Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Grateful in Any Circumstances

This past week I have had no real improvement in my back and have gotten quite frustrated that I continue to struggle in pain, and yet there seems to be no solution. Then in my personal study this week I have read more than once the talk by President Uchtdorf from last General Conference titled "Grateful in Any Circumstances." Please click here for a short snip-it of what helped me most this week.

So what did I have to grateful for this past week? My back is still in pain. I don't have a doctor's appointment scheduled until July, and all they can tell me is to rest, which has been hard seeing I don't sleep at night. But, my beloved friends, family and anyone else who might be reading this blog, I can tell you my heart is FULL of gratitude towards my Heavenly Father right now. Through this trial it has never crossed my mind once that we don't have a living Heavenly Father who LOVES us, and wants us to succeed. Though I have had to access the power of Christ's Atonement in a much deeper way than I ever knew possible, it has strengthened my testimony and helped me to press onward each and every day.

The first thing I have to be grateful for is Sister Henderson, who is in tune with the Spirit. As stated earlier, sleeping at night simply does not happen anymore. The pain keeps me awake and I just lay down and ponder life. Sometimes I am able to close my eyes for an hour or so, but it isn't really sleeping as I can consciously here my companion's breathing or the animals outside. Wednesday morning I was about done for. I had taken my shower, was making breakfast, and was close to tears because I was just so tired. Then the phone rang. It was Sister Henderson. She said she'd been worried about me and gave me strict instructions to take an 1 1/2 lunch from now on to eat quickly and then sleep for at least an hour. As soon as I hung up the phone, I fell to my knees in prayer and utmost gratitude to my Heavenly Father. For some reason, most likely the intervention of my Heavenly Father, I am able to sleep sound for one hour during lunch with the sun bathing my bed in light. Though I am still tired, that one hour each day gives me the needed energy to go out and work.

The second thing I have to be grateful for is Ayako. Our dear Japanese investigator who just brightens my day whenever I see her. Last week on P-day I downloaded a talk by President Monson in Japanese. Then we asked our member present, Phil, to bring along his computer to the lesson with Ayako. It happened to be Phil's first time to hear President Monson talk as well. As I watched their faces intently watch President Monson my heart was filled with the Spirit. Though I could not understand the words being spoken, the Spirit bore witness to me of President Thomas S. Monson's divine role as prophet, seer and revelator. Then at the end Ayako said in her simple English, "I feel it is very good." She is now ready to be baptized this Saturday. I am so excited for her and for Phil because it will be his first time to use his recently obtained Aaronic Priesthood.

The third thing was something I decided to put into action from President Uchtdorf's talk where he said, "This is not a gratitude of the lips but of the soul. It is a gratitude that heals the heart and expands the mind." As I was facing sadness this week from not being able to work as hard as my heart desired because of physical restrictions, I was given an opportunity to serve a recent convert in the ward, Ben. Ben's birthday was on Friday and Sister Ng wanted to make him a cake, but knows nothing about cooking, let alone baking. It was our dinner hour and all I wanted to do was lay down and rest my back and wallow is self-pity for a few minutes. Then I thought of President Uchtdorf's talk about how gratitude can change our souls. Instead of laying down, I went into the kitchen and started making a cake. As I made the cake, I could feel the sadness that had rested in my heart all day begin to fade away and I felt joy instead. I felt excitement to see Ben's face when we would give him the cake. I felt my heart heal and my mind did expand as I realized the power of a simple kind act of service.
Lastly, transfers. I know I told you all last week that Sister Ng and I would be staying put, but it turns out that that is only 1/2 true. We are still living in the same flat with Sister Chen and Cabamongan, but we are no longer serving in the YSA ward, rather we have been put into the Brisbane Ward, full of kids and families and only two Chinese members. A challenge lies ahead of us for sure as we have been commissioned to try to baptize Chinese people into a ward with no Chinese programs set up. Thankfully, we are able to keep all of our investigators who are attending the YSA ward, but that means two correlation meetings, two ward councils to organize with and six hours of church for the next couple of Sundays. Yesterday was crazy as we did all this for the first time. I am still not sure why we are the only Chinese missionaries in this ward, or why the Lord wants us here, but we have been warmly welcomed! Last night we had a dinner appointment for the first time in ages! Our meal calender is already filled with more names than I have ever seen in my entire mission. This ward is SO happy to have sisters! It is a little daunting because we literally know no one, but that is our goal for the next couple of weeks--to get to know the ward and invite them to help Chinese people feel welcome at church. We are going to be well cared for at least and that is something to be grateful for!
President Uchtdorf said, "When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief, we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ’s Atonement. In the cold of bitter sorrow, we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven’s embrace." I testify, with my personal experiences these past couple of weeks, that this is true. Heavenly Father is aware of us, He is there to comfort us, and for that comfort and peace He offers I will forever be grateful. I love you all, I appreciate the prayers that have been said in my behalf, and I love the Lord, even Jesus Christ.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Staying Put

