Monday, June 24, 2013

  Last meeting with our whole zone.
 Last meeting with my district since 3 of them are going home this week.  From left to right: Elder Neu, Elder Smithers, Elder Jenkins, Elder Robinson, Sister Passey, Sister Birch, and me.
On exchanges in Beith with Sister Francis and Sister Birch.

Another smashing week in Irvine!

This week we did exchanges with the Beith sisters.  Me and Sister Birch went with Sister Francis in Beith and Sister Ashdown went with Sister Passey in Irvine.  I loved Beith! To me, it's the epitome of a wee traditional Scottish village.  Narrow cobblestone streets and old wee shops.  Very hilly.  The Beith sisters opened that area 12 weeks ago so basically all they do is finding.  It's crazy--they only have 20 people come to church on a good day! I realized how lucky we are to have a ward of 120ish in Irvine.  We did a lot of chapping and street contacting while we were there.  A couple funny stories from that.  One door we chapped this really tall lady with big red hair opened the door and as soon as she saw our name tags flung her arms out wide and shouted, "Hail fellow worshippers of Jesus, halelujah!" It was pretty funny and I almost started laughing. After we started to talk to her we learned that she'd been taught by the missionaries before but that she's not interested because she has her own religion--Born Again Christian.  She was very polite though.  Another time we chapped this door and met a lady who was a Jehovah's Witness.  She wasn't interested in our message at all and she believed in some very strange things but she was probably one of the nicest persons I've met!  And we did find some common things between our religions.  Oh, also we leave a card in people's chapping boxes with our number on it when they don't answer.  Usually nothing happens from this but we actually got a text from someone who says they are atheist but is curious about our beliefs.  Hopefully something happens from this!
Another funny thing is when the Beith sisters opened the area the ward was so excited to have missionaries that they put this big announcement about it in the newspaper.  It said "The Sisters are Here!" or something like that. Anyway, ever since then they've kind of been treated like celebrities and they'll have random people as they drive by honk at them and wave.  We had a few people do that to us while we were there. I felt pretty cool.:)
We had transfer calls yesterday and me, Sister Birch, and Sister Passey are staying together for another 6 weeks! I was excited about that.  Our new district leader is Elder Crosby, who is actually friends with a girl I worked with at Jamba Juice.  Our new zone leaders are Elder Thompson and Elder James.  We're having 25 new missionaries coming in with only 19 leaving.  So there's now about 180ish missionaries in Scotland and Ireland!
Something really cool happened this week.  We talked to a man on the street and he said that many years ago he met with the missionaries.  One of them gave his wife a Book of Mormon that a family (who were members) from his home town had written their name and address in.  They asked that whoever got the Book of Mormon would write them a letter just so they would know where it had ended up.  So his wife wrote the family and they ended up being pen pals for over 30 years! They never joined the church but I think that's such a cool story.  And now they have these good friends that are members!
Yesterday President Brown and his wife spoke at our Sacrament meeting.  That was really neat although they didn't mention missionary work at all which surprised me.  They both talked about the importance of families and it was really good to hear--especially because of how much the family is being attacked and degraded in society today. 
So this Wednesday we're having our P-day (besides emailing) since none of us are moving and I'm really excited because a member  is taking us around to see some historical sites in Irvine and we're also probably going to see the beach and the castles there! Should be fun!
Sister Jackson

Monday, June 17, 2013

 Black pudding!
 It was crazy, a couple days ago we had some true Scottish summer weather haha.  It was pouring rain, freezing cold, and so windy! I thought it was hilarious that the days before had been so nice and then that day we were wearing our coats, scarves, gloves, boots, and hats.  So this is us all bundled up for summer! :)

Blood pudding, s'mores, and a freezing day in June!

