Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Springfield Episode 4

Not every week that we have in the mission field is the best, and not all of them are full of huge events or amazing stories. Sometimes, you just perform your calling the best you can and that's it.

It was one of those weeks.

There really wasn't too much to talk about, but I still feel like we did our best to help those around us.

We had a few great lessons this week. Shellie is progressing really well. She asked some great questions, like why we're out on missions and what exactly we do at our church. We talked and testified that we know this is Christ's church and invited her to attend next week. She seemed really eager to go and we're excited for her.

Side note, we saw a guy riding his bike without any pants on. Good job Oregon!

We also had lessons with some of our other progressing investigators. Xavier was supposed to get baptized this week, but that didn't happen. We're working with him and his mom to make sure he can get all the lessons and that his commitment and support levels are there. We're shooting for the beginning of December now. Everyone else we're working with seems to be doing well.

The Springfield Stake had their Stake Conference this weekend. It was really nifty. President Ennis is a great man and had some wonderful remarks about charity and what it truly means. We also had a member of the Seventy there presiding; Elder Blunck (I have absolutely no idea how to spell that). The spirit was there especially during the closing hymn I Believe in Christ, a personal favorite.

I think what really struck me the most this week came from a lesson we had with two less active members on Sunday. Now, I'll give a little bit of background on why this was so meaningful. For the past little while I've been struggling with thoughts of inadequacy and really wondering if I'm making any sort of difference. I mean, things have been slow for like the past 6 months of my mission. I was really discouraged and have been wondering what I was doing wrong. I mean, other missionaries are having success and seem to be doing a whole lot better than I am, so what's wrong with me? Even if it hasn't been at the forefront of my thoughts, it's definitely been in the back of my mind.

Now, Sunday night. We were talking with Sister Ryckman, a less active convert of about 20-30 years or so, who's trying to get herself to the temple. Also in attendance was my main man Brother Wilde, who's working to take the sacrament again. We get on the topic of how we feel like there's so much that we're not doing that we feel like we should be. During my studies, I stumbled on something I really loved, and I shared it with them.

In Mathew Chapter 5, Christ is giving the Sermon on the Mount. In the last verse of that chapter, the Savior gives the famous council to Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. We're counseled here to strive and eventually achieve a higher standard. I feel like this commandment that the Savior gives is often misunderstood.

There's a culture in the church and in the world that I've noticed of trying to be someone who isn't us; who we feel is like us but better, and calling that "Perfection". We're constantly comparing ourselves to those around us and trying to make ourselves "better." We're trying to reach a level that we think is perfect; the best job, the best clothes, the best car, the perfect family, the perfect marriage, the perfect everything. We try to eliminate all flaws and negative aspects of our lives trying to become something that we feel we HAVE to be at. This leads to so many problems and heartaches. That's not what the Savior wants, because that's not what He meant when he said to be ye therefor perfect.

In the 12th chapter of the 3rd Book of Nephi, Christ is giving his disciples in the Americas a similar address to the Sermon on the Mount that he gave back in Galilee before he performed the Atonement and ascended to heaven as a resurrected being. The last verse of that chapter gives the same council as the verse in Matthew, with one minor variation:

48 Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.

Jesus Christ, the only person to ever walk this earth with a life free from sin and transgression, performing every commandment given to him with exactness - a man who embodied the attributes of love, charity, obedience, and faith - a man who by all means lived a perfect life, didn't refer to himself as perfect. Not until he had died and been resurrected.

There's so much comfort to me in that realization. We're not commanded to be perfect meaning without flaw or fault, but rather to be perfect meaning to be complete or whole. In this context, to be made whole through the grace and merits of Jesus Christ's atonement. We're not commanded to be without flaw or to not make any mistakes; rather we're commanded to live the gospel and do our best. Heavenly Father wouldn't command us to be something we're not, or to aim for some infinite goal knowing full well we won't reach it. God loves us, no matter where we are in our walk with him. This life and gospel isn't a sprit to the finish line to see who gets to go and live with God again if you win first place. This life is like a marathon; a personalized struggle that we all go through, where we all have the same goal, the same prize on the other side; eternal life. It doesn't matter how long it takes you to get there, it just matters that you get there!

