Friday, April 24, 2015

Rounding the Bend

Well folks, time keeps on ticking! Yesterday was the HALFWAY mark until I report, from the day I opened my call! Happy to say that the preparation continues and is expected to gain steam next week when I'm back home in Oregon. The thought I just had last night that I'd like to share with you all is this, as inspired by 1 Nephi chapter 6:

We need to be like the scriptures. If you personify them, they are full of wisdom and knowledge as to the knowledge of God. The things they teach are pleasing unto God, but not always unto men. The scriptures cannot be silenced, they will display the truth for as long as someone is willing to read. This is how we should be! Full of wisdom and giving freely to others, but in a spirit of compassion and humility. Preaching the good word at all times, despite opposition from the world. I plan to do just that.

Tout est bien,
Garrett Jensen

Friday, April 10, 2015

Deux mois...倒數二個月! mean it's been over a month since I opened my call? I really can't fathom that, and I can only imagine how quickly time will pass while I'm on the mission. However, to celebrate this landmark I'll tell a story!

Last semester missions were on my mind almost all the time. I spent a lot of time watching interviews with RMs (Prepare to Serve Youtube Channel and website) and just learning about the places and people I might see. Eventually, as was bound to happen with so much exposure to missions, I had a dream. I think it was around October that I had my first dream about opening my mission call. In my dream I pulled the paper out of the mission call envelope and read something like "the New York, New York Mission." I thought that was interesting since I could totally have seen myself going to New York with it being such a melting pot of cultures and all. However, I didn't dwell on it too much.

At least not until a month or two later when I had my second dream! This time it was a little farther from home; I remember reading "France." I think the name of the mission started with a T, so maybe Toulouse? I wasn't sure. That was crazy to me because I loved France and French so much, so I really didn't know what to think. I remember telling a friend here at BYU-H who served in Paris about it and he was pretty stoked even though it was just a dream.

I went home for winter break for about two and a half weeks, returning at the beginning of January. I had been home maybe a week when I had my third dream. This was the clearest of them all, I distinctly remember reading, "the Taiwan Taipei Mission." That was ridiculous and amazing to me because I had been studying Mandarin, I had a friend who had just been called there, I had made friends from Taipei, I'd been learning some Chinese martial arts, and there were other things that seemed to point toward Taipei. I was in awe when I woke up from this dream because I felt like I'd basically received an answer as to where I would serve even though I tried to think of it as just another random dream.

So those were my three dreams! Those contributed quite a bit to the strong feeling I had that my mission call would have a personal connection to my life and my experiences. I would have been stoked to go to Russia for example, but I was almost certain I wouldn't because I have no connection to Russia. However, I had no idea that my call would be that personal. Two of my favorite languages and basically my favorite country in the whole world? Who would have thought? (granted I've only spent one day in Paris and that was my entire experience in France, but it was fantastique nonetheless).

As the title suggests, I report in 2 months, just 61 days! I've had an appointment to renew my passport, talked with people that served in my mission, congratulated other friends on their calls to Ohio, Brazil, Portugal, Utah, Japan, Nevada, Guatemala, etc. and have been working through the missionary preparation guidelines on the website, as well as studying French and Mandarin throughout. I feel like it's been a productive month, but I still have a loooooong way to go before I'll feel ready to serve. Still, I know that even if I feel ready to go I'll get to the MTC and out into the field and realize how unprepared I really am, but that's when I'll really have to trust the Lord to make up the difference and help me be an effective instrument in His hands. I love my Savior and I'm so incredibly grateful for the love that He has showed me and the opportunity that we all have to be forgiven of our sins so that we can return to Him at the close of our lives.

,Que Dieu soit avec vous

Monday, April 6, 2015

叫喚書到了! It's finally here!

Dear Elder Jensen,

You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the France Lyon Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 24 months.

You should report to the Provo Missionary Training Center on Wednesday, June 10, 2015. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Mandarin Chinese language. Your assignment may be modified according to the needs of the mission president.

You have been recommended as one worthy to represent the Lord as a minister of the restored gospel. You will be an official representative of the Church. As such, you will be expected to maintain the highest standards of conduct and appearance by keeping the commandments, living mission rules, and following the counsel of your mission president. As you devote your time and attention to serving the Lord, leaving behind all other personal affairs, the Lord will bless you with increased knowledge and testimony of the Restoration and of the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Your purpose will be to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. As you serve with all your heart, might, and strength, the Lord will lead you to those who are prepared to be baptized.

The Lord will reward you for the goodness of your life. Greater blessings and more happiness than you have yet experienced await you as you humbly and prayerfully serve the Lord in this labor of love among His children. We place our confidence in you and pray that the Lord will help you become an effective missionary.

You will be set apart as a missionary by your stake president. Please send your written acceptance promptly, endorsed by your bishop.

                                                          Thomas S. Monson    

   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   

So there's my call folks! I'm going on my mission! I opened my call here at BYU-Hawai'i on March 7th 2015, precisely 127 months to the day from the day I was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you watch the video of me opening my call (psstt click here), you'll see that I read the call from the bottom up so I'd see the language first. That was partially because I love foreign languages, but partially because I was about 60% sure that I would get called to speak Mandarin. During my first two semesters of college I've been taking Mandarin classes and had some experiences such that I didn't expect per se that I would be speaking Chinese, but I knew it wouldn't shock me. So of course, I was elated when I read "in the Mandarin Chinese language," but not blown away from surprise. The real shocker was when I read the top part of the call, the part everyone wanted to hear. I had heard of Chinese-speaking missionaries in France my first semester of college and thought to myself, "Wow, wouldn't that be just perfect??" (side note: to those who aren't aware, I studied French at school every year from 7th-12th grade) However, I quickly put the thought out of my mind because it was such a specific thing to hope for and I didn't want to be disappointed. In the weeks leading up to my call arriving, I thought I was seeing signs in my life pointing to Taiwan, in particular the Taipei Mission (see my next post for more detail about that). Therefore, when I read on my call that I'd be speaking Chinese I thought, "well there we go, it really is Taiwan." But no! The Lord saw fit to give me something I'd never dared hope for, and now more than ever I have no doubt that the Lord loves me more than I'll ever know.

I'm SUPER excited to be following in the footsteps of my faithful family! People like my Grandpa (who served in Florida), my dad (Florida Jacksonville Mission), my older brother (Australia Brisbane Mission), my older sister (Belgium/Netherlands Mission), and many others have all been great examples to me as I've been growing up and preparing for this experience, though I didn't always realize it. Merci beaucoup!

"Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;"
   Ephesians 3:8-

I know without a doubt that this is the right thing for me to be doing in my life, and I'm so grateful that I have the opportunity to do it. Yes the lives of my friends and family will go on without me, but for the next two years our Heavenly Father needs me in France serving His children.

Here are the boundaries of my mission. All of Southern France!

 The French flag (above left) and emblem of the city of Lyon.

My actual call!

While I'm out on my mission, the family back home will be updating it with my weekly letters, pictures, and various news.

,Avec beaucoup de l'amour