Wednesday, December 21, 2016

It's HOT!

Dear family,
It has been another awesome week out here in Madagascar. We had some awesome moments with some way cool investigators and things just went great. It's summer right now, so it is pretty hot here. By that, I mean it is really, really hot here. I come home every day and can seriously ring the water out of my shirts. It's nuts!! That being said, I love Tamatave.
So we have some great investigators out here. Some of my favorites are Clovesel and Jaqueline, plus their three kids whose names have slipped my mind at the moment. They are way cool people. They have been learning from the missionaries for about 6 months and are super smart. Last week we went in and talked about repentance was. For them, it just meant confession. I don't think I could count on all of my fingers and toes all of the times that I have heard that. We talked about how much more repentance is than just that. It is a change of lifestyle, and even more than that it is a change of heart. As we repent we come closer to the savior and the way he lived. Christ told His apostles in the Americas that they should be even as he is. That's the goal. It is also a long ways off, but that's ok because as we repent we come closer to that ultimate goal of returning to live with Him. Also one other funny story, we had dinner last night with some way awesome members (beans and pig fat over rice, my favorite) and they gave us a referral for the man's sister who lived next door. We went straight over and taught them. The funny part is that their kid's name is John Cena. Anyways we got a kick out of that one. I have also met a kid here named Joseph Smith. Good times.
So this week I did a little bit of a study on the Christmas spirit because I absolutely love Christmas time. I read the Christmas story in Luke 2, which was great as always. I love the words of the angel to the shepherds. "Behold, I bring good tidings of great joy. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a savior, which is Christ the Lord." Such a simple statement, and yet it is hard to understand the real gravity of it. The entire history of the world until that point were building up to this one great event. The prophets spoke of it, the psalmist sang of it, and all of mankind looked forward to this one moment. They found Him, The Son of God, asleep in his mothers arms. That is the greatest gift ever given.
Love you all so much, Merry Christmas,
Elder Jensen

TAMATAVEEEE

Dear Everybody,
Life is still great here in Madagascar. I absolutely love Tamatave. It is the second biggest city in Mada, about 200,000 people. It is way out on the farthest west coast of the island. We speak a dialect here called Betsimisaraka. It's not quite as bad as the dialects from Fort D, but it's a bit different for sure. There are 5 branches out here, and we are currently working towards making it in to a stake, which requires 6 very strong branches. Hoping that sometime this year we can get it done. Anyways, on to other news.
My area here is called Mangarivotra, which means blue breeze. Or mango breeze. I'm not really sure, you say it the same either way. The branch is great, the area is awesome, and things are just going fantastic. I would say that my favorite people right now are Frederick and Eleanore. They have been learning from the missionaries for 9 months now but the problem, as allways, is that they weren't married. So anyways, they surprized us on tuesday with their marriage certificate!!! They are getting baptized!! Currently we are planning on the 7th of January. Another cool thing! Elder Leo and I were out tracting when we walked into this little yard. There was a little girl pumping water out of the ground so we went and talked to her. Her parents weren't home which normally throws up red lights, but she was struggling way hard with the water pump. I felt bad so I took over and started pumping water. About 2 minutes later the little girl's sister Judy walked in. It turns out that Judy is a very less active member. She got baptized here in tamatave but moved to Tana for a while and when she came back just stopped going to church. She is now married and has a little kid, and she was way excited to see us. We set up a time to come and teach her husband, Alain, and left. Alain turned out to be a stud and the lesson went great so we are very excited to see where this one goes.
So this week I spent a little bit of time reading in Alma, when I came across something that I hadn't noticed before. It is in Alma 20, where Alma and King Lamoni are travelling to Middoni to free Aaron and his brethren from prison. This is just shortly after King Lamoni's conversion itself, but that's a different story. On the road to Middoni, they bump in to King Lamoni's father, who is King over all of the Lamanites. Well, Lamoni's father wasn't necessarily too happy to see his son travelling with a Nephite. To be honest, he was furious. He (king of all the lamanites) commanded King Lamoni to kill Ammon and go back to the land of Ishmael. Now in Malagasy, there are 2 ways to say "go back." There is miverina, which is to return, and mihemotra, which is kind of like to digress or fall back. Anyways, I wasn't sure which would be better to use. I started thinking about what it would mean for Lamoni to go back to the land of Ishmael. It would be like going back to his old life. It would mean forsaking Ammon and the whole new belief that he had found. Rather than returning to his old life, Lamoni defies the king and his father, knowing full well that his father will try to kill him for it. When you are trully converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, you realize that there really is no going back to the life you had before. It's just not appealing any more. To be honest, the thought of losing the joy of the gospel is downright scary. I think that Peter said it best in John chapter 16. Many of Christ's followers were leaving him, and he looked to the 12 and asked "Will ye also go away?" Peter answered him "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God." Once a person comes to this realization, there is no going back. King Lamoni would rather die than go back. This is the type of conversion that we are looking for, in both investigators and in ourselves. Love you all so much,
Elder Jensen
Scripture of the week: Alma 20:15

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Transfers!!!


Dear family,

Today has been kind of crazy just because of transfers and a bunch of stuff I have had to do and all, so I really have almost no time left. That means I am probably going to have to kind of send a short email this time. I'll just kind of explain what's going on and write a much better email next week.

