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