Monday, July 22, 2013

Brazil Bound!!

It's FINALLY OFFICIAL!!!!  I'M GOING TO  BRAZIL! :)  My mission President called yesterday before church to give me the good news.  I had a feeling it was coming, but I'm so happy that I know for sure now and I'm so excited!  Thank you Sue LaFontaine and Kathleen for the letters this week.  They meant a lot to me and thank you everyone for the e-mails.  Sorry that I have trouble getting back to ya'll.  I try my best!  Please don't mail anything else to my Washington address because I leave a week from today.  I will have my mom find out my new address and she will update that on the blog:  I'm really excited and nervous, but the excitement definitely out weighs the nerves.  Please pray for me!  I will need help with the language.  I'm about to leave the mother land for a straight 14 months and that's a pretty overwhelming thought.  God Bless the USA!
In other news, I had a scary encounter last night at 4 A.M.  For weeks I've heard scratching in the wall behind my bed, but I didn't give it much though until this week when Sister Strong started hearing it too.  We thought of every possiblity and then we decided to just brush it off...until last night!  I woke up to use the bathroom at 4 A.M. (sorry, too much information I know) and Sister Strong was awake.  She whispered, "Sister Jensen!  I've heard squeaking all night and I've been praying that it would go away."  I was like, "Ok well, we will tell the Clarks about it tomorrow morning".  When I walked into the bathroom, I felt a little critter walk over my foot.  IT WAS A MOUSE!!!!  Obviously, I did the most rational thing any girl my age would do and SCREAMED!  Then I ran back in the bedroom and turned on the light.  Sister Strong and I were laughing at this point.  Then I decided I better close the bathroom door to trap the little stinker inside and before I could  close it he ran out into the open basement.  We now have no idea where he is.  Unfortunately, my screaming and laughing woke up the Clarks, but luckily we didn't scare them too bad because they heard us laughing.  Don't worry, we have 4 mouse traps set up around the basement...we're gonna get him!
This week has been extremely humbling.  We gained a new investigator named Tanya and she has been through a lot.  She recently escaped from an absuive relationship and now she is completely homeless.  The Elders found her in our area and referred her to us.  She wants to be baptized, quit smoking and learn more about the church.  This week we took her to a women and children's shelter.  When we pulled in, my eyes filled with tears.  I could not believe the way these people were living.  It is a concrete square of several doors facing a small parking lot.  They smash as many people as they can into the rooms and all they can take with them is what they can fit into a small box.  It made me reflect on my life and I realized how blessed I've been.  I've never wanted for anything.  How could I ever think to complain when these people have nothing.  I know I will soon witness even more poverty in Brazil.  The phrase that keeps coming to mind is from that favorite hymn "Because I Have Been Given Much I Too Must Give".  I'm so grateful that I've been so blessed, and because of that I feel a greater urgency to give back to my Heavenly Father by helping to take care of His children.  I have felt so much love for the people in this area and it breaks my heart to imagine leaving a people I've grown to love so much.   It's really true.  You love who you serve.
We had a really cool experience this week in an apartment complex we frequently visit.  We had just finished seeing an investigator with some members and we were talking with the members in the complex parking lot.  That day there was a pest control man there treating the apartments for fleas.  When he finished the job, I watched him walk to his car and the impression came to me "Don't let him leave!"  Before I could say anything, the member (Brother Sanderson), turned to us and asked us if we had a Book of Mormon.  I knew we were all on the same page.  I quickly ran over to the man while Sister Strong B-lined it for the car to get a Book of Mormon.  His name is Greg.  Sister Strong started showing Greg the photos in the Book of Mormon and we explained what the Book was all about.  All of a sudden, Greg turned to Brother Sanderson and said "Woah!  Can you feel that?  What she is saying is true!"  It was like a story staright from an Ensign article!  I was so amazed that he recognize the Spirit so well.  We exchanged information and we haven't heard from him since.  We are really hoping and praying that he will call us back soon.  He told us he would read the Book of Mormon and get back to us with questions.  I'm so grateful for the Spirit that testifies when things are true!  I'm not a perfect teacher so I sure am grateful that the Spirit is!
There have been several other instances this week that have really strengthened my testimony of the Spirit.  I'm so grateful for that gift!  As members of the church, we are so blessed to have that all the time.  I invite you to try and recognize those promptings this week to talk to others and to recognize truth.  Also, call the missionaries and ask them when you can go out with them!  Tell them you can drive.  I know that miracles happen when members go out with missionaries.  I love you all so much.  Have a great week!  I will e-mail 2 weeks from today about my first week in Brazil.  Thank you for your prayers and kind letters!
Com Amor,
Sister Jensen

