Monday, December 28, 2015

"Reign" of Elders Jackson And Andrus Comes to a Close!

28 December 2015

Hello! Just wanted to drop a quick hello to you!

We had a great week this week. It is sad but the "reign" of Elders Jackson and Andrus is over. I will now be with Elder Cornia who will be coming here and Elder Andrus will be heading down to Hemet/San Jacinto to be a Zone Leader with Elder Gigere. He is a fantastic missionary and I am so grateful that I was able to have him as my companion. He has taught me so much about patience and charity. I am super excited for him to be going to San Jacinto to be a Zone Leader. I know he will do a great job. I am thankful for the kind spirit he has and the simply pure heart that is in him. There is not a mean bone in his body and he really does just want to 
please his Father in Heaven.

Can you spot it?
It was so great to be able to celebrate Christmas as a missionary. It is so much more meaningful when you don't have to focus on presents or shopping, but instead solely the Savior. It is so much more poignant to always be reminded of why we celebrate this time of year and what His mortal journey and sacrifice means to all of us. This year, especially in reading the New Testament, I have come to learn a lot more about Christ and the Man He was. I feel like I know Him so much more and can feel His love for me so much stronger. He really does care about each one of us and our individual triumphs and setbacks. He is such a kind and forgiving and loving God. The fact that He weeps and rejoices over me and you and all of us is such a powerful thing to know; it is so meaningful to me.

My host family, the Stevens, stuck with me till next transfer!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Feeling the Spirit

14 December 2015

I am truly sorry to hear about Linda Loveridge. That is so sad, especially for Dale. He is such a nice man and I hope he doesn't feel too lonely. It's good that he has a lot of family close by though that he can be around in this hard time. 

Tell Marielena hi for me! As well as Bishop Wadsworth. I love them both. They are such great people.  

I hope you start having better luck with your computer! That is so rotten. I guess Macs really are just better eh? 
ha ha That's what the mission presidency uses. Yes, Elder Puskas is our Vehicle Coordinator so whenever we have a problem with our car we give him a call. He is one of my favorite people out here on my mission that I have had the pleasure of meeting. He is just a super happy guy and hilarious. I'll be sad when he and his wife go back home in March. 

Elder Andrus and Elder Jackson playing with Legos!
I got your host of packages this week! Thank you so much! Elder Andrus really liked it as well! Our little apartment looks so festive and we are loving all of the Legos. I swear if people saw us at home they would think that we were just children. He really appreciates the stocking and gift, as do I. Did you mean to send us the present for Kelton too? Because one says Elder Robbins on it. But yes, you really outdid yourself this time. I hope you're not disappointed with what I got you! I don't really have money so I had to be creative! 

Will you be with Bryce and Stacy for Christmas? I think that face-timing will work best. Should I call in the morning or afternoon? I will either be at the Munyers' or Anderson's house depending on the time. I get 40 minutes. Should I call Bryce and Stacy as well?

This week was so fantastic! Elder Andrus and I had our first baptism! It was so cool. That was my first one so far on my mission and it was such a different feeling than those that I had attended before my mission. The Spirit was so strong there and I don't think I could possibly feel the Spirit that strongly outside of a Sacrament meeting or the temple, but I did. It was awesome to feel the love of the Lord as He smiled down upon that dear Sister who was making a sacred covenant with Him to follow Him more fully for the rest of her life. She really was one of the most prepared people for baptism I have ever met in my entire life. She is one of those stories that you read about in the Ensign! It was just amazing how she really was kept from the truth only because she "[knew] not where to find it." Everything from being referred to her to her baptism was a miracle and I am so grateful that the Lord allowed us to be the ones to witness His life-changing power in someone's life first-hand. It was so motivating! I love serving a mission and I love seeing miracles unfold as we do the Lord's work His way because He will labor in the vineyard right beside us (Jacob 5).
Ready for a Dunking!
So there is a member of my ward, who is actually the one in the picture who is from Winnemucca! He lived there for a while and has a daughter that lives there and is in the 2nd ward. He is going to be in Winnemucca for Christmas (Dec. 19-28) and I asked him if he could stop by and give you my gifts instead of me mailing them and he said yes. I gave him your address and phone number so he will probably be in contact. He is a very nice man. He is in the high priest group leadership. I think you'll really like him. He and I get along great so I hope you do as well! So I thought I'd just give you a heads up to that so don't be surprised if you see a call from a 951 number! And I hope you like my gifts! 

Oh PS: If you see that little pocket Spanish book or that 500 things to draw book in my stuff, I wouldn't mind having you send that to me, but no rush on that! 


Your Elder Jackson

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Safe and Sound, Boot Gone For Good!

7 December 2015

Zone Meeting

How are you doing this week? I hope you are happy and at peace. This is the most beautiful time of the year and I love being alive and serving a mission during it.

10 weeks and $250 later, I finally got my camera back! I got a more substantive case so hopefully this won't happen again! Just in time to be able to start taking Christmas pics again! And I will keep photobombing as well! I have started making a lot of stir-fry concoctions to try and stay thin, but if you have any quick and healthy 5-min. recipes I could always try those.

Thank you so much for the package!! It is so awesome! Our loft is all Christmasy now and we are loving the Lego calendar! I am so glad you allowed me to continue that tradition. We are taking turns opening one every other day. It just confirms my suspicions that I am still 4 years old. I really do appreciate the thought though. It means a lot and I love it. 

I had a follow-up appointment and I am officially cleared of the boot! WOOOOO! They said to keep doing PT and I should be able to run the majestic Mormon missionary I am. I am truly so lucky to have been able to stay on my mission with how long it took (11+ weeks). My journaling is going well. I try to write a little every night. I am also starting a gratitude journal.

