Monday, December 14, 2015

Here We Go.....


So it seems i may have sprinted a little too hard this week.... I ended up with a full-body Flu that has pretty much sidelined me for the past two days. Fever, aches, vomiting, diarrhea, the whole shebang. 

Besides that, this has been about the best last week a missionary could ask for. On Thursday night, Zito (who was baptized two weeks ago and received the Priesthood last Sunday) baptized his daughters, Liziana and Zaniah. He spoke with authority and afterwards said it was one of the best moments of his life. 

I worked a lot to get the musical fireside put together and we had our first performance in Warwick, RI last night. Aside from the fact that I was sweating off a fever and semi-conscious, everything went well. The chapel was full back to the gym and everyone enjoyed the music and the Spirit that was there. Tonight we have a performance in Revere with the Cambridge stake, focused on the Spanish and Portuguese membership. Then tomorrow I pack, Wednesday is my final transfer meeting, and thursday night Mae and Pai pick me up!

As I look back on these two years, all I really can express is gratitude. I can't call my mission a sacrifice, because the blessings I've received and the things the Lord has shown me outweigh any effort I made on my own to bring to pass the work of salvation here. Boston is my Waters of Mormon. 

When my group was getting ready to leave the MTC, my teacher pulled me aside and told me I had two options for what I would do with the next two years. He said I could either serve a mission, or I could become a missionary. I've thought a lot about what that means during my service here, and one day I found a verse in the Book of mormon that taught me what it means to become a missionary.
Mosiah 28:3 --

3. Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.

This desire for the wellbeing and salvation of every human soul is the definition of what it means to be a missionary. And the thing that makes me happiest about this right now? It doesn't have to end. This feeling can continue after I return home, and I can continue to minister in my new sphere. 

Thank you for supporting me in these best two years of my life so far. Thank you for keeping tabs to make sure I was alive and for rejoicing with me in the successes the Lord has wrought. This is it! 

I'll see you soon, face to face!

Love,
Elder Brenton Jackson

Monday, December 7, 2015

Corner 7

I remember when I was in shape and ran track that the 800m race was my least favorite and the one I invariably always ran. In the 800m race there are 8 corners. The first is easy, but corner 3 it starts to burn, corner 6 is really spent dreading corner 7, which is followed by corner 8 and a 100m sprint to the finish. 

Right now I'm in Corner 7, and really trying to run hard. It seems like the workload has increased dramatically and every day is filling up from now until translation-day. Our area is very busy, we're preparing for two more baptisms either on thursday or saturday, the zone has lots of people to take care of and everyones just running around. Then we've got the mission's musical fireside which I was basically put in charge of this week, which is proving to be difficult to put together when all the musicians live scattered across New England 2 or 3 hours away from each other. The Lord will provide. But its gonna take every last ounce of brainpower and time I have to do my part... 

Now that may sound like almost complaining, but don't worry. I'm trying not to do that anymore. I'm actually relishing the chance to see the lord deliver some beautiful music out of the chaos that it currently is. And lets face it... for my last weeks, I love being busy. Keeps me from descending into deep nostalgia and trunkyness!

By next monday I'll be on corner 8 and sprinting to the finish. The last 100m were always easy; you bite your fatigue and just kick in the last leg of adrenaline and grit you have to make it there. So I'm putting on my almost-destroyed dress shoes and sprinting a different kind of spiritual 100 meters.

Lots of great things happened this week, but the highlight was the chance to spend a day with Elder Packer, from the First quorum of the 70. He taught us many things but the focus came back to learning not just the language but the culture of the Spirit. He explained that recognizing the voice of the Spirit comes with practice, but we also need to learn the culture of the Spirit, or the environments, practices, choices, words, and habits that offend or invite his presence. He told us all to begin to make our own "handbook" of sorts, to record our observations by trial and error of what things we've seen and done resulted in the Spirit being with us. Then we learn to listen to his language and follow his lead. 

I love the Lord, I love Christmas, I love being a missionary, I love bearing witness of the things I now know. At the end of the mission, the greatest emotion I have is gratitude. I think its my favorite way to feel.

Love,
Elder Jackson

Monday, November 30, 2015

True Thanksgiving








This week was awesome. 

This was the third Thanksgiving on my mission, and it was the best one. Not because of food (although thanksgiving dinner with 20 Brazilians was PRETTY GREAT), and not because of family (because I didn't get to see them...yet), but because the Lord blessed us immensely and the holiday gave me a chance to be truly grateful. 

