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

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Year mark!! whoop whoop

August 18, 2009

Well, this is it. The Year Mark Email. Wow. I´m officially old in the mission.

This past week was probably the hardest in my mission life. I was sick sick this week, and was with Gonzalo during the day and a member at night until Gonzalo got home from school. It was a really tough schedule and it just killed me. It was hard working because my poor companion had 2 weeks as a member and is 16 years old, so when we did contacts, he was so embarrassed that he would just keep walking or he'd turn and pretend he wasn't with me. Teaching lessons, he didn't really want to contribute more than 2 or 3 sentences. I can't fault him—he's got 2 weeks as a member and 16 years of life. But trying to do what I do was a lot harder this week. I ended up doing literally 154 contacts by my self. It was a big struggle. It made me really want to have my new missionary. Tamara did GREAT this week. She literally wants to turn in her papers now. She is going to serve a mission no matter what. I was talking to her the other day and she says ´you know, I've been kicked out of my house, my sister doesn't talk to me, my mom doesn't like it that I'm a member, but imp in the right path and that's all that matters.´ I had her write her conversion in a little book for me and she says that when we knocked, they never answer the door in their house and she felt something pounding inside of her and she said i have to go get it! Her mom said ´I'm going to kill you if you open it!´ and she ran down the stairs to get it saying ´i don't care I have to answer it!´ and when she did and saw me and Argueta's smiling faces, she says she just felt a wooosh and just wanted to give us the biggest hugs. She had been praying to know where to go, and then we came. It is pretty incredible to talk to her.

I went up to Neuquen on Saturday morning to go pick up my third kid. When I got there I asked president to have an interview while we were waiting to start. We went in and had a really good 10 or 15 minute chat about some things, and then as we were leaving, I asked him about what special things he wanted me to do in Allen this next transfer or 2. He said that he had a really special experience in it. He said that originally he was going to bump me up and have Elder Taylor train, but he had something lingering. He said that he switched it up (elder Taylor is with a missionary in his last transfer now, so he'll probably train next transfer) and put me to train. He told me I have a gift of making people work hard, love the work, and feel real good about themselves, and that I was going to need these skills with the new missionary he is assigning me. With that assurance, he added ´and it means that you could be in Allen for a very long time. We'll see when next transfers come around.´ but he said that when he did divisions with us, it cemented the decision, and he got emotional talking about the process. So, now I know a little more about why I'm staying put!

My new companion is Elder Henrie from Bountiful Utah. He's a good guy. He's a really really analytical and technical guy. The first thing he did when he walked into our house was analyze the electrical wiring and water hook ups. Hehe. President told me he's a bit more complex than Elder Taylor, and that is true! He's a very bright kid, and he'll learn the language fast (I hope!)  He is struggling understanding me, so we've got a ways to go. But, we put a language plan in this morning, and we'll get him rolling. We have a couple investigators who also have expressed that they are really happy that I stayed and said that if Elder Taylor stayed they may not have kept coming to church. So I am starting to see why I am staying here, and I'm sure it will continue to unfold as the weeks go on.

We had zone conference yesterday and it was my absolute favorite in all my time in the mission. I'll write about it next week though.

It has been interesting to reflect on what this year of missionary work has meant to me. I think I have learned a ton. I also think every missionary says that, so I'll delve into some more specifics.

I think I've learned more to love people. To be patient. I've had the opportunity to train 3 new missionaries (I've done the math and have time to train 4 or 5 more before I go home...I'm trying to set the record!! Haha) but being with them requires patience. But there is a difference between patience and pushing the work forward. I think I've found that line. I feel like I'm more selfless and that I have moments where I put others needs before my own. I think that's a big thing that has changed.

I've learned to be fearless. I've learned what it means to be diligent. I'm not perfect at either, but I have grown a lot in those two aspects. I know a lot more now about the blessings and the power that exists in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have seen so many things happen here in Allen alone that really make me emotional to think about. Last Monday, we were in the Marquez house and they shared Alma 5 13-16ish and i just started crying as they made me read it and then answered yes to the questions and described the joy that has entered their life and how they honestly can imagine being raised up to dwell with God in heaven now. It was an incredible experience, and one that I will never forget. That family has taught me so many things. Faith, love, and the importance of the gospel.

