Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Dear Family,
Another very fast week! I´m beginning to realize how short this time to serve the Lord really is! But each week is so full of experiences that help me learn and see how much the Lord blesses his missionaries!
This week I got to give a talk in sacrament meeting!  The awesome thing is that I wasn´t afraid or nervous or any of that. It was so weird because I wasn´t nervous and the talk went great and my Spanish went really smooth. Actually I went a little bit long! I was so blessed with divine help and it was so cool to be giving a talk with the Lord´s help. Also I learned at church how important it is to be grateful. I think that as I try my hardest to be grateful for every experience that I have it feels like all my personal concerns go away. I realize how blessed I really am and what a choice privilege it is to be the a representative of Christ.
I really am so so grateful for all the things that I learn here every day! I have never learned so much in such a short amount of time and I can´t wait to see what else the Lord has prepared for me in the coming months. Always know that he is taking good care of me and gives me the strength to make it every day! I love you all so much and hope you have a great Christmas celebrating the birth and life of our Savior!
Elder Jensen
How the time has flown by! I already have three weeks in the field! This week I think I have learned the most in my mission so far. I think it was becasue the first two weeks I was focused on surviving more than anything!

I had the awesome chance to go to the Quetzaltenango temple this week and I can´t tell you how much I needed that! I had wanted to go since the first day I got in the field because I get so much strength from the
temple! I can´t tell you how beautiful the temple is! I am so grateful that we had the chance to go there and that through the restored gospel we have the huge blessings of temples in these latter days!

Yesterday I went on divisions with one of the Elders in our apartment, Elder D. (the Guatemalan). We had so many spiritual lessons yesterday and it was definitely the highest point of my mission yesterday! We taught our third lesson to a man named E.  We had the oppurtunity to teach him along with his sister who takes care of him and later their mom came out and joined the lesson! It was such a spiritual lesson and we had a great time laughing, talking, and feeling the spirit!  We also had an awesome lesson yesterday with a man named R. We gave him a Book of Mormon in the last lesson and we read in 2 Nephi 31 with him yesterday and helped him see that the Book of Mormon is his key to knowing that all this is true. He said that if he can know the Book of Mormon is true he will be baptized that day! I can´t tell you how wonderful it is to teach by the Spirit and see it work in the people we teach!

I am so grateful for all that I learned this week and that things get better here every day! I know I couldn´t do any of this without all of your support and prayers and above all the support of the Savior. I can´t tell you how much I´ve learned about how important the Savior is for us especially in times of need. It is amazing how much your testimony will grow when all you have to lean on is this gospel! I love you all so much and my heart is with all of you during this special time as we celebrate the birth of our Savior!

Elder Jensen
Hopefullly you weren`t too worried not to hear from me yesterday. I had a pretty fun week because we got to go to the capital yesterday! The rest of the week was pretty normal as I continue to survive and learn a lot.

Like I said yesterday I got to go to the capital with almost all of my CCM district to finish up all the paperwork for my visa. We went to the mission office Sunday evening where we got to reunite with our CCM district after two weeks. We were all so happy to see each other and I think we all really needed it because these first few weeks for a missionary are not too easy. We had so much fun talking about our areas and all our experiences and I really needed that a lot! We slept at a hotel in Reu and then left at 4am for the Guatemala City. All we did there was sign a paper and get a photo taken and it was pretty short. We did get to eat McDonalds and Taco Bell which was super awesome! I just loved being with my district again and getting to speak some English (because I never have a chance to speak it)! It really helped to see that some of the feelings and thoughts I was having during the first couple weeks were really normal and we all had some pretty tough challenges. It was interesting because here in the mission it`s like there`s two different worlds! WIth the cold and the hot and it was really cool to hear all the different stories and experiences of  the district.

As we were coming back to Calahuache it started to pour rain. It was crazy because we take these big vans called buses everywhere and when they are full you hang on to a bar and stand outside and we had to stand outside of the van as it was pouring rain! I got so so wet! It wasn`t terribly fun but quite an experience! We were kind of laughing the whole time but it was pretty crazy! Luckily nothing got ruined or anything like that. I just remember being so wet and feeling all the rain drops hit us as we were speeding along. I definitely won`t forget that experience!

