Saturday, December 29, 2012

Happy Holidays...

Hola Everyone!!

It was SO GOOD to talk with the family yesterday!!  I had so much fun and was super happy the whole entire day!  It seemed for a minute that we didn´t know what to say, but just seeing my family through skype and hearing their voice was the best!  I´m glad to know my family is happy and that everything seems to be going great!  I LOVE MY FAMILY; THEY ARE AWESOME!!

So as my family knows my companion had to return to Peru due to health issues.  I was going to be in a trio with the Zone Leaders until transfer day, but one of the new missionaries from Mexico is coming early.  So he´ll be staying with me for a few days and I´ll be helping him until he is transferred to his trainer.  I´m a little anxious, but I´m looking forward to the opportunity!

Things are going really good and I´m excited for the New Year!  This is a time where we can start a new plan, goal, or an opportunity to improve and become more like Christ!  Alot of time, we soon forget of our desire to do better and fall back into old habits and routines.  I hope this year we can all do a little better to do our part to become a better person and let Heavenly Father do the rest.  As long a we give him everything we have, we have his promise that he´ll do the rest and help us become the person we are capable of becoming.  I encourage us to make goals and then have the strength, faith, and desire to put our trust in the Lord and strive to make a change for good!  I know God will help us and through his son´s Atonement we can all stand perfect one day!  En el nombre de Jesucristo, Amen.

Love,
Elder Jensen

Merry Christmas...

Hola everyone!

This past week has been quite interesting.  We had Zone Conferences, activities, flash mobs, you name it.  It was a very busy week with lots of stuff going on, but relatively slow with our investigators.  Weird how that happens...

So last friday we had a special Christmas Zone Conference.  One word: yummy!!  Yep, we had a really good dinner.  Sister Douglas made turkey, stuffing, rice, pumpkin dessert, rolls, and some other yummy food.  I was very happy and content after the meal, but we even did more stuff!  We had a same devotional on testimonies by President Douglas followed by a very long testimony meeting.  I felt like every missionary thought they needed to bear their testimony, but it was good they had the chance.  After the testimony meeting we practiced for a flash mob we did on Saturday (more on that in a minute).  Then we finished off a wonderful day with a Christmas Program with singing, and reading the Christmas Story.  Yep, Friday night was a really good day.

So Saturday!  We had a interesting morning, but a really interesting evening.  So there's this huge mall in Santiago with a Movie Theater, 3 floors, stores, food court, all around big.  Sister Douglas had the idea of doing a flash mob with the missionaries singing Christmas songs.  So that's exactly what we did.  Saturday night as 6 we all busted down and broke into song and dance.  We, the missionaries, sang Joy to the Word, In Judea, Silent Night, and Feliz Navidad!  We had a really good time and the people seemed to enjoy the little moment of caroling with 70 mormon missionaries scattered throughout this mall.  Sister Douglas had some people record, so hopefully in the next few weeks I'll have a link you can use to watch it.  It may not look very well done, but we had a fun time doing it and helped bring alittle Christmas Cheer in people's lives.

So with Christmas just around the corner, many people start thinking about presents, movies, money, food, and family.  However, what about that little baby born in a manger?  In Lucas is one of my favorite parts of the Christmas Story.  The Sheperds in the fields are just minding their own business when an angel suddenly appears.  They were scared, really scared.  Honestly, if an angel appeared to me, I think I would too!  But then this angel shared one of the biggest moments in earth's history. Christ, our savior is born.  Then even better, a choir of angels appeared and sand to these sheperds.  Picture MoTab singing to you personally, but on heavenly steroids.  Yep, kinda a big deal.  So anyways, after all the heavenly music went away, the sheperds said to each other.  "Come, let us go done to Bethlahem."  You notice they didn't say, "We'll go in the morning."  "Let me sleep first."  "I'm hungry, can we eat first"  "Oh Christ is born? That's nice"  No these sheperds left immediately to find the little baby Jesus to respect and worship our Savior.  It made me wonder, do we immediatley leave and find Christ when we hear the good news?  Or do we sleep, eat, watch that movie, send that text, post that status, or watch that game before we go and hearken the call?  I testify that we all have heard that call!  We as members of the true church have heard that heavenly chorus sing, and now we must leave and find our Savior.  At times it may not be easy, and we might struggle, but we can all find him!  No task is impossible to pass when we are in the way toward our Savior.  I hope we can all remember the reason Christmas a little bit better this year.  It's of time of Love, Family, and our Lord.  I beckon the call to each of you.  "Come let us go and find this savior, Christ the Lord!"

Merry Christmas!!

Love,
Elder Jensen

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Another Week...

Hola everyone!
 
This week has been another slow week in Gurabo. We've taught some really good lessons and found one or two people who might be interested in hearing our message. However, this past week has been really hard for some of our investigators. It seems Satan knows as well as we do that the people that we are teaching have the potential to become amazing warriors for the gospel of truth. He seems to be hitting our investigators at their weaknesses and stalling their progression. Hopefully, we can help them overcome and prepare to follow and receive our Savior, Jesus Christ. I'm learning though, that we as missionaries can invite and testify, but in the overall grand schemes of things they must exercise their agency and act. This is the beauty of God's Plan for us. We all have the ability to choose for ourselves and not be forced to make a certain decision. This is why we are here on earth. We choose God's Plan and rejected the awful plan of Satan. Anyways, we'll see what this coming week brings. We have Christmas Zone Conferences and a really cool activity planned on Saturday. Hopefully alot of new and exciting things to say next week.
 
So a few days ago I was reading in the Book of Alma in Chapter 30. This chapter is about when Korihor, the anti-Christ, comes into the people of Nephi and begins preaching false doctrine. Many people allow this man to wander around destroying souls, and corrupting men. However, when this Anti-Christ entered the People of Ammon, they bound him and took him to their chief judge Ammon. He then declared that this man be banned from their lands. It made me start wondering. Do we allow sin to wander around our lives and just take a few things here and there, or do we immeditately bind and banish sin like the Ammonites? Are we converted enough to have the courage and strength to get rid of sin, or do we simply try to ignore sin and allow it to overtake others? As we strive to become more like to people of Ammon, I know that we will find our homes, lives, and attitude a little happier and we'll be able to help others overcome sin and take control of their lives. I encourage each of us to be a little more like the People of Ammon and I testify we'll be happier!
 
