Monday, May 26, 2014

Families

I just finished a meeting here in Manaus and I'm about to fly to the island of Parintins tonight to do exchanges with the Sisters there.  I heard that I'm the second companionship of Sisters to go to the island of Parintins so I'm really excited, but I'm more excited to apply the things I've learned today.  I LOVE mission trainings!  I always leave feeling 100% better and more excited to work.  The Spirit is always super strong in the mission trainings.
This week was a really good one.  I feel like I'm starting to know the area better and we are teaching some awesome people.  This week we focused in on 3 people to be baptized and everything went well.  As we were on our way to the chapel with one of our investigators to be baptized, we passed a little boy we had been teaching and his mom.  This little boy already has a sister who is a member of the church,  but the mom didn't want to let him be baptized.  We stopped to talk to them and I was shocked when she said he could be baptized that very night.  Our 3 baptisms turned into 4!  It was really special to see the fruits of our labor that night as everyone of them had their sins washed away and started a new life to follow Jesus Christ.

We also were able to bring several investigators to church to support the confirmations of the recently baptized members.  We are also teaching another family that we found when we were searching for an ex-investigator.  A woman named Carla and her boyfriend Lorencio.  Carla was already baptized many years ago and to this day has a firm testimony, but feels guilty for the errors she has made since she was less active.  She wants to repent and wants to have an eternal family with Lorencio.  Lorencio is a miracle also because he is really humble and wants to learn.  He has a desire to get married and be baptized.  Our only challenge will be Carla's mom.  They said that she doesn't want them to get married, but we are praying and fasting this week so that her heart will change.  We planned to talk to her with them when we get back from our trip.  I just have a good feeling that she will support them.  They are a really special family and I feel that Heavenly Father has a special plan and purpose for them.

This week we confirmed Marcelly.  She told her mom the night before that they needed to go home early so they could wake up for church the next day.  Marcelly started to talk about a mission to her mom and how she would like to be a missionary one day like us.  She told her mom that she only wants long skirts from now on so that she can be more modest.  This little girl is only 10 years old, but she already has a very firm testimony of the gospel.  We also had a Family Home Evening with her less active family and taught the Plan of Salvation.  After wards I taught them that game we play with 2 dice when you roll 7s, 11s, or doubles and you write numbers on a paper until you reach one hundred.  Remember that game?  They had a lot of fun with that.  Laughing and playing that game reminded me of playing and laughing with my own family.  I always thought it was interresting that The Family a Proclamation to  the World talks about wholesome recreational activities.

Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. 

To have successful families, we need to have fun...while living the gospel of Jesus Christ.  In that moment I thought back to the fun times with my own family.  It is so important to have family home evenings every week to strengthen the family and to teach.  I know that Heavenly Father has a special love and extra care for families.  I understand also, more profondly than ever, just how much He loves the little children.  We are constantly attacked by little children hugging us on the street.  Many of these children have nothing.  The house of 2 little girls that we baptized sits in the middle of swampy black water on stilts.  The house is the size of a shed.  There is a beat up dirty mattress inside, an old stove and a hammock.  The house is made of wood and between every block of wood there is a little crack.  A family of 7 lives there.  My heart aches to see people living like this, especially little children, but what makes me happy is the love the children have for the gospel.  I know the church is true.  We can have nothing in this life, yet with the gospel, we have everything.  I love this church.  I know it is the true church of Christ.  That is something I will always be thankful for.  The little girl that lives in that house sat with me sunday.  she is only 4 years old and really sweet.  She asked permission to sit on my lap and even though we can't really do that as missionaries, I could not say no.  I feel like I felt for a minute how the Savior feels for the little children.  They are pure in heart.  We need to be more like them. More submissive, humble and loving.  It is something I strive to do everyday.  I love you all.  


Sister Jensen

Monday, May 19, 2014

Itacoatiara, Pedra Pintada-New Area

It's been a great first week here in Itacoatiara!  It's a lot different here that Manaus.  The roads here make a lot more sense and there is space for 2 cars to pass by each other.  It's very calm and reminds me a little of my first area in Boa Vista.  I had lunch the other day in a members house and when I used the bathroom, there was a parrot on the metal bar where you would put the shower curtain.  It was totally cool until the parrot started talking to me and and cat calling me while I used the bathroom.  Our house here is really big!  We live with 2 other sisters which I thought would be difficult, but it's been good.  Each companionship has their own bedroom and bathroom.  We live in he central part of the city so everything is close and convient.
But, the most important part is the work in this area.  I'm serving in a district again that has not yet turned into a stake.  When I arrived, the sisters didn't really have a lot of investigators or people to be baptized.  In situations like this, what I've always found useful is talking with people.  We walk from appointment to appointment, plan to plan and I try to focus on talking to people in between.  Our investigator people has increased significantly and we are working with some really great families now.  We taught a family this week that we found while we looking for someone else.  Carla is a member less active for about 6 years.  She has a strong testimony of the gospel, but fell away and is now living with a young man and his daughter.  We started teaching her boyfriend Lorencio and it's been awesome.  I am suprised at how well he understands and tries to learn.  He said one time, "I like to ask questions and to learn about these things because I feel like I've missed a lot because in the past I didn't ask questions".  In our last visit we spoke about the Plan of Happiness, Eternal families and temples.  My companion Sister Tancara bore testimony of the temple and right after Carla bore testimony of the temple in Manaus.  In the moment the Spirit was very strong.  I felt Heavenly Father's love for them and His desire for them to be an eternal family.

