw this so I took a picture.

The bike trail by Ouchita River. 

The bridge opened up.

West Monroe tap water.  You can see the color difference against a white background.

A road we were tracting.

Cow tongue.  You can see the taste buds on it.

Elder Belden at the Ouchita River.

Me and Elder Boliander holding the damaged part on our bikes.  (Their bikes were damaged when the bike rack broke off the back of their car while driving, and fell onto the road).

On our way to Bro. Clark's house.

Nov. 8, 2010

Part of the email we got from Hank today, and we also got a letter in the mail today, with his SD card.  I decided to write a little part of his hand-written letter in this post as well.  Not the entire letter, just one paragraph that I thought was neat. 

Part of the E-mail written Nov. 8, 2010:
Hey mom!
"....My Sunday went pretty good, it was a normal testimony meeting, but something happened that I've never seen before.  Right when they said, "the time is now yours" this lady stood up in the congregation and bore her testimony. It's not a big deal but I'm just not used to that. I get why this is called the bible belt now. I'm not even kidding there is literally a church on every street! there is this HUGE first baptist church that i want to get a picture of! this baptist church is about as big as 2-3 of our stake centers put together! I'm not even kidding! By our apartment there are about 4 churches standing right next to each other. There's the Pentecostal church building, then the Baptist church building, then the Methodist church building, then 1 more I forgot what its called. its crazy! And we have like 1 tiny building in west Monroe. the ward roster still needs to be fixed and we slowly are updating it better. but it has a long way to go. Monroe is literally right next to West Monroe. It's divided by the Ouchita river. its like mesa and Tempe. there almost the same city. i sent a letter in the mail with my SD card a few days ago, did you get it yet? I talked about me and Renshaw during the splits. and also i have a ton of pictures. There's another paper in there with numbers and descriptions. they talk a little about each picture i took. and they're in order, so i hope you all understand how to use it, haha.

....The only thing that happened this week is a media referral that we got that went great! there is this couple... they have 3 kids. The oldest is 3 and she is pregnant with her 4th. The husband is not a member but she is. They just moved from Texas. We taught the 1st lesson and it went great! This week were going over again. They're our top investigators right now. That been pretty much it. i know that there are a few more things that i haven't answered yet, sorry. just ask them again and ill answer them haha. well im glad to hear that things are going well back home.... ill let you know what I'm doing as Thanksgiving gets closer. thanks for writing and write back soon! bye!
love hank

Part of the Letter received Nov. 8, 2010 in the mail:
Hey family! What's up?!  Hey, sorry my letters were all short on Monday.  All of my companions were in a hurry so I had to rush.  Sorry I didn't write back Jonna and Jeri!  I'm going to hopefully write you all back on Monday again. 

This week has been cool for the most part.  I went on exchange with Renshaw and we were in Monroe.  We taught 2 lessons that we feel went pretty good.  But then it got all dark and stormy so we decided to go visit members in the far side of Monroe.  None of the members could visit.....

...Dinner went great!  The dad at the appointment (I forgot his name) grew up in Gilbert and his mom went to Westwood!  It was cool talking to someone about that.  After dinner we headed back home, and then the exchange ended the next morning.

...It's going great out here, and I'll write you back on Monday!  Bye! 
Love, Hank

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Nov. 1. 2010

Excerpt of email from Hank.  He has also been writing a lot of hand-written letters each week.  I haven't been putting his hand-written letters on the blog, it takes a lot of time to do.  In this excerpt he's answering some of my questions, about what his days are like, what his ward is like.  It sounds like what a big part of what their work entails, is finding and re-connecting with members who have lost touch, re-activating, etc.  He also has written about some of the things they've done on their P-Days.  He and his companion and the other Elders have taken their bikes onto some trails along the river, and have seen some beautiful country.  Hank loves it!   After he sends his SD card, I'll post some more pictures.
" I'm actually going on exchange with Elder Renshaw for today and tomorrow.  I come back Wednesday. I'm going to be in Monroe, Louisiana for the next 2 days....oh i got your letters last week! some of those rim pictures are actually pretty scary, i surprised none got hurt. oh and about our ward not a lot of people come. I counted yesterday to see how many people actually came. about 60- 70 people came. and the ward boundaries covers 3-4 cities. there really isn't that big of a youth program. The majority of the ward is adults and little kids. There's not a lot of youth."
love hank
PS sorry this letter is so short, my companions are all done writing and want to leave. ill write back alot more in hand letters.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Excerpt from Oct 25, 2010 email home.

