Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Our Frozen Sister March 24, 2014

Dear Family,                                                                                                                         March 24, 2014
MERRY CHRISTMAS! I am pleased to inform you that it is once again Christmas in Michigan! It has snowed four times this past week. FOUR. TIMES. Excuse me, but wasn't the first day of Spring this last week? Jokes on us apparently. It was snowing this morning right before we had companion study so we decided that "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear" was an appropriate choice for our opening song. I finally understand why Michiganders never take down their Christmas decorations. We even saw a full blown Christmas tree in one persons house this week. I think my California grown body is starting to reject the winter temperatures and clothes that go with it. I just can't bring myself to wear two pairs of pants, gloves and snow boots in SPRING. My body calendar keeps saying, "It's March/April and that means shorts." The elders in my district were giving me a hard time last week because I showed up to district meeting two weeks ago in a knee length skirt and regular shoes. I'm pretty sure they kept their comments about my pasty white legs to themselves. 
Besides the fact that Michigan can't get it's seasons in order, I'm great! I think I had the flu this past week because I remember getting home from district meeting on Wednesday and falling asleep and not waking up until 5 the next morning. I can honestly say that I don't think I've slept for 15 hours in a row before so that was a new experience. I'm doing a lot better now. Sister Anderton and Sister Mortensen were able to get a lot of things done (updating our area book, putting together a map of our area and contacting a lot of potentials) while I was out so it thankfully wasn't a complete waste of the day. 
Transfer numero uno just ended! I am on my second transfer! That transfer was an ETERNITY. It can't believe that only a transfer ago I was leaving the MTC. It feels like the MTC was at least a year ago. I think part of the whole time distortion thing is that there are really only three days in a week for missionaries: Sunday, P-Day and the rest of the week. It is really hard to differentiate days so I think that contributes a lot my whole skewed perception of time. Whenever I go to write emails I have to have my planner out so I can look at each day and remember what we did. So. Much. Mental. Exertion. Anyway, here are the changes for this transfer: SIster Anderton is being transferred to Big Rapids (an hour North of here and colder. Take that Brazil!) and we are getting a sister from Mason named Sister Harris. I do not know anything about Sister Harris other than she's been out about a year and that she is really sweet. I am excited to work with her and Sister Mortensen this transfer. I am extremely hopeful that the Spring will thaw out the Michiganders and their hearts and we'll see more success in the coming transfer. The elders in my ward are making some great progress with their investigators so there is the potential for some great things in the Grand Rapids Ward! 
We had a miracle this week. We have been trying to visit a less active member in our ward for weeks now. We met with her once and had a great time with her and her four and eight year old sons. She hasn't been active since she started college and we really think that if we can get her to church, it will rekindle a flame. The problem that we have been facing is that she won't let us in to her apartment complex. I think I mentioned a couple weeks ago that everything fell out of my bag but it ended up being a good thing because it delayed us getting to the door and getting there right when someone was coming out so we got into the building and were able to knock on her door. That's how we got in the first time. She missed the appointment we had with her and we've been trying ever since to get in touch with her. Last couple times we've gone the light has been on in her apartment and every time we buzz the apartment, the light goes off. Well, this last time we went we prayed for a miracle. We prayed that somehow we would get into her building. As we walked to her building, I was watching intently, waiting for someone to come out of the building so we could catch the door. No one came. The light in the apartment was on and we buzzed. The light went off. We all looked at each other and knew that we were all feeling/thinking the same thing. Sister Mortensen half jokingly pulled on the door to see if it was open and to our utter amazement, the door opened. We stared at the door and each other dumbfounded for a couple seconds. We had been given a miracle. We'd been given the thing we prayed for. I've reflected a lot on it since and once of the things I have learned from it is that I shouldn't limit the way Heavenly Father can answer my prayers. I was expecting that Heavenly Father would answer my prayer in a couple ways and I didn't give consideration to the fact that He can answer my prayer anyway He sees fit, even ways I haven't considered. I wonder how many ways thus far He has answered my prayers and I just haven't realized it yet. That's a humbling thought. She wouldn't answer her door but we ran into a guy who "just so happened" to be walking out of his apartment when we got there and told us that he'd been to our church in Florida. Wait, what? He liked the church there so we gave him the address to the church here. Then he went back into his apartment. Heavenly Father produces miracles all the time. It's awesome.
Here is the best story of the week: Sister Mortensen and I scare Sister Anderton all the time because it's hilarious. We were having a family home evening lesson with the Johnson Family and Brother Johnson told us about scaring the pants off of his son one night (It involved Trent talking to himself for 10 minutes, Bro. Johnson hiding in a closet and Connor getting so scared he whinnied like a horse and posed like a velociraptor. It was hilarious) so naturally  we told them about how much we like scaring Sister Anderton. After our lesson, Sister Anderton had to use the restroom. Once she was in there, Sister Johnson leaned down to us and said, "Sisters, go scare Sister Anderton." We then looked at Brother Johnson and said, "Brother Johnson, YOU scare Sister Anderton." So he went and hid under a table just around the corner from the bathroom and waited. It could not have gone more perfectly. We asked Brother Johnson afterwards what he thought of Sister Anderton freaking out and he said, "I didn't expect it to be so high." Sister Anderton is a good sport about it but yesterday when we went over to their house Sister Anderton made us promise that we wouldn't scare her. 
I always don't think I have anything to say about the week but then I look back and realize that I write a lot. Before I go, I want to extend an invitation to you this week. We have been talking a lot with the members about the power of the Book of Mormon. When we read the Book of Mormon, we are reading the words that God has given to the prophets and as God's word, there is power in the Book of Mormon. There is an incredible Spirit that comes as we read the Book of Mormon. I can't imagine a better book to gain comfort, peace, or determination from. I know that the Book of Mormon has the power to touch lives in a way that our words can't so my invitation to you this week is to share a scripture that has touched your life with someone else. It could be a member, non-member, less active or a home/'visiting teachee, just share a scripture with them and why it has meant so much to you. Or even just send a text that says, "Hey, I thought of u. Read D&C 50:40-44". Get creative, be simple. :)

