Friday, December 30, 2016

The Most Wonderful Skype Time of the Year! (Christmas Eve)

It was so awesome to talk to you all too! I feel so blessed to be able to have such an amazing family and to have the technology available to be able to talk to you as if I were present! I am happy! I am thoroughly enjoying serving a mission. I don't want to come right now, but I don't think August 15th will come a minute too early! haha I am so tired. I am also just so excited and ready to see you all again and get back into life. That being said, I think that there is a lot of awesome stuff that I have yet to accomplish here and am excited to do so. This two years is a wonderful opportunity and I am so glad I still have time to make the best out of it and baptize people! 

I love all of the stuff you got me! I have already hung up the canvas by my desk with the binder clips. I was blown away by it all. You spoil me too much mom! haha The canvas, the book, the magnets, ornaments, ties, music, gift cards, collar bars, the Simon game.. and all the other stuff-- it was great! Thank you so much. I'm sorry that I wasn't able to get you all anything. I don't really know what to get you all and without a ton of time, it was tough. But I will do better when I get home. I can't wait to be with you all next year for Christmas! Gosh, it's my absolute favorite holiday of the year. I love getting together with the family. Thank you so much for making Christmas great, yet again! It was so nice to spend Christmas with the Turners and Mickelsons (Mickelsons are the Turner's daughter and her husband and their kids). They are just great examples of what a converted family is. They are so giving to us. They made Christmas feel just like we were at home.  

I will probably send home a box in the near future just because I don't want to have too much stuff out here. I will make a copy of all my pictures and send them then. I forgot my camera today so unfortunately I don't have any pictures to send today but I will send them next week! 

I hope you have a great trip to KY. Give Grandma my best. That is really sad to hear about her wrist. I feel terrible that that happened to her. You're right, the plan is very comforting in times like these. Travel safe. I'm glad Dad made it home safe!

That story about angels is incredible! We were actually talking about angels the other day and both Elder Drebot and I feel strongly that there are always angels watching guard over us day and night. You can almost feel their presence. 

This week was a good one. I always love the Christmas Spirit that can be so obviously felt by almost everyone. It truly is "the most wonderful time of the year." I am so thankful for the strong focus of service that we have had this Christmas season. We had a really powerful pair of experiences on Christmas Eve that I hope I will always remember. 

The first happened about 10 minutes before I was supposed to Skype home. We got a call from a lady in the ward whose roommate had had an anxiety attack and was not doing too hot and needed a blessing. My natural man wanted to say, "find someone else; I'm going to talk to my family! That's the Elders Quorum's responsibility anyways." But those thoughts only lasted a second. Immediately after I thought of the Savior. He, God Himself, probably had a million other things to do than to come and heal, bless and lift us lowly humans, but He rather decided to live by this motto: "But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:26-28 KJV)". So I immediately decided that I could not put my priesthood responsibilities to the side, even though this is one of the most important times of the year for missionaries. Now I'm not great at all, but I did feel great knowing that I put one of our Father in Heaven's children's needs above that of my own and I was able, in a small way, to serve her. It made me feel really good that I kept my covenants.

The second came at the end of the day. We were driving back from our fun zone activity of watching Scrooge ("I like life; life likes me!") and I saw a man at a gas station who was homeless. The Spirit told me so strongly that I needed to go help him. I hesitated. I don't really have money and I don't know if approaching a homeless man at 9 o'clock at night is a wise thing, but I did it anyway after talking to Elder Drebot (and I thank him for encouraging me to follow a prompting from the Spirit).  We flipped around and parked. We politely got his attention. I had no idea what to offer so I asked if he was hungry. He said no. I asked if he needed anything and he said his bike tire was flat. I gave him a couple bucks for a repair and we just asked him what his story was. He's had an incredibly hard life and recently lost his mom, whom he was very close to. Apparently she was a very strong and active member of the Church too. We told him about the Gospel and how much it could help him. It was a wonderful way to celebrate Christmas in serving others. It was nothing big, but again it made me feel great that I heeded a prompting and was able to help someone's day be a little better. The Lord is definitely aware of each one of His children and He loves them all.

It was the best thing ever to talk to you. I love you mucho! Have a great week and have a very HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!!!

