Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Greetings from Argentina

December 30, 2009


Hey family!

Merry week after Christmas! It's been a good couple of days since we talked. It was fun talking to you and hearing from everyone! Sorry for talking so much…I hung up the phone and said oh wow I think I just talked the whole hour… sorry! I just had some stories I couldn't email. It's weird to think I just have 1 phone call left, huh? It blows me away. The hermanas I got here with are leaving next transfer…

Friday was fun. I played ping pong most of the day, as you already know. I also tore my pants open! Oops! But, one of the benefits of living here in the office is that there are two hermanas that are so so willing to help you out, I've had a couple of pairs of pants stitched up, and my two torn shirts fixed. It's great. The ping pong was good—me and elder Camacho and elder Savornin(one of the new office elders) are all dead even skill wise,  so its pretty intense. We all have our paddles here ready to play when we are done emailing.

Saturday turned out great. Daniel got baptized and it was good. Unfortunately, he had to get dipped under 4 times because his elbow was popping up. Oops! But all in all, it turned out good. We didn't get much support from the ward—we had the bishop, an hermano, and at the last second a family of 5 walked in. but fortunately, there were 9 missionaries there, so there was still a good number. I went over to Daniel's on Monday and it was really cool hearing about how much he has changed. He was telling us about how he felt before, during, and after. It honestly blows me away every time I hear people talk like that the absolute faith that they exercise as the drop bad habits and do things that the Lord wants them to. The truth is that it is an incredible lesson in humility for me. I've been a member forever and sometimes its hard for me to do stuff.

The hermano Marquez is officially living in Plottier now. He is building out there and now sleeps there to protect the house. He came to Neuquen yesterday and called us to come over, so we went running. They are so good. They had a chat with the hermanas that are in Plottier and the hermanas gave him 6 chapters of reading. He was joking about how they are tougher teachers and such, but I think I might just have to step it up a bit! Haha. Tomorrow we are going to go over and dig some more and paint. I'm excited—he is such an incredible guy, and his family is just great.

We had a neat experience on Monday night. Me and elder Nilsson were out working and our cita at 8 no showed us. Into my mind popped the contact we did with a guy who had gone up to hear us sing in Centro and so we went to give him a try. He had just had his truck break down and had just gotten home, so he invited us in. We got in and taught and he was an awesome awesome guy. I gave him a Book of Mormon and said ´did you know Christ came to America after his resurrection in Israel?´ and it was hilarious—it blew his socks off. He almost started reading about it right when I handed him the book. He's a good one for sure, and I am convinced that the Lord puts us in the places we need to be.

Tonight we have a noche de hogar with a couple who needs to be married. He's started to quit smoking and they are planning to get married when they finish their house. We are going to noche de hogar it to see if we can get the married faster and baptized. Wish us luck! The husband has come 3 times to church, and the wife none because she works, but she's looking for new work. We'll see what happens!!

We are anxiously awaiting President Bowen. He gets in on Sunday, then we have 2 conferences with him Monday and Tuesday. Then on Wednesday and Thursday, we are doing divisions with Zapala zone leaders and Friday we are heading out south. I'm emailing again next Thursday, then im not going to email for a week, then ne next Monday like the 20th or 19th or something, so you can double up your letters for next week so I can have something good to read!! Haha. I think I am going to be behind the wheel for 3 years on this gira because I am driving the whole way. I think its going to be about 40 hours…wow!!!!I'm just glad I got a bag of sunflower seeds to tide me over!

Mom- those new shirts are INCREDIBLE!!!!! They are the perfect fit AND they have an elastic top button. They are the most comfy shirts I've ever worn. They are awesome. The shoes are fine, and the socks are great. Thanks so much!! (and we just busted out the caramels today…yum!)

Well, its time to go school these guys in ping pong. Look forward to next week's letter to see what Elder Bowen teaches!!
Love you!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The news from Elder Jensen

Hey family!! Greetings from Neuquen where i´m sleeping in my own bed, wearing clean shirts, and sleeping 8 hours again.

About 4 months before a missionary goes home, they get a paper that is a pledge to sprint to the finish, in which they and president sign that they are going to give it there all and work real hard. This week, I wrote my own pledge about sprinting in the office. Its so easy to get lazy or to not do the little things I have been doing the past year here. So this week, I wrote my own with a lot of specific things, like not letting us working only 4 or 5 hours a day proselyting be an excuse for not having the numbers ive always put up, and not letting the weird schedule we have be an excuse for not getting my studying in. Its going to be tough, but I am still a missionary, and I am going to baptize in this area. Its been a long long time since weve baptized in the office, and that's going to change.

This week has been pretty good. Its by far been my best week numbers wise here in neuquen-I taught 13 lessons! Wahoo. Other weeks, I hadn't had double digits which is horrible for me. I´m really excited now---weve found some GREAT new families and had 3 people come to church yesterday. We have 3 families of people that are progressing and its really fun to go and teach solid people that we can see have testimonies already. One of the families is a family of 5 that me and elder Nilsson found week 3 and they are progressing so much. They are reading and praying and are coming to church next week. We ate skyline with them on Saturday, and then talked about baptism and stuff. They are so going to get baptized. They just don't know it yet. They are nervous because they've never been to church before, but once they come once, they´ll be excited. The mom is such a nice, loving person, and the dad looks like mr. miagi from karate kid  and he is just hilarious. I love being there. And they love us being there. And the best part is is that they recognize the feelings they have when we come and when they read and such. I was talking to elder Nilsson about the importance of love when we teach and that's something that is absolutely is present when we are with them. He  chased us down on his scooter after one lesson to give us a tupper of cake that his wife wanted to give us. It was hilarious seeing mr. miagi on a scooter chasing us down the street. Man I love that family.

Another family is a couple who surprised us by going to church yesterday. They are really good too—they are always asking really really good questions that shows us that they are thinking and really trying to apply what they are learning. They came to church yesterday even though he thought he had to work. They liked it so much they decided to go to the first presidency broadcast last night even though it started at 10 at night. Awesome.

The third was another couple who we are teaching and the wife is similar in that she asks really in depth questions and really understands what we are teaching. The crowning moment—she says I feel like these things you are teaching are things ive always known but never heard said out loud before. Wow. Im excited in our area now---before when I first got here there was nothing nothing, but now we have some really solid families.

We had a really cool thing happen last night. So the office elders and me and my companion all share 1 area, so sometimes we visit the same person on the same day or cross in the street. Yesterday we met up by chance at the house of a member. As we left, I had someone in my head I wanted to go visit. We gave our cita we had to the other elders and they went and did it. Me and my companion, Elder Briggs (we do divisions a ton so that when me and my comp leave on the gira someone knows the people we find) started knocking a little bit on the way over to this house in my head. For some reason, I decided to knock the block before the block where this house is, so we did and it was alright. We then started knocking our way down the next block to the corner where this house was. We were 2 houses away and a guy walks behind us and around the corner. We then go around the corner and knock the house I had in mind. It just so happened that that guy had just walked in and we were able to pass in too (we aren't allowed to enter houses with women without a guy being there). This lady I had contacted earlier, but hadn't been able to get in a teach because there wasn't a guy, and we could never get a member to go with us. But there that night it just so happened that her friend came over and we were able to go in. And it just so happened that we had to knock that block and a half before because if we had gone right on over we would not have been able to get in. Get it? The Lord guides us in this work, and I absolutely know that He gave me those promptings to go over there and to knock my way over there. Wow. What a cool experience. (and they really loved what we taught. Icing on the cake).

This week is transfer week, so president is working hard on those right now. Me and my comp give suggestions on who should train and be zone leaders, and then president shuts himself in and works on it for a long time. I was in charge of writing the suggestions on the white board, and of course the first name I put down on the board for trainers was my own. We had a good laugh, and president said ´maybe in a couple transfers.´ Weve got a group of 14 missionaries coming in, so we are all really excited.

Christmas call—I am going to call from here, but its not clear if we need to get calling cards. Elder Camacho said no, that we can just use the office phone, but elder nilsson said the finance guy said we had to get cards. The finance guy is out in bariloche right now so ill ask him when he gets back and let you know for sure next email. It would be a lot better if you could buy it this time because I don't want to have to deal with those cheap garbage cards like I had last time. As for times, we have no idea yet. We´ll get on that in 2 weeks  or so after transfers and such.

Well, im going to go play some soccer. Its getting real hot here now. Mama-I haven't gotten your package yet. And im sending you all something this week too, so let me know if you get it! And to all my friends who have written me and I haven't written back—IM SORRY!!!!!! Im going to write a bit today. I just don't have pdays anymore!!!!

Les quiero un montón. Have a great week!!!

Until next transfer, (wow. This transfer FLEW by)
Elder Jensen

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Missionary on the Go!

November 18, 2009


Hey Family!!

