Friday, November 21, 2008

News from Argentina

----- Original Message -----
From: "Taylor Jensen"
Sent: Monday, November 17, 2008 10:40 AM

Hey All!!

Greetings from Rawson today-- we are having a zone activity. We were
supposed to go to see the penguins, but it was way too expensive. BLAST!
probably a good thing- i have 80 pesos in my wallet and 0 in the bank (i am
in deep trouble this month!) 80 pesos is about 25 bucks. WEll see how i do.
rice, cheap cereal and pasta here i come!!

It has been an incredible week this week. Last week i think i talked a
little bit about vanessa? i hope so. she is the awesome one who was living
with her x missionary boyfriend. Well, he left the house, and we swung by on
tuesday to talk to her. We talked (we set up three chairs on her front door
with us outside and her on the threshold--we dont break rules!) and talked
for a while. She expressed a deep testimony for an investigator and just had
a fear of going to church. When i heard that i was like oh yeah im all over
this! we had practiced this SO many times in the MTC with me and elder foye.
So i started talking and just helped her realize it doesnt matter what
members think of you, if you are doing whats right they have nothing to say.
It makes it hard because her boyfriends dad is the 1st councellor to the
bishop and mom is the relief society president. We presented her name at
ward council to be baptized and the bishop wasnt there and it was just the
1st councellor and he just shook his head and said no no no no. it is going
to be an adventure getting her baptized, but anyone who has their head on
straight knows she had a stinkin SOLID testimony and knows everything she
needs to. WEll see.

The next day, we got a call from her while we were getting dressed. IT went
about like this-- elders i have something to tell you. (we were both about
to cry) Ivan ( her 12 year old son) wants to get baptized too! ( at this
point we both burst out yelling, in english of course, about how excited we
were. Haha. its going to be a great day on the 29th when they can be
baptized and enter into the Lords fold.

We then went out on thursday and talked with Julia. We had a really good
discussion on baptism and the spirit and invited her to be baptized the 29th
with vanessa and ivan, and she accepted!!! we were all really happy. She is
going to love it. She didnt come to church this sunday because she was in
teh campo, so we have to move her date back, but thats alright. We are going
to visit her later today i think.

Friday and Saturday, we didnt get a fecha (baptismal date). But we did on
Sunday! There is a 9 year old girl who comes to church all the time and we
always are like hey tamara when are you getting baptized? and she responded
oh on the 30th of november with Rocio (another 9 year old girl who is in a
reactivated family) and we were just like wait what? So we now have 5 (if i
am counting right ) baptismal dates. WOW! what a week.

We have a new investigator named Carlos. HE is a stud. He has read the first
6 chapters of the Joseph SMith manual before we even met him. He had a
Family Home Evening with a family (sorry this story stinks. He is renting a
room from a member) and they had a Noche de Hogar with another hilarious
family and they got him started. When we met with him a few days later, hed
read a ton. We then had lunch with him on thursday and on saturday he was 8
chapters into the book of Mormon. The man is rolling! he is just excited to
learn EVERYTHING! he flips open to random pages and just says teach me about
this. i want to learn this. ITs so awesome to have an investigator who is
taking big steps at a time towards baptism. HE came to church this week and
liked it, so hopefully next email we'll have another fecha story!

We have been meeting with Osvoldo less and less. When i first got here, he
had a fecha and was the best investigator they had. It was weak. He hasnt
read anything or progressed at all and is a bump right now. we would have
dropped him, but his wife is a menos activo, so we still go over there to
talk and try to get them to church. They came last sunday so that was fun.
But it is always so interesting talking to all of these people. ONe of my
favorite things to do is to bust out the Family proclaimation to the world
and talk about families and how to sustain a family and keep it working. I
never realized how hard it is! vanessa has issues, Julia has issues with it,
Osvoldo and Manuela have issues with it. This week has just really
strenghtend my conviction on what a family is supposed to look like and more
importantly what my family is going to look like. It is so important to read
the proclaimation to the family and live those principles. Its just like no
brainer! even if i wasnt mormon, those principles are like what your mother
would teach you about how to treat people and be nice. Read the
proclaimation and LIVE IT! thats our commitment to a lot of people this

What else is going on.....Elder Valencia and i are EXHAUSTED this week. WE
average 12 miles walking a day. We hit 16 one day this week. Man. ITs
ridiculous. We work our buns off and it feels so good to hit the mattress
and fall asleep within 5 minutes every night. I wouldnt want it any other
way. We are always running around trying to find our people and teach them,
trying to contact every person we see and invite them to listen to us. IT is
WORK! sometimes its tough because for some reason we arent allowed to conact
ladies on the street so its tough during the day when everyone is working.
We zig zag accross the streets all the time when we see people. Its a fun
game we play. And it is great because we get ridiculous amounts of contacts
and lessons taught each day.

