Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Just Three Days Away! 12.22.14

SO Family,

ARE YOU EXCITED?? Because I AM EXCITED!!!! My companions and I were talking about the concept of time yesterday and I said to Sister Fehlman, "Remember when I said that Christmas was only 95 days away? Doesn't that feel like I said that three weeks ago??" I can't believe how much time has flown! 

I have been looking forward to Christmas for awhile but I have been doing my best not to think about it. But you can't really help this week when you're doing weekly planning and every day has something to do with Christmas! Today was a crazy day of sending off packages (I paid for two day shipping, sorry if it doesn't get there in time!) and running to different stores for last minute things. Tomorrow is our Half-Mission Christmas Training and guess who's making 25 bags of gingerbread house frosting? The correct answers are the STLs. Helloooo, 12 pounds of powder sugar.... Tomorrow is also our branch Christmas Open House at the church (and we're in charge of that...) and the day after that is a Christmas Eve lunch with a member of the branch and an awesome evening with members in one of the family wards. AND THEN it's CHRISTMAS!! We're going to have brunch with another family in the family ward, call our families, and then have dinner at another member's house. It's going to be a wonderful week, that's quite certain.

But let's focus for a second on this past week. We found a new investigator!!! His name is John and he's from India. And the coolest thing about John is that he's already Christian!! I have talked to so many Indians on campus and they're usually Hindu. But John is Christian and he already has a firm faith in Jesus Christ. We invited him to read 3 Nephi 11 and he read that PLUS a good portion of it, including 2 Nephi 2. He texted us and said that he had some doubts about the Book of Mormon which naturally is a little worrisome to us. The next day we felt prompted to stop by his apartment and we were able to resolve his concerns. We invited him to pray about the Book of Mormon and he says that he hasn't received an answer yet but he will keep praying about it. We're trying to meet with him before he leaves for a vacation. I think John has some great potential and I am extremely hopeful that he will accept a baptismal date soon!

Campus has been pretty dead which is both good and bad. Good, in that we pounce on anyone we see, and bad, because we don't have a lot of people to talk to. It's hard to find effective finding activities because at the moment nothing is not very effective. And with the elders working the same area, the members that are here have probably been asked a hundred times by now if we can teach their roommates who are home or if they know of anyone we can share a message with. But we go out and we talk to everyone we can. :) Last week as we were knocking some doors, it was really cold and windy and for a second I saw myself almost a year ago knocking in Rockford. It was a bittersweet moment.

I got the packages from "the CA Relations" and "Jayden, Kylie, and the Stephs". :) We found a three foot tree in our coat closet and we've been putting our gifts around it. It's looking really homey about now. I think we're all looking forward to Christmas morning. :)

So real fast, I want to tell you the COOLEST experience last week that taught me a couple lessons. For our Half-Mission Training, they're putting together a Christmas talent show and because of a couple very strong hints in my patriarchal blessing, I felt like I needed to sign up for a talent. Well, I'm a selfish person (remember last week?) and I like instrumental Christmas music (I was spoiled to have a musical mother who plays beautiful Christmas music) so I started praying that Heavenly Father would help me find a violinist that I could accompany. I prayed, and thought, and felt prompted to call a companionship in our zone. I called, no such luck. I was kind of bummed. But then a day later, the zone leaders called and asked me what I was playing for my piano solo.  And then Elder Schmutz throws out, "Just so you know, I've been telling people in the zone to call you if they need an accompanist. Sister Baham is looking for someone to accompany her on the violin...." I almost dropped the phone. I totally forgot that Sister Baham played the violin!! Answer to prayer!! So I immediately called her and rearranged our tradeoff with them so she could come here and practice with me for a bit at the end of our tradeoff. But Sister Baham didn't have a violin and the one person she thought had a violin hadn't called her back. I thought we could borrow one from a member here but she was leaving for BYU so that was out. Well, we traded off and came back home with Sister Baham and no violin. We were sitting down for nightly planning when a member of the branch called us back. I had left him a message the day before asking if he had any Christmas music that I could borrow for a musical number. This is how the conversation went:

S. Fehlman: Well, that would be great if we could borrow some music, thanks. 
Matthew: No problem, is there anything else I can do for you?
S. Fehlman (jokingly): Well, if you happen to know anyone with a violin hahaha.....
Matthew: I have a violin.
WHAT. Sister Jensen falls out of chair and does a happy dance.
S. Fehlman: WHAT?? No way!!!
Matthew: Yeah, I played for eight years. When do you need it?