WHEW!!!! It's kinda hard for me to remember the blur that we like to call this past week. I think last week I wrote on Thursday, so I'll start from last Friday. We finished up the zone conferences last week in Roca on Friday. It was really fun to see my old district there where a couple of the members are still intact and doing well. We drove by Allen on the way down to Roca and I said in the car with president driving ´president!! Take me home!!´ It was kind of a joke, but in all seriousness I would go back there in a heartbeat. We kept going and had a good conference with Roca. It was fun talking to the hermanas and finding out all the stuff that was happening in Allen with our families and investigators and members that live there. I got a couple of letter s from them and they are doing alright. They've had a bit of ups and downs since we got pulled, but they'll pull through I hope.  I really want to go back and see them, but unfortunately, the schedule and rules we have make it pretty tough to get back there. We did get to drop the hermanas back in Allen on our way back, so I got to drive right through my area. It was awesome and made me miss it so bad.

Saturday and Sunday are precious days for me now because those are the only two days I get to work all day like a normal missionary. Except this Saturday and Sunday were really hard for me. I feel like I'm whitewashing again because this area really has nothing. The only problem is that we don't have too too great of a relation with the members because when we go out we only have 4.5 hours to work so we try and visit investigators. The only problem—we don't really have any. So we've been working and talking to EVERYONE, just like we've been teaching the mission. I've been really struggling here because I haven't gotten into a single house in my two weeks in neuquen and that was eating me alive. I was dying and miserable, just so desperate to get in and teach someone something that is going to help them out. This past weekend, I carried on with that anguish, just trying with all of my might to get in somewhere. I decided that I had to change something—being here and having our schedule makes it really hard to get more than a half hour of personal study in. When we are traveling, it becomes almost impossible. I decided that I had to start studying and making it something I just did everyday. So I began setting my alarm even earlier on the days that we had to leave and travel. I found some time each day and have started studying again. I also became as some of the prophets in the book of Mormon just ´wrestling with the Lord´ and praying hard hard hard that He would just guide us to some house, have some person let us in. And we didn't get in Saturday. Sunday we walked around doing straight contacts again. In my two weeks here, I had done 360 contacts, 3 lessons, and not entered into a single new house. It was awful. But, Monday was an incredible day. We did 40 contacts, taught 3 lessons, entered into 3 new houses, and found 8 people, including a family of 5 that me and elder Nilsson are going to go make skyline for in a bit. It was a miracle, and I have never been so happy!!!! It was a big tender mercy from the Lord. Yesterday, we continued and entered a house and found a family of 3. I just breathed a big sigh of relief, and now I'll be able to settle into this place and do what I've always done—find, teach, baptize!!

Last week we had a funny experience—I got robbed!!! Aw man! This one was fun. Me and my 6´4´´ companion, elder Nilsson, my best bud from Roca, were working together (I almost never work with my real comp because when we go on the Gira we want the office elders to know our investigators and stuff, so we always just work on divisions with the office). I thought being with him would give me some protection, that all the unity stuff we've been sharing in zone conference would do something but it didn't.  We do a contact with a guy in the street and invite ourselves over to his house. He says sure I live 4 houses that way and we start walking over with him. We're chatting and everything and enter with him through his fence. He then takes us around to the side of his house and starts being weird and playing around in his pockets and pants. He then says my grandma has interest in your message. There she is! He says, pointing to his dog. At this point, my companion says this is dumb and turns and leaves. In the mean time, the guy has me cornered a bit by the wall and tells me to give him my money. I told him I don't have any and that I'm going to leave. He says no seriously give it to me. I respond no seriously I don't have any. I turn to leave, keeping my eyes on this guy. He grabs my proselyting back from behind and I just tear it away from him and leave. I left the fence only to find that my companion is about a half a block away just walking. I jog over and say ´hey man. How are ya? Good, and you? He responds. I'm fine. Other than I just got robbed, everything is going great.´ His surprise was hilarious. I gave him a half hug as we walked away laughing and joking and me making fun of him for leaving me hanging. But, again, if these people want to rob me they just have to bring their A game. And I'm really lucky again the guy didn't have a knife or gun or anything.

Noelia passed her interview and is getting baptized this Saturday. President said we could work our schedule for when we are in Trelew so I can go and be there. That is going to be very special. The elders there have told the ward I'm going to be there so I am really hoping to see a lot of my people!! I'm really pumped.

The new missionaries are getting here tonight, we are training tomorrow and then leaving at about 2 to go down on the gira (the loop) we have Trelew and Puerto Madryn together on Friday, Caleta Olivia on Tuesday, Comodoro on Wednesday, and Bariloche on Friday. The other days will be used for doing divisions with zone leaders and traveling. We are going together in president's Hilux (it's a lot like mom's car) and he and I will take turns driving. It's going to be a great time to study, talk and get to know president, and maybe sleep a little????? Well see.

I'm on the run again. My time is so darn limited!! Oh well. Have a great week—I'lll be writing from the south of the world next week!!  I love you all and really appreciate all of your prayers!

I love you all. Love, Elder Jensen

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A little longer letter from Elder Jensen

November 12, 2009


Hey all--

Well; it's been a rush so far. I woke up an hour early to email this morning because I just do not have time to do anything! It's really a different lifestyle. I have woken up at 5:30 or earlier more than half of my days as assistant. That's a lot different. These last two transfers I was always so tired that I was pretty useless from 6:30 to 7 ish until I got in the shower. But now, I'm up an hour early and working on projects or stuff like that. It also applies to the other end- we are supposed to go to bed at 10:30, but my comp and I have been staying up late because we get swamped with phone calls till 10:30, we have stuff we need to do to prepare for the zone conferences the next day, and so we normally are in bed at about 11 ish. I'm holding up well so far…it's just a lot less sleep than the sacred 8 hours we are supposed to have!

This week, we started zone conferences. First up was Zapala, the zone where Junin is. It was fun to see my old district there. The elders in San martin changed- one stayed and one left, and now the one that came in gets along incredibly well with the one that stayed. That made me really happy—he needed a good companion. Elder Henrie is doing alright, it looks like. His new companion is an x zone leader who was zone leader for a long time and is now finishing his mission. I think that he will help Elder Henrie a lot. For that zone conference, we had to wake up at 4:45 to leave at 5:30 and get there at 8. But the conference went really well. It was a pretty powerful one this transfer, and we're changed several things in the mission. All my mission I have had this strange obsession with contacts. President recently has also gotten that strange obsession, so that's one of the big things we are talking about in the zone conferences. I get really excited talking about it, and we've put really high goals in the mission to get everyone out and working more. President is calling this the New Era. We've put a goal to baptize a whole lot more this transfer, and that goal is being backed up by the zones. In the past week, the mission has soared from 70 fechas to about 90 as of last night. There is a lot of positive energy now!
Yesterday, we were here with one of the Neuquen zones, and it also was a good conference. Elder Cox is here in this zone, so it was fun to see him again. Its interesting being in each zone conference, because every zone has its own unique kinda feel. I think a lot of that also depends on the zone leaders- if they are hard workers and set a good example or not. Its also fun being at every zone conference because you get to see how the messages and principles adapt themselves to each individual zone.

Tomorrow we head on out to Roca, so I get to see my old district out there. Then Saturday and Sunday we get to work all day! Yay! Next week, we head on out south on Thursday afternoon and are gone till the 30th or so. We had a nice little miracle happen this week too. We had 8 new missionaries come at the beginning of this transfer, but 5 more were delayed. We've been really worried about when they were going it be able to get here. If we leave on the gira (the loop down south for the zone conferences), we would have to have them wait till December when we got back up here. That would really really be a pain, because there are 5 elders and hermanas here that have a ´mini missionary´ and not all of the mini missionaries can be minis that long. We finally got a call last night that they were going to arrive on the 18th. That is absolutely perfect—now we'll have a short little training meeting on the 19th and roll on out that afternoon. The Lord is mindful of us, even way down south at the tip of south America!
Its fun working in the office. It drives me nuts because we don't go out and work as much as a normal elder, but I understand why. I actually hardly ever work proselyting with my real companion, Elder Camacho. I work most of the time with Elder Nilsson, who spent 6 months in my district in Roca (Allen). It's really funny, because every time we did divisions down there, we'd always dream of how it would be if we could just be companions- what kinda things we'd do, how well we'd work together. Well, now we get to see! So I am happy because I have 2 great companions up here in the office. Elder Camacho is great too. He is Elder Foye´s trainer, so he has some fun stories about that. We also have the office senior couple that lives here in the house with us. They are HILARIOUS. The hermana is just so loving and nice and cooks us stuff a couple times a week. Her husband is a really… strong presence that just makes me laugh. He has no problem in yelling ´WHO LEFT THE DOOR OPEN! DO WE LIVE IN A BARN??´ it's also funny because he speaks very very limited Spanish, so when he needs to make a phone call he makes us do it. That can be good and bad. These past 4 weeks, the internet here in the office has been horrible, so he has made me call and be pushy with the internet people who are just a horrible company. He hands me the phone and says Elder Jensen these people are idiots and I want you to tell them that. Tell em every bad word you know in Spanish so we can get this thing fixed! Haha. (don't worry, I didn't tell em any bad words).

Next transfer, we are getting 14 new missionaries! And we are also going to do a mission tour with the Bowens. I'm excited for that. Also, Elder Taylor's baptismal goal is 15 this transfer. That made a pretty big splash here in the office. I talked to him last night for the first time in more than 3 months, and he sounds good. He is a great missionary.

