Monday, February 23, 2015

It Is Finished.

Wow. Here I am.. comin at ya live from Iowa for the last time. Realizing that I am returning home in about 4 days is a really weird feeling. Really weird. A lot of mixed emotions... good emotions though. I think... haha. Before I get into all the deep stuff... let me just give you a run down of the last 4 days.
Thursday: The "lasts" officially began. My last district meeting.... the best. I got to give a training on a subject that I have learned a lot about as a missionary: LISTENING. At the end of district meeting, we offered a kneeling prayer and I broke down a little. I am pretty sure I will need to hold my own DM when I get home because I am going to miss them so much. Haha That night, we got to take Pam up to Ames and do some family history with her. She had a really incredible experience and it really just touched my heart.
Friday: Last weekie p session.... so weird. Yes. There was lots of chocolate and some tears. Typical though. It was a really crazy day after that just full of visiting and teaching. We taught Kyle the Law of Chastity and it went incredible. I have learned that the spirit can literally ease ANY kind of tension or awkwardness. ITS THE BEST!
Saturday: You know it's a gonna be a good day when members take you out for lunch... and then again for dinner. Haha they are trying to really plump me up before I hit the airport. :) The rest of the day was filled with painting, cleaning the church, saving souls by calling them to repentance. Ya know... all the good stuff. :)
Sunday: Today I felt like that little bird thing on Ice Age when he says, "The last melon..." Yea. You know who I am talking about. Today was..."my last Sunday." I honestly could not have asked for better church meetings. Kyle, the Brittains, and Tessa all came to church and then just the lessons and the talks and more importantly the Spirit just made it a perfect day. Plus, we got to hang out with the Maughans for lunch. One of the greatest families ever. It was just a really amazing day.
Monday: I think the only big news for today is REALLY big.... wait for it..... I'M GONNA BE A GRANDMA!!!!!!!!!  Yep. That's right. My baby is training. I am seriously so excited. She is going to do wonderful and will make such a great mother. :) Proud mama moment for sure.
Okay. So... sorry this email has been weird. I am just weird right now... because I am going home in 4 days. But, I did just want to take the opportunity to share my testimony with each of you and to share with you what my mission has meant to me. I'm gonna be honest with each of you... I came out on my mission not convinced that I would make it this far. I don't think I could have ever imagined how hard it was going to be. I was homesick, I was weak, and I felt small. In the moment of those things, I was angry that I was having those experiences and I just wanted them to be gone. I have a completely different outlook on those trials now. I am GRATEFUL for them. I feel like I am walking away from my mission will a strength that I never could have imagined. It is because of those times that I am here today, writing you this email as an 18 month old missionary. For all my Elder Hepworth fans out there, you will remember that his mission president told him that, "The key to know God is a struggle." Wow. How true that statement is. I have come to know God in my weaknesses and trials. That is why I will forever be grateful for them. I have come to know that God is aware of ME. He loves me and He cares about me. Because of that knowledge, I have come to understand John 3:16. GOD LOVED ME ENOUGH TO SEND HIS SON TO SAVE ME FROM MY SINS AND TO PROVIDE ME STRENGTH IN MY TIMES OF NEED. More than anything, I am walking away from my mission with the knowledge. I know Jesus Christ lives. I know that he is my Savior. He is my great exemplar. The Book of Mormon in true. Joseph Smith is a Prophet. Thomas S. Monson guides and directs us today as the Lord Jesus Christs chosen Prophet. This is Jesus Christs kingdom. God the Father lives, His Son Jesus Christ lives, the Spirit is real. As I reflect on the mission of our Savior, I am reminded of when he was on the cross. He sat in agony as the Father withdrew from Him, and He held on until He knew that that part of His sacrifice had been accomplished. He looked heaven ward to his Father and exclaimed, "It is Finished." I draw a lot of comfort from this as I prepare to return home. In no way does my mission come close to what my Savior experienced, but I too am looking heaven ward toward my Father and saying, "It is finished." I have begun to realize though the meaning of this phrase. I know that Jesus Christ was not finished. I know He rose from the dead 3 days later and appeared to His apostles. I know that he appeared to the Nephites in the Americas and began his ministry there. I know he appeared to Joseph Smith and began his ministry in the dispensation. Just like the Savior, I am not finished. I still have a mission that I need to do. He kept going and so will I. He understood though that that part of His mission was completed and it was time to move to the next act of love. I too am finished with this part of my mission, but I am not finished completely. Like my Savior, it is just time to move to the next phase of my mission. Ecclesiastes 7:8 reads,
 "Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit."
The Lord has promised us that if we will be faithful, ALL our losses will be made up. He promises that if we are faithful, the end will be better than the beginning. I am looking forward to that promise being fulfilled as I prepare to return home. The end of my mission has been better than the beginning. And I have faith that it will continue to get better as I continue to be faithful. I have been changed by my mission and I have been changed by my Saviors love. "This is the testimony last of all which we give of him.. that He lives! For we have seen Him... even on the right hand of God." - Joseph Smith Each of you will never know how much you mean to me. I love you. I pray for you. This is the Work of the Lord... and it is the best work WE will ever do. I humbly leave these things with you in the name of our Savior and Redeemer, our Master, even Jesus Christ, amen.
-Sister Gabrielle Jensen

