Monday, August 14, 2017

Little Miracles

Dear Family,

We had a week filled with little miracles. I am so grateful for this life that I get to live. I am thankful for this special opportunity that I have to consecrate all I have to serving the Lord by sharing the gospel.

One of the biggest miracles has been teaching a mother and son. We have taught them twice now and set a baptismal date for September 9th! We taught the Restoration on Tuesday, and the son told us that he has already prayed to know I f the Book of Mormon is true, if Joseph Smith was a prophet, and if the church is true. And he told us that he received his answer that it is all true. We taught them the Plan of Salvation on Friday and that went great as well. We have been extra careful to involve members of the congregation in the teaching process, especially the young men. It has been really cool to see these teenage boys rise to the challenge of teaching their friend the gospel. When they go on their missions, they will truly be prepared, they will already love the work of the Lord.

The other big highlight from this week was hearing from Elder Rasband and Elder Wakolo. The whole mission got together in Eagle, which is where Elder Rasband was attending Stake Conference this weekend. First we heard from Elder Wakolo, who had quite the story. His is from Fiji and joined the church when he was 27. He married a member but never let her even have a copy of the Book of Mormon in his home. He took the missionary lessons 4 times in 8 years and had 24 sets of missionaries. It was a question that the last set asked that really changed his heart. They asked him what his family would call their grocery store if they happened to own a grocery store. He said that they would call it after their family since they owned it. They then related that to Christ’s church, and that if it was really Christ’s church it would be called after his name. This pierced his heart, he felt the Spirit, and he agreed to be baptized. Within a year he was called to be the branch president. And now he is a new seventy and this was his first assignment, because he just finished up being a mission president in Little Rock, Arkansas.

After Elder Wakolo, Elder Rasband spoke to us. He spoke to us about a lot of things, and I won’t try to relate them all. He gave us the assignment beforehand to study his talk, “Let the Holy Spirit Guide”, and the Spirit was our main discussion. There is one cool story that he told us from when we was a mission president in New York. At the end of their missions, Elder Rasband had the missionaries come to his home and have a testimony meeting, like we do here and in many other missions. They were having a testimony meeting and this one elder was bearing his testimony about how wonderful his mission was, except the end. He was sent to the Spanish branch in Stanford, Connecticut and said that all he did was hand out copies of the Book of Mormon on a street corner, and nothing else. Elder Rasband said this just broke his heart. Well, 18 months later, they were having another testimony meeting. This one elder stood up and said that he has the most wonderful mission, especially the end when he went to the Spanish branch in Stanford. He then told this story. One night, the received a telephone call from a woman crying. She told them how she was a single mom with many kids. One night, she was sitting alone in her living room when she looking up at her book shelf and saw this book that just seemed to shine at her. She looked to see what it was and saw that it was a Book of Mormon. She started to read it, and read it every night until she finished it, and she knew that it was true. At the very end of the Book of Mormon there was stamp, with the name of two elders and their number. She was then baptized along with many, if not all, of her children. Elder Rasband asked the missionary bearing his testimony what the names of those two elders are, and one of them was that same elder who bore his testimony 18 months before. Elder Rasband then bore his testimony of how we do not know the future consequences of our actions today, we do not know the lives that we will affect.

And the final tender mercy that I want talk about is the application of that very principle in my own mission. Right after hearing from Elder Rasband, we went to Nampa for the baptism of C., who I had taught just the first lesson to back in December. It was a beautiful baptism. C. has many of extended family members who are faithful members. I got to see these grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who were so excited for C. to take this step. She was just glowing, so ready to be brought closer to her Heavenly Father.

I also got to see many people that I love from the Nampa 12th ward. One of them was Sister S., my ward mission leader’s wife. She told me that I just had to go see A. She was baptized 20 years ago in Hungary, went inactive shortly after that because of her family, but is now very active. We aren’t really supposed to be going around and visiting people in our areas because we need to be back in our current areas. But, thankfully, the assistants were at this baptism because they brought an investigator. So I asked them for permission to see this one person and they said that I could. So I got to see A.! I don’t think I have ever met a more righteous, sweet, and humble person. Her daughter has been here for the summer from Hungary and has actually been taking the missionary lessons! We got to meet her, and she is just like A. 

