Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sacramento Week 11

Dear Family & Friends,

My 12 weeks of training are over so I am officially not a new missionary anymore! Sister Cleverly and I will be staying here in the Northridge Ward this transfer. And I hit my 4-month mark on Saturday. It's so weird to think I've been out for that long, though I still feel like I have no idea what I'm doing. Thank goodness I'm not in this work alone. I can't tell you how many times I've had to pray and say "Ok Heavenly Father, I have no idea what is going to happen today, but we need your help!" I know He is always helping us, day in and day out, and I have really felt that this week.

This week we taught more sit-down lessons than I have in my whole mission so far. Very busy!

When we don't have many appointments with investigators, we have been teaching practice lessons to members and less-actives. It helps our teaching skills, especially being a new companionship, and it doesn't hurt anyone to brush up on the basics of the gospel! Remember that family with the pet hog? We practiced teaching them the Plan of Salvation the other day and guess what...the pig had piglets! And yes, they are all living in the house. What a lovely aroma. I wish I had a picture!

The craziest lesson we had was with a lady named Dori who likes to be called "Sister H" so she can be like us. Dori has met with missionaries before and is very familiar with Mormons. This time she had a friend over, who also knew a lot about what we believed. We barely spoke two sentences about prophets before the Bible bashing came out. Dori's friend went off about the Godhead, the Levitical Priesthood, the Joseph Smith papers, and all this other random stuff. She wouldn't let us even respond without bringing up something else. I was getting so flustered and all I wanted to do was get out of there! We tried to regain control and end with the First Vision but that didn't accomplish anything. Then she started calling Joseph Smith a liar and the next thing I remember was sharing my testimony with all the strength and conviction I could about how I KNOW that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, that he was called by God to bring back His original church. I don't worship Joseph Smith but I revere him as a prophet of God and I worship my Savior Jesus Christ.

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what facts you are trying to prove, because I have prayed about it and I know I can't deny what I feel from the Spirit! I honestly don't remember what else I said, but I was bearing my testimony straight from my heart, and tears poured down my face as I told her what I knew to be true. And that was something no information from her "research" could take away from me. Who knows what that lesson accomplished, and maybe it didn't accomplish anything. But I left them with my testimony and my companion was able to offer another witness. That experience made me realize that each time I share what I know, what I truly believe and have come to find out for myself, that my testimony only grows stronger.

We got to visit two ladies in the hospital this week. One of them was a sweet lady named Tammy who was so touched by our visit. She was having trouble breathing and couldn't walk. All she wanted to do was get out of her hospital room so we took her in a wheelchair to the gift shop downstairs. She thanked us for being her "light" that day. We saw her the next day at the Family Festival Open House our church put on, and miraculously she was walking around just fine! She looked like a completely different person. It made me feel good to be able to share God's love with her and to see it take action. I am so glad we have the hospital in our area, for the experiences I have had there ministering to Heavenly Father's precious children. I believe there are angels all around those patients there.

"When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren" (Luke 22:32)

The longer I have been out on my mission, the more I realized that these experiences I have each day are really just converting me! I am seeing the gospel in action. I am watching how the Spirit affects people, whether it be in the hospital, a family we visit for dinner, or to a random person we talk to on the street. I know this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ and He is at the head of it! I know that through Joseph Smith, this church has been restored back to the Earth and we are so blessed to have the fulness of the gospel. I know with every fiber of my being that the Book of Mormon is true. It is my source of peace and comfort in time of stress and discouragement. It is through Christ's miraculous Atonement and sacrifice for us, for you and I individually, that our hearts can change and we can become more like Him. The more I come to know this, the more I want to share it with people, the more I want to strengthen others, the more I want to be a valiant servant of the Lord.

I love you all!
Sister Jorgensen

P.S. More info about Sister Cleverly: She is the oldest of 3 brothers, did 2 years at BYU, and loves to bake like me! She is really fun to be around and is very good at remembering people and places. She has a sincere love for the people and she is a great example of charity! I know she is here in Northridge with me for a reason. The people here need her. Oh and she doesn't really like to run but I am converting her :)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sacramento Week 10

Dear Family & Friends,

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns... so is a mission! We got a surprise phone call Friday night and Sister Zenger had to pack her bags and leave Saturday morning for a different area. This emergency transfer affected four companionships of sisters from various areas of the mission. I got a new companion and her name is Sister Cleverly! She has been out on her mission for 6 months and she is from Fort Collins, Colorado. The past few days have been a bit stressful because I've had to "lead" our area- plan all our appointments and visits, navigate our travels, introduce her to the people we are working with, etc. and I'm not even done training yet! Real transfers are next week so hopefully nothing else drastic happens.

