Thursday, January 28, 2016

a great week

Dear family and friends,
What a wonderful week.  First, I need to correct or add the correct birthdate of our newest grandson, Jordan Bradley Jackman.  He arrived on January 20, 2016!  Mom and baby are doing well!  He is sure a cute little guy and we are so glad he is here!

We spent a lot of our week with the full time Elders and Sisters this week, feeding, taking to doctors, and being their cheerleaders!  We are involved with District meetings each week and it is amazing to be taught by these valiant and vibrant missionaries.  We participated in a worldwide missionary broadcast on Wednesday night.  The thought that touched me the most was an observation taught by Elder Dallin H. Oaks.  He said, to all our converts, we want to stress the importance of reaching the Celestial Kingdom.  Good people can go to the telestial and terrestrial kingdoms.  But we want eternal families, and to set our expectations for celestial glory and life with Heavenly Father.
One of our sister missionaries has been really sick which required a long trip to a doctor, priesthood blessings and rest at our home.  Gratefully she is doing much better.  We were asked to visit another missionary companionship to encourage them  as one of the missionaries is struggling with anxiety and depression.  He is a great missionary and we love him so!  So when they hurt, we hurt.

Our success with our favorite family, The Tilbrooks came this week!  We challenged Andrew to pray individually and with his family.  For someone who has never prayed, this can be quite a challenge.  He did pray twice by himself.  We were elated!!!!  It was still awkward for him, but he did it!  The second morning he prayed he said it made him wonder.  We tried to get him to verbalize what he meant by that and what he felt.  He had a difficult time vocalizing his feelings, but we felt that he felt something!!!!  The miracle that happened was that before they left for a holiday to Scotland, they knelt and had family prayer!  They texted us to let us know!  Now in some missions that might not be much but for us, it was an absolute miracle!  Gail has been layed off from her job, which we worried about her attitude about that, but we were inspired to hear her say that since she was restored to her blessings and membership in the church that the challenges have come, but she feels that she has been blessed with strength beyond her own capabiblity to handle the stress and concerns.

The sweetest experience of the week came when we travelled to Southend on Sea to visit Terry and Yvonne Ebbs, a family Brad was very close to when he was here on his mission 42 years ago.  Brad spent his first Christmas in England with this sweet couple and their two children.  They were so kind to him and he developed such a love for them.  When we got to their home, you would have thought we were celebraties.  They treated us like royalty.  Terry had pictures he had taken with Brad 42 years earlier.  He even pulled out our wedding announcement that he has saved over  all these years.  They are some of the loveliest people I have ever met.  We were told that they have been inactive in the church for a very long time.  So after visiting for an afternoon, we asked them if they had been offended at church.  No, Terry said.  They just had been given so many responsibilities in the church that they never seemed to have time for family, so they quit coming and soon it got easier and easier not to come.  They are both very involved in service in their village, working with all different people from different religious affiliations.  Yvonne felt that all people are good and it doesn't really matter what church you attend, just so you serve and love others. (That hurt our hearts!)  They have been sealed in the temple and Brad expressed his deep love for them and his desire for them to be together forever by honoring the temple covenants they have made.  We invited them to come back.  They said they would think about it and they just might someday.  We left after offering a prayer.  We embraced and felt deep bonds of love and friendship for these wonderful people.  As we were leaving, Terry told us that this visit would be the highlight of his year.  We made plans to come back.  We talked to a friend of Terry's who is a counselor in the Bishopric in his ward, and told him that Terry and Yvonne need good friends who will just come and fellowship them.  Well, they got right on it.  They are circling the wagons as it were, and are going to make real conscientious efforts to reach out to the Ebbs.  In fact, yesterday, Terry called Brad to thank him for coming to visit.  He said, they have never felt the spirit in their home like it was during our visit.  I'm not saying that it was anything extraordinary we had done, because we weren't anything extraordinary.  They haven't let missionaries come into their home, so I think it was just the influence that members of the church radiate .  But they chatted after we left and said, they need to go back to church.  Brad told Terry that Terry was a strength to him when he was a young missionary and now maybe he can be a strength to Terry now as a senior missionary.  The whole experience taught me how important it is to be a friend to everyone, to show an interest in and love all around us.  I am so grateful for their ward.  The members were so excited to know we could get in and are making efforts to encircle them with love!

Good luck to Chloe on her play!!  We loved the pictures you sent Sherri!  We are so grateful for all of you and the goodness in your lives.  You are the light of our lives!  We pray for all of you by name every day!  Have a wonderful week and you people with the snow, have fun in it!!!!  That is one thing we don't miss!!!!!