I had NO IDEA when I called Matthew a day earlier that he even played the violin!! And here he was in our hour of need, calling us back (at exactly the right time) to not only let us borrow his Christmas music but his violin as well! I may have started crying or something. I was BLOWN. AWAY. The timing was way too perfect. Every need was met. Heavenly Father is just TOO. GOOD. He is always answering my silly prayers (like the time I prayed for something interesting to write about in my journal) and He can make the seemingly impossible possible.

We are so blessed to have the gospel. I am really grateful for all the good that has come into my life because of the birth of our Savior. It is truly because of Him that I can have hope and peace in this life. He makes me strong no matter how weak I am. I have hope through His Atonement and healing in times of sorrow and pain. Because of Him, I will be with my family forever. It truly is a miracle and the greatest act of love that Heavenly Father sent His Son Jesus Christ to live, atone, die, and be resurrected so that we can live again. I love my Savior with all of my heart and I will always be indebted to Him.  

Wow, this email turned out long. Hope you don't mind. I figure most of you are on break and would have time to read it. ;)

I look forward to talking to you this Thursday! I'll probably call around 11 am your time (give or take) and I will be able to talk for 35-40 minutes. I am really looking forward to the best Christmas ever!

Wishin' y'all a blessed Christmas,
Sister Jensen

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Yay December! Oh, wait. I'm a musician! 12.15.14

Dear Family,
I echo your statements: "Where has all the time gone??" I can't believe that we're already halfway through the month and almost halfway through the transfer! Christmas is NEXT WEEK and I hit a year NEXT MONTH. When did all the craziness happen???
This week was an adventure like always. We didn't have a ton of time to do a lot of proselyting this week because our Monday night was our branch Christmas party, Tuesday was MLC in East Lansing, and Wednesday was interviews with President. We had tradeoffs with the Kalamazoo 2nd Ward sisters on Friday and we stacked as many appointments as we could on that day. Heavenly Father thankfully gave us a couple of people to teach despite finals and people leaving for Winter Break. It's crazy to see how Heavenly Father helps you reach goals that halfway through the week looked impossible. I always feel indebted to Heavenly Father. He's just too good to me. We also had two people come to church yesterday which was awesome! We've really been working on getting people to church and it was nice the fruits of our labors. :)
I got your amazing Christmas package!! It was like experiencing the joy of 5 Christmases in one, it was pretty epic. My companions laughed when they saw the stocking sewn up haha. It's nice to have a couple of presents under the tree and a Nativity on my desk to look at. I LOVE the Christmas earrings and my companions were extremely lucky that I felt generous and gave them some of that scrumptious peppermint bark. I just feel so incredibly blessed. You guys are too generous to me. I am SO so so grateful and I am looking forward to Christmas Day! Speaking of which, when would be a good time for me to call? I can call pretty much whenever. Just let me know! :)
Yesterday was our Christmas Sacrament program and it was pretty memorable. Maybe it's my fantastic upbringing but it is not Christmas without a rockin', music-packed Christmas program! So being the person I am, I volunteered people for musical numbers! :D I offered people an accompanist (this sistah) and told them what song they should sing, haha. It turned out great. We had four musical numbers (I accompanied three of them....) and the meeting turned out pretty great. Thank you, Sally DeFord! She came in handy. The last song that I played was a Sally DeFord arrangement of "Silent Night" for a medium voice sung by the fabulous Aimee Lopez who is a vocal performance major at WMU. It was breath taking. The congregation joined in on the third verse and the Spirit just filled the chapel. It was hard to concentrate on playing because I was feeling the Spirit so strongly. Music always brings the Spirit and I don't think it's any coincidence that we sang when the Savior was born! What better way to praise the Lord than to sing? :)
You are all super and fantabulous. I can't wait to talk to you next week. I have some great stories to relay to you when we talk MWHAHAHA. Also, look in the mail this week for things from me! Hopefully they make it there!
Love, the Michiganary :)