I've learned over the past few days that the Lord doesn't necessarily do what's most effective or efficient, but He does what is best for us. Having an emergency transfer to move around lots of sister missionaries a week and half before the normal transfer date is not the most logical plan, but it's what needed to happen! And the Lord knows our areas and He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what we need.

Yesterday we had interviews with our mission president and his wife. We had to have a scripture prepared so I shared Matthew 16:24-25, verses my Dad shared in an email to me. I like those verses because they talk about how I need to give up my selfish desires to serve my Savior and how as I continue to lose myself in the work, I will find my purpose for being here in California. I am making the effort to stop focusing on the "I" and "me" and turn outward, like Christ would.

One thing that stood out to me in the interview was when President Lewis looked me directly in the eye and said "Sister Jorgensen, are you enjoying your mission?" It caught me off guard! Of course I am enjoying it but I've been really stressed the past few days and I think I have forgotten the importance of "enjoying the journey". Yes President Lewis, I AM enjoying my mission and I know I will continue to find joy in this work as I remember why I'm here- because I love my Savior and I want others to feel that. I need to enjoy each and every day here in Sacramento because I never know when it'll be my last!

Before Sister Zenger left, we had another really great lesson with Ivan and Belin. Unfortunately, they still haven't been to church and we are having problems with getting Dakota there too. As a missionary there is only so much we can do to encourage them and promise them blessings, but in the end, they have to make the choice to come. Going to church is so essential to their conversion! We also met with a less-active member named Michael and his 10 year old son who hasn't been baptized yet. We had a short powerful lesson about the importance of praying together as a family and we committed them to pray together every day. We also had a good discussion about how as we pray for things, it doesn't change God, but it changes us. As we got up to leave, Michael told us how thankful he was that we stopped by and gave them something to work on together. Made me feel like we accomplished something!

We've been continuing to have Family Home Evening lessons with members of our ward and we have been teaching a really cool lesson about the Brother of Jared in the Book of Mormon. We talk about the Brother of Jared's faith in preparing stones so the finger of the Lord could touch them, so they could have light along their journey to the Promised Land. Our families are like those "barges" or boats they used to travel across the sea. We need stones to light our way too, something to save us when we feel like we can't stay afloat in the storms of life. So we use "CPR"- Church, Pray, Read. Those small "stones", going to church, praying together, and reading the scriptures, give us the light we need to be strong as we endure our journey on this Earth back to the Promised Land, or Heaven.

"And thus they were driven forth; and no monster of the sea could break them... and they did have light continually" (Ether 6:10). No matter what twists and turns life throws at us, we can stay strong if we focus on those small and simple things that keep us mindful of the Lord.

This week we also got to prune some trees for a family in our ward. That was an adventure! And we found 2 new investigators so this week, especially with Sister Cleverly here, is going to be exciting! I'll write more about my new companion next week.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week! I love and miss you!
Sister Jorgensen

P.S. Pics are of pruning trees with Sister Zenger and a girl named Noelia in our ward who just got her mission call to Mexico! The other is my new companion Sister Cleverly

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sacramento Week 9

Dear Family & Friends,

This week has been really good! Best week we've had in a long time. The Lord blessed us with lots of missionary opportunities the past few days and I am very grateful!

We went to visit a less-active named Jenny and miraculously she was home and invited us in (we have been trying to get into her home for months). We met her 18 year old son Ivan and his girlfriend Belin and Jenny asked us if we could start teaching them the lessons. Yes! Miracle! New investigators! We came back the next day and taught them a little bit about the Plan of Salvation. The lesson didn't go anything like we planned and we ended up focusing a lot on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The Spirit was really strong as we testified of the Savior's sacrifice and what it means to each one of us individually. When we told Belin she was a daughter of God who loved her so much, all she could say was "Really? That's so beautiful", like it was the most comforting thing she had ever heard in her whole life. Both Ivan and Belin accepted the invitation to be baptized so we're really excited!

That lesson taught me a few things. First, lessons rarely ever go like we plan but we've just got to trust the Spirit and teach what we are inspired to say. When we teach to the needs of the investigator, they are able to understand more clearly and feel the truthfulness of our message. We may not know what people are struggling with, but when we have the Spirit, we trust that the Lord will put into our minds what to say to comfort them. Another thing I learned was just the simple truth that we are children of God is something not everyone in the world truly understands. Even more, that He loves us so much that He gave us His son, who suffered for your sins and mine, so we could live with God again. Just like Belin said, it really is beautiful!

