Monday, October 29, 2012

Jonna- pictures

Jonna and her companion, "Sis. Erick"- hiking through some swamps.

Jonna's mission pres. and his wife, Pres & Sis. Crawford- hiking.  Love this picture!

(JONNA)- Halloween Chile Cookoff- Back in Louisiana

Hey Yall!
Well, it was a super busy week! We had exchanges with the Lake Charles sisters. I went to LA again. It was so fun, I spent it with Sister Hick. She goes home in December with Sister Co, my trainer. SO crazy. Next week, Sister Sal and Elder Matt head home. I am so sad to see them go. After December, I will be one of the "old" missionaries. Ok, well, I am already old, but you know...old.
We had Sister's Training on Wednesday. So, I drove to Vidor to exchange, drove to Lake Charles for the exchange. On Tuesday night, Hick and I drove to Beaumont where we met up with Erick and Tuig. There, I drove us from Beaumont to Kingwood. We spent the night at the Mission home (which is my favorite!). And, then we had Sister's Training. President told us of the changes in the missionary work concerning the age lowerment. On average SLC gets 600-700 mission applications each week. After the age lowering, they received 4,000. (Some members say 7,000...but you get the picture). So, in the coming months our mission is expected to go from 110 missionaries to 180. Every area will be open, and even doubled. President even asked Sister Erick and I to see if an added set of missionaries could be added to Woodville. So, we are exploring that for him. He told the sisters that the training was to help us improve and perfect the things we already know. That way, when these younger (and slightly/maybe less mature) sister missionaries come, we will be ready to help them. He said a lot more sister's areas will open, and more sister's bike areas! Yikes! Exciting, but yikes! Haha. So, Sisters training was awesome. I loved it. I got to see Sal and Co before they leave. I told Sister Sal how much I loved her and I was sorry for being a grouch. She was so sweet and said, "You were one of my favorite companions. Who else can I quote Office jokes with?" Haha. So, I guess I wasn't a total grouch in Humble. We got a "generation photo" with Sisters Hig, Hay, Co, Me, and Wen. Hig trained Hay and Co, and Co trained Me and Wen. I don't have my camera, but I'll send you that photo soon.
Well, Ann will be getting baptized on Sunday! For sure! She is excited! Also, did I tell you about Car? She just showed up to church last Sunday and we taught her the Restoration on Thursday. By then, she was already finished with 1 Nephi in the Book of Mormon. We shared with her the Joseph Smith story (the long one!) and then invited her to be baptized. She said yes, that is what she wants. We set a goal for December 2nd. She said she was already quitting coffee, tea, and smoking and we haven't even taught her the Word of Wisdom yet! Sweet!! It was such a good day. Sister Erick and I said goodbye to her and went back into the church, we walked slowly around the corner with Erick saying "Don't jump, don't jump." Then, when we were out of her sight, we lept in the air and shouted! YAYAY!!! It was awesome. Both Ann and Car came to church on Sunday. Betty O taught RS about "The Laborers in the Vineyard." It was so good. I just love her. We had an awesome dinner with her and her family. Boy, if I leave Woodville, I will be really missing that family!
Well, other business...
HAPPY birthday mom!! Hope it was good. Sounds like it was busy, but I hope you still enjoyed it! Wish I could have sent yall something more than a card. But, alas, I am poor :)
Also, yes...I need my ballot! Sister Erick just mailed hers in this week. I guess it needs to be post-marked by election day. So, the sooner the better! Thanks for getting that ready for me though!
Also, mom, tell Ashley (at Whittier) I say hi! Boy, do I miss that job. I miss it a lot. Besides family, which doesn't count, I miss my job probably the most. How much I enjoyed that job! Tell everyone at Whittier I say hi! I'll have to send a Holiday greeting card to the office or something.
Can yall believe October is almost over? On Wednesday, we are going to the Fall Fest in Odomville. We will have a bonfire, hay ride, chili (which we are judges for...this is my 2nd time on the mission judging chili!), trunk or treat (or as they call it a "trick or trunk"), etc. I am so excited. We have lots of less active and nonmembers coming. So we will be busy! I wish I had brought my cat ears! haha. Just kidding. Man, can you believe I got my mission call a year ago?? (yes, Juliet died. mom, I laughed out loud when you wrote that. HAHAHA! Yes, sad thing, but pretty funny. AJ-am I right? ;) Last year, I got my mission call! That is so weird! Time is sure flying. November 8th will be my 1/2 way mark. Crazy.
Well, I think that about wraps it up. I can't think of much else to write. Except, it is getting SUPER cold here. I am such a wimp. I thought I was overloaded on cardigans when I left, but I think I could have brought more. Sheesh. Time for me to get creative! :)
Also, transfer calls are this Saturday. Next week I will be writing about where I will be at. Here in Woodville still or someplace else. I am praying that I stay. I love Woodville. I hope that doesn't mean I am leaving yet. So, (besides the package) write to the mission office. They will get me my letters wherever I'm at. If I leave Woodville and mail comes here, it will take longer for me to get it. No worries though.
Ok, I think that is it. Hm...thinking. Yup, that is it. With my luck, I will remember something right when I leave.
Love yall!
Sister Jackson
PS...anyone working on their profile? I'm still checking!
PPS-Mom, you quote was from Toy Story! It was Rex, " I have guilt!" haha, love it!

