Monday, March 31, 2014

Sacramento Week 20

Dear Family & Friends,

Do we realize how lucky we are to have the chance to hear our modern-day prophet and apostles speak to us this weekend??! Just got to throw in my plug for General Conference :) It is so amazing that each time I read or watch those talks, I always feel like there is something thrown in just for me, even though they are addressed to millions of people.

For those who aren't familiar with General Conference, it is a special worldwide broadcast held twice a year, April and October, from Salt Lake where we get to hear from the leaders of the church (you can watch the sessions Saturday andSunday on or the BYUtv channel). I don't know about you but I'm excited!!! We are so blessed to have the same organization and authority on the Earth today that Christ had when He set up His church over 2,000 years ago. These prophets and apostles are special witnesses of Jesus Christ and they will tell us exactly what the Lord would want us to know for our day. As you watch the sessions, think of a specific question or guidance you need, and I can promise you, if you prayerfully listen with an open heart and open mind, it will be answered through thoughts and feelings from the Spirit.

Jorgensen family, you have a homework assignment to report on your favorite talk in next week's email to me. Happy watching!

On Friday night, Sister Cleverly and I got to go to a baptism for another ward of a 30 year old dad named Matt. Even though Matt wasn't our companionship's baptism, I could still feel the immense joy that comes from watching someone make that special covenant, or promise, with God and begin his journey back to his heavenly home. The Spirit was SO strong! We did this new thing called the "missionary moment" where we taught the Restoration during the few minutes after the baptism while Matt was changing. It's a great finding tool, especially because many non-members are present at baptisms. I am grateful my companion and I got to teach the missionary moment and it was neat for me to see a convert baptism on my mission. Our area hasn't had a baptism but it will soon! Going to Matt's baptism just made us even more determined!!

So Larry is just being Larry and feels like he doesn't want to commit to a baptismal date. See how investigators just get you so excited about baptism and then crush your hopes and dreams? That's all I am going to comment about that. There were several days this week where it seemed like none of our investigators wanted to see us, like Craig & Amanda and Jason & Shelly. On the bright side, the Otts came to church again and even the dad stayed for all 3 hours (miracle!) and so did one of our new investigators named Carl. So good things are still happening!

Ready for some comic relief? One afternoon this week we decided to do a little bit of tracting because all of our other plans fell through. We felt prompted to knock on this one door with one of those annoying metal screens where you can't see in, but they can see out. We heard the door open and a man grunt with disgust as he said "Ugh, it's like your pushing drugs or something" and shut the door. Hahahaha what??!! I wouldn't exactly compare the gospel of Jesus Christ to drugs, but I will admit reading the Book of Mormon can be addicting. Haha anyway, that gave us a good laugh for the day. I'm glad the Lord has a sense of humor and sends us ways to laugh during the day. I need it!

Oh by the way, this week's weather included heavy rain, hail, and even a tornado. And there was an earthquake a few hours away. No big deal. We're just bike riders.

This week had a lot of ups and downs (as does every week) but I learned that if I truly love the Lord, I will truly love my mission- no matter what. And I do! I am so blessed to be here.

"And the Lord said unto [Sister Jorgensen]: Go forth among the [people in Northridge area] thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls" -Alma 17:11

I pray daily to be used in the way the Lord wants me, to do His will, to give Him my best effort, to be an answer to someone else's prayer. I've been in this area 5 months and it's easy to get caught up thinking that I still haven't accomplished anything, but I know that through the strength of the Lord, I am His instrument for many small and simple things. Small and simple things EVERY DAY!
Hope you all had a safe and eventful week! Thanks for all your prayers. Enjoy General Conference!!! Love and miss you all!

Sister Jorgensen

P.S. Picture time... So in the city of Citrus Heights where I am serving, they have a trash pick-up day 3 times a year when everyone puts their junk on the side of the road. It makes the city look so ghetto! Just had to have the picture to prove it. The other pic is just to remind you all that I AM having fun on my mission and I DO love my bike :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sacramento Week 19

Dear Family & Friends,

Today I am feeling very blessed and full of gratitude! I'm thankful for the great week we had, for my companion, for the support and encouragement I receive from countless emails, letters, and packages. I'm thankful for the past 6 months I have had to serve the Lord (yes, tomorrow I turn 6 in "mission years" and this time next year I'll be going home... crazy) and I wouldn't trade my experiences for anything!