Balance to the Force 12.8.14

Dear Family,

It is always so good to get on the computer and see emails from all of you wonderful people. You're the best. I hope you know that. 

I am SO GRATEFUL for Sister Carter! She is an angel!! We really needed her haha. Sister Carter is from Boise, Idaho. She's the youngest of three and has been on her mission two transfers longer than I have. She is super awesome and I am so grateful to be in a tri-panionship. Honestly I was kind of dreading being in a tri-panionship again but it's actually working out great! We've been doing splits with the members and that has been great. :) She brings much balance to the force. ;)  
Sis. Fehlman, Sis. Jensen and Sis. Carter

Fun fact: Since I've been at WMU, I have dropped 15+ investigators. I tallied it up as we did our weekly planning last week and it made me super depressed. I  turned through each of the teaching records and just couldn't help but feel loss as I looked at them. I remember how I met each one of them and how excited I was to teach them. Such wonderful people who had that light in their eyes but somehow lost it. It was eye opening to see how Satan works, he is good at his craft. We have dropped all of our investigators except for Bin (he's still on date to be baptized January 17th!) which has been rough. But it's given me the opportunity to pray and plead for God's Will, something I don't do as much as I should. Sister Fehlman, Sister Carter and I put our nose to the grind stone and contacted all day, every day this past week. By the end of the week, we had four times the amount of contacts we usually have at the end of a week! We are doing everything we can think of to find those people that God has prepared. We got about 200 "He is the Gift" cards and that has been a great way to start talking to people. We've also been carrying around a whiteboard with a sentence on it that says, "My gift to Christ is...." and we ask student to finish it and then we post it on Facebook and add them as our friends so we can tag them Then start talking to them..... I know we're creepy.... We've been doing a lot more door knocking and we're making some sweet plans to contact more members/LARCs to help us find people to teach. It's rough but I have a lot more faith now that Heavenly Father is preparing people than I did 11 months ago when I started my mission. 

When President Hess was here he told us a story from his mission. He served in the Northeast States Mission (or something like that) with President Packer as his mission president. Pres. Hess told us that he called President Packer one week to ask him about the lack of success they were having. President Packer said, "Are you studying every morning?" President Hess said, "Yes." "Are you praying several times a day?" "Yes." "Are you going out and working every day?" "Yes." President Packer asked more questions and then finally said, "Elder, you are doing all the right things, you just haven't been doing them long enough." I've contemplated the story a lot on my mission. When I feel like I'm not seeing any success I have to remind myself that I will not always have instantaneous results. Sometimes things require sustained action (sound like something called "faith"?) before the blessings come. I am CONFIDENT that there is someone here who will receive the Gospel, I just need to do all I can a little bit longer. :)

Today was fun! We got cleared by President Jacobsen to go ice skating! The Brethren are noticing that P-Day is really stressful for missionaries and not really helping missionaries unwind. So President Jacobsen has been highly encouraging us to do fun things, one of them being ice skating! We got a couple of girls from the branch to come with us and for $2, we got skates and time on the ice. Right as I was putting on my skates I remembered that I have a broken foot.... haha It was a BLAST! It was so nice to be doing something out of the normal routine. I will admit, the really embarrassing part about it all was getting lapped by 70 year old men skating backwards. I mean, I'm not BAD at skating, definitely not the best, but really? Really?? I have to remind myself constantly that hockey is a big deal out here (or as they say in Michigan "hackey") so it shouldn't shock me that 70 year old couples need their time on the skating rink. I would love to see a retired couple in the West do that.... After skating we went to "Shwarma King" where I got a shawafel. SO. GOOD. Getting the international experience in Michigan! ;)

