Monday, June 29, 2015

Good-Bye Zona Mazate Lincoln

Doing some interviews with 4 elders.

Dear Family,

This has been the most eventful week for a long,  long time!

After a lot of prayers of the missionaries I have been able to get back to 100% health and I have felt great. We started working hard starting with Monday, we had super big plans this week since we were on track to break the zone record that had been set a few years back. Well, I got an interesting phone call on Tuesday. It was President Ruiz calling to tell me that I had changes and that I would be the new assistant of the Mission Reu!! I almost had a heart attack! He was planning to change me out that same day (on Tuesday) but I was able to explain that we had a lot of plans in these next few days and that I wanted to stay at least until Monday. He said that would be fine and the next day they sent in my replacement to be with us in a trio for a few days. That was kind of fun go around with 2 companions instead of just 1.

Since I knew that I only would have until Monday in Mazate I wanted to give my all! We were able to travel around and help a lot of the areas get people ready for baptism. Each day we saw big miracles, areas that doubted they could have baptisms were able to have prepared people. Many souls were able to repent and be clean and start their lives over again! There is nothing better to witness than this!

Baptsim of A.

As I was saying goodbye to the C. Family (baptized last week and miraculously I was able to be in the baptism service) and I was overwhelmed with joy to see how much they have been able to change in the past couple months! E., who used to come home drunk and yell and cause problems in the home has come to love his family and serve them, and the spirit in their home is totally different and S. was just so thankful for the 360 degree change in their family. I just felt in that moment, ´this is why I am here´. This is why God sends us to be missionaries.
The C. family

I have enjoyed giving out Japanese candies to the members of the ward since they all were asking me for some after I gave a talk about that. Well, the whistle candies you sent were actually in an English package with English all over and I mistakenly gave the packet to one of the members who likes to joke around a lot and he gave me a hard time about giving out candies that were really made in the states. It was super funny but I was able to explain that it was a Japanese idea just ripped off in the states.

On Sunday, I. (baptized last month) brought her brother, J., to church. We were able to help him commit to change and prepare for baptism and he is ready to change! The best moment was that as we left we saw J.´s mom begin to cry for joy to see that her son is ready to change and that we would be at his side helping him. I could feel the spirit so strong and feel that nothing is coincidence! This is the Lord´s work!

Elder Jensen

Where´s the door?

Zona Mazate Lincoln, breaking the record!

One of the areas in the zone, La Union

Making tortillas with E., the mom of A.

With O. (baptized a few months ago)
and O.´s friend M. L. who was baptized thanks to O.

I. (baptized last month and going super strong)
with her husband and her daughter L.

With A. (a future missionary for sure) and his family.

With the ward mission leader, A., and his family.
They were at every single one of our baptisms.

Carrying my clothes bag on my head like a Guatemalan.

Good-bye to my companions.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Happiness and Health

Dear Family,

Sadly I couldn´t send you very many pictures this week but we had so many things going on I completely didn´t have time!

We started a new tradition to play basketball with the close by Elders every morning at 6 to get in some excercise and try to get some more unity between us all. Well my companion and I have somehow managed to win every single game we´ve played! We were going good on tuesday morning and had a huge lead when I went to strip the ball from another Elder. As I smacked the ball something strange happened. The ball didn´t budge, but my shoulder sure did. Somehow my sholder socket got dislocated and all I felt was a ton of pain and that my arm was defititely out of it´s socket! I kind of panicked because how was I going to get this thing back in place?! Well about 20 seconds later I just felt it pop right back it. It sounded pretty bad but I was sure happy to feel that I could move my arm again, despite the pain I still had. Well I took a seat for a while and watched as my companion managed to still win against 2 huge american elders just playing with another tiny latino Elder. That made my morning at least.

Later in the day I saw the doctor and got the great news that for the next 2 weeks I would get to use ... ... drumroll ... an arm sling! It looks kind of goofy but I am getting used to it. The fun part is that my left arm is getting a lot more coordinated. The hardest things for me to do are the following: put in my contacts only with my left hand (now a pro at that), brushing my teeth (still have some work to do with that), bathing myself, tieing a tie (I just completely gave up on that and my companion does it), doing the ordinance of baptism (out of the question right now), eating tortillas with the food (definitely need 2 hands for that), and writing things (amazingly I am doing a great job typing this email right now).

