Thursday, December 19, 2013

Miracles on Sunny Bank Street

This has been a 10 day work week or nothing but good ol' hard yaka missionary work! That's the blessing you get when you have Temple P-day! But going to the temple is always worth a little sacrifice.
In this long week I have been spat on by a man, yelled at while tracting, told that what I am doing is a waste of time, and I narrowly dodged the careful aim of a sly bird who wanted to poop on my companions and me; and yet there is still a smile upon my face! Why you may ask? Because I am doing the best work I could be doing and at the blessed age of 19!
Sunny Bank has been quite dry lately because everyone is going back to China, Hong Kong, or Taiwan for the holidays. Not only are our investigators packing up and leaving for two months, but the bus stops have been extra sparse this week. However, we don't let little things like an empty bus stop get in the way, and the Lord sees our efforts and helps us out when we have done all we can.
We have been teaching a girl named Cathy, a ABC (Australian Born Chinese) who has very little Christian background, but a sincere desire to come closer to Christ. After our first lesson she texted us and asked, "Can I bring my sister to hear this message as well?" MIRACLE! So the next lesson Cathy brought her sister along and we taught them together. Cathy's sister, Lilian, is headed off to China for two weeks, and didn't want to carry the Book of Mormon with her so she asked if there was an online version. We happily showed her the LDS Library App. This was also a miracle because Cathy had been using her simplified Bible, but once we showed her the LDS library App, she downloaded that and now she has the King James Bible to reference things to. They are both so intent on learning the things we teach. They want to know for themselves if they are true. Cathy has been afraid to pray at the end of our lessons, but when we invited Lilian to pray she did it no problem, setting an example of just how easy it is to pray out loud to her older sister! It was beautiful.
Tony was going to be baptized yesterday, but it fell through because he broke the Word of Wisdom by drinking a cup of coffee. He was torn when he realized he wouldn't be able to be baptized before he went back home to Hong Kong for two weeks. However, it ended up being a miracle in disguise because now Tony understands what it feels like to be so close to baptism and then not have it. How is this a good thing? Well now he really is committed to live all the commandments so that once he returns he can be baptized as soon as possible. This tiny delay has installed a huge desire within him and a greater understanding of the importance of following the commandments of the Lord.

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It was hard to say goodbye, because before Tony returns, transfers will have occurred. I am pretty sure one of us is leaving because Sister Chen and I have been together for three months now. The last thing Tony said was, "I am sure who ever you teach will miss you." In his broken English. It about made my heart melt. I can't wait until he comes back from Hong Kong whether or not I am able to witness his baptism.

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We are happy to be serving the Lord in the Australia Brisbane Mission. I love my two companions and we have been working so hard. This picture is from today when we went to the temple early this morning. We were fasting as a Zone (area of missionaries) for all of our investigators to be able to accept baptism this month so that they can start the new year off clean in the eyes of our loving Heavenly Father.
May we all remember Christ this upcoming week as we prepare to celebrate Christmas. He is the reason for the season and He is the reason I am so happy despite the trials that come with being a missionary. I know that whatever we encounter in life has already been experienced by our Savior. He can help us feel peace and comfort and He will come again to bring us back to our Heavenly home.
Merry Christmas! I love you all!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Tim Tam Slam

This week was one for the books! Sister Cabamongan and I have decided that this week, and all weeks that are successful, shall be called "Tim Tam Slam" weeks!
First, let me explain to all what a Tim Tam Slam is. Those cookies on the right, they are Tim Tams, a heavenly biscuit sent from heaven above down to the country of Australia. On the left is Milo. A type of malt thing that you stir into milk. We put the Tim Tams in the refridgerator for a couple of hours while we were at church. Then to celebrate our successful week we heated up some milk, stirred in some Milo and pulled out the Tim Tams. Next we bit off a tiny bit of each end of the Tim Tam biscuit, stuck the cookie in our mouth, dipped the cookie in the hot Milo drink, and sucked the steamy drink up through the Tim Tam. This creates a sensational party in your mouth. The Tim Tam melts after a few seconds, in which you must skillfully flip it into your mouth to finish eating. Repeat this process until you are slammed! This is a Tim Tam Slam--it does not happen everyday, not even every week--but this week was worthy of a Tim Tam Slam.
I will start with the heaps of people who ended up being miracles from Heavenly Father. People who have truly been prepared to meet the missionaries:
1) Yu Xing. A cute little girl, who happened to only be able to meet at the same time as Eric and Joyce. The only solution was to go on splits. Sister Chen paired up with a member from the ward to teach Eric and Joyce and Sister Cabamongan and I anxiously prepared to teach Yu Xing without a native speaker by our side. To say I was nervous is an understatement, but I studied hard and prayed diligently. Sister Cabamongan prepared a visual and I led the lesson. I was overcome with the Spirit of the Holy Ghost as I spoke the language and I could feel Him filling my mouth with words that I had barely studied. The Spirit was strong and by the end of the lesson Sister Cabamongan and I invited Yu Xing to be baptized on December 28th. Yu Xing paused and then replied, in Chinese of course, "If I am ready, of course." What joy and gratitude filled my soul. We had been able to teach and understand without Sister Chen by our side. It was an opportunity to access the gift of tongues I was blessed with when I recieved my mission call. A true miracle.
2) Arash. You may notice this is no Chinese name. Arash is a man from Iran and an ex Muslim. He speaks Persian and very very little English. Once again we were double booked so Sister Cabamongan and I were together while Sister Chen with one of our other investigators and a member. This time we invited a member from the ward who just returned from the Temple Square Mission. We thought she would be helpful in explaining things simply as she came across all different nationalities at Temple Square. Arash showed up and almost immediatle the Spirit settled in, even though we were teaching outside the KFC next to our office. We weren't able to teach very much and what we did teach was through drawings and very simple English. But, as we listened to Arash, he told us of his journey to finding Christianity. He told us about all the churches he has visited in the past three months, and then said none of them helped him feel closer to God and Jesus Christ; not until he stepped foot into our chapel. He told us as soon as he came to our church he began to feel something. He felt close to God, even though he barely understood what was going on. He has a Persian Book of Mormon and has read through 1 Nephi chapter 4. And get this! He asked us to be baptized! We are working on getting Persian teaching materials and having google translate on our fellowshippers phones so we can better help Arash understand our doctine, but he is already so in tune with the Spirit that he knows this church is going to help him come closer to Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. He will have to be interviewed by President, because he is an ex-Muslim, but it is exciting teaching someone who is in tune with the feelings of the Holy Ghost. Just imagine what he will be able to do when he actually has the Gift of the Holy Ghost!
3)George. An Asian with muscles, not something we have come across a whole lot here because everyone is too busy studying to eat let alone work out! George was GQ'ed at the bus stop and it was there he told Sister Cabamongan he knew God had a purpose for his life, he just wasn't quite sure what it was. It was the perfect set up to teach him the Plan of Salvation, which is exactly what we did! At the end of the lesson George told us he knew he was suppossed to meet missionaries and that he knew he was suppossed to come to our church. He said he'd seen missionaries before, but it wasn't until Sister Cabamongan talked to him on that one day he was thinking about what his purpose in life was, that he'd been open to meeting with us. It was the perfect timing and thankfully the Lord put us at the bus stop that day at that time. Sadly we had to transfer George over to the city because he lives there, but we heard from the sisters there that George came to church and already wants to know who he needs to home teach! He is a diamond!
My last miracle is simple, but a huge blessing. We set goals every week and until this week we have been short in more than one area. Then this week we were all set to acheive our goals by Saturday and surpass them on Sunday. In came the famous rains of Australian summers. Saturday, for the first time since I have been in Australia, I woke up in a completely dark room. I was a little confused because usually the sun is penetrating the whole flat by 5:00am. Then I realized I could hear the steady pounding of rain through our open window. Now for those of you who are unfamiliar with the Asian culture, they hate rain! They think it is going to make their hair fall out, because in China and Taiwan the pollution is so bad that it is acid rain. They don't realize the rain in Australia isn't polluted. All of our set appointments were calling us by 9am to cancell for their afternoon appointments. Faithfully Sister Chen challeneged them to wait until 2pm to call us. If it was still raining by that time, they could cancel. All morning as we studied and did weekly planning, the rain continued to pour. Then at 1:30pm we decided to have a companionship prayer asking Heavenly Father to please stop the rain so we could meet with at least some of our investigators. At 2:00 the rain stopped. We were able to meet with 2/4 of our investogators. Then the Lord provided a way for us to meet all our goals on Sunday. It was time for celebration! We 'Tim Tam Slammed' it and so we had a Tim Tam Slam celebration!
The work here is progressing, I am progressing and it is a beautiful thng to be able to see the Lord's hand in so many aspects of my life here in Australia.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Lost and Found

