Monday, August 31, 2015

A time to laugh...

Working with a young member named A. in our area.

Dear Family,

I like how our Heavenly Father never stops throwing new challenges in our path. We didn't quite get the results that we were hoping this past month but I like challenges like this because I am learning to try new things and think of new ideas to help more people receive the blessings of the gospel.

We have a really cool young man in our ward (A.) that loves to come out and visit with us. He is super funny and played a pretty funny joke on me. We were in the middle of contacting a few people at their home when I felt a major burning sensation on my elbow. I looked back and A. had rubbed a weird looking leaf on my elbow. It seriously felt like my elbow was on fire! We had big laugh about it after but I never imagined that so much pain could be invoked with a tiny little leaf. It would have been nice for him to tell me that by putting water on it the pain disappears but he let me `experience` the pain for 10 or 15 minutes first. 

I`ve also really enjoyed my time so far with Elder Lagos as my companion. He was on divisions one day in another area when I called him to figure out some details on things and out of nowhere he started coughing a ton and yelling `I swallowed a fly!`. It took a few more seconds to get the fly out of his throat and to get the nasty taste out of his mouth but we both enjoyed that little moment. Later as he was giving another Elder a haircut he decided to do the authentic Guatemalan haircut routine where the barber puts a ton of white powder on a brush to get all the loose hair out. Well unfortunately he forgot the fan was on full blast and, let`s just say his pants that were black were suddenly white, and his face, and the other elder`s face. Yeah, that was fun to clean up after.

My companion and I decided this past week to start trying a lot of different techniques to find new people to teach. We had found a lot of the records of people that had been taught in the past by the Elders. We were able to have some cool experiences seeing people faces light up as they saw Elders again and many of them have been taught by the angel missionaries (like it teaches in Alma 13:24). Also, we have searched and found many members of the church that for whatever reason have stopped attending. One Family, the R. Family, was so happy to see Elders in their home again and have even given us several dinners. They are so excited to come back to church that they are starting to talk to many of their friends and neighbors to listen to the lessons and come to church with them. I am glad that the Lord is helping us learn new ways to find people to teach. I will continue to pray a lot this week to find even more of these people that are praying for us to come to their homes.

This week we are going to work hard to continue teaching J. (who was brought to church by the member who lives almost 3 hours away) and also with Santiago (an older man who has listened to missionaries for almost the past 6 or 7 months). I know big miracles will happen with them soon!


Elder Jensen

Entering into a part of our area.

There are so so so many houses with their Christmas stuff still.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


A carved monkey face.

Dear Family,

Some weeks I remember to note down a ton of fun stuff that happened in the week and that is usually when I have good emails but sadly this week I didn`t get on that. But, I guess we`ll see how much I remember from this last week.

On Wednesday we had the changes and luckily I get to stay a little while longer here in San Felipe. It was hard to see some good friends finish their missions (former companions E. Walton and E. Merrill) but it`s good to learn to make new friends as well. Also since it is the end of summer there have been a ton of new gringos coming into the mission. Wow, brings back some fun memories to see those scared but excited faces. We have 4 new missionaries (from the CCM I mean) in our zone and I love the excitement they bring from the CCM. Actually, because of some interviews that we had to do, I got to be 3 days with one of the new missionaries from Honduras, Elder Sanchez, so I really enjoyed being with him (considering that all the new missionaries I trained went home and I never really got to experience training). 

In our zone meeting that we had this week, Elder Lagos and I decided to get a little more creative so we split up into 2 groups and 1 group acted out Acts 9, the story of Saul being converted and the other group acted Acts 16, about the jailer who gets baptized. It was really fun and we were able to apply the principles of these stories and learn about great missionaries from old times. Of course it didn`t hurt to throw in a few laughs in our acts.

One thing that I have decided is that I really like the old people here in Guatemala. Even though many of them don`t have much interest in our message they can be quite the hoot. For example, we got to meet an older man that goes all over the place on his bike. He always has these huge sun glasses on and after talking to him for a moment we learned several new things. Apparently if you eat enough vegetables in one day you can gain the ability to fly. That was new for me. Later in the week, on older lady that heard me making the sound I do when I scratch my throat, helpfully suggested that I should find some medicine because I had a bladder infection. I guess somehow the bladder and the throat got pretty mixed up in her mind.

This week we enjoyed helping B. (the daughter of the recent convert that I talked about last week) prepare for her baptism. One of the best parts was that since the baptismal font in the San Felipe building is brand brand new, the water comes out crystal clear. It was nice not to have to dump a ton of blue powder into the water to change it from green to blue. The service was very nice and B. was able to get prepared on Sunday to be able to visit the temple this week in Xela.

