Monday, July 17, 2017

Medford 24: OEM 105: Finale

I don't really know if I'll be able to find the words to express everything about the past two years. Even if I could write forever, I still wouldn't have the words. I've had so many life changing experiences and seen so many miracles over the last twenty four months. I've learned so much and felt the love that our Savior and Heavenly Father have for us in true abundance. It's been an incredible ride.

I can't take you through every conversation I've had with people; from every homeless man yelling at us, to all the insightful and spirit filled lessons. I can't tell you every single miracle I've seen; the small or the large. And I can't share every personal spiritual experience that I've had. But, I can share with you all the things that I know for myself to be true, independent of anyone else, because I've come to find them out for myself by the Spirt of God.

The first thing I know is that God loves us. He loves us SO much. So much that he allowed his only perfect Son to live, die, and live again, so that we could do the same. I can't thank him enough for that gift to us. I've seen the love of God in the people of Oregon. No matter the circumstances we face, the mistakes we have made, or the questions we may have, God is always there. Always. We spiritually and physically cannot cannot drop lower than the light of Christ shines. He's descended below all things and is there to lift us up, all we need to do is reach out.

I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I've had the amazing opportunity to study the Book of Mormon in depth over the course of my time in the mission field. That Book has changed my life, and I've seen it change the lives of others. It's brought so much peace and comfort to my soul, answered so many questions, and given me so many answers and so much direction. There's no way that the Book of Mormon could have come about other than the way that Joseph Smith said that it did; by the gift and power of God. I've truly come to love the scriptures, and I couldn't imagine myself living without the guidance and spirit they bring me.

I know that the church is true and the Restoration happened. Joseph Smith was and is a prophet and the first of this dispensation. I know that that office has been passed on and that we have a prophet today. I know that the organization and doctrines taught in the church are inspired from our Heavenly Father. I'm so grateful for the members of the church that I've had the opportunity to serve and be served by. It's such a blessing to know that wherever you go, they'll be a network of people that love and care about you and are willing to help in any way they can.

I've come to know for myself that God truly answers our prayers and knows us each personally. Countless times I've found myself on my knees or praying in my heart for either myself or others. Every time, and in His own time, Heavenly Father has comforted me, strengthened me, answered my questions, and forgiven me of my flaws and mistakes. Even when we can't see the end clearly, He can, and He will guide us along. I know that everything that we go through is for our good in the end. Every trial, every challenge, every mistake, every shortcoming, and every experience we have will pull us closer to our Heavenly Father, so long as we have faith that it will.

Oh man there's so much I wish I could write.

I love Oregon. I love the people here. I'm so grateful for the investigators, companions, leaders, fellow missionaries, members, and everyone that I've had the opportunity to work alongside. I know that the Lord calls us to where we need to be, when we need to be there. I'm so grateful that the Lord has allowed me to serve here and now. I wouldn't trade the experiences I've had for anything in the world.

The point I'd like to close on is one near to my heart. I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ changes lives. I've seen my own life and the lives of others changed so much for the better. I've seen a homeless part-member family living in a tent on a bike path become active members with callings, jobs, and a home. I've seen an anti-Mormon investigative journalist have his heart softened and grow to love the Book of Mormon. I've seen life long inactive members come back and become some of the strongest carriers of the spirit that I know. I've seen the little changes that people have made in their lives that have brought them closer to their Savior. And I've seen the effects of Christ's gospel change my life.

The church hasn't always been something that was super important to me. I could say that I was a more active member of The Church of Me, Myself, and I. The church was just kind of--there. And frankly, I didn't care too much about it. Never would I have imagined that I could be where I am now. The Savior has changed my life. Being his representative, living his gospel, studying more about Him, and focusing all my time and effort on His purposes has blessed me incomprehensibly and changed my very nature. I've come to know that the gospel is so much more than just a lesson we learn in Sunday School, or an excuse to kill three hours on Sunday; it's a way of life. It's THE way of life, from He who is the way, the truth, and the life. Because of Him, the Plan of Salvation is possible, forgiveness is possible, and we can become so much better than we ever possibly imagined. I am so grateful for Him and I love Him so much.

I couldn't put it better than the words of my favorite hymn:

"Nearer, dear Savior, to thee,
Nearer, nearer to thee--
Ever my anthem will be
Nearer, yet nearer to thee!"

Thank you everyone for all the love and support you've shown me over these last two years. It's changed my life. I am so grateful for the chance I've had to come to know these things for myself, and I leave them in the name of our Savior and Friend, Jesus Christ, amen.

Be fun, have safe.

Elder Chase Jensen

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Medford 23: Independence Day, Interviews and Investigators

Our week was really good! It was a to slower than the last week but still a good one nonetheless.

On Tuesday, we spent the celebration of our county's independence by pruning pears, eating hotdogs, and meeting President and Sister Orton! They're such great people, and I'm excited to see how the mission is influenced under them.

