Monday, June 27, 2016

Pics: 15,000 year old water and some fog, spiritual thought at the bottom - don't miss it!

Not a whole lot to say this week, but a lot of pictures to send! Je vous en prie :D



An awesome family from St. Genis, my beloved first ville :)


After transfer calls craziness went down


With the family whose little boy got baptized (such class)


Tons of trash outside a bar after the Wales-Russia match


The stadium in Toulouse


Me making crêpes without milk or eggs (it didn't work that well)


On exchange with Elder Smith from Texas, we met an old French lady
that lives alone in an old French house. There we found an old feather
duster just like in Beauty and the Beast!


Also we did gardening for her


Also in her house was this gem of a pun! You'll get it if you know
some key names from the French Revolution...


On the way back from Montréjeau


This one's for you Dad



video

Due to train strikes, we had to take a bus to St. Gaudens where we waited for a train that never came so we got on another bus all the way back to Toulouse. Long trip.


Little view of St. Gaudens and my collègue


Fancy a bus? It's a fancy bus


Quaint, yet so typical for villages out in the French countryside


Awesome sunset over Toulouse


A little taste of home we found in our apartment. Just barely expired, so no worries.

Natural spring in Ax-les-Thermes that is both heated from being underground for 15,000 years and smells like sulfur (just like the springs in Ashland if you've been there).


Super foggy. That's Elder Peron and a member from our ward.


Again, crazy fog.


The water coming out of that pipe is just like the first picture. The sign on bottom essentially says not to drink the water because it can burn you. The sign on top says how hot it really is. I touched it, but only briefly.



Gotta throw a spiritual thought in here: the Lord knows what he's doing! Our mission lost 21 incredible missionaries last week and it's easy to wonder how on earth we're going to have success when we who are left feel so much less capable then those older missionaries seemed to be. The truth is, God has a plan. He knows why we're supposed to be here now way better than we do. We just need to trust him, be obedient, and everything will work out just fine. I'll quote Nephi, a prophet in the Book of Mormon: "Let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than [Satan] and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands?" (1 Nephi 4:1)

For the words of the Lord himself on the matter, we have Doctrine and Covenants 6:36: "Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not."

Trust Him :)

江长老

Monday, June 20, 2016

Pour six semaines de plus, je vois la ville en rose

I have a bunch of stuff to say!

First off, Happy Father's Day! I'm super super grateful to my wonderful earthly father for the sacrifices he's made for me and the love he's shown me throughout my life. I'm also super grateful to my Heavenly Father for everything He's done for me. As I look back in my life, I can recognize a lot of blessings that have come directly from Him, it's a great feeling :)

Second off, Sweden. This past Friday was the Sweden-Italy game in Toulouse, there were soooooo many Swedes in Toulouse. It was ridiculous. I didn't get a good picture, but just imagine yellow t-shirts as far as the eye can see. It was just like that the week before, but with Spain instead of Sweden (so red shirts), and again today with Wales! Again red shirts, all over the place. There were a decent number of Czechs, Italians, and now Russians too. Nothing like a continent-wide football tournament to make a little money off the tourism business :) The Wales-Russia game is here tonight, so if you want to hear maybe a bit about Toulouse/feel a little connection with me even though I don't get to watch the match, go ahead and watch it!

Yesterday we had the confirmation of the 9-year-old kid who was baptized last Sunday! He asked Elder Peron to baptize him and me to do the confirmation, so that's how it worked out. It was cool, and the kid is suuuuuper classy. He came to the baptism in a colorful plaid shirt with a blazer (wish I had that much style), and then a week later came to church in an all-white tuxedo with matching shoes, belt, vest, everything. Whatta boss.