This week has been a week of much happiness as Sister Chen and I welcome Sister Cabamongan to the world of SunnyBank. This week we contacted 221 souls and have had more potentials than ever, much thanks to Sister Cabamongan I do believe. We are finding the lost sheep of Brisbane!
Yue Xing, quite possibly the cutest little Chinese girl I have ever seen. She is so petite and wears lace and platform flip flops to try to make her seem a little taller. The first thing she said when we showed her the picture of Joseph Smith was, "hen shuai" which means very handsome! We met with her on Monday and were unable to set up a return appointment, much to our dismay. However, Yue Xing lost her umbrella at the bus stop the next day, and we all know where us missionaries go everyday...THE BUS STOP! We found her umbrella called her and she asked us to please protect it until our next appointment. Yue Xing lost her umbrella and now we are going to help her find her way to salvation. What a marvelous work this is!
The second thing to be found this week was my WALLET! Yes it was found, and while it is not in my possesion yet, it will be soon hopefully! The STL's called me Thursday and told me they had found my wallet in their car. It is a miracle. Even though all the cards within have been cancelled, my temple recommend is safe as well as my lucky two dollar bill! I guess that $2 bill was good luck after all.
Missionary work is progressing. We are figuring out how to work as a tri-panionship and are finding success. We are finding more people and setting up appointments with them. A perk of having Sister Cabamongan is that she is from the city and so her old companion is going to give us all of their refferals.
So many people are lost in this big wide world, but as a missionary it is my job to listen to the guidance of the Holy Ghost in finding them and then helping them find Heavenly Father. We are so blessed to live here on earth with free agency. As Christmas draws closer and closer, I get more and more excited because at Christmas time people are usually in the Spirit of Christ, whether they recognize it as that or not. People are more prone to chat, more prone to give service, and more prone to look outside themselves and into the lives of others. What an amazing time to be a missionary as the world gets ready to celebrate the birth of our Beloved Savior, Jesus Christ. I encourage all the look forward to December with hope and love towards all you come in contact with. Hope that they will feel of their Saviors love and see the blessings of Heavenly Father, and Love for everyone you come in contact with.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hangin' Up the Jersey

I thought that when I gave up a volleyball scholarship two years ago that I was "hangin' up the jersey" to follow what my Heavenly father wantd me to do. It was probably the hardest thing I have done. I say that because when I gave up that scholarship I gave up a big part of who I wanted to be and where I wanted to go, in order to follow blindly a prompting of the Holy Ghost.
Then this past week happened! We had a huge conference with all the zones in southern Queensland. Like 140 missionaries huge! Anyway, at this conference President talked to us and the one thing he said that has seemed to just stick to me is that we all need to "Hang up the old jersey." When he first said this I smirked a little bit, because I thought I had already done that. I gave up volleyball, and I gave up continuing my education for 18 months, I had hung up my jersey long before my mission started. However, as President continued to talk, I came to the realization that while I had hung up that beautiful #12 black spandex jersey with "Rock Hill High" on it, I had put on another jersey. I had put on the college life jersey of late nights, lots of friends, and studying new things in a new atmosphere. It wasn't a bad jersey, just like my volleyball jersey wasn't bad. I learned a lot in both, but now I needed to heed President's words and put on the newest jersey, taking the best parts of my old self and refining everything to put on the missionary jersey. It made a huge difference right then and there as I was guided by the Holy Ghost to change, become better and become focused on the "hastening of the work."
The rest of this past week has been amazing! Despite the fact that for th first time since coming to Australia we had zero people at church, it has been a week of learning, finding, and teaching!
Tony is coming along. He realizes that he needs to create room for church in his life, that it is not just meeting with us on Saturdays and coming to church on Sunday. That is amazing, because so many people think they can just be baptizd and then it's done. We have a lot of recent converts that are also less active! My goal is to not have any more baptisms that become less active!
Eric and Joyce are on date!!! They will be baptized the weekend after Christmas. Now we just have to dive more deeply into what the Law of Chastity is, but I don't think it will be a problem. They both read the scriptures and pray, and have a sincere desire to do whatever we commit them to do because they can feel themselves coming closer to Heavenly Father! It is amazing. Last night we taught them the Word of Wisdom and I told them that in English the intials are WOW. We then proceeded to open our mouths and put up three fingers on either side! The picture below shows it better than I can explain. They are progressing so well, and I truly love them.
As far as the bus stop goes...I am improving. This past week I was able to get more phone numbers and on guy agreed to meet with us! My Chinese is improving, but more importantly my social skills when talking in chinese are improving. I have been able to move beyond a couple of the rehersd lines I have been practicing so hard, in order to get more personal and friendly with those I talk to. I think that is why I am seeing more receptiveness.
I was able to experience what English Australia Missionaries experience this past Tusday as I went on exchanges with the STL (sister-training-leader). We tracted for 3 hours straight in the hot humid aussie weather. I saw bats and a turkey, and I ate food that wasn't Chinese! It was fun, hard work, but lots of fun and I gained a greater appreciation for my bus stop!
Oh we also have started the rainy season of Australia. Every night there are huge thunder storms with pouring down rain. Last night it even hailed! Oh what adventures we are having!
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is true. It has been restored on the Earth again! Transfers were today and I will be staying in SunnyBank! Sister Chen and I are staying together with the addition of Sister Cambamunga, so we are in a threesome now! I knew Sister C from the MTC and she is going to be a great asset to our area. I am sure of it. I am also, the driver... pray for me!
I love letters and hearing from you all!

Just some photos below of the wildlife I have seen - kangaroos and bats!  and my pose for a photo in classic style!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Blessing of Trials

