Monday, September 17, 2012

(HANK)- Hank's coming home! Last email home on his mission.

This is Lisa.  Hank's last emails home are below, but I just wanted to add my own two cents.  As you can imagine, my heart is pretty full right now.  As I read Hank's email, and the one to John, I realized more than ever before, that Hank is a strong young man.  He did something incredibly hard, and he stuck it out.  I can't even describe the feelings I'm feeling right now.  He's an amazing young man, who, as many of you know, doesn't like to have a lot of attention on him.  He loves to be behind the scenes (perhaps that's why he wants to go into movie directing?)...he doesn't like the limelight or fuss made over him.  And he went to a place where he was forced to stand out.  There were many times that Hank had to teach Gospel Doctrine class at church, sometimes without notice.  He organized and coordinated meetings and baptisms, he would be asked to lead the music, teach a lesson or speak, bless and pass the sacrament, and sometimes he did more than one of these things in one meeting.  He taught many people the Gospel, and he also lived it through his service to them.  For someone who doesn't like to be in front of people, he did it multiple times!  There were many other experiences he had that were growing experiences.  He helped people in crisis.  Got in and helped people whose homes were damaged after storms.  He endured things that I can't post on this blog...but it's safe to say that Hank went through some incredible experiences out there, many of them faith promoting but also extremely difficult and trying.  He did a real hard thing, serving a mission in the Jackson Mississippi Mission.  He spent two years in the Bible Belt of the country.  He calls it the "Belt Buckle" of the Bible Belt.  He dealt with racism he didn't realize still existed, sadly, even with members of the church.  That was tough for him to see, and we warned him that he would see it.  But he came to love the people there, members and non members alike.  He never referred to those investigating the church as investigators.  He always referred to them as his friends...and often as "good friends of mine".   My heart is pretty full, and I'm grateful to our Heavenly Father for giving him the strength to do this; to be able to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a place that is deeply rooted in their traditions, beliefs and ideas. I've learned more about the South from Hank than I have ever known my entire life, and without question, it is on the verge of change, as the Gospel continues to grow and blossom there.  Slowly...but it is blossoming, nonetheless.  How awesome that Hank got to be a part of it!   

His emails that he sent home today are below. They are short, sweet, and very revealing on how he is feeling right now! 
He's coming home. 

Email to Lisa:
hey mom how you doing? well this is off topic but i just wanted to say that the heading for the email for my whole mission i believe was "hey mom". i realized that my heading was always the same and i thought i could see how long i could do it. so anyway that's off topic. well i have butterflies right now. this morning i woke up and was like 48 hour left. It's unreal to think about it. right now my hands are shaking as I'm typing and its hard to write haha. i can't believe that i have been out for 2 years. I'm going to be honest i didn't think i was going to make it, or ever go home. i though 2 years was going to last forever and although its a long time. and it felt long in a lot of parts of my mission. its weird to think that it's gone now. i am at a loss of words right now. so sorry for the short letter, I'm just so happy right now. i can not wait to see yall again. this is my last email of the mission and i have often wondered what i would say in it, needless to say this is not what i imagined what i would say. well mom i can't wait to see you later this week. I'm packing today, going to the mission home tomorrow, and flying home Wednesday. and who knows what after that haha. i'll see you at the airport in 48 hours. love ya bye!
love hank

Email to John:
hey dad how you doing? well i just finished my letter to mom and pretty much told her what's going on in my head right now. in a nutshell I'm excited for this week. i just feel so good and happy right now and relieved. dad this is going to be an incredibly short letter. and again I'm sorry for that. i know you were probably expecting a different last letter from me on my mission. but i don't have anything to say. literally i am at a loss for words. i told mom about it its just that my mind is racing a a million miles an hour. thank you dad for helping me on my whole mission. you've always said things in your letters that have helped me out that gave me a little push to stay out. you and mom have done so much for me these past 2 years and i can't wait to see you guys again. well ill talk to you later this week! love ya bye!
love hank

Monday, September 10, 2012

(A.J.) Fights outside their window...thinking about Hank coming home.