Well, its time to shower and head off to a zone conference. I've been trying to throw a picture in this email, but the internet is being spotty again, so I haven't been able to upload it. Maybe next week if I call em up and give them a hassle again we'll have better internet!

I love you!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

News of a transfer

November 3, 2009

Hey family!

Well, to be honest, I don't really remember too too much of what happened
this past week in Junin. It went by pretty quick, and I've had a bit of a
whirlwind weekend. Let's start—this week, we'll go backwards, from yesterday
back to last Monday ish, depending on what I remember!

I am in Neuquen. I was called as the Assistant to the President. Wow. Never
has this happened in remembered history of the mission where someone who was
never a zone leader gotten that bump, but here I am. I got a bit of a
warning this past week—I got a call on Thursday from president asking for my
drivers license number—and there are only 2 places you need to drive- the
office and as Assistant. I knew I wasn't coming up to be in the office, but
I thought maybe it was just for next transfer or something. But nope. Friday
night, President called me and extended the calling. I told him he blew his
cover a bit calling for my drivers license, and that I figured I was coming
up to be assistant. He says well you aren't a Hinckley scholar for nothing.
I say `well, I had the dark horse idea that you were sending a car down to
Junín de los Andes! ` haha. I'm glad I have a mission president that I can
joke around like that with.

He tells me that the mission is struggling, and that we're making a lot of
changes. The assistant I am replacing only was the assistant for 3 transfers—you
almost always are for 4. But I feel like that assistant was SO much better
of a missionary than me. I love the kid. But president tells me it all
starts with contacting and finding, and looking at your numbers, and what
you've done with the districts in Roca and Junin, you are the man for the
job. I told him I absolutely agree with what he said about contacts, that I
would do all I can to help jumpstart the whole mission on doing their 154
every week. We'll see how it goes!

So I rolled out on Sunday right after church. Normally transfers happen
Mondays, but I had to be in neuquen Monday morning because the missionaries
that end come and leave. It was a sad experience, taking the missionaries to
the airport this morning. We sent home several great missionaries today—and
ex AP, and Elder Goveia from Trelew. It sad, and gave me a lot of desires to
work hard to the end of my mission. Some of those guys were just… I don't
know. They had stopped working a while ago and just left. How sad. That's
not going to be me.

In a couple hours, the new missionaries get here and we have to go pick them
up and start the training and stuff with them. I'm really excited. I still
remember getting off the plane and seeing president cook with Elder Romero
and Guzman! Haha. They get here in just a couple of hours.

These past two days have been spent planning the workshops in the zone
conferences with my companion, Elder Camacho (who is the trainer of Elder
Foye… que tal!) He's from Santiago, Chile. He's a good guy, and reminds me
of elder Valencia. I don't know if its because I am the junior guy again or
what, but he reminds me of elder Valencia. We have been making a power point
and organizing everything. It's a lot different the work we do… its not
nearly as much `missionary work.` we spend the whole day in the office until
430 then we go work. It's going to be a bit of an adjustment, but that's
alright. In November, we are only going to be here in neuquen for 10 of the
30 days, so my emails will be coming from somewhere in Argentina at some
point of the week—if you don't get one for a couple days, don't worry!

I am living a block away from the mission home with the senior couple, The
Graves, Elder Nilsson (my best friend from Roca (while I was in Allen)),
and my comp and his comp. It's nice. But different. We've just got a lot of
stuff to organize and put together.

My last week in Junin was good. We had 5 in church!!!!!!!!!! It was
incredible. We actually were hoping for 7, but 5 is absolutely incredible
for that little place. Cesar and his girlfriend came, with their little
nephew who I hope is getting baptized this transfer. Then 2 other of our
investigators came, and it was great. One of them got up and took a picture
of Elder Henrie on her cell phone while he bore his testimony. It was a
strange moment.

On Saturday, I dressed up in all white! Happy Halloween! I baptized an 8
year old in our branch named Nahuel. His step dad is a member, but didn't
want to do it, which made me sad. See last weeks rant about being a good
priesthood holder. But yep. We had passed by and taught him a couple times
this week, and it was good. I was happy to baptize in that place before I
left! The druggie from last email came with his wife and daughter and LOVED
it. I was so happy!! The members accepted him really well.

The rest of the week I don't really remember that well, to be honest. It
snowed and rained and stuff, and we taught Cesar and our druggie a couple
times, and it was a good week. It's all left because of the blur that was
this weekend though!

I found out from one of the elders that is going home that Noelia, wife of
Gabriel and mother of Leo and Lucas from Trelew is getting baptized this
coming weekend!!!! We had started the whole process with their divorce
papers when we were there, and they finally came through and the finally got
married and now she is getting baptized!! Wahoo!! I also heard good things
about a lot of my converts down there, and less of them are inactive than I
thought. I also heard rough news that my family in Allen is struggling big
time. I'm going to have to write them a letter or figure out some way to
help them out. I just wish everyone would stay in the church and remember
the things they have felt and learned!!

Dad—I have to give you a HUGE thank you for the strings you pulled to get my
my license. It arrived on Monday—right in time!! My comp doesn't drive, and
the old assistant was leaving and so we were in a bit of a pinch. But the
papers got here, and I'm legal! Wahoo! It really saved us and was clutch.
THANKS! I'll be taking my eye test soon and getting that up to you. I
absolutely love driving, but this place is hard! There are not stop signs or
lights or anything. The rule is whoever is going faster gets the right of
way in an intersection. YIKES is all I have to say about that! So far, I
have been zipping around with out a problem. I think I must have the spirit
or something because I don't drive crazy like I used to…

Mama- I'll get you a picture next week. I will take a good one. Why don't
you just put my cardboard cutout in the picture!?! Haha. But yeah…I'll get
on that this week.

Putzer—good work on anchorman. You make me proud. You won the contest in my

Well, all, I'm out to go work. We don't really get p-days as assistants. But
that's okay—we have a lot of good stuff to make up for it. Like a dryer and
a real washing machine! Good stuff.

Love you family. Stay strong. Dunno when I'll write next, but I'll be loving
you till then.

OH!! Julie Beck, Hermana. Matsumori, and the Bowens were over for lunch on
Monday. I finally met your cousin, mama! They are doing a mission tour in
December or January, so I'll be able to spend some good time with them.

Love you! Chau!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Missionaries celebrate 21st birthdays different than most people!

A Happy Missionary in Argentina!

Hey all.

It's been an incredible week. I've only read parts of emails to me because I have a bit to write.

So last Tuesday we were on divisions. I was with elder Carpenter, who came into the mission with me. He's a great guy and we had a really good day together. We were out clapping one area and did a contact with a man who said come back another time. You tell me when and I'll be there. So I said 6 tomorrow? He says yes. I'll be there. I really need you guys right now. So then I said ...well how about 6 today? He says absolutely. So it was set. He says I'm not going to be one of those guys who tells you to come and won't be there. I really need you.

We went back at 6 to talk to him and he didn't respond when we clapped. A bit sad and thinking it was too good to be true, we walk to the door and it opens. He lets us in. He then proceeds to spill everything from his heart onto the table. It was pretty devastating to hear about how wrecked this guy's life is. Last Sunday, mother's day here, he almost killed himself. He is a drug addict. He has spent 7 years in prison. He gets `dirty money` and says he's ashamed of how he gets it so he won't tell us. (nor do I pry). His wife left him, and he feels dead alone. He was adopted, and his adoptive parents and brothers and everyone are gone. Dead or on the other end of the country. He was unemployed, had debts, and was just miserable. Then, after hearing this, we started talking. We talked about God and His infinite love for us. We talked about reasons why we suffer—I made an analogy of God and him to him and his 3 year old who was sitting on his lap, saying God wants us to do good things, but will never force us to do things, just like you and your daughter. You teach and hope she chooses right, but can never make the decision for her. He then looks at me and says `you know, crazy, I've been thinking about that for years and this is the first time that has ever made sense to me.` ( he likes calling us loco or negro. I love it.) But it was an analogy that was absolutely inspired, and it just clicked so much with him. We then kept going, talking about prayers and having a relation with God and how important that was. He talked about being too embarrassed to pray and I went right back to the analogy of his daughter. When she messes up and is hurting, do you want to talk to her and comfort her and help her get back on her feet?  Absolutely, he says. Well, do you not think God is waiting for you with open arms, just waiting for you to come back to Him? He starts crying. He says `what do I have to do to feel the peace you two feel, to be good like you two are good?` We explained the first steps are praying and telling God all the things he has just told us. We then handed him a Book of Mormon and I left him Alma 36 and said `like you, alma was in the bad. He was killing people spiritually.  He was taking away people's eternal life. How do you think he feared God? But look- he made a huge change. We can read here about the pain he felt before, like you have felt, and then we can see the huge change that passed afterwards, like you my friend will also feel. It was a special special experience sharing that chat with him, and it's been one of the few times on my mission where I feel like the spirit has absolutely guided me in every single thing I said to that man. We gave him a huge hug and set a cita to come back the next day.

