Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Mission Wide Conference with an Apostle

As you probably guessed by now, we had our temple trip this week so that is why I am writing you now. 

This week during the Elder D. Todd Christofferson visit (we had Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Christensen of the Presidency of the Seventy, Elder Palmer, a General Authority Seventy, and Elder Miscan of the 5th Quorum come to the mission, and for the first and probably last time the entire mission gathered to learn at the feet of an Apostle of Christ. It was so amazing!), what really stood out to me was the importance of the Book of Mormon. I really can address every problem, concern or doubt that I or my investigators will ever have through the Book of Mormon. It is inspired; it is the word of God, and as such has a unique ability to speak to us and bring us closer to Christ in a way no other book on earth can do. Do I stress that enough to those I teach? Do I stress that enough in my own life? I think I can improve, and I will. The Book of Mormon testifies of Christ and will bring us closer to Christ so we can partake of His light even more, if we read it with "real intent" and a desire to do so. I know it.

This week has been tough, but good. When I was with Elder Fischer, it seemed so easy! His faith helped build my own, and his experience helped make up for that which I lacked. I have been frustrated that we haven't been able to pick up 10 new investigators per week or get as many lessons, etc. and it has made me ask, "what am I doing wrong?". But the words "don't ask what you are doing wrong, but ask what you can do better" came into my mind. I am not a terrible missionary if I can't hit the same numbers I did when I was with one of the greatest missionaries in the mission, I just simply need to look at what he did and ask what I can improve upon right now so that I can get to the point where I can achieve those numbers. I know it's possible, if I simply do the Lord's will.

It is interesting how, when the Lord wants us to hear something, His will is showed to us over and over, no matter what the situation is. The Spirit continually tells us what we need at that point and time. Two weeks ago, I felt that I really should try to learn more about hope and how it correlates to faith, but over and over, no matter where I went, I kept having "diligence" pop up in front of me and into my mind. I took it as me needing to work on being more diligence, and it really has turned out to be exactly what the Lord needs me to work on at this point. With the command to eventually be perfect as Christ is, it is easy to feel like there is a million things we need to work on, but the Spirit will tell us what we yet lack.  As I have studied diligence, my favorite thing that I learned was the need to not think that everything will have an answer from the scriptures or even the Spirit. The Lord trusts us and since this life is the time to prepare to meet God by our choices and experiences, He wants us to make correct and guided decisions based on what we know. He promises us that if we "do good [we] will in nowise lose our reward"(D&C 58:28). If we are trying to do the right thing then the Lord will not condemn us for our imperfections. God doesn't condemn us; "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son...For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved" (John 3:16-17). If we are diligent and try our best, God will not condemn us. The only one who can condemn us is ourselves. Diligence in keeping God's commandments will always guide us to His promised blessings. I will continue being diligent, and things will get better.

This week during the Elder D. Todd Christofferson visit (we had Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Christensen of the Presidency of the Seventy, Elder Palmer, a General Authority Seventy, and Elder Miscan of the 5th Quorum come to the mission, and for the first and probably last time the entire mission gathered to learn at the feet of an Apostle of Christ. It was so amazing!), what really stood out to me was the importance of the Book of Mormon. I really can address every problem, concern or doubt that I or my investigators will ever have through the Book of Mormon. It is inspired; it is the word of God, and as such has a unique ability to speak to us and bring us closer to Christ in a way no other book on earth can do. Do I stress that enough to those I teach? Do I stress that enough in my own life? I think I can improve, and I will. The Book of Mormon testifies of Christ and will bring us closer to Christ so we can partake of His light even more, if we read it with "real intent" and a desire to do so. I know it.

Elder Mounts is trucking right along. I think I often underestimate how much he already knows and how much he can do. I like how in the trainer pamphlet it says our purpose is to help the new missionary learn how to "apply and live the principles in Preach My Gospel for the remainder of his or her mission", not "do everything and expect them to learn from you". Just like anything on a mission, we learn by the Spirit. The Spirit knows our companions better than we do, so let the Spirit teach us how to help them. I read a quote from Thomas S. Monson that read, "Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved." It is not my job to identify places others need to improve, it is to love them so that "he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together." There is no other way to do this work. I'm just grateful that we get credit for trying!

That is crazy! You are already heading back eh? That is great that you are helping out so much. I'm sure that helps a lot. That is good for you, and your mom. Are you getting tired from traveling so much yet?? And at least you'll be avoiding Runamucca again! haha. The pictures of the property look amazing! I think it is beautiful. I want to visit when I get back! Being with Elder Mounts, who's from Orlando, has made me realize how brown this half of the country really is! 