 
So I don't know if anybody remembers, but I have been out here in Toamasina (tamatave) for about a week and a half now just doing splits and cool things like that. Anyways, the transfer ended just yesterday. That means that my companion Elder Walker is going home in 2 days and I am in need of something new to do. Since I was already out here in Toamasina, they have just decided to leave me here. My new companion is Elder Leo, who is from American Samoa. He's a way cool guy. Anyways, we are here now and I am once again living on the beach. This time though I can't quite see it from my house. Anyways, I am way beyond stoked to be out here and the work here in Tamatave just seems to be blowing up for the moment, so we are looking forward to great things to come. Because of all of the things going on with transfers, we have been pretty busy today. I now have one hour to finish up emails, do some shopping, and also get dressed and out to work, so I'm going to have to sign off for now. Love you all tons, the church is true,

Elder Jensen

Scripture of the week: Matt. 5:48
 
Elder Jensen's 20th Birthday
 
 


District Conference in TAMATAVE


Dear Family,

So this week has been kind of all over the place. I have been in 3 cities, done about 5 splits, and basically just ran everywhere all the time. So here's the story.
It all started on Tuesday. We got up in Antsirabe and did studies as normal. Then at about noon we loaded up in a car with the Pascaud's (a mission couple from france) and headed for Tana. That meant 4 1/2 hours of only French with a little bit of Italian mixed in. I thought I was going to die. Did I mention it was a little French car? Not very comfortable to sleep in. On the bright side though, I did get to brush up on my French!! I am still not very good at French... It was an interesting ride to say the least. When we got to the office my man Jules was there!! Jules is a member here in Tana who is deaf. He has developed his own version of sign language but, is trying very hard to learn ASL so that he can go to the temple. He skypes from the office to the ASL missionaries in Salt Lake, and they teach him ASL, but we translate it for him and help out when we can, so I have picked up a lot from him and help when I can. So that was a blast as always.

Wednesday we had a split and I was with Elder Allen, who has been here for about 2 months. I love working with young missionaries.

Thursday we had a split and I went with Elder Tainter, who is a baller. We had a way awesome day.
We were supposed to leave Thursday morning for Tamatave, but due to complications with flights, we ended up having to pick up Elder Mdletshe, the area seventy, from the airport at around 4 in the afternoon on Friday, at which point we started making our way to Tamatave. It's about a seven hour drive through the jungle, but it was way cool to just have that much time to talk to a Seventy about the work and the church and really just life in general. We stopped for the night and finally made it to Tamatave on Saturday about 30 minutes before Elder Mdletshe had to speak in District Conference. Most of Saturday was spent translating conference for President Foote, who met us in Tamatave, and Elder Mdletshe. Translating is a lot of fun but also kind of stressful. A lot of things don't really translate super well in to Malagasy, so we just kind of have to explain things as we go.

Sunday was great!!! It was another morning full of translating and talking with members and just all those sorts of things. We finished the day on a split with Elders Monson and Chounlamany. Elder Monson is about 4 months in to country right now and is training Elder Chounlamany, who is just over a month in country. It was a great day. I took Elder Monson and we hit the program and also found a couple of way awesome families to teach. It was just a great day all around.
So studies were a little weird this week but I am going to talk about a conversation that we had with Elder Mdletshe on the way to conference about the sacrament, and it kind of changed my perspective a little. As we all know, we are commanded to take the sacrament. It is indeed a commandment from God. By taking it we renew our covenants with him and are able to become clean. That makes it in to a continuous cleansing process. It is the only ordinance that we are able to repeat over and over again, and yet it is a saving ordinance. Without it, we can’t be cleansed from sin. That is why we are commanded to take it. If we decide that we won't go to church for a week or that we aren't worthy to take the sacrament, then we are placing other things ahead of the savior's atonement. It's like saying to the Messiah "Thanks for all you did for me, ya know suffering and dying and all, but I really need to work right now. Maybe next week." That's really direct and hard and all, but it's true. We need the sacrament. It becomes our job at that point to prepare throughout the week in any way that we can to be able to take the sacrament come sunday. Love you all so much, that's all I got this week,

Love,

Elder Jensen

Scripture of the week: Moroni 4:3 and 5:2

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

HOME


Dear everybody,

Life has been great here in Antsirabe. It has been a great visit. It was awesome to come back and see all of the amazing people that I met back in my time serving here. We had a great week. I don't really have any investigators to talk about because the whole week was just splits so I don't really have my own area. Even with that we had a great week and it was an awesome time. Love you all so much but I'm short on time this week. I will add some pictures to make up for my weak email writing skills. Love you all so much,

 

Elder Jensen

 

Scripture of the Week: Ether 12:27

 


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Changes - Happy Birthday Ryker


Dear family,

So some big changes this week, which I will explain in a minute. For now it's enough to just say that I am not in Ambohimanarina anymore. Yay for emergency transfers!!

So it all started on Tuesday. Elder Bassett and I had a split with the Elders in Ankorondrano, about an hour away by bus, so we woke up at like 5 in order to go out and meet up with them and still be home in time for studies. I spent the day with Elder Sweeten. He is one transfer ahead of me and we have lived together a couple of times so we are old friends and it was great to get to work with him again. Anyways, about halfway through studies the phone rang. It was President Foote, looking for me. He told me he had a new assignment for me! That unfortunately meant having to leave Ambohimanarina. I was super sad to have to leave so many great people that I have met along the way, But Elder Bassett is an amazing missionary and I know that he can take care of business. Wednesday went by in a blur of goodbyes.

Wednesday night I was picked up at my apartment, and after helping with a zone conference thursday, President Foote, Elder Walker and I headed out Friday morning. Elder Walker is my new comp and is also the oldest missionary in the mission. He has about three weeks left, and we are going to spend them together. Right now we are in Antsirabe, and yes, that is the same Antsirabe I was trained in. It has been a great couple of days of reunions and old friends and I have loved every second of it. Elder Walker and I are here until Nov. 22, and then we will be off again. We are going to spend the week going on splits with different companionships, fixing problems, doing training, finding as many new investigators as possible, and basically just blowing up the city with missionary work. It's going to be a great time and I am way excited to be out working here again. Yesterday I was on a split with Elder Baggs, who is currently in his second transfer being trained in the same area I was trained in. We gave their whole program to Elder Walker and Elder Baggs' comp, and the two of us went out tracking. Despite a mad dash to the church bathroom due to the long lasting effects of a deworming pill (not mine, Elder Baggs') we managed to tract in to 5 times. One of those was actually really special.

