Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Pics: lots of missionaries and a sudden storm!

Pics: Rainbows, architecture and service projects

Pics: Chicken, cars, and architecture...

Now you see them...

Now you don't!

I ate a barf flavored jelly bean

Sorry I'm late! Yesterday we went to the Parc de la Tête d'Or and played football (American football, it was super fun) and had an exchange afterward. The problem is, I had forgotten I was going on exchange until we went to MacDo to use the wifi and got an email with my train tickets. Long story short, we had the moving équipe drive us back to our apartment so I could pack a quick bag and then straight to the gare. Now I am bien in Chalon again with Elder Lindsey, he's awesome.

Last week we did yard work for a member, pulling weeds and getting rocks out of their backyard so they could plant about a million flowers back there. That night at the Institute we helped a recent convert set up his LDS account and then get onto FamilySearch. It's kind of fun trying to search for his ancestors when their last names are like Ravelojaona or Randriamaromanana...yeah he's from Madagascar.

On Saturday we had Samedi Sportif, which is when we go out to Ecully and play soccer with a bunch of members/amis/potentials/random bros who want to come. It was windy and raining, but still fun. Almost everyone that comes is African, usually Congolese, and they are absolutely hilarious! That night we had a fun activity with some of our Chinese friends where we all made cheesecake. Elder Tomlinson helped us because he's a good cook and it was all super super delicious.

We also had Zone Conference last week! It was fantastic. One of the things President Brown focused on was the important of repentance. Everybody makes mistakes, and everybody can repent and become clean again. There's a process to it and it can be hard, but it can be done. We need to make sure we repent, because even if you do everything else in the Church perfectly, you're not 100% clean and it's really going to come back to bite you when all is said and done. If we don't teach repentance so that our amis internalize it, know how to do it, and do it regularly, part of that blame is on our heads! How great is our calling, right? There is a bit of pressure there for sure, but through prayer and fasting and enduring to the end, all things are possible :)

I love you all and hope you have a good week!
Elder Jensen


Monday, April 18, 2016

The Life of a Weary Traveler

I guess I'm not really any wearier than the next man, but I did travel a bit more this past week than I've gotten used to!

A week ago, on Monday night, we went to President Léporé's (stake president) house down south of Lyon for dinner. His wife is American and he speaks impeccable English, so dinner and the ensuing Family Home Evening was all in English. He actually told us that with all the work he does for the Church and going back and forth to Salt Lake City, he's often more comfortable speaking to audiences in English. Also, other members have told us that when he moved back to France relatively recently, his French wasn't that great anymore. Funny how that happens :) But yeah that was a great experience!

The next night we had dinner with yet another American family! The dad is here working in the carbon fiber industry (super cool) and doesn't know how long he'll be here. Super nice guy, but it was super weird to have an American dinner in an American household with American nuances. I love my home country!

On Wednesday, we traveled north to Chalon (my farthest north point in the mission, been there a few times now) for district meeting. It was cool.

Okay, rewind. Tuesday morning was the day Elder Zhu and I got up early and hopped on a TGV to Valence, the furthest south I've ever been in the mission! Not actually that impressive, but it's an accomplishment for me. We arrived after about 40 minutes and looked around a bit, only to realize that we were not where we thought we should be. We'd gotten off at the right stop, but our tickets had brought us to the special TGV gare (train station), not the main gare in central Valence that we wanted. We had to get to Valence-même (basically downtown Valence) early enough to not get held up in a super long line at the prefecture, but here we were like 9 kilometers away from there. Our solution? Buy new tickets! We went to a billetterie and got a couple 1.20 euro tickets for a train from the TGV gare to the normal gare, not a problem. France is pretty good at getting people around without cars.

I'll send pictures, but the most important part was the miracles! If you've ever had to go to a government building to renew a visa in a foreign country/language and not actually had all the documents you needed to renew it, you'll know what I'm talking about. I said so many prayers during that process, and one by one they were answered! We had to run all around town to get photos, stamps, photocopies, give the right papers to the right people, and hope and pray that the things we flat out didn't have and couldn't readily obtain wouldn't be that important. Every time the lady went into the back room to check with her boss if such-and-such document would be sufficient, I prayed that it would all work out, and every time it did. She tried to speak English a couple times to help us out, bless her heart, but she didn't know very much. Thank goodness I get to do that again next transfer for my own legality...

Wish I had more time, but this will have to suffice! I'll finish with a theme I think I use about half the time, and that is that PRAYER WORKS! I know that it does, and I know that it can be easier to see when you're praying for specific miracles, but God hears all prayers. Try this: pray every night for specific people who have specific problems they need resolved, and pray for yourself to feel greater love for your fellow men. You might not notice any obvious changes, but trust in God's timing and trust that He will grant you according to your desires. Often He won't do it until you ask, so go ask and see what happens :)

Love you buckets,

Pics: sunrise, elevators and Valence!

