Monday, October 31, 2016

My companion is incredible.

I have like zero time, but HERE GOES because this week has been amazing!

Last Monday I went to Lyon and voilà. I'll give more detail later, but I didn't meet my new companion until Wednesday morning. I found out the Saturday before (so the day after transfer calls) that there was a new Chinese Elder coming into the mission, a lot of missionaries knew already but no one had told me. Big surprise :O

As we walked into the chapel to meet our blues, I was hiding my name tag with my iPad so that it would be a surprise for him :) we were the first équipe to get put together and he freaked out and I freaked out and it was so much fun :) I think they took videos of the experience, I'll have to see if I can get my hands on that.

Donc, je vous présente Elder Alvarenga! Also known as 敖长老. He was born and raised in Montréal, Canada and actually knows my trainer Elder Pien! Not super well, but they've crossed paths a time or two. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, eh? He's half Peruvian and half Spanish, so he's completely trilingual (mostly taught himself English by watching movies, and he sounds native with a slightly Hispanic accent). His Chinese is coming along nicely, though he never studied it before the mission. He won a couple international powerlifting tournaments before the mission, so despite being about my height his max bench press weight is over twice what mine is at. Not only is he physically strong, he has a really solid testimony and he's super bold, not at all what I expected from a new missionary. He's amazing. I don't even know what to think really but all is well here in Grenoble!

I'll send you pictures of Elder Alvarenga's first p-day in the mission...

"And it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine." (D&C 104)
Remember: God will allow bad things to happen to help us learn and grow. We don't always understand it, but trust Him. All things are His, can we really ever think that He's not in control? He is in control and He does love you. Trust Him and everything will be fine (not easy, but fine).

江长老


Right after we met

The Grenoble Crew (5 of us new to Grenoble)

I LOVE GRENOBLE

HOOOLLLYYY COOOOWWW

Monday, October 24, 2016

Pics: transfers, leaving Toulouse, a train ride and a reunion

Transfer call morning...

Our awesome DMP and his wife (relief society president)

Pulling out of Toulouse

Met a cool French girl on the train!

Saw the massive, awesome, famous castle in Carcassonne!

Back in Lyon for less than an hour and already saw one of my amis
(now a recent convert!)



The mission blew up

Seriously, so much changed for transfers. We all saw it coming, since a lot stayed the same last time. I'm currently sitting in the Institute in (believe it or not) LYON! :D

No, I didn't get transferred back to Lyon. I'm actually here to pick up a very special someone ;)

My brand new blue left the MTC about 3 hours ago and should be arriving here in Lyon about 10h00 tomorrow morning :) Tomorrow we'll be doing training of sorts and then Wednesday morning we find out who's with who before heading out to our respective villes Thursday morning. Funnily enough my respective ville is no longer Toulouse! I did my six months there and the Lord has seen fit to take me out.

I'll be training in Grenoble, a city I've heard is heaven on earth if you don't mind the cold ️ Hawai'i feels so far away... but actually Grenoble is nestled right in a valley and is surrounded by mountains and apparently super pretty, so expect some pictures soon.

This past week we had some good things happen in Toulouse, Elder Preator will do a great job keeping it going. Capitole Ward had an incredible activity, a multicultural night with some of the most delicious food I've ever had from Guadeloupe/Martinique, Italy, Colombia, Tahiti, etc. A ton of people showed up, including a couple jeunes (young guys) whom we played basketball with a couple months ago! Never thought we'd see them again, but somehow the zone leaders had their number and invited them or something? It was crazy and now they have a Book of Mormon and may well be taking the lessons :D

I don't have a ton more time, but please remember to love your fellow man! You know the story of the Good Samaritan? Imagine Christ is the one picking the guy up off the road and bringing him to the inn, as Christ would do. Now imagine you are the innkeeper. If Christ came to you with a poor, broken soul and asked you to take care of him, would you? The reality is that Christ does do that, more often than you think. Think of everyone in your life who needs help. Did you ever think that through the perfect plan of our Father in Heaven, you were placed in that person's life or them in yours for a reason? Show that Christlike love and you'll find more happiness than you've ever experienced. That's a promise :)

Elder Jensen

江长老

Pic: transfer call!


My face for transfer calls

Monday, October 17, 2016

Video: Fun thing, Bordeaux, and crossing hemispheres

江长老

A Fun Thing
video


Going to Bordeaux
video


video


video


video

No one has any idea what's happening for transfers

That's right, welcome to week 6 everyone! I did two transfers in a row with Elder Pien, two with Elder Bleak, two with Elder Zhu, two with Elder Peron, and now two with Elder Preator. Do I stay? Does he stay? Both? Neither? No one knows until Friday morning!

On Tuesday we went to the nice city of Bordeaux for Zone Conference. It was a really good conference :) more on that later!

On Wednesday I had an exchange with Elder Tomlinson, it went well. We met a new ami who can't leave his apartment too often, so he just studies science and religion all day. He's a really nice guy, we've had a few good lessons with him already. We also stopped a man on the street who proceeded to tell us (in really good English) that he and his wife had had several visits from missionaries 20 years ago, really loved it, and would be really pleased to have us again. Needless to say, we got his phone number.

Thursday we talked to people, not too much happened except teaching our other ami about l'Évangile de Jésus-Christ. He's a college guy so he's often busy, but after our lesson he accepted a baptismal date so WOOHOO :D

Kinda the same deal on Friday, minus the baptismal date part.