I was thankful for these experiences because they have helped me to see my mission on a larger scope, rather than just focusing on the day to day. And I am trying extra hard to see the little miracles that Heavenly Father places in our path every day here in Middleton.

Sister Jensen  

Monday, August 7, 2017

Good-bye to Sister Shurtleff

Dear Family,

I said goodbye to my trainer yesterday, Sister Shurtleff. She will be going home tomorrow morning. It was one of those moments where you just really stop and realize how quickly time really does go by. I love and admire Sister Shurtleff so much, and it will be strange to not see her anymore. Thankfully, she will just be living in Utah, so I will get to see her after the mission. This area that we are serving in is her first area, so yesterday she came and we all had dinner with a family in the ward. It was so fun, and we took many pictures. Super sad to see her go, but super excited for all the possibilities ahead of her!

It was a great week; we have a lot of good things happening. The highlight is that we have some people that are ready to be taught by the missionaries! It is a mom and her son.  The son has some really good friends in the ward.  We haven’t met with them yet, but we are tomorrow at the Bishop’s house. We are really excited!

I get to attend a baptism this Saturday in Nampa! Sister Shurtleff called me earlier this week to tell me that someone we taught together accepted to be baptized and that she really wants us to be there. I remember she answered the door and just welcomed us in. That first visit was really good, she expressed a sincere interest in taking the lessons. I loved her right away, she is literally the sweetest. We got to teach them about the Restoration, and she received it really well. Then, all the crazy winter stuff happened, they got busy, and then both Sister Shurtleff and I got transferred. Thankfully, the elders were able to continue teaching her. Elder Wheeler, who came out with me from the MTC, got transferred there a couple of months ago and really connected with them. They got married a couple of weeks ago and now her baptism is on Saturday! I think one of the most rewarding parts of the mission has been seeing how those little seeds that I have helped sow have grown and been harvested by other missionaries. It is a really humbling experience in which you can really see the hand of the Lord. And you feel so thankful that you were able to play a small part in it.

Also, we went on exchanges this week. Our Sister Training Leader, Sister Sellar, is training a new missionary in addition to being the STL. Usually we have companionships in which both sisters are STLs but with the large amount of sisters that have been coming in, they are having the STLs train. Sister Tukumoeatu stayed in our area with Sister Sellar and I went to be with Sister Abbott, who came out the same time as Sister Tukumoeatu. It was really great, we got to teach a recent convert in a park. I love teaching in parks, it is my favorite. At this particular park there is just this random tank, so we took a picture on it. Then we got to teach their new investigator. This guy just showed up at church with a friend and asked the sisters if he could take the lessons. Sister Abbott and Sister Sellar were telling us about him earlier in the week and told us about how he has a friend serving a mission in Japan. Well, I didn’t connect the dots until I was there teaching him the Plan of Salvation with Sister Abbott and he told us that his friend’s name was Elder Yeakley, who served in our branch in Okinawa! That was a fun connection.

We got our transfer calls on Saturday and Sister Tukumoeatu and officially get to stay together here in Middleton for another transfer! Not really a surprise and it’s what I wanted to happen. I feel like I might stay in this area for longer than three months this time. At least I am hoping. But I am very, very, very, excited for the temple open house, which is happening next transfer! I have just been thinking lately about how inspired mission calls really are, because this is the perfect mission for me, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the 

Sister Jensen  

Monday, July 31, 2017

Rock Climbing

Last week we had the opportunity to rock climb.  It was so fun!

