Sunday, January 26, 2014

Celebrating a birthday -- missionary style

Jan. 20, '14

From the family history center of Bloomfield, CT, it's your FAVORITE EMAIL UPDATE FROM ELDER JACKSON.

Mostly I couldn't think of a creative title for this week. But for one thing, I'm TWENTY so I'm too old and mature for witty quips now. And also... I'm just not as funny as Sister Jenna Jackson *tear*

For real-- the loudest of shout-outs to all of you for your birthday letters/packages/emails/love. To be honest, it was a pretty standard day, where we worked with members and visited less-actives and just generally helped other people come unto Christ :) and the day was finished out with a tender mercy/birthday miracle-- the bishop showed up from the Hartford ward and send his kid to our front porch, where he handed us a 5lb container of tollhouse chocolate chip cookie dough. and took 2.5lbs of that dough and made SUPER COOKIE. 

Then, in an effort MacGyver would be proud of, and as tribute to the jerryrigging talents of missionaries everywhere, we constructed "candles" out of seven torn off apple stems wrapped in scrap paper and lit them on fire. they didn't burn so much as they smoldered... but I blew them out anyways and ate half-cooked supercookie to seal one of the best birthdays I've ever had.

I prayed for a birthday present from Pai Celestial that I would feel the love of the Savior on the 14th, and let me tell ya. He answered. Most spiritually-rich day I've had since I left November 20th. Not for any particular reason, except an awareness of His love and mercy was just there in me all day. Sometimes you just know, outside of proof or mental reasoning, that the gospel is true. Tuesday was a day of enlightened understanding, a day of growth in that seed of Alma 32:28.

So thank you for supplementing that gift with ENDLESS BAKED GOODS, brand new scriptures, delicious socks and lots of letters and emails. I'm growing up out here but the taste of home is still good :)

Story of the week:
My favorite thing about being a missionary is finding the sheep that everyone else has forgotten about. Elder Benedict and I found Brother B. this week, a 77 year old man who lives alone in a home built in the 1940s. No one in the ward knows who he is, but we had his name and went to find him. We found a rough situation-- his sink had a leak in two places and his kitchen floor had a centimeter of water spreading to the hardwood in the bedroom and dripping onto the basement floor. His furnace has been broken for 5 years and he lives without heat (remember when it was -10 two weeks ago?) or space heaters. His toilet was broken and he was using a camping toilet. 
We cleaned and dried his floor, got a brother from the ward to fix his sink and toilet, and generally try to assess his condition. After two days of work his living conditions have improved tenfold, but what if Elder Benedict hadn't followed the prompting to visit?

Here's the thing-- we want to follow the Spirit, but sometimes we don't know how. My testimony is that we must learn to trust the thoughts and feelings that come to us. So many times here I've been led to say or do something that didn't feel like revelation, but in retrospect totally was. You gotta trust God, and trust yourself, and stop worrying about what's past, and look to the future with HOPE. God will use you in His great work. He already has. The mark of a true follower of Christ is exercising faith even when you don't know how the Lord is shaping you.

Now go read "But If Not..." by Dennis E. Simmons :)

I love you all! Don't worry about me, because I'm feeling happier than I've ever been. More at peace, more in harmony with the truth. Partake, and live!

-Elder Jackson

pics: birthday five guys and supercookie


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Spontaneous Combustion

Jan. 13, 2014
Before we get to that, let me just say-- it's been a pleasure to be alive for these 20 years. Yep. 20. Tis a strange feeling, but I will carry on. Let's be honest, my life's gonna be exactly the same tomorrow that it is today. But to reflect on where 20 years of life have led me, here, I can say... THANK YOU. I'm still alive. And the gospel is with me, and with you. We live in the last dispensation. We have a prophet, we have the church. We have AWESOME families, which are actually more important than the church when you think about it (one ends with death, one is the fundamental organization of the Celestial Kingdom...). And most of all, our Father in Heaven still loves us. And Christ does too. And we can forever grow and change and gain more happiness and peace.
Where will I be in 20 years? I have no idea. But I have the peace of knowing some things will still be the same. And one of them is the reason I'm here emailing you right now.

