Monday, November 28, 2011

Surprise Email!

So i just found out we're allowed to email today, since it's essentially our p-day cuz we do our laundry and pack today. I leave the mtc tomorrow at 4 am, catch a flight at 7:30, and have a layover i believe from 1-2 but i'm not sure what time zone. Anyways, that's probably when i'll call, just fyi.
Thanksgiving in the MTC is AMAZING!! I mean, it didn't actually feel like Thanksgiving at all, but it was really awesome. We made 8,000 first aid kits for South Suddan, got hear hear Russell M. Nelson and his wife give incredible talks, and got to watch A MOVIE! 17 Miracles, surprisingly fantastic, about the Martin Handcart Company, I highly recommend it. There was a super cheesy musical program which I spent about half of laughing through, they made us sing To Grandmother's House We Go with lyrics changed to be about Thanksgiving. We kept reassuring Elder Elford, who's from Canada, that Thanksgiving was NOT this dumb, but it was still pretty fun. And having 2 apostles speak in 1 week was pretty amazing!
The last few days in the MTC has been crazy, 2 of the elders from our district left this morning. It still doesn't feel totally real, but they've done alot to help switch our mindframe from MTC to field work. We had in field orientation ALL DAY on Friday, whichI thought was going to be horrible but was surprisingly not boring. It probably helped that most of the teachers were in the district, the training videos for the MTC, so we were all a little starstruck and that kept us awake. Elder Kenning at one point shook one of their hands and then turned to me and said "I FEEL SO ALIVE!" But we learned alot about goal setting, planning, contacting, references, and other stuff that should have been horrible to sit through but actually got me totally pumped. And they gave us pass along cards to use at the airport, which I do NOT want to do but I'm trying to work up the nerve to if I get the chance. We also had a departure devotional this Sunday, where they basically just gave us their last minute advice for the field. My hand was burning from trying to take notes, and I spent my whole 2 hours of personal study time today (we don't usually get that much, it was really exciting) going through the scriptures they gave us and studying different missionaries in the Book of Mormon like President Brown suggested we do. It's cool to see how they use so many of the same teaching principles we're being taught here in the MTC! One of the teachers in in-field orientation told us that if we were to throw away our planners and preach my gospel and start missionary work from scratch, and spend the rest of our lives doing missionary work, our methods and notes by the end would be essentially a poor version of Preach My Gospel, because that's what it is. It's a combilation of the most efficient information and methods that's been found through the course of the work of hundreds of years of missionary work. It's exactly the same advice Ammon, Aaron, and Nephi and Lehi, and all other great missionaries would give us. Everything we could be taught so far is in that book. I'm getting the absolute best missionary training training ever given in history, which is a little reassuring to know. The work will still be hard, but I'm as prepared as I can be.
Mom I got your box, thank you so much!! I can't wait to read my letters tomorrow, and Sister Beasley and I are PUMPED about the goodie bags! And my new skirt is coveted by all, even after only 3 weeks the idea of having something new to wear is thrilling. I'm going to try to start attaching pictures to my emails next week, especially since I didn't send a cd with the pictures I've mailed so far. And thank you to everyone who wrote me right before Thanksgiving, I got like 8 letters, it was fantastic. And a delicious pumpkin pie for pie night?? Best mail everrrrrr!
I've got to go start packing, but I love you all so much! Can't wait to hear your lovely voices tomorrow, I expect everyone to skip work and school and just sit home waiting for my call. I have no idea of when my p-day will be from now on, but i'll write again soon!
P.S. Erin, I can't remember if I told you this yet or not, but I say "Cool story Elder" like 5 times a day and I now feel your pain of no one thinking it's funny. But it cracks me up everytime!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My life right now ROCKS!!

FAMILIA!! Hola to everyone! I have a little less time to email today cuz I had to read letters, but that's okay.

So this week has been fantastic! I can't even think of where to start. First, can you believe this time next week I’ll be in the field?? I can't! It's crazy, I'm at the point where I'm ahead of my roommates cuz I’m learning the lessons 3 times as fast as them cuz I don't have to learn a language, so I was telling them about teaching the plan of salvation and they had just started it that day. Weird, I'm like as old as you can get as an english speaker in the mtc now. (P.S. I lied, my spanish speaking roommates are going to St. George! So ask everyone you meet if they know me Grandma and Grandpa!)

So pros and cons of befriending your zone leader:
Pros: He's a combo of Cory Martin and Joe, so basically he's my favorite person ever.
Cons: Personal study time is so much harder to focus in cuz we talk about all these random points of the gospel, and he'll make you teach a lesson in district meeting and recommend you to the branch president for callings.

So I am now the coordinating sister for our branch, which is super hilarious for a few reasons. I leave on Tuesday, so I got called this Sunday and will be released next Sunday. And they don't make any missionaries go to the mtc the day before Thanksgiving, so we aren't getting any new sisters, and 99% of my calling is welcoming and orientating new sisters. So why do I have this calling? Just because Elder Kenning recommended me.