Dear Family,

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer! While it has been very hot this past month, I have enjoyed many aspects of the summer. It doesn’t get dark until much later, which makes being out until 9 much easier. We also get to enjoy some beautiful sunsets. And then there is constantly being given popsicles and water, which I have already mentioned. For our dinners, we mostly get grilled meat and salads, which I really enjoy. It seems strange that we are almost into August, but exciting because that means the temple open house is coming up!
We had a good week, though not much to report on. We had a lesson with the one of or families. We are teaching 10 year old who hasn’t been baptized. The father is huge into hunting, so they always feed the sisters some type of meat before the lesson. This time they fed us buffalo, and it was amazing! The lesson was on the temple. It really inspired the parents to be want to come to church more often.  It has been fun to see some progress with this family.

We also got to teach another one of our investigators, have FHE with a member family, and have good visits with a couple of other members. Sunday was really cool as well because a few members that don’t come very often were there. One of them is really into family history, so we went to the family history class with her, which was very enjoyable. We also had a third hour combined meeting on family history. I just really felt the Spirit and a lot of excitement to work on my family history for the rest of my life.

Much has been on my mind this last week, especially as we have been working to find new people to teach. I’ve been thinking about how we have to have the faith that the Lord is preparing people and that if we follow the Spirit, we will find those people. I have also been thinking about consecration. I came across this quote by Elder Maxwell: “Consecration is the only surrender which is also a victory.” As we hand everything over to the Lord, that is when He can start making of us who He wants us to be. While I cannot believe how much of my mission has gone by, I am thankful for the amount of time I still have left. I hope to work on laying everything on the altar, yielding my heart completely to the Lord for Him to change it. I know He can, I just have to let Him.

Sister Jensen 

Beautiful Idaho Sky

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Family Search

I ran into Elder Ashby, who is from my home congregation.

Dear Family,

Mission life is great! I love it. We had a really good week here in Middleton, Idaho, and we are seeing miracles daily.
We have an investigator who the missionaries have been teaching for a little less than a year.  She is awesome and totally knows the church is true. However, her boyfriend isn’t super comfortable talking about religion. But we had a family home evening with them at a member’s home where we introduced them to FamilySearch and now he is obsessed now. Just by putting in his grandparent’s information, he could trace some lines back to the 1200s. It has been fun to see him so excited about it.

We also met and taught one of the investigators the sisters before us had been working with. Members of his family have all recently joined the church. He is not confident in his English (even though it is really good) so it is a little hard to get him to open up, but his is a super nice guy. He is still searching to know what is special or different about this church, so I am excited to help him learn and find out for himself.

The biggest miracle from this week is the C. family. They just moved here earlier this month. When they came, church members just showed up at their place and unloaded their stuff in about 40 minutes, which they were just so impressed by.  They have family members who are active members of the church and they have really felt and seen the difference in their family members, and they want that for her son.  We got to meet them on Friday, and had a great visit with L. She told us how she was hoping to become more involved with the church so that her son could have a good foundation. She loves to read, so she has already sped read the Book of Mormon, but wants to read it again so that she can study it more. She agreed to take the lessons, and we are going back tonight to teach her! I am so excited, and am so grateful that I have been blessed to teach people on my mission that are prepared and ready to receive the gospel.

I am not sure why, but I think that I am the most exhausted that I have ever been on my mission. While it has been so rewarding, it has also been really hard. The difficulty of this time in my mission has really caused me to turn to the Savior for help and strength. I ask Him at the beginning of each day to help me get through, to give me the strength I need to do His work. I am really learning the meaning of taking things one day at a time. I remember a sister missionary telling me at the beginning of the mission that Heavenly Father is going to refine me over and over and over again. And He has.

Sister Jensen  

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tender Mercies

We can't hold kids, but we can hold puppies. :)
Dear Family,

Miracles happen every day here in Middleton. I am constantly praying for and seeing them in our work. I have never felt so strongly that the Lord is indeed helping and strengthening me.