No, I don't have a story about something in the house bursting into flames. Wish I did actually... but this is about the gospel.
Remember when Elder Holland said last conference to "fan the flame of your faith"? Think about this.
How often, in the lives of ordinary human beings without the gospel, does their faith spontaneously combust?
Rarely. Yet we often treat missionary as if that miracle is to be expected. We invite someone to church and say YES. Let the fire burn. But is that how you would build a real fire?
Want someone else to have a fire? You have tinder and kindling. You have firestarter and maybe even some gasoline. And you have a ready supply of oxygen. And then you hand them the match.

In the end it is their choice whether to strike that match or not. But if they do choose to strike it... how many matches does it take to start a fire on a single piece of wood, versus the masterful pile of potential we built in the previous paragraph?

Now this may apply more to my missionary life than yours. But then again... maybe not? As you seek to be more converted and help others to do the same, build good fires. Fires that are built with layers of support and lots of attention and love. I promise you that these fires will burn as deep, abiding testimony, and will not be extinguished by the storms that this world throws at us.

My life? It's been a little difficult this week. One thing that I'm coming to terms with is not teaching like I thought I would. I haven't actually taught an investigator lesson since I got here. And being myself, I thought that I was failing and that I was supposed to be the top-shelf missionary that sets the area on fire. But then I thought.....
I don't have the matches here. NUTS HUH? I thought I did... but I don't. The members have the matches. The less-actives have the matches. The investigators have the matches. My job is to build those fires everywhere I go.
I think one of my biggest jobs in my personal progression here is to learn what it truly means to be successful before the Lord as a missionary. Digging into your purpose. And looking back on that previous paragraph, see how many times the word "I" is there? That's testimony that I have a lot to work on gaining the character of Christ--the One who forever turned outward in His anguish, upward in His devotion, and onward in His mission. Never inward, downward or backward. And in the crowning event of this world, His Atonement, He circumscribed all His character to pay the price to enable us to be like Him someday.

I love my Savior. My testimony is simple but I'm not ashamed of that. I know Jesus is the Christ. All the world testifies of that to me. I love you all and believe in your vast potential!

Be brilliant!!

Elder Jackson
pics:enjoy WILD TURKEYS outside our window and Jesus in my planner :)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Snowed In

Jan. 2, 2014


So we've been red dotted here in BLOOMFIELD, CT on my first day in the field, because a regular ol' nor'easter is dumping 6-14 inches of snow across the mission. But its actually awesome, because my companion Elder Benedict and I are living in a house on the same property as the stake center. A HOUSE. With currently 4 other Elders, but when they can actually leave to their new areas it'll be 4 total in the house. I'm speaking English but it's alllll good. I know I'm supposed to be with Elder Benedict as my companion. 

Anyways, we just walked over to the stake center since we can't drive anywhere and are about to eat some pizza and play some sports. Probably be here through tomorrow. So i figured I could send some pictures from the last day at the MTC!

So here's what we're going to try. I started an account on, which is like a virtual drop box for photos and stuff. 
so you can log on and see it by going to and entering in the username, my email, and the password Kolob!11 and go look at some photos! Especially check out the one I took with Samuel H. Smith. We're twinners.

Winter Storm Hercules can't get me down. To be honest its suuuuuper weird to start the first days of my mission like this but what can I say.... this hasn't been a normal mission yet. Seems on track to be a weird one folks.


pic: snowed in means a 2-hr game of Risk


Jan. 6, 2014

Hello dear family and friends.

I salute you from Bloomfield CT, the stake center, the family history center, third computer from the right. HOME SWEET HOME. 