That sounds like a lot of fun, going to the movies! Although, the thought of watching a movie seems so odd now haha. I love the idea of Disneyland! We should do it when I get back! haha just kidding. I think that Aspen Grove is so great! I miss that place a lot! We should do summer 2018 too! That place is like a little piece of heaven. Hopefully you can get the Board Cabin! That would be a lot of fun for them.  I think Aspen Grove will be good for them too. 

After my mission, do you think they'd let me be an EFY counselor? I think that would be so much fun! I should check it out.

We went to the temple this week and I loved it. This is the first time I really felt like I received revelation through an endowment session. I went through for a man named Aurthur Gust Thornblade. Quite a name eh? I was reminded of how much God loves us and wants us to succeed. It was a great reminder! 

Thank you for taking the time to send Ensigns and pants. That is really kind of you! I'm constantly amazed at just how giving the Saints are. It's amazing. Thank you. That is also awesome about the kids going to SkillsUSA! Great for them! I'm glad the program is picking up momentum!

I will continue to work on having a better and more faith-filled attitude and I know that miracles will follow! They always do! I love you so so much! Have a great week! 


Your Elder Jackson

PS: These are pics from the Elder Christofferson visit!

Monday, May 16, 2016

First Week as a Trainer

It's been another great week here in the El Cerrito ward, even if it has been a bit hot. It was definitely a busy week with all of the meetings we had (I was with another Elder, Elder Uasike, who was also training, in his area all day Monday, we had the trainer/trainee meetings all day Tuesday, and Zone Meeting Wednesday!), but we still were able to see some great success and it was such a blessing! 

Elder Mounts (aka My Son)
Elder Mounts is doing very well for his first week. He is loving being here and does a good job at testifying. I think he is a lot more comfortable and adjusting quicker to the mission than I did when I came in. I am trying to help him as best as I can and set a good example of hard work and diligence, as well as having the faith to accomplish what we are called to do.  As far as teaching, he does a great job of testifying and I think he is a natural there. He seems to be happy and doing about as well as you can do! I am excited to see what the next 11 weeks hold and know it'll be a good two transfers! I have definitely realized how much I need to continually study the Fundamentals from Preach My Gospel and continue working on Christlike attributes. I am really enjoying learning from Elder Mounts and trying to help him in any way I can. I hope, with all of my heart, that I am doing a job that you and the Lord can be proud of. I will keep leaning on the Lord and trying my best and I know things will all work out!

One of the favorite experiences of mine this week was when I was really trying. really for the first time, to try and apply stories from the scriptures to either my life or, more importantly, the lives of those whom we teach. I have really wanted to do it before but have never had any luck. I guess I wasn't praying enough for the help of the Spirit or pondering what I'd read thoroughly enough before, but I was more determined this time. I ended up having some great help come to me in Luke 5 where the man taken with palsy is lowered through the roof to be healed by Jesus. It stood out to me how there are people who need to be healed, and only Christ can do it, but they cannot make it to His feet on their own. We need to be those friends who would carry him there, and when the first way doesn't work, instead of giving up, we climb over whatever obstacles we need to to get him to Christ. We have friends who are in need, but unless we act, they cannot receive the healing they deserve. We must do all we can to help others come to Christ--whether full-time missionary or not. There is nothing more important than being changed through Christ's Atonement and preparing to live in God's presence after this life. Nothing. And we need to help others do that.

We had a miracle last night! It was 8:30 at night and we were just about ready to go to our last appointment for the evening, and we were a little behind on the number of new investigators we are supposed to pick up each week, but I knew if we did all we could, we'd find them. As we were walking in to our last appointment we met three high school seniors who knew some members in our ward and said we could teach them really quick. We did and they enjoyed it a lot! We picked them up as investigators! If we have faith, we can do all that we are asked to!

Elder Alexander Jackson and Elder Foy

We also had a fun redneck experience! (well not really that fun). There was a funeral for a 90+ year old lady in our ward this week. We were asked to help take down the chairs in exchange for lunch. We showed up and they were using bungee cords and rope to attach her casket into the back of a pickup truck. It was hanging out of the back and they were using a tarp to cover the end. They were talking about how much money they were saving by using their truck rather than a hearse. It reminded me so much of my Winnemucca and Kentucky roots that I couldn't help but laugh. I guess you really can't ever run away from redneck; it follows you wherever you go! 

That is really sad about Rita Backus. That really is too sad. Give them my best. So the Wadsworth's second oldest is heading out on a mission soon? That is really cool! She'll do great! 

I will keep trying my hardest and I know the Lord will continue to bless me! I love you so so much and am so grateful for all you do. I hope I am serving in a way that makes you proud! I miss you so much! Have a great week!


Your Elder Jackson

Monday, May 9, 2016

A Morning Person Once Again!