Hey everybody. Well, Its been a normal week. Nothing out of the ordinary....Oh so something cool happened the other day. by the way mom, don't freak out, it is one of those stories, haha. ok, so we were going to bed in our apartment, and we hear some yelling and stuff outside our window, so we were interested in what was going on, so we looked out the window, and by the way, a lot of things happen outside our window, haha. But so we look and there are 4 guys, and 2 of them are really yelling at each other and going at it. and it is like 11:15 at this time. So then all of the sudden 2 of them start duking it out, swinging and throwing punches and stuff. Then a big black guy, gets in the middle of it and stops these two. They kept yelling for like another 15 min. but at least they stopped the fighting. So we weren't in danger mom, so don't freak out, but we enjoyed it. it was funny, I turned to Elder Kurt and told him, "no one else in the whole mission is getting this type of entertainment every night." Its true, each night something interesting goes on outside our window, well not every night but most nights. Like one night, there was a big party going on and somebody was yelling and someone else because they wanted like, crack instead of cocain. haha. something like that. It is really fun and entertaining. But ya, I thought I would just share that with you. It was cool. Well, me and Kurt get along really well, We havn't gotten in one argument so far since we've been companions. its nice, we get along great and have similar interests. We have fun with each other. Well, I've been thinking a lot about Hank this past week, I think about him all the time every day. It kinda stinks that I still have 20 months left and that Hank gets home in 9 days. It really just is tough that I won't be there when he gets home. I mean, I know 20 months will go by fast, but right now, every day goes really slow, especially since I just think about Hank all the time. I really just want to hang out with him again. Thats the main thing that is tough right now. but it will be alright. Well, I loved the pictures. Thanks for them, they help out a lot. More pictures of buster would be nice too. haha. Well, take care, and I'll see you guys later.
Love, A.J.

A.J.'s new friend. 

A.J.'s new find.  Found this DBacks hat at thrift store in Florida for one dollar!  His new favorite hat.

