Monday, December 29, 2014

prophet of the restoration ≠ it's a wonderful life‏

Christmas!

Christmas Day baptisms

Ainda assim, christmas was flippin sweet. its strange to be away from home. this is my second Christmas as a missionary, the first being in the mtc under 7 inches of snow. This one was different for several reasons. Mostly, I'm in Boston, and I passed the holiday teaching and walking and bussing and train-ing and, in a fabulous fashion, baptizing. Specifically, baptizing Maria and her daughter Vanessa.

We met these two ladies on December 7th when they came to church, and I remember when the fire alarm went off maria shouted over the screeching peal "I think I want to get baptized!" The process was not without opposition and struggle, but that miraculous start led to a miraculous baptism. And on christmas maria, vanessa, elisangela, melinda and rosilda were baptized. Nothing more fitting than rebirth on the Savior's birthday!

On the 27th we ran around like crazy preparing people to go to the temple and a recent convert, Ildo, drove me, Elder Griffiths, Djeison and Ely (2 more recent converts) up to belmont to spend a few hours there. it was a sweet experience. Not much better than seeing someone you helped join the church give that potential gift back to their ancestors. 

My personal growth over the course of 2014 has been immeasurable. I landed here in Boston Dec. 31st, 2013 and spent the first night as a real missionary overwhelmed with what lay ahead of me. 2 years is a long time when you're looking up at it from day 1. But now I'm here on Dec. 29th, 2014, and I can look back at day 1, and just laugh. Time has gone so fast, and its only going faster now. But through it all the Lord has refined me as his servant and as a man; he's given me His vision, piece by piece, and continues to offer more each day as I learn what I need to sacrifice to understand the way He works. I've received a glimpse of the life God lives. Just a microcosm. Its worth every price--truly, a pearl beyond price. I'm in no place to give advice to those who already know so much more than me... but maybe take a chance to reflect on what God has in store for you in 2015. What it might take to reach the gifts and blessings he's waiting to give you. What there is left to put on the altar.

I love you all! 

-Elder Jackson
Jenga Rameumptom

The full Christmas Day baptism.

Skyping with the family.
 

Monday, December 22, 2014

3 More Daysssss

The Musical Fireside with Pres. Packard on the far left.

Boston Temple at night
 
I'll keep this brief, because I'm going to skype call with a large portion of you on Christmas day between 4-7pm. Lets save the good stuff for then.

SHOUTOUTS:

-mai e pae jackson for sending some delicious boxes. I had to duct tape one closed to resist the urge to open it before Christmas.

-Scott and Kiersten for responding to my letter request in remarkable fashion.... never have I opened up a tiny apartment mailbox to see 11 letters inside all for me. You guys rock. And I can't figure out your secret message on the envelopes.

-to Heavenly Father, for blessing us with His Son. And the gospel, and music, and salvation. and saxophones. 

This week was sick. I performed at the Christmas conference two more times and got to see someone I taught my entire time in Brockton 5 months ago get baptized. We're prepping for a beautiful Christmas day and Maria (future RS president, pretty sure) and Vanessa (8 year old genius cat impersonator that loves primary)'s baptisms. I love Christmas. I love the true meaning of it. I'm glad I'm here. I'm glad life is hard. I'm glad it was hard for Jesus too, because he knows what its like deeper and fuller than any of us can comprehend. I'm just glad.

Lets get some pictures. I'll talk to you on Thursday!



Raymond's baptism
 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Firesides and some sweet chapel saxophone‏



Hey everybody, hope y'all are doing spectacular. The work continues this week with me and Elder Soller. Not sure if I mentioned this week-- Elder Soller is from Porto Alegre, Brazil, in the south of the country where it actually gets cold. 

-Shoutout to Sister Mitchell who returns home from Campinas, Brazil this week after 18 months of hard missionary work. Everybody go to her homecoming with signs and raucous cheering since I can't be there!

This past week I had the opportunity to travel to Rhode Island, first to Warwick and then to Groton Connecticut to play soprano sax and cello in the MBM Christmas musical fireside. It was a sacred experience honestly, and I'm so glad that I was given musical gifts and also the chance to learn instruments and be able to perform. Playing sacred music teaches me a lot about how God allows the Spirit to work through us. Often we ask ourselves if promptings are from God or our own mind, about which side of the invisible line our desires and ideas fall on. But when you play sacred music, you can't distinguish that line. You can ask someone who has just done an inspiring performance, was that you, or was that God? And the answer: it was both. God takes our abilities, our talent, our hard work and practice; he takes the notes we produce, beautiful in and of themselves, and infuses them with the power of the Spirit, which drives home the actual message of what were performing. You form a symbiosis with the Spirit in that situation; he cannot reach out without your performance, and your performance cannot reach out without him. 

That's really what being a missionary is like too. Its a symbiosis with God; a covenant relationship where both He and I are all in. His work is my work because my work is His. I think that's why it feels so good.