We were walking back from the bathroom in an area far from where we had been tracting when we passed a young married couple just leaving their house. They just looked so happy that I couldn't help but stop and talk to them. They agreed to give us a few minutes to share the message, and we taught them a great lesson on the restoration! It was so awesome! After that Elder Baggs and I had a great talk about just how much our Heavenly Father makes sure we are in the right place at the right time. Who would think that the fact that he had gotten worms would have put us in a place to find such an awesome family!! The Lord works in mysterious ways I guess.

So due to all of the traveling and just the all-around tight schedule, I really haven't had much of a chance to study. Even with that, I sure learned a lot this week. Only our Heavenly Father can make weak things become strong. Without him we are nothing. Love you all so much! I will talk to you next week!

Elder Jensen

Scripture of the Week: Ether 12:27

 


 

 


 

 
 

 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Happy Halloween


 


Dear everybody,
Happy Halloween!! No, we do not celebrate Halloween here in Madagascar. I feel like most of the people here would just think we were super weird. This week was great! We had a lot of successes and a lot of great things.
So today I would like to tell you about my friend Salim and his family. Elder Bassett and I were tracking a couple of weeks ago when some random dude leaned out his window to talk to us. He said that we could come in! The problem was that the window was on the back of the house and there was no way in unless we went all the way out to the main road and back in a different path, which would involve losing sight of the house. Well this was a big house and it looks very different from the other side. To be honest we still haven't found it yet, but that's ok.
As we were looking we found a house that looked like it might be it so we knocked. And knocked. And knocked. And no one came. I don't know why (well I do now but I didn't then) but we both just really felt like we needed to talk to these people. So what do two young, stupid, rude, and extremely hard headed Mormon missionaries do? Well, we opened the door, walked through the living room and up the stairs! Not something that I would recommend to anyone. At the top of the stairs we found one of the biggest Malagasies that I have ever seen in my life, and in the deepest voice I have ever heard he politely asked what the heck we were doing in his house. We told him we were missionaries and we had a message about Jesus Christ. He responded that he was Muslim. Time to run right? Nope we just told him we also had a message that would help his family. At this point he called his wife over and allowed us to come in. We sat down and Elder Bassett looked at me and asked how we were supposed to do this. I told him I had no idea. Well, 45 minutes later we finished one of the most powerful lessons on the Restoration that I can remember being a part of, and invited them to pray and that we would love to come back Thursday. Salim told us he had to work, so we said we would just come back in a week. Then Wednesday night Elder Bassett answered a call from an unknown number. It was Salim and he wanted us to come back the next day!! We were a little bit shocked to say the least. When we got there, we were even more shocked. Salim runs a trucking company, and he had a truck broken down about halfway to nowhere in the middle of some very dangerous territory, but he had felt that rather than going to save it, he should learn from the white dudes first. In the next lesson they readily accepted a bap date. On Sunday Salim walked in to a Christian church for the first time in his life, and I am just in awe of how much the Lord guided us to this awesome family. I will keep you posted on their progress.

Today in my studies I learned a lot about studying. I don't know if that makes sense or not. I learned how studying actually works. We don't just read the books and learn. No man knoweth save it is revealed to him by the power of the Holy Ghost, and by the power of the Holy Ghost it is all knowledge is given. Sure we read the words, but the Holy Ghost confirms to our hearts the truth of all things. He guides our thoughts and teaches us new things, things that might not even be written. It's a great gift that we all have, that we are able to learn by this power and come to understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Love you all so much,

Elder Jensen
Scripture of the week: Jacob 4:8

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Moroni Chapter 8 Verses 9-12


