It’s Sunny and Warm Every Day!

WHASSSSSUP! Wow, okay first off, way to go Sam in breaking that Jr. High breast stroke swim record and getting your braces off! Mia and Benson you better work your tails off at baseball and volleyball and keep up with that kid, lol.

This is the Gilbert Temple

Well I am doing great and I love Arizona. It’s sunny and warm ALL the time. I don’t miss the snow at all:) And yes I have met Brother and Sister Foote, they thought it was so funny I knew the the Boring’s. And they are the sweetest people! The ward is pretty awesome, they are nice and welcoming. So we get fed every night! We are spoiled and have way too much food! The church is pretty strong out here but it also depends on the area. Half our ward is in the southern part of our area in a lot of trailer parks and creepy looking apartments. It’s kinda ghetto. The other half is in the northern part and pretty nice! A lot of snowbirds up there. So our ward actually has a very high less-active rate. I was surprised on Sunday at how empty the chapel was compared to our home ward. A lot of the less active people come from the poorer part of our area. We visit a lot of them throughout the week. And we have worked with the ward to try and coordinate activities that they would feel comfortable coming to. So at the beginning of the year they decided to start doing a monthly ward activity. This month it was a chili cookoff and that was on Friday. Somehow me and Sister Smith got picked as judges.  We had to try 26 different kinds of chili- and they were not all good!  One of them made Sister Smith sick! But it was still fun. I’m pretty much a pro on chili now!

A lot of what we have done this week is finding. We have five investigators but only two of them are progressing. And those two come from a family who recently just became reactivated and they are 8 and 9 so we are teaching them so they can be baptized. I actually got to invite them to be baptized on my second day out here. It wasn’t scary though because they are kids and pretty nice. We have an investigator who is married to a recent convert and he has been investigating ever since she was. So a long time. He just doesn’t want to commit to anything yet. This couple’s mother is also an investigator but she has dementia and doesn’t remember anything we teach her, but she likes to feel the spirit. 

The Sayee Family and us at the Mesa Temple

So we tried to contact a lot of referrals this week and visited less actives as well. We didn’t spend much time talking to people on those days because sometimes people weren’t home or they just didn’t want to talk to us. Other less actives love talking to us and they could seriously sit there and talk to you for hours! We are just their best buds, its kinda funny. But then when we ask if they want to come to church they always find some excuse as to why they can’t. A lot of them can’t come because of health issues that they have a hard time taking care of because they don’t have the money to pay for a doctor visit at the moment. It’s really sad. 

One of these days we were out knocking on our referrals doors. We had gone the whole day without talking to anyone and then finally we knocked on Rose’s door. She was home! we were so excited!! I think Rose could become an investigator. She recently lost one of her close friends who was a member and she is really trying to overcome her addiction to smoking but she is struggling. She does believe in God and in Jesus Christ. And I got to give out my first Book Of Mormon to her! and she even said she would read it, hopefully she actually does. A lot of the people we visit have problems with addictions. Sister Smith says its one of the biggest issues out here. And so we often leave houses smelling like smoke, BUT showers do wonders! haha. 

My first Sunday was great. Like I said, I was surprised by the small amount in the chapel but the people are awesome. We had the two kids we are teaching there with their family (Mathew and Precious Sayee) and John and Carmen were also there. Literally everyone asks me if I’m related to Boyd K Packer. And I know I am very distantly but I don’t know how so I have been making things up like “oh yeah he’s my grandpa’s cousin’ and I even told one lady I was his granddaughter lol. Don’t worry I eventually told her I wasn’t, but her face was priceless. The best part was relief society. The sister giving the lesson had brought her toddler in because he had a cough and she didn’t want other kids to get sick. And in the middle of her lesson she picked him up.  He was trying to touch the chalkboard and then he suddenly stops and slaps one hand on his mom’s face and says “OH MOMMMY, LOOK! BOOGERS!” yes he slapped his boogers on her face. It was so funny. After church, we visited a couple less actives and were able to talk to a lady named Arlene who used to be an investigator until she went to rehab. But she just got out so hopefully we can start teaching her again. 

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Comp’s that brush together, stay together

Well I am doing really good. My trainer is awesome.  We have a lot in common (and she likes to cook for me:) She has been out ten months. She is a great missionary. One of her strengths is how genuine she is. She becomes friends with everyone first before we go into any sort of gospel doctrine. And she is great with less actives because she used to be one of those. Some missionaries became her friends and thats how she ended up coming back to the church and deciding to go a mission. And no dad, she does not know Uncle Andy. We do get a car. It’s a 2014 silver corolla. We have come up with some GREAT ideas together. One of them is a musical fireside. Like the one we had back home a year ago. Its gonna be a nice fireside that members can bring friends to and missionaries can bring investigators too. I’m so stoked for this and we just got permission from the bishop so we are getting the ball rolling!  I brought some music with me from home and we are coordinating with the ward choir director. It is going to be centered on Christ. We might base it off the apostle’s testimonies of Christ or maybe the timeline of his life. We are meeting with her tonight to decide.