First I just have to tell you a cool tender mercy moment for me. As you know, my theme for my mission this year is "valiance". Every day I pray for opportunities to become valiant and to be a noble, courageous, strong, faithful, obedient missionary. We were teaching a less active family a practice lesson this week and at the end, the dad turned to his family and said: "These sisters were called and prepared before they came to Earth to preach the gospel and do what they do. They were valiant spirits up in Heaven set apart just for this". He had no idea I needed to hear that word "valiant"; he had no idea how much that meant to me. But Heavenly Father knew I needed that reassurance that I was in fact a valiant spirit in the pre-earth life who promised the Lord I would help His great work. It touched my heart! You never know what you might say to impact someone.

We met with Shelly, our church-hopping investigator, and a lady who is a convert from our ward. We went to get frozen yogurt and it was the perfect, comfortable environment for a casual discussion about the church and conversion. They ended up having a lot in common! Shelly had nothing but nice things to say about us as missionaries, the Mormon church, and Mormons in general. Come on Shelly, you need to just become one! Slowly but surely. They didn't come to church again yesterday but we'll keep trying.

Larry is praying (seriously) about April 19th for baptism! We have faith that this is really going to happen! We watched the video "Finding Faith in Christ" and talked about how to show Christ we are willing to follow Him. The Spirit was very strong and we invited him to be baptized on April 19th. Though he didn't say yes or no, I've known Larry long enough to know his serious pondering face. And he is seriously pondering!

Quick funny story. We saw Larry earlier in the week, just talking to him outside on the doorstep, when a lady came up and tried to sell him something from an electric/gas company. He kindly declined and then started telling her all about Mormons and how she needed to meet with us missionaries. It was the greatest thing ever! She quickly walked (actually she kind of ran) away but he kept yelling after her "Come back! We're talking about ordinances and sacraments and covenants..." Hahahaha. I laughed really hard, a real true sincere laugh, for the first time in what seems like forever. Made my day! Larry is awesome.

Other highlights of the week... the Otts came to church and Sister Ott and the boys stayed all 3 hours! We also helped a less active family with yard work and another less active lady fixed one of my skirts for me. I love how people are just so willing to help us out! We found another 2 new investigators this week so we're excited about that. Joyce and Stevie, our new investigators from last week, both bailed on their appointments. Welcome to the life of a missionary.

On Saturday we had exchanges again and I went to Rancho Cordova for the day with Sister Dalley. If there was such thing as a missionary sleepover, that would be it! I really enjoyed being in her area and seeing her investigators. She is a great Sister Training Leader and that day I had a lot of fun. They have a car so we drove to all their appointments. I can't believe I am saying this, but I actually really missed my bike! Yes, I missed my squeaky, cheap, pedal-brake baby blue and white beach cruiser bike. I admit it! Biking is a blessing. It's great exercise, good for the fresh air, and it's so much easier to talk to people.

We had an amazing Zone Training on Friday from President Lewis that was probably one of the best trainings so far. My favorite part was when President showed us a movie clip (normally we can't watch anything but church movies- this was a special exception) from the Christian football movie "Facing the Giants". We watched the part where the Coach has Brock do the death crawl all the way across the field. As Brock took each step blindfolded, with another player on his back, the Coach yelled and pushed him the entire way. Brock was only going to go half way, but by the end, as he took off his blindfold, he realized he made it across the entire field.

The Lord is my coach, and just like the Coach told Brock, the Lord is saying to me, "Come on Sister Jorgensen, I need you! Come on! You can do it! Don't give up on me! Just give me your best!" Sometimes I may feel like I am in the dark with hundreds of pounds of weight on my shoulders, trying to accomplish a seemingly impossible task, but I don't know my potential unless I give it my all. My coach wants my best effort on my mission and that's what I am striving to give Him each and