Monday, December 30, 2013

Last letter of 2013

This week feels like a blur!   I know I did a lot of things, but I'm having a hard time remembering because it all went by so fast!  First of all, I loved Christmas.  Mostly because I got to talk with you all.  It was so good to see your faces!  Irmã Rose said "Nobody in this family is ugly" haha.  They had a lot of fun seeing the snow there too.  These people have never seen or felt snow in their lives!  They were so amazed.  To be honest, I'm grateful for a break from the snow this year. 
This week it was hard to get a lot of work done because we spent a lot of time in the new chapel to help with the open house.  The people in this area are beginning to notice that the chapel is functioning, but they want to attend our services at night.  Last night we watched the Christmas Devotional by the First Presidency and as we were leaving the chapel a family pulled up and asked, "When do you have your services here?  We are looking for a church to join". often does that happen?!  Never!  We convinced them to come in for a church tour and a convert couple in the branch bore testimony at the end by the baptismal font.  It was super awesome.  But although it was a great tour, they want a church to attend at night.  Everyone has church services at night here.
This week we also had a lot of miracles working with members.  Every time we have a Conference or Zone Training here they are always training us on working with the members.  I'm doing my very best to fulfill this counsel because I know its origin is our Prophet.  So really its origin is Jesus Christ.  As I've focused in on accomplishing this this week, I've found that we had a whole lot more investigators at church as well as less actives and recent converts.  Sister Acevedo and I didn't know what to do with ourselves this Sunday because our chapel was flooding with new faces!!!  We now have a lot of follow-ups to do this week.  I'm really looking forward to it!
This week my heart has been especially full of gratitude.  Every Christmas I find myself remembering Christmases of the past and this year especially I realized how blessed I've been.  Especially since I began serving here I've been so so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I'm so grateful I was raised with the gospel in my home.  I'm grateful for parents that love me.  I'm grateful for those who have helped me on the mission.  You know who you are and you are in my prayers.  Thank you for your help.  Most of all, I'm thankful for my Savior Jesus Christ.  Despite all the ugliness and sadness in the world, the gospel of Jesus Christ is here in its fullness and it is changing lives one by one.  I know it, because I'm witnessing it.
I love you all.  I want to leave you with the words of our prophet Thomas S. Monson in which he speaks of gratitude:
"My brothers and sisters, do we remember to give thanks for the blessings we receive? Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God’s love."
And I can promise you that we don´t want to miss an opportunity to feel His love.
Have a Happy New Year!

Com Amor,
Sister Jensen

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas and New Chapel

Merry Christmas!

Feliz Natal!

It sure doesn't feel like Christmas here.  I think this will be the first Christmas I will be sweating in the hot sun since I was born!  I'm used to my Michigan Christmases!!!  But it will be a good Christmas :)  We are going to spend Christmas with Irmã Rose and I'm excited because she is planning a big Christmas feast!  Also I get to skype you all!  That will be the best part!

This week was so good!  We had a Zone Conference with President and Sister Klein and during the conference we took a break to visit a zoo.  So the zoo was pretty lame, but it is all that Boa Vista has to offer.  The cool part was getting to play with a jaguar.  Actually, only the Elders petted the jaguar because he didn't like the sisters. I was nervous and President Klein said that the jaguar didn't like me because he could smell my fear!

I have ever better news: our new chapel was finally dedicated!!!  It is so so beautiful and it was an emotional day for many members that have waited for years to have a nice meeting house.  16 years to be exact.  I know that Heavenly Father has a timing for everything and He really wants Boa Vista to grow.  I don't know if I've already told you this before, but Boa Vista is the only Brazilian capital that is still a district, not a stake.  Wow, right?  That knowledge leaves me feeling even more grateful for the privilege and opportunity to serve here.  I know that this new chapel will bring many miracles!  And I'm grateful to be the missionary to witness so many wonderful changes here in preparation for the work to accelerate even more.

I also made the decision this week to do personal progress again, but in Portuguese!  I hope to finish in 9 months before I come home.  Mom I want you and Alli to do it with me!  You don't have to do as fast as me, but you can write to me about your experiences (because a lot of personal progress has to do with talking to someone about your experience) and we can even do some experiences together!  After reading a little bit today about the Personal Progress program I realized, oh my gosh this is so great!  Everything in the program helps young women keep a temple focused mind and helps them prepare to be good wives and mothers.  I think when I was in the young women's program I thought personal progress was optional, but I did it anyways because I wanted to.  Of course we have our agency, but I don't view this program as "optional" today.  Personal Progress is a great opportunity to become better and strengthen our testimonies of Jesus Christ.  It helps us develop habits of scripture study and prayer. We SHOULD complete personal progress.  It is not only for young women of the church, but for ALL women!  And for women above the age 18, we can complete personal progress to help others also complete personal progress.  So Alli and mom, are ya with me?

