Monday, November 28, 2016

Light the World

Dear Family,

Now that Thanksgiving is over, everything can be Christmas! Since deciding to serve a mission I have looked forward to being a missionary during this special time, especially with the Christmas initiative. It is getting colder here and people are putting up their lights, but no snow yet. People say that it doesn't really stick when it does snow, and though I love a white Christmas, I won't really complain if there is a lack of snow. 

We moved J.'s baptism date to tomorrow! We are so excited for her! Earlier in the week, we watched Finding Faith inChrist with her. It was just one of those really good mission moments, when everything catches up with you and you realize that it is the Savior's work that you are doing. These souls that He has trusted us with are so incredibly precious to Him.

Thanksgiving was super awesome! We could treat it as a P-day, but we still did some missionary work. We weekly planned in the morning, which takes a few hours. After that, we went over to Bro. W.'s house (J. was introduced to the missionaries through Bro W. and his wife) and helped him put up some of his Christmas decorations. We then went over to a member's house for a delicious dinner. Then we went to another member's house for desert. We ended up watching most of the Studio C Face 2Face, which I have been really wanting to see so it worked out well. After that, we went to have a lesson with the B’s. We taught the Plan of Salvation and it went over really well. I think that is my favorite lesson to teach, it just rings true to the people. A.'s husband is reading the Book of Mormon and they stayed for all three hours of church yesterday. We will meet with them again this week.  We then went to a three story church building here in Nampa and did a Nerf gun war with our district.  We play with one person starting out as a zombie and then they have to tag people to become zombies. It was really fun, especially because it was already dark outside and we turned off most of the lights. It was a good way to run off all of the food we had packed in earlier in the day. 

The family we ate with on Thanksgiving had this giant teddy bear.

I don't have much else to report on, we are struggling with finding people to teach right now. But I know Heavenly Father is preparing people in our area to receive the restored gospel, and we just have to let the Spirit guide us to them. 

One of my favorite talks from this last conference is called "God Shall Wipe Away All Tears" by Elder Evan A. Schmutz. It is all about our trials here on earth and how we can learn and grow from them. Here are my favorite parts:

"God invites us to respond with faith to our own unique afflictions in order that we may reap blessings and gain knowledge that can be learned in no other way. We are instructed to keep the commandments in every condition and circumstance, for “he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven.” And as we read in scripture, “If thou art sorrowful, call on the Lord thy God with supplication, that your souls may be joyful.

As we acquire this eternal perspective in our lives, our capacity to endure grows, we learn how to succor those in need of succor, and we come to appreciate and even express gratitude for the experiences God allows us to have as tutors in the path to eternal life.

I have observed in the lives and examples of others that exercising strong and abiding faith in Jesus Christ and His promises provides the sure hope of better things to come. This sure hope steadies us, bringing the strength and power we need in order to endure. When we can link our suffering to an assurance of purpose in our mortality and more specifically to the reward awaiting us in heavenly places, our faith in Christ increases and we receive comfort to our souls.

We can take strength in knowing that all the hard experiences in this life are temporary; even the darkest nights turn into dawn for the faithful.

When all is finished and we have endured all things with faith in Jesus Christ, we have the promise that “God shall wipe away all [the] tears from [our] eyes.”

As I have mentioned in previous letters, there are so many people here who have to endure so much. That is why I am so thankful for the beautiful message of this gospel, for the bright hope that it shines to dispel the darkness. I have a testimony and conviction that this gospel is true and that Jesus is the Christ. 

Sister Jensen  

This is the sugar beet factory, which makes everything smell like burned peanut butter. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dear Family,

Today will be a quicker update because this P-day has been CRAZY. But life is still amazing here in the Nampa! We are still working with some wonderful people that I love so, so much, and they make all of the hard times worth it.

J. continues to be a big part of the work we are doing here. She is such a huge blessing to me, and the challenge of teaching her helps keep me motivated and excited about missionary work. Sometimes it is easy to get discouraged when literally no one wants to talk about you. But then we have a lesson with J. and I am reminded that the Lord is preparing people all of the time. And, like with J., the gospel will change their lives so dramatically, in the best way possible. We are continually working with her to prepare her for baptism in the coming weeks, and my love for her just continues to grow. I am so glad that I will be in Utah after the mission because I will be blessed to see these dear friends often. 

A. and her husband, J., are also doing well. It has been really cool to see A. discover the gospel again. We have been bringing sisters from the ward to our lessons and A. is always so excited to meet them and learn that they live so close to her. I think that this ward family will be so good for her.  We taught her husband the first lesson on Saturday and it went really well. They are such nice people and it is fun to learn more about their culture. 

One highlight of this week was our zone conference, where we learned about the Christmas initiative for this year. I am so excited!!! We got to see the video, which doesn't come out until Friday, and it was seriously stellar! The theme is "Light up the World" and is focused on the service we can do that the Savior did. It is like an advent calendar, with new ways and ideas to serve each day leading up to Christmas. I am so excited to share this message of service and love with all those we talk with this Christmas season. 