I've learned to love people. It all starts with my companion. Last transfer I learned what it means to love your companion. I have the goal to get to that point now with Elder Henrie. Its going to be a bit more of a struggle because we are programmed really differently, but we have a couple things in common. But if you just always think positively about people, you have to like them, right? That's something me and Elder Taylor learned last transfer.

I've learned about determination. On my mission, I've been determined to baptize every transfer and with every companion. That's something I set my mind to and have done. I've done it with getting 154 contacts. I've done it with getting along with my comps. When we set our minds on something and its God's will, we'll get it.

I've developed the habit of feeding my spiritual needs everyday. There is a HUGE difference between the days I study and the days I don't have a good study. That's something I want to carry with me.

I've learned about the mercy of God. I feel like I am not worthy of the blessings the Lord has given me on my mission. I have come to help a lot of people enter the waters of baptism and confirmation. I have helped a lot of people change their lives around. And I know that its not me thats doing it. I don't feel worthy of all the things the Lord has blessed me with in my time here.

I've learned how to smile and make the best out of every situation. I, how to cook, how to live and manage, have learned how to speak Spanish  yourself.

But I think the thing i have learned most is that the church is true. It is God's path, and also happens to be the path to bring the most happiness possible in life. I love being a missionary and I am sad that I am at the halfway point because that means I have more time served than time left. It's passed really fast, and I still am kinda laughing that I'm only in my 2nd city. But, I know it's where I need to be. This second half will be even better than the first half! I want you all to know that I am happy (even if the first part of this email describing my past week don't express that! Haha) that I am working my hardest, that I am not ´on a mission,´ but rather ´have become and am striving to become a better missionary,´ that I have zero regrets in serving a mission, and that I love this. I think that that's the best way I can sum this up. I am happy, i love what I am doing, and there is no other place in the world I'd rather be right now. My hope and prayer is that I can continue learning, being humble, bringing lots of people to the waters of baptism and activity in the church. I know that the more I put my faith in the Lord, the more he helps me out. The natural Taylor Jensen can't do this. I have been taught that. I give my glory to the mercies of the Lord in allowing me the privilege to be led to find these incredible people, to help them come to Christ, and to help them be happy. There is no greater thing than doing this. I've seen missionaries going home, and I can hardly imagine what I'll feel. I'm going to cry myself dry!

Thanks for everything you've done for me, family and friends. It gives me great joy every time I hear from you and hear how well you're all doing. I know that we're a family that will be together forever. Isn't it incredible to think that? Your testimonies have strengthened me, your examples have led me, and your smiles have warmed me. I know that I am the man (I do turn 21 in a bit!) because of you and the examples you've left me.

We've got 1 more year till we see each other. I look forward to the things that I'll learn, that I'll do, that I'll see, that I'll experience, that I'll love. I know that we are experiencing these things as a family, and that your faithfulness and prayers have blessed me so much down here. I hope I can repay the favor.

I have so much more I want to say and tell, but my cold little fingers can't do it fast enough! I'm trying to write as much as I can in my journal so I'll remember all the good stories when I get back! I love you all so much. Have an incredible week.

Elder Jensen

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hola from Argentina

August 10, 2009


Big news……

We had transfers last Saturday and I am STAY HERE IN ALLEN TO TRAIN AGAIN!!!!  I was absolutely shocked. I was sure I was out, and the zone leaders said they told the assistants I've been ready to be a zone leader for a time now´, so we all thought I was out as a zone leader, but apparently I've got some more work to do here in Allen. My comp is going out the beautiful El Bolson. What a lucky guy. We have a funny funny video of the transfer phone call. My face when they tell me I'm staying to train in Allen is priceless confusion. But, I'll do what they tell me! President Peterson called us that night about something and asked how I was doing and I said ´pretty surprised´ and he said ´you know, I was too´ so I'm sure something special is going to happen here in Allen. It was a bit tough of a blow for me because I had been thinking I was out, and I found myself on my knees that night praying and saying ´well, here I am. What would you have me do? ´ I always tell people not to ask why things happen, and had to apply that same teaching to my life. But, something special is going to happen here. It means I'll have at least 6 months here in Allen, but it could go 7.5 if i train the normal 2 transfers. We'll see. But, here's what happened this week:

Edgardo and Juan Carlos got the priesthood this Sunday. That was great. Edgardo is SOO ready. Juan Carlos is hangin in there. He still has a lot of evangelical blood in him. But he is very faithfully coming to church and to cut branches with us. He always gives us a big hug, and the phrase ´thank you baby´ is heard about 5 times a minute while talking to him.