"hey mom!
this week has also been a pretty uneventful week also. not much has happened. on my regular days me and my companion usually just go try and meet some of the members. but a lot of them don't answer the phone and don't answer the door. we have a ward roster that we use to try and update. the roster is so outdated. anyway we spent a whole day inputting all the addresses on my companions GPS so that on the map the members homes would appear as blue dots. we usually spend the nights driving around to some random blue dots on the GPS to meet a member. so we drive up to this one house at like 7 o'clock at nigh in the woods. we go up to the house and knock. the lady opens the door and were like, "hey are you sister ______?" and she says, "not anymore I'm divorced and no longer a member." were like OK. we need to get an updated roster. about 25 people on our roster we can't visit because they're mad at the church, and another 20 people on the roster moved somewhere. and about 50% of the rest of the people live really far. the west Monroe ward boundaries covers: west Monroe, Calhoun, Eros, Downsville, and one more other city that i forgot the name of. We're allowed to go to these places but it eats up our gas whenever we drive out there. yesterday we had dinner at bishop Dixon's. he lives in Calhoun. we asked him to come pick us up, because were almost out of miles on our car. (miles on the car is something like this: we get 950 miles to drive a month. if we drive more than 950 miles in a month we get in trouble). so anyway it was good, we had like a chicken casserole. but then he pulled out hot peppers and it ended up being "who can eat the hot peppers". the peppers were actually hot, but not the hottest I've ever eaten, haha. so anyway this is what usually happens on our regular days.
" it sounds like that things are going good back home.

"...Halloween is coming up. Halloween is obviously one of my favorite holidays too. i was wondering what you guys were going to be doing for it. its on a Sunday this year so i don't know what you will do. anyway I'm still looking forward to it even though its on Sunday and we are just going to be inside all day. oh and speaking of Sundays, ill tell you what we do on Sundays. we wake up and go o church. I've already told you that the building is small, theres not alot of people who attend church. then after church we try to go home teaching with someone, but so far no one was able to yet. so then we go to the apartment and make calls until around 5 for dinner. if we have a dinner appointment we go to it. if not we go to the sapps downstairs. they enjoy living underneath the missionaries.
." that's about it.
.....thanks for writing and keep writing! bye! oh and happy birthday on Wednesday!
love hank"

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mississippi Jackson Blog

As I was re-reading a letter from Hank's Mission President that he sent to us just after Hank arrived in Mississippi, I realized that Pres. Tucker keeps a blog.  Here is the link to the day that Hank arrived.  Just kind of fun to see pictures of his lunch on the day he arrived, as well as a few other pictures. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Email from Hank today- he didn't get our tape!

