Monday, July 11, 2016

A Mother's Farewell

[So, it is totally bittersweet to write this post and close another missionary chapter that I have loved three times over. His last letter had me in tears this morning. Gratefully, these experiences don't end, they just shift to every day life and the process of enduring well on a foundation well built. I love my sweet boy who has grown into a man these past two years.

A mother's farewell to written letters from the heart.]

The Cherry on Top!


Elisa's Baptism
Well, what a wonderful ending to 2 wonderful years! Elisa was baptized, and we have left a great legacy here with miracle investigators, and great relationships with the members. 

On Thursday we saw a great miracle when I knocked a door and found a man named Jose whose wife Narcissa is gravely sick with tuberculosis. When we entered she was having a panic attack, but we offered to give her a blessing, and she suddenly calmed down and began to say that I was the angel she had seen in a dream not long ago that would come back to bless her family. We gave her a blessing and she was very calm afterwards. We came back again Saturday morning and she was looking even better. We taught The Restoration and they accepted a baptismal date for August 20th. For her sickness they weren't able to go to church, but they want to go and I know they'll be going soon.

Elisa and her husband who baptized her
Honestly I couldn't have had a better finish than the one I had. Elder Williams and I decided since the beginning of this change that we would give our all, and we were confident that the Lord would do miracles. He kept His end of the deal because we kept ours. I think this change was more filled with miracles than any other change in my whole mission. Heavenly Father is real. He lives and loves us. To deny that would be to ignore everything I have seen and done for 23 months. I can't deny it and I never will. 23 months has caused in me the change of a lifetime.

I can say, as President Uchtdorf, that the gospel works wonderfully, and I couldn't ask for more!


-Elder Jackson


Monday, July 4, 2016

The Final Baptism!

Hello everyone!

[this is Ben's letter in the way of pictures!]

Elder Williams and Elder Jackson
Well, this week we're gettin ready for our last baptism on the mission! Elisa is super ready and she passed her interview last week, but because of a ton of events happening on Saturday we weren't able to do it on the 2nd. But this week is for sure, so Elder Williams and I are stoked!

We went to the temple for the last time on Saturday too, and got to be witnesses for the youth and convert baptisms. One recent convert Emelin went for the first time and loved it so much that's almost all she talks about. She's not always a very spiritual person just because she likes to joke around and stuff, but it was cool to see her feel the spirit and look so content. I love the temple and I'm so glad Heavenly Father let me go to one more time before the end of my mission.

Emelin, us, Erick getting ready for his mission
This is the plan of happiness and the good tidings of great joy. I can see it in the faces of all the members of this Church. We are Mormons and we are very happy. At least I am :D

Happy Fourth of July! Viva America y viva Guatemala!

-Elder Jackson

Happy July 4th from Guatemala with  French Toast!

US missionaries on 4th of July!

That is the way food is eaten..... postit note too??
Erick who is getting ready for his mission

Guatemala Temple

Temple doors

Guatemala Temple

Temple and downtown

The Temple Group! youth and new members

One Week Left....

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Ben is Letter deprived.....

Hey mom, 

District p-day playing pool
I don't really have anything to say in the blog letter, but I'll write you. This week I had my last interview with president! He gave a lot of great advice and had us make a list of goals in categories of spiritual, physical, emotional, educational, and financial. I'll share those with you when I get home so you can be aware of what my goals are and hold me responsible for it ;)

Did you guys get my flight itinerary cuz I haven't yet. [Comes home through Houston and arrives at 4:30pm on Wednesday July 13th.]

Love you!


Yeah, I don't think he has grown up much!

Monday, June 20, 2016

My Joy is Full!

Hello everyone!

First week with Elder Williams
I'm simply very happy and content. I can't say every day was perfect this week, but I just feel a great calm like I've never felt in my whole mission. Like Heavenly Father is letting me know that I'm doing a good job. I still have many things that I'm working on and I'll keep working on them til I get em, but I've finally felt that peace of mind that my efforts haven't been in vain. 

We had a lot of wonderful miracles this week, mostly having to do with member help and great people who are ready to be baptized. We were able to have 19 lessons with member present (the weekly goal is 20) which was a great achievement, and our investigator Lisa is basically ready to be baptized. Her testimony grows every time we visit them and she really wants to go to church again when her 40 days of bed rest are over (this week)!

French Frie 'Stache!
I can't say more than that my joy is full. The Lord has been my support and I almost can't believe that I've come this far. But then I remember how much He loves me and wants me to succeed. All my success is thanks to Him, and I will give the rest of my life to Him.

I love you all!

-Elder Jackson

Celebrating "1-month left" with ice cream!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

What to Write About?

Hello everyone!