Than I taught a lesson on the book of mormon being keystone of our religion, most over discussed topic ever. I complained to Elder Kenning about that and he told me that's why he gave it to me, cuz I thought I could find something deeper in it. No pressure. But it actually went really well, I had everyone say what they were grateful for that came from the gospel and wrote it in a shape of the arch and then talked about how without the book of mormon we wouldn't have any of them and erased them one at a time. It made me cry, so I guess if nothing else it really helped strengthen me. It's just crazy to think that without that book, which I tend to give so little time or attention to, there would be no priesthood authority or church or revelation and literally everything I value that got me here in the mtc right now would just be nonexistent! How do I manage to be so ungrateful of that? It's really something I want to change about myself while I'm here, and hopefully something I won't ever do as much again in my entire life.

Guess what Melissa, my branch president gave this super original talk about how the Holy Ghost is, wait for it... like a GPS! WHAT?!?! Really?? Just like they said in conference? Just like they say in the first book of the book of mormon with the Liahona?? GASP! It actually was an awesome talk, mostly cuz that analogy was only the very beginning of it, but I was cracking up the whole time thinking of you!

I can't wait for Thanksgiving, we get to spend it doing service and going to devotionals, it should rock! They still won't admit who's speaking though, so I'll keep pretending like I don't know.

I feel like the theme of this past week has been the Holy Ghost. Want to read something amazing, look up the 20 mark note talk by President Packer. We watched a clip about Elder Bednar talking about as a missionary he once gave Elder Packer 20 marks in case he got hungry on the train and 20 years later discovered that may have saved his and his wife's lives. But at the time he really just thought they may be hungry, he had no idea what an important spiritual prompting that was! The point was that as missionaries, and in our lives in general, we need to stop worrying so much about if something is our thoughts or a prompting of the spirit. The truth is that if we do what is right and are trying to keep our selves in line with Christ's teachings, or as Elder Bednar said "be good boys and girls", we'll have those promptings. It doesn't matter if we realize that's what it was or not, just have faith! That was so reassuring because I constantly worry about if I'm teaching with the Spirit, and I realized I just need to have faith in my calling and the promises of the Lord that if I’m studying and being obedient, than the Spirit will be there and the Lord will direct me. Cory wrote in an email to me to just learn to let go of the rope and let the Lord make up the rest, and that's exactly what I'm trying to do.

Well, last few minutes of email time! I'm so happy for p day, it's a little sad that THE HIGHLIGHT of my week is doing laundry, my district and i talk about it probably every day. But I don't know when I'll email again since next p-day I fly to CANADA! So i'll call you from the airport in a week, I forgot my travel info so I could give you a time estimate but I leave the MTC at 4 am and fly to Detroit, so I'll probably call you during that lay over or when I land. So mom KEEP YOUR PHONE ON AND ANSWER IT, I’ll call the house and dad's too since I know yours has issues but seriously, if you need to swap phones for the day with Erin and just put your sim card in hers so it'll actually ring do it so I actually get to talk to someone. Love you all so so much, I cried a lot about you this week but we had an awesome lesson about how Christ taught if we love Him more than these we are to feed His sheep. You guys are my "these", I love you more than everything except for Christ, He is the only one I value more and the only reason I can handle leaving you for so long is because I'm doing His work and feeding His sheep. Especially you baby EJ, I'll miss a lot with you but it's worth it, and I'll see you so soon anyways!

So reporting from the last time from P-Town Utah MTC, this is Sister Jensen saying my life right now ROCKS!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Best decision ever, I'm so grateful to be here.

Hey well no one emailed me so I have to guess who to send this to, cuz guess what I'm so intelligent I didn't bring any addresses or emails. True story. So I'm not writing anyone who doesn't write me first, which let's be honest, I wasn't going to do anyways but now I have an excuse. But I hope one of the emails is yours Mom!

But how are y'all?? The MTC has been so fantastic, seriously I feel like everyone should come to the MTC even if you don't serve a mission, I'm being overloaded with everything I'm learning and the amazing spirit here. I really love it, and I'm getting so excited to hit the field! I just got back from the temple, which ROCKED, and I got to eat the fantastic cafeteria food in the temple, which was the best breakfast I've had since getting here. Totally worth the 5 bucks or whatever I spent.

So my district has 12 people in it, 4 sisters and 8 elders. 7 of us are going to Toronto, 2 are going to Nashville Tennessee, and 3 are going to Houston! Including the other companion of sisters, who I adore. Unfortunately they're going to the Houston South mission so you'll probably never meet them unless you're hanging out in Galveston. But they're seriously hysterical, they kill me. Sister Lewis always makes fun of me cuz I tell her like 10 times a day "You are out of control right now!" and Sister Holmes like to make fun of my use of y'all. I'll send you pictures in an actual letter of them. My companion is Sister Beasley, she's going to Toronto as well. She's awesome, I love her. Not gonna lie, she's not the kind of person I think I'd usually end of making friends with, but I love her so much she's perfect for my companion. You'll be happy to hear we're the nerdy squares of our district, we're the ones always studying and focusing when everyone else is talking, and I can only manage to do that because she helps keep me focus so I'm so grateful for her.