Well that about sums up me! This is the last week of school so it will be interesting to see what happens for the next four weeks after this week. As I've learned from reading the Nativity Story about a hundred times, Heavenly Father gets a lot of pleasure in blowing our minds and doing great things with less than ideal circumstances or producing miracles in the most surprising places (Micah 5:2). I know that some cool things can happen this transfer. :)

Have a wonderful week!! Love you all so much!

Love, Sister Jensen :)

White Thanksgiving 12.1.14

Dear Family! 

The Holidays are here!! I love it!! I love this time of the year we have to remember our Savior and to express our gratitude. This time of the year is truly magical. :)

We had a "White Thanksgiving"! It snowed all day which added a bit of charm. Sister Fehlman, Chasity Hambright (the BEST member ever) and I decided a month ago that we were going to cook Thanksgiving dinner for all those left behind in Kalamazoo over the holiday. Last year they had a dinner at the KUB and Chasity told us that it had a great turnout and it was a wonderful missionary opportunity. So at 8 am on Thanksgiving Day, we headed to the church to put Henry Phillip Gobbleworth III in the oven and get our Thanksgiving Feast prepared. 

The elders came at 11:30 am to help us peel 15 pounds of potatoes and get the tables up. Everything came together really smoothly and at 2pm we had it all laid out: turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, candied yams, green bean casserole, stuffing, green salad, dinner rolls and six pies. I'll admit it, I was pretty impressed with how is came together and it was really cool to see all of the work and worry manifest itself in a delicious feast. What made it even better was that three of our investigators were there! Sister Fehlman and I felt like it all paid off. We showed them the "He is the Gift" video which was the whipped cream on the pie. It topped our feast off so well. That video is so peaceful and it really brought the Spirit in. I had the privilege of sharing my testimony of the Savior after we showed the video which I think I needed. The Spirit testified to me of the Savior and I felt so much love from Him. I love my Savior so much!

When we planned for Thanksgiving, we planned for 20 people. We figured between the elders and us and those who wouldn't be leaving for the holiday, we could get a good turn out. Turns out that only 12 people came and because none of us have hosted many parties in the 20 years of life we've lived we REALLY over estimated. So guess who ate Thanksgiving leftovers for the next three days? But really, who can complain about Thanksgiving leftovers? I mean, if everything I made magically turned into Thanksgiving leftovers in the fridge, I would be really happy. And probably really fat. We also didn't get around to eating ANY of the pies because we gorged ourselves at dinner, so Sister Fehlman got to take home five pies. Thankfully, we gave two away yesterday, finished the pie I made (it's not Thanksgiving without Libby), and we're working on the last two. Sister Fehlman and I are really debating buying another turkey. It was so good the first time, why not a second? ;)

Transfer calls came! I am staying in Kalamazoo for another transfer with Sister Fehlman and we are getting another sister, Sister Carter. Sister Fehlman and I are excited to add another friend to the party. :) Sister Fehlman is going home on the 31st so I will be in a trio until the fifth week of the transfer. I'm looking forward to working with Sister Carter. Sister Carter is an STL in Wyoming so we're looking forward to her fresh perspective on the area. We have set some high transfer goals this transfer and we have a lot of hope that we can accomplish them. 

I go back to the doctor's office this week to get my foot x-rayed again. I'm pretty sure it's been healing. I still can't run on it or bump it too hard but it's definitely getting better. Thanks for all of your prayers!

The Work is going great. We've dropped almost all of our investigators from this transfer which is really heartbreaking but we know that there are miracles coming this week! I have to remind myself that we want to find "the wheat" and dropping people just means were sifting "the wheat from the tares". Heavenly Father will bless us with some great sheaves this week!

I love you all so much! Thank you for your happy faces and the memories you included me in! You are the best family! 

