Saturday, May 31, 2014

Onward, Ever Onward 5.26.14

Dear Family,

First off, I started screaming in the church when I found out that I became an aunt again (the libraries are closed for Memorial Day so we're at the church). I wasn't expecting Kylie to come for two more weeks but Steph is probably happy that she came earlier this time around. Kylie had to show up her big brother. Stephen and Steph, you have a BEAUTIFUL family. I love you all so much and congratulations. :) Give her a kiss from Tyotya!

To say that this week was incredible would be an understatement. After our meeting with Elder Holland, Elder Hallstrom and Elder Dunigan, I thought, "I could die right now and be completely fine with that." And then to top it all off, we had Zone Conference and splits this week. What an amazing week of growth!

I know you're dying to know what Elder Holland told us this week and I'm sorry to say that that is completely confidential. Ha, just kidding. Elder Holland walked in and we all stood up. The Detroit Mission came as well so we had about 400+ missionaries in attendance. We all sat down and President Hess stood up and said, "Elder Holland would like to shake all of your hands. Please don't make this a personal interview with him. Just file by and shake his hand and go back to your seats." When it was Elder Holland's turn to speak he said, "I had a personal interview with all of you as I looked into your eyes. I am pleased that only a few of you are struggling and that most of you are doing great." Stunned silence. That my family, is an apostle of the Lord right there. Elder Holland truly is a master teacher. He exudes charity and love but he surely knows how to call you to repentance. He gave us a big compliment when he told us that he didn't feel the need to talk to us about obedience (2 Nephi 9:48 relates to that) so instead he talked to us about the Missionary Purpose. He stressed a lot about how we can't convert people past our own conversion. He also stressed with great authority and conviction that we cannot go back to the people we were before our mission because the people we were before our mission weren't good enough. He doesn't want any of us to go inactive after our missions and it is important that we stay converted throughout our whole lives. Or else he would shoot himself. True story. One thing that really stood out to me was when he asked us why missions are so hard. He told us that the only answer he has come up with in the past 50 years since his mission is that salvation is not a cheap experience. In order to become disciples of Jesus Christ, we need to experience to a degree what he experienced. Every road to salvation passes through Gethsemane. I am so grateful that Elder Holland and Elder Hallstrom came to our mission. I truly don't believe in coincidences and I know that the timing was perfect.

And then to top it all off, WE HAD A BAPTISM!! Our investigator Sarah was baptized!! Ah, happy day! It was one of the best feelings watching someone take that step of faith despite the opposition. Baptism is a simple yet powerful ordinance and I am so grateful for the greater appreciation I have gained of that covenant. Sarah is doing well and the ward is welcoming her with open arms. Now just need our other investigators to follow suite. ;)
In other news, I can testify without a shadow of a doubt that God knows me WAAAAY more that I know myself. I never thought I would say this but I love door knocking! I do, I do! You want to know how I know that God knows me too well? He sent me out in the middle of the coldest winter ever to people who didn't want to talk to me and when we had nothing to do but to knock doors for 5 hours a day. He had to humble me and make me miserable so I could truly appreciate door knocking in the summer. Now that it's gorgeous outside and the trees have leaves and people don't mind talking to you because it lets a breeze in their house, we have TONS of people who want to talk to us about the purpose of life and why God calls prophets and how the Book of Mormon draws us closer to God. It's INCREDIBLE how much nicer people are and how many lessons we get to teach people on door steps. This reminds me of 2 Nephi 2 about the need of opposition in all things. We need opposition. Just as it says that Adam and Eve couldn't know joy without knowing misery, I couldn't know how great it was to knock doors until I understood how it was to be completely miserable knocking doors. I am so grateful that God knows me SO WELL because knowing myself and my pride, this lesson was a lot better learned this way. 

I could tell you so many incredible stories this week. Sister Richardson and I are working hard and we have 7 investigators! What miracles! We have seen so many incredible things. As we walked back to our car last night after knocking a street, I could not help but feel genuine love and gratitude for my mission. I love being here and I love being a missionary. I am seeing the Spirit direct us more and more and I am grateful that I can be an instrument in the Lord's hands for this period of time. There are still challenges and Satan is very real but I know that God is the Author of this Work and He doesn't make mistakes (Elder Holland emphasized that as well). God doesn't make mistakes and we will not fail. Every dispensation before this time ended in apostasy and this one will not. How incredible it is to be apart of this! 

