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