THIRD AND FINAL CHURCH COACHELLA‏

April 7, 2014
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re using my subject line joke from last conference but you know it’s true… 
 
Hey good news! our car got fixed! it was down to the wire there but we got on the road and got to have a nice little road trip with our zone leaders and it all was suave. Like missionaries do, we discussed deep doctrine and also Elder Smith (the texan) told us ‘real life’ ghost stories. hilarious. Mission council and general conference in one week, I’m so spiritually high it’s out of control! Three cheers for priesthood leaders!
 
General Conference….I wouldn’t be a missionary or mormon if i didn’t say BEST WEEKEND OF THE YEAR. As sister brooks said, it’s better than christmas…no literally on the mission it is sooo much better than christmas. Even though we watch in brazilian portuguese, even though it was in our tiny bishop’s office with 7 people and it was really warm and hard to stay awake, even though we accidentally brought all our investigators to the session where they do the sustainings and statistics report, even though i as always had to try sooo hard not to laugh at the facial expressions of the choir members, even though because we were so few the members thought it was totally ok to sing along to the mormon tabernacle choir in semi correct english, despite all of that it was the happiest weekend ever. 
 
Now I’m supposed to tell you which talks I liked which were all of them duuhhh but I truly loved Elder Ballard’s on acompanhamento (following up?) which only a missionary could love so much but hey…guilty. And Elder Bednar’s on challenges/burdens. After two straight talks from him on law of chastity and tithing, I was waiting for a call to repentance on the word of wisdom (‘meat ONLY IN TIMES OF FAMINNNEEE!’) but this was good too. It is so true that how much more we are pressed and pushed and put through that refiner’s fire, the more we become capable to do the hard things for and through the Lord. It’s why the mission makes our testimonies so much stronger. And it’s why we should really expect things of the people we teach and baptize. Maybe that first talk or calling will be hard for them, maybe they won’t like it when they’re corrected or called to repentance, but it’s part of the spiritual load we all must bear. We should trust more in each other in how much we’re truly capable of doing in God’s kingdom. 
 
Our investigators are doing pretty well. The ones that came to general conference obviously liked it. Luisa (the grandma of our recent converts) is having a hard time with feeling tired and heavy laden, and what better way to come unto christ than to hear His prophet and apostles share inspired messages? We saw a different light in her afterwards. She’s still sort of scared to make the commitment to baptism, but we’re getting there slowly. God’s got an elect family waiting for us here, we just gotta go find them. Also it could technically be my last week in Aveiro, but something tells me not so. We’ll see 🙂
 
OH how I am grateful to be part of Christ’s restored church and to hear his servants speak every six months. I always think, how do people live without this? But that’s why I’m here. Last GC of the mission, how is it possible??? I’ll just go into denial, after all, GOONIES NEVER SAY DIE!
 
Love you all. praying for you. 
 
Sister Jackson
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Abandon ship………and Car‏ !

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SOOOO THIS WEEK

We’ve got the doldrums because Manuel, our super elect island dweller (technically a peninsula, but if you have to get there on a boat it counts as an island to me) got hurt on his leg and had to go to France to be operated. So, he wasn’t baptized.  YET.
We don’t know when he’s coming back at all and as previously mentioned the man doesn’t know how to use a cell phone so it’s a waiting game for now. Stay tuned. 
 
It was actually sort of a challenging week because all of our investigators went out of town/got sick/the like, but hey we found some interesting new people! One cool experience happened yesterday when we were on the hunt for a less active woman named Sara. Our gps led us to this road, house number 27, which was the right number but I’m like ummm this is not the house. But we’ll knock anyway, as missionaries do. We knocked and asked for Sara, and this man is like she’s in London! (further confusion) so we say we’re missionaries and he lets us in and it turns out it’s the complete wrong Sara haha but we were able to explain about the restoration to him anyway and we’re going back this week. I’m pretty sure unless we had ‘known’ his ‘daughter’, there is no way we would’ve gotten in that door. Gotta love portugal and the way they have a too-short list of approved names to give your children (no really. look it up). And then after that we found the less active on the street over. She has 3 adorable boys, two of whom need to be baptized….checkmate satanás.
 