Honestly this week I don't really know what to tell you. Elder Williams and I have been rippin it up, and we've been seeing a lot of blessings, especially in working with members. One single adult named Erick who's preparing to go on a mission leaves with us any day we want, plus one of the brothers who was the last stake president and his son are both super willing to help out. Almost everyone we've been working with are part-member families, so we have a lot of support from the ward leaders too, since we'll be reactivating and baptizing at the same time. 

Right now we're teaching a less active member named Fernando and his wife Lisa who isn't member. She just had a baby so she's still in her rest period, but she's super anxious to go to church again and this week they should go. She has a baptismal date for July 2nd.

Something I pondered a lot about this week, and I've put into practice is the simplicity of the 13 articles of faith and the principles they teach. Sometimes I struggle to explain gospel principles in a clear and direct way, but I've been studying the articles of faith and using them in lessons. I noticed that the first six are almost directly related to the principles in Lesson 1 and are so straightforward and obviously biblically based that they are undeniable truths. The hard of heart will always deny spiritual truths, but the articles of faith are truly inspired by God and I know they are true.

Love you all!

-Elder Jackson

Monday, June 6, 2016

Correction: The LEGENDS have Returned!

Hello again!

So talking with Elder Williams we found out that this will be our 7th change total in this zone for both of us! We've both had 3 areas in this zone and we'll finish up with a total of almost 10 months in Zona Nimajuyú! We're Old Dogs that have been resurrected... :P

We had a great week even though it's always a bit rough re-opening an area. I already knew a good number of the members and a bit of the area, so we finished the week on a very good note. We both are very happy to be together and we have the determination to make this an amazing change! 

It's amazing how God takes away our fears when we turn to Him with faith. I think one of the main ways I've seen how the spirit works is in that particular way. Sometimes when I was younger I would get super nervous and uncomfortable thinking about some things. I'd even get scared. I remember always being able to pray and feeling an immediate surge of comfort. I recognized that it was the Holy Ghost. I was reminded of those experiences last week just before changes. I was very nervous and even scared of this change. I didn't know if I was going to be able to hold out to the end. I felt like Satan was going to attack me in every way possible to make me baggy. Then I knelt down and prayed for peace. After that I just remember waking up Tuesday morning and going to changes with a huge feeling like everything was going to be alright. And sure enough, I'm here and happier than ever! I love how the Holy Ghost brings things to our remembrance; I love the name Comforter because it's true. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Have a wonderful week!

-Elder Jackson

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Legend will Return

Hello everyone!

So due to a terrible keyboard with almost all of the letters on it worn off and my depressing lack of keyboarding skills, this has been a really stressful email time, so forgive me if this is short...

I have changes! I'll be returning once again to Nimajuyu and the area Guajitos, but in the other half of the ward than before! I will be with another Elder Williams and we will be finishing our mission together. It will be an interesting 6 weeks!

I don't know what the Lord has in store for me at this point in my mission, but I know he has something great waiting for me in my new area with Elder Williams. I don't know in what form He will give it to me, whether it be a life lesson or someone there who needs me to share the gospel with them, I have no idea. All I know is that I will need the guidance of the spirit and a whole lot of faith. I'm am so grateful the Lord has called me despite my weaknesses to be a messenger of truth in Guatemala. I hope to be able to serve Him in some way this change. I have to lose myself in order to win what He has for me. This is His work, and I must do it His way.

I love you all!

-Elder Jackson

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Gospel of Jesus Christ blesses Families

Hello Everyone!

This week I decided to be like my older brother Brian and I thought it would be a great idea to break my foot right towards the end of my mission! Actually it wasn't intentional and it's not really broken, just fissured. We were playing soccer and I went to kick the ball and kicked another elder's foot at full force, bending my toenail completely backwards, and causing a minor fracture in my big toe. It wasn't too bad though because I can already walk normal even though the hospital gave me a boot. So don't freak out too much Mom ;) [wink right back at him, I don’t freak out, just slowly shake my head…]

On another note, our investigator Junior is progressing a ton and is really excited to be baptized this Sunday! He has had a lot of problems with some of the commandments, but is really committed to abandoning all his sins to follow Jesus Christ. His repentance is sincere and there has been a change in him. Also our investigators Jesus and Wendy are progressing like crazy too! They have a lot of family problems, but this week was Family Week so there were activities in the chapel every night, and they went to 3 of them including the marriage night! They have been changing as well and will be baptized as soon as the can work out their marital status. He is married to someone else but is separated. Please pray that everything can be worked out in an effective manner so they can live the Gospel in its fullness. Gregorio, our convert is also preparing to take his son's name to the temple this weekend to do the baptism for him!