I am all safe and ok. It was scary to hear that it was so close! (It was in Jers' mission though!). I am saddened at the shear number of shootings taking place these days. No one was hurt in our mission, but it was interesting to find out that the shooter went to high school at La Sierra High School, which is right across the street from where we go to church every Sunday. The family we live with also have a friend that was his neighbor and there are tons of people who knew him in high school. It is crazy!  I just pray that it doesn't happen again and I am so grateful for the peace that comes from the Gospel.

We have had a great week over here! We have had one of the better weeks we have ever had and it felt great! We had more member-present lessons than we ever had before and we are seeing a lot of progress made by our investigators. ____, the one we call our "Miracle Investigator", is progressing at an amazing rate and has a great testimony. She wants to follow Christ in all aspects of her life and is willing to make whatever sacrifices needed to do so (she immediately gave up coffee as soon as we taught the Word of Wisdom). She is all interviewed and set to be baptized this upcoming Sunday (the 13th)! It is amazing that the Lord has entrusted a servant as flawed and imperfect as me enough to teach one of His elect daughters. It is amazing how it really is the Holy Ghost that teaches people, and not us missionaries. We make mistakes and get nervous, but the power of the Holy Ghost really does touch people's hearts and allows them to see of the truthfulness of this Gospel and that it really is THE Church of Jesus Christ.

I had a really powerful experience this week reading John 6 and 7. It just reaffirmed to me that this Gospel is the Lord's and that it is 100% true. The Gospel just makes sense and it is without fault. It has the ability to feed all that come hungering and thirsting after truth and love. It binds and heals every pain and infirmity. There is nothing more true than this Gospel because it encompasses all truth, and I find that mind-blowing. It is so humbling to be part of this great work that very obviously has the Lord's hand in it. I am truly blessed, and I could do well to remember my blessings more and always strive to have a heart brimming with thanksgiving.

 Stay safe and remember who you're not ;)

PS: I got a call from my mission president today reminding me that all mail that is sent to me is sorted in the mission office by missionaries, so to all: please don't write anything on letters that could be embarrasing to yourself, me, the mission, or the Church. Thank you! We just are always representing the Lord and cannot afford to be too casual in our communication. If you could just let people know that, that would be great! Thanks!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

P- Day, Soccer Day Minus the Boot!

Do you like lemon in your water? This is a lemon someone gave us when we were walking around!
 It's bigger than a grapefruit!

P-Day Soccer

So it sounds like you have had a crazy week filled with frustrating computer stuff! I am sorry to hear that! That sounds awful! But I am glad you are figuring everything out and didn't lose any files. Thank you for backing up my stuff, and yes, I will most definitely be deleting a lot of my music when I get back. I have come to realize that so much of that filth does so much harm to our spirits without us even noticing. I really appreciate you backing up my files and preparing my music as well. That takes a big stress off my mind.

I think gift cards are great! We only have about $30 a week to live on so every little bit helps out a ton! I personally have loved that Subway gift card and just finished it last week, but I know a lot of missionaries love Taco Bell (they call me the Hippy Missionary since I eat really healthily haha)

Ooooh a box eh? That is awesome! I am super excited for that! I am putting together some stuff to send you as well!

I will be staying at  both the_____ and ______ house for Christmas day so I am sure I can either Skype or Facetime you from either place. I will let you know more when I do! We do not have ipads but may get them in January if the Quorum of the Twelve decides to send them to our mission (they decide every few months specifically which missions they are going to roll them out to, and the next decision is in January some time). But yes, we email at the local library and all the missionaries I know are super obedient and I've never seen them do anything that would be cause for reproach!

So big big big news! My mission go extended! I will be serving an extra week! The MTC has decided to make all English missionaries be there for 3 weeks instead of 2 so our schedule has been shifted back a week and will cause us to all serve an extra week! So I will be coming home August 15, 2017 instead of the 8th.

We had another great week this week. It was a little slow what with Thanksgiving being this week, but it was very good nonetheless. We  were able to past our heart's content and had some of the best food I have ever had in my life (still not as good as Mom's though). Thank goodness for exercise because without it I don't know if my pants would be fitting this week! (I heard that the average Thanksgiving dinner is 9,000-14,000 calories! And we had three!)

I have been trying to constantly improve my appreciation for the Sabbath and the Sacrament, and this week was a highlight! I loved reading John 5 about the nature of Christ's mission and how He follows the will of the Father. I thought it was really cool to read the emphasis Jesus put on being a separate Being from His Father (especially in v. 32). This tied in well to an amazingly spiritual Sacrament service where President Jergensen blessed his newly-sealed baby with all of his family there and a great talk by a Sister in the ward on the importance of being converted. We need to make sure our conversion rests on our faith of the Savior and His Atonement rather than just the Church or its programs. If we truly prepare, like in the parable of the 10 virgins, we can rest easy knowing that our lamps will have enough oil to last through the long night and we can be prepared when the Bridegroom comes! I thought it was just so great how as I focused my study on the Savior this past week, it came together with my desire to enjoy the Sabbath more and I was able to grow my relationship with Him so much. I could feel His presence so much more abundantly in my life and it was an indescribably wondrous feeling!

I hope all is well with you! I hope you know I love you greatly and am so grateful to have parents as good as you two! I think about you every day and love you so much!

Stay the bestest!

Your Elder Jackson

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Marital Advice?

23 November 2015

It is sad, but there are tons of people in my ward here that have had their families torn apart by divorce and it made me realize how blessed I am to have two temple-worthy, hard-working, honest and Christlike parents who have been together so long and are such an awesome team and have provided me with a life many would kill for! I'm so blessed! That is funny that you say that though because our theme at church on Sunday seemed to be all about families and strengthening them. I really learned how important talking with your spouse is so there isn't built up tension or anger on either side. I also, like you and dad were doing, realized how important remembering your temple covenants are. As you remember them and strive to keep them, blessings will follow and all of the trivial things in life will roll off our backs. I've also learned how similar being with a missionary companion 24/7 is to being married. We do Companion Inventory on a weekly basis to negate any building tensions and it helps a lot, so I'm sure that doing that regularly with a spouse does a lot of good as well!