Oh, so random story. Last Sunday, we were singing the opening him and I felt a tap on my shoulder. A brother handed me a note that said, "Elder Jensen, can you give a talk today? Someones not here who had a talk." So with about 5 minutes notice I tried to whip together a talk about the Purpose and Reality of our Heavenly Father. I don't think it was my best talk, but it certainly wasn't my worst either.
 
Anyways, I hope you all have an excellent week and enjoy the wonderful Holiday season where we spend more time with family celebrating the birth of our Savior and King. Happy Holidays!!

Love,
Elder Jensen

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hello...

Hello Everyone!

Did I ever say how much I love my family??  Thanks for the Christmas Package, it's really big and I LOVE IT!!  I was so happy when I got it.  All the presents are still wrapped, so I open one everyday like I'm supposed to!  So far: a tie, Lifesavers, yo-yo, and Almond Joys!  Thanks!

This past week has been pretty slow without any changes.  I feel kind of bad I don't have too much to write about, but that's just how some weeks go!  I decided I'm going to send a lot of pictures this week, so enjoy!!

I know this church is true and missionary work rocks!!  Thanks for all the support and prayers, they mean a lot!!

Love,
Elder Jensen








Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Another week...

Hello Family and Friends!

This past week has been a very interesting week indeed!  We got invited over and had a wonder Thanksgiving feast, a new companion, and a week of really hot weather!

So last Thursday for Thanksgiving, my companion, the Zone Leaders, and I went over to a guy named Lazurus for Dinner!  I can sum it up in about a sentence.  A home-made thanksgiving dinner away from home!  We had yummy turkey, stuffing, potatoes, rice, chocolate cake, icecream, juice, greens beans, and stuff.  Need less to say, I ate probably more last Thursday then I've eaten in one meal my whole entire mission.  It's no wonder the Americans can only eat like that one day a year.  I'll send pictures next week because I don't have a ton of time today!  But it was a very enjoyable experience.  Not like being at home, but pretty home like for being on the mission.

We are continuing our efforts with our investigators.  This past week has been kind of difficult to make any progression because I'm showing my companion the area, appointments fail, and different circumstances haven't allowed us to visit alot of them, but hopefully this week.  Sister Douglas said they are hoping to have a very white Christmas this year.  We really can't have snow here, but a dreamy white Christmas with all the investigators and missionaries dressed in white on 22 of December for baptisms.  As of now, my companion and I have 2 baptisms planned this day, but we definitely hope to have alot more this coming week!  I guess we'll see what Heavenly Father has in plan for our investigators.

They finally started to remodel the building we will meet in for the Gurabo Branch.  The new rumor is in the middle of January is the earliest we can start meeting there.  I don't think that the Branch will really start thriving until after the move.  It's just too hard travel for the members, but the Presidency is doing their best.  Funny story, President Rodriguez is coming to Salt Lake to see his sister's wedding on December 16.  Maybe you'll run into him, haha!

This week is going along and next week is about ready to get started.  Things continue to progress forward and I find that in one way or another the Lord always provides.  I'm starting to learn the blessings of more fervent prayer and how just little prayers of thanks in our hearts can make all the difference!  Prayer is direct communication with our Heavenly Father.  He never will hang up or get tired of our pleas for strength or help.  He wants us to turn to him and pour our hearts to him.  I know that God hears every prayer of his children.  He is ready to listen, so don't be afraid to tell him everything!  From, a quick "thank you" prayer to a "all the energy of soul" prayer, Heavenly Father is always attentive and has advice for our situations!  I challenge each of you to pray a little more often and have a conversation with him, not a quick written letter!  I promise that you will be happier and see Heavenly Father's hands in more in the small things and big things of life.  I'm so grateful I can pray to my God for every aid, question, and "venting" situation.  I know he is there to listen, so just speak!  En el nombre de Jesucristo, Amen.

Love,
Elder Jensen

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving...

Hello Everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving!  I'm so very grateful for everyone supporting me and reading my emails!  This past week has been full of things to do, and I look forward to telling you about them.

Up first, my new companion!  Elder Gomera finished his mission, so I received a new companion and I'm showing him the area, here in Gurabo.  His name is Elder Rosales and he is from the country of Peru!  He is in my same starting group, so he has around 6 months because I had 6 more weeks in the MTC.  He seems really nice, but a little shy.  I will definitely change that!  We have alot of work in head of us these next six weeks, so I hope he likes to work hard, haha!

On Friday morning, we continued our work helping that children's school.  We counts thousands of Christmas Cards that the children had drawn and they copied.  Did I say thousands???  Good, I thought so.  I never want that as a desk job.  It was fun, but only the first time.  I do enjoy giving service!

Saturday was an awesome day!!  We had two baptisms!  The family we have been teaching so hard finally hit some success.  Bienvenido wasn't able to bet married, but two of his daughters did.  Last Sunday, we were talking about Mosiah 18 and one of the daughters said, "the time of yes or no to baptism has long since past.  I want to be baptized on Saturday."  Elder Gomera and I looked at each other then said, "We're glad you've arrived at that answer."  Then her sister said she was ready too!  So there it is, two somewhat unexpected baptisms, but I'm so, so happy they decided to be baptized.  Now, we're working to get their parents married, and the wife to share with us, so the rest of the family can be baptized and then sealed in the temple in a year.  Yep, the church is true.

This past week has been really fun!  I know this church is true and that missionary work is awesome!  Serving Heavenly Father in the Dominican Republic is really rewarding and challenging.  I'm learning so much, and I'm grateful for my family and all the blessings I've received in my life.  This week is Thanksgiving, so I hope we can all be a little bit more grateful for what we have, and not worry about what we don't have.  Happy Thanksgiving, and good luck on Black Friday!

Love,
Elder Jensen


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hi...

Hello Everyone!!

This past week has been a very busy week.  I can't believe that Wednesday is already here!  We've had service projects, Zone Conferences, and all sorts of stuff.

