Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Spring Rain --> Winter Rain and the week I tried to be German

What it is everyone?! How's it going? How's the family?

This was a pretty good week over here in Oregon. We had a lot of fun stuff mixed in with equal amounts of craziness and excitement, but a good week nonetheless.

We were able to have some awesome lessons this week. One of my favorite developments as of late has been a new family that we've been working with; Stephen, Fawn and their four kids. We actually found them a while ago when we blitzed in our area for new investigators. We've been meeting with them fairly regularly over the past little while and they're SUPER involved. We found out that Stephen is actually a member but has been inactive since his youth and wants his family to have a life in the Gospel. Even though Fawn doesn't have a religious background and the kids are young, they're all very interested and retain a lot of information. I'm excited to see where they go from here.

On Thursday, we had our quarterly interviews with President Russell. It's always a great time to get to meet with President and talk about the Gospel. You know you're on the right track when you get sat down, get asked "Is there anything you want to discuss with me? No? Alright!", have a 5 minute conversation and then you're done. It's a good time.

Now on to the German thing. So there's this member in the ward that met this German lady named Babsi online and decided to marry her. I know, it's kinda weird but just wait, there's more. So the member, Brother Black, wants Babsi to learn about the Gospel but she doesn't speak English well, or basically at all. Brother Black also has some rather eccentric views about the Gospel so you can see where this is going. Brother Black asked us to teach Babsi. On Wednesday night we went over to the Black's for dinner with a family in the ward who's daughter speaks a little German. We have dinner and things are good, but then we come to the lesson. For starters, Babsi didn't know that we were trying to teach her, so she was a little confused during the whole situation. We usually try to establish some expectations with the investigators before we start teaching, but Brother Black didn't like that. He kept telling us to just start going and the Spirit would connect with her. Which is true, to an extent, but when the investigator doesn't know they're being taught, there's not much we can do. What was supposed to be an hour lesson turned into THREE, all through Google translate and a high schooler's German education. It was extremely confusing, but we were able to get the message across well and hopefully she will be receptive.

Other than that not a whole lot has changed. Ray is still super solid and is pumped to get baptized on the 9th. Everyone else is doing just hunky dory and things are swell.

On a more spiritual note, this week I decided to start using a study journal, more than just the notes app on my iPad. It's made a HUGE difference in the way that I study the scriptures and connect with the messages found in them. I encourage everyone to try it out for yourself, it'll change you life!

And now I'm off to the temple. I hope that everyone has a fantastic week. Talk to you all later.

Elder Jensen

The whole temple crew

Something Different

Good Morning or Afternoon or Evening (whichever specific time you happen to find yourself in whilst reading this entry),

So, this entry is going to be a little bit different. Instead of focusing on what events transpired this week, I'm going to try to focus on the things that I have felt and the things that the Spirit has confirmed to me. It might sound like I'm venting a little bit, but I've honestly grown so much this week it's kinda bonkers. Without anymore frivolity or introduction, this is it.

This week was not good. Honestly it was probably one of the most difficult times in my mission or even in my life, for that matter. It was the kind of week that makes you really rethink some of the things that are core and central to your life; why I'm out on a mission, why we go through the things we do, and the feelings of just giving it all up. What caused this valley in the sign wave of missionary work and of life? I'm not quite sure. I feel like there were several things that may have added up; a weeklong cold, frustration with myself and others, preexisting medical conditions causing all sorts of hullabaloo, things from my past nagging at my brain, stresses of accountability for myself and the Zone, and you name it . . . it was there.

Elder Cho and I went about the week doing the same type of things; teaching, finding, planning, the whole nine yards. But, I wasn't finding any joy in it. Any thoughts of accomplishment or success were dashed by feelings of guilt, anger or thoughts of "this doesn't really matter" I was reaching a crossroads. I could either continue to feel like this and waste my time out here (at least that's how I was thinking) or I needed to fix the situation.

Now, I don't recount this experience trying to get people to feel bad for me, I don't want that. What I do want is to share my testimony of the things that this week helped me learn. Albeit this week was rough, I am truly grateful for the experiences that I've had.

I learned that our trials are here to make us humble. "I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me" I know that without the grief I was feeling, there would be no way that I would truly come unto Heavenly Father with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. I didn't want to feel like this anymore. I literally could not keep living like this.