I have 4 other roommates, 2 of who are learning Spanish and two of who are learning Mandarin (I lied about that in the note I sent home). I love when everyone says companion prayers at night cuz there's 3 different languages being used, but we're all still communicating with the same God. It's super cool to listen to. They're all hilarious too, and since they're learning languages and have only been here 3 weeks Sister Beasley and I will be leaving before them, so they'll be my roommates all 3 weeks.

Okay, this might seem really obvious and dumb, but we pray aLOT in the MTC! I'd say I easily pray 20 times a day, and that might be an understatement. I'd list all the times but I only have 20 minutes left and I think that would take up all my time, so I'll just say I have a whole new appreciation of saying a personalized prayer. I have to make sure I'm not getting repetitive and am being sincere because I pray so often it's super easy to start to fall into a routine. But I already feel my relationship strengthening with my Heavenly Father because of it! I've also got a whole new testimony that the training for missionaries is divinely inspired, because it's not at all how I expected, no person would design it this way. Instead of learning the lessons and memorizing scriptures to teach people, we seem to be learning things backwards. I'm already teaching 3 investigators and we only just started learning what to teach in the first lesson. It kinda feels like everyday I learn the way I've been teaching is totally wrong and I have to start over, it's super humbling. But I can already see how it works, I feel like I've progressed so much in just a week (but I still feel no where close to being ready to go!) BTW, just FYI my investigators are not actual nonmembers, they're teachers and volunteers in the mtc, but it's taken so seriously I feel like they're real investigators! My roommates says she even puts hers on the prayer role in the temple lol. It's a really cool way to practice.

It's also super humbling to get in here and realize NOTHING I do in here it's for me, it's all about our future investigators. Even yesterday when we talked in class about how to deal with stress, our teacher said "We aren't teaching you this because the mtc is stressful and we want you to feel better, we're teaching you this because if you're stressed you won't be as effective of a missionary." It seems kinda harsh but it's so true, every second you waste thinking about your self in here is a second you're wasting because the Spirit can't inspire you as to how to help your investigators. Even personal prayers and personal scripture study are so you can prepare to teach your investigators, and to strengthen your testimony so you can share it more effectively. NOTHING is about me, which is hard cuz I'm super selfish, but it's improving.

So those are probably the biggest things I've learned and am working on so far. Here's some cool facts I thought y'all might be interested in: We currently have about 4,000 more missionaries than originally anticipated to be in the MTC! The amount of members serving missions is going in up drastically every category, which is crazy cuz in conference they talked about how we need more. Salt Lake just asked them to build a new 7 story residence hall, originally the MTC wanted to build a 5 story one but Salt Lake said it wasn't enough. My branch president told us the work is really taking off and we haven't seen anything yet!

Also, we had a fireside about how basically everything we do in the church is null and void without tithing, it totally changed my perspective on it. He talked about how it's a principle of faith, not money, and it's the only part of the baptismal interview you can't do until you're baptized so whether you pay it or not really shows if you're willing to endure to the end. If you don't pay tithing you aren't worthy to enter the temple, so without tithing honestly you can't receive the full blessings the Lord has promised us. It was so cool to think about! So I decided the anytime y'all put money in my card, please immediately pull 10% back out and pay it to the ward. I don't ever want to to miss out on paying tithing again!

So time's about up, but I love y'all so much!! I'm writing everyone actual letters today so sorry I didn't answer that, but I'm so grateful for all my letters! I've gotten 7, my district leader was blown away. So look forward to mail this week, there probably won't be any pictures just yet but I'll send some soon. Love you all, miss you but I'm so happy to be here it's worth it! I can't believe it's been a week and I'm 1/3 done, this experience has been fantastic. Someone tole me it was like EFY but EFY has NOTHING on this! Best decision ever, I'm so grateful to be here.

I'll talk to you in a week! Bye! Write back now, y'all hear?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hey Houston!!!

We received the following note from Rachel today.  Can't wait to start receiving her regular emails!

Hey Houston!!

Miss me yet??  The MTC is fantastic, I really do love it.  Everyone here is so amazingly nice!  All of my roommates are so cute and total craps ups, I can't wait to get to know them.   My companion is also going to Toronto, Sister Beasley.  She's quiet so it'll take a while to get to know her.  But she seems super sweet. 

The first day was good, not too overwhelming though I'm exhausted now!  I hope everything's great at home.

Dear Elder me up!

Love you all so much!!


Sister Jensen

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I'm on my way!

Since starting tomorrow I will be without my Facebook, cell phone, or current email for the next 18 months, I thought I should make my remaining communication methods publicly known. If you want to stay in touch here are your options:

Write to me in the mtc for the first 3 weeks (the month of November 2011) at:

Sister Rachel Jensen
MTC Mailbox # 327
CAN-TOR 1129
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793

You can also send me mail for free in the mtc by using

Send me mail actually in Canada at:

Sister Rachel Jensen
Canada Toronto Mission
197 Country Court Blvd Ste 203
Brampton, ON L6W 4PG

I'll be sending home a weekly email, which you can either read here or if you message my mom you can be added to the mass forwarding list. I'll miss everyone and hope to hear from you!