So I'm actually kind of confused about what "pudding" actually means here.  So far I've had black pudding, red pudding, Yorkshire pudding, and just normal pudding.  And they're all different things! I've asked people but no one really seems to know...  Anway, we ate black pudding this week and did not die.  Barely. It looked nasty--kind of like a charred hamburger patty or a pile of charcoal with little bits of something in it.  (One reason it might have looked like that because we wanted to make sure it was cooked all the way before we ate it.  Yeah. It was.  Oh well, better to be safe than sorry! Especially with black/blood pudding.) But it didn't taste that bad actually! I think it was the thought of what it was that made it so hard to eat haha.  But we survived!
Yesterday we had dinner with Margaret Howard, Rita Green, and Margaret's 15 year-old grand-daughter, Caitlin.  Caitlin wants to be a proffesional chef and she made dinner for us which was amazing.  We said we'd bring dessert so we brought stuff to make s'mores because we wanted to show them a true American dessert.  Well tried to anyways.  They don't have graham crackers here so we brought the closest thing we could find, shortbread cookies.  We roasted the marshmallows over Margaret's stove.  It turned out really good though! Everyone loved them and thought it was so cool that they were eating real American s'mores. 
After dinner we taught Caitlin about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and planned to invite her to be baptized.  Once again, it's crazy to see the opposition that comes right before you do this! As we were teaching, Margaret fell asleep on the couch but right before we asked Caitlin what she thought of baptism, she sat straight up and said something like, "Is that you Raymond?" (Raymond is her 40 year old son who lives with her and who was on holiday). That happened a couple more times.  Margaret or Rita would interrupt with something random every time we tried to keep Caitlin focused on the lesson and on baptism.  Then Caitlin would get distracted and start talking about other things.  Well, we finally asked Caitlin to be baptized and she said she would have to think about it. 
Something really cool happened this week.  There's a less-active man in the ward named Alec Hutcheson who we were able to see this week and who has been starting to come back to church.  When we told that to the elders in the ward they said they've been trying to get in to see him for months and months but haven't been able to.  This was a miracle that showed to me that just because someone doesn't join the Church because of you, doesn't mean that someone else won't be able to touch their heart in some way so that they will feel the Spirit.  I know this definitely didn't happen because of us though.  The Lord knows when and how someone will accept the Gospel and prepares them for that time. 
So my nickname here is officially "the wee one." Everyone calls me that for some reason.  I guess it's because I'm the shortest one in our companionship but it's funny because I'm still taller than most of the people we teach.  It was kind of embarassing actually but also funny because we were in a teaching appointment and I couldn't figure out how to sit on the couch because if I sat all the way back my feet wouldn't be able to touch the ground and if I sat on the edge it was harder to sit like that for a long period of time.  The man we were teaching, Craig Mury, noticed my predicament and laughed and called me "the wee one." And it's stuck. 
Couple interesting things I've found in Scotland:
--One funny thing a lot of people do here is pre-bless their food.  So we'll be at a dinner appointment and they'll say, "The food's already been blessed so don't worry about that." It's just interesting because I've never seen that before. 
--In the summer it stays light for most of the day.  And I mean most of the day.  The sun comes out at 4 a.m. and doesn't set until about midnight.  It's been really nice for teaching in the evening but also makes it hard to get to sleep:)  But this will change in the winter and then it will be dark at 4 p.m.  That will be strange. 
--New phrase I learned! "It be a braw bricht moonlicht nact ta-nacht." Can anyone guess what that means? It's harder when you hear someone say it because they talk so fast and slur all the words together. 
--People use the word "thingmy" for anything! They use it as a noun, verb, adjective, basically everything they can't think of the name for.  When we talk to people we just have to kind of guess what they're referring to.
That's it for this week! Hope everyone is doing well! Cheers!
Sister Caryn Jackson

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

 Driving through Edinburgh
 Met Danita Knickerbocker's brother at the All-Scotland conference! Danita was in my single's ward last year at BYU. Me and Elder Knickerbocker.
In front of one of the many "banana" trees they have here in Irvine.

 Really gross hamburger

4 days in a row without a rain jacket! Brilliant!

The weather has been awesome this past week.  Sunny and warm.  I've even gotten a little tan which is crazy haha.  I think it's the "week of summer" they have here before the year of rain. 
Yesterday, Sunday, was amazing! We had 8 people we've been teaching come! After much persuasion we finally convinced the lady in her 80's that refused to come to church because she didn't think she had anything suitable to wear.  But she came yesterday and she loved it! She says she wants to keep coming.  This was definitely a miracle, no question.  Also, a man who's in his 30's and was inactive for many years finally came back to church with his mum a little while ago, was able to pass the Sacrament for the first time yesterday! That was really cool to see.  The woman I invited to be baptized my first day also came.  I don't think I've told that story yet, but if so, I'll just tell it again:)  She has been a heroine addict for most of her life but her father is a less-active member and she's been investigating the church.  On my first day we taught her the Gospel of Jesus Christ and about the need for baptism.  Sister Passey set it up perfectly and right when I said, "Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be--" her father cut in and said, "What's the Church's views on gay marriage?" It was completely random! We hadn't talked about gay marriage at all in the lesson! This was proof to me that Satan is very much aware of what we do on our missions and is trying to stop us in whatever way we can.  Anyway, we finally were able to bring the conversation back to baptism and I was able to ask her to be baptized. She said yes (which I wasn't expecting so I kind of just sat there in shock for a little bit) but then we found out she has to be off the methadone program she's on to be completely free of any drugs in her system before she's baptized.  That was kind of sad because it will probably be a few more years before she can be baptized but it's still a miracle how much she's progressed and that she was able to come to church yesterday.  I know that Satan is real, especially in those kinds of situations, but I also know that our Heavenly Father is mindful of us and that we just have to keep trying to do what's right and He won't let us be tempted or tried above what we can handle. 
We had a funny lesson yesterday at church.  Elder Smithers, our district leader, was teaching the Gospel Principles class, which is mostly for investigators, less-actives, and those that have disabilities so they learn a little bit slower than others.  He was teaching about the temple and showing pictures of some.  He showed a picture of the baptismal font in the Salt Lake Temple and one of the ladies we've been teaching asked, "They have real cows in the temple?" Everyone was laughing and we explained that they were just statues, but as I thought about it later I realized how strange a lot of the things are in the temple to someone who hasn't grown up in the church.  I think I take that for granted sometimes. 
We had the nastiest food yesterday.  We got held up in a lesson and we didn't have time to go back to the flat to eat dinner so we decided to go to a corner fish 'n chips shop and get something to eat there.  Sister Birch and Sister Passey ordered a cheeseburger and were expecting a normal cheeseburger.  No.  They deep fry everything there! It was gross.  The hamburger was breaded and red inside and dripping with grease.  We all felt so sick that night and resolved to never go there again.  Speaking of food, a member gave us black pudding yesterday (otherwise known as blood pudding, blood sausage, or black sausage) in a package to take home and cook.  We're kind of scared to but I want to try some just to say that I have.  It really does look pretty dodgy haha.  Everyone thinks it's strange that kebabs are banned in the U.S. (because of the dodgy meat) but I'm not surprised.  They definitely have different health standards over here. But also, have really good food.  For the most part haha.
That's it for this week! I miss you all!
Sister Caryn Jackson