I'll shoot out some pictures, and end with this request: 

All I want for Christmas is a letter and a photo from you guys, if you have time. I'd love to read your handwriting and see a glimpse of what you're doing right now.... plus I need some more pictures for my wall :) my address is 19 Ackley Place #2, Jamaica Plain, MA, 02130.

Love, 
Elder BDJ


p.p.s on the way to a fireside this week we stopped at Panda Express and guess who was there? the founder of panda express. got a picture with him. he likes missionaries and has a second home in Park City. best part? $10 GIFT CARD.

Monday, December 8, 2014

December beginnnnnns.....




 
I'll start this weekly update with a shoutout to Darren--- who either already is or will very soon be a real-life sworn in attorney of the state of New York. Stella is proud <3

In other news, this past week was TRANSFERS! And I am staying in the promised land of Boston. Elder Rodrigues did a switch and went to my previous area and old promised land of Brockton, and in his place I am now companions with Elder Soller who had been in Brockton 4 months. I am exceedingly sad that Rodriguinho is gone, but E. Soller is also a boss, so in that I do rejoice. See pics embaixo 

Also a shoutout to all the Sisters who are coming home. Basically all my women friends who went on missions are reaching the 18 month mark right now, which is weird, and really cool. 

This week was legit. After the miraculous month of November I was worried the mission might get spiritual whiplash, but instead we are in a crescendo, and yet again there are amazing things happening in Boston Portugues...

On Tuesday, we were riding the bus through Roxbury when E. Carvalho started talking to a man Francisco-- turns out he's a member living in Cambridge going to visit his brother. We got off the bus and kept talking to him, and turns out he's walking to the same street as us. And the same house as us... In fact... the guy were going to teach turned out to be his brother Manuel. We had a powerful lesson and Manuel expressed to desire to be baptized in January. 

Saturday night we got a call from the Spanish Elders, who had just met a woman, Maria, on the bus who wanted to meet the portuguese elders and talk to them. We called her and invited her to church. Sunday morning our investigator Edson drove us to church and we picked her and her daughter up on the way. Church was packed--- we had 46 people there for the not-so-pequeno group. Then during the third hour the group leader's son pulled the fire alarm, and because 50% of the people in the building speak Spanish, Portuguese or Haitian creole and not English some confusion ensued. In the entryway Elder Soller yelled to Maria, "HOW WAS CHURCH TODAY?" She yelled back to him, "IT WAS AMAZING! ME AND MY DAUGHTER WANT TO BE BAPTIZED ON CHRISTMAS." We were pretty surprised but pleasantly so. Not something earned or qualified for. Just a tender mercy to a woman who had been looking for the church for 2 years.

-This next week I'll be playing soprano sax and cello with the mission's musical fireside in Providence, RI!
  
-Edson, who I mentioned earlier, will be baptized next Sunday. He's sick. And has a sick chest tattoo to match. I'm pumped

-next saturday I get to play futbol with a bunch of Cabo Verdean teenage boys at church for 3 hours

-Lyme symptoms were, suprisingly, a little better this week :)

So all in all? Shaping up to be a great December.

Love,
Elder Jackson

Monday, December 1, 2014

A November to Remember




I have never been more tired, and I have never been more happy.

This week was an emotional and spiritual roller coaster here in dorchestah, including almost losing a baptismal date twice and bringing them back twice, having a Turkey bowl then a Thanksgiving feast at the Packards home that basically made me die of trunkiness (incredibly good food & the same rolls that I usually destroy at home).

This week I had the chance to interview 4 people for baptism, and that was a very special experience for me. It is sweet and humbling to give them a chance to witness before the church and bear testimony of what they learned. Coolest part for me? I succeeded in doing an entire interview in Cape Verdean Kriolu...to a man who was half blind and couldn't read or write, but had a powerful testimony. His signature was a + sign. 

This sunday was huge for the group-- the culmination of a momentous effort was a baptism of 4 people from 4 families (3 of whom were part-member families); 56 people came, mostly the extended families of the people getting baptized. Just in sacrament we had 40, again. The Lords hand is over this work and this area.

I cannot describe, nor do I have time, to tell what my mission means to me. So I'll just send PICTURES! 

Love you all so much! Happy post-thanksgiving and start your Christmas music!
Elder Jackson

Monday, November 24, 2014

Some pie would complete this feast‏!

Elder Jackson way of making their area map more motivating!
Literally.... If I had one request for this upcoming week, it would be a huge, fresh baked apple pie. Is it possible to mail those?
 
But if that doesn't happen, thats okay, because in Boston right now things are going amazing. The groups baseline for attendance has peaked 30. This past week we had 8 investigators at church with us, and one more who actually turned out to have been baptized in CV. Surprise members are the best.

Our mission has made a massive push this month to raise our vision and expand our faith to see what is possible here, what the Lord has prepared for us. And yesterday we passed the historical mark for baptisms in a month. And this next week the whole mission has 40 or so more dates. All in all, this month has been a November to remember and one that will mark a change in my missionary service and dedication.