Dear Family,

This week was by far the hardest, most painful, emotionally draining week of my entire life. I have probably never hurt more in my entire life, but I would say that I have at the same time never felt closer to our Heavenly Father. He is with us through all of our trials. Every hard thing that we are put through is for our benefit. Just a fair warning, this email is going to be pretty long, so I am going to just say that I am sorry ahead of time. Brace yourselves.
So it all started on Tuesday. We went out to work like normal. Our first time was not until 4:30 so we had a few solid hours to tract. We did good and found about 4 new families, and the day was off to a great start. At about 4:15 we headed out to John and Mamitiana. I don't know if you remember them, John was the drunk guy that took us home with him and has been progressing ever since. He has been off of alcohol for about a month and he and his family have been coming to church for even longer than that. Well on Saturday we got there in the middle of the huge rainstorm and their four-year-old little boy was sick. He had fallen in a hole and they weren't sure what was wrong with him, so we were pretty worried. Then they didn't come to church on Sunday for the first time in a long time. So we finally got out to their house on Tuesday to see what was wrong and there was definitely something wrong. John came out of the house and stumbled up to us and we could tell right away that he was drunk. Very, very drunk. We walked him back inside and sat him and his wife down to talk. It turns out that their little boy had gotten even worse. He had lost a lot of weight and he didn't have much to lose in the first place. The doctors didn't know what to do about it and they had all but lost hope. All of this had been too much for poor John, and he had gone out drinking that morning. As we sat there talking, he broke down and cried and just poured out his heart to us. I picked him up and gave him a hug and we shared D&C 121:7-10 and I didn't think that I could understand that scripture any better than I did at that moment. Well I was wrong. We left their home feeling a little down that he had stumbled a little, but we all do sometimes and we were optimistic that he would bounce back.
Straight from John we went to see a family. Their names are Dina, Tsito, and their daughters Priscilla and Simila. Just a little background before the story. When I got here Dina was about 9 months pregnant with Simila. A couple of weeks after I got here she gave birth. Now Malagasy culture states that when you have a baby you and the baby are not allowed to leave the house for 2 months, which means that Dina could not come to church at the time. Tsito was very, very much an alcoholic and really wasn't going anywhere, but we kept visiting because Dina was such a sweet lady. About a month ago something clicked with Tsito. He started reading the Book of Mormon, stopped drinking and was doing great. This week little Simila finally turned 2 months old, and they were finally going to be able to come to church, so we were very, very excited for them, and so were they. On Tuesday we walked up to find a bunch of people sitting around outside the house, which is never a good sign here in Madagascar. We were then informed that only 30 minutes earlier, Simila had passed away. We walked in to the dark little 10x8 candle lit hut to find the two of them sitting on the bed, Dina clinging to Tsito as he slowly rocked their lifeless little baby, and I physically felt my heart snap in two. We sat down and talked for a moment about all that had happened. The baby had woken up sick that morning, so at about noon Dina took her in to town to see the doctor. I'm not sure exactly why, but she couldn't find one that was in, so she just brought little Simila home. She put her on the bed for a moment and looked to the Book of Mormon to calm her worries. After just a few minutes she looked up to see Simila's eyes close and just like that she was gone. My whole soul ached for them as I listened to this story. Then they pulled out a little dress to put on her and explained that it was for her baptism the next month, but now she would never be baptized. I could hear this mother's anguish as she thought that her child was lost. I quickly grabbed the Book of Mormon and flipped to the book of Moroni, chapter 8 verses 9-12 which explains how little children need no baptism, for they are alive in Christ. I had to pause about halfway through the verse because I could no longer see the page through my tears. I finally finished and looked up, and in her eyes I could see just a glimmer of hope for the first time since we had entered the house. She looked at me and asked if that was really true, and my voice cracked as I told her that I knew it was. I think that in that moment, for the first time in my life I knew beyond even a shadow of a doubt that it was. I know that our Heavenly Father was there with us in that dark little hut. He is always with us when we need him the most. Sometimes we don't see him, but he is there.
By the time that we got out of Dina and Tsito's home it was late but we had one more time with some members nearby who have become very good friends of mine over the last couple of months. We walked in to their home to see a couple of new faces! It was their daughter Karaza and her husband, who had just driven up from Toliear. Toliear is in the very deep south of Madagascar, about an 18 hour drive from Tana, sometimes even more. They had rushed up because Karaza had been experiencing major stomach pains. After a morning in the hospital they had learned that she had contracted appendicitis, which would require surgery the following day. She had never had surgery before and was super scared but also very much in pain. Her father was still at work, but they had already talked to him and he thought it best that we give her a blessing. I've done this plenty of times since being here but it still makes me a little nervous every time. It's hard to try to step out of yourself and just let the spirit take control. I know that's probably me and my little faith talking, but that's always how I feel. I went through in my head the standard stuff that you would say. Read your scriptures, go to church, be a good girl, that kind of stuff. We laid our hands on her head and I started the blessing and before I knew it I blessed her that because of her faith in a gospel that she still didn't know (she's not a member) and because of her parents faith, she would be fully healed. I think I even shocked myself at the boldness of the statement. I finished out the blessing with the standard stuff and that was that. We didn't see them again until Sunday.
Now Sunday is always the best day of the week by far, and this week was a little bit sweeter. Karaza came with her family and told us that they had done another scan at the hospital and it wasn't appendicitis, just something minor, and they had her on medicine and she was feeling much better at that point. Then came John and Mamitiana, sober and holding their little boy who is doing much, much better now. We waited and waited until the last second before the sacrament for Dina and Tsito, but finally had to go inside as the doors shut for the sacrament. We sat there more than a little disappointed that they hadn't come, but still very happy with John and Karaza. Then, as the sacrament ended and the doors opened and I saw the most beautiful sight that I have seen in my entire young life. Dina and Tsito came marching right in and sat down next to us. Later that day, after church, I sat down with John and we just talked. He wanted me to explain what the Temple was. I told him that it was the House of God, the most beautiful place on earth. He asked if I thought he would ever get there, and I told him that I knew he would. The smile on that man's face made everything worth it. The Lord is completely and totally aware of us at all times. He has been where we've been, faced what we've faced, and stayed true through it all. He could take away the hard times if he wanted, but that would eliminate the point. Yes, bad things happen to good people. Bad things happen to make better good people. And the good news is, we never have to face the bad things alone. I know that Christ lives, and loves each and every one of us. I love you all so much,

Elder Jensen

Scripture of the week: D&C 121: 7-10, D&C 122:8





 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Pastors...The Struggle is Real


Dear Everybody,

This week was a lot of fun. We were still out for the first couple of days but we got back out to work Friday and we hit the ground running. The work is going very well and all of Tana seems to be just loving missionary work.
So after about 3 more days of bumming around the house (3 straight days of studies) due to more foot issues, we were finally back out to work again. It was great because rainy season also started on Friday. Not officially, but it was the first time it has rained in about 6 months. That means that it will probably rain every day for about the next 6 months. We got hit really hard on Saturday,  it basically just flooded the whole city. We were in the middle of nowhere walking across rice patties when it hit. We were on our way out to John's house at the time. I don't know if y'all remember John, but I think that I have told you about him. He's the one that we met drunk on the path who is doing awesome and getting baptized next month!! So we basically just took off on a dead sprint through the rice patties. They were all flooding over all around us and we were trying not to fall in and it was raining so hard that I could really see anything and it was pretty intense. So anyway we finally got to his house and he was like what the freak are you doing here it's raining!! He let us right in even though we were soaked and just after we got in the door it started hailing about the size of marbles! Not like little marbles either, I mean the really, really big ones. So we taught John and his family a way awesome lesson and it was just a great time. I love rain.
So in studies this week I read a lot in the Book of Mormon. I think that the book of Mosiah is one of my favorite ones. I think that King Benjamin is one of my favorite speakers and we can learn so much from the few chapters that actually come from him, especially about charity. I also really like Abinadi and how bold he was in sharing the gospel. Those guys are two of my favorite examples of missionary work.

