Monday, April 27, 2015

Mini missions on mini missions and conferences galore‏

(Note from Mom: Someone texted me this photo and all the message said was
"Elder Jackson with Addison" Pretty cute, right?)

Hey everybody, just popping in to let you know I'm alive, Boston is well, and the mission is great! I've got some shoutouts so listen up:

SHOUTOUT to Matthew Crowder who is officially hitched! Hope you loved it man, and that you're ready to be a sick husband and father. 

SHOUTOUT to the Belmont Ridge Ward! (someone forward this to Bishop Lewis) I got a sweeeeet box a couple weeks ago and have been slowly consuming the chocolate on the road and late at night. I loved it. 
SHOUTOUT to everybody that worked to build up the church and spread the gospel in the East Coast over that last century. I was looking up Dad's old area in Stamford, CT, where he was the first spanish elder; now they have two Spanish wards there! He laid the foundation. So great.

This week we shipped off Elder Calvert home to Utah, ready to restart his basketball career at BYU. Were on our own with 2 weeks of experience! Fortunately we were well trained. We also had our masterpiece known as the Springfield Youth Conference mini mission extravaganza, where we assigned and organized mini missions for 21 youth in the Springfield Stake. Kicked it off with an MTC experience which we created and ran, finished it up with a testimony meeting on Saturday with the Packards. All in all it was an experience that built my testimony; many youth spoke about how they had a special connection with their missionaries and the areas they went to, which was something we chose,  not knowing them very well; just seeing their names and units. The Lord works through us.

Regional conference was great. I loved getting to see the tailored message for the East Coast, and loved seeing the photos of the recent converts. One of those pictures and stories we submitted ourselves to Salt Lake; the story of the mailman in Hingham who joined the church. Its a great story. Also, the shoutout to Ashburn stake made me proud. I was telling everyone in Lynnfield ward "THATS MY HOOD". You may remember Jacksons, the lynnfield chapel was where we went to church when we were on vacation here in Rockport two years ago. I had my first reunion there this past sunday on exchanges with the Lynnfield Elders. It felt like a very full circle to me.

We keep going here in Boston, busy as always. People are flocking to the missionaries right now after a fairly significant drought the last few months, and that has us all excited. I wish I could send photos but theres no card reader here and I forgot mine! So until I get a chance, I'm signing out.

Love you all! 
Elder Jackson

Monday, April 20, 2015

Just Road Trippin'

Hey all! Happy Patriots Dayyyyyyyyyyyyyy! Here in Boston it's a big deal because it means everyone gets to be even more patriotic than usual, and there's a Red Sox game, AND the Boston Marathon. Everything's gonna shut down in a few hours here, and the roads have already started shutting down, so we'll be taking the T in to watch the Red Sox game :) Jenna, eat your heart out. I'M FINALLY GOING IN FENWAY.
As the subject line says, this week was basically one big road trip. We put more than 1000 miles on the Black Pearl (our 12 passenger van) and did exchanges in places like Dorchester, Brockton, Franklin, Nashua, Billerica, Lowell, Providence, Central Falls, Waterbury, and Woodbridge. The nice thing about having three assistants who speak 3 different languages is that we can exchange into 3 different areas simultaneously and actually teach in the language! Good ol Elder McCann dominates the Spanish, Elder Calvert throwns down in English, and I unleash a little Portuguese. It's been great to learn from and help out the other missionaries.

One of the most tender moments of this week was in Brockton. I got to sit down with a man named Orlando who I helped, but didn't teach, when I was serving there. The elders were teaching him, but he reached a wall and wouldn't progress to his baptism. During a counsel session I was impressed to suggest that the elders talk to him about family history and temple work, and focus on how his ancestors were waiting for him to take that step. They did, and it clicked miraculously for him, and he was baptized. He then played a key role in Raymond's conversion, who also was baptized and just recently baptized his son into the church. Orlando is now the executive secretary/clerk of the Brockton Ward. When I left, he had little scriptural knowledge. This past week he was quoting D&C to me and explaining the Lord's promises to missionaries. And he learned 8 months. I was amazed by his testimony and his expanded handle on the workings of the spirit; it felt a little Alma 26 to me. 

