October 26, 2015

Hey everyone,

 This week’s been topsy-turvy for me. We have this huge list of 30-40 potential investigators, so we’ve been trying to get in contact with them. A bunch of them have crazy schedules so it’s difficult to set appointments with them. Some days we see more turkeys than people (our record’s around 25 turkeys).

 We first met two of our potentials when they were playing basketball as they were walking Saturday. They challenged us, we said no, but we invited them to play at the church at 1pm today. We’re hoping some other elders have time to join us.

 The highlight of the week was with one of our Cathies. Her name is Cathie Abernathy, and when we first met her she hasn’t been to church since she was 13. She had some concerns about returning to church because of previous experiences but we answered her questions. And she surprised us yesterday by showing up to sacrament meeting! We invited her to the Gospel Principles class and found someone to befriend her and lead her to Relief Society. She said she’d meet with the bishop after church as well.

 Also, in case you haven’t heard yet, I have some big news. Most of you are aware that I was initially called to serve for two transfers, or three months, before if the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles feels like I’m ready to serve for two years they give me a call to serve again. This Thursday we were having interviews with President Samuelian. He called most of our district in and before giving a devotional that lasted around 20 minutes, he announced that I was called to serve a mission.

 He reassured me a couple times that I’m ready, and I felt comforted. I’ve been praying a ton about that moment and realized how dependent on the Lord I’ve been all throughout my mission. I concluded that it was very likely that I’d serve the full two years because the Lord would continue to strengthen me. After our interview President offered the closing prayer, and he asked God that I would be able to do things on my mission I wouldn’t imagine myself doing.

 I haven’t received my mission call yet, although I will sometime around tomorrow. The plan is that either I open the call when I receive it or wait until the next transfer meeting to. I’m likely to wait until the transfer meeting on November 10th, two weeks from tomorrow. Until then I’ve got some finishing up to do in Dallas since I’ll probably be sent to a different mission. Should be fun.

 Elder Jensen

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October 19, 2015

Hey everyone,

 Things are still progressing in Dallas over here. When I first got here we had zero progressing investigators (investigators that were taught at least two lessons and are keeping all of their commitments) and now we have two. The first is Coryell; she still seems interested although she missed our last teaching appointment and we haven’t contacted her since. The next is Cathy; we first met her the Saturday before the last one and gave her a Book of Mormon, and then we taught the Restoration to her last Saturday. She said once she investigates the church more and likes it she’ll be baptized.

By the way, there are five people sort of named Cathy in our area, including an investigator named Kathy who we haven’t got a hold of since an illness, a less-active member Cathy (who was originally an investigator, but we found her member records), a former investigator Cathy, and a Cathy some other elders offered service to.

I got my first email from Elder Hardy today. His new companion’s named Elder Rose, and I don’t know much about him. Elder Thompson (the elder in Oakdale Ward that came in this transfer) says he might be short and blonde hair. The McIntires are excited to be baptized!

Last Friday and Saturday we had the weirdest companion exchange. Elder Thompson joined me and Elder Benham in a tripanionship while Elder Sallade went to Cooper Hollow for a day.

We might play football with the zone leaders today, but it will probably rain. We’ll see how things go. By the way, today’s my two month mark on my mission! It feels like things are going fast and slow at the same time. We’ll see how the other 22 months go.

Elder Jensen

October 4, 2015

Hello again,

This Tuesday I arrived at the transfer meeting. We got to say goodbye to some of the missionaries I knew, and I found out who my new companion is and where I’m going. I’m currently in Dallas, Oregon, which is about 15 minutes from Salem, and I’m serving with Elder Benham in the Perrydale Ward. I’m still getting used to the newness of everything, but I seem to be keeping up so far. And I’m seeing a lot of similarities and differences with Elder Benham as well. He’s 5’4″.