I learned that God truly does answer prayers. I plead to know what I should do, and I got my answer. I read Alma 5 and within those pages I found insights and comfort that I had never felt before.

I learned that Heavenly Father truly does love every one of His children. No. Matter. What. I felt a peace during my study that I can't deny. I felt the desire to change; to become what God has asked me to be. I asked for a Priesthood blessing and immediately after Elder Cho's hands were off my head, it was gone. Those thoughts and feelings of helplessness, depression and confusion were gone.

I feel I truly learned that the atonement is real and that it WORKS. One of the things predominately occupying my mind was thoughts of regret and guilt for the person I was before I left. I didn't like him, the things he said, the things he did. I felt minuscule under the calling that I was in. I felt hypocritical teaching others the gospel when I myself wasn't living it the way I knew I could be. But this week, I learned to forgive myself. I learned that true repentance is more than just a check and balance for mistakes that we've made. Repentance is our way of showing Christ we love Him, truly showing Him and our Father in Heaven that we're willing to forgive ourselves for our mistakes and the harm we may have caused others, and to turn to them. To become something better than we are.

I'm very grateful for this Gospel and for the church that represents it. I don't know everything and I know that trials and pains will still come, but without them life wouldn't mean anything. Christ's atonement wasn't Him being free from pain or anguish, but instead Him overcoming ALL things for us. For me. For you. I'm so grateful for Him, for the example that He set, showing us that all things are possible, that we truly have someone there who has felt our griefs and sorrows, or in this case - our horrible weeks. Again, I don't understand everything but I know that God is there and sent His son to become our Savior so we can become more like Him. I know they love us and because of that, we can keep moving forward.

Here's to better weeks for all of us, and to the blessings that come through trials. I'm so grateful for all of your love and support. I can't do this without you. Love you all so much!

This is Elder Jensen signing off for this week. Until next time, make sure to floss thoroughly and be nice to the grumpy cashiers (they're just having bad day).

Take Care,
Elder Jensen

Monday, March 7, 2016

The KatTism

Dear outside world,

It finally happened. Kat got dunked, hard-core. But, we'll get to that later.

Hey howdy hey everybody. It's been a good week here in Grants Pass. And by good week, I mean another kind of slow one that's still good nonetheless.

We'll get right on in to the center of the action for you. This week started out with us going up to Eugene for MLC to prepare for ZTM the following Friday. We were instructed by the mission presidency, Sister Russell, and the Assistants. It was a good meeting in all, but at the same time very VERY long. We actually didn't even get back to Grants Pass until like 8:30 that night. But I did have the opportunity to do my first baptismal interview all by my grown up self which was just swell as heck! Her name was Natasha and she was very excited to join the church.

Again, not the most exciting of my weeks here, but still a very good one. We taught some great lessons, especially to Joe Snook and Ray. We introduced Elder Cho to Joe (that rhymed) ((unintentional)) and I had the great privilege to hear Elder Cho's conversion story. It was wild and very spiritually uplifting. We think that Joe's going to finally accept an invitation hear in a little while, so keep your fingers crossed. Ray is also super excited to ditch his old life behind and keep moving forward to the gospel. He's locked in for the 2nd of April to make that commitment so mark your calendars.

I was able to teach my second ZTM on Friday which was great. We talked at length about working with members, the Book of Mormon, and invitations to be baptized. Everyone received it very well and enjoyed what we had to say.

Saturday was by far the best day of the whole week. We had an action packed sushi filled day that culminated with the best of the best being 'tized. The KatTism! It was such a spiritual experience all in true, off the wall, Kat fashion. We actually almost didn't have the baptism because we thought the font wasn't filled, but crisis averted. Kat was complaining how the jumpsuit made her look fat and was worried that the font was going to change colors after she got dunked (which we had to do three times, in true Kat fashion - it was marvelous!). She's awesome. All the silliness aside, she's really spiritual and very solid. She bore her testimony on Sunday and said "I really do know this church is true. If I didn't, I wouldn't have joined it." Such a sweet testimony immediately followed by her softly saying the words "crushed it" to herself as she sat down. It was the bomb diggidy! We finished off the night with an amazing sushi dinner. What else could a guy ask for?

That's about it for this week. Stay tuned for more crazy shenanigans and other stuff. This is Elder Jensen signing off.

Love you all!
Elder Jensen

The KatTism

Sushi Night

Live from Pday