Heavenly Father loves and cares for each and every one of you!!!!
With all of our love,
Dad and Mom
Papa and Grandma
Brad and Vicki

Thursday, January 21, 2016

A 6th grandson is on the way

Dear family and friends,
As I am writing this new post, our 6th grandson born within the past 9 months is on the way.  Jordan Jackman, son of Brian and Heather is making his appearance in the hospital as we speak.  Maybe by the time I get this blog written he will have arrived!!!  I'll be sure to let you know.

It has been some week!  I've been putting off writing as I am trying to figure out the best way to share some of the most difficult experiences we've had since coming to the UK.  I will begin by saying that Satan is fighting with his evil minions in this city.  He is going after the most elite and valiant souls here.  One of our YSA leaders joined the church about 14 months ago.  She is amazing!  She is currently a 2nd year medical student at Cambridge University.  She is eastern Indian, very bright, beautiful, and kind and good, a very choice member of the church!  She was introduced to the church here in England by a schoolmate who is now serving a mission.  Because of her fear of her parents, and their culture, she did not tell her parents about being baptized.  Well, over the Christmas holiday, her mother found out.  I got a call from her mum late one night!  She was nearly hysterical about the evilness of the Mormon Church, and how they have taken her daughter.  She told me that if her daughter didn't "quit" the Mormons, she would commit suicide.  She was somewhat hard to understand and I said, "What did you just say?"  She repeated that she would commit suicide.  I could hardly get a word in edge wise, but tried to calm her down.  I said we would be talking to her daughter the next day, and we would love to talk to her and her husband.  Well, she called Brad the next morning and jumped into all the doctrine our church believed in that she had gotten on google and from a Baptist minister, and a lady who was once a "Mormon", but had left the church! (great sources!!!)  Well, with each accusation, Brad said very kindly, "that is not true".  He again invited them to come and talk with us.  Guess what?  They did!  We were calm and grateful for the spirit of peace we felt.  We could tell when they walked into our home that they were really on edge, but as we talked, you could feel them relax.  She accused Mormons of using coercion to get people to join the church.  We testified that that was not so.  We talked about the doctrine of agency.  She asked me, "what is agency".  So she was listening!  We bore testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel, and we told her that her daughter had the choice to believe how she would.  No one would force her.  I could see that she was really listening so I counseled her to listen to her daughter.  "Ask her to tell you what she feels and what she believes."  I promised her that we would in no way coerce her daughter and we would respect her decision.  But we asked if we could continue to be her friend.  We also asked if we could help her if she ever needed something in an emergency for example.  I feel the mother felt our sincerity and said, "of course you can be her friend."  We had talked to the daughter the day before and Brad had given her a beautiful blessing.  She was however very confused and angry with God.  My heart has been hurting so much this week.  However, the mother called me a few days later and thanked us for talking with them and asked us to pray for her family and for her daughter. I'm not sure what will happen but I felt we built a trust with the parents and hopefully they will be less hostile against the church and its members.

The sad thing is that one of our other valiant YSA's from the Philippines was told by her mother that she was to leave her Mormon faith or she would be disowned by her family!  This young lady is also struggling.  She doesn't want us around so she can sort things out on her own.  This is really hard as we feeling such pain for these valiant souls!

Although our dear friend Callum doesn't want to be taught the lessons anymore, we still invite him over for dinner because he has become a dear friend. (We've decided that maybe Christmas holiday is a dangerous time as many changed their minds about the value of the church).  We were able to find a young man who is not a member and said he was interested in learning about the church, so we have an appointment with him next week.  So after hand delivering 45 letters, we had 10 YSA's attend the CES Broadcast with President Russell M. Nelson.  We were thrilled to get those 10!  As far as we know we had more attend than the other wards in our stake.

I was so excited to take a meal to a sweet family in our ward who just had a baby!!!  The best part of the evening was to hold that sweet little girl and snuggle her close!  I get so homesick for my little blessings at home, which by the way, Jordan Jackman arrived, at 9:45 a.m. Utah time coming in weighing 8 lbs. 9 oz. He was 20 1/2 inches long and looks as if he has dark curly hair!!!!  Heather is doing great.  We are so grateful our 6th little warrior has arrived!  We feel as though the heavens have opened and poured us out blessings we can't begin to hold.

The week has been sobering, but I also feel empowered to work harder and closer to the spirit!  One morning I woke up and said outloud, "I'm up and out of bed Satan, so I hope you are trembling in your boots!!!"  It's amazing how much better I felt!!!!!

The Lord is in charge!  As I wrote in my journal, I thought of the verse from 2 Kings 6:16,  "Fear not; for they that be with us are more than they that be with them."  The gospel is true!  Joseph Smith saw what he said he saw and the truth will prevail, I know it!!!!
We love you all and pray for you every single day!  May the Lord bless and keep you!
With all our love,
Dad and Mom
Grandma and Papa
Brad and Vicki

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Happy Day

Dear family and friends,
Happy Day!!!!  It has been a great week, last week!!  I'm slow in getting this blog out as we've had a full week and I can't believe it is already a quick rundown of our life as missionaries in beautiful Cambridge!