The most exciting news is that one of our investigators was baptized! Everything went really well, President Sorensen even attended the baptism. I am always so stressed out on baptisms days that I have a hard time being excited and happy about it throughout the day. I was think about this and was a little disappointed in myself for not having more joy. Because it is when I am at a baptism that I just feel the Spirit so strongly and get this feeling of wonder that what is taking place is more important than we know. All of the sisters that have been teaching this investigator for the past couple of months attended the baptism.  Best of all, one of them is a companion to Sister Shurtleff, my trainer! It was so good to see her. She is going home at the end of this transfer. At the end of the mission the president lets the missionaries go back and visit all of the areas where they served.  Because Sister Shurtleff was trained here, we are going to try and set up a dinner with a family that she was close to.  Also, I have cool story with the baptism. The investigator was giving us the name for the couple that was giving both of the talks. The last name sounded super familiar to me, but I just shrugged it off and assumed that there was no connection. Well, baptism day comes and this older couple, from one of my wards in Meridian where I served, show up! They had met our investigator at Wendy’s (where she works) and just became good friends. I loved seeing them there and learning of the connection that they have to M. And it makes me think of something that a general authority said at Stake Conference in La Grande: “Coincidence is God’s way of staying anonymous.”

A generation photo!
daughter, mom, and grandma

Tuesday was a harder day for me. We didn’t have any appointments, besides dinner. Most of the day was driving around trying to visit members of our congregation. We weren’t getting very many good responses, and I was feeling a little sorry for myself. It was around 8:40 at night and I was exhausted. Lastly we went out to this home in a more country part of the ward. I wasn’t very hopeful as we knocked on the door, expecting no response. But instead, a middle-aged couple answered the door, and Sister Tukumoeatu asked to use their bathroom. The wife, who is not a member, invited us in right away and was so kind to us. She filled up cups of ice and well water for us and gave us an open invite to come get eggs from their chickens and tomatoes later in the summer. When we mentioned religion, they gave off the impression that they too were not interested, but this woman’s kindness was really a tender mercy from Heavenly Father. There has not been a time when I have been feeling down or sorry for myself and I have not received some little miracle or blessing. It always happens, every single time. And I love it.

On Thursday, we found more people to teach! First, a lady that the sisters used to teach called us. She moved to Caldwell, and lost contact for a while. But she has moved back and wants to be baptized! I am excited to teach her! Later that day, we visited with a family that we are going to start teaching. Some of the members of the family have already been baptized and some have not.  They have a super awesome home teacher, that has really helped the family out. At the end of the visit, when we shared the message, we talked about how their faith helped them through difficult times.

On Sunday we had a lesson with a very special family. They have a goal to be sealed in the temple. We talked about how the marriage in the temple is performed by God’s power, the priesthood.  We encouraged them to study and pray about it. They were asking lots of different questions about how the sealing works, and then the husband, asked, “Wait, can I be sealed to my mom?” When we told him that he could, he started bawling. The Spirit was so strong in that room. We are going to continue to have weekly family home evenings with them to help them reach their goal. I hope that they will be sealed in the Meridian Temple after it is dedicated.

This work is so hard, and I think I am the most tired I have ever been on my mission. But these hard times are the best, because this is when we see the most miracles and experience those most tender mercies from Heavenly Father. I especially felt that this week.

Sister Jensen  

Monday, July 10, 2017

Not Alone

Dear Family,

Things are moving here in Middleton! I feel like I have grown so much in these last two weeks of my mission. Training is such a good opportunity to really recognize your weaknesses and turn them into strengths. This past week I have been more focused on finding then I have been my whole mission, thanks to Sister Tukumoeatu. It has really made me more motivated to be in tune with the Spirit in order that we can be led to those who are prepared to receive the gospel.

We have a baptism on Saturday! The sisters have been teaching this investigator for about 4 months now. We are just the lucky ones that now get to see her baptism through. So we will do our best to focus this week on preparing her for baptism and putting everything together.