Sorry this week's letter was so short, we seem to always be running all over the place on P-day, but next week should be better. Just know that I am loving these people more and more every day, and am trying my best to be the missionary that they need me to be. I love this gospel, so much. I know that Christ is our Savior and that He lives. 
Sister Jensen

Blessed with Baptism

Dear Family,

Thank you to everyone who has sent me emails and letters! Being on a mission has helped me realize that I have been so blessed to have the family and friends that I do. I am so grateful to have each of you in my life, thank you for your love and support!

The most exciting news from this week is that A. got baptized! We got everything worked out for her to be confirmed right after the baptism due to stake conference, and it was so wonderful! It was very stressful leading up Saturday, everything just seemed to be thrown at us at once. But Sister S. told me that it is always like that before a baptism. Everything worked out and the sweet spirit that was felt there made it all worth it. I loved hearing the talks and testimonies from her friends, and feeling their perfect happiness to have their dear friend enter the waters of baptism. We watched Mormon Messages about Christ (including my favorite-Because of Him) which was probably my favorite part. All of this is because of Christ, it is all about bringing people to Him so that they can have full access to His atonement. Also, side note, but I played the piano at the baptism! I was so nervous and didn't have much time to practice, but it actually went off alright. Of course, it wasn't actually me, being an answer to prayer and everything. 
Secretly took a picture of Sister S. while we were tracting.
We have been so blessed to continue teaching J.. I really love teaching her because she asks hard questions that make us think. I am continually pondering over my own testimony, remembering my past experiences with the Spirit when I first learned or relearned these things. It has helped me see that we have to work for our testimonies sometimes, and we have to be continually growing it or else it will die. We have had many moments with J. where the Spirit was so strong. In one of our lessons earlier this week, after our closing prayer, I did my best to express to her how much I love her, which can be a challenge for me sometimes. But with help from the Spirit, I hope that she understood just how much we love her and desire her eternal happiness. She has been reading through gospel principles (I know, she's incredible), and there were a couple of doctrines that were bothering her so we set up a time for us to all meet with the bishop yesterday. I wish I could convey what happened in that meeting, but I won't be able to. But the most important thing is that the Spirit was there as the bishop testified to J. about Heavenly Father's love for her and the plan that He has in place for her. After we went 30 minutes over the time, bishop boldly suggested that she pick a date and she did! We are so incredibly excited for her, I know that she has so much in store for her. But pray hard for her, she will need the support and protection from Heavenly Father!

In the middle of the week we received a self-referral from the office for A.. They told us that English is her second language, so we were worried that we would have to turn her over to the Spanish missionaries. But we met with her on Thursday and found out she is Hungarian! And no missionaries speak Hungarian here, so we get to keep her! But her story is really cool. She was actually baptized by missionaries in Hungary over 20 years ago, but her family did not support her at all so she stopped going to church. She married her husband, who is also Hungarian, a couple of years ago and he already lived here for a long time, so she left Hungary to live with him. She told us that she always hoped that she would find missionaries on her street or that they would knock on her door, but they never did. Well, not too long ago, she and her husband were taking a walk and they walked by our building, and she recognized that it was the church. So she referred herself and finally found the missionaries! It was amazing to hear her story and think of those missionaries who found her years ago in Hungary, and how their service as missionaries impacted her life so much at the time, even if it wasn't the right time. We taught her about the restoration and gave her a Book of Mormon. During one point in the lesson, she told us that she believed that she couldn't be forgiven for something she did years ago. We testified that she can have forgiveness because of Christ's atonement, and the Spirit was there confirming what we were telling her. She started to cry and we could clearly see the relief in her face. It made me so grateful for Christ's atonement, and really brought home the fact that His suffering can make us clean again. She came to church on Sunday with her husband, J., who isn't a member but is super awesome! He made some great comments in Sunday school and we are hoping to teach him as well. 
Speaking of church, we are really starting to get to know the wards and enjoy the love and support of the members.

I just love my mission! I love this area and the wards and the people and everything! I hope that I get to stay here in Nampa for a while, there is so much work here that I am so excited to do. There are ups and downs of course, but it is so worth it. 
Sister Jensen

This is where we do studies in the morning.   Notice the base heater that I turn on every morning and warm up my feet on.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Teach the Atonement

More Idaho Sky

Dear Family,

Another week gone! It went by so quickly, and I realized this morning that I had no idea what I would share in my email today. Luckily, I have been somewhat consistent with my journal, so I still have some wonderful things that I can share. 

One highlight from this week is that while we were tracting, someone actually let us in and teach the restoration! It was unbelievable, no one does that. But we had about 15 minutes before our appointment so we decided to just knock on a couple of doors, not really expecting much. Thankfully, the Lord has greater expectations for us than we do, because we knocked on S.'s door and she let us in. She is this super sweet lady, all of her children are grown and have a couple of kids of their own. Family is really important to her, and she is a pretty strong Christian, so she was open and receptive to us as representatives of Christ. We taught her the whole restoration, and even though she has lived in Idaho for a many years, she never really knew who Joseph Smith was or what the Book of Mormon is about, so it was cool to introduce her to it all. When we asked if she wanted to learn more, she said she had to talk to her husband about it, but she said we could come back the same time next week. We will follow up with her probably tomorrow, so I will send updates on that. 

