Monday, August 26, 2013

The Book of Mormom

The smashed cockroach
It's been another great week here in Boa Vista!  The other day I had my first frightening interaction with a cockroach.  Most of the time we've had to sweep little baby ones out of our house, but this guy was HUGE!!  Our initial reaction was to run out of the house, then we decided we better brave and go in to kill it.  I grabbed an old nasty book and Sister Crane threw it right on top of him.  Then I stomped on the book for a good five minutes until we were sure he was dead.  Oh my heck, he was big!
This week and every week Sister Crane and I like to find a reason to make brigadeiro.  It's a delicious chocolate that they make here a lot and it is wayyy too easy to make.  This week we made it for Dennis's baptism and poured it all over a chocolate cake.  I have never been so excited for someone to get baptized.  All week long we've had awesome lessons with Dennis and he told us everyday this week that he is ready for baptism.  He is really smart too!  He was basically teaching us all the commandments.  The only commandment that really got him was the Word of Wisdom.  He drinks coffee sometimes, but after we explained the commandment he started telling us about how bad coffee is for our heart and our brain.  Then Saturday came rolling around and Dennis was late to his baptism interview.  Sister Crane and I went out looking for him and found him in an internet cafe near the church.  When I asked him if he was ready, he just shook his head.  My heart sank. 
Hayley's apartment in Boa Vista
Dennis started to tell us that he didn't feel ready for baptism and that he wants to learn more.  He could tell that we were so sad.  And he felt bad because he kept apologizing to us.  They warned us in the MTC that we would have investigators that would break our hearts, but I guess I never truly understood what that meant until Saturday.  It's the first time I've wanted to cry since being in Brazil.  It's hard to see someone with so much potential almost to the gate of baptism...chickening out last minute because Satan got the better of him.  I've prayed for him, taught him and I've grown to love him since being here.  It makes my heart sad just thinking about it.  We will continue to meet with him, but I have a fear that Dennis will become an eternal investigator. 
A week ago we tracked into the home of a women near our new chapel.  Her name is Nicilene.  We taught her the Restoration and she let us come back to teach her husband too.  When we returned, her husband (Jonas) received us really well and they both seemed excited to come to church.  I usually don't speak much in our lessons, but I said something that must have touched Jonas because he said, "Yeah, what she said was really good".  They both excepted baptism, now we just have to get them to church. 
Hayley's kitchen

 I must have experienced the gift of interpretation of tongues or something because i understood way more than I usually do during sacrament meeting.  I've been praying so hard lately that the language will come a little faster and I feel like it's finally starting to come!  Also, this week I finished the Book of Mormon for the first time on my mission.  I love taking the opportunity to practice what I preach on my mission because it always strengthens my testimony so much more.  At the conclusion of Moroni 10, I took some time to ponder about the Book of Mormon.  Then I asked God if it was true.  I didn't receive any grand answer from heaven or a sign, but I felt in my heart that the Book of Mormon is true.
Now stop what you are doing right now and watch this video: (you may need to copy and paste this url into your browser)

I add my testimony to his.  I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that he truly saw God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.  I'm eternally grateful for the Book of Mormon and it's power and influence in my life.  I don't think I really understood the power of this book until I served a mission.  It works hand in hand with the Bible.  It is another testament of Jesus Christ.  It was saved for our day, because God loves His children the same yesterday, today and forever.  I know this to be true, because I have felt the Spirit confirm it in my heart.  I'm so grateful for this book.  It is, as Jeffery R. Holland said, "safety for the soul".  I hope all who read this, will also read the Book of Mormon and gain a testimony for themselves. 
I love you all.  Have a great week!
Sister Jensen