So one other funny thing that happened this week! We have been trying really hard to just be really excited about everything and talking to everyone lately. So on Sunday morning about 30 minutes before church started we went out front of the church to greet people before the meetings started. We were basically just inviting every single person that walked past to come in and go to church. A couple of minutes in we talked to a man who wasn't very happy with what we were doing. He told us that the only salvation comes from the pastor that has a church about a quarter mile up the road. He of course was on his way to this pastor's church at the time. We politely told him that the only salvation actually comes from Christ and his Atonement and he went on his merry way. About 10 minutes later he came back with the pastor. The two of them shook our hands and then walked about fifteen feet up the road, hid behind a big sign, and then continued to tell everyone who walked past to not even talk to the white dudes on the side of the road, just stick your chin up and keep walking. They even tried to tell our branch president that as he walked past. Most people didn't listen to them, and we still talked and laughed with people as they walked past. Nobody ended up just coming off the street to church with us, but it was fun all the same.

So anyways, Love you all,

Elder Jensen
Scripture of the week: Romans 1:16

I LOVE THIS PLACE


Dear Family,

I just want to start out by saying a big happy birthday to my Grandma Udy, who turned 21 again this week! Love you Grandma!!
So this week was a little bit slow. We took a bus in to the middle of town on Tuesday to the doctor's office. Elder Bassett had another ingrown toenail, I swear this guy has the worst luck ever. Anyways this one was way bad and infected and so they had to take out the whole toenail. I made the mistake of watching them pull that bad boy out, it was great. We were lucky though, they actually numbed it enough this time. Either way, that makes for a few days of being bums at the house for the two of us. We are hoping to be back up to speed by wednesday or thursday of this week.

Tuesday after the surgery and all day wednesday I spent on a split with Elder Brown, one of President Foote's Assisstants. He came and helped us out for a couple of days, which was fun because he actually is the guy I replaced here in Ambohimanarana, and so he already knew the area pretty well. Also me and him were already good friends so it was a good couple of days. Thursday and Friday I was back at the house with Elder Bassett, which was great, but we are definitely itching to get back to work.
Saturday and Sunday we finally got around to watching conference, which was a blast as always. I think two of my favorite talks were by Elders Yamashita and Schmutz of the 70, and I will definitely be going back to read over those again. Anyways love you all,

 
Elder Jensen

Scripture of the week: D&C 121: 1-9

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Another Crazy Week in Paradise

Dear Family,

First off I want to say sorry that I am so late. The AP's were out of town yesterday so we got stuck running a bunch of errands and things for them, and we ended up having to cyber this morning. This week was absolutely crazy, we were up at 5 a.m. every single day for some reason or other and basically just worked until we dropped.
So this week was crazy, we had a District Leader Training meeting, a zone meeting, and 3 consecutive splits. It was just exhausting, but it was also the best week yet.

I want to tell you about my friend John and his family. About a month ago we were walking down a really skinny path way out in the country side when we came across a very very drunk man. As we tried to squeeze past him without making a big deal out of it he called out to us and stopped us. He told us that he had a very big problem. We told him that we could see that. He said he wanted to change so we asked him to just tell us where his house was and we would swing by when we got the chance. He insisted that we needed to go home with him and teach him, so we followed him across some rice patties to a little cottage in the middle of nowhere. There we met his wife, Mamitiana, and his three little boys, one of which was about 2 months old. We sat down and talked for a minute and them just gave them a first and a Word of Wisdom pamphlet. He is basically over the alcohol at this point, after a couple of relapses and a couple of very emotional lessons, and he and his wife finally came to church sunday!! They are scheduled to be baptised at the end of November and hopefully,
I will still be here for that. 

Love you all so so much, you are the greatest,

Elder Jensen





Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Transfers Again!

Dear Family,
 
So this week was once again transfer week in Madagascar. Elder Lake has safely arrived in Fort D and Elder Bassett arrived on Wednesday. We had a great week and it was even Stake Conference on Sunday!! Always a good time in Madagascar.
So Elder Bassett is from Katy Texas, but also he lived in England for like 8 years. We have been doing great here in Ambohimanarana. He is probably one of the most consecrated and hard- working missionaries that I have met here in Mada thus far, and we have a great time. We started doing a lot of things now that I wasn't super good at before. We walk down the street and literally just talk to every single person. Even just passing people we just say hi to everyone and have a blast all of the time. I have learned an awful lot the last couple of days, and the work is blowing up. We had 14 investigators come to church on Sunday, 5 more than I have ever had in this area, so it was a pretty great week.
So I am a little bit short on time but I will add some pictures and it will be all good, I will do better next week.

Love you all so much,

Elder Jensen
Scripture of the Week: Alma 38:5  (Elder Bassett won't stop sharing it with people)





 

 

Transfer Week


Dear everybody back home,

Life is still great out here in Madagascar. This week was kind of crazy! We had meetings, splits, and even some visa problems, all with transfers looming over our heads, and all of that made for a pretty crazy week out here in Madagascar. 
 
