Monday, August 24, 2015

August 24, 2015 Week Eight

Hey y'all!

This week was awesome, but I had to do something really sad.  We've been teaching a French exchange student named Greg who was living with the Bishop in our ward.  He was really receptive to hearing the gospel, and made lots of progress.  We asked him to pray about what we were teaching every lesson, but he always said he was too scared to.  He's not scared to pray, but he's afraid of the answer he'll get.  He says he believes what we're teaching him, but wants an answer from God about it.  He says if the answer he gets is that this church is true is negative, he'll feel confused and sad.  On the other hand, he said that if he does believe it's true, then he'll have to tell his family that he no longer wants to be Catholic, and he will be leaving the only church he's ever been a part of.  Teaching him was great, but saying goodbye was really hard; he headed back to Paris yesterday.  He said that he'll pray about it once he's home in a situation he feels more comfortable in.  Hopefully he gets in touch with some French missionaries! Greg's already reading the Book of Mormon and he kept almost all the commitments we gave him, so I can't imagine that he won't get baptized some day. 

We also talked to Kaven some more this week.  He's progressed a lot, and he was PUMPED to read Jesus the Christ.  He now accepts Paul more, and he also loved the concepts we taught him about authority and the priesthood.  Kaven asked us how we felt about the rapture.  When we explained our stance (that we believe just the opposite, that the righteous will remain on the Earth while the wicked will not), he got super excited and went on and on about that's what the scriptures taught, and how the idea of the rapture was born out of the misunderstanding of men.  Hopefully he'll progress even further.

We also taught Liliana (I don't know if her name is Liliana or Liliani, so I'll probably end up referring to her as either) this week. She's progressed a TON.  She told us that listens to us more than she goes to listens to Catholic people.  She said that she's starting to believe the things that we're teaching her, but she doesn't want to convert unless she's absolutely sure.  We invited her to come to a Child-of-record baptism later in September, and she said yes!  We're going to invite her to come to a big fireside that the Mission President holds.  She's having trouble finding time to read the Book of Mormon, but we're hoping that the fireside helps her.  Some of the people speaking are a couple who started reading the Book of Mormon, finished two weeks later, and then were baptized.  If she realizes that the Book of Mormon holds incredible truth, then she will want to read it enough to find time to do so.  We're trying to find her a Portuguese copy, but we only have English and Spanish copies.  Who ever thought that we would find a Brazilian in Fort Worth, Texas?

I love being out on a mission, and I know that even if I baptize all of Fort Worth, the most important convert will be me.
Elder Jensen.

The family that fed them dinner sent this. He was on exchanges

Howdy!‏ August 17, 2015 Week Seven

Hey y'all!

I'm having a great time here in Texas!  It's been cooler and less humid this week (only about five degrees cooler, but every degree counts!). This week I met a really interesting guy named Morrey for the first time.  He started his own church at one point, but he isn't a member of it anymore.  I don't know why, but I thought that was pretty unique.  He looks at churches as if they're body parts.  God wants some people to be a Catholic/thumb, He wants others to be a Lutheran/ankle, He wants others to be a Muslim/stomach, but ultimately we're all just part of the same Church/body.  He thinks that people shouldn't change churches/body parts.  It's a little strange, seeing as he did that at one point.  He's a funny guy, though.

This week something super cool happened.  Right before we went out, I got a prompting to write down some things to say in Spanish in case anybody we met spoke Spanish but not English.  I grabbed a Spanish Book of Mormon and headed out.  Then, we met somebody who only spoke Spanish!  I got to teach and testify in Spanish about the gospel and the Book of Mormon, and he accepted a copy of it.  I didn't even use the stuff that I wrote down!  I asked him if we could get his phone number and address from him so that we could send him some Spanish missionaries, but he said that the house he was at wasn't his.  Hopefully somebody will find him and he'll be open to hearing the gospel!  I'm glad that as missionaries, we have access to the gift of tongues, because without it, there would've been no way that I could remember what to say to him.