Elder Jackson and Elder Fischer
Mom! It was so great to talk to you as well! I am so happy that we get to do that every couple of months. It is a great boost. The family's house we were at ended up feeding us and they gave Elder Fischer probably one of the best going-home talks they could have given him. It was a very spiritual experience and it was a lot of fun. I really liked how Brother O'Reilly stressed that this is my mission. I own it. I will have purchased every second of it by the time I go home, and it was exactly what I will have put into it. It is not a thing to "get through", it's a time to thrive and grow--and it only happens once in your life. We have to make our missions and our lives ours! We have to get the most out of them and just like any investment, we need to take care of them. He also talked about D&C 130:20-21 and how all blessings come from our obedience, and though it may sound sacrilegious, when we do what He asks, we can demand blessings. Expect them. God is not a liar and will bless us for our obedience.

Elder AJ Jackson, Allan Raymundo, and Elder Fischer


I am so glad to hear you are enjoying your trip to springtime Kentucky! I wish it were under better circumstances for you though. I know you are not enjoying this, but it is for the best for your mom. "Thanks for loving me enough to hurt me" is a quote I love from a general conference talk. I think that is exactly how the Lord works with us, He trims us even when we don't want it. You are doing just that with your mom and it will be the best for her--what she needs. You can do it!

I really like that quote that no one ever fell away without stopping their daily scripture study and prayer. That is so true! Love that!

I think I have gotten back into the habit of being a morning person. I definitely like waking up at 6:30 everyday, especially if I get to sleep right at 10:30 so I can get a full night's rest. I feel so much more productive. I hope I can keep up going to bed early when I get home!

Wow, the mission really does just get better and better. It was another amazing week here in El Cerrito. I am so grateful for the Atonement and how we can continually learn and grow. I am always amazed at how the Lord puts things into our path when we ask for them: I had prayed to know what I could do to improve myself and my efforts as a missionary and nothing really came to me other than "study". So I followed the prompting and really started to study and I asked Elder Fischer how he studied and was able to prepare such excellent trainings and he gave me a few tips for what has worked for him. As I studied for myself and for my investigators, I felt so much more of an understanding on a personal level with what I was reading and how I could apply it to myself and those I am teaching. I really felt like they were Christ's words and they were for me. As I studied, it seemed that everything I was learning about was about or related to the Atonement of Jesus Christ and what His sacrifice means to us. It was a theme that really lasted the entirety of the week.

How often do we feel like the Lord pushes us too hard, only to find out it is an answer to our prayer and that it is what we need to thrive and become stronger, even when it is tough. How many of us want to be taller but groan when we get growing pains? Christ changes us. He will make us the best we can be and He makes it possible to receive eternal life, the greatest gift of all. He went through everything for us and all He asks is that we keep His commandments; He asks for people to love Him. When we do what the Lord asks, He is bound to bless us. We must trust in the Lord. We must trust that He will bless us if we keep His commandments. I know that that is true. I know that God wants us to return to Him, and that through our obedience and being changed and cleansed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can do just that. I want to make my Father in Heaven happy, and I want His blessings, and so I will do all in my power to live worthy of those blessings and be obedient to all that He asks of me. I love Him and I know He loves all of His children. 

We met an amazing lady this week. She was raised baptist and actually referred to us by a former investigator's wife. She was so kind and said that she has always wanted to learn more about Mormons because she has heard a lot from others and read stuff on the internet and just could not believe it is true. Hallelujah! "By their fruits ye shall know them" and our fruits are the best, so obviously what people read on the internet isn't true--but this church is! Anyways, we are meeting with her this week and she is excited to learn more about Christ. What a miracle! Elder Fischer and I had been working so hard and no one was progressing but just then the Lord blessed us with someone so amazing and so elect. I can't wait for the future. As Elder Westinskow says, "the future is bright--so bright!" and it is!

I love this gospel and my Heavenly Father. I love the new life I can find through God's Son, Jesus Christ. I would be so lost without them. I know this Church is Christ's and that it is the only one with His authority and power in it.

I am excited for this week! I love you so so very much! I hope Dad got my message on the home phone! If not, tell him I called and love him too! 


Your Elder Alexander Jackson

PS Thanks again so much for the wonderful birthday package!

Monday, May 2, 2016

More Happy Than I've Ever Been in My Life!

Thank you for the Birthday package! It is very nice of you! I will open it tomorrow! I never would have thought that on the eve before I turn 21, when most people go to a bar at midnight, I'd be sleeping on a broken mattress in a dirty apartment in Corona, California, and yet more happy than I've ever have been in my life. As much as I appreciate the birthday gifts, nothing means more than Jesus Christ, and so I will serve Him with all that I have to show my gratitude toward Him. I think the second best birthday gift, besides the Gospel and being able to serve a mission, is that I get to talk to my favorite people: you and Dad on Sunday! Woo! That is so great and I am so excited. We are still working out the details on when I will be able to call, but it will probably be in the evening where you are. I think I will at least call Dad and say hi for a little while! I miss you both way too much to not talk to both!