Monday, July 8, 2013

"Missions are like Dating"

I was so happy to come on a mission for so many reasons...but I was especially excited to take a break from dating.  It is a roller coaster of emotions and I thought the mission would be a nice break from that.  Little did I know, the mission is just like dating!  (But not really).  Let me explain.  You meet your street contact, get their number, set up an appointment...and they're a no show!  Then they don't return your calls, they don't text you back and you start thinking "Darn, maybe we text our investigator back too soon?!" , or,  "I wonder how they felt about our lesson and how they feel about how they felt during the lesson." Sometimes I feel like the needy girlfriend.  Do you see what I mean?  Sometimes they even break up with you and that is the worst.  Especially when you don't see it coming.  But sometimes the relationship is really great!  The investigator is progressing, keeping their commitments, and we get them to church on Sunday.  It's kind of a funny analogy, but it is so true when you think about it.  Don't worry, I'm not dating my investigators haha!

I'm having a great time in the Spokane Washington Mission!  The members are treating us good, I live in a comfortable home, and we have some awesome people to teach.  For this reason I am very certain I'm not staying here much longer.  Doesn't that always happen?  As soon as we get comfortable, Heavenly Father sends something challenging our way.  Don't get me wrong...I'm very excited to go to Brazil, but earlier this week we walked all day in the sun and I thought, "Can I even handle the Amazon jungle?"  Pray for me!

This week we had the opportunity to contact and teach the a sweet family.  They were a referral from some Elders in Cheney that met them at a wedding reception for some friends of theirs that recently were sealed in the temple (friends of the Fernandez family).  They live only 3 doors down from us and they are really nice!  They are both doctors and have 5 year-old twins.  We taught them the Restoration and invited them to read the Book of Mormon.  The mom and children speak Spanish and their 5 year-old daughter told me that she would teach me some Spanish.  I told her that I would sing to her family in Spanish next time we visit as long as they do their homework and read the Book of Mormon.  A few days later we were sitting in our car in the driveway making phone calls when all of a sudden, the family goes walking by us!!!  We pulled our seats down to laying position so fast and we hid from them until they were down the street.  We DO NOT want them to know how close we live to them.  Once they were out of sight, we started following them in hopes that we would run into them.  Sure enough, when we rounded the corner they were there.  I told them I'd been doing my homework and they said "We have been doing ours too!"  Sister Strong and I were so happy.  Then we casually continued walking down the road like nothing happened. :)  We hope to meet with them later this week.