I love you all so much! Have a fantastic week!
Your Michiganary,

Sister Jensen 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sis. Jensen, March 17, 2014

Dear family,                                                                                                                                          March 17, 2014
I can't believe it's Monday again! ("No, I specifically remember Monday being last week." Anyone, anyone? Tangled.) I look forward to Mondays. It's nice just to feel connected to the world in a small way. You all sound SO BUSY! What happened to the simple life? Applause to mom for being the miracle bus driver and meeting goer. Geez. And congrats to Tim for your victories! I am so proud of you! You little stud, you. Hopefully Angela and Dad get to see you more than just the mornings.  
This week has been... good. We have been facing a lot of challenges here in Rockford. This last week I told my companions, "You know all those missionary videos you watch before your mission, with the great "Called to Serve" music in the background and you want to cry because you imagine yourself like that? I have discovered that they are all a lie." Not really but I catch myself thinking sometimes, "This is not what I saw on Youtube or The District videos." Lessons you teach in person rarely happen like the ones you seen in the videos, they're definitely more awkward than you would think. I wish contacting and getting referrals was as easy as they make it look in the videos. Plus bizarre things happen ALL THE TIME when you're a missionary. You just attract weird. Maybe because we're a little peculiar ourselves that we're naturally just drawn together. Missions are always a grand adventure.
The troubles we have been facing for the past couple weeks is that EVERY THING has been falling through. Our backups to our backups to our backups have been falling through, that's how bad it's been. We had a training meeting a couple weeks ago and someone said that "your plans should be good enough that people's agency isn't a reason that plans fall through" which made us feel like terrible missionaries because sometimes that's what happens. If people's agency wasn't a reason that things fall through, we wouldn't need backup plans. Or in our case, backup backup backup plans. One of the funny Michiganderisms (Michi-gander-isms: quirky things that the people of Michigan do) is a thing called "West Michigan Nice". Translation: Yes! we'd love to have you come back. *two days later* We love our church and we're not interested. It happens all the time. We've gotten pretty good at telling which people are being honest with us and the ones who are just being "West Michigan Nice". I think the purpose of it is to not appear rude and offend people when you first meet them but then they end up doing that anyway the second time around. In my mind, it's kind of the equivalent of "Bless her heart" in the South. 