This week we've been sharing the message of Christ's birth with the members here in Bos Vista.  I especially love the account in Luke 2 with the shepherds that received "good tidings of great joy" from an angel of the Lord.  And after they received those good tidings, Luke records:

 15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
 16 And they came with ahaste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
I love the shepards reaction to the good news.  They did not say, "First let's take a nap" or "How about tomorrow we see the Savior".  The shepards did not wait, but the left their flocks imediately and went "with haste".  They said to one another "let us go NOW".  Today the good news we have is the gospel of Jesus Christ.  His life and atoning sacrifice was the greatest gift ever given.  This Christmas season let us be like the angel sharing good tidings of great joy with our neighbors.  Let us work and share and serve with haste and enthusiasum like the shepards!  

17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
 18 And all they that heard it awondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
People will wonder at the things you tell them about the gospel.  About the unique message we share about the Restoration of the gospel.  About eternal families.  About priesthood blessings.  As members of the church we are the ONLY people that have the gospel in it's fulness.  I think the greatest gift of all that we can share this holiday season and in the year to come is to share the gospel.  We need to be examples.  Seek opportunities to serve.  And when we do, others will feel the love of Christ.  They will want to know Him because they know us and in turn we will be blessed.  And we do not want to delay those blessings.

I know that this church is true.  I cannot deny the feeling in my heart.  Truly the Holy Ghost testifies of truth even when we already know.  I love that.  I finished the Book of Mormon again on the mission and to be honest I felt silly kneeling in prayer to fulfill Moroni's promise again because I already knew it was true.  But we should never cease to seek spiritual confirmations, even when we know.  I love the Book of Mormon.  I love how it compliments the Bible.  I love my Heavenly Father and I'm grateful for how merciful He has been with me in my life.  I'm grateful for one Christmas as a missionary.  There is no greater job in the world!  I'm grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ.

I love you all!  Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Com Amor e carinho,
Sister Hayley Jensen

Monday, December 16, 2013

I am my own convert

I feel like this week I have been a witness of a lot of little miracles.  Finding those who have had great former afiliations with the church, showing up to a reference's door right in the nic of time and having the ability to explain the gospel clearly and simply.  I feel very blessed and very humbled in knowing that I cannot do this alone.  That Heavenly Father is working right along side us.
This week we finished teaching the son of a recent convert of the church.  His name is Natan and he is 14 years old.  When we started teaching him, he didn't have much knowledge of anything related to religion.  But in the course of 2 weeks he has really progressed well.  Yesterday his dad baptized him.  He wasn't baptized before because he was living in the another state called Pará.  What was even more special is that his dad baptized him on the same date he himself was baptized last year.  His dad is a man that really experienced great changes because of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It was a priveledge to be the missionary that taught his son.  When we told him this week that this was his final lesson before baptism he was really upset, "You guys won't come back to teach me more?"  Natan still is a little embarrassed to pray, but during the closing prayer of our final lesson he said, "And bless the Sisters that they will never stop teaching me".  I thought that was really sweet.  Although he has the support of his family and he has been integrated well with the young men, our presence in his life still mattered to him.
This week we've encountered a lot of people ready to Bible bash.  Man, I hate Bible bashing.  I've gotten to be much more familiar with the Bible throughout my mission which makes it a lot more tempting to prove people the false doctrine they are preaching, but really the best thing to do is just bear powerful testimony.  We went to go visit Solange our recent convert and her friend was with her so obviously was started teaching the Restoration.  It was all good until another women showed up at the First Vision and just wanted to fight.  For a while I tried to help her understand until I realized her heart was just too hard.  Sister Acevedo and I managed to cut in with our testimonies and before they could say more I asked to offer a prayer.  After we left we realized we left Solange in a den of lions!  So I deviced a plan to pour out all the water in my water bottle and go and ask Solage to fill it.  This worked really well and as we talked with Solange it was like talking with a different person.  Nothing they had said shaked her faith in what we taught and I know it is because of the gift of the Holy Ghost.  When we live worthy of his companionship, we cannot be shaken.
I'm so grateful for the gift of the Holy Ghost in my life.  He has been a comforter and a friend.  He has guided me and my decisions and he is still testifying to me of the truth.  If anyone has been truely converted as a result of my mission, I would have to say that the convert is me.  I know with a surety that the Church is true.  I love my Savior Jesus Christ. 
Love you all,
Sister Jensen

Monday, December 9, 2013

"Come Mais Sísteres!"

