Monday, October 28, 2013

Minha novinha

Sister Acevedo
I have had quite the week.  First of all, I received my new companion early Wednesday morning.  Her name is Sister Acevedo and she is from Peru.  Oh my gosh, I can't believe I'm really training after 3 months here.  The days leading up to her arrival I could really feel the influence of Satan reminding me of my inadequacy.  Our mission received 12 new sisters on Monday and we have plenty experienced Sisters to train, but somehow I'm training.  It's funny, I really had such a naive view of missionary work before the mission.  I thought for sure after 6've got yourself a well-rounded, experienced missionary, but that is so far from the truth!  I've had to rely a whole lot on the Spirit this week and because of that I've seen miracles in my language ability.
Sister Acevedo and I have had difficulties communicating.  She is speaking Portuguese with a Spanish accent and I'm speaking with an English accent so sometimes we misunderstand each other and its really funny.  She is cool though.  I'm glad that she just laugh with me when we can't communicate because let's be real, it's funny.  Sometimes she says things in Spanish because for some reason she thinks I will understand.  After 3 years of high school Spanish...I got nothing.  Portuguese has taken over my brain!  This week she was asking me about "tiendas" and "tiendas" is Spanish for stores.  I heard her in Portuguese (because how was I supposed to know she was speaking Spanish?!) and I thought she said "tendas" which means tents.  Anyways, I stopped at a couple stores for her to see if they had tents.  I didn't know why she wanted a tent, but I wanted to help my comp, ya know?  Later that night it all clicked and we had a good laugh.
I actually got to teach in English yesterday.  There is a country near here called Guyana and the people there speak a funny sounding English.   We were knocking on doors and found this older couple from that country.  They understood English best so I taught the Restoration in English.  Man, it was hard.  I've been going strong in Portuguese for a week now and making the switch was confusing to my brain!  Please don't make fun of me when I come home.  

One lesson we had this week was when we were knocking doors.  An old lady answered and let us in.  We sat down in their backyard with her, her husband, her friend and about a dozen puppies.  When I began to talk the old man (her husband) was like, "I'm sorry, I don't speak English".  And I replied, "I'm speaking Portuguese" and he said, "bad Portuguese".  This is normal here.  I'm probably the first American he has ever talked to.  Then they let us share a message with them and at this point I was a little annoyed.  But I thought, will be good practice for my new comp.  So we started the Restoration.  By the end I could feel the spirit testify strongly that the things we were saying are true.  The friend that was visiting accepted baptism and will are going to visit her next week.  After we finished, I was surprised to hear that man rehearse everything we taught back too us....he even understood the memorized first vision!!!  I was shocked!  I left their house feeling a lot more confident in myself and having a lot more confidence in the spirit.
This week we've returned to Pedro, Simone, and Silmara's house several times to keep them firm and excited about the gospel.  I just think the world of these kids.  Every time we come over they get so excited.  They run and grab their Bibles and their Books of Mormon because they know our role as missionaries.  They know we are there to teach and they are ready to learn.  One night this week we watched the Restoration on DVD.  I love that DVD!  It lays out the message of the Restoration really well and the spirit is always strong.  Silmara, the 8 year old, said something really cute after watching the Restoration.  She said, "I really liked it, I just thought it was a little short.  I would like it to be a little longer".  Sitting in church with them this Sunday during Pedro's confirmation I was so filled with joy.  Not only can I feel my own love for them, but I can feel our Heavenly Father's love. I'm grateful that I was the missionary here when they were baptized.  Their parents really like us too.  We invited them to learn more, but the mom said she doesn't have patience.  I tried to dig a little to know what she meant, but never got a direct answer.  However, they are going to feed us next Sunday so we will prepare a really good message about eternal families!

I've really learned a lot this week and I'm so grateful that I'm here.  I have so much to learn and I've learned so much, ya know?  Right now our only challenge is my companion's legs and feet.  She is not adjusting very well to the climate and bugs here so please pray for her so we can work more.  She can barely put on her shoes.  Her feet are super red and swollen.  I feel really bad for her.  I'm healthy and normal.  My only challenge this week has been with ants.  I was sitting on my bed 2 days ago and noticed an ant so I flicked him off.  Then I saw the time I saw the 3rd ant I lifted up my sheets to find hundreds of ants!  Oh my was awful!  I promise you that I never eat on my bed so I really don't know what started it but after a lot of Raid and washing I think I've got it under control.  My prayers at night are a lot different now.  I never thought I would be asking Heavenly Father to keep ants off my bed while I sleep.

Despite all this, I am still extremely happy to be a missionary.  It's really weird, but it's true.  It's like what President Hinckley's dad said, "Forget yourself and go to work".  Whenever we forget ourselves, we can always expect to be happier.  I know this is true.  I love you all.

Sister Jensen

Monday, October 21, 2013

Transfers and Baptisms

Bom Dia!