Next day rolls around and I'm giggling inside with the reaction my comp is going to have to this man. My companion feels bad walking into the grocery store with his backpack on instead of leaving it in the lockers, so I was just imagining his reaction with this man. But all went well. We showed up, he opens the door and I step in and he just grabs me in the biggest hug. It was really neat. We then sit down, and he says `sabe que loco? Mi vida ha cambiado! ` (you know what, crazy, my life has changed) He begins by saying that for the first time in years, he prayed. And prayed and prayed. He read the scripture, and said `that's me! That was me! But now I know I can change too. ` He rented out a room in his house he had been trying to rent out for a while. He went to pay a big bill and they said he didn't have to pay it anymore. He didn't to a gram of cocaine that 24 hours (and actually was sweating a bit during the charla for not having done it)  He was woken up by a call offering him a job. He got another small job to paint something. He started texting his wife and having amistad between them again. And then he stops, and choked up, he says, and more than anything, I have peace. I feel tranquilo. I am not angry or sad or anything, I am just at ease. I'm not all the way to happy, but this is just incredible what I feel right now. I haven't felt this way in more than 15 years. I just looked at him stunned. I was just in awe of the changes that had passed in his life. We began to speak, and we prayed together to give thanks for this special thing that had happened. We then talked a bit about Joseph smith and explained the book of Mormon more. We then talked about the path that he's got to go get on. It was a great charla. We left him 2 ne 31 to read and to start thinking about faith, repentance, and baptism. We then set a cita for Friday.

On Friday we went back, and were greeted by another enormous hug. We sit down and chat. Again, things in his life had just gotten way better. His wife had come back and they were thinking about getting back together, and he had read and prayed and had been sharing this stuff with the guys he lives with and wife. It was great. We sat down, and, inspired again, we opened to alma 32 and read about faith. Again, I tried to apply it to him and say look- you've had a lot of things that have humbled you to the point of letting us in. Now you've opened up and allowed a seed to be planted. We read and when we got to verse 18 and 19 it was his turn to read. As he read, his face just lit up. After he was done with 19, we just paused. I looked at him, matching his smile with my own, and said `and how does it feel (as it `takes root`?)` He just looks at me and begins to just say `I can't describe it.` he starts trying, and the tears started falling out of his eyes. We finished the chapter and invited him to church, which he readily accepted.

I don't think I have ever been more humbled seeing the changes God can bring about in people. I've ever been so happy to go and just hear how a person is doing before. It's incredible the things he's told us, the changes he's felt. It's going to be a long long process to get him baptized, but I count him as one of the greatest miracles I've seen thus far on my mission. I also give thanks to the Lord for guiding us as the missionaries in every little thing to say to him, and for the changes that the spirit has brought about in him.

Cesar came to church again and loved it. He also is changing a lot. Last week we had 2 charlas with him during the mundial qualifying games for soccer. He turned off the game and readily listened. This Saturday, he skipped his soccer team's game to be with us. He is in a tough spot—we taught the law of chastity and invited him to start living it. It's going to be hard—the guy is 18, has a 2 month old, and is girlfriend lives with him sometimes. He's really mature, but young! He is ready to get baptized, he just has to resolve this aspect of his life. Saturday, we went over the baptismal interview questions and showed him he is ready that he just has to fix that part. He says oooh. I really want to get baptized and know this is true, but that's complicated! We offered to have an interview with President Fernandez the next day in church and he readily accepted. On Sunday we all stayed after and talked for about 40 minutes about his options. Sounds like they are going to go the marriage option! Wahoo! We are having a chat with him and his girlfriend and president Fernandez on Tuesday—pray for us!!!!! But Cesar is awesome. He is an absolute light for this branch and his menos activo family.

Friday we had a good teaching moment between me and my companion. We were in a lesson and the man saw a picture of Jesus with his hands on the head of one of his apostles. The guy said `can you give blessings like that? I just want a blessing to get back on track in my life` I look at my comp and say yeah... and my comp says absolutely not that he is not ready. So we say we'll come back and do it the next day. When we left, I got real stern and said elder why you are not ready to give a blessing? He replies `I will not mock God` to which I reply `elder you just did by not giving one of God's children a blessing in his time of need` he says `explain` I say `God has given you a sacred power and trust to use to bless and heal and help His children. He is looking to you to bless those in need, and when we let ourselves be fooled into thinking we aren't ready or shouldn't use that power, we mock God.´ He says oh. And then just goes quiet for a while. It was another instance of the D&C 130 scripture—I cracked real hard. But he tells me the next day that he learned a lot from that moment and that he will never again be caught not ready. Sometimes I really have my wonders and doubts on if I've been a good trainer for him or not, but as I look at moments like that, I know that I have not only been a good trainer for him on his mission, but that a lot of these things will be carried on into his life.

I did end up getting my bday box, mom! Thanks a bunch! I laughed as I opened the ties because I would not have been caught dead wearing the paisley tie you sent 1 year ago. But now—I love it!! Haha. I guess people can change. I rock a nice pink tie sometimes too. How about that? We celebrated low key—I bought myself a nice tub of ice cream, and my comp got me some candy and such.

I have a lot of respect for the families here in Junin. Our branch president went and picked up about 6 youth every morning for seminary. The man, as tired as he is of it, really does a great job of helping this place. We had 24 in church this week, but only one investigator. Anna was sick, and we had 4 others that slept in. We have a lot of lessons planned for this week to go to and visit with members—I'm really excited, and so is this branch! My comp called the president the other day and he says `you wont be with elder Jensen forever,` and `it is critical to get the members involved this week. I've been suspicious how long my days in Junin will be, and I have my guesses. But we are sure getting the members involved this week!! We're really excited.

Ps we taught 27 total lessons last week. That's a ton of lessons in a white washed area.

Oh!! And I didn't even say! Thursday, it rained 24 straight hours. Friday, we woke up to 2 inches of SNOW!!! Wahoo! It was flurrying all day long and was absolutely GORGEOUS! I haven't seen snow in a real long time.

And this b-day was a lot better than last year's adventure.
Tomorrow I complete 1 year in Argentina. Wahoo!

I love you all!

Elder Jensen

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Editor is late with the news this week!

October 19, 2009


Hey fam

Greetings from Junín (dad—not Jumin, not Jamin—Junín)  here with the Zone leaders who came down from Zapala to do divisions today and tomorrow. The elders are also up from San Martin for p-day and district meeting tomorrow. Good stuff.

This week we had 2 people come to church!!!!!!! We are really really excited. This is the first time anyone who isn't a member has come to church in more than 7 months. That's ridiculous, but that's changing now. Cesar came, and loved it, and we had another lady named Ana who came and she also liked it. I'm not sure how she felt during the meeting, but afterwards when everyone was talking to her and asking when they could come by and stuff, it was great. The members (well, we have 3 active adults) and they did an awesome job making these new people feel welcomed. It was just awesome to see because in Allen, that ward really really struggled welcoming new people.

We are excited about Cesar and his desires. We have a cita with him and President Fernandez tomorrow--- I think we may be doing law of chastity. That's going to be a tough lesson to do, but I hope it will help him settle all of his things out. I'm also going in with our zone leader, so well have some good backup.

We did a contact in the street about 3 weeks ago with an elderly couple. We then finally found their house last Monday and went in and taught. It went pretty well—he is 78 and is losing his health big time, and she is nice and can't read. We challenged them to pray and all after our lesson, and when we came back on Wednesday, she had prayed and said she felt desires to cry! Perfect! We immediately challenged her to come to church, and she accepted. We couldn't put a fecha because they have to get married too (why do I always find people who have to get married!!??) but it was good. We then went on Saturday with an hermana in our branch to have a lesson and it went great. She then came on Sunday and was received very warmly. We are seeing progress. Slowly but surely, its coming.

This week I'll turn 21. I'll get sentimental next week when I am one year older and wiser too. For now, I'm just kind of numb emotionally. I didn't get any bday stuff today because the elders from san martin didn't bring up the bolsa that our stuff comes in.

Still hangin in there. We are going to get this area baptizing. Thanks for all your love and support

Signing off on year number 20,
Taylor Jensen

Friday, October 16, 2009

The news from down south

Editor's note:
The editor has been traveling this week and didn't get Elder Jensen's letter forwarded in a timely manner.  Sorry about that!  He uses several terms and Spanish words that may not be understood by his faithful readers.  Here is a little glossary:
menos activo---a member of the Church but not attending regularly
cita---an appointment to teach a lesson 
rama--local branch of the Church
divisions---when 2 missionary campanions switch and serve for a day with 2 other missionaries
whitewashing---all missionaries in an area are transferred to a new location and replaced with new missionaries which means there is no continuity
fecha--commitment to set a date to be baptized
Hope this is helpful!

October 12.2009


Hey family!

This week was a good one. We had a miracle happen on Friday. We are really fighting to get good investigators and people who are ready to progress and go now. On Friday morning, we were trying to find old contacts, but no one was home. We kind of started wandering around, not knowing where we were going. I then saw the house of a menos activo we had contacted 2 weeks before. I decided, half out of desperation, to go contact it. An 18 year old boy named Cesar opens up and cordially lets us in. We talked with him (who isn't a member) and his dad (who has been inactive for 15 years) about the church. It was short, but good. We set up a cita for the following night. Saturday, we went by with our Branch President. We had 2 citas and the first one no showed us and our branch president was blaming it on the Argentina-Peru soccer game that was playing. He kept telling us "They aren't going to be home. Just go set a cita for Sunday." We drove over to their home, and I jumped out of the car praying with all my heart they'd let us in for 2 reasons: 1- we were with the branch president and it would be a great member present lesson, and 2- to get the branch president to get a positive outlook on what was going on here. Well, the door opened, they turned off the TV, and we chatted for 45 minutes. The spirit made me bold and I challenged the dad to get active so he can baptize his son. They both readily accepted. It was a very sweet moment, and our branch president is excited that we have a few people on the point of baptism now. It's been tough, but there has been a great change in the attitude these past 3 weeks. I know things will keep changing and that this rama will get turned around.

