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