Edgardo´s brother, Romualdo, and sister in law, Evilina, decided to get married! They are planning on getting married October 4th! Evilina has been taught along with Edgardo but never could get baptized because she isn't married. But now, she will get baptized! She is in 4th Nephi—she started reading about 3 months ago when we started passing by. I'm really excited. We went over to their house this week and helped build walls—I laid a lot of bricks. It was a ton of fun, and just like service worked with Edgardo, Romualdo and Ruben, Edgardos two other brothers, are loosening up to us. Good stuff.

We have some other investigators who also are planning on getting married. Raul and Maria both want to get baptized so bad, but cant because of marriage stuff. We've got president working on their divorce papers, and it looks like it could come through if i stay three months here. They love us and give us food and drive us around and just have embraced the gospel so well. The other is Luis Tagle. At church yesterday I told Luis I'm staying here to see his marriage and baptism. He said things are looking like they're going in that direction. I really want to be here for his baptism. He has already read the whole book of Mormon and is basically a member. He already visits Edgardo and is really good friends with the people in the ward. He's such a good good guy.

This week, my new comp doesn't get here till Saturday, so i have a whole week. I have 2 options. 1. I go to Roca and kill a week not working in my area. That stinks. Or 2. I find a mini missionary. I put my brain to work and asked Gonzalo Marquez what he's up to this week. He says, well, not much. So, Gonzalo is going to come and live with me and be my comp this week! This will be great, because sometimes we're nervous about him and if he's happy and stuff, so hopefully this will help him a lot. It'll be an interesting week. And it'll prepare me to train—Gonzalo got baptized 2 weeks ago!

Our elders quorum president told me this week that he's going to call Edgardo as 2nd councilor when he gets the Melchezidek priesthood in October. I'm really really excited for that. Our ward is really coming together and really becoming strong. The organizations are being organized, and I wouldn't be surprised if there was a bishop if i leave in November. (It'll either be Sept 21 or Nov 2). Exciting things are happening, and the font is still going to be filling this transfer. The hermana here, hermana LeGrow, is training too. She has the same problem as me, and we talked to Tamara and Tamara is going to be her mini missionary. That's great---Tamara is seriously considering going on a mission! It'll be a good time here in Allen.

Love you all!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Here Comes a Big One!

August 3, 2009


Get ready. It was a big week and I wrote an outline of things i´d like to discuss in this email. Here we go……

1. We had a great week. We got the standard again, and in doing so, me and my comp became the first in the mission to go back-to-back weeks hitting it. That's big time. I was told that there are about 30 missionaries who have gotten the standard, there are 4 of those who have gotten it twice, 1 (my comp) who has gotten it 3 times, and me who now has gotten it 6 times. We were pretty excited. It is not easy, and Sunday night we didn't even celebrate because we were too tired. We just gathered the numbers from the district and made our calls to report them and went to bed early! Maybe we'll celebrate it tonight—I just found popcorn this past week and have been making some popcorn. Yum!

2. On Friday, we had a pretty special day. We found 8 new investigators. We got into 3 different houses and taught some really great people. It was really neat to see how some of our plans fell through to let us search and clap new houses or have old contacts pop into our mind. Something I've learned is that when plans fall through, there is something good to do. Sometimes we find it, sometimes we don't. But Friday, finding 8 new investigators was huge. We are excited because we'd been feeling a little drained on new investigators to teach, and now we are set up to have a good week this week.

3. Tamara, our recent convert, is going through a bit of a trial of her faith. She has started living with the Marquez family because of all the garbage her sister was giving her about being a member. It's been a real blessing for both of the families—to have Tamara living with the Marquez and the Marquez having her basically as a sister. She had an interview with the stake president (as did Edgardo) yesterday during church. She has a lot of interest in serving a mission, and I know that she has a great support system here to do that.

4. We called and invited President Peterson to our baptism on Saturday. We called him Friday night to confirm that he was coming and he said yes and he said he'd be delighted to come at 2 and do a couple hours of work with us. At the same time, his wife went out with the sisters. That called for a quick, stressed planning for those hours! Before we were just going to find some new people, but we set up a cita with Raul and Maria, 2 of our real good investigators who are working on getting married, and the familia Marquez. The 2 citas turned out great. Raul and Maria both want to get baptized ASAP but are delayed by divorce papers. We should be able to fix all of that and get them baptized next transfer. With the Marquez, we talked about following faithfully and preparing to be a missionary. Tamara and pres. Talked for about 10 minutes after the cita. We're really excited for the 2 families.