Right off the bat, I'll throw out my address again:
950 Mountain Road, Bloomfield, CT, 06002

And now, Darren and Carey Style, here is the Top 5 or possibly the First 5 Days of Being A Real Missionary. 

Day 1: Fly from SLC to Denver. Other Boston missionaries never show up. Fly solo Denver to Boston. Meet the greatest mission presidents in the world. Celebrate New Years at 8pm (#missionarystyle) with President Packard lying on the floor taking pictures of confetti being thrown by a herd of greenies. YUP.

Day 2: Street contacted in Boston Commons, had a philosophical discussion with a homeless man, got trained, got assigned a companion because Winter Storm Hercules was coming through and we had to leave for new areas immediately. Arrived in Bloomfield to meet Elder Benedict and move into a house with 6 elders that was meant for 4. Craziness ensues

Day 3: entitled Cabin Fever. Snowed in, red dotted, played Settlers of Catan and a 2 hour game of Risk, ordered Pizza for delivery to the church. Left wondering what missionary life is REALLY like.

Day 4: Normal day with real work, except for when the pipe burst in the garage downstairs and -10 degree temps and gushed water everywhere, which froze semi-instantly. Called the mission office, who called 911 who sent some people over to shut down the water. Didn't get to bed until 12. Left wondering if this is what every day will be like in Connecticut.

Day 5: Awoke early with shivers and only one sheet, due to the fact that the heater stopped working in the middle of the night. House was roughly 57 degrees, but that doesn't stop missionaries. Bought thermals at target and CARRIED ON. 
And yesterday we went to visit a less-active member, and as I was saying the closing prayer their cat who looks exactly like Mr. Kitty climbed onto the sofa next to Elder Benedict and threw up. Needless to say that prayer ended QUICKLY lolz

And so on and so forth :) 
My companion and trainer is Elder Benedict from Nauvoo, Illinois. He is a semi-computer genius who was on CNN for winning a national hacking competition, but is also one of the most humble missionaries I've ever met due in part to the fact that he has probs the worst speech impediment I've ever heard. It will take him pretty much an eternity of stuttering and throat contortions to say a given sentence but man. This guy brings the Spirit. He has to fight to get every word out but you know he believes, because you feel it. And as President Packard said, he knew me and him were meant to work together. And i know it's true. I'm learning so much from him and also helping him I think. President Packard said he wanted Benedict to train but needed the right missionary to be his trainee, and I guess that's me. Love the guy. 
The ward here is awesome. We get fed every single night and that is not an exaggeration. The people love us. And there are tonnnns of less-actives in the ward boundaries, about a 50/50 split. So we spend most of our time visiting and strengthening and committing them, and the rest meeting with our investigators. We have a car and we drive everywhere which is awesome. 
Tons of diversity in the ward. Lots of 10-15 year converts. TONS OF JAMAICANS, which is really entertaining and cool. 

The work is different than I expected, but I love it. The work is hard but not when you have that perfect love Moroni 8:16 talks about. I've been on too long but I love you all! Be safe and be brilliant! 
Elder Jackson
Mr. Kitty look alike. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Merry Christmas!

December 30, 2013

It has been 5 days since we last chatted and oh what significant days I have had here at the CTM. After our email sesh last week we went into the Christmas Day Devotional and the speaker turned out to be ELDER BEDNAR, who every missionary loves because of 1) Character of Christ and 2) Becoming a Missionary. And plus he tells it straight. And it was awesome and groundbreaking because in the meeting they handed out 200 phones to the missionaries in Provo and also the other MTC's around the world, and we texted questions to Elder Bednar's iPad while he was at the pulpit and he picked questions and answered them. And it was awesome.
 And later that night we had a jazz Christmas concert performed by RAY SMITH who was my saxophone teacher at BYU.... and after I went up and talked to him for a while. What a gift.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the Christmas presents and packages. They made it a special day. Thanks so much for the calendar (Mom) with all the glorious pictures, and to Dad for the awesome family histories book with my tree photo on the cover (looks AWESOME). 
And also the other little things were perfect. So thank you.