The bomb-dig-it-tee Carroll district. :)
L to R: Hooser, Kinikini, Coalwell, Raymond, Romero, Me. :)
You can't NOT get a library bathroom pic  :)
The expectant mother freaking out and the Grandma yelling for joy. :) Hahaha I'M GONNA BE A GRANDMA!!!! :):):)

Friday, February 20, 2015

It's the Final Countdown

So... for all you RM's out there... remember when you officially began the single digit countdown to being home and your heart hurt and rejoiced a little bit at the same time? Yea. I finally know what that feels like. 9 days people. Who is counting though? This email is going to be crazy because I have no time and have to write about the last week and a half. So bear with me...
1. We had a huge zone p-day last week and I don't think I have ever been so sweaty. SO PROUD!
2. RICK EXCEPTED A BAPTISMAL DATE FOR MAY 9. Enough said. This guy is so solid. Did a church tour with him and he literally cried cause he felt the spirit so strong.
3. We had a relief society activity this week and I learned all about taxes and debt. Yea for being an adult. (No sarcasm intended... psych.)
4. We had exchanges this past week! I got to be in Ames with Sumpsion and Farnsworth. Seriously was the best last exchange I could have asked for.
5. I woke up super sick this past week, got a blessing, and no joke immediately was healed and have been fine since. I LOVE THE PRIESTHOOD!!!
6. Okay. Let's just take a sec to talk about Kyle. 2 things:
    a. we taught him the Word of Wisdom this week and he had no problem committing to give up his coffee.
    b. HE CAME TO CHURCH AND LOVED IT!!!! He even stayed all 3 hours. Best thing ever. :)
    c. I lied. 3 things. He is still super solid for March 29. Super stoked!
7. Saturday was a big day... it was the day of love and also my 18 month click day. Super weird I tell ya.
8. I got to not only speak in church on Sunday but sing in church on Sunday. The Bishopric felt so bad cause they didn't know I was singing when they asked me to speak. Haha... it was just a day full of Sister Jensen. Perfect.
9. We taught Tessa who is 11 the Law of Chastity this week. So grateful I am a Sister. :)
10. So yesterday was the best... Departing Temple trip. So me and the 28 other missionaries I am going home with spent the day in Nauvoo going to the Temple, shopping, and going to dinner. Did it make me super trunky? Yes. Will that trunkyness last till I get home? NO!! Satan isn't gonna win this one. It was seriously the most perfect day though. :)
And... here we are. It honestly is the weirdest feeling knowing that I will be home next week... I can't describe it. It's really bittersweet. I have grown a lot here in the last 18 months and 4 days and there are things I have learned that I would not trade for the world. I have learned more than anything the importance of focusing on the important things in life. We can get so caught up in all the things I need to do and we forget the things that REALLY matter. I think this video sums it up really well...
For me, the important things have become Jesus Christ, my family, the scriptures, prayer, and sharing the Gospel. These have become the things I really can't live without. What are the things that you cherish the most? Are they things if God or not God? He encourages us frequently to take a step back, and analyze. I invite you to do the same as well.
I love you all so much and am so grateful for all the support I have received from you on my mission. You will never know the good you have done. Have a wonderful week and remember you are loved.
-Sister Jensen
"Is this Heaven? No, it's Iowa."
We made it. :)