So last Thursday we had Zone Conferences with Elder Cornish.  Amazing!!  We learned about the importance of the first lesson and how to teach "God is our loving Heavenly Father" first because everything leads back to that.  If people don't know we have a Father in Heaven, they won't believe the Plan, Prophets, The Atonement, scriptures, the church, everything.  If people don't realize we have a God who loves each one of us individually and personally, what is the point of all of this?  We also learned about teaching people and not lessons.  The mission has tons of investigators, but few baptisms; so Elder Cornish talked about why that's happening.  We need to have the spirit in the lessons, and that only comes if we teach the people and not the lessons.  President Douglas also talked about the responsibility we need to have with all the changes in the mission.  We so many new missionaries in the coming months, we will again have 4 man houses, and alot of missionaries will be training, so we must prepare for that.  Overall, I was very happy with Zone Conferences and I learned a ton!

Friday morning we did a service project at a school.  They want to use more of the school and maybe involve us missionaries more.  So we spent the morning cleaning this huge school house.  It was in the downtown, old part of Santiago, so it was a really old building and pretty cool!  My group was in charge of cleaning the side patio of the building.  After about an hour and a half we got it all clean and then they starting dropping trees off the roof, so that all went down the tube.  But we cleaned it up all again and made it look really nice!  I had a really good time and got to meet alot of new missionaries.  Go service!

The branch in Gurabo is really starting to take shape.  Callings are being made and the leaders of the branch all want our help.  They are asking for addresses of investigators, when they can do exchanges, who needs the Primary, who needs the Relief Society, who need this or that.  Honestly, I love it!  I don't know what to do with it all!  I really have a testimony that this branch will be one of the strongest wards in Santiago in a few years.

As far as investigators go, we are really working hard with a few families.  Hopefully I will have some news in the coming weeks.  We've also been trying to find some more.  Funny story, with the division of the ward/branch we lost 4 families to the other Elders.  They were complaining that it's too far from their house and the mission president said they just received 4 really good families for free and not complain.  Haha, I thought that was funny because I was really sad to tell them we couldn't teach them anymore.  They really are 4 really good families.

The work continues to push forward here in Gurabo!  I know this church is true and that Christ is our savior and redeemer!  This Christmas let us look for Christ more in our lives.  I encourage you all to read the December Ensign or Liahona, they're just absolutely loaded with amazing Christmas stories.  I know that as you look for Christ in Christmas, you'll find he's already found you.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 
Love,
Elder Jensen

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Hello...

Hello Everyone!

First off to answer some questions about the mission, and how the new branch in Gurabo is doing.  My companion Elder Gomera is finishing his mission in 2 weeks, so I will be getting a new companion and staying in Gurabo until at least the beginning of the year.  He is a really good companion and I've learned so much from him.  The branch is officially in its second week as a branch of the church.  They are still finishing a small local place to meet in, so we are still meeting in the chapel of Los Jardines.  This branch has about 98 members, with about 30 active.  Just enough, that the missionaries don't have to teach, or participate heavily in the running of the branch.  I believe that within 3 years this branch will be one of the strongest wards in Santiago.  The leaders of the ward have a strong desire to work and help us missionaries to build up the kingdom of god in this small little section of Santiago.  Oh, I'm so excited to help this branch.  We had a meeting last night with the leaders of the branch and came up with some really bold goals, and plans to strengthen and build this branch.  I love missionary work!!

This past week has just rolled into another week from last week.  I honestly felt like yesterday was last P-day.  Josphina is continuing her streak of not smoking and is really helping us out missionary efforts.  We've received over 5 referrals from her in the last week alone.  Our investigators are continuing to progress, but it seems that whenever we take a few steps forward, Satan is there pushing them back.  Failed citas, unkempt commitments, an nonacceptance of not changing, etc. is really keeping our investigators from progressing more.  But, if they are unable to have faith and prevail against these trials, they will not most likely be able to prevail against harder ones in the future.  As we continue to have faith against the storms of life, God will give us the strength to continue to prevail against the bigger storms that come our way.  However without faith, we can't calm the stormy sea, or walk on the water.  Faith in our Heavenly Father's plan and the knowledge of his son's atonement is the fuel that can power our testimonies through the most trying of circumstances.  We just need to take a step back and realize God has his hands in our lives.  Tenga Fe!

Have a good week everyone and thank you for all the support and prayers!

Love,
Elder Jensen

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Family and Friends...

Dear family and friends,


I'm thrilled to hear that everything is going well for the family.  .  But life seems to move on in Utah, and it continues pushing forward in the DR.

This past week we had a impact on the weather from Hurricane Sandi.  Not as bad as the US, but lots and lots of rain.  I was soaked from head to toe for about 3 days, as we walked around the area.  Not gonna lie, it was actually really, really fun!  I've never enjoyed getting soaked in October before, but here....not too bad!  I hope things continue to calm down and the damage can we taken care of now in New York.

Something really interesting happened last week with a less active member.  This member, Josphina, has a really strong testimony and loves to share the gospel, but has been inactive almost all her life as a member.  She is a heavy smoker and felt unworthy to attend church.  We sat and visited with her and her husband and let her share what she has been feeling and such.  We then shared our testimonies about the power of the Atonement to change oneself and sat in a moment of silence.  Then Josphina asked for a Priesthood blessing to help her quit smoking.  So thus ends part one...

Part two!  We stopped by Sunday afternoon, after guess what?  Church!!  Josphina attend church!!!!  She then told us that after we gave her a blessing a few days before, she had lost all desire and urge to smoke.  Even the thought made her feel sick!  How awesome is this!  Her faith is amazing!!!  She had the faith to be healed from a blessing, and because of her faith, it happened!!  I feel like this a a huge blessing for her, and the branch because she keeps saying, "Look out world, Josphina is back and sharing the gospel."  It made me super happy!!  

My testimony was strengthened by this experience with Josphina.  I testify that Jesus Christ can help us change and become new creatures through his atoning sacrifice.  He is our savior, lord, and king!  My message to the world is that Heavenly Father loves us, and through his son, everything that is ever wrong in life is made right by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  He lives!  I know he lives! My calling is to carry his name and tell the world that God cares and Jesus Christ will ALWAYS be there!  Never forget that!!!  I know this church is his church and the work continues to roll forward even more rapidly then ever!  Sister Douglas told me that our mission is increasing from 170 missionaries to 275 missionaries with about 40% as sisters.  How can this work not be true?  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Love,
Elder Jensen


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

This week...