(JONNA): Back in Woodville after a few days in Louisiana

Hey Y'all!
Well, another week has flown by. I cannot believe that Hank gets home in a week. My goodness. I am not going to lie-it makes me a little sad. I am trying not to get homesick about it, but I still want to hear about him and how the homecoming goes. Can yall believe I've been out 7 months now? That is crazy. Two more and I'm half way through. Which does make me sad. I feel like I should be a lot more mature and more strong of a missionary by now. Sheesh...I've got LOTS to learn in the next 11 months. The last few weeks, I have gotten overwhelmed at how little time I have left. (Ok-yet sometimes it seems like a LOT of time left too) But, seriously, I have a ton to work on. I am not the missionary I want to be yet. I am really trying to, but it is a process. I hope that I figure it out soon. (With my luck I'll figure it out my last transfer!)
Things have gone alright this week. I did love Louisiana! Sister Tuig and I are super similar in a lot of things. Both the oldest of 6, she is 24 (turns 25 in about a week though), and lots of similar experiences and thoughts. Oh how I LOVED her. Probably my favorite exchange so far. We worked hard, we were busy, and we had fun. I learned a lot about being bold with her. She really takes her calling seriously and she was a fantastic example to me. 
...This morning, I cleaned the whole apartment by myself.  As I was cleaning, I realized how good I felt working. I realized that I wasn't tired and I was ready to work! (missionary work and cleaning work). I got a LOT done (I even took a toothbrush to the moldy parts of the bathroom and windexed our sliding glass doors). I was sweaty, gross, but happy. I finished, showered, made breakfast, and began to study. I realized as I was studying that I am happy when I am working. (ok, I've always known that, but it was a lot more realized). I realized that the first 6 months were difficult in relation to the sleep schedule. Getting up at 6:30am is rough. And, it is really hard when your comp sleeps in... Yet, today, I realized that because I am trying to be obedient with the schedule, my body has adjusted and my body is expecting to be woken up, worn out, and ready for bed by evening. I am tired a lot, but I am happy. The last month, I am MORE tired when I get to bed past 10:30 and I am MORE tired when I get up past 6:30. Huh-who would have thought of THAT?? Golly, I feel a little foolish that it has taken me this long to realize that obedience it truly freedom. However, I am glad to have learned this. I do not expect the next 11 months to be a piece of cake, but I am feeling more of a desire to STAY obedient no matter the difficulty. 
The rest of the week was good. We taught Ann the Word of Wisdom. Which we were nervous about, but it went well. She was happy to live it, but still needs help. Her date has been moved to the 23rd (hoping she makes it!)
We had Zone Meeting in Beaumont on Friday. I liked it, it was a nice meeting. We are the only sisters in the zone. (Which is a relief. I'm not a fan of "Girl time! Let's go sit in this corner and chat because we are girls and we don't play sports or eat with the guys." Ugh, I hate it. Sometimes, I just want to talk to the Elders about not-girly-things instead of ban together with the other Sisters and have "girl time." ugh. Makes me sick.) Well, zone meeting was good. So many of the missionaries I know well are leaving in the coming months. Very soon, we will be the "older" missionaries around. Elder Mat has one transfer left and Sister Co has 2. Weird. I don't like it.
Yesterday was Sunday and we had a GREAT sacrament meeting yesterday. We had some stake speakers come and I wish I had a copy of the talks. They were SO good. It reminded me of a 20th Ward feel again. Two weeks in a row...sweet! Let's hope that I don't ruin it when I speak on the 23rd. Haha! We had a fish fry lunch with the Wheels yesterday. I am eating more fish than I did in China. Ugh. Although I am getting used to it. And then we had hamburgers with Milton and Betty O's family. I LOVE Betty O. She is Mom's age and such a wonderful woman. I love her sweet example and the love she has for everyone. She carries such large burdens, but she is pure in heart-for real. Her son, Jarom, is leaving on a mission to the Phillipines (sp?) on Oct 10. So, she is going through the same "Missionary Mom Syndrome" that mom went through. :) But, I love her so much. She is one I will for sure keep in contact with forever. 
Ok, read all yalls emails. Boy, Addie is in badminton???? When did this happen? I had no idea! What the heck? Is Coach Anderes still the coach? I thought she retired. Send me photos! Also, congrats to Jeri on Homecoming! I never got to go to Homecoming. Send me photos of that too! And, mom, don't send me a package of anything until I send one home to yall. I am going to send yall my camera cards in a package. So, when you get the cards, download them onto the computer and put them right back into a package to send back to me. Don't delete the photos off of the cards though. I may still need the photos. You're gonna get a LOT of photos and Also, for Jeri again. Our music rule has been lifted! We no longer are restricted to only MoTab! (Which I do like!) We can listen to any uplifting, wholesome, Spiritual music. So...homework for that package. Could yall send me any Clyde Bawden Cds, Reflections of Christ, and my 2011 EFY CD "Believe Hope Endure"? They should all be on iTunes. Just send me copies if you want. Also, Jeri-back to music. Here are a list of songs I want :)
Stand in the Light
Courage to Stand Strong
These are the Days
Walking in Sunlight
Light of a New Day
For the Strength of Youth
Nearer, My God to Thee
Come to the Mountain of the Lord
Love Comes Back
(And any other songs that you want to add to the CD that you think are spiritual. They don't have to be from Just any songs we have already. Just fill this Cd with Spiritual goodness!!)
So, if yall could work on that and send it whenever, that'd be great. Just, wait until I send my camera cards first :)
Got all the photos you sent me. Thanks! Sad day that the hermanas are leaving. I wish I could meet them. If any are still there when I get home, I will have to seek them out. I think Hermana Larson will be back in TX though, hopefully I will get to meet her before I leave here! Thanks for the photos of Hank. Gosh Hank, smile much?? Smile bigger :) :) Its ok. I was going to send you a decorated planner as a welcome home gift, but we don't have any to spare. Sorry :( Enjoy your last few moments. And, get that letter to me! Haha
 Dad, how cool you were on TV again. Sweet. And, AJ-good luck with that ward. I've realized just how awesome 20th Ward is as I am out here more. But part of our duties are to help strengthen the members. Good luck! Can you believe it will only be us two??
Well, I do need to get going. Just one last FYI, we have a temple trip coming up on the 18th. We will get to go to the distribution center and LDS bookstore there. I may spend some money. Hope that is ok. I won't go crazy, but there are some things I need (like a sripture case...still). Let me know. (Also, about my ballot too!)
Love yall!
Sister Jackson

(HANK): One more week!!!!