We also talked to one of the best parents I've met (he has 4 kids all under 9 and they are THE best-behaved kids on the planet and are all so knowledgeable of the Gospel, and he's the Elders' Quorum President) and he gave us his tips. His name is _______ Guy, so we called it "President Guy's 'Guy'd to Successful Parenting" and it said:
 1. Choose a great wife (I've been praying for that, you can bet your best boots on that!)
2. Limit TV watching (they don't have cable. They rarely watch anything, only movies and netflix)
3.Go on 1-on-1 Daddy dates with each kid once a month
4. Have each kid be involved in teaching FHE every Monday.
I thought that was awesome!

I have noticed myself changing a lot, but yes, I am still the same person. I still love my parents and am still the same ole Alex. I just hope I am a more Christlike, charitable and better-facial-haired version of myself when I get back so that I can be prepared for a life centered on Jesus Christ and provide the kind of home I was blessed to be raised in to my kids.

Sister ______ is the greatest! She just became active again and her husband was baptized in April. They did baptisms for the dead this past week and will be going through the temple in May or so. They are the best! I love them so much and they are my favorite to visit!

This week has been amazing! We have seen so much happen this week and we truly are incredibly blessed! The Lord has revealed His hand in this area, and there can be no doubt to that. We  started out our week with a strong desire to be better. We resolved that if we were diligent in putting our daily 1.5 hours of walking and talking as a priority, we would have success. We started the week out strong with 2 1/4 hours on Tuesday. We kept up with that throughout the week. We had the pleasure of having Assistant to the President Elder Fischer join us on Thursday and was able to learn a lot about being persistent in our street contacting and really working on having the Spirit guide where we are supposed to be walking more. We had some of the best contacts of my mission so far that day. The success poured into the following days. We saw miracles!

On Saturday we were so blessed by the Lord to see some miracles. We were able to put ____, a less-active street-gang member on date for baptism on Dec. 20. We then got a call from a member who said that he had someone who would be interested in learning more. We went and met her and it turns out she is the most prepared person for baptism I have ever met! She has such a strong desire to do what Christ wants her to and felt the Spirit and said that she wants to be baptized, and felt that everything that was taught at church and by us  was true! It was amazing! She knows that this is the right path for her! It's been a true blessing of exact obedience and hard work, especially when we have seen so little success in our area and were starting to become discouraged! I'm so grateful to the Lord for all of His tender mercies toward us, His unprofitable servants. It was a miracle I'll never forget!

I love you lots and miss you just as much as you miss me! Just send your prayers that I can survive this holiday season and have my pants and waistline survive as well! Just kidding :)

Love love love love you!

Elder Jackson

Monday, November 16, 2015

Transfer P-Day, No Transfer for the Sickos!

16 November 2015

So this is transfer P-day and we only have like 1/2 an hour (instead of 1.5 hours) to email so if you could tell everyone that I didn't ignore their emails, I just literally had a very large lack of time.

This week has been great! Elder Andrus and I will be staying in the same area this next transfer (which goes until the few days after Christmas). I am so excited to be staying here! It is very likely that I will stay here another 12 weeks (so 6 months total). We have had a great time together, Elder Andrus and I and are very excited to be spending another transfer together, especially now that the work seems to be picking up and we are seeing a lot more success in our area. We have a lot of great things happening here in the Foothill Ward, and are looking forward to seeing a lot more come and to continue our efforts in this work.

I am beginning to think that this ward is cursed with bad health, as Elder Andrus and I seem to have caught every ounce of illness and injury to sweep Southern California but that still hasn't let us get our spirits down! We are excited to be working and to be serving the Lord's children in this area. We just pray that no more sickness or illness comes into our companionship.

Here is the current tally of our bad health-related luck:
Me: Cold in the MTC/first week in Cali, broken ankle/ 9 weeks in a boot + physical therapy, 
and this week: food poisoning :( 
Elder Andrus: Cold, knee problems, and the flu.
I think Satan wants us to be discouraged!

I really liked our ZDM this past week. Being encouraged to be those missionaries who are "On Fire" and excited to share the gospel and work hard is so great and was really motivating. It made me really reevaluate my attitude and help me see that improving my attitude will greatly improve our overall missionary efforts. Ether 12:2-3 really stood out to me and I was so excited to look through those verses through the lens of an ever-inadequate but ever-trying missionary who is looking to be able to serve his Heavenly Father as well as possible. I really liked the fire that came from that and hope to keep it up and be the missionary that the Lord can be pleased with; one that works, as Ether did, with fire in his heart and as diligently and tirelessly as possible from sun up to sun down.

I brought a picture frame to put pictures of you all in, and the design was very poor and just putting the picture in the way the instructions said to caused the glass to break on one of them :(

Our district and zone got very changed up but I am very excited for this next transfer! The new transfer holds a lot of good! I can't wait! It is sad to see all the old missionaries who's time is up start to head home though!

Yes, we still have one investigator on date for baptism and hope to get the other one back on date as well as his wife. The church is releasing a new video for Christmas and asking all the members to share it with non-members so ask the missionaries to ask how you can help invite others to come to the feet of our Lord and Savior who's birth we celebrate this time of year and how a knowledge of Him can bless each person's life! 

I love you lots! Have a great week


Your Elder Jackson

Monday, November 9, 2015

Still Gimpin' Around

Here's me finding out I have to wear the
boot for 5 more weeks last Monday.
I am starting to get bummed about just how long this whole ankle-healing ordeal is taking. I tried playing Ultimate Frisbee today with all the other missionaries in the stake and needless to say, running in a knee-length boot is nigh impossible! It's more of an awkward speed-walk, but it's alright because I still scored twice! I think my new nickname will be Usain Boot. I am really hoping though that I can start physical therapy soon so I can get back to running around! I obviously will have to take it easy for the next few months until it fully heals (I heard it takes 6 months to a year! ), but still, I feel like lard just gimping along.

