Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Racoon River YEA!

What up people! Comin at ya again from Raccoon River, Iowa. I just have to begin by giving a couple more shoutouts since I was put in my place by someone for not giving these. ;) HAPPY (late) BIRTHDAY to my Aunt Michelle and to her daughter Elle. Michelle is an amazing person because she just is.  Michelle and I have grown really close over the past couple years and I have loved it. I know that I can always go to her with anything and she will give great advice. My mom always joked and called her my "other mother Michelle" and it's true! She is an amazing person with the funnest personality. And Elle. Oh my Elle. She is a sassy, funny, darling girl. Elle can be cuddly and sweet and then 5 minutes later be screaming bloody murder, but I love it. :) She always told me she loved me (even if I had to coax it out of her.) I love my little Elle. And HAPPY BIRTHDAY this week to my other cousins Josh Brown and Luke. They are such studs and are just funny. Josh returned home from his mission to Anaheim, California about a year ago and I just want to let him know how great of an example he is. Seeing him come home a changed person with a great love of the Gospel makes me excited for the changes I hope to see in myself. And Luke, ask that kid to tell you a joke and he will have you laughin in 5 seconds flat. He is fantastic. :) HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you all!
Well, things here in Iowa are goin good. Here's the day to day layout you have all been desperately dying to hear: Haha
Monday: P-days are always good. I get to hear from my family and I get a nap. Does it get better than that? Especially since my sleep deprivation is now kicking in.  The whole "wake up at 6:30 am every morning" thing is catching up with me. Big time. So I cherish my naps greatly.Haha We also had dinner with a darling family in the ward, and of course they have a 5 month old son. Not being able to hold de' babies gets harder and harder every day, but I am staying obedient people. No worries. 
Tuesday: Tuesday was great! We were able to go have zone training with President Jensen. He is such an amazing man and always knows just the right thing to say! We have been talking a lot lately about how to get the members of our ward involved in missionary work and he gave some great tips. We are excited to start implementing them and seeing the progress. :) After that we all went to lunch. Mom, you will appreciate this... I GOT CHIPOTLE! Haha for those of you who know me well, you know that Cafe Rio is my thing. Well, Chipotle is the closest thing out here and it was fantastic. I ate it and just thought of home the entire time. Especially you mom. :) Also, it sprinkled all day long and I LOVE rain. Like a little too much. I did just want to stay home in my pjs and watch movies all day, and then I remembered I am a missionary so we went out and did work. Haha, . 
Wednesday: Remember that rain I talked about from yesterday? Yea. We walked out Wednesday morning and it was like it never happened. We were back to the heat and humidity like it was the middle of July! I guess I should be used to it since Utah has bipolar weather as well, but I was hopeful. It was still a good day though! We did a lot of walking which was just great! I actually do love just walking around here because everyone is so friendly and it's like a picture perfect town. Like the one you see in the movies. When we walk, we pick out or favorite houses so it makes it kind of fun. :) 
Thursday: What a day.  It started out like any other day... we headed into Earlham to do some work. At about 2ish, we were in a home teaching a lesson when all the sudden the dads phone starts going off. He looks at it and tells us it's an alert saying that a storm was coming. We all looked outside and it was sunny as can be so we just kind of brushed it off. We ended the lesson, and left to start walking back to our car. Literally 2 seconds after we left their house... rain, lighting, thunder, branches from trees falling everywhere. It was a full on rain storm. We booked it as fast as 2 Sister missionaries in skirts could. It was one of the scariest but funniest moments of my life. We loved it!  