Monday, August 19, 2013

Walking Where He Walked

Getting a little wet.
It's been another awesome week in the Boa Vista!  I'm just loving everything about this place and I'm so grateful to be here.  To explain my area a little better, I'm serving in the northern most part of my mission in the state of Roraima.  I had to cross the equator to get here, but it's really not too hot.  Especially with an umbrella to block the sun.  Honestly, we use umbrellas everyday, but not for rain...for SUN!  However, it has rained a lot this week.  I love the tropical rainstorms that come rolling through here.  We got caught in one eariler this week on our way to a lunch appointment and we had to turn back around to go home because it was raining so hard.  We were laughing so hard by the time we made it home because we were drenched!  The city of Boa Vista makes up one zone.  Unfortunately, Boa Vista is not a stake yet, but it will be!  There are 5 branches here with several members, but only a tiny fraction of members are active.  In another 2 months we are hoping to have our new chapel finished.  It is really a diamond in the rough and every time we tell people "Hey, that's our church!" I get so excited!  I have a great vision of this chapel being filled with members!
We thought it would be a good idea to tract homes near the new chapel and we had a lot of success.  I'm amazed with how excepting people are here.  I'm finding though that the initial interaction is easy, but getting people to keep commitments is the tough part.  A part of me thinks it is becuse we are American.  A lot of people here are fasinated with Americans. 
Speaking of we ate fries!!!  Sister Crane and I decided to spice up our usual P day routine and go to Centro.  Centro is like the city part of Boa Vista.  We went there with a member Irma Rose and just walked around a did some shopping, then for lunch Sister Crane and I went to the only fast food place in Boa Vista.  It's called "Bob's".  (I'm serious...McDonalds doesn't exist).  What is hilarious about Bob's is that it is considered fine dining.  It cost us about $13 american dollars a piece to buy a meal there.  I'll be honest, the burger was a little interesting, but the shake and fries were totally worth it!  We also got to sit and enjoy some good ol' American popular music.  But seriously, I'm grateful for McDonald's and their dollar menu.  God Bless the USA.
So this week I had a mission first.  We tracted into a family eariler this week and when we went back to visit them the dad let us in to teach.  It took a while to get started because the dad was really chatty, but we finally began with an opening prayer.  As I started to pray, the family started whispering their own prayers out loud and before we knew it the dad was on his feet with his hands in the air.  It really through me off to be honest with you, but hey, everyone has their thing you know?  I'm sure the way we pray was strange to them.  After the lesson, Sister Crane invited the daughters to the young women's personal progress activity that night.  They said they would come and we were really excited.  Later that night, the family showed up!  The parents and only one of the daughters came.  They were all dressed up and had their bibles with them because they thought it was a church service.  We tried to explain the activity to them, but I'm not sure if they understood.  We are a little afraid that it was too different for them.  We'll go back and find out this week.
Another miracle is with a women we tracted into last week.  We began our tracting with a prayer and we really felt that the Spirit led us to this woman's door.  However, she was not what I expected.  When she answered, she had a cigarette in her hand and started telling us how she hated the United States.  We thought, "boy, we are off to a good start!"  When talked with her a little more about our purpose as missionaries she started respecting us more and was willing to let us come back.  She has a lot of questions about life and God and we told her that the Book of Mormon will answer all of her questions.  When we returned this week, we talked a little more about the Book of Mormon and bore testimony to her of the importance of the book.  I never say too much, but I felt prompted to tell her that we love her and we knew that God loved her.  I guess that really touched her because she began to cry...something we never expected from her.  I know that the Spirit is working within her and she is really seeking after truth.  I will keep you posted on our future lessons with her.
In other knews, our investigator Dennis will be baptized this coming Saturday!  Yesterday was our make it or brake it lesson with him and we were so excited to hear him say, "I know baptism is necessisary and I know these things are true".  I love Dennis!  He will be such an awesome convert and Sister Crane and I think he would make a great missionary one day.
I want you all to know that the Work of Salvation is the most important work that we can ever do.  I'm so grateful to be serving my Savior, Jesus Christ.  He was the most perfect missionary to walk the Earth.  This week I've received several more misquito bites and my old ones are starting to scar.  To be honest, this irritated me a little and I thought about asking my mom to send me scar cream until I read an e-mail I received from my returned missionary friend who also served in Brazil.  She said,
"In the end, when the whirl of it is over, those daily aspects of life are what you remember the most. They’re what give you tan lines, a few scars, some wrinkles, calluses, and everything else that proves you lived the experience rather than passed time. The Savior had lots of scars from his earthly ministry. He walked in streets a lot hotter than you and I ever did or will, and tried to talk to people who were a lot meaner than any American or Brazilian will ever treat us. I’m sure he had tan lines, and I bet he would have killed for a shower at all. I think it’s not coincidence his ministry was spent walking in the heat and talking to people who for the large part didn’t understand his message. I always liked to think that every day I walked out in the hot sun and talked to everyone I could find, I was a little bit more like Him in a very literal, sacred way."
I'm so grateful for her wise words.  I'm grateful to walk where the Savior himself walked.  I'm grateful for every scar, callus, and awkward tan line.  I have never felt the love of my Savior as much as I do right now.  He is real.  Think about it...we have a Savior who lives and has promised that He will return.  This is marvelous news!  Why shouldn't we want to prepare for His return?  I look forward to that day when I can thank Him for all He has done for me, especially for His atoning sacrifice.  He loves us so much.  I love you all so much!  Thank you for your encouraging e-mails.  Keep doing what is right!
Sister Jensen