In spite of the Michiganderisms we run into, Rockford is a great community. I have met so many great Christian people here. We sometimes like to drop in on a potential investigator named Christi. She has a wood working shop/garage thing called "The Garage of Wonders" (look it up on Facebook). Christi is seriously awesome. She is so full of love for people and loves to rocking out to Christian music. She always welcomes us in and loves to talk with us about the church. We wish she would stop reading anti and let us teach her. Maybe someday we'll reach that step. We also have a  potential investigator named Carol. She is super into family history and her Finnish ancestry. We have been trying to get her to come with us to the Family History Center and do some research but weather and life has been getting in the way. She loves to have us over though and feed us. We're trying to introduce the Gospel more and more and hopefully by coming with us to the FHC, we can make some progress.

I think part of the missionary calling is being able to eat. Seriously, there are no bounds. Even if you're full to the max you still find ways to fit down another helping and dessert. We had a couple days where we got double booked for meals or a person we visited would feed us right before a dinner appointment so we learned to shimmy it down and thank our host. You are also able to eat weird things as a missionary. When you visit a member in a poor part of town, you know what it means for them to be feeding you and you better eat what's on your plate, honey. I am really looking forward to it being above freezing in mornings so I can go outside and run around.
Funny story: it's been killing us that we been using our car so much so I proposed a brilliant idea: let's plan things to do in the area around our apartment so we can walk to places instead of using our car. Things have been melting and so I thought the sidewalks should at least be clear enough to walk on them. I was wrong. There was instead all the snow from the roads on top of the sidewalks. So we hiked up our skirts and climbed on top of the drift and started walking on top of the snow. I assumed that it was all packed snow. Instead it was a thin layer of ice and then melting snow underneath so as we walked we would sometimes stay on top of the ice but more often we would break through the ice into knee deep, dirty snow. This is how our steps went: Step, step, step, step. THWUMP, shriek, step ste-THWUMP, step, step, step, TWHUMP, THWUMP, THWUMP. I don't think Sister Anderton was very happy with my suggestion by the end and I'm pretty sure everyone who saw us walking thinks that those Mormon girls who knock on their door are even more strange. Oh well. I made it up to her and suggested that we go and get peanut butter pie to celebrate Pi Day. Always a good choice.  

The work is slow but we're starting to see some blessings poke through. We got a referral from a member without asking! It was awesome! A guy researched our church and went to Sacrament meeting yesterday because he wanted to. He's not even a member! A member told us yesterday that our presence is noticed in the community and people are warming up to us being here. It's starting to warm up so more people are willing to talk to us at the doorstep. The priesthood blesses lives and that's always a good thing. My companions and I have been talking about the trials we've been facing recently and we've come to the consensus that even though we walk through thorns now, we will look back and only see roses. This work is hard but I can see the roses starting to bloom, especially in my personal life. The Lord's hand is everywhere and as President Monson promised us this last General Conference, "He will not fail thee nor forsake thee." I know that Heavenly Father loves His children. He loves us individually. I know He knows me and my needs and He blesses us as we do those things that please Him. We just need to trust His timing and know that everything will work out for our good.
I love you all so much and I am grateful for your prayers. I know it is silly but it is definitely the prayers of His people that allows imperfect and weak things to do such a great work. Have a wonderful week!
Sister Jensen
PS My companions and I were brainstorming FHE games awhile ago and I brought up the squirt bottle game that we used to play on Monday nights. We've played it with a couple families and they've LOVED it. Everyone looks at me weird when I explain that getting squirted in the face is a good thing but they all love it and we have some great laughs.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sis. Jensen March 11, 2014

My dearest family,

I got your package! It came on a day that I needed something to be happy about haha. I've been a little sick (flu sick) this past week. I think I picked up something from the ward. Fifteen of the boys in our ward threw up this past week so I can see very easily picking something up from someone there. The package was a nice little package of sunshine. And I LOVE the pictures! I show everyone my wonderful family! 