Hola everyone!
 
Another week in Gurabo has gone by and not alot of things to talk about this week. I feel kind of like you guys at times where not alot of things have happened. I've been teaching the same investigators (With some baptisms hopefully on the horizon), attending missionary meetings, and sleeping.
Offically next week Gurabo with be the newest branch in the Dominican Republic. It will take alot of work to get things started, but hopefully all the less-actives and investigators who can't afford to get to church will be able to start attending and strengthen the branch. We've started teaching a older woman, who all of her kids are LDS. She visited Utah last month and thought it was really cool. She showed us alot of Pamphlets about Temple Square. The church has really increased it's tourism stuff there! I felt like I was looking at the church version of a Disneyland map! But anyways, she said she's Catholic and doesn't want to change right away. But he kids told her, "Look, you can either get baptized in this life, or we'll baptize you in the next. So choose!" So she decided she might as well have the blessings in this life rather then miss the opportunity. I thought it was really funny that her kids kind of black mailed her into listening to us! Pretty funny story, so we'll wee what happens.
Life continues to drive forward. Days, and then weeks just kind of blur together and the next thing I know I'm here or there again. I don't feel like a huge difference is happening in my Spanish. But, many people comment on my improvement and complement me on how quickly I'm picking it up. Most American missionaries say that you never feel your Spanish is as good as it really is! I do feel that it is coming along and one day I'll speak it, haha.
 
My knowledge of the gospel and my testimony is really increasing. Reading the Book of Mormon everyday, and studying to teach my investigators really helps alot. I've been reading alot of different material and I came across a quote in the BOM study manual from Elder Holland about theories about how the Brother of Jared saw Christ. He said several different ideas, but all of them dealt with the outstanding faith that the Brother of Jared had. He had no doubt Christ is in all things and that he could touch the stones and give them light. In Ether 12:6, we learn more about how we can come to have that perfect faith. At times in life where we don't seem to be going forward and trials are pushing us sideways, maybe we need to just put faith in Christ and wonder why he wanted us to see the rest stop, or gas station off the freeway of life! I testify that in those minutes of trial is when we fill up the most of faith and testimony that Christ and our Heavenly Father are actively engaged to keep us driving on the freeway back to his presence. Don't ever forget that with Christ on our side, all things can happen. Even rocks that can give light. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Love,
Elder Jensen

Monday, October 22, 2012

Merry Christmas...

Hola Everyone!

Merry Christmas from Gurabo!  Oh wait, its October!  The people in this country don't have Thanksgiving, nor Halloween so they are all getting decked out in Christmas already.  Investigators' houses, businesses, banks, posters, etc all are starting to be decked out in trees, lights, and the like!  I really like Christmas and all, but not until after Thanksgiving!  Haha, oh well I'll just go with it I guess!

This past week has been pretty slow!  On Monday we had a Zone Meeting and talked about some changes in the mission.  (Not quite as drastic as Matt's mission)  We are always suppose to have a BOM in our hands, and maintain the "Mission Language."  This means always "Elder" or "Hermano" not "Jensen" or "Rodriguez."  Also, we now have some different goals with member lessons, and the fellowshipping we want to happen in the wards we serve!  So, yeah just minor changes.  The biggest change this week is that Gurabo will now become a branch and split off of Los Jardines.  The reason is because Gurabo is a 10 minute drive from Los Jardines, and many members can't afford to make it Sundays.  The Stake President said each member will have to work very hard because technically this branch doesn't not meet the necessary requirements to be a branch.  So needless to say, the missionaries will be working very hard help this little branch get started.  It ought to be interesting to see what happens.

This week Bienvenido and his family are doing great!  He is determined to get baptized, and has a very, very strong desire to do so!  We are now working with him to save money so him and his wife can legally get married.  He keeps saying, "I'm going to get married, so I can get baptized!  I'm ready to be baptized!"  I'm so happy for this family!  I love them so much and hope we can make it happen these next few weeks!  This family is really cool and I'm glad I've been blessed to share the gospel with them!

Things continue moving forward and the work in the Dominican Republic is progressing!  I'm thankful for the opportunity to serve my Heavenly Father in helping him brings souls to Christ.  I look forward to the future of working along side more young men and young woman.  Its weird how missions are all about service, yet I think the lord serves us more!  I've learned so many things on my mission, and I couldn't progress without my Savior's help!  The mission is truly changing my outlook on things and leaving a impact on my soul!  Thanks for all you prayers and support!  Que vaya con Dios!

Love,
Elder Jensen

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Hello...

Hello Everyone!

Transfers today!  No need to worry; I'm still with Elder Gomera in Gurabo!  I feel like I might spend my whole mission in Gurabo, haha!  But anyways, I'm excited because we have several baptisms planned over the next 6 weeks!  This transfer is full of excitement since several people in my district are going home and we have new members now.  I'm currently the only English speaker in my district, so I'll get alot more practice with my Spanish.  Things are going well for me here in the DR!

Big news announced last weekend!!!  Can you believe that young woman can now serve at age 19??  President and Sister Douglas said they don't know what is more shocking, 19 year old young women or 18 year old boys.  That is a weird thought to think of; 18 year old missionaries contacting the world.  I feel like this is definitely bigger then just giving more people the opportunity to serve.  Yes, more people now have to chance, but I believe this means that the church needs thousands of more missionaries in the coming months.  The work is moving forward rapidly, now we just need to missionaries to keep up with the growth.  And this is a solution from the Lord for building his Kingdom up faster.  I look forward to seeing more sister missionaries serving because they bring a personality to the mission that no young man can bring!  It should be exciting!

