Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Spring-Loaded Blessing Dispenser

Are you excited for Thanksgiving? I know I am! We have sooooo much to be grateful for!!

This week has been great! We have had a lot of great experiences. I was so excited to see both the sister we are teaching and her little son Jacob come to church, even though she was sore from getting in a car wreck and stressed from a hectic divorce. Her faith is amazing. She is progressing well and even though she seems to have the devil working overtime to get her down, she is not letting that happen. She even invited one of her own non-member friends to our lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and made us some delicious posole. She is incredible! Miracles have just been flowing to us! We have been praying sooo much for her and miraculously we found her a great place to live and may have found her a job too. Prayers work and miracles happen!! I can't wait for her baptism. 

As I have been studying the Book of Mormon, I have really come to learn just how much the Lord wants to bless us. It's almost as if He's got a spring-loaded blessing dispenser and He is anxiously waiting for us to simply come forward and push the release through our humility, and willingness to repent and obey. He does not condemn and He does not view us as inferior- He views us as gold. He is all-powerful, but He is also is our Brother and He is close. As I've prayed, I have also come closer to the Father. I have grown up singing "I am a child of God", but I have really felt that. He is my Father. I love that. If that doesn't make you feel empowered, I don't know what will!

I was able to live out my dream this week! I went on exchanges with the Chinese Elders in our zone. There are a lot of Chinese (about 10-15%) in Eastvale and quite a few at UCR (University of California Riverside) so they are allowed to go pretty much anywhere they want to teach. They also have a super snazzy 2017 Chevy Malibu, and since both Elder Zeng and Elder Yang are from China, I was the lucky driver! We got to go to UCR twice that day to teach and to find. I have always wanted to serve in a YSA or on a campus ever since I was in YSAs back in AZ, and so it was a blast! We didn't have any lessons, but we were able to talk to some awesome college kids and to help them see how God can fit into their lives. I felt like I was right back home at ASU while I was there. One part got me uncomfortable though: we went there for English Class (they teach a free English class every week) and no one came, so we decided to contacting on campus. Well, it turns out it was Homecoming at UCR and we unknowingly walked into a crowd that was about to watch the fireworks go off. There was loud music and thousands of people all enjoying it and amazing fireworks. Pre-mission AJ would've loved it! I would've been all about it, but Missionary AJ was so scared! It was not an environment that missionaries should've been in, so we took some pictures of the fireworks and then ran out of there into the safety of the Malibu and Mormon Tabernacle Choir music. There was nothing inherently wrong with the place where we were at, but I definitely realized that when you are a set apart missionary, there are just some places you cannot go- the Spirit will not allow you. I'm glad we left when we did. There is a time and a place for that, and as a missionary, it is neither. It was overall a quite amusing experience, and we scored some sweet pics!

Today we also died at crossfit, but I got to see a lot of my old mission friends! I love it!

I had a really cool experience yesterday giving a blessing to a sister missionary in our ward who is going home in two weeks. I normally feel the Spirit directing me what to say, but this was so much more. This time I felt the words almost pouring out of me. It was as if I had an open view into her mind from Heaven and knew exactly all that the Lord wanted her to hear. What was the weirdest part though, was that before I realized it, I was both fulfilling things in my patriarchal blessing, as well as directing her to do the same things I was told to in my blessing (the Spirit told me to!). It was one of the most powerful blessings I have ever given and it confirmed to me that God is in charge of this. What was also super strange was that Elder Wood said that I had actually quoted his patriarchal blessing (which I've never read, obviously) and he felt that maybe I had quoted hers as well. He also said that he felt that everything that needed to be said I immediately said afterwards. It was so weird to see how closely the Lord works through us and to be that tool in the Lord's hands to do so. It definitely wasn't me, but it was cool!

There is a super amazing Christmas initiative video coming out this week at called #LightTheWorld. You have to check it out! There's a preliminary video up currently on and it will blow your mind! It's all about how we cannot do the miracles Christ did, but we can light the world through random acts of service. There will be an advent calendar that comes out with it this Friday. This is going to change the world, so please check it out as soon as possible and help us all Light the World!!


Your Elder Jackson :)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Feeling the Spirit

This week was another great week! We are continuing to build the ward up and get it rolling. We have been having very spiritual experiences with members as we have our dinner lessons and also in talking about how we can build a team and work together. Our Ward Council is super supportive of us and we are definitely seeing their excitement grow as they see us working hard and being obedient. 