I'm glad your stake conf. was so good! We had a great one too! It was so weird though to have a stake conf. with 36 missionaries and a mission president and his wife in attendance! I've never seen that before! It amazes me just how densely populated with missionaries this area is! Our mission president committed the whole stake to help us as missionaries with missionary work! He told them just how important it is to help us if we want this work to go forward. It was awesome! He actually had everyone who was willing to help raise their hand so we could see who to talk to afterward haha. Our 36 year old stake president also told us that we need to prepare, just in case something happens! Scary eh!? Our mission has been building up food storage in each apartment for a month or so now. We also have had a big push to get more family history work and temple work done! It' s amazing the blessings that come from doing the selfless service of providing those who have passed on the essential ordinances, such as baptism, which they cannot do for themselves. It helps them and it helps us! We've been challenging each member of every family we eat with to prepare and find two names to take to the temple by Christmas. Think about if everyone in the stake did that! That'd be 3600 deceased baptized! Wow!
We were excited to be out of the mission
(for my appointment) in Redlands
(that's Jers Teichert's mission!)

This week has been really good! We are finally starting to see some success and it has been such a great feeling to have the Lord bless us with it after we have seen so little. We have always worked hard and yet seemed to not see the work of Salvation moving really anywhere. Both Elder Andrus and I have become discouraged many times at the lack of good numbers in this area, but we always had to remember two important things: 1) This is the Lord's work and His ways are much higher and supreme to our ways, so just because we aren't seeing success in an outward physical manifestation does not mean that things are not happening. We need to continue working in a manner that He would have us do by following the direction and direction of the Spirit. 2) A missionary's success is not measured by Key Indicators. Sure, we are far from perfect missionaries, but I think Elder Andrus and I work very hard and are obedient. We don't need to let bad numbers get to us. In fact, becoming discouraged decreases our faith and will make us less effective as a companionship. That being said, we have seen some great things happening! Our numbers have been waxing larger and for the first time we have not only one person on date for baptism, but two! Nothing is more fulfilling than seeing someone take steps toward the Savior and preparing to enter into the waters of baptism to make the covenant to follow Him for the rest of their life. It is amazing! 

Matthew 20:26-28 really stuck out to me this week. I loved how it said that the Savior, the Greatest of all, came here to earth only to serve others. If we really want to be a follower of Christ, we need to do as He does, and "give [our] life a ransom for many" in the sense that we are willing to give up our possessions and talents to help others and serve them. The more Christlike we become, the more we will serve others, rather than bask in our own righteousness. I thought this tied in quite well with Luke 12:15. It's amazing how much charity is stressed throughout the scriptures! It is awesome.

Love you lots,

Elder Jackson :)

AND: Ah I'm so happy for the two of them! That is so great! (Brandon & Sierra)

Monday, November 2, 2015

Off With the Boot!

Monday, 2 November 2015

Thank you for putting my music together. I also have come to find out that a lot of missionaries just put all their music on USB flash drives because all the cars in our mission have those. So you can also just Copy and Paste the music from the ipod playlist onto a flash drive if you'd like! I sure wouldn't mind it!

Two stake conferences eh? That is strange! We have ours this weekend as well! Keep me updated on everything that happens!

So quick question: How do you use bleach? My white shirts are still white, but I don't think they'll always be that way. The Atonement covers everything, but I guess its infinite limits do stop at wrinkle-free cotton so hopefully you can help me out there before anything hits the fan..or in this case the shirt/tie.

How was your Halloween?? We were all herded off the streets of California and into the safe confines of a dedicated Stake Center Building where all the missionaries were allowed to do P-day activities and watch the Best Two Years movie. I must say, Halloween a year ago at ASU compared to Halloween as an LDS missionary is about as polar opposite as it gets! Last year we were at a dance or two, ate lots of food, stayed out late and watched scary movies. This year we made a point of avoiding all of those! haha but it was still good. Holidays as a missionary are great! We get enough food to power a Pruis! It's nuts.

I think the hardest part of being a missionary is TV. Not necessarily not being able to watch it, but not being able to look at it when we go into a house or restaurant. Especially when it's football. And even more hard when it's your companion's 21st birthday (he drank his first *root* Beer haha ) and a family takes you to TGI Fridays and ASU is playing Oregon on the TV and you cannot watch! That's self discipline right there. But my source told me we lost in triple over time, so  that's tragic.

Good news this week! I can finally take my boot off for a little bit at a time and start trying to get it strong and healthy again. I've never been so happy to take off a pair of shoes! Not as happy news: I have to do Physical Therapy and am still supposed to use my boot for the next 5 weeks until my next appointment.

This week has been sort of challenging as our companionship seemed to have incurred the wrath of influenza. This kept us inside for a large portion of the week. We weren't able to proselyte much but we worked hard when we could. 

I'm very grateful for my companion and how he is always trying to use his time how the Lord would have him. When he was sick, he was still nose-deep in the scriptures and watched a lot of The District. It was just a great example to me of someone who really knows that this is the Lord's time and he is spending it very wisely.

