Wednesday, October 28, 2009

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

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