Monday, December 29, 2014

prophet of the restoration ≠ it's a wonderful life‏


Christmas Day baptisms

Ainda assim, christmas was flippin sweet. its strange to be away from home. this is my second Christmas as a missionary, the first being in the mtc under 7 inches of snow. This one was different for several reasons. Mostly, I'm in Boston, and I passed the holiday teaching and walking and bussing and train-ing and, in a fabulous fashion, baptizing. Specifically, baptizing Maria and her daughter Vanessa.

We met these two ladies on December 7th when they came to church, and I remember when the fire alarm went off maria shouted over the screeching peal "I think I want to get baptized!" The process was not without opposition and struggle, but that miraculous start led to a miraculous baptism. And on christmas maria, vanessa, elisangela, melinda and rosilda were baptized. Nothing more fitting than rebirth on the Savior's birthday!

On the 27th we ran around like crazy preparing people to go to the temple and a recent convert, Ildo, drove me, Elder Griffiths, Djeison and Ely (2 more recent converts) up to belmont to spend a few hours there. it was a sweet experience. Not much better than seeing someone you helped join the church give that potential gift back to their ancestors. 

My personal growth over the course of 2014 has been immeasurable. I landed here in Boston Dec. 31st, 2013 and spent the first night as a real missionary overwhelmed with what lay ahead of me. 2 years is a long time when you're looking up at it from day 1. But now I'm here on Dec. 29th, 2014, and I can look back at day 1, and just laugh. Time has gone so fast, and its only going faster now. But through it all the Lord has refined me as his servant and as a man; he's given me His vision, piece by piece, and continues to offer more each day as I learn what I need to sacrifice to understand the way He works. I've received a glimpse of the life God lives. Just a microcosm. Its worth every price--truly, a pearl beyond price. I'm in no place to give advice to those who already know so much more than me... but maybe take a chance to reflect on what God has in store for you in 2015. What it might take to reach the gifts and blessings he's waiting to give you. What there is left to put on the altar.

I love you all! 

-Elder Jackson
Jenga Rameumptom

The full Christmas Day baptism.

Skyping with the family.

Monday, December 22, 2014

3 More Daysssss

The Musical Fireside with Pres. Packard on the far left.

Boston Temple at night
I'll keep this brief, because I'm going to skype call with a large portion of you on Christmas day between 4-7pm. Lets save the good stuff for then.


-mai e pae jackson for sending some delicious boxes. I had to duct tape one closed to resist the urge to open it before Christmas.

-Scott and Kiersten for responding to my letter request in remarkable fashion.... never have I opened up a tiny apartment mailbox to see 11 letters inside all for me. You guys rock. And I can't figure out your secret message on the envelopes.

-to Heavenly Father, for blessing us with His Son. And the gospel, and music, and salvation. and saxophones. 

This week was sick. I performed at the Christmas conference two more times and got to see someone I taught my entire time in Brockton 5 months ago get baptized. We're prepping for a beautiful Christmas day and Maria (future RS president, pretty sure) and Vanessa (8 year old genius cat impersonator that loves primary)'s baptisms. I love Christmas. I love the true meaning of it. I'm glad I'm here. I'm glad life is hard. I'm glad it was hard for Jesus too, because he knows what its like deeper and fuller than any of us can comprehend. I'm just glad.

Lets get some pictures. I'll talk to you on Thursday!

Raymond's baptism

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Firesides and some sweet chapel saxophone‏

Hey everybody, hope y'all are doing spectacular. The work continues this week with me and Elder Soller. Not sure if I mentioned this week-- Elder Soller is from Porto Alegre, Brazil, in the south of the country where it actually gets cold. 

-Shoutout to Sister Mitchell who returns home from Campinas, Brazil this week after 18 months of hard missionary work. Everybody go to her homecoming with signs and raucous cheering since I can't be there!

This past week I had the opportunity to travel to Rhode Island, first to Warwick and then to Groton Connecticut to play soprano sax and cello in the MBM Christmas musical fireside. It was a sacred experience honestly, and I'm so glad that I was given musical gifts and also the chance to learn instruments and be able to perform. Playing sacred music teaches me a lot about how God allows the Spirit to work through us. Often we ask ourselves if promptings are from God or our own mind, about which side of the invisible line our desires and ideas fall on. But when you play sacred music, you can't distinguish that line. You can ask someone who has just done an inspiring performance, was that you, or was that God? And the answer: it was both. God takes our abilities, our talent, our hard work and practice; he takes the notes we produce, beautiful in and of themselves, and infuses them with the power of the Spirit, which drives home the actual message of what were performing. You form a symbiosis with the Spirit in that situation; he cannot reach out without your performance, and your performance cannot reach out without him. 