Conference weekend was super fun!  The English speaking missionaries met at the Stake Center to watch the sessions in English!  I don't think a Conference has impacted me as much as this conference did!  My favorite talk was given by President Uchtdorf during the first session.  I really liked how he spoke about happiness and enjoying the journey, not the end.  Alot of people look forward to a point in the future and say in that moment they will truly be happy.  But when the point becomes reality, they aren't happy and feel kind of empty.  Looking at this, we as missionaries kind of do the same thing.  When P-day, Zone Conference, Food, Rain, Transfers, Baptisms, Meetings, Sleep, or whatever it might be comes, we say to ourselves, "This is when I will be really happy and love it!"  However, these moments come and go, and guess what?  We don't feel that happiness we thought we would.  So just a President Uchtdorf said, we need to find the happiness in the journey and in the small little things that happen everyday.  We can find happiness in smiles of investigators, commits kept, feelings of the spirit, visits with members, free food, sleep, revelation, or whatever it might be!  All around us we have the opportunity to be happy, we just need to stop and look for it!  I challenge you to look back each day and ponder on what made you happy!  Set back and enjoy the ride rather then always look toward the finish line!  I know that as you do this, you will be happier and see the beauty of God's hands in our lives!  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Love,
Elder Jensen

P.S.  Elder Sweeney is in the Picture.  He goes home tomorrow and was a very good friend in the mission.

 Hey sorry I couldn't figure out how to turn the bowling picture. -Kimberly

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Hello...

Hello Everyone!

This past week has gone by so fast, I honestly can't remember what has happened the past 7 days.  Next Wednesday is transfers, so my companion says I have what they call "Transfer Fever."  A lot of missionaries get it at the end of the transfer where things just blur together, time seems to stop, and people are starting to think into next transfer.  I've been in Gurabo for 3 transfers now, so I have no idea if I will be transferred to a new area or not.  So I'm trying hard to to speculate because whatever happens the lord is in it.

But anyways, let's see... last Wednesday night, we had Elder Cornish from the Area Presidency come and speak to investigators in Santiago.  It was so cool!!!  I think I learned more then my investigators.  About teaching, testifying, and how to discern spiritual truths.  He used the example about his black book of Mormon.  He told us all he thought it was red.  Some people agreed, but the majority of us were set on the fact it was black!  He explained this is like spiritual truths.  No matter how many people might say its a different "color", the color is always black.  People in the world might try to change the "color" of spiritual truths, but its impossible!  The color will always be black like Elder Cornish's Book of Mormon.  It is impossible to change God's laws or truths!!  The world might try to convince us its a different color, but we need to stand up and show the world the real color of the truth!  Always strive to be a bearer of truth and showing the world the real color of truth!  It was a really good devotional!

Our investigators are really progressing right now!  Bienvenido and his family are trying hard to find their testimonies and commit to a baptism date!  Rafi is progressing and we're working hard to help him keep the word of wisdom!  Melissa and Robin are starting to feel that hunger for a knowledge of the gospel like Enos in the Book Of Mormon!  Overall, I'm being very blessed by the lord to teach some amazing children of our Father in Heaven and helping Christ rescue some of his lost sheep!

I have to 9 words to describe the first 6 months of my mission:  Missionary Work is hard, but I Absolutely LOVE IT!! This first six months of my mission have been full of wonder experiences, blessings, and times where I've grown up spiritually, mentally, and physically.  The first six months have been amazing, and I look forward to the next 18!!  I know this work is a marvelous work, and I know with all my heart this is where I need to be!  Thank you all for the love, support, prayers, and letters in my behalf!  I love you so very much!  

Love,
Elder Jensen
 
 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hello from the DR...

Hola mi familia!!

Quizás yo necesito escribir este carta solamente en español.  Pero, probablemente no, porque es muy difícil.

Anyways, this past week has be awesome!  I had the coolest experience with one of our investigators.  It was with a young man named Rafi that I've already written about.  Well last Saturday night we took David, my first baptism, to the lesson with Rafi.  David ended up bringing a date with him, so that was cool.  But we started the lesson teaching the third lesson "The Gospel of Jesus Christ." We explained faith and repentance and then David jumped right in and started sharing.  He talked for about 15 minutes, but he shared how the gospel helps his life and how he is really happy that he exercised his faith and was baptized.  The spirit was so strong and Rafi was touched, I know he was!  We shared our testimonies about faith and then David did the coolest thing.  He asked, "Rafi tomorrow is Sunday and we attend church.  Since you have a cast on your leg, I'll come by with my car and pick you up."  Rafi said no because he has a cast on his leg for 2 months and doesn't want to be a bother.  But David, Elder Gomera, and I persisted.  David tried to get him to commit to only attend Sacrament Meeting, but Rafi didn't have it.  After about 10 minutes of this I finally said, "Look, I don't understand what's going on.  But we're going to pray now and Rafi will you ask God if you need to attend church tomorrow?"  Rafi said, "I don't want to!"  Then David replied, "Because you know the answer!"  So then Rafi said the closing prayer, and guess what??  He asked Heavenly Father if he should go!!  After the prayer we sat in silence for about a minute, then Rafi said, "I will go tomorrow!"  I WAS SO HAPPY!!!  

The next morning we headed out with David to pick Rafi up.  We were all afraid he would be asleep and not want to go!  But as we pulled up to his house and got out of the car, he opened the door and said he needed just a few more minutes to get ready to go to church!  He went to Sacrament Meeting and really liked coming to church.  He even said he wants to go the full three hours next week!  I was so, so happy!!  Pretty awesome experience this past week.

And then 2 Saturdays ago we did a Day of cleaning in the country.  The missionaries in our stake met up with the youth and cleaned a river in a zoo!  We got to wear the "Mormon Helping Hands" vests.  Super duper cool!  We cleaned the river of garbage and other junk.  It was really fun, but it stunk so much and was so dirty.  I've washed my clothes twice and they still smell haha!  But it was a really good experience, and I got to visit a zoo for free!  I even saw a lion, haha!

Well that was about my week!  I hope all is continuing to go well in Utah!  Thanks for all your love and support everybody! 

Love, Elder Jensen


Friday, September 21, 2012

Hello...

Hola everyone!

Can you believe another week has already gone by?  I can't believe how fast things are moving along and how quickly Wednesday comes around again.  As for this past week, not a whole lot of things out of routine have happened.  This Friday, we do have a Special Zone Meeting with the President and his wife, so that will be really fun!  

This past week a family we've been teaching has really been progressing.  His name is Bienvenido with three daughters: Amber, Karina, and Stephanie.  His wife doesn't want to share, but they all are really interested and progressing really well.  We taught them the Law of Chasity, and Bienvenido wants to obey this law and now get legally married to his wife!  That is really cool!  So maybe I'll be witnessing a wedding pretty soon.  We have also taught them the 3 basic lessons and they really are starting to gain a testimony of the gospel and of their savior!