President Orton is a lot more soft spoken and mellow than President Russell, which was really weird at first. They shared some wonderful thoughts with us and we had the opportunity to learn more about them. They even took time to interview us each briefly so they could see us and talk with us. It was really sweet. I wish I could have more time with them, but I know they'll do great and the mission will too!

The rest of the week was spent going around and contacting as many people as we could from the finding adventure last week. It was actually rather difficult, but still a good experience.

We had a lesson with this young man named Tommy which was really great. He's the nephew of a member of the ward who's looking into the church. He's going to be a bit of a process, but I think the spirit will work on him!

Some bad news, Pheona and her family kinda just disappeared for a week or two, so we haven't seen her in a while. That means that she won't be getting baptized before I leave, which is a bummer. But it's all the Lord's timing and not mine!

We also got in contact with this family of former investigators who have a lot of potential. We tried to teach in the midst of crazy kiddos and dogs that just NEEDED to play fetch. We eventually were able to get to a great spiritual discussion!

And we went back down to California again for another baptismal interview. It's such a pretty place and the drive was super fun as always. I got to hang out with the Yreka Elders for a while which was also super nice!

Today we spent the day in Ashland. We played frisbee, volleyball, ping pong, basketball, bummed around the city, and had some really big pizza! It was super fun and a great way to finish off p-days.

There've been so many emotions this week, I tell you what. It's so crazy to think that two years have come and gone so fast. I wouldn't trade this experience for the world. The people I've met, the things I've learned, the testimony I've strengthened, the trials I've faced, the fun I've had, I've loved it all so much. I'm going to miss it, but, like I said, it's all in the Lord's time and I'm needed elsewhere now!

The church is so true, darn it. So true.

See you next week!

Elder Jensen

Medford Zone ft. President and Sister Orton


I may need some new socks

Monday, July 3, 2017

Medford 22: Doormageddon

Happy (almost) 4th of July!

Our week was absolutely fantastic here in Medford! I've definitely seen the hand of the Lord in everything that we've been doing lately. There have been so many miracles this week and we've been so so blessed.

I had an idea a few months ago to try a challenge; knock a thousand doors in a week. When I talked to Elder Searcy about it, he was super on board so we packed up and hit the streets. Every spare minute that we had was spent knocking doors.

We met some really awesome people during our escapades this week. We met stoner rock and roll teenagers, Christian poets, old crazy men, lots of Catholics, a few new members, and lots and lots of really great people!

We didn't knock as many doors as we would have wanted, only bringing in about 333. BUT MIRACLES BECAUSE WE FOUND 13 NEW PEOPLE TO TEACH!!!!! It was fantastic!

On top of all the knocking, we were able to find an investigator that was hiding from us named Rebecca. Elder Searcy fixed her truck and that got her interested in us again! She has a really deep conversion, but has some social problems she's trying to face. It'll be really good for her to be a part of the ward soon though.

We also sat down with a family named the Willards and had a really good lesson/conversation with them. They also made pretty bomb brownies, which was swell.

We had an exchange with the Zone leaders, the last on my mission. I got to go with Elder Johnson for the day and we had a blast visiting a ton of members from the First Ward. It was so great to see so many people again. We had a dinner with two of my favorite families from the First Ward too, so all in all, it was a good way to end the week.

That's about it. Stay tuned for next weeks letter. Have a great week!

Elder Jensen

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Medford 21: Roooooooad Trips!

Our week was really scattered and hectic, but great nonetheless!

On Tuesday night, a few other Elders from the south and I all buckled down and drove up to Eugene for our last temple trip as missionaries. We stayed the night in the Assistants apartment (which was a blast - 12 or so Elders in one apartment is hilarious.) and then the following morning, we met up with everyone else and drove to Portland! It was such a great session and it was awesome to see everyone I'm going home with one last time.

The temple is so great. It was also the last time I'll see President and Sister Russell before they go home, which was a sweet experience.

On Saturday, we helped a less active member move some stuff out of his apartment, and then we geared up for a road trip to Yreka, California so Elder Searcy could do a baptismal interview. It was the second time I've been in California on my mission, and it's crazy how much a group of people can change in less than 50 miles. The drive down there was gorgeous though, and we didn't even get asked any fruit smuggling related questions when crossing the border! Wahoo!

Because of the excessive amounts of road tripping, we didn't get a whole lot of things done, but we were able to find some great people to teach and get out and about a bit.

It's really been a great last few weeks and we're seeing the Lord's hand in our lives everyday.

I love being a missionary!

I love you all so much! Have a great week and talk to you soon!

Elder Jensen

The 26 missionaries leaving July 18

President and Sister Russell

Poor quality picture of the MTC group

Oregon ------> California

Not sure if the thermostat is broken or if it's just that hot!

Medford 20: A Lot of Lasts

My week was really good. It's so hot over here, my goodness.