Yesterday we had our departing missionary fireside and I got to play cello with Elder Martin and Sister Hoffman from Colorado on a medley of Because I have been given much/Lord, I Would Follow Thee. It was awesome and beautiful. Grateful for the years of (semi-diligent) practice that allow me to reap the blessings now. Also I befriended the MTC President and his wife, Brother and Sister Nally, (mostly Sister Nally because she's a musical prodigy and does the music auditions for devotionals) and she told me I need to tell my mission president in Boston that I play the cello. We're pretty much friends so I trust her judgement :)

To be honest I'm a little nervous for Boston tomorrow but not exceedingly. I definitely feel the inspiration of the call although I don't understand it yet. But my feeling is that I may be on my reassignment for a long time, and Heavenly Father is planning for me to speak Portuguese while I'm in Boston. And preparing somebody to receive me. It's the kind of thing where you prepare so much for it and then at a certain point you just have to take the leap into the real work. Much like the leap of faith I took with leaving for the mission at all 1.5 months ago. 
 But the Christlike attribute I've been pondering the last two weeks here has been hope-- hope is trust that the Lord will keep His promises, and faith to act on that trust. I trust that Heavenly Father reveals His gospel to His prepared children, and I am working on the faith to act on that trust in my teaching. Also having hope in my mission call-- trusting in the reality of being "set apart".

Hey, if you have a chance and a quiet moment, go listen to that Mormon message with James E. Faust and the radio about listening to the Spirit. We watched it last night and it touched my heart. Also, go watch Unto All the World: the Gospel in Asia. I may have cried at the end when it talks about the future temple in India. 

Tomorrow it becomes real. THIS IS WILD. But I love you all, and I miss you but not a distracting amount, and I'm a POWERFUL MISSIONARY HYAHHHHHHHHHH

....not really, but God loves me. I don't understand much, but I know that. He loves us all! And it'll make sense in the end--so keep the faith. Keep your covenants. Seek pure religion. BELIEVE IN YOUR DREAMS!

Elder Jackson

photos:  posing with Samuel H. Smith

    Christmas Time is Heaaaaaaahhhhhhh‏

    December 24, 2013

    Oi bom amigos e familia, hoje é uma dia fantastico porque amanha é NATAL!! Nós estamos muito animado porque Natal na CTM significa todos tipos de felizidade e Espírito. E tambem não temos 10 horas de estudo amanha... e tambem temos music concerts e DOMS! Loving it.

    My Portuguese is rough, but at least I can get my message across! Life is good here in the MTC. Christmas time is here, as you can tell by my subject line! And the MTC at Christmas is happier than Disney World. No joke. All we do is learn and teach about the Savior, and that leads to a great appreciation for how significant of an event the birth of the Savior was. So I'm happy.

    Shout out to everyone that sent me awesome dear elders and such this week! I've received everything y'all said you sent to me, and more. Packages are so nice. I think I've gotten things from every member of the family (minus jenna) and also an awesome box from Ben and delicious cookies from Meg. Word. Y'all rock. (i've started saying y'all about 1006x more here and i think it's because I hate saying YOU ELDERS)

    Reassignment and visas:
    There's been no action on my visa so it's looking like I'll be reassigned sometime in the next three days! I should know on Thursday. But two missionaries in our district got emails from their new missions today and they're going to Baltimore! Gave me some nervous excitement...
    In other news, we got two new districts in our zone last Wednesday and by Sunday SEVEN of them had their visas and are leaving on Thursday for Brazil. Including Elder Monk from Leesburg!  So that was wild... we're not sure what it means but we're happy for them.
    (all the new missionaries with visas):

    Christmas plans:
    Tonight we have a program and are watching Mr. Krueger's Christmas or something good. And tomorrow we have a Christmas talent show in which I am performing with a group as the finale! We're telling the story of the Christmas Truce of WWI and singing/playing Silent Night. So I play the cello while the poem is being read. It's pretty great. And tomorrow we have a program by Ray Smith, who is in a branch presidency here and also happens to be my saxophone teacher at BYU. So i'm SUPER pumped for that. 