This past week we had four baptisms here in the portuguese group! 

Zito and Filomena were baptized on Wednesday night. We had a family home evening with them on Monday night at the Machado's house, and they told us they would make the decision that night and tell us the next day if they would be baptized. I prayed harder that night than I've ever prayed before; we pleaded with the Lord to bless them and waited on Him. The next day we went over at 6 to meet with them, and Zito told us he and his wife had decided to be baptized-- the next day. So we ran and had them interviewed and the next day they were baptized. It was the culmination of a lot of struggling and fighting for the truth, on our part and on theirs. They overcame great opposition to be baptized and are already being changed by the experience.

On Saturday we had the baptism of Jelsom and Jose Gomes, two young men in a family we have been teaching for several weeks! A recent convert of a few months, a young man named Anselmo, performed the baptism. It was another awesome experience. 

On sunday all four were confirmed and I had the chance to confirm Zito and Jose. Confirmations are always a really spiritual experience for me and this time was the same, even in Portuguese. 

I wondered about why I was supposed to stay here on the mission for 1 more transfer, and i think I'm finding out why. The spirit is being poured out in our ministry here and I'm just tried to direct it toward the ones who need it most. 

Theres nothing better than an attitude of gratitude folks, its takes what we have and makes it enough.

I love you all! No time to stop!

-Elder Jackson

Monday, November 23, 2015

Bonus Points

Greetings all! 

Seeing as I have officially passed my 2 year mark, I'm calling this next month my overtime. Hoping for some bonus points here :) this next week should be very eventful. 

This week was great as usual, ups and downs for sure, but everything turned out okay. We had the awesome opportunity on Saturday to visit the Boston temple with Zito and his family. The experience was marked by tender mercies-- one of which was that the temple worker behind the front desk of the temple who greeted them just so happened to be Cape Verdean. And had a quick whispered conversation in Criolu. It was doooope. #theLordprovides

The other mark of age I saw this week? Everything I own is falling apart. Its like all my clothes/missionary tools realized the 2 year mark had passed and gave up, causing them all to suddenly tear/snap/rip/be lost. I lost all my favorite pens, had two other pens explode, had buttons rip off pants and shirts, broke my watch twice, and lost a chunk of the sole of my best shoes. I officially feel like a good missionary. 

We are preparing a family of 4, two boys and another man for baptism this week. We'll see how it goes, but an extra prayer for them would be much appreciated. They're overcoming a lot to make this step!

A lot of other cool things happened and I wish I could share them all, but I unfortunately cant.

So suffice it to say, I'm alive, sprinting hard, and excited for my third Thanksgiving in the field. 

Lets get it!

Love,
Elder Jackson

Monday, November 16, 2015

T-minus 30 to Translation day‏

Time is ticking, clock is clicking and we're starting to sprint. 

This week on Wednesday will be 1 month left, and on Friday will be my official 2 YEAR MARK. Hard to believe. I can still remember those first days... 

Elder Soller and I are doing awesome, the work is progressing. We had 53 people in our not-so-little Portuguese group. Building on the shoulders of giants for sure. 

Our people are progressing really well. Ademar is keeping commandments the members don't even keep... we think this could be a big week. The ward officially decided to split the home and visiting teaching completely between the english and portuguese, so we're getting ready to leave the nest.....

I'm loving life. Trying to constantly focus on the blessings and tender mercies so I stay on top of the wave of work that always threatens to drown me. The Lord is so good. 

Spiritual thought?

1 Corinthians 2:9
Luke 9:24
What does it take to be permanently happy?

Love you all! Sally forth!
-Elder Jackson

Monday, November 9, 2015

Beginning With the End in Mind

Me with Elder Tuckett and Elder Pennington (the ones who walked Boston Common 
on Day 1, and some of my best friends here)
Elder Araujo and me
The Frandsen family (drove us to stake conference)
So Jenna sent me some awesome planners, but there were some Portuguese sisters who had none, so I gave them away (sorry Jenna, hope you understand... but the sisters thought they were the best planners they've ever seen). I then had to make my own: some of you may recognize the picture!

Hey all! 

First: shoutout to Kiersten! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! and scott for his sick beard. and running a half-marathon. 

Quick update from this week:

Transfers were on wednesday, and Elder Araujo went to Boston 1 PO (my motherland) and Elder Soller (my previous companion from Boston) came to Central Falls PO! Exciting times. Things are crazy here. 