Regarding the subject line, our car broke this week. it’s missing some electical piece. we’re on tenterhooks to see if it’ll be done by 6 tonight so we can take it to mission council in Lisboa…I’ve never prayed so much for a car. But hey, if we gotta take a bus, at least we get to hear musica do mundo! #halfkidding
 
(also right now the man next to me in the internet cafe is totes on the hunt for a mail order bride, lolz)
 
…….aaand on that note, I just really want to bear my testimony that we God lives and that we really do have a Savior. Internalizing that knowledge, accepting our reliance on Christ, changes life in such a profound way. We studied grace as a companionship and what a beautiful doctrine. Following Christ does not pay our debt to justice, but it shows our love for Him and helps us learn to love being like Him so that one day we can love to be in His presence. What an amazing opportunity to share with the world how it is we do that. 
 
Love you all with all my heart! 
 
Sister JLJ

“I mean, it’s not every day you get to bowl with a Texan” -Sister Williams‏

March 17

The subject line describes the p-day we just had, the Texan being our new zone leader. (who said to me once, “wait, are you really a democrat? I think, no, I am CERTAIN that is a sin.” I didn’t answer him and I think he’s still wondering) as we entered the bowling alley, I told everyone, ‘I sort of hate bowling because I’m really bad at it but i want SO BADLY to be good because it seems so simple but no, i’m just terrible.’ And….it’s still true #yettobreak100 maybe I should sign up for bowling at BYU??? There’s nothing more zoob than that! and what better time to embrace the inner zoob than the post-mish funk….I’ll consider it. 

 
Miracle of the week. So you remember the guy who came to church with his Brazilian member cousin? From really far away? On a boat? Well, we knew the cousin was going back to Brazil this week so we tried to call ALL week to make an appointment and see if we could visit and if he was coming to church. HE NEVER ANSWERED. And then his phone was off. So we were like, well that’s it, never seeing Manuel again. But we prayed and prayed and then we get into church on Sunday and there he is with his pudgy self and a smile on his face, suit and tie and ready for church. NICE. I was like MANUEL, I tried to call you ALL week, what happened? He pulled out an iphone and said ‘you mean on this thing? Yeah, my cousin bought it for me, and I have no idea how to work it. I’ll give you my house phone, it’s better this way.’ And so it was that Manuel actually became an investigator after 3 times at church. We’re gonna try to mark him this week. 

 
Other than that, we keep bopping around Aveiro in our little car, and I decided I hate driving more than anything. I can’t say that to any other missionary because it’s roughly like a filthy rich person complaining about how people treat him differently because of the money, oh life is so hard. But really though….
 
In other news I have been reading the BoM in Spanish..or should I say…El Libro de Mormón? (imagine that with an upside down question mark) I have learned a few things, like sueño is dream, pueblo is people, and I laugh and laugh at how many times it says Padre because in Portugal that’s a Catholic priest, lulz. I think because i showed my desire our members want to give us a 12 person Venezuelan family to teach. No really that happened. we’re meeting with them on Saturday. 
 
That’s basically it! I love love looooove you all! remember that god is good, and his tender mercies really are all around us. Go tell someone about it. 
 
sister Jackson 

Opening doors, carrying cats

EVERYONE! 

SooooOOOoooo yet another week of running back and forth around the north of Portugal! We had our second week of meetings in Chaves, second week of only 5 people. We are going to start spending more time recruiting the inactives here, but the problem is our list is really old and a lot of people have moved, died, or become jehovah’s witnesses. Ouch. But the missionary broadcast helped me realize that there really is still hope for all these people and sure, maybe you don’t get the little mark in the numbers column for people you reactivate, but it’s still the work of salvation and what we need to do here in Chaves. 

In Vila Real, the work is going well, even though I feel like the investigators we have are progressing quite slowly. Our focus this week really needs to be marking people for baptism. But Mario and Fafa showed up for church for the first time this Sunday so I have renewed hope for them! I’ve also had yet ANOTHER renewed testimony of the power of fasting and prayer. We were doing a fast for our area this week and headed out after language study with no more compromissos for the day, just people we could visit. We passed an apartment building and I thought how I wanted to knock it, but we can’t because the door is always locked. Not 5 seconds later I saw one of our old investigators who LIVES there on his way home, so I asked if we could walk with him and then if we could go ‘visit’ some other people in his building. He’s really old and barely understands us, so he was chill with it. When we were using the elevator to go up, we held it for this girl and then she looks at us and I’m like you look really familiar, have we met before? And she’s like yeah, you guys are those girls who helped me carry my cat to the bus station! Seriously more than a month ago we helped this chick carry her stuff and we thought we’d never meet her again, but lo and behold she lives in the always locked building! We were able to have a lesson with her and unfortunately she is leaving for the summer, but still, it was super cool. Found a ton of other novos in that building too. Seems like just when I need a little faith booster, the Lord reminds me that His hand really is in this work. 