Love ya!!!

Your Elder Jackson :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Peter Christmas Approach: "Silver and Gold I Have None"

This week was really another great one! I love being a missionary. It has been awesome being with Elder Drebot; I've really learned a lot of good things from him. It's definitely inspired. I'm grateful that I can learn something from each companion I'm with. We were able to continue working hard and we had the amazing opportunity to have Sister George, our new-ish investigator come to church! It was great and she loved it! We both feel very confident that she will enter the waters of baptism in January.

I had an amazing experience coming to know the Savior more this week through the Sacrament. I've always respected and loved the sacrament, but this week I looked at it as a necessary ordinance, just as baptism is. As I thought about the importance of baptism and tied it to the sacrament a light clicked on in my head that hadn't been there before! I feel like I've wasted all the sacraments that I've taken since I turned 8! I spent all that time doing the ordinance but not understanding that so doing would totally remit my sins as baptism does for converts. I felt dumb to say the least. But it was a powerful experience as I felt the Spirit wash over me like a wave as I partook of the sacrament and felt my sins be forgiven since I had focused on it and prepared for it all week. I'm so thankful for the sacrament and I can't wait to continue having that strong of a spiritual experience weekly now on. Like I said, I do feel dumb that I wasted all that time not appreciating and getting a lot out of the sacrament, but I am also glad that I now have that experience to help me always remember the importance of coming to church so that I can use that for myself if ever times get tough after the mission, but also very importantly, to help my investigators become converted to the gospel.

I am so excited to talk to you all on Saturday! That'll be so great! Yes, 2 pm my time and 3pm yours. I will be facetiming on an ipad, so I will just call your ipad? What's your ipad's email address linked to? If that doesn't work I can call your phone! Which would you prefer?

Thanks for the packages! We will be at the mission office on Thursday for a Christmas devotional so we'll get them then. Thanks for doing that! I'm just excited to talk to you all!

I think I am getting a little pudgy. Or at least my face is. My clothes still fit about the same and my weight is about the same. I guess I just need to work harder! I think it's because I am just soooo tired all the time now. I am just worn out and it's hard to stay motivated to eat well and work out when you are pooped. But I'll do better. I gotta look good for when I get home! haha I can't look like a big lard coming off the plane! 

The way you're doing Christmas sounds like fun! I hope everyone likes it. I will not be sending anyone anything simply because I have no time nor money. I'm taking the Peter approach: "Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee" (Acts 3:6) and what I have is my love! haha I'm sending it all! But if I did have time to get presents, I would!

I love you oh so much! I can't wait to see you again! I love you mucho! Have a great week!


Your Elder Jackson :)

Not sure what organization these service photos are from, Scouts? Nature Park? One thing is for sure, Elder Jackson loves a Christmas party and the colorful decorations that go with it!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Came to Know the Savior More this Week...

I have realized that stress is evil. I try my best to avoid it. I started to get stressed this week and then I though, I don't think the Savior ever stressed out. I think stress comes from fear, so I shouldn't fear/stress. I think that it is important to be urgent, but never stressed.

This week was awesome! I really am enjoying having this new "mega-area" and a "mega-zone". Having a large area like this has been so much fun. We've been able to go all around it and teach all sorts of different people. Both Elder Drebot and I feel so confident that there are loads of people for us to baptize and we are both ready to harvest! The Spirit that we've felt has been amazing. I have really learned that I still have so much that I can improve on as a missionary, and I'm so thankful that I have this opportunity to change and become more of the missionary I need to be. Elder Drebot is a great missionary and I am grateful to be working with him.He's got a great work ethic and I enjoy working alongside him. I look forward to baptizing with him. We will. This gospel is so true. Turning our will over to the Lord is often hard, but the blessings really do come as we do it. My testimony continues to grow of that principle.

