Monday, September 30, 2013

For my thoughts are not your thoughts

Tudo bem!  It's been another busy week here in Boa Vista.  Sister Crane and I are always busy and we always have a lot of appointments.  Nothing here ever ceases to be exciting.  For example, this week we had a trio for a day with a Brazilian missionary Sister Nunes while her comp went to take care of some things in Manaus.  It was really fun being in a trio and talking in Portugese for a full 24 hours.  (Believe it or not, it's really hard to speak Portuguese when you have an American companion.)  We went to one appointment with a women we met a couple days ago.  This women could not understand anything we were saying...mostly because she wasn't listening.  By the end of the lesson, we found out she really wasn't interested so we asked her to send us out with a prayer.  We really werent sure if she understood us because she started fanning her face with her hands until she evetually bowed her hand and closed her eyes.  Then we sat in complete silence.  At this point, Sister Nunes starts laughing uncontrollably.  Then she snortted and Sister Crane and I lost control until we were all laughing.  Oh my heck, I promise I was trying to be reverant, but some situations we get caught in are just too funny! 

Another downpour
This week we've been really praying hard for some miracles.  We actually even fasted for miracles here.  Everyone we are finding lately just want to learn and are not interested in keeping commitments.  During our fast we tracted into a woman in one of the poorer areas.  She told us to come back the next day.  When we went back, she said she was talking with her husband the night we came by.  she told him that she felt something different when we were there and that she was feeling the same feeling in that moment!  That was a huge miracle.  Another was with a girl that we had been teaching that came from a very wealthy family.  She is 13 years old and likes our visits.  She says she can feel something good every time we are there.  We are sifting out the prepared and the unprepared.  I'm always so grateful when our investigators recognize the Spirit because it helps me to know who Heavenly Father is preparing for us.

We passed by some old investigators this week that work at a restaurant.  They are really dedicated to their current church, but they told us that maybe some day they will want to join our church.  I don't understand the logic.  Anyways, all they know is that they really like us.  They think that what we do is beautiful.  They even gave us referrals!!  They said, "Sisters!!!  You really need to go visit this guy over here.  I will introduce you.  He wants to learn about your church."  They even were talking to their co-worker about us and told her that she needed to mark a time to meet with us.  Hey, we'll take referrals in any form they come!

I'll be honest though, it's taking everything inside of me not to be frustrated.  I never expected the work to be this hard in Brazil!  Didn't we all just imagine that everyone would want to be baptized here?  No, it's not that simple.  I don't know how I can have 50-70 lessons a week and still no one is progressing towards baptism.  Only Heavenly Father knows why.  All things will be done in His timing because He truely knows best.  I just need to have faith in Him and do my part.  Isaiah 55:8...

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord"

Last night we had a family home evening at the home of a recent convert that just lost her father.  It was really special because a lot of people from the branch came to support her.  Sister Crane and I shared a message on the Atonement and there was a really special Spirit there.  I know that the Savior knows us and loves us perfectly.  The only perfect person to walk the Earth, suffered and died so that we could return and live with Him in perfect happiness.  This life is not the end, but it is the testing period.  We need to do all that we can to come to know our Savior in this life, so that we can live with Him in the life to come.  I love the knowledge of the gospel.  I love the peace and joy it brings to my heart and the source of my frustration is that I want so badly for others to have what I have.  Because I know it's true.

I love you all.  Share the gospel this week! :)

Sister Jensen

Monday, September 23, 2013

Work with the Missionaries!

Hey family and friends!
It's been another great week here in Boa Vista!  We've been walking a lot and teaching a lot and now we are just waiting and waiting for the fruits of our labors.  Boa Vista is a fun place to work.  It's actually really tranquil, especially in our area.  We also have a lot more wind than Manaus and a lot less hills.  One thing that is kind of scary sometimes are the random power outages.  They happen all the time!  We had one yesterday during church.  We were in gospel principles and all of a sudden it was dark.  It was funny though because we could hear the primary kids screaming in the other room so we ran over there with a flash light to calm them down.  Luckily the power outages never last too long.
I love our primary kids!  They are so cute and right now we are teaching them the song "A Childs Prayer".  It's funny though because they have to learn it from 2 girls with funny accents.  They are going to sing in sacrament meeting in a couple weeks for "Dia das Crianças" (Children's Day).  Yep, that's a real holiday.  In the states we have Halloween and I guess this is their day to pay tribute to children.  I'm not sure what it will be like yet, we'll have to see!

This week we went to visit a woman named Mosinha in a city far from where we live.  (Well, not far...just a long walk).  Sister Crane and her last companion had been teaching her and she couldn't be baptized because she wasn't married.  They left her with a date to work towards for marriage and a heart shaped box to save up her money.  When we returned this week, she told us they were still planning on getting married and they saved the money so that they could get married by October.  We were so excited!  A lot of couples in Brazil aren't married because it is so expensive for them, but Mosinha wants to be baptized and for the past 2 months she has been working towards marriage on her own without the help of missionaries.  She was our miracle this week!