We also visited other recent converts and members whose records needed to be verified.  We visited one young man to make sure he was really confirmed and found that his whole family was less active.  His sister had not yet been baptized so we taught her this week and she was baptized yesterday.  They are a really special family too and I really want to help them return to activity in the church.  As I've worked in districts on the mission I've felt the great need to help bring families together in the gospel.  To help the growth of the church, we need families and to help the growth of the family, they need the church, or better, the gospel.

I'm so grateful for the things that I'm learning in every area.  I feel that Heavenly Father knows me and knows what I still need to change and work on before the end of my mission.  Choosing to serve a mission was the best choice I ever made.  The church is true.  Jesus Christ lives and if we live His gospel we will be blessed and changed.  


Sister Jensen

Monday, May 12, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

Dear Family!

First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!  I hope you have a fun b-day with your fam.  And HAPPY BIRTHDAY WESTON on May 15th.  Love you guys.  It was so fun to chat with you all yesterday.  Everyone seems happy!  I can't believe that was my last phone call home on the mission.  Today I'm being transferred to an interior of my mission called Itacoatiara.  Everyone tells me that my area ia awesome so I'm really excited.  My new comp is Sister Tancara from Argentina.  I already know her from doing exchanges and she is really cool.  It should be another great transfer.  Also, I will travel to do an exchange with Sisters on the island of the mission.  I think it is called Parintins.  I have to catch a plane to get there.

Yesterday I was reflecting on a lot of things.  It started when I said goodbye to one recent convert Luis Fernando.  He took my hand and his eyes started to fill with tears.  I couldn't help but feel grateful for every experience here.  I think I don't yet understand what my mission has done for others, but I have felt and recognized what it has done for me.  Nova Esperan├ža will always be a sacrad place for me.  I learned a lot there from every companion and from the people I taught and served with.

I also reflected on my mom and family.  But especially my mom because it was Mother's Day.  She is the most hopeful, loving, strong woman that I know.  I'm grateful for example of faith.  I'm grateful for her example of service.  Many things I'm learning to change on the mission are attributes that my mom naturally has.  I'm grateful for her sacrifice and help she has given me on the mission.  I have seen many blessings on the mission and at home because of her diligent prayer and fasting.  I cannot do enough to thank her for the truths of the gospel she taught me.  Especially for what she taught me about the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  I think about the 2,000 stripling warriors in the Book of Mormon and their mothers:

47 Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.
 48 And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.
21 Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them; and I did remember the words which they said unto me that their mothers had taught them.

I love that even in the Book of Mormon we can read about the influence and importance of Mothers.  They truely are the heart of the home.  I hope that I can one day be half the woman my mom is.  I will love her forever and I'm eternally grateful to walk this Earthly journey with her.  Happy Belated Mother's Day to all moms!  

Love you,

Sister Jensen

Monday, May 5, 2014

Great Potential

Yesterday was a really special day for Sister Freitas and I because our recent convert Michel blessed the sacrament.  He said every word perfectly and it made me feel like a proud mama.  He also baptized our investigator Maria.  Her baptism almost didn't happen because during the sunday meetings the font stopped filling because the water box was empty.  I don't know how to explain the Brasilian water system, but our chapel has 4 water boxes that fill up randomly.  The water box that fills the font drained quickly so we had to hussle and fill up various buckets of water from the other water box on the other side of the chapel.  The font in our chapel is HUGE!  After an hour of filling, the font was ready and Maria was baptized.
We've been teaching her through-out the week and she has really enjoyed our visitas and has felt the spirit.  She lives with a family that employed her to work and live in their house.  The woman she works for doesn't treat Maria very well, so she has found a peace and comfort from the gospel of Jesus Christ.  She feels important and loved.  I'm so grateful that the gospel does that for us.

Yesterday during a church meeting, discussing the needs of members, I began to feel the weight of other people's difficulties.  There are so many needs and obstacles.  We began to discuss the situation of a family in the ward and I felt my heart breaking for them.  But then the thought came to mind, maybe a spiritual impression, "there is no other organization that exists, that sits and talks about the specific needs of every individual and makes plans to help them like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints".  This comforted me.  There are thousands of people with trials and problems, but at least this family has the blessings of the gospel to help them.  It is a huge blessing to be a member of the church.  The church is perfect!  It is organized and run by imperfect people under the direction of Jesus Christ.  He trusts in us immensly.  I love the scripture in Moroni 6:3-5

 And none were received unto baptism save they atook upon them the name of Christ, havindetermination to serve him to the end.
 And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and acleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, theywere numbered among the people of the bchurch of Christ; and their cnames were taken, that they might be remembered andnourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the righway,to keep them continually dwatchful unto prayer, erelying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.
 And the achurch did meet together boftto cfast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls.
The habit of meeting and discussing the welfare of others was always a part of the Church of Christ.  But I think my favorite verse is in Moroni 6:1,


And now speak concerning baptism. Behold, elders, priests,and teachers were baptized; and they were not baptized savthey brought forth afruit meet that they were bworthy of it.


The members were baptized Elders, Priests and Teachers.  Now, obviously they were not ordained before baptism, but the verse is telling us that everyone of them was baptized with this potential.  I had an exchange with another companionship this week and we taught one of their investigators with a date for baptism.  He said that he has a strong desire to serve in the church and maybe even one day he could be bishop.  This is the vision we should have for everyone of them.  I love looking at the potential of every person.  I know Heavenly Father loves everyone of us and He knows our potential.  He loves us.  I know the church is true because it is too perfect to not be true.

Yesterday we were teaching a young man 16 years old.  We taught him the Restoration and at the end we asked him how he felt about of teachings.  He said, "I feel happy to know the truth".  He will be baptized next Sunday and I know that he has the potential to be a great missionary.  I love this church.  I love my Savior Jesus Christ.


Sister Jensen