19 hours of Finding.
212 people contacted.
And only 6 of them want to meet up with us again.
THIS was a hard week! But I am ever grateful for the miracles that are present when we, as missionaries, undergo trials. Even though almost every single appointment cancelled on us this week, Sister Chen and I were blessed with the ability to talk to over 200 people! 200 people are that much closer to coming to Christ, even though 200 people did not accept the message, 200 people heard it and know who missionaries are now.
One of the many miracles I was able to see this week happened on Saturday night. All week we have had to cancell dinner appointments with members because our investigators could not come. Therefore, a lot of rice and pineapple was eatten this week; that or peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches! Sister Chen and I were looking forward to Saturday because we would have two appointments and then a dinner appointment that would not have to be cancelled because weekends we can eat at member's homes without an investigator.
All week our goals had been in the back of my mind. We had set them prayerfully the week before and I knew the Lord wanted us to acheive them, yet all our appointments were getting cancelled and our number of lessons taught, especially with member's present from the congregation, was very low. Then on Saturday morning, when we were suppossed to have two member present lessons, one of them cancelled on us. I was distraught. It was Saturday and now we were no where close to keeping our weekly goal, let alone our daily goal for member present lessons. I quickly said a prayer asking for patience and then went on with our day.
Finally, it was time for dinner and I was so ready to eat a home cooked meal. When we arrived at this spunky member's home who was from Chile, she was the only one there. Then five minutes later her less active son walked in with his friend who happened to be a Malaysian who spoke Chinese. After a yummy dinner of chicken, fresh green beans, pasta, and tomatos with mozzerella, we shared a lesson with the family Ullao family and their friend. The food was great and the Spirit there even better!
As we walked back to the bus stop from the Ullao family home I was feeled with sincere gratitude to my Heavenly Father for helping Sister Chen and I reach our goal for the day. It was a blessing after all the appointments that had failed during the week.
Then on Sunday we had an investogator who needed a blessing. I love the priesthood! I love that our Elders are worthy to give blessings and that they do so willingly and with mindful preparation. I am also grateful that they have become like my brothers and friends. The Chinese Elders and Sisters in each area are all pretty close because we share a car, and work together often. It is like a family away from home--the Lord knew I would need that kind of environment!
Anyways, the past couple of days I have been suffering from intense headaches. I have been doing my best to just ignore them and lose myself in the work. Sunday was the third day in a row of the constant headache. I had not wanted to be an impostition to the Elder's work, so I had just taken my advil and suffered through it. Then on Sunday when the Elders were giving Tony a blessing, Elder Lunt asked me if I needed one as well. I shook him off saying we were here to give Tony a blessing. I was just having a headache. Then later that night as we were all working the bus stop my body became very weak and the pains in my head intensified. I sat down on the bus bench and put my head in my hands. Sister Chen came and sat next to me and then Elder Lunt once again asked, "Do you need a blessing?" I began to shake my head and Sister Chen just said, "Sister Jensen, I think really think you need to do." I just nodded and Elder Lunt grabbed Elder Ladd and we went back to our office to give me a blessing.
I was so grateful that Elder Lunt had been persistant. I am so grateful for the words I received in that blessing that not only promised me I would eventually feel better, but that the Lord is pleased with my efforts and that I will be able to find the people I was forordained to teach here in Australia.
This morning I woke up, not feeling 100%, but I now know I have had the special blessing from my Heavenly Father that comes only through His proper authority that is within the Priesthood. The Lord has called me to preach to the Asian culture and will provide me with good health. This morning I read in Acts 16:6 about how the apostles were "forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia." The time has now come when the Lord feels the people of Asia are ready to recieve the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I feel humbled that Heavenly Father has entrusted me with a role in this work of bringing people from Asia unto their creator.

Weak Things Become Strong

So as many of you may recall, last week Sister Chen and I spent 19 hours finding people, with only four potentials out of the 212 people we talked to. Oh this was frustrating, from the paper perspective, but as this week has progressed, my view has changed and I am ever grateful for the people we are teaching!
Sonia, she is a cute girl from Taiwan with the longest asain hair I have ever seen! She was taught by missionaries before and lost contact somehow. However, Sister Chen and I met up with her this week, established her understanding, taught her about faith, repentance, baptism, recieving the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End; then listening to the Spirit I blurted out in terrible Chinese grammer "We invite you to be baptized!" I think I scared her a little bit because she just stared at me. Then Sister Chen cleaned up the mess I had just made and explained that we wanted her to set a date for the future in order to prepare for baptism. Sister Chen cleaned up well, and now Sonia is on date for the 14th of December!
Eric and Joyce are heaven sent! There are golden investogators and then there are, as Sister Chen has coined it, "diamonds."  Eric and Joyce just arrived from Taiwan and are boyfriend and girlfriend who live together. Now that may seem like a bit of a problem, but so far no problem. we have been teaching them and they have just soaked up everything so far. They actually read the Book of Mormon, and pray! Even though prayer was a bit awkward for them at first, they continued to do it. Joyce, explained to us last night that she doesn't always know what to pray for, but she does it anyways because she knows it will help her come closer to God. We invited them to be baptized, and they said they would think about it, because they understand it to be a very big commitment. It is so exciting and they are so friendly. Joyce "read our palms" and said I was a happy person, romantic, and would marry younger than most people do in the world. It was so cute the way she gasped when she "read" that I would get married young. The Chinese culture doesn't get married until they are in their 30's usually. I love Eric and Joyce.
Tony. Tony has been on date for the 23rd of this month for three weeks, but had yet to come to church. In order for him to be baptized he needed to come to church this week. I prayed dilligently for Tony to be able to come to church this week--my prayer was answered. Tony, who is usually late to everything, even showed up to the place we give rides on time! It was such a relief to see him come to church, partake of the sacrament, and watch the little kids sing (it was the Primary Program).
The Primary Program was awesome, they incorporated Chinese into the program and it was beautiful. One of our Chinese members and the ward choirister, Jessie, helped the kids sing "I am a child of God" in Chinese for the closing hymn, and my heart was about to burst. This church is for everyone, we are all children of God, and that is a beautiful thing. Sadly, Jessie leaves this week to go to the states for a holiday, and then she will return for a short while before heading back to China. I am sad to see her go, but I know that she will be happy as she chooses to pursue her goal of living in Utah. She's a gem.
My final exciting news is that yesterday at church Sister Chen and I had 5 investigators at church! That's a ton of people. It was crazy trying to make sure everyone felt welcome and understood where they were going and such; but oh so rewarding as we saw them laugh at the Primary kids, and feel of the peace that can be felt only in a house of God. It was a great week. I love being a missionary and I love the people I am blessed to come in contact with.
Fun Side Notes:
-I had Lamington this week: a Australian Dessert that is sponge cake dipped in chocolate, cooled and then rolled in coconut with cream and strawberries on top. YUMM!
-I made the best scrambled eggs!
-I finally feel better. The power of the priesthood is real, use it!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Price I Pay for Wearing His Name

This has been a week of ups and downs. My faith has been challenged, disrspected, and my soul humbled to a level I didn't know existed!
We had District Meeting this week and our District Leader, Elder Ladd, said we should all be doing better than we are. I took that to heart, but with a great deal of fear at all I had to change about myself in order to raise my level of missionary work.
Sister Chen and I contacted 108 people the week before and Elder Ladd said we could do more. This meant that I needed to step away from Sister Chen's side when we were at the bus stop and start talking to people on my own, in Chinese. What an internal struggle I faced as I prayed for strength from the Lord to help me open my mouth. This week Sister Chen and I talked to 211 people. 61 more people than Elder Ladd expectd of us. I was blessed to run into Chinese people who could understand English when I didn't know the word in Chinese. I was blessed to talk to some Australians, and I was blessed to talk to a lot of people each day. I was blessed to have time fly by, especially on days where we were contacting for over four hours in a row. I was blessed to not run into any rude people as I started. I was indeed blessed!
Thursday we had free English Class and afterwards we had two sets of investigators who needed to be taught. This meant I had to teach pretty much by myself. So I went, with a big smile on my face, to teach Shadow and Ke how to pray. The Lord put words in my mouth as I taught them the special gift it is to communicate with our Father in Heaven. At the end of the lesson they were both excited because now they knew how to attain help from a higher being.
Saturday was Steven Chang's BAPTISM!!! It was amazing. After the baptism Steven got up to bear his testimony and was a little choked up. Then on Sunday he recieved the Holy Ghost. It was so exciting to see someone become a member of the only church that will allow you to reach the highest level of salvation!
Right after Steven's baptism we had a lesson with Tony. Tony has no religious background, but has been reading the Book of Mormon and praying. When we taught him on Saturday I invited him to start preparing for baptism on November 23rd. He said if he knew the Book of Mormon and the Church were true by that time, he would be baptizd. Saturday was a golden day!
Up until Monday, wearing the Savior's name on my chest has not been a huge challenge. I have had to overcome personal weaknesses, such as talking to strangers and speaking Chinese; but never have I been treated unkindly or disrespectfully...Until Monday. Monday was not P-day and so we went to work. I sit down at the bus stop, and a Chinese guy comes to sit next to me. I simply say, "Hi how are you today?" In which he says to "*&%$ off!" stands up and walks to the other end of the bus stop. Never in my entire life have I ever felt so disrespected, taken aback, or my confidence shaken. I had heard the stories from Elders about the foul language of some people when they see missionaries, but I thought it might be different for Sisters because we are sweet little girls. I guess that expectation came from living in the south for so long. I was shaken. At lunch I went up to the bedroom and knelt on my knees and asked Heavenly Father to restore my confidence. It was hard, but as I started talking to more people, the confidence began to be rekindled and I was once again excited to be a missionary.
Yesterday was training and our AP told us that wearing the name of Christ comes with praise and disrespect, but that we should always be happy to bear the name of Jesus Christ. I am happy to always bear the name of my Savior and Redeemer. He gave me strength when others tried to knock me down for doing the work of the Lord. I know that Christ can help everyone out, that He loves us all, even that guy who spoke so rudely to me.  He can help us in our times of need and will help us, if we just reach up and ask. I love you all!
1st Picture: Steven and Sister Chen and Me
2nd Picture: Sister Chen and I at the Brisbane Temple!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Turned Around