We also had an investigator at church!  Trust me, that is a miracle!  I'm not sure why, but it's been really hard getting people to church lately.  We walk around all sunday morning picking people up for church and they all have new accuses.  We also invite everyone we see.  A lot of people say, "Oh when your new chapel is ready, I will come".  But this Sunday our investigator named Rafael hussled to make it for sacrament meeting.  It was a really good meeting and the talks were all really inspired.  He told us that he really enjoyed it and he is excited to learn more.  But it is so vital that he continues coming to church!  That's where the members play a huge role.  Fortunately, we had a lot of members talking with him after church and welcoming him.

Our role as members is so important!  And the role and the vision for member missionary work is changing.  It's more than feeding the missionaries and receiving a nice message, it's about working side by side with the missionaries.  We had a Zone Conference this week and our Mission President spoke a lot about how we can improve our work with the members.  Why is that so important?  Because Heavenly Father cannot trust our wards with new members if we don't strengthen what we already have.  Our home ward has been so blessed!  I was so happy to hear that you now have 2 sets of missionaries!  Use them!  Find people for them to teach!  Heavenly Father has blessed the Brighton Ward tremendously to give ya'll 2 sets of missionaries.  You will see miracles as you earnestly try to work with the missionaries.

Remember that we ourselves our testimonies to the world that the church is true.  In Matthew 6:22 it says:

 22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine aeye bebsingle, thy whole body shall be full of clight.

If our eyes are single to the glory of God, others will see the light of Christ in our eyes and they will want to know what we know.  I'm so grateful for the gospel in my life.  I'm so grateful to be a missionary.  There is no other place I'd rather be right now.  I walk, and sweat, and eat until it hurts because I love my Savior Jesus Christ.  I have never felt His presence so much in my life as I do right now.  I know the church is true!  The Priesthood is restored and I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.  I know with a surety that God lives and loves us.  He is aware of every detail of our lives.  I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.  I'm so grateful for this opportunity to share this good news!  I love you all!  Choose the Right!

Sister Jensen

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Character of Christ

This week was my first week into the next transfer and I'm staying here!  Sister Crane is staying with me also to complete my training.  We are really happy to be here another transfer and I'm super grateful to be with Sister Crane.  The work is so much more fun when you have an awesome comp.  Last week I had my first exchange here with a Brazilian companionship and I was really surprised at how well I could understand and communicate with her.  Learning a language is such a rollercoaster experience.  One minute your words are flowing and everyone can understand you and the next minute people think you are a complete idiot.  I take a lot of faith in knowing that the Lord will give me the words when I need them.  My favorite people to talk to are the kids.  They can always understand us and they are so sweet and innocent.  There are some gorgeous little Amazonian children here.  The little girls have sooo much hair and they are so dang cute!
Our focus this week has been finding families.  We do not go home at night until we have at least found one family.  Some nights, it is a real test of faith.  For 2 days last week we were in a trio with Sister Nunes because her companion went home.  One night we went out tracting and it felt like everyone was telling us no.  That doesn't usually happen to us, but continued working until we finally found a family.  I've been trying to be the best missionary I can because I really want to see some miracles in this area.

One family we met this week lives in a city just north of us.  It's about an hour walk there so we only go once or twice a week.  When I first arrived in Boa Vista, we ate lunch at their restaurant and the women said that she had met sister missionaries before.  We had been meaning to go back for a while, but never did until this week.  It's hard to catch them at a good time because they are usually busy working the restaurant.  Luckily, we caught them as they were taking a break to eat and they told us to tell them a little more about our church.  Sister Crane and I jumped right in to teaching the Restoration.  When it was my turn to talk about Joseph Smith I could feel the Spirit really strongly and I could tell that they could too.  I pointed out the Spirit in the middle of the lesson and they were really impressed and invited us into their home to teach more.  At the end of the lesson, we invited them to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it was true.  The 19 year old daughter told us that she already knew that it was true because she read some before.  She said one day she was researching prophets and needed more study material.  She said, "Yeah, so I used some stuff I read from the Book of Mormon to finish my research and I shared what I learned at church".  They said they would be baptized if God told them it was true.  They came to church yesterday and I think they had a good experience.  It will be a change for them.  They are really dedicated to their current church and they keep trying to get us to come to their church.  It's so uncomfortable saying no to people.  It's hard for many of them to understand our purpose I think.  

A lot of people here think we just go around "spreading the good word of God" and what they don't realize is that we offer so much more than that.  We are bearers of good news!  The gospel has been restored and because of that families can be together forever.  I love my job!  I is really hard and sometimes discouraging, but it is the most rewarding feeling when I can help others recognize that our message is true.

