I’M ALIVE!!!!!!!!!!

Oh my goodness I can’t believe I finally get to e-mail you all!!!!!!! First off, I want to let you all know that you can send me daily messages if you want. All you have to do is go to dearelder.com and look me and my mission up and you write a quick message that will be sent directly to the MTC where they will print it out and have it delivered to me. AMAZING, I KNOW. so you don’t have to do a daily huge long letter but i would absolutely love to hear little quick messages about your day, what you and the kids did, what kind of messes they got into, if you are getting a haircut. ANYTHING would brighten my day. It can just be a couple sentences saying hi and that you love me. seriously, please, i know you are all extremely busy but if you wouldn’t mind, i would really love that so it wouldnt feel like i am so disconnected from you.
Ok, let’s talk about life. It was just mama and I at the airport Wednesday morning. The whole car ride there we talked and she gave me her wise mama advice and i was trying to soak up every minute of being around her. when we finally got to security, we held each other for a long time and cried a lot. i didnt want to say goodbye to my best friend and comforter for a year and a half. but as i went through security, i kept looking back and waving as she stood on the other side of the glass….more tears came…speed up to around 10:20 UT time when Lark and Grandma J picked me up at the airport and we had a fantastic final cafe rio lunch. Before Lark dropped me off at the MTC, my friend Melody who was living just down the road and going to school came to hug me and say goodbye. Then I had to give mama one final call. That was pretty awful. Hearing her voice quiver and knowing that I couldnt talk to my wonderful mama for a pretty long time kind of broke my heart. But I have a special surprise in that department mama, just you wait. So Lark and Grandma J dropped me off in the loop and guess who my host (person who welcomes you and helps take your stuff to your room) was? My friend Kai’ala from my freshman ward. It was so comforting to have the first face I saw at the MTC be a familiar one. I felt like a pack mule as I saw Elders walking by with one little suitcase and a backpack. I had 2 huge suitcases, a duffle and a backpack. But seriously, I’m packing up my life and bringing all my toiletries…at least I was prepared. So Kai’ala showed me to my room and my first day begun.
When I first got to my classroom, my teacher only spoke in Portuguese and the whiteboard was covered in Portuguese words and phrases. I eventually met my first companion. Her name is Sister Russell and she is from Flagstaff, Arizona. She is 20 and is an Environmental Science major at some university in Arizona. She is incredibly sweet and wonderful to be around. We are getting along really well and thank goodness she likes to be silly and loves The Office. Don’t worry Jenny, I haven;t been craving any netflix or hulu 🙂 My district is the group of elders and sisters who arrived on the same day as me and we are all either going to curitiba or curitiba south. there are 5 sets of elders (most just graduated from high school) and 2 sets of sister missionaries including me and sis. russell. we are all getting along really well and have love getting to know each other.
The first four days might have been the hardest days of my life so far. There was so much to learn, about Portuguese and about relying on the Spirit that I was just so overwhelmed. I really missed home and missed mama (everyone else too but you know mama is my homegirl). For the first four days you are learning so much ALL THE TIME. I had to have my brain and my heart turned on at full power all day long in order to soak up everything that was coming at me. We were told that on Friday we would teach our first lesson in portuguese to an investigator. Our investigator (i’m pretty sure it’s a fake investigator) is Rajen who has a Kindu background and is not sure if her believes in christ. our first lesson went alright. our portuguese was mostly spanish with a weird twang and i actually felt the spirit. but i was so frazzled before our second lesson on saturday because i was so worried about memorzing what i wanted to say. i felt the spirit in our second lesson but i felt really disappointed and frustrated afterwards because he still didn’t believe in god. how do help someone believe in god. riddle me that?! you cant just inpout a testimony into someone’s mind and soul. so i prayed really hard to know how to help him know that god was existed and was his father in heaven. i prayed for the guidance of the spirit to know how we could help him. i will come back to our third lesson.