First things is first. For those of you who may be concerned with my health, well I still have no idea what is wrong with my back. I went to the Doctor on Friday thinking I would have my solution and would be able to start moving forward to a pain-free life, but the doctor just told me that yes, I do have two rather large kidney stones, but right now they are not in a spot would be causing pain--in the future they'll be a problem, but right now, not the problem. The doctor took another look at my CT scan and said there is something wrong there and refferred me to a back specialist. I have filled out the application to the back specialist and am just waiting on a call from them. I am back where I started, except this time around no pain medications are working and I just have to pray extra hard to make it through each day. I am definitely getting closer to my Savior though. Always a thing to be grateful for in each trial!
Transfers have come and gone and it looks like Sister Ng and I will be staying another transfer together in the city. Our third transfer together and Sister Ng's seventh transfer in the city! She is such a trooper. It isn't even possible for me to stay here that long. We are both very excited to be staying because we have a lot of really solid investigators right now who have accepted the invitation to be baptized this transfer! Always exciting to see the fruit of our labors as Ammon said in Alma 26: 30-31: " And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some. Now behold, we can look forth and see the fruits of our labors; and are they few? I say unto you, Nay, they are many; yea, and we can witness of their sincerity, because of their love towards their brethren and also towards us."Saturday was a glorious day! Sister Ng and I were able to watch our investigator, Atticus, enter the waters of baptism and promise Heavenly Father to always remember Him. It was pretty awesome because a man I taught in SunnyBank,George Chen, then referred to city where he was baptized, was the one to baptize Atticus. It was George's first opportunity to baptize someone! It was sweet to watch George carefully dip Atticus into the water. The first time he did it so carefully that Atticus's hand didn't make it into the water and so they had to do it twice. It was a great teaching opportunity after because we were able to remind George and Atticus of just how important it is to be fully immersed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.Sunday was awesome as well. Atticus received the Gift of the Holy Ghost, the greatest gift anyone can receive from our loving Heavenly Father! However, that wasn't my favorite part. Friday night I had texted Ayako to remind her about church. Usually she quickly replies, but we had received no confirming text. Sister Ng and prayed fervently that she would show up. Church started and no Ayako. Then after the opening prayer in walked Ayako in her new pink dress and pretty high heels WITH three of her friends! She is not even a member yet, and she is already doing missionary work! It just strengthens my testimony that this church is true and when people come to that knowledge they can't help but want to share it with their friends and family!Monday was full of lessons. Sister Ng and I were positive she'd be transferred because no one in mission history has stayed in one area longer than 6 transfers, so we invited as many people as we could to meet with us on Monday so Sister Ng could say goodbye. Well late Sunday night we got the transfer call and nobody was leaving, so we clapped our hands for joy and went to bed happy that the next day was not going to be full of goodbyes. Our first lesson was with a man named Tony, and no he is not the same person that I taught in SunnyBank. Tony has expressed in multiple lessons how difficult it is for him to feel love and to love others. His parents left him to be raised by Tony's aunt and uncle, who both worked a lot and taught Tony that charity is bad because it only comes back to hurt you. Tony's only desire in life is to be happy, he just doesn't know how. After much prayer and consideration, Sister Ng and I finally decided to veer off the usual path and teach Tony all about Charity. We invited a recently baptized member, Warren--who also had problems with being happy prior to his baptism-- to join us. As we began to teach Tony about Charity I could feel the Spirit enter my heart and fill my soul with warmth. At one point I felt prompted to ask Tony, "Tony, do you feel that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love you?" He went on to explain that he'd never felt God or Christ's love before, but when he started meeting with the missionaries he started to feel a little bit happier. Tony started to cry a little bit as I testified that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ do in fact love Tony and want nothing more for him than for him to have happiness in life here on earth and in the life to come. Warren was great! He shared his testimony about how once he joined the church he had a lot more friends and was as happy as he'd ever been his whole life. At the end of the lesson Sister Ng invited Tony to be baptized and to start coming to church. He said yes to both! Warren got his phone number and offered to go to church with him this Sunday. When we said our closing prayer Tony prayed that he would get passing marks on the test he was about to go pick up. An hour later when we were teaching another investigator, Tony interrupts our lesson to tell us that he passed! He had the biggest smile on his face and I could see the Light of Christ glowing from within Tony's smile! Our investigator was also very impressed that God would answer prayers so quickly, so it was a good interruption. It was truly a great first day of the transfer. I can tell Sister Ng and I are going to see miracles unfold before our eyes this transfer as we do our best to invite others to repent and be baptized so that they may have the FULL JOY that comes from living Heavenly Father's commandments.I testify that God lives. Jesus the Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. They love each and everyone of us and will help us through any trial we may be going through. I can see the hand of the Lord in my family's life back home, and I can see it ever to clearly in my life here in Australia. I bear witness that the Holy Ghost can help us know truth, can help us know what to do to help others, and can help us keep pushing forward even if we are in the same setting. These things I bear humble witness of in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