I love you all so much! This work is the Work of God! He loves us! He loves you! Have an incredible week!

Pineapples for Peace,
Sister Jensen

The Season of Post-Winter 5.19.14

Dear Family,
Our investigator Steven had some really profound words to say to us this week: "Michigan has four seasons: pre-winter, winter, post-winter, and summer." We are definitely in the "post-winter" phase. I rather grumpily pulled out my winter coat this past week because I was worried about losing some limbs while door knocking. My California body is not very happy with Michigan but that's all part of the adventure! And pretty soon I might die of heat stroke so I should probably enjoy the cold while it lasts.

We have a lot of exciting things happening this week! First, Elder Jeffery R. Holland and Elder Donald L. Hallstrom are coming to our mission tomorrow! We get to be taught them for 3 hours. I might have carpel tunnel after this event. I am anticipating writing like a mad person. Our mission president keeps emphasizing that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We have been preparing ourselves for the past 6 weeks to listen to them and their counsel. I am very blessed that I get to be there with my mission as well as the Detroit Mission. It should be incredible and just what I need.
Our next exciting thing is that we are having a baptism!! This Saturday we're having a baptism for Sarah! I am so excited for her! She is super prepared and has such a wonderful spirit! She is going to be amazing! 
Sister Richardson and I are working hard! We have been blessed to see miracles happen this week and we now have a new investigator! Her name is Debra. We are so excited to work with her. We've been trying to get something solid with her and her husband for the past three months and she told us this past week that she is ready to learn! We are so excited! She loves us and we love her! She and her husband have some concerns about Joseph Smith so we're hoping that we can watch "Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration" with her and her husband soon.

I would really like to share a scripture with you that has brought the Spirit to me this past week. It's Mormon 8:16 "And blessed be he that shall bring this thing to light; for it shall be brought out of darkness unto light, according to the word of God; yea, it shall be brought out of the earth, and it shall shine forth out of darkness, and come unto the knowledge of the people." This scripture is talking about the Book of Mormon. I've thought about this scripture this past week and how the Book of Mormon has filled the world with light. I've also reflected a lot on how the Book of Mormon has been a light in my personal darkness. I am so grateful for the light it has given me throughout my life and especially as I have been a missionary. The Book of Mormon will always be a source of light in the darkness of the world and our personal darkness.
Well, that's it for me this week! I love you all so much! Have a great adventure this week and enjoy Memorial Day!
Sister Jensen

Monday, May 19, 2014

Gorgeous Michigan 5.12.14

Dear family,                                                                                          May 12, 2014
It was a blessing to talk to you yesterday! When I got off the phone, I could only feel peace and love. Thank you so much for being patient while things got sorted out on my end. It was definitely worth it. I love you all so much. I am so grateful for each of you and I hope you know that you're the best family ever. God has been incredible to us, especially me. What a blessing it is to be alive in a time with technology!
This week was great! It is FANTASTIC being in a companionship! I love it! I have loved being in the trios that I was in but when it all comes down to it, companionships are ideal. Sister Richardson is from Salem, Utah. She is an incredible missionary. She is so Christlike and I feel extremely privileged to have her as my companion for her last transfer. Out of everywhere she could have gone, she came to Rockford to work with me! Heavenly Father has a plan for His work her in Rockford and I know that Sister Richardson is here to help that plan move forward. I have so much to learn from her and I hope that I can learn all that I can from her while she's here. You can bet we're going to work hard! We've set some really stretching goals but I know that we can accomplish them!
The trees finally have their leaves!! I don't think you quite understand how excited about the trees having leaves I am. I love the green! It looks so much better than brown naked trees everywhere. And they all kind of appeared overnight. I love the blossoms and the leaves! Michigan is incredibly beautiful. As we drove around Rockford this week, Sister Richardson could not stop saying how beautiful it is. The homes here are GORGEOUS and the forests/rolling hills make it all so beautiful. We're seeing a lot more wildlife too! A lot of deer and bunnies and chipmunks. The birds are really pretty now that they've come back and it's really fun to go door knocking in the forests and hear the birds and squirrels jabbering. If there wasn't seven months of winter it would be really tempting to live here some day.
We had dinner with the J. Family on Fast Sunday. We love having dinner with them. I am so blessed to have amazing members in my ward. We had left their house only a couple minutes earlier and we got a call from them saying that I had left my scriptures at their house. We turned around and went back. As we turned the corner, the 14 year old son was standing in the middle of the street with my scriptures in his hand. He gave them to me and said something that I didn't catch. We drove away and I noticed that my scripture case was shaped oddly. I opened them up and pulled out a smashed roll in a ziplock bag, a caprisun, an avocado, a lollipop, and a picture of Spiderman. We were all really impressed. For only about four minutes of prep, they capitalized on them. It is my goal in life to be this family.
The work is going well! We have a new investigator and we have a couple lessons planned this week. We feel that there are miracles coming and we're doing our best to allow them to happen! Our investigator will probably be getting baptized next week because she missed church this Sunday but we can't wait! Please pray for Sarah! 
I love you all so much and I hope you have a great week! You are all incredible examples of Jesus Christ so let your light shine before men that they may see your works and glorify our Father who is in Heaven! (3 Nephi 12:16 or Matthew 5:16)
Much love,
Sister Jensen