Just imagine us running down the street skirts and hair flying everywhere and try not to laugh. Haha  It's not possible. Once we got to our car, we decided we had just endured a really scary situation and deserved a treat. Our next stop was the gas station for some hot chocolate and a donut.  Totally worth it. We wished we could have stayed in our car all day, but we had dinner planned with some members so we headed over to their house. They fed us Thai food. And mom, if you can believe it... I ate it! I am learning how to eat things other than chicken fingers! ;) It was actually pretty good. :) I also got a letter from my auntie Tracie! Thanks Auntie Trac! :)
Friday: Friday was just a normal missionary day. Wake up, eat, study, eat, tract, eat, teach. It was great! Sometimes it is just refreshing to have a normal day. We did get a little crazy that night though. Sometimes we sit downstairs with Ashton (the 16 year old girl, our "little sister") and laugh till we are all curled up on the floor in pain. Haha we love it! 
Saturday: Winterset is so fun because every Saturday they have a farmers market in town and we go and meet people and it is always so fun! We went to Frostees for lunch again because Sister Barker's click day was on Sunday. That's our place. We love our walking tacos!  After lunch we came to the library and did some lds.org time. I want to encourage you all, if you haven't already, to go there and watch the work of salvation videos. They are absolutely incredible! So uplifting and they really just enlighten you. So, please take a couple minutes and watch some. You will be so happy you did! 
Sunday: Sunday was a little hard for us. NONE of our investigators or the less actives we have been working with showed up for church. That was really hard... Sunday is always game time and this week we lost. Heavenly Father definitely humbled me. I am learning I can teach people lessons, but if I am not helping them build their faith, I am not fulfilling my purpose. I am learning how to be an effective missionary through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. And it is wonderful. He is molding me into and instrument to use in His hands. It is hard, but it is glorious. We also were able to have our Sister Training Leaders train us on how to do a church tour. What an incredible experience. The church tour basically outlines the Plan of Salvation and it was wonderful. Since being on my mission, I have gained a new outlook on life. I am looking at it from an eternal perspective. The Plan of Happiness means more to me now than it ever has. It is a wonderful thing! 
Well, that is my week in a nutshell. I also wanted to share some great quotes I heard this week. "Wicked men obey because of fear. Good men obey because of love." "Become the person you were designed to be." I absolutely love being a missionary. It has been the hardest thing I have ever done, but also the most amazing thing. My testimony of this Gospel is growing more than I ever thought possible. My faith in prayer, scripture study, repentance, the atonement, and the power of God is growing. I can feel my Saviors love more than I ever had before and it is a feeling I cherish with all of my heart. I KNOW that my Redeemer lives and that this is his work and his glory. I know that he is guiding me through this
to lead me to the people here in Raccoon River East who are prepared. It is a comforting feeling knowing and feeling that I am a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father. I love this Gospel with everything that I am and this is my time to prove that to Him. 
Please remember that I love you all, and more importantly that your Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ love you. This is a glorious time to live in. Always remember to be an example of the believers in word and in deed. Never be ashamed to share the light of Christ that each and every one of you have. Never be ashamed to bear your testimony. You never know who needs to hear yours personally. I love you all and keep you in every prayer. Stay faithful! Stay Awesome!
-Sister Jensen
"Is this Heaven? No, it's Iowa." 

