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*! Ok...so 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!