Monday, February 24, 2014


Feb. 24, '14

Hello fine folks of both hemispheres, 'tis a pleasure to address you today! This week was pretty sweet. Not the busiest week we've ever had, but spiritually uplifting for sure. We committed a part member family to do family prayer and they did. And loved it. We taught a new member lesson. We taught Ella about the Book of Mormon. We had some AMAZING zone conference. We interviewed some auxiliaries. We had some members humorously harass us with J. Golden Kimball stories over dinner. we had a woman in a mental ward apologize for being rude to us and another woman tell us we were glowing-- we taught her about prayer from the Book of Mormon obvi. We FINALLY got in contact with Jerry again, and will get that ball rolling again. And I learned that children LOVE ME.

And I actually did a little bit of thinking about kids this week. It started at zone conference, when President Packard gave a mind-blowing visual talk about King Benjamin's speech. He illustrated how the ENTIRE THING is made up of chiastic structures, and the center of the center of the center chiasmus is Mosiah 3:19. 
"For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh like a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father."

We read this with Ella and asked her, why is it so important that we become like little children? A saint through the atonement is like a child. Not in ignorance, but in meekness. The blood of Christ atones for the sins of children. But the natural man cannot access that forgiveness. The child will believe, and submit to the commandments of the Lord; King Lamoni said "I will give away all my sins to know thee...", as an obedient child wants to do that which will make his father happy. Our desire to believe as children of God doesn't have to be grandiose, but it has to lead to us experimenting on His word every day. And that means giving away our sins. 

SO REPENT OR SUFFER ETERNAL FIRE!!!! hahaha its fun to go full sermon sometimes. But really. I spent a lot of time with kids this week, even sitting in Primary to help with reverence. For all their ridiculous shenanigans, children full of love and willing to submit to their Father in Heaven are the ultimate example for us. So be a little simpler, a little kinder, and a little more open with the people around you. God will bless you for it.

Oh and p.s. no way Joseph Smith knew even what chiasmus was when he was translating the Book of Mormon. #farmboy

I love you all! 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Promised Land

Feb. 17, 2013

This might be a shorter email-- not too much to report on this week. It snowed again, two different storms with like 18 inches by the end, so we were stuck one of the days. Sometimes I think we could go out, but mission orders... And its hard to be productive on those days. Something I definitely need to get better at.
We did a lot of service this week, going out and helping members who need it. I've given more blessings in the past two weeks than I can remember, and its an honor to hold the priesthood and to bear its blessings to those who need it most. 

Jerry's back from Georgia, and (hopefully) on Tuesday we're going to do an awesome lesson on the Book of Mormon. 
Her name is Ella and she is a 93 year old black woman with a heart full of faith and a tongue full of sass. Aka perfect!  So we are teaching her the first lesson this week. Prayers that the Spirit will help her grasp the significance of what we're teaching (she's mentally 100% there. just...yeah. old) would be much appreciated. 

Now to explain the title: 
Bloomfield is my promised land. The choice place for me to labor. And this is not because it is a land flowing with milk and honey although there are a ton of cows ;)-- this is because I am meant to be here with these people doing what I'm doing. It is not promised because it is easy, just as the promised land wasn't easy for Nephi and his posterity. But as they labored to till and plant and build, the land "prospered exceedingly" unto them (2 Nephi 5:11). 
My promised land is where the Lord places me when I'm striving to keep my covenants. Its the work he gives me in Bloomfield, no matter how large or small, how numerically successful or minimal, that becomes most precious and sweet unto me. Because I am doing what He asks. And I'm not going to compare my promised land to your promised land, because you are not me! The Lord works with us on our own scale. So be diligent, faithful and patient (Alma 32:42), and the Lord will show you your promised land. He'll show you that you're in it. 

Elder Jackson


To understand the title, you must go to Real Life Answers. This is actually something really awesome-- the MBM has a program called the Digital Mission, which in the past 10 months or so has created this blog/website ( and populated it with members' answers to real life problems. We have an online portal, partially the brainchild of my companion Elder Benedict (in all his computer genius glory) (which he also helped to code), that uses gospel-related keywords (like belief in God, communication with God, addiction, etc) to find  blogs all across the internet that are talking about gospel subjects. We, as part-time laborers in the Digital Mission vineyard, take the portal to these blogs, read thoughtfully, post our insight, and leave a  link to a specific article in Real Life Answers. This draws people to the website, helps them understand God's plan for them, builds their faith, and then the goal is to have them chat with the missionaries that are on that website. Its seeing tremendous growth and I think it has a big future.