Another excerpt from an email we got from Hank today.  We are getting emails once a week, and also letters during the week from him.  He sounds SO good, and really loves it there.  We sent him a mini cassette tape last week, full of all kinds of crazy stuff we do at home.  We took it with us when we took our dog Juliet for a walk, Jeri sang a couple of songs, Jonna gave him some great older sister advice, Carla and Addie would randomly say something hilarious...and on and on.  We knew Hank would really get a kick out of it...and he was looking forward to getting it.  I mailed it out last week, and you can see in his email, he didn't get it.  Dang!  Have it do it all over again now.  And be very careful how I mail it next time.
"Oct 18, 2010
OK i need to start out first by saying that i got your letter in the mail. i got the sd card, but something terrible happened. when i got your letter there was a rip in the side and the tape was not in there. I am seriously so bummed that the tape didn't go through. i don't know what happened, if it just fell out or if they physically took it out. but i didn't get the tape. but i did get the sd card and letter. I'm going to send it back as soon as i can. i even made a photo description list that explains the pictures. so look for that in the mail. I'm glad to hear that Carla liked my happy birthday letter, i just thought that she would like that. things are going good here today. pdays are always good, we think about 2 days before what would be a fun thing to do on pday. today they wanted to go to a music store and play with the instruments. so that  should be good.
....on all the other days we just make appointments and tract a bit. i haven't started a lesson yet, but my companion does. he usually starts them, then sometime in the middle of the lesson i just kind of but in. the people here are nice for the most part. when they say there not interested, they do it in a nice way. i have met more nice people down here so far.
.....oh the bike trail that we went on is cool! i took alot of pictures, i cant send some today in email because i left the picture transfer thing back at the apartment. so sorry about that. the river is so cool. 2 days ago we went back around 7 in the morning and the bridge opened up to let a boat pass through. just like in the movies! i have never seen this! i took pictures of the bridge opened up. you'll see it when i send it to you. and also the houses down here are very worn down. i cant even explain as to how some of them look. it really is surprising though as to what these people live in sometimes.
....its starting to cool down and its really nice here. the night time down here is my favorite. it gets so nice and cool and stuff. at my apartment the people who live below us are members and we go there alot to eat and stuff. and the people below us and to the right know us to. they talk to us alot. they are non members. ...all the people who live around us are cool people though and really like us. we talk to them all the time. anyway not much has happened. ill write back in hand letters and next email bye!
love hank"

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pictures from his friend, Elder Jacob Clanton

I love this.  Hank is always trying to frown, but the camera caught him laughing.  I love it.
Hank and Jacob Clanton, a young man in our stake, have been friends the past few years.  They've known each other since they were in elementary school, but in the past few years, they became real good friends.  They both are "movie buffs", and have been working on a screenplay together for the past few years.  Jake was called to a mission in Paraguay, and left the beginning of August.  So ironically, when Hank arrived in the MTC on Sept 15, Jake had 3 weeks left before he left the MTC for Paraguay.  They wound up leaving the same day for their missions, on Oct 4.  They had a few opportunities to see each other in the MTC, and Hank loved it when they ran into each other.  In fact, he got to see him for a few minutes on his first day in the MTC...which really helped Hank with the whole "newness" of everything.  Anyhow, we got a letter from Jake yesterday, he sent it to us just before he left the MTC.  I'm so glad he sent these pictures of them!  He sent a nice note with it, and asked for Hank's address.  So glad those two are going to stay in touch.  I'm so happy for these two young men, and glad they are where they are right now.   Different parts of the world, but on the same mission:  To proclaim the gospel. 

Pictures of Hank's first day in Mississippi (Oct 4, 2010)

Pres. and Sister Tucker and Elder Jackson on Oct 4, 2010.
We just got a nice letter from Pres. and Sis. Tucker, along with a picture of Hank with them, and with the other 11 missionaries who flew in to Jackson together.  Pres. Tucker also gave us Hank's new address in Louisiana, so if you want it, click here to get it. Pres. Tucker said some wonderful things, things that any parent would love to read. 
Hank's traveling companions to Mississippi on Oct 4.  All new missionaries!  The next day they were assigned to areas all over their mission. 

I did get a quick note from Hank last night, and this is what it said:

"ok i haven't read your emails yet beause im not allowed to on non pdays :( but im alowed to email you now to ask you if you sent the money yet on my card. i need it fast because i need a bike. so anyway yah. ill read them on monday which is my pday. but i need you to send the money asap. sorry if its short notice. thanks, bye!
love hank "

Within a minute we got this: 
"sorry, i forgot to tell you. can you put it in my checking account? thanks again!
love hank"

Looks like he'll be on a bike!  Love it.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hank is in Louisiana!