I`ve really discovered here how much my testimony grows every day here! There are a lot of times where I feel there is nothing familiar here and it`s tough but then I always find that I have the gospel and I have the Lord and just having to rely on those things helps me see how important they are and how much I want to share these blessings with everyone! I wouldn`t be able to make it here without this gospel and I am so grateful that I have it and the help of the Lord! Thank you for your prayers that keep me going and help me to keep working hard!

Elder Jensen

Hola Familia!
Well, I can`t believe it but I`m here in the mission field! What an interesting week! I don`t think I have nearly enough time to tell you all that I want but maybe I`ll get a letter off.

Right now we are back in Retalhuleu in a little Internet Cafe.  We left the CCM on tuesday and started our four hour trip to Reu. It was so beautiful! I can`t tell you how green it is here! It was also so cool because on the way there we got to look at at least four different volcanoes! It was so cool and we could definitely feel the heat as we go closer to Reu. We got to the mission home and had a little welcome meeting with President. President and Sister Ruiz are so great and I can`t wait to get to know them more! We went out and did some work the first day with other missionaries here in Reu. I went out with an Elder from Honduras. It was a pretty eye opening experience and my feet even fell in a river during those few hours which was crazy! Later we had an awesome dinner at the mission home which was really nice. It was basically our thanksgiving dinner and I enjoyed it a lot! We slept in a hotel in Reu and then the next morning we had our transfer meeting.

I was excited to find out that I now have a Latino trainer. He is from Honduras and I am so lucky to have him as my companion. My trainer is a super missionary and really helps me a lot. We are now serving in a town called Calahuache! It`s close to a bigger town called San Felipe and that`s the name of our zone. I thing we`re in the department of Quetzaltenango which is pretty cool. The weather in Calahuache is super awesome. It never gets too cold and during the day it is just the perfect temperature. I think it`s considered one of the cold areas and I think the temperature is just perfect. The only things that aren`t awesome are all the hills we have to walk. Luckily the area is pretty small so we don`t actually do a whole ton of walking but at times we are walking up some pretty tough hills. The other interesting things is that is is one of the greenest areas in the mission. There are so so many trees and everywhere you look it`s green. It`s super cool but at times there are mosquitos. The other super awesome thing about our area is that if there aren`t clouds we can see two volcanoes that are right next to each other and it is so cool! I need to get a picture soon!

I`ve discovered that being in the field is much different than I thought. I thought that I would be able to understand everyone when I came out here but I`ve found that`s not the case. Luckily I`m blessed enough that I can talk and participate in the lessons but most of the time I am so lost! It`s sort of hard because I can`t speak English at all but I am grateful that I`m in this situation so that I can learn much faster. In our apartment there are four of us and I am the only Gringo. There`s  an elder from Mexico and an  elder from Guatemala. It`s hard sometimes because I usually have no clue what they`re all talking about and I hope I can learn fast! Our apartment makes me so grateful for all the conveniences I had for 18 years. We have all that we need to survive without any issues but there are a lot of things that I`m going to miss (especially warm showers!). The apartment is on the second foor of a building and luckily it`s all closed up so that we don`t have issues with mosquitos. We don`t have AC but we really don`t need it because the temperature is always perfect.  The food so far has been really great and we have a family who aren`t members that cook dinners for us and I am so grateful for them because it might take a while for me to figure out the whole cooking thing. I hope I can get the hang of it!

I wish I had another hour because there is so much I want to tell you but I really want you to know that I love you all so much! This first week has made me miss you all a lot but I`m surviving on all your prayers and I know that this gospel is true I know what it can do for these people here in Calahuache! I love you all so much.

Elder Jensen
I'm sorry again about writing on a different day of the week! Things keep getting switched around with our activities and new missionaries always coming in. Tomorrow we are going to go to a giant central market and
see a really cool 3D map of Guatemala so they moved our writing day to today. I can´t believe how fast these past two weeks has gone!I think I can safely say that these were the fastest two weeks of my life! It´s kind of a sad thing because I know with each week that goes by I am losing this super amazing time to put all my effort and heart in the work of salvation and also into the studies of the gospel. It is so great not to have to worry about worldly things like money and school and always have my thoughts centered on the savior.