I also had some other health problems the other days of the week acclimating to Friday where I got had some pretty bad stomach pains and ended up spending the night in the hospital as they got me all fixed up and back to 100%. The miracle was that supposedly I wouldn´t be able to make it out until maybe Sunday but with a lot of prayers and faith of my companion I was able to be completely cured and back to normal before the baptisms we had on Saturday evening! Wow!

This Saturday E., his wife S., and his 2 kids D. and C. were all baptized! The C. family is really a prepared family! It has been amazing, really amazing, to see all the changes they have made in their family since we first taught them and saw them come to church for the first few times! The member from San Pablo, San Marcos (where my companion was serving) that gave us the reference of the family came down to be in the baptism and it was such a happy ocassion! There were smiles on everyones faces! We had planned that I was maybe going to do E.´s baptism since he is a bigger guy but I was totally out of the count because of my shoulder so we had a big strong member avaiable to do the ordinance. It was super special and we didn´t all fit in the baptism room because there was so much support! Also A., a 21 year old school teacher that we ran into a few weeks ago (since his door said ´don´t knock´) was also baptized and he was happy to see that a few of his students are members and they were there supporting him as well! It was a very special evening and a miracle that I was able to be there and not be in the hospital!
There was one very, very amazing experience we had on Sunday with an investigator we have been teaching named M. We found M. a few weeks back after we had no idea where to go and just found him in a random set of apartments in the middle of nowhere. Well, he has progressed a lot in the past few weeks but when we called him Sunday morning before the church meeting he said that he would no longer be coming to church because they had called him to pay a certain amount of money to not have to go to jail and he needed to work instead of go to church. We made him a promise. We promised that if he stayed in his house and didn´t go to church it would be very likely that he would end up without the money and end up going to jail. But, if he went to all 3 hours of church, the Lord would do his part and provide the money that M. needed. Well, M. showed his faith and came and stayed the 3 hours in church (with a white shirt and tie I might add). Well, when we went to visit him in the evening, within 5 minutes of our vist he recieved a phone call. It was one of his good friends calling to let him know that he was going to help him pay this amount and that he no longer would need to go to jail! Tears filled his eyes as he ended the call and he thanked the Lord for sending this blessing and for sending us into his life to help him get these blessings. It was incredible! Something I will never forget! He will be baptized this Saturday with A. (the son of a church member that we found who just moved to Mazate).

One cultural thing here is that tortillas are eating with EVERYTHING, doesn´t matter if it is soup, you have to eat tortilla. Well, the other day the members sent us to go buy the tortillas and we thought it would be cool to bring them in a 2 big leafs instead of the normal plastic bag. She put them in the leafs but as we walked back my companion hit the tortillas on his leg and we watched as the tortillas fell almost in slow motion to the dirty ground. Miracuoasly the tortillas hit the ground and as the first leaf fell off the whole stack of tortillas flipped onto the other leaf and not one tortilla touched the ground! Incredible! We could not stop laughing! It was totally a slow motion moment that I will never forget! I think the member thought we were crazy because we had so many laughs as everyone ate those tortillas.

These really have been the most edifying weeks and months of my life! Also the funnest time of my life! There is nothing better a person can do with their time than help the Lord bring happiness into the lives of his children!

Elder Jensen

Friday, June 19, 2015

Washed clean

On divisions

Dear Family,

You have no idea how hard it is to fit all the events of the week in one little email! I wish I could just tell you all the crazy stories from this week!

We really had some very spiritual moments this week. Early in the week I remember saying a very sincere prayer asking for help from the Lord to find prepared people, people who are literally just waiting for us to show up at their door. Well, we prayed for that and then got on our feet and set out to find this person! We did our part and the Lord did his! We went to a remote part of the city and came across a single mom who we asked ´what do you think of when you here the word momon? ´ She yelled, I´m Mormon! We got to meet her kids and found out that she had just moved from the capital and felt very lonely and hasn´t searched for the church yet. She was just so so happy to see us and she wants to help her 10 year old son to be baptized this Saturday! Her name is E. and her son´s name is A. God answered our sincere prayer!

The most memorable moment of the week was the baptism of I. and her 2 kids, B. and L.. I still remember the first moment we found I. in her house and the tears she shed when we explained that her daughter that passed away wasn´t lost, but if she strived to keep the Lord´s commandments she could return to live with her daughter and since that moment she has done everything to obey the Lord and was baptized on Saturday! After the baptism I was looking out one of the windows of the church and I saw an amazing view of the sky and just felt that the Lord was so pleased in the N. family and pleased for all our efforts to find and teach them! It was a special moment for all of us.