An excerpt of his letter today!  I had to laugh at one comment he made, I underlined and put it in italics below.  You can tell we're from Arizona! 
hey mom
its been crazy being here right now. after i hung up the phone we got on the plane and took off for jackson mississippi airport. it was crazy to see how the landscape just got greener and greener. we landed at seriously one of the smallest airports i have ever seen. it is very small. even the airplane we were in was tiny! anyway we got out of the airplane and and president tucker was there to greet all of us. he seemed very happy that we fianlly arived. we then rode in a car with him to the church building. it was very small. on the way there i was just looking out the window seeing how different it was from arizona and utah. its was green and there are trees everywhere! we went to the church building and ate lunch and talked. then we went with a missionary by ourselves to go tracting in an area of their choice, for practice. i went with elder renshaw and we went to a trailer park. we were there for about  1-2 hours before the lady who owned the trailer park kicked us out because we were "soliciting". yah she got pretty mad at us and told us we were going to hell for "lying". anyway i took a picture next to the sign that said "no soliciting".

then we went back to the building and rode back to the mission home. this place is really awesome and feels so different. its very green and the roads are differsnt and there's actually water under the bridges we drive over. anyway that night we had a devotinal and then went to bed. there was a lady there who said that she had been talking to you through email and told me that you said hi. then we went to bed. when i woke up we got assigned to our first areas. im actually already here and have been here since yesterday. so i will tell you where i am and will be for the next 6 weeks. I assigned to West Monroe, Louisiana. I have been here since yesterday afternoon. my companion is Elder Belden. he is cool and i get along with him great. .. hes been here a year and from Michigan.
. going to be honest, the apartment we are in is kindof gross haha! theres alot of cockroaches and stains everywhere! but oh well. we share it with 2 other missionaries, elder higgens and elder bolander, they cover the northern part of west monroe, and we cover the southern part of west monroe but we got to each others areas occasionaly.
...After that we went to have dinner with an investigator with all four of us. we went to Logans Roadhouse! i had no idea that they had those out here! we stayed there for about an hour then we said goodbye and drove back to our apartment. we then pklanned for the next day and went to bed. we woke up and got ready. i took a shower and got dressed. me and my companion then went to go visit someone, when all of the sudden someone called us to go visit a member who just went to the hospital for bleeding in the brain. we drove to St. Francis hospital in Monroe Louisiana (look it up if you want) to go visit them. we were there arount 11 o clock in the morning and werent able to visit until 12:30.
So we ate food and waited until we could. when we fianally got in we talked with him. his name is tom henry. we talked with him and his familiy for about an hour and then we gave him a blessing. i was so nervous. i just did the anoiting. but my companion said i did good. we were there for until like 2.
then we drove back to the apartment to use the bathroom and left to go to the library. Thats where i am right now, im using one of the library computers. anyway the people here are cool, and everyone has a southern accent. its awesome to hear everyone talk like that. anyway its very green here and it definantly does not feel like arizona. im actaully surpised at some of the houses the people live in. alot of them are very worn down and look like nobady lives there. ill take more pictures anyway its great here and really wish that you guys could see it. ive never seen anyplace like this, and i like it. anyway enjoy the pictures i took.
love Hank

Monday, October 4, 2010

Letter from a woman I met on Missionary Moms!

I joined Missionary Moms, a sort of connection thing to other moms who have children on missions.  (They also have dads connecting with dads).  Much like Facebook, when you first join, you get tons of emails at first, and then they trickle off.  And then the few that you want to connect with sort of filter through.  This woman I met online a few weeks ago has a son in Brazil, but she lives in Mississippi and works at the Mission Home.  She said she was going to to airport the day Hank flew in, and asked if she could pass a message on to him.  I couldn't think of anything else to say, but that I loved him and was so grateful he was doing this.  If I'd really thought about it, I should have done what a friend of mine suggested, which is to tell her a story about Hank that only we know, and have her tell Hank the story, and have him wonder how in the world he knew the story!  Oh well...