I'm sorry I haven't been able to send any pictures so far.  All the pictures I've taken are on my iPad, and since I can't email with it due to technical difficulties, all those pictures are just waiting to be sent.  Once I've solved those problems, you'll get TONS of pictures.

Hope you all have a great week!

Elder Jensen.

Week 3 August 10, 2015 Week Six

Hey there, everybody!

I'm sorry that you haven't been getting all of the emails I've sent you. I promise I'm not ignoring you.  Last week we emailed at the laundromat, so we have to use our iPads. Something's wrong with my iPad email; whenever I hit send, it says there is an error and it saves the letters to the drafts section (the drafts section won't sync with the computers for some weird reason, so I can't send you those emails with a computer).  So, that means once I get this all figured out, you're going to get dozens of emails all at once.  I'll try and retype them on the computer, but I don't have very much time to email.

Missionary life has been great. Elder Griffin and I are in the finding stage right now, and we've met some really great people so far! Even if people d on't want to hear our message, they'll invite us inside pretty often, just because it's so hot. We get SO many water bottles! Once Elder Griffin counted 14 water bottles and two bottles of Gatorade- in one day! That trend will probably continue for a long time, since this week is supposed to remain over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  Seriously! Today's high is 112, and the humidity is really high too. Every time we get to a hill, we feel like we're about to pass out, since we just biked five miles from our apartment in the humid heat, we now have a hill that's about a mile and a half long, and we still have miles to bike afterwards.  That isn't to say I dislike biking; I love it! It's just frustrating sometimes, especially when people tell us that it'll start cooling down after the middle of November. At least I'm not burning anymore.  Yes, I, one of the whitest people in existence, have tanned. It's really strange.

Something really weird happened this week in regards to money.  When I came out here, I was given some money to last me the rest of the month, about $40.  For each month, we're supposed to have $135 to spend.  They didn't give me my money for the month this time; instead, they just refunded me the $60 for my luggage.  I had about $100 to last me all month.  Then, this week, after I had already spent some of my money on groceries, they gave me my monthly $135! Now, I have about $200 to last me about three weeks. I won't blow it all, but it'll be nice for buying lots of food like rice & pasta in bulk.  Maybe I'll go with Elder Griffin and some Elders who live in the apartment below us to get In N Out at the end of the month.

Hope you're having a great week, and that I can resend those emails to you quickly!

Love, Elder Jensen.

Week 2 in Texas! August 3, 2015 Week five

Hey everybody!
This week was so awesome! I had my first exchange, which was really interesting, since my companion right now is a district leader, and my companion during the exchange was a zone leader. We did lots of biking this week, which I love; it's been about four or five years since I last rode a bike. I'm still getting sun burnt really badly, but at least it doesn't bother me anymore.  Down here in Texas, everybody loves hearing about Christ, but they don't ever want a return appointment. They just think of us as people who go around and remind people of Jesus, not as people who want to teach and convert.  I've gotten really good at that first discussion! It seems like it's the only lesson we've taught. In fact, the only time we taught an investigator a lesson other than the first was yesterday, when we taught a lady the second.  Her name's Liliani, and she immigrated here from Brazil about fifteen years ago.  She loves when I show her things that Victoria says in Portuguese, since that's the only chance she has to see her native language.  She has an interesting family story- she moved here with her husband, got divorced, married another man who was divorced and had two kids (fifteen year old girl and a twelve year old boy), and now they have a sixteen month old together.  Her stepdaughter's in a bit of a sketchy situation, but we're praying with Liliani that it can be resolved soon.
We have another investigator who's a really interesting guy. His name is Kaven, and he loves the Mormon church. He's pretty interesting; he believes in God, but not that Jesus was the Messiah.  He studies the works of Josephus, the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and many rabbinical teachings. According to him, Jesus failed in his role as the Messiah, there was/will be no resurrection, there will be no second coming, and there was/will be many Messiahs.  Part of his problem is that he seems to value apocryphal and historical writings more than he values the actual Bible; in fact, he doesn't even believe Paul said. He believes that Paul was corrupt and couldn't be trusted.  He wanted us to show him scriptural evidence that Jesus was the Christ, and so since he loves studying, I offered to lend him my copy of Jesus the Christ.  Since I finished it, there has been no doubt that Jesus as our Savior.  When I offered to let him borrow it, he got really excited, because he had seen it referenced in a book he read, but he hasn't been able to find a copy.  Hopefully he'll gain a testimony of Christ!