It's been really nice to get to know the ward and the area and everyone in Medford. The ward is great. The area itself is way nicer than Phoenix, but there are still some less well to do areas, but overall it's way nice. There are some really gorgeous houses.

Being with Elder Searcy again has been really fun. It's kinda like we just picked up where we left off, but we've both grown a ton. He's a good stinking missionary now. We've been tearing it up!

We've seen a lot of miracles and have really been living the missionary life. There's a ten year old girl named Pheona who hasn't been baptized yet (her parents are both members) so we've been meeting with her fairly regularly. We've set a baptismal date with her for the 1st of July (but it might be the 7th) but we're super excited for her! She's a pretty solid ten year old and her family is super great.

On Wednesday we had Zone Conference in Central Point with the Medford, CP, Grants Pass, and K Falls Zones. It was really nice to see a large number of missionaries in one place. It was really surreal that it was my last one. It was also President and Sister Russell's last Conference too, so the spirit was super strong. I had lots of thoughts and memories from my mission come flooding back. I'm really going to miss this place when I'm gone.

On Saturday we did some volunteer service at the Special Olympics. It was SUCH a blast! We helped officiate the Bocce tournament for all the athletes that were there. It was really swell to get out and help. We also leaned that I'm garbage at bocce.

This upcoming week we're having a lot of fun too. On Wednesday we're going to Portland for the last temple trip and then on Saturday we're going to Yreka, California for a baptismal interview. It should be a blast!

I love you all so much! Have a wonderful week and talk to you soon!

Elder Jensen

Zone Service at the Special Olympics

Beat the heat

Medford 19: Running Through the 6th

This week has been really good! The move into the 6th Ward apartment was easy for me, I didn't even really need to pack at all, just get it there.

We've had the ZL's living in the apartment for the last week, so that was super fun. The place is a mess from having six Elders living in it within two weeks, but we're going to get that taken care of here pretty soon.

More on the work side of things. The transfer has started so well. It's so good to back with Elder Searcy again. I was his first companion, and he's going to be my last. It's a good feeling! We've both grown a ton over the past 10 or so months and the change has been so good. We're both working hard and seeing miracles already. It's been such a blessing and such a humbling experience. We're also both still huge goofballs, so I guess some things never change.

But our week. The ward has been awesome with the double transfer in. We've met a ton of the members and have really connected well with a lot of them. Our Bishop and his family are some of my favorite people I've ever met. We had dinner with them on Tuesday and have already started working with some of the referrals we've gotten from them. There's also this Ward missionary named Margie who's the sweetest old Southern lady in the world. We had a lesson with her next door neighbor and she was just a gospel rockstar during the whole thing! So we're hopefully going to keep working with her and her neighbor Kim on baptism.

We've also found a ton of really cool people to teach. Elder Searcy had a great rush of inspiration and shouted under this guy's garage door asking if he wanted to talk to us. We ended up teaching him the Plan of Salvation for an hour and we're going back to teach him more. Better yet, he knows the Bishop's family well so there's an in there.

We were walking down the street when I spotted a dollar in the bushes. I picked it up and this guy from across the street says ,"Did you just pull that dollar out of that bush?" To which I said "Well...yeah?" He thinks for a moment, obviously mesmerized by my ability to create money from my fingers and says "Woah...spend it...wisely." I was cracking up.

Also, we went down to Klamath Falls for a baptism that Elder Searcy was a part of. We drove down with a recent convert from 5th Ward to watch his (the driver's) sister get baptized. It was so good to go back to the old stomping grounds! I haven't been there for like 18 months and it was great to see members of the ward again.

We had our last round of interviews with President Russell. It was really tender. He's been such a great mission President and I've been so thankful to have him there for me. We also talked about going home stuff, which was weird. It flies by so fast kiddos!

That's about it though! Have a great week. See you soon! 😉


Elder Jensen

Young Man on Small Creek (2017)

The Peterson Clan

Monday, June 5, 2017

Medford 18: Medford ---> Medford?

So, we've got crazy mission news as always.

Earlier this week, Elder Zilles' companion had to go home for some surgery, so he was stuck with us for the rest of the week. I've been Elder Zilles temporary companion for almost as long as I've been with real companions now.

On Friday we got transfer news, the last call of my mission! And things went down. They took Elder Green and I both out of Phoenix and now we'll only have one set of missionaries in the First Ward.

Elder Green is going to go to Gold Hill, and I'm going right across the street to the Medford 6th Ward. And my companion? Elder Searcy, my trainee! It's super weird, but it's also going to be super fun!

The rest of the week was spent cleaning up our apartment and moving everything into the 6th Ward apartment.

On Saturday we did something really cool though. There was a service project that involved us building really small houses. It was a blast and it was a great opportunity to get out and in the community.

That's about it.

Elder Jensen

Medford Zone!