Anyhow, this is part of the email I got from her tonight.
"Hey Lisa, 'I just got in from the mission home.  I met your Elder Jackson.  I told him you said hello and that you love him.  He smiled.  He was tired as were the rest of the missionaries that came in with him.  There were 12 all total.  Half of them were real quiet and the other half were quite talkative.  Elder Jackson was quiet.  I don't know if he quite knew how to take me LOL.  He is great though.  I'm not sure of all the particulars once they are picked up at the airport by President and Sister Tucker.  I think they go to the Brandon, MS Ward for lunch and then I'm not sure what they do for the afternoon, but then they come to the mission home in Jackson, MS for dinner.  They spend the night and then tomorrow they are taken to their first area.  I'm not exactly sure when they meet their companions.  I think it's tomorrow.  'I think once Elder Jackson gets to work, he will do just fine here.  I'm so glad that you got to have a short and sweet conversation with him this morning.  I'm glad I got to meet him and give him your message.  I hope it made his day to know that you had one last message for him today.  
After dinner they went outside and took pictures so be on the lookout for one of them :)  ...

'...The South loves their missionaries and we take very good care of them.  I hope this puts on your mind at ease somewhat. "

 I am so grateful she took the time to write.  Just completely made my day! 

Hank called from the airport this morning!

At 4:31 this morning the phone rang, and we knew it was Hank calling from SLC airport, as he was getting ready to board his plane, heading to Mississippi.  The kids all scrambled into our room, they were determined to be a part of the conversation, so as quickly as we could, everyone took a turn to say hi to him.   (I've NEVER seen any of my kids move that fast at 4:30 in the morning! Loved it!) The phone call only lasted 9 minutes, as they were getting ready to board.  But Hank sounded GREAT, and although a bit nervous about this next phase, he was more than ready to go.  I was sad it was such a rushed conversation...but expected it to be short, especially when he said they'd be boarding any minute.  He asked us if we were going to track his flight to Dallas on the computer, and we assured him we would.  I went in, logged in his flight number, then went back to bed for another hour or so.  When we got up at 6:15, he was over Colorado Springs.  I love flight tracking!  It's pretty neat.  By the time we got all the kids off to school, he had landed in Dallas.  John left to take A.J. and Addie to school, and I was getting ready to walk out the door with Jonna to work, when the phone rang.  It was Hank again!  This time, we had about 15 minutes to talk, and John got home in time to talk with him too.  Jonna on one extension, I on another, and John on the other. He said "thank you" many times, for the letters, packages, and keeping in touch.  I don't think I've ever heard him say thank you so much.  He sounded enthusiastic, a little nervous, but ready to get out there.  We talked until they called him to board, and expressed our love to him, said "Bye Hank.  We'll talk at Christmas!", and that was that.  Just like that...he wasn't there anymore.  I was a few minutes late to work, but I didn't care.  I wouldn't have missed this conversation for the world, and was grateful I was home when he called.

John texted me at work later, said he'd landed at 12:07 Mississippi time to beautiful 62 degree weather!  Pres. and Sis. Tucker (his mission pres.) were planning on picking him up at the airport, as well as the other 11 missionaries going to Jackson. 

One fun story Hank shared, was that there was a 13th missionary traveling with them just to Dallas.  He is from Tahiti, and only speaks French.  He was going to West Indies on his mission.  All the way to SLC airport in the shuttle, Hank sat in the back seat with this Elder, and they attempted to communicate.  (Hank took French all through high school).  He said he loved it.  And then on the plane to Dallas, they tried to continue to communicate.  They said goodbye to him in Dallas, and this Elder headed on to West Indies, and the rest of the 12 missionaries boarded for Jackson.  So that's the update.  We know he landed safely, and can only imagine he's had a very eventful day, and is probably exhausted.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Surprise text this morning! (not from Hank)

