Monday, June 29, 2015

Crazy Day and a Quick Update‏

Friends, family and everyone:

Today is Presidential Transfer Day! I haven't gotten much sleep and were working furiously to prepare all things to be ready for the Millers. So this is just to let you know that I love you, I'm praying for you, I'm alive (if a little overwhelmed) and being fortified by the Spirit in all things. If I don't get to respond to your emails, know that I read them! 
Hebrews 4:14-15:
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 
Mosiah 14:4-5:
Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Elder Jackson

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Last Week

First, a shoutout to Mark and Marcia Jackson who were wed, a week ago, 34 years ago! (if I did my math right) I owe my existence to them and they are really really great. Happy anniversary. Keep it real.
So, last week I didn't email because I was in the hospital! I threw up a lot, lost all my fluid and got super dehydrated and delirious, so they filled me up with 3 bags of saline and a bunch of other meds and sent me back home at the end of the day. Not my finest hour but after a steady diet of B.R.A.T. I was feeling much better by Thursday. 
(In the ER getting IV fluids; home with the "BRAT" diet - bananas, rice, applesauce, toast)

This week we did some things, including training the new missionaries all day thursday, which is always a blast. But the majority of our brainpower was spent planning transfers, which we finalized and sent out last night! A lot of changes for this last transfer, partially because were trying to set up the Millers with an easier transfer next time. I'm really excited about how things are going.

I'm also starting to get antsy and the actually Presidential transfer day approaches. It always seemed very distant but now that its less than a week away I'm being torn between excitement to meet the Millers and disappointment at losing the Packards. We had our last Book of Mormon webex on Tuesday, on Alma 32. I'm consoled only by the fact that I know the Millers were called by revelation to do what they're going to do; that they were foreordained for their work (something Elder Holland explained to me); and that they will be qualified to take the mission the direction it needs to go. 

So this week we'll be with the Packards, touring the zones as  they have farewell conferences and preparing for the big transfer weekend. 

My prayers and thoughts are with you all, especially this week!
Elder BDJ

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Countdown Begins

The Boston Temple
The John Adams house and library
The ORIGINAL Dunkin Donuts in Quincy, MA
 Some Brazilian hot sauce with a fantastic name.
 A guy we talked to in Providence... he turned into his backyard and ran after a bird on the ground (couldn't fly), chased it behind a shed, caught it, and brought it back to show us. In Spanish we joked, "are you going to eat it?" He looked back at us and just... smiled...

... as we prep for the craziest transfer of all time in 3 weeks!

This past week was slightly less intense than last, so the update today will be much shorter. Thanks for all your responses, especially to mom for sharing her experience.

Monday after emailing we went to the Adams National Park, which we actually went to before the mission on family vacation! Don't know if you remember. I remembered everything from before, but this time the experience was a lot more.... inspiring? Something about being a missionary makes you appreciate history and leadership and the nations early period, when everything was in flux and a few key players like the Adams changed the world. 

Wednesday we had our mission leadership council, which was largely focused on how the leadership can help the mission transfer from the Packards to the Millers. It was a great meeting with tons of the counsel process and discussion. Elder McCann and I led them as we talked about the trending needs of zones across the mission, based on their feedback, and helped plan ways to address them. How to increase our unity with the ward leaders and ward council, how to stay under our miles, how to extend baptismal dates and explain baptism right, etc. The best part was the testimony of the departing missionaries, esp. the Packards. They want to sprint to the finish. We have to keep reminding them they need to find a house in texas to move into...

Went on exchanges in Providence on Saturday and I spent most of the day with Elder Shibuta, who's from Ponta Grossa, Brasil, and is 1/4 Japanese, 1/4 Italian, and 1/2 everything else in Brazil. He's a great missionary and it felt AMAZING to be walking the streets in a city again talking to everyone. Their area is growing rapidly and experiencing amazing success; they meet on rented out second floor in an office building in downtown Providence, and the majority of their members are Liberians. First time I ever met, let alone talked to, a Liberian person in my mission. We have several missionaries here who were reassigned with Liberia and Sierra Leone were shut down, so I've heard some crazy stories about those countries. 

