Monday, January 30, 2017

Doughnuts Make Me Walk

Dear Family,
This week was a little harder for me, I had a difficult day or two. But the redeeming aspect of having bad days, is that Heavenly Father always blesses you with good days after the bad days. This week, we were blessed to know what it was like to be walking missionaries for a few days. We found out on Thursday that we have 100 less miles that we are allowed to drive than we thought, and we don't get more miles until February 1st. So we walked. The next morning we were about to get something out of the car but found that we had lost our keys and couldn't find them. So we were walking indefinitely. But after some heartfelt prayers and even a little fasting, we found them! We had gotten a ride on Thursday from one of the members we live with and they were in her car. I never thought I could feel so much happiness from just seeing a car key. And when we talked to the zone leaders, they said we might actually have the original amount of miles, so our 100% walking days might be coming to a close. And while I really did enjoy walking, I am so happy to have the car back. So that was a huge answer to prayer :)

This week we met L.  She had been meeting with the missionaries before we got here. I love L.! She is great!  During our visit with her, she told us a little bit about her beliefs, which she told us were very similar to our beliefs. She very strongly believes that she is a daughter of her Heavenly Father and that He knows her. Halfway through our visit she pulled out her Bible and was going to ask some questions, but then requested to say a prayer. Of course, we were like, "Absolutely!" Then she asked us some questions about the 12 tribes. She has been reading through the Bible and is in the Old Testament. I was super thankful for the senior year of seminary, learning about the Old Testament. To any youth out there that are reading that are currently in seminary, pay attention! Do the reading! You regret it if you don't and you are on your mission and someone asks you a question about the Levites. But anyway, we then were able to tell her about the scattering of the tribes, and how one of those groups of people was Lehi and his family, and how the Book of Mormon is the record of that group in the Americas. She was seemed really interested in it, and said that she would read the introduction to the Book of Mormon.

We also met with the B. family on Saturday.  We had dinner and a lesson with them. We read Alma 32 with them and talked about faith. They really are amazing people who just do anything for you. 

On Sunday we had another cool experience. We met woman named S. When she came to church another member recognized her because S. had worked with her mom. We were able to set up a time to teach her and her family. We were really excited about that, sometimes Heavenly Father just brings people to us and it is super awesome! 

Another cool experience that I just remembered from this week came from one of our dinner appointments. We had a dinner with a family that doesn’t come to church very often. But one of their daughters, who is all grown up now, met someone at work who is a recent convert. She told us that he just radiated the Spirit, and that she felt very strongly that she should go back to church. She came for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and said she felt guilty just passing our meal calendar without signing up, so she signed up! I just love seeing how Heavenly Father works with His children, it is such a privilege and blessing. 

I kind of failed again this week at getting pictures. But we did go to Krispy Kreme last week and took pictures with our 2 dozen doughnuts, so enjoy those. 

But I just want all of you to know that I am loving my time as a missionary, I am always overcome with so much gratitude when I go before Heavenly Father in prayer and thank Him for this sacred trust that He has given me. 

Sister Jensen 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Let it Snow!

Dear Family,

It snowed another three inches this morning before we got out the door and it will continue snowing until around 5 tonight. And it will be cold so the snow won't be going anywhere for a while. So that is all really fun. Regardless, it was a really great week, we got to know our wards a little better and start working with some of the amazing leaders here. I am super excited about the time that I have to serve here. I know that the Lord has much for us to do, and there are many opportunities that He will bless us with if we just give our all. 

We have had a lot of little tender mercies this week. On Monday, we went to see a family and they let us in and talked with us for about an hour. Two of the family members have taken the lessons in the past. We hope to continue teaching them. On Tuesday we met a couple that the missionaries have been in contact with for a while, and the missionary that started teaching them actually lives with them now. Their names are J. and S. and they are incredible people. They love having the missionaries over. We had dinner with them on Friday and J. told us that he loved it when the missionaries came over and read the Book of Mormon with them. On Wednesday we met J. L., an Egyptian man who speaks about five languages. I think a friend referred him to the missionaries a while ago. We also met with L. again on Wednesday, and he told me that he would put my face type in the same category as Audrey Hepburn, so I have had to be careful to not let that get to my head. So those are the collection of little tender mercies that made our week so great.  

Our Sunday was crazy!  We went to all three of our wards. We went to the YSA sacrament, which was a little strange to be there as a missionary, but I am excited about it. Then we went to one ward’s sacrament and part of their gospel principles before we went to another ward’s ward counsel, where the area authority, Elder Erekson, was presiding. It was an awesome ward council, definitely a huge learning experience for me. Elder Erekson talked about whenever he goes to the training meetings, that there is always a huge emphasis placed on two things: the youth and ward councils. The church organization is so inspired, and is the Lord's way of giving His children access to the redeeming power of Christ's atonement. I am so thankful for all that I am learning as a missionary that will allow me to serve more effectively in the church. We have been blessed with several awesome leaders to work with here who are super excited about missionary work. Sister Eckery and I are looking forward to these next couple of months and the miracles that we will see in them. I love and miss you all and am so thankful for the support that you give me!