Monday, August 12, 2013

Role of the Spirit

Hayley's new address
Sister Hayley Jensen
Brazil Manaus Mission
Rua Loris Cordovil
1066 Alvorada 1
69042-010 Manaus
AM Brazil

Bom Dia!
Sister Crane and Hayley
It's been another great week in the Manaus Brazil Mission.  I was expecting to have a really tough experience my first transfer here, but it's actually been a lot of fun.  My companion is a lot of fun and we are always laughing.  I'm so grateful for my companion here!  I was also expecting that I wouldn't be able to understand or teach, but that hasn't been the case either.  I've witnessed some miracles here and I already feel like I'm a part of this mission.
This week we ate really well (as usually).  But sometimes I'm not sure what I'm eating.  For example, earlier this week a member told us that we just ate capivara.  I looked up the translation in my dictionary and it was the same but spelled capybara.  We thought, was good.  Today I decided to look it up and I guess it's like this huge ugly rodent creature.  I REALLY ate that unknowingly!  Whatever, it was totally good.  I would do it again.  I guess this member likes to feed us different meats.  He is actually our ward mission leader and he is really tiny and quiet.  Sister Crane said the last time she ate at this member' house they had alligator!  We were talking about it with him last night and how I haven't had alligator yet and he was like, "Okay I'll go catch one".  I just cannot picture this little man catching gators!  I'll let ya know how that goes.  I guess it tastes like chicken?
De-feathering chickens with Irma Rose
We also went to a Birthday party this week for a 6 year old boy in the ward named Emanuel.  We have been helping his mom prepare all week for  this party.  It was like a big deal super hero party and his mom (Irma Rose) went all out.  She made 3 cakes and cooked a chicken dinner for everyone.  I watched her de-feather the dead chickens earlier this.  It wasn't as gross as I thought it would be.  We love Irma Rose.  She is like our mom in this Branch and she is always feeding us and making cake.  I'll attach some pictures of the party.
The highlight of this week was definitely Pamela's baptism.  The Sunday before I arrived, Pamela
Emanuel's Super Hero Birthday Party!
told Sister Crane that she wanted to be baptized.  She has wanted to be baptized for a while now, but couldn't because her parents didn't want her to.  She is 18 years old now and her parents were much more accepting.  We spent this past week teaching her daily and making sure she felt ready for baptism.  She is so sweet.  Before the baptism Sister Crane shared a message and I sang, but the most spiritual moment was the baptism itself.  Pamela's parents were there and we all gathered around the font in our humble little chapel.  The moment Pamela was baptized the Spirit was so strong.  I watched her parents' faces and they were both smiling.  Her dad started to cry.  Later in the service a member presented her parents with a Book of Mormon.  I know that hey felt something.  It was a really beautiful baptism and it was my very first baptism!  Yesterday Pamela received the gift of the Holy Ghost.  It was really cool because she came to church in an immodest dress and later that day she had added to it to make it modest.  It is so cool to see the Spirit immediately work in her life to help her change and make better choices.
Pamela's Baptism
We are currently teaching a young man named Dennis who is 18 years old.  He currently attends a church here called The Assembly of God, at least I'm pretty sure that is the English translation.  He is really devoted to his church, but every time he is with us he cannot help but feel the spirit.  Before we even started a lesson with him one day this week he said "I know that this is true".  However, even though he knows it's true and he feels the spirit when he is with us, he still has hesitations about baptism.  We love Dennis, but we are afraid that we might lose him if he continues to have doubts.  Dennis is really hard for me to understand sometimes.  He talks really soft and he kind of mumbles so I knew it was a miracle when I understood our last lesson with him.  We have been teaching him a lot about faith lately and in turn I've learned a lot myself.
Learning a language sucks sometimes.  Some of the members are really encouraging and others just think we are dumb.  I've tried to be really patient with myself because it isn't easy, but Heavenly Father has given me a promise that I would master this language.  One of my teachers in the MTC said once, "Focus on the Spirit and the language will come".  I've been trying really hard to do that.  I don't know Portuguese, but the spirit does. 
I've also been filled with a lot of gratitude this week for all that I have.  Earlier this week we walked past a group of kids playing a form of baseball in their small square dirt yard.  They had an old ball and a splintered looking broken, wood plank.  They were completely content because they knew no better.  I flashed back to my life and all that I've been given.  I've never wanted for anything and I realized how little it mattered that I had those things growing up.  Things are nothing compared to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  If we don't have a foundation built upon the Savior Jesus Christ, we have nothing.
I am eternally grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I'm especially grateful for the Holy Ghost and His role in my conversion.  I would not know that these things are true without the Holy Ghost.  It doesn't mean a knowledge and understanding of the gospel come immediately.  We need to do our part.  In the MTC Elder Richard G. Scott told us to be grateful that Heavenly Father lets us struggle.  I'm grateful for my struggles.  I'm grateful for the comforting power of the Holy Ghost.  The morning I woke up to catch a plane to Brazil I had a giant pit in my stomach, but an overwhelming spiritual confirmation that what I was about to do was right.
I love you all.  I know the church is true!  We have a loving Heavenly Father that has blessed us to have this knowledge in our lives.  I'm grateful to the boy who prayed in a grove of trees because he wanted to know the truth.  We should all do the same.  I know that Christ loves us and that because of His atoning sacrifice, we can change and be made perfect one day and most importantly, live with Him again with our families.  I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God.  I know we have a prophet today, Thomas S. Monson.  I know that I'm doing the most important work I could ever do.  I love you all.  Have a great week!
Sister Jensen