Another huge miracle of the week was the amazing effort of a member of the church that lives 2 hours from San Felipe. He lives in a place called El Tumbador. Well, he has a really good friend of his that lives in our area. We had tried to find her in her house to be able to teach her more about the church, since a few months ago her husband was killed in an accident. Well, this member (named J.) was very determined to help his friend feel the peace and joy of the gospel so he traveled all the way from El Tumbador to bring Je. (the name of his friend) to our church meeting that starts at 8 in the morning! It was something that amazed me and made me hope that I can be that type of member missionary my whole life! We have started the lessons with Je. and she is now excited to learn more and possibly prepare for baptism!

Another awesome week in San Felipe!


Elder Jensen

Elder Duncan and Elder Nelson gave a special broadcast for the central american missions. Elder Nelson pulled up a companionship to do an example. 

Pictures from scripture stories we acted out in front of 200 people last week.

I got to use a giant version of Jenga.

Monday, August 17, 2015

In the news!

The famous photo of us that showed up in the news.

Dear Family,

It`s been an action packed week! We spent most of the week preparing for our big mission activity on Friday, a play we acted out about the first missionary lesson, the Restoration of the church. It was a really well planned act and we adopted the idea of the Jenga block example I have always used. We were able to act out how God has always called prophets and later I got the chance to explain in front of the 200+ people that showed up the example of the Jenga blocks. Something amazing is that I absolutely have no fear to speak in front of tons of people now, and in Spanish. Maybe when I have to do it in English I will be afraid again but in Spanish it comes on almost naturally. But getting back on topic, it was a really cool presentation, and Elder Merrill, my last comp, got to be Joseph Smith and after everyone wanted pictures with him. Poor guy, he told me his eyes hurt pretty bad from all the camera flash. A little over 50 investigators showed up from all parts of the zone and it was a big success.

I think the biggest miracle for us was that a recent convert named M. brought her teenage daughter to this presentation we did. She had pretty much lost interest in the church and wasn´t going with her mom anymore (because in the past she went a lot to church). She had never come to the decision to be baptized either. But, after watching the act we did on Friday she came on her own to church with her mom and as we visited her in the evening and watched the video of John Tanner´s baptism, she picked her own baptism date for this Saturday! It was a super awesome moment and we are excited to help her this week to be ready for baptism on Saturday!

I have really enjoyed seeing all of my good friends from the Central ward here in San Felipe (where I served about a year ago). The best has been seeing that K. and her family (the first person I baptized) come to church each week. Her older brother M. started coming to church for the first time about a month ago. I was able to talk a little bit with him after the event Friday to help him with a lot of his doubts that kept him from being baptized. After a long conversation I was able to see that he had never gone through a process of repentance in all his life. He was carrying a large load of guilt and didn`t even know how to be free from it. As we met again on Sunday I had the biggest impression that we both just needed to kneel down and he needed to offer a true, heartfelt prayer. As we did he offered a wonderful prayer and after described a warm feeling he felt in his heart and that that heavy burden was gone! It was a super cool moment and M. is now preparing to be baptized this Saturday. The sister missionaries that are in the Central ward will be helping him to be ready.

People seemed to look at my companion and I a little differently this week. Later we found out why when one of the members told us we were famous. We were a little confused as to why we were famous when he explained that a picture that showed up on the internet and in the newspapers had us 2 right in it. The article attached didn`t talk anything about us but it was fun to see our picture there. We had stopped earlier that week to talk to one of the members of the ward as he stood on the street campaigning for one of the political parties and some random newspaper photographer had taken a picture of us with them and that is why we got to be famous this week! (I will send you the picture that showed up all over the internet news websites of Guatemala)

In our zone meeting we got a little bit creative. We had seen a small problem that many areas weren`t teaching a very large amount of lessons. The only thing I could think of is the parable of the sower that plants a ton of seeds in a ton of places, next to the path, in the rocks, with the weeds, and in good ground. Well, we bought these giant beans that looked like seeds and we gave each missionary a little paper telling them which ground they were (stony ground or weeds, etc.,). Well we showed them that when we randomly planted only 6 seeds, we almost got none in good ground, but later when we worked harder and planted 16 or 17 seeds a lot more of them fell in good ground and gave us fruit. It was fun throwing all those seeds around at the end and we`ve seen a good affect in the zone after. Although it wasn`t fun cleaning them all up after.

There are more things that happened, like the power going out for several days, a day that my companion took the keys of our house with him on divisions and we had to break in, and other little crazy stuff but I ran out of time and space! I am just so grateful for the chance to be working hard here in San Felipe and see more miracles this week!


Elder Jensen
Starting the hike to get to the start of the zipline.
 (this place is right next to Calahuaché and I never knew about it!)

The San Felipe Zone

I made a heart tortilla.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Back to San Felipe!

Saying goodbye to E.Merrill and hello to my replacement E. Vences (from Texas)

Dear Family,

AHHHHHH! That is the sound that my legs would make if they could talk. It has been a super fun time being back in the field but my legs are still trying to get used to walking all day again so that`s been interesting. Especially since our area where we work is super far out of town and we have to walk home since there aren`t buses. It`s just a comment though, not complaining! I am actually loving my time here in San Felipe and getting back to working my heart out.