Another thing I love love love about the mission is the constant need for self-improvement.  I never feel stagnant because there is always something I can be working on.  One thing I've been reflecting a lot on lately is the Character of Christ.  As I've been studying the New Testament along with the Book of Mormon, I've come to understand the Savior's love and example even more.  I love how Elder Bednar defines the character of Christ:

"Perhaps the greatest indicator of character is the capacity to recognize and appropriately respond to other people who are experiencing the very challenge or adversity that is most immediately and forcefully pressing upon us. Character is revealed, for example, in the power to discern the suffering of other people when we ourselves are suffering; in the ability to detect the hunger of others when we are hungry; and in the power to reach out and extend compassion for the spiritual agony of others when we are in the midst of our own spiritual distress. Thus, character is demonstrated by looking and reaching outward when the natural and instinctive response is to be self-absorbed and turn inward. If such a capacity is indeed the ultimate criterion of moral character, then the Savior of the world is the perfect example of such a consistent and charitable character."

I'll be the first to admit that I am far from attaining this perfect Christ-like love.  There have been several times in my life where things haven't gone the way I've liked and I've focused completely inward on my own suffering.  Even now on my mission, I pray everyday that I can recognize my prideful thoughts and eliminate them from my mind.  Often we sin in ignorance.  We justify our suffering and our anger to satisfy the natural man.  But this is not what Christ would do.  Even in His finally moments of suffering on the cross, bearing the sins of the world, He asked Heavenly Father to "forgive them for they know not what they do".

I am so grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice that allows me to improve everyday.  I'm humbled to know that He loved me enough, an imperfect person, to pay the price for my sins so that one day I might be like Him.

 48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, apray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true bfollowers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall cbe like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be dpurified even as he is pure. Amen. (Moroni 7:48)

I love you all!  Have a good week and read the entire talk "The Character of Christ".  Here is the link: 

Sister Jensen

Monday, September 2, 2013

Be Zealous About the Gospel!

Bom Dia!
I'm kind of worried that this letter won't be as exciting as it usually is because my comp and I have been sick for most of the week. It's been raining a lot this week which is really nice and cold, but when it rains here the air pollution drops down to breathing level and makes people really sick. I never thought my first illness here would be a cough and stuffy nose! Because of that, we haven't been sleeping very well also. Last night at 1am I found another cockroach running around the room. He went and hid behind our dresser and we couldn't get to him. I slept in fear all night long that he would come after me. In the morning, we found him out in the open and I drenched him in Raid. It totally worked! He died soon after. I'm getting so pro at this!
This week I had my first interview with my mission President. This transfer he came to our houses to do cleaning checks and interviews. I wasn't worried about the cleaning check because our apartment was pretty dang clean, but I was worried that he wouldnt understand my Portuguese in my interview. To my surprise, we understood each other perfectly and we had a nice little interview. I really like my mission President. He is a really cool guy and he has a great vision for this mission. I also had a weird realization that this is my last week of the transfer! It went by so dang fast. I'm almost at my 6 month mark and I cannot believe how the time has flown by. I'm trying not to think about it, but when I do it makes me more and more grateful for everyday I have here.
Sister Crane and I have a lot of investigators, but only a handful that are truely progressing (if I can really call it a handful).  It is hard to help people keep their commitments here. One day this week we prayed that Heavenly Father would help us weed out those who aren't truely prepared to recieve our message. Our prayers were answered! That day our investigators were a lot more honest with us about our meetings with them. One of our investigators even called us and asked us when we would be coming back. It stands as a testimony to me that Heavenly Father wants to help us, we just needed to be humble enough to ask for His help. I'm so grateful that I'm not expected to do this work alone.
In Brazil family home evening is a little different. Here they are called "Noite Familiars and the members schedule them with the missionaries. I don't know why, but they always ask us plan them and give the message. I really like them though because a lot of the time they will ask a less active family to host a Noite Familiar. This week we went to a less actives home for a Noite Familiar and I really liked the message. This less active is expecting her first child soon and she hasnt been to church in a long time. We shared a message that I really liked and we read about the two thousand stripling warriors. In Alma 53:20-21 it says:
20 And they were all young men, and they were exceedingly valiant for acourage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted.21 Yea, they were men of truth and asoberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to bwalk uprightly before him.

I really love these scriptures because I think the world could be such a different place if all young people could be like these valiant stripling warriors. They were courageous, trustworthy and they were TAUGHT to keep the commandments. Which makes me think, who taught them? What was it that caused these young men to be so righteous? In Alma 21:23 we read about their parents and it says:

23 And Ammon did preach unto the people of king Lamoni; and it came to pass that he did teach them all things concerning things pertaining to righteousness. And he did exhort them daily, with all diligence; and they gave heed unto his word, and they were azealous for keeping the commandments of God.

The parents of the stripling warriors were zealous about the gospel. They were devoted to the Lord and I can imagine that they taught their children with enthusiasm and excitement. Because of their examples, there children became a righteous generation.
This fills me with gratitude for my parents and makes me even more excited for the family I will have one day. I look forward to teaching my children about the gospel with enthusiam and excitement. I'm especially grateful that Heavenly Father has allowed me to serve a mission now to prepare to be a better mother. I know this church is true. I can feel the Spirit witness this truth to me daily. I've never been so excited about the gospel in my entire life. This is the greatest blessing of all. I love you all.

Sister Jensen