I wish I had an amazing story this week like the bus story last week but it was a pretty normal week. We did have a district meeting yesterday where we all started bearing our testimonies of the Savior and the Atonement and it was such a cool spiritual experience. There were a lot of waterworks going and it was a really cool moment. The only thing was that our meeting was supposed to be half an hour and it ended up going for an hour and a half. Once we were finished we noticed that we hadn´t eaten dinner and when we walked into the cafateria all the food was gone! We kind of flipped out for a while and just started drinking a lot of the juice in the cafeteria but we were able to find a worker and they brought some food out for us. I guess our district meeting almost turned into a district fast!
Like I said earlier, it´s hard to believe how close we are to leaving for the field. I can still vividly remember getting here on the airplane and now we are almost getting on a bus for Retalhuleu! I am so excited to get into the mission field even if it may be super super hot. To be honest I am not missing the cold weather at all because the weather here in the city is so perfect! Although I should probably watch out because I´m probably going to be missing it when I am covered in sweat in a few weeks.
I´ve really enjoyed the wonderful growth of my testimony that I´ve had here at the CCM. Just being together with young men and women who have such unshakable testimonies in this gospel and are so willing to give all they have for the Lord is such a powerful thing. It´s incredible to see the things that all of us have overcome to be here and the blessings we have all already recieved. I think that I´m really starting to understand the joy and blessings of studying the gospel. I just learning from the prophets and feeling the Spirit of their words as they testify of the divinity of the Savior. I´ve also learned how important the atonement is for us as missionaries. Not only to help us repent of our mistakes but it really is what gives us the extra strength and energy to work our hardest the whole day and not just want to sleep all day. I´m so grateful for this strength that the Lord gives to his missionaries throught the atonement and through all of your spirits, prayers and support for me.
I am always so grateful to be here and feel so privledged to get to where Christ´s name with mine every single day. I try not to take this time and calling for granted and I try to enjoy my service the the Lord the best I can. I´m so grateful that you all are there to support me and that we can all rejoice together in the joy of the gospel. I love you all so much and am so grateful that I am able to bless you with this service!
Elder Jensen
Dear Family,
I continue to just enjoy my time here away from the cares of the world and being so deeply involved in the gospel of the savior and the work of salvation. My digestive health has been getting a lot better but there are some days where my stomach can be pretty unforgiving.
Amazing experience this week! The day after I wrote you last week (I think it was Tuesday) we had the chance to take a trip to Walmart and then to a food court with fast food. But before we headed to walmart they took us to the Stake Center here in this part of the city and let us play around in the gym for a while. We forgot to bring a ball so we ended up playing all these really wierd games in the cultural hall but it ended up being pretty fun. There are a handful of polynesian elders here from Hawaii and other places so we played some of their favorite games which were pretty interesting but pretty fun too. Anyway, after our time in the chapel we all got back on the bus to head to walmart. Heading out of the Stake Center there was a bit of an incline and as the bus was driving down it we somehow got stuck. The back wheels weren´t fully on the ground and the bus wasn´t moving. The driver kept hitting the gas but those wheels had nothing to grab on to. Luckily we weren´t blocking all the lanes of traffic and there was still one lane that the cars could get through. After a little while longer of the driver trying to drive off the incline we had all the Elders get off the bus and try to push the bus. We did this a few times and we actually dented in the back of the bus because there was so much man power on the bus. The driver and some people off the street helped us to wedge some wood pieces under the wheels to get some traction but even with the traction and the arm strength of about 25 missionaries we still couldn´t move that bus! It reminded me of grandma and grandpa´s story of their travels in south america when their bus got stuck in that river. We finally go smart enough to huddle up together and say a prayer. After the prayer we gave it all we had trying to push that bus and after another 7 minutes or so we got the bus to move a bit and a little later we say the bus go down the incline and onto the road! We were all so happy and cheering and of course we made sure to huddle up again and thank Heavenly Father for that divine strength. It was a pretty interesting experience because it was a little bit scary but also a really cool and faith building experience. I also got some good pictures of me trying to push the bus that I should be able to send once I´m out in the field.
Our time in Walmart was also really great becasue I was able to find some hangers! I don´t think I´ve ever been so excited about having hangers! I was also able to get a tide to go pen which is one of the most useful things for a missionary because somehow I always get stuff on my shirts. I´ve been working hard to spend my money sparingly and it´s been really good experience for me. After walmart we went to a food court this really nice mall and I had some pizza hut. It was so good! The awesome thing was is that I got all this awesome good food and it was only $3 or so! We have a couple Elders from Oregon in our district and as we were coming out of the mall they were saying that the scene looked exactly like Oregon which made me think of you dad. I just can´t get over how beautiful this place is!
We had another general authority come this week which was really fun. I think his name was Elder Calbes but I couldn´t find him in the picture of the seventy. I really liked his message and was excited that I could understand a lot of what he was saying without the translation. A new batch of missionaries came in this week and the group of nortes and hispanos is so huge that we now have to have our classes at the chapel behind the temple. I really enjoy walking right by the temple a few times every day. Also the chapel is down a hill behind the temple and we get to look up and see all the amazing spires and angel Moroni. Also there are all these really cool trees, flowers, and plants around the chapel and there is a great view of this big hill that is just covered with trees and some houses and it is so lovely! Of course the sky is always amazing beacause it always the perfect blue and the clouds are just amazing.  I will say though that I´m not missing the cold weather. Here in the city the weather is just perfect every day. 
I have just loved getting all the spiritual support from all of you! I´m not sure how I´m able to survive without you all but I´m pretty certain that it has to do with all your prayers for me! I also love hearing from you all even if I can´t respond super personally. I think something that has really helped is the bond that we have in our CCM district. We´ve spent 3 weeks living together studying the gospel and we pretty much become hermanos (brothers). I´m so glad that we are all going to the Retalhuleu mission because I would be pretty sad if we were all going to different missions.
I am so anxious to get out into the field! It´s tough sometimes in the CCM because we always talk about our purpose but we can´t really invite anyone to come unto Christ for 3 more weeks. I´m not really sure what to expect of the mision field but I am really looking forward to the moment that I get to help someone´s family recieve the blessings of the gospel and enjoy the wonderful peace and love that we are all so privledged to have. I really am so grateful for this calling and I try not to take it for granted because I know that it´s going to be over before I realize. I love each of you so very much and I know that I am doing the right thing as I use all my energy to serve the Savior.
Elder Jensen