(A.J.) - First week as a trainer- Halloween Chile cookoff

Well how is it going. Sorry I don't have too much time today, this morning when I checked my inbox I had 13 new emails, and usually on a good day I get like 4, so ya, don't have too much time. But I loved reading all the letters. So this past week has been good. Elder Carl is awesome, not the same as Elder Kur, but still cool. We get along great and he has a good sense of humor. He loves movies, just like I do and he loves basketball, just like I do, and we spend a lot of time just talking about movies. It is fun. this is funny, but he actually acts a lot like hank, I don't know how to describe it, just some of the things he does, and the ways he acts, and the stuff he says, just reminds me a lot of hank, it is cool. But we get along great so far.
 It is tough being a trainer though, I never realized how much more stressful it is. First of all, I need to set a good example to him. I mean, I could just forget about it and not care what anyone thinks, but if I did that, it would ruin his mission, so I am always trying to be a good missionary which is so freakin stressful. Also I am pretty much in charge of our area, I have to come up with what we need to do when appointments fall through and when we just have nothing to do, I need to always figure something out to do. I also know more Creole, which means that I have to teach most of the lessons and stuff. I don't know, just a bunch of different things just add up and make me more and more stressful. My stress level has like increased by 10 since I've started training, no joke. It is not fun. But I keep doing it. Its weird. the harder I work, the more stressed I get. but its all good. I just can't wait till I'm not training again so that I don't have so much responsibility.
Well this past saturday we had a combined halloween party with 3 wards. it was a lot of fun. As the missionaries, they asked us to be the judges of the chilie, and so I was expecting like 5 or 6 chilies to be there, but then more and more people just kept coming in with their chilie. there ended up being 30 chilies we had to judge, it was fun, but long story short, going to the bathroom afterwards was not too much fun. haha. But the party was a blast. Well, that is about it for this past week. I can't believe the month of october is already almost over, it seems like just yesterday when it began. the months just go by so fast. the days and weeks are slow, but for some reason, the months are fast. Well, I will definately look forward to the absentee ballot. Well I gotta go, take care.
Love, A.J.

Monday, October 22, 2012

(A.J.) First week as a trainer

Well how is it going. Sounds like life is going good back home still. Well, so as you know I have a new companion, Elder Carl. He loves sports, particularly basketball, and he loves doing extreme things. like he has been scuba diving plenty of times, and bungee jumping and all sorts of crazy stuff, oh and he's really good at skiing. Anyways, that is Elder Carl. So far we get along great. Overall though, we get along good so far. We will see how it goes. So training is different. I was so nervous when I found out I was training, just knowing I am going to have to be in charge of our area now, and I have to set a good example to this new Elder and just a bunch of other stuff was just stressing me out. And even right now, I just feel a ton of pressure and I feel like my burden has tripled since Kur left, but it will get easier. The language is still coming along. I'm still not anywhere near perfect with it, but enough to where I can keep a conversation going and enough to where I can understand parts of what people are saying to me and understand what overall they are saying. So it is still tough, still coming along, but it will get there. Luckily though, I didn't have to translate yesterday, which I was very happy about.
Well nothing big has really happened this past week. It was pretty similar to each and every week. Monday Kur and I had our last Pday together. It was fun, we played basketball with like 18 other missionaries. Then Tuesday, I got my new companion, and showed him around Bumby ward and introduced him to some Haitian members. Wednesday through Sat. was pretty much the same thing, just knocking on doors, tracting, being rejected 90 percent of the time, people yelling at you and asking us ( who you voting for) by the way, that does happen all the time. Getting flipped off and cussed at all the time. Ya, that's about how it is every day. But Sunday was good. so we had church which is the same old same old, but then that night, I was able to meet up with Elder Kur and Gas (because Kur had left some stuff in our place) and so we talked for about 2 hours. haha. ya it was cool, It was nice talking to him again. We hope that sometime in the future we will be companions again, we are thinking that it probably will happen in the last 6 months or so of our mission. So ya, we are definitely hoping for that. Well, I can't think of anything much else to say. I got the tags this past week. those were cool. I still haven't sent the camera card home yet, but I will do it as soon as possible. And I loved the post cards. They were great. Well, I guess its time for me to get off now. I will talk to you guys next week. See ya.
Love, A.J.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