The Paris Temple is nearing completion! Woohoooo!! They just called the new temple president, it's going to be Frère Giraud-Carrier, who has a really cool story. One of the members in our ward here remembers greeting him as an ami here in Toulouse back when they didn't even have real church meetings. All they had was Sunday School, and they would distribute the sacrament during that meeting. Only an hour and a half of church every week, wouldn't that be nice? ;) Frère Giraud-Carrier and his wife were baptized four weeks after taking the missionary lessons. He was called to be the first stake president in France over the then newly-formed Paris Stake, I believe he was the first Area Seventy from France, and he is now the first president of the first temple in France! He's quite the pioneer :D

Apart from all that, we got transfer calls and I will be staying here in the Concorde Ward with Elder Peron. In fact, all the missionaries in the city of Toulouse (so 8 of us) are staying! Fun times. However, they did some zone realignments which is crazy. There used to be two zones based in Bordeaux, but now Talence Zone has been eaten by Bordeaux and Toulouse Zones. It might seem trivial to you, but it's big news for us! I'll send you before and after mission maps so you can see for yourself.

Before that we were in Montauban on exchange, it was cool. We had pizza :D Before that we had district meeting, which was also cool! For lunch Elder Peron made chili that was pretty spicy but really delicious. We went to Grépiac to visit a member family who had one of the coolest properties I've ever seen, there were a ton of fruit trees in their backyard and a chicken coop and their house was old and beautiful and he grilled sausages for us and oh man it was one of the best mangez-vous of my mission. Also he's really funny and moved to France from Austria when he was 9.

On Tuesday (yes backtracking still) I was on exchange with Elder Smith, the British kid whom I met in the MTC and whose call is officially in Spanish. We did a bunch of Spanish work that day, like seeing a potential from Guatemala who had some kinda hippy-ish ideas about the world and religion and seeing a member family whose dad is from Ecuador and giving him a Quichua Book of Mormon because he speaks Quichua.

Spiritual thought! At the end of district meeting we discussed what it takes to succeed. Anyone who's learned a thing or two in their life will tell you that you won't do everything right on the first try. You're going to fail, and you're going to do it a lot. That's normal. Getting up and keeping on keeping on can be hard, but it's totally worth it. Even if you fall right back down every time you get up, you'll find someday that you're a lot stronger than you used to be. Someday, things will work out! Just think about the example of our Savior, Jesus Christ:

"For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground; he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him there is no beauty that we should desire him.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows,and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted." (Isaiah 53:2-4/Mosiah 14:2-4)

That's awful! The Son of God Himself, "despised and rejected of men." However, look in verses 11-12:

"He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied; by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great,and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death."

We are imperfect. We can't atone for anyone's sins or conquer death just like that, but we can suffer trials and come out stronger because of it. We can bear one another's burdens and show love for others even when no one seems to be showing love to us. That's what the Savior taught, and, more importantly, that's what He did. You'll never regret working harder to be more like Him.

Avec amour,
Elder Jensen


Monday, June 13, 2016

This week started out not quite normal and ended crazy, but good

Hellooooooooooooooooooooooooooo 大家。I hope you are well :)

Last Monday night Elder Beck and I were on exchange and were supposed to go see a member, but we had to cancel because it would have taken about 5 different buses to get there and they were all messed up because of strikes. Sad :(

The next morning we went up past the church (and randomly ran into a super awesome member from Ghana) to get on a small bus (more of a van than anything) that took us deep into the countryside along these narrow roads through the forest to help a French member who speaks perfect (literally native level) English 的 father-in-law put a corrugated metal roof on their newly constructed carport because 2 weeks ago a crazy hailstorm came though and shattered their car's windshield and put dents in the roof and hood. It was an adventure. Plus also, if you've studied French (Kellie) you'll enjoy this part: this father-in-law was more the farmer type, so he said funny things like "oh la vache" or "vachement." Don't google translate those by the way, you'll get the wrong idea! Ask someone who speaks French.

