Monday, May 22, 2017

There and Back Again

Well everyone, the time has come. I'm going home tomorrow!

First off, here's a little summary of my mission:
  • MTC (Provo, Utah) - 2 months
  • St. Genis-Pouilly - 3 months, 10 days
  • Lyon - 5 months, 15 days
  • Toulouse - 5 months, 15 days
  • Grenoble - 6 months, 28 days
And my comps: 
  • Elder Fristrup, 
  • Elder Pien, 
  • Elder Jenkins, 
  • Elder Bleak,
  • Elder Zhu, 
  • Elder Pien again, 
  • Elder Peron, 
  • Elder Preator, 
  • Elder Alvarenga, 
  • Elder Masterson.
When my sister went home from her mission last year, my brother gave her a good piece of advice that I've treasured ever since: "You won't be a perfect missionary at the end of your mission any more than you'll be a perfect person at the end of your life." There have been numerous times on my mission I didn't feel good enough or wondered why I didn't feel like the spiritual soldier I thought I should be. It really is all about how much you trust God :) Mission life was never meant to be easy, but I've loved it!

While I was serving in Toulouse, I had kind of an epiphany: I realized that it's okay if the extremes of my life don't happen on my mission!  It's okay if my time on the mission doesn't include the absolute happiest, saddest, hardest, and most spiritual days of my life. In fact, I seriously hope that's not the case! I fully expect and hope that during the rest of my life, I will have happier, sadder, harder, and more spiritual experiences than I ever had on the mission. Keep in mind, that doesn't diminish the value of the experiences I've had! Au contraire, they're even more valuable for having prepared me for the happy, sad, hard, and spiritual days to come. The MTC was a great training experience for the mission, but the mission itself is a great training experience for life. I will treasure the experience of my mission for the rest of my life.

I know Jesus is my Savior! I know that He directs this work, since there's no other way that such a motley crew of college kids in white shirts and ties or skirts could have so much success in bringing God's children to the truth of where we're from, why we're here, and where we're going. We learn a lot about those truths in the temple, so it was especially awesome to finish my mission with the dedication of the Paris Temple. Wonderful experience :)

I love you all! See you on the other side :)

Elder Garrett Jensen


Monday, May 15, 2017

I held a 3200000000 year old space rock

Pretty much all the announcements at church for the past month or more have been about the Paris temple dedication. Not complaining :) T-minus 6 days! 🇫🇷

Last week we had zone conference and talked about, among other things, true love and eternal marriage. Nottrunkynottrunkynottrunkynottrunkynottrunky Sœur Brown is a spunky mission mom, so she showed us a compilation of all the times Wesley from the Princess Bride says "As you wish." Oh man. She also shared the story of how she and President Brown met, it was sooooo funny :) we talked a lot about the temple of course, including how personal this blessing is to the French people. As missionaries, we kind of mentally divide the country into North and South (Paris and Lyon missions), but that line doesn't exist for people that actually live here! A temple in Versailles is a temple on mainland French soil, and that's a big deal! Cool thought :)

Toward the end of zone conference Sœur Filbrandt (from Bern, Suisse) and I had the opportunity to go up and bear our testimonies, it was really cool :) I know Christ lives!

After zone conference we had kind of an adventure: all four of us Elders had to hurry from the Ecully chapel to the Lyon gare so we could catch a train back to Grenoble to catch a bus out to Allevard to have dinner with some members, but literally 10 seconds after we arrived in the gare, our train was cancelled. The next train after that was shown as cancelled as well, so there was no chance we would make our bus. We went to the desk and exchanged our tickets for some going the long way around through Chambéry and down to Pontcharra, a town close to Allevard. We also took a train back from Pontcharra to Grenoble, so we were pretty much outside Grenoble for 15 hours that day. Got free tiramisu once after zone conference and once at the mangez-vous though, so it was worth it.

Wednesday we went to visit an awesome young family in the world who lives out about 35 minutes from Grenoble, it was super fun :) the day after that we went to see a referral we got from a member, but it didn't go so well. We rang at their gate, but the husband just opened the window, yelled that they weren't interested, and closed the window. We called the member and asked what to do, and his answer was "just try again!" The couple in the house didn't look so happy to have two Témoins de Jehovah back ringing at their gate, but the husband donned shoes, a jacket, and an umbrella (it was raining; we kind of looked like wet rats) to come out to the gate and talk to us. We explained we were friends of this member and that we weren't here to force him into religion or even try to convince him or anything, but he was super closed. So sad :'( But remember, rejection doesn't mean you're a bad missionary! Even Jesus got rejected!