In a shout out to Jenna and music lovers everywhere, this past week we were waiting for the orange line T when a hipster man with a grizzly voice and a black guy playing violin broke into a rendition of Conor Oberst's "this is the best day of my life". I'm pretty sure I was the only one in the station who knew the song.... but I made sure they knew I appreciated their work when they finished. Not by paying them, because I am a broke poor missionary. But I told them they were legit.

At church this Sunday, a formerly less-active recent convert named Rosa gave the first talk of her life in the group. She told of how she had been baptized in CV last year, came to America and couldn't find anybody from the church (Elders, essentially) for about 8 months. And one day she was praying to find the church, and she was prompted to go for a walk with her daughter. And as she was walking, me, E. Rodrigues and E. Carvalho passed her on Hendry St. (I remember exactly where). I don't remember who talked to her, but we all felt to turn and talk to her. And we did, found out she was a member, visited her at home, she came to church, her husband started being taught by the other Elders, and he will be baptized next Sunday. In Rosa's talk, she said she knew the Holy Ghost had pushed her to go out that afternoon so that we could find her. 

I'm truly more thankful for my life right now than I've ever been. I leave you with my love, two scriptures, and some pics.
 
From Mom-
D&C 78:
19 And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more.
 
From President Packard-
"Blessed be the name of our God; let us sing to his praise, yea, let us give thanks to his holy name... Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel…. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen." (Alma 26: 8,16,37).
 
love,
Elder Jackson

Monday, November 17, 2014

E agora.... ficando velho? (And now...getting old?)

Bienvenidos a la email de Elder Jacksonnnnnnnnnnn

This one is nostalgic... and because I got a shoutout from Mama Jackson in her weekly email that I am approaching my 1 year mark this thursday, I must share a scripture given to me by Jenna:

29 The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head.
As many of you know I am not lacking in gray hairs on my head, so now I have the age to back it up! Na verdade, (Translation: a matter of fact) I don't feel old at all, and in fact, I think in the grand course of things as a missionary, I was born, learned to walk, went to middle school, did some extra-curriculars and now I'm off to college with all that knowledge I have! This next year is going to be the year most consecrated to the Lord of my life so far. I'm planning on it. 
This week.... holy cow. The blessings from God are flowing and there is truly not room to receive them. This week in our pequeno grupo, which had 10-15 when we first got there, had 41 people. FORTY ONE. And the vast majority were less active members who we ministered to, who felt the Spirit and decided to come back. The stake has caught notice. They are starting to talk about expanding our chapel or finding a new building in Dorchester...... And this isn't even official yet, but we're getting a senior couple who speak portuguese (whom President didn't even request, they just decided to come here) in December. This and we may have a baptism with 5-7 people on November 30th. 

Fun fact: Brother Beck, the general Young Men's president of the Church, came to church this sunday. We started talking to him in portuguese (served as mission president in Rio) and about halfway through the conversation I looked and him and was like.... you look familiar... was your son the president of BYUSA? Yup. So that was neat. 

This week I officially became an MBM missionary, officially called! How it happened was rad. So supposedly the process is, President gets my permission, then gets my parents permission, then gets the stake president on board, then called the missionary department and they send it to one of the Apostles and they make the official change. So the day I wrote President last week saying to make the change, he got a call from the missionary department saying, "Hey President Packard... hope Elder Jackson is okay with this, because yesterday one of the Apostles went ahead and changed his mission!" I guess they were on the same wavelength as me and just did it. #efficient

I love you guys, gotta go. Its cold and rainy here in boston but hopefully its warmer where you are! Firme e forte! (Steady and strong!)

-Elder Jackson

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Fogo de dorchester‏


First off, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO KIERSTEN! Hopefully you got something in the mail from me....

This week was spectacular in Dorchester folks. Only downside is that Alex and his sister couldn't get baptized because their dad decided they basically haven't demonstrated "fruits meet for repentance", as the scriptures say. We've done all we can but we can't really visit him until we get permission from the Dad. 

Besides that, here's what happened. 

This past week we were blessed with more prepared people, and it all culminated one of the best Sundays of my mission. We found and taught two less active families this week, and on Sunday they both came in suits and dresses to see the primary program. We also found and started teach a woman named Luisa, who Elder Carvalho and Rodrigues found tracting while I was on splits with a member. She was taught in Cape Verde, has three smart kids, and has an 8 passenger car. Her brother, Deni, now has a baptismal date, as well as her son PJ. She brought them all to church this Sunday, LOVED the primary program, loved her kids being in YMs and Primary classes, and at the end, SHE DROVE OUR MEMBERS HOME. It was amazing. The second miracle of Sunday-- we had 34 people there from the group. Thats the record by at least 5 from what I remember. We had 4 LAs and 4 investigators, and the english sisters brought a brazilian man from Belo Horizone (my original mission call) who stayed with us for the whole time and is very interested. For the first time, we had enough people to do our own Relief Society and Elders Quorum. And at the end, almost the entire group drove itself back home except for 2 people in an english member's car. Our prayers being answered.

