Sunday, May 25, 2014

Dragon Ball Z Helps Me Understand the Gospel‏

my beautiful sprained ankle
my beautiful family

my best friend Cassia
To you fantastic souls scattered across the globe,

This email cannot, of necessity, be as exciting or wonderful as last week's. I mean we had a surprise baptism of a mom's kids on mother's day. But nevertheless I WILL ATTEMPT.

-To Daniel & Ashley and Scott & Kiersten, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY. And thanks for getting married the same week of the year. Makes it much easier for us missionaries to give reasonably-timed shoutouts.
-Shoutout to my favorite season of SPRING, or primavera in Brockton, which makes me happier than most things in life. Rebirth. So legit.

This week we continued with teaching all the youth of Brockton, especially focused on Malique and William. Our one difficulty with them is that their mothers are both hesitant for their baptisms, even though they both want it and are both completely prepared. We talked to William's mom on Saturday though, and she agreed to be present for his baptismal interview on Wednesday. HOPEFULLY (fingers crossed) he can be baptized this weekend on the 24th or 25th. 

By the way, the gospel of Jesus Christ is totally relatable to Dragon Ball Z. Every time we teach william we have our obligatory Epic Dragon Ball Z Moment where Elder Lopes relates something awesome that happened to Gohan or Goku because William LOVES DBZ. Then I give an Epic Avatar the Last Airbender moment, a show which he also loves. Then we say a prayer and have an incredibly spiritual lesson. Who says watching tv isn't useful, neh?

Another fun thing happened this week: we lost our car :((( to the Elders in Hingham because their car is in the shop and their area is way to big to walk in. but in fact that is more like a :/ or even a :) because the Lord does some amazing things which situations like this.... like someone Elder Lopes was teaching before I got here, named Jaimie, has been MIA despite all our efforts the past 7 weeks. And then we lose the car, and the first day we're walking on Main St and he shows up right in front of us. We taught a lesson right there about 1 Nephi 3:7 and doing hard things. Tired feet--->tender mercies

One last thing: the other Elders in Brockton have been teaching a man named Orlando who did not want to be baptized. He felt he had to be perfect before making a promise to God, and nothing they did had worked yet... they counseled with us about it in our District meeting and a thought came to my mind. I suggested they teach him about the temple and all those passed on who were waiting for him to do this.
Later that day they taught him a lesson about the temple, and at the end he asked, "okay, what do I need to do?" He'll be baptized on the 24th.

My biggest thought from this week... we so often expect revelation and answers to prayer to feel like this overwhelming out-of-body confirmational experience, but often it is not. Most of the time it is an idea that comes while you're pondering or praying. Something simple. Something that seems right. And then you do it, it works. And you know it came from God.

I used to think that attributing things to God that way was backwards. Now I know that's exactly how He works for the salvation of His children. 

Best scripture of this week: Helaman 5:30. Explains the Holy Ghost better than anything else I've found. 


-Elder Jackson

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Best Mother's Day Gift Ever‏

Dearest friends and family, mostly friends because the family heard all of this when I called them yesterday (#twiceayear #missionperks), this week has been spectacular. And full of miracles. Legit ones.
A miraculous thing happened yesterday. And I want to quickly relate the story that led up to it.
Elder Lopes and I have been teaching Socorro and two of her sons, Luigi and Carlos, since I arrived here in Brockton. And when it came to their baptisms some wrenches were thrown in the way. Two weeks ago, Luigi and Carlos stopped answering the door for us. This was scary---we usually meet with them every day after school. Eventually we got to Saturday, when we meet with Socorro, and they still hadn't talked to us. Socorro was interviewed for baptism that night, but felt she hadn't completely adhered to the Word of Wisdom (health principles of the church) and wanted another week to prepare. That night we talked to Luigi and Carlos about what scared them, and it was baptism. They felt too young, they felt like they didn't know enough, and when we asked about the Restoration, they weren't sure about it. We made a compromise with them: we can't help you if you don't talk to us, so open the door for us and we'll get everything resolved. They agreed.
We met with them every day this past week. We turned their apartment into a maze to teach the role and power of the Holy Ghost. We played Post-it pictionary to demonstrate the apostasy from Christ's original church and how the original picture needed to be brought back, not simply redrawn or reimagined. It came to friday night, three days ago, and we were sitting in the hallway going through the baptismal questions with them. We came to Joseph Smith and the Restoration and asked them if they believed. And they said they did. Luigi said he didn't know why really, just "had a feeling". Carlos just said he believed it. And so we finished the questions and asked them if they wanted to be baptized. Still, they weren't sure. Then this thought came to my mind, and we expressed it to them. "This sunday is mother's day, and your mom is getting baptized."
A little light turned on in Luigi's head I think, because he said out of the blue: do you think we could make it a surprise? Do you think we could get baptized but not tell her until right before?
And we said.... OKAY!  Carlos concurred, and thought I thought it was pretty audacious to try a surprise baptism we decided to do it. They were interviewed 30 minutes later, and the next evening we interviewed Socorro. Sunday arrived and we made the programs with all three names on it, careful not to show Socorro, who still believed she was the only one getting baptized that day. After church the members gathered in the cultural hall for the baptism and Socorro went to go change into white. We took Luigi and Carlos to go get changed and prepared. And then Socorro was waiting in the room with the other members, we stood out in the hall with Luigi and Carlos. "Ready?"
Elder Lopes walked in first and told Socorro, "we have a present for you for Mother's day today."
And I followed Luigi and Carlos into the room.
When Socorro turned and saw her sons, dressed in white, walking towards her, it was like getting hit by the Spirit train. She started crying and embraced them as me and E. Lopes just watched beaming. I looked at the members and most of them were crying too... it was the most beautiful expression of motherly love I've ever seen. Pure joy at the thought of being baptized with her children.
Elder Lopes baptized Socorro, and I baptized Luigi and Carlos. When we walked in and I saw her face, it was one of the sweetest feelings I've ever had. I know this work is true. There were a million ways for our surprise baptism to go wrong, but every piece fit perfectly. It was a miracle. HAPPY MOTHERS DAY.
Elder Jackson