Since there is not a lot of teaching currently going on in our area, we have been working to find the best ways to spend our time. I think my favorite way to work is to plan to contact a specific person, whether it be an investigator or less-active or something. Then, if that person isn’t home or available, we just start working in that area that we are already in.  This way of doing missionary work is something that Elder Arnold instructed us about when he came last month. He told us that when we make plans, like seeing an investigator and it doesn’t work out, it is because the Lord already has plans for us. And maybe He has led us to that specific part of our area because there is someone there who is prepared to receive us. 

I read a talk by Elder Eyring the other day for my personal study and I think it really encompassed what I have been thinking about and working on lately. It is called “You Are Not Alone in the Work” and he gave it in the priesthood session in October 2015 conference. I love how Elder Eyring says it: “My encouragement is to help you know that when you do your part, the Lord adds His power to your efforts.” When I question if I can do this, I remember that the Lord can. All I have to do is show my faith and put forth my best effort, then the Lord can add His power. Then I love what Elder Eyring says at the end of his talk: “Heavenly Father will allow you to feel that He know you, that He appreciates your service, and that you are becoming worthy of the greeting from the Lord you want so much to hear: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.’”

Sister Jensen

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Week 1 of Middleton

Dear Family,

This was one of those weeks that seemed to stretch on forever. Being at the new trainers meeting on Monday night seems like years ago. On Tuesday, all of the new missionaries came in. Their flight was delayed so we waited at the church for a couple of hours for the 18 new missionaries to come in. Of course, I got to see Elder Ashby come in and shake hands with him. Later that day we got to catch up on Okinawa and talk about our families. We had lunch and some training then went out to tract. I went out with Sister Smith, who is from D.C. We did talk to one lady who said that missionaries used to come to her house before they moved and lost contact. She told us she would love for the missionaries to come back :) After that we had dinner, and found out who we were training. I was called to train Sister Tukumoeatu, who is from Samoa! She moved away from Samoa when she was 10 and lived in Hawaii, Washington, California, Arizona, and then settled with her family in Layton, Utah. English is her second language, but she talks like it is her first language. And she is amazing! She is so fearless about doing missionary work, I love it. She helps me to get over my fears and just do it. I think she will be the one that ends up training me :) 

Middleton is great! The first couple of days were a little bumpy. We have three investigators. We have many other potential people as well. I know that there many people here who are waiting and prepared to receive the gospel. 

The first night we were here together we got to teach a lesson to one of our investigators. She had lots of questions about the gospel. My last companion, Sister Soelberg, was actually trained here in this area and was the one that started teaching her.

Our first Sunday was great. Both Sister Tukumoeatu and I bore our testimonies in all three wards. I had been praying a lot this week for help from Heavenly Father in our labors here. My prayers were definitely answered yesterday. 3 members told us about people that they want us to teach, it was awesome! That night we went to go contact one of the referrals. We parked a little down from their house so we could park in some shade, walked down, knocked, and didn't get an answer. We were walking back to our car and checking our lists to see if anyone else lived close by that we could contact. We were just looking in our car when this man came out of his house that we were parked in front of. He just kind of stood there and stared at us. So we got out and started to talk to him. We ended up teaching him a little bit about the restoration, reciting the First Vision to him. I could tell he really felt the Spirit when we did that. When we talked about the Book of Mormon he told us that we had already given him one, that he has it by his bed, has read some it, and thinks that it is good. We told him that he must have talked to some other missionaries but that we were so happy that he had read some of it. He wouldn't really schedule an appointment with us, but said we could come back. After we finished talking to him, we started to drive away, and we drove by the first house we had gone to only see someone outside. Sister Tukumoeatu was like, "Let's go back!" So we turned around and jumped out to talk to her. She had been working in her garden when we knocked, but she talked to us for about 30 minutes on her driveway. She is super excited and willing to have us in her home, so pray that all goes well! 

We had some real miracles this week, and I am so thankful for that. I am very excited to be here in Middleton for the next 3 months and am excited for the challenges that lie ahead. I know that if I trust in Heavenly Father, everything will turn out for the best. 

Sister Jensen 

Sister Shurtleff and many of her companions.