Also, this week I was studying in the Book of Mormon about the people of Alma who left the city of Nephi, began a basically Zion society, and then were taken captive by Lamanites who found them while searching for Limhi's people. Its basically a study of why bad things happen to good people, which is a question everybody asks. Mosiah 23:

 "20 And it came to pass that they did multiply and prosper exceedingly in the land of Helam; and they built a city, which they called the city of Helam.
 21 Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith.
 22 Nevertheless—whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day. Yea, and thus it was with this people."
Then they're taken captive and smitten by the Lamanites. 
Mosiah 24:
"12 And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.
 13 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.
 14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
 15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord."

Tough times come, even when we are keeping our covenants with God. We need to remember that this life is a preparatory stage, a proving ground wherein we are purified in the furnace of affliction. It has to be that way. But we can submit cheerfully and with patience. And the days come when we are delivered. 

I love you all!

-Elder Jackson

Monday, November 3, 2014

1 Week of Fall annnnd it's Winter!

 
"Me with Alex"                                      "Paul Revere's crib"
        
                                  "Boston at Sunset"                         "Sleeping on the T . . . we try so hard"



What is upppppppppppppppppppp everybody! Elder Jackson tuning in from Dorchester. Now that my first two companions are on this email list and home, I'm starting to feel old.... 17 days until I'm halfway done with my mission. Nao acredito. The time has flown away. As Jacob says in his final words, the time has passed away like a dream. 

This week was amazing. Elder Carvalho is a champ and with 1 brazilian, 1 half-brazilian american and 1 white americano we've been tearing it up in Dorchester. This week we found 12 new people to teach and this month may turn out to be miraculous, with four of our brethren set to be baptized! We do need some prayers for our friends Alex and Alexa-- their father is a member of the church who has been afastado since he came to the US 14 years ago, and he didn't let them come to church yesterday, and more or less threatened them with never going to church again if they didn't "shape up". The kids aren't perfect, but they're both ready to make a covenant with God. We fasted and prayed and its in the Lord's hands now.

Got some results from the Columbia Lyme clinic, and hopefully more coming. We'll know it all in about 16 days. post-lyme Limbic encephalitis? Who knows. Its a struggle every day but theres not stopping yet. 

It snowed yesterday. Nao gostei...

I took the advice of the doctors and started eating more vegetables-- instead of cereal, green smoothies every day sure does wonders for the bowels and makes you feel really good about yourself. "Hey guys, I drank a green smoothie this morning. Lets go bench some cars!"

On a spiritual note, I've come to a visceral understanding of the reality of the Holy Ghost, and what happens when its with you, and what it feels like when its not. I felt it powerfully in church when a 20 recent convert spoke of how the missionaries helped him change his life. And I felt a home where the Spirit couldn't reside. It was all dark. And now I know that He is real and present and that his absence is something I never want to feel. Conversely, I had chances to be enveloped in truth and light as we taught. I want to do everything I can to have that light forever. 

I pray for you. I love you all! Be safe, enjoy the fall, and I'll see you in a week!

Love, 
Elder Jackson

Monday, October 27, 2014

The dynamic duo becomes the tremendous three‏ . . .

. . . as Elder Rodrigues and I receive our new companion, Elder Carvalho! Some of you may remember that I served with him in Brockton, then he became the assistant to the President of the mission, and now for his last two months he's coming back to the portuguese program to help build the Cape verdean group and receive 1-2 new missionaries to train in 2 weeks. For two weeks though, we will be a walking wall of righteousness in the streets of Dorchester. Or at least the other two will be. I'll be the hole the Dutch boy plugged!

This past week started with me being with Mom, which was wonderful and weird. We went to Columbia Lyme Clinic, who did two days of testing and interviews and records reviews. And finally, finally, we got some possibilities that make sense. I'll copy the tentative diagnoses from my mom's email:

"One of my goals was to get a physiological explanation of why there is continued brain fog.  The doctor said there are two strong theories: 
1) there are still lyme spirochetes (now dead) in the brain which cause the body to activate the immune response, an inflammatory response, in the brain.  This causes swelling and brain fog. 
2) the dead spirochetes may have small proteins that cause the body's immune system to develop antibodies; then these antibodies attack normal brain protein in an auto-immune response causing inflammation and brain fog.  One lab test they did was for the NMDA receptor which is associated with auto-immune disorders."
So it feels great to have some progress. Most of all, to feel a little validated in my symptoms--- that theres a physiological cause for the brain fog, which has been a nagging presence for a year and a half now. Its not a petty step forward to have these ideas coming from a high-level medical facility. And though there isn't a cure, they can treat the symptoms. And they said it could be gone in 1-2 years. Which, compared to the rest of my life, is wonderful news.
The work here is going so well. The group has leveled out to a constant base of 22-30 people each sunday, which is bigger than when we first arrived here. And I'm learning that Jesus Christ really is the center and the head of our life, this church, and my purpose as a missionary. Through Him there's change where before there was a wall. He paid the debt for us, and thus expects us to use his gift to change ourselves, and its so possible. One of our young men is going through a monumental struggle in his family, primarily in his relationship with a troubled father who constantly puts him down and denies him his help. Christ knows that, and all pains. He's been there. And that's what we tell this young man. And for the first time in his life, he sees a ray of light out of the dark pit he was trapped in. 