After teaching this during that lesson, the spirit really hit me. Hard. I know that I'm not expected to be the "perfect" missionary. I still get scared to talk to people, I still hate knocking doors, and I still struggle with the things that I go through, but that's exactly how it's supposed to be. If it wasn't, what would there be to learn? I was called here to be me, not anyone else. I'm very grateful for that insight going forward.

For anyone who is struggling with thoughts or feelings of not being good enough, or who are comparing themselves to some self-imposed standard of excellence or to the highlight reel of others, remember, you don't have to be discouraged. God loves us for who we are, faults and all, and as we try our best to do our best, then he can work through us. I pray that on your path to eventual perfection, you remember this.

I love you all so much. Thank you for everything and all that you do. It doesn't go unnoticed! Stay safe and keep your heads up.

Take it easy,
Elder Jensen

Bus shenanigans 

*misty mountain song from The Hobbit goes here*

I call this "Cultural Diversity"

Springfield Stake Conference 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Springfield Episode 3: Public Transportation and Intense Precipitation

Hey everyone! How's it going? It's your friendly neighborhood Elder Jensen here, live from Springfield Oregon. We got to experience fall for probably about a week or so, then the rain came. And it hasn't stopped since. I now understand the stereotypes of the Pacific Northwest.

Due in part to the rain and the fact that we're just sick of walking everywhere, we figured out how to use the bus system around here and it is SO HELPFUL OH BOY. Walks that'd take an hour are cut down to maybe 10 minutes at most. It gives us so much more time to get stuff done, which is awesome. The Lane Transit District is also home to some of the funniest individuals I've ever met, so that's up there too.

This has been a pretty interesting week; lots of highs and lots of lows. All in all though, it's been a pretty positive experience. Sometimes you just have to take a look at the bad to be able to enjoy the good a little bit more. I've definitely felt that.

This week technically started on Wednesday I guess after we got done with the temple. The Portland temple is fantastic by the way, just so you're all aware. The next day, we had every single one of our lessons cancel on us. We were able to talk to a few people, but everything that was set up happened to fall through. We went over to visit the Hastings for our lesson, and got some bad news. It turns out that Zabs dad heard some information about the church that he didn't like, so he didn't want us to come back. We were devastated; they were really starting to come around. Sister Hastings said she always felt good when we were over, and we were able to tell her that that was the spirit working in her. Hopefully she'll remember that and be able to come around sometime. The door is always open.

On Friday I went out to Oakridge (about 45 minutes outside Springfield) with Elder Garrett Peterson from Kaysville! It was good to spend some time with an old friend and work in someone else's area for a while. Oh man, some of the people out in Oakridge are NUTS! We went over to visit this lady named Anna who was the perfect mixture of hilarious and bonkers. We're sitting there talking to her when all of a sudden she jumps up and says she'll be right back. When she returns, she gives us two bowls just FULL of beets. Beets? Beets. That combined with conversation about the best type of marijuana, Native American spirituality rituals, how terrible white men are, and how she got banned from the local Jehovah's Witness congregation made for one roller coaster of a...lesson? I don't even know.

Things did start to pick up towards the end of the week though. We taught some great lessons to some less active members and our investigators. We found a new person to teach named Victor who's pretty much a member already, but just needs to be baptized. We're excited to be working with him and get to know him more.

We finished off the week with a special broadcast from Elder Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve. He was down in the Medford/Central Point area for regional training and gave a devotional for everyone too. It was awesome hear from an apostle in a more casual environment. There were so many wonderful things discussed and I learned a lot of how I can better my missionary work and discipleship to our Savior.

That's about it for me. Thank you all so much for all that you do; the prayers, love, and support mean more to me than you could imagine.

I hope you all have a wonderful week. Stay dry, I know I'm trying to!

Much love. Be good!

Elder Jensen

Take me down to the Springfield City where the fields are springs and the springs are fieldy

Oregon is pretty cool I guess 

Anna + Pete + Jensen

Huge hole in my right shoe so at the end of the rainy day this is what my brown shoes look like 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Springfield Episode Two: Lambor-feet-i Mercy (because walking)

Hey there home!