So we went into this week knowing that it was going to be a crazy one, and it only got crazier as we went. We started out Tuesday with a district leader training meeting, just a little thing we do to try to better keep in touch with each of the district leaders and help them out with their whole gig. After that we got a phone call from the AP's. I always hate getting phone calls from those guys, it's just never good news. Also their ring tone on our phone is this really mean sounding German song so it just scares the crap out of me. Anyways, Elder Lake's visa had expired, along with about 20 other Elders out here. So the next day (Wednesday) we took a 2 hour bus ride in to the center of town to get it renewed. That killed our day for sure. Thursday was more or less normal I guess, but Friday we had a split with the Ankorondrano Elders. I had Elder Bauer with me in our area for the day, which was a ton of fun. He is from Texas and has been here in Madagascar for about 6 weeks. We talked about football for most of the day. On Saturday we attended a wedding for some members which was a lot of fun. We shortly afterwards received news on transfers. Elder Lake is heading out for Fort Dauphin to work in my old area. Needless to say he is very, very excited on that one. I am getting Elder Bassett, who just finished training on the other side of Tana. He is actually the guy that I replaced down in Tanambao, so it will be really good to see him again. Also, we were trained by the same missionary, so it's going to be just 1 big family reunion out here in Ambohimanarana. In other news, there are 13 new missionaries coming in this transfer and because of that, every single companionship in our entire zone will be training this transfer. Except for me and Bassett of course. It's going to be a lot of fun and we are looking forward to good things to come.
 
Because of all of the different things that happened this week, I actually didn't get much done for studies. I did however read a talk that I liked a lot. It is called Living the Gospel Joyful by Pres. Deiter F. Uchtdorf and it was very, very good. It talked all about how the commandments and really just the gospel in general is sometimes viewed as a great big checklist, and once you cross everything off you then get a ticket straight to the celestial kingdom. In all reality that's not it at all. You have to look at the why of the gospel. They say that life here on earth is a big test. Thing is, You take a test after you have studied, after you have prepared. The point isn't to find out what you already know, it is to make you push yourself to learn and understand the things in the test. It's kind of like that with life. The point isn't to keep every single commandment every single time. We physically cannot do that, we're all people here. No one get's 100% the first time they take this test. It's a refining process. It's all about learning and growing. Heavenly Father doesn't care that you have 100% attendance at church every week. What he does care about is you getting that opportunity to feel the spirit and learn of Him, and you can't get that opportunity anywhere else. He doesn't care that you pay your tithing every single time. What he does care about is that we learn to trust Him in a way that we can't without paying that tithing. So I guess that people are right, life is a test. But it is an open book test, and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we all get to answer every question as many times as we need. He knows no one will get it right the first time, all he cares about is that we try, because when we try He can help us, and eventually we will get it right. What a great day that will be. Love you all so much,
 
Elder Jensen
 
Scripture of the Week: Matthew 5:48

 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Year Mark!

Hello everyone,
So in case you didn't catch the title of the message, I did indeed hit my year mark this week. I am officially over the hump. Crazy right? Time sure does fly, and it doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon. This week was good. We had 2 baptisms on saturday of people who have been waiting far too long. It was a really sweet moment when the were finally able to make such a great step. The work is going well. All is good.
So let me first off tell you about my friend Nary. We found him just a few weeks ago. Elder Lake and I were tracting and we walked in to this little yard with a little 2 story wood shack in it. We could here somebody moving around on the second floor so we yelled up at them. No answer. So we yelled again. Still no answer. We yelled one more time and waited a bit, still nothing. This kind of happens a lot. People feel like Jesus would be mad if they came and told us to go away so they just ignore us instead. Anyways we were just about to turn around and leave when this random guy came walking in off of the street. He was wearing really old beat up clothes and had dread locks and just looked like a really shady character but he asked us what we were doing so we told him that we just wanted to talk to whoever was in the house. He then went running up the stairs and into the house, and came back out with whoever had been up there. The mysterious man then left and disappeared. We had never seen him before nor have we seen him since. The man who he brought out of the house's name was Nary. Thing is that it wasn't even his house, he was cleaning it for his grandmother. It was pure chance that we even caught him there in the first place. We talked to him for a minute about his life and then just sat down right there on the front steps and taught him a first. He had originally been a part of a local protestant church, but had left when he finally got fed up with all of the money talk involved. I swear the fastest way to make money in Madagascar is to just start a new church. Anyways he hasn't been to any church for about a year now just because he couldn't find one that he thought was true. It was an awesome experience to be able to tell him of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and to tell him that God had sent us to him because he wanted him to come back. I have never met anyone as prepared for the gospel as Nary, he absorbs every lesson like a sponge and allways waits for us at the gate of his house. Isn't it amazing how things just seem to work out sometimes?

So now the reason I was late. We started off the day with a mission wide ping pong tournament at the office. It wasn't quite mission wide I guess, just all those here in tana, but it did cover about 2/3 of the mission. We divided it all in to 2 brackets, one for North Zone and one for South Zone, and then the winners played each other. I am proud to say that I have not lost my game yet, and after about five rounds I was crowned North Zone Champion. I guess I was a little bit too proud, because I definitely got myself humbled in the North Zone/ South Zone all mission championship game. Second place is good too right?
 
So this week I spent a couple of studying all about the Jaredites. One of my favorite people in all of scripture is the Brother of Jared. Poor guy, he couldn't even get his own name into the book. Anyways I especially love his interactions with the Lord as he is preparing the boat to cross the sea. There are a couple of things that I like about it. I like how the Brother of Jared isn't given the exact blueprints of the boats. He is given some basic guidelines and told to go to work. Every time there is a problem he goes to the mount and the Lord tells him to figure it out and bring him back a solution. It's kind of like that in life. We aren't all robots out here, God doesn't control everything we do. He gave us the basic guidelines and told us to go to work. If we have a problem, we can't allways just wait for him to fix it because he won't. We are here on earth to learn and to grow and we can't do that if he gives us all of the solutions. He will help us along the way, but we have to take some responsibility as well. In that way he is able to mold us in to what he needs us to be.
 Love you all so much,

Elder Jensen
Scripture of the week: Ether 12:4
 
 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sorry I'm Late


Dearest everybody,
Sorry that I am so late, but I have a good excuse I promise. You see I don't know if you remember, but we don't have any water in our house, nor have we for about a month. It is literally not even enough to fill a bucket so that I can shower out of it. We have 0 water whatsoever. I haven't showered in about a month now, don't judge me. Definitely not the worst thing that I have had to deal with over here. So anyways the point is that we spent the morning moving in to a new house. This one has running water and even a water heater! Score!! So that's all done now and I promise that I will take a long hot shower tonight.