I love being a missionary. I love my Savior. I love you all! There is no challenge insurmountable!

<3 Elder Jackson
p.s. sorry no pictures, I forgot to bring my cord to the library. SOON!
 
One photo (from Mama Jackson) of Elder Jackson in Central Park.
 
Elder Jackson's new address: 19 Ackley Place #2, Jamaica Plain, MA, 01230
 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Columbus delayed me

So I'm sending out a quick note to the big world, or mostly just you guys, letting you know that I am alive and that the work continues!

Dorchester is rocking it. We're moving into a new apartment tomorrow (one that has room for 2-3 more elders... *wink wink*) and I'm pumped for the change. We'll be closer to everything we need to do.
Our friend Alex is preparing for his baptism this next Sunday, and this past week the Lord's opened up the door with his family, especially his dad-- who is a member of the church from CV, and hasn't been in 10 years or so.

Next Sunday I'll be in NYC, feeling like the most out-of-place missionary in the world!
I'm alive, and full of ideas about how to build this pequeno grupo.

I love you all!

-Elder Jackson

Monday, October 6, 2014

General Conference, Migraines, Epic Haitian Lunches, and Humbling Lessons‏

My dear friends,

This ones gonna be a little short. But first know that I love you all. 

I ate lunch with a Haitian family for the first time. It was incredible. Incredibly huge. In Haitian culture, the amount missionaries eat at their house is directly proportional to how much blessings they get. So out of love for them, I stuffed my face. As in, and entire pizza, an entire loaf of bread, half a box of fries and 1 liter of soda. And then as we were leaving, the Haitian missionaries (Haitianaries) said "wow, that was a really easy lunch..."

This week was jam packed with meetings, both local and world wide. On Friday we had our Zone Conference-- where they trained us on everything we focus on and believe in as a mission. The underlying theme is Zion, how we can achieve it, how we can live our lives at the plane of righteousness needed to access Zion, and how the blessings of missionary work directly flow outwards from achieving "one heart and one mind". We also got to watch the 1.5 hour new movie Meet the Mormons, which is AMAZING. In theatres this Friday, 10/10/14. Go find it and watch it. You'll be glad you did.

That night I got hit with an epic migraine, and spent the drive home through the bumpy streets of Boston trying not to toss my cookies, and was successful. Got home and passed out. Elder Rodrigues said I was snoring approximately 2 minutes after I hit the bed... still wearing shoes and a suit... woke up at 4 and changed. Thus fulfilling my life long missionary goal of saying I slept in my suit!

General Conference: STUNNAH. So perfect, so applicable. I can't consolidate my thoughts on it right now... partially because we missed Sunday AM session trying to fix the TV to do Portuguese translation... but it turned out great, especially since one of the talks was in portuguese. Words of living prophets. Can't argue with that.

My favorite part of this week was during Priesthood session. Our friend Djeison who was baptized a few weeks ago came to watch with us, and I gave him a piece of paper to take notes on. He listened intently to Elder Quentin L. Cook's talk about achieving goals, and how distractions pull us away from them. I looked over at his paper, and saw he had written out a list of goals. This 14 year old boy, incredibly shy, attached to video games and the internet, had listened to the council of an Apostle, and wrote:
--stop playing video games so much
--stop wasting time on the phone
--be an example to those who need to believe

What can bring that mighty change of heart? First, the enabling power of the Atonement of Christ. We can overcome ourselves, our weaknesses, our addictions. Second, modern revelation and prophetic guidance. Our scriptures don't talk about video games. But Elder Cook did, and said what Djeison had been waiting to hear. That's why God calls prophets and apostles. 

Next week, I'll be staying with my momma in NYC, waiting to go to a Lyme disease clinic for two days. Who knew this would happen on my mission? Not I. But I get to hang out with Marcia Jackson for two days, so I'm not complaining!

Love,
Elder Jackson

Monday, September 29, 2014

Ice Cream and Salvation‏



The crucial updates:

President Packard called this morning to say that Elder Hollister in the missionary department approved the trip to the Columbia Lyme clinic. So we're moving forward with that! Seems like the Lord's hand is in it.
Darren: we have another transportation option. The mission doctor for this and other missions in New England is in our ward, and he offered to take me to Boston. I figure that would take a load off of you. How does that sound? We'd also need to figure out if I should stay with you, or a closer hotel near the clinic.