We have worked as hard as we can this past week and we are helping E. and his wife S. and their 2 kids (C. and D.) to be ready for their baptism this Saturday. This is just another testimony of how powerful God is and how he works miracles like this family (the C. family). The member who presented us (who is from Malacatan) is coming saturday for the baptism and it will be an amazing moment. Also getting baptized this Saturday is A., someone that we found because his door said ´don´t knock´ (´no tocar´ in spanish, I sent a picture of that a few weeks ago, well that is the moment when we found A.). He´s about 24 years old and is super super smart and has loved reading the Book of Mormon! These are just miracles!

On Saturday morning we went to San Francisco to help a family finish up their to-do´s of the house so that they would have time to attend church on Sunday. We put up a plastic sheet as a wall so their chickens couldn´t escape but their was an insane amount of mosquitos and I even got bit on my ears and chin, that wasn´t the best.

The sister who lived their let me bathe her dog but she gave me this nasty soap that is made from cow and pig fat and also from ashes and it is like one of the worst things I have smelled. Yeah, and the smell didn´t come out of my hands for a good 24 hours. I felt like I had the force because if I put my hand close to anyone they just backed up.

I have noticed a few phenomenons this week. First, almost every time I call investigators to remind them of our appointment or to remind them about church they almost never answer the phone. The strange thing is right when I pass the phone to my companion he calls and on the first attempt they always answer! I don´t understand why! Also there were like 5 times this week where I would get my hands full of soap to wash my hands and discover that there is no water in our house. I am now an expert at getting soap off my hands with toilet paper. 

Soda is pretty much part of the food pyramid here in Guatemala. The cool thing is that there are so many crazy flavors of soda so people don´t get board of the same stuff. Well, the other day some members put a huge 3 liter bottle of this apple flavored soda which was super delicious. It was also a super hot day and before we knew it my companion and I had drunken the whole thing! I don´t know how we did it, I just know that these same members stopped putting the whole bottle on the table (scared that we will finish it). We had a good laugh about that.

I am so grateful that the Lord continues to lead us to prepared people and that we get to teach them with the help of His Spirit. There is almost nothing better! I love the people I serve and can´t wait to find more of these amazing souls!

Elder Jensen

Roller skating

Trying to get Elder Sanchez to fall down

John Tanner, Mormon Pioneer

Dear Family,

Sometimes the bus rides here can get really uncomfortable but we had some very entertaining moments on the bus this past week. First, a completely crazy man was talking to his cell phone the whole hour bus ride to Retalhuleu. We noticed that the phone actually had no battery but I managed to keep up a conversation with his dead cell phone for an hour, pretty impressive huh? We also enjoyed a guitar performance on our way back from Reu and somehow almost the whole bus started singing Christian hymns together. Another interesting moment for us.

This past week I really gained a testimony of how much the gospel can change lives if we chose to live it. E. (who got to have a conversation with the seventy Elder Ochoa) has chosen to completely change his life! He had a decent job that required him to work every Sunday morning. Well, this past week he quit his job! It was a huge act of faith and the same day he got work as a tuc tuc driver and we have never seen him happier! He has also made the commitment to quit smoking, drinking, and I just feel beside myself as I watch him change and become better each day. It is amazing what happens when a person feels the Spirit of Christ and allows that Spirit to grow and influence them to make changes and repent. My companion and I haven´t done anything, the Lord is working this miracle and on Sunday E. and his wife S. came to church with their sons and they showed up in white shirts and they only needed a tie! This is why I just love love being a part of this amazing work! The C. family (that is their last name) is preparing for baptism on the 20th of June.

This past Monday we had to go to Reu in the afternoon for some for some training stuff. Well, on our way back I got off in a place called Cuyotenango to go and do a division for the day. I was still in my suit pants and I had totally forgot to bring more clothes. It turns out we got lost in a huge pit of mud and I completely got mud all over my suit pants. Later I found out that I forgot my contacts and a whole ton of other stuff. It turns out the next morning we had to go back to Reu to give some training and workshops for the new leaders in the mission. Well, I still hadn´t shaved, I had muddy pants, and my companion brought contacts but they both fell out so I gave the training pretty much blind. It was super fun! I couldn´t see any of the missionary´s faces but hopefully they were all awake and could learn something despite my appearence that day!