1) Atticus's Baptism

Atticus, George and Me

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Doctors and Miracles

Well it has been an extremely long week, 10 days to be exact! We didn't have P-day until Thursday this week because earlier this morning we had the privilege of going to the temple! Which was much needed after all that has happened the past ten days.

Doctors. The past few weeks I have been all over Brisbane visiting doctors trying to figure out what in the world is wrong with my back. I got a CT scan done and there was nothing really wrong with my back, just a small bulging disc, but turns out everyone's disc are bulging a little bit. However, when the doctor was looking at my CT scans he noticed some odd junk in my kidney. He sent me to go have an Ultra Sound done ASAP.

After the ultra sound Sister Ng and I came home straight away and handed the written report to Sister Chen to translate into simple English--luckily Sister Chen almost finished her medical degree before coming out on her mission! After translating I discovered that my left kidney is just full of junk right now. I have 2-3 large kidney stones and 3 large cysts taking up space in my kidney. Thus the explanation for the intense back pain the past five weeks now! I am going to the doctor tomorrow to find out what we can do to solve my kidney issue and then hopefully I will be pain free in no time. It has been hard not sleeping at night because of the pain and then having to get up and go walk around the city. However, the Lord is very aware of me, His daughter, and has blessed Sister Ng and I immensely.

Miracles. All week we were able to have at least one or more lessons during the day so that I didn't have to walk around so much. Then on Tuesday night a huge miracle was Sister Chen and Cabamongan's investigator, Kelsey, asked to see me because Sister Chen had told her about the side affects I was having after taking the medicine the doctor prescribed me. So I went over with Sister Cabamongan and sat down in Kelsey's flat and handed over the medication I had been taking that left me loopy as a fruit loop necklace. Kelsey pulled out her laptop and called up her doctor friend and together they asked me questions about my side effects and in the end decided that I was having every negative side effect except hives and should stop taking the medicine immediately. Sure the pain was stronger, but I had my head back and was able to talk to people more effectively and help move the work in our area along more fully, rather than putting most of the weight on Sister Ng's shoulders.

Back in working condition Sister Ng and I were able to help our investigator Atticus get ready for baptism! I haven't mentioned him a whole lot in past letters because we haven't been teaching Atticus very long, but miraculously he is getting baptized this Saturday right before transfers next week! He is so ready and eager to follow Jesus Christ. It is pretty amazing how fast Atticus has been willing to change his life in order come closer to Christ, including paying tithing and giving up tea! I am very excited to see him enter the waters of BAPTISM! Which is the end result of many miracles and the beginning of Atticus's journey to returning to live with Heavenly Father again.