(JONNA) Oct 15, 2012

Hey Yall!
Well, this weekend (since I wrote on Wednesday) has been crazy busy! On Friday night, we drove to Kingwood and stayed the night in the Mission Home with the Lake Charles Sisters (Sisters Hicken & Tuigamala). We had a "Tri-Wizard Tournament" (aka Tri-Mission Conference) in Downtown Houston. It was so awesome to stay in the Mission Home. We chatted with Sister Crawford (she sent President on a store run so we could have apples and caramel to snack on) and enjoyed the Spirit in their home. I slept in the same bed I did 8 months ago when I arrived in the Mission Field. Again, I didn't sleep hardly at all, but this time with a lot LESS angst. I remember having that room to myself when I stayed there the first time. I remember thinking, "I am really in Texas. Oh great...what did I do??" Then, Friday night I thought, "Man, I love being in Texas. This is THE Best Mission!" We got up the next morning and had a nice breakfast, but were out the door about 7:30am to get to Houston. Elder Tad Callister was there and he was with Elder Echo Hawk (remember from General Conference??) and Elder Ellis. Elder Gifford Nielson (the Area Seventy) spoke to us and then Sister Erick felt sick and needed the restroom. So, we spent the next 45 mintues-hour there. I opened the door of the Mother's Room and sat on the ground while I listened to Elder Echo Hawk tell of his conversion story. It was fabulous. I thought of all the Papago girls and how much potential they have just like Elder Echo Hawk. Then, I listened to Elder Ellis. Sister Erick was feeling a little better so we went to the rest of Elder Callister's talk. He brought out a chalkboard and outlined the Plan of Happiness in such a way that I had never thought of before. It was amazing! Wish I had more time to go into details about what was talked about, but I don't have time. (again, this email may be short.) The best thing was Elder Nielson said that Houston was the place to be. There is tremendous growth in the Houston Area and in the South. Especially with the new age lowering, this area is going to flourish. I know it, and I am SO blessed to be in THE mission I am in now and with the people I am with now.
Well, we came home and Betty O called. She dropped by our place and had a huge birthday package for Sister Erick (she is from Provo, and when they dropped off Jarom at the MTC they saw her parents and got a package for her. Her bday is on the 22nd) So, we talked to them for a little while. She has questions about how to use DearElder (mom-could you check in on her and make sure she figured it out?) and what Jarom was going to experience in the MTC. It was so great to talk to her. I love her so much!

Speaking of...AJ!!! Training??? Sweet! SO glad I'm not doing that yet! You are leading AND training for the first time at the same time? Man, I do NOT envy you, but I am so proud of you. You will do a great job. I'm freakin' out with my little Woodville area and leading here. Sheesh. Good luck and let me know how it goes. Also, so cool you saw Elder Merkley! Remember when I spoke with him in my ward? I think I spoke on New Year's with an Elder serving in Mesa and with Ryan Merkley. Sweet! It is nice to see a familiar face, huh?
I got yalls envelope with the tags and stamps. THANKS! I got them Friday just before we left to Kingwood. Those are the exact stamps I wanted. Thanks a TON! Also, I love the tags. Man Hank, you really beat up on that tag, huh? Nice. Mine all have a coat of hairspray on them, not as exciting. Glad Carla had a good birthday. I can't believe she got her ears pierced. Mom made me when I was 11 too and I got scabs instead. Gee...thanks. Haha;just kidding! Jeri and Addie at Disneyland. Honestly, I tried not to think about it! I got the postcard. Loved it! I have not seen World of Color yet, I can't wait to! How was Car's Land? The Beecrofts said it was awesome. Did I tell yall I got a package from them? Tell them thanks. I will try to send a note their way in the coming weeks. Dad-congrats on the championship game! Or, final? That is awesome! Yall gonna stay in AZ for Thanksgiving then? If so, let me know. If I stay in Woodville through Thanksgiving I know someone who I may send a package with to yall. Also, I got Kylie's letter. I LOVED it. I laughed all through it. I'll write back soon. So glad to know my ballot came. I will send that in as soon as I can. And, Dad, my votes are confidential so...ya... :) You may need to send some suggestions with it of who to vote for. I can't promise anything though :) :) And, Hank is a Car Salesman?? Are you kidding me?? Dude-where is that letter you keep promising to send? I need it! And, what ward are you gonna join? 54th? or YSA1st? Honestly, that was the best thing I could have done. not for marriage purposes, but to get friends and learn to function in a ward. I loved it!
Well, we gotta get going. We are fixin to go on a hike with the Jasper Elders and President and Sister Crawford today. Sweet! We are going to hike in Martin Dies National Park (remember the Croc sign-do not feed or approach?-well that is where we are going to hike at. Yay!!) I will let yall know how it goes!
Sorry this was so short this week. Hope to have more to tell next week.
Love yall!
Sister Jackson
PS-Did yall get the photos I emailed?
PSS-Enjoy Amazing Race. A family had their TV on and I may or may not have seen an ad for it. I'm with AJ-those were some of the best nights.

Friday, October 19, 2012

(A.J.) Picture with new companion- zone conference

A.J. is training a new guy straight from the MTC.  It seems to be the trend there, A.J.'s trainer was only out 9 weeks when he trained A.J.  Now A.J. is out 9 weeks from the MTC, and he's training.  Pretty awesome for A.J. to have this opportunity.  Our last email from him was this past Monday, and he still didn't know who his new companion was....but thanks to his mission president for keeping a blog, we got a peek today on the mission blog!

A.J.'s first "trainee, Oct 15, 2012

A.J.'s real smile is coming back.  So grateful.
October 2012 Zone Conference
Orlando South Mission

A.J. is standing directly behind his Mission President (front standing row, 5th from left)

(A.J.) October 15, 2012- Friends from high school, New companion, and training.

Hey how is it going everyone. Well it sounds like it was a great week. Man, where do I start, I feel like I have a ton of questions and things to say. Well, first of all, last week on Tuesday, I got a phone call from President Hall at about 8:30 in the morning, and come to find out, I am training. I can't believe it, honestly. I am so freaking nervous, my language isn't nearly as good as I want it to be ad I just am so nervous and honestly don't feel ready enough for it, but another side of me is super happy that I get to show a new Elder around. Overall I feel good about it and can't wait for it. It will definitely help me grow out here on my mission. Elder Kur was only 9 weeks out when he started training me and that helped him out a ton with the language and everything, now he is completely fluent in Creole, so as nervous as I am to have to take the lead now in translating during sacrament meeting, and teaching lessons and stuff, I know that it will just help me out with the language. Overall, the language is my biggest concern, but it will be good, I know it. 