I passed 10 months on my mission, time is flying and I can hardly believe how things have changed for me. Best metaphor I can think of is when Adam was found offering sacrifice and prayer to the Lord, and an angel asked him "what's up? why are you doing that?" and Adam said, "I know not, save the Lord commanded it." He was obedient, but not comprehending. Then the angel explained, that everything was in the similitude of the Only Begotten--- everything a symbol and testament or tribute to the great sacrifice. I'm sure it was a learning process for Adam too; as he went about his daily activities, both spiritual and temporal, learning the significance of all he did as a man and prophet. That's what the mission does for you, or at least for me. You learn the why :)

This week was pretty great. Djeison was confirmed a member, the first of mine in this new group, and he really is feeling the Spirit. Feeling the difference! We went over the baptismal questions with Alex, and he's good on everything except kinda sketchy with Joseph Smith. We're going take advantage of Gen Conference for him. Living prophet = past prophets

This little group is funny. We're doing pretty good at getting investigators to church (we had 10 two sundays ago), and the active members are solid (just were able to call a sister who moved here from Cape Verde as the Gospel Principles teacher (shoutout to Dad!) and she's pumped) but the less actives in dorchester are really hard to bring back. They don't speak english so they have to take the hardest/least paying jobs, and they usually take the weekend shifts nobody else wants, so they work on Sunday. Many of them (three so far) were branch presidents in CV, but they come here and stuff just gets hard. trabalho is duro for them. But if we can find a building to meet together in the city of Dorchester... man. Stuff would blow up here. So thats what we're going for!

Tender mercies from Saturday, which is always our best day:
-no brain fog
-convinced our super shy recent convert to come teach with us
-were looking for a potential, Junior, were about to leave his house (wasn't there), when we saw an ice cream truck. So we got ice cream, then returned to the house to check one more time, and Junior came walking down the driveway! Without the ice cream, we would've left and never found him. But instead we got ice cream, and two more people to teach. #bencaos
-were walking away from Junior's house, when joao, another investigator, walked past us on the street. We set a time to come over and teach his family.
-went to KFC. chicken is good
-went to carvalho house; kids weren't there, but older brother drove in right when we got there. Spilled his heart to us about how he wants to quit drinking and help his family. Committed to come to church with his friend Ildo who is a member.
-ran into Jose, Ildo's younger brother, on the bus on the way to Ildo's house. He let us in their apartment building and we got to talk to Ildo. It was the best.
As Nacho would say, my life is gewd. I've seen more miracles in this tiny group than ever before in my mission. I'll leave with a scripture (Mosiah 7:18): there remaineth an effectual struggle to be made!
Love,
Elder Jackson/Brenton/whatever

Monday, September 22, 2014

Reckless Pursuit



Before I say anything else....

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO Jenna Jackson!!!! The ancient of days has now arrived at 23 years, and for the next 4 months she'll be three years older than me. 

This week was probably the best week of my mission so far. We had a ton of fun, experienced a ton of miracles and had some serious blessings and answers to prayers. I'll just give you a few tender morsels and you can imagine the rest of the cookie from there!

Djeison was one of the first people we ever taught in Dorchester. The sisters were going to stop teaching him because he wasn't showing interest at all, and then we came over and something changed. Maybe its because we're so funny, or handsome. The world may never know. But he was completely and totally prepared. And this Sunday we watched him enter the waters of baptism! When I asked him afterwards what he felt, he said "when I came out of the water I felt something very powerful, like I was pumped! Ready to go!" Plus the guy who baptized him was baptized himself just a few months ago. See pictures attached.

Another miraculous event: we were running around on Saturday setting up all the details for Djeison's baptism, and my head was getting really bad. I didn't know if I was going to need to go home, or if we could go to the next lesson. We decided to go for it, and prayed for strength to teach a lesson we didn't have time to plan for. We arrived at the Carvalho family's house, went up, and sat down with them to teach about the Plan of Salvation. And it was like a curtain went up. My mind was clear, the ideas flowed, my tongue was loosed and we had one of the most intensely spiritual lessons of my whole mission. At the end they explained to us how what we said made more sense than anything they'd ever heard. They agreed to come to church and read and pray about the Book of Mormon. 
Whats the takeaway?
We have burdens. The Lord doesn't take them away, but he also doesn't let them keep us from doing His work. He never forsakes us, even when we have nothing left to give. It feels so good to just be all in. 

Miraculously the doors have opened to have a two day appt at the Columbia lyme disease clinic in NY. Its all set as long as I can get permission to go. 

Every week I feel like I don't remember half of the million that I intend to write, but just take this words to mean that I love you all and I'm thinking of you! Now were off to the MUSEUM OF SCIENCE. 

Love,
Elder Jackson

PICS
Zone soccer errr day
Djeison, Ildo, us and Djeison's sister!

Monday, September 15, 2014

You little devil, get outta my house!!‏


The view from the top of the Prudential Building in Boston

Cabo verde, te amo

Me, Djeison and Rodrigues!

I still take flower pictures. Still

You might be thinking those were the words someone said to me, but you would be wrong. In fact, they were the words an old man said to his government ID stuck in his pocket, as he handed me and E. Rodrigues his keys, wallet and gigantic Bible. The adventures of the T!

This week has been pretty exciting! We had transfers on Wednesday, and since Elder Rodrigues never got to experience them his first day he got to spend the night with the rest of the brand-new missionaries and the Packards. And I was reunited with my old companion Elder Lopes!! We spent a day in Dorchester together and it was legit. Then that night we said goodbye to the missionaries headed home and heard them bear their final testimonies in the Massachusetts Boston mission. Each time this happens I know more of the ones going home--- makes me feel old. Which I'm still not. 