I woke up this morning to find a text that had been sent to me last night about 11:00 PM.  I didn't recognize the number, but saw it was an 801 area code, and figured it was from my sister in law, Karron.  I opened it up to find the following picture attached:
I LOVE it!  When I saw Hank was holding a package, I knew it had to have been Karron.  She'd mentioned that she was going to drop a package off for Hank yesterday...but then was puzzled how she had managed to get to actually see him.  I called her right after getting the text, and she said she hoped we'd gotten a picture.  It wasn't from her, though.  There is a man who works at the MTC that is a friend of her and her husband's, a former mission president, who loves to hand deliver packages to missionaries for families.  He also loves to take their picture, and send the picture to the families, so Karron gave him our cell phone in case he had a chance to take Hank's picture.  The caption underneath said: "Look at this good missionary!  He seems to be doing well!"  Made my DAY!!  I texted this man back (don't even know his name!) and thanked him, and he was so great, texted back, and said he was happy to help out the Jacksons. 

So here is Hank in the MTC.  Karron loaded the package full with snacks and treats.  She is a gem, and I couldn't thank her enough this morning!  What a great way to make him smile...and make us smile too!

Monday, September 27, 2010

He flies out to Mississippi one week from today!

And just like that, Hank's only one week from heading out to Mississippi.  He is SO excited and ready to get out there.  I'm so glad.  Got a letter from him today, and he said he's trying to write more hand written letters.  He has expressed many, many times, both on email, and in letters, that he loves the letters. I wonder if we've spoiled him...I think he's gotten a letter from someone everyday, except for Sundays.  It's so easy to do with, which, while in the MTC anyhow, you can send off a letter, and it'll be delivered by noon the following day, no charge.  It's been a great way to help him feel connected, and I think it's helped him with his homesickness.  Now...once he gets to'll be a different story.  But we'll do our best to stay connected with him, while at the same time, allowing him space to grow, and focus on his purpose out there. 

Doesn't sound so homesick anymore...!

Another excerpt from an email we got from Hank last Friday. I get a kick out of all his "haha"s.  He hasn't mentioned being homesick, so I think he's doing better.
Sept. 24, 2010
...hey im writing back today! Fridays are my P-day. but i think that will change by the time i get to mississippi. Maybe my P-day will change. I got all your letters and really appreiciate them. please write back more. Today ive just been writing alot! ive been writing to my friends and familiy. after im done Emailing Im going to write again to more of my friends. Anyway Thanks for the letters that youve been sending me. today we went to the temple, it was cool i guess haha. but i had no idea that there was a cafeteria in the temple! the food there is so good! its way better than the MTC food.
...Oh, and yah ive seen Jake quite a bit now. But we only have like 15 minuts to talk at a time. 
...well i got carlas illustration of me, that was great! please tell everybody to write letters. Oh and the package you sent, what did you put in it? haha im very excited for it! when should i expect it? well im looking forward to it. im still trying to get better at writing hand written letters, they wear my hand out. anyway thanks again for all the letters, Keep writing, haha! im going to write a handwritten letter home right after i send this one so you should be expcting a letter soon. anyway thats about it, bye!
love hank

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Jackpot! Four letters from Hank today!

We got four letters from Hank today, each addressed to someone.  Jonna got a letter, "The Family", Jeri, Addie & Carla got a letter, and then one to me. I can't tell you how happy I was to get them.  I would transcribe them on here...but there are so many of them, and they were sweet and personal.  He sounds great.  He is still very homesick, but talks about working through it.  I think just talking about it, and admitting that he's having a hard time with it, is huge for Hank.  He is usually so private about stuff like that, but mentioned it not only in the letter to me, but to his sisters, and in his email last week.  He also spoke of another new missionary who has a case of homesickness worse than Hank, and who cries not only at night, but in the middle of the day sometimes.  Hank feels bad for this young man, but feels that it will get better for him.  This is something about Hank that most people don't know about him...he has a lot of compassion towards others who have it worse than he does.  Hank said "I was feeling bad about myself, about my homesickness...until I met this Elder.  I feel so bad for him."  Hank is such a great young man.  The one thing he mentions many times, is that he wants letters.  I LOVE it!  Talk about going through withdrawals...texting, facebook, email, cell phone....SO much communication!  And he's cut off from all of it now, and is relying on letters from home more than he's ever relied on them.  I now see the miracle of the written word to missionaries.  It is truly their lifeline.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hank's first email home!

