Monday, December 14, 2015

Here We Go.....

So it seems i may have sprinted a little too hard this week.... I ended up with a full-body Flu that has pretty much sidelined me for the past two days. Fever, aches, vomiting, diarrhea, the whole shebang. 

Besides that, this has been about the best last week a missionary could ask for. On Thursday night, Zito (who was baptized two weeks ago and received the Priesthood last Sunday) baptized his daughters, Liziana and Zaniah. He spoke with authority and afterwards said it was one of the best moments of his life. 

I worked a lot to get the musical fireside put together and we had our first performance in Warwick, RI last night. Aside from the fact that I was sweating off a fever and semi-conscious, everything went well. The chapel was full back to the gym and everyone enjoyed the music and the Spirit that was there. Tonight we have a performance in Revere with the Cambridge stake, focused on the Spanish and Portuguese membership. Then tomorrow I pack, Wednesday is my final transfer meeting, and thursday night Mae and Pai pick me up!

As I look back on these two years, all I really can express is gratitude. I can't call my mission a sacrifice, because the blessings I've received and the things the Lord has shown me outweigh any effort I made on my own to bring to pass the work of salvation here. Boston is my Waters of Mormon. 

When my group was getting ready to leave the MTC, my teacher pulled me aside and told me I had two options for what I would do with the next two years. He said I could either serve a mission, or I could become a missionary. I've thought a lot about what that means during my service here, and one day I found a verse in the Book of mormon that taught me what it means to become a missionary.
Mosiah 28:3 --

3. Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.

This desire for the wellbeing and salvation of every human soul is the definition of what it means to be a missionary. And the thing that makes me happiest about this right now? It doesn't have to end. This feeling can continue after I return home, and I can continue to minister in my new sphere. 

Thank you for supporting me in these best two years of my life so far. Thank you for keeping tabs to make sure I was alive and for rejoicing with me in the successes the Lord has wrought. This is it! 

I'll see you soon, face to face!

Elder Brenton Jackson

Monday, December 7, 2015

Corner 7

I remember when I was in shape and ran track that the 800m race was my least favorite and the one I invariably always ran. In the 800m race there are 8 corners. The first is easy, but corner 3 it starts to burn, corner 6 is really spent dreading corner 7, which is followed by corner 8 and a 100m sprint to the finish. 

Right now I'm in Corner 7, and really trying to run hard. It seems like the workload has increased dramatically and every day is filling up from now until translation-day. Our area is very busy, we're preparing for two more baptisms either on thursday or saturday, the zone has lots of people to take care of and everyones just running around. Then we've got the mission's musical fireside which I was basically put in charge of this week, which is proving to be difficult to put together when all the musicians live scattered across New England 2 or 3 hours away from each other. The Lord will provide. But its gonna take every last ounce of brainpower and time I have to do my part... 

Now that may sound like almost complaining, but don't worry. I'm trying not to do that anymore. I'm actually relishing the chance to see the lord deliver some beautiful music out of the chaos that it currently is. And lets face it... for my last weeks, I love being busy. Keeps me from descending into deep nostalgia and trunkyness!

By next monday I'll be on corner 8 and sprinting to the finish. The last 100m were always easy; you bite your fatigue and just kick in the last leg of adrenaline and grit you have to make it there. So I'm putting on my almost-destroyed dress shoes and sprinting a different kind of spiritual 100 meters.

Lots of great things happened this week, but the highlight was the chance to spend a day with Elder Packer, from the First quorum of the 70. He taught us many things but the focus came back to learning not just the language but the culture of the Spirit. He explained that recognizing the voice of the Spirit comes with practice, but we also need to learn the culture of the Spirit, or the environments, practices, choices, words, and habits that offend or invite his presence. He told us all to begin to make our own "handbook" of sorts, to record our observations by trial and error of what things we've seen and done resulted in the Spirit being with us. Then we learn to listen to his language and follow his lead. 

I love the Lord, I love Christmas, I love being a missionary, I love bearing witness of the things I now know. At the end of the mission, the greatest emotion I have is gratitude. I think its my favorite way to feel.

Elder Jackson

Monday, November 30, 2015

True Thanksgiving

This week was awesome. 

This was the third Thanksgiving on my mission, and it was the best one. Not because of food (although thanksgiving dinner with 20 Brazilians was PRETTY GREAT), and not because of family (because I didn't get to see them...yet), but because the Lord blessed us immensely and the holiday gave me a chance to be truly grateful. 

This past week we had four baptisms here in the portuguese group! 

Zito and Filomena were baptized on Wednesday night. We had a family home evening with them on Monday night at the Machado's house, and they told us they would make the decision that night and tell us the next day if they would be baptized. I prayed harder that night than I've ever prayed before; we pleaded with the Lord to bless them and waited on Him. The next day we went over at 6 to meet with them, and Zito told us he and his wife had decided to be baptized-- the next day. So we ran and had them interviewed and the next day they were baptized. It was the culmination of a lot of struggling and fighting for the truth, on our part and on theirs. They overcame great opposition to be baptized and are already being changed by the experience.

On Saturday we had the baptism of Jelsom and Jose Gomes, two young men in a family we have been teaching for several weeks! A recent convert of a few months, a young man named Anselmo, performed the baptism. It was another awesome experience. 

On sunday all four were confirmed and I had the chance to confirm Zito and Jose. Confirmations are always a really spiritual experience for me and this time was the same, even in Portuguese. 

I wondered about why I was supposed to stay here on the mission for 1 more transfer, and i think I'm finding out why. The spirit is being poured out in our ministry here and I'm just tried to direct it toward the ones who need it most. 