I am in a new country and it is different--more different than I expected that's for sure!
This week Sister Chen and I have been growing as a companionship. We talk to a lot of people and my Chinese is slowly but surely improving. We practice a lot and I have a sticky note to write down all the words I don't know each day. It gets very full!
We are scheduled to have a baptism this week and I am so excited! His name is Steven Zhong and he is golden. Before meeting with us he had already come to the conclusion that drugs and alcohol were bad, then when we told his that we don't drink coffee and tea he just nodded and said, "okay." He talked to our district leader Elder Ladd and asked what he needed to do to prepare for his baptism besides have an interview. Elder Ladd told him to buy white underwear. Then on Saturday Steven called us and excitedly told us, "I just bought white underwear." It made me laugh, but it is a good sign that he is excited to be baptized.
On Saturday night we had a dinner appointment with a single sister in the ward. She lives in a one room flat and my heart about broke as she told us she was between a rock and a hard place. We ate, shared a message, and when it was time for us to leave, I felt very strongly that we should not ask this sister to drive us all the way across town back to our flat (a member had dropped us off). So, with faith that Sister Chen and I would find a way home we said thank you and left.
We walked around aimlessly for a while looking for a bus stop. We finally found one, but it was in a little bit of a sketchy part of town. So we called Elder Ladd and asked what we should do. He gave us the local transportation number and they gave us instructions on how to return to our home through two buses. I felt quite at ease, until we arrived at the second bus station only to realize it was the weekend and we had been misinformed by the operator! OH my heart was papa (nervous/scared)! I am not a public trasportation girl. The only time I have used public transportation is in NYC with my dear Dad who knows that city so well.
Luckily, a kind bus driver helped us out by telling us a round about way to return to SunnyBank. After three buses we finally returned to familiar territory adn were able to walk the rest of the way back to our flat. It was a little scary, but at the end of the day I do not regret it one bit because I followed to promptings of the Holy Ghost. I don't know exactly why, but I know we were blessed and I am fine with that!
1st Picture: a street view of Brisbane near the mission office, all the pink is for breast cancer awareness week
2nd Picture: Lee and me at our last lesson before I left
3rd Picture: my view from the airplane as the sun rise caught up to us...about four hours until landing!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Finally Down Under!

Family and Friends I made it! I am now in the land below the equator and a day ahead of America. As I write today it is Sunday in America and Monday here in Australia...Crazy.

Australia is beautiful, especially now as it is spring. Everything is in bloom and the weather is a perfect 20 Celcious all the time. My new companion is from Taiwan. I met here briefly in the MTC. I was actually suppossed to get here before her, but alas my visa did not come and hers did. Her name is Sister Chen and she speaks very very little English and so our communication skills are very bad at this point. I am suppossed to help her learn English and she is suppossed to help me learn Chinese. It is a great opportunity because I hear Chinese all the time, but then there are moments when I think: Can I do this?

Saturday and Sunday was General Conference all over again! This time I had to watch it in Chinese...eek! Thankfully I had already heard it in English. I had quite the headache after each session, not sure whether it was from hearing all the Chinese or the supreme jet-lag I am trying to overcome. By the end of Conference on Sunday I was so depressed with a major headache. I just didn't think I would ever understand this language and was wondering what in the world Heavenly Father was thinking sending me to this foreign land to speak a foreign language. Then we went out to do missionary work...

Here we do not knock on doors, we just GQ or golden contacting! This means we go to the bus stops in our area and just talk to all the people there. Every 15 minutes we get a fresh batch of people to talk to. Let me tell you something--the Lord knows me oh so well! I hated tracting in Georgia, but here there is no tracting, rather we just talk to people like a normal person. First we say hello then we ask, "Where are you from?" If they reply China or Taiwan we begin talking to them in Chinese. Now, granted my Chinese isn't very good and my listening is even worse, but I am able to contribute a little bit and pick up the main message of what is being said. We try and hand them pamphlets or get their number before the bus comes. It's very fast work we have to be concise so we can get their number. If they don't seem interested in our message we let them know we have a free English class every Thursday. This usually grabs their attention and we get their phone number that way. It is so much FUN! I FEEL like a real missionary.

When we have appointments it is not in inestogator's homes, rather it is in our office. The church has purchased a small office where the Chinese program can meet with investogators. It is right down the road from the bus stop so we can easily tell people where to come see us for a lesson! I really like it that way.

Culturally, things are very different, at least in the part of Brisbane that I am in called SunnyBank. It is so Asian. I hear more Chinese being spoken rather than English. All the store's names are in Characters and everyone is Asian. I stick out like as the tall white American who is trying to speak Chinese! It has been very humbling. Even the park where we go running in the morning is Asian with a Asain form of zumba going on in the park.

The sun rises at about 5:00am every morning and then the birds bark! My first morning I thought I had over-slept because the sun was beaming into our room and the birds were barking all over the place. It was frightening. It doesn't help that we have to sleep with all the windows open because there is no "aircon" (airconditioning) in our "flat" (apartment). But thankfully Brisbane is close to the coast so there is always a nice breeze. Sister Chen is always cold and I am always hot--guess Taiwan is really HOT and Sister Chen hasn't become used to Australia's weather yet. Did I mention she has only been in the field 4 weeks? I have been a missionary longer! Weird!

Well that's about it. I am going on with lots of prayer that I will one day be able to understand my companion and the people we talk to. God Loves us all and He loves Australia, which is why He has missionaries like me here!

Rejoice the Hour is at Hand

I am going to AUSTRALIA!!!! Sunday evening Sister McFarlane and I recieved a call that we would need to find a ride to transfers this Wednesday. Then this morning when the assistants called to let us know which of us needed to pack, they said, "Sister Jensen, oh and make sure your bags are all within weight limit because your visa is here. You'll come to transfers and then we will drive you to the airport." I squealed with joy and couldn't stop jumping up and down! My prayers have been answered, my journey to Australia is now underway! Then I remembered why all this was possible and I collapsed on my knees almost immeadiatly and said a prayer of sincere gratitude to my Heavenly Father, because without His divine help, none of my mission would be possible, even the obtaining of my visa.
This week has been full of cancellations, but a good week none the less. Thursday someone asked me what my favorite scripture was and I said 1 Nephi 3:7, and then I started reciting it in my mind...IN CHINESE :) It was a little victory for me and a huge blessing from the Lord.
Second, we have a new investogator, Angel, who is so sincere and so spiritually prepared! She is a friend of Sister Manely's and we were able to have dinner and give the first lesson at Sister Manely's home. So powerful, even with all the kids playing and screaming in the background. There is just something special about the Spirit that resides in the member's homes.
Third, I had a dream in half Chinese and half English. The real bummer was that I couldn't understand what was being said in Chinese...I will get there I am sure, especially since I am soon going to be immersed in the language! Can you tell I am a little ESTATIC :)
Fourth, this was a miracle, at least for a girl who loves shopping. One of our ward missionaries took us to meet her friend and it just so happened to be at this Home Consignment shop, where they were having a deal $5 for a bag and as much stuff as you can fit, you can have. The Sister from our ward purchased each of us a bag and I was able to get some new shirts and a new skirt and dress. Oh how I love to shop!
It's a calm in my heart,
It's peace in the soul,
A grand midnight sea-
My Father's love for me.
Oh, its power is great!
Oh, it's power divine!
What a glorious decree,
My Father's love for me.
It's a life I live
It's a love I feel
From somewhere Heavenly,
This, My Father's love for me.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Three Month Anniversary