The following is an excerpt of Hank's FIRST email home!  I'm leaving the spelling and punctuation as is...because I don't want to take away from who he is at all.  

"Hey mom!! im writing this the same time as i wrote a handwritten letter, but they are differsent. so read both of them haha.... anyway i get homesick quite abit when im here, especially at night. i miss all of you guys so much, even Juliet! keep her healthy, i want her to be there when i get back. Also you guys be good too, dont die or anything while im gone! haha, but im serious! ....with the email i have only 30 minutes to write or it logs me off without saving. but im sure thats only an MTC thing, i think out in the feild i get more time to write. or maybe im wrong...   
Love Hank Jackson"
I love that he signed it "Hank Jackson".  Even with birthday cards and Mother's and Father's Day cards, he always signs it "Hank Jackson".  I get a kick out of it. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Family & friends who made it to his "non-farewell".  (Renterias, Flakes, Parks, Beecrofts, & Cole Baxter) 

Uncle Tom & Aunt Laurel

Aunt Pam, with cousin Levi looking on.  Love the look on Hank's face.

Cousin Jewel teaching Hank how to greet girls on his mission.

Cole & Hank

John and Hank...first time Hank's worn a suit,
having a dad and son moment here.

He's off!

Hank...flying off to his new adventure.

Hank is gone.  Just like that.  What an whirlwind it's been the past 24-48 hours.  Packing!  As much as I tried to hold back, and wait for Hank to do it...he finally asked me last night for some help.  Jonna and I went in and helped him organize everything on his list.  It was quite the job.  Glad we helped him...he would have packed all night, and probably never gone to bed.  It was the least we could do to help him.  But it was not easy!  Hank was so he'd had a Monster drink or something!  He just couldn't sit still, and looking back, I think it was how he was coping with his nerves. 
My sister Jackie and her kids came by to say goodbye, and the kids just hung out for awhile.  They didn't want to say goodbye, but finally close to 9:00 PM, they needed to head home, as it was getting late.
The missionaries in our ward stopped by a few minutes after Jackie and her family left, about 45 minutes before the Stake Pres. came to set him apart, and gave him some GREAT advice, and just a nice send off.  These two Elders, Elder Caywood and Elder Evans have been fabulous, and have taken Hank on splits this past summer.  They have really taken to Hank, and I appreciate so much the things they said last night...and really helped bring the Spirit into our home, in preparation for Pres. Palmer.  Our house was a wreck...but it felt amazingly calm after the Elders left. 
Soon Pres. Palmer and his wife came, and he said some wonderful things to Hank, and offered a beautiful blessing as Hank was set apart as a full time missionary. 
After Pres. Palmer left, John said some special things to Hank as well, and there was some emotion in the room.  It was a great way to finish the evening. After family prayer, the kids all went to bed, Hank's friend Cole went home (Cole is a life-long friend of Hank's) and Hank and I stayed up for awhile...Hank just wound down, and finally fell asleep on the couch with Juliet (our Beagle) asleep next to him on the floor.  My heart was full, VERY full.  I wanted to break down and cry.  I just had to watch him sleep for awhile, as I knew it was the last time for a very long time he'd be sleeping in our home. 
This morning we got up early, Cole came back over to go with us, and we got Hank to the airport about 6:00 AM.  We said our goodbyes at the security checkpoint, and just like that...he was gone.  We stayed around for a few minutes, watched other families come to the security checkpoint with their missionaries, and watched all their emotions as well.  For the first time, I could relate with these families sending their children out on missions.  Wow. We then went up on the parking garage roof, and watched Hank's plane, and waited for it to takeoff.  After about 45 minutes, it was time, as we watched it make it's way down the tarmac.  Then, before we knew it, he was in the air.  I couldn't take my eyes off the plane until I couldn't see it anymore.  My kids laughed at John and me, wondered when we were going to get in the car...but neither John or I could stop watching, until it was just a small speck in the sky, and then banked North, and was gone.  It was tough. 
Hank called us after he landed, and told us as he looked out the window he saw us on the top of the parking garage!  I asked him if he was surprised to see us, and he said "No, I knew you'd be there."  That touched my heart! 
My sister in law Karron picked him up from the airport, and it was with her phone that he called us, and some of his siblings and friends.  Then she took him to lunch, and took him to the Provo temple for a little bit...took pictures, etc.  She was awesome, so motherly to him and I'm so SO grateful. 