Last Monday we went to the funeral of  a young man.  (The second funeral I've been to on my mission).   Sister Strong and I were invited to go help.  They had Sister Strong read Psalms 23 and I talked about the Plan of Salvation.  By the time it was my turn to speak, I was completely overwhelmed.  But not with sadness, I looked out at the audience of about 50 people and I could feel God's love for every single one of them.  It was the most amazing feeling and I can't even begin to explain how much our Heavenly Father loves His children!  I talked about the Plan of Happiness and the love of the Savior and the Spirit was very strong.  I'm grateful for every opportunity I have to bear testimony of the Plan of Salvation.  It was a sweet message of hope and love at the funeral that day.  After the funeral I talked with the young man's sister.  She holds that family together.  I told her how amazing I thought she was and how much I knew her Heavenly Father loved and appreciated her.  
Finally, this week we taught a woman about the Word of Wisdom.  Before the lesson even started, she knew what we were going to say.  After we explained the commandment and the blessings listed with it, she was still hesitant to accept the invitation to live it.  She knows smoking is bad, but it will be very hard for her to quit.  We assured her that God would help her and bless her as she tried.  We brought a member to that lesson who also quit smoking and she was able to relate with her and help her accept the invitation.  This Sunday she came to church again and loved it.  She was taking lots of notes and even participated in the Gospel Principles class.  She told us after that she has really noticed a difference in her family since she started coming to church.  She is our miracle investigator and I love her so much!  She has such a strong desire to change and apply the gospel to her life.  I'm so grateful for the Word of Wisdom and the blessings I've received from living it.  I am strong, healthy, and I'm learning so much!  I've also noticed that satan has very little influence over me as I've lived the Word of Wisdom.  I'm so grateful I decided when I was young that I would never put anything harmful in my body.

I want to leave you with a quote from Elder Holland about missionary work.  He says, "This is eternal life.  This is the salvation of the children of God.  Eternity hangs in the balance..."  I love that line...eternity does hang in the balance!  The work of Salvation is not only shaping the eternal destiny of future generations, but also the generations backwards.  I hope you can feel the weight of that.  I know I can.  It's the reason why I love missionary work!  I love you all so much!  I think about you and pray for you all the time.  Have a wonderful week!

Sister Jensen

Monday, July 1, 2013

"Miracles from Service"

Letter from July 1st (a little late)

It's' been a really excellent week!  We really had to sacrifice a lot this week because we are out of miles on our car.  I've never felt like such a hobo in my life!  It's fun though.  I almost like walking better because you get to talk with more people on the way to appointments.  I even got a referral to send to my last area!

I want to talk about Saturday though because we had SO many miracles on Saturday.  Sister Strong and I have been working so diligently in this area, but we haven't seen much success.  We have been especially praying for a family to teach.  On Saturday we didn't want to wear skirts so we decided to offer service to everyone all day.  We started with the cute home of the family that we live with.  There names are Brother and Sister Clark and they are so good to us!  I feel like I live with family.  We weeded their yard and washed their windows.  After that we walked to another member's home to offer service and helped them unload a trailer full of food supplies used for the youth trek that happened this week.  
By the time we finally finished doing service, there was only 2 hours of proselytizing left for the day.  A little discouraged, we put on our skirts and went to work!  To save e-mail time, I'm going to list all that happened:

1. We contacted a hard to reach less active
2. Got a ride for a less active to church
3. Got a ride for investigator to church
4. Received a referral for a family!!!
5. Contacted a referral

It felt like we were floating all the way home.  There are blessings that come from doing service.  I know it!  There were too many miracles to doubt that God was blessing us.  It may not seem like much to the reader, but any missionary knows that these are truly miracles!

Earlier this week we met with the family that had recently lost their brother.  We brought a member with us this time and that made all the difference.  I'm serious, members relate wayyy better than missionaries can sometimes.  We shared a scripture with them Alma 40:11 and talked about the Plan of Salvation.  The Spirit was so strong and I could tell that these sisters truly wanted to change and have God in their life.

Isn't it a blessing to have the knowledge of the Plan of Happiness?  It gives us so much purpose.  I'm especially grateful to have the knowledge of the Atonement.  I was talking with another missionary that was struggling a few weeks back about the Atonement.  She shared with me later how much her testimony had grown after calling upon the powers of the Atonement while on her mission.  When times get tough, we can always rely on the Savior to pick us up.

I love getting everyone's emails and hearing about their missionary efforts!  You are so inspiring!  Keep up the great work and continue to share your experiences!  This work is changing the kingdom of God!

I love you all!  Have a great week!

Sister Jensen