I also went on trade-offs with Sister Lai this week. It was fun to be her companion again for a day. She helped me realize that it is okay that I am in pain and it is okay that I am feeling weak because I am still working hard. In fact she told me I was working too hard and that I should take more time to relax because my health is not super great right now. I told her I needed to work hard because I only have so much time left in my mission, plus I really want the blessings for my family. At that moment I began to cry a little bit (I've been quite an emotional mess without sleep and a lot of pain) and just curled into my lap in frustration. Sister Lai came over and lifted my face out of my lap and told me boldly and lovingly, "Sister Jensen, you are trooper #1. I can tell you love the Lord because you are not using your pain as an excuse to work less, rather you are using it as a reason to work harder. You are crazy, but I love you and so does Heavenly Father." I love Sister Lai. I love that my Heavenly Father has placed in my path two amazing STL's who always are in tune with the Holy Ghost and know what to say to help me relax and appreciate the work I am able to do and appreciate the love of the Lord.

Another miracle that just occurred over and over agian this week was our members! They are getting the feel of the hastening of the work. One Sister in Relief  Society said to me, "I can really feel the hastening. Even at uni my friends are asking me more and more about my church." Then this week we have been able to have multiple members come to our lessons. Not only are they coming to the lessons but they are starting to go the extra mile and invite the investigators to do stuff with them! Ben, a recent convert, willingly brings Atticus to church every week and offered to bring him to the baptism as well! Phil, a recent Japanese convert, has taken Ayako under his wing and walks with her to church is at every lesson to make sure she understands what we are teaching and is encouraging her to be baptized on June 28th. At church the members are eager to sit by investigators and welcome them to the ward. My testimony of member missionary work is growing stronger and stronger as I see members eagerly engage the investigators who are at church. It is a miracle for sure!

I know this church is true! I am a living modern day witness that the Atonement can not only help us receive the loving forgiveness of our Heavenly Father, but can also enable us to do more than others think we are capable. Such has been the case with my pain. This past Tuesday we took the ferry to English class, and I had Sister Ng curled up trying to escape the cold on my left and Ayako curled up on my right. I looked around at all our investigators on the ferry and all the other Asian faces and I just felt love. Love for the people I have been called to serve and the Holy Ghost let me know right then and there that that love I was feeling was the reason I have been able to push through the pain and the fears about what might happen at the next doctor's appointment. Love can conquer anything. It was love that caused Heavenly Father to send Jesus Christ to the earth and it was Christ's love for his fellow man that caused him to "drink the bitter cup." I invite everyone to put aside any feelings that are not love and to love those around you. I love you all and am grateful for your prayers. I can feel myself gaining strength from them each and every day. Thank you.

1) Sister Ng and I being very mature as we pick the crocodile's nose
2) My loveyly x-companion and current STL Sister Lai and I at the end of trade-offs
3) Another sister in my zone did hair before her mission and gave me a free cut today! Thanks Sister Bailey

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Trial of My Faith

There is a saying in the sporting world that I have grown up hearing, starting with my Mom and enforced by my beloved volleyball coaches Cindy Elder and Janie, "No pain, no gain." This week I have felt multiple forms of 'pain' and have been able to 'gain' much from the week Sister Ng and I were blessed to experience.

Tuesday I went to a Physio Therapist and it was just...awkward and terrible. First of all he had me change into short short and a tank top! I had no idea that this was going to be happening and was in no way prepared. I had to roll up my underwear and then for the first time in eleven months I wore short shorts! I felt so naked as I sat in the office in nothing but short short and a tank top. Then the Physio started poking me trying to figure out what was wrong. He did some weird "all natural" treatments with his hands that just felt like he was taking a knife to my back. He then told me I would need 8 more sessions of this insane treatment. I left feeling quite uneasy and in even more pain that I had started out with. I called Sister Henderson that night and told I just wasn't feeling the Physio and asked if there was another route we could take. She gave me the number to a doctor who happens to be a member. Right away I felt peace. I called to see when I could schedule an appointment. Nothing was open until Friday. My heart sunk just a little bit, knowing that I would have to endure the pain for the rest of the week, but I took the appointment and got down on my knees to pray. At that time I thought we had a week full of lessons, so there wouldn't be that much walking around anyways.

