Monday, March 30, 2015

Some Greasy Saxophone, Passalong Cards and Suzy's Foot‏

Happy Monday everyone! This is Elder Jackson's update from Boston, probably the last time I'll update you from minha casa, good ol' Dorchester. I love it all, from the black snow to the cachuppa to the lottery tickets that litter the sidewalks. 

Shoutout to mom and dad who are coming to BOSTON this weekend! General Conference weekend! Will we meet? Will there be spying? There's literally no way of knowing. 

This week was cool. We started off with a priesthood training for all the young men on how to do the sacrament. They came and hour and a half late, but you bet we trained them good. And yesterday the sacrament was 1000x better and more reverent. #success

A less-active man and his son came with us to tour the church and see where it was, and we read 1 Nephi 8 with them. Getting them there in the first place was miraculous. Also.... fun times when we figured out the son is already a member! Had us fooled!

Friday we road tripped down to Warwick, Rhode Island, (elder santiago's first time out of Mass in 22 months!) and had a spectacular musical/visual fireside for members and investigators down there. It was the first time in my life that I ever played cello, saxophone, and sang in the same performance. Best part was that I got to play a southern black spiritual on sax and I made it as greasy as possible, per President's request. 

This week a lady called us and asked for a priesthood blessing because she was going to have eye surgery the next day. She's cape verdean and we asked how she got our number, and she said someone left a card in her door back in October. That was us! Literally, it was the first time on my mission someone called back from a card we left. We went, gave her the blessing, and two days later zita (our RS pres)  was driving her to a follow up appointment at the hospital. Mysterious ways.

Last--- we have a lady we teach named Suzy. She burned her foot badly about 6 months ago, and has worn bandages and braces ever since, and struggled to walk. We gave her a blessing two weeks ago. We went back a few days ago, and saw her ankle bare, no braces or bandages or socks. She said she went to the doctor and they said the burns made amazing progress; she recognized that the change had started right after the blessing. It was the first time in my life that healing has happened so remarkably. Testimony builder right there.

Thats about it. Most likely next week I will be writing from a different location! I love you all, I love this work. Keep on and I'll talk in a week! Unless you're mom and dad. Because I know there will be spying involved.

Elder Jackson

Monday, March 23, 2015

Jackson's update 3/23/2015, aka, can't think of a solid subject line

Boa tarde meus amados, I hope you all are warm and cozy wherever you may be! We're thinking of you here in Boston. And coveting your forecast...

Life is great here in Dorchester. This week we saw a bunch of people take steps forward in their progression. I got fed 3 plates of food by a Guatemalan couple, 1 plate from a Dominican woman, and 1 plate from a Colombian woman, all within 7 hours! #spanishprogram

We had stake conference here on Saturday and Sunday, which is boston is a BIG deal. The adult session on Saturday night was great and truly inspiration for everyone their. The first announcement was "look for answers to your prayers tonight", so you know its going to be good. And then they talked about councils! Ward, family, couple, companionship councils. It was unexpectedly revelatory for me. It fits hand in hand with our focus on creating zion, which requires the work and dedication and consecration of all to achieve a level of spirituality and closeness to God that can't be reached individually. And councils are truly a way for us to create that unity and try to seek the Lord's will. Family councils rock. 

Sunday was touching for me. Santiago and I each drove a van full of missionaries to conference, and then they worked on the portuguese translation while I shuttled our members back to the high council room which was the designated "Portuguese Room". At first the room was empty, but by golly, by 20 minutes into the meeting every seat was full and we went to get more. There were a few brazilians, but the vast majority of them were from our group. Most had never seen a large church meeting before, so we took them one by one to see the chapel and gym overflow--1200 members of the church seated there together. The Spirit was strong and they were all pretty blown away. I also learned that Elder Santiago is dope at translation. 

Other exciting news?
Raymond, who I taught in Brockton and who was baptized in December, baptized his 10 year old son Dimitri this past weekend.

Tonight we have a training for all the cape verdean young men on how to prepare, bless and pass the sacrament. Mostly its just amazing that we have enough to warrant having a training!

Prepping for General Conference, and the missions portable visitors center is coming with their new portuguese displays for the break between sessions on April 5th. SO PUMPED.

As for a quick spiritual thought? check this out. President sat with Elder Christofferson on a panel at Harvard law school. He was asked about coming to know God through prayer. Some wisdom:

"He also noted that we need to have real intent when we pray. He said that if you don’t have real intent, then you will not receive an answer because God does not want to condemn us. When God gives us an answer, we are accountable to follow it, so God, in His mercy, withholds answers until we have a real intent to follow His counsel and advice. I thought this was a particularly beautiful insight." 
Love you all so much.
-Elder Jackson

Monday, March 16, 2015

It's Official...‏

We are officially the indisputable champions! Of being snowed on! 108.6!

With another storm that passed yesterday we topped the all time snow record in the history of Boston. I have an inappropriate amount of pride that I was here for the worst winter ever. When my kids ask me about my mission, I can say I walked uphill both ways through 4 feet of snow to teach people about Jesus! Or something like that.

This week we had two great activities in the group: a trip to the temple on Tuesday with our recent converts and a VICIOUS cape verdean noite de integracao on Saturday night. 