Our closest friends are from Cooper Hollow Ward, Elder Malauulu and Elder Combs, who we share our car with. Elder Malauulu is from Samoa but lived in California before his mission, and he came into the mission the same time Elder Hardy did. And Elder Combs came with me into the mission. There’s also Elder Sallade (the district leader) and Elder Thompson (who came in this transfer) in Oakdale Ward, but we don’t see them as often.

The area we do the most work in isn’t even a square mile wide, so we walk when we’re proselyting most of the time. Mostly this week we have been finding new people to teach, mainly among people we’ve talked to before. One of them is Coryell. We taught her the Restoration and she seemed delighted, especially at the Atonement and the First Vision. We’re meeting with her again Wednesday, and I hope we’ll set up a baptismal date for her then.

And General Conference was amazing. I wish I paid more attention to it, but that’s why they print the talks. I think all three new apostles will do great. Next conference should be significant as well.

I’m starting to make friends here in Dallas as well, so things overall have been great. Hopefully I’ll get to know the ward more this week as well.

Elder Jensen

September 28, 2015

Hey everyone,

 This week probably has been my most productive in my mission so far, but since I’m packing my bags since I’m getting transferred I won’t write as much. Last Tuesday I received my iPad, and since then I’ve noticed myself able to keep track of things much easier. Our teaching pool received a huge boost this week thanks to two new families, one of which are the McIntires. During an exchange with the zone leaders me and Elder Pozernick visited them and taught them the Restoration.

The father is a less-active member, but the mother, the kids, and someone who lives with them are not members. Happy birthday Maggie, we set them all to be baptized on November 28!

 As for the transfer, I don’t know where I’m going or who I’ll be with but I’ll find out when I go up to the transfer meeting tomorrow.

Yesterday I said goodbye to some of the members in the ward (Pictures below). Brother Kilborn, the ward mission leader, was a little upset that I’m leaving so early but we worked towards being able to visit again after my mission. He’s a great friend.

 But I’ll let everyone know once everything’s situated over here. It should be exciting.

 Elder Jensen

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September 21, 2015

Hey everyone,

I don’t have as much time to write an email today; we were in Salem most of the day for today’s P-Day. We played frisbee and I lost to Elder Evans in chess. It was a lot of fun. Rumor has it I’ll get transferred next week, so it’ll be tough to leave most of these missionaries behind.

President and Sister Samuelian spoke in our ward’s sacrament meeting yesterday. After their talks it seems like the members are more interested in missionary work. The most effective way to find people to teach is through people we already know, and the Samuelians want the members to “come out of camouflage” and preach the gospel to their friends. We had our first investigator at sacrament meeting today. He’s Kristina Goodwin’s new boyfriend, Jason, and he seemed interested although he left after the first hour.

Do Nathan Harris and Cameron Hutchison have my email? I need theirs so we can stay in touch while we’re on our missions!

Nothing else interesting happened this week, although I seem to be adapting well to the missionary lifestyle. President Samuelian’s confident that I’ll become a great missionary. Hope to hear from you next week!

Elder Jensen

September 14, 2015

Hello,

 I’m nearly a month into my mission. A few months ago it would have been hard for me to imagine myself this far, but I surprise myself almost every day. 23 to go.

Today’s been really fun. We found out that board games are now allowed in the mission as long as they follow the white handbook (mission rules). We didn’t have the chance to play one today, but we did go bowling with 10 elders. Somehow I beat everyone with a 122, but I was still praising others. We got haircuts with Elder Hancock and Elder Barnes, then the zone leaders, Elder Sumner and Elder Pozernick, showed up, and the owner wasn’t too pleased with having six missionaries at a time since missionaries get haircuts there for free. The zone leaders are awesome (Elder Sumner reminds me of a blonde Andrew Prince) and there’s a bunch of other cool missionaries in my zone.