That is great to hear about Trent. I wish the best for him. That whole family is so awesome. I love the Loveridges. I am sure that Cameron is doing very well, even though he is frustrated. That's an unfortunate reality of this work. Those are some pretty inspiring stories that you've heard. I wonder how many people are waiting to be invited to church but we as members aren't making the first step. The Lord prepares people in all times and in all places, and so we always have to be in-tune with the Spirit to know when and where we should act. I actually had an experience where we were walking to our car from our apartment and there was an employee of the complex there and I felt a very strong prompting to talk to him and it turns out he had been wanting to talk to us for a long while and had a bunch of great questions. He thinks that Heaven is actually the 4th and 5th dimensions and that when we dream we go there in spirit, attached to our bodies with an umbilical cord made of light, so that is kinda weird but at least he is seeking truth and wants to learn more! Always heed promptings!

Funny story from this week:  We had a potential investigator we were going to visit. No one was home, but as we were leaving we noticed an older man outside working on something in his garden. As we approached, we noticed his hand kind of twitching. We started to contact him and he looked around, but never directly at us, as if he had heard something. We asked him if we could show him the Hallelujah video and he just randomly yelled, "adlfkhwerwowwepofusdpglw...what?" (it sounded like Jar Jar Binks from Star Wars). We then asked again and he gave us a curt, "no" and so we finished the contact with him not uttering another word and very focused on his flowerbed. It had to have been the strangest and yet most hilarious thing on my mission thus far! 

This week has been the kind of heart-wrenching week you often read about in mission stories. Elder Fischer and I have been working very hard and picked up a lot of investigators this transfer-- a lot of them have been miracles and a lot of them have been so prepared by the Lord, it's obvious even to them that it was God's hand that put us in their path, and not just a coincidence. Many of them already have a broken heart and are in complete darkness; in agony searching for relief, yet when we bring light into their lives and offer more, they at first jump with excitement but then slowly decide the effort is too great or the cost too high. It really is so sad to hear someone say "I know God sent you to me to help me" and then not do what we know will help them. We don't do this for us, we do it for them. Going to church isn't to make our church's attendance stats look good for the quarter-- it's a commandment of the Lord and it's how we come to know that He is our Savior on a personal level. The same goes for reading the Book of Mormon, praying and repenting unto baptism. This isn't a business, this is life eternal. We are here to prepare for eternity and it is so incredibly sad when we offer the knowledge of how one can attain salvation and eternal life with God and it is treated with quasi-interest. 

We had three or four investigators this week whom we thought the Lord had touched deeply and would for certain come to church to feel of our Savior's love, yet none of those particular ones did. Another one of our investigators, a 10 year old child, told us that if the Lord was standing in front of him at that moment, he wouldn't do what He had asked. As sad as I was, the Spirit told me i comfort, "it's alright, you did all you could do". The words of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, in his talk about how the reason missionary work is hard is because "salvation was never a cheap experience" and how even Christ, a person a lot better, asked if there wasn't another and easier way (Mark 14:36), echoed through my head as I wondered why someone could be so hard-hearted against the very Being who created them and gave them everything. I will never know fully how Christ felt as He suffered for all of our sins and was mocked and spit upon by the very people whom He was atoning for out of pure love, but I know a little bit now. I know how much it must have hurt Him. I know how much He wants us to accept Him so that He "can heal [us]", yet so often we push Him away. 

I am not complaining, in fact, it was a great experience. It really brought me closer to my Savior and helped me see a little more through His eyes. It made me love someone I had never even met prior to that night. It made me want to do all I could to teach as Nephi did, "plainly that [they] cannot err". I want to make sure I always do the best I can to help God's children make steps toward Him again. There is nothing better or more worthwhile. I love my Savior and I know He lives.

If you would like to send some of those pants and shirts that would be great! They fit very well. 

I am so thankful for you and all that you do and am beyond excited to talk to you! I feel like that meme is perfect!

Love you mucho and can't wait to talk to you Sunday! Have a great time in KY and say Hi to everyone for me!


Your Elder Jackson

PS: We had a giant nerf war today and we took a roadtrip all the way out to Hemet this week for an appointment! It was awesome! 

I am glad you made it safely to KY and are enjoying it. That is also great you got a good picture of Grandma! It's good to see her smile. I hope you are enjoying seeing her and being in your native land. You look great in your selfie too!