    Not much time but I want you all to know that I love you! Believe in your dreams. I'm praying for you every day. Throw some graças up to Heavenly Father for the blessings in your life and share the reason for the hope that is in you. LET'S GO CHRISTMAS!

    Elder Jackson

    photos:  1) tiny origami missionary shirt from Alissa; 2) Elder Monk, Brenton's friend from Virginia. 3) Brenton with Dr. Ray Smith, saxophone teacher from BYU (I think).

    Thursday, January 2, 2014


    Dec. 17, 2013

    2,474 high fives to whoever translates that fastest. Or knows it without even translating. 

    This lovely song translation is brought to you by 20 extra minutes before devotional on Sunday when I had a dictionary and certain classic environmental anthem stuck in my head. 

    First things first-- Shoutouts for the week, and if I forget you don't feel bad:

    To Ben Sirrine for surviving taxation without representation and being a successful east coaster. SLC calls but you now have a third home in the east. 

    The Burns family in Belmont Ridge ward, for sending me a sweet hand-colored Christmas wish!

    The Fairholm family also in BR ward, for a sweet and unexpected Christmas box!

    Stephen Allred for being in the front row of the BYU Men's Chorus, who sang at our devo on Sunday. Couldn't say hello but the chorus sounded AMAZING. They sang O Magnum Mysterium which I loved.

    Jenna for subject lines that I always understand--

    Scott and Kiersten for 12 days of DearElders...
    And everyone else who is alive and supporting the missionaries anywhere. 

    If there's anything I came away with this week, it's the most sure surety of my life thus far that the gospel is true. And that knowledge comes by the witness of the Spirit, which I think is infused in the walls here (sacrilege) but I know the Livro de Mórmon is true. I know that this is the true church of God, and that Jesus Christ directs it and it could not exist in its present form otherwise. Sometimes we get into these funks where we forget what we know, we forget that we have received the witness of the Spirit and everything seems so unsure. If that happens to you this week, rely on my testimony. I know its true. 

    And also... reading the Book of Mormon in portugues is incredibly different and incredibly more fulfilling for me. At least currently, I have to read so slowly that a chapter in 1 Néfi takes me 45 minutes but I get every.single.word... and the Spirit has the chance to teach me. I study with purpose, desiring revelation and having just enough faith that God will give it to me. At what point does it become not an experiment upon the word? maybe it always is. But I know that it has been, is becoming and forever will be delicious unto me. 

    In other news:
    I'm currently a part of three musical numbers set to audition this week, and I need to learn how to say no... but very happy to be able to play cello. Very very happy. 

    Our leave date for the district has been delayed although we haven't gotten official word on that... but it'll most likely be Jan. 2 now. Keep putting Dec. 31st on letters and stuff but I think it'll change. Don't want missionaries traveling over holidays. 

    Someone please send me and Elder Keene a DearElder with all the things that have happened in the world in the past month... Like politics or economy or kings dying or anything. Natural phenomenons. please
    And can someone mail me a double-sided copy of the wikipedia article for Belo Horizonte, or the good parts of it? #christmas

    Fun challenge for the week: read 1 Nefi 8 and compare the words in 24 and 30. In different languages if you can. 


    Photos: 1) Doing laundry on p-day.  2) Enjoying cookies sent by Darren & Carey. 3) Some of the Ashburn Stake missionaries currently at the MTC.