The work is still going well. We have a lot of investigators who are really sitting on the fence. They will read the books and answer the questions and everything, they just won't come to church consistently enough that they can get baptized. It gets super frustrating sometimes. We actually have about 20 or 25 investigators who have been to church. On the other hand we have only ever had 8 at one time because they all come around every 2 or 3 weeks. We actually do have 2 baptisms coming up on Saturday, so that should be way super cool.
Studies this week have been kind of scarce due to a bunch of meetings and splits and things. I have however been reading from the book Jesus the Christ. It is a way freaking awesome book if anyone is out there for a not-so-quick read. Also it uses a lot of really big words. I have forgotten the meanings to about half of them over the last year. The other half I don't think I ever knew the the meanings to. It's still a great book though!!

Love you all so much

Elder Jensen
So the scripture of the week this week is one called "His Grace is Sufficient" by Brad Wilcox. It is pretty long, about thirty minutes, but you should all listen to it. It will change your life

Missionary Life


So this week went fairly well and we had some adventures for sure. We covered everything from being sick to drunk people to splits and just were going and going and going all week.

No rest for the wicked I guess. 
The work this week went fairly well. We found/were taken to one way awesome family. What happened was that we had a meeting with President Fetra, the Branch President, about getting help from members and also about some less active members in our area. He asked if we knew a certain family, whom we of course had never met. So we made a couple of phone calls and then finally just went to the people's house, who are way close to the church. Turns out they were ex investigators! They had already learned the Gospel for a full year and come to church every single week!! Turns out it was the week of their baptism, and there was some confusion over the bap interviews. By that I mean there was a lot of confusion over the bap interviews. They got kinda scared and also a little insulted by a few things, and ended up not getting baptized. More than that, they stopped coming to church. It was really just one big misunderstanding so we spent about an hour and a half apologizing and just talking it out. They told us that they would think about coming back but we will see. 
 
So this week Elder Lake also had an adventure. He bumped in to a 2 headed dragon right in the middle of Family Home Evening with some members. I'm going to assume that not many people who haven't been to Madagascar know what that means, but it suffices me to say that he got very, very sick. We also had a few very odd situations thrown at us over the week. People here in Madagascar see a white dude who teaches about Jesus and they just think that we can solve all of their problems. One man came sprinting down the little dirt path to catch up to us while we were out tracting. He then pulled out of his backpack a whole collection of documents and things in French that I am pretty sure said he was a crane operator. He refused to speak Malagasy to us so instead we had to deal with his broken English. Either he wanted us to hire him (because missionaries always need crane operators), or he wanted us to send the papers to America so that someone would hire him and fly him over there to work. Basically we told him we couldn't help him but that he should come to church and that was that. 
 
Love you all a whole awful lot,
 
Elder Jensen

Scripture of the Week: 2 Cor. 1:3-5

 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Coolest Mission in the World.


Hey everybody, I'd just like to start off by letting you all know that I am currently serving in the coolest mission in the world. No arguments allowed.
 
This week went fairly well as far as the work goes. We actually got dogged a lot, meaning a lot of people just weren't there for the time that we had scheduled with them. It really kills our program when that happens. I think one of my favorite families that we are teaching right now is the family of a man named John de Dieu. We teach him with his son Eli and his son's wife Erika, all of whom are preparing for baptism right now. John has been coming to church for the last little month or two, but his son has been really stubborn about it. He basically just has always had something better to do. This week we tried a different approach. Instead of asking him to come to church, we taught them a lesson about why they should want to come to church. We talked about how God has given us one day a week as a gift. Sometimes in life we just get so preoccupied with things of the world that we start to feel as though there is a huge weight on our shoulders. Our loving Heavenly Father has given us one day out of every week, 52 days a year, to leave all of those cares and stresses behind and rest. That one really hit ol' Eli. He said that he has felt that weight for a very long time and and that he just didn't know how to get rid of it. On sunday morning, John de Dieu, Eli and Erika all came to church together. For Eli, it was the first time in more than 5 years he had been to any sort of organized church. 

In my studies this week I spent a day studying an article written in a Liahona about Integrity. It was written by President Russell M. Nelson and it is really good. Integrity is the foundation for all Christlike attributes. It means recognizing and trusting in The Lord, and placing him above all other things. Sometimes in life we are tempted to bend the commandments to fit them into our lives. We actually get that a lot out here. Everyone always says that they will come to church "If it's God's will." They think that if he wants them at church he will send them himself, that he will make the path blatantly obvious. Their boss will miraculously give them the day off of work "If it's God's will." But the thing is is that isn't how it works. God has set the commandments for us. They are laws placed by Him to help us. It's not our place to try to change and bend them to fit in with our lives. Our job is to change and shape our own lives in order to fit them in to commandments that He gave to us. That's integrity. Doing what's right even when it's not what's popular. Love you all so much.
 
Elder Jensen
 
Scripture of the week: Job 31: 6 but the entire Story of Job is good

When all you have is eggs to eat and the gas stove goes out. Clever! 

 My new area.
 Me and my boy Elder Lake
Tana

 

 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Tana Life




Hey everybody,
So here I am in Tana at long last. I feel like I've been living in the jungle for the last year, but that's all over now. I finally made it to the big city. Its noisy, smelly, and dirty, and I totally love it here. It's definitely a different kind of missionary work though. On top of that it's a whole new language again. But all in all it's the same old work as it always has been and I love it so much.
So on Tuesday I finally got on a plane and made it to my new area. The APs picked us up and took me to my new house, where I dropped my stuff inside the door and Elder Lake and I went out to work. We had a good few days of work and a great Zone Conference. The work here in Tana is going extremely well, I was impressed. We have a ton of times and people to teach. Almost too many to be truly honest. We have been trying to sift through those who are maybe not quite ready so that we can make room for those who are. I only have a year left after all. That's not near enough time and we can't waste a second of it.