This week I really continued to focus on coming to know the Savior. I am so grateful for this new focus we have. As I was reading the account of the beheading of John the Baptist and the feeding of the 5,000, I came to learn something new of the character of Christ. Even though He knew where John was and that he would live again, He still felt the very real human pain of loss. He loved John and losing him tore at Jesus. I'm guessing He departed so He could mourn in solitude, but after seeing the 5,000 waiting to hear from Him, he had compassion on them and put His mourning aside to serve others. He was glad to help and lift others. As I read this, I could see so much more clearly the human side of Christ. He really does know how we feel and what we go through. It made Him feel a lot closer than I had previously thought or felt.

I've been feeling the Spirit a lot more this transfer. It's been amazing to feel the power of this calling as a missionary come to life as you strive to magnify it. We really do nothing, but the Lord allows amazing things to happen through and around us if we desire it and have faith. As I've simply prayed for miracles, I've been floored by how they happen left and right. It's made this work so much fun to see God's hands working all throughout the mission, and in particular, our area.

Don't worry about sending the watches. It's no hurry to get them. They did have a huge watch sale going on at the mall today and it took all I had not to buy one. I also bought some new shoes and a jacket today because my stuff is finally starting to get worn out. I bought the comfiest shoes I could find, but they had to be ordered because they didn't have my size. Missionary work will be oh-so comfy now! 

Grandma looks great! That is good to hear that things are going as well as can be expected with her. Tell all the family I say Hi, even if they don't remember me! haha

So yeah, that was the craziest thing! When we were in Priesthood opening exercises, they asked if there was any visitors and a man whom I thought looked familiar said his name was Bryan Watterson and that he and his wife had just moved in from Ontario! My jaw dropped and I ran over and asked if he was a Watterson from Winnemucca and he said yes. I told him I grew up in the same quorums as Josh. I don't know him really, but I'm sure I've seen him around. We got to talking (probably should've been in class. Ooops) and he said the whole family is coming down for his oldest's baptism. I thought that was so crazy! The Parent Trap is correct: this world gets smaller and smaller.

I also found out that I know a ton of people from this ward already. I met a guy who just returned from his mission and served with and knew Olivia Snow on her mission! AND one of my favorite member families in the ward have a son on a mission who was in the same MTC District and mission as Jameson Shirley from Lovelock, whom I became good friends with at Camp Helaman. The list goes on and on.

Speaking of the Turners, Brother Turner just started getting into the real estate business and my suspicions are confirmed, I think I want to do that on the side, or as a backup if Industrial Design doesn't pan out. I loved hearing about all the fun things you can do-- and still make money-- with houses! I think I wouldn't even feel like I'm working!

We are slowly but steadily building up our area and will continue to see more success!

This week we also head some super cool and unique experiences! We were taken by the coolest family ever (the Turners) to Applebees on Veteran's Day, and we got to meet Robert Byer (I think), who served in Vietnam and was awarded two Bronze Stars, a Purple Heart and the Congressional Medal of Honor. It was such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

We also got to go to the Louis Rubidoux (I'm with Dad, French is wack) Nature Center and do some service. It has a creek that runs down from the mountains and it gets SUPER full of garbage. So I got to put on some waders (I know you can't see me, but that's just the camo) and dig out dozens of cubic feet of filth from this creek that is a little bigger than Water Canyon. Just in our little section of creek about the size of a small bedroom, we pulled out every thing from thousands of Polar Pop cups (darn Circle K), Ugg boots, used hypodermic needles and even full sized pillows--and it equaled about 20 large trash bags' worth of junk. It was gnarly! It was a ton of fun to do though! 

I'm loving the mission! I can't wait to see more baptisms. I am already getting nervous about the idea of being back in the real world in 9 months! Have a great trip in KY. Travel safe and have the best week ever! 

Love ya!!

Your Elder Jackson :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

One of the Most Amazing Weeks Ever!

 The ward is really warming up to us! We've had multiple members tell us how much they can feel the Spirit when they are around us and they can tell we are being obedient. We had a whole family tell us they are amazed at how strongly we brought the Spirit into their home and how much they trust us. The First Counselor in the Stake Presidency is in our ward and was so impressed that he pulled our mission president aside and said, "Elders Wood and Jackson are really on fire!" and President Mullen replied, "I know, aren't they great?". I'm not saying this to brag, but I will say, that is probably the best compliment I've ever gotten. It really meant a lot.