We had Zone Conference on Thursday and it was great. WE talked about
contacting and about involving the members in our work. One new activity we
are doing is sitting down with the members and writing down every single
person or family they know that is not a member. It takes a while! we then
write it really nicely on a piece of stationary and bring it back a couple
of days later and do a nice presentation on ways they can share the gospel
with people on the list. WE then kneel and pray and invite them to be
receptive to see if anyone on that list comes to their mind and then tell
them to go share and well check up to see how it goes. Apparently in some
south american missions, it has multiplied baptisms by 100. It'll be
interesting to see how it works here! im excited!

I think thats about all i have for this week. No pictures-- im in rawson and
dont have my cord. Sorry!! Oh and i got my first batch of letters today! i
got ones sent between oct. 28 and Nov 2 ish. the oct 31 mailed one from mama
got here today, and the dear elders got here too from oct 28 through nov 1
ish. NOt too bad! thats only 2 weeks! i can handle that!

Anyways, i love you all, and i hope all is well in the States. I hear things
are crazy. Stay strong and smile!!!

Love always
Elder Taylor Jensen

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hey All!!! I am alive and well in Argentina. The Work goes on! It is really cool to see how the Spirit can work here in me and in the people that we teach. Every day i am striving to learn more and more how it works and how to keep it with me so it can work more and more.

We visited Julia on Tuesday afternoon. It was incredible to see the change she had had! On Saturday, she told us she had thought about killing her self and even had the knife out (i missed that part.. elder valencia filled me in on that on Tuesday) and that her family life was miserable and her daughter hated her and all this stuff. Then when we were there on Tuesday, her family was all there packing and they were going out to the campo together! We were a bit bummed because she is ready for a baptismal date, but we were a bit shocked and very pleased to see her family is coming back together. Her daughter even made her a cup of coffee while we were there! We´ll take it. But her countenance was way different and she was smiling and happy and we knew it was because of church and because she met some awesome people there who immediately became her friends and she wanted to go to enrichment but was going to be in the campo but she gets back tomorrow, so hopefully all goes well. We were stoked!

So last week we set some incredibly high goals for our companionship. Way higher than anything elder valencia has ever done before. And we accomplished most of them! We had a HUGE!!!!!!!!!!!!  Day on Wednesday. We contacted 65 people, got 10 new investigators, and taught 35 other lessons. Those easily were the biggest numbers of the week in the mission. It was so easy—we just talked to everyone we saw. It was almost like a game- we´d cross the street to talk to people, we´d be smiling and bubbly and talk to people, and we found some good people. We have been trying to follow up with the people and its been tough. Some of them gave us fake addresses, some werent there but we taught...4 i think in the past 2 days and they have been pretty good. One was kinda a nut and didnt really accept what we were saying, but we´re going back with our elders quorum president this week to talk to him. We had 2 ladies who were very nice and receptive, and one family who was AWESOME but werent that interested. This family was probably the first normal family i´ve met here, including members. People here are nuts. Weird. I love it though!

We only had 1 investigator in church this week, and it was the 9 year old friend of a member, so it was a pretty weak one to count for us. We were bummed. We had spent a lot of time talking church up and getting people excited for church, but no one came. We are going to have to work harder this week. Its been fun seeing how things change here. Sometimes i kinda question who is the trainer in our companionship. There are so many ways we can become better missionaries that every night during companion planning i kinda throw out an idea- hey why dont we focus on this tomorrow? Why dont we study this and put it in practice tomorrow? And so far it has really changed how successful we are and how much work we get done. I had a fun experience with it Saturday that i want to share too—