On Thursday Elder Lake and I took a 2 hour bus ride into the center of town where the mission office is. I havn't been there in a full year. We had a really big zone conference. It was all of the missionaries in Tana and also Antsirabe, plus Mahajanga, Fianarantsoa and Tamatave. Basically there were about 10 missionaries who weren't there. Because it was so big, Elder Lake and I didn't have to do much, just a zone report and President did the rest. We talked a lot about preparation and being ready to be guided by the spirit and also to know and find the needs of each individual investigator rather than just slipping into a routine on each lesson. There was also a comment made that hit me really hard. They said that the moment you try to convert someone by how much you know, and not by the spirit, you're doing it wrong. I feel like ever since I started picking up the language I have kind of started to just teach people the gospel rather than letting the Holy G


host truly convert them. It was definitely something that I needed to hear.

I sure love you all, til next week,

Elder Jensen
Scripture of the week: Mosiah 4:9

(I may have already used this one, sorry bout that I just really like it, it's way awesome in Malagasy)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Emergency Transfer





Hey everybody,
So we had a very eventful week this week. It started with a call from President saying that I am being emergency transfered! I'll explain that one a little bit later. Then after that the week was spent teaching some great lessons and saying some very, very hard goodbyes, and we ended it with another DIT foot surgery!! I didn't actually have to help this time (halelujah). All in all, we had ourselves a great adventure.

 So on Tuesday at around 8 in the morning Elder Maluleka's phone went off. Elder Maluleka is our district leader here in Fort D and just an awesome missionary. Anyways he was to be emergency transferred back up into Tana (the capitol) to be the Zone Leader in south zone. Not a really big shocker, we all saw that one coming. Then President Foote shocked the world by asking Elder Maluleka to please hand Elder Jensen the phone. I was also to be emergency transferred up to Tana, to be the North Zone Leader. Trust me I was just as shocked as you are. The two of us were supposed to get on a plane at 3:20 Saturday afternoon to fly us up to Tana. 

So because of that, we spent the week saying goodbyes. Mahala and Elvine were probably the hardest. They are now preparing to go to the temple next year. That's quite the ordeal here, Moreso than probably anywhere else because we are on an island so they have to fly all the way to Johannesburg to the nearest temple. We also said goodbye to a bunch of other people, members, investigators, old friends. It was a fun but very sad time. Then came the big morning. Saturday. There was a baptism for some other missionaries that morning so we all got ready and set that up. At about 7 we got a text from our Branch President saying that our flight time may have been changed to 7:50 am and that we should check on it. We called the APs and they said that they were in province so they hadn't heard anything, so we just assumed that we were good. Big mistake. At around 8 we heard the only plane in Fort Dauphin take off, without us on it. We made a few slightly frantic phone calls and found out that it had indeed been changed. The airport let the church travel agent know, who emailed the AP's, who were supposed to call us. They however were driving in the middle of nowhere to visit a town with no reception and thus had no idea what was going on. Our flight has now been rescheduled to Tuesday morning, so we will head out then. Good times right? Hahaha it ended up good though, I got one more Sunday and one more P-day here and that's enough for me. 

 This week I have been studying Christ, especially the way that he interacted with people. He always used parables that related to people because in that way people could understand the very hard things that he taught. He called fishermen to be his disciples and not rich educated people because he knew that they would be humble and teach people with love. We teach people not lessons because people matter, not lessons. I learned some really great things to apply in teaching and I feel like it has helped a lot. Love you all so much,

 
Elder Jensen

 
Scripture of the week: Matt. 13: 10-13

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Week 4, Transfer 8, goes too fast.

Dear everybody,
Things are still great here on the other side of the world. I am sorry I'm late but we went on a little 7 hour nature walk this morning. It was brutal. Other than that things have been pretty calm around here. Just another week in paradise.

So the work week went really well. We have been having a lot of success here and caught most all of our goals this week. We even have 4 baptisms scheduled for the 30th and about 10 more for august!! One of my favorite investigators at the moment is a guy named Egson. Elder Coleman and I tracked into his family about 2 months ago. He wasn't even there for the first lesson. We taught his family but they were very stuck in their Lutheran faith. We went back for a second lesson and he was there for that one. His wife politely asked us after the lesson to never come back. Ever. I mean like never ever ever never. She didn't like our stuff much. I guess he did because he ran us down at the gate and set up another appointment with us. Ever since then we have either learned in his kid's bedroom or his office because the wife won't even let us into the house. Yes though, I did say office. He is a very well off guy. He is also sitting on the Lutheran Council of Fort Dauphin. However, at this point he knows that the Book of Mormon is true and Joseph Smith is a true prophet to the point that he gets mad at us when we ask him. He told us yesterday that he knows he needs to get baptized it's just way hard for him to leave his church because it's all he's ever known. He's praying about it though, hopefully he'll get an answer soon. Hopefully really soon. Missions are short, and I'm not getting any younger you know!!

Studies this week were good. I spent a lot of time reading in Alma. I especially like where they teach King Lamoni and his father. Ammon and Aaron do such a good job of teaching the gospel and especially of teaching it in a way that it can be understood. It was just a bit of a lesson on slowing things down and making sure that we teach simply and understandably so that the spirit can bear witness of the message.

In other news I went on a hike this morning!! Not a real hike, we just spent about 3 1/2 hours walking on a beach so that we could see the sun rise. It was way pretty but I am just exhausted at this point. Also got some good pictures but the cyber cafe here is very crappy so I am just going to wait to send them and save me some time.

Love you all so much,
Elder Jensen

Scripture of the Week; Alma 20:23, Alma 22:15