Love, Sister Jensen

Tender Mercies 11.24.14

Dear Family!!

Before I forget, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! I hope you all enjoy (and are already enjoying) the time together for the holiday. We are so blessed to have such a wonderful family. :) I love the pictures. It really makes me happy to see all of you together. It sounds like you'll be having quite the Thanksgiving festivities. Good luck!!  

This week was GREAT in some respects and not so great in others haha. You know how I told you that we would be getting 10 inches last week? Well, we actually got 10 inches over night and another foot the following day so on Tuesday campus was closed because it was snowing so bad and the workers couldn't control it. Good thing we planned tradeoffs for THAT day, right? Almost all of our appointments cancelled because of the storm, which was a bummer, but we saw a lot of tender mercies as well. Because there was no school, people who couldn't normally meet with us were suddenly very open to meet. We were able to visit a couple less active members and have some great teaching moments. I always have to remind myself that it's not important that my work gets done but that the Lord's work gets done and sometimes He has better plans. Thankfully, Sister Manning was super patient as I scrambled around to find appointments so we wouldn't be finding all day in 0 degree (that's Fahrenheit, ladies and gents) weather. It all worked out without too much frostbite. ;)

One of the coolest moments this week was the opportunity I had to bear testimony in Spanish! I went to Battle Creek for tradeoffs and we taught a Dominican man. I really felt like bearing my testimony in Spanish so I did. My Spanish is NOT good but the words came and I bore a simple testimony. I felt the Spirit strongly. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to do that. I hope he felt the Spirit as well. :)

The definite highlight of this week was going to East Lansing for our training. We found out before the training that Elder Nash had an emergency reassignment and wouldn't be coming. Needless to say, we were all pretty bummed. But after our meeting, all I could do was think of President Jacobsen's words: "I'm darn glad Elder Nash didn't come!" It was probably the most powerful training I have been to on my mission. Everyone who spoke during the training spoke by the Spirit and they gave us the counsel we needed. It was amazing to see the inspiration flow and to feel the Spirit so strongly. Sister Lindeman and I were able to add to the Spirit and perform our piece. I will admit, I was crying before the song and I couldn't think too deeply about what she was singing because my eyes would start smarting. I don't think I could ever convey over email the magnitude of the Spirit I felt that day. It was amazing. 

Transfer calls are this week and it should be really interesting to see what happens. I've been in Kalamazoo for three transfers but Sister Fehlman is leaving for home midway through next transfer so who knows who's staying or going? I think I will be here for at least one more transfer.

Oh, and my foot is doing alright. I go back next week to see if it's healing. It wasn't four weeks ago. It still hurts to walk on it but it's slowly getting better. At least I'm not on crutches!!

I love you all. I am SO BLESSED to be an Eternal Family with all of you. I LOVE the Lord and I LOVE His Gospel. I LOVE my mission with all of my heart. It really has made all the difference. Have a magnificent Thanksgiving!! 

Love, Sister Jensen :)

Let it Snow Buckets! 11.17.14

Dear Family!!

SNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWW!!!! It has been snowing A LOT. It snowed quite literally nonstop from about Wednesday to Friday evening. Every time I looked out the window, it was snowing. It's AWESOME! I love it!! I had to stop studying in our study room because I would space out watching the snow and forget to study haha. I love the snow, it's so beautiful. It makes the season magical and I am looking forward to this adventure. Kalamazoo gets "Lake Effect Snow" and from what we've heard that pretty much means Kalamazoo gets a lot of wet, heavy snow. Someone told me that we're expecting around 10 inches of snow this week. That should be quite exciting. Sister Fehlman said in one of our prayers this week, "Please help me to have as much excitement as Sister Jensen for the snow." Haha I guess I really love the snow. :)

This week we got humbled. Let's face it, we all need a little bit of humbling every now and again. We only taught 7 member present lessons this week when the standard is 10. But our amount of other lessons increased dramatically. We actually taught more other lessons than member present lessons. A lot of our appointments "shined" us or got sick, but Heavenly Father always showed His love and provided another lesson for us to teach. I saw a lot of tender mercies even though our lessons fell through. It wasn't a bad week all in all, it just didn't go as expected. We're really working on getting people on date to be baptized but Satan is pulling out all stops and it's been a lot harder than other missionaries make it out to be. We're really hoping to reset a date with Bin and also commit Greg to a date. Hopefully we'll see some miracles this week!