My goal starting this week has been to become more converted to Christ. I don't want to fall victim to the plague of inactivity or apathy towards the Church or the Gospel at any point in my life, and frankly, losing my testimony is one of the things that scares me most. In order to avoid it though, I know that developing a love and conversion to Christ and his Atonement is the "cure", or even the "immunization". There is no better place to become converted to Christ than on a mission, where there are minimal worldly distractions. In a world where even the "elect will be deceived" by Satan and his temptations and myriad of lies, we can find hope through Christ. Alma 23:5-6 in the Book of Mormon talks about this conversion (I learned about this topic in Elder Bednar's talk "Character of Christ") and how essential it is. Conversion has been in my mind a lot lately and how I am to get it. I think really the only way is to do as we promise in the Sacrament, and "always remember Him" and study about Him in the scriptures. I have spent the last few weeks in the New Testament and am reading it all the way through for the first time. I really am trying to pay attention to and have the question of "how do I learn to love the Lord more than anything else" always in my mind as I read, so that I can start to serve more in the way He would have me serve. I am so far from perfect, but I know that what we preach is true and that if we apply it to our own lives, whether full-time missionaries or not, that we can attain that conversion and overwhelming love of God in our lives and strengthen our foundations upon His Rock so that we can stand up with confidence in Satan's whirlwinds and stay deeply rooted in our Saviors solid and enriching soil. We need not fear. "Fear not: believe only..." (Luke 8:50)

Have a great week! Love you!

Elder Jackson

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Two Elder Jacksons

From Monday October 26

We have zone conferences all over the mission with different zones so mine was just this past Tuesday so I don't know if they'd be up yet. It took an hour to go 7 miles to get to ZC and we were sooo late because of traffic! I sure miss Winnemucca when in this traffic!

My ankle is doing pretty well. I am still in my boot. It is stiff and is still a little swollen, but the bruising is gone and if I wear my boot it doesn't bother me. I should get it off next Monday (the 2nd) and then will probably do some physical therapy (our Bishop is a physical therapist and said he'd do it for free!) to strengthen it again. I can't wait to run around again! I've made up for it by doing a looooott of push ups so that I don't get fat.

This week was full of so many things! We had Multizone, Elder Andrus hurt his knees and we were in for a day and a half, and we had our ward's Trunk or Treat party! They were all (besides Elder Andrus' injured knees) great experiences and I am grateful to have been able to go to them. I learned a lot at Multizone and can't wait for another.

The Elders Jackson and Jackson at Trunk or Treat
(he was me as his costume).
1 Samuel 16:7 was my scripture this week. It talks about how God calls those he chooses. I thought it was a great scripture. I have also been learning a lot about John the Baptist and I thought it was amazing to realize that he was a prophet involved in three dispensations: the last Old Testament prophet, the first New Testament prophet, and the prophet that restored the same priesthood power that he used to baptize Jesus to Joseph Smith in this current dispensation during the Restoration of Christ's gospel. I thought that was amazing!

My Halloween costume keeps me safe in this hood!

I've come to realize that every preconceived notion I had about California before I came here was 100% accurate. This land is filled with some real nuts but I am glad to be here and teaching the gospel. This work is amazing and I love it a lot!

1. There was a super chollo riding around on what I deemed a "chollo-cicleta" (bicicleta is Spanish for bike), blasting this weird Mexican R&B/Funk/Pink Floyd type stuff. #OnlyInCali

2. There was a perfectly good car parked on a perfectly good porch. Why not? #OnlyInCali

There's a book you NEED to get mom. It's called "He Walked the Americas" by L. Taylor Hansen. It's a nonmember who did a lot of archaeology in South America and, with the evidence from all the different native tribes' historical artifacts and cultural stories and such, came to the conclusion that Jesus came to the Americas. It's an older book but a member showed it to us at dinner and I was amazed! So if you can get a copy or two, do it! I really want to read it when I get off my mission! 

The best costume award goes to our Elder's Quorum Pres. and his son
as Calvin and Hobbes!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

"Mr. October" (Who???) Wants Your Photos! (read on)

19 October 2015

I haven't gotten your package yet but I hope to soon. We have multi-zone conference in Corona and I may get it there. I need to find a large envelope so I can send you the CD of my xrays. So I have one of those black Velcro boots that goes all the way up to my knee. I have to wear it for the next 2-3 weeks. I'm mobile and still can work just like before, but all of my left shoes will be worn out by the time I'm done with this gig haha. 

Your computer is dead eh?? Well just SHOOT IT! haha :) You can use my AR and place some of your righteous anger on it. I think that would be hilarious! 

I love the pictures of you and dad! I am going to try printing them out so feel free to send me as many as you'd like either digitally or in print! I'm working on having a full photo album so the more the merrier! 
Tell everyone that they're welcome to send 
me pictures too to decorate my apartment with! 
Elder Alexander C Jackson
California Riverside Mission
5000 Grand Ave
Riverside, CA    92504

Also, we don't get our own copies of the Ensign, so if you could send me one of the Conference editions for this October's Conference if you happen to have an extra, that'd be amazing!

This week has been another good one! We are slowly but surely seeing more success as we try to become more efficient in our proselyting efforts. We have been working to make it easier to see the most amount of people with the smallest amount of time in between. We still are struggling with finding those elect whom the Lord has been preparing to receive this Gospel, but we know that in the Lord's own due time it will happen. We just have to continue working hard and strive to always have the Spirit with us so that we know where to go, whom to see and what to say.

Elder Andrus has taught me that we need to always be looking to find ways to have the Spirit more consistently in our lives. The more we have it with us, the more we are becoming Christlike and being led, through our obedience to promptings, to those places we need to be. "No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing," and we want to help this work move forward as efficiently as possible. 

Matthew 23: 11 was my favorite scripture this week. It talks about how the greatest are the ones who serve. We are so blessed to have the knowledge of the gospel, and since we are so blessed, we are expected to serve, just as the Savior served. He, a God, spent all of His earthly life in the service of the very beings he created. Are we greater than He? No. We need to follow the example of the Good Shepard and serve others; lift their burdens and show charitable love towards them. Charity is the end goal; the ticket to salvation, and without it, we are nothing. We need to strive everyday to develop that charity more fully in our lives.