Wednesday. Every single appointment we had cancelled. Luckily we had District Meeting to take a chunk out of our day. After District Meeting our District Leaders (we have two since they are also the Chinese training Leaders) came over to our flat while we were eating lunch to drop off the chapel keys. I was sprawled out on my bed which is in the living room, trying to find some bit of comfort. They gave us the key and left. Not five minutes later there was a knock on our door. Elder Anderson and Low asked if they could give me a blessing. Of course Sister Chen, Cabamongan, and Ng all said yes! before I could even answer. Since Elders aren't allowed in Sister's flat while we are in the flat we pulled a chair over to the door and they stood outside and I sat inside on the chair. Then they gave me a blessing from my Heavenly Father in which I was instructed to keep on being diligent and to use this trail as an opportunity to come closer to my Savior. Afterwards Sister Ng and I went out to walk and talk to people for 5 1/2 hours. My pain was not completely gone, but it was decreased and when I felt like it was too much, I would say a prayer and I could literally feel my Saviors hand touching the part of my back that hurt most and giving me a push forward. Miracles happened this day. I listened to the promptings of the Spirit to talk to a Japanese girl instead of a Chinese girl. The girl's name is Ayako and she is amazing. We were able to teach her with a recently baptized member from Japan. Then she came to church on Sunday and said she had a great time and is excited to learn more. I know that the Lord blessed me with miracles because I was willing to put my pain in His hands and push through the discomfort in order to bring souls unto Christ.

Thursday was much like Wednesday, except this time around we had an appointment all set up and President Henderson said he was going to join us. I was so excited to be able to witness President teach and to learn from him. However, Sister Ng and I were not meant to learn from President this past week. Our investigator who had confirmed that same morning cancelled right as President Henderson showed up. We got to shake his hand and then leave because we had no one to teach. However, that day I met a very nice girl from Taiwan and was able to just joke around and talk to her in complete Chinese. Then as I was getting ready to go she asked, "Can I draw you?" How did she know that one of the things I love is to be someone's subject, whether it is a picture or a drawing? I know it was Heavenly Father saying,"I see you, I know you are in pain, here relax, I love you."
Friday Sister Ng and I woke up early to make the long bus ride to the doctor's office. It was an hour and half bus ride there and once we got there the doctor simply "pounded" each knee. My left knee reacted as it should have, bouncing up the moment it was hit. However, when the doctor hit my right knee nothing happened. He hit it again a little harder and there was slight movement. He gave me a prescription for some pain killers and told me to do some certain exercises, but if the pain continues I need to get a CT scan done. The drugs are pretty strong and have caused me to have some funny moments and the pain is still there, so once I Sister Henderson picks up her phone I am going to go get that CT scan. Luckily Friday was a great day when nobody cancelled their appointments and so I didn't have to walk very much!  Sister Ng and I also got on the wrong bus by accident on the way home and ended up being able to see the ocean in a place called Capalaba! It was beautiful!
The rest of the week was and continues to be a bit hazy. I am on drugs to lessen the pain and they make me feel "high" like after I got my wisdom teeth taken out. However, I continue to do the work I have been called to do because I know that I am not alone. Sister Ng is so supportive and loving as is Sister Cabamongan and Chen; most importantly is that the blessing I was given on Wednesday is coming forth. I am closer to my Savior now than I ever have been in my life. I am feeling the enabling power of the Atonement in my everyday life, because I literally can't work without the help of my Savior. I just move my body unsure exactly what I am doing and an unseen force leads me onward ever onward.
I know this church is true. I know that Jesus is the Christ. He is by my side now and will be as long as I need Him. I am grateful for the Atonement that not only cleanses, but enables the children of Heavenly Father. I thank you all for you prayers and support. May God bless you and may you all have a desire to come closer to the Father who awaits your return to His presence above. I love you all!
1st picture: Our wrong bus took us to the ocean! My first time seeing the ocean since landing in Australia!
2nd picture: Sister Chen was playing with bubbles this morning and so I joined her!