I love you all and hope you're having as great of a week as I am!
Elder Jensen.

Greetings from Texas!‏ July 27, 2015 Week Four

Howdy, y'all!
I'm not actually saying "howdy" or "y'all" yet, but I figured I should get in the habit of doing it since I am going to live here for two years.  Texas is a beautiful place.  My whole life, I've been able to see mountains on the horizon, but now, the horizon is actually level with the ground I'm walking on! It's a little surreal, but I'm sure I'll get used to it.  On the flip side, no mountains means that I can see the entire sky.  Sister Watson (a Sister in my MTC district who's from Texas) told us that there's nothing in the world as big or as beautiful as the Texas sky, and I might be inclined to agree with her. I'm loving the heat, I'm loving the humidity, I'm loving the sun, but I'm not loving the burns at all.  Every day I apply copious amounts of 70 SPF sunscreen, and I still manage to get fried. Another companion in my district told me that that happens to everybody, but I can expect it to fade in about a month. Hopefully these next four weeks will fly by, because it makes it pretty hard to focus sometimes.

Everybody here is super nice; in fact, not being nice is seen as rude.  Everybody waves at us, and we wave at everybody.  When we're out tracting, people may not listen to our message, but everybody's concerned as to whether or not we need water.  I bring lots of water with me, but we never turn down an ice cold water bottle.  It's a little strange how many people have cooled water bottles accessible within thirty seconds of their leaving the doorway.  Maybe they just keep some in the fridge in case a salesman or missionary who needs one comes.

Everywhere that we go, there's some sort of a neighborhood Facebook page, and the members tell us that when we enter the neighborhoods, people start saying, "Those young men in white shirts are back! Don't answer the door, they're going to try to sell you Jesus!"  The members have stood up for us, but it isn't making the work any easier.  That being said, I have no idea if this was a successful or unsuccessful week.  We've managed to place about three copies of the Book of Mormon a day, and while I don't know if that's good or not, just placing a single copy is a good thing that will help somebody's life.

President and Sister Ames are super nice! Sister Ames claims that we're related somehow, since her maiden name is Jensen.  I don't know how true that is, but she made it pretty clear that while we're on our mission, she will be our second mother.  I guess one way or another, I'll treat the Ames as family. It was great to finally meet them; they told us that all of the missionaries here while singing Called to Serve change the lyrics- instead of saying "Forward, pressing forward," we say, "Forward, Texas Fort Worth."  I don't know if I'll ever be able to not sing that now. I was right about them being a stickler about the rules, but it isn't because they're strict or hard nosed.  When we first got here, they told us that the goal of the Texas Fort Worth mission can be expressed in this short conversation:
"Which rules/commandments will we keep?"
"All of them."
"Because we love the Lord."
President Ames taught us something that has really stuck with me- God's commandments are difficult to keep when we think of them as a list of do's and don'ts.  However, when we look at them instead as a list of guidelines to live a happy life, it's suddenly so much easier to keep.  To emphasize this, he asked us if we could think of any commandment that we would be happier without.  Obviously, we couldn't think of any.  It's been great to see how obedience isn't just a commandment for our salvation in the life to come, but also for our happiness in the life we now live.
Sunday was interesting for a number of reasons.  First of all, it was my first week in my new ward, so I was introduced to lots of new people.  What made it even more unique, was that I was the opening speaker!  One of the youth wasn't able to speak, and so I was given a couple of days notice to prepare it.  The topic was faith, and it was only five minutes long, so it wasn't hard at all.  I just got up there, introduced myself to the ward, and then gave my talk.  I went a little over seven minutes, but I don't think anybody in the ward cared.  It might have been the only time I've ever been excited to give a talk in my life.  My ward is awesome; they've fed us some great food, and once, some people decided to drop off some treats at our house just because they had some leftovers from Primary.
My new companion's name is Elder Griffin, and we get along great.  He's been out for almost a year now (his year mark is on August 6th), and he's a super hard worker.  We go out and street contact so much, and he keeps reminding me of our zone's motto- Talk with everyone, they are prepared, or TWE-TAP for short.  We talk with everybody, and it's led to a lot of success.