Sister Jensen 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Loving Meridian!

Dear Family,

Well, I am in Meridian! Delayed transfers did happen on Wednesday and my happy chapter of being trained in Nampa was closed. Hopefully I will get to serve there again, but for now I get to enjoy being here in Meridian! I am really enjoying it already, I can tell that I will love these wards just as much. But, funnily enough, we actually live in Boise. Since it is the Meridian stake, it is part of our mission. We live with some awesome members, I am pretty happy with our living situation here. And I am liking that it is a bigger city, they have some really good shopping centers and restaurants aka Chick-fil-a.

The first day we got here we had a visit with L. L. has had a pretty interesting life, and he likes to tell us all about it. One of his passions is photography, and he told me that I look Egyptian and told me that he thinks either mom or I are adopted. I was like, "Pretty sure neither of us are." But that didn't stop him from telling me that I look like Nefertiti. I love that, as a missionary, I get to visit the elderly. I benefit so much from their stories and experiences. His wife fed us dinner both days we went to see him, and we had mochi ice cream one night so I was in heaven. Meridian is already worth it.   

I should have probably mentioned this first, but I love my new companion! Sister Eckery is super awesome, and I really hope they let us stay together for our last two transfers. She lived in New Zealand until she was 16, and knows a lot of the Lord of the Ring sites, so it is super fun to talk about that with her. She is really artistic, she did jazz and ballet and she is thinking about doing animation. She was in a different area last transfer until her companion went home three weeks before it was over so that she could start school. Then Sister Eckery was put in this area with a sister who went home at the end of the transfer. She is basically new to the area as well, so it is like I am shotgunning again! It will be strange when I get to an area and the companion I am with already knows it. Anyway, we are both excited to get the missionary work moving in these area. 

Though it has been a little slow starting out these first few days, Sunday was a great day. We went to one ward the first two hours, then headed over to another ward (which is in a different building) for all three hours of their church. And we had an investigator in gospel principles! After class, he told us that he wants to talk about Abraham and the 12 tribes and how that all connects to this church. We were like, "Perfect! We can do that!" since that is basically the first lesson, just with a little more background. So I am super excited for that lesson. 

As I have mentioned several times, I am pretty excited about the work here in Meridian. It is going to be hard and Sister Eckery and I are going to have to be really diligent in working hard, but I think that there are a lot of people Heavenly Father has waiting for us. I am so thankful and happy to be a missionary, I absolutely love it! 

Sister Jensen 

Goodbye Nampa!-Jan 9

Dear Family,

We got transfer calls on Saturday, and to our shock, both Sister Shurtleff and I are leaving Nampa! It is pretty unusual, since they just put both of us in together. I originally was going to stay and get to have my new companion, Sister Eckery, come here, but some missionaries who were coming here to wait for their visas got them early, so they are going to their actual mission. That means we are getting less missionaries than expected, so they had to condense some areas. They are giving our two wards to our district leader and his companion. We are pretty devastated to leave all of our wonderful people. I will update you all on my week before telling you how crazy and weird these past couple of days have been. 

We taught J. about the pre-mortal life at a member's house this past week. I love and appreciate the members so much who have us in their home to teach, having them bear their testimonies just brings the Spirit so strongly. Hopefully J. will get to do some family history soon and can get to the temple to do baptisms. I know that she is going to keep on going strong and will make huge contributions to the church with her talent of loving and serving people. I am so grateful for the blessing I had to teach her and see her get baptized. 

Catching a ride with some kind members.

We had several days where we couldn't drive this week, so while a lot of time was spent inside, we did do a fair amount of work in our area and I am so thankful for that as it was unknowingly my last week here. I have been working hard to trust Heavenly Father, that His hand is behind all of this and that I am meant to go to Meridian now. Most of Meridian is a walking area, but because one of the wards that we cover is the YSA, which I think covers all of Meridian, we get a car! I’m so happy about that, just because the weather is so bad. 