--Shoutout to Matthew Crowder who's getting hitched this Friday. It was nice knowing ya buddy. Remember the little people!
--Shoutout to all the younguns in Belmont Ridge ward getting their mission calls. Best thing you could ever do!
--Shoutout to Brother Han, who's running the Boston Marathon today.
--Shoutout to Sister Han, who I met miraculously at the Lexington reenactment at 6 am this morning!

What do you want to know about Boston? About the mission? Ask me questions. I'd love to find answers for ya. Love you all. Fica dretu! Te amo, cada um!

-Elder Jackson

Monday, April 13, 2015

No Sleep Til...‏

Heyyyyyyy everyone! Greetings from Weston! Well, technically Needham. Let me start off by giving you my new mailing address. 

757 Highland Ave #216N, Needham, MA 02494

This week was crazy. Transfers, receiving the new missionaries, making meals, departing missionaries, runs to the airport, missed flights, no sleep, and a whole bunch of training. I feel like I just had things figured out and now I'm thrust into a whole world of mission planning and organization that I never knew existed! Our time to proselyte and teach basically only comes on exchanges; we do so much work around the mission that we rarely go to church or teach in our actual area.

Church on Sunday was great and strange. Its weird to go from a tiny portuguese group to a fully functioning english ward.... at least I got to bless the sacrament and say the closing prayer! Then after church, we went (oh the irony) back to Boston to do an exchange where I went with (wait for it) the portuguese elders! It was good to be back. I joked that I couldn't stay away for even one week.

The boxes of donated clothes and shoes are already taking effect! I'll attach a picture here of Djeison in his new duds looking very missionary-like :) does my heart good to see that. He finally took his jacket off for the sacrament because he had a white shirt that was big enough. 
Djeison (on left) in his "new" Sunday clothes.  He wears a "Future Missionary" tag.
Mom reminded today of a mormon message that is really significant and personal to me. Elder Holland (my companions grandpa, I'll have you know... :) ) teaches about how sometimes the Lord sends us down a difficult path or dead end so that He can get us on the real path that we need, with the total surety that we are where He wants us to be. I've experienced that before and I know many of you have as well. His ways are mysterious but we need to learn to trust. Thats one of my greatest flaws, and I'm working on it every day here. Take a look. 
I love you all. Be safe and enjoy SPRRRIIIIINGG

-Elder Jackson

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Last Hurrah in Dorchester‏


What a week it has been.

P-day is reaching its end, and I'll be moving to my new area in about 20 minutes. All packed up to leave Boston, and its very bittersweet.

About three weeks ago President Packard approached me at a district leader training and let me know that I should pay attention to the training, because I would be giving it in a few weeks. He told me that the Lord wanted me to be his new assistant. So there you have it! The family already knows, but I'll be moving to Weston to work as one of the new APs in the MBM. 

Its been quite the journey. Starting wayyy back two summers ago when I got sick; the diagnosis, the mission delay, the waiting and the treatment for Lyme disease. Never feeling sure about going to Brazil. Getting to finally come on the mission, only to have the symptoms return a year ago. Coming to the portuguese program in Brockton, training, getting the pride humbled out of me by not speaking the darn language, learning, getting sent to Dorchester to open up the brand new area with Elder Rodrigues. Getting humbled again. Watching it grow. Working with everything I had, and seeing new medical solutions open up. New York, the lyme clinic, answers, and treatment. Medicine that finally worked. Clarity and joy, working in the city with a clear mind and great companions; the call to be a zone leader and all the things it taught me; surviving the Wicked Big Stawm of 2015; and now leaving the group I love for Weston, to serve the Lord with a mission president (or two) that's taught me so much already. I don't know for sure, but based on past experience, I would say the best is yet to come. 

Isn't that the real message of Easter? 

I'll tell you straight my friends, like we do here in Boston. The best is yet to come. The tomb is empty, because Jesus lives. Everyone will live again; salvation is free; eternal life is our goal. Push for it. Believe in it. Our Savior's with us, in the thick and in the thin. The journey to where I am now has proven that to me. 

Elder Jackson