We did divisions for the 1st time with the San Martin elders on Tuesday and it went well. I was with a porteño (elder from Buenos Aires) and it was GREAT!! Haha. It was a great break to be with him and not have to shoulder everything. He was a good elder with a strong testimony. We were able to get in a few houses and teach, and one of the lessons we taught was really powerful. We are doing divisions again with them on Tuesday.

We are doing a ton of contacting and entering in a ton of houses and teaching a good amount. It's just hard because we enter, enter, enter and then never are able to find the people again. It's kind of frustrating and results in us walking a lot.

We had 13 in church this week. We had 3 people come who didn't my first week, so that's good. There are just a lot of people here who are toeing the line of being active and menos activo. It's tough because I feel like a lot of our calling is to help this branch and support the worn out branch president. Luckily, this past week we've pumped some new energy into him by having 2 people who are progressing and coming to church next week. I think that as we continue to do that and get energy in him, we can really change the attitude of this place and get it more positive.

I literally have never been more tired in my life. We walk an awful lot here, and walk and walk. Then add on the stress of whitewashing and having a comp that does not speak well at all and I'm exhausted. I woke up this morning and felt like I hadn't even gone to bed. Thank goodness for p-day. I feel bad-- we are in such a beautiful place and all I want to do is go get in my sleeping bag.

I got 2 awesome letters this week from Hermana Marquez and Tamara. It gave me a lot of animo because things are going well back there. Karen and Gonzalo are singing in a stake choir (haha. I never saw that happening). Gonzalo is going early to church to prepare the sacrament. Octavio hasn't gone because he still gets little ´attacks´ of missing his elders, where he remembers and it really hurts him still. But Tamara is hanging in there and doing great and really helping them stay strong. She's incredible. I'm still grateful to this day for the opportunity I had to find them, to bring them together, and that they are so great.

I don't really have much to say this week. Sorry! Hopefully things will pick up a bit more and we'll have more people here to talk about. I know God is aware of us and our needs. He trusts us in this work and will lead us to the people that are prepared. We need to be obedient, prepare ourselves through studying, and work our absolute hardest, and we will become tools in the master's hands. This is the greatest work because God is in charge. Now we just have to go out and do it!

Taylor Jensen

Monday, October 5, 2009


Hey all

It's been a big ol weekend down here! We had a zone conference up in Zapala on Friday, then General Conference on Saturday and Sunday. I was able to listen to the 4 general sessions---the Elders down in San Martin (Elder Gibson and Suarez) had the members record it on a VHS so we're going to watch it tomorrow in district meeting. I'm really excited!

I am very grateful for the technology that allows us to watch and listen to these sessions. Saturday my companion and I were here in the cyber listening to the conference, and Sunday we were in the home of a member listening in Spanish. It was a very good conference, and I CANNOT WAIT to get the Liahona that has all the stuff—mom can you send one to me ASAP? The mission has a little bit of a delay getting that stuff then sending it out. I loved Elder Holland's talk—I couldn't see him, but I almost started laughing imagining him up there yelling! He gets so into it. He was the only one that we could hear his voice behind the translators, and I know that he was up there with a ton of energy. Unfortunately, the Spanish translators are a bit monotone, so you lose a little bit of that energy and emotion they put in.

I especially enjoyed Elder Scott's talk. He is great. I'm just excited to download the audio files onto my pen drive so we can listen to them in the apartment. (ooh yeah! I just got on and the audio files are already up!! Yay :)

Speaking of our apartment, I think I've gone from the worst in the mission to the best. Our new place is awesome!!! 2 floors, 2 bedrooms upstairs, the living area downstairs and the kitchen and bathroom. It's got a bathroom door, shower curtain, toilet seat, and everything a missionary could ask for. It's great. And we woke up this morning to snow flurries outside! What a blessing!! I made myself hot chocolate to celebrate.

This week was interesting. This whole whitewashing thing is real hard. We did 200 contacts, taught 14, and found 15 new investigators. We put another fecha for the 24th, but that one and the one with Claudia fell because neither came to Conference (they have to have at least 3 times in church before getting baptized.) I'm going to drop it on them both pretty hard today and tomorrow—they both were set to come and everything and then ditched for real weak excuses. I don't get ´duro´ often, but today and tomorrow, I'm going to with them.

I am continually amazed at the miracles I see here in Junin. (still don't know what Junin means...) On Thursday, I was kinda out of it and didn't really have too much of a desire to do anything. We set out, knocking, finding, looking for anyone who would have the slightest desire. We were knocking close to the house and were going to go back for lunch at 1230. it was 1207 as we rounded this corner, and I, in almost pain, was saying in my mind, let's just go back to the house and eat. But...something in me stirred. I kept quiet and just kept going. 2 houses later, we knocked. A girl popped her head out the door, and she had about 4 piercings in her face. I let my companion do the contact. He did one of his 4 contacts—the plan of salvation one. And then she said something—come in! We did. We found her and her husband and their 2 daughters. We taught. Something clicked within me because I taught with the spirit. At the end of the ´our life one earth part,´ I asked her how she felt about that. She said incredible. Peaceful. She had gone to other churches before and they all told her she was already damned because she smoked and that there was nothing she could do to change that. What a message of hope we gave her that morning! She had become so disillusioned towards God and the churches of the world because of that. Now, she has hope. I looked her in the eyes and said ´there is not one single thing you can do, (other than denying the holy ghost) that you can not be washed clean from.´ It clicked. We're going back at 6 tonight to explain Joseph Smith and the restoration. I'm excited. We're also going over on Wednesday morning to paint their house with the san martin elders.

The other fecha we put was a similar story. We were contacting and I saw him washing his shoes in a bucket out front. As soon as I saw him I knew we were getting in. We did. (I forget if I've already told this story). So then we teach and he's had the missionaries before 4 years ago, 2 years ago, and 2 months ago. We taught, and put a fecha. He's a good good guy who just got separated 2 weeks ago. We're really hopeful that he'll be able to progress.

It was funny being at zone conference. I overheard our zone leaders and assistants talking and saying ´Junin hasn't had a fecha in 7 months. Now elder Jensen comes in and puts 2 in a week. Are you kidding me?´ It gives me hope that what I'm doing here is good. I felt really crummy yesterday when both fechas dropped because neither came to church. But I hope I'm doing something good here. I hope I'm helping someone be happier. I hope I'm making a difference in someone's life. My companion told me yesterday of all the change I've made in his life, so that made me feel a bit better.

Zone conference was great. It talked about 3 of my 4 burning questions—how to work better with the ward and church leaders, comp unity, and starting the lessons better with good questions. I'm amazed at the conference's ability to answer all of my questions and doubts. I am also grateful for the inspired leaders we have who come to help those in need like me.

I'm looking forward optimistically to the next week. I hit a rough stretch of apathy this weekend. Whenever people ask me what my worst fear is, I normally say apathy. I hit it real hard this weekend, which is unfortunate because I missed a bit of the spirituality of conference. But thats why I'm downloading some of the talks now! To make up for it.

Junin is pretty resorty. There are a good chunk of people who speak a bit of English here. There is a lot of fishing here. The district is struggling a bit. There is a myth that these are tough areas with rich people who are never home and don't want to listen. I'm trying to break that...we're doing divisions tomorrow, so that'll be good to work with one of the two and try to raise the vision a bit. It will also be good
Jfor my sanity to work with one of them

Thanks for everything fam. We will thus conclude this letter and have a recess for 1 week.

Elder Jensen

Monday, September 28, 2009

News from a new location in Argentina

Hey fam-

Greetings from Junín de los Andes! The place is pretty beautiful...I feel at home amongst the mountains and such. It's nice to be here. I've gotten a better-looking area with each transfer! Wahoo!

The last few days in Allen were heart-wrenching! It was SO hard to leave that place. We had a constant stream of teary goodbyes and hugs. It was really hard to leave all my converts and members there. I have had a ton of good memories there, and I was sure to take a ton of pictures with everyone. I also carried around my ´memories book´ for everyone to sign. My favorite entry is from Leo, the Marquez's cat, who taped a picture of himself in and wrote ´now I don't have to hide myself when Elder Jensen comes over´ haha. I liked pulling his tail or doing mean things like that.

On Monday night, we went and had 2 citas with our investigators and the hermanas so they could meet them and such. They went well, and I am confident the hermanas will be fine with those two. One of them got baptized yesterday. I wish I could have been there so bad!! We then went to the Etchegoray´s house (Christian) and they were really sad we were leaving. We have made a real big impact on them, and especially on their menos activo parents. It rips me apart because there are going to be 3 more baptisms out of that house this transfer! I just hope they send me the pictures... those lucky hermanas picked up an incredible area.