Anniversary's are happy times, joyous celbrations and often in connection with relationships. Well this past week on September 26th I celebrated my three month mission anniversary, and let me tell you I have never been in a more dedicated relationship with my purpose in life than I am right now serving a mission.
Like all relationships there are ups and downs, this was one of those weeks; but I am still in LOVE with missionary work and I am still developing my relationship with my Father in Heaven.
It rained a lot this week, and we didn't have a lot of set tracting it was! Tracting is not my favorite. I have seen very little success from it, and honestly I struggle with the whole getting doors shut in my face thing. But, my purpose is to bring others to Christ and when it is raining and there is no one outside to talk to, you go and knock on people's doors with faith that one or two of the twenty you knock on will open up and let you share the most important message on earth. Thankfully, Sister McFarlane and I were able to find two people that rainy day who expressed a desire to have us return and talk more about Jesus Christ. Only one of those two actually kept their appointment, BUT that one soul we found was worth wet shoes frizzy hair.
Then there are ups! Thursday night we taught our friend Lawrence. We taught him part of the plan of salvation, answering the questions: Where did I come from? and Why am I here? It was amazing to feel the Holy Ghost settle into the lesson and truly testify that God has a plan for us. That we were not just sent down to earth to wander aimlessly on our own. Then as we prepared to leave we asked Lawrence how he was feeling, in which he replied, "Well, y'all must be doing something right. I smoked my last cigarette on Sunday." Oh my goodness did my heart fly with joy as I quickly told Lawrence that him not smoking anymore had NOTHING to do with us, but EVERYTHING to do with our Heavenly Father!
Sunday was Ward Conference (where leaders of our church come and talk to the congregation) and I just love how the Lord speaks to me, even when I am far from home in a ward I am just a temporary member of. Temporary or not, I am a member of the ward and the Lord has things He needs me to know. In Ward Council (congregations leaders) we were taught by President Chase about how the Lord is hastening the work. Then in Relief Society (women's organization) President Chase spoke to us again. He had us read in Philippians 4:6-7. In verse six it says "let your requests be made known unto God." And my whole soul felt at peace. Peace because I have been wondering whether or not my asking to be able to leave by October 17th 2013 was a righteous desire or selfish; but this verse put my whole heart, mind, and soul at ease as I came to realize Heavenly Father wants me in Brisbane as much I as want to be there. As long as I work my hardest here in Georgia, I will be able to get to Brisbane by October 17th. I have faith in that, because I know Heavenly Father is hearing my prayers and all the prayers of those who are praying with me to get to Australia by October 17th. Heavenly Father loves all of us, wants to help us, so please just "let your request be made known unto God!"

Sunday, September 29, 2013

One Day at a Time

This week has been the longest week of my mission, but only because so many good things were packed into short seven days.
Tuesday we were able to go to the temple as a Zone (an area of missionaries) and it was one emotional day, perhaps because we had to get up at 4:30am, or possibly because the Holy Ghost was gripping my heart the whole day. Either way by the end of the day I was tired and emotionally drained and more motivated to be a better missionary,where ever that may be.
(Insert picture here with Caption: Sister McFarlane and I at the Georgia, Atlanta Temple)
Wednesday was exchanges! I went to Catersville, Georgia for the day with Sister Lowder; what a blessing that day turned out to be. I was able to learn new techniques in teaching, and to really see what a busy day looks like and how to plan correctly to have busy days like that. Not saying I haven't been busy, but there is definietly a lot Sister McFarlane and I needed to improve based off of my observations of Wednesday.
Thursday Sister McFarlane and I were able to rock it. We were both highly motivated to improve after exchanges and so we did. We were able to surpass most of our weekly goals and I could literally feel the Savior cheering us on as we sought out ways to improve our missionary work.
Friday night I encountered a miracle, but it was scary at first. We were teaching one of our newest investigators, Lawrence, and the Spirit was surrounding us like a thick blanket. We taught him about Joseph Smith and then set a date for baptism on October 12th in which he said he was willing to work towards. Then we started reading 3 Nephi chapter 11 with him. That's when his daughter walked in, listed to us reading, and once we had finished decided to test us on why it was we need a Book of Mormon, when what we had read was in the Bible. My heart dropped, as did my confidence, because I am no Bible scholar; but I began to say a prayer in my heart that the Spirit would be able to stay in the room and help us resolve this woman's concerns. Then our member who came with us spoke up and said exactly what this loud and proud woman needed to hear. By the end of everything the woman said she was willing to read the Book of Mormon. Members are awesome and so vital to miracles occurring!
Saturday and Sunday were probably my favorite days of the week because Lee came to church...TWICE! and with his son Jared! The first time was on Saturday for a church tour, we felt this very essential because last week when Lee didn't show up it was because Jared convinved Lee to go to church with him. Not this week! No, we had them tour the church and by the time we ended the tour in the chapel Lee was so, so excited to come to church.
Sunday morning, I was passing out flyers, when I saw Jared's red truck pull into the parking lot and my heart about melted it was so warm with happiness. Lee was wearing a tie Sister McFarlane gave him and Jared looked sharp too. I ruched to the door to welcome them in and showed them where to sit. I don't believe I have ever been happier in my life than I was at 11:00 when church started and Jared was on my left and Lee was on my right hand side. What a glorious day it will be when Lee is baptized. I know that Lee is the reason I needed to come to Georgia. Yesterday, when he took the sacrament, the Holy Ghost made that clear to me. What a blessing from my Heavenly Father teaching Lee has been, as I see him grow and as I see his inner light mature. He calls us his "adopted daughters." I call him my brother, because we both have the same Father who is watching over us from above.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pulpit Moments

When a missionary comes home and gives their homecoming talk in church it is full of miracles they were able to witness while serving a mission. Sometimes, it is hard to believe some of the things that you hear, because it just seems so darn impossible; however, I am here to testify that miracles happen and this week I was able to witness some mighty miracles!
We always here about that long hard day of tracting, with no success until the last door. Well this week on Tuesday Sister McFarland and I only had one appointment on Tuesday and so the rest of our time was spent knocking on people's doors, trying not to look like two creepy, but cute, strangers sitting on someones doorstep trying to share a message of Jesus Christ in the Bible Belt where everyone already knows Jesus Christ.
It was hot, it was humid, and I was sweating. Doors were closed on us. One person yelled through her door window that she was not interested. Another ran inside and when we rang the doorbell no one answered. There were a few who allowed us to pray with them, but none were interested in the message we had to share. Then, we decided to eat a late lunch at Zaxby's (thanks Dad!) and as we ordered the cashier says, "You know my best friend from high school is a Mormon." Ahhh, how our Spirits pricked and we engaged in a conversation with this guy named Ray. We set up a time when we could meet and answer the questions he had. I am excited to meet with Ray later this week.
After our encounter with Ray, our energy was re boosted and we went to tract some more...with the same results. Then just before we were had to turn in to go to our appointment we decided to try one last neighborhood. Feeling slightly defeated, and frustrated because at the moment we were no where near meeting the goal of new investigators we had made. Nevertheless, we knocked on this one house's door to begin our tracting. A short blond lady opened the door, warmly she invited us into her home to pray for her. We prayed, her husband came down and we talked. Then we made a return appointment with Cheryll and Phil, and we accomplished our goal in that last neighborhood. What a miracle!
Wednesday, well it was rough, but Thursday was another pulpit moment. Our investigator, Kieth, has been smoking for 40 years and been drinking coffee even longer. Last time we saw him he was on the Nicotine Patch trying to quit smoking. That was great, but we knew he needed to be off the patch if he is going to be baptized. Sister McFarlane and I had been fervently praying that Kieth would be able to quit smoking without the patch once we committed him to live the Word of Wisdom. Thursday we pulled into his driveway, after being scolded by our member for not having taught the WOW yet (she was converted in the old flip chart days).
We begin talking with Kieth to find out his Nicotine Patches had been expired the whole time he was wearing them, but he still hadn't had a cigarette in 11 days! Then Kieth goes on to tell us that he's quit drinking coffee as well. We asked him why he had quit all these things without us asking him to, in which he replied, "Well I researched it on if I really wanna give this LDS thing a try, I figured I would do it 100% with no coffee or smoking." It was hard not to let my jaw drop and hit the floor. What an answer to prayers. The Lord is not going to wait on us slow pokes to further his work. Kieth is on tract to be baptized in early October. He still has to find out for himself if this is the church for him, but things are really looking good.
I know that this gospel is true. I have received my own personal testimony of the Book of Mormon and all the commandment. As I am watching the people we teach progress and gain their own testimonies, my testimony is growing as well. Some would say that after smoking for 40 years there would be no way to stop, but I know that our loving Heavenly Father gives no commandment, "lest he shall prepare a way" as it says in 1 Nephi 3:7. I have now memorized this scripture in English and Chinese, so that I can recite it to anyone I may teach, because it is true. God loves His children, so he leads and guides us with commandments that are we can do. I love you all and would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