We also have continued teaching Rafi!  We taught him the Law of Chastity too!  I was surprised at how easily he accepted the doctrine and how willing and he was to live the law!  He is doing really well and progressing toward baptism.  He has a cast on his leg for another month and a half, so hopefully I'll still be in the area, so I can see him get baptized.

We've really started on trying to work with members and less-actives in the ward.  It is really hard to help your investigators feel welcome at church if there aren't members willing to fellowship and be friends with them.  I'm starting to realize how important it is to have a ward with a very strong desire to share the gospel and help the missionary work more forward!  I encourage you all to try a little harder to make sure that less-actives, new converts, are investigators in your wards feel welcome and know that people in the church care for them and want to help them in anyway possible!  I know you will be blessed as you do this!

This past week I've started the Book of Mormon for the second time since beginning my mission.  I'm trying to read it in Spanish this time.  It takes a lot of work trying to understand it, but thanks to the Lord I can understand what I'm reading.  It also is helping my Spanish a ton!  I was reading in 1 Nephi about Lehi's dream of the tree of life!  The tree represents the Love of God.  We read in John 3:16 that the love of God is the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  How many of us hold to the rod of iron and follow the word of god to the Atonement of Jesus Christ?  Do we continue on undaunted by the outside world and take joy in the blessings of the Atonement and invite those that struggle to partake also?  I hope we can all be like Lehi and his family and partake of the blessings of the Atonement and then help and encourage others to do the same!  The atonement is an amazing gift given to us through a loving father and elder brother!  I know the atonement is real and helps us become perfected to live with god and our families forever!  Let us never forget the love of god for us and all his children!  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Love,
Elder Jensen

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Here it is...

Hola everyone!

This past week in Gurabo has been a slow week!  We started the third week into the transfer which usually means that nothing major happens.  We spent almost everyday teaching and contacting in my area.  On Sunday, however, we did have a Stake Conference.  It was a really good conference, but definitely different then the one's in Utah!  President Douglas and his wife spoke and did a really good job!  I don't know what it is with Sister Douglas, but she is a really good speaker!  President Douglas did a really good job as well; he spoke about the Tree of Life vision that Lehi had.  I will admit after about half way through my spanish brain was fried, so I didn't really understand alot of the last half.  Trying really hard to understand a new language is really exhausting mentally.

My spanish is really coming along!  My companion, Elder Gomera, is really helping me alot.  Most days, I can really understand pretty good and follow what's going on.  He is also practicing his english and is doing really good.  It's a win-win for both of us!  He likes the Harry Potter movies (which is really good!) and we get along really well!

This past week I've seen the lord work in so many ways!  He seems to guide people to act and prompts people to listen to the Holy Ghost to help another come unto Christ!  I'm so very grateful for the tender mercies of the lord in my life.  I know that the lord is mindful to each and everyone of us and wants to help us all along the way!  Tender mercies are small gifts of kindness that the lord gives us each individually to help us continue pushing forward!  The church is true, and the work I'm performing is truly the work of the lord and savior Jesus Christ!  Thank you all for your love and prayers; they truly me alot to me! 

Love,
Elder Jensen
 
So the mission is in a brand new office, so for future packages, use the following address!:
                Elder Russell Jensen 
                Ave Estrella Sadhala
                #10  2do Piso
                Frente a Universidad UTESA
                Santiago, Rep. Dom.
                51000
 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Update...

Hola Everyone!

Another week has gone by here in Gurabo!  It has been a very different week having a new companion and all.  I'm very grateful for the opportunity to have Elder Gomera as a companion.  He is very patient, and has alot of experience in the mission.  My spanish has improved a ton over the past week since I'm forced to speak spanish 24/7.  It's been really good practice for me!!  Chances are I will have him as my companion for 2 transfers because he finishes up his mission in November.  I'm really learning alot from all these experienced missionaries that come my way.

This past week was a very interesting week.  We spent alot of time walking around so I could show Elder Gomera the area and introduce him to all the investigators in Gurabo.  Everyone would always ask "Where's the other guy? Yeah, the other guy, not him."  And I'd have to say that he finished and left the mission for Arizona.  But it seems that Elder Gomera is getting to know the area and our investigators too.  Hopefully this week we will have less walking and more teaching.

This week we found a really good new investigator of the church.  His name is Raffi and he is 19 years old.  He had an accident in soccer, so he has a cast on his leg for 2 months!!  We found him near another investigator and he told us he was interested to know more about God.  So we have begun teaching him.  He has alot of excitement to learn and is very intelligent.  One time we were 15 minutes late and he said, "Ah, you said 3pm not 3:15, you're late."  I thought that was pretty cool that he remembers exactly when we have a visit with him.  I really hope he progresses towards baptism!!  Good news as well!  David, the new convert, received a calling in the ward.  He's going to be a Sunday school teacher.  And he is being ordained to the Priesthood.  I was really happy to hear this!!  We take him with us on visits and he really enjoys teaching a testifying.  He really has a very strong testimony of the gospel in his life!  MAKES ME SUPER HAPPY TO SEE HIM HAVE A DESIRE TO SHARE!!!!!

I've been reading alot in the Book of Ether, and I agree with dad.  Moroni's comments on faith in Chapter 12 are amazing.  He really expounds faith and builds on the foundation we need to have in order to endure to the end and become perfected in Christ.  In Ether 12:6 he says we need to act to build are faith in order to receive a testimony.  So many people think that a testimony comes right out of the blue, but one needs to act in order to create that testimony.  The material is there; one just needs to ACT and create a master piece.  So many people tell me they have faith in Christ, but they aren't willing to work and create a testimony built on his teachings.  Christ showed us the way and I know that this Church is the Church of Jesus Christ.  We all need to act on our faith and do what he has commanded.

 "He lives all glory to his name...What joy this sentence gives: for I KNOW that my redeemer lives!!"

Love,
Elder Jensen

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

New week...


Well hello again!!

Can't believe another week has already came and gone!  This past week was a very exciting week.  A hurricane, baptism, and transfers.  So I guess I'd better get started.