We are already decorating for Christmas!
Wow, this week has been one of the most amazing weeks ever! I guess to start off, at the beginning of this transfer Elder Wood and I decided we wanted to stay focused. We decided to focus on working hard, being uncompromisingly obedient and having powerful faith. We both knew that this area could be turned around, and boy, has the Lord blessed us! 

We seem to be getting referrals almost daily now. We continually have had people come up to us and ask about learning more. We've had people just show up to church without even knowing anyone. We've had very spiritually driven finding opportunities and have had some inspiring dinner lessons. Obviously this is not us that is doing this, but is the Spirit. We are just feeling so blessed to have had the Spirit and so many miracles poured out upon us for simply exercising faith and being obedient!

First is an investigator that is going through a divorce. She has a friend who is actually a member from my first area. Her friend told her that this church would bless her life, and she believed. She showed up at church last week. We were able to meet with her and share the message of the Restoration with her. The Spirit felt was incredible. We arranged to have a member give her a ride to stake conference but she came on her own to both the Saturday and Sunday sessions. She took notes, felt the Spirit, shed tears of gratitude for feeling that Spirit as well as the love of the members she met (one of whom took care of her fussy 3 year old boy in the foyer so that she could listen) and was able to meet the whole stake presidency, Elder W. Craig Zwick (a General Authority Seventy who is the uncle of our Stake President, President Jeremy Jergensen, who's parents are the San Diego Temple President and wife and gave me my instruction before receiving my endowment, and who's wife's baby was due on the day of stake conference and still got up and gave a talk! I was amazed! What a trooper!), President, and many other great members. She was like a rock star! She was the VIP of the whole thing! We then had a follow-up lesson and the Spirit was poured out once again. She asked what she needs to do to prepare to be baptized and said that she wants to be anywhere where she can be close to good people, like those in the church, and feel the Spirit. She committed to be baptized on November 27th, read 6 pages a day from the Book of Mormon, and pray to know if the individual things we have shared are true. The member who came with us was left speechless after the lesson. She is easily one of the most prepared people I've ever met. It is such a faith-building experience to teach the elect!

I loved Stake conference. It was quite possibly one of the most powerful ones that I've ever been at. I don't think I've ever felt the Spirit that intensely for such a sustained amount of time. I really came to know the Savior more by seeing the transforming effect He has on the Saints. I was amazed to see and feel the purity, power and love that came from not only those that spoke, but also the congregation. So many wonderful people who are doing their best to follow the Savior and be transformed by His Atonement is an amazingly tender thing to experience. I realized that, even though it is not my current priority, I want nothing more than to have a strong and active faithful family who makes and keeps covenants with the Lord, as I saw so wonderfully displayed by countless members and leaders at this conference. Nothing seems more important, save following the Savior, of course. 

I am so incredibly grateful for my wonderful companion and all the countless blessings that the Lord has smothered us in, especially this week. I must say, I don't think I have ever been as joyful as I was this weekend. I felt like Alma when he was overcome with joy! I just couldn't handle how much pure joy and happiness I was experiencing! It was incredible! That is what a mission is all about. I'm so glad I served.

We also saw Brother Bemis at Conference! I love that man!

We did bobbing for apples on Halloween! I'd send the video, but it's not uploading. Today we played Ultimate Frisbee! 

That letter from Dad is so cool! I'm so glad you found that! I want to see all of his old mission stuff when I get back. We had dinner with a family last night where the husband and wife met in Brazil on their missions while he too was serving as an Assistant! I told them all that I knew about dad's mission! He must have been an amazing missionary!

 I'm still trying to decide on the whole coming home early thing. I'm so indecisive. I've never felt so stumped! Nothing seems like the right answer :/

I love you so so much! I'm so blessed to have you! Have the best week!


Your Elder Jackson :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Tons of Miracles

That is so great that Jessie is really tearing it up on the football field! I'm glad there is someone (his coach, it sounds like) who is really taking the time to see his potential and trying to help him achieve it. I hope he keeps it up. Same with Julie! As far as the missionaries go, they are correct. We really aren't supposed to go to those (football games). I think the only exception is if they are non-members. It's probably more up to the mission president. Ours is pretty strict, so I don't think he'd allow it at all, unless we took time out of our Pday to do it. How is your and dad's missionary efforts going? I loved Elders Anderson's and Oak's talks on missionary work (in this past G.C.) and how easy it is for each of us to do some where ever we are in the world. "The Lord is hastening His work. The question is, are we coming with it?" -President Mullen. We need to help put the other puzzle pieces into place that the Lord has in our path, otherwise we will be making more work for others. Sharing the gospel is a privilege and a blessing! I know you and dad can bring someone into the Gospel. Is there anything you'd like help with in sharing the gospel? 