When One Door Closes, Another One Closes, So Knock Once More

This week has been a week of much learning as my beginner's luck has run out.
It seems like every appointment we made was cancelled, and then our backups cancelled and sometimes our backup's backup cancelled. However, this was a week of many miracles.
My first lesson occurred on Tuesday when our appointment cancelled so we decided to go see our "golden" investigator. We knock on the door and he opens it up with tears in his eyes and tells us he doesn't feel like he will be able to pursue our church anymore. I was devastated. My heart was tearing up into a million pieces as he explained he just didn't feel like he was wanting to continue on investigating the church. This guy has so much faith, why was he trying to drop us?
My companion and I told asked him a lot of questions about why he was feeling this way, and we were able to get to the nitty gritty. It wasn't because he didn't believe what we were teaching. It wasn't because the church wasn't true. It was because he was scared of the battle ahead. The possibility of him being the only one in his family wanting to join the church right now. We left saying we would come back. I know we needed to see this guy and that is why our first appointment fell through. One door was closed and Heavenly Father just opened up another one for us.
Wednesday everything that could go wrong went wrong. All appointments were cancelled and we were left with the Area Book and a lot of prayer to lead us what to do next. We tracted for a little bit and had no success. We finally pulled out the area book and prayed to find someone in past investigators that would now be ready to receive the gospel. We were led to two names. One was a very inactive girl who's husband had taken lessons from missionaries before. We drove over to their neighborhood and just as we were about to walk up the steps, the wife came outside. She didn't seem surprised to see us, but she was headed out and her husband wasn't home. She set up a return appointment with us and then told us that eight months ago they had a baby and now they both felt it was time to go back to church. What a blessing it has been.
Lastly, our goal this week was to find six new investigators. By Sunday we had five and only one appointment left with a part member family where the wife wasn't a member. She had seen missionaries before and not been interested. So, we prayed for the Lord's help and went over. She was very happy to see us and as we started talking we discovered she doesn't really understand the church too well, even though she has been married to a member for 10 years. However, at the end of our lesson, she agreed to let us come back the following Sunday to teach her. In the knick of time, Heavenly Father helped us achieve our goal of getting six new investigators this week.
This week I learned: No matter how many doors close, there is always going to be one door the Lord will open for us to walk through.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Hey Y'all

First thing is first, I am in an area new to me with people I am unfamiliar with and I need to support of family and friends, so please write me at my new address:
1175 Old Harris Rd.
Apt# 818
Dallas, GA 30157
Secondly, the work here in Gerogia is so exciting! I have already witnessed so many miracles and am working hard. My very first night was spent without a companion--which was weird--and then the next day I recieved my new companion, Sister McFarlane. She is 21, went to BYU-I, and is from Orange California. My very first night with her was not spent in our apartment because she locked the keys in our 2013 Chevy Cruise. If anyone is looking to buy a car that is impossible for a theif to get into, this is the car. Three cops all tried, and failed, to get into the car. Not even a slim-jim, worked. So, we spent the night at a member's house who didn't have any kids, and then the next morning, we had a lock-smith come and let us into our car. What an adventurous and sleepless way to begin my time in Georgia.
An exciting story: The very first day we went tracting for real, knocking on door after door, we prayed that we would be able to find a family to teach. The very first door I knock on a Dad opens the door with two kids wrapped around his legs. He invited us in and his wife came to meet us, and she was pregnant. Meet Bo and Anna. They aren't currently active in a paticular church, but they are willing to let us come over and teach them. We taught them a quick lesson right then and there and then set up a return appointment for this week. We prayed with them and left. Then as we circling about the neighborhood, Anna came out and gave us come water bottles. It was a blessing because it is so very hot here, but also a confirmation that they didn't think we were completely weird!
That very same day, as we were leaving the neighborhood, we found a golden investigator. His name is Lee and he has been taught by missionaries before, but they were slackers and played video games with him and socialized. However, he loved them and was happy to see that "Jesus sent girls out to teach the word." He is very learned in the Bible, but in a way that has caused him to question why people think ministers can be paid, why aren't people preparing for the end of the world, and why isn't there more than just the Bible. He is asking all the right questions, sometimes too many at one time, but wonderful questions. We taught him Sunday night with a couple from our ward and things went fantastic. He has committed to be baptized this month! He reads all our assignments and more! The only obstacle is that he has so many deep questions and we need to establish a foundation before we introduce him to deeper doctrine. He's awesome though and hopefully we can get his family on board as well.
My last story is regaurding a Chinese restuarant and our Ward Mission Leader Brother Drew. He wanted me to have an opportunity to speak my language, so he took my companion and I to lunch at a Chinese place. I was able to talk to our waiter and leave him a pamphlet that was in Characters. It was awesome. I can't wait to get to Australia. Please pray that I get there quickly.
This gospel is amazing and I love it!

Wenhede (Tender)

This has been a bitter-sweet week of goodbyes and accepting new realities.

Wednesday Sister Goldrup and I were selected to demonstrate teaching to all the new missionaries. It was weird to think that two months ago I was the new missionary and others were showing me how to teach. Of course since we were teaching a big group, we taught in English. I was so nervous! I kept thinking of all the things I wanted to say, except the words were all in Chinese. Then it hit me, Natali! You have are going to be teaching in English in just one week. Wow, that was something else to hit me over the head. It also made me realize that I will have to figure out a way to put in 100% effort teaching the word in English, but also 100% effort in keeping up my Chinese. I talked to some teachers and they said it is manageable, but requires a lot of diligence. I guess Diligence is the Christlike Attribute I will be working on these next couple of weeks. Sister Goldrup and I are going to email each other every week with new goals that we want to do with Chinese, that way we will be accountable to someone other than Heavenly Father.

Thursday was In-field Orientation and it was another eye-opener. We learned about the hardest parts of missionary work and then best parts of it. We also learned the importance of including members in our search for investigators. My favorite part was that we learned the only way to have a successful mission is to be obedient with a passion. Passion in our work is essential because we won't feel tired if we truly love what we are doing. Passion will help us love those around us and will help us connect with them in a special way that will help them come unto Christ.

Friday I received my temporary reassignment to Atlanta Georgia. Awesome.

