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).
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!

Elder Jackson