So tomorrow, I will pick up my new companion, I am nervous, I have no idea if he will be really cool, or some one that I don't get along with at all. I really hope I get along with him well. I've said this many times but Elder Kur was the best first companion I could have, We got along so great, and seriously when I say this I am not exaggerating, we never got into any arguments, the only arguments we ever got in was, who won in a B-ball game or in a game of uno or something, and even then we are just kidding around. It has been a great 3 months with him and I feel like the lord gave me a good break from my mtc companions, and gave me Kur, but now, I feel like the Lord will see that I had too much fun and will give me a tough companion to get me working harder. haha. But ya, I'm just really nervous. 

So next week, I will let you know how it goes, I won't find out until 10 min. before I get him, who my trainee is. I hope it all goes well. Oh, and Elder Kur is going with Elder Gas, they are in an area that is right next to ours, so I will still get to see him a lot and stuff.

 Well, so something cool happened yesterday, ok, so I don't know if you guys know Anna-Marie Port, she was a high school friend of mine, every Thursday night when I went to go play ultimate frizbee with a bunch of people, she would always be there. Well, I don't know if you knew this but she married Ryan Merk, the missionary who went to the exact same mission that I'm at right now, the one that was in our stake and I got to talk to him. Well I found that out because Elder Merk is really big here in the Bumby ward, and he served in this ward that I'm at right now for 18 months, yes, that is not a typo, he served in my area that I'm at right now for 18 months, so he is very well known around here and a bunch of members talk to him and stuff, so overall I heard through the grapevine that he was getting married to Anna, my friend. Well, I also heard from a member that he was going to spend his honeymoon here in Orlando and that he was going to visit our ward. so Yesterday, I got to see Anna and Ryan. It was so cool. We got to talk to them for a bit and it was just super cool to see some people from mesa that I knew. It made my day. I was so happy. I didn't get a picture with them, just basically because he was talking to a bunch of members and I was busy and I just couldn't find the right time to take a picture with them, but it was really cool. I got to see some friends from mesa. It really made me happy and even more excited to do missionary work, I wish more people would come and that I could see some friends from mesa, it honestly made me more happy and excited to do missionary work. It was great. So that was definitely the highlight of the past week.
Oh, and Amazing Race already started, man, I'm jealous, I have to tell you, my favorite times back home wasn't hanging out with friends or playing video games or doing stuff like that, even though they were really fun, but honestly my favorite times back home was every Sunday night, we would watch Celebrity Apprentice, and even better, the Amazing Race, I really miss those times. Honestly though, watching amazing race with the entire family was my favorite times back home. Well, that is all I can think of to say. Oh I remembered, so the absentee ballot, where do I send it to, or does it say it on the absentee ballot, just curious,  I figured it says it right on the ballot, but if it doesn't where do i send it. Oh, and guess what, you guys already probably know this by now, but tomorrow is my 5 month mark, its crazy, by the time I am done training, I will be 8 months out and it will be in the year 2013, I've noticed that the days go by really slow sometimes, and even the weeks, but the months just fly by, I mean I can't believe we are already halfway in the month of October, so don't worry about that, anyways, time goes by slow sometimes, but months just go by fast. Well, that's about it, I wish I had more to say. Just take care and have fun and I'll see ya later. bye.
Love, A.J.

Monday, October 8, 2012

(A.J.) General Conference- Getting new companion

Hey everybody. Well this past week was pretty good, I want to say it was better than normal. So obviously we had conference this past week. I won't lie, it did make me a little homesick, but i got over it. OK, so about the big announcement, well, first, I loved the announcement of the new temple, When I heard that I just got really happy and a bit emotional. And then the even bigger announcement. Well, me and my companion, Elder Kurt, were sitting next to each other in the chapel, and when they started talking about missionaries from other countries going out at 18, we both turned to each other and said, "they're going to lower the age" and they did, it was really cool, and I got a bit emotional. It was really cool, but I wasn't expecting the sis. missionaries age to be lowered at all, when he said they were going to lower it, i was shocked and surprised. Wow, its crazy 18 for elders, and 19 for sisters. I kept thinking about all the priests back home and thinking to myself and knowing that they will be headed on their missions soon. So what is Justin going to do, is he going to finish his year/semester at BYU Hawaii or is he going to go out as soon as possible, let me know will ya. But ya, I'm glad they lowered the age, I only wish they had changed it a year ago, then I would have been more than halfway done with my mission. haha. but its all good. And I think it will be great, we actually have an elder here in our mission from Brazil who came out right out of high school at age 18, and he is a great missionary. So it will be a good thing. Well, the rest of conference was great too. I really enjoyed it. like seriously, i really enjoyed it. It was honestly the first time that I actually listed to everything they had to say. Before, I had only really listened to Priesthood session maybe because its easier cause you're in the chapel and you have to watch it. But this time, I listened and just really enjoyed everything about it.  But ya, general conference was really great. oh, and on a little side note, I really wanted to go to red lobster, but obviously we couldn't or it would pretty much bankrupt us for the month, but we did get some really good ice cream, actually it was frozen yogurt, it was really similar to yodipity. And during priesthood session, me and my companion sat in the same spot we always do back home, the second row in the middle, on the right side. I just had to do it. :) overall, I really enjoyed conference. Well, sounds great that Jeri is thinking about going on a mission now, I think she totally should, and it would benefit her much better than China would, ( sorry jonna no offence haha) but it really would and I think jonna would agree. Even for