On Tuesday, we went and met two of our other fechas with the hermanas, and one of them I am certain is going to fall with them, but the other won't. We then went and cleaned up the house and our mission finance guy came down to pick up some of the furniture. That was fun... I just love cleaning an apartment where missionaries have lived for 4 years! (note sarcasm). We then went over and had a goodbye lunch with Luis and the hermanas. It was really good—he is talking to his ´wife´and it looks like they'll be getting married before the end of the year. I sure hope so! The guy has read the book of Mormon twice in the past 2.5 months!! It was a teary goodbye with him. He's a guy who has a HUGE testimony of the church. I just hope he gets married and baptized soon! We then went over with the hermanas to Edgardo and his family. We helped lay bricks for a bit with them, then had the goodbye chat. Again, the onions were attacking me as I bore my testimony and read some scriptures that applied to them, like 2 Nephi 31: 19-21, and some stuff in Alma 26. It was really emotional, and they all teared up too, which is funny, because Edgardo is a big tough guy with tats and everything. But I know that I have made a big difference in that home. There are a couple of his brothers that are investigating, and they had tears in their eyes too. Hopefully baptisms will follow. I know that Luis and Edgardo had special relationships with me and I hope neither fall because it's a lot different the relationship they'll have with hermanas. Hermanas just aren't as fun as us! Haha. They also can't climb up the side of a house to lay bricks.

We then went out and said goodbye to the Oñate family, who is so good to the missionaries. They gave us one last big loaf of bread. Yum. Then we trekked on over to see another member family, then Victor Panero, the kid who is my bud here who baptized his mom a while ago, and then we went over to Octavio Moreno's house (our ward mission leader) and had a good farewell there. He was basically my dad there in Allen. He's a good guy. Then we went over to the Marquez home. And then the floodgates opened up. I haven't cried that long in a long long time. It was a really special spirit we felt as we all went around bearing testimony and saying things we've learned one from another. It was filled with tears and fun stories we had. Leo the cat even came and sat on my lap. It was especially hard on the kids- Octavio and Gonzalo. I have really been a father figure to them these past 5 months. Gonzalo signed all his stuff in my book ´your kid rapper in Allen´ Tamara and Christian were also there, and it was just a good positive experience. We are just a big ole family now! It was fun. We took some family pictures and everything. I videoed a lot of it so I could remember all their testimonies and good things and such. It was a tough tough goodbye.

We then came back to the apartment, finished cleaning and packing and such, and Wednesday morning we rolled out, closing that chapter of Jensalonians. I was just excited to get on the bus and sleep!  I had slept about 4 or 5 hours every night for the past 4 nights!

We took a long bus ride over to Junín de los Andes and got here at about 7. Our Branch President was no where to be seen, so we found a phone and called the zone leaders and then they sent him. He's a goofy guy who is here with his family of 7. He drove us over to our apartment; we dropped our stuff and went out to work! Later that night, we leafed through the area book to find....nothing. The place is empty. So, we are starting from scratch. In 3 days, we did 241 contacts. WOW. We found a couple of decent people. We had one really neat experience—

It was cold and snowing. It was 8 at night, and we were looking for a menos activo and it had a house number. We got there and couldn't find the house number. We knocked where I thought it should be and it turns out to be the house but the family doesn't live there. The lady, however, had been listening to the missionaries a year ago and invited us in. We taught lesson one a bit and it went well. Looking at the clock, knowing it was snowing, and wanting to change the area, I felt something special. I whipped out Mosiah 14 where it talks about baptism. We read that, talked about baptism, and put a fecha right there with this lady! Hey-oh! Day 2 whitewashing an area and we put a fecha! That's the way I like to start this place.

We have spent a long long time knocking and finding, and we've knocked literally ¼ of the city in 4 days. Hehe. We did 241 contacts, and taught 14 lessons. Not too shabby for a half week of whitewashing! But it's really an uphill struggle. Our branch pres doesn't have much hope or energy for the work, in church on Sunday (in a small rented house) we had 18 people—us, a high counselor, the Branch President's family of 7, their grandma, and their 7 cousins who were visiting from Chile. Normally, we have 24 they say, but it is bleak. I am 1st counselor in the branch presidency, and also there are only 3 men in the ward—me, my comp, and the branch pres. It's a battle! And to be honest, my patience wore real real thin this weekend. My comp has a lot of struggles still and I lost my patience with it. He just really struggles being a missionary and getting what that means, and I have been real real patient. But I lost that this week. I think it's because I feel like I have been dead alone this past month doing the work, and white washing is something I cannot do alone. I need his help, and so now I am pushing him really hard. Its putting us both at our limits, and sometimes it boils over a bit. I have really really loved training. I honestly love it. But right now, it is a big burden.

We have 4 in our district. The other two are in gorgeous san martin, an hour away. They haven't baptized here or in san martin in a while, so I guess I'm here to help turn that around. We set a lofty baptism goal and are hoping to achieve it. I told them in district meeting ´we are in the most beautiful part of the mission, after meeting you two I know we're the best looking missionaries in the mission, so now its time to put up the best looking numbers in the mission.¨ I'm an artist when it comes to motivational speeches

Church was real good this Sunday. The high counselor gave a talk about pulling out our stumbling blocks, and then in priesthood, he taught about the adversity talk by Pres. Eyring. It was EXACTLY what I needed, and we talked exactly about the problems we were having. It was perfect. I know the spirit helps us, and that church helps us get over our problems. It was perfect.

This place is dead on Jackson Hole Wyoming. Stores and everything. I just hope that we can find the people I know I am here to baptize, and at the same time jump start this sagging branch.

The running back with a line man on his foot crossed the line of scrimmage, but unfortunately it started snowing and the conditions got worse. But, he sees the end zone...

Why do I use football analogies? I'm a soccer player at heart.



PS ´welp` is my form of saying well. Welp, everything is going well. Welp, I'm in Junín now. That sense of the word. 

Monday, September 21, 2009

boom outta here

September 21, 2009

September 21, 2009


´m outta here!

Welp, its time to head ´em up and roll ´em out. Elder Jensen is out.

We'll start from the beginning of this week. We had a baptism lined up for Saturday, so we were going standard from the beginning. We started out having 3 member present lessons on Monday. That was incredible—its HARD to teach 3 lessons Monday because you only have 3 hours working. But, things were falling in place as they always do standard week. That was just a sign of the great week.

Tuesday we had a crazy morning. At 7:40, Gonzalo came over looking for breakfast (he's addicted to the German pancakes I make), so if threw one in the oven. Then, at 7:57, the Assistants called me to tell us that they and President were coming to our district meeting that day. Oh no! Got to make it good! At 8:07 hno. Oñate came to visit us on his way to work and we talked for about 5 minutes about home teaching or something. Oh no—it was a talk he was supposed to give on Sunday that he wanted help with. He left and I started planning our District Meeting again. Gonzalo ate with us and then stayed and did personal study with us till 9 when he left to go to seminary. Good man. At 8:40 the assistants called again to tell us that they had a problem and weren't coming. Blast. 8:46 Gladys (another member of the ward) comes over to drop off a letter to send to another missionary). At 9:17 the assistants called to say they were coming. We then missed the bus and the hermanas did too, so we had the assistants pick us up on their way over to Roca. It was quite the morning. But we had a GREAT district meeting. I think they came because our district had an average of 175 contacts that past week. WOW. That is INCREDIBLE, and president was really proud of our district.

I did divisions down in Roca that day and we taught 4 more w- member and a pair of others. I has having my comp practice navigating our area for the doubt that I was leaving. He did alright.

We had a normal standard week and all, and we just have such an awesome area. We ended the week with 15 with member. That's my highest total ever. We also ended with 15 other lessons—totaling 30 on the week. It was an incredible week. I am so happy here. The whole week I was with anguish trying to figure out if I was out or no. It was killing me—I don't want to leave at all. I have way too many investigators here! Way too many awesome converts!

We had a great comp study on Friday morning. I basically gave my comp a sermon. It was really good, and I felt the spirit really strongly guiding me and saying things I needed to say to him. It was a really powerful chat, and it helped my comp a lot. He has what I had the first week of my mission X1000. It kills him everyday and is a huge fight to keep the adversary from putting thoughts into his mind and telling him he's not worthy and stuff like that. I gave him a strong chat from all the things that have helped me—letter from dad, a huge chain of scriptures, a few things from PME. It was great. I just started rolling; he took out a paper and just started writing. It was probably the closest thing I'm ever going to have to my own book in the bible—1st Jensalonians. It was a really powerful spiritual experience, and helped me understand a bit of why I am training him.