After our 6 block "brisk walk" in the pouring rain to our car. We were SOAKED, but we loved every minute of it. At one point, I was on the sidewalk in fetal position laughing hysterically cause I had to pee and Sister Barker's skirt kept flying up. It was a sight to see I'll tell ya that. :)

Thursday, September 19, 2013



Hello everybody! How are you all doing?? I have heard about the crazy weather goin on in Utah so I hope you are all doing well. I have a couple shout-outs I need to do now before I forget. HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my (future) brother-in-law Chris. I love Chris because of the amazing dad that he is, and also because he is just happy..and sometimes funny. :)  Also HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my cousin Josh. He turned the big 16 and is now a licensed driver. Josh, just make sure you don't drive like me. Haha, it's not worth it! Be good!  Hopefully there are no other birthdays. These were the ones I heard about, but if there are any more... HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Also, I never gave a shout out to my sweet cousin Alexis. She was baptized a couple weeks ago and is one of the sweetest girls I know. Lex, I love you and I am so proud of you! Please remember how you felt that day and know that I was thinking about you constantly. Make sure you tell your mom to send me some pics, okay? :) Alright last shout-out goes to the Transtrum clan. They all had a camping trip last weekend I think and all wrote me cute little notes of encouragement. THANK YOU! Lets just say that I may have cried reading them all. You guys are all the best and those notes meant more than you know!
Alright, I decided that with my weekly email (because I don't have a ton of time), I started writing down key things from each day and then I will just go through each day and tell you something awesome that happened. I figured it will just make life a little bit easier. So here we go!
Monday: Mt. Pisgah! The Forbes from our ward took us and it was just incredible! There was no one there and it was just so peaceful. They taught us how to Water-witch. Haha  Everybody go and google it cause it is quite interesting. Basically, you hold two iron rods (no pun intended...) in front of you and they will tell you where a well or a grave is. Kind of cool...and creepy, but mostly cool! Also, there has been a lot of talk here about the four missionaries who died while serving in the Iowa Des Moines Mission. Well, that story actually means a lot to me. On Heritage Tours last summer, they talked about that story and it was a very spiritual experience for me. Basically they asked us, "If you knew you weren't going to be coming home, would you still decide to serve your mission?" It was at that moment that I put my faith on the line and said yes. A plaque honoring those 4 missionaries is at Mt. Pisgah. I could not believe it. Such an incredible experience!
Tuesday: Every Tuesday, we get the opportunity to serve at the assisted living home in Winterset.  It is my favorite! We go and play bingo or a game with them for an hour and they just love it! We kind of were being punks on Tuesday though and decided to play a game with them. The Memory Game.Haha  It's the game where you flip the pictures over and you have to match them all. I don't think I have ever laughed so hard in my life.  It was hilarious! They would always pick up the same tiles! Luckily, they are just all joksters and laughed at themselves when we told them. So basically, our only form of entertainment in Iowa is playing memory with the elderly. Life is good! :)
Wednesday: Incredible day! We had zone conference from 9-4 and it was just awesome. Elder Gay of the seventy came and spoke to us all day. It was incredible to hear stories of his mission to Spain and then when he served as a mission president in Ghana. He taught purely by the Spirit and everything he said just touched my heart. My notes from that day are words I refer back to frequently. It was also just fun to see all the other missionaries. Because our mission is so big though, it was only about half so I didn't see everyone but it was great. Then, because it was just such an amazing day, we decided to celebrate. Panda Express baby. With our budget, it was deluxe.Haha