We hit the ground running on Thursday and were able to see Djeison, who's going to be baptized this Sunday, and have correlation with the group leader Alberto. That meeting in and of itself was inspiring, because his vision is the same as ours and he sees the possibilities here. He doesn't have the greatest means fiscally in the world, but he and his family are spiritual giants giving everything to the Lord. He's got big plans for the portuguese in Boston, and we're hitting the yoke together.

Friday I assumed a new responsibility as a district leader, and got to fumble my way through the first meeting of the transfer. Some of the strongest missionaries are here in the city, and they make up for my lack of experience. We also found a guy going back to cape verde, Ladimir, that had always wanted to visit the church there but never got the chance. We taught him about the church and the restoration, and since hes returning to CV in a week we're going to coordinate with the missionaries there so he doesn't fall through the cracks in transit. 

Saturday was miraculous. For really the first time in my mission, everything we tried or planned worked. All pieces fell into place and all the people we needed to see showed up, including one Elton who pulled up right as we were walking out of his house. We had a lesson with the family of 6 teenagers and finally the oldest son opened up to us about how he feels. That he wants to know, and that he understands this decision will affect the course of his life, and is ready to ask God if this is the right path. We left him Alma 32 to read. He came to church on the next day, Sunday, having read and prayed; he asked when he could be baptized. 

Being on a mission I've learned so much about companionship. So often when we face discord with our family or friends we point the blame all directions except inward; our pride digs in and we hurt the ones we disagree with. But think of Christ. He was leading a nascent church with apostles that were adolescent in the faith and in their responsibility. They were sometimes prideful, sometimes ignorant, and often just human like we are-- imperfect. Yet the Savior chastened with love. Instead of distancing himself, he drew them closer, taught them more. He spent months removed from Jerusalem with them, unfolding the church and priesthood to them. And you can read the result in the closing books and epistles of the New Testament-- the apostles teaching with power and authority, administering and guiding the church!

So it is with our families and friends. Only increased love and hard work bring the Zion that we need. And nothing else is worth it!

Love,
Elder Jackson

Monday, September 8, 2014

In the City‏

From a gigantic and ancient library in Boston, here's your update on the life of ELDER JACKSON.
 
This week was sweet. Like a ginepa. Or as I call them, eyeball fruit. I ate MANY this week.
 
I taught a 10-year old how to conduct hymns, so that he can soon have a chamadinho (little calling) in the group... I'm the designated piano player for church, so he's gonna be my conductor. #groupperks
Djeison is on fire. We were teaching about the Holy Ghost in church on Sunday, and I asked him about its role in his conversion so far. He said "When I read the Book of Mormon, I got a feeling that was very powerful. Something I never felt before, that I couldn't make up." Like getting hit with the Spirit train. LEGIT.
 
3 out of 7 teenagers from our favorite family of Marcelino were at church on Sunday, and they're starting to receive answers that this is the right way to go. eh fixe dimais! 
 
I'm not going to have 3 days as a cyborg (72-hour EEG), but instead a neurologist found a medicine that just might work. I'm hoping. It feels right.
 
I'm learning Portuguese faster than ever, probably because its the first time I'm teaching it to my companion and teaching in it to our people. Plus were getting a vision of how this group can crescer (grow), which it will--- one important step, we think, will be finding a place to have church in Dorchester. Gonna be an adventure. But we talked to a pastor who invited us to come read his sermons during the week, and we're gonna go! Maybe he'll lend us some real estate three hours a week!!!! its a stretch... but gotta be optimistic.
 
Shout outs to Daniel for his birthday and Scott for his birthday and Darren and Carey for their 1 year anniversary!!! BOM DIMAIS!
 
Love,
Elder Jackson 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sta sabe dimais‏



Indeed it is... you awesome brethren and sistren, I have limited time because yesterday was labor day and all the libraries were closed and we spent 7 hours in the Boston temple. It was a good day.

Highlights---

Our 14-year-old friend Djeison will be baptized on the 21st, and he's better at studying scriptures than me. 

As soon as we can figure how to help somebody quit smoking, Manuel will be on the road. Viciado... addictions are hard.

In a few days I get to have my brain hooked up to cyber wires and proselyte with a Red Sox hat for 3 days. beat that.

And last P-day, I played the organ in a Masonic Temple. My songs of choice: If You Could Hie to Kolob, and Praise to the Man ;)

I love you all! More updates next week!

-Elder Jacksao

Monday, August 25, 2014

Yahd sale in Dowchestah‏

Bom dia my friends.

Shoutout to three people in this email list who I saw two days ago...
(Sister-no-longer) Jenna and Darren and Carey (whom I got permission to meet with on Jenna's way home) came honking and hollering through the parking lot of the chapel in Boston where we were having a party for the portuguese group. It was the strangest and happiest reunion I've ever had. 
(see pictures)



Now we are in Dorchester! Were starting everything from scratch. The biggest benefit is having sisters with experience here, because they already know the members and the city and the T. We had a little bit of whiplash in the transition here, mostly because E. Rodrigues (my new companion and second son) and I together have a miniscule background in public transportation. Everything here is bus and train, walk and walk some more. I'm feeling for my brothers and sisters serving in brazil, except its even hotter there and they have hills. 