I came to know the Savior more this week through revelation by reading about the Savior's voice talking to the people in the destroyed cities of the ancient Americas, recorded in 3 Nephi. I was so impressed by His mercy. He really does not care what we've done or where we've been; He only cares that we return to Him so that He "can heal [us]". He doesn't want to tell us how we are wrong or make fun of our weaknesses, rather He wants to build us up and help us see our potential. He wants to allow us to be the most happy and successful version of ourselves possible, but we have to be humble enough to change whatever it is in our lives that is holding us back and accept His will. If we have "real intent", we can become "new creatures" and overcome any negative obstacle in our lives so that we are cleansed through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. I have really focused on His mercy this week and how I can better access His grace. I am no longer trying to do things all in my own strength, rather I am going out and doing things that I know I am too weak to do on my own, but fully trusting that the Lord will not let me fail. I testify that He will not let us fail if we are acting in faith. The tricky part is we really have to act. I'm thankful for the strength the Lord has granted me this week to do things that I didn't think I could. I'm excited to see what more this upcoming week brings! 

This past Sunday was so awesome! We had two less-active members come that we've been trying to get back! We also were able to have Sister Guzman get confirmed! It was so cool! I got to do the confirmation as well and President Jergensen happened to be there for that sacrament meeting so he stood in the circle as well! It was so spiritual. I was sad that she missed her confirmation last week, but I think it may have been so that she could have him there this week. She also got assigned home and visiting teachers so things are looking up for her! I'm so happy for her! 

I can't believe that it's almost Christmas time again! I feel like it was just Christmas! The mission is going so fast. There's still tons of people left I need baptize, but it is starting to feel weird that my mission will one day end. It's a weird feeling. I don't know how to describe it. haha

I love you and miss you a lot! 

Your Elder Jackson

Here is a picture of our Ward Mission Leader, Brother Vargas, Abigail, President Jergensen, me and Elder Drebot. He sent this picture to Elder Zwick of the Seventy because he talked to her at stake conference and she felt something really powerful there. Also, Sister Meza right before she went to the mission office. Elder Jones and I were the only missionaries who were in this stake last Christmas, so we thought we'd take a pic at the annual Jergensen Missionary Christmas Dinner & Caroling! It was fun! This was the chalk board I drew for the zone conference we had this past week!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Savior Loved Mortality

We had a kind of interesting experience this week. We had a meeting at the mission office this past Thursday and when we showed up there was a ton of cars and trucks and people parked in the back of the church parking lot. Well, it turns out it was the Corona SWAT Team and they were using the parking lot as a staging area for a raid they were about to do in the area! And during the meeting we heard a handful of gunshots go off. I never heard any thing of the outcome, but it sure was not what I was expecting to hear or see on my way to the meeting! haha

This was another great week here in the Jurupa ward. It is sad to see so many wonderful missionaries be leaving and going home but the service they rendered here was fantastic and I am grateful that I was able to serve around many of them. One of the things that I learned about the Savior this week was in MLC about how much the Savior loved mortality. He absolutely loved being alive (Hebrews 5:7). He was more than willing to perform the Atonement, but giving up His time with us on this earth was something He did not want to do. The one thing He didn't want to give up He placed into the Father's hands. And that eventually led to Him dying of a broken heart on Calvary's cross. Giving our all can be tough, but we must be willing to work hard and give our all and be tried as was Abraham of old. But giving our will to God does not have to be a sad experience- even though it is uncomfortable at times- because we can find so much lasting peace and joy in doing the will of the Father. As we willingly submit to the Lord, we will become more like our Savior and we will come to love life and all that accompanies it. We will find joy in all that we do, and the wonder of being alive will fill our souls. Learning this really made me excited to be more diligent in seeking the Lord's will and then doing it. It also made me appreciate this time that I have to serve the Lord so much more meaningful! I have come to love and appreciate my mission more this week because of that, and that means a lot to me.

I am so glad to hear that you and dad are in the true spirit of Christmas this year! It is so easy to get caught up in the fast-paced rush of Christmas of giving and spending, but it is so wonderful to simply think about spending time with those whom we love; serving and loving others; and celebrating the truly amazing gift it is to have our Savior come down and be born so that He could fulfill His divine mission of performing an infinite Atonement so "that all mankind can be saved by obedience to the gospel and the ordinances thereof". Salvation through the Lamb is truly a gift that we don't deserve, but we should accept it and receive it with gladness and thanksgiving. We have so much reason to rejoice this time of year! Let us all turn outward and lift others' burdens and spread the Light we feel to the world!