The strangest part of transfers was saying goodbye to most of the elders that arrived in Boston with me two years ago. The ones I walked with on the first day in Boston Common bore their last testimony here Wednesday night, and it was surreal. But their "acceptable sacrifice" really just inspired me to sprint to the finish-- which is now 6 weeks away. 

We have several families progressing towards baptism, and I love them. One thing Elder Araujo taught me was how to truly love the people I teach, and do anything for them; I'm trying to put it into practice, even with the people I meet for the first time on the streets of Pawtucket. It transforms the work. 

Stake conference was on Sunday, and we got permission to rent two VANS from the airport to drive our group down to connecticut! It was one of the craziest mornings of my mission getting everybody to the vans and ready to go, but so worth it. We had our own little section of seats at the conference, which extended from the front of the chapel to the stage at the back of the gym (same size chapel as Ashburn). 

I'm searching for the purpose of these next 6 weeks, but not too hard. Mostly were just here to work. I've been given an amazing group of missionaries to serve and they're helping me weed out all the leftover "nets" I haven't yet forsaken. 

I love you all! Be good! Do good! Have fun! 
-Elder Jackson

Monday, November 2, 2015

Record Breaking‏

 Anildo at his baptism
Record breaking Sunday!
Ironically, my first picture with elder Araujo!
Our investigator's dad is a super famous musician in Cape Verde. 
Famous enough to be on their 1000 escudo bills.

What a week it was up here in Pawtucket! Our little Portuguese group isn't so little anymore!

I only have 12 minutes of library computer time, so lets see what happens here.

The big news of the week is that our friend Anildo Fortes (not anilo, as I had called him the whole time) was baptized on Saturday! It was awesome. He asked for me to baptize him. All came from the Elders being lost on their bikes one day and asking him for directions. He couldn't give directions, but he did want to know about the gospel. And on Saturday he was baptized. 

On Sunday we broke the record for attendance in the Portuguese group! The church was full and we ran out of chairs. It was full of great testimonies and Anildo's confirmation was excellent. I felt really enlightened by the fast also. 

On Friday we found out Elder Araujo is being transferred. Everyone here loves him and is very attached to him so it's been tough for all, but he's going to Boston Portuguese, so I know it's gonna be good :) Elder Soller, who was my companion in Boston, is coming here to Central Falls and will be the last companion of my mission. 

That's all! See pictures! Let's go! love You!!

-Elder Jackson

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Forests on Fire!‏

 Me and Elder Dawson recording
Beautiful fall colors
The ward had a halloween party, mostly populated by people from our group

Whaddup everybody, just letting you know that the work continues up here in the smallest state in the union!

This week was interesting, not a ton of crazy things to report, but some quick highlights. 

Tuesday we finished up writing the music for the project President gave me and Elder Dawson and we recorded Wednesday night (see pics). Its kind of a secret for most of the mission so I've edited the recipients of this email... But President is creating a cd with the testimonies of Christ of all the living Apostles and Prophet, plus the past several prophets. It's a 20 minute continuous track of testimonies, and he gave me the challenge of writing/recording underscore for the whole cd. At first I almost said no, but it's turned out to be really pretty exciting. I've even had some spiritual experiences writing, as entire songs came to mind and came to be in just a few minutes. So we finished doing our writing on Tuesday, then recorded on Wednesday!  A member of the church in Foxboro, MA will be mixing the cd. So he has to do most of the work :)

On Wednesday we had zone conference. I learned a lot and had a lot of ideas. One thing I liked  most was our discussion about personal gratitude and accountability to the Lord. It reminded me of a habit I started in Boston when we just barely started with the Portuguese group. My district leader gave me the idea. Each night in prayer before bed I would write a list of all the tender mercies and blessings of the day and actively express gratitude for each one. Then I would think of the missionaries, investigators and members and ask God questions about each one, how I could help them, and record the answers as action items for the next day. Then in the next day's evening prayer I would account to the Lord whether I did what he told me to do. Because of this exercise I feel that my time during those transfers was the most grateful and some of the most productive of my mission. I lost that habit, and I restarted this week. About half the time I fall asleep doing it but that's ok! It's the effort that makes the difference.