 me, I mean, I've had my fair share of times when I don't really want to be out here much, and I still get those feelings often, and I'm sure they won't fully go away, but I have seen the difference the mission has done for me so far and the things I've learned. And I'm grateful for the time I've had to serve, even though it is tough, and like I said, sometimes I wish I could just be home, I am still grateful for the things I've learned. So ya, overall, I think Jeri, you should definitely consider going on a mission. But if a guy wants to marry you too, theres nothing wrong with that. haha!!!!! just kidding!!! Well, this week is my last week with my awesome companion Elder Kurt. It has been a great 12 weeks with him. We have had so much fun together, we get along great, we both love sports, we both are competitive, we both have a big big sense of humor, and we just get along great. I don't know if I will ever get another companion like I like better than him. We have really gotten along great and it will stink when we aren't companions again. But it is all good. Hopefully though, sometime down the road, probably around the last 6 or 5 months of my mission, but we could possibly be companions again. I really hope that would happen again, we did the math and everything and figured everything out, and there is a possibility that we could be companions again. So I will really try to enjoy our last week together. But next Tuesday, I will have a new companion. I don't know for sure yet if I am training, but all of the Haitian Elders here are like 95% sure that I will stay here and train in Bumby, while Elder Kurt will go to Ocoee and Train there. So I will be a "father" and have a "brother" and Kurt will have a "grandson" of course this is all just mission talk stuff, it probably means nothing to you guys, but it will be cool for us. So ya, next week, I don't know exactly how the week will go, I'm pretty sure I will still get to email you guys as normal on Monday, but for some reason if I don't just know that I will get to you on Tuesday. Oh and about the package, I loved it and I enjoyed the video as well especially of Hank. That was great for me to watch. I really enjoyed it. It made me excited for when I get to come home. Oh, and Elder Kurt really enjoyed the video of me opening my call. he thought it was funny, oh and Carla, great job on the performances, I loved the first one, it was great. Well, that is about it for this past week, I filled out a camera card completely so I will be sending that home sometime soon. So look for it. I hope you enjoy all the pictures and videos. Well, I love ya, and I'll see ya later. Take care.

Love, A.J.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Hank is home!!!

Well, Hank has been home almost 2 weeks, and I'm finally just now blogging about it.  It's been such a crazy couple of weeks.  Hank is home.  Hank is home.  *sigh*.  In one sense, it went so stinkin' fast.  In seems like forever ago that we said goodbye to him.  We have had some nice conversations with him the past couple of weeks, and in his words, there were times when he didn't think he'd ever get home.  But he loved his mission regardless, and has no regrets doing it.  But without question, it was hard.

When he got off that plane, my heart was just full.  We have truly been blessed, to have these children serve.  And to answer anyone who has dared to ask, or not dared to ask...we are not the only ones who have been blessed having our children serve.  It has truly taken a village to get three children out at the same time, and there are some people in this village who prefer to remain anonymous.  To all...thank you.  With all my heart. "My cup runneth over", literally.

 **To see the video of our reunion with Hank, click here.**

The following are some of the airport pictures.
Addie and Jonna by proxy.  They look like twins!

Jeri and cousin Victoria at the airport

Jeri, "A.J.", "Jonna", and Addie...waiting for Hank to arrive.

Some cousins and Aunts, siblings, waiting.  (WAY in the back, you can see John catching a nap)

A couple of Hank's friends, David and Jacob, waiting at the airport. Jacob just got home from  his mission a month earlier, from Paraguay.  David (left) is waiting for his call.  His papers are in!  


The moment we finally spotted him.  It's blurry...but look at Addie and Carla.  In tears.

Hank and his missionary siblings.

Hank, Jake and David.  Friends since childhood.

Welcome home Hank!

Beecroft cousins, Joseph, Victoria & Becca.

Aunts Jackie and Lucy
Two years ago: This is Jeri, Addie and Carla ....just after Hank boarded on Sept 15, 2010. 

....Here they are, 2 years later.  Some happy sisters! And much  more grown up!!

....and happy parents too!

Hank and cousin David.

Home again.  With a package from Jonna waiting for him.  "How to survive being home from a mission" kit.  

(JONNA) Oct 1, 2012 "Is it October??"