I was talking to a member yesterday and I asked her what kinds of things she like to hear about from her son that's on a mission in Denver. She said she likes hearing about the little things. So in this email I'd like to tell you about the little things.

We get up at 6:29am. We have an alarm set for 6:10am and one for 6:29am (my companions have a hard time waking up, that's why there's two). We immediately make our beds and kneel and have companion prayer. Then we seperate to "exercise". Exercising in the morning is incredibly difficult and each of us do various things to work out. I usually do yoga because stretching feels nice in the morning and you can lay down and take deep breaths and justify it as yoga. We then get ready for our day (shower, eat, read other materials) and then at 8:00am we have personal study. I always look forward to personal study. My understanding has improved significantly since I started my mission. At 9:00am we gather, sing (something Elders don't do), and discuss our personal studies and plan/practice any lessons that day. At 10:00am, we have training for me. Me and my traniers (companions) go over material every week to help me progress as a missionary. After training, we will either go to Grand Rapids to visit less active sisters or we go to an area to go door knocking. We are allowed 1250 miles this month for our car so we have to use them wisely. When we door knock, we each take turns being the person to start the conversation. We plan lunch at some point in the day and usually more door knocking after lunch when people are more likely to be home (kids are usually getting out of school at this time). Sometimes if we've had a long day of door knocking and we're not seeing a ton of success, we will go visit potential investigators, less active members or members from our ward. We try to have a dinner appointment every night and we've been working on making commitments with the members and following up. We're not allowed to door knock when it's not light outside so in the evenings we do a lot of drop by visits or follow ups with the members in our areas. At 8:30pm we start wrapping things up so we can get home by 9:00pm and do planning for the next day. Sister Anderton likes going to be early so we try to be in bed by 10:00pm. That pretty much sums up every day. Monday is Preparation Day, Wednesday is District Meeting (this Wednesday is Half Mission Training!), Thursday is weekly planning (until 12 or 1pm), and Sunday is church and associated meetings. We stay pretty busy as missionaries.

This week was an interesting week. We got dropped by our investigator B and we were completely fine with that. I think I told you that one time we visited her, we had a weird feeling the whole time. Well this past week, we had that weird feeling again and because of the things she was saying to us, we felt that we shouldn't go back. We're trying to work with a couple of part member families but they keep avoiding us for various reasons. It drives Sister Anderton crazy, but at least we're all learning to have patience and charity. We will be seeing J again this week and we're praying that goes well.

We had a crazy experience door knocking this past week. We ran into a couple while they were walking their dogs and talked to them for a minute about the Book of Mormon and the lady told us flat out that she completely disagreed with it. So we moved on and resumed what we were doing. Well, we knock into this house with its garage door open and cars out front and no one answers. And then they lady comes up the drive way and tells us to come in because she wants to "talk" with us. That's never a good sign because people rarely want to just "talk" when they see us. She kept encouraging us to come inside so we all looked at each other and hesitantly went inside. She sat us down and she said, "I don't think you completely understand what you believe. Let me tell you what you believe." No joke, that is what she said. Lady, don't you see we're missionaries. She then pulled out her notebook and told us a history of our church, what we believed and how it was all wrong. She pulled out some way deep doctrine too, which was really surprising. We asked her what church she went to and she said the Blythefield Baptist Church. Well, that explains a lot. The Blythefield Baptist Church hires a couple preachers who "specialize" in Mormonism to teach their congregation about our heretic ways. They're usually the people you see at General Conference protesting. They even raise money to save our souls. It's kind of mind boggling to think about. The crazy thing was  is that she was pretty spot on about what we believe, it was mostly just out of context doctrine. Yes, you're going to think we worship Joseph Smith when you quote Doctrine and Covenants 135:3 to us and don't include "save Jesus only" in that quote. Whatever, minor details. We were able to bear our testimonies, hand her a card and leave. Right before we left she asked us, "Do you think that I will go to heaven?" That's an interesing question to ask. I really think she was asking a sincere question and I was able to look her in the eye and tell her she would. Hopefully, we planted a good seed.