We have a part member family that we are working with. The boyfriend is an ex missionary and his girlfriend is an AWESOME lady. They have a daughter together and 2 kids from previous marriages. We just found out this week that the hubby has been drinking and thats been causing a lot of problems with their ´marriage´ and the vanessa just left the house and got a new place this weekend. We are DEVASTATED because they are stinkin AWESOME! Weve been trying to figure out what to say to them that will help them. WE were walking back from a Noche de Hogar (FHE) and e valencia was asking me about movies and my favorites and stuff and i was kinda annoyed because he always wants to talk about that kinda stuff and in the MTC we NEVER did because we were trying to focus and stuff, but here i havent really put my foot down and told him i didnt want to yet. I had wanted to stop talking about it and talk about stuff that would bring the Spirit but didnt  ´man up´ and do it yet. Then along comes vanessa down this random street. We had really really wanted to see her that day because we had talked to Ariel, the boyfriend, and really wanted to talk to her too. So she comes and tells us all this stuff thats going on and we really didnt know what to say. Afterwards, Elder valencia was like man! Why didnt i know what to say!? Why didnt the spirit tell me? And i was just like Its because we were talking about movies. We werent ready for it. We hadnt prepared ourselves. It kinda sunk in a little bit, but he always wants stories from my life and stuff still. I just need to tell him to forget it! Haha. We´re missionaries, not story tellers! I felt guilty, almost reprimanded for not being ready to act. I am not letting that happen again.

Now a bit on trelew. Everyone here is obsessed with the US election and they all hate Boosh (bush) (it cracks me up how they say it) and they all assume e. Valencia is black (hes a light brown) and that because of that he voted obama, and because im white i voted mccain. Sometimes we mix it up and say i voted obama and he voted mccain. Its fun. But i´ll be glad when people stop thinking were spies and eleccion counters and who knows what else.

Our apartment is pretty nice. We have carpet! I think were the only ones. We also have a nice balcony and e valencia and i like to eat  a bowl of cereal every night out there to relax and decompress. We eat cereal for breakfast, eat with members most every lunch (lunches are HUGE!) and then cereal for dinner. Its great. Cereal here just isnt the same though. Feel free to send Chex, Honey bunches of Oats, or Crispix. I like those! 

What else.... i just bought a ping pong paddle. Every chapel here has a table, and we play that and basketball and soccer every pday! I love my life here. This place was made for me! The work is going on. We worked our bums off this week. One day we walked 25000 steps (!) thats ridiculous. But its all good.

On the very end of our area, we have a new neighborhood. Its great because they open one block of 30 houses every week, so this week we had the first batch! And we beat the jehovah´s witnesses there! Ha! (there are a lot of testigos de jeovah here) but we have about 10 more blocks that will open in teh coming months. Its great! We have had a few member families move in and its sweet because they are really nice dirt cheap houses that only families can move into. Its prime! We are heading back over there tomorrow morning to open the next block. I love it! I hope this week we can keep working hard, keep being diligent, and get some good investigators! I am starving and my hour is about up, so i will try and stick on some pics, but i dont think it´ll work on this comp. We´ll see.

I love you all, thank you so much for your love and support. I got 3 dear elders that were sent while i was in the MTC last week and that was fun, but none this week. I hear its about a 3 or 4 week delay ish. I hope its not too bad! I love you all! Be strong and smile at someone.

Elder Jensen

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

News from Argentina

November 3, 2008


Well, it has been a blur of a last 2 weeks since i last wrote!!! so much has happened! my last week in the MTC was filled with fun-- birthday, colonoscopy, sweet devotionals, sad goodbyes. But it was time to go. For sure.

Monday I left bright and early as you know from my itinerary. I landed in Buenos Aires and we kind of just hung out for a while at the Buenos Aires Temple (it was closed for renovations so we couldn't go in. Blast!!!) And then we went to the airport at around 3. Unfortunately, the 4 o'clock flight was cancelled so we just had to sit around and hang out until about 915 when our flight to Neuquen left. It was really fun trying to talk to people in Spanish and actually have them understand us!! We met one guy who is a park city chairlift mechanic and was originally from Neuquen and who was investigating the church pretty seriously. WE talked to him for like 2 hours. He was way cool. We ended up meeting his parents in Neuquen. Good man.

We met Pres. Cook, ate some empanadas and then went to bed on some bunk beds in the mission home. I've never slept so well in my life!!! It was awesome. As you know, I cant really sleep on airplanes, so I had maybe 2 hours of sleep since Monday morning (and that day I barely got any because we got up at 4 and went to bed at like 1230.) The next day, we did some legal stuff and then had a little orientation. We met our trainers (our 1st companions who kind of show us the ropes) Mine is Elder Valencia from Reno, but he was actually born in Peru. But he isn't a native speaker. He is kind of a little bit quiet, but he is smart. He got a 34 on his ACT, so we've taken a guess that we may have the best combined ACT as a companionship on the mission. haha. Hopefully brains will turn into successes together.

I am assigned to the Trelew area. It is a city about half way down in my total mission. I had to take about a 12 hour over night bus ride to get here, but hey I'm here. Our area is ENORMOUS! The rest of the Trelew areas are pretty small, but ours is huge. It's like the city is a hamburger. The buns are divided into 3 or 4 areas each, and ours is the entire meat. It's big and wide. It's the richest area though, so that's nice. We walk 10 or more miles a day (trust me, my pedometer knows :)) but it is good here. We also have the downtown area too.