Thursday: Very chill day! We went to a new area that we have the opportunity to open. Earlham, Iowa. Beautiful town, and so much work to be done in it! We had a great experience with a devout Lutheran family. We are excited to go back because they were very interested in the things we compared. Especially the Book of Mormon. I'll keep you updated on them. We also had a great night with a family in our ward! They took us to the park and we just played and ate pizza. We probably played a little to hard but it was fun! They are one of the families in our ward with a darling 7 month old baby girl. I don't think the whole, "You can't hold children" thing will get any easier with time for me...
Friday: Such a spiritually draining day, but in a good way! Thursday night I had gotten letters from the Brown family (Thank you!) and my dad. In my dad's letter, he wrote, "You can have one more good cry and then it is time to not be homesick anymore and enjoy your mission." I read that and realized that he was right. (Yes dad.. I just admitted you were right!) I prayed so hard at that moment to have an experience that would help me understand why I was here. I figured if I knew that, I wouldn't feel as homesick. Well, that experience came. We had planned on teaching a lesson with one of our investigators that night, but when we got there decided that we needed to just ask inspired questions instead. It was the greatest lesson I have had on my mission so far. We were teaching purely by the spirit, and we all felt that presence immensely. Well, at the end of our lesson, our investigator looked me straight in the eyes and said, "Why are you here?" And the words that I proclaimed were not my own. The Holy Ghost spoke through me to not only testify to our investigator, but to me as well. I finally understood why I was here. Since then, my homesickness has been better. I still miss it, but not to the point where I make myself sad. So dad, thank you for your tough words of encouragement. Keep em comin!
Saturday: CLICK DAY! WOOO! Basically, your click day is the day that you became a missionary. So because I went into the MTC on august 14th, the 14th of every month will be my click day. Can you believe I have been gone for a month?? It just baffles me. I feel like I have been gone for forever and about a week all at the same time. Time in the mission field really is a weird thing! Anyways, click days are great! My sweet companion wrote me a hilarious note, we went out for lunch, and we had a ward party that night! We had dutch oven dinners and cobbler. Oh, my mouth is watering just thinking about it! SOO good! And then, we played kickball. In our skirts. Haha We are still working on the whole, maintain your dignity thing. But boy was it worth it! Such a fun ward!
Sunday: Sundays are always good. Sacrament is just great of course. It is fun because now that I am a missionary, church means so much more. My testimony of the importance of it has grown immensely! We had one investigator come to church which was great! Sunday night, we had dinner with the Tunneys. I told you last week that Sister Tunney is my mission mom so it was just great. It was here birthday too so we kind of partied. As much as missionaries can. Haha  Just a good day!
Well, that's my week people. Hope I didn't bore you too much. Haha  As our work picks up, I will have more to write, but that is it for now. I love you all and miss you! I can feel your prayers and am so grateful for them! And remember, letters are my favorite. ;) I LOVE YOU ALL!!
-Sister Jensen
"Is this Heaven? No, it's Iowa."
Beautiful Mt. Pisgah     
The memorial for the 4 missionaries who died
Celebratory Click day lunch at Frostees! :)
Brother and Sister Forbes are the darling couple who took us to Mt. Pisgah. They have been members for about 3 years and are just incredible!     
Our generational pic at zone conference! So Sister Broome (green dress) trained my trainer Sister Barker. The one on the right is Sister Broomes new companion. So, there is me, my mom, my grandma, and my aunt. True Story.    