Transfers! 5.5.14

Dear Family,                                                                                         May 5, 2014
Six weeks ago, my companions were freaking out because transfer calls were coming. I didn't quite understand why they were freaking out about it because it seemed like no big deal to me. Let me tell you, I now understand why they were freaking out. I was still training six weeks ago and there was very little chance that I was going to leave Rockford. But this time around, five sisters have gotten their visas this transfer and a bunch of sisters are "dying" (going home) at the end of this transfer which means that a lot of people were going to be switched around and tripanionships are going back to companionships. There was cause for great excitement in the land. I wish you could have been with us in our apartment to watch us cope with stress. You know you're getting transferred if the phone doesn't ring before 10amand Sister Mortensen was watching every minute pass by. When 10am hit, it now meant that we were waiting for the call from President Hess to tell us who was staying and who was going. That made for another slow hour. Eventually the ax fell. Sister Mortensen is being transferred to Marshall (just outside of Battle Creek. That's where the Kellogg factory is. Yuuuuummmm.) and Sister Harris and I will get Sister Richardson (our former Sister Training Leader) for her last transfer. I'm sad to see my trainer go. Sister Mortensen and I really bonded this past transfer and I will miss her. But she's going to Marshall to work with a member from the Antioch Stake! Her name is Sister Braun and I think she's in the Oakley ward. I'm not quite positive about that but I know she's from our stake. 
One of the biggest surprises came last night though. We were visiting a member and we heard our phone buzz. When we left we checked our phone and saw that we had missed a call from President. That means one of two things: you or your companions have a family emergency or someone's being transferred (we chose to focus on the latter). We got the call that a sister was sick and had to go home so Sister Harris was being transferred to Midland! Sister Harris started screaming because she was so excited! I am really excited for her! This also means that I get to be in a companionship! I'm nervous but excited! I have been on tradeoffs with Sister Richardson twice and I have loved working with her in the past so this transfer is going to be great! Plus I get to kill her which should be a fun experience. ;)
Yesterday was great because we had an investigator come to church! The elders at the MSU campus gave us the name of a girl they had been teaching who was moving home for the summer. They've been teaching her for 2 months and she has a baptism date for the 17th! So we kind of got handed a progressing investigator with a baptism date. God answers our prayers in the weirdest ways sometimes.... Church was a different experience, especially because it was Fast and Testimony Sunday. I have never paid more attention to the testimonies as I have when I was sitting next to our investigator. I was ready to cover her ears at any moment. You're almost waiting for someone to say something crazy or say something mingled with false doctrine. Plus in front of me sat two kids from the local Christian Reformed Church so I was praying especially hard that the people hearing the testimonies would not offend the Spirit. Thankfully everything went well and we had a really good meeting. Sarah, our investigator, seemed to like it. I'm praying that this means good things!
I can't tell if I'm more nervous or excited for this transfer. I know that there is some hard work to be done, especially with our four investigators. But I know that God doesn't give us challenges without giving us aid. I am grateful that I get to learn from Sister Richardson this transfer and I know she will help me become a better missionary. I know that God will answer our prayers as we work to be the best instruments we can! 
So long from the best mission in the whole world!
Sister Jensen
PS Just to let you know, my district found 11 new investigators this transfer! As a companionship, we found 5 of them! God does hear and answer prayers. He will answer them in His way and time, often right before the end to let your faith grow the most. It was humbling for me to watch God perform miracles this transfer and I know without a doubt that nothing is impossible for Him. Keep the faith and trust in God!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Verbal Mashed Potatoes, April 28th, 2014

