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.