Since a lot of people were asking about the hurricane I guess I'll start with that one!  I'm doing great!  If that was a hurricane, I guess I was really blessed because it was just a lot of rain and some wind.  The storm didn't impact us from teaching and the baptism.  We just had loads of rain and quite a bit of wind at night!  But don't worry, I was fine and didn't have any problems.  Didn't even know there was going to be a hurricane until the day before it happened.  But anyways, no problems.

This past Saturday I had my first baptism I was able to be a part of.  It was our investigator David!  He was so excited and happy to finally get baptized!  I was just so happy seeing him get baptized and then confirmed the next day during church.  He has just a strong testimony of the church and loves studying his scriptures.  He is always calling and asking for scriptures and such.  He will be a very strong leader in the church.  But his baptism was really good!  Elder Teran and I spent Saturday morning cleaning up the font and the church to make is special for David.  Then, later that night, we were able have a wonderful baptism service with a very peaceful service.  It was a very good weekend and boosted up my spirits after all the rain!

Then today was transfers.  I am still in Gurabo, but I have a new companion.  Since Elder Teran finished his mission, I had to of course get a new companion.  My new companion is Elder Gomera.  His is a missionary from the Santo Dominigo in the Dominican Republic.  He seems really nice and speaks very little English, so I look forward to practicing my Spanish with him.  He has 7 members in his family and has been a member of the church his whole life!  He has 21 months in the mission, so he has 2 transfers left before he goes home.  It should be interesting to see what this transfer brings!  I look forward to getting a lot better on my Spanish and understanding people even better!

I know that this church is true and blesses people's lives.  I've been able to see the light of Christ enter people's lives as they turn towards him and follow his commandments.  The people in the DR are ready to listen and follow our Savior Jesus Christ.  I'm grateful for having the opportunity to serve the people here and come closer to my Father in Heaven.  Jesus Christ lives and is always willing to carry us and lead us along; we just need to ask!  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Well that about wraps up this week!  Que vaya con Dios!

Love,
Elder Jensen

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hello...


Hello!

Things here in the Dominican Republic are going great!  I love being out here in the field and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ!  I'm learning alot about the gospel, living on my own, and having a companion 24/7.  Life is really good and I'm really happy I got called to the Dominican Republic to serve a mission.  It is quite the adventure being here on a mission and I wouldn't trade it for anything!

This past week has been pretty good!  We are working really hard with a guy named David to help him prepare for his baptism in a couple weeks.  He loves studying the scriptures and really wants to progress and follow Christ!  He has a testimony of the Church and just needs to continue living the gospel standards to be baptized.   But he is really doing well!!  Friday night we took President and Hermana Douglas to a lesson with David to help us answer some questions.  It was such a good experience!  President and Hermana Douglas are awesome!  He answered some questions and shared his conversion story.  He converted at 21 and then served a mission at 22.  Since then, he's been serving alot in the church.

The rest of the week has been a regular week.  We didn't have any major meetings or anything too out of the routine.  We continued teaching people and right now we are in the process of doing alot of contacting trying to find more investigators and people who want to hear the gospel.  Tomorrow is Zone Conferences, so it should be really, really fun!  First Zone Conference for me!  But that's pretty much how my week went.

I've studied alot in 3 Nephi this week during Christ's visit to the Americas.  Those chapters are really good chapters!  I really like Chapter 15 when Christ explains about John 10:16 about the other sheep of his fold.  He said the Jews didn't understand what he meant, so Heavenly Father commanded Jesus not to expound.  But, the Nephites were more prepared and faithful to understand it more, so Jesus expanded their view of other sheep currently in other folds.  This made me think about our day and all of Christ's creations.  Our earth is kind of like Jeruaselm.  We don't understand that there are other worlds out there, and Christ had to come to our earth so we would believe him, and then we killed our own savior.  I believe the other worlds were more believing like the Nephites and therefore Christ could rely on their faith alone.  Pretty interesting, I thought.  Scriptures always have more inside of the pages then people think...

I know this church is true and Jesus Christ is our savior!  He loves each and everyone of us and is ready to carry us when we can't carry ourselves.  The gospel can truly bless peoples lives, and I love seeing it bless the lives of the people in the Dominican Republic!  Keep on doing the little things like reading your scriptures, praying morning and night, and attending church.  Because when you do the small stuff, the big stuff doesn't seem quite so big!  Thank you all for your love and prayers and I love you all so much!  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Love, 
Elder Jensen

Friday, August 10, 2012

Hello Everyone...

Hello everyone!

This past week has been a regular week without a whole ton of things going on.  We've spent alot of time trying to find more people to teach and trying to find the less-actives in the ward.  It's a lot of work, but it's worth it!  We've found 2 or 3 less-actives, who are starting to keep commits with church things again.

As far as investigators go, we have an investigator named David who is really progressing.  He has been meeting with missionaries for a long time now, the only problem is his job.  He works alot.  He invented a software that can detect who steals electricity.  So he's been traveling all over the country and nearby islands as well.  He is also contracting with a company in the US, so let's just say that in the near future he will be really rich!  But he is more excited of the spiritual richness that's coming into his life!  He told us that he knows the church is true and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.  He is reading and praying everyday and wants to progress and finally get baptized.  He also made time to stop by and attend sacrament meeting last Sunday.  That made me way happy!!

Another investigator who is progressing really well is a man with 3 daughters named Beinviendo.  He shared with the missionaries about 8 years ago, and we just recently found him again.  He wants to share again, but the best part is his daughters want to know more about the gospel then he does.  So that's even better because he'll tag along with them.  He is a tailor and is trying to just make a living in life!  He and two of his daughters even attended church this past Sunday too.

On Friday was Elder Teran's birthday, so I planned with the office couple and we had a little party at the office.  A few Elders had to stop by, so it turned into a pretty fun little party.  We ordered food and just visited for a while, then of course we had cake!  It was really fun, and I think it really made Elder Teran's last birthday in the mission really something special.  But other then this small event nothing else took place this week.

Today, however, I went to the mission home and we saw some pretty interesting sculptures.  At thanksgiving point, there are a ton of sculptures from this artist named Angela Solsbury (I think) but anyways Megan probably knows what I'm talking about.  So we walk in and see these beautiful Christ sculptures and we start asking Sister Douglas about them.  Turns out she is really good friends with this artist, and so she has some of the few sculptures this lady creates.  They are absolutely amazing!!!  They look really cool!  I talked a lot with Sister Douglas and found out how cool of a lady she is.  She started this charity in Africa for leprasy and it's now a multi-million dollar charity with over 50,000 volunteers.  She has some really interesting stories and I just think she's awesome!