 We had dinner with Sister Watterson's son and his family last night and they are such a great family! They are so missionary-minded and all they want to do is help spread the gospel! I'm so grateful that they moved into the ward and the happy coincidence it was to have the Lord have our paths cross. Maybe I'll see the clan again before I leave this area!

I also got to see Lake Hale again this weekend! He had a recent convert of his go through the temple this weekend so he came down for it. We had a ton of fun seeing him. I love that guy!

Like I said in my other email, there are some gnarly changes in the zone this transfer, but it is going to be a good one! 
We also had a member give us a real Christmas tree! I will snag some pictures of how I decorated it, but it makes the apartment seem so homey! 

Also, Satan is working over time on discouraging our newly baptized sister. If you could keep her in your prayers or put her name on the temple roll it would be great! She is so great, but Satan just will not give her a break and she can use all the help she can get. She's going through a really tough divorce and facing a lot of challenges emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically and financially! Thank you so much!

 Love you so so much! Have the best week ever!


Your Elder Jackson :)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

A Testimony of Goals

Wow, this week was amazing! It was so incredible to see Sister Abigail Guzman enter the waters of baptism and make her first covenant with God. The Spirit was so strong there at the service and it was an amazing feeling to see her shear joy as she came out of the water and say that she felt like she had left her old life behind. She was beaming and was so grateful for the love and support she has received from members as she has taken these steps toward the Savior. 

My testimony of goals really grew this week. It is so true, when we set goals by the Spirit, and we do all we can to accomplish them, the Lord will step in and give us the grace we need to succeed. I really came to know the Savior as I saw, on more than one occasion, us or others, make a commitment, and even though the odds seem against us, we persevered in faith and somehow we were able to reach our goal, just as He did. He didn't doubt that He could accomplish what His Father had asked of Him, and neither did we. We didn't think that it would be possible to get everything taught and help Sister Guzman be ready and worthy to be baptized this past Sunday, but we had prayerfully set the date when we first started teaching her and we made a commitment in MLC to do so as well, and even though we concerned, we decided to move forward with the commitment we had made. As the day of the scheduled baptism grew closer, we were praying earnestly that we could have miracles placed in our path so that things could fall into place and our goals could be accomplished. I can testify that the Lord will always step in. He did for us, and everything worked out. We were able to meet our goals, and it was all possible because of the Lord. It reminded me of what I read in 3 Nephi this week about the Nephite Governor Lachoneus (just like the name of the best missionary ever!). He receives an epistle from the leader of an opposing group of people who are bent on destroying them. The leader tries to illustrate that the only two options are to either surrender to this opposing group or to be destroyed at him. Lachoneus' reaction struck me. He was not intimidated by the demands of a "robber". We may feel like it is impossible to choose the right, but we always can choose God, and if we do, we will be delivered. Even though the world was telling me I would either have to accept not reaching my goals or altering them, I didn't give in and was able to receive divine help for choosing the right. I am forever grateful for the power that the Atonement brings into our lives.

Thank you so much for the wonderful care package via the Lords. It is so great to have that picture. It really warmed my heart. And as always, I love having a Lego advent calendar. Thank you so much! 

It was so cool to see the Wattersons and the Lords. They are wonderful people. I am grateful for the Spirit they carry. It was a little strange to have a piece of home here, but it was a good kind of strange. Sometimes I forget how close I really am to home. But it was awesome to see them! I'm glad they are doing well! 

I'm glad that you are feeling the Spirit so strongly to motivate you to continue to do family history and temple work. I feel that temple work is really just flying forward. 

Our Thanksgiving was awesome! We ate with the Senior Couple in our Ward, the Holyoaks (from Cedar City) and the Rodriguez family. The Rodriguezes fixed amazing food. I loved it. It was a lovely time and I felt very at home. We also played a tooooon of Turkey bowl (I'm still sore) with some awesome families (including one of my personal favorites: the Harris family) and had a fun evening of games with all the missionaries. The month of November has flooooown by. I can't believe it! It's unreal. I'll be calling home in no time! Wow. This week has really been strange. I've felt like I will always be a missionary, but now it is getting real that I won't be forever! I want to make the most of it!

Love you!!!!

Your Elder Jackson :)