    Dec. 10, 2013
    That, my friends, is a direct quote from a story Elder Keene told us this week about an experiment where scientists tried to introduce currency to a group of monkeys and one monkey got smart and stole the bag of coins from the keeper and got the other monkeys to do tricks for him. Elder Keene is a font of endless historical knowledge. Sometimes it's a little exhausting but we do okay :)

    This week was good-- I had my first real discouragement that hit me last wednesday and thursday... I was feeling really anxious about teaching and trying to understand my investigators and also a lot of random small things. I was feeling rough. But then me and Elder Keene and Elder Bunch and Elder Lyman sat down and really talked. And we had a very spiritual conversation about conversion and how the adversary is really, actively working against us. And I learned something really fundamentally important about teaching with the Spirit--

    BE HAPPY. 

    Because when I started smiling, and went into the lesson with Neyderson just desiring with all my heart to help him come unto Christ. You'd be surprised how easy it is to care deeply about the eternal salvation of an investigator who also happens to be your teacher for 3 hours a day. Pretty amazing. But the happiness, that sincere desire to serve and to lift and to help, brings the Spirit every time. And then... who cares how my Portuguese sounds?
    (although it's sounding pretty good #domdelinguas #jennastyle)

    I can teach pretty much a whole lesson in portuguese and say mostly what I want to say! And I had an interesting revelation... I think if I was teaching in English, I would talk WAY TOO MUCH. I would try to reason out the gospel to the people I met, like the missionaries did to Brigham Young in some of the two years before he decided to be baptized. But in Portuguese I only know the basic, pure doctrine. And then I can bear my testimony! EU SEI QUE O EVANGELHO E VERDADEIRO! Verdade. 

    To the people: shoutouts to
    --Jenna for getting transferred again because she's so good that everything that every district wants her

    --Daniel and Ashley for going to the coolest places and being like, okay, just taking a weekend to India. and probs Bali. Fun fact: Elder Keene is a lot like Daniel. The more I think about it, the more similarities I see. Elder Keene really wants to go into the foreign service and so when I read him some about your India trip he got reeeeeeeally excited. You're inspiring him muito.

    --Darren and Carey for some really delicious cookies and an even more VISUALLY DELICIOUS CHRISTMAS TIE. I will be wearing it for whatever fireside/devo they decide they want me to play cello for. Also for sending Top 5's that are way too long for me to read in my 60 minutes of email time. 

    --Scott and Kiersten for using my camera and sending me pictures! Only downside... you sent me pictures of homemade pie. Cruel. Just cruel. <3

    --Mom and Dad for the package which arrived today (Tuesday/Pday) full of goodness and perhaps the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever tasted. Absence makes the tastebuds grow fonder.

    Quick updates:
    -Yes it is freezing here. LIke the low a few nights ago was -14. Imagine waking up at 5:30 to go get a sack breakfast wearing shorts and an overcoat #notbrazil
    -Yes I do wake up at 5:30, not 6:30 every day. We got the early time slot for all our meals so bfast is at 6:30. I empathize a little more for Dad's plight agora.
    -I'm working up O Holy Night with Elder Sanchez from Reston, VA!  and Sister Favero from somewhere. We'll audition this Thursday. Prayers appreciated.
    -Health update: feeling great, taking meds. No symptoms. The eye twitch came back a bit this week but I'm just trying to ignore that.
    -my primary duty as District Leader is to get the mail. And I interview senior companions in the district and conduct our district meetings and such. 

    Jeremiah 1:6-8 was a great scripture for us this week. Also D&C 84:75ish-85. Neither purse nor scrip. 

    I love you all! Don't get weird without me. And be prepared to face a 4-square master when I come home a long long time from now. Don't be offended by this-- I'm not homesick. I know the gospel is true, and that is my life force that sustains me in this work. It is the reality of our existence. 

    Eu amo voces! Tudo bem!!

    -Elder Jackson

    Wednesday, January 1, 2014


    Dec. 3, 2013

    The most incredible Christmas spirit EVER. That's going on here in the MTC. Life

    First--Shoutout to Darren and Carey for sending the most delicious molasses cookies I've ever had in the most creative package I've ever opened. An instrument will be made shortly. Elder Keene, describing said cookies: "Its like the Celestial Kingdom in my mouth!"