I'm super excited to finally be out here in Texas teaching God's children about how they can return to him!
Love, Elder Jensen.

Your Missionary‏ July 22, 2015 Week three

Dear Family,

Sister Ames and I want you to know that your missionary has arrived safely in Texas.  We look forward to serving together in accomplishing the Lord’s work.  We hope you enjoy the attached picture of your missionary as well as knowing that the missionaries are in good hands here as they are in the Lord’s service.
Your missionary’s assignment will be in Keller, Texas.  He will be serving with Elder Griffin.
 Their apartment address is:
5001 Golden Triangle Blvd. #2521
Keller, TX   76244
Your missionary will email on Monday which is their preparation day.  They are always happy to hear from you as well.  Thank you for your support. 
President & Sister Ames

July 17, 2015 Week two

Hi everybody!

I'm having a blast at the MTC.  The Spirit here is so strong! The lessons are great, the food is great, the Elders and Sisters in my district are great, and everything else is great! Everybody is so nice and helpful, and I love learning about the gospel.  For the Sunday Devotional, I got to sing in the choir; we sang "This is The Christ." I love that song so much.  The person who came to speak was Elder Benjamin B. Banks, and Emeritus member of the Presidency of the Seventy.  He gave a great talk about how we can apply the teachings of Preach My Gospel to our lives and to the investigators that we teach.  I'm learning so much about myself, how to teach others, and how much the Savior has done for us. I'm almost half way done through Jesus the Christ, so that might contribute something to it. I found out how to send pictures, so now I'm going to send you a bunch of our district at the temple, and other things.

I'm having a great time and love you all!
Elder Jensen.

P.S. From left to right, Elder Stakkeland, me (Elder Jensen), Elder Harding, Elder Winterbottom, Elder Flake, Elder Adams, Sister Ginn, Sister Singer, Sister Poling, Sister Watson

July 10, 2015 Week One

Greetings from the MTC!

I am loving it here.  The Spirit is so strong, you can feel it everywhere.  For our first meeting, we sang The Armies of Helaman, but we replaced all the things like "We will be the Lord's missionaries..." to "We are now the Lord's missionaries." That was when it started to feel real.  Already I've learned so much more on how I should be as a missionary and how I should teach the gospel; my district is GREAT.  We are all super great friends already, especially all the companions.  My companion is Elder Adams, and he's awesome.  All the Elders in our district are headed to Fort Worth, but the Sisters are headed to... I think it was Roseville, California.  Today we just got our flight plans for heading for Fort Worth.  We leave on the 21st at 8:30, but we have to be at the MTC Travel Office at 3:35 AM!  I'll be lucky to get four hours of sleep.  Hopefully I'll be able to sleep on the plane.  Speaking of leaving places, on my card that says I can legally proselyte expires July 4, 2017.  Ironic that I'll be becoming independent of a companion on Independence Day.  Hopefully the time doesn't go by too quickly, because I'm loving it out here.  Hopefully, Texas will be even better.  If you receive this soon, please have everybody else email me soon so that I can send them a personalized email.

Love you!

Elder Jensen

P.S. Sorry there's no pictures, the computers here don't like to take SD cards, so I'll send some once I'm in Texas.