Sunrise from a train

Nasty cylindrical elevator we rode for fun


Main Valence gare

Pics: FHE, Millery, and waiting for an early morning bus ride

FHE chez la famille Leporé

Millery, south of Lyon

Waiting for a bus to the gare at 6h15 am

Monday, April 11, 2016

We called 4 countries on Tuesday

Ni hao tout le monde. I ate a ton of food for lunch (leftover rice from last night, I'll explain later), so I'm kind of lethargic right now, sorry.

A little jealous of Mom and Kellie going to Norway! The cousins there are sooooo grown-up, I can't believe it. I'll be back someday!

Something fun happened earlier in the week! We found out that our recent convert Yali who moved back to China in February wasn't going to church because she hadn't been able to find out where it was, so we slightly took matters into our own hands to help her out (since a lot of websites are blocked in China). Tuesday we went to the mission office, got some help from the senior couples there, and called the Hong Kong Temple. We had originally tried to find a phone number for branches of the Church in Shanghai, but to no avail, so that was the closest we got! The Temple President, President Wang, was super nice and gave us the number to the Asia Area Office, also in Hong Kong. We didn't end up calling it because we got in contact with another Church official in Beijing, but it was a fun experience nonetheless :)

On Wednesday, we had a Skype lesson with a Chinese student in Fribourg whom Elder Pien has been teaching for a while now. He's incredible. We taught the Word of Wisdom and at first he freaked out a little bit when we said that tea was off-limits, but after a little explanation he committed to live the commandment, and that was that. His faith is inspiring :)

Thursday we had Zone Training, which was fun since this transfer has some new faces, including a brand new blue from Bora Bora (de la Polynésie ) being trained up in Chalon. We had a bunch of pizza for lunch afterward. Yum yum. After that we had to go to the office because we found out the day before that Elder Zhu had a small problem with his legality, so the office couples were working on a way to keep him from having to finish the last half of his mission in Hong Kong. They found a solution, which involves us going on a little trip! Tomorrow morning Elder Zhu and I have to get up early to catch a 7:00 train to Valence (like an hour south of Lyon) and do some visa stuff while poor Elder Pien gets to stay with Elder Tomlinson and Elder Thorley. Should be fun :)

We had about four back-to-back lessons planned on Friday afternoon. It was crazy. My throat was a little scratchy too, so I was trying to drink a lot of water. Nevertheless, that scratchy throat quickly developed into a sniffly nose and watery eyes, both of which are super annoying. I'm getting better now, just wondering if I'm getting spring allergies even though I've never had them before in my life. Stranger things have happened.

Spiritual thought for the day! Last night we went to the Walkers' house for dinner with a couple amis and Lucas our recent convert. We had delicious chicken curry and Soeur Walker made cinnamon rolls that were suuuuper duper. For spiritual dessert, we watched a couple conference talks including Elder Holland's which I hadn't yet had the occasion to see! It was soooo awesome. I loved his quote:

"...the first great commandment of all eternity is to love God with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength...But the first great truth of all eternity is that God loves us with all of His heart, might, mind, and strength."

It's so true. I had moments this past week that could've gone better if I was a more Christlike person, but I know that despite my weaknesses God still loves me! I know that despite any trials you may have, whether you feel like you deserve them or not, God still loves you! He really does! And if you trust Him enough to let that love motivate you to keep going and look forward to better days ahead, He will bless you more than you could ever expect.

"And then, behold, according to your desires, yea, even according to your faith shall it be done unto you." -Doctrine and Covenants 11:17


Monday, April 4, 2016

Pics: Me wearing Lexin's glasses

Pics: Me and a fancy château in Ecully

Pics: "Sorry for your walle" ("sorry, there's no 'e' in wall") ❤️

Pics: Whole Mission with Elder Christofferson!

Pics: No one else on the metro...

Best General Conference Everrrrrr

First, thank you Mom and Dad! You two are the best. There's a lot of stuff I need to work on in my own spiritual growth, but I have the foundation already thanks to everything you taught me as I was/have been growing up. Thank you :)

And seriously, General Conference was so good! We watched both morning sessions live at 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and the Priesthood and Saturday Afternoon sessions Sunday morning at Ecully chapel, but we haven't seen Sunday afternoon yet. That'll be studies for tomorrow morning, we're all excited! :)

One of my favorite moments from Conference was during President Uchtdorf's Sunday Morning address. He said, quoting a German author, "Es gibt nicht Gutes, außer man tut es." I know that because I was sitting right next to Elder Menzel, who is from Germany. He was very happy when Pres. Uchtdorf made his next comment about the German language :) anyway, the translation is, "There is no good unless you do it." I LOVED that! It's so profound. We can have the greatest of intentions, but if we don't act they come to naught.

I know God lives. I know He loves us. And I know these things because God shows it! He answers prayers, directs our paths, and always always always blesses those who try their best to do His will. Ponder on that saying this week and you'll understand better than I can put into words :)

I love you all! Watch for pictures in just a couple minutes...

Elder Jensen

Pic: Lyon is known for its puppet theater (possibly invented here? I don't remember).