At the end of the week we hung out in centre ville with a Jesuit geologist. Really cool bro, knows a lot about rocks and had some super nice crystals for sale. He told us about how his career proves the existence of God, since there's no way perfectly formed crystals and gems and stuff don't have a divine creator. I wholeheartedly agree with him :) He also let me and Elder Masterson hold a rock that was 3,2 billion years old, made of pure iron, and somehow made its way to the Earth from somewhere in the asteroid belt. Dope.

Something else big happened this week: I finally finished reading Jesus the Christ! For all who don't know, it's a fancily-worded, highly intellectual, over 750-page book all about Jesus Christ, written by an apostle back in like 1915. I started it in the MTC almost two years ago, and just finished this last week. Having learned more now about Christ before this life, during His mortal life, His mission after the Resurrection, and prophecies about Him that have yet to be fulfilled, I can once again testify: I know that Jesus is the Christ! Essentially, that means He is the one who volunteered and was chosen by God to sacrifice himself for all the other billions of God's children. The purpose of life is to be on the winning team, God's team, when Satan will be vanquished just before the final judgement. However, that victory could only be possible if Christ succeeded in living a sinless life and in atoning for our sins. He did! Thanks to Him, we have the opportunity to live with God again :)

Love you! Hasta luego!

Elder Jensen


French garden

Monday, May 8, 2017


We found ancestors' names that need temple work done! Yaayyy!

This is a guy with a bunch of roller blade wheels fixed on a dope Iron Man-type suit, I literally read about him in the news before my mission! And then we saw him in Valence! Holy cow!

In that tan colored tile on the other side of the road, it says "here stood the rampart of the 3rd century."

🌸 April flowers bring May showers 🌧

If I could describe this past week in a word, it would be "wet." For some reason, early to mid-April was kinda warm and plenty sunny all the time, but the past couple weeks have just been rain rain rain every day. Hopefully it'll clear up soon!

As for things you actually want to hear about, there's not a ton of news. We got to see our old less-active recent convert, she's pretty nuts but just as her as ever. We were supposed to see another less-active, but he got pretty sick so had to cancel.

Thursday was district meeting! That was fun, we talked about how and why to teach with the Spirit as well as about inviting amis to act. No action = no results!

On Friday morning we were supposed to be heading to Valence on exchange, but we barely missed our train. It was my fault! Once we printed out the tickets, I grabbed them and just ran but accidentally left Elder Masterson behind since he didn't know the gare as well as I do after six and a half months here. Too late I looked behind me and realized what had happened, but still assumed he wasn't far behind. I was in the train waiting for him, ready to hold the door if it tried to close, but after about ten seconds I started to really wonder, so I got off and jogged back into the gare to find my companion. To all you missionary trainers out there: don't run away from your trainee and assume they know where to go! I apologized and then we sat in the gare and did studies until the next train two and a half hours later. Once we got to Valence we met up with our district leader Elder Gaspar (hilarious/crazy Cape Verdean/Portuguese/Dutch) and Elder Vera (Chinese-speaking Argentine/Uruguayan/Canadian). They're quite the équipe. We had a fun time porting! Elder Vera and I met a kind Italian babysitter who might be interested! She mentioned that just that afternoon they'd had an American girl from Oregon of all places teaching the kids English! Small world, eh? That night we went to Valence Ward Council, it was almost entirely focused on being ready for the Paris temple dedication. I'm soooo eexcciitteedd

We also went to MacDo three times that day, but don't worry

The next morning I took about five wrong turns on the way to the gare to come back to Grenoble, so we missed that train as well. It was raining so I ended up being completely soaked, along with the paper sack carrying my clothes. It had basically disintegrated by the time we got close to the gare, so I just wrapped all my stuff in a towel and called it good.

On Sunday I got to bear my testimony in sacrament meeting! It was awesome, you really do get close to a ward when you stay for so long. That night we went to one of my favorite family's places for dinner, and they're pretty politically minded so, it being the night of the French presidential elections, they pulled up the news right as they were about the show the results! Congratulations to Emmanuel Macron, may he reign in righteousness all his days.

Today we went shopping. Voilà quoi.

A really cool thought was brought up in district meeting that I'd like to share with you!

Imagine that God only had 2 children: Jesus and you. You both come to earth and live your lives and, of course, He is perfect and you are not. You make a lot of mistakes as we mortals tend to do. Jesus Christ would still have atoned for all your sins and all your pains! He loves you that much! His love isn't just for God's family in general, but for each one of us individually. Think about that one for a bit :)

Love you all! See you soon!

Elder Jensen


Monday, May 1, 2017


Those are our transfer numbers

Never thought I'd stay a night outside a missionary apartment

A kind dude took a picture for us today. That long straight road behind us is the street we live on (and longest avenue in Europe...?)