(Elder Jackson didn't send any pictures this week so I am going to post some pictures ward members have texted to me when they had him over for dinner at various times)
Hi Mom. I'm growing in more ways than one :)
Love you mucho!

That is great! Keep feasting on the scriptures! That brings the Spirit into our lives so we can receive tailor-fit revelation, just for us, along with needed strength to overcome obstacles and trials. I know it's a lot easier to do that on a mission, but it really is so important to do always. We have to have that personal relationship with God if we want to receive His image in our countenances and be like Him when we stand before Him. That's the purpose of life! I'm proud of you for making that effort! I know you'll see the blessings from it as you do!

So I have been thinking and praying a lot about whether I should come home a transfer early or stay out. It has been really weird. I seem to get a spiritual impression one way on one day, and an opposing one the next. I talked to Elder Wood about it and he says maybe the Lord doesn't really care which I do; they are both good. I'm still torn: everything logically tells me that going home 6 weeks early would be the right thing to do (I could spend a little time with the family, get school in order, etc.), but I also don't want miss out on some amazing experiences that may come during that last month and a half of my mission. Elder Wood also pointed out that maybe in that 6 months of coming home early, I might just happen to meet someone who will end up being my wife one day! Who knows. So if it is that the Lord doesn't really mind either way, I think I will end up coming home a transfer early so I can spend time with you and dad and get everything ready for school! I promise that I will stay in close contact with you both though when I get home. 
I love you two too much not to :)

Sept 2016, We enjoyed having your son for dinner, he's doing
a great job!
This week we saw a ton of miracles. It was amazing. Here in the Jurupa Ward, the fire for missionary work and the confidence from the members in us as missionaries has not been the highest. Starting this transfer, Elder Wood and I both felt confident that we could easily have a baptism this transfer through our faith and diligence, and building up the ward's trust in the missionaries. We decided to focus solely on the work. We decided strict and exact obedience, hard work and powerful faith were what was needed. We also decided to stop by members of the ward council here in our ward to see what they'd like to see improve and what their vision is for this ward. Doing so showed us how much the leaders of the ward (and even the stake) want to see success. We expressed our desire to work hard and be obedient and that really seemed, in and of itself, to build their confidence in us. We are now setting things up- alongside the bishop, a member of the stake presidency in our ward, and the auxiliary leaders- to help get the fire back in our ward. Seeing the success Elder Wood had with it in Hemet makes me so excited to see what happens here!
May 2016 You have a good son, thanks for sharing him with us.
But building the ward's trust in us was not the miracle; it was seeing the progress that has come in the work here! As mentioned earlier, we are both committed to powerful faith and uncompromising obedience, and that allowed the Lord to bless us with these miracles. The first was at Trunk-or-Treat we had the husband of an inactive member come up to us and express his desire for us to come by and teach him. He said he's "been waiting for [us] to come by" and he came church! He's still just as excited. We also had another lady show up to church all on her own with her young son. She said she loved it! We also saw a lot of success in our street contacting. We were able to find a few fairly solid investigators as we were finding as we did so with powerful faith. The Lord's hand is definitely here in Jurupa! Now we just need to continue doing this and building the area, but I know we can!
Hi Mom, I love you. Jan 2016
As far as Christmas list stuff, I can't really think of anything too major. There's a lot of good Christian Country music I love and my new favorite Christian bands are Hillsong United and Love & the Outcome. They have some awesome music. I always love pictures and artwork (Walter Rane is my favorite painter). I am really ok with anything. The real question is, what should I get you and dad and everyone else?? Any thoughts? I'm so dreadfully awful at gifts. I need your expertise! haha

I will try and see if we can end up calling early on Christmas! I love you so so much and miss you bunches! I have your engagement photo with dad pinned up on my corkboard! I love that picture! 

L O V E  Y O U !

Your Elder Jackson :)

Look who came to dinner! We love Elder Jackson.