On Wednesday, we were on exchange again, this time with the Elders from Tarbes. I was with Elder Peterson who is the first person I've ever known to be from New Hampshire (the only state besides Oregon with no sales tax WOOOO)! He's great. In the evening Elder Peron and I (having exchanged back) went and visited a brother in the ward from Angola. His native language is Portuguese, but he speaks practically perfect French, just with a really peculiar African accent. A lot of people in the ward thought he was less active, but that's just because he went back to Angola for a month and didn't tell anyone he was leaving. Easiest reactivation ever :)

Thursday: busy day, but buckle your seatbelts for the three days to follow. A few days before we had contacted a girl that we thought was Chinese but turned out to be very very French with Vietnamese roots, and today we had our first rendez-vous. Turns out she had met the missionaries already about two years ago, so that's cool. We also got contacted by this awesome loud African dude from up Rennes or Nantes or somewhere like that. That night we went to MacDo with our ami who's going through some hard times, we're trying to just be a support to him and help him a) not lose hope, and b) make a plan for how he's going to make his life better.

Friday we were helping a less active move aaaallll daaaayyyy. There were even two fridges still full of food that were super heavy. We managed though, exercise is always good! That night we treated ourselves to MacDo (no we don't go every night, this week was special).

Saturday: we had planned to go to Montréjeau to help the 9-year-old kid prepare for his baptism, but our train got cancelled because, again, strikes. Bummer. In the afternoon we met a Chinese guy 🇨🇳 in the park and got to know him a little better, he's super nice :) that night we had a rendez-vous with our recent convert moving to London this week in a café right behind the Basilique St. Sernin.

Okay, Sunday: SO FLIPPING NUTS. First off, it was Fast Sunday because the week before we'd had the Western Europe broadcast from Salt Lake. In the morning, we get a call from the bishop that there was some sort of complication with the baptism and we weren't sure if it would even happen. We made a lot of calls to the zone leaders, the bishop, the ward mission leader, one of the stake high councilors, and our mission president. Slowly but surely it was all getting taken réglé, and when we got to the church one of the bishopric members was already filling the font. All well and good. We ducked out of the meeting early to check on the font, and discovered that it was very full and very green. You could barely see the bottom, it was like a swamp. We learned that it was probably because of the roadwork they've been doing on the street outside the church, but there was nothing we could do about it but hope for the best. We emptied the font, took off our suit jackets, shoes, and socks, rolled up our pant legs, scrubbed out the font really well, and started refilling it. This time, it was clear and beautiful :D miraclessssss. There were still other complications to worry about, but they get resolved just in time and we had a baptism! It only started 5 minutes late too :) the kid that got baptized comes from a member family, he was only being taught by us because he was already 9 years old. He and all his siblings are so smart. They know so much about the gospel, they ask really good questions. It was a really good baptism!

I have to go, but here's my spiritual thought, about gratitude: while visiting the frère from Angola, I had a thought come to me: think about the relationship between us and God like a college student and his parents. College is hard! It can be really fun, but there are a decent number of hard times too. However, we're grateful to our parents for allowing us the opportunity to go to college because we know it will be worth it in the long run. It's important to our progression. In the same way, this mortal life is really important to our progression! It can be fun but also really hard, but we should still be grateful to our Heavenly Father for giving us this opportunity for growth. Life is a good thing :)

Love you all bye!

江长老

Monday, June 6, 2016

又忙,又热,叫图卢兹

Argh super out of time. I actually just started, but we have to leave half an hour ago to get to Fr. Kito's house. It takes three buses to get there (-_-)

We taught the last lesson to our ami from Mali! We were talking about family history, so I showed him my family tree and accidentally found Charlemagne. That was cool, though practically anyone with European blood is descended from him.

We went to a vintage shop today and I got three super fat ties :D we went to Montréjeau and had the baptismal interview for the 9 year old kid that's getting baptized next Sunday! The UEFA EuroCup something-or-other international soccer tournament is being hosted in France this year, and Toulouse will be hosting like 4 games starting this week or next. Pretty crazy! Ummm I'm happy and safe and I love you and I have to go!

"Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it." (Enos 1:15)

The Church is true, y'all :) Find out for yourself! Read the Book of Mormon! Pray! Pray! Pray more! And talk to the missionaries about the scriptures and prayer, they can offer good insights when called upon to do so.

江长老