Dear Family,                                                                                         April 28, 2104
First, before I forget (and I always do) I got my Easter package!  I'm pretty sure that Sister Mortensen got enough candy to supply us until Halloween but I really appreciate having a little stash in my desk. Thank you so much for the package! It brightened my Easter. :)

Weeks are FLYING. Can you believe that transfer calls are this Friday?? I can't believe that this transfer is already done! The last transfer felt like an ETERNITY but I loved this transfer. Sister Harris thinks that I will get transferred but I am kind of hoping that I don't because missionary work in Rockford is finally getting fun! Working with Sister Harris and Sister Mortensen has been a tremendous blessing! We had a lot of our key indicators up from last week. We now have THREE new investigators and we got quite a few referrals from the members that we need to check up on. We have seen so many miracles through contacting and through the members. We have seen an outpouring of love from our members (probably because our stake president is really pushing for member missionary work) and they are making a critical difference in The Work. I feel so blessed to be here in Rockford in the Grand Rapids Ward in the Grand Rapids Stake! 
With all the success that we've been having, Satan is working and boy, is he WORKIN'. Before my mission, Prideful Afton thought that bashing with people would be fun and of course when Prideful Afton bashes with them and they see the infallible logic and they will want to be converted. Ehn, wrongo-bongo. I will be SO HAPPY if for the rest of my mission I never get bashed again. Usually once a week, we knock into someone who has a beef and tries to bash and we end up dismissing ourselves. This past week, within five days we got bashed four times. HARD. Twice, we were in tears afterwards. After one night in particular, I remarked to my companions, "I may not have mashed potatoes thrown at my head like the sister in Elder Holland's talk but I will have had my fair share of 'verbal mashed potatoes' thrown at me by the end of my mission." We met with a member recently and he told us that the Atonement is absolutely essential to be a missionary not just because we're weak and we fall short and need to repent but because we need the strength of the Atonement everyday. We have the ability to pray and say, "Heavenly Father, what that person said to me today really hurt me. It made me angry and sad. Please give me the strength of the Atonement to have increased love for them and please take away these feelings from my heart." I have never leaned so much of the strength of Jesus Christ as I have on my mission. Truly it is through the grace of Jesus Christ that we can even be missionaries. We've been listening to "His Grace is Sufficient" by Brad Wilcox as a companionship and I love what he says, "Elder Bruce C. Hafen has written, 'The Savior’s gift of grace to us is not necessarily limited in time to ‘after’ all we can do. We may receive his grace before, during and after the time when we expend our own efforts.' So grace is not a booster engine that kicks in once our fuel supply is exhausted. Rather, it is our constant energy source. It is not the light at the end of the tunnel but the light that moves us through the tunnel." I know that it is because of the grace of Jesus Christ that I can do what I do day in and day out. What a blessing.
Let's end on a happy note. We felt impressed to see Sister H. this week. Sister H. is a convert of about three years. She is as black as they come and we love her to death. We asked her about her conversion story and we asked her how she felt about Jesus Christ and she told us, "We think we ain't worthy but he says 'you is' and that means a lot." I couldn't have said it any better! Sister H.'s granddaughter who isn't a member (yet) was there as well. I pulled out my planner to look at something and saw that we had put down a goal to get a member -present lesson that day. I saw that and the thought came,"The granddaughter could be that member-present lesson." So we taught her a lesson! And we have a return appointment with her for this Wednesday! God has been so good to us this week!
I really love being a missionary! I don't know if I could have said that a month ago but I am beginning to see the incredible happiness that comes from participating in the Work of the Lord. Heavenly Father can truly make our weaknesses strengths and He can help us become even more than we imagined we could be. We are so blessed and I hope you see that everyday. 
Stay safe and have a fantastic week!
Sister Jensen (the Michiganary)