Theres nothing better than an attitude of gratitude folks, its takes what we have and makes it enough.

I love you all! No time to stop!

-Elder Jackson

Monday, November 23, 2015

Bonus Points

Greetings all! 

Seeing as I have officially passed my 2 year mark, I'm calling this next month my overtime. Hoping for some bonus points here :) this next week should be very eventful. 

This week was great as usual, ups and downs for sure, but everything turned out okay. We had the awesome opportunity on Saturday to visit the Boston temple with Zito and his family. The experience was marked by tender mercies-- one of which was that the temple worker behind the front desk of the temple who greeted them just so happened to be Cape Verdean. And had a quick whispered conversation in Criolu. It was doooope. #theLordprovides

The other mark of age I saw this week? Everything I own is falling apart. Its like all my clothes/missionary tools realized the 2 year mark had passed and gave up, causing them all to suddenly tear/snap/rip/be lost. I lost all my favorite pens, had two other pens explode, had buttons rip off pants and shirts, broke my watch twice, and lost a chunk of the sole of my best shoes. I officially feel like a good missionary. 

We are preparing a family of 4, two boys and another man for baptism this week. We'll see how it goes, but an extra prayer for them would be much appreciated. They're overcoming a lot to make this step!

A lot of other cool things happened and I wish I could share them all, but I unfortunately cant.

So suffice it to say, I'm alive, sprinting hard, and excited for my third Thanksgiving in the field. 

Lets get it!

Elder Jackson

Monday, November 16, 2015

T-minus 30 to Translation day‏

Time is ticking, clock is clicking and we're starting to sprint. 

This week on Wednesday will be 1 month left, and on Friday will be my official 2 YEAR MARK. Hard to believe. I can still remember those first days... 

Elder Soller and I are doing awesome, the work is progressing. We had 53 people in our not-so-little Portuguese group. Building on the shoulders of giants for sure. 

Our people are progressing really well. Ademar is keeping commandments the members don't even keep... we think this could be a big week. The ward officially decided to split the home and visiting teaching completely between the english and portuguese, so we're getting ready to leave the nest.....

I'm loving life. Trying to constantly focus on the blessings and tender mercies so I stay on top of the wave of work that always threatens to drown me. The Lord is so good. 

Spiritual thought?

1 Corinthians 2:9
Luke 9:24
What does it take to be permanently happy?

Love you all! Sally forth!
-Elder Jackson

Monday, November 9, 2015

Beginning With the End in Mind

Me with Elder Tuckett and Elder Pennington (the ones who walked Boston Common 
on Day 1, and some of my best friends here)
Elder Araujo and me
The Frandsen family (drove us to stake conference)
So Jenna sent me some awesome planners, but there were some Portuguese sisters who had none, so I gave them away (sorry Jenna, hope you understand... but the sisters thought they were the best planners they've ever seen). I then had to make my own: some of you may recognize the picture!

Hey all! 

First: shoutout to Kiersten! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! and scott for his sick beard. and running a half-marathon. 

Quick update from this week:

Transfers were on wednesday, and Elder Araujo went to Boston 1 PO (my motherland) and Elder Soller (my previous companion from Boston) came to Central Falls PO! Exciting times. Things are crazy here. 

The strangest part of transfers was saying goodbye to most of the elders that arrived in Boston with me two years ago. The ones I walked with on the first day in Boston Common bore their last testimony here Wednesday night, and it was surreal. But their "acceptable sacrifice" really just inspired me to sprint to the finish-- which is now 6 weeks away. 

We have several families progressing towards baptism, and I love them. One thing Elder Araujo taught me was how to truly love the people I teach, and do anything for them; I'm trying to put it into practice, even with the people I meet for the first time on the streets of Pawtucket. It transforms the work. 

Stake conference was on Sunday, and we got permission to rent two VANS from the airport to drive our group down to connecticut! It was one of the craziest mornings of my mission getting everybody to the vans and ready to go, but so worth it. We had our own little section of seats at the conference, which extended from the front of the chapel to the stage at the back of the gym (same size chapel as Ashburn). 

I'm searching for the purpose of these next 6 weeks, but not too hard. Mostly were just here to work. I've been given an amazing group of missionaries to serve and they're helping me weed out all the leftover "nets" I haven't yet forsaken. 

I love you all! Be good! Do good! Have fun! 
-Elder Jackson

Monday, November 2, 2015

Record Breaking‏

 Anildo at his baptism
Record breaking Sunday!
Ironically, my first picture with elder Araujo!
Our investigator's dad is a super famous musician in Cape Verde. 
Famous enough to be on their 1000 escudo bills.

What a week it was up here in Pawtucket! Our little Portuguese group isn't so little anymore!

I only have 12 minutes of library computer time, so lets see what happens here.

The big news of the week is that our friend Anildo Fortes (not anilo, as I had called him the whole time) was baptized on Saturday! It was awesome. He asked for me to baptize him. All came from the Elders being lost on their bikes one day and asking him for directions. He couldn't give directions, but he did want to know about the gospel. And on Saturday he was baptized. 

On Sunday we broke the record for attendance in the Portuguese group! The church was full and we ran out of chairs. It was full of great testimonies and Anildo's confirmation was excellent. I felt really enlightened by the fast also. 

On Friday we found out Elder Araujo is being transferred. Everyone here loves him and is very attached to him so it's been tough for all, but he's going to Boston Portuguese, so I know it's gonna be good :) Elder Soller, who was my companion in Boston, is coming here to Central Falls and will be the last companion of my mission. 

That's all! See pictures! Let's go! love You!!

-Elder Jackson