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!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Tender Mercy

I feel like I need to share this experience on Hank's blog.  I've shared it with my family, and with several my kids have heard the story quite a bit in the past month.  But I need to document it, journal it, whatever you call it. 
Almost exactly a month ago we went to Pomeroy's (a local store here that specializes in missionary clothing/supplies).  We'd gone there a few weeks prior to get Hank measured and fitted for his suits and shirts he'll need on his mission.  Pomeroy's called us about 4 weeks ago and told us the suits were ready and to come pick them up.  It was a few days before school started, and I was running errands that morning, school shopping, etc, and I'd asked Hank if he could run over there sometime that day and pick up his suits.  When I got home that afternoon, Hank hadn't gone yet, and so we decided to go together to pick them up. 

We ran a couple of other errands on the way, and got to Pomeroy's about 3:00 in the afternoon.  We walked in and there was one other family there, clearly getting their own son fitted for his suits, etc.  They were all there together,  with the mom and dad, their missionary son, and what looked like a couple of other older sons, one who had his wife and small children with him.  It was a family event, and as their missionary son came out modeling a suit, they all gave their thoughts and opinions on how it looked, etc.  It was fun to watch them, as Hank went in to try on his suit to for the final fitting.  As I  walked around the store, browsing, waiting for Hank, the father came over to me, and asked where my son was going on his mission.  Hank came out right at that moment, and I turned to Hank, and said "Hank, why don't you tell him where you're going?"  Hank smiled at the man and said "Jackson Mississippi".  The energy in the room immediately changed as this man's face lit up in surprise, and the others in the sitting area to my left turned towards us as they heard this and started saying things like "No way!  What?  Are you kidding? etc, etc"  This man then pointed to his t-shirt, which I hadn't noticed before and it said in huge letters down the side of his shirt "MISSISSIPPI".  He said "Mississippi???  I'm FROM there!"  Hank and I both just laughed, and I said "Hank, you need to talk to this man and find out what it's like there!"  But as the conversation continued, I realized very quickly, that this family still lived in Mississippi!  When it hit me, I asked him:  "you mean, you STILL live there... NOW?"  He said yes, and that he currently serves as the Branch President of the Jackson Mississippi Branch!  I couldn't believe my ears!  He asked Hank his name, and Hank told him.  The family went nuts when they realized "Elder Jackson was going to Jackson".  This man then said "I can hardly wait to to go home and tell President Tucker (Hanks mission president) that I just met one of his elders, Elder Jackson".  President Tucker is in his branch!  By this time, the man's wife (I WISH I could remember his name now...I want to say Pres. Edwards, but I can't remember now.  It all happened so fast),  anyhow, his wife came over and told Hank how they were going to feed him so well, and "fluff" him up.  (Hank is very thin).  We all just laughed, and were in disbelief that we were all in this store, Pomeroy's at this specific moment.  It was amazing.  Then I asked them what in the world they were doing here in Mesa!  He explained that his son was going on a mission to Georgia the next week, and his older son and his wife and family live here in Mesa, and so they decided to come to Mesa to visit them, get his suits and supplies while here, and were leaving the following week to drop their son off in the MTC.  I told his wife how happy I was to meet them, and that I wanted to cry, I was so happy to meet someone from his mission area.  Hank was beaming, in his quiet and shy way.  I think he was just amazed at the coincidence.  It was such a good moment.

As Hank and I got in the car, I said to him "Hank, you realized, that was no coincidence?"  Hank knew it wasn't.  It was truly, a tender mercy on so many levels.  For me, for Hank, for this family.

A few weeks later I went back to get the rest of his shirts, which they had to order.  As I walked in, no one was in the store this time.  The young man who works there said "Can I help you?"  I said I was picking up my son, Jefferson Jackson's shirts.  This young man said "Oh, you're the one who had the amazing experience a few weeks ago, meeting someone from your sons' mission! That was amazing!"  I think back to that day, and realize that was a great experience for even the people working there, to see the Lord's hand work right there in their little store.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Five days...

This is the first of what will probably be many posts on this blog. Our son, Hank, leaves for his mission in 5 days. We went through a little bit of his checklist tonight, and right now, the only thing keeping my emotions at bay, is the business part of it. Making sure he has this for his mission, and that, what do we still have left to get? And when is he going to start packing? I got him 5 big 35 gallon plastic bins today so he can pack his room up while he's gone. I hate to have him pack it up...I'd love to leave it just as it is. But that's just unrealistic, and he'd rather his things stay safe and secure anyhow.
Only a few things left on his checklist:

  • He wants a mag flashlight- the real big one!
  • A small mini cassette or digital recorder
  • New tennis shoes
  • 2 belts
  • batteries
  • Delete all songs off IPOD- put mission appropriate music on.
We also need to double check on insurance, when ours is going to expire for him, and when the church will be able to pick him up. Other than that...I think we've got it all!

Countdown is on...Gosh I will miss him!! It's so hard to believe we're actually here. After singing "I hope they call me on a mission" since he was a it is. Already. Amazing