Baptism day rolls around and we go have an interview for our baptism for next Saturday the 26th. He passed, and we're excited for his baptism. We started filling the font and it was going great. We then went back to the church an hour before the baptism and they had cut the water in that part of Allen (it happens all the time…they cut it once a week ish) and we were stuck. Christian would have had to lay down and have my comp sitting on him to get him all the way under. It was a mess. We decided something must be done. We ran over to the fire station a block away and hired a truck to come fill our font with water. It was great… the truck pulled up right to the door of the church and put the hose in and let loose. The only problem—the water was not very clean! We had greenish brownish water to baptize in!! It was the closest I'm ever coming to a river baptism, I guess. But after fixing that whole problem, we settled in and had a very nice baptism. It was a very very tender moment for me and my companion. He has been so nervous and so worried if he should be here or is worthy or what not and has just been going crazy (he goes into frenzies sometimes). I saw he was getting anxious and pulled him aside before the baptism, gave him a hug, put our heads touching and gave him a pep chat. It was very tender thing, and I really felt the spirit, and I think I have finally found out why I am his trainer. I literally have taken him under my arm and led him, and its something that I wont forget. It's something that hasn't been easy, but I know that I have had a lasting effect on him and his mission and the way he views himself.

I stood on the stairs to watch the baptism. He said the prayer SLOWLY, and deliberately. It was great. Such determination to baptize our buddy. He nailed it. It was perfect, and I just felt the spirit so strong. I haven't been that happy in a long time. This baptism was really special; just because of all the struggles my comp has been through. After the baptism ended, I cornered my comp and gave him a huge hug. It lasted probably 2 or 3 minutes. It was something really special. I know that I feel cheesy saying it, but I really feel proud of him like a dad feels proud of his son when his son overcomes something or does something special. It's something that I'm not going to forget—the joy I saw on his face knowing he had just done something and overcome the challenges that are in his life.

The rest of the night was spent making sure that all of our people were coming to church and being nervous about the transfer calls. I had been thinking the whole day I was leaving, then staying, then leaving then staying. It was a mess. But---HERES THE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: I¨M OUT! to JUNIN DE LOS ANDES!!!!!! The craziest part of it all—my comp is coming with me! We're whitewashing the area, and they are closing our area. Now the hermanas have all of Allen. I was devastated. We have a lot of missionaries that are leaving and very few coming, so they had to take missionaries out of areas where there are more than one set in a ward. I thought they were going to bump the hermanas because we had all these fechas and baptisms, but nope. We called up president for his thoughts and he said Junín has struggled and so has san martin de los Andes. Now they're white washing it to get it back up and for me to be District Leader and get San martin working better too. He said it's going to be a big challenge over there, but after coming to District meeting, he has no doubts. Welp, I'll go and do what the Lord commands. We were pretty stunned, and began trying to figure it all out. I then looked up on the wall where my comp had written ´trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not upon thine own understanding (proverbs 3:5) ´ well, I don't understand it at all, but we'll go to work. We were supposed to leave today at 9 in the morning, but we called and got it changed to Wednesday so we can clean our house up and pack and introduce the hermanas to all our investigators. Its a BIG load what they have now, and I just hope that our investigators can make the switch. The members were devastated. They always tell us they love the hermanas, but they like our spirits and smiles and energy. I just hope that our fechas can keep going and get baptized, and we don't lose anyone in the switch. We'll pray for the best.

Church was interesting. I had to give a talk for said Oñate, who went to see the missionary who baptized him (who is going home now), so I had the talk. It was charity and amor. I was sitting in sacrament meeting and turned around and saw hermana. Marquez and Tamara and I started getting choked up. Then it was my turn to talk. I made the announcement we were leaving and everyone was like ´what!?´ I then told them I love onions, and eat them a lot and so if they see tears, it's because of that and not because I'm sad I'm leaving. I read my first scripture in Moroni 7 and started choking up. Then I went to ether 12 and was reading another one and the tears started. I just then shut my scriptures and went into my goodbye speech, giving my testimony, testifying of Gods love for us, and just sharing the things that mean the most to me. I talked about the love I've seen and felt in the ward. The whole time my eyes are just running. At one point I took a pause to kinda gather my self and just said ´darn onions´ haha. It was an emotional day—a lot of the hermanas in the church were crying, then Christian and his brother were real real sad and crying in the bathroom and so was Victor Panero. We've made a big impact in this ward. I know that I was supposed to come here, and I walk away with an incredible amount of memories and really sacred spiritual experiences that I haven't shared in emails. It is really hard for me to leave here, and I pray that my boys stay active. I've heard a lot of my Trelew boys have fallen already. I just pray that I've put enough of a support system in here to keep these people active. This has been a really great place for me and has pushed me hard. Now it's time to pack up and roll out. I look forward to the challenges that lay in front of me, and I leave here knowing that these people have strong testimonies and are going to keep growing strong. I love this place and all the things its done for me. I leave behind a ton of great friends that I'll connect with again on facebook. I know that I'm not done eating onions, but I hope I can make it out of here without crying too much.

PS.   The box made it on time and had the perfect amount of shirts and ties to give to my people. THANKS SO MUCH IT MAKES SUCH A DIFFERENCE!!! The people here need that kind of stuff.

I love you all so much

Monday, September 14, 2009

Elder Jensen the poet

(Editor's note:  before reading Elder Jensen's attempt at poetry you need to know that the city where he is serving (Allen) is pronounced Ashen)

September 14, 2009


Greetings from a Cyber on the other side of the world, where Tamara and Karen just walked in. They both say hey. Karen is studying to be a hair cutter and is cutting me and my comps hair in a bit… what fun!  A real haircut!

I've realized I start every email the same ´this week was good, this week was great, this week was interesting, etc.´ I decided I need to start my email in a different way. How about a poem?

Allen, oh Allen
I'm always dashin´
From cita to cita

This week I've been rashin´
With a sick stomach
From eating your food

Allen oh Allen
My time is slowly passin´
As transfers come this week

Allen oh Allen

That was pretty good, huh? We did a lot of good things this week. Christian passed his interview and is set to be baptized this next Saturday. His brother has a bit more time, but he'll get baptized next transfer for sure. Christian is really excited. His family, most of whom are members, are showing signs of coming back to church as well… we have a noche de hogar with them tonight, so I'm excited to give a big pep talk and try and get them to come back!

We've got ourselves set up to hit the standard this next week.  We already have 3 fechas for the first 3 weeks of the transfer. I'm really excited. We have another kid who we are going to put on with on Thursday when he gets back from an ear surgery in Buenos Aires (he was born without an ear and is getting a fake one put on…its pretty legit looking!) Having 3 solid fechas (and one more coming) makes me REALLY REALLY want to stay here. We get the transfer call on Saturday. It honestly feels unreal that there are transfers already. It also feels unreal that I'm still in Allen. It also feels unreal that I could be leaving Allen. It's a weird mixture of feelings. We'll see what happens. I don't feel like my comp is ready for me to leave… I think I'm going to have one more here. I am afraid that if I leave the area will fall big time because he is still struggling to learn the stuff. But, we'll see what the Lord has in store for me. I'll go where He wants me to go, do what He wants me to do, even if it means going to open another area and train…haha. That's the joke in our district right now that I'm going to go and whitewash an area and train. I think I'd just laugh. I've realized I have not had a normal comp study or anything yet because I'm always training and always working with new missionaries studying and practicing teaching. It's going to be weird when I have a ´normal´ comp. But we'll see. I am scared of leaving; I'm also scared of staying. I feel like I'm in a trance where I've been here all my life. Our investigators and menos activos and members keep saying ´you're still here?!´ haha. I love it though.

This week was a bit tough on the ward. We found out Tamara is struggling a bit. She knows its true, but is just in a bad funk where she doesn't want to do anything. She did come to church yesterday though, and she is still the same old jolly person. She's just got a lot on her plate with her fam and her illness, and its wearing on her a lot. Were hoping she'll be able to pull through. I think she will.

We also had a problem with a couple in our ward who is a prominent couple who was going to go and get sealed and didn't because they ran into problems. We are very concerned about them, because they are the powerhouse couple in the ward and we really are praying hard that they'll resolve all of their problems. Everyone thought they'd get sealed and he'd be called as bishop. But, for now, we're hoping they can stay together and keep strong in the gospel. We also have about 5 other members who said missionaries can you pass by? I need help.  We went to lunch out in the country and when we arrived the whole family was crying because they are having problems with the neighbors and the neighbor came over and punched the daughter then punched out the back window of her new car that she's been working years to get. I feel like I have a lot on my shoulders right now. I think I feel that way a lot more here than in Trelew because we don't have a bishop that lives here to help the people out, so they really turn to the missionaries for help. I really hope that our ward can make it through. Literally I don't know a member or recent convert who isn't in the fight right now… everyone has something bad going on and it really brings anguish to me because I have worked real hard here trying to unite the ward, and I thought we had it 2 weeks ago. Sigh. We'll keep working with them.

The one bright spot in the ward right now is Hno. Millanao. He was inactive when I got here and has since been reactivated. He's a guy I've spent some time with because he was sealed in the temple and Is a great guy. He started coming a month and a half ago and now yesterday got called as young men's president. I raised my hand real real high to sustain him! Haha. But he his going to be the leader my boys desperately need in the church to help them keep going. I am so happy… last week I thought all my converts were going to go inactive because our ward doesn't have leadership and doesn't take care of them, but now I know my boys will be taken care of. Now I just have to work on the others…

That's fun that Allison and Karen came over! Oh summer times in cincy. I didn't tell you guys I walked into a house a couple weeks ago and saw the tennis tourney in cinci and I had to look at it a sec to see if I could see you all, but no luck. That would have been real weird.