Spring sprung in brockton

Just a quick shout out to let you know I'm alive and haven't fallen into a canal yet! The work here in brockton is spectacular and I'm actually like talking to people in portuguese now. Its pretty legit.

Also, transfers are this week but I'M STAYING. Thank goodness for that. Our family didn't get baptized last week due to one of the sons "sleeping" like an iron rod and never opening the door for us. 6 times. MAS we had a spectacular testimony meeting on sunday, in the which they they had legit fun and just about every member of the branch bore testimony, including me. A member of the stake presidency leaned over to me when I was sitting up front and said "I love coming to testimony meetings here..." and I swelled with pride for the branch that has just barely adopted a large americano that tries to speak criole. 

This month is gonna be awesome. 

Ate mais!!

-Elder Jackson 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Elders Five

Boston Harbor -- Marathon Day

April 28, 2014

That is the name by which our fans know the singing elders of the Brockton Branch. We are currently working on booking our post-mission tour and also take requests.
So Carvalho, Vargas, Lopes, Jackson and Miller (with Sister Miller tickling the ivories) have become the singing sensation and have so far sung in sacrament meeting and a baptism, which basically makes us professionals and entitles us to red carpets and open doors everywhere in Brockton. Just kidding. Actually not completely because literally everyone will invite us in to hear the word of God... AHH A IGREJA DE ELDERS FALA FALA! Commitments are hard but at least 80% of Brockton probably has a Book of Mormon somewhere in their house now!
This week was a little crazy--- we had interviews and then Elder Lopes got sick, so we stayed inside for two days, after which we had one day together and another day on exhanges with the zone leaders in Franklin, then a raiiiiny day and then Sunday. Some weeks fly, others drag. This one did both.
Socorro and her family... man they are the coolest of all. Their baptism is scheduled for next Sunday and none of the problems other people have last minute are coming up. She taught us about how to help your kids keep the law of chastity by keeping all the doors in the house open all the time, aka, she's got in on lock. We've got the interview to set up this week and then we shall be opening the door of baptism. And everything gets better from there.
William is um rapaz 13 year old that has a mind like a steel trap-- he came to church the first time after we taught him and after class the young mens president came up to us and said... I want to come to your next lesson with him
and another kid predicted to me that william will be the deacon's quorum president when he ages up. he's not even a member yet. SO COOL.
Oh yeah, one of our zone leaders is my twin from the other side of the country. we bonded over disc and a mutual love for gardening, which he believes is not effeminate but rather incredibly masculine and awesome, to which I readily agree
-The half sister of a recent convert named Jessay, who is like 11 I think, wants to get baptized and thinks it is the coolest thing ever that there is a living prophet on the earth today. Only problem is her dad is totally not okay with it, even after our fast for her. God's got a plan for how he wants that situation to work out and we're working on seeing what He wants us to do.
-Some cops told us that we shouldn't be out walking the streets of Brockton at night because "the kids will pull a pistol on ya like that" and "one of your people got caught in a shootout and ended up a witness to a homicide".
we said thanks for the advice and laughed a little
I think that witness might have been elder lopes but not positive
I experienced someone pull out on the morning of their baptism. one of the hardest 20 minutes ever for me. The Lord doesn't, wont force people to make promises to him. Tis a difficult thing.
The Brenton Jackson episode of House continues with the internal medicine department at Mass General! Symptoms remain the same-- generally described as "I feel like I drank a bottle of nyquil", repeated every morning. Incredibly I'm actually getting better at Portuguese and learning a little bit of Creole, and coming to love this place. 
Second to lastly, the predictions are that this transfer Lopes will leave and I will become a trainer. I can't tell if they're just messing with me or actually predicting my demise but its in the Lord's hands!!!!
Lastly, I know that the Holy Ghost is real and more subtle and more powerful than anything else on this earth, and that it has the power to change even those who seem irretrievably lost. 
Elder Jackson 
April showers brings May flowers so what do Mayflowers bring...
The Brasileiros and Cape Cod elders on the bridge to Boston