Miss you guys!  love Sister Packer

To answer questions:  We have a gym at the apartment complex, not a nice one but it works okay.  I heard from Jace, Bai and Alexis this week.  Mom, don’t squeal – I CAN email back and forth with you on pday while I’m writing, woohoo.  Also I can only email on Pday, but you can send me an email anytime and I can read it that day, so ya go ahead ANY day I will be checking my email throughout the week.  

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First Day in Tucson, Arizona

Hey so this is exciting, They are letting me write you an email on my first day in the field! YAY! So yesterday we flew out of Salt Lake and got into Tucson around noonish. We went and checked out the mormon battalion which was pretty cool and learned a little bit about our legacy as missionaries and hastening on the work. One of the things I heard someone say – ‘the work is going forth, and I am going with it!’ After we spent the afternoon at the stake center training, eating, and setting up our ipads and then spent the night at the mission home.

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My new Tucson, AZ buds: The new missionaries and our trainers

Today we finally met our trainers!! Sister Smith is training me and I will be in the Casas Adobes area which is North Tucson. She seems pretty cool so far. She likes sports, played the flute for 9 years, and is from Washington. The first thing she asked me was if I had food allergies or was a vegetarian and I said no.  Her next question was “so do you just like food?” I said yes. She said “awesome we’ll get along great!” hahaha. We live in a small apartment, but its nice. I get my own dresser and small closet so its pretty great! 

I am pretty excited to get started! All I have done so far is unpack but once I’m done emailing we are headed out to meet with an investigator. Also, as part of the first week challenge I have to invite someone to baptism this week. Sweeet…. hahaha jk really though I’m excited. This is what I have been looking forward to and learning how to do for 12 days in the MTC! My experience at the MTC was great and I will never forget it. I learned so much from the insights and testimonies of my district and my teachers. One of the coolest parts of the week was the night we all said goodbye to each other. The sisters all asked one of the elders for a blessing and we were each able to receive a blessing for peace and comfort as we head out to our different missions. IT HELPED. no kidding. when I walked into the room to get my blessing the spirit was so strong I felt like I got hit by a ton of bricks. And Elder Epperson gave me such a powerful blessing and I felt so much love from my heavenly father that I knew I could do this and that I would be okay. 

Thanks for all the love and support from home!! The letters and packages make me so happy and I love and miss you all!!  These are some quotes I sent to Davette and wanted to share.

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Valentine care package from my mommy

“It is true intelligence for a man to take a subject that is mysterious and great in itself, and to unfold and simplify it so that a child can understand it.”- John taylor

“I would that ye should remember, that as much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troublse, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day.” Alma 38:5

I hope you enjoy these quotes! I like the first one because that is what I have been learning to do at the MTC! and the second has always been a favorite because I am constantly trusting in the Lord to help me through my struggles! another one I really like is Ether 12:4, look it up sometime:) Love you – Sister Packer

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1st beautiful sunset in Tucson, AZ

An Email From President and Sister Passey the day Jessica Arrived at the Mission Home in Tucson:

Dear Brother & Sister Packer;

It was a very special experience to personally greet your daughter, Sister Jessica Lisa Packer, at the airport upon her arrival in Tucson.  We were impressed by her great spirit and desire to serve.  We are grateful to have her serving here with us.

From the airport we took her and the other missionaries to the Mormon Battalion Monument in downtown Tucson, where we talked about commitment, and leaving behind all the cares of the world to focus on the work of the Lord.  After a brief stop at the mission office to meet the office staff, we went to the mission home, where our Elders and Sisters received instruction and training from the Assistants to the President, Sister Killpack and myself.  I had the pleasure of interviewing your daughter and getting to know her personally and to feel her wonderful missionary spirit.  Later that evening we dined together, took photographs and took the opportunity to discuss our purpose as missionaries.

Sister Packer has been assigned to the North West Zone, located in Tucson Arizona with Sister Smith as her companion.  As you write to your daughter, please encourage her to continue to serve faithfully, being completely obedient throughout her mission.  We know that she, and the Tucson Mission, will be in your prayers.  We also know that the coming months will bring many blessings into your lives by your daughter’s faithful service and the sacrifice you are making for her to serve the Lord and her fellow men.  Thank you very much for having prepared your daughter to withstand the rigors of missionary life and now to be serving with us here.

May the Lord bless you.  We send our love and appreciation.

