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