BUT. After 5 days of confusion and transition, we're back on our feet (literally and metaphorically) and finding prepared people in Dorchester. It may have taken walking past a sign that literally said "YAHD SALE -->" for me to realize that this really is Boston. I never dreamed of living in a city, but now that we're here I'm realizing its actually aiight. Especially once you know which bus to take.

One struggle-- right now we live about an hour away from our proselyting area in Dorchester. We're in a swanky senior couples apartment, and I'm grateful for that, but the time spent in transit is killer. Probably in a month or two another senior couple will join the mission and we'll get moved closer to the orange line. Our work level will increase dramatically! But for now we will conseguir. 

Some miraculous stories from this week:
On the buses we usually sit in different places so we can talk to different people, and this past week God directed someone directly into my mass-transit path. I sat down next to an Indian-looking man, but on a whim started speaking Portuguese to him, and turns out he's cape verdean! His name is Manuel, and he loves, I mean loves the church. He says its the only church in cape verde that practices true religion and actually helps people change their lives. His son was baptized in Fogo, and he wants to start coming with him to church here. I told him the group was just starting, still small, but he didn't care. He has a gargantuan smoking problem, and he says he will only get baptized once he's completely free of it. Let the addiction recovery begin!

Also--- the sisters were teaching a 14 year old boy, Djeison, who really wasn't progressing forward. Then we showed up, and they transferred him to us. Turns out he's just really shy with girls.... because he understands the restoration of the church, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and he wants to get baptized. We tried to set it for a month, but he said that was too long. So we marked a goal for the 14th! 

Last, I've been reading the allegory of the olive tree in Jaco 5. And I'm struck with the investment of the Lord of the vineyard. He weeps with grief at the idea of losing the trees of the vineyard, which are the workmanship of his hands. That is the God we worship-- a God who weeps. 

Love yall com todo meu coracao <3

-Elder Jackson



Monday, August 18, 2014

Jerusalem, if I forget youuuuuuu

Zoram and the Narrador 
Selfie 
Luisa's baptism

That is the sad song I sing, except Jerusalem is Brockton and I am not singing Hebrew reggae... But after several days of calls between President Packard and I, we've decided my brain in decent enough shape to handle a transfer to Dorchester, opening an area and training without a car. All I can do is trust and dive in. But the Lord qualifies whom He calls, neh?

This week was full of many great experiences, lots of the Spirit, struggles for answers and moments of great and sweeping views. I wrote a few weeks ago about my frustration with the people's struggle to keep commitments, to progress forward. And this week saw the realization of a love for the people I could not instill in myself, but had to come from God. Where before there was resentment, now there is understanding. And I deeply appreciate the chance to be here in my "promised land".

Two stories:

We went to go see two women we've been teaching, Nichinha and Bia, several times this week, and it all culminated in a lesson on Wednesday. We brought the Restoration video and a recent convert who gained his testimony through that video and set up the Miller's computer and speakers in the living room to watch. When the movie arrived at Joseph Smith's walk into the forest to pray, Julio (the RC) moved from one side of the room to be closer to the screen, saying "this is the best part-- this is what I really want to see." And the Spirit was there. And they watched, and we talked and prayed, and they decided to be baptized. It was miraculous.

On Saturday we had a casa aberta (open house) at the chapel, where the mission's portable visitor's center was on display. It took days to prepare everything, but in the end it was fantastic. Especially sweet was a play that me, E. Lopes and E. Vecchi wrote for 1 Nephi 2-4 (Nephi + bros go get the brass plates from Laban). We had two rehearsals, both of which only had like half the people there, and I thought it was going to fall apart. But it didn't. It was funny, it was dramatic, and I learned that Cabo Verdeans are really good improv actors. And most importantly the people there loved it. I'll get a video and send it to you.
My role? The narrator...in portuguese :) #gringo

Will I go to Brazil? The question that has been on my back for 21 weeks now.... And I think I will stay here. Many prayers, a lot of counsel with parents and President Packard. It seems right. It hurts a little bit to close the door, but I think maybe this was where I was meant to be all along.

Love,
Elder Jackson

Monday, August 11, 2014

Just a quick shoutout to all the greatest people in the world

I am very limited on time today (I'm so sorry because I know yall desperately want to know about my missionary life ;) )

The neuropsych test came back and I am absolutely normal--
So the doctor says there's nothing left to test for and I can go to brazil if I want---
but I'm still not so sure. so the decision is up to my parents, me and the Lord! 


I don't know what will happen-- but I have this to say. 
It doesn't matter where you go in the service of the Lord because he is doing his work among all these people. And while we can't always explain the why, we're guided just the same. 

Keep going! Keep doing good! Don't die with your music still in you!

Love,
Elder Jackson