i thought i knew what it meant to come on a mission, what it meant to have a testimony, what it meant to work hard and sacrifice. i didn’t know. just in the first 4 days, it was so much mental hard work to learn a new language and to constantly be trying to help another human being come unto christ. seriously, my every thought was, what more can we do to prepare. every moment of the day was dedicated in prayer and study to how we could bring the spirit to our lessons. even during lunch, i bring a portuguese conjugations book with me so i can keep learning. i was so exausted and drained after every single day.i never understood the ache of a misionary that came when i felt like i’d never see the people i love again and i felt like i had the weight of the world on my shoulders trying to learn and teach. its awful and i never understood or appreciated how much work and heartache it really requires to be a great missionary. so holla at my former mish’s out there. i don’t mind telling you all this. i cried in the shower every night from wednesday to saturday. i really missed mom and i just wanted to leve this spiritual bootcamp/prison for 5 minutes and i didn’t want to be on a schedule and i just really needed help from god because i just didn’t feel strong enough or that my brain could hold any more of anything. i cried in my bed as i looked at the photo album mom made me of our family. i missed (miss) each one of you. with each face that i saw and page that i turned, more tears kept coming and i just wanted to be with you and have you hold me. it ws rough. i wished i could call mama to have her tell me goodnight and that everything would be ok. but i could’nt. all i could do was say a prayer, cry, and hold onto the little blue CTR bear i brought with me that jenny gave to me a really long time ago. i didnt sleeep well the first couple nights and kept waking up every couple of hours, worried that i missed a lesson. ugh, i love sleep and i wasnt getting the rest i needed. but its gotten better.
i’ve seen so many friends here, both from home and from byu, that has been so comforting. so far i’ve seen evan denninghoff (whose classroom is 2 doors down from mine so we say hi to each other all the time), elise carter ( i always see her at meal time), chrissy grover, lexi garrett (my hall from byu and i used to visit teach her), louisa priday )in my byu hall), chandler maguet. drew brown. elise pix (byu choir), a friend of janine’s (janine, that girl we eat slab pizza with) and so many more people!!!!!!! \
so i actually got to leave the MTC on my second day, say whaaaaat? sister russell needed to get some dental work done so we got to get in a van, go out of the MTC gates and go ALL THE WAY DOWN THE STREET to the dentists’s office. i was so STINKING STOKED!!!!! we were across the streeet from the malt shoppe that i loved to go to my freshman year and i could see the tanner building. i was so happy to be outside in the real world for a little bit. in the pic attached you can see the magazines (PEOPLE + ensign…only in utah). i asked the receptionist if she could take our picture because there was an awuarium in the office and it made me think of lissy and newland and oour adventure at the academy of life sciences. i missed lissy so bad, i wanted to be right back there, holding new’s hand and looking up at the fishies. it melted my heart. later that day i also heard someone whistling newsies and i thought of you lissy and jenny. the hitching a ride pic of me on the side of the road was just outside the office.
i’ve learned SOOOO MUCH PORTUGUESE in the almost 6 days that i’ve been here its insane. can you believe i’ve taught 3 lessons to an investugator in portuguese!!! even though its so overwhelming, i have LOVEDlearning new things everyday. i’ve started to think in portuguese. just small things but i love it when i think of a word in portuguese or when i want to know how to say something or conjugate a word in future and i learn it, its so gratifying. from 7 in the morning, we have 6 hours of classroom instruction every day, an hour of personal study, an hour and 15 mins of lanugauge study, 3 hours of additional study time, daily planning sessions with our companions, breakfast, lunch, dinner, gym time, TALL (an online language learning thing, super helpful) and bedtime by 10:30/ seriously, im just eating to stay alive. i love gym time because i read my conjugation book while i’m on the elliptical. i thought i worked hard and was dilligent with my studies in high school…um, i have arrived at a new level of kick-butt studing. watch out BYU nursing classes 2015! it has been so exciting to learn a  new language and i’m so gratreful for my bacjkground in spanish. i was looking at BOM in russian and thought uhhhh, what. i love portuguese and i’m so exited to eventually get to brazil.