¿Que Tal?
So things keep moving along here. The past two weeks have probably been the fastest in my whole life. Besides the first day that we arrived here every single day has just flown by! It´s hard to believe.
This week I got hit with the infamous Montazuma´s Revenge and it lasted about 4 days and I still am experiencing remnants of it. It really is no fun. But it hasn´t kept me back from going about the daily life here in the Guatemala CCM. Whenever I´m getting really bad stomach pains I just think about how much my Savior went through for me and then I really don´t think about it too much. I´ve noticed here that I´ve done a really good job with having a good attitude about things instead of always dragging my arms around complaining about my health or the unstructured schedule of the CCM.
The CCM building is pretty nice. Like I said my room is on the third floor and our window looks right out to the front of the Guatemala City Temple. There´s pretty much no carpet anywhere in here so I kind of miss that a little bit. Our room has 3 bunk beds in it and there are two American elders who have been here two weeks longer than us, my companion and I, and two hispano elders who are leaving tomorrow (but we´ll get new ones on Wednesday). The rooms really aren´t that big and the biggest meeting room we have here isn´t too big either. We spend most of the day in our classroom doing studies on our own or with the teacher. The excercise part of the CCM is nice because they have two basketball courts that double for soccer. 
One thing I really enjoy here is getting to talk to all the Hispano Elders. I´ve made really good friends with a couple of them but they are all leaving tomorrow so I´m kind of sad. There´s one elder from Peru that I´ve really gotten to be good friends with because we found out that we like the same kinds of music and we get really excited when we share songs with each other. It´s so great talking with him because a lot of the time I´m able to understand everything he says and I can say everything I want to say. 
The CCM president here is a really cool guy. We´ve already had one interview with him and you can tell that he really cares about the missionaries. There are so many wonderful senior couples that work here and they make things here a lot better.
We got to go to the temple last week (and again tomorrow) and I really enjoyed it.  The temple is so beautiful (like everything here is in Guatemala) and the session was great. It´s nice we can do it in english since there are enough of the older couples and english speaking temple workers.
This past week we also got a visit from a general authority. It was Elder Amado from the seventy. I think he is the area authority for Central America so it was a pretty cool experience. During the meetings with all the Elders and Sisters present us American elders get these little PA systems that we can get translated in English to. It was nice to have that during Elder Amado´s devotional because he had some awesome counsel.
I just love getting all your uplifting emails and I wish I had the time to answer every single one of your questions but I just don´t have the time! I wrote a letter last week but I haven´t gotten stamps yet so I will probably sending two letters your way any day now. By the way I got your letter mom! It came in only 9 days (which is pretty amazing)! I am so eternally grateful for your prayers and thoughts on my behalf and I really can feel them uplifting me and helping me press forward in this work without you being here with me. I try to never take for granted the great love and support I have from you all. I am so grateful for the experiences that I´m having here and all that I am learning about myself and all that the Lord is teaching me. I absolutely know that this gospel is true. I see its truthfulness every day and I will continue to see it for the rest of my life. I want each one of you to never forget that I love you all and that I really do care about you and that your father in heaven cares about you so much! I love you all!
Elder Jensen

Parting is such sweet sorrow.