After we got the kids off to school, and after John left for work, and after Hank called to say he'd landed, I had some time to myself at home, and had a good and cleansing cry.  I just let it all out.  It felt so good to finally really let go.  But I'm not sad.  That's the crazy thing.  I'm so, so happy.  So happy.  But my heart aches, as I think of the next 2 years, and how there will be a void in our home.  But again...I am so happy for Hank, so happy for our family, so happy for those lives he will have an opportunity to touch, and to make a difference to.
Then about 12:30 Hank called again to say goodbye, as he was headed to check in to the MTC.  It was great to hear him one more time, and we were able to say our goodbyes for now. I was not emotional this time, and was able to keep things light, and talk about the flight, and about his time with his Aunt Karron around the Provo temple, and lunch.  He sounded so good, so ready to do this. Karron got some pictures of  dropping him off at the MTC, I'm SO grateful.   I couldn't hear any nervousness or fear in his voice...although Karron said later he would stop mid sentence sometimes while they were talking, and just take a deep breath.  We were right to say our goodbyes at the airport, as he expressed to Karron how he was glad that part was over, and he didn't have to go through all those emotions at the MTC.  She said he got pretty nervous just before getting to the MTC...but that when they pulled up and saw all the missionaries there greeting the new missionaries...she said it was awesome, and Hank seemed much more calm.  She said "Lisa, as nervous as Hank is, he is SO ready to serve a mission.  He will do great."  I appreciated her words. I'm sure he's exhausted, as he's had a full first day at the MTC.  I'm exhausted myself...surviving on about 2 1/2 hours of sleep.  Time for me to hit the bed myself. 

(Hank LOVES to frown in pictures!  He knows it drives me crazy!  He'll be smiling, and as soon as I take the picture, he frowns. He was successful in timing it just right in this picture...again!)
L-R:  Cousins David & Justin, good friend Cole, Hank, A.J., cousins Kayle and Kelsey, Jeri, Jonna, cousin Trevor and Carla. 

Cousin Justin totally hamming up the goodbye.  I don't think he realizes I got a picture of it.  Wait until he sees it on this blog!

Hank and Juliet.  He LOVES Juliet.

Our family, one more time for awhile.  A.J. will probably be on his own mission when Hank gets home in two years.  Our lives are beginning to change more than ever before.  I talk about new chapters a lot.  It's where we are in life.

Cole Baxter, Hank's friend since they were toddlers!  Cole turns 19 in December,
and will probably be heading on his own mission by Feb.

Lots of emotions.  Hank's little sisters.

Hank & John saying goodbye.  Lots more emotions.
Goodbye Hank.  I couldn't hold it together anymore. 
So grateful he looked back on this shot!
His expression says SO much!
Waiting to watch Hank's plane take off. 
Time to go...(this was Hank's first time flying!)

Hank told us later he had the window seat
and could see us at the top of the parking
garage as he lifted off!  I asked him if he was surprised to see
us all up there waving at him, and he said
"No, I knew you'd be there." 
So glad we're so predicable!

In Provo a couple of hours later. Thanks to my sister-in-law for getting me these pictures so fast!


The greeters.

The Elders that greeted Hank at the MTC. One of them
is going to Ventura on his mission!  I don't know which one,
but Karron told me about it.  (Her son Jeremiah, Hank's cousin, is there now serving a mission,
and that's also where I grew up!  I love how small the world is!)

I love this guy!

And off he goes!