Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sacramento Week 6

Dear Family & Friends,

I'm happy to report that I have completed my first transfer (6 week block in the mission field)! I will be staying in my area with my same companion, Sister Zenger, to finish my 12-week training. I love my companion and Heavenly Father knew I needed her so I'm glad everything is staying the same for 6 more weeks!

I've been praying to have more love for the people in my area and I feel like the Lord is blessing me with that. As I looked around at church yesterday, I just felt so much love for everyone there. I've been in a lot of their homes, I've heard their conversion stories, I've been around their families, and all I want to do is serve them! The Northridge Ward has become my home over the past 6 weeks and I'm excited to continue to be here.

This week was great! Started off with the temple last Tuesday, which is just what I needed to be uplifted and spiritually "re-charged". Then we had a missionary Zone Christmas Program full of incredible musical numbers and edifying talks. We carried the spirit of Christmas with us throughout the week as we've been trying to get into as many homes as we can- members, less-actives, investigators, everyone- to read part of the account of the Savior's birth in Luke 2. Each time we read it, there is always a special spirit in which we testify of Christ and the true joy and happiness that comes from following Him. It's amazing to watch how the simple message of Christ's birth touches hearts in different ways.

The biggest thing I learned this week is to never delay a prompting. Remember the crazy fortune-teller lady I told you about a few weeks ago? We usually see her every Friday but this past week she wasn't home, which was kind of unusual. We were riding our bikes around Sunday night after an appointment fell through and I felt like we should stop by and see her. When she answered the door, she looked really rough and we knew something was wrong. She invited us in and we held her hand as she cried, telling us what a mess she was and how guilty she felt about things that had happened. All she wanted was to feel like God still loved her and at her moment of break down, we knocked on the door.

At the end of the day, it's not about the number of lessons we taught or how many people we have on date for baptism. It's about helping people feel of God's love for them! God loves us when we feel like we deserve it or not, and there is always a way back. Our sweet fortune-teller lady needed to know that and I am so glad we listened to the prompting to go see her. She said a beautiful prayer before we left, thanking the Lord for sending us and helping her find the strength and love to get out of the rut she was in. That was a neat experience for me to feel like I really am an instrument in the Lord's hands.

Another experience we had about following promptings- there is a man in our ward (congregation) who lives in a very humble home with hardly anything but you would never know it by talking to him at church. Sister Zenger felt inspired that we should take him our little Christmas tree so he could have something to bring the joy of the season into his home. We wrapped it up, included ornaments for the 12 days of Christmas, and a box of candy canes, and left it on his doorstep, making sure he would not suspect it was from us. A few days later, we overheard him talking at church about it and I know that small tree meant a lot more to him than we realize. I am so grateful my companion followed inspiration from the Spirit to be able to serve in just a small, simple way. It makes me feel good to do things like that!

We're still working with Larry on his Book of Mormon reading and trying to get Lorraine to church, making progress slowly but surely. We met a few people last week that we are hoping we can start teaching! Dakota, a 15 year old boy, is part of a less-active, part member family and has recently started coming back to church. Hannah, a sweet 25 year old lady, is the fiance of a less-active and she came to the ward Christmas party on Saturday. Hopefully we can start seeing some progress with them this week! The Lord is putting people in our path and He continues to prepare people who need to hear the gospel.

I'm so grateful for this wonderful Christmas season to reflect on the birth of my Savior Jesus Christ and how truly blessed I am to be a representative of Him. This is the first Christmas that I haven't focused on buying presents or worrying about the "material" things. I've been able to focus on giving gifts that are so much more significant, gifts that are not tangible. I'm giving my time and talents to building the Lord's Kingdom here in Sacramento, and sharing gifts of love, joy, and peace. I'm giving the Savior my heart this Christmas, my willing heart, and serving Him will all my might, mind, and strength. This means not complaining when it gets rough and to be positive and as I strive to improve each and every day. The Savior asks for our "broken heart and contrite spirit" (3 Nephi 9:20). This includes my humility in acknowledging the many tender mercies He grants me, and obedience as I align my will with His will.

What will you give for Christmas? More importantly, what will you give for Christ?
I get to call home next week (YAYYYYY!!!!) so you probably won't be getting an email from me until the week of New Years. I love you all and I wish everyone a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Sister Jorgensen

P.S. Pics are of us at the temple and of Sister Zenger and I with our Christmas tree before we gave it away. Enjoy!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Sacramento Week 5

Dear Family & Friends,

Thank you SO much for the many emails and letters. They always bring me such comfort knowing that I am in your prayers and that I have so much support back at home. Even if I don't respond to you right away, just know that I do read your emails and I appreciate your time and effort to write me. It means so much! And I am always touched by your uplifting words and they are always exactly what I need to hear. So thank you! 

Not every day is good, but there is definitely good in every day. This week was rough for us but we made it! If being on a mission didn't challenge me, then it wouldn't change me. I feel like I am changing and becoming a better missionary each and every day. The hard times are what teach me the most, so I am grateful for them, as weird as that sounds! Trials give me the chance to grow closer to my Father in Heaven and truly learn to accept His will and timing.

No one wants to read an email about all my complaints so I will focus on the good things of this week!

We helped a less-active lady named Gail paint on Saturday as she was getting ready to move. She is from Mongolia and actually served a mission here in California just a year after being baptized. We were able to talk to her about her mission and she told us some great stories. I know she felt the Spirit as she relived those memories of what she described as "the best time in her life". And guess what... she came to church yesterday! Yay!

We visited another less-active lady named Donna and helped set up her Christmas tree. We were talking to her about our investigator Lorraine and asked her for advice in helping her get to church (secretly hoping it would spark Donna's interest to come too). She told us Lorraine needed a friend and that she would be happy to give her rides to church- perfect! Donna even came to the next lesson we had with Lorraine so she could get to know her. Unfortunately, Lorraine didn't make it to church again yesterday. We're hoping it'll work out with Donna picking her up next week.

We had a very powerful lesson with Larry this week about the scripture study. We read a few verses out of 1 Nephi 17 in the Book of Mormon and we really focused on understanding them. Watching Larry pause as we read and take the time to think about each phrase was really great! It was the first time I truly felt like the Spirit was teaching Larry more than we were. I know the Spirit was so strong because it testifies of truth, and there is no doubt that what we were reading is true. When we open our hearts to ponder the scriptures and seek to apply them to our lives, the Holy Ghost enlightens our minds. We're trying hard to keep Larry reading the scriptures on his own so he can experience those feelings even when we aren't there. I am grateful for the peace that comes from reading the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. It's so cool to see it work in action!

We are starting to do Family Home Evenings with different families in the ward each Monday night. A few weeks ago we taught a simple lesson about the Priesthood, the authority to act in God's name, and came up with a fun matching game to play at the end. Last week we taught the Plan of Salvation using a bridge analogy, that our Savior Jesus Christ is the bridge to help us conquer sin and death. I really have enjoyed doing these Family Home Evening lessons because it helps us practice our teaching skills and gives us the chance to be creative! Sitting down together as a family and learning about the gospel is so important and truly unites families. I am grateful that I grew up in a home that was very diligent about having Family Home Evening and I know it has been such a blessing for our family.

Tomorrow we are having a Zone Christmas Program and I am going to be an angel in the Nativity! Not quite sure what that all entails but I am excited. After the program we will be going to the Sacramento Temple to do a session together. I am really looking forward to attending the temple and feeling of the special, very strong Spirit that is there. It truly is the closest place to Heaven on Earth.

We've been singing a lot of Christmas songs lately and I found a new favorite! I love "Away in a Manger", especially the 3rd verse:

"Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children, with thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven to live with thee there".

This verse has brought me so much comfort throughout this past week and all the hardships I have been feeling. The Lord truly is close by us and He loves us so much. I know that I can always feel immediate peace when I pray to Him because He is there, and He is listening to me. He cares about everything that goes on throughout my day, and He understands better than anyone. 

Hope you have a wonderful week! I love you and miss you all!
Sister Jorgensen

P.S. The pics... Sister Zenger and I were trying to be creative photographers with our shoes and bikes and name tags. The other is us trying to stay warm in the wintery world on bike!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Sacramento Week 4

Dear Family & Friends,

I can't believe it's December! I love this time of year. It's been so fun riding around the neighborhoods and seeing all the Christmas decorations and lights. We're definitely using this holiday season to our advantage as we talk to as many people as we can each day. Compliment their Christmas lights, ask them about the true meaning of "joy", talk about their nativities... Instant gospel conversations!

Despite what I had hoped, being a missionary does not automatically bring super power people skills. Talking to people is still scary! My companion and I are working really hard at being bold and getting out of our comfort zones. We're making goals each day for the number of people we want to talk to about the gospel. We've learned that the trick is to talk to people already outside, that way we don't get doors slammed in our faces! It's hard to just strike up a conversation with anyone, for me at least. Is it nerve-wracking? Yes. Is it stressful? Yup. Is it awkward? Of course! But guess what. We're missionaries of Christ's true, restored church and we want the world to know the happiness and joy we have!

We had Sister Dees, one of our Sister Training Leaders, here with us on Saturday. Originally I was supposed to go with her companion to her area for the day but there was a scheduling conflict, so we worked in a trio! She gave us a lot of great advice and complimented our hard work, despite our difficult area. She helped us meet our goal of talking to people that day. We met an older guy named Howard who was walking his dog. I noticed he was wearing a Sacramento Kings hat so I started talking to him about basketball, Jimmer, BYU, how we were missionaries for that church, BINGO! We were able to share our beliefs and ask about his religion (look at me making sports connections- Dad are you proud??). Howard wasn't interested but he was very nice and thanked us for stopping to talk to him. I'm glad we did! The more people we talk to, the more people we will find who are interested. We just have to be brave! And open our mouths! The Lord is helping us feel confident. We won't find a miracle unless we are working for it.

We visit a sweet lady named Marsha every Friday afternoon. I call her the "fortune-teller lady" because she always says she can sense our strong spirits and tells us our paths of life. She is very close to God and acknowledges Him in everything. I love talking to her and hearing about the many miracles in her life. Anyway, this past Friday was the first time she let us in her house (usually we have doorstep conversations). She had us sit in her "sanctuary", a room covered with carpet cut-out hearts, drawings of angels, and a giant cross. It was quite interesting! She asked me to read her a "good word" so I gladly took the chance. I felt prompted to read in Alma 26, about Ammon and his strength in God. I started giving background, explaining it was from the Book of Mormon, and she freaked out because it was "Joseph's book" (referring to Joseph Smith) and that it would bring division in her sanctuary. She ranted about the Bible being God's only word and how she soaked a Book of Mormon in her holy water years ago when previous missionaries gave her one (haha). 

After a few minutes of this, she turned to me and said "I'm sorry I offended you. Your spirit is sincere so you may read it". My companion and I explained to her that we do believe the Bible and the Book of Mormon is there to support it, how they both testify of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I immediately thought of Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" and used that as an introduction to Alma 26:12: "Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore, I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold many miracles have we wrought in this land for which we will praise his name forever". She loved it and said it was beautiful, then asking me to read another verse. Of course I did! So grateful the Spirit prompted me to share that with her. We had a great discussion about the Book of Mormon, the peace that it brings, and how we should give God glory for everything we do. The whole chapter of Alma 26 is awesome and it makes me feel good about my missionary efforts. I recommend reading it!

I almost forgot to mention our Thanksgiving dinner! So we went to the Polynesian family's house, expecting a pig and island food (they are from Fiji) because that's what he told us he was going to make. We were surprised! The wife worked as hard as she could to prepare us the most American Thanksgiving meal so we could feel "at home" for the holiday- turkey, potatoes, rolls, pie, everything. It was so sweet! Their son and grandchildren were supposed to join us, but because their son was in rehab and his crazy wife took the children elsewhere for the holiday, it was just the four of us. It was a wonderful meal and they were so kind to feed us! 

Yesterday, during the testimony meeting at church, the wife who fed us got up to share her testimony. She told the congregation about what a blessing it was to have the sister missionaries over to fill their table on Thanksgiving when their family couldn't. She said she felt like the Savior was at the table with us and that's what she needed to feel during this rough time. Hearing this made me cry! I had no idea we had such an impact. I learned how blessed these families are that sacrifice to feed us. I'm so glad we got to spend Thanksgiving with that sweet couple and bring the Spirit with us. 

You never know what kind of influence you can have! I hope you all have a great week. I love you and miss you! As always, thank you for the constant support and prayers. I am so grateful for the love I feel each and every day.

Sister Jorgensen

Friday, November 29, 2013

Sacramento Week 3

Dear Family & Friends,

" in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you" (Alma 34:38)

HAPPY TURKEY DAY! Maybe it's a good thing I'm not in Brazil quite yet because today wouldn't be a holiday. My companion and I did our own "Turkey Trot" run this morning and we made it about 4 miles! Now I won't feel so bad about our delicious Polynesian dinner set up for us this evening. We are so blessed to have the members from church feed us.

I hope this letter finds everyone happy, healthy, thankful, and so full you never want to eat again. I am so grateful for this time of year and being able to reflect on the many mercies and blessings the Lord grants me everyday. I am especially grateful to be serving a mission at this time in my life, to be here in California, and to be a small part of this great work of salvation. Can you believe I've been out for 2 months already?I couldn't do it without each one of you- your prayers, your encouragement, your love. I just can't thank you enough!

Last Friday we had Zone Conference and Elder David S. Baxter of the Seventy was there. He gave one of the devotionals while I was at the MTC so I was so excited I got to meet him in person! He taught us so many great things- how to teach clearly and powerfully with the Spirit, how to effectively study in order to testify with conviction, and the importance of extending commitments and promising blessings. I really admire Elder Baxter because he was so direct and bold. He was bold because he loves us! And that's how we need to be with the people we teach. They have to understand our purpose- not to merely be their friend, but to invite them to come unto Christ and help them received the restored gospel. Our goal is to guide them to baptism and eventually to the temple.

Other than Zone Conference nothing too exciting has been going on. You know, just surviving a few rainstorms here and there, going to family's houses with really strange pets... One family has 8 dogs and an inside house pig (excuse me, I mean hog). Another lady has 5 or 6 birds and dogs and cats all over the place. All these crazy Californians and their pets! I don't get it. Maybe it's because growing up all we ever had was a fish and a hermit crab that didn't live very long. Anyway, on Saturday we are doing exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders so I'll get to go to a different area for a day! I'm excited.

We knocked on the door of a former investigator named Kay this past week and she gave us the usual excuse of needing to clean for the holiday. So we offered to help! Surprisingly, she took us up on it. We dusted her whole living room and then she asked us to read 1 Corinthians with her so we did. We had a really good discussion and she loves the Bible, as do we. Now we just got to get her to study out of the Book of Mormon to add to the truth she already has! Hopefully we can get her progressing soon.

We've been struggling this past week with finding people to teach. We still have Lorraine but she hasn't made it to church yet. We're moving very slow with her so it'll take a little while before she is baptized. It's been great to watch her learn and grow a little bit each visit! Larry is still progressing but he has some things to clear up before he can be baptized so we're not sure how that'll go. We're doing our best to talk to everyone and get out of our comfort zone but it's hard! I'm realizing now the area we are in is one of the hardest in the mission. Baptisms are very rare and it's an older, established community. But that's no excuse! We are trying to work with less-active members and part-member families with hopes of more teaching opportunities. It's easy to get discouraged but we can't give up! The Lord never gives up on us!

My motto for the past week has been "por meio de coisas pequenas e simples que as grandes sao realizadas" which means "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass" -Alma 37:6 (yes I'm still trying to keep up my Portuguese!). It's easy to get overwhelmed in life. Always a million things to do, a million things to stress about, a million ways to improve, but we have to take it one day at a time. Baby steps. And that's all the Lord expects of us! To try a little harder each day. For me, to be a better missionary today than I was yesterday.

I hope everyone has a great weekend! The best part about having Pday on Thursday is you get to hear from me again on Monday! Thank you again for all the support. My heart is full of gratitude today for my testimony of this gospel and the happiness it brings me each day. And most importantly, for my Savior Jesus Christ. I am grateful for His companionship in my life as I go about serving Him.

I love you all!
Love, Sister Jorgensen

P.S. Pics are of all the sisters in my district (2 of them are American Sign Language sister missionaries. It's so cool to watch them sign!) and the other is of the Christmas decorations I helped a day set up this past week. Lots of fun!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sacramento Week 2

Dear Family & Friends,

Can I just tell you how much I love being a missionary? I really do! It's a deeper feeling than just being happy. It's a feeling that comes from serving the Lord, and in my case, serving Him from the moment I wake up in the morning to the moment I go to bed at night. It's a feeling of true JOY! Yeah, sometimes it's frustrating. Sometimes people don't answer their door when you set up a really good appointment. Sometimes you get angry when you meet a crazy anti who tries to tell you everything you believe (I wanted to bible bash this guy so bad. Good thing my companion ended the conversation rather quickly). Sometimes you get disappointed because you want so much for people but they don't want it enough for themselves. I'm humbled as I say this because I realize I've only been in the mission field for 2 weeks and I know there is a lot more ahead! Even though every moment of missionary work isn't fun, I find sincere joy in doing the Lord's work. I love having just one purpose- to be a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We had a great week! We were able to meet with many less actives (people who are members of our church but haven't been in awhile) and get inside of their home. There was one lady we visited and I felt prompted to share John 14:27 from the Bible, a scripture about peace from the Savior, and she said it was exactly what she needed. I enjoy being able to share scriptures and pray with them, and being able to leave the Spirit of love in their home. There was another lady we felt like we should take a birthday card to and she greeted us at the door with tears streaming down her face. It had not been a good day and she was so happy to know that we had been thinking of her. AH! These little things. The little things are what make the biggest difference.

Last week I mentioned one of our investigators Lorraine who we committed to a date for baptism. We are still working with her! We are really trying to teach simply and as slowly as we can so she understands everything. Unfortunately she didn't make it to church yesterday but we aren't giving up hope!

Let me tell you about one of our other investigators. His name is Larry. All my church people from Ensley- Larry is just like Stanley and Wilma! Mid 60s, black guy, says the most hilarious things, been coming to church since the missionaries found him in February. He loves it! Still working on his desire to be baptized. We have been challenging him to read just 3 verses from the Book of Mormon each day and he finally did last week. But guess what... instead of reading just 3 verses, he read 7! See, the scriptures are just that good. When you feel the peace and calmness that comes from reading, you just want to keep going.

On Saturday we went and taught Larry a review of the first lesson, the Restoration and Joseph Smith. His wife Linda sat in on this lesson for the very first time and it was perfect! I got to teach the part about the First Vision (where God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith). The Spirit was SO strong. I don't think I have felt the Spirit testify to me of the truthfulness of the Restoration that strong before. Larry told me the way I talked made him want to cry and pay all his tithes right then and there haha. We had a good discussion about how God answers prayers and the way you feel when you know something is true. It was awesome! My testimony of the gospel, the same gospel that Jesus Christ established when He was here, gets stronger each time I testify of it. I know Joseph Smith was called by God to restore His church. I know it because of the feeling I get inside my heart- a feeling of warmth, love, peace, and calmness- a feeling I can't deny because I know it's right!

We had a few service opportunities this week so that was fun. We helped Larry fix his pool cover and we went to a nursing home to visit a lady who hasn't been to church since she's gotten older. We also saw a lady who was the mother of a guy named Jerry we randomly met on the street. We asked if we could do anything for him and he asked us to visit his mother in the nursing home, so we did! I really enjoy doing those small, yet so significant, acts of service. This week we're going to help a lady who has a disabled husband set up their Christmas decorations. I'm excited!

I was reading Helaman 5 in the Book of Mormon during personal study this week and I came across a verse that struck me in a different way than it ever had before. Helaman 5:12 "And now, my sons remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his might winds... when all his hail and mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you... because of the rock upon which ye are built... a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall". I love that last part. If we build our foundation on Christ, we can't fall! We won't fail! Yes, life will be hard, but we can make it. This scripture took on new meaning to me because I realized it was advice that Helaman was giving to his sons Nephi and Lehi before they went out as missionaries. He promises his sons that if they build their foundation in their conviction and testimony of the Savior, they will have the power to withstand temptation. So true! I must hold true to the foundation I developed all throughout my childhood, my knowledge of this gospel. 

I know that as we continue to strengthen our foundations in the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will be strong against the adversary, which tries so hard to pull us down any way he can. Christ is our rock and our anchor in this crazy world. I am so grateful to have that foundation and to strengthen it each day on my mission, through scripture study, prayer, and simply sharing what I believe. The Lord blesses us for finding strength in Him!

Thank you for the constant support. I feel your prayers each day! I love you all and I miss each one of you! Have a wonderful week!

Sister Jorgensen

P.S. My next Pday is Thanksgiving so this is my last email before then. Also enjoy the pics! This is my favorite palm tree we pass each day on our morning jog. And our biking adventures.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sacramento Week One

Dear Family & Friends,

Hello from Sacramento!!! The land of endless sunshine, crazy Californians, and wild turkeys. I love it here! 

What a week! I left the MTC on Tuesday and Wednesday morning I was sent to my new area and met my trainer. I'm currently in the Carmichael Zone/Stake, serving in the Northridge Ward (congregation). My trainer companion is Sister Zenger from Salt Lake Utah and I love her. She is so energetic about the work and such a great example of diligence. The minute I put my luggage in my room (we live with members of the ward by the way) we were off to do missionary work! And we have been going non-stop ever since. This has been the busiest, most exhausting week of my life, yet I feel so happy and blessed to be serving here in Sacramento!

Guess what... we are biking missionaries! I never thought I would have to ride a bike, especially since I'm a visa-waiter. Never say never! Ever rode a bike in a skirt? It's definitely an accomplished art that I am still trying to master. I am so glad the weather has been nice for us. There is supposed to be a rainy season soon so we are enjoying every beautiful day we get. I'll get a picture of us on our bikes and send it with my email next week.

We go to members' houses for dinner every night so that has been really fun to get to know the families in our area. I love seeing the reaction when I tell people I am from Alabama. "Are you sure? You don't sound like it!" or "Wow... I've never met anyone from Alabama before. What's it like there?" Like it's a foreign country or something haha. I wish I was good at faking a southern accent because these people would be all over it!

So highlight of my week. We had a lesson with one of our investigators (someone who is interested in our message and we are teaching the gospel to) named Lorraine, a sweet older lady with a heart of gold. They had been teaching her for a few weeks before I got here. We were teaching lesson 3 about the gospel of Jesus Christ and I committed her to a baptismal date! So exciting. My favorite part of the lesson was at the end when we taught her how to pray. Hearing her pray out loud, probably for the first time in her whole life, and sincerely asking her Father in Heaven to help her understand what we were teaching her... what a powerful moment. The Spirit was so strong! I testified of the love that God has for her and how He is smiling down from Heaven because she was talking to Him. It was so tender that I totally started crying during her prayer. I thought of the story in the Book of Mormon when Aaron teaches King Lamoni to pray. I also thought of an experience my dad shared from his mission about teaching a sweet lady in Spain how to pray. Prayer is so crucial to conversion! It's so important that our investigators learn pray for themselves and get their own confirmation that what we teach is true.

We found a family to teach so we're hoping that everything continues to work out with them! That have 3 little, crazy, very energetic kids with lots to say. I love being around little kids because it reminds me of being around my family :) We gave them a "Finding Faith in Christ" DVD and challenged them to pray as a family. We'll go by again this week to see how it went! 

One of the many things I love about this mission is that all the missionaries, all 260 of us throughout the Sacramento area, recite a scripture at 9:59 am. It's 3 Nephi 5:13 "Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life". It's such a good reminder of our purpose, to invite others to come unto Christ. We are representatives of Him! I will strive to make sure my missionary name tag is painted on my heart.

You don't have to wear a missionary name tag to be a missionary. Just be who you are, be true to what you know is right, and people will notice! Don't be afraid to open your mouth and share your testimony. "For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!" (1 Cor. 9:16). 

Have a wonderful week everyone! I miss you and love you all!
Sister Jorgensen

P.S. My new address is 8267 Deseret Ave. Fair Oaks, CA 95628. This is the mission home address, not exactly where I live, but all mail/packages sent here will be forwarded to me.

There is a pic of me and my trainer!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

She made it - California bound!

Well Mom & Dad...I'm officially a Sacramento California missionary! Our layover in Denver was super short. Both flights were good! I slept a little bit so that was nice. The mission president's wife, Sister Lewis, was there to greet the 3 of us as we got off the plane: Sister Johnson, Elder Baird (a visa waiter like us), and me.

We left the blizzarding snow in Utah and landed in the freezing cold in Denver. When I got off the plane in Sacramento and felt sunshine... Ahhhh my heart was happy. PERFECT weather with palm trees, normal trees, and a fair amount of greenery. I don't need my rain coat or tights or even a cardigan! I think I just might like this place!

We have a busy day ahead full of meetings and trainings and lots of other fun stuff. Tomorrow is transfer day so I'll get to meet my new companion. We are told that we are going to be treated like every other missionary while we are here. No special treatment for being a visa waiter! And that's fine with me! Throw me right in! As of right now, there are 60 sisters in this mission, 200 elders, and 10 of which are visa waiters. HUGE mission.

Also fun fact: The Sacramento mission has several languages: Laotion, Cambodian, Spanish, English, Mong (sp?), and one more I can't remember. So there are lots of language missionaries here. Too bad one isn't Portuguese! I'll have to be super diligent with my language study in the mornings. I most likely will not be companions with a visa waiter.

We are at the mission office right now, the address in Fair Oaks. It's the back half of a church building. Pretty cool! Not sure where we are staying tonight. At the airport we had to quickly put everything we needed for overnight and tomorrow into one bag. These next few days will be quite the adventure!

Also, my pday will now be Mondays. So expect an email next Monday!

It was so nice to talk to everyone this morning! Tell the kids I love them!!!! I love you! Miss you!

Friday, November 1, 2013

MTC Week 5

Dear Family & Friends,

Guess what everyone... this sister missionary has been reassigned to SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA!!!! I leave the MTC Tuesday morning at 2:30am (is it even worth sleeping? haha) and fly to Cali! I am so excited!! I'm going to be a real missionary! I'm going to help and teach real people! I know the Lord has work for me to do in Sacramento before I go to Brazil. I can't wait to serve and be in the mission field! I can't wait to meet my new companion! I can't wait to meet the people! I can't wait to put everything I've learned the past 6 weeks into action!

One of the sisters in my district, Sister Johnson, is also going to Sacramento so I'll have a travel buddy! My companion, Sister Lowther is going to St. Louis, Missouri. The other missionaries in my district are going to Mississippi, Tennessee, Salt Lake, Fresno, CA, and the one that got his visa is going to Brazil. It's going to be hard to say goodbye to these elders and sisters. I'm going to miss them so much! We've become a family! But I know we are each going forth with faith to serve the Lord in the areas we were reassigned and we'll all make it to Brazil someday soon.

I am SO grateful for the past 6 weeks I've had here at the MTC. I am going to miss the strong spirit that is here! I am going to miss being surrounded by thousands of missionaries. I am thankful for the teachers I've had, Brother Pinho (from Brasilia) and Brother Belchior (from Mozambique). They have had such an impact on my testimony of the gospel and they have prepared me so well to enter the mission field. The Missionary Training Center will always have a special place in my heart.

Wednesday night my companion and I were chosen to demonstrate how to begin teaching a lesson in front of a group of the new missionaries! It was kind of nerve-wracking, especially because we had to do it in English, which should have been easy right? Wrong. It's not easy to talk about the gospel in English either! Though it was very humbling, it was a great experience for us and I am grateful my companion and I had that opportunity. We must be doing something right since we got picked!

Yesterday we had in-field orientation and learned how to be effective missionaries as we prepare to leave next week. We talked about the Doctrine of Christ, how to find people, the importance of faith, and how to work with members. We read a scripture that really stuck out to me.

2 Timothy 1:7-8 "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord..."

Now that I have my reassignment, the reality of being a missionary has set in. Honestly, I'm kind of scared! I guess I'm more nervous and anxious than I am scared- especially because I've been focusing so much on learning Portuguese and now I have to switch back to English. What if I lose all my Portuguese before I ever make it to Brazil? I know I stress about everything but this is how I was feeling. So this scripture really had an impact on me.

God doesn't give us the spirit of fear. Faith replaces fear! His Spirit brings us power, love, and a sound mind. As a missionary, I have learned that it's really not me doing the teaching. And it really doesn't matter exactly what I say. It's the Spirit! The Spirit touches hearts and people feel the love and power that comes from the message we share about Christ. People won't remember exactly what we say but they will remember what they feel. And those feelings come from the Spirit! I am so grateful for the companionship of the Spirit and the peace of mind it gives me. Even though I am nervous, I trust that I will be inspired to say and do the things the Lord wants me to do. Just like it says in the scripture, I am not ashamed of my testimony! I know the Savior lives and I know how much His gospel has blessed my life. I can't wait to take this to the people of Sacramento!
I miss you all and I hope you have a wonderful week! I appreciate all the letters, packages, and emails I've received while here at the MTC. Thanks for the constant support and encouragement! It's so weird to think that my next email home I'll be in Sacramento! AHHH SO EXCITED! I love you all!
Sister Jorgensen

P.S. Pictures are of my district and our reassignments last night

Sunday, October 27, 2013

MTC Week 4

Dear Family & Friends,

Today is officially the month anniversary of my mission! And what a life-changing month it has been. I don't feel like I am the same person that walked in to the MTC a month ago. My testimony has grown so much! I know this mission will continue to change my life as I serve the Lord with all my heart, might, mind, and strength!

The highlight of my week was getting to "host" the new missionaries that came to the training center on Wednesday. My district, along with several others, lined up on the curb to greet the cars that came in to drop off their missionaries. I watched all the teary-eyed moms hug their sons and daughters goodbye for 18-24 months and I knew exactly what that felt like. After each missionary said their goodbyes, we took them to their residence, picked up their books, and walked them to class. I hosted three sisters- one going to the Philippines (speaking Tagalog- what??!!), another to Jackson, Mississippi, and the other to Tulsa, Oklahoma. I enjoyed getting to know each of these sweet sisters and calm their fears about the MTC. We get to host next week too! My cousin Rex and my old roommate Rachel are coming next Wednesday and I am super excited (if either of you are reading this, I can't wait to see you!!!).

Elder McArthur, one of the elders in our district, was lucky enough to get his visa yesterday! He's probably the most prepared out of all of us so it's definitely not a coincidence. He leaves Monday November 4th straight to Sao Paulo! So excited for him. All of us who haven't received visas yet will get our temporary reassignments this Thursday! So stayed tuned for next week's email to find out where I'll be serving until my visa comes! I can't wait! It's like getting another mission call!!!

Okay I just have to mention how beautiful the weather was this week! AH I love fall and the mountains and the different colored leaves on the trees. Those of you in Alabama... I heard about your little cold spell... bundle up!

This week I've been studying a lot about Christ-like attributes. I really like Jude 1:22 that says, "And of some have compassion, making a difference". The ultimate example of compassion is our Savior Jesus Christ. Matthew 9:36 says, "But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them... because they were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd". So what did the Savior do? He encouraged us to pray that He would send forth laborers because the "harvest truly is plenteous"! We are those laborers. He wants His lost sheep to be found. That's my purpose as a missionary- to invite others to come unto Christ and to care about that one lost sheep! Christ is our shepherd.

I also like the account of the Savior visiting the Nephites in the Americas in 3 Nephi 17. As He looked around the multitude there, He said, "Behold my bowels are filled with compassion towards you" and then He blessed the sick, afflicted, and all the children. He "did heal them every one" (v.9). I testify the Lord has compassion for each one of us and He does in fact heal us. We ALL have need of His healing- we all have struggles, pains, worries, stresses of life. Christ has so much compassion, love, charity, and mercy for us. With this compassion, we can make a difference. We can see others through the Savior's eyes. We can be a source of healing and love for someone else. We can make an impact in the world for good!

Thanks for the many letters and emails! I know I say this every week, but I truly am so grateful for all the love and support. It means so much to me! I love you all!

Have a wonderful week and Happy Halloween!!!
Sister Jorgensen

Saturday, October 19, 2013

MTC Week 3

Dear Family & Friends,

I can't believe another week has come and gone! Friday already?! Mid-October already?! Crazy!!!! This week was good! A lot of really cool things happened this week. I have so many reasons to be grateful for this incredible opportunity I have to serve.

On Sunday, Sister Bonnie Oscarson (Young Women General President) came and spoke to all the sister missionaries during Relief Society meeting. She talked about the parable of the vineyard in Jacob 5, specifically verse 72 where it talks about the Lord laboring with us. There is nothing too hard for the Lord and because He is always with me, I can do hard things!

On Tuesday, my district decided to sing with the MTC choir. We sang the Mormon Tabernacle Choir version of "Praise to the Man"- so beautiful and powerful and WOW. I wish you all could have heard it! And guess who came to speak? Elder Dallin H. Oaks, one of the 12 apostles. Yup, 2 general authorities in one week. We must be at the Missionary Training Center or something :) Elder Oaks gave an incredible talk about the only "true and living" church. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is "true and living" because Christ lives and He is at the head! The Lord guides our church through modern-day, living prophets and apostles who have His authority. The Heavens are open! I am so grateful to be a missionary for our true and living church!

We are still progressing with the language and working hard with teaching our lessons. It's not easy, that's for sure. But I know I am supposed to be here and there are people out there that need to hear the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ! The other day I was sitting in class and thinking about how truly happy I am. Happy to be in the service of the Lord and becoming the missionary that He wants me to be!

Another thing that made this week awesome was that I found out, thanks to a sweet letter from my mom, that I was accepted into the Journalism program at BYU!!!!! SO EXCITED! Even though I won't be returning to BYU until Spring 2015, it's so comforting to know that I have a place when I go back. Ahhh I am so excited! All that hard work paid off! I can't wait to see where Journalism takes me, especially with coming back fluent in a second language (according to God's will of course). He has blessed me so much!!! No doubt that everything works out when you put your trust in Him and do His will.

I spent some time in the health center this past week (my companion has been sick) and I happened to pick up one of the Ensigns, one of our church magazines, where I found the best quote ever: "Often small acts of service are all that are required to lift and bless another: a question concerning a person's family, quick words of encouragement, a sincere compliment, a small note of thanks, a brief telephone call. If we are observant and aware, and if we act on the promptings which come to us, we can accomplish much good" (President Thomas S. Monson). LOVE this quote! It reminded me of a sign we used to have in our house when we lived in Arizona. It said the verse in Hebrews 13:2 "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares". Whenever we feel like we should say something nice to someone or smile at the person walking by, do it! We never know what people are struggling with. We never know what our small act of kindness can do. Little acts of kindness can make the biggest difference to someone's day. So there's my little thought about being nice to people :)

Ok I just have to say thanks again to everyone for all the letters and emails this week. I feel so loved! Thanks for the uplifting words, I need them! I love you all!!! Have a great weekend!

Sister Jorgensen

P.S. So about the pics... here's our classroom, the other is when I ran into Memo, the other is playing in the leaves during the temple walk last Sunday. Another is of all the girls in our district (we attempted to all wear black, white, and red- yes this is how we add flavor to our lives here at the MTC- haha). Enjoy!

Friday, October 11, 2013

MTC Week 2

Dear Family & Friends,

HAPPY FRIDAY!!! I have been looking forward to P-day all week. When you sit in a classroom for 10 hours a day (seriously), and your head is spinning with so much Portuguese you are about to explode, you kind of start to go crazy! As stressful as it is sometimes, there really is no place I'd rather be right now. I know I am supposed to be here and I am so thankful for the Lord's help through this adventure. I am SO blessed to have such supportive and loving friends and family. I feel your constant prayers and thank you for the letters of encouragement. They are much appreciated!

I hope everyone had a great week! Portuguese is still a work in progress (as it will be for a very long time). We do lots of grammar lessons, vocab flashcards, and role playing of teaching situations. We also do an hour of online language study each day. The program we use is kind of like Rosetta Stone but it follows the Preach My Gospel lessons. It's very helpful! I can now recite my missionary purpose and Joseph Smith's First Vision in Portuguese! We've been practicing while we exercise. I forgot to mention this in my first letter but our classroom is on the 5th floor of our building. We climb 96 stairs (yes, we counted) everyday- actually multiple times a day. I can totally see my Heritage dorm building at BYU from the window in our classroom. It's so close!

In the middle of our busy days, we have an hour of gym time. My companion and I either go to the fitness center or run laps around the campus outside. The weather has been super cold and rainy lately, so yesterday we went to the gym that has an indoor track. It's nice but it's very small. 10 laps is a mile. I ended up running around the track 30 times. It took a lot of mental effort but it's so nice to be able to have that stress-release after being in class all day. I love exercise time. And I'm glad I have a companion who likes to exercise. She doesn't like to run as much as I do, but we work it out. Between going up 96 stairs and running, I think we're (hopefully) making up for the delicious cookies and ice cream in the cafeteria :)

I met a girl in the lunchroom going to the Birmingham, Alabama mission! She was so sweet and friendly. I wish I could remember her name. She leaves on Tuesday. I still can't believe that English-speaking missionaries are only here for 2 weeks. I told her she was going to the best mission in the world! So watch out Birmingham.... You've got some awesome missionaries headed your way! This just reminded me how we now have tons of Russian-speaking sisters on our floor in our residence. Russian?! I am so glad I only have to learn Portuguese. I've met some missionaries who are here at the MTC for 12 weeks because they have to learn two languages, like French AND Tahitian. Holy cow.

So just a quick note about the visa thing. It is very rare for Brazil-bound missionaries to get their visas while in the MTC and almost all of us will have to be temporarily reassigned to another mission. My companion and I were talking to President Nally, the MTC President, on the way to lunch the other day and he told us there are over 1,000 "visa-waiters" in other missions around the country right now. As much as I hope I get my visa soon, it probably won't happen. If I do get reassigned, I will find out the Thursday before I leave the MTC (which happens to be Halloween!). Lots of Brazil missionaries have been getting reassigned to Texas and California. So we'll see what happens! 

This week I have been learning about the power of sincere prayer. It's so comforting to be able to kneel beside my bed at the end of every day and just pour out my heart and soul to my Father in Heaven. I know He is listening, I know He cares, I know He truly wants to help me. Prayer keeps me humble as I continually acknowledge the blessings- the countless blessings- that He gives me each day. At first I would pray "Heavenly Father, please help my visa to come so I can serve you in Brazil" because I REALLY just want to go to Brazil! In Jacob 4:10, it says "seek not to counsel from the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand" (also see Isaiah 55:8-9, the Lord's ways are higher than our ways). I have to trust that the Lord is in control and He knows what He is doing. He has a plan for me, just like He has a plan and purpose for all of us. My prayers have changed. I say, "Father in Heaven, I am YOUR missionary. I am here for you and I am your servant. I'll go where you want me to go and I'll be who you want me to be." Prayer is essential to developing our relationship with God and feeling His love in our daily lives. We can pray anytime, anywhere, for anything! When life becomes more than you can stand, kneel. Ask God for help. Pray to have more faith. Pray to be more loving. Pray to be more humble. Pray for inspiration and guidance. Pray to be an answer to someone's prayer. He is always there to listen!

I love you and miss you all!
Sister Jorgensen

Friday, October 4, 2013

MTC Week One

Dear Family & Friends,

Thank you SO much for the letters, emails, packages, and most importantly, the love and support! I can't believe I've been here for 10 days now. It's gone by so fast, but yet feels like I've been here forever. I have learned and grown so much over this past week and a half! I have no doubt that these 6 weeks here at the Missionary Training Center will prepare me for what is to come in my mission.
I'm so glad it's finally our first P (preparation) day! My companion and I woke up at 5:30 this morning to make it to the laundry room to beat the rush. We also found this secret classroom on the 3rd floor of our classroom building where we could print out our emails. That way I could read what everyone wrote me, think about what to write, and not waste any of my precious limited email time! It's super nice.

Life here at the MTC is busy but awesome! I am learning so much! The Portuguese is coming along. The first few days were pretty rough, especially because our teachers didn't speak English. After teaching our first lesson in Portuguese last Friday, I felt so overwhelmed. I wondered how I could ever learn everything in just 6 weeks. But I know it's possible! I can now pray, say my testimony, and talk about the basics of the gospel in Portuguese. We also sing a hymn in Portuguese before each class- I LOVE it. We taught a lesson yesterday and I didn't have to use any Portuguese notes! My companion and I call it our "caveman Portuguese" but at least we're trying. It's not so much about the words we say but the Spirit that we bring with us. I have realized that when I don't stress out so much about planning everything, the Spirit really does prompt you what to say. I know the Lord is blessing us for our hard work, obedience, and strong desires to serve Him. 

I am in a district with 6 sisters and 4 elders. All 6 of us girls are in one room (3 bunk beds) and we are all together every minute of every day. We get along and we're all really good friends now so it works out! Of course sometimes I have to bite my tongue and put on a smile, but I am trying so hard to just love and have charity for others, and see them how Christ would see them. My companion's name is Sister Lowther (from South Carolina) and she is also going to Brazil Sao Paulo North. She did a year at BYU just like I did. She is strong in areas where I am weak (for example, she is a lot more bold than I am) so we teach together really well!

The biggest thing I've learned so far is the importance of FAITH. We've been taught about faith in Christ our whole lives, but not until this week did I really come to understand it. When I have faith in my Savior, I put my FULL trust in Him. When I sit there and doubt my Portuguese skills or knowledge about the gospel, I am not trusting Him. I am doubting the Lord's ability to help me! I know the Lord knows me and has a plan. I need to have confidence that everything will work out! Whenever I get frustrated, I like to look down at my name tag and remember than I am truly a representative of Jesus Christ. My purpose is to invite others to come unto Him. I am saying and doing those things that He would do if He were here. I know that when I do everything I can on my end, the Lord will do the rest. I have felt it this week as I have been humbled time and time again. The Lord blesses us when we accept His will and His timing and put our full trust in Him. Read Alma 13:28-29. It's a good one :)

I am so so so so grateful for this opportunity I have to serve a mission. Whenever I get homesick or tired, I try to remember how I need to make the most of my time here at the MTC. Never again will I get the chance to be surrounded by 3,000+ missionaries who are sacrificing 18-24 months to serve the Lord. There is such a special spirit here. Never again will I get the chance to be taught by such incredible teachers who have so much to share with us about the joys of missionary work. Never again will I get to attend so many uplifting conferences, devotionals, firesides, and speakers and be taught about the gospel and what it can do to change lives.

Ahhh I could write for hours about all the things I have learned and experienced this week but time is running out. I love you all so much and I want you to know that I have a testimony of the Savior. We are never alone and He is always there to carry us through whatever we are going through. He lives! 
Sister Jorgensen

P.S. Pics are of the district, the temple, and getting to wear jeans on Pday!

Monday, September 23, 2013

This is it!

"A missionary: a person who leaves their family for a while so others can be with their families forever"

As of tonight I will officially be a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! It's so crazy to think that this day is finally here. I've been waiting for this for a long time. There is nothing else I would rather be doing in my life right now than to be serving the Lord.

Tomorrow I will get on a plane and fly to Utah. I will go to the Missionary Training Center in Provo for six weeks. If my Visa comes, then I'll go to Brazil. If my Visa doesn't come by then, I will be temporarily relocated to another area for missionary service until it comes. Though it's extremely frustrating to wait for a Visa, I know Heavenly Father has a plan for me on this mission. I am serving Him and He is taking care of me. Whatever happens, happens. He's in control. I'll go where He wants me to go!

I'm excited, nervous, terrified, anxious, and everything all at once. I can't wait to get to get to the Missionary Training Center! I'm excited to feel of that special spirit there and to be surrounded by so many other missionaries, who are sacrificing 18-24 months of their lives just like me. I'm looking forward to going to Brazil and experiencing a brand new culture and people. I'm nervous about learning the language but I know I am not in this alone. The Lord will help me every step of the way. I'm anxious to leave my family. I am going to miss them so much! Though I know there are so many blessings in store for them as I make this sacrifice to serve. 

I know this church and the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. Why would I give up 18 months of my life to share something that isn't true? I believe it with my heart and soul.

I love you all! Thank you for the love and encouragement. It's so good to know of all the support I have back at home. I can't wait to get to work!!!!

My family will be posting my weekly letters to this blog for everyone to read. You can find my address and my email under "Write me!". I would love to hear from all of you!