October 16, 2013

I wish I knew where to start! Like I told you in my last little short email I made it to the CCM without any issues. Everything went so perfect! It was a pretty wierd feeling after I had left you all after security. I was surpirsed that I wasn´t more scared but I knew what I was doing was right and that I could rely on the strength of the Lord. I headed to my gate without any problems and I got a waterbottle that I ended up using the entire trip. The flight to Atlanta left pretty late so I was pretty nervous when we arrived in Atlanta and it was already past the time that we were supposed to board the flight to LA. When I got off the plane in Atlanta I figured out that my gate was in another part of the airport so I had to take that train that you were talking about dad. When I got off the train I saw that my gate was way at the end so I was speed walking all the way there which was hard because I had those heavy bags and the airport was packed. When I finally got where I needed to be I was so happy to see that the flight hadn´t left and it turned out that it didn´t leave for another half an hour or so which was such a huge blessing. What was even more awesome was that there was another Elder there at the gate. He from Florida. He´s actually in my CCM district now and we are all pretty close. I´m so glad that he had his dad´s old missionary name tag on because I don´t know if I would have noticed hime. We had fun talking as we waited to get on the plane and I was really excited when I found out we were both going to the Guatemala Retalhuleu Mission. It was such a tender mercy to have another Elder there because it helped me calm down and not feel so lonely. I also enjoyed learning that we kind of had a lot of the same feelings and fears about what was going on so I was so glad that he was there. The flight from Atlanta to LA went ok but it was pretty long. I think it ended up being longer than the flight from LA to Guatemala. When me and Elder Walker got to LA we were able to find the gate for the Guatemala flight and there were a ton of missionaries at the gate. We were so excited! We were all straight from home so it was super fun to talk to each other and I´m really grateful that we were all able to meet up. Most of the misisonaries were from Utah and California and there were some from Oregon, Arizona, and a sister from Hawaii. It was so cool to see all of us young missionaries together from all over the country with a huge excitement to share this amazing gospel. I was able to get some McDonalds in the LA airport and I tried to enjoy it knowing that it could be a while until I get to have that again. The flight from LA to Guatemala was overnight so most people were asleep but as usual I had trouble dozing off. As we were landing into the city it was so cool to see all the mountains, lakes, and so much green! This place is so beautiful and I love it so much! Another huge blessing was that all my suitcases made it Guatemala! I was pretty worried because of the short layover in Atlanta. When I thought back on the whole trip I was definitely guided by the Lord´s hand because everything worked out so well and there were so many tender mercies (quickly figuring out the gate I needed, getting on the right train in Atlanta, the other missionary, the LA flight getting delayed, and so much more!) I know it was because of all of your prayers for me back home and because of mine as well! Thank you for praying for me!
The bus ride from the airport to the CCM was really cool because we drove by so many cool things in the city! It was also pretty scary because people drive so crazy here! I don´t know how they do it! When we got to the CCM we were able to figure out who our companions were and which rooms we were in. Our room is so awesome because it has a perfect view to the Guatemala City Temple! I couldn't believe how lucky we were! Every day when we walk into our room we can see that perfect view of the temple and it is so great!
The CCM itself is pretty nice. It´s really small but that makes it easy to get around. The meals are also better than the ones in Provo (or so I´ve been told) because everything is more personal. On the second day here we found out that we were going to be teaching our first investigator. He works as a chef here at the CCM. He´s worked here for a year and surprisingly he hasn´t had any lessons from the missionaries. Luckily he speaks English fairly well so we are able to get our lessons across if we start to blank on the language.
I´m so grateful for this chance I have to spend two years as a servant of the Lord and that I get to spend all my time focusing on the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love you all so much and I am so so so blessed to have family and friends that support me in this wonderful work!
Elder Jensen