I love teaching lessons because I always learn something. I think a good measure of knowing whether the Spirit was present in a lesson is whether you leave that lesson learning something yourself. This week a member said a really cool thing. I asked the member (a convert of about a month) how he came to know the Book of Mormon was true. He paused and said, "I asked until I didn't have to ask anymore, because I just came to know that it was true." It kind of stunned me because I hadn't thought of answers that way before. But when he said it, the Spirit confirmed that it was true. Sometimes prayers aren't answered with powerful feelings but with a knowing. We get to the point where we don't have to ask anymore because we know the answer. Interesting thing to think about, right?        

Sorry to keep it brief but I love you all! Thanks for all your support! Please travel safely in whatever you do! Have a great week with Stephen and
Stephanie and family! :)

Sister Jensen

The Book of Mormon is True 11.10.14

Dear Family,

Just so you know, they have limited our emailing time to just an hour and a half now (president and personal emails) so we'll see how much I can get in a short amount of time. 

This week was great! We are seeing so many miracles! We totaled up our week yesterday and we are seeing a lot more success in teaching and this is the third week in a row that we've hit standard (hitting half of the indicator goals for the mission)! We're pretty happy about that. I know that it's not me but the Lord who is granting us success. We put in our crust and He gives us a loaf in return.

One of my favorite lessons ever happened last Monday. We are teaching a guy named Alex who is doing great. We have been trying to place him on a baptismal date but he keeps saying that he needs to read more of the Book of Mormon before he commits, so he started reading from the beginning of the Book of Mormon. For me personally, I have had a couple questions that I've wanted answers to in regards to my testimony and I've been praying to find answers to those questions. As we were teaching Alex, I bore testimony of the Book of Mormon and as I did I told him, "Because I know the Book of Mormon is true, I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet." the Spirit hit me with incredible force. I felt like the Spirit was telling me that the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon is the only thing I needed to know right now, because if I can accept that, I can accept everything else by faith. It was such an incredible answer to my prayers that I got a little choked up telling Alex my feelings about the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is not just the key stone of my religion but the key stone of my testimony. I have gained a great love for and relationship with the Book of Mormon these past 9 and a half months that I will be eternally grateful for. If any of you are struggling with an aspect of your testimony, ask Heavenly Father to confirm the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. That knowledge has been a life saver to my testimony.

Here's a cool little surprise for you: Elder Nash of the Seventy is coming to our mission next week!! We're pumped!! We can't wait!! And guess what else?? I get to play two musical numbers! Yay!! I got a call from the zone leaders in our zone and in the next zone over if I could provide help with some musical numbers and I jumped at the opportunity. I am SO GRATEFUL that Mom and Dad put me through 12 years of piano lessons because it has been the greatest blessing on my mission! I am accompanying a solo and a choir. Sister Lindeman, the soloist, is singing an arrangement of "I Am a Child of God". I'll try to record it for you sometime when we practice because it is BEAUTIFUL. I was struggling not to cry as we practiced yesterday day. That song is so powerful and I know the Spirit will touch all of those present. PS Tim, keep practicing! Your mission president will LOVE you! 

Sorry if this email is scattered. I'm not the best typer and I don't have much time to proof read.... Just know that things are going well. I love my mission. :) I've heard reports that it's going to be around freezing this week with snow Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and that next week isn't suppose to be above freezing. It's a blessing that I got to Michigan when I did this year because I know what's coming and I have a better idea of how to survive and have fun this time around! :)

I love you all!! Have a wonderful week!

Sister Jensen