The food here makes me want to cry somedays. Sometimes because it is so dang good and other days because they make me eat too much.  In our branch here it's become a joke to say "Eat more sisters!  Ya'll walk a lot!"  But really we know that they are not joking...ya HAVE to eat more.  Sister Acevedo and I were on bed rest for a day because of how awful we felt.  One day last week  Irmã made us fish and it was sooo good!  But I was struggling to separate the meat from the bones.  She was really concerned for me so she started taking out bones for me.  Then I accidently swallowed a tiny bone and she really became concerned...she said, "I knew we should have made chicken.  You Americans don't know how to cut fish huh Sister?"  After that Sister Acevedo started to cut my fish for me.  I felt like such a child but I just had to laugh because I thought it was so funny.  "Don´t worry Sister, next time I will make chicken".
It's also been kind of rainy this week which always leaves the dirt on the roads really slippery.  You already know where this is going...I slipped!  TWICE!  The first time was in front of a Restaurant full of people and of course they are already staring at me because I'm different.  It was a humbling experience.  I was like "Sister Acevedo!  I can't even walk away in secret to hide my identity...every knows the white american missionary in Boa Vista!"  I'm having a lot of fun serving with Sister Acevedo.  She is a really good missionary and her personality is easy going and fun.  We are working really well together.

Yesterday we were asked to give talks in sacrament meeting.  She only had to give a 5 mintue talk and I had to give a 10 minute talk!  It was my very first talk in sacrament meeting here in Brazil, but I was surprisely calm.  I even went over my time...oops!  I'm not sure our members understood everything we said, but we understood each other so I think we´re safe.

This week we taught a family that needs to get married.  The week before we taught them the Law of Chastity and invited them to get married.  This week we followed up and the wife wants to get married, but the husband was reluctant.  We taught them the Law of Chastity again with baptism in mind and told them they can only be baptized after marriage.  Then it all clicked and they asked us, "So right now we are living in sin?"  Sister Acevedo and I replied in unison, "yes".  It was strange being so bold, but I realize that we have to be bold when it comes to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  And as a representative of Jesus Christ, it is my responsibility to cry repentance to this people.  After all this, he still wasn't sure about marriage.  So I said, "Well, then I don't think we can come back and teach you anymore.  We are only here to teach those with a lot of faith who are willing to obey God's commandments and be baptized."  That did it.  We are now planning a wedding!  It will take some time for them to save money, but we told them the members would help with the reception to make it really special.  They were really happy.  And I was really happy!  After we left Sister Acevedo said, "Wow we really do have power and authority in our calling!  Two really young girls from different countries convinced a young poor couple to be broken portuguese!"  Seriously, this is true.  Either these people are nuts or we have been called of God to do this work.           

I feel so blessed to be a part of the work of Salvation.  There is no better work to be involved in and no greater priviledge.  Remember that people are watching us.  We need to be examples above all else.  And we in return will receive blessings.  I really like what Jeffery R. Holland said in respect to blessings:

Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come.

I know that the church is true.  I know the Savior lives and is very much involved in this work.  I know people are being baptized today because of the Spirit they feel.  Jeffery R. Holland also said:

People do not join the Church because of what they know. They join because of what they feel, what they see and want spiritually. Our spirit of testimony and happiness in that regard will come through to others if we let it. As the Lord said to Alma and the sons of Mosiah, “Go forth … that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.” 5

Let us pray that we can be instruments in the hands of the Lord.  I know that as we do this, we will be so much more satisfied with our lives.  His plans for us are always better than our own.  I love you all.  Have a happy week!

Sister Hayley Jensen

Monday, December 2, 2013


Guess what?!  I'm staying in Boa Vista!!!!  That's right!  I will spend a third of my mission in Boa Vista, but that is okay because I love this place.  It's really grown on me and I feel really close with the members here.  I also can't believe that I will reach my 9 month mark.  Wow the mission goes by way too fast.  I think the only problem I have these days is not having enough time to do all that I want to do! 
First haircut in Brazil
He offered to do highlights but she said she can wait to have
Katie Machala do them.
This week we had the confirmation of Solange and João.  It was so special!  Afterwards João bore testimony and was in tears at the pulpet.  I can't believe I had a part in helping teach this 64 year old man about his Savior Jesus Christ.  He bore testimony that during his life he had visited many different churches, but the day we showed up at his door he felt something different.  He knew our church was true!  I sat in the congregation like a proud mother.  I don't know how the explain the feeling.  It's like a little taste of what Heavenly Father must feel when we are doing something good.
We also baptized a 17 year old girl Juliana.  At first I wasn't sure if she had real intent because the Sister she was living with really wanted her to be baptized, so I asked her, "Why do you want to be baptized?" and she said "Because I want to feel clean from my sins."  From the tears on her face yesterday as she came up out of the water I could tell she felt relief.  The gospel is beautiful and because of it we can be clean.  We can be happy.  I am a witness of that.  So grateful for what our Savior did for us.  I know the church is true.  I could not be happier in doing what I am doing!  Love you all so much!  Live the gospel and you WILL be happy.  It's simple. 
Until next week (already out of time...)

Sister Hayley Jensen