Also, we are planning A.'s baptism! The real miracle is that she told her family and they did not get angry or hostile. We have been praying for this a lot, so it is definitely an answer to prayer. They don't support her decision, but they are going to come to the baptism. Please pray that the Spirit will touch their hearts and they can see that this church is not bad, but a glorious blessing from Heavenly Father that He has given to us to return to Him. I feel like we really haven't had a hand at all in A.'s conversion, she has just been so blessed with friends who love her enough to share this message with her. I am just so thankful for this opportunity that we had to teach her the lessons and help her get to baptism, I know the Lord has so much in store for her and that her choice will bless countless lives. 

Another miracle from tracting is T. and M.'s family. When we tracted into them, T. told us we could come back another time and we were like, "We totally will." When we knocked on their door a week later, he was a little surprised that we had come back but invited us to come in anyway. Their whole family was there, just making zucchini bread, and we ended up staying for a really long time, just talking to them and getting to know their family. The zucchini bread was almost finished baking by the time we got to share a message with them. We shared John 3:16-17 and Alma7:11-13 and talked about God's love for us, as manifested by Him sending His Son to save us. M. told us about how she has felt God's love significantly for her, and we felt the Spirit really strong. We were able to leave a Book of Mormon with them and T. committed to read it. We will go back and see how they are doing this week, but we already have such a great love for their family and can see how greatly the gospel will bless their lives.

J. was a huge focus this week.  As she has learned more and more about the church and has come closer to learning and knowing the truth for herself, the adversary has been working really hard on her. People have been trying really hard to keep her away from the church. But, the incredible thing is that all of these bad influences that have popped up since we started meeting with her have only made her believe that this is the true church. I could hardly believe her when she said that. We didn't have to tell her that there is always opposition where the truth and the good is, she already made that connection for herself. And she is just pushing back harder, continuing to meet with us and continuing to learn about the truth.  It was funny because in one of our lessons, she went off on a rant on how we need to stop calling ourselves Mormons because we don't worship Mormon, we worship Jesus Christ and we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior. We totally agreed with her and said that our leaders have been doing their best to get us to call the church by its real name. She also asks some really hard questions sometimes, and I am just getting a testimony of how we need to let the Spirit teach. If we try and answer all of her questions with our own reasoning and our own words, she is not going to get the truth. But, if we trust that the Spirit is going to teach her, then she will get answers from the only real source of truth, which is Heavenly Father. I love teaching her so much, it is really helping me to rediscover my love for the gospel as I think about what it must be like for her to learn all of these things for the first time. The truths that we have thanks to the restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith are so simple but also so profound, they are the answers to some of life's most profound questions. This morning, I read President Uchtdorf's talk, "O How Great the Plan of OurGod!" and it was a little life changing, as President Uchtorf's talks always are. I love how he points out these simple truths of the gospel:

 "We are surrounded by such an astonishing wealth of light and truth that I wonder if we truly appreciate what we have.

Think of those early disciples who walked and talked with the Savior during His earthly ministry. Imagine the thanksgiving and reverence that must have flooded their hearts and filled their minds when they saw Him risen from the tomb, when they felt the wounds in His hands. Their lives would never be the same!
Think of the early Saints of this dispensation who knew the Prophet Joseph Smith and heard him preach the restored gospel. Imagine how they must have felt to know that the veil between heaven and earth had parted again, shedding light and knowledge upon the world from our celestial home above.
But most of all, think of how you felt when for the first time you believed and understood that you are truly a child of God; that Jesus Christ willingly suffered for your sins so that you may be clean again; that priesthood power is real and can bind you to your loved ones for time and for all eternity; that there is a living prophet on the earth today. Isn’t that wonderful and amazing?"
I just have so much love for this, and could never really say it better. Teaching J. has helped me so much to ponder and appreciate the beautiful truths of the gospel and I am so thankful for that. 
One thing that I am seeing as we teach and serve more people, is that I have had very little pain or hardship in my life. And so many of the people that we talk to have a lot of it. While I would never ask for a different life or ask for these hard things to have happened to me, it has been really hard to listen to these people's stories and have no idea what comfort I could give them, because I have no idea what they are going through. They always say that you are prepared for your mission and that there are very specific people that you are supposed to meet and teach. But I felt like I had no preparation for these people. I soon realized after thinking this that there is something infinitely better that we can offer than anything I could ever have. And that is the atonement of Jesus Christ. Christ suffered for all of our sins, pains, sorrows, and afflictions. He knows exactly what these people are feeling and He knows exactly how to comfort and help them. And so its okay, I don't have to know what these people are going through because someone a lot better already does. 
Sister Jensen
I finally decorated my planner.