This is what it has come too.... so ashamed right now.
Trying to be all punk rocker-ish. Super fail. HAHAHA

Things got a little too crazy.... It's da best.
Farns and I just stuck in the back of the van. Typical.
Farnsworth, me, and Sumpsion doing the Sister Jensen dance. Yes... it's a real thing. Yes. This was like our whole exchange. :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Anxiously Engaged

I have run out of funny ways to start my email so I guess I will just start with a joke. Why were the Lamanites legs sore? (Stay tuned for the answer.) Okay. Just kidding. BECAUSE OF ALL THE NEPHITES (knee-fights). HAHA. Its a good one. I also have to give some shout outs to people who I love. A lot. My Aunt Jamie, Uncle Jaun, and Uncle Gavin. HAPPY BIRTHDAY YOU THREE!!! Hope it is great. :) AND... to my cousin Savannah. She enters the MTC this week and I just need her to know that I love her so much and am proud of her. YOU ARE ABOUT TO EXPERIENCE ONE OF THE GREATEST THINGS EVER!  It was another great week here in Boone. I really don't think I have ever been this busy on my mission. The Lord is spoiling us, that's for sure. Because of time, I will just give you updates:
1. Our p-day last week was insane. We had our landlord and maintenance man in our apt. for a good 3 hours working on our pipes. We went grocery shopping at 7 pm. And we ate dinner at 10 pm. Yep. There's that for ya.
2. WE FOUND A NEW INVESTIGATOR NAMED RICK. This guy is awesome. Super prepared and really understood the Restoration. Said he would be baptized if he came to know it was true. He's gonna be really blown away when he finds out it is. KA-CHING! 
3. We had the BEST lessons with Kyle this week. We taught him twice and both were in members homes. BEST SCENARIO EVER. Seriously though. The first time we taught him at the Ballards and watched, "The Prophet of the Restoration." He liked it and the Ballards totally killed it. They fed us spiritually with their added testimonies and then physically with hot chocolate. Then we taught him again at the Wards and we decided to invite Josh (our recent convert) cause we were teaching about prayer, scripture study, and how those prepare us to be baptized. Man, the spirit in that lesson was awesome. I don't think we could have had more perfect people there. Kyle said he was feeling good about baptism and was actually looking forward to it. YAYYAYYAYYAY!! Plus, Sister Ward made brownies. This is why the average weight gain for our mission is 40 pounds people. This is why...
4. I officially had my last interview this week... it was weird I tell ya. Especially when President started giving me dating advice and scenarios of how I know I am in love. HE IS THE BEST EVER! I was dying the whole time. Then in my interview with Sister Jensen it was just a big cry fest. It happens. SOOO grateful they are in my life forever. (Sister Jensen made me promise that :)) After interviews, we all went to a Mongolian buffet and my district peer pressured me to eat sushi. I about died. No joke. Gag alert I tell ya. CLEANUP ON ISLE JENSEN.
5. Sister Romero and I found a new function on her camera and have been making weird videos all week. THEY ARE THE BEST THINGS EVER. See below if you don't believe me. 
6. I'll give you an update on the Brittain family even though I am going to say what I always say... I love that family. They are doing so good! Matt came to church again with all 5 kids and had a really amazing experience. People... he isn't even a member of the church yet and was talking last night about how he can't wait to go to the Temple and do work for his family. SO HUMBLED RIGHT NOW! 
7. I FINALLY got to take the sacrament this week. Was it the best part of my week? You better believe it. I LOVE THE SACRAMENT! 
I am just really loving my life right now. Amidst all the crazy things we have to do, and the heart breaks of the door slams... I am happy. Really happy. "There is no greater joy in life than being ANXIOUSLY ENGAGED in the work of the Lord." SO true people.
I wanted to share my testimony on the Sacrament, and the best way to do that is through one of my favorite talks from conference...
A renewal for the soul. So true. I have gotten to the point where I literally CAN'T go a week without the sacrament. It has changed me...
Well... I hope each of you have a really amazing week and a wonderful  Valentines day! As you express your love to those around you, don't forget to express your love to the two people who love YOU the most... your Father in Heaven and your Savior Jesus Christ. I love you all! A LOT!! :)
-Sister Jensen
"Is this Heaven? No, it's Iowa."