Monday, September 9, 2013

I'm officially a WEEK old!

Lets just all take a sec and think about the fact that I have been in Iowa for a week and 3 days now. It's kind of a miracle.  My first couple days here I didn't think I would make it this far but I am glad I stayed. :) This week was just another chill one. We are still working with Tyler and preparing him for baptism and we are hopeful. He is only 12 so he doesn't really talk, but he listens so we know he gets it. On Tuesday, we found another investigator! Her name is Miki and she is just incredible. We have taught her the restoration and the plan of salvation and she is understanding it so well. We have faith that she will be baptized soon. So now we have 2 investigators and life is good! I have to ask though, for those of you that have served, what were some of your favorite door approaches?? Me and Sister Barker really struggle with tracting cause we just don't know what to say when they answer the door. All suggestions are greatly appreciated! I realized this morning that I have really not told you a lot about my mission but I want to. So here goes the random facts:
- So I live with the Price family. Aaron and Lanae and they have 3 kids. Levi who is currently serving in Arizona (kind of fun) and has been out since July.  Ashton who is 15 and she is just awesome. She is like my little sister. She lives downstairs with us. And then Brooklyn who is 11. Darling girl. She loves owls and cats. Haha like she is obsessed with them. I love her! They are really an amazing family. Such a great example of the family I want one day. They sometimes invite us up for meals which is just great. Yesterday we had lunch with them after church. Ribs, corn, and potato salad. Kay, HI. Does it get any better than that?? I think not. They are just awesome!
-My ward is incredible. We have about 400 members but almost 250 are inactive. So, there is alot of work to be done here which is good. :) MY Bishop is just great.  Definitely not your normal "Utah Bishop." He has got a handle bar mustache, drives a Harley Davidson motorcycle, and wears cowboy boots to church every week. Haha so funny... So he is a convert to the church and has been a member for about 40 years. He shares his testimony every Sunday and it is just so powerful. I love my ward because at least 75% of the people that come are converts so the testimonies and the lessons that they share are just remarkable. I love hearing their conversion story cause it really testifies to me the power of the work I am here doing and how much lives are effected by just baptizing ONE person. Also, I have found my ward mom. Haha her name is Sister Tunney and she is awesome. So down to earth and just funny. I'll write more about her as time goes on.
-FUN FACT: The Des Moines Iowa Stake (my stake) has the most baptisms in all of North America. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?? I just get so much comfort from hearing that. There are people here I just need to find them!
-Iowa is known for 4 things. Covered Bridges, field of dreams, John Wayne birthplace, and cornfields. We have 3 of those 4 things in our area. Can you say spoiled much?? We are excited to hopefully visit them on our p-days. :)
-Me and my companion, Sister Barker, are literally soul sisters. We quote constantly, we both love music and are constantly singing or humming, and we spoke in a British accent for 37 minutes last night. Go ahead and try to beat that. I'm pretty sure its impossible. We work so well together and I am so grateful that I got a companion who is so easy to love!
-Every Thursday we have district meeting, but before we do that, we all eat lunch together at the Jordan Creek mall. (The biggest mall in Iowa...is in our area. So rad.) It is so hard for me though because they have the most amazing theater right by the food court. Haha If you know me you know that going to the movies is one of my favorite things to do. I have to restrain myself every week from looking. I am having withdrawals big time. But, me and Sister Barker are convinced that after our mission we are going to come back and stay with the Prices, and spend a whole day in that theater. We are excited!
Well, that's kind of all the cool stuff I have to say. I am just livin the life. I will have more cool stuff to say as time goes on. Like tonight, some sweet members are taking us to Mt. Piska (I think that's how you spell it.) so I will write about that next week. We will do more work, and I will have more to tell.  
I really am feeling better about being here. As I continue to study and pray, I am coming to realize just how much God has prepared me for this. We have been studying the Pre mortal existence lately and it just gives me so much peace knowing that I accepted the call to come to Iowa long before I received that little white envelope. I know that I can do this because I decided I would before I even came to earth. I am learning to love the people here and how to see them as children of God who just need the Gospel in their lives. I am learning how to use the atonement to heal my homesickness, to make up for my weaknesses, to repent, to find happiness. I am learning that the atonement covers it all. I feel the love of my Savior Jesus Christ more than I ever have before and it is remarkable. I am learning how to love being here. I miss you all more than words describe but, this is where I need to be. I need to spend the next 18 months serving the people of Iowa. And I am loving it.
I hope that all is going well and that you are loving life. Always remember that God is aware of you and he wants you to be happy. He has given us ways to find happiness. Treasure those things. Also, remember that mail is encouraged. Haha Hearing from home is so great and I just love it. I love and miss you all!
-Sister Jensen
"Is this Heaven? No, it's Iowa."

Hangin loose in the fields of Iowa. I think I'm pretty cool. :)

We constantly have Nacho Libre smiles on our faces. I'm pretty sure we don't remember how to smile normal anymore. It's fine. No shame.

I made a resolution that I would not drink Dr. Pepper on my mission.  Well...I have failed miserably.  We needed a "pick me up" after a hard day and stopped at the gas station.  I have a feeling they may know us by name by the end of our time here. Haha  So good!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Missionary Has Landed