That's really what being a missionary is like too. Its a symbiosis with God; a covenant relationship where both He and I are all in. His work is my work because my work is His. I think that's why it feels so good.

I'll shoot out some pictures, and end with this request: 

All I want for Christmas is a letter and a photo from you guys, if you have time. I'd love to read your handwriting and see a glimpse of what you're doing right now.... plus I need some more pictures for my wall :) my address is 19 Ackley Place #2, Jamaica Plain, MA, 02130.

Elder BDJ

p.p.s on the way to a fireside this week we stopped at Panda Express and guess who was there? the founder of panda express. got a picture with him. he likes missionaries and has a second home in Park City. best part? $10 GIFT CARD.

Monday, December 8, 2014

December beginnnnnns.....

I'll start this weekly update with a shoutout to Darren--- who either already is or will very soon be a real-life sworn in attorney of the state of New York. Stella is proud <3

In other news, this past week was TRANSFERS! And I am staying in the promised land of Boston. Elder Rodrigues did a switch and went to my previous area and old promised land of Brockton, and in his place I am now companions with Elder Soller who had been in Brockton 4 months. I am exceedingly sad that Rodriguinho is gone, but E. Soller is also a boss, so in that I do rejoice. See pics embaixo 

Also a shoutout to all the Sisters who are coming home. Basically all my women friends who went on missions are reaching the 18 month mark right now, which is weird, and really cool. 

This week was legit. After the miraculous month of November I was worried the mission might get spiritual whiplash, but instead we are in a crescendo, and yet again there are amazing things happening in Boston Portugues...

On Tuesday, we were riding the bus through Roxbury when E. Carvalho started talking to a man Francisco-- turns out he's a member living in Cambridge going to visit his brother. We got off the bus and kept talking to him, and turns out he's walking to the same street as us. And the same house as us... In fact... the guy were going to teach turned out to be his brother Manuel. We had a powerful lesson and Manuel expressed to desire to be baptized in January. 

Saturday night we got a call from the Spanish Elders, who had just met a woman, Maria, on the bus who wanted to meet the portuguese elders and talk to them. We called her and invited her to church. Sunday morning our investigator Edson drove us to church and we picked her and her daughter up on the way. Church was packed--- we had 46 people there for the not-so-pequeno group. Then during the third hour the group leader's son pulled the fire alarm, and because 50% of the people in the building speak Spanish, Portuguese or Haitian creole and not English some confusion ensued. In the entryway Elder Soller yelled to Maria, "HOW WAS CHURCH TODAY?" She yelled back to him, "IT WAS AMAZING! ME AND MY DAUGHTER WANT TO BE BAPTIZED ON CHRISTMAS." We were pretty surprised but pleasantly so. Not something earned or qualified for. Just a tender mercy to a woman who had been looking for the church for 2 years.

-This next week I'll be playing soprano sax and cello with the mission's musical fireside in Providence, RI!
-Edson, who I mentioned earlier, will be baptized next Sunday. He's sick. And has a sick chest tattoo to match. I'm pumped

-next saturday I get to play futbol with a bunch of Cabo Verdean teenage boys at church for 3 hours

-Lyme symptoms were, suprisingly, a little better this week :)

So all in all? Shaping up to be a great December.

Elder Jackson

Monday, December 1, 2014

A November to Remember

I have never been more tired, and I have never been more happy.

This week was an emotional and spiritual roller coaster here in dorchestah, including almost losing a baptismal date twice and bringing them back twice, having a Turkey bowl then a Thanksgiving feast at the Packards home that basically made me die of trunkiness (incredibly good food & the same rolls that I usually destroy at home).

This week I had the chance to interview 4 people for baptism, and that was a very special experience for me. It is sweet and humbling to give them a chance to witness before the church and bear testimony of what they learned. Coolest part for me? I succeeded in doing an entire interview in Cape Verdean a man who was half blind and couldn't read or write, but had a powerful testimony. His signature was a + sign. 

This sunday was huge for the group-- the culmination of a momentous effort was a baptism of 4 people from 4 families (3 of whom were part-member families); 56 people came, mostly the extended families of the people getting baptized. Just in sacrament we had 40, again. The Lords hand is over this work and this area.

I cannot describe, nor do I have time, to tell what my mission means to me. So I'll just send PICTURES! 

Love you all so much! Happy post-thanksgiving and start your Christmas music!
Elder Jackson