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