​Elder Aguilar who was in my Tempe YSA Ward just finished a few weeks ago.
So I have met some real "fruits and nuts" here this past week. We met both of these people on the same street within minutes. The first was an ________ who had a blood-alcohol level close to that of my age, I'm sure! He was plastered! He told us he used to be friends with Mormons and went to Seminary. He said I was super cool and nicknamed me "Mr. October" (I think I'll keep it) and showed us all around his house and customized backyard, which had a pool with a bar built into it and a below ground kitchen that served the in-pool bar! It was awesome! He also grew all of his own herbs (and I wouldn't be surprised if he grew the herb in his garden as well haha) for seasoning his party food. He also had built a deck that wrapped around his roof! Such a cool house. We would have taught him a lesson, but he had to make a last minute trip to the hospital to help his grandma (hopefully he didn't drive!). We have a lesson set for this week!

Next, we met  ____. He is this man who we met while he was doing yard work. We asked his about his faith and he said that he believed that the earth is hollow and that inside is paradise. He says he knows because he has been there! He also said that UFOs visit the earth often, and that the sun is really only a balmy 70 degrees Fahrenheit. He also says that all sorrow, and hardship, as well as the weather and the sky (the sky controls the temperature, not the sun--obviously), are controlled by the government and that God exists as atoms. He even gave us cards with a website that we can learn more at! haha My comp and I had to do all we could not to laugh right there! And they say Mormons have a weird religion....HA!

Also, big news this week! October 21 (Wednesday) is the day that Marty McFly came to the future in the Back to the Future movies! What a hallowed day that'll be eh?!

I love you lots and hope you have a great week!


Elder Jackson

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Injured Ankle, Injured Camera

13 October 2015

NOTE: Elder Jackson, at the time this was written, was in a walking cast. He injured his ankle while playing basketball!!! We were a little scared he was going to have to come home to recover, but things worked out and he is still working hard in Riverside.

So I've been learning a lot these past few weeks. There are some things that, even though we should, aren't taught in schools. I finally learned the correct times of when to use "who" verses "whom" and also "lie" verses "lay". My word for the day today is je june (I think that's how you spell it?). I won't tell you when you use each; that's your homework ;)   But my companion is suuuuper into languages so I've been learning a lot. I actually went to Barnes and Noble yesterday and got a dictionary and some Spanish stuff to help me learn.

Thank you so much for putting my name on the prayer role. The power of prayer is so real and I can feel the results of those prayers, so thank you. I was actually really scared that I was going to get sent home when this all happened (funny how I was scared to go home, yet every time we go into a member's home for dinner and there is football on I have no problem wishing I was in a position to watch it haha) but I prayed about it and got the warmest, most reassuring feeling that it would all be ok and that I wouldn't need to worry about it, just like Dad's blessing said. But I really do honestly appreciate all your prayers. 

My camera is in the shop this week with something wrong with the lens opening mechanism (I swear I didn't drop it! I think the power button may have been pushed when it was in the case and the lens tried to open and stripped something) or else I would show you a picture of my super stylish boot. I mean, boots are in style for fall right?? But I will be in style for the next 4 weeks. You can believe that I have come up with soooo many clever one-liners for boot jokes. 

I have learned a lot about how to be more Christlike. It really is easy to say, but harder to do. My scripture that I've been "ponderizing" a lot this week was 2 Nephi 9:42. It talks about how to get Christ to open to us, as He promises to do so often in the scriptures. It talks about how the wise, learned, and the rich who are "puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches" (e.i. any prideful person) need to first "cast these things away and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them." So even if we're not boastful, if we always seem to think we're better than others or think we know what is better for us than God does, we're still "puffed up", which means we're full of nothing more than hot air, we are still then considered prideful and need to humble ourselves before God. Humility causes growth, and pride stops it. We aren't counseled to shun pride only for the negative "holier than thou" facade that appears in so many participants, we are counseled to avoid it also to allow ourselves to continue flowing down the river of becoming more like God, instead of damning ourselves and ceasing that growth. And we overcome that pride, in short, by doing as Christ would: forgetting ourselves and serving others with a love for them as pure as fresh snow. We need that charity toward others if we want to have any hope of becoming more like our Savior. It's a hard thing to do, but it makes all the difference.

My companion is a great example of this kind of love. He is always looking for the good in everyone we meet, whether member or not. I'm always amazed at how much of a simply Christlike person he is. He really helps me feel the Spirit when we study together or teach and is always so humble in the way he presents himself. He has so many talents and yet he never touts about how great he is or brags about what he has accomplished. He has cast those things away from himself and come down in the depths of humility and has reaped the benefits of grace and charity that come from that sort of humility. Learning to love others for no other reason than because it's what is the right thing to do is amazing and I thnk we should all try and do it more often. We should always remember the Savior, in everything we do and everywhere we go, so that we can become those Christlike people that we all want to eventually become. It's possible. We just have to get down on our knees, and accept that we can't do it all on our own. Then grace will kick in, and we will be able to do it all. We have the God of the universe on our side, so what could stand in our way?

But if you look up Proverbs 28:25, maybe that will describe why I am a little chunky :)

Love you lots! Have a great week!

Elder Jackson

Thursday, October 8, 2015

5 October 2015    Sprained Ankle and Flat Tire!

So this week has been very interesting! I joined a Russian Tango group and we were rehearsing for a concert coming up next month when I slipped on the hardwood (why would anyone put bubble soap there?!) and my ankle went *pop*! I lied about the whole Russian Tango part, but I really did jack up my ankle pretty good. It looks the same color as those decorative ears of corn that you get for Thanksgiving. Remember how I told you that I needed to get baskeball shoes so I'd stop rolling my ankle? Well, I got them a week too late. I rolled it super good Wednesday morning and pretty soon it swelled to the size of a grapefruit. My mission president's wife, Sister Mullen (bless her heart, she's a saint), was insistent that I go to the urgent care to check it out. The report came back that it was just severely sprained and that there was a few calcified fragments, and whether they were already there or broken off wasn't known.