I've had quite the week here in Boa Vista!  Sister Crane and I have focused a lot of attention on the one family we found on my Birthday a couple weeks back.  They are so awesome!  We've been there every day this past week to teach them.  First we started teaching Simone the 17 year old sister, then Silmara the 8 year old.  They both accepted baptism and love learning!  After their interviews were completed, we went over to practice some primary songs with them so they could sing at their baptism.  We invited their 13 year old brother Pedro to learn about the church too and we were surprised when he stuck around after the lesson to learn the songs with us.  He said he would be baptized too after he visited the church once.

This past Saturday was Simone and Silmara's baptism.  Right before we left to pick them up, it started down pouring!  I've never seen so much rain fall so fast and so heavy!  The roads literally turned into rivers!  When it finally slowed down, we left and waded through the water all the way to their house.  I do not want to know what was in that water!  All the kids were out in the streets splashing around and playing in it.  We got to their house a little late and Pedro told us that Silmara (the 8 year old) had been crying because she was afraid the rain would cancel her baptism that night.  She is so precious!  I love these pure sweet kids that we found.  I know Heavenly Father had been preparing them for some time now.  They are all so kind, so innocent, and really have a strong desire to follow Jesus Christ.  The next day Pedro was baptized after church.  His young men's president baptized him and he received a really warm welcome from the ward.  Now our task is to help them integrate by working through the members.  We also want to start teaching their parents.  Their parents really like us and I think that is because of the feeling we bring to their home.  You just cannot deny that Spirit!

Yesterday we received transfer calls.  We were both pretty shocked because we got the call so late and we both thought for sure we would be staying in Boa Vista together.  But Sister Crane was transferred to Porto Velho.  After the call we just started crying.  It was one of the hardest goodbyes I've had here on the mission.  I will miss her a lot!  Early wednesday morning my new comp will arrive.  She is a greenie and I'm going to train her!  The catch is...she is spanish speaking and I don't know if I remember a lick of Spanish.  I'm not sure which country she is from yet.  It will be challenging for sure, but I'm up for it.  I'm excited to stay here in Boa Vista!

Meanwhile I'm with Sister Melo.  She is waiting for her comp too and it is sister Melo's final transfer her.  Her Portuguese is really tough to understand, but I'm getting it.  A lot of the time I just guess what she is saying.  I can't believe I have 3 months in Brazil already!  The culture shock has long passed and Brazil feels like home now.  I'm so grateful to be here.  I'm so grateful for all that I'm learning and I'm so grateful for another opportunity to grow and learn this transfer.  I hope you all have a good week and remember to look for opportunities to serve others!  Love you!

Sister Jensen

Monday, October 14, 2013

Birthday Miracles

Wow, time is flying by so fast!  Sister Crane and I were talking today about how fast these past 2 transfers have gone by.  Today is most likely my last P day with Sister Crane.  We think she will get transfered because she has been here a long time, but we won't know for sure until Saturday.  I can honestly say that I've loved serving with her.  We've had so much fun and I'm going to miss her a lot.  That's one of the cool side effects of the mission, you make some really solid friendships.  It's nearly impossible to not love the person you are serving with and with Sister Crane it was easy.  We spent the day in centro doing a little shopping and we ended up finding nothing.  Boa Vista is a dead place when it comes to shopping.  Most people here travel to Venezula to buy clothes.  But oh my gosh...literally every store we went in today, we were stalked by the workers.  I'm not sure if they thought we would steal something or if they thought they would make a big sale with Americans in there store.  It was so annoying!!  I started making it into a game.  The minute we entered a store, I started counting to see how long it would take to pick up a stalker.  The average was about 7 seconds.
Thank you for the Birthday e-mails!  It was so fun to read them all today.  Sister Crane and I celebrated our Birthdays in centro today.  After trying to shop, we decided to just get pedicures and milkshakes instead.  It's been a fun day.  On friday (my actual b day) Irma Rose made me and Sister Crane a Birthday cake and gave us a little present.  A lot of members were there to celebrate too.  I never expected getting so much attention on my mission birthday, but when you have a lady in your ward that loves to make cake...birthdays get celebrated!!  Thanks Irma Rose!

Alright, so this week was awesome and we've been seeing a lot of miracles.  We found out this week that we had 3 other investigators at general conference that we didnt even know about!  We havent been able to talk to them yet though because they live super far away.  We also had a chance to talk with Dennis this week.  We had a really great lesson with him where he finally opened up to us and we found out the real reasons why he didn't want to get baptized.  He feels a lot of pressure from his mom to continue in the church she attends, but he told us he knows our church is true.  He said the one sunday he came to church with us, he did really well on a test at school that he wasn't expecting to do so well on and he said he knew that it was a blessing he received from coming to church.  Then he started having lots of questions about the priesthood in the church.  We answered his questions and in the end I felt prompted to ask him if he wanted a priesthood blessing of comfort and his answer kind of surprised me.  He said, "Who wouldn't want a blessing?"  So this past sunday after church a priesthood holder in our branch offered a beautiful blessing.  This week it is our hope that the blessing helped calm his fears so that we can mark another date for baptism.