In terms of people, one of our families that didn't make it to their baptism resolved a lot of their concerns and issues this week. They all came early to church this week for the Primary program. Also, our awesome Brasilian friend Ademar, who cold called us 3 weeks ago and asked to meet, set a date for his baptism on November 29. It was awesome. He's a man truly transformed by the gospel, to an extent that I've never seen pre-baptism. He's so ready; now we just have to convince him that he is :)

Life is good.

One thought: in Mark 1:17-18, Jesus called his future apostles from their work as fisherman, and they "straightway forsook their nets". To the extent that we realize our true calling, each one of us, as fishers of men, we also realize we have a lot of "nets". It's super evident as a missionary which ones are still holding on to their nets with one hand while they try to swim to the Savior. It's sometimes too heavy of a load to make it "to shore". What nets does the Lord want us to forsake?

Love,
Elder Jackson

Monday, October 19, 2015

Winter returns, a little opposition, and trusting the Lord's timing‏

 Cape Verdean babies!
 FRISBEE!
Birthday pranks.........
Greetings!! 

Its cold here in Rhode Island.... this morning when we left our apartment it was 25 degrees! And I, like Darren, turned on the heat for the first time, thus ushering the official start of winter. With this cold front has come a little bit of spiritual opposition.

Last week we were preparing two families for baptism this past sunday, but in the end it wasn't the right time for anyone. As Elder Holland says, salvation is not a cheap experience, and some of our people are paying a token of the Savior's price as they work through bad habits and addictions. It was hard because in both cases we found out, not directly, but through other people, that they were suffering/falling to temptation behind the scenes. 

I learned a few lessons this week:

1) Addiction likes to be hidden. I was reminded of an ad I saw on the side of a bus in Brockton: "Hunger is hidden". The adversary convinces so many that they shouldn't tell the ones who can help them about their struggles, for shame, sharp guilt, or fear of punishment. I think we all know what that feels like. Even after weknew of an addiction this week, and asked the individual everything we could to help her confess her struggles to us and let us help her, that "wounded animal" inside would not come out into the open. She just couldn't tell. So we keep working, praying, reading with her. And we shared these: https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/12-steps-to-change?lang=eng

2) Trying to force conversion/change never works -- we must invite and trust in the Lord's work behind the scenes. 
Our missionary work is like trying to move a wet spaghetti noodle across a table. If we try to push from behind it just spreads all over the table and goes nowhere. But if we pull from the front, tracking the path ahead, it follows a straight line behind our hand. 
In the shower (where I get most of my best ideas) I asked what we should do. Actually, I asked if we should keep trying to get to overcome their struggles before sunday. The answer was surprisingly clear... like a big knot inside just unloosed and the Lord told me to chill out, and trust his timing. That He's not working on cosmetic changes with these people, but deep transformation. And I felt instant peace. 

At church I compared how I felt about my people, compared to how I felt 20 months ago. There's a love there for them that I couldn't access before; a trust in God I didn't know before; and a happiness that actually makes me a lot smarter and a lot more perceptive. 

So long story short, all is well :) Sorry if this email came off wicked dramatic, but I learned a lot this week. The work goes on, and I'm learning a little more of the father-of-king-lamoni sacrifices required to really know God.

I love you all! Go kill it this week!

-Elder Jackson

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Fun Begins

Thanks to Jenna for once again sending the dopest planners! Since I only have one transfer
after this I'll have to give one away... or use it as an RM planner hahahaha
Greetings everybody! Its a monday holiday so we don't have too much time to write (sharing computers at the church), so I wanted to drop a quick line to let you know I remain alive up here in Providence. 

This coming week will be insane! Were trying to prepare 7 people (two families: mom+dad+2 daughters, mom+two daughters) for baptism next sunday (a Herculean task here) with a few exchanges and a pretty hefty musical assignment from President Miller. If I don't email next monday, its because I died. muahaha

What happened this week? I'll give you two things:

The woman we gave the priesthood blessing to a few weeks ago was baptized on Saturday and it was one of the most spiritual baptisms I've seen. The best part was the testimony she bore afterwards; she talked about her past abuse and anxiety and struggles with self-worth, and how the gospel and especially prayer had changed her life completely. She mentioned the blessing and how it had helped her and bore testimony of the restoration of the church. It was a true picture of conversion.

