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!