Last Tuesday we visited a part-member family, the Goodwins, and the only person home was their niece, Kennedy, who lives with them. We found out that she wasn’t a member and I gave her a Book of Mormon. My first one! The mother, Christina, is a less-active member, and her husband was killed in an industrial accident recently. We continue to give her comfort and told her she can live with him again and talked about the temple. They have a 13-year-old daughter named Kendra who is a member and an 8-year-old daughter named Angelina who hasn’t been baptized and will probably get interviewed by the bishop, but we’ll teach the lessons to her anyway the best we can. Guiding the whole family toward baptism/activity would be a great start to my mission.

We had a ton of meetings and service projects last week, just like the week before. We were helping someone move for four or five hours when one of the ward members, Brother Strait, a medical student, found out that Elder Hardy tore a ligament in his foot. Elder Hardy said it was hurting for about eight weeks ever since he landed on someone’s foot playing basketball. He was told to take it easy, take ibuprofen, apply ice, etc. Hopefully it will heal quickly.

This week will probably be tougher; we’re exchanging with the zone leaders tomorrow and Wednesday, Friday is our Mission Fast, and Sunday the ward is fasting since President and Sister Samuelian will be present in our ward. But I’m expecting I’ll learn a ton. The Spirit’s becoming stronger in our lessons, and I hope we can utilize it more.

Elder Jensen

September 7, 2015

Hey everyone,

First off, I want to apologize for a misunderstanding; I have only an hour to write emails each Monday, but I can read emails all day then. I felt stressed last week thinking I had only an hour to read 12 emails and to write to you and the mission president, but we’re good now.

This week’s been rather busy and rather slow at the same time. We didn’t have much time to teach since it’s hard to be in touch with our few investigators nowadays, but we were in a bunch of meetings and service projects. This Wednesday we had a meeting called accountability, where me and Elder Hardy meet with Elder Hancock (the district leader) and report for the month of August about our area. Normally the meeting lasts about an hour, but we had to stay for three since the rest of our area is sisters and one pair of elders and one pair of sisters are not allowed to be alone with each other.

The next day was zone conference. I wish I remembered more of it; it was very spiritual. It was divided into two parts; in the first part all the missionaries from two zones (normally it’s just one) gathered and listened to President and Sister Samuelian speak. They talked about plenty of topics but mainly the family. We’re supposed to memorize “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” in 40 days. Hopefully me and Elder Hardy will feel motivated enough. Then we had a very spiritual testimony meeting. Two testimonies came from Elder Hancock and Elder Evans, and this is their last zone conference for both of them.

Before zone conference there was a car inspection, and while we were eating lasagna for dinner they announced the awards for the Cleanest Car contest (aka Lightning McClean Awards). Me and Elder Hardy scored second place, and President said that every time elders win he gives them a hug. And so he did!

After dinner we had a member/missionary portion of zone conference. We expected more people, but around 100 members showed up. The focus was on member missionary work, and the members got to roleplay as missionaries and investigators just as we do. The President and his wife’s message was clear, but it’s up to the members to follow up and do missionary work themselves. Because as Elder Ballard said, “RM does not mean Retired Mormon!” I myself felt inspired to continue in missionary work when I can after my mission.

This Saturday we got to meet one of the former elders in this mission, Elder Frankenberry, at basketball this morning. We called him “a voice from the dust,” since he’s my trainer’s trainer’s trainer’s trainer’s trainer’s trainer, or in mission lingo, my great-great-great-great-grandfather. They call whoever trained someone their father, and the person who trained him grandfather, etc. I’ve traced my “lineage” like this:

Elder Young

Elder Frankenberry

Elder McLoughlin

Elder Gift (Current assistant to the president)

Elder Adams

Elder Larsen

Elder Hardy

Elder Jensen

There’s a bunch of other mission lingo as well, like when someone dies they leave the mission, when someone’s trunky they’re ready to leave and get lazy, and new missionaries like me are called greenies. I seem to catching onto everything quickly, but if there’s one thing I learned so far, it’s that missionaries are as weird as the rest of us. But I’m grateful the Lord gave me the opportunity to serve anyway. We still haven’t been successful, but I feel that will change soon.

Elder Jensen