Elder Jackson and Jasmine are both having rough days (Jasmine is the car).
But they gave me some bandages and a SUPER stylish boot (velcro is back in this season) and some gnarly pain killers. As we were driving to the pharmacy to pick up said gnarly pain killer, we got a flat tire. Now, if seeing two Mormon missionaries change a tire wasn't funny enough, just imagine one  of them wearing a boot and hobbling around changing a tire. But alas! The Lord loves those who serve Him, because we changed it and were back in action in under 10 minutes (I think I could work as one of those tire-changing guys on Nascar). We then waited at CVS for a small eternity while they got my prescription, but it was all worth it because I spent the next two days feeling as carefree as the people at Burning Man. I also seemed to have narcolepsy because I would randomly fall asleep where ever we went. I even seemed to have totally forgotten entire chunks of things we had done those days, as my comp reminded me. Even though I felt no pain while I was on the drugs, I didn't like how hazy they made me so I stopped taking them. Burt I am now doing much better. I picked up the nickname Gimpy Swag, so that's cool too.

I promise I'm, fine, but mission policy is pretty strict, so they made it seem like a huge deal. Sitting at home and not being able to work is a real pain in the rear though! I felt so useless! Our joke was that "No unhallowed [foot] can stop the work from progressing" (Standard of Truth).

I had a great spiritual experience this week! Our area has been slow and we haven't been seeing a lot of success. At District Development Meeting, Sister Spencer suggested that maybe our faith was lacking and that if we had faith to believe that we would have success that we would. We always hear phrases like, "Just increase your faith" or "Take a step of faith", and I think for the most part, I've done alright at that, but I've never had my faith tested to any real measure. I've never really had to think that simply trusting would work. And seeing as I am a missionary and that's what we preach, it is sort of important! Well, when we were working the other evening, I prayed that we would be led by His hand to those whom would be receptive to this great message. I really tried putting my trust in the Lord. I prayed very fervently. And lo and behold! The very next door we knocked on and we had a great lesson with the guy inside and his family. In fact, as we were about to leave, it started pouring rain and he allowed us to stay longer and we got to know him and his family better! A few hours later, we got a text from a member in our ward saying that his son wants to come back to church and his daughter-in-law wants to be baptized and start the lessons! What an amazing way for the Lord to show his power! I just feel ashamed that I hadn't done that weeks earlier so that we could have had stuff like this happen then and be so much further ahead!

My companion continues to teach me things. I am amazed at how well he is able to bring off topic conversations, wherever they may be, back on topic without making it feel out of place. He keeps the flow well.

Matthew 10:28 really stood out to me this week. It was comforting how we are told that there is so much in this world to fear, yet if we are on God's side, we don't need to fear anything that can do us bodily harm. In terms of eternity, none of that matters. What we really need to fear are those things that cause us spiritual harm; those things that distance us from God and can keep us from attaining the eternal happiness and exaltation that we all yearn for. This life is the time to prepare to meet God, "and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." Work hard and do what is right, and it'll all work out in the end. We have a direct promise from God on that. Times will be tough, but we have a harbor to take refuge in, and as long as we follow the commandments with exactness, we will come off conqueror.

and of course... GENERAL CONFERENCE! 

It was so great! I have never been so attentive and thoroughly enjoyed sitting down and hearing 10 hours of conference as I was this time around. As Tyler always said, "It's like the Mormon Super Bowl!" and it really is! There was soooooo much good stuff that was said. I took 17 pages of notes, if that shows anything about how much I enjoyed it. I think the overall theme was that we really need to be converted to the Lord and His doctrine. With the world getting darker and darker, we don't have time to be half-hearted, weak-testimonied saints; we need to actively be striving every day to be coming closer to Christ and building our foundation on Him, otherwise we have no guarantee at staying upright when the winds of the adversary come blowing through.  We need to be brave to do what is right, and we need to be humble, to be able to receive strength from the Lord. Satan's determination is great, but ours needs to be greater. We don't need to be afraid to do what is right. Doubt and fear are opposite and we can only be possessed of one at a time, so we need to choose which one it'll be. As we seek to do what is right and follow Christ, we will be surrounded by those people who have the same goals and with whom we can seek refuge. I know that this is true and that these principles will bless our lives if we follow them. This all comes from God, and is an instruction manual on how to be successful. If we ponderize the words of Christ, we'll be able to "always remember Him" as we promise to do every Sunday during the Sacrament and we will receive the grace and divine help we need!

It was amazing! Let me know what you are ponderizing and which talks were your favorite!

I love you all and hope you have a great week! 

Elder Jackson

Zone Meeting

It was Blood Moon week!

Monday, September 28, 2015

28 September 2015

I'm jealous of the great weather you're having! It's supposed to be 100 again this week! But thank goodness for AC. That makes me glad to hear the the kids were involved in the Primary Program! They really are so great and I didn't realize how much I missed them (obviously they don't have them in YSA wards) until I saw one again!

"Sister Jackson. My name is Wayne M.
Your son is serving in our ward. We had him
over for dinner tonight and we thought
u might enjoy this picture. He is a great
young man and u should be proud.

This week I learned from my companion the importance of patience. He is such a great example of patience and is always so slow to irritation when I am so easily angered. I need to be a lot more like him.

A spiritual experience this week was in my scripture study and really learning how and where I can improve. It very much coincided with my favorite scripture, which was James 4:6-7, 10. I really learned in the temple that I need to work on my pride. I am a lot more prideful than I thought I ever was. My question was, how do I become more humble? Preach My Gospel, the scriptures, and True To the Faith all answered that, and by far my favorite was the one in James. It helped me realize that I need to continually turn to the Lord and ask for His help in doing things that I, as a weak mortal, cannot do on my own. I need to constantly work on my humility and charity if I want the divine help of grace. But, it's a process, and I've only started, and the best way to learn Christlike attributes is to be like Him, and that comes from "feeding His sheep," so that is what I am going to recommit my efforts to doing this week!