    Shoutout to everyone who has sent me DearElders... its the best to get mail. Like Christmas presents every day of the week. and packages are like... I don't know. Incredible and stuff.

    Shoutout to everyone in the whole world because we are all God's children and Ele nos ama. MUITO. 

    Some brief info:
    -the Provo temple closed right when I got here, and will remain closed until right after I leave. I feel personally slighted. So temple time is spent... studying! because I don't study enough. Really :)

    -Food is delicious. I don't care what people say. I liked the cannon center, and the food here is better than that. Either my taste buds are indiscriminate, or everybody else is too picky. 

    -No sisters in the district. Oh well. It just means that all us elders get really weird. really fast.

    -It snowed today. UGH. But actually, it made me very happy. Elder Keene doesn't like snow because he grew up in michigan and says you get very tired of snow very fast when you live in michigan. Its really quite hilarious how he has this vendetta against snow. But Elder Keene is incredible. Love the guy. I know so much more about Arab history, russian history, catholic doctrine and history, why/how we are the only church with true priesthood authority, how the sheer improbability of life being started on earth and the perfection with which we are situated in the universe is only further testimony that God created all this with divine intention and foresight. and lots of other things. Daniel-- he kind of reminds me of you. 

    -I got to play CELLO TODAY. They have cellos to rent and me and Elder Sanchez (from Reston virginia! my birthplace!) are working up O Holy Night and auditioning on Thursday. We'll see what comes of it. Playing was so therapeutic today though. 

    -Thanksgiving was GREAT! We started the day with a devotional from Elder Nelson. Then we did that service project you saw in deseret news--- those beautiful red caps? My table alone made something like 2,552 meals if I did my math right. 350,208 total I believe. Then that night we watched Ephraim's Rescue, which was awesome and inspiring. It honestly felt strange to watch a movie #outsideworld

    -We are quickly becoming professionals at four-square in gym. Its real intense.

    Scott-- One of my teachers here is Brother Lefevre. He said he knew you, was a TA in GeoSpat at BYU with you and talked about Thailand? 

    Also, fun fact, my other main teacher Brother Dodge? Friends with Jenna from her days in Liberty Square. The world is small. 

    Real life in the MTC: 
    We've been learning as a companionship what it really means to plan to teach. Coming in I saw it as a two step process-- study, then teach. rinse and repeat. But really the process is 6-fold:

    You identify the needs of the people you teach, because the gospel can change everyones lives and fulfill their needs.
    You make goals based on those needs.
    You make plans to accomplish those goals.
    You study to fulfill your plan.
    You teach, using your study but relying on the Spirit.
    You commit them to act in a way that will facilitate meaningful, spiritual experiences that will help them come unto Christ. Then you reevaluate their needs. 

    It's a beautiful cycle.

    Also-- Alma 1:26. The preacher is no greater than the learner. This gospel is as much for me as it is for anyone I teach. Dive into that verse. 

    Last thing--I'm the District leader in our district now. Elder Bunch/Lyman are now the Zone-leaders-in-training so I'm DL now. And Alma 1:26 had special meaning to me in that light. Called to leadership = called to SERVE. 

    I love you all! 

    -Elder Jackson
    view from the classroom where I spent 16 hours every day. Not bad eh?
    -Me, Elder Keene, Brown, Lyman and Bunch.


    Nov. 26, 2013
    I know, I know... the last 6 days have been killing you all. I understand and I sympathize. But I just wanted to let you all know...


    Everybody here says the real key is surviving from Wednesday until Sunday, and once you make it past Sunday and to your first P-day which in my case is Tuesday, you'll be fine. And so it seems! But seriously.... This is a strange place. Strange and wonderful. Wonderful and inexplicable in many ways... but I shall try. 