We continue to teach Andrew and Gail Tillbrook!  They are so lovely and we grow to love them more every week.  Andrew has a lot of questions and we both felt that we need to teach him the basic doctrines of the gospel, and  his questions will be resolved.  Having not much real association with religion, he is trying to wrap his head around the nature of God, and the role of Jesus Christ.  The family came to church (all 3 meetings!!!) on Sunday and he made the observation that our church meetings are surely a lot different than the ones he attended in the cathedral when he was young.  He was a choir boy for years, but said he was involved in the music and never really felt any connection with a Heavenly Father during that experience.  So, we are trying to help him understand that hearing and learning about the gospel requires our heads as well as our hearts.  "What are you feeling?" is a question we ask often!  He is a good man, and we know the Lord has a plan for him!

 We had dinner with them a couple of times.  Gail is a fantastic cook!  We had a celery soup that was to die for, leg of lamb and a fruited merinque.  I've never eaten much lamb, and it is really good!!!!  She also fed us a Scottish dish called haggis.  "Haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep's pluck (heart, liver and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed withstock, traditionally encased in the animal's stomach[1] though now often in an artificial casing instead. According to the 2001 English edition of the Larousse Gastronomique: "Although its description is not immediately appealing, haggis has an excellent nutty texture and delicious savoury flavor."  She served it layered with haggis on the bottom, steamed mashed turnips on top of that and mashed potatoes on the top.  It was fantastic!!!!  One thing we learn that in the mission field, you gratefully eat anything set before you!  The blessing is that everything that we have eaten has been wonderful!  They serve a lot of custard and clotted cream, Yorkshire pudding (which I've learned to make), pork, and vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, boiled cabbage, and mushy peas (I love those!!)  They drink very little water or squash (like koolaid) with their meals and very little tossed salads.  So when I prepare meals for the young single adults, it is mostly the Americans that will eat the tossed salad or raw vegetables.  The British, however, love their sweets (candy) and their chips (French fried potatoes).  You walk through the frozen section of the grocery store and you see cases full of different sizes, and shapes of French fries!

On Jan. 5, we got to go to Cantebury to the cathedral to listen to one of our YSA's choir.  It was incredible.  The acoustics and the sound of the voices was magnificent!  We love Cantebury--the squishy cobblestone streets and the crooked row houses are delightful!  I feel as though we've gone back into time to live during the Cantebury Tales as told by Geoffrey Chaucer!!

President Russell M. Nelson is speaking to all the YSA's in the world (on Jan. 10).  We are rebroadcasting it to our YSA's on Jan 17, so we have been visiting all the YSA's in the Cambridge area to invite them to the broadcast and subsequent YSA activities.  Our goal for this year is to contact all of the YSA's that live in the area.  We have about 15 that are on the list, but we couldn't find them, and those are the ones we know about.  We've got our work cut out for us!  We have about 44 YSA we could find, but most of those are inactive, living with a partner and not interested in the church.  We chatted with a wonderful family in our ward who have 3 YSA's, who are active.  We asked them about the dating culture in Great Britain.  The youth "hang out" but do not date.  If they would happen to invite someone on a date, they would be considered as being together.  "So how do you meet young people?"  They meet them at large YSA functions in different areas of the UK, but even then, they generally will hang out with the kids they already know.  So, we've got to get something going in this little neck of the woods!!!!  That will be our focus in 2016!!!!

We started to teach Lucy, and she seems so excited about what she is learning.  She loves to come to church and to our home to be taught as she loves to feel the feeling she gets there.  We pray for her that her desire to learn is real and continues!

It was a great week!  Finally, most of our YSA's have returned from holiday break and we can dive back into our FHE's and Institute.  We're glad to have them back!

I wanted to share this story as I close my blog this week as it touched me deeply when I heard it.  It's entitled "It's a matter of Perspective"
One day a father of  very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people can be.  They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.  On their return trip, the father asked his son, "How was the trip?"  "It was great, Dad."  "Did you see how poor people can be?" the father asked.  "Oh, Yeah" said the son."  "So what did you learn from the trip?" asked the father.  The son answered, "I saw that we have one dog and they had four.  We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end.  We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night.  Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.  We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.  We buy our food, but they grow theirs.  We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them."  With this answer the Dad was speechless.  Then the son added, "thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are."

We have so much to be grateful for!!  A wonderful young man we met this week is an artist.  He wants to be taught the gospel.  He told us how we have so much in the world to be grateful for.  How often do we just stand still and look at the beauty around us and thank the God that gave it to us!