Muddy spots in Cuyotenango

There is a church video that I really like about John Tanner. I´ve always liked showing it the investigators because it shows that even though John Tanner had a huge obstacle to get baptized, because of his faith and desire to obey the Lord he was blessed to overcome that obstacle and be healed, and then was baptized the same night. It is super powerful to show to the people we teach. Sometimes the problem is that a lot of people don´t have dvd players and if they do, they don´t have a remote. We got creative this past week and I was walking around all day with a dvd player and remote that we borrowed from a member. Somehow I got it to fit in my backpack but I was pretty sore that night. But it was totally worth it because we were able to help I. and her 2 kids, B. and L., and they are now a lot more ready to be bapitzed this Saturday. They have had some challenges but we presented the movie ´Meet the Mormons´ in the chapel this Sunday and they loved it! We will pray and work hard so that they can overcome their challenges and be baptized this Saturday!

I love this work so much! As I watch people like E. make huge changes in their life to be able to live in harmony with God´s will, it is the best feeling in the world. I feel as though I get to give back a small small part of what Christ gave for me.

Elder Jensen

Fountain in the park

On our way to the waterfall in San Fransisco

Elder Ochua visits

Saying goodbye to the district leaders (they both left

Dear Family,

I didn´t have changes! Looks like I will be here a few more months since my companion is finishing his mission in the beginning of July. Woohoo!

The day we found out about changes we actully hadn´t been able to find a member to eat with so we went ahead and bought some Little Ceaser´s pizza (just 40 quetz, and it is in our area). Well I wanted to have a little soda as well so I bought a tiny bottle of 7up and put it in my pocket as we walked back to the house to eat. Well, I totally forgot about it and it turns out I had to run super fast to cross a street and without noticing I was shaking up that little bottle of soda. When we sat down and started eating I began to open up that 7up and to my surprise there was soda flying in all directions and getting all over my desk! I starting running around like a mad man with the soda in the air still shooting in all directions. It was quite the mess but my companion and I had a huge laugh about that! Now I know to never put those little bottles in my pocket.

We had a super awesome stake conference this past weekend. We were visited by Elder Adrian Ochoa from the Seventy and that helped us get a lot of people excited to come and attend the conference. On the meeting Saturday Elder Ochoa was talking about the reasons why we sometimes don´t share the gospel with other people and then saw that seated with my companion and I was an investigator we had brought named E. He asked E. and us to stand up and he felt the impression that E. had come to church by an invitation of a member and it was true. The week before a member had presented us to E. and his family. It was so cool because Elder Ochoa spoke individually to E. during the whole conference and after the meeting E. had the chance to go and talk with Elder Ochoa. It was unreal! On Sunday E.´s wife, S. came and also his 2 sons. We are so excitied for this next month because this Saturday K. is going to be baptized (a youth that has been attended church with us for the past few weeks) and also Ingrid (that lost her daughter to an accident 5 years ago) came to the conference and is preparing the be baptized with her 2 kids for the 13th of June. E. and his family are preparing for the 20th of this month. We have to give all the credit to The Lord because he prepared all these people! All we had to do was be diligent in search for them and listen to the Spirit.

My companion who played professional soccer before the mission in Honduras has got me on a new habit. What we always do as we walk from visit to visit is we try to kick rocks though the legs of the other as we move. I have actually gotten a lot better and have got some good goals on him. There is always a ton of trash on the street so I have gotten some bottles and other things through his legs as well.

We have a lot of new missionaries right now in our zone. They are fresh out of the MTC and it is super fun to see the excitement they have to start working. The hard part is that a lot of them bring a super different slang form of Spanish from their countries. I got to work a few hours with a new Mexican Elder and I was amazed that he didn´t understand a lot of the Guatemalan phrases I was telling him and some of the things he was telling me I had never heard either! Who knew that Spanish changes so much from one country to another!

I am so glad to be working my hardest and seeing the blessings each day. I just love the people
in this awesome country. They love us so much that sometimes we have to eat lunch twice (like on Sunday, I was about to explode) because they just want to give! It is so awesome! 


Elder Jensen

Mazate Lincoln zone-May 2015

This house says ´no tocar´or in engish ´don´t knock the door´.
The funny thing is the guy that answered ended up coming to the stake conference this week!