Other highlights of the week... giving a guy named Estabon a Book of Mormon at the bus stop; meeting a former investigator named Ron who, even though he wasn't interested anymore, said Mormons are the nicest people he has ever met (made my heart smile!); having a great discussion about faith and works with a crazy Bible lady named Jenny; and one of my favorite moments of all: riding past the elementary school on our bikes and hearing the voice of a little boy in our ward scream from all the way across the playground "HI SISTER MISSIONARIES!" Made my day :) That's right, I am a sister missionary!

I've been studying a lot about developing Christ-like attributes this past week and I decided that 2014 is my year to be a VALIANT missionary. I just really like that word! It's "valente" in Portuguese. What does it mean to be "valiant"? Being strong, bold, unwavering. Courageous and brave like Esther in the Old Testament. Faithful and obedient like the 2,000 stripling warriors in the Book of Mormon. As I pray for more spiritual sensitivity to recognize inspiration, I must "valiantly follow promptings [I] receive" (Preach My Gospel, 91). I must have confidence in my calling as a missionary, trusting the Spirit in all I do and say. To be a valiant missionary, I must keep working hard, not be afraid to open my mouth, have a positive attitude no matter where I serve, and stand strong in my testimony of what I know to be true. Only through the Lord can I be His valiant servant as I represent Him, my Savior and my Master, who has called me to do this great work. 2014: My Quest for Valiance!

I hope this letter finds you all happy and blessed! I love you and miss you!
Sister Jorgensen

P.S. I just got an email from another "Sydney Jorgensen" who is a missionary in New York City, Spanish-speaking. She emailed me saying that a lot of people have been emailing her (her email is sydney.jorgensen@myldsmail.net) for me. Haha! I remember meeting her when I worked at the MTC and she was there. What a small world! I have an imposter! My email is "sjorgensen@myldsmail.net".

My next 2 pdays will be on Tuesdays due to interviews with our mission president and transfers the week after that. I tried to be a fancy photographer again with my name tag and favorite verse. Enjoy! Also we went exploring and found cool bike jumps! 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Sacramento Week 8

Dear Family & Friends,

I hope everyone had a great week! I just have to mention how much I'm loving California winters, especially because I know people elsewhere are very very cold. The sun is always shining, perfect temperature of 65 degrees during the day. No rain, no snow, just plenty of sun! Makes biking a lot more enjoyable. Those of you who are frozen from head to toe... I am so sorry! Stay warm! For now, I am just grateful I am in California and not Chicago.

The biggest thing that's happened since my last email was our exchange with the Sister Training Leaders on Saturday. I got to go to an area in Rancho Cordova for the day with Sister Dalley. That was my first time working in another area of Sacramento since I got here so it was good to see what a different area was like! Rancho Cordova reminds me a lot of Queen Creek, AZ when we first moved there. Cookie-cutter neighborhoods, beautiful houses with no yards, right in the middle of nowhere, lots of young families with lots of kids.

While with Sister Dalley, we visited a recent convert named Amanda who lost her husband a month ago due to a heart attack, only 27 years old. Her husband was a less-active member of our church and she had never been interested. When he passed away unexpectedly, leaving her with 2 young children, she realized how much she wanted to be sealed to her family forever. She called up the missionaries and was baptized a few weeks later, in mid-December. She says there is no way she could be coping with her husband's death without the foundation of our gospel.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is truly a gospel of peace and comfort, especially in time of grief. Knowing that we can see our loved ones again after we die and that our families can be together forever are miraculous truths the only true church can bring. I am so grateful for a church with holy temples where we can sealed to our families, not just until the end of this life, but for eternity. I can't wait for Amanda to be able to go to the temple and be sealed to her husband and children. Her story strengthened my testimony and made me so thankful for my forever family!

Sister Dalley taught me about how to have more confidence as a missionary and how to keep working hard, even when all your plans fall through. Every area has its challenges. She also gave me great advice about how to help our investigator Dakota, who is still progressing towards baptism. Sister Dalley and I have a lot in common so it was really fun to serve with her for the day. I enjoyed working with another companion and learning from her. She has been on her mission for over a year! Crazy. Seems so far away for me.

Also this week we went to visit our investigator Howard who we were really excited about. We prepared an awesome lesson for him about forgiveness because he was interested in learning about how all his sins could be washed away. As we knocked on his door, he told us not to come back and that he wouldn't like us to talk to him anymore. Sad day! One day missionaries will find him again and he'll be ready to accept the gospel. After that, we had a random lady police officer named Elena stop us on the side of the road to tell us she was "trippin" because she had never seen girl Mormon missionaries before (hahaha). We talked to her for a little bit and gave her a Mormon.org card. You know, just trying to convert the police officers. That made the sad day after Howard so much better!