Anyway, gotta be better about email time so that’s about it for this week! Hope everyone at home got a fire lit under their butts to do some member missionary work. We can’t do it alone, ya herd? Well, we can, it’s just way harder. Give someone a bowl of fruit and a gospel message, they’ll for sure be baptized! lololzzzz. that’s from the song medley with the perfect family. Wouldn’t it be nice?

Until next time!

Sister J

Probably not as excited as that girl.

 As much as I try to keep this cynical private reaction from entering my mind every time someone asks me this about my mission, it’s been harder and harder these past few months.

But you have to understand that for me, this is like if someone had asked me if I was SO EXCITED to move from sophomore to junior year of high school. Asking me if I was SO EXCITED to turn 20 when I was 19. Sure, it’s always exciting to move on to a new phase of life, to experience new things. But a mission was something I’d always planned on, since I was young enough to conceive of what missions were. My mom went on a mission (she was a welfare services missionary in Indonesia until all the missionaries got expelled from the country and she was transferred to the Philippines). HER mom served a mission (when she served on the east coast it was still the “Eastern States” mission. She’s 95 and still kicking…metaphorically). My dad served a mission. My three older brothers have served missions. I can count on one hand the number of times I was told that I ‘could’ serve if I ‘didn’t get married first, that is’—actually, I can’t, because it never happened. I was raised to serve a mission by parents that fully believed I could and would. Of course, it was my choice in the end, but I can’t pretend it didn’t have a profound effect on the course my decisions took.

 I’m aware that part of the reason I feel so cynical about the current culture surrounding girls serving is that I always got attention for the fact that I wanted to serve a mission. Especially at BYU. I endured all the heckling from my male freshman friends about how I would never make it to 21 without a ring on my finger. I made it through sophomore year with a new peer group made up of returned missionaries, a third of which thought it was awesome, a third who just talked about how much they hated sister missionaries, and a final third who continued the ever-popular disbelief that any girl at BYU wasn’t just looking for a ring by spring. I made it through half of junior year, when I had bets placed that I would stay and get married, and conversations about my mission were met with hushed whispers of “but…aren’t you dating someone?” Whatever the reaction, I liked that it set me apart, that a mission wasn’t something every girl wanted to do, was supposed to do, or even (don’t stone me) had the right skill set to be capable of doing well.

Then came October. Now I’m just one of hundreds, of thousands, of sisters preparing to serve. Pretty exciting. And trust me, they are all SO EXCITED. They tweetfacestagram about how excited they are on a daily basis. They tweetfacestagram about making appointments with their bishop. They tweetfacestagram about buying Preach My Gospel for the first time. They tweetfacestagram about how excited they are to get their call. They tweetfacestagram about how they it seems they will never get their call. And when they actually get their call? Oh boy. Tweetfacestagram all OVER the place. Once they have their call, tweetfacestagram is filled with sentences like, “Just get me to ______ already! I can’t wait four months!!!!!” and, of course, how SO EXCITED they are.

I am happy for them. I’m glad they are excited. If this news had occurred when I was a freshman, I would’ve been right there with them putting in my papers when I was 19. But something about this new culture reeks of a bandwagon, and though I sincerely hope I am wrong, of a fad. Notice that I’m not saying that sister missionary service itself is a bandwagonfad. But I fear that the way girls are treating it is somewhat cheapening the task.

 Last week, a Facebook event was organized from a new “future sister missionaries” group, the premise of which was that any girl who is planning could go to the SLC temple and meet up with all the other girls who are planning to serve, and they were going to take a big picture together and “send it to the first presidency” and “maybe even get on the news!” They got their wish. Deseret news wrote an article on the SLC gathering (found here: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865568402/Future-sister-missionaries-gather-outside-Salt-Lake-Temple-to-celebrate-shared-plans-to-serve.html)

The two best quotes they managed to get out those girls about why they are in favor of the age change—girls who are SO EXCITED to serve that they trekked up to salt lake in the snow for a photo op—were these:

“I’ve been wanting to go since I was 16 but didn’t think that I would ever be able to, just with school and stuff. I would be in the middle of my major,” said Sheri King, who just turned 20 and has received a mission call to Tallahassee, Fla. “But now that it is lowered, I can go before I start my major — kind of like the young men have been doing.”