Another miracle this week happened on my birthday.  It was a Birthday miracle!!  We had some extra time after some appts fell through and I felt prompted to visit this girl named Simon that we found a few weeks back that we could never find at home.  Well on my birthday...she was home!  We felt prompted to teach the lessons a little out of order with Simon so we taught the gospel first.  Sometimes, the Restoration is a big lesson to swallow on the first visit and the gospel is a little easier to understand.  Not always, but sometimes.  We taught her the gospel and when I invited her to be baptized she said yes!  She is really excited!  She is 17 years old so she is in young womens and we are trying to help her intregrate with the girls there.  Her and her sister were at church on Sunday and they both really liked it.  I'm really ecited about teaching them.  We will baptize them this coming weekend.

Since coming to Brazil, I've been really diligent about my language study, but I've been slacking at reading the Book of Mormon in my mission language everyday.  This week I've been going strong everyday and I've noticed a clear difference in my fluency and understanding of the language.  I know that I didn't gain that on my own, but it is the power that comes through reading the Book of Mormon.  There is power beyond our understanding in that book!  We may not have a perfect comprehension every time we read, but it is the mear action alone that gives us power.  When we read, we are being obedient.  And when we are being obedient, Heavenly Father promises blessings.  It is just that simple.

I love the blessings that I've received since being on a mission.  My heart is full of gratitude everyday for the things that I'm learning and for all that the spirit is teaching me, while I'm teaching Heavenly Father's children.  I love my job!  The church is true!  Jesus Christ lives!  I love you all!


Sister Jensen

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sandal tan lines

My life is so good!  I love being a missionary in Brazil!  This week I had my first encounter with a lizard in our house.  I walked in and he was crawling up the wall.  He got so nervous when he heard us come in that he fell down and I started yelling some Portuguese at him, then he ran outside.  You have to speak Portuguese to Brazilian lizards.  They understand way better that way. Sister Crane found a big cockroach in our sink while doing dishes one day this week.  She screamed and I tossed her the Raid.  We are basically pros at this now.  I also ate capivara again this week.  I'll be honest, now that I know what it is a lot harder to eat.  I think I like eating in ignorance better.
This week we've been teaching a woman named Camila pretty consistently.  We met her one day when we were walking by a less active/recent convert in our ward that was out talking with her.  The less active/recent convert's name is Maria and Camila is her neighbor.  I've had some of the best lessons this week with Camila!  She loves our visits and Maria has been at everyone of them.  I'm convinced there is no better way to reactivate than helping others feel needed and important.  I think it was Elder Utchdorf during conference that said, most people want to do more than just sit and listen to sermons.  That is the truth!  This week Maria has felt so important helping the missionaries.  She has helped bear testimony, teach parts of the lesson, and best yet...she HERSELF invited Camila to be baptized! 
We really do see miracles when members are involved in the work.  It is even better to help recent converts and less actives be involved in the work.  Maria is receiving the lessons again and in turn is strengthening her testimony.  I just beam when I see our members and our investigators getting it.  I can feel only a portion of what our Heavenly Father must feel for them, and trust me..He loves us a lot!

Making peanut butter cookies
I hope ya'll felt that way during conference.  There were several themes talked about during conference, did you notice that?  One of those was obviously missionary work.  Elder M. Russell Ballard told us that it is impossible for us to fail in doing missionary work!  Many of us in the past have viewed sharing the gospel as a burden and it is not.  It is a priviledge!  Just invite with love.  Even if the answer is no, they will never forget the feeling.  You might be one of the "stepping stones" that lead them to finding the truth one day.  Think about it!  We are the only church on Earth that has authority to share the fulness of the gospel.  We are a missionary church!  We broke 15 million members!  Now let's break 16 million!

Another theme was the Atonement.  Let's be honest though, the Atonement is central to everything we do.  Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered all, so we would not have to suffer alone.  Because of the Atonement we can repent.  Because of the Atonement we can be healed.  And because of the Atonement, we can become more like Him.  Richard Maynes said something that was very profound to me, but I don't remember it word for word.  He said, our testimonies can't get into shape from just sitting and watching conference.  Don't we do that sometimes?  We receive spiritual promptings and then there is zero action.  I'm inviting you to act!  I'm so guilty of this.  Last night I set some personal goals to help me improve so I don't become a lazy conference coach  potato.

It is true what Elder Russell M.Nelson, Heavenly Father has known us for a very long time.  He loves us.  I can only imagine how terribly frustrating it was for us sitting in the pre-mortal existance just dieing to progress.  Our Heavenly Father wanted us to know the fullest joy, so He created this plan.  Try not to be upset if sometimes it's not easy.  I have to tell myself that every week here.  Missionary work is not easy.  Sometimes, He requires us to endure patiently.  I so have hope though, that I will one day be like Him.  One day, the pains and trials of this life will be a thing of the past.

I like bringing this message to the people in Brazil.  Trust me, we have it so good.  Our lives are so comfortable.  I am absolutely humbled when I walk into some of the homes here.  The people of Brazil are really special.  There are so giving, kind and close to our Heavenly Father.  I just have the sacred calling to help them find His complete doutrine.  I love being a missionary.  Thank you for your love and for your prayers.

Love (Your Favorite Sister in the Amazon),

Sister Jensen