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