Lindsey Lockhart said she is excited to serve a mission before she is 21 as well because she won’t have to interrupt her life to go.

“Now that I can go at a younger age instead of having to be 21, there are so many other things I can do when I come back,” Lockhart said, “and I don’t have to necessarily interrupt my life with a mission.”

This sounds all kinds of alarms. If you’re ready and willing to give up eighteen months of your life to preaching the gospel, it’s going to “interrupt” things no matter how old you are. And your major still would have been there when you got home. But it seems these girls have decided to serve because hey…it just got like, so much easier! The real hard thing about a mission was managing to somehow make it to 21, not the day-to-day work of walking the streets of an unfamiliar city, communicating in a second language about the things that are most personal and sacred, or keeping the grueling schedule of missionary life. I’m sorry, Sheri and Lindsey, you’ll probably be great—but the way you talk about missions makes it seem like you would never have considered serving until it became so “convenient” that it was just like, why NOT, amiright?

 

I fear that this is the general attitude among younger women about why the age change is so great. The mindset that this change somehow made missionary work any easier is a joke. I hope all the thousands of sisters that are going out in this flood were prayerful in their decision and realistic in their expectations, or else they’re in for a rude awakening—and is that what really makes for a good missionary? If you know in your heart that you would never have been willing to wait until 21, pray hard about whether a mission is something you really want to do. Perhaps gaining all those sisters who wouldn’t have waited is the Lord’s plan in all of this. But I fear that at least at this moment, some sisters are going because it’s simply becoming the thing you do.

 

The best metaphor I can think of for this new attitude is that of a girl who wants a wedding more than a marriage. Suddenly I hear far more about all the steps that lead up to going on a mission than I ever hear about actual missionary work. Ladies: I’m not saying you shouldn’t be stoked for the fact that you get to go serve the Lord. Absolutely you should be! But don’t let your excitement for what YOU are going to do drown out His message that you’ll be taking to your brothers and sisters in the field. Calm down. Remember that you always could have served a mission. And remember that at its core, missionary work isn’t so much exciting as it is important, and that the world doesn’t need yapping chihuahuas, it needs lionesses.  

 

So though I’m just as guilty as anyone, let’s put less emphasis on the question “Are you SO EXCITED?”  when we discuss missionary work. For to imagine the worldwide missionary army in a year with so many new elders and sisters is, indeed, so empowering and so exciting. But for us on an individual, I would bet that the more productive emotion is a desire to prepare fully, a quiet determination and a prayerful pondering of what missionary work really means. 

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The Rise or Fall of the EU

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/world/europe/contrasting-visions-of-the-european-unions-future.html?_r=0

At a foreign policy conference this week, the world got a taste of the conflicting views of Great Britain and Germany on the future of the European Union. The foreign ministers of both countries spoke on their visions for the bloc. Britain spoke of a union that focused on cooperation for efficient trade, but which returned more power to the respective parliaments of member states. Germany, on the other hand, espoused the view that this was the time for the EU to become a greater political union. 

This may seem like a lot of controversy for an international body that just won the nobel peace prize. But the global financial crisis and the debt crises in several EU countries have left the world wondering about the true benefits of the European Union. Many think that the common currency of the EU exacerbated a bad situation for poorer member states–since they no longer had the option of devaluing their currency in order to curb inflation–while simultaneously helping prosperous states weather the storm. Though Britain is doing relatively well, it’s not surprising that its pragmatic citizens have become disenchanted with the ideal of the Union. Other countries have similar doubts–though Turkey applied to become a member of the EU in 2005, reports from the last few years show a Turkish populace that’s increasingly lukewarm on the idea, wondering if Turkey’s burgeoning economy might just do better on its own.

For my part, I don’t think the EU is going anywhere anytime soon. Europe is simply too entrenched in its current system; the logistics of such a dissolution would be incredibly complicated. But I can imagine many member governments, like Britain, wary of the increased interdependence that Germany seems to support.

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