Monday, November 18, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving! (almost)

Yummy fruit!
This week has been a highlight week on my mission for sooo many reasons!  Reason number one...we received news that our new chapel will be ready next transfer!  I'm so excited!  I don't want to speak too soon, but I think I will be here next transfer.  Sister Acevedo has one more transfer of training and I think President Klein will keep us together.  I really hope so because I'm loving it here in Boa Vista!  It's dang hard sometimes, but I feel like Boa Vista is my little home now.  We also have a new Branch President and he is super excited and has a lot of great ideas to help accelerate the work here.
Everything in missionary work nowadays is all about working with members.  If the prophet said it, I know it's important so I've been working really hard to have good experiences with our members and finding people.  Our efforts this week are really paying off!  All 4 of our solid investigators have close contact and friendships with members!  One man named João is neighbors with a family in our Branch.  He lives with his sister in a bairro far from us.  After lunch one day we taught him and his sister.  Thanks to our member, the sister already knew a lot about the church and during the lesson everyone was teaching each other.  It was a really awesome experience.  Before we could even invite him he said, "I would like to come to church on sunday".  I thought, Freak!  I love working with members!  Our very own investigator invited himself to church!  He was there and he really liked it.  We are going to walk to his house wednesday morning to teach more and mark a baptismal date.  His house is far away, but I can't help but think it will be worth it.  Really, it's an act of faith...and a good workout. :)

Hayley and Sister Acevedo
We are also teaching a women named Solange.  She is so solid!  She has a friend in Fortaleza Brasil that is a member of the church and Solange has always wanted to learn more.  I met her over 2 months ago with Sister Crane when we were trying to make visits one night in an apartment complex.  That night, everything was going wrong.  Nobody was home, nobody wanted to talk to us and just as we were leaving we met Solange.  At first I thought she invited us back because she liked that we were Americans, but now I can see a real thirst for knowledge in her.  When Sister Acevedo and I returned for the first time to try and teach her, she was absorbing every word.  She was at church 2 sundays ago and really loved conference.  Yesterday we marked an official date for baptism and taught the commandments.  The hardest commandment to teach was tithing.  She told us that right now she is trying to recover from a financial crisis.  There are many things she once had, that she is living without and I think it's been hard for her.  She said, "Oh sister...I think I can live tithing every once in a while.  It's not the 10 percent, but the desire of our hearts and I dont think I can because I'm still recooperating".  At that moment I took confidence in the promise in Malachi 3:10.  I told her that she cannot deny herself the blessings that come from tithing and I promised her that she would recover much faster if she would live this commandment.  I then shared a story about you mom when you were deciding whether or not to pay tithing when you and dad were poor newlyweds, and the blessing you got from paying it.  That little story helped a lot!  The spirit was there to testify this truth and she accepted to live it.  Her baptism will be Sunday after church.

Finally this week, we were teaching a friend of our recent convert Simone.  Her friend's name is Loraina.  At first, Loraina didn't want to be taught because our church was too far away, but we continued.  Monday last week we had just left the home of an ex-investigator and I was feeling a bit frustrated and really discouraged because he decided over night that he didn't want to be baptized.  After that lesson we taught Loraina.  It was rough!  She wasn't understanding us very well, but she was paying real close attention.  She especially liked the part of the Plan of Salvation when we explain the Celestial Kingdom.  After reading the little part of the pamphlet I asked, "Where would you like to live one day?"  And of course she replied the celestial kingdom!  I told her that was a place we can go through baptism and invited her to be baptized.  She was still hesitant to accept the invitation so we asked her to pray and asked Heavenly Father.  About 15 seconds into the prayer she stopped.  At first I thought she was embarrassed or forgot how to pray, but then she looked at me and her eyes were full of tears.  Then I felt it too.  The most powerful presence of the Spirit I have felt on my mission so far and I could not stop myself from crying.  After the prayer we explain the feeling and invited her to be baptized again.  She accepted!  The only sad part of this story is we havent been able to talk to her since.  Everyone else has been talking for her and so we are really hoping we can talk with her this week.