I wish I had more time to tell you more adventures but I must go! Enjoy the pictures! Help the missionaries in our ward in whatever way you can!

Sister Jensen   

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Sis. Jensen, March 5, 2014

My dear family,

Can you believe it?? I've been out a month! Woo-hoo! Apparently in mission speak, that means it's my "birthday". I am one year old. It's kind of sad when you think about it because that means I'll die when I'm 18. Anyway, it's actually all of our birthdays! Sister Mortensen has been out eight months and Sister Anderton has been out six months. This month has felt like an eternity and I'm looking forward to the next month not being quite so long.

I feel bad that I haven't told you about our investigators but that's mostly because we haven't had that much activity. This area only opened about 5 months ago so it's a relatively new area. And with it being a pretty religious town, not very many people feel the pressing need to listen to us. But I am proud to report that we had two awesome lessons to non-members last week!

The first was with B. When saw her two weeks ago, the whole lesson was off. We don't know why but the Spirit left and refused to come back. We left that lesson feeling really weird and it took us a while to get the Spirit back after that. We were extremely cautious going back to see her this past week because losing the Spirit as a missionary is never good. But we showed up and she had made us lunch! It was great! She had already been reading the Book of Mormon when Sister Anderton and Sister Mortensen knocked into her so went over what she was reading and talked about the Atonement and prayer. We gave her a Restoration pamphlet to read and we're seeing her on Wednesday to go over that.

The other person we met with is a lady named C. She is married to a less active member of our ward and he asked us to come over and teacher her a little more of our beliefs to her. The sisters before me have met with her a couple times before this and have talked about various things. Saturday night we decided that we needed to establish our purpose and if we felt prompted, give her the Restoration lesson. Thankfully Sister Anderton has a wonderful pair of "bold pants" (editors note:  not sure what this means) and was able to tell her why we were there: to invite her to receive the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. With that out of the way, we taught her about the Restoration. This is probably the first time I have felt the Spirit so strongly in a lesson. It was THERE. The Spirit just filled the room as we bore our testimonies and as Chris, her husband, bore his. It was an incredible experience. I wish every missionary experience I had was like that. I am so grateful for the Holy Ghost. It is essential if we want to do the work Heavenly Father has given us.

Door knocking is going a lot better now. I am learning to give all of my worries to God and trust Him. I am learning to be myself as I talk to people. Nobody likes talking to a stuffy missionary robot. People are more willing to listen to you if you connect with them. We meet all kinds of people when we knock on doors: the good, the bad and the anti. I think I should make a "Door Knocking BINGO" card. You never know who's going to answer the door and apparently it gets more exciting in the summer when people don't feel the need to wear clothes after 4pm. Yay, door knocking.

We've seen a lot of miracles this week. We ran into a lady at the store on Monday who sat by some missionaries on an airplane and stopped us to talk to us. We found some less active members who haven't been seen in months. Everything in my bag fell on the ground which allowed us to get into a building we wouldn't have gotten in if it hadn't. We got a ride to the church one night which allowed us to have enough miles to make it until the end of the month. We taught two wonderful lessons. We had a powerful lesson on a door step. One of our less active members came to church and brought her family. It's the little things every day that show me that God is always looking out for me and my companions. Keep an eye out for those miracles! ;)

I love you all so much! I wouldn't be able to do this without you! Stay warm and appreciate the green! It's still white and brown here haha.
Sister Jensen