Saturday was such a tender day for me. My emotions spilled out quite a lot. I had to say goodbye to Tang Laoshi (Brother Townsend) and it was harder than saying goodbye to my family (sorry y'all). But I don't know if I will ever see this man again who has done so much to help me learn Chinese and has provided multiple Spiritual settings in which my understanding and testimony of this gospel have grown. Luckily I have pictures and his e-mail, so there is a chance we will see each other again, or at least stay in contact. It is during these times of good-byes that I remember what my Mom has said multiple times, "Isn't a blessing to have loved and been loved so much it hurts?" I can testify that it is indeed a blessing to love. 
Inline image 1
(Left to Right: Sister Goldrup, me, and Tang Laoshi!)
Inline image 2
(We love Zhi Hui yu! aka Word of Wisdom)

Saturday night was also an emotional night. We had our final District meeting with President and Sister Dunn and we did an exercise that I believe will impact the rest of my mission and hopefully the rest of my life. With our companions we did a role play of the time when Jesus asked Peter three times, "Do you love me?" As Sister Goldrup asked me that three times, I felt that I could honestly reply to both her and my Savior, "I do love you." By the time I had asked her that same question three times we were both in tears and my feelings were, at that very moment, wenhede (tender). I could see, more clearly than ever before in my life, that all the Savior really wanted from me was to love those I come in contact with. Love my companion now, and my future companions in the field. Love my family. Love my investigators. And show this love by inviting them to come unto Christ so that they can feel the great capacity of His love for all of us here on Earth, and for those from the past and for those who are getting ready to come down. Yes it was a tender moment for my companion and I, one which I will always remember.

I just want everyone to know that the rumors you hear about the MTC being terrible are not true. I LOVE this place. I have had some of the worst days of my life here, but I have learned so much from those trials. I have loved learning from my teachers and my peers. I have loved studying the scriptures and praying all the time. Saturday I finished reading the Book of Mormon, cover to cover, which I started my first day in the MTC. I have started reading it again. I encourage all to read it, and to love it. It is the keystone of my happiness in my life here on Earth. Love you all and feel free to email me!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Change is a Good Thing

The Lord really does love me. This week I was assigned a new companion who is the best, her name is Sister Goldrup. She was suppossed to leave last Monday, but her cornea got messed up in her eye and she had to have surgery, so she is here another three weeks. President Dunn pulled my old companionship and Sister Goldrup into another room to create our new companionships. He said, "I have a very strong feeling that Sister Jensen and Sister Goldrup should be companions." I was so excited! I had prayed the night before that whatever happened would happen, but if I had a say in it all I did not want to be companions with Sister G. because of all the struggles we had had the past week. The Lord heard my prayer and has blessed me with someone who works hard and is more advanced than me, which is humbling, but enabling me to push myself even harder to get on the same page as her.
Sister Goldrup is from London most recently, her family has lived all around the world. She is not uptight and we laugh a lot. We talk to each other in a lot of Chinese and I can't describe the weight that has been lifted off of my shoulders. The Lord surely knew I needed this.
So just a little shoutout to Sister Marissa Miller! She is in the MTC now and her class is in my building so we will be seeing each other a lot! Haleilughjia (please check my spelling)!
Another thing I want to share with everyone is the amazing discussion we had in class this week while searching the scriptures. We talked about the difference between righteousness and obediance. Let me just say I want to be righteous, not obediant. Being righteous means we have a sincere desire to follow in Christ's steps and to do the right thing. Obediance is being odediant with no testimony of what you are doing is going to help you in the long run. It was an amazing search of the scriptures as I became recharged to obey in righteousness.
The Lord shed another blessing on me Friday. Brother Townsend had an interview with me about my time at the MTC thus far. I told him I was frustrated because I felt like I should know a lot more than I do and I was worried that I was teaching lessons not people. Brother Townsend looked at me smiled and laughed quietly. He then went on to give me an analogy about how mountains. He said to look from the top of the mountains. From the top of the mountains we can see everything. He asked me how many years I studied French in which I replied, "5 years." He then asked, "And how long have you studied Chinese Jian Jie Mei?"
I replied, "Almost 6 weeks."
Brother Townsend then said I was a miracle. He said he and Brother Thatcher were amazed at how fast I was progressing. He said he could see the bigger picture because he had already reached the Mountain Top. He said my investigators could feel my love and that I was teaching their needs and not just lessons. Brother Townsend ended the conversation by saying, "Take a deep breath, take a step back and don't stress."
All that was said was exactly what I needed to hear. I still have a long way to go, but I should be happy with the progress I have made. Now that I thing about it I can probably speak more fluently in Chinese than I ever could in French. What a blessing that is! The Lord has certaintly performed miracles on me in the six short weeks I have been here and I am so excited to help build up his Kingdom so that others may feel the blessings of the Lord, our Heavenly Father.

Jian Jie Mei

 1st: My new companion Sister Goldrup and I!!!
2nd: My friend Elder Worley got to the MTC!!! Awkward handshakes :)
3rd: Sister Miller in the MTC hood!!!!

Tender Mercies

Title: Tender Mercies
This week seems like it went by faster than the last! Which is both exciting and nerve racking because I have one month left to learn Chinese in the MTC, but once I'm done I get to get the heck out of Dodge (MTC) and start being a missionary in the field! Woot woot!
In fourth grade I remember being in the class play as an elf. I looked out into the audience that filled the cafeteria and there sat my family. There was Dad, with a space big enough for another person, then Mom and Addie. I remember thinking that the space between my parents was not empty, rather my Grandma Sharon was there watching over me and smiling at my fourth grade acting skills...
This week I was lucky enough to feel my Grandma Sharon's presence again. It was Tuesday night after devotional and we were talking about times we had felt close to Heavenly Father. Sister Taylor shared an experience about her grandma, then Elder Bowcut shared an experience that was near to his heart. President Dunn, commented that there were angels watching over each and everyone of us. It then hit me that my guardian angel was Grandma Sharon. I could feel her presence in the small room where we were meeting. I hadn't really thought about her much since coming on my mission, though I have been aware of all the blessings in my life, especially this past week. It was a tender mercy of the Lord to allow me to feel my grandmother's love and watchful eye.
Then on Wednesday, I was blessed yet again with a tender mercy of the Lord. Brother Thatcher was to be gone for the rest of the week visiting an old companion out in Virginia, and as my family and friends can attest, I am not good with change, especially when it comes to teachers. Remember how hard it was for me when Madame Holst left to have her baby? Remember when Dr. Kendrick left to go to Spartenburg? Not an easy adjustment for me. With the knowledge that I could not afford to be stubborn with the sub and get confused at their different teaching styles, I started Wednesdaymorning with a prayer to my Heavenly Father to please help me have patience with the substitutes and to please help me learn, despite the absence of my real teacher. The Lord Heard my prayer and I was able to not only learn, but learn a great deal. Now granted they were not as good as teachers as Brother Thatcher, they were good enough to get me motivated and take my time here at the MTC more seriously. I created a new and improved study plan and prayed for help, once again, for Heavenly Father to give me the diligence to stick to my study plan.
My last tender mercy of the week is not related to the Gospel, other than it is definitely a tender mercy of the Lord: Volleyball. Sister Taylor and I have been playing everyday, and while it is not even comparable to playing in high school, I have been abel to find some spanish speaking Elders and Sisters who are pretty good. Together we can all get some good rallies in, and best of all I get set well enough that I can hit the ball whilst flying through the air. There are two things that make me feel alive in life. One of them is this gospel and the other is volleyball. The first time I played volleyball at the MTC it was a huge dissappointment because I was the best and everyone else could barely pass the ball. The Lord knows I need volleyball to relieve stress and to activate that other part of my soul, therefore he has blessed me with new friends who play volleyball and play it well. There is one Elder, Elder Berry, who is quite the athlete and can set, pass, and hit very well. We are quite the team when we play together.
Love you all and please write me

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Because I Have Been Given Much