In all this week I've thought a lot about how the gospel blesses families. It's one of the basics that we teach every day in the mission, but literally it's the central purpose of God's plan. To be like God means having an eternal family, therefore it is the most essential part of our mortal life. If we had never come here to Earth we would have never had the chance to have a family. Without Christ it wouldn't be possible either. Without the priesthood authority families could never hope to stay together forever. Without church organization and home life families would never successfully overcome the trials and temptations that come from mortal life. Without the temple we would never return to God's presence. I have seen how the gospel is blessing the lives of Gregorio, Jesus, Wendy, and Junior. I have seen how the gospel has blessed me and my family. I am eternally grateful for my parents, for teaching me the plan of Salvation and teaching me to follow Jesus Christ. He is the only way to eternal life and perfection, and the only way to an eternal family.

I love you all and wish you the best!

-Elder Jackson

Monday, May 16, 2016

Families - Gotta Catch 'em All!

Hello Friends and Family!

So yesterday Gregorio was confirmed as well as an investigator of the sisters who was baptized on Saturday. He has both of his legs amputated a little bit below the knee, so we sat him in a chair to perform the ordinance! He is another man like Gregorio with a lot of faith and determination to do what God asks of him. 

So our challenge for this month and next is to find 2 families to baptize so they can be sealed next year in the temple. I've really felt that I will have the privilege to see that happen since I haven't really had the opportunity to baptize a whole family before, but I know that if I give my all this last stretch. We already have one family that we are working with; the Reyes Lopez family. Jesus and Wendy are the parents and Abner and Beyonce are their 2 children older than 8. They also have one little one. Wendy is ready and willing to do what it takes to live the gospel, but Jesus is still hesitant due to his drinking habits, and a bit of pride, but he has gone to church the past 2 weeks and reads what we leave him. He has had an unfortunate life which has convinced him that he is a bad person, but I actually used that quote from Harry Potter in our last lesson with them that says "you're not a bad person, you're a very good person who's had a lot of bad things happen to you" :P Honestly he is a really great guy, and in the short time we have knowing them, he has changed in a lot of ways. Please pray for Jesus and Wendy so they can work through their trials and arrange their lives so they can get married and baptized soon.

Families can be forever, and I've learned that that's truly the whole central purpose of being here on earth. Everything has to do with it, and that truth has to do with everything Jesus Christ taught. I love the gospel and I love this time God has given me to give my brothers and sisters the same hope I have.

Have a wonderful week and know that I love you all! :D

Elder Jackson

Dear Mom,
That's crazy that everything is gonna be so different when I get back! I was hoping to at least have President Hollingsworth still since Bishop Anderson was released, but I guess not huh. [tri Stake Conference for Austin area on June 5th. Adding a fourth Stake and possibly new wards.... hastening time!]

This week was interviews with President Caffaro, and Sister Caffaro said something that almost made me cry. I know it's a miracle right? She mentioned that it was my last set of normal interviews before the big one, and she told me how proud she was of the growth and changes I've made over the course of my mission. She said she's seen me grow from a boy to a man, and that even though I've passed through some hard times, I have proved that I can do hard things and come out victorious. She told me that she is sure that I have done my best and haven't given up, and that's what God will remember. She is definitely my second mom now.

I love you so much mom and I pray for you and the family always,


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

"May" I just say I love Baptisms!!?

Hello Everyone!

Gregorio Baptism
The week of a baptism is always amazing! Gregorio was going to be baptized Saturday, but for stake conference none of the members could be there, so we rescheduled it for Sunday afternoon. He went all the way to Jalapa (an hour and a half bus ride) with us to stake conference, and when we got back he was waiting outside the chapel like an hour before his baptism would start. I have loved seeing how the Lord has worked in his life these last few weeks, and most of all I have loved seeing how he has allowed the Lord to make those changes! 

Ex-Companions at Mission Council
If there's one thing I've learned it's that agency is everything. So many people now days try to shove all the responsibility and guilt on God. "I'll go to church when God tells me to." "I'll repent when God makes me feel the need to do it." "God willing I'll pray and ask Him." The choice is ours, not His. Gregorio made those choices, and has received a remission of his sins, opening the door to the heavens. Jesus Christ puts the key in, we decide to turn the knob.

I'm so grateful I made the decision to serve a mission. God has used me, despite my weaknesses, to change the life of others, and that has changed me. I am humbled to be His servant. I have been humbled to the point of being a true servant. Jesus Christ is my master, and although I may not always be the most profitable servant, I hope to have the joy of kneeling myself at His feet to thank Him for this opportunity to be at least a small difference in the world.

Standard of Liberty for Zone training
I love you all and pray for you often!

-Elder Jackson

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Volcan de Ipala Round 2

Hello everyone!

Hiking Volcan de Ipala
Well, today we went and hiked the volcano again, but we did it a bit earlier so I actually have time to write today! It was wonderful, but it was really hot coming back down! On top there's wind and shade, but on the trail there's little of the two. But it was so worth it!

Gregorio is still 100% ready and willing to be baptized, and he is determined to conquer the coffee this week. He already dropped it by 80% and he has told his wife not to put any in front of him anymore so the temptation goes away. He is an amazingly faithful and humble man, with all the desire and determination one would need to make the changes necessary to become a disciple of Christ!

The District!
This week I also have learned how to be more loving. I did divisions with Elder Neal who is a super loving guy, who always has something special to say to each person so they can feel the spirit in that moment. Sometimes as a missionary I strive more to teach the doctrine concisely and directly, but I don't seek the guide of the spirit to adapt it to the people's needs. Elder Neal is a great example of a loving missionary guided by the spirit.

What can we do to be more loving and follow the spirit to touch the lives of others?

I love you all and hope you have a great week!

-Elder Jackson

New Companion Elder Martinez
Dear Mom,
That's awesome what Brian is doing for study abroad in Europe, and Hyrum's going to prom.

I'm still doing great and working hard. Trying not to remember that I only have 2 and a half months left... It's not that I don't want to finish my mission, because I'll also be happy to move to the next chapter of my life, but I still can't believe that this chapter is already coming to a close! I'll be sure not to finish it with any cliffhangers. It'll be a nice, epic, wrapped-up ending full of contentment and satisfaction :).

Love you so much!


Old Companion - Elder Williams
Ben's Comps Alvarado - Williams - Martinez

Beach in a volcano?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Round 3

Hello Everyone!

So I've just been knocking out all of my companions since I got here to Jutiapa, so we'll see who goes down in round 3! My new companion is Elder Martinez from El Salvador. He is really energetic and we get along great! He likes to have fun and work hard at the same time, so there aren't too many dull moments. Elder Williams didn't end up going very far, he's still here in the zone in an area called Monjas, so I still get to see him frequently, so that's fun!

Our miracle of the week was Gregorio! He is a 65-year-old man who a couple years ago turned away from God when his son was unfortunately poisoned and killed right before he was going to be baptized in the church. He lived in anger and vengeful thoughts for months and years, rejecting any visits from religious people, rebelling against God. Then everything changed when Elder Williams and I passed by one day about 3 weeks ago. "Elders!" he called out as we walked by his house. We were just going to ignore him because there are a lot of people who just say that to bother us, but then my comp felt a strong impression to turn around and talk to him. Since then he hasn't missed a Sunday in church. Despite the fact that he flat out rejected us when we invited him to baptism the first time, he told us this week that he has prayed and received an answer and he is fully committed to be baptized on May 7th! He told us of his hatred he had for the person who poisoned his son, and the great hole it had created in his life, and of how in these 3 short weeks, all that anger has been swept away and he has felt a peace and joy so immense such as he has never felt before. He is a bit stubborn in some ways, hence the initial rejection, but at the same time he is amazingly humble before God, and completely willing to do what He asks of him, hence the amazing self-commitment after having prayed with faith. He is truly an inspiring man!

And so the ball rolls on in Jutiapa, every day we see miracles, because God is good and He blesses His children when they do what He says, or at least tries, as Elder Holland says. I love God and I love the work, and I hope you all find the miracles in your life this week! :D


-Elder Jackson

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Adventures of Jutiapa Continue

Hello Everyone.

Dulce's baptism
Today I will be writing without emotion because the Exclamation point key on my keyboard doesn't work... but anyway I will be staying in Jutiapa this change and Elder Williams is leaving after just a change here. Something cool is that my companion's dad served here in Jutiapa 43 years ago. He was able to meet a couple of the members that were around at that time and a few remember him vaguely despite the years. 

So I will be continuing the work here with whoever is my new companion. We have a lot of miracles happening right now and many great people. I mentioned Junior last time and he is still really excited and loves going to church. Also we are teaching an older man named Gregorio whose son was going to be baptized a few years ago but was poisoned and died. Gregorio told us he had dreamed many times that his son was a missionary. He decided to go to church and already is beginning to convince himself that it's where he needs to be, though is not quite ready to be baptized on a specific date. He is convinced that it will happen, but he wants us to pass by a few more times and keep teaching him the doctrine.

Root beer floats to celebrate
Also Dulce Paredes was baptized on Saturday. She's the daughter of a member family that went inactive for a couple years and consequently missed her baptism last year when she turned 8. This year they came back in full force and haven't missed a Sunday for 2 months straight and they also have the goal to be sealed this year. We helped them out and taught their daughter what she needed to know and we had a great turnout at the baptism.

Also the members are getting excited to help thanks to the I Never Go Alone program and as a result the majority of the 13 investigators that came to church were brought by members.

Have a great week :D

-Elder Jackson

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ummm .... Was that 7 days?

Hello Once Again!

So I feel like I was writing home yesterday, and I can't believe that a whole week has already passed! It seriously flew by ridiculously fast, and it's hard to remember what happened. One great blessing would be a program we are using now with the members called Nunca Voy Solo (I Never Go Alone). It's a simple thing to put into practice to help the ward grow, comprised of 3 P's: Pass by, Present yourself, and Preach. Through these simple steps the members can play an essential role in helping people come to church and feel comfortable once there. This week we really worked to capacity and help the members with it, and as a result the 4 investigators we had in church were all brought by members!

Another blessing was Junior, who came to conference last week as an invite from his cousin who was baptized a year and a half ago. He really enjoyed it, so he wanted to come again this week. We went to teach him yesterday afternoon and he really wants to change his life. He likes the idea of being baptized and accepted the goal of making that covenant April 30th!

If you could keep Abel and Yoselin in your prayers that would be wonderful. He is the young man we met at mutual a few weeks ago, and right now he has a ton of obstacles blocking his path, mainly of time and other negative opinions, so he is in desperate need of a few miracles so he can fulfill his desire to be baptized. Yoselin is his girlfriend and she's in the same boat right now.

Love you all so much!

-Elder Jackson

Monday, April 4, 2016

What a Great Week!

Hello everybody!

Well, this week was great! It also went by ridiculously fast... On Tuesday we taught Abel again, and he came literally running all the way from the other side of Jutiapa just to get to the chapel on time! He's great! Also there's a member family who just recently got super active again and we're going to help them baptize their 9-year-old daughter who missed it last year because they were inactive! Baptisms are wonderful!

Also on Friday we had mission council which is always great, though President was a bit frustrated with himself because we aren't completing our goals. He talked about the purpose of goals and how putting high numbers don't mean anything if you can't complete them. They just make you look bad in the end. You could say you have faith, but faith is based on works, and if you haven't shown the necessary works in the past, unless you make significant changes in your work habits, that faith is in vain. One can instead choose to put realistic, even low goals and have just as much faith to complete them, but the difference is that you'll likely complete them, because you have in the past, or at least gotten close. And as you go on completing your realistic goals, your vision of what you can do will increase, and you will achieve more than you could before. Sobering thoughts for missionaries.

And of course general conference was amazing! In October I'll be there! I really want to hear the MoTab in person, you know how much I love music, maybe someday I'll be in the choir :) A lot of focus on families and providing protection from the storms of our day. We are being prepared to withstand the signs of the last days. Whether it comes in our day or after it doesn't matter because we need to be ready! I took a lot of notes that will come in handy in the future when I've got a family. After all, they say that the mission is the MTC for life ;)

Love you all so much!

-Elder Jackson

Monday, March 28, 2016

We're on Fire!

Hello everyone!

Literally though, I might actually spontaneously combust soon with all the heat from this week. Semana Santa for some reason is always the hottest week of the year, and this year wasn't any exception. Jutiapa is in the more deserty type part of Guatemala so there's less foliage and more volcanic rock and stuff, plus the sun itself is way hotter out here. In the shade it feels great, but when you step into the sun, it's immediate human bacon! Mom, if you saw how my nose is right now you might hit me with the still-almost-full bottle of sunscreen you sent with me. I'm getting better at using it though. 

Also on the figurative side we had a week on fire! We've been following up with Abel, the kid we found thanks to mutual, and he's so prepared! He mentioned that he's heard a lot of things about the church, but he just sees them as Satan trying to keep him from finding the truth. He also mentioned how he's been changing, and how he's felt so much more peace since he first talked to us a week and a half ago. He also said that that alone has been a pretty solid answer as to whether or not the church is true! He also came to church yesterday, bringing his girlfriend who also seems just as awesome as he is, so we'll be having some really great baptisms coming up soon!

Also we've just been really blessed in a lot of ways. On Tuesday we had zone conference, and President talked about being the 4th missionary. The 1st missionary is disobedient and does what he wants, and for that, he goes home early, not experiencing a change. The 2nd missionary is the same as the 1st, the only difference being that he finishes his whole mission, though still not experiencing a change. The 3rd missionary is obedient, and does his duty, though sees it more as a sacrifice, while always keeping within his heart the things that he would like to do. His change is little to nothing. The 4th missionary is a true disciple of Christ; Obedient, dutiful, full of charity, gives his whole heart and soul to the Lord, therefore experiencing joy and contentment while on the mission and a mighty/permanent change after the mission. We decide which one we want to be. This month of April we will be studying more in depth the talk that it comes from, so I'll be sure to share a few things I learn in the meantime :D

Love you all!

Elder Jackson

Dear Family,
Well, for March we didn't reach the 200 baptisms, but we have been improving a lot. On Friday we'll get the whole rundown on March from President in mission counsel. I've definitely felt a big difference in myself recently. I feel more capable. After zone conference, I realized I've been drifting somewhere in between a 3rd and a 4th missionary my whole mission, but that it's time to be a solid 4th. That decision has helped me a lot in the past week, and I feel like God is changing me. My weaknesses don't seem so daunting anymore. Until now I hadn't really realized how much the mission has and still can change me. I love it!


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Promises = Blessings

Hi Friends and Family!

Elder Williams and Elder Ben
So this week we had a really cool experience! It was a reminder of the promises of the Lord to the faithful and diligent. As I've read the Book of Mormon on my mission I've been struck by the countless examples present in almost every chapter of the promises and prophesies followed up by the fulfillment of said promises and prophesies. The Book of Mormon is a powerful testimony of D&C 1:37-38. "What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken". Every word that comes from the mouth of God, or by His servants, will be fulfilled.

Service Project at Elder's Quorum Pres house
So as we were working on Wednesday, we were having a tough time finding people to teach, walking from one place to another until all our plans had run out. But we kept working. I remembered a contact I had and so we headed that direction to the other side of Jutiapa. As we were walking, the Bishop called us asking where we were and if we had an appointment. I responded that we didn't. He then told us that there was a young man in the chapel for mutual who wanted to talk to us and receive the lessons. We returned immediately to the chapel and found the young man named Abel. He listened attentively and when we challenged him to be baptized he accepted without hesitation. After we went to look for some members but only their young adult son was there. He told us of an investigator that he had taught with the missionaries a few months ago on the other street. we went with him and found the whole family, the father of which told us that he had already received a testimony of the church back when he listened to the missionaries in the capital but that his difficulty was his work. They are without doubt chosen children to be found at this time by us, and if we hadn't given our all, we wouldn't have been worthy of the promises that are extended to those who believe and work with diligence to accomplish what the Lord expects of them.

Elder's Quorum Pres and family
We worked with faith, and as a result, God fulfilled His promise to us as missionaries. I love this work and I love the Lord for His goodness and mercy.

Til next time!

Elder Jackson

Dear Mom & Dad,
Elder Williams is really great! He's super tall, I'll have to get a picture of us side by side. He's taller than Calvin! We've been working hard with the zone to help them see the importance of the simple things as well as their potential. 

Crazy messy before the full cleanup!
We have traveled less this change, so that's been nice, and tomorrow we have zone conference but it will be here in Jutiapa for the 3 zones that are outside the capital. I'm excited! It will be my second to last zone conference so I hope to get all I can out of it. My last conference I hope to be able to sing again. 

Love you like crazy :)


Monday, March 14, 2016

Gringo Groupies

Hello everybody!

So my new companion is another gringo, from my group! He's Elder Williams from Orem, Utah and he came into the field with me but to the MTC with the Latinos because he already knew a lot of Spanish. It's awesome because he is also going to BYU so we'll get to see each other afterwards too!

Here in Jutiapa it's been getting hotter in preparation for Semana Santa (Holy Week) which is always one of the hottest weeks of the year.

The blessing of this week was an investigator named Luis. He's already elderly and has had smoking problems his whole life. He was already listening to the missionaries before I got here but we weren't visiting him very frequently, though we had challenged him to go from smoking almost 2 packs a day to just 5 a day. Elder Williams and I went by the second day and we taught him, where he told us that he had only been smoking about 3 or 4 a day, so we challenged to just smoke 2 a day. On Friday we visited him again and told us that he had only smoked 2 that day! Although he is old and has many difficulties, he has the faith to change, and that has inspired me this week.

Also just so you know my old comp and cousin Elder Gee went from here to being assistant to the president! He was an amazing companion and I learned a lot from him. After the mission we'll have to get together with his grandpa and Grandma Judy to verify that we're actually related!

I love you all and hope you have a great week!

-Elder Jackson

Monday, March 7, 2016

A Mormon like Mormon

Hello everyone!

Volcano Ipala
So last week was crazy and we hardly had time for anything because we went to hike a volcano! There was a beautiful lake in the crater and it was so peaceful, unlike the generally busy and noisy Guatemala. It was crazy hot under the sun, but for once I decided to put sunscreen on so I didn't get burned! Amazing what it does when you actually use it right?

So that was last week's big buzz, and this week was that my comp and I hiked up a nearby mountain at 6am to go sit and look out over Jutiapa and enjoy a quiet peaceful morning reading the Book of Mormon. It was so beautiful and it made me so grateful for the wonderful creations God made for us to enjoy while we're on this mortal journey. It was so quiet that I actually could hear the flower buds begin to open up as the sun hit them. I didn't think that was possible, but they make a little, hardly audible popping noises as they begin to warm up and stretch their petals!!