Hey Y'all!
Well, transfers were this last week and it has been a little different, but really great! I was super nervous about leading an area. It is the first time that I have stayed in an area and gotten a new companion. So, I have been a little nervous about being the one who knows the area. My companion is Sister Erick! YAY!!! I was secretly hoping that it would be her, but I didn't want to voice it...just in case. BUT she was the only other Sister getting transferred other than Sister Karr. Sister Cochran is training AGAIN! Sweet! I have a "sister!" Sister Ka is in a trio with Sister Sals and Sister John. Sounds like things are going ok down there in Humble, but...this is Sister Ka's first transfer from her "Birth" area. So, I have been wondering just what is going on. Sister Ka and Sister Erick were MTC companions and they both got transferred at the same time. Sister Erick was in La Porte for 6 months. She is very sad to leave that area, she loved the people there so much. I think it is so good that she is in Woodville now. It is a TOTALLY different area than being in Houston. It is so rural, small town, trees, and hills. It is the only sisters area that has hills. All the other places are in the middle of cities. It is so culture shock sometimes. Dirt roads, huge truck, everyone is family, thick accents, and very rustic. I love it, and she is finding humor in it too I think. We just have to look around and laugh. But, I love being with Sister Erick. She is from Provo and will be 23 in October. (Hey! That's THIS month! Wow...) She is very organized and soft spoken, but I am so glad she is my comp. She came out 6 weeks after I did. I remember seeing her at a choir practice and no one was talking to her, she was new and didn't know anyone. I was still pretty new and didn't know many people either so I went and said hi to her. Since then, we have got along real good. Haven't lived together long but so far it has been good. We will see how the next few weeks go. But, already, it is so nice having her as my companion. (Also, we got our new truck! It is a 2011 Checy Colorado. I love it. Shiny and new. Last sister to drive the other truck and first to drive this one! (Pretty much an awesome bragging right.) It used to be the Assisstants' truck. Love it!
There were 10 missionaries that went home last week, and 18 new ones that arrived. It was a very emotional meeting. 
Anyway, the next few months, all the missionaries that I have looked up to as these "seasoned missionaries" are headed home. Elder Matt & Bro leave in 6 weeks and then Sister Co leaves in 12. Just before Christmas. Man, trying not to think about it. In 6 weeks, I will be half way done with the mission (yikes!) and very soon, will be one of the "older" missionaries. It is so weird and I am so nervous because that means training will come probably. 

And, mom, no I am not training right now. Hank is right, training means you get a brand new missionary as a companion and you carry a lot of the weight. They are still figuring things out. In fact, President Crawford has said that the example the trainer sets for his/her greenie is a huge indicator for how the rest of their mission goes. They will fall back on that example for the rest of their mission. YIKES! SO, SO glad I am not training. I have way too much to work on. Anyway, change is happening all over the mission and I am sad to see it happen. But, it is ok. And, Dad, no I do not have the October song. If mom hasn't sent the package yet, you would pop it in there and I promise not to listen to it before Oct.31.  If you can't yet, just send it before Halloween. Whenever :) Can't believe October is here.
You FINALLY noticed that Woodville people have been talking to you on Facebook? Sheesh. I keep asking Sister D, "Did my mom respond yet?" I was wondering what was gong on...haha. And, Betty O. Man, I love her. She is one of my FAVORITE people here in Woodville. She has the most tender heart I've ever seen. Her son, Jarom, is going on his mission to the Philippenes (sp?). He reports Oct 10, but is leaving to conference this week. Will you write her back and encourage her about her son? She is so happy he is going, but super sad as it gets closer. Will you write back and express your excitement for her? And, check in occasionally and see how she is doing? She would love that! I went to her house last night and she brought me a print out of yalls conversation. So cool! Loved it! Also, will you look on FB and find Denese D's husband, Tim D? He posted a photo of me and Sister Ka with our knives. Apparently, the whole Woodville branch and other missionaries had "liked" it a bunch. I want yall to see it. If not, no worries, I have a copy on my camera.
Well, I went to the RS Broadcast on Saturday night. It was awesome. First off, Sister Stephens reminded me of Aunt Debi. I was really sad when Sister Beck was released last conference. I shed a tear or two. But, I am very impressed with this RS presidency. I enjoyed that broadcast a lot. Many thoughts went through my mind. First, my mind went to Mom. (oh gosh, turning into her. Already tearing up as I type. Lame) I thought of where she was watching it and if she went alone, with Jeri, or with friends. Did she go out to eat? Was she ok? How has the RS calling been? Is she still overwhelmed? And, then I thought of how I'd be with her next year. This led me to look around at where I was at. I was in our little bity church building, in the RS room with a few of our RS members here. There were maybe 10 of us total. We brought finger food to snack on as we watched the broadcast, I had a quilt on my, boots off, feet propped up, and in the company of this little RS branch that I have come to love to much. I started to get emotional as I thought of being home next year and away from these people. How I love the Woodville Branch! I then started to think about all the things I am learning out here. How this mission has already helped me prepare to work as a better RS member than I was before. I loved all the talks and I cannot believe another Conference has come. How cool Jeri gets to go! Wave to me! Haha
Well, it is time to get going I suppose. We are fixin to go to Walmart now.
Glad Buster and Hank get a long good. And, I echo the concern of AJ. Do NOT let Buster get fat! No Arby's, popcorn, ham, french fries, or cornbread. We were only together a week, but boy, I miss that dog. Take care of him!
No worries about that package. I am not worried. BTW...mail cannot be forwarded anymore from the Mission Office. So, if yall send mail to the mission office, it will take longer to get to me. It will have to wait until Zone Leaders or Assistants come up here. It is ok to still send it to the mission office, but I just want yall to know that. So, send the package to Woodville ;) Thanks so much. Don't forget the camera cards! I appreciate so much that yall are even sending one for me. So, thanks for putting all that time into it. I also, got Jeri, Addie, and Carla's letters. I got Kylie's postcard! hahaha!! And, I got the package from the Beecrofts. (I got all those at transfer meeting since mail isn't being forwarded). Tell the Beecrofts I LOVED the mail. The mints were super awesome and the notes touched my heart. I love them so much. (Um...Hank...I hear you had a good talk, but where the heck is my letter?? No pressure, but...)
But, really, I've gotta head out. Time to get other errands done.
I love yall so much.
Sister Jackson
PS-Sister Livingston (Branch President's wife) caught me talkin Texan the other day! She said, "Sister Jackson, you're soundin like you're from Texas!" Sweet... :)

(A.J.) Oct 1, 2012--Things are getting better...