I'm happy and feeling very healthy. I'm grateful for the hand of the Lord in my life, which had become inescapably evident these past few weeks. He's dropping signs left and right to show me that He's there. I can't do much to thank him, other than thank him, and keep  on working. 

I love you all! Have an awesome week! 

-Elder BDJ 

Monday, June 1, 2015

A day with Elder Holland and Mountain-top Experiences‏

Hey everybody! Hope all is well with you. The sun is shining. The tank is clean. And this week a lot of really cool things happened. A lot

I went on exchanges in West Bridgewater with the Zone Leaders this past week. They happened to have an appointment in the middle of Brockton, so I was riding with them and we pulled up next to one of the classic three-story apartment/house things that define Brockton. Got out of the car, recognized the neighborhood, but couldn't remember from where... then Jane walked right by the car, who I taught in Brockton, asked about the missionaries, said her mom had changed and would let her come to church, that she wanted to meet with the Sisters and come to church with them. They have an appointment with them.

On exchanges in Boston, a young woman contacted us as we were walking into Ruggles station. Her good friend from Ireland was serving in Idaho. She talked to us for a minute, then said goodbye. I grabbed one of E. Turley's passalong cards and literally ran down the walkway in the T station to catch her; I surprised myself; but she accepted it gladly, and then talked to us for another fifteen minutes about missions and the church, culminating in the question: "so tell me in 2 minutes, what makes Mormons different?" Elder Turley explained, then Elder Nixon gave her a Book of Mormon and left Alma 32 to read, and I asked her to text us when she finished the chapter. 20 minutes later (approximate length of T ride) we got SIX texts from Alex:
 "So here are my thoughts on my girl (I mean guy) Alma... The first thing that caught my attention is how most of it was about humility and humbling of your heart. This is something that has been very much a work in my life over the past year, so I thought it was very interesting that you picked it out. My favorite part 32:28-- so true that the joy of Christ literally enlarges my soul and my heart and breathes life into my body and my happiness. The more I believe, the more I understand and the more joy that fills me. I have never thought about my faith the way that this says-- how because it is true, it has grown immensely. When I think about false beliefs, untrue happiness, and lies I have bought into, its true... At some point they cease. They stop making me happy or giving me what I think they will; however; my faith is the one thing that stays true, never ceases, literally can never and will never stop growing. Alma is right-- because it is true, it continues to fill me."

(Mom's note:  Elder Jackson's companion is Elder McCann who is the grandson of Elder Jeffery R. Holland.  Elder & Sister Holland visited Boston last week where one of their sons lives.  He also conducted several special conferences with missionaries and members in the region.  Elder Jackson had some very tender moments and experiences, which he shared in his weekly email but feels should not be posted to a public blog.  Therefore, the rest of this entry is highly edited.)
On saturday, we had a special mission leadership council. We were in charge of setting everything up, making the program, getting the room, making sure everyone was there early, fasting and preparing spiritually for the special guest: Elder Holland.  It was a powerful meeting because everyone was spiritually prepared. He spent the whole time taking the mission leaders' questions and responding; the messages were simple; he spoke about E. Perry and his love for him; about selfless love; about staying active and making covenants; about the ups and downs of spiritual growth. 

Sunday night was the mission-wide Latino conference where recent converts and Elder Holland spoke.  The Spirit was overwhelming. Boston 1 PO rented two buses to drive everyone there :) He asked all the recent converts of the last year to stand up, and I looked across and saw Djeison there. It was a supernal experience. A Haitian woman came in from the street; she was driving from a hospital in boston to home in Worcester but got lost, her GPS stopped working, and she ended up at the church asking for directions. I printed out directions for her and explained what was going on. She said she couldn't stay because of her kids; I told her that we had Haitian missionaries in Boston who could visit her brother in the hospital; she said she would love for them to help. 

God's hand is in our lives, sometimes more powerfully than others. We have weeks of loneliness, weeks where we pass through the valley of darkness will only our memory of that light to guide us. And then we ascend, and He overwhelms us with the light of his truth and the warmth of his love. I had that mountain-top experience this week. 

Stay true and faithful! I'll talk to you next week.
-Elder Jackson