My spanish is coming along really good, and for the most part I can make out what people are saying.  Some people are still really hard, but my spanish is really coming along.  I just need to get the grammer down now.

The church is true and Jesus is the Christ!  I know that the lord can help us in all of our trials and can carry us when we aren't sure if we can carry ourselves!  Que vaya con dios!

Love,
Elder Jensen

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Another week...


Hola everyone!

This past week has been pretty good! Not too many things going on right now, but all the same it's very exciting.  We spend the morning studying and then head out at about 10:30 to 12:00 to teach and visit with people.  From 12 to 3 is the time we get to spend at our apartment.  We have lunch, study, relax, and study some more.  Then at 3 to 9:30 we head out and teach and visit with members.  At 9:30 we come home and plan for the next day!  Then after planning I get ready for bed and pass out on my bed.  Yep, days are really, really busy here!

Melissa and Robinson are a young couple we contacted a few months ago, so they aren't members.  We have been working alot with them and they are slowly progressing.  I used to think you'd find people, teach them, and baptize them quickly.  But I've learned that is rarely the case.  Usually, a  particular missionary is only there for part of the journey.  At the beginning, middle, or end of a person's conversion.  The process to help someone come unto Christ and be converted doesn't just happen in a couple weeks.  Usually it takes time and a complete change in oneself before they get baptized.  So, we'll see what happens in the future.  We are working with a few investigators who have really progressed over the last few months, so we'll see what becomes of this!  I really hoping they are ready and will continue to prepare for baptism.

My spanish is coming along pretty good!  Of course, it depends on my attitude and willingness to listen.  I can get the majority of the idea of what people are saying, but it still is very hard with some people.  The people here talk super, duper fast and use terrible language.  For example, "todo esta bien?" turns into "to ta bien?"  So, it is definitely a work in progress!  But the lord gives be so much strength to continue trying to learn spanish.  So with time, it'll come fully.  Compared to my first day I'm fluent, haha!

This past week I came across Moroni 7:41 in my scripture study.  Moroni asks what is it we should hope for?  An he answers we should have faith in Christ and his Atonement.  This is so true!!  The Atonement is the basis of everything we have in the life.  If we believe Christ is our savior and he can help us become perfect, then everything else should fall into place.  Church, Temples, life, scriptures, everything.  The basis of our testimony of God's plan should be based on Jesus Christ.  So if you need something to hope for, hope that Jesus Christ lives!

Love, 
Elder Jensen

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Weekly email...

Hola everyone!

This past week has been a really kind of a Ground Hog week too!  I've continued studying and teaching the gospel.  We do alot of contacting, and walking.  We have 6 or 7 really good investigators, so we are spending our time on them helping them progress towards baptism.  All the days this week were filled with the same things: teaching and studying.  On Monday, we did have a zone meeting where we received instruction from the Zone Leaders given to them by the President.  I guess President Douglas wants to focus alot on less actives and helping them come back to the fold.  What's the point of baptizing the whole world, if half of those people don't stay inside the church?  That really got me thinking.  We spend so much time as missionaries concentrating on baptisms and investigators.  We as missionaries and as members need to focus on the people who already know the truth, but have just got lost somewhere along the way.  We need to find the people in our wards and help them come back and begin receiving the blessings of the gospel again.  So we have been starting to work on that too in my area! 

We have a young family named Melissa and Robinson.  We had a Noche Hogar (FHE) with another young couple in the ward on Monday night.  It was a huge success!!!!!  The spirit was there and it really began breaking the ice with the other members in the ward!  Melissa is very talkative and has alot of questions about missionaries (us) and about family nights, and just about the gospel.  She has an excellent attitude and wants to follow Christ.  I have so much hope and faith for this young family!!!!

This week I've been studying the beginning chapters of Helaman.  I like what Mom said about the cycle of things throughout the Book of Mormon.  People are humble before Christ, turn prideful, and then fall into transgression.  It happens in real life today too!  People begin to miss church for a week, then skip scripture study, and then pretty soon forget the gospel.  Then when dark times hit home, they are miserable and hate life.  They still have strength to push on, but they must rely on their own strength.  However, if we always remember Christ we can rely on his strength when those dark days come.  (Helaman 5:12)  I testify that Jesus is the Christ and we can always rely on him to carry us when we can't carry ourselves.  The gospel of Jesus Christ truly can bless all people if they will heed to the promptings of the Spirit telling them to listen.  Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers!  I pray you will be blessed in your adventures.  En el nombre de Jesucristo, amen.

Que vaya con Dios!

Love,
Elder Jensen

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hello Everyone..

Hola!

Another week has already gone by!!  This week was pretty interesting because my companion had to go and help organize transfers.  So that being said, we spent 9 hours on Saturday, 6 hours on Sunday, and 4 hours on Monday working on organizing transfers and such.  Anyways, I've had a very busy week without a whole lot of teaching and walking.  But I definitely had some teaching and walking put in.  We taught a couple named Melissa and Robinson.  They are really progressing and we taught about afflictions and hardships in life.  They enjoyed the lesson and I really felt the spirit there!  One of the best experiences so far with that family.  I just felt the spirit flow through me and the Spanish just came.

Let's see hear, not much else happened this week, so I'll try to answer some more questions for you guys.  My companion is district leader, there is 6 members in my district, 24-ish missionaries in my zone, and 10 zones in the mission.  We have 5 really progressing investigators, and my ward has about 120 active members.  My area is so big, we can't make it to everywhere.  I'm doing really well out in the field and the language is coming really good.  I can have some basic communication with the people, and understand more or less of what they are trying to say.  So hopefully with time it will come all the way.

Sounds like everything is going pretty good at home, everyone seems to be staying busy!!!  Next week things should be back to normal, so I should have more things to say!  Thanks for all you do family and keep living life!!  Just remember Alma 48:17; and strive to be like Captain Moroni1

Que vaya con Dios!




Love,
Elder Jensen