I have so much more to write about this week!!!!  And so little time.  I want you all to know that I know these things are true.  I have seen miracles this week.  I'm seeing miracles with members!  I'm feeling the Spirit giving me the support to do this work and I cannot deny that this is the work of the Lord.  

I want to leave you with a funny scripture I found this morning during my personal study.  In Luke 10:8 Christ is talking to His seventies about how they should go about preaching in various cities and I thought this verse was funny:

And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you

Christ commanded that His missionaries need to eat all the food set before them!  It's in the New Testament.  I promise you that I'm doing that too.  One day this week we ate 3 lunches due to some confusion with our lunch calendar.  I wanted to cry I was so FULL!  But at least the food is super good.  Anyways, on that note, have a Happy Thanksgiving!  Even though I won't have thanksgiving this year, I can promise you that I will be eating just as much if not more here in Brazil.  Love ya'll!

Sister Jensen

Monday, November 11, 2013

Morôni é o cara!

We have a new chapel!  Not "our" chapel, but the Sisteres of Buritis have a new chapel and we had the dedication last night with Presidente Klein.  It was so awesome.  At the start of the dedication the chapel was well-filled, but as it continued on the chapel was over flowing!  All the missionaries gave up their seats and we were squeezing chairs into every open space we could find.  Everyone wanted to see the new chapel.  It was really beautiful and it was exciting to see what our chapel will look like when it's finished.  We are thinking it will be ready by December and I hope that's true!  When we drove past it Saturday they were planting and putting in lights.  It is so big and beautiful and not like any other chapel in all of our area (and there are many chapels).  A lot of people here call it a temple.  If they only knew what the temple is like!!
Presidente Klein passed through a few days here this week.  The first day we had interviews in the morning and a special musical fireside at night.  We attracted a lot of non-members to the musical fireside.  Everyone really liked it and in our area alone we received 4 referrals.  An Elder in our zone and I started the fireside with the song "Vinde a Mim" or in English "Come Follow Me".  I may or may not have forgotten the words a little during the performance, but can ya blame me?  It's not my first language!  Saturday night we had a special fireside with Presidente Klein and the adult members of the stake.  I'm sure you can only imagine what this was about...members and missionaries of course!  I really liked something that one member said in her talk.  She said, the main thing that is frustrating this work is thinking that we've already arrived.  Although we are doing a lot, we are capable of doing far more.  

This thought has really stuck with me this week.  And I've been thinking a lot about how I can help our members get excited about doing missionary work.  One thing I noticed is that members get excited when we are excited and likewise, missionaries get excited when members are excited.  I was talking with one Irmã about her neighbors this week and all of a sudden she was thinking of all kinds of people to introduce us to.

Sunday we had a District Conference.  (Like a Stake Conference, but we are not a stake yet.)  It was really well attended and one of our investigators came!  Her name is Solange.  Sister Crane and I found her one transfer ago but never had an opportunity to go back.  We finally went back and had a really good lesson with her.  She has a lot of questions about the church and religion in general.  At first I think she was excited to talk with us because we were Americans but now I think she is really thirsty to learn more.  During our lesson with her this week she asked many questions and every question ended in a follow up question, "Is that right?"  This leads me to believe that she is open and ready to believe in our message.

Another investigator is Wendel.  He is 19 years old and is the grandson of one our members.  He is a really good kid and wants to be baptized.  We taught him the commandments last week and he was willing to live all of them!  The only thing that has been difficult for us is marking a date for baptism.  We will be meeting with him tonight to do just that.

This week I made a cool discovery while studying the scriptures.  I LOVE Alma 48 where it talks about Moroni:  

 11 And Moroni was a astrong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect bunderstanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery;
 12 Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the awelfare and safety of his people.
 13 Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had asworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood.
17 Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto aMoroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the bdevilwould never have power over the hearts of the children of men.