The other miracle of the week was our meeting with a man named Ademar! Two weeks ago he called us at 10:40 saying "Did you call me?" to which we responded... no but we speak portuguese and he said, Good because I'm from Brazil! Turns out he met with missionaries two years ago, but stopped because of work and because he wanted to investigate every church he could to find which one was the true church. His number stayed saved on our phone and on his phone for two years and we had the chance to teach him this week. The first thing he brought up was how much he loved the idea of the Melchizedek Priesthood... so I knew it was gonna be good. He described how his family was back in brazil but he was here working trying to bring his kids over. He followed the voice of the Spirit through every church but kept coming back to the truth he had learned with the missionaries. He went to Cumorah and the Sacred Grove. He testified that finally the spirit had told him "é lá.. a verdade é lá". Then he told us he wanted to be baptized before his birthday :)

The Lord has been working with him so long and he delivered himself to us. We take no credit. He is, without a doubt, the most prepared person I've ever taught.

I'm so happy here and I hope you're happy to. My scriptural invitation comes from Mosiah 28:3, the scripture me and Elder Araujo are ponderizing this week:

 Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.

Is this what we desire?


Love,
Elder Jackson

Monday, October 5, 2015

Just Another Week in Funkytown‏

 Our tinfoil lampshade

A painting by Rose Dall in the Machado's house! I said, "I recognize that painting!" Turns out Sister Dall used Bro. Machado's daughter as a model for Mary in all her paintings! Small world.....

Boa tarde meus amados, dropping a note here to say hello and hope you're all doing stellar! 

My first order of business is to say woooooooooooooooooooooooooot for Darren and Carey! Baby Grace looks great. She looks like she wants to learn the saxophone and how to rollerblade. Don't worry, I can help with that.  (#sendmepics)

My first full week back proselyting was soooooooooooooo good. The highlights:

Had a chance to do interviews with President on Wednesday! Me and Elder Araujo did a pretty good job we thought on our trainings. He asked me to the Senior prom to demonstrate solid commitments, including jumping on the table to spin me around (he's about 5'4 so the effect was nice) and stabbing a lamp covered in tinfoil to demonstrate connecting true doctrine with the Light of Christ. I'm on the lookout for the next spiritual gifts that I can pursue, and what I can sacrifice to achieve them. 

We went with the English sisters to give a priesthood blessing to their investigator who's being baptized this coming saturday. In the blessing I felt to tell her that her study of the gospel would help her overcome anxiety and find peace when she would otherwise be distraught. Then on Sunday at church she came to us and said "What you promised in the blessing happened; I had times this week where things happened that would normally set off my anxiety, but I couldn't get anxious, even if I tried"; felt honored to have been a part of that experience for her.

The highlight of my week came when we were walking through one of the sketchier streets in town. We passed a recent converts house and talked to her neighbor, Ade, who Elder Araujo already knew. We shot the breeze and she was super friendly. Then E. Araujo paused.. looked at me and I looked back, and we said... lets teach something. It was a small prompting. We sat down with her as the sun set and it started to rain. Sitting on the ground on her porch we taught about repentance and baptism. Like a dam breaking she told all of the struggles she was facing, the trials and disappointment in her family, her worries for her daughters, her desire for change. Essentially she said "somethings gotta give". We offered her the restored gospel, testifying from Isaiahs words about the Savior. The street is usually noisy and packed but it was powerfully quiet, and she asked if she could be baptized with her daughters. We said... of course... and set a date for October 18th. She came with her two daughters to watch general conference on Sunday and said she "learned a lot", and the three of them are set for the 18th. 

God knows the needs of everyone around us, and he is constantly, constantly sending us messages to try and get us to help him. We are his hands on the earth, not because he couldn't accomplish his refining work on His own, but because he knows we need the experience of giving and sacrificing and ministering of ourselves. We reach out to lift; we are also lifted. And simultaneously he is prompting, prompting everyone to reach out to us to; to fill our needs. If Araujo and I hadn't looked at each and made that choice to stay, rather than walk away, what would change? How big of an impact can 15 minutes have on the Ade's posterity? Or any stranger?

Conference taught me to simplify, but not to go easy. I learned that we need to be centered on Christ to hear God's whispers in our lives, and we need to diligently follow His promptings in order to be truly happy. He loves us so much. He loved our friend Ade enough to send us there and tell us to stay a little longer. May we all listen a little closer, be a little bolder, and turn outward a little more :)

Love,
Elder Jackson

Monday, September 28, 2015

From Rhode Island with Love

Gonna miss seeing these guys every day... But adventures await
Hey all! 

Holy cow! 

I'm speaking portuguese again!