THEY'RE BACK! Did they eat a cracker out of my hand this week? Yes. They did. They officially know us. :)
There are perks to living in an old building, but clogged pipes is not one of them.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

White Fluff and Golden People

The sun is shining... the trees are frozen... THE TREES ARE FROZEN!! (Thank you Nemo.) But yes. It has been a pretty darn eventful week here in Boone, IA and it was all topped off with a wicked blizzard. ITS DA BEST! Here are some of the highlights...
1. Sister Romero and I spent 2 hours on Monday trying to dunk a basketball. Time well spent I tell ya.
2. We were on the phone with our District Leader after planning and he asked us how our day was (it was a SUPER weird day), and for some reason I just broke into tears. Haha I think it was a mixture of a weird day plus going home soon... Either way he took it like a champ and then showed up to district meeting with a Heath bar to heal the hurt. Oh Elders... such champs. :)
3. GREATEST MIRACLE THIS WEEK!!! Okay. Does it shock you that this involves the Brittain family? THEY ARE SO AWESOME!!! We have been trying to schedule a plan of salvation church tour with them for like 3 weeks. But we also had invited some other people to come and coordinating schedules was a nightmare. Anyways... we finally did it this week. IT WAS AMAZING!! You literally could have cut the Spirit in half the whole way through the church tour. The end was the best though... we were all sitting in the chapel and just soaking in the pictures of Christ and the music playing. We then invited Devin, Jayden, and Savannah to be baptized on March 28. They were so excited. Then Matt spoke up... People. He wanted to move his date up 2 months so that he could be baptized with his kids. WE LOST IT! I don't think there was a dry eye in the room. March 28 will be a glorious day here in Boone, Iowa. :)
4. Kyle is also doing really well! We also had a church tour with him this week and it was the first time he has been to the building. He had such a great experience and just told us he felt safe there. SHAZAM! That is the Spirit. He even promised God he would come to church on Sunday. So great. :)
5. Okay. I will just fill you in on the weather a little bit... So It has been absolutely gorgeous for the last month. Like... in the 50s. Then February came. No joke.... FULL ON BLIZZARD Saturday night and then into Sunday. It didn't stop snowing till about 5 pm on Sunday night. Boone got about 9 inches. Do you want to know what that means? Yep. THEY CANCELLED CHURCH! Oh man... it was the pits. They pretty much did that through the whole mission though. It was crazy. We literally sat inside all day cause we were grounded. IT WAS THE WORST! You never know how much the sacrament affects you until you can't take it. Plus, that meant none of our investigators could come. Broke our hearts... no joke. But, since we were inside all day we did have the chance to try memorizing the baptismal interview questions for like 2 hours. SCORE! :)
Sorry this email is so short and weird and all over the place. I think I have officially lost my ability to think in complete sentences. Haha that is okay though.
I want to share with you one of my favorite mormon messages:
Okay. So yes.... I love this video because it has a cute baby in it, but that is not the only reason. As I get closer to returning home from my mission... my trust in the Lord is growing. On a mission, you feel like you have been on a mission forever and that you will be here for forever. You can't imagine yourself doing anything else than waking up and putting on that badge every morning. But, then reality hits and yo realize the Lord has a different plan for you. I am LEARNING how to trust that the Lord has things prepared for me to do when I get home. Things that only I can do. I don't have control of my mission ending soon just like the Lady in the video didn't have control of how the adoption went. Just like none of us have control over what happens each day. Or when our purse gets stolen (shout out to Sister Slater :)) But. What we do have control over is our Trust that the Lord has it. He would let us do this alone. So people. Just trust Him. It is truly as simple as that.
I love you all and pray that you have a wonderful week!
-Sister Jensen
"Is this Heaven? No, it's Iowa."
"I looked out the window and what did I see? 8 inches of snow staring back at me." No joke. Sunday morning surprise!
Typical Sister Jensen and Sister Romero in a blizzard pic.
Yep. Guess how long it took us to get our car scraped off and out of it's spot this morning? A really long time.

So worth the below freezing temps :)
More Miranda. :) We officially belong in a psych ward...