We love you all.  May the peace of the gospel fill your homes and your hearts.  The other day, I was just walking and felt, "I am so happy".  May you know how very much we love and appreciate you all!!!
With all our love,
Dad and Mom
Grandpa and Grandma
Brad and Vicki

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Humbling Week

Happy January dear family and friends,
Our last week of the year 2015 was a humbling and great learning week for us!  Most of our YSA's were still gone for holiday, so our schedule was a little more relaxed than normal.   We even got a temple session in!!!!

We thought much about our little twinners, Ryder and Taylor Jackman as we in our thoughts, prayers and hearts celebrated their would be 4th birthdays on Dec. 30 and 31st.  We did miss our annual blanket gifting to the UVRMC NICU, but Nate and Becca went and were able to again meet with some of the staff that had such an impact on their lives during that tender time!  Our hearts are forever changed by the lives of these celestial little children who deeply touched our lives and inspired us to be the best we can be so we can one day live with them again.

 We enjoyed welcoming the New Year with our dear friends, the Hutbers at a very posh restaurant called, "Browns".  I think the waiter was very disappointed that we wouldn't be spending a king's ransom on alcohol but drank water instead. After he knew we wouldn't be ordering alcohol, he wasn't a very attentive waiter! The food was good and the company was lovely.  As the alcohol increased in volume, so did the noise in the restaurant.  By the time we left, we nearly had to shout to be heard across the table!

We have a dear friend in our ward who is dying of cancer and is in a hospice center.  He is the most humble, optimistic and happy man I think I have ever met!  His name is Barry Palmer!  He is kind and thoughtful.  I don't know that he's ever done anything in his life that would ever make the front page of a newspaper.  He may never be known beyond the geography of the city of Cambridge!  I doubt a memorial building will ever be built honoring his name, but I can imagine a mansion of glorious splendor prepared for him in the Celestial Kingdom!  When we visit him, the scripture always comes to mind that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass!  He is my hero!  Brad was asked by his sweet wife, if he would come to his funeral (which will be a graveside service) and serve as a pall bearer.  We were deeply honored!  I did feel a prompting that we should ask Barry and Yolanda if they wanted a blessing!  He has two very dear friends named Peter Stokes and John Cook.  We suggested they ask a third member of our ward, James Perry, to join in giving him a blessing!  Thus he would receive a blessing from Peter, James, and John!

The missionaries had scheduled a baptism in our church for a young man on Dec. 31.  Brad and I were asked to go with one of the elders to pick Alex up.  He is 16 and has no way to get to the church as he lives about 30 miles away.  I was asked to speak at the service on the topic of baptism.  As I prepared, I just couldn't feel any real spirit in my preparation.  I studied a talk by Elder Robert D. Hales.  He made the statement that baptism means change.  He said, "When we understand our baptismal covenant and the gift of the Holy Ghost, it will change our lives and will establish our total allegiance to the kingdom of God".  I worried about saying that to Alex.  When we got to the church, we heard that Alex had called the Elders at 2 in the morning saying he didn't feel that he wanted to be baptized.  So after filling the font, and sincerely praying, we headed out to Haverhill to pick him up.   He didn't return with us.   As we talked while driving back to the church we recognized the hand of God in this young man's life. Extenuating circumstances were such that baptizing him would be condemning rather than a blessing.  We all felt such a confirmation that the right thing happened that was supposed to happen and I felt the peace of the spirit!  We love this young man, and he wants to continue to come to church and hopefully the spirit will soften and continue to change his heart!

We went on New Year's Day to visit our dear friend Gillian Taylor and her daughter and grandchildren.  We were so impressed with this wonderful family.  We pray that someday, the spirit will touch their hearts to want to join the church.  We feel we have made some very dear life-long friends and will continue to visit them.

We spent a lovely evening on New Year's Day with the full-time missionaries.  Next week there will be transfers and we know we will lose one or more of them.  So Brad barbequed some steaks and we visited, laughed and played games.  How we have become so attached to these young missionaries.  They are like our children.  They love to come over for dinner and hear our stories!!!  These visits are limited of course, but we sure enjoy them when they come!

Fast meeting was a highlight of our week.  Gail Tillbrook, our dear friend who just returned to full fellowship in the church, stood to bear her testimony.  It was profound, heartfelt and genuine, almost like a carbonated bottle of water shaken and just waiting to open! (Brad's description--a perfect one) She has waited for 8 years.  I just feel so strongly that the Lord knows what we need to grow.  We wonder sometimes about experiences we go through and question them, but in hindsight, often we feel and see the purpose and our hearts expand with love and increased knowledge and power to live lives of greater righteousness!

Oh, how grateful we are for the Gospel of Jesus Christ!  It is what makes life magnificent!  We have felt so much of the Savior's love and know we are involved with His work!
We love you all and cherish your love, your support and the influence of your righteous lives!!!
With all our love,
Dad and Mom
Grandpa and Grandma
Brad and Vicki
Elder and Sister Jackman