everyone kept telling us to just make it to sunday, and i was like, oh ok, sunday, fine. SUNDAY SAVED ME. I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO DROWN AND SUNDAY SAVED ME.  i didn’t really appreciate talks and beautiful music and the phrase ‘resting from your labors’ until sunday came. we started out the day with personal study and then all the sisters got to watch a broadcast of music and the spoken word. my face was glued to the screen as i heard such beautiful music and saw video feed from all kinds of nature. the video of the beach brought tears to my eyes, i missed it so bad and it was so beautiful to see. i never really paid attention to the lyrics of music and the beauty of nature until it was all i had to feed my soul and find strength in. mom, sister applonie, my choir director is in the MOTAB!!! i saw her in msic and the spoken word and i was soooo excited. it would be so fun if you could all tune into music and the spoken word so we could be together in a way every sunday (the sisters get to watch it every week). everything about sunday’s performance was an answer to my prayers. they sang, this is my father’s work. the words made me cry and felt so good to my heart. brother lloyd newell (who was my teacher for one of my classes my frist semester) gave the message and it was SPOT ON. he said that with time and perspectivee, our past experiences prepared us to rise to the challenge, face our moment with courage, hope, and confidennce. he said that there is potential laying deep down inside us.motab also sang, how firm a foundation. that made me soooooo happy, thinking about jenny singing it 🙂 i saw along and felt at home. the lyrics touched my heart so strongly. i’ve never apprecaited the lyrics so much. “fear not i am with thee, o be not dismayed…at home or abroad…i’ll strengthen thee help me and cause thee to stand, upheld by thy righteous omnipotent hand” these might seem like the words we’ve sung in church 5 billion times, but to me it was all i needed, all i could have. it was an answer to my prayers. it was the strength that i needed to keep on going. i felt the spirit so strongly that morning and knew that god was wathcing over me that morning. on sunday we also get to walk to the temple…THAT WAS GLORIOUS!!!!! i had ached so long to be outside and have space. i even took my shoes off and got to walk in the grasss. oh, man that felt so good, i helt at home. there were protesters (only like3, not a whole mob) outside the temple, weird, i thought that only happened at conference. i asked sister russell to take my picture on a particular bench. months earlier, i sat on that bench on a brisk march morning, my papers were in, i had just gone to the temple and i was reading my scriptrures and watching alll the missionaries walk by. i was so excited to be like them soon. so i sat on that bench on sunday and took my picture in fornt of zinnias. i thought of you mommy and missed you and wished you were here and wished i was there. i love you. SUNDAY WAS A MARVELOUS DAY. i didn’t cry in the shower or in my bed on sunday.
I have to get off soon but i will try to get as much as i can written. we had our third lesson with rajen last night. wow. i had been praying so hard to know how to help him. on sunday, lessons and talks all through the day gave me little snippets on informatino and inspiration that i was like, oh, that would be perfect for rajen to hear. i felt very calm before our third lesson, with the second one i was pacing back and forth, chewing on my pen and really wigging out. before this third one though, i knew the spirit was with us and no matter how crappy our portuguese, this was going to be a good one. and it was. we found perfect scriptures to help him understand what the holy ghost was, how he could feel it and how it could help him. we read moroni 10:4-5 at the end and toldhim that honestly, the only way he was going to know the truth was for him to pray to god and ask. at that point it wasnt in our hands anymore. we had given him the information and the tools and it was up to him and the spirit to work their magic. not magic, but you know what i mean. he told us that he felt the spirit, and that he felt goosebumps (we didnt understand him when he said this so he sort of made the motion on his arm). i was so happy and couldnt stop smiling. i was so excited for him. this was the first big step. before i was just so concerned, how could we help someone and move forward with teaching someone the gospel if they didn’t even believe in god. something i have really learned here is that you teach the person, not the lesson. you prepare yourself and rely upon the spirit to meet their needs, calm their heart, answer their questions and come to where they are in life.he felt the spirit, we felt the spirit, it was a great day.
we also watched elder bednar’s mtc devotional, the character of christ. mind blowing. jenny had me read it before. seriously, i won’t even try to describe it, just watch it. WATCH IT. one of the biggest things i got out of it, this mission is not about me. this mission is NOT ABOUT ME. we must turn outward to become more like christ. WATCH IT PLEASE.
Lissy dearest, happy belated birthday!!!!! im so sorry i couldnt be there but i’m so glad you had the italian cream cake to enjoy and that we got to spend a wonderful week together. Everyone else, i’m going to respond to your emails as soon as i can. i’m way over time but this is SOOOOOO WORTH IT. ive been waiting to email you all, itching to wake up this morning so i could get in here. so please send me little messages during the day using dearelder.com. its all online,no mailing, it would make my day please!!!!!!
So this has all been a whirlwind and i want to write more and dont want to leave you but i am so excited to learn, im so excited to grow more and teach people and rely on the spirit and come unto christ.
morgy, you can put this all up on the blog if you would like. i know its long but whatevs, its my life and my blog 🙂
i love you all so much and i want to be near you and i pray for you so hard every day and i miss you and i promise this will be a hard and wonderful year and a half.
love, Sister Mariah Jackson
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