Ipala Lake
Also, this week I've been studying a little more on The Book of Mormon. President has assigned us to read Chapter 5 in Preach My Gospel about it, and I came to a really impacting realization of just how much The Book of Mormon has influenced my life. For most of my mission when people ask me if we're Mormons I give them the "that's what the people say" or "yeah but it's just a nickname" response. But I realized there's no shame in being compared to one of the most faithful disciples of Christ ever to live on the Earth! There are few ancient prophets that understood the principle of charity and love like Mormon did. He had a horrible life, but he never stopped loving his people even though they rejected him and the very God they were created by. That is when I realized that no one who has truly read and understood the Book of Mormon can possibly deny the fact that Mormons are Christians! My identity as a Christian and believer in Christ is deeply and eternally rooted in the teachings of the prophets of The Book of Mormon. That book is a part of who I am. I am a Mormon, I strive to be like Mormon, because he strove to be like Christ, and we know that Mormon has found his resting place in the mansions of his Father. And that is the place where I think we'd all like to go. If you want to know Christ and be like Him, read The Book of Mormon!

Elder Jackson and Elder Gee
I love you all, and thanks for the birthday wishes!

-Elder Jackson

long bus rides!

Above Jutiapa for sunrise and study

Listening to flowers open!

Mountains around Jutiapa

Monday, February 29, 2016

The Volcano Ate Ben's Letter

[No letter this week because Ben and Elder Gee hiked the volcano Ipala with their district. He sent lots of photos the following week. These were of a baptism that he did not identify so I am posting them here on this letterless week!]

Monday, February 22, 2016

Long Bus Rides and Short Days!

Hi everyone!

The time goes by way to fast when all you do is sit on buses... I feel like we didn't do much this week. Tuesday I went to an area an hour away for divisions, then Wednesday we went to the capital, a 2 ½ -hour bus ride, to do divisions with the assistants. Then Thursday morning we had to come back to Jutiapa and begin divisions with another area an hour away... but Elder Gee and I worked hard and we had quite a few investigators in church yesterday. 

In the mission we are doing a lot of prep work for March right now. President has given us a vision of our potential, reaching 200 baptisms in a month. March is the month that we'll make it. This week my companion and I have been focusing a lot on preparing people for the coming of the savior, as if he were coming in March. We ask the people we teach what they would do if they knew Jesus was coming next month, and they always say they would prepare more, so we teach them faith repentance and baptism by authority, helping them realize that unless they live the gospel of Jesus Christ in its fullness and with the proper authority, they won't be prepared. We've had some really spiritual lessons, and I feel the urgency that this work requires. I love inviting people to repent and be baptized, and I love teaching them the true identity of the Godhead. Those doctrines more than any are the doctrines that change lives.

I'm loving the work and the people here in Jutiapa and I love my companion, and I love all of you!

-Elder Jackson

Monday, February 15, 2016

Blown Away

Hello everyone!

So it's a miracle that I'm still here, because there´s been so much wind! It was weird because I got here and it was really hot just like I expected, but after a week a crazy wind picked up, and it's been really cold and windy! I've asked around and they say it's normal for this time of year, but usually it doesn't get quite so windy or cold.

So apart from the literal sense of the phrase I've also been blown away by the really amazing people there are in Jutiapa. We are teaching a girl named Fatima, whose cousin Alba just got baptized right before I got here. She always finishes our sentences when we are teaching as if she already knew what we were talking about even though she's hardly ever gone to church before and has never been baptized in another church. She also has a crazy addiction to coffee because she's in one of those families with generations of coffee drinkers and it basically runs in her blood, but she has been trying so hard and she only drinks around 1 cup a day now, and the other day she hadn't drunk a single one! She will be baptized on Saturday.

Also we found a man named William with his wife Yuli who showed up to the chapel at like 5 in the afternoon last Sunday asking what time we had the meetings. We told him that it was in the morning, and we invited them inside to share with them. They aren't married, and they went through some really hard trials in their relationship, but they decided to start over from zero, so they sought out the Church. It turns out that about 5 months ago another elder had contacted them and had left such a huge seed of faith planted in them that they went to church a few times and even though no one talked to them they believe it's the true church and that it's where they need to be. Yuli went to the capital to work this week but we taught William 2 times in the church and he is completely convinced that it's all true, and has a huge desire to turn his life around and prove to Yuli that he has changed. We're trying to help them get married and then baptized in March.

Those are just 3 of many chosen people that we've been finding here and I'm truly humbled to be the Lord's instrument to help them return to His presence.

Love you all,

Elder Jackson

Monday, February 8, 2016

Hi Mom it's Ben [on Elder Gee's email]

Hey mom! 

I'm writing from my new comp's email because for some reason myldsmail won't let me access my account... and naturally the secretaries have a meeting so they aren't able to help so my time already ran out. So I'll just mention the highlights.