Tuesday was great. We took PJ, Maria and Vanessa, Rosa, and the Frimpongs to the Boston temple for baptisms for their own family. They all loved it. I had the special opportunity to confirm Maria fontside for her grandmother-- a powerful experience.

On the more partying side of things, our noite de integracao was a huge success on Saturday. People brought their friends, there was a mountain of CV food, and two of our investigators got to come and enjoy some quality, deafening CV music and hopefully a little bit of the spirit :)

Boston is great. I love this place. I'll send you a bunch of pics to prove it to you.

Elder Jackson

Monday, March 9, 2015

Thawing the Carbon-freezing Chamber‏

As temperatures climb into the 40s we're taking off our coats, pulling out the short-sleeve white shirts and putting on the palm tree ties. SUMMER IS HERE. Or as Mom always says, "Hope springs eternal" ;)

Boston continues to be my home, and I love it more and more every day. When the members start saying "you're still here?" you know you've made it, and I got that at least 3 times this past Sunday. I love the church here. Its a promised land for me, even on the hard days. 

This week I got to be selfish and take in a whole lot of Spirit for myself. We had a chance to go to the temple last Wednesday with all the other mission leadership and it was a sweet experience. Elder Santiago and I received some answers about how to help the BEast progress, which was President's purpose in sending us there. Then on Friday we had an all-day zone conference in Worcester where the entire mission presidency came to speak to us in an open panel discussion. It dawned on me for the first time how truly extraordinary our leadership is; President and Sister Packard, brillliant lawyers that seem like they were made for their calling. President Clayton Christensen and President Haight, who by worldly standards are some of the most intelligent persons on this planet.  Mostly it was impressed upon me that I was looking at six of the most consecrated individuals in the kingdom today. They took our questions for two hours and responded to every one, then bore their testimonies for us, then trained us for another three hours. It was an unforgettable experience, and the last I will have with this presidency. 

This past week we went to see Luisa with the Walshes. They talked to her about their life, their family, and their marriage (almost 46 years). We discussed her vision for the family. And she's officially decided to get married. She decided on a marriage date for August 1st (her birthday) and her baptism date for August 2nd! 

Were prepping for a big Cape Verdean activity at the church this saturday. The Sisters have a friend who has a Cape Verdean radio channel here in Boston and he announced the activity live last week. Gonna be SICK! 

I'm just feeling grateful and humbled this week. I couldn't ask for more out of my mission. And thankfully I still have 9 months left. It feels like I've already been out here two years.
Looking like I'll get make the decision on when I go home-- between early November or mid-December. Any requests?

I'll send some pictures later if I get time. I'm sure theres a million things I forgot to write, but my minds a little tired right now. Send me questions if there's anything you really want to know. 

Love you all!
-Elder Jackson

Monday, March 2, 2015

In Like A Lion

Hey you!

Lets start with shoutouts. 

Shoutout to Nathan Whipple. If I'm correct, his birthday is TODAY!

Shoutout to Jenna for being a stellar Model UN-er. 

Shoutout to all of you, for being great and always pushing forward and always brightening the world.

This past week, it didn't snow. Except for yesterday, during our mission president's fireside for the Boston Stake in Weston. Of course it snowed right when everyone was supposed to drive there. But on the bright side? We're only 5.8 inches away from the all time snowiest winter in boston history. YEEHAW.

This week we met the most responsible Cape Verdean lady in Boston. We were late to an appointment with her and she told us "I can only give you 30 minutes since you were 20 minutes late." This might surprise you, but that was music to our ears. It means she remembered our appointment!!!!

Tuesday: We had an appointment with Edson, who disappeared on the day of his baptism three months ago. He's been reading his scriptures every day since then and carries the Book of Mormon with him everywhere he goes. He still wants to be baptized. Problem is, he just got a new job and has to work every sunday 7am-10pm, for the rest of eternity. But by miraculous means he has returned.

Luisa is doing so good. We watched Patterns of Light and discussed receiving revelation from God. She came to church, brought PJ in a suit, and watched him be ordained a deacon. All my (not really mine, but you get it) recent converts were at church on Sunday, which was a tender mercy.

Transfer meeting was huge (30 missionaries going home, shutting down 9 areas), and I had my first real experience organizing rides for 11 missionaries and 6 sets of luggage home to boston... it was.. complex. But worked out that nobody had to take the T home at 10 at night. We lost all the seniority in the Boston east zone, so I'm now the longest tenured one here. It was a weird feeling to see the last of the group that was here when I arrived be transferred elsewhere.

Last, the aforementioned fireside with President Packard in weston was titled "What the World Knows because of Joseph Smith". It was really, really awesome. Plus, I was asked (the day before) to play cello at the fireside on a piece I never played. So Sunday, 5 hours before the fireside, I said a quick "Lord help me" prayer and then took a violin accompaniment to Make Me Whole (rob gardner, Lamb of God) written in Db, hand-transposed it to D and then to bass clef for cello, jumped in the car, rehearsed once in Weston and then performed. Miraculously it sounded really good (I was the weakest of the trio having not practiced) and now I have another song to whip out if I need it, written in my own handwriting. The adventures of missionary life :) the highlight was President Packards message. Truly, the restored gospel is a treasure. 

I love you all! Were still alive up here in Boston! Keep the faith! Be safe! 

-Elder Jackson