It feels really really really good!

Safe to say I'm happy down here in Rhode Island. Central Falls is great. Pretty ghetto, full of people that need help, and they all speak portuguese and kriolu. Its my final promised land of my mission. 

My companion is Elder Araujo, a brazilian from Sao Paulo (my 7th companion from Brasil #bencaos). I trained Elder Lopes, and Elder Lopes trained Elder Araujo, which in mission lingo makes him my grandson, or "neto" as i so fondly call him! Were the zone leaders over the Providence North zone, more commonly called LOB City, which covers from Warwick, RI north to the RI border, and west to Ashford, CT, including the whole city of Providence. In our zone, 9 out of the 12 companionships are training. Safe to say, we have a lot of fire

The area is sweet. It is a lot like Boston, except the city is smaller and the portuguese group has a more stable foundation of members and leadership. The group leader is Brother Machado, who used to teach me in CTR 7 or something! I knew he looked familiar... But him and his family are solid. Church yesterday was an awesome experience as we did the old Sunday morning round up and came to church to find50 people ready for sacrament meeting in Portuguese. Brother Machado asked me to bear my testimony (in Kriolu). I had a serious flashback to all the many testimonies and talks I gave in Boston. Basically put in a plug for general conference by telling about my experience with Elder Holland. It was fun. 

Its strange to be here after six months in Weston, especially because I felt my vision of the whole mission sort of slip away. Its like I could visualize every missionary and area in the mission before, and now I'm really just able to laser focus on the zone and its needs. I guess thats just a weird way to say my stewardship has changed, and I felt it pretty strongly. 

The Lord, through me, Elder Araujo, Sister Couto and Sister Capece, will make this group into a branch by the end of this transfer. Thats what I feel I'm called to do here and were ready to sprint. I consider the chance to serve here one giant tender mercy. Heavenly Father truly does know what we need... 

Last thought--- GET PUMPED TO HEAR THE LORD'S WILL. General Conference has arrived.

38 What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.

 My mental image is this-- imagine Christ himself standing at the podium in the Conference center. How close would you pay attention? Would you do what he asked? Would you dare miss any moment?

D&C 1:38 is saying that there is really no difference between his voice and the voice of his servants. His chosen representatives will speak, and through the Spirit we may receive the will of the Lord for our lives. Are we ready?

Love,
Elder Jackson

Monday, September 21, 2015

Transfer Surprises-- I'm Outtie


 We went apple picking! 
 The best donut i ever ate 
 
Elder Perkes taking a wicked spill on some apples.
Tractor dreams.

Good day to all yall out there! Popping in to let you know I'm still alive in Boston. This week was pretty solid, but not in a way that yields too many jaw dropping stories of missionary heroism. Mostly we organized and executed transfer decisions, but that in and of itself is a fairly great feat.

Since I don't have much to talk about, I'll explain transfers real quick for those who don't know. So we have 240 missionaries in our mission, and about 100 areas/units for them to serve in covering all from bridgeport, CT to Keene, NH to Lynnfield, MA to Cape Cod. Every 6 weeks we have transfers. And its crazy. We have 5 languages in the mission (english, spanish, portuguese, mandarin chinese and haitian creole) so we have to very carefully plan within those 5 language programs where in new england the missionaries can and are supposed to go. There are spanish units or groups in every stake, portuguese units/groups in about half the stakes, haitian in two stakes and chinese in one stake. In the end its a giant puzzle of combining companionships across this area, all based on revelation from the Lord. 

How does the revelation come? Its a total mix of information and inspiration, meaning we come to the process with ideas and put together as much as we can, listening to the Spirit and paying attention to where the Lord leads us as we discuss His missionaries and where they need to go. In the end, the right to revelation rests on President Miller as he has stewardship over them. But we do all we can to prepare and facilitate that revelation.

So we did all that this week, and got done, and President said he had one last change to make. He went over to the board and grabbed my card and two other portuguese elders, did a big switcharoo, and now I'm shipping down to Central Falls, RI to the Portuguese group! I'm so pumped. But its also hard to leave the Millers and Elder Perkes. We've gotten really close these past few months. But my good friend Elder Vecchi is taking my spot and I know he's going to kill it here! 

Wednesday night after transfer meeting I'll hop in the car and drive down to Central Falls. Its a small, densely populated city full of Cape Verdeans, hispanics and some Brazilians too, not too far from Providence. Right now its the promised land for our work. The group is growing fast-- and I've got two transfers to help it really get going. 