"Historical souvenir: NAPOLEON came down into this hotel where he stayed the 7th, 8th, and 9th of March 1815 on his return from the Isle of Elba."

Grenoble is a pretty swaggy place ("baby foot" means foosball, as in "baby football")

Check your pocket for the keys before you close the door

Well, this has been one of the most eventful weeks of my whole mission. I'll try to elaborate:

Last Monday we did a cool hike and had an amazing view. It's called Le Moucherotte, I'll send pictures!

Tuesday actually wasn't too crazy, we went contacting and found a nice young Vietnamese guy :)

Wednesday is when things really started going down. All four of us Elders were at a member's house for lunch down the street from a McDonald's (known in France as MacDo). We had noticed that some gendarmes were closing down the tram line outside and putting up yellow tape everywhere, but we had no idea why. During lunch, the Sœurs called us to let us know that a less-active had just called them saying that there had been an explosion in the bathroom of the MacDo. That was super weird déjà, but after lunch we're walking home and we get a call from President Brown instructing us to return to our apartment as quick as possible and to stay there until further notice. We all figured it wasn't a terrorist attack (more of a situation like the one in Elder Renlund's October 2016 talk), but better safe than sorry! We did that and then, also acting under instruction from President Brown, called our families to tell them briefly what had happened and that we were okay so they wouldn't worry if it showed up on the news later that day. The time difference a fait que my phone call was a rather harsh 6 am wake-up alarm for my poor mother, but she handled it nicely :) Love you Mom! President called back an hour later to liberate us, but said that we should probably avoid MacDo that night. So, that was an experience.

Thursday: The same member who had fed us the day before wanted us to meet him en ville so he could give us some bolognaise sauce he had made. It was super super good :) In the early afternoon, the other Elders went to Valence (more than an hour's train ride away) for an exchange. Remember that. That evening we met with Umberto and helped him prep for his first ever sacrament meeting talk! Afterwards, we popped back into the apartment for a couple minutes and then headed back out. Key detail: our apartment door auto-locks. I closed the door behind me and felt my pocket to make sure I had everything. Not only did I not have everything, I had nothing! I had my cell phone, but no bus pass, no keys, no cards, rien. Normally we'd just ask the other Elders to come open it for us but remember where they were? Yep, Valence. We went over our options (break down our front door, go through our neighbor's apartment and climb onto the balcony and break down that door, call a locksmith (way expensive), or maybe just ask the Sœurs if they had a extra key laying around since their apartment used to belong to an équipe of Elders). We took the last option and while waiting for the Sœurs to bring any extra keys they could find, talked to Francisco, an old Spanish guy who sits outside the church pretty often. The Sœurs came, we tried their extra keys, nothing worked. We called the office and asked the office Elders what we should do, since they have extra keys for every apartment but they also live in Lyon which is an hour and a half away. We tossed around a lot of options regarding trains and where we might possibly stay the night, but finally they just asked President what he thought we should do. He thought we should try to find a member to stay with for the night! Our first thought was in fact the very member who had given us the bolognaise sauce earlier that day, since he has a nice apartment and lives nearby. We called him to explain the situation, he said he'd check with his roommate, and we bought Domino's pizza. He called back saying that we could come, and that's how we ended up spending the night trying to fall asleep in two big armchairs with our feet propped up on this member's coffee table. We watched a conference talk with him and he told us all about the upcoming Presidential elections. It's pretty nuts.

The next morning we had breakfast and tried to do some studies, then just wandered around the city contacting until the other Elders came back. They did and we got their keys, but then they promptly went straight back to Valence to retrieve Elder Stephens' wallet that he'd accidentally left in the Valence gare. That night we saw a less-active family and discussed Christ's Atonement using the New Testament Children's Stories book. It went well!

Saturday was the baptism of someone the Sœurs have been teaching. They used to be a member, but had their records removed a long time ago, and recently decided to come back!

Sunday there was practically no one at church. All the members had been at the Bern Temple all week and then went to see the Paris temple over the weekend, so it was one of the lowest attended sacrament meetings I've ever been to. Par contre, I just heard that the Versailles Ward (where the temple is) had about 700 members at church! That's what happens when half the members in France visit Paris on the same weekend.

Today we hiked a bit around the Bastille. Since it's Labor Day here, there is absolutely zero public transport running. We've walked a fair amount today :/

Despite the turbulent times we live in, whether on a nationwide scale or just within your own heart and soul, know that there is one thing that will never change: God loves you! He wants what's best for you so He lets you endure trials to help you grow. Thanks to Him, we have our families and friends and the sunshine and mashed potatoes and purple flowers and everything else that is good in the world :) Remember that love next time you're in distress!

Love y'all, see you later!

Elder Jensen