On Monday E. Merrill and I get to plan out all the crazy transportation to work out the 13 emergency changes that had been planned. Luckily everything was smooth and I was able to make it to San Felipe with only one suitcase since I left a ton of stuff in the office house (hopefully the stuff will still be there in a few months). It has been fun seeing all the people I knew and served with when I was in San Felipe almost a year and a half ago. Surprisingly a lot of members remember me and were super happy to see me back in the stake. Actually some of them have already given me some meals!

President Ruiz came and visited the zone on Wednesday and announced a little about a cool play/show that the missionaries of the office are going to put on this week that way we can bring a ton of investigators and less active members. They are going to act out the first missionary lesson, the restoration. I got to help plan a bit of this when I was in the office and part of the show will be the Jenga example I`ve always used but with giant blocks! It should be cool. Pres. also shared a cool message about how the first Japanese deep sea fishers couldn´t figure out how to bring back all the fish they caught in good condition. They tried freezing them but they didn`t taste the same. They tried putting them in a tank but they wouldn`t swim and they would lose their freshness. We then learned they figured out to put a small shark in tank to keep the fish moving and they would come back fresh and delicious to eat. He applied that it is good for us to have challenges and struggles on our missions and in life (the little shark) because if things are always good and we have no struggles we won`t grow. It was a super cool message.

I think the highlight of my week was that I went to a part of the zone called Pueblo Nuevo to help out the missionaries a little bit. Well, in their house they have a hot shower! I can`t tell you how hard it was to get out of that shower considering I have only had like 3 or 4 hot showers my whole mission! It was incredible!!

My new companion E. Lagos is from Costa Rica (1 or only 3 missionaries from there) and he is super awesome. He told me a little about all that happened for him to come on the mission and it is an incredible story. He was baptized pretty young but never returned to the church. When he was almost 18 he finally returned to live with his family (he had been playing soccer his whole life) and they helped him a lot to come back to church and decide to go on a mission. He is super awesome and I am so glad that we get to be comps. He is a lot like E. Gavarrete so it has been fun! 

Oh, I also got to give a talk this week (and it sounds like you all did too). It was super fun to talk again about the Japanese candy and how fun it was for me to share that with my friends when I got back to the states. This time I got to add the fun note that you all are living there again and that I would definitely share some candy with the members from my next package. I also added another fun story when I first saw another Elder add Nesquik to his corn flakes. I had eaten a lot of bland corn flakes my whole mission but when I saw his `example` it made me want to try it and since then I have discovered the genius of Nesquik on cornflakes. That was my attempt to be creative in my talk. It went really well and I got some good compliments and requests for Japanese candy!

I am so excited to work as hard as I can this coming week and tell you all about the amazing people that the Lord will put in our path!

Elder Jensen

In a tricycle type thing with Elder Wilden

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

El Asintal

Some cool ruins in a place called El Asintal (the ruins are called tak alik a baj)

Dear Family,

I keep forgetting how much I really don´t like the cold. In our 2 multi-zone conferences we visited some zones in the mountains and my fingers always always go numb! I guess I´m just going to have to live in a hot place when I grow up.

We were able to have 2 successful multi-zone conferences this week where we got to address all the missionaries and resolve some of the challenges that we´ve had in the mission. Elder Merrill and I gave a cool presentation talking about leaving our marks as missionaries in the wards and branches where we serve and also leaving a mark on the mission. We used the example of Omni who nobody remembers and he even said that he was wicked and didn´t accomplish what he needed to accomplish in his life. It was cool and we were able to give some good tips and training to all the missionaries. We also made a pretty awesome video presenting the option to go to Xetulul in September if we have really good results as a mission this month! Everyone was pretty excited and it was definitely a successful week with the conferences. Not to mention both time they served this delicious grilled chicken with mashed potatoes and cookies and stuff (don´t worry dad, it still doesn´t compare with your chicken).

Before all the conferences we got the chance to go work in Malacatán, which I highly enjoyed. At the end of the day we went to a place called San Rafael where one of the missionaries took me up the steepest hill I have ever seen! We pretty much had pull each other up as we ran, it was intense! I got to meet a really cool family that they had been teaching where the grandfather and his niece were the only members of the family that hadn´t yet come to church and become members but after a great lesson with them we were able to help set a date for their baptism and they are both very excited. It was really cool to be a part of that. Not to mention that I got to spend the night with one of my old companions that I was with for 4 and a half months at near the beginning of the mission.

I am excited for the upcoming challenges these next weeks and months and I hope that I can do my best to make smart decisions and continue working fervently in the Lord´s vineyard. I love the scriptures at the beginning of John 15 that talk about that if we remain in the Lord and with his help we can help bring much fruit unto him. I will do my best in the next few weeks!

Elder Jensen

More pictures from the ruins: