Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

So I just went to put my sd card into the computer to send you pictures...and turns out I'm sitting at the only computer in the library without a slot for it. Ruuuudepants! Guess I'll write this and then switch computers.
My Christmas was great, like I told you we were at the Tymczuks for dinner. Turns out a traditional Canadian Christmas meal is basically Thanksgiving, it was pretty delicious. And they had crackers too (the toy not the food), giant ones that looked like nutcrackers. So it wasn't much like our normal Christmas but it was super fun! They gave Sister Tuisku and I these giant chocolate eggs called Kinder Surprises, their daughter was horrified I had never had one before. You squeeze it and it pops open and there's a toy in it. I got this game where Tom and Jerry race to touch a fish, it's basically the dumbest game ever which probably means I'll play it for like 2 hours today. (Megan Hurst and I once got these toys out of a cereal box that we were obsessed with for like a week, I'm pretty easily entertained.) Sister Tuisku got this sweet water glider that we made up gospel analogies for so we have an excuse to take it to apoointments and play with it.
This week was awesome because like I said we got another investigator! Chris is brilliant, I have no idea what we're going to teach him, but he's really cool. He never believed in God but it bothered him that humans have always believed in God because he thought it made no sense, and then he had an experience about 5 months ago where he came to believe in God. Now he's struggling with what to do with this new knowledge and so he's opening up to us, it's been really interesting. We want him to come to church so bad, he's just going to eat this gospel up!
We also have another almost investigator. Her name is Lynda and when we knocked on the door she said we mst be a sign from God because she hasn't heard from missionaries in over 2 years and we came the night she was in a huge crisis. She was on the phone with her sister who's a member and just told her she didn't know what to do when we knocked. We didn't know any of this, we just found her address in the area book, so she was blown away. We've met with her twice and she said she knows it's time for her to read the Book of Mormon and find out for herself, so we're really excited. We just need to make an appointment with her, she's super busy and so she never knows her schedule well enough to tell us when to come back. So we're praying that we can meet with her again this week, and then we can have the miracle of going from no investigators at church last week to having 3!
Steve's doing great, he has alot of interesting questions every time we meet because he hears all kinds of different religious opinions from his roommates. But he's reading and progressing, we just need him to come to church! We've moved his baptismal date back to the end of January so he can quit smoking and have more time to learn.
So that's basically everything here! We're just trying to keep kinding the people here who are ready to be taught, it's become pretty clear that despite the first impression of Owen Sound this is a place with aLOT of people who are ready for us!
With all 3 of the people we've met with we've ended up sharing the vision of the tree of life with them, and this week has just made the love I have for that chapter even stronger. That metaphor is so perfect, it clicks to everyone! And you can see it coming true all over, I was reading 3 Nephi 1 where the nonbelievers are going to put to death everyone waiting for the sign of Christ's birth, and I realized it's a PERFECT example of the great and spacious building! There's this group of vain, worldly people making a great up roar and fighting against the lamb of god, just like in 1 Nephi 11. It follows the description of the building and the people in it exactly. Then the sign is given and just like in 1 Nephi 11 the building falls- people fall to the ground and realize their iniquities and pride in doubting the prophets and their plan of destruction is ruined. I love seeing examples where they most evil plans of Satan just crumble when the power of God is revealed, you also see it when Alma and Amulek are imprisoned and mocked and beat for days. The when the time is right they're granted to the power to break their bonds and stand free, and the prison tumbles and destroys all their captors. The powers of evil in this world can seem so strong and overwhelming, but when compared with the Lord's power is almost a joke, it can't even compete! I'm so grateful to be built on the rock of Christ and not on a foundation of nothing like the great and spacious building.
Well, I hope everyone has a great week! Have fun in Utah, give everyone huge hugs from me! Love you all!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Hey y’all, hope it's been as great of a week for it as it was for me! Sorry to hear about the internet, that sounds miserable to live without being able to use the internet whenever you want ;) And that's exciting to be getting a Christmas box, I will anxiously await it! I have a present for you too, I know we set up a time to call but I'm going to have to ignore that a little...BECAUSE I GET TO SKYPE HOME! We found out last Monday night, so sorry we won't really get to talk about the timing. But since Dad's in charge of the ward just tell him to change any conflicts, I'm more important.I I'm going to call you on skype at 2:30 Houston time, 3:30 here in Toronto (Sorry, Sister Tuisku has a harder time difference to work with so she's going to call before me.) If that really won't work and I need to call at 1:30 Houston time like we planned, I guess just email President Scott and ask if he can call and tell me, I won't let his call scare me this time. Also Mom, yes I did decide to keep the boots, they work great. I just need something a little warmer than panty hose to keep my toes warm. And the coat is fantastic, everything I have works great, I just need a few more layers. And before I forget, I won't be emailing next Monday because it's Boxing Day and so everything will be closed (Don't ask me what Boxing Day is, I still don't know other than it's the day after Christmas.) Same for the Monday after that because it's right after New Years so the library will be closed, both those weeks I'll email you on Tuesday.

So this week was a MIRACLE week! Our focus as a district was on miracles, we had to call each night and tell them a miracle we saw that day, and I loved that, I think the attitude adjustment really helped me. And we have an investigator! His name is Steve, we were supposed to meet him on Monday but he never showed up and didn't answer our calls so we were really bummed because we thought we had been stood up. But he called us back about a half hour after we left and it turned out we were just at different Tim Horton's. He was just as sad about it as we were so we set another appointment for Wednesday and he did come. He's incredible, he told us right off the bat that he wants a closer relationship with God and has this desire to be baptized that he can't really explain. We were like, wait seriously? Because our purpose as missionaries is to prepare people for baptism and help them gain a relationship with God... It was crazy perfect; we met him again Saturday and taught him about the restoration. When we told him about Joseph Smith's first vision, we asked how he felt and he said "I guess the closest word to describe it would be joy." We were like, SERIOUSLY?! That's amazing! He rocks, he has a baptism date for January 8th. MIRACLE! He has a lot to overcome before that, he's had some really hard stuff in his life and is struggling from the effects of that, but he has a lot of faith and such a desire to know the truth so I have total faith that he'll be able to do it. We called our district leader and told him when he agreed to be baptized and about a minute after we hung up the zone leaders called to congratulate us and we were both like, WE DID NOTHING! We haven't taught him anything, we didn't even find him, it's been 100% from God, I love it! So this week we're working to get more investigators, the whole experience with Steve was a much needed confidence boost and now I'm totally ready to find every person in Owen Sound who's ready for the gospel!

In other exciting news, we got a brand new car this week! I guess there's been a long history of missionaries not having a good car in this area, Everyone in the ward was excited we finally have snow tires. But the ironic thing is that this is apparently a freak warm winter, we get snow but never more than a few inches and then it melts. Apparently there's usually a meter and a half of snow (which again I had to have translated for me, but basically I should be up to my shoulders in snow for December here). It's been such a blessing, I'm super grateful, not only because I don't wake up wanting to cry every day, but because there is a LOT of work we need to do in the cities other than Owen Sound, and that wouldn't be possible without this beautiful weather of only -10 degress C.

So here's something you'll enjoy, one of the thing I spend most my time doing is singing. I know, not exactly my strongest talent, but since coming to Canada I sang in training with Elder Kenning and Elder Welch as the musical number, sang as a musical number in zone conference with 6 other missionaries, and we're doing what's called a living Christmas Card where we go caroling to friends of members and then present a short Christmas message by either showing the nativity DVD or reading from Luke. I think I'm getting like a blessing from the Spirit that I'm able to sing well enough to not ruin the Spirit, every time I get complimented I have to resist the urge to laugh. I think mostly what's happening is that Sister Tuisku has this AMAZING voice that it covers mine enough that people think I'm talented as well. (She sang in Finnish at the last home we went to, it was so cool.)

Well, I think that's mostly it.  Hope everyone has another good week, you're all in my prayers! I can't wait to see you on Christmas!  Love you and Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Things here are fantastic

Hey everyone, hope you've had a great week! I loved the pictures, yes I know I have the best ex-roommates ever, I love them! And the house looks so cute as always, I had a weird moment on Saturday when I realized yall were probably decorating for the night of lights. Crazy to think yall are doing normal Christmas stuff right now...

This week has been really good, though we still have no one to teach. It's killing Sister Tuisku, she is not used to an area like this. BUT we have 2 appointments this week with potential investigators, so I'm praying that by my next email we'll have at least one investigator. One of them, Steven, was referred to us by Elders in another area. We called him and he just said "Yeah I was hoping to meet with you and talk about what you believe." It was a MIRACLE, we're meeting with him tonight and I'm super excited. The other's name is Chris, he talked to missionaries over the summer but then got busy and stopped seeing them. He said if he was a Christian he'd be "born again" because he just had a spiritual experience, so we're going back on Wednesday to talk to him. Other than that we're really just focusing on inspiring members to do missionary work, we have a few people who said they might have someone to talk to so I think our work will take off soon. 

There are alot of churches here too, really big pretty old looking buildings. Every town has at least one intersection with one on all 4 corners, there are probably like 10 altogether in Owen Sound. It makes it interesting though because people here have seen alot of missionaries and while they're very religious, they're not very open to talking with us. We really have to get to know people if we have any chance of them even taking a pass along card.

Erin, I think all the time about how much you would LOVE this town, all the buildings are different sizes just like you like. And it feels like every new neighborhood we go to is right on the shore, it's really pretty. This week we got our first real snow, there's about a foot still on the ground but it is slowly melting away. It snowed for 2 days though, we had to cancel our plans to go visit other cities. I don't mind the snow too much, but the cold is RIDICULOUS! I'm not sure exactly how cold it's been but I've been layering like crazy. The tradition in Canada is you take off your shoes every time you go into someone house, which I thought was super weird at first because we would never have the missionaries take off their shoes at home! But here it's polite because otherwise you track water and mud into their house from the snow. So you know how we joked about taking the green frog slippers the Martins gave me to people's houses and wearing them?  Well, I've had multiple people ask if I brought slippers so my feet won't be cold. I haven't worked up the nerve to actually bring that pair, but it made me laugh that we were actually not too far off.

I don't have as much time to write so sorry this letter doesn't have any great spiritual stories, but I hope everything at home has been great!! Things here are fantastic, I love this area. I'm being well taken care of, the members seem to believe we'll if not fed at least 3 times a week so we're well watched over, it's awesome! And the Spirit here is crazy strong, this ward is awesome. I love you all and I'll talk to ya in a week!

Monday, December 5, 2011


GREETINGS FROM OWENSOUND CANADA! One of the members of the ward told me President Monson told his father that this is the coldest place on Earth, so straight from the mouth of a prophet. And if you require 2 or more witnesses, THIS IS THE COLDEST PLACE ON EARTH! Actually, so far it's not bad, although the previous sisters were 4 hours late in picking us up because of the snow, but it's all melted since then. We've been promised there will be lots of extra snow this year too, because the lake is warmer than normal, so awesome.

Also, this area is GIANT! you can drive at least 45 minutes in any direction and be in the ward boundaries, and if you go very top to very bottom it takes about 2 and a half hours. The members are from 25 different cities! So one of the big problems in this area is staying within the alloted 1800 kilometers each month (this whole metric system really throws me off so I don't actually know how far that is, but the Sisters before went over by about 200). 

So there were Elders here for about 8 years, then the area closed for a transfer and the Sisters before us opened it up. However, they both had some serious health issues, one actually went home a transfer early due to it, and so they were both instructed that this was to be their last area so take it easy and just do what they can to prepare for us. So we're basically starting from scratch, I don't know if we're technically white washing but we practically are. It's hard, I'm SO grateful for Sister Tuisku. I love her by the way, she is from Finland but we have weird connections! Her brother is currently serving in the Houston South Mission, her cousin is in what used to be the Toluse France Mission (sorry if I spelled that wrong Melissa), and her brother served in the Denver Colorado South mission! Crazy eh? But President Scott was not lying, she is incredible, she always says "I love my mission, my mission saved my life!" She's so cute and such a hard worker, super obedient which I love. We pray and hug before we ever leave the apartment, and pray before leaving the car, she has such a great testimony of prayer.

 So lies I was told about Canada:

-People don't say eh: True not everyone says it at the end of every sentence, BUT EVERYONE SAYS IT, I have to try so hard not to laugh. And some people do end just about every sentence with eh, maybe in the city areas it's less common but here in the northern country it's rampant.

-Americans exaggerate how they say about: NO, the Canadiuan accent is very very real! EVERYONE says out and about as stereotyped.

-You'll never need or hear french in Toronto: True, I don't need it, but almost everyone speaks French! They even have a French Immersion option for elementry school.

 Fun facts about my mission:

-Most of the population comes from 98 different countries!

-There are 8 mission languages I believe, including Farcee (spelling?) which is not taught in the MTC. You're called English speaking and then the mission president calls you when you arrive to learn Farcee. One of the Elders who came with us got called to do so, in the MTC he was in the disrict right next door. SO COOL!
- On the western side of the mission you can make out the form of an elephant on a map, the tail and ears go into Lake Huron (I think? Whichever lake we're by anyways). Owen Sound is directly on the butt, under the tail. Basically the entire butt is my current area.

I think sometimes I forget I'm in Canada though, the first time I went to Walmart I paid with cash cuz it was like $1, and the cashier gave me back purple bills as change. I stared at it so long, by the time I said thank you she was giving me a super weird look.

 Okay I think that's basically everything. I have no investigators yet, though we're hoping to start teaching some nonmember family members of ward members. We think the work here is mostly going to be less actives and member referals, there are alot of churches in this area so people are not interested in talking to missionaries on the street at all. We do OYM still (open your mouth, basically we walk a street and talk to every single person we see, it's terrifying and I'm not good at it!) but actually tracting hasn't seemed like a good idea so far. In fact our district leader challenged everyone not to tract any doors this week, so our instincts are dead on so far! But I love this area so much, the ward is like a giant family. They drive like an hour to get to church, so they love being there and everyone's best friends. It's awesome, my bishop rocks, my ward mission leader is amazing! This area is so different then I ever expected my first area to be like, and it's going to be aLOT of heard work, but I already love it. Love you all, I've got to go before this computer kicks me off and I lose this email! There are letters on your way! Love you!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sister Jensen has arrived!

Last Tuesday, November 29th,  Rachel traveled to Toronto. She was part of a group of 9 from her MTC district, which included her MTC companion, Sister Beasley, and 7 elders.   I was able to speak to her for a few minutes during her layover in Detroit, and was so impressed by how incredibly happy she was.

Yesterday we received a letter from President Scott letting us know Rachel had safely arrived.  In his email he said, "Her testimony and enthusiasm for the work are evident."   

I think you can see that in her smile! 
Sister Jensen with President & Sister Scott

Rachel's first companion is Sister Tuisku

and they will be serving in Owen Sound, ON.

If you'd like to write to Sister Jensen, her current address is:

#2 - 365 4th Ave., S.W.
Owen Sound, ON
N4K 5Y1

Can't wait to get her first letter from Canada!