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!

Elder Jackson