Saturday was TRC, which is when volunteers come who speak Chinese and we teach them a mini lesson, kind of like home teachers. It was cool because we had a native Chinese speaker and she talked so fast! But I could understand 45% of what she was saying luckily. After TRC, the Lord blessed me to understand the grammer concept Brother Thatcher was teaching. I was able to use it with the vocabulary I have learned from flashcards, rather than following the words it suggests in the grammer book. I was so proud of myself. We had lunch and all I could think of is how cool it was that I had conquered a grammer sequence. The Lord did not let me live long without remembering who was really helping me learn the language. After lunch we had class with Brother Townsend and so began the most frustrating class of my life. He taught us a grammer principle. As soon as the class seemed to have a pretty good handle on it, Brother Townsend gave us a challenge. He gave us eight english sentences that we had to translate into Chinese using the correct grammer. I was frustrated and confused. The Chinese language doesn't even have half of the words Brother Townsend used in his sentences, therefore you have to decide which word/s to replace with another word that does exist in English. I was knocked right off of my pedestal, and by dinner I was feeling quite discouraged. As I began my prayer over my food, I started to ask for help understanding the grammer principle we had just learned in class, when it hit me. I had yet to thank Heavenly Father for helping me conquer the gramme section earlier today. No wonder I was was struggling right now. I felt so much guilt because of my selfishness. I have never felt so undeserving of Heavenly Father's help. If I couldn't remember to thank him when I made progress then why would he help me continue? Nevertheless, I am learning this new grammer concept and I will conquer it, but you can bet I will not forget my Heavenly Father when I do conquer it. I would encourage all my friends and family to take inventory of the things they do have and have been blessed with in life before we ask heavenly Father for more. There is a reason when we teach investigators to pray that we say the first thing you do after addressing Heavenly Father is thank him for all your blessings. It is because we have been given much and we must have gratitude to the Father who has given us everything. Hopefully I will be able to get you all some pictures soon.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Roller Coaster of Emotions

What a week this has been! Can I just say how much I love this gospel and am eternally grateful for all that it has blessed me with.
Monday night, Brother Thatcher helped me with my pronunciation one on one and I felt so much better about being able to figure out the words! yay!
So on Tuesday night we had a devotional at the Marriot center with Brother Richardson of the General Sunday School Board. He said, "God has more in store for us than we can imagine." That really hit me and I know that to be true because honestly who would've ever imagined I'd be speaking Chinese in Australia?
Wednesday was hard. Like probably the hardest day of my mission thus far. We started the day off with teaching our investigator and it went pretty well. He committed to baptism, but he "left" for Tiawan the next day and we are hoping he will contact the missionaries there. It's weird, even though this investigator wasn't real, I felt sad when we wouldn't be able to teach him about the gospel anymore, because I could see the gradual change in his behavior and his excitement growing about the gospel. Luckily, we get a new investigator and have already "called" him to set up an appointment for this week. After that everything was downhill. By the end of the day I was wondering if I would ever be able to conquer this language and if I was even adequate to serve Heavenly Father. That night I knelt on my knees and said a "mom" length prayer, (for those of you who don't know, Mom is a very thorough person when it comes to prayer). I felt peace and was able to sleep and wake up with renewed energy and a reconfirmation that I was called to this mission for a reason and that Heavenly Father will help me, all I have to do is ask as it directs in James 1:5. I mean that's what Joseph Smith did right?
The 4th of July was a little weird. I realized I hadn't packed any red, so I felt a little unpatriotic; nevertheless it was America's Birthday and even at the MTC they can't ignore that! After a full day of language learning and scripture study we had dinner and then a special devotional. Our speaker talked about the men and women who fought for our country past and present. I am truly grateful for all those brave young men and women, and I'm especially proud of Bob as he faithfully serves the USA. Thanks Bob. So after the devotional, we were blessed with the opportunity to watch "17 Miracles" which is an amazing movie about the pioneers. Hun Hao! (very good) Then, this part is my favorite, they announced that we would be able to go outside and watch the Stadium of Fire fireworks and eat ice cream. My dear Companion Sister Taylor teared up and said, "that is so sweet. They didn't have to do that for us, but it makes being away from home easier." That really hit me. I then said a quick prayer of gratitude to my Heavenly Father for blessing me with Sister Taylor and I gave thanks for the evening I was able to participate in.
Later on Saturday, I was doing the online computer language study and all of a sudden I could understand everything I had been studying. Heavenly Father answered my prayers! I'm not fluent or anything but I could definitely understand  what I had been working on.
So yesterday was fast Sunday and let me tell you I was counting down the hours until I could fast! I have been wanting to fast all week, but we aren't supposed to skip meals as missionaries. Then fast Sunday hit and I was so grateful for the opportunity to fast and get closer to the Spirit. In the morning I had the opportunity to ready and study the Book of Mormon for a whole hour. Let me tell you, that was amazing. I learned so much and I'm even in the Isaiah parts in 2 Nephi! Then I read the Bible and Preach my Gospel for another 45 minutes. I am learning so much about my Savior and I can't wait to be with him again.
I am currently unable to figure out how to send pictures from the MTC computers, I guess I take after mom a little bit...but as soon as I do figure it out I will send pictures for the blog and such!
Love you all so very much! Please me. (Natali would really love some letters from It is a Quick and easy way to send her emails/letters. She receives the letters on the day you write them.)  They really help me get through the day!
          Jian Jie Mie

Monday, July 1, 2013

MTC Week One

So these past couple of days have been non-stop orientation and class. I am happy to report that I can already pray in Chinese and that I have taught two missionary discussions in Chinese (though I'm not sure how our "invesitigator" is coming along because I can't understand him), and I have made it to a regualr schedule for the next eight weeks.
I can hardly remember life outside the MTC. My phantom cell phone vibrations have almost ceased completely and I don't even remember what it's like to have a decent nights rest. I do miss my pillow a lot, but I am almost able to sleep through the whole night now, which is a huge blessing from the Lord.
So our "investigator" is a teacher from one of the other Chinese classes and he is pretending to be an old man who loves Christ but wants to know why bad things happen to good people. We have to teach in Chinese and it usually is a jumble of words and me trying to feel the spirit so I can say something. Our first lesson went ma-ma (okay). We taught him that Heavenly Father loves us and wants to hear from us because we are his children. Then we tried to teach him how to pray. We taught that you address Heavenly Father, then thank him for your blessings, ask for help, and then close with Feng Yesu Jidu de Ming amen (in the name of Jesus Christ Amen). Then when it was time for him to pray he repeated exactly what we said. He said, "Tianfu (heavenly father), I thank thee for blessings. I ask thee for help. In the name of Jesus Christ amen." That was the end of the first lesson and I felt terrible because he didn't really understand what prayer was yet.
Our second lesson we revisited prayer. As we taught him the format of prayer again we gave tangban (examples) of what to thank Tainfu for and what to ask for help with. Then we asked if he understood more fully. He said yes and then said one of the most beautiful prayers I have ever heard. I could feel the spirit as he prayed and searched for things he wanted to communicate to Tianfu. It was beautiful and I felt so happpy that he now knew how to really pray! Then we went on with the rest of our lesson and tried to get him to confirm to work towards baptism. That's when all heck broke loose. He asked what baptism was and we didn't know the vocabulary to expalin it to him. So we tried having him read a scripture to explain it. Then he started asking a ton of questions and we simply could not understand. Then he wrote some characters on one of my companions paper (I have two companions btw) and asked us to ask Toa Loscher (Brother Thatcher our teacher) to tell us what it meant. Then we set up an appointment to come back sometime this week. It was kind of a bummer to have such a great start to a lesson and end in chaos. But that's why he isn't a real investigator and we are here learning how to correct our mistakes.
Other than that I don't really have a lot to say. All my days are blurring together. My only peace is when I read my english scriptures and I can understand everything. Then I try to read the Book of Mormen (Mo'rmenjing) in Chinese and I feel lost all over again, though I am happp to say I am starting to recognize a lot of the words. My district is great! My companions and I are with six other elders. Two are going to Hong Kong and the other four are going to Sydney Australia. One of my companions is also going to Hong Kong and the other one is going to Brisbane. We found out we are going to be the first American sister missionaries learning Chinese to go to Brisbane...kinda scary because I am hoping there are some Native speakers who can be my senior companion.