It's also extremely audacious :) But here in the MBM, we risk it to get the biscuit. That biscuit being the exaltation of God's children. And stuff. 
In other news, Jerry is still in Georgia but comes back Saturday at which time we will rock his world with Book of Mormon revelation. Snow continues to be nuts and force us inside (another one tomorrow? SERIOUSLY) but what can ya do. We're doing auxiliary interviews and discovering that non-members aren't really being invited/coming to activities, so this is the next step. But ALSO:

The stake goal, and especially ward goal, is to have every melchizedek priesthood holder come out with the missionaries once a month. whoa. and it's actually gonna happen. the ward council is BOSS and on top of it. and as this happens, the referrals will start to come. its a beautiful thing to watch the ward start to access the potential and share the truth they know. the gospel they love. the hope they have. 

This leads me into my spiritual thought for today: 

During training Elder Benedict was asking me, what does a missionary or member need to feel in order to take part in the conversion process (or the work of salvation)? I thought, and gave some answers that seemed good like trust in the missionaries, belief in the truthfulness of the gospel, feel needed in the lessons. 
he directed me to 1 Nephi 8:11-12. As I read, the words came alive in a way I never knew before:
11 And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen. 
12 And I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.

I like to search for simplicity-- packaged truth that can unfold the mysteries of God. Answers that don't need an outline or bullet points. These truths are sacred and pure to me, for I know that Christ is the author of simplicity and works in plainness among the children of men (2 Nephi 31:3). So when I read those verses from the vision of the tree of life, pure truth flooded my spirit. What do we need to participate in the work of salvation?

We partake of the goodness of the gospel-- the fullness of truth and joy, of sacrifice and faith-- and it is the most sweet and beautiful thing we have ever known. And that joy turns us outward. We earnestly desire everyone to know, and we open our mouths because we know God lives, and we matter to Him. And that's the celestial pattern. 

I know this gospel, church and work are true! AND I'M HAPPY! The Lord is helping me change. and the fire feels good.

Elder Jackson
1. Icicle
2. Rescuing a Frisbee, missionary style
3. A lot of snow in Bloomfield


Friday, February 7, 2014

It's All About The Temples

Feb. 3, 2014

(or the pentiums baby...)

Hello my dear friends. I join you this week from the warm church as thick snow falls outside... its funny because the snow had almost melted from the last time hahaha jokes. and so it falls again. probs over the next three days we'll get 4-10 inches. #newengland

This week was a week of temples. The blessings they bring, the work they facilitate, the peace they foster-- all are testaments that the work of salvation is not for the living alone. We are called to be worthy to open doors for those who cannot open them. 

We had the opportunity to go to the Boston temple with our new convert, Brother Rafferty, this past Saturday. The process of getting there was full of miracles; we were able to get him a membership record number in 24 hours; after being held back on genealogy he found an obituary of a great uncle that opened up three more generations of names; we were able to get a slot in the temple for baptisms with only two days notice because another group canceled. 

I was the recorder and my companion and two other missionaries were witnesses as he was baptized for his father and grandfather, and Sister Carr was baptized for his sister, mother and grandmother. He told us afterward: "When my sister was confirmed, I felt her tell me "Thank you." I know her presence, and she accepted it." Sister Carr felt the same way. 

Now Brother Rafferty wants to come do genealogy every week for his ancestors. IS THAT NOT A MIRACLE?? The temple has power.

The Hartford Stake is working towards the goal of individual worthiness for the dedication of the Hartford CT temple in about two years. The site has been cleared and the footings are being poured right now. Elder Benedict and I were driving out to the site with Brother O from the ward yesterday when we all received revelation; we needed to go visit a less-active family and take them with us. So we did! We turned around, went to their house, told them we were kidnapping them to the temple, and they happily came along. While we were driving, the LA brother said "I know God wants me to be coming with you." He had been out trying to fly his helicopter but whenever he tried rain started. So eventually he decided to just go home. As he was driving it suddenly stopped raining and he got a text from his wife telling him to come home because the elders were taking them to the temple. When we got there and walked around he kept repeating that he knew God wanted him to be there... his wife kept telling us in her boston accent "I know yah guys do this on purpose but it's still working" hahaha
the funny thing? our biggest goal with this family is to prepare them for the temple. and the Lord's helping them get there little by little. 