Monday, August 5, 2013

I'm in Brazil!!!!!!

Estou aqui!!!! 
After several hours of traveling and months of waiting...I finally made it to Brazil!  I'm so happy to be here.  From the very beginning, I knew that I would serve in the states for at least 3 months before I was sent to Brazil.  I didn't know why, but I always knew.  Well, to have this e-mail make sense I'll start from the beginning...
We got our visa's!
My final week in the Glenrose Ward in Spokane, WA was the fastest week of my life.  Sister Strong and I were sad all week knowing that it would all come to an end soon.  There were people in that area that I will never forget and I know that Heavenly Father had me serve there for a reason.  My final Sunday they had me sing in church and the only song that felt right was "The Spirit of God".  For the final verse I sang it in Portuguese and that's when it really hit me that my time here was up.  I could barely keep myself from crying.  My heart has never felt so completely torn apart. 
About the mice situation...we finally caught the little stinker in a mouse trap and it was funny because when we walked upstairs the next morning there was a a dead mouse in the mouse trap right by the kitchen.  We were so confused because the kitchen is upstairs and we set up all the mouse traps in the basement where we live.  We thought maybe the members put it there to show us that the mouse was dead.  Then we came to the conclusion that the cat brought it upstairs.  The best part was the members thought we brought the dead mouse upstairs to show them!!!  haha ew!  We decided to keep the mouse traps set up for another day or two.  Don't worry, we caught 3 more mice.  Poor Sister Strong, she hates mice haha. 
In preparation for my trip I sent a lot of stuff home and left a lot of stuff behind.  I didn't realize how much "stuff" I had accumulated in Spokane.  All of a sudden I had to learn to be super low maintenance.  It's okay though, it's good for me :)  The Sunday before I left I met up with the other missionaries going to Brazil (Sister Prater included) and we spent the night in a members home.  While the members were making dinner they told us we could "hang out" and "relax", but I don't know how to do that anymore.  For the past 4 months every half hour of everyday has something scheduled.  I'm going to be such a weirdo when I get home.  Anyways, the members were super nice and took good care of us.  The next day we went to the airport where we commenced over 24 hours worth of layovers and flights.  I was so happy to be traveling with Sister Prater.  We sat together the entire way to Manaus.  When we connected in São Paulo, there was a member there to greet us and help us connect to our next flight.  When we finally arrived in Manaus, it was like an instant heat wave when we walked off the plane!  I really like the humidity here.  I think it feels good and it kind of reminds me of Michigan.  At this point, I really didn't look or feel ready to meet my mission President, but I had no choice.  President and Sister Klein are so nice!  We went to the temple and took photos, then we had almorço (lunch) at their home. 
I spent the next couple days in the city of Manaus to sort out Police stuff.  There were a couple of us assigned to other cities that could not leave immediately.  Sister Eggett and I stayed with a couple of Brazilian Sisters in the city for a few days.  That helped my Portuguese a lot because they could only speak Portuguese with me. 
Now let me tell you about this's crazy!!!  I had to get over my car anxiety real quick because I've now been on some of the craziest car rides of my life!  There are no rules to the roads here.  It's hilarious because people honk a lot here, but not out of anger like in the U.S.  The honk because they want to say "Hey I'm coming whether ya like it or not so watch out!"  It's nuts.  There are random cats and dogs everywhere.  They are super sad looking and I wouldn't want to cuddle with any of them.  When I walked in our temporary apartment the first night here there was a lizard on the wall making itself at home.  Welcome to Brazil!  Bye bye to the state side mission...