(Wow, it's hard to believe Hank will be home next week!  I have to explain his P.S.  We've had the sister missionaries living with us since May, they moved in two weeks after A.J. left.  It's been a great experience having them live here all summer, but with Hank coming home next week, it was time for them to leave.  They left 2 days ago...and we feel the void.  When John was reporting to the High Council how it was having the sisters live with us, he cracked a joke and said "Well, it's been such a great experience, that we're thinking of finding a place for Hank to live, and keeping the sisters."  He said he got a pretty good laugh out of it.  We didn't realize that his joke would go "viral"...and several people have mentioned to me that they heard we were trying to find a place for Hank to live, that we'd rather keep the sisters!  haha.  So...I told Hank about it this last email to him, and his P.S. is in reply to it.  Glad he's got a sense of humor about it.)

hey mom how you doing? 9 days left!! next Monday ill have 2 more left. next Monday is my last pday and my last email from the mission! sorry just excited. wow. ok so I'm glad you got the camera card. about a fourth of those pictures are in greenwood. and ill explain the pictures you sent in order.
...oh and today is exchanges so I'm going back to Philly tonight and tomorrow to see everyone back there again. I'm really looking forward to that. so I'm going to start sending stuff off this week and when you get the packages just put them in my room or something. ill open them when i get back.
 ...when i get back home i want to get a job as soon as possible by the way. i want/need to start making money for school and a car (and video games, a mini fridge, dr.pepper, and useless junk that i don't need haha). but seriously its mainly going to be for school and a car. well mom thanks again for everything, i am so looking forward to seeing all y'all again. ill talk to you next Monday in my last email, love ya bye!
love hank

PS look for my packages! and put them in the room ill stay in, that is unless you want me to move out so you can have the sisters still be there. i get it you like them more than me, haha jk

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

(HANK) - Bonding with families,"trunked out"- 2 more weeks-!

hey mom can you believe it 15 days left!! wow!! I'm very excited I've never thought i would make it this far. really I'm trunked out like crazy haha. sorry but its hard not to think about home right now when I'm this close. so about the airport and the open house. I'm cool with whatever, but nothing to big and flashy haha. The more the merrier. i really cant wait to see you guys and all my friends again. the open house thing sounds cool but again nothing too big are flashy haha. its weird that were even talking about this. there are alot of things going through my mind and maybe it will be easier to express them in person.....well mom thanks for everything, next week is my last "normal" letter home, because after  that will be day before transfers. well i love all yall ill talk to you guys next week, love ya bye!
love hank

hey dad how you doing? well the big thing this week was hurricane Issac. we got some of it and mostly it was just rain and wind. alot of both. i was thinking alot about the coast and wondering how it is going down there and how my friends down there are doing. I've heard nothing too bad has happened except for flooding of the us 90. i remember in LEE when a tree fell down on gators house and that was bad and we couldn't drive on the us 90 for a while because of debris. so i can only imagine how it is right now. well dad you mentioned in your letter that you hope that I'm not trunky and I'm really trying not to be but I'm really trunky right now. i think its normal to feel like this when its this close but things are still going good in greenwood. we go to belzoni every Saturday and we meet with the boles down there. they are really awesome and I'm going to miss them when i leave. I'm going to get a picture with them this week or next week, well see. I'm really bonding with the people here and I'm going to miss everybody in all my area pretty much especially pass christian. well dad thanks for the letter, I'm looking forward to coming back but I'm going to be sad so say goodbye to these people also. well ill talk to you later, love ya
love hank

(JONNA) Greetings from Louisiana!