President David G. & Sister Beth Passey                

Tucson, Arizona Mission 

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First Day in Tucson, Arizona with my mission president, Pres. Passey and his wife, Sister Passey

The Training Begins

Wow seeing all those pictures from the wedding makes me miss you all so much! It looked amazing and Jana looked beautiful in her dress. First off thank you thank you thank you for the letters! it makes my night to go home and read those!! And thank you Mom, and Smiths, and Olivia for the packages! I felt so loved this week so thank you:)

Honestly the first day of the MTC is kind of a blur. Once you walk away from your family you have just a few steps before you enter a building where you receive your nametag. So I had about 25 steps be sad about leaving and then it was right down to business. And no Mom, no one went A-wall and tried to jump the fence; they gave us 5 seconds to be sad then I was too busy to think. We basically had an orientation day and got a tour of everywhere we would be going and started to learn about our purpose as missionaries.

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The Iconic MTC World Map and Me!

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My companion’s name is Sister Inman (in-men). She is also going to Tucson Arizona and guess where she’s from. Surprise Arizona! Hahaha. She has actually already been out to the mission. And she served in the field for three months and then came here. So whenever we have questions about how things will work in the field we always ask her. We are different but we still work together pretty well. She has taught me so much and I just love her. I love the rest of my district as well. There are three companionships of sisters and two companionships of elders and over this past week we have all become so close. One of my favorite nights was about two days ago when we all were in our classroom doing a personal study before going to bed. One elder shared a story with everyone and after that we decided to go around and share our testimonies and how we got our testimonies. It was so cool to get a glimpse of everyone’s background and to understand each other better and it made us all closer too. My district is pretty dope. Seriously.

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I have learned so much in such a little amount of time. I wish I had enough time to write down every experience I’ve had here but I can’t or that would take me hours. Everyday we have personal study and companionship study. We have two teachers, Brother Sorensen and Sister Saathoff. I love them they are awesome! They go over lessons and concepts with us and help us learn to teach things in more simplified ways. One cool experience was when we were learning about inviting people to pray and helping them pray. We were role-playing and I was the investigator and Sister Inman was the missionary. The cool thing about role-plays here is that they feel so REAL! Sister Inman invited me to pray and ask Heavenly Father if He was there and if He loved me and she talked about the answer I would receive if I prayed with real intent. And then I prayed. And I asked Heavenly Father those two simple questions. I don’t think I have ever prayed like that before till then. I mean I already knew He was there but the Spirit I felt when I asked was so strong there is no way I could ever deny it now.

We have had a lot of cool experiences like that all week. My testimony has grown so much. On the first day here they told us that our first convert would be ourselves. I totally know what that means know. Everyday I learn so much about this gospel and I convert myself a little more everyday.  So my favorite quote up to now- “You must be your first convert. Everything in the conversion process must happen to you before it can happen to them.” Thanks, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.

Fast Sunday in the MTC is kind of like going to church all day long, With some breaks in between. We had an MTC conference and the mission president and his counselors talked to us. My favorite part was when the president had us all recite together 3 Nephi 5:13 (“Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life”).It was so powerful to hear a thousand missionaries repeating that together. We had a sacrament meeting with our zone and branch presidency. We got to go on a temple walk together after church that was the first time we had all been outside of the gates. It was so nice to get out of there for a bit. I will send some pictures of that. Later that night we had a night devotional. Jenny Oaks Baker came she is Elder Oak’s daughter. She is an amazing violinist it was beautiful. And to end the night we went and watched this video from a talk given by Elder Bednar and it’s called “Character of Christ”. It was specifically for missionaries and it was the coolest talk ever. Look it up this week if you have time!!

Yesterday we started our TRC visits. So what that means we get to start teaching lessons to ‘investigators’. They could be members playing investigators or they could be real investigators or less actives. We don’t know though so that stinks. And today we got to go into the temple for the last time before we all go out into the field. As a district we did an endowment session. It was awesome and so fun to talk about our thoughts and impressions afterwards together.

So my companion and I are headed to Tucson as well as one other sister in our district. The other three sisters are headed to Philadelphia. All of the elders are going to Texas. Ask Grandpa Pocock if he knows a Ball family. There is an Elder Ball in my district from Rexburg. He talks more than Benson does, bet you didn’t know that was possible. Then there is an Elder from Alabama- Elder Stanley, and he has never seen so much snow. I told him about snow blowers the other day and he thought it was the craziest thing. The other sisters and elders are from Utah, they are all awesome and hilarious.

Ok so I have my flight plans and my plane leaves at 9:30am. So I should be at the airport by 7:30 I think. And I am going to buy a calling card at the bookstore here. So just expect a call sometime the morning of the 15th:) I can’t wait to talk to you all and I love you all so much!!

Love, Sister Packer

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