We got the news around 11 on Saturday, and so from then on was a whirlwind. I started packing immediately. We got a text that we couldn't drive after 1pm because of the storm coming in. Sister Shurtleff tried to do laundry that morning, but the pipes to the washer and drier were frozen because they are downstairs where there is no heat. Our room is the only room in the house that has good heat. Our shower has also been clogged for the past couple of days and we have had to drain it ourselves, so when we heard about this huge storm, we decided we were not staying there. The other sisters that we live with have members in their ward that have a big house they offered to us, so we decided to stay there for the next couple of days before transfers on Monday. So I had to pack all of my stuff and get ready to stay somewhere else, plus meet with our ward mission leaders and say goodbye to as many people as we could. It was so stressful.  But we were able to have dinner with an awesome family in 12th ward that night, so that was a tender mercy. But I sure was happy when we got to the home that we were staying in. The family is so great; I am so thankful and happy to be here these last couple of days in Nampa. Sister G. was telling us about her son getting his mission call to Las Vegas, and she showed us the video of him opening it. On the video he read that he reported to the MTC on September 28th, and I was like, "That is when I went too!" They even had the same drop off time, 12:45, and went to the Provo Temple grounds to say goodbye, along with us and a million other families. So we looked through their pictures at the temple to see if Mom and I happened to be in the background, but we were disappointed in our hopes. Their daughter also went to the same mission as my MTC teacher, and though they were there at the same time for quite a bit of time, they never met. I just love making these connections with people here in my mission. Church was cancelled on Sunday, so we just hung out here all day. It was really strange to do that as a missionary. We watched Legacy and the Testaments, and just talked. We also got the news that transfers are postponed to Wednesday because of the weather, which was a huge tender mercy because we get to say good bye to more people! But we still can't drive, and aren't allowed to until they give us permission. Fortunately, we have great members who can take us where we need to be. 

While I am heartbroken to leave my first area, I am getting pretty excited to go to Meridian to find and teach the people that Heavenly Father has waiting for me there. I met my companion briefly at J.'s baptism, because her companion had taught her. She is super sweet and will be going home in a transfer and a half. Heavenly Father has blessed me so much, and I know that He will continue to bless me if I do the things I am supposed to. I love and miss you all, but am happy to be out here making you proud. 

Sister Jensen 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year!

Dear Family,

Just another week in paradise, though it went by a little slower due to the holidays. "After the holidays" is a phrase we have become very familiar with. As for general updates, it continues to snow and everyone continues to tell us that the winter hasn't been this bad since the 80s. Also, this monstrous cold front is coming through and it will be below zero. I am trying really hard to not have a spirit of complaining, but sometimes the Lord just tries you.

We spent a lot of time this week with recent converts and less actives, and only taught one lesson to an investigator. That was with Brother R., who I really enjoy teaching. We read 2 Nephi 31 with him and talked about baptism. I don't know if I mentioned this before, but one reason I love teaching him so much is that whenever he feels the Spirit, he just does this little wrinkly smile that just kills me every time. 

Our pipes have not been loving the cold temperatures either. Thursday morning, when I tried to wash my hands (I was the first one in the bathroom) water came out for a few seconds then just stopped. Our pipes were frozen and we had no water. That morning, we drove to the church to use the bathroom, then called President Sorensen's wife to get permission to shower at their house. They of course let us. We ate breakfast there, and the thought just crossed my mind that I never thought the night before that I would be eating at the Mission President's house the next morning. People always say that the mission schedule is so strict, but you never really know where you are going to end up or what you will be doing as a missionary. And I kind of love that. 

We had to be in at 6 on New Years Eve.  The Life of Jesus Christ videos came in the mail this week, so I just watched those for an hour or so and went to bed around 9, which was just glorious. And with the time change, church doesn't start until 11 for us so we could actually do our studies. It was so nice, small things like that mean so much to you as a missionary. 

I wish I had some more spiritually uplifting stories to share, but nothing is coming to mind right now, so I will just share one of my favorite things that I read this week. It is Alma 7:23-25:

 23 And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive.

 24 And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works.

 25 And may the Lord bless you, and keep your garments spotless, that ye may at last be brought to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the holy prophets who have been ever since the world began, having your garments spotless even as their garments are spotless, in the kingdom of heaven to go no more out.

I just love that because it lists attributes that Christ has, and that we should always strive to obtain. One of our purposes in being here on earth is to learn to become more like Him, and to return and be comfortable in His presence after this life. That is what I love about verse 25, that if we become clean through Christ's atonement, we can sit down in Heavenly Father's kingdom with all the prophets to never leave again. And that is the beautiful message that I am so blessed to share, and I am so thankful for that. 
I love you all so much!

Sister Jensen 

Christmas on the Mission-December 26th

Dear Family,

Merry Christmas! I loved the short time that we got to Skype yesterday, I loved seeing your faces and hearing your voices! (Especially Jacob's already deeper voice!) This week was a little abnormal, but I think I have some good things to update you all on.