Hey guys, so this past week has been pretty good. It was pretty much the same old same old, as it usually is, but for some reason it was a bit different. Well on Sat. I went on exchanges with my old companion in the MTC, Elder G. It was kinda cool.  
Well I can't wait for the package, it will be nice to get some things. Oh, and if you could, It would be cool to get Scott's and Jack's mission office address. I figured, it will just be easier to mail them a letter through the mission office address rather than their actual address because it never changes. so ya, if you could get those for me that would be great. 
Well, it sounds like Hanks talk was great, I wish I could have been there. Its funny about the bloody nose thing. In the MTC there were a lot of missionaries whose nose would bleed all the time because they were from humid places, I'm not looking forward to adjusting to that when I get home. oh and last week you said something that hank said about how everything is green and there are no mountains and how hank said sometimes it feels a bit claustrophobic, well I totally get what he's talking about. I mean, it is different how everything is green, but honestly I miss the valley so much. like, I love how it is just so open in the valley and you can see for miles, like if you get on the roof you can see for a long ways, but here, it really is claustrophobic, it kinda stinks, but I sure can't wait till I get to see the mountains and be in the valley again. Can't wait. 
Well, that's sad that the Fry's is closing, That stinks, I really liked that Fry's, it is a good place, and its also sad that the Palmer's are moving into the 25th ward. I wish they would stay. if i had a choice, I would always live in the 20th ward, but who knows what will happen in the future. Oh, and its also cool that Adam Brake and Stephanie are in our ward now, I hope they're still there when I come back, that would be cool. Well, so there has been some big news this past week, well sort of.
  Ok so in 3 weeks there are 2 new Haitian speaking Elders coming to the area, So for the past 2 months or so, we have tried to figure out who will be training and stuff. So we are not 100 percent sure, we are more like 80 percent sure, but we think that I will stay in this area and train, while my companion, Elder K, is going to a different with my old companion, Elder G, to train. So they will be in a threesome with elder K as the Sr. Companion while I will stay here and train. So I am kinda excited for that. I'm excited because it will be cool to just train, but I'm also nervous because I don't know how he will be like, and the language isn't as good as I'd like it to be. I mean i can carry on a conversation and understand about 60 or 70 percent of what they are saying to me, but I am still very nervous because I am not completely fluent yet. Also I am going to have a lot more responsibility if I'm training. Overall though if I train, I will be pretty happy. Again, its not 100 percent sure, but we have a good idea about what will happen. President Hall never really told us, but he hinted it. We will know for sure by next Tuesday though, So I'm excited for that. Well, sounds like things are going good back home. Keep taking care of Buster and make sure he doesn't get fat....Hank. Seriously, if I get home and he is fat, I will not be happy. haha. but seriously, take good care of him. And don't feed him arby's. haha. Well, I should get going, I'll see you later, take care and be safe.
Love, A.J.

(A.J.) Sept 24, 2012- Met a family at a bus stop.

Hey hows it going. Wow, those were a lot of letters I read, I loved it, it was nice to hear the 2 different perspectives of what went on when Hank came home. I really did enjoy your letters. Ok, well, this past week was nice, it has been a bit different than usual.  
We found a family this past week.   It is a single mom and 3 kids, we have been really trying to work on them a lot. They lived in Virgina and talked with the missionaries there, but then they moved away like 4 years ago and had wanted to get back in contact with missionaries, but they never were able to find them, until we just happened to be riding our bikes past their bus stop right as they got off. They are a solid family, the oldest son, who is 13 immediately said he wanted to come back to church and he had a great time there, so we are hoping to baptize the family by the end of this transfer which is over in about 3 and a half weeks, so we are really working hard for them. other than that, its been the same old same old again.
 Well, obviously I've been thinking a lot about Hank, and I'm so happy for him an that he's back home and all, I hope things go well for him. well, I can't think of anything else to say, oh, and about the video, you could just send it in a DVD or something, and I'll be able to watch it. and about the package you are sending, I can't think of anything specific that I'd like, just any sweets or treats or cool things you think i would like, oh actually wait, I can think of something, If you could send me a big thing of Tabasco sauce, that would be great, I can't find it anywhere out here, so that would be great. well, thanks for your letters, I really enjoyed them, I'll talk to you next week.
Love, A.J.