I love these scriptures!!!  Then my discovery in verse 19.  He makes a comparison between Moroni and other righteous men in the scriptures:
 19 Now behold, Helaman and his brethren were no lessaserviceable unto the people than was Moroni; for they did preach the word of God, and they did baptize unto repentance all men whosoever would hearken unto their words.
Helaman and his brethren were like Moroni because they preached and they baptized unto repentance.  Then I realized, hey that's what I'm doing!  Don't we all want to be like Moroni?  Don't we want to be firm in the faith and defend righteousness?  Do our hearts swell for joy in the freedom from sin for our brothers and sisters on the earth?  This scripture is telling us that we can be comparable when we are preaching the gospel and helping our brothers and sisters receive a remission of their sins.  
I have a testimony of the importance of this work.  I have the wonderful opportunity to wear a name tag everyday, but all of us can truely have a name tag written on our hearts.  In fact, it is already there.  When we were baptized we took His name upon us.  As Latter-day Saints, we are is representatives.  Share the gospel.
Com amor e carinho,
Sister Jensen

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Little Things

This week has been a lot more chill.  Sister Acevedo is beginning to adapt to the heat and all the walking we do and that has been a huge blessing!  I hate being stuck inside...even when it's for a health reason.  This week we've been doing a lot of finding.  I've been working really hard to obey spiritual promptings immdiately when I receive them.  Sometimes I'm tempted to think, "Was that a prompting...or just a thought I created in my head?"  What I'm beginning to understand more clearly now is that spiritual promptings often come as thoughts in our heads and as I've followed them this week, we've started to find a lot more solid people.
Yesterday we found 2 families with couples that were legally married!  That is such a miracle here!  A lot of people don't get married here in Brazil.  On the one hand they don't want to pay and on the other hand they don't have a reason to...but I'm going to give them a reason!  We actually had 2 baptisms scheduled for this week and they both fell through because their mom wouldn't let them.  I actually haven't even met these investigators yet because they were a referral from our zone leaders.  I'm really hoping we will find them at home tonight.

Tonight we have an appointment with a 15 year old boy named João Carlo.  He was a reference from a member in our Ramo.  We taught him once and it was super awesome until his aunt joined in on the lesson.  She liked our message, but she didnt like that we were sharing it with them.  She offered the closing prayer and prayed that God would guide us to people who don't have Him already in their lives.  I see where she is coming from, but people don't understand that we are here to offer MORE!  I was talking about this with our district leader last night and he just told us that we need to be more bold  and direct with people.  They need to know that our purpose as missionaries is to help them come closer to Christ through baptism by proper authority.  I guess my only fear is that I will scare them away.  This morning I was reading some old notes I took during a mission conference in washington spokane that said, "Expect miracles, then go find them".  I loved that.  I need to expect that people will say yes!  Where is my faith if I'm always nervous to hear their reply?  

Isn't it the same in member missionary work?  We need to expect miracles...then the action part...go FIND them!  Obey promptings or "thoughts" that enter into your minds and we will be surprised to find that our Heavenly Father is more intimately involved in this work than we know.  When we are doing His work, we are entitled to His help.  I think that is a beautiful promise and I try and remember that all the time.  Especially on the days when finding people becomes super discouraging.

I know the church is true.  I know Jesus Christ is at the very head of it all directing His work.  I know we are blessed when we assist in this work.  I'm so grateful to be serving here.  I'm grateful to be a witness of so many miracles daily.  It isn't easy, but how can I expect it to be easy when it was never easy for Him.  I've also strengthened my testimony this week on the importance of doing the "little things".  The things our Heavenly Father asks us to do are simple and because of that we sometimes tend to slack off.  Yesterday I was teaching a family that is preparing to go to the temple next year.  We were talking about the importance of prayer.  Personal prayer, companionship prayer, and family prayer.  Even when we are doing things right, we can always be doing better.  We are always in constant progression.  Constant progression is what we wanted before we came to Earth anyways, right?  I have a testimony that when we improve on the "little things"...the big things in life will be handled with greater strength and wisdom.

I love you all so much.  Thank you for your prayers and e-mails.

Sister Jensen