One highlight this week was teaching C. the first lesson. She understood everything really well, and it was cool because J. would jump in and just teach a whole section a couple of times. We loved seeing him get excited about missionary work again, to see the light of the gospel come back into his life. After she read the first vision, she just sighed and said, "That's beautiful." Later in the lesson, she told us that she and J. had already decided that they want their marriage to be forever, that it shouldn't just end at death. They said they would start reading the Book of Mormon together, and we are teaching her again tomorrow night. It will be the plan of salvation, so I am super excited! 

We also had our Christmas zone conference. It was so fun! In the morning we had a talent show and white elephant gift exchange. I got this bookend of Brigham Young, just one of those wild gifts from DI. I will get a picture of it for next week. Then we ate and had a devotional with President. They gave us a chance to go up and share the experiences that we've had with the Light the World initiative, it was cool to hear how it has blessed so many people. 

I got to see Elder Wheeler and Elder Silvester as well,
who were both in my MTC district, so that was a treat. 

We taught Brother R. again on Friday. I love teaching him because he does this little smile whenever he feels the Spirit testify that what we are teaching is true.

Christmas Eve was probably my favorite day this week. It snowed several inches, and the sisters we live with went to a baptism in Middleton, but when they tried to leave, their car got stuck. This young guy in a truck was passing and stopped to help them, but they couldn't get out and then his truck got stuck. We were looking out the window when we saw the stuck truck and the sisters motioning us to come down. When I saw the truck, I instantly thought of the Mormon Message where Elder Bednar tells the story about the man whose truck got stuck in snow and he couldn't get out until he loaded wood in the trunk bed, which gave him the necessary traction to get unstuck. I quickly told the story and suggested that the four of us hop in the back of his trunk to give him more traction. After a few minutes, he got out! It was so fun.

Christmas was also great, we got up and made Bacon Cheddar Pinwheels. The other sisters were a little skeptical when I was mixing together the sweetened condensed milk, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. But they were all repenting when they were plowing through them after pinwheels were done. We then went to church and sang a lot of Christmas songs, my throat was a little sore after our second ward. We ate first with a family at a different church building, then went to one of our counselors house. We made gingerbread houses and drank hot chocolate, then watched videos on I loved being in their home, it helped to decrease my homesickness a little bit. When we were getting ready to leave, the counselor told us that they were so grateful to have us in their ward.  That was a tender mercy, because it is really easy to second guess yourself as a missionary, and not expect yourself to be perfect. After that we Skyped at the ward mission leader’s house, which was so good! I wish we could have talked longer, but I know we will have plenty of time to talk after the mission. Thank you so much to everyone who sent me packages, letters, and Christmas cards, they are very much appreciated! I am really starting to fall in love with my mission, and am so excited for this next year. I have to commit everything I have to the missionary work here in Idaho. 

Sister Jensen

Caroling, Caroling! Week of December 19th

My Zone

Dear Family,

It has been a rather slow week, so I probably won't have much to report. We did have some really good days however, and I just love being a missionary during Christmas time. Getting to testify of Christ every day during this beautiful season is such a privilege. I just have to keep on reminding myself every time I think of missing Christmas with the family.

We got to teach a new investigator this week. He has a good Christian background, so teaching him wasn't too difficult. We took a member with us and she was able to tell him about her conversion story, which was a pleasant surprise because we had no idea. I love it when things like that work out. It was funny because his biggest problem with the church is that the worship services aren't as "charismatic" as he wished they were. It was a concern we had never heard before, so we weren't really sure how to address it. After the lesson was done, he kept on asking us how many lessons there are before he can be baptized, saying he was just curious. We have the next lesson set up for next week, we are excited!

We had another snow day on Friday. This time they sent out a mission wide text telling us we weren't allowed to drive. It was a long day, there is not much to do inside when you are a missionary. But we got some rest and were able to go out around 7 and see our recent convert, J. Then Saturday was a pretty perfect missionary day. We had our district meeting, and it is always fun to be with the other missionaries. Then we visited with Brother W. for a little bit, helping him around the house and teaching him more about the temple. After that we tracted for an hour or so and then had an awesome dinner with a family in one of the wards. We also had our Christmas party in the other ward.  We left the party a little early because we went caroling with the district! It was so fun, I am definitely going to make my district do it next year. I loved it because people don't close their door on you right away if you are singing in a big group. It is fun to see people's faces, whether they are surprised, happy, or even uncomfortable. After caroling for about an hour we went to a member's house and had hot chocolate and soup, which was much needed as it was freezing. We are doing it again on Christmas Eve, I am so looking forward to it! 

Well, I think that is all for now.  I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, remembering the glorious reason that we celebrate. I am so grateful that we have a Savior, Jesus Christ, and that through His atonement, we can return and live again with our Heavenly Father. 
I love and miss you all so much!


Sister Jensen