Saturday we were really hoping to start up Game Night with all the Chinese people we've been talking to all over Toulouse, but not a single one (that responded) said they could come, so we didn't do it (ToT) (红包 for you if you know what that emoji is)

Sunday was super awesome! On the way home from Church we talked to a bunch of nice people, including one lady who asked us for a rendez-vous instead of the other way around. By the way, to all you curious people, a rendez-vous generally means a lesson or any other meet-up, and a mangez-vous is a play on words (manger = to eat) and means "dinner appointment." That term sounds so weird to me, as does investigator and greenies and teaching record. Those are amis and blues and fiches, and don't you forget it! ;)

So here's something we learned in Zone Conference (it was actually part of the presentation by our very own Toulouse ZLs): In this Church, we believe in personal revelation. God has not stopped answering prayers or calling prophets and apostles. Let's take a sports analogy: Christ is the quarterback. We are the wide receivers. Our unique advantage is that we have a perfect quarterback. Christ will always throw the ball (the revelation that we need to guide us/those under our care) will always be exactly where it needs to be in just the right moment. We just have to be ready for it. If you're not doing everything you should in practice, when game time comes you won't be ready. You might not even see the ball and it'll fly right over your head, while if you'd been ready you could've caught it and scored big time. Pray in faith. Have that connection with the Quarterback so you'll know where to be and when. In this game, no effort is wasted. Do your very best and don't worry, because He'll take care of the rest. However, "you have to really try!" As our dear Elder Brown said in his last Zone Conference this past week, repent every day! If you don't know how or you're not sure about how to grow closer to God, ask the missionaries! They can help you! We try to help people every day, I just wish more people understood that and accepted our help. Ça va :)

Love you all!

江长老


Monday, October 10, 2016

Pics: A lambo, me and the district, and a whale


On exchange with Elder Hurst. We both walked about halfway past the
Lambo until we realized it was there (too focused on missionary work
of course).

No comments from the peanut gallery on me not smiling. I'm happy I swear.

I didn't take this picture, but it's an airplane that we see pretty often here. 
We call it "la baleine" (the whale).


October 10th and no longer in short sleeves ☹️❄️🇫🇷

Okay so it's not that cold, but there's definitely a chill in the air, enough that I've donned the long sleeve shirt and will be packing away my short-sleeves (until my last transfer.....!). Y'all know me, I love me some summertime.

I had a great week! For a few reasons: One, I had an exchange with Elder McKenzie and was a witness to his very first bus contact! He talked to a really cool African man and got really excited that he was actually able to talk to him. Best way to build confidence in doing things is just do the things :)

We also had district meeting again! We have Zone Conference in Bordeaux tomorrow (woo yeah), so we had district meeting two weeks in a row. It felt a lot better than the previous one, we talked about boldness. Not like our district is lily-livered or anything, but this is literally the work of Almighty God so we ought to be able to share our message without being afraid of people's reactions. Plus, after district meeting we got sushi delivered by a Frenchman on a moped and it was delicious

The day after that I had an aaawweessoomme exchange with Elder Hurst, one of our zone leaders. We talked to a lot of people, many of them cool young people (college age). Also talked to a bunch of Chinese people and invited them all to play San Guo Sha. Still trying to get Game Night up and running like we had in Lyon. We'll get there! Elder Hurst gave me some really good counsel/motivation to help me make sure I'm moving onward and upward, not coasting through the rest of my mission.

Saturday we had a lesson in the park with our most recent ami, he's doing well. Really nice guy :)

In closing, I leave with you this great scripture shared with me by one of the missionaries in our district:

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:35, 37-39)

Stay on the Lord's side and He'll stay on yours :)

Ciao!
江长老

Monday, October 3, 2016

Pics: Toulouse, I join a Protest March (??) and Indian food

Bro on a protest march poster that looks like me

Saturday was the Chinese National Holiday 🇨🇳

Toulouse!

Toulouse!

Toulouse!

Le Petit Rajasthan



October 3rd and still in short sleeves 😎☀️🇫🇷

Heyooooo

We had a good week! It started out with a double exchange :) First it
was me and Elder Shimazaki who went and explored the University Paul
Sabatier down in the south part of Toulouse. We were looking for
Chinese people and found one! We also got kicked out of one area that
apparently we weren't supposed to be in. Ça va.

The next day I was on exchange with Elder Thorley and we had a good
time. He helped a lot with planning district meeting and helping me
start a new/restart an old study of Christlike Attributes. We've both
grown since we were staying in that apartment together in Lyon, it's
cool to see how much difference just a few months can make on a
mission!

The next day we had a rendez-vous planned with our French/Chinese ami
and a mangez-vous with a member family, but within not too much time
both of them got cancelled so we ended up doing a lot of calls out of
the Area Book. Fixed two rendez-vous :D

Friday was pretty much just normal and I don't have a ton of time...

I loved General Conference! I wish I had more time to talk about it,
but all of you should go watch it! I especially loved President
Nelson's talk about joy. That's something I think about a lot. Life
can be hard, but "men are that they might have joy" so just let
yourself enjoy it! Don't let bad things drown good things. Count your
many blessings, name them one by one, and you'll see that things
aren't as bad as you might think :)

P.S. We got amazing amazing Indian food today

Love you all!

江长老