The food here is sooo good!  I seriously might gain weight.  I'm so obsessed with the food here.  They always have noodles, rice, beans, and meat.  Some people will make salad and veges too and I love it!  They make it differently here than we do in the states.  Even the manga is better here!  They have all kinds of new fruit that I'm excited to try.  I tried one fruit that was dark purple and white on the inside.  It was the size of a large cherry.  The Brazilian Sister was explaining how to eat it properly, but at that point I already swallowed the skin.  They were all laughing at me...dumb American Sister haha.  Whatever.  I've also never had so much pop and juice in my life.  Those who know me well know that I don't like pop or juice, but here in Brazil that is the only drink that is cold and won't make me sick.  I hate to admit it, but it is also super delicious!
I also had the sacred privilege to attend a session at the new Manaus temple.  It is so beautiful.  The entire session was in Portuguese, but the Spirit was definitely felt.  I love that the church is the same wherever you go and whatever language it is in.  After all my police stuff was cleared, they finally let me go to my area. 
I'm currently serving in a city called Boa Vista in a branch called Floresta.  I had to take a 12 hour bus ride alone to get there.  I traveled through the night and the dense rainforest to get there.  When I finally arrived I met my new companion Sister Crane.  We have been out on our missions the same amount of time and she is totally awesome!  I'm soooo grateful for Sister Crane.  She is very understanding and encouraging with the language.  She is originally from Dallas,Texas and it's kind of funny because she was once roommates with my last companion Sister Strong.  I love Sister Crane so much and I feel like she is the reason my first week here has been so great.  It's hard trying to speak a new language.  I have a lot to say, but no way to say it and she has totally been there before.  I think she is grateful for me too because her last companion was Brazilian and that was a bit of a culture shock for her.  She says I speak better than she did when she first arrived and that comforts me a lot because she seems to be speaking very well after only 3 months here.
I'm literally the only blonde, white girl here.  Even my comp is darker than me.  (Let's be honest though, it's not difficult to be darker than me).  I've been looking for the other blonde girls...they don't exist!  I get stared at a lot.  It feels weird being the minority.  I also have a ton of bug bites all over me.  I wear bug spray to bed every night, but it doesn't do much for me.  Our little apartment is nice and clean.  We don't have air conditioning, but we do have fans.  I take cold showers everyday, but I like it that way because I'm always hot.  The members are super good to us.  We always get fed well here.
Yesterday they asked me to bear my testimony in church.  It was kind of intimidating because I really don't know much Portuguese, but they said that I spoke well.  The meeting house is really old and runned down, but they are building a new one that should be done in another month.  The other day some Elders called to ask how my training was going.  They said that most likely at the end of my training, I would stay and train in Boa Vista and Sister Crane would leave.  The pressure is really on now.  I have 3 months to learn the language and know how to run this area.  That means I will be here mostly likely for 6 months! 
The next 3 months for me will be a learning experience.  I'm learning a lot about how to trust my Heavenly Father and how I can improve my communication with Him.  It is really hard.  Some days, I just want to cry because I'm so frustrated that the language doesn't come faster.  Sister Crane keeps assuring me that it will come.  I'm so grateful to be here.  I'm so grateful to be apart of this work.  Nothing has ever felt so right in my life.  I know that I'm here for a reason.  I love the people already and I can feel the love that our Heavenly Father has for them.  That is my motivating force right now.
I want ya'll to know that I know the church is true.  It is true in every country and in every tongue.  I'm so grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ.  I know that He lives and that He knows us so perfectly.  I have felt the Spirit bear witness of this to me and I will never doubt it.  I love you all.  Thank you for your prayers, e-mails, and letters.  Have an awesome week!
Sister Hayley Jensen