Yup! I am in Louisiana today! We are on exchanges with the Sisters in Lake Charles. So, that is where I am at today. I got here last night and my temporary comp is Sister Tuig from  American Samoa. She is 24 too! Wahoo!! It has been fun. Sister Hick is with Sister K in Woodville. So, look for photos from Louisiana in the coming weeks! We had Zone Pday in Beaumont yesterday, and that is where we switched.
As for the hurricane...we got a TEENY bit of it! We got wind :) It was a pretty windy day. Almost eerie in that the wind was the result of a hurricane that really wasn't too far away. We got updates from members all day long. No rain, just wind. Sounds like Hank got most of it. I wasn't sure where he was at Green-something? All I know is that his long area on the coast was plastered. Our Branch President said last week, " honest. You would LOVE to see a hurricane hit here, wouldn't yall?" We looked at each other and sheepishly said...."yes..." :) We had to be prepared for evacuation just in case. There is a limited amount of things we are supposed to and allowed to bring in case of an evacuation. During Hurricane Rita, the mission president told the elders here to ride it out at the chapel. There were 6 of them. And, the members said the Elders LOVED it. I would like it too. And, I think I would really like to do the service after. That's really what I'd like to do. But, hearing the stories of Hurricane Rita and Ike, makes me really understand and realize the damage and danger of hurricanes. yikes!
Dad-This Princess Bride! I figured it out by the 2nd quote. Although, I sat there and stared at the first one for a few minutes because it was bugging me. I love that movie. SO much. The other day-Saturday-we walked into the Nursing Home. And, in their lobby is a TV that is always on. That night, Toy Story was on. Talk about temptation!!! Sister K almost had to drag me away. Then, as we rounded the corner into a hall, country music was playing really loud. Like, good country. I think it was Hank Williams that was being played. Boy, talk about homesick and trunky. It lasted about 3 minutes until we got to our member's room. Then, it was killing me when we had to walk by the TV again. It was the part where Woody & Buzz were in the toy machine with the aliens. Woody says, "Back, back you zealots!" Haha-always liked that part.
On Friday, we got to volunteer at a fundraiser dinner. At the last minute, we were put into a hot, humid, sweaty kitchen serving up to-go boxes of Mexcian Food. It was so fun. The whole community comes out once a year for this event. And, we wanted to get our names out. So, the whole town saw us: two sisters in skirts, sweaty, plasic gloves on, dishing up Mexican food and having a good time. We saw lots of people pointing at us and talking. Yay! Good or bad, it was really awesome that everyone saw us there-doing the background work but having a good time. The newspaper even took a photo of us. So, if we make it in the paper, I'll have to send one home. Not sure if I'll make it though...haha
Thanks for the update on 20th Ward. Boy, do I miss it. We had a great sacrament meeting on Sunday too. The Spirit was strong and I thought, "This reminds me of a 20th Ward meeting." Probably one of the highest compliments I think I could muster for any meeting. There is just something special about 20th Ward. The love, unity, service, and spirit is priceless and hard to find anywhere else. To think, I was so angry to be there 10 years ago. What a blessing those people have been in my life. I am truly-FOREVER grateful for them.
Well, I sent in my absentee ballot thing. At first, when I got it-it had a card to send in that said "Permanent Early Voting Ballot" I was like, I don't want this forever, just this year. So, I didn't think I needed to do anything. THEN, last week, I looked at it again and thought, "maybe this is what I need to fill out." So I did and sent it in. Hope it isn't too late! Sorry, I was slacking! But, dad, thanks for getting that for me.
This week has been a little better. Ann set a date to be baptized-9/15. The same day her husband was baptized 6 years ago. Pray she makes it! We are so excited!
Also, I am glad yall liked the postcards. If I find any in LA, I'll send them too. But, not sure if I will be able to or not yet. How cool that I've made it to LA?? I could still serve here in the future, but you never know!
Also, sorry yall are going to have to say goodbye to the sisters at home. It is a HUGE sense of pride/encouragement to know that I have been serving side by side with my brothers and to have sisters living in my home. I don't know who else is blessed like we are.
I love yall so much. Mom, thanks for sending out that blog info.
Love yall!
Sister Jackson

Monday, September 3, 2012

(A.J.): A normal week....barely touched by Hurricane Isaac

Hey guys, things have been going good this past week. It really has just been a normal week, nothing out of the ordinary. Each day I just get up, work out, do my studies until 12 have lunch, then go do lessons. It is pretty much the same each day. Well, the Hurricane barely hit me, there was about a period of time of about an hour where where we got hit really bad and it just rained really hard and there were hard winds, but that was about it. after an hour is just kinda lightly rained for the rest of the day. So ya, that is about it on the hurricane. OK, mom, so those pictures I sent, the bug one, that was an accidental picture that I sent, I didn't mean to send that one, but I just saw a big bug on the wall and decided to take a picture. (*Lisa's note:  Figured the bug meant something, so I posted it last week!  haha) The other picture with the 2 ladies are members of the ward. They are Haitians and the stake was doing a cultural activity and so they were dressed up and getting ready to do a Haitian dance. They are strong members and are really cool. The one on my left is named Evna and she speaks English fluently and she feeds us a lot of Haitian food. She is really cool. Well, about the bike question. We have actually been full car for the past 2 weeks, which is nice, but usually, actually starting this week, we will switch off each day to a car and then a bike. Well, sounds like everything is good. Nothing new or different happened.  I can't believe hank gets back in 2 weeks though. Its crazy. I wish I was gonna be there to see he him, but I'm here. oh well. Sounds like Ross is doing good too. I'm glad he is great. I miss him and think about him a lot and wonder what he is doing. but It sounds like he is doing good. Well, I have to go now. I guess I'll talk to you later. See ya and take care.

Love, A.J.