Monday, June 3, 2013

Feel free to write Sister Jackson at this address:

Sister Caryn Jackson
29 Ranken Crescent
Irvine, Scotland KA12 OPW
United Kingdom

 "Martin, the Devil Cat"

Week 3

This week was great! Most of our teaching has been with less active members and recent converts but we did get two new investigators this week! One is a man in his 80s and the funny thing is he's almost deaf so our first lesson with him was interesting haha.  I tried to ask him a question and I had to repeat it 4 times because he couldn't hear me.  And even though I was almost shouting in the end he still couldn't hear me so I just gave up and let my companion Sister Passey do the "talking":) We also have a few potential investigators.  One is a woman who is 94 and looks like she's 70.  She has so much energy! She immediately hugged us when we came to the door and proceeded to spend 30 minutes telling us all about her kids, grand children and great grandchildren.  She says she's very set in her ways but has invited us to come back and teach her.  Another is a man who was very stoned when we talked to him but he said he would read more from the pamphlets we gave him and we've set up a time to meet with him again this week. 
So we have a few drunks that we see regularly that have become our friends.  One of them is always telling us that we're good girls and to watch out and be careful of strange men.  They'll also tell us parts of town that are pretty dodgy that we shouldn't go to.  I think it's pretty funny and kind of ironic that a drunk man is telling us to watch out for other drunks!
It was Fast Sunday yesterday and we had an amazing sacrament meeting! I would say at least 90% of the ward are converts and have the strongest testimonies!  We also got to see a man we've been teaching who was just baptized a couple weeks ago, pass the Sacrament for the first time! It was really neat to see that.
We visited with a couple yesterday which was really interesting.  The man is from Pakistan and is Muslim and he was telling us all about his religin, Islam.  Although there definitely some differences between the two, it was cool to see all the similarities that it has with the LDS church. We're also meeting with a family from Czechoslovakia and it's been interesting to hear about their culture as well. 
We had dinner with a member a couple days ago.  I think I mentioned a little about her in my first email but she is the sweetest lady! She insists that all the missionaries call her "granny" because she says we're all her grandchildren.  She loves all the missionaries but she especially loves the elders.  She has them all take a picture with her and then she hangs them all up on her walls.  Also, on her wall are a ton of pictures of her two great loves in life--Elvis Presley and cats.  She has a shrine for Elvis on her wall I swear.  But she also loves Christ more than anyone I know and has many pictures of Him on her walls as well.  She says the phrase "silly cookie" all the time and tells us constantly, "Now you take care or I'll scalp your backside!" Haha she's hilarious.  She also has an amazing conversion story.  Her and her husband joined the Church soon after they got married but then her husband got offended by something and had his name removed from the records and forced her to do the same.  She wanted to be in the church so badly but had to wait 53 years until after he died about 10 years ago. She is probably the strongest member I've ever seen!
So I need to explain the picture I'm sending.  Almost every day we walk on this street called Martin Avenue.  And every day we see the same cat in front of the same house, on the same piece of sidewalk.  Every time! But it's kind of creepy because he's always watching us with this evil death glare on his face.  So we've named him Martin, the Devil Cat. 
We're going to Edinburgh tomorrow to have an All Scotland conference which will be really cool.  I'm excited to see all the missionaries in Scotland!
Thanks for everyone's love and support! I miss you all!
Sister Caryn Jackson