Going to the Temple this week was so great! The Redlands Temple is not too far from us and the session we went to was PACKED! I've never seen one so full. They actually had to bring in about 5 extra chairs because there wasn't enough for all of the companionships! There were 12 elders from our zone and then about 30 elders from the Rancho Cucomunga mission, which is where Kelton is serving, and I actually met one of his previous companions! They also had only three rows of sisters, and the rest was packed with elders and men! So crazy! But it was a great experience to be there with so many missionaries.

I am so excited for General Conference! It is going to be so awesome!! And I'm so jealous of you watching in Southern Utah! But the opportunity to hear from living prophets is a treat unlike any other! And I'm excited to hear who the new apostles are.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

21 September 2015

We had a crazy experience at a less-active member's house this week. So first thing that we saw walking up was a giant 4' cubed metal cage! So sketch. Then when we walk in, we're greeted by a giant white dog the size of horse! Then, we see two big dogs in cages in the middle of the room. Come to find out, they are full-blooded arctic wolves!! One of them ate 3lbs of frozen chicken, bones and all, in like 15-20 seconds. So scary! Not to mention illegal! And then, the guy keeps talking about how much he wants to go to BurningMan and see all the dirty naked hippies! Like I said, #OnlyInCalifornia

So at zone conference this week, we got a thing called Tiwi. It uses GPS and plugs directly into the car's computer. It monitors everything from how hard you brake or turn, too rapid of acceleration, speeding, jumping the car, going over bumps too aggressively, and even going out of our boundaries and being out too late. It's crazy what they do! But we had a guy come and tell us about how effective they are, and they reduced speeding in mission cars by over 90 percent! So crazy! It's definitely helped Elder _____'s crazy driving, that's for sure! We also are learning about keeping the Sabbath more holy and how we need to always remember Him so that we are always trying to be more like Him. I prayed to have a more meaningful Sabbath yesterday, and it definitely worked! I felt so spiritual and grew so much! I'd challenge you to do that this week and tell me what you experience! 

I am definitely getting used to this missionary life and really starting to love it! The weeks seem, to fly by and it is so great to be able to meet new people every day and have gospel discussions with them. I never realized how much you can learn about someone by simply asking them what role faith has played in their lives. It's an easy, no-pressure way to lead into gospel discussions and make it possible to teach truths and testify. Elder Holland said that, "something in what they say will ALWAYS highlight a truth of the gospel about which you can bear solemn testimony" and I know that that is true! The hardest step is just opening your mouth!

Here are a few pictures from this week! Me with my old MTC district
 that all came to CRM and a funny bible we found.

My favorite scripture this week is Mormon 9:3-4 because it talks about what heaven will be like and how we'd feel if we are unrepentant and why the Atonement is so vital to salvation

Thursday, September 17, 2015

14 September 2015

So some funny stories this week:
1) Just like AZ, there are a ton of old retired folks here who love this heat yet still wear cardigans while everyone else is dripping in sweat. So we had dinner with one such cute old couple this week and they took us out to a delicious diner. After dinner, to get out of the parking lot, they had to turn left. Keep in mind, the driver is very very old. Anyway, he turns out in front of an on-coming car, cutting him off, into the turn lane, cutting another off, and then into the far right lane, cutting another person or 4 total off, all while being honked at profusely and acting as if it was a regular day. The land of fruits and nuts.

2) We were street contacting and came upon a gate tucked away in a quite street. It looked like it belonged to Robert Redford or maybe even Donald Trump. It was very ornate and had all these fancy lamps and ironwork and such on it. So naturally we wanted to see the house, because judging by the gate, it had to be amazing, right? Nope. Double-wide trailer. 

3) So I have only been a missionary a month and I've already been to a college party. We were going around visiting some of the  people who said they were interested in talking to us and we had visited with a guy named Stephan a few times and were going to see how he was doing. When we walked up, he was pulling out his garbage can which was filled with beer bottles and there was music and girls everywhere. I've never seen a party stop so quickly. So if the police really want to crack down on underage drinking, just send in two Mormon missionaries to crash their parties. Works like a charm.

The past couple of days have been pretty relaxing for me. My companion has had a cold and so we didn't leave the house and so I just studied a bunch and tried to pick up some more Spanish. I'm surprised at how much I remember! I'm going the "slowly but surely" route on trying to learn this Spanish. I am currently the only missionary in my whole district who cannot speak Spanish, so that adds even more motivation!

Seeing as we've been inside for the past 3 days and been taking it slow for a few days before that (he's been feeling bad for  the better part of a week now), we really didn't have a crazy good week, but there was definitely some success. We picked up three new investigators. Nancy was a street contact who has always wondered why there are so many churches with conflicting doctrine, so obviously we were happy to oblige in teaching her the restoration. She is going to read and pray and we're meeting with her Wednesday. Amy and Fernando were a referral from a random 775 number so that was interesting! We stopped by and did a quick introductory lesson and Amy, the wife, seemed very excited (even though she is pretty shy) to be able to learn more. She really wants to have more to do with religion and work on her relationship with God. Fernando was raised Catholic but really has no concept of what religion and God really do. He didn't seem super interested, but is willing to learn and is very kind. We are very hopeful for all of them and have been praying for them!

Speaking of inevitable, my white Oakleys died on Wednesday :'( We were playing basketball at the church for morning exercise and...well...lets just say that even though we're "holy men" right now and representatives of Jesus Christ, we still have bones in our arms that can deal substantial damage to molded plastics. I'm going to try and super glue them (is that using my frugal side I got from Dad, or my "always prepared" side from Boy Scouts??) and see if that does the trick. If not, I might need to get you to send me another pair of my glasses or figure something out because the current glasses/time ratio isn't looking too good right now. But on the upside, I made the basket. So there's good in everything!

Also you could let everyone know they are more than welcome to write me!