I love you all… have a great week!! We'll see where elder Jensen's journey will continue this Saturday!

Elder Jensen

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The news from way down south!

September 7, 2009


Hey fam.

It's been a good week, although I didn't really notice till we did numbers last night. We taught 19 other lessons and 8 with a member. We put 2 more fechas, and got 8 into church. I think that's one of my all-time highs. It was a GREAT week, but it felt like a bit of a drag at times. Still adjusting to the new life, the new trials, and the new challenges. It's been a big struggle these past few days—I've been so good this transfer being patient and all, but these past 3 days I wore thin. I think at some point you have to draw a line between being patient in the adjustment time and being hard to avoid having bad habits. This is a tough tough experience for me, but I am grateful that I have trials. Sometimes I wish I didn't, but if I never had anything wrong, I'd never learn anything. This one is just a long termed trial...

We had a fun day Tuesday. We did divisions with the elders in Roca and it was REALLY good. Turns out me and this elder, Elder Skousen, are almost identical. Both played soccer, both like Guster and a couple other groups, both have the same sense of humor and attitude towards missionary work, and the same birthday (I'm a year older). It was a great great day. But more than anything, it gave me a little breath of fresh air and really really helped me get back on my game. We have 2 fechas for the 19th with Christian and Alex Etchegoray. Christian is really excited, Alex is so so but both have come to church the past 3 or 4 weeks, so we'll see what we can do there. I think they both can get baptized. They are good friends with Gonzalo now, so I'm trying to plant the idea of Gonzalo baptizing Alex (Christian said Elder Henrie is going to baptize him so he feels better and smiles). But we are excited about them.

This past week, our district had an average of 154 contacts. I have been preaching this for a while and finally as a district we got it. I am excited to see what happens as a result of doing this. In my personal experience, I teach a ton more and have a ton more fechas than people who don't do their 154, so I'm excited to see what good things happen in the district this week.

We put a fecha with Marcos, the guy we found in an incredible way, this week. He was excited. He's just like Elder Henrie—it cracks me up. But he keeps saying he wants to integrate himself into the church. We told him how to do it! He already has all these sketches on his computer of the church because he worked on a project in the church and has all the architectural blueprints. It was kinda cool.

I enjoyed Sunday. I think I have the ´my boys part Allen´ now. We had 11 youth there—8 of which I've had a direct part in reactivating or bringing. It was fun seeing them be friends and giving each other support in the way Bryan, Ivan and Matias did back in Trelew. These ones are a bit older, but they are a good group of guys. We're trying to get them as solid as they can because this ward just does not do a good job in retention and taking care of them as they should. I talked to our ward mission leader and ward leader a little strongly to get them on the ball protecting these converts. It just breaks my heart thinking that they could stop going. Last year, this ward baptized 24. of them, one family of 5 is active and one other person. I just can't stand the thought of any of my converts falling into that number of inactives, so I am working my tail off making sure that these people get callings and stick in the church.

I'm glad you're talking to a Carlos. He's a great guy. I also laugh every time I read his emails because he often ends his thoughts or comments with Amen. It cracks me up. He's a great guy.

Way to go BYU! That's really exciting! Keep me posted!

We walked a ton this week. I am so exhausted. But I decided this week that I was going to pop up out of bed and exercise si o si every day. And I started doing it. It was kinda cool what happened—I had more energy, not less! And it made me feel like I was being a better missionary. I realized I got a little lazy, and I made some really specific goals to get myself back on the ball. It's really helped. It got real cold again, and me and my comp were pretty sick Thursday-Friday-Saturday, but now we are doing better. We're going to go play some soccer down in Roca.

Thanks for everything family. We're crossing the line of scrimmage, not three legged racing yet.


Monday, August 31, 2009

The news from Argentina

August 31, 2009


Hey family

Life is a bit better. It's like going from overcast storm clouds to no rain and you think you can see the sun. But, the threat of rain is still there. I'm hangin in here. We got more work done this week, and we did manage to get out of the house on time 2 days! But, there is still more climbing to do. (I just remembered I LOVE climbing, so I guess that means I should look forward to what I still have left to do, huh?)

This week was interesting. We haven't had any fechas in a while. We had 4 when Elder Taylor left, but they all fell for one reason or another. But the 4 still will get baptized—we just ran into some problems we didn't see before. So we've been about 2.5 weeks without fechas—way too long for me. This week, I had a good chat with the zone leaders to give me some motivation. They told me that I just had to go do what I've been doing my whole mission and not let the new circumstance take me off my game. I agreed. They said ´Elder. You go put three fechas this week¨ My mouth said okay I'll do it, but my brain was telling me otherwise. We started working. We had some good things happen and some really bad things happen. But we ended the week with 2 fechas! One for the 26th (next transfer) and one for the 19th (last week of this transfer). I was REALLY excited. I have this determination (this is something the zone leaders reminded me of) to do 154 contacts every week and to baptized at least once per transfer. Up till now, I've done it. And now, I am really excited because its going to continue!!! For the 19th is Christian Etchegoray, the son of a menos activo family. His older sister got baptized 2 weeks ago, and he and his brother Alex (look for his fecha soon) have started to come as well. We had our first discussion with him yesterday after church, and it went perfect. To the point of Joseph's first prayer playing in the background just as we were doing the first vision! (we were in the church teaching and the ward secretary, who couldn't even hear us, decided he wanted music. Hmmm.) He readily accepted the fecha, saying ´I want to be a member of the true church of Christ!´ he went straight home and told his family, who were really excited for him.

We had a cool experience on Wednesday. We have some apartments in our area and we had an appointment in one of them at 4. He wasn't there. One thing my comp always says is that we have to contact or knock the first door we see when we get no showed, and that came to my mind as we went down the stairs (half as a skeptical idea that I'd been annoyed of hearing, but you'll see in a sec it wasn't). We knock the door and it's a guy named Marcos. He let us in, and told us we had contacted him last week and given him a brochure about the plan of salvation. He had read the whole thing and loved it. We taught about the restoration and invited him to church, and he readily accepted. Unfortunately, he slept in. But we'll get him this Sunday. God always puts people in our paths, and we have to accept it. It was funny because he kinda kicked us out even as we wanted to end with a prayer, but he said he really had to go. Just as we walk out, our appointment that lives on the floor above was walking by the door, and we went and taught him. Maybe it wasn't a coincidence that we got the boot without a prayer? We wouldn't have gone back up to check if he was home...

We had 6 people in church this week, so that was exciting. We have another girl that we just started teaching whose family is a member and she just never has been taught and baptized. She gave a talk yesterday in church, so I don't think she's missing much to get baptized. We also got a reference from an hermana in our ward that her grandson never got baptized and she wants us to go and teach and baptize him. We'll see what happens! The area is livening up! Yay!

My companion still struggles a LOT with the language. He doesn't focus because his mind is literally always running. We get back to the house and he goes to write down all the electronic designs he's thought of during the day. But I think he's starting to realize he has to focus and learn because he blew up yesterday during lunch. He got in such a frenzy. I just hope that these experiences when he gets worked up serve to get his desires to learn up instead of breaking his fragile self esteem. I've been working hard to figure out what it is I'm supposed to teach him and how I'm supposed to help him through this.  We'll see what the coming weeks have in store.

We had a good experience on Sunday. Gonzalo got the priesthood and was not excited to pass the sacrament. He was really shy about it and I had to drag him into sacrament meeting. But when it came time to do the sacrament, he looked over at me and gave me this look like. ´well, Elder Jensen, are we going to go pass it or no? ´ So we did. It's a fun experience when you get to do things like that with your converts.

What did Carlos say in his letter??? He's such a good guy. I miss him! Tamara went down to Beltran where her mom lives and is trying to figure out where she is going to live. She has some medical issues and is going to have surgery down there this week, so we're keeping her in our prayers. She is in a tough spot. The members here need her dearly—there are 2 families that Tamara has helped a lot staying active and being more faithful, and in the past 2 weeks they've fallen a bit, but at the same time, her mom has started progressing little by little in the gospel, and she would have a place to live down there. It's a tough decision, but she knows how to pray and get answers, so I told her just to do that. She told me something cool too—she said you know Elder Jensen, I've heard a lot of bad stories about missionaries and what they do. I know that you're not perfect, but I want you to know you're an incredible missionary. It's not that plaque wearing that makes you who you are, it is what's behind it (the heart) that makes you who you are.´ it was funny. There we were talking about what she can do to overcome all of her challenges, giving her a pep talk and all, and then she turns it right back on me and starts trying to help me get over my challenges. In my mind I was like ´wait a minute. I'm the missionary here! ´ haha.

Another plaque story—hermana Marquez (mom of Gonzalo, Karen, and Octavio) told me ´you know elder, that day you took off your plaque to talk to Gonzalo, I noticed something. Nothing changed. You are the same person with or without that plaque.´ Those two comments gave me a little bit of the boost I needed to keep pushing through.

I hope that the sun pops out soon (its been so warm here—that was definitely a tender mercy of the Lord to help me be happier! One day when we left, I literally smiled for the first 23 minutes because of how nice of a day it was).

Elder Taylor Jensen