The Lord is at the head of this work, and its the greatest and noblest work of all. Everyones invited!

Love,
Elder Jackson

ps. new address should be 75 South Union Street #408 Pawtucket RI 02860

Monday, September 14, 2015

Line Upon Line




Tacos Don Nachos-- Central Falls, R
Greetings all! What a week it has been. From Monday to Saturday we had meetings and trainings across the mission. I'm lovin it.
Monday was the recent convert day at the temple;
Tuesday was training on the webex, helping an English lady named Bo move, and doing a baptismal interview in Kriolu with President in Central Falls, RI;
Wednesday was our return meeting with trainers and new missionaries;
Thursday was zone conference in Cambridge with Cambridge and Nashua zones;
Friday was zone conference in Franklin with both Providence zones and Hingham;
Saturday we spent half the day in Worcester Spanish which was dope;
and yesterday we went Lowell, MA --> Cambridge --> Belmont --> Natick. A solid day.

Highlights?
Began work on a project for President that involves me writing and recording a bunch of music to accompany a message to the mission later in the year. So if we have a free minute
I hope on the piano and start to bang out ideas. Reminds me of old times.

I may have mentioned that were making contact with people around the world through the digital mission, and my website is Google+; this week I got to talk to a bunch of people in Brazil (#brazilianportuguese #nothingbetter #nooffenseJenna) and several are really interested in the gospel. I made friends with a woman named Elaine who lives in Campinas, and she has had tons of friends and family in the church and serving missions. She is so cool. We just talked about true discipleship, John 14, Mosiah 2, and she wants the local missionaries to drop off a Book of Mormon for her to study at her work. The internet can be a powerful tool for good. (parenthetical: "The internet is a goldmine for the curious and  quicksand for the gullible")

In Worcester we were going to see a lady and knocked  on the wrong door. A woman named Asha opened the door and we struck up conversation with her. She told us her life story and eventually wept as she described her suffering in Tanzania and her loss of children. We offered her the message and she accepted; a testimony of being where God needs you at the right moment.

One last thought: often I've been asked how I know what I teach is true-- how I gained a testimony. I used to say this experience or that experience or try to make it sound more sudden than it was. But over the past few weeks my response has changed. Now I just quote Doctrine and Covenants 98:11-13:

"11 And I give unto you a commandment, that ye shall forsake all evil and cleave unto all good, that ye shall live by every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God.
 12 For he will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept; and I will try you and prove you herewith.
 13 And whoso layeth down his life in my cause, for my name’s sake, shall find it again, even life eternal."
As I've chosen to believe and been faithful to the light given, God has given me line upon line, precept upon precept. Some experience more rapid conversion than I did. But the tree is starting to spring forth in fruit that is so good. And its obvious to me how true it is. 

Love,
Elder Jackson

Monday, September 7, 2015

Just a quick note

 I owed the Boston sisters a grilled cheese meal from 6 months ago when I bet them. 
So I finally delivered, and we made it nice.
A dope hawk with its kill on a shed. 

We spent the whole day in the temple for our recent convert temple day and didn't have time to email, so President said I could send a quick note tonight. It was an incredible morning as we helped run the baptistry full of people who just joined the church. The words that kept returning to my mind... "the prisoners shall go free" (D&C 128:22). I watched it happen today. see-- 
https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2000/10/the-redemption-of-the-dead-and-the-testimony-of-jesus?lang=eng

Life is crazy busy. We've started work on preparing transfers for the missionaries, and doing webexs and trainer/trainee meetings and two zone conferences this week. 

One great thing this past week was our monthly mission leadership council with all the leaders. Elder Perkes and I trained on fear vs perfect love, breaking down how the principles of Moroni 8:16 affect all those that participate in the work of salvation. I learned a lot of things. Mostly that I want to feel the feelings of Mosiah 28:3... (sorry to throw out so many scriptures)

I don't yet know if I'll be staying here or going elsewhere in a few weeks, but at this point in my mission, I don't care where I go. I've tried real hard to give it all up to the Lord so his desires are my desires, so when it comes to transfers, I can happily say "I'll go where you want me to go". Surprises may be in store! But thats life.

Shoutout to Darren and Carey on their ANNIVERSARY! And to Daniel on his BIRTHDAY tomorrow!

I love you all, and wish you the best, 

-Elder Jackson