Temples change all who enter in. I knew it intellectually before; now I know it in my heart. The Lord is accomplishing his work from both sides of the veil and our ancestors are aware of US. They rejoice in our success as we follow Christ. SO GO THERE AND DO IT. Or if you can't? Help others get there. All parts of the conversion process lead us there. 

I LOVE YOU ALL. I pray for you every day. BELIEVE IN YOUR DREAMS!

-Elder Jackson

pics: Brother Rafferty and the BOSTON TEMPLE

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Head Colds, etc.

January 27, 2014

Shout-outs one two three!

1) HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Ashley Allen Jackson you awesome person you. so glad you are in our family and that you and Daniel get to live in Thailand without me. not that I miss that or want to go back or anything :)

2) HAPPY FUTURE BIRTHDAY to Marcia Dean Jackson, with whom I share two of my names. She is turning 39, isn't it crazy? They say time is a construct of man, and I'm pretty sure she's proved it false by her negative aging capabilities. but heck, we're all eternal anyways so who cares. 

3) A double shout-out to Mom, who in her librarian/mother craftiness sent a handmade paper box with 20 unfoldable compliments for my 20th birthday. I have opened one each day and it has been a spectacular boost from home. Sometimes you just need somebody to tell you that you're a good person. (see photo)

I thank Pai Celestial for your continued existence. And every time I say I'm from Virginia here all the members are like WAIT HOLD UP. THAT'S THE EAST COAST. Supposedly they haven't had a missionary not from the west in a very long time.... #novaproud

Bloomfield is rocking it! It seems as though CT is not altogether a fan of me because my head cold has taken an extended stay, as in 3 weeks now, but pretty much I've just come to terms with perpetual congestion. Like that blob from the Mucinex commercials-- we're friends now. And it makes me appreciate hot meals with members when the sinuses open up hahahah it's gross actually. but lovely.

Typical day? wake up, exercise muito, eat some eggs and cereal and bread, then change and do personal studies 8-9, comp study 9-10, language study 10-11, and sometimes training 11-12. That's actually the prescribed study schedule. but then we have lunch 12-12:30..... and not going out until 1pm is super hard. so usually we sacrifice training and part of language study, which perhaps we shouldn't do, but CMON. we got stuff to do.

Ward conference yesterday was all about hastening the work of salvation, and the vision for the ward is there. It's written in the bulletin, and the bishop talks about it tons. but the challenge is---the members need to catch it. Because personal contacting is our lowest priority, and we need the members to catch that vision and get their prepared friends to meet with us. This is the way Zion missionary work is supposed to happen. But also--its audacious. It's new and though in reality it shouldn't at ALL be scary (not asking you to get up on a soapbox, just live your life with spiritual eyes open for opportunities), it is a hard and refining step to take. We all have personal refiners-fire experiences right? In my opinion, this is the next refining fire for each ward. The streeeeetching process of members becoming missionaries. Faz sentido, sim?

Jerry--- the old Jamaican guy we teach every week--- is awesome. I love his faith and his chill-ness. It's a Jamaican thing, and there are SO MANY Jamaicans here. So I'm coming to love it. He's honestly ready for baptism, and understands the significance of it and thus wants to put all his bad things behind him before he makes that decision. 
-----any advice on this? how to explain to him that he can just do it? He comes to church literally every week, and I feel he is slowly getting there. maybe we just need to be patient with him :)

I've been thinking a lot about fulfillment and perfection. As a missionary I am constantly faced with my imperfections, and if I attach the ability be fulfilled with a state without imperfection, I will never have it. So simple, yet we struggle with it every day; our mistakes make us feel unhappy and unfulfilled. But God gave us weaknesses, and God also gave us a commandment to be joyful. Clearly our imperfections (weaknesses) are not meant to steal our fulfillment! So what are these weaknesses meant for? 

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble;" 

Ether 12:27 has the answer. God wants us to be fulfilled, and he wants us to be humble. We can have joy and make mistakes simultaneously! Be honest with yourselves my friends-- you don't have to, and cannot, be perfect today. But be fulfilled in every small thing you do to build the Kingdom of God on the earth. Be kind. Be sincere. Be happy.

Com amor de New England,
Elder Jackson

me in front of the Windsor Public Library (awesome, mom, you'd love it)
the cutouts from mom on our wall (check out the wallpaper)