5. The baptism was great. They were both so happy. We started on time, had great talks, and had a million people come. All of Edgardo´s family was there, and some of Mariano´s was there. All of Mariano's family has been sealed in the temple, but most have since divorced. Its really sad to see, but he was excited and so was his abuela, who is a very faithful member. It was a great baptism. I baptized Edgardo and Elder Taylor baptized Mariano.

6. On Friday night as we planned, I had an old contact come to mind. We planned to go to the barrio where that contact lives, and as we walked over I walked straight to that house to start. And what do you know? The lady we contacted was there. We passed in, and had a great chat with her. She was excited to learn about the church and unfortunately couldn't come to the baptism or sacrament meeting on Sunday. But we're excited to start teaching her. It was a neat experience for me to literally be led to that house. We're excited to keep teaching them and help them come unto Christ.

7. Almost done. But this one is a really funny story. We got robbed yesterday! Well, kind of. Someone tried to rob us! We were knocking a house and he came up behind us and I just thought he lived there, so I turned around and started contacting him. I ask him what his name is and if this is his house and he says no its not, pero te robo (but I'm robbing you). I just told him nah you're not robbing us and kept going with the contact, talking about Christ. He says give me your pants and jackets and shirt and shoes and belt. I say ´look you've already got your own. You don't need mine!´ he says no give them to me because I'm going to sell them to buy more drugs because I'm addicted. I tell him ´you're a child of God. You don't need to be a drug addict. He loves you! ´ he just told me again he was going to take our suits and shoes.  I say look I'll give you a pamphlet about the church, but I'm not giving you my stuff. Then we try to start walking down the street again and he puts himself in front of us a bit. He says ´give me your clothes. I'm robbing you.´ then comes my favorite part—I say ´you want us to get naked right here in the middle of the street?´ and he says ´yes´ then I give a really awkward look to him and then to my companion and mutter ´that's kind of weird…´ he looks at me and says ´well what are you going to do?´ I say ´we're going to keep working. We're sharing about God with people. Want to come with?´ and we start walking again and he gets in front of us again to stop us. He then says ´you want me to stab you? (I've been watching his hands and his pockets this whole time and had already seen that he doesn't have a knife or gun or anything. I say nah that's alright. We're going to leave now. I look at my comp and he says to me in English lets go to other sides of the street and run. So, that's what we did. We ran a half a block and he tried running 4 steps but kind of stumbled a bit. He'd had a couple drinks and didn't have a chance chasing us down. Fun experience, huh? It was a blast. Calm, cool, collected, and witty. Next time, I want to try and convince him that I'm the one robbing him haha. But no I'm really thankful he didn't have a knife or gun or anything. People get robbed and beat up here a lot. Like weekly we have people telling us about people who get knifed or shot. But this guy… he's got to bring his A game next time if he's getting anything out of us.

8. This is my favorite number. We have a lot of really good investigators. We have one named Luis. I think I've talked about him before. He is incredible. He just finished the Book of Mormon. He really really wants to get baptized, but his girlfriend isn't ready to get married yet. We've been working and praying hard with them, and she is there and listens from the other room every time we teach. But she just doesn't want to yet. This Thursday, we cooked tacos with them ( a real treat—they don't have tacos here!) and afterwards she asked us what she had to wear to come to church! Yes!!! Unfortunately, Luis's brother broke his leg real real bad working and had to stay in Roca, so they were there helping with that and couldn't come. But we're seeing progress. They went to the ward mission leader's house last Sunday to drink a mate and that was real real good. She is going to come around soon and they should be baptized next transfer.

9. I had smores on Friday night with the familia Millequeo (Edgardo´s family. It was SOOOOOOOOO good. Its been a darn long time since I've had smores. We had a nice little testimony meeting around their fire and it was a really good moment.

10. One more. In church, we had 66 people. Of that 66, 8 (yes! Hector came yesterday!)  were my converts, 5 were menos activos that I helped reactivate, and 5 were investigators we helped bring. That's 17. Then you take out the 4 missionaries and stake president that was there and its 17/61. That's a big chunk of the ward that I've had a direct part in bringing. That makes me feel okay
I love you all! Have a great week!