It's Elder Jensen again. Good to hear from you! I hope that you're staying warm and not being attacked by clowns?? (Why is that even a thing?)

Things are moving up here in the Springfield 2nd Ward. I can tell you, not having a car is kinda kicking my butt a little bit. Now now, i know that there are going to be people who say "Well on MY mission we had to walk EVERYDAY AND EVERYWHERE for 2 years uphill both ways to each investigators house blah blah." Yes, I know. You're true warriors and God bless you for your service.

So yeah, lots and lots of walking around. We sometimes bike around too, but it can be a bit of a hassle biking through Oregonian rain all day. It's actually been really nice to walk around. You get the chance to see and talk to people that you otherwise would have missed. You also become the target of a lot of attention when you're on foot, both good and bad. LOTS of people waving or shouting. It's kinda fun.

We had the chance to meet with a few of our other investigators this week. Enter Crystal, Laura, and Xavier. Crystal is a mom who's always had some interest about the church, but also has her hang ups (which she will LET YOU KNOW ABOUT HOLY COW). We had an awesome lesson with her in her carport of all places. She wants to know what's true so she can give it to her kids. Awesome lady. Laura is interesting too, she's desperately looking for the truth, but doesn't really like to commit to one thing. We've been helping her through that. Xavier is a cool kid! He's 10 and his mom is a less active member. He really likes going to church and wants to get baptized, but we really need his mom to be willing to take him to church and not have to rely on members for help. There are a lot of great people here who are searching for something, and the chance that we have to help them with that is such a blessing in my life.

We had a Zone Training where we talked extensively about how we can better plan our time. In doing that, a system was developed where we put every single person in our area book into our schedule and basically go nuts. It's actually been super helpful to get everyone sectioned off, and makes planning a heck of a lot easier! It's been a great blessing.

Now for some funny stuff. We locked ourselves out of our apartment last night and had to call in reinforcements to cover our butts. Mind you, it was like 9:30 at night. Whoops.

We had a zone service activity at an adult activities center doing a bunch of yard work and stuff. The FIRST STROKE of the rake I uncovered a nice rusty old hypodermic needle. Ok, awesome. Stroke two? Barbed Wire. Gotta love Oregon!

Other than that, it's been a rather uneventful week. Lots of walking around, lots of people not being home. We're sticking to it though!

Thank you for all that you do for me; the prayers and love and thoughts and all.

This program was made possible by viewers like you. Thank you! Love you all! Have a great week! 

Don't do drugs.
Elder Jensen

(Elder Garrett Peterson from Kaysville is in the same zone! He's in front with the red tie)

Autumn in Springfield 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Springfield Episode One: Toto, I Don't Think We're In Philomath Anymore

Hey there!

Springfield is super nice. It's definitely bigger than Philomath (by probably about 10 times). Seeing how we're close to the big city, we've got our fair share of crazies, which is actually super fun (I kinda missed the crazies a little bit).

We live in the best apartment I've been in so far. It's a house. Three bedrooms, two couches, TWO PIANOS AND A DRUM SET WHAT UP! It's really awesome. There are great missionaries around us as well.

Our area is pretty nice, from what I've seen of it. We don't have a car, which sucks a bit, but also means we get to walk and talk to more people (and hopefully drop a few pounds). It's like a total 180 from Philomath. We've actually got TOO MANY people to talk to. About 3 months ago, there were some less than stellar missionaries in the 2nd Ward, a set of elders and a set of sisters, and they both got taken out. My new companion and his companion got double transferred in and took over both set's teaching records. Needless to say, it's a heckofalot of stuff to cover.

Speaking of, my companion is named Elder Wikan. He's from Hurricane and has been out for about 3 months, which means that I'm his first companion after he's been trained. With the aforementioned criteria in place, I can say that this poor kid doesn't really have any idea what's going on. I'm trying to do my best to help him out, but it's been a slow going here for a few days. We're sticking to our guns though and getting after it.