It's a little tough because we really don't have many people that we are currently teaching. Elder Valencia likes knocking doors, and I think that just stinks to be honest. It doesn't do anything. I've been working really hard to figure out other ways to find because knocking is a waste of time. E. Valencia even said he's never had a baptism from knocking doors.

Missions are tough. I never realized just how hard they are until now. Trying to find people, trying to bring the spirit into their homes, trying to feel the spirit and figure out how it works in me, trying to plan and be efficient. We walk a lot more and teach a lot less than I hoped or thought we would, and that is really discouraging for me. I'm going to work way hard this week to change that.

Spanish wise I am actually not too too bad. People can understand me pretty well, except for the occasional time I say the wrong subject or when I'm asking a question and am not clear and direct. But really my Spanish is ok. Everyone is way impressed with me abilities!

Listening, however, is a different story. They talk so much faster than they did in the US!! haha. And the accent isn't bad. I understand it and can do it. No big deal. But we were at one house and these two girls about my age were just sitting there laughing at me because I was just looking at whoever was talking kind of smiling trying to figure out what they were saying. They made fun of me and were asking me if I was on drugs. Oh well. We're going back there tomorrow and I'm not looking forward to it.

One challenge I am having is getting along with the new way of doing things here. in the MTC we were told not to stay at members houses too long, not to chit chat with investigators too long before we got down to the point and started sharing the gospel. We (well not me because I can't speak Spanish) struggle with that and really need to work on that so that we can work harder and with more people. It's just really hard to figure out how to be a missionary. I know the missionary I want to become and how i want to be, but not very many other missionaries share the same vision because they are too worried about it being too hard or too much work to plan or not fun or basura like that. but each day during planning I'm trying to pipe up and say how I feel about things (like last night--point blank Knocking stinks and is a waste of time. lets find another way to contact)

We've only taught one real lesson since getting here on Thursday(osvoldo). It went pretty good. I did really well at explaining the book of Mormon. But the people didn't drag themselves out of bed the next day to come to church. I've found that the people here are really lazy and not doing stuff almost all day, but some how they are always occupado. always. interesting.

We taught another lesson on Saturday afternoon to a lady (Julia) and really dropped the hammer on her about coming to church and how that would really help her with all the problems she was going through. Early Sunday morning, we got up and went 2 miles away to osvoldo and he was sleeping and then 2 miles back and then out to Julia's and she didn't answer, so disheartened we went to church empty handed. But to our surprise, she showed up like 15 minutes later!! YES! She had been in the shower when we rolled by, so she couldn't answer the door. But a lot of the ladies there talked to her and we think she felt really welcomed. We are going to swing by later tonight or tomorrow to check up on her. Hopefully all is going well!

Other news--we contacted an absolute NUT on Friday. He talked to us for an hour on the street and wouldn't let us say a word or leave. He talked about a flaming sword God had given him and a fiery cart he was baptized in. He tried to get us to come to his house but we were terrified and had a lunch appointment. We swung by the next day and his house was way nice! But he just kept talking and talking about biblical prophets and all this crazy stuff. He was nuts. His wife brought out a 7up and cups and he yelled at her and was like they don't drink 7up! And on the tray the wife brought out there was a knife!!! haha we thought he was going to kill us or something. But we had to leave and invited him to church kind of half heartedly. Well, he showed up! haha. We heard Sunday school was a bit strange, but he talked to me after sacrament meeting and was way normal. it was kind of weird! Maybe he is normal while in church. Anyways... I think we may just kind of avoid him for now.

Its hard being down here and not getting mail on a daily basis! No one here writes letters anymore so I don't know what the best way of doing it is yet. I tried to mail stuff from LA but they didn't have any mailboxes. I'll get some out today, don't worry. Hopefully they'll get there soon! I'm throwing some pictures on here too... give me a sec. The food here is alright. Pizza is good, bread is good, noodles are alright, I've only had a little beef and chicken and they've been alright. Its fun because they all eat huge lunches and then no dinners so I like eating that way because then in just fall into bed and sleep so so so soundly. It's good to get a good night sleep every night.

Sorry I don't have any good pictures of trelew yet... next week I will for sure! it is hot, dry, dusty, dirty, no clouds, and warm borderline hot. So far so good. I'm already working the tan a bit!! haha.

I love you all. Smile!
Elder Taylor Jensen