"There is not once of us but what God's love has been extended upon...There is not one of us that He has not given His angels charge concerning. We may be insignificant and contemptible in our own eyes, and in the eyes of others, but the truth remains that we are the children of God, and that He has actually given His angels-invisible beings of power and might-charge concerning us, and they watch over us and have us in their keeping." -George Q. Cannon (from a talk given by President Eyring entitled "To My Grandchildren")

The Lord is so mindful of each one of us and the things we go through each and every day. He places people in our paths to help us and strengthen us, and we can be those people for others. I have felt angels all around me since being on my mission. We truly are sons and daughters of God, our Heavenly Father, and He loves us more than we can ever comprehend. Never lose sight of your divine identity!

Have a great day everyone! I love and miss every single one of you!
Sister Jorgensen

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Sacramento Week 7

Dear Family & Friends,

It's 2014! HAPPY NEW YEAR! I am so excited  to serve the Lord every single day- all day, every day- this whole entire year. 2014 is all for Him. I'm ready for the hardest, yet most rewarding, and best year of my life!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Years. Last night for New Years Eve, the 25 missionaries in our zone got together after dinner and played volleyball. That was the extent of our partying! I just want to thank you for all the letters, Christmas cards, packages, and emails I received over the past few weeks. Thank you for thinking of me, even during the holiday craziness! I enjoyed being able to Skype my family on Christmas. It's hard to be away from home during the holidays, but just as much as I miss my family, Heavenly Father misses His children here on Earth. He wants us to be able to return to our heavenly home and I am grateful to be a part of this great work of salvation. 

Visa-update: This week I had to be fingerprinted for FBI Clearance and fill out some more forms I suddenly now need. It takes at least 6-8 weeks for it to all process, then it has to be sent back through the Brazil consulate in Atlanta again, so I'll be here for awhile. It's very difficult for me to accept (I've shed a few tears) but I know this Lord's way of saying, "Chill out Sister Jorgensen. You're not going anywhere. You've got work to do here in Sacramento." So I'll put on a smile and go forth with faith! I've just got to remember it's not where I serve, but how. I'm serving this mission for the Lord and He's got a game plan! I know we are "encircled about eternally in the arms of his love" (2 Nephi 1:15) and that we are never alone!

Alright, time for a cool story. We knocked on a door looking for a former investigator named Raymond that missionaries haven't been able to contact for years. It turns out he had moved but guess what, the teenage boy who answered the door was named Raymond too! Coincidence? I think not! To make this story even cooler, his mom is deaf and my companion knows some sign language from her previous area. Now the real ASL sister missionaries are going to meet with them! I just think it's so neat that the gospel is being taught in so many languages, from English to Portuguese to American Sign Language.

We started teaching Dakota, 15 year old who's mom is becoming active in the church again. Dakota has never had interest in being baptized but since his father passed away a few months ago, his heart has been softened. The youth in our ward have been doing a great job of fellow-shipping him. We taught him the first lesson about the Restoration of the Gospel and he accepted the invitation to be baptized later this month! We're praying he will continue to have that desire to progress toward baptism and prepare himself for that special day.

I've been thinking a lot this week about New Years Resolutions and how I am going to make this year the absolute best it can be. I love this scripture: "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins" -2 Nephi 25:26. Every time I read this, I am inspired to be a better disciple and follower of my Savior Jesus Christ in my thoughts, words, actions, and writings. Our children, or more broadly, the people that surround us every day, will know what we stand for and where they can turn for forgiveness of their sins when they see our example. 

So what will you do this year to "talk more of Christ"? Make the gospel more part of your daily conversations. How can we "rejoice in Christ'? Notice the many blessings, both large and small, the Lord blesses you with each day. Say more prayers of gratitude. We can simply preach and write of Christ by sharing our testimonies on Facebook or other social media. Send text messages of encouragement and uplifting words to those who are struggling. Write a letter of support and love to someone who needs it. Whatever you do, and however you do it, make it resolution to be a representative of Christ in all you do! And it's not a resolution unless we ACT!

It's so important to remember Christ all year, not just around Christmas time. Because of His sacrifice, you and I can do hard things. 

I love you all!
Sister Jorgensen

P.S. My next pdays will be back to Monday. Pics of my lovely beach cruiser bike that I promised my family. I am really missing the other bike but at least I have something! The other is my companion and I on Christmas