Well everyone, hello from Iowa! It is so crazy to say that because I seriously thought I would be in the MTC forever but it just flew by! Of course though, now I long for the MTC. Haha funny how life works sometimes. My MTC goodbye was definitely hard. I was getting used to it and then all the sudden it was time to leave. I might have shed a few tears. Its fine. But, we had to wake up at 2:30 am so we could be to the airport by 5 so that was fun. Of course, at the airport I got to talk to my mom which was fantastic! I just sat and cried in the airport and got weird looks but I was okay with it. Anyways, we flew from Salt Lake to Denver and then from Denver Des Moines. It was weird getting off the plane because I knew that in a few short moments I would be meeting my mission presidents. Kind of surreal... but luckily, they are darling! President Jensen is about 3 inches shorter than me which is just great. Hahaha   Sister Jensen is just amazing. When I had my interview with her, she just sat and cried with me as I expressed my homesickness. She is like my grandma here and I love it!  Also, President Jensen is convinced that we are related somewhere down the line so he said he was going to do a little family history which will be sweet. So all you Jensens reading this, in your next letter (wink wink) maybe include a couple names if you can of past family so we can see if we can connect the dots. We got off the plane, and immediately headed to the mission home. Just a fun fact first, it was 102 degrees plus humidity that day. It was great. I kind of have just excepted the fact that my hair will be up every day. Its cool. So we went to the mission home, and they let us chill for a little bit and pick our beds. They had all the sisters on one side of the basement and all the elders on the other. Haha... major trust right there. It was definitely weird.. Then we just did a lot of orientation. That lasted till dinner which was fantastic! My first home cooked meal in 2 weeks and I went to town. Oh... so good! Then we had more orientation and then it was bed time! The whole process was kind of long because there were 38 new missionaries who came with me so it took forever. Can you believe that though?? The Lord is definitely hastening his work! 
That next morning, we had to wake up and get out of the house quick to make it to West Des Moines for Transfer meeting which is about 2.5 hours away. Luckily, they let us sleep in the van. Transfer meeting was amazing! And now, I can tell you all the info you have been so desperately waiting for of course. :)
-I am serving in Winterset Iowa and my ward is the Raccoon River ward.
-My companion is Sister Barker from Cottonwood Heights, UT. She is 20 years old and has been out about 3 months. She is hilarious. Basically, all we do is laugh and quote movies together. Nacho Libre is our favorite. :) She has had some medical complications this past week so we have had a lot of down time to get to know each other and it has been good. 
So where we are serving is interesting. My appreciation for where I live is definitely growing seeing how these people live here. But, I am learning to just love them no matter what their circumstance is. 
We have one investigator right now and his name is Tyler. He is 12 years old and is in a part member family. He has set a baptismal date for Sept. 28 which we are so excited for! We have a couple more lessons to teach him which is so cool! So, because we only have one, we are doing a lot of finding.  But I actually love it so its good. Everyone here is so sweet so that makes it easier. Like on Saturday, we had district meeting and we usually eat at the mall which is about 10 min away (I am serving in the nicest as well as the poorest part of Iowa) so the mall food court is a great spot for us. Me and my companion wanted to splurge a little so we went to get some kind of expensive pizza. When we went to pay, the manager stopped us and said it was on him. So sweet! And then that night, a member took us to Applebees for dinner. She actually reminded me a lot of my Auntie Tracie so it was really fun! :) But, the people here are just nice. By the way, if any of you are able, please feed the missionaries as often as you can! It means more to us than you know!  
I am doing alright. My homesickness is a struggle. Because Sister Barker has been sick, I have had a lot of time to think about home and that is not good. I miss my family more everyday but I am learning how to use the power of the Atonement to cope with it. Also, I have resolved that 2 things also make me feel better about being away from home. Pringles and Oreos. Haha I decided I will always be stocked with those because they are my stress food. Its good. I promise everything else I buy is healthy mom! 
I am hoping that our work will pick up a bit so that I stay busy but just know that all your letters and support are immensely appreciated. I can feel your prayers and I love them! Please  know that I miss you all dearly and being here away from you is hard, but I know that this is where I need to be. My testimony of this Gospel is growing and I know that I can do all things through Christ. I am absolutely learning that he qualifies those he calls. 
Keep the letters comin because I love them! I can only write and email on Mondays but I can receive mail whenever so it is greatly appreciated!  I will always write back! I love you all and I miss you dearly!

Sister Jensen

My cute companion, Sister Barker.  That is the backyard of our house.  SOO gorgeous!

My Mission Home. It is absolutely gorgeous and is just so cozy. Loved sleeping there my first night in Iowa!

Our cute little car. We havent come up with a name yet but we will. Now worries!

Our cute little apartment! We actually live with a member which is just incredible! There are only 5 sets of missionaries that do in our stake. Our stake is compromised of almost all the wards in Iowa so we are definitely blessed. They are the Price family and they are just incredible! They have a son serving in Arizona right now and then 2 girls at home. I already love them. They are my family away from home!

My side of the room. Walmart bedspreads are the best!