I am now in an area called Jutiapa [Hu-ti-A-pa], which is outside the capital, and very hot! [the map shows Jutiapa about 3 hours southeast, if that is what he means by "outside the capital"...??]  But I'm loving it here, and do you remember that elder from the MTC that we figured out was my 4th cousin? He's now my companion, Elder Gee!! And also we are zone leaders, so I guess I know now why President didn't have me finish Elder Merdaco's training. Out here the work is really busy and we have 2 baptisms planned for this weekend! I'm absolutely loving it here! I think you should be able to respond to my email and I'll have it all worked out before next Monday, hopefully today...

Love you family!

-Elder Jackson

[Ben's Grandma Jackson, David's mom, is a Gee. So ages ago when Ben met Elder Gee we looked up the relationship and somewhere up the line the grandfathers are brothers, making the missionaries 4th cousins.] 

Monday, February 1, 2016

What I Love

[With transfers Ben didn't have much time so he only answered a few of my questions I had asked.]

Dear Family,
From Guatemala I love the open culture. Everyone is more open and most of them know how to be nice. I also love how on every corner there are convenient stores and bakeries with yummy pastries and stuff to eat. I love eggs and beans. I love the language too, and the authentic colored fabrics of the indigenous people. One thing that makes me happy is teaching, I love to teach lessons and share my testimony. Another thing that makes my heart happy is when the people I'm teaching feel the spirit, and also when I feel loved by the members and other missionaries. I love making other people happy, and in this area and ward that I've been in, I've focused a lot on being able to give more of myself for others. Now the ward is really sad that I'm leaving.

Yep I have changes! They're going to close our area and leave Sister Gonzalez and Aguiñada to take over the whole area. I won't be finishing my kid's training :(   We'll see where I go now, but I won't know until tonight, so you guys have to wait until next week!

I'll send photos next week, I'm still working on recovering the photos from my memory that got damaged.

Love you mom and family and anyone else that would like to read this  :D

-Elder Ben Jackson

Monday, January 25, 2016

Nephi - Son of Helaman


This week Nephi taught me some good lessons. I've been pretty afflicted by the lack of success that we've been having, but then I read about how Nephi spent years in the north country, returning to his own house having had basically no success. When he got back things were just worse; the Gadianton robbers had taken over the government, and nobody cared about justice or mercy and their hearts had waxed cold. In his agony he cried out to God for his people, and began to preach again, again having little success. For his unwearying patience and diligence, the Lord blessed him with one of the greatest gifts a man can ever possess; the sealing keys. 

So basically I just have to suffer with patience my afflictions, and love the people, even though I already know which people who are just gonna slam their door in my face. I've felt a lot more spirit as I work with love, and I have felt the power and authority that comes from the spirit and fulfilling my calling.

Today we're going to have a zone activity and we're gonna make pancakes and smoothies. I'm in charge of the smoothies, so I'm gonna take myself back to the times when I made smoothies back home... the only bummer is that blueberries basically don't exist here, and the ones that do exist are ridiculously expensive. So it'll just be banana strawberry and ice cream. And eggs for those who dare to try it ;)

I love you and pray for you often!

-Elder Jackson

Monday, January 11, 2016

Out of the Tunnel and into the Light!

Hello everybody!

Restaurant Del Puente - Best Burgers in Guatemala
Well, we were stuck in the seemingly un-ending Holiday Fever Tunnel, but now we're into the new light of 2016! This week we were blessed to find 4 new families to teach, and they are all very positive! One of them is a partial family, where the wife is a member but the husband isn't. Then we were walking out of a colony where we were working and we didn't know what to do, but then I remembered that in this one house someone had told me that there lived a member but that they had been on vacation in the US for like 6 months. We walked by and saw a car parked in front of the house so we went to see if they were there. They let us in, and we taught a little bit of the restoration, and he said that he would be baptized if he gets an answer. I was definitely led by the spirit to look back at that house while we were about to leave the neighborhood. We've been seeing great little miracles and we'll be seeing many more!

Then off to go bowing! (p-day fun)
Thank you for your prayers and support! I love you all :)

-Elder Jackson

Monday, January 4, 2016

Gonna Get Busy!

Hello everyone!

Well seeing as I now only have 6 1/2 months left, I'm gonna be getting’ real busy! It's so strange how quickly the time goes by, I feel like yesterday I was at the year mark!

We passed some sore trials these last few weeks due to the season and the huge drop in the level of interest of basically everyone in our area as a result of the holiday rush, but now we're pulling out of it with high hopes for the new year. Elder Mercado and I are doing well, and we get along well also. We have different tastes of interests, but that just makes it all the more dynamic!

We visited Sindy yesterday and she is really interested in the doctrine of the vicarious work and the temple. We explained a little bit more about the doctrine and left her with the little book My Family for her to fill out.

Happy 2016 everyone! Remember who we celebrated just 2 weeks ago :D

-Elder Jackson