    First off, sorry for the lack of pictures. I got into kind of a time bind today with laundry and such things, and the computer lab we picked doesn't have a card reader and the usb cord doesn't work on this computer. Needless to say I have been taking photos, but you'll just have to wait :)

    I got here and was confused for about 17 minutes until I got into my classroom. Only had one missionary lady in the assembly line that was entering the MTC tell me I look like Superman. Only one. So that was an accomplishment I think... 

    I met my companheiros! Yes, there is an s on the end of that word. I am part of the infamous TRIPANIONSHIP, as we like to call it. Elder Jackson, Elder Brown, and Elder Keene make up the most dynamic non-duo Zone 70E has ever SEEN. It's pretty great. 
    Elder Keene-- from Davison, MI, outside of Flint, MI, which is supposedly the crime capital of something but I don't know what exactly. He grew up partly in Chicago and partly in Michigan. Has a crazy story. Wasn't active until about two years ago when he moved to UVU to go to school since his aunt lives out here. His home teachers basically brought him to church, which at first was social but then became something more. He received both Aaronic and Melchisidec (sp?) priesthoods from his home teachers and changed his life. And now he's a missionary. 20 years old, turning 21 on Christmas. Knows everything about everything about world history. Read 1000 page books about stuff like... the history of the arab world. Most hilarious when he's trying not to be.

    Elder Brown is from Lake in the Hills, Illinois, suburb of Chicago, quiet, humble, did a year at community college before coming on a mission, pretty much the only LDS kid in his school who actually kept the standards and the WoW, struggles with the language a bit but compensates by being incredibly hard working, patient, and kind hearted. Also a stud.

    For me, the whole thing has been a big wake up. It's hard to remember how I was even 6 days ago. But I remember how nervous I was coming into the MTC, and that wasn't foolish because it was normal, but everything will be and is fine. I'm feeling great and I have honestly learned an incredible amount from my teachers and investigator. 

    The language? It actually hasn't been that hard... the Dom de Linguas is real here and that is not a joke or a platitude. I have taught lesson and prayed and spoke paragraphs in Portuguese and I haven't yet been studying a week. But I know I have SO MUCH to learn. It looks like this never-ending road to fluency, stretching out eternally before me.... but I will continue to walk forward every day. I get a chance to help my companions with learning the language in our study sessions, which gives me some awesome teaching experience. Because we all know, when you teach something, you learn it for yourself. I've honestly been wondering about a future in teaching. But that also could be just the wanderings of a brain that studies portuguese and o evangelho todo o tempo. BUT HEY! our classroom has a great view of the Provo temple and Y mountain. I get to watch the sunrise over Y mountain every morning. Thats because I wake up before the sun rises. 
    HA. *tear*

    Most spiritual moment? Having the Spirit in an investigator lesson where you honestly have no idea what to say or do, and then you know what to say, and you say it. He had many questions, many which I have had in my life.... and I got really emotional but I testified in portuguese that all his questions would be answered with time. And then I was prompted to read 3 Nephi 27:14-16 which is now pretty much my favorite set of verses ever-- and I couldn't stop crying, which is unusual for me, and Tiago said "this doesn't answer any of my questions... but the feeling is different. The feeling I can't explain." so awesome. 

    I appreciate everyone's prayers SO MUCH. You guys helped me through a time where I had no idea what to do... and I'm here to help others with a much bigger version of that situation. Not knowing what life is for. What pain is for. What joy is for. The answer the biggest questions and help others to COME UNTO CHRIST. And that's what it's all about. 

    I love you all!!!!!!!!! I will send pictures next week! Eu sei que o evangelho e verdadeiro! 

    -Elder Jyackson (as Tiago says)

    p.s. irish whistle saves my life every day.

    p.p.s saw one of Alissa's roommates, Celia Rivera from BYU MB, Ray Smith (my sax professor at BYU), and my cousin Sister Jackson several times!

    p.p.p.s I got all your emails and dearElders, PLEASE keep sending them because they are the greatest. but time is short and I cannot respond to all DESCULPE