(JONNA) Sept 24, 2012- Temple Trip

Hello Y'all!
Well, transfer call came on Saturday night and I am not getting transferred! I am staying in Woodville for at leact 6 more weeks! Sister Ka is getting transferred though, and so we will be in Kingwood on Tuesday for that meeting. Everyone thought that I was going to train, but I'm not. WHEW! Sister Co got the call from President last night and she sent me a text: "Jackson, looks like you are getting a sister!" Haha. So my trainer (or "mom") is training again for her last two transfers, so now I have a "sister." Which is pretty lucky because that doesn't happen too often. It tells you what an awesome missionary Sister Cochran is. As for Sister Ka, she is pretty sad. She has been in Woodville for 6 months now and this is her first area. She has been ready for a change, but then when the change actually came, she was pretty bummed about it. I guess it is a bittersweet thing for her. I am sure going to miss her though. She knows so much about the area and we do have a good time. So, I am sad to see her go.
 I think my new companion will be wither Sister Erick or Sister John. I don't know who else is getting transferred yet. We will find out tomorrow!! Also, we got a call from the Assistants, and we are getting a new truck! Sorta. We drive a Chevy Colorado and the Assitants have a Silverado. Well, long story short, we are switching trucks with the assistants tomorrow. So, I am the last sister to drive the Colorado and the first to drive the Silverado! Haha, thought that was cool :)
I'm glad Hank liked the planner I made him! Hope he got a kick out if it. I thought it was a pretty swell planner (if I do say so myself...) I almost kept it I liked it so much! But, no worries, I have one made new for me. It's is cool :) Loved the pictures of yall with Hank at the airport. (Dad, you're wearing the Texas hat!! Sweet!! Oh, I'm so proud!! :) Yup, he looks overwhelmed, but that's usually Hank. And, how could you NOT be? I'm sure I'd be the same way. I thought of Hank all day long, and AJ too. I didn't get too homesick though. I was more homesick for AJ. I was constantly thinking and praying for him most the day. I didn't want him to feel sad. I'm so glad to have been so lucky-blessed to serve with TWO brothers. Now, I get to serve with one more, and for the rest of my mission. Sweet. Dude Hank, you gotta get to bed earlier though. For real? Get a job! Haha, but I'm glad yall are enjoying ;) Write me buddy! Still waiting for that letter...that postcard was meant for you too! :) But, I got the letters from the girls this week! Haha, I LOVED them. I won't be able to write back this week since we are cleaning and packing up Sister Ka's stuff. But, I will write back soon!
Well, last Tuesday was our temple trip! It is the second time I've been able to go to the Houston Temple. I loved it. It was perfect and just what I needed. I sat there in the Celestial Room looking at all the missionaries around me. Some going home this week and some next transfer, some after me. I thought of Hank with one day left and I thought of AJ who I was hoping wasn't struggling. I thought of the families who have sent these kids off to serve, some who are only members in their family, some who have had serious trials occur at home while they were gone, some who went as an act of duty or expectation, and some who are TRUE missionaries. I sat there thinking about where I am at and how far I've come (on my mission and in life). I realized that in 6 weeks I will be half way through with my mission. HALF! Are you kidding me? I have not learned enough to be out here that long! I realized that I have a lot to do and I need to get crackin! But, it was a nice few minutes in the temple with a Celestial Room full of missionaries. Then, I saw some members who work in the temple and felt so blessed. I saw President Pomeroy and Sister Connie Lovelace. How I have loved the members here! Anyway, Tuesday was good. We went to the Distribution Center and This is the Place (LDS Bookstore). I spent some $$ and hope that was ok. (by the way, today, I am going to buy a couple souvenirs at McClure's. I may spend like $30. Hope that is ok. I am trying to not spend a whole lot. Also, last week, I took cash out at Walmart, so I may use some of that now that I think about it...)
Updates on the work:
Ann did not get baptized yesterday like we'd hoped. Her life got really, really crazy and she got sick. So, we haven't been able to finish teaching her. So, her date has been moved to sometime in October. She even came to church yesterday totally sick. I felt so bad! But, I admire her so much. I didn't have to speak in Church yesterday since I spoke last week. Which was a good thing because it was Jarom Odom's farewell. It was a good meeting. Sister Karr said goodbye to a lot of people. We had a fireside last night that we were hoping a couple investigators would come to, but they didn't :( Yet, it was good to see the members. I LOVE this branch so much. I am so glad I am staying, even for a little while longer. 
We found three new investigators this week! Wahoo! We talked to Mar (a referral from Betty O). She is awesome. Also, did I tell yall about meeting Ter? Well, last week, we were tracting and a at this house a little boy answered (8 yrs old). He opened the door and said, "Who are you?" We said, "Missionaries! Is your mom home?" From the back of the house we could here her ask who it was and he shouts. "It's missionaries!" Then turns to us and blurts, "What are missionaries?" (And this kid is loud!) I told him, "We teach about Jesus Christ." So he hollars to his mom, "They talk about Jesus Christ!!!" Ter (the mom) came out so embarrassed and laughing. It was a great ice breaker! She told us to come back another time. We did, yesterday and had a great visit with her and her other son (9 yrs) Col. He was the cutest kid. He is a big kid but loves to pray and talk about God. He said, "I know the Bible is true, I saw it on Google." Haha. He was awesome. Ter said, "Well, we are Baptist, but if you have anything to teach that will help my kids become better and stronger then go ahead." Well, then, we shall :) We left them with a Book of Mormon. Col looked like he wanted one and I gave him one, he was pretty happy. It was sweet :)
Well, that is about it so far this week. Staying in Woodville, which is now my official "longest area." RS General Meeting on Saturday, we got permission to watch it! Can't wait to get my package! Did my absentee ballot come? Is there a deadline for that? Also, Dad, did you know an Elder Blomquist in Portugal?
Sending some photos from the temple!

Love yall!
Sister Jackson

Houston Temple Trip- September 2012
Our district.  Elders Axtell and Allen  They wanted a District photo so we took one :) 

Me & Sister Karr

Me & the temple

Our whole zone. We are the only sisters in the zone (which is refreshing). Love these Elders so much.