Despite all the ground we have to cover, we've had a pretty solid week! A lot of it was just the two of us figuring our where in the heck we were going, but we had some awesome experiences. We starting teaching a part-member family named the Hastings this week. The mom is a member who wants her son to have a chance to learn as much about different religions as he can before he makes a decision of what he wants. We really tried to invite the spirit to be there to influence the family. We'll have to see how that goes.

The Spirit during General Conference was amazing! There were so many talks that really helped put in to perspective the things that I need to work on and ways to help those around me. And it was so great to see our sweet prophet be able to share a few things with us. What a wonderful man. We watched with some of the members. They are all so fantastic. This ward is great from what I've seen and heard so far. We watched both morning sessions with a family named the Walker's. They put a bunch of sheets around their living room to pay homage to King Benjamin's address. Pretty cool. We also watched with a family named the Luke's and our Bishop. I was in a hammock, Justin would be so proud of me.

Things are gong really well over here. I'm excited to be in this new area with all the new challenges and opportunities that we'll face.

Have a wonderful week!


Elder Jensen
142 Pleasant Street
Springfield, Oregon 97477

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Adventures in FLMTH Week 18: FINALE

What is the up my friends?

It's really starting to feel like fall over here in Oregon; we've got leaves a changin' colors, rain a drizzlin', and temperatures a droppin'! It's been super nice to melt a little bit every time we take a step outside. With a change in the weather also comes a change in people's attitudes, so we've been working to try and talk to as many people as we can. We've definitely seen a lot of blessings in the past few weeks together.

The headline story for this episode would have to be that tansfer calls were this weekend, and it was pretty up in the air about what was going to happen. Will I stay with Elder Searcy and finish training him, or will I go and have him stay? We decided that we had a breakdown of 49.9% chance of the first and a 49.9% chance of the second with a .2% chance of something else happening. Elder Searcy has said before "If you want to make God laugh, make an assumption", and that was never manifested more than when we got the call Friday night that fell into the category of the .2%. I'm going to leave Philomath and head down to the Springfield 2nd Ward with my new companion Elder Wikan. Now here's the crazy train Mr. Osborne, Elder Searcy is out too. He's going down to Winston in the Roseburg Zone to be follow-up trained by an Elder Larsen. We really didn't see that coming, but to make things ever weirder, they're shutting our area down. There won't be any missionaries in Philomath for at least six weeks. It's a bit of a bummer that there won't be anyone here to help us build off of the foundation that we set while I was here, but everything works according to God's timing.

I think that's probably the most important lesson that I've learned during my time in Philomath; that no one can ever really know what the big picture is except for our Heavenly Father. We sometimes try to handle everything ourselves and put our confidence in our own efforts, but there really isn't much we can do. Faith is us putting our trust in The Lord and his plan for us, even if we don't fully know why things are going a certain way or why we're doing something. There have been so many times where I've just sat in my bed at night and thought "What am I even doing here? Nothing is making a difference." I realized later that we have NO idea what's going on behind the scenes; where seeds are being planted, where people are being prepared, or what God has in store for us. He's truly in the details and works by small, simple, and VERY specific means. While I may not know right now what the future holds for Philomath, I'm definitely proud of the work that we did here and am grateful for the opportunity I had to serve with these great people.

We broke the news to the ward council at church on Sunday. The ward was at a little bit of a loss for words, but handled the news fairly well. Most everyone had the attitude of "we need to get our crap together if we want missionaries back in our ward" which I think is an answer to prayers. I think that Philomath is will get a huge push of member missionary work now going forward.

Other than saying goodbyes to people, not a whole lot else happened this week. On to a new adventure down in Springfield!

Thank you all so much for everything that you do. You're fantastic! Have a great week.

With love,
Elder Jensen

142 Pleasant Street
Springfield, Oregon 97477

My two sons! Guess what? Elder Carter is going to train so I'm going to be a Grandpa

Last District Meeting

The Fongers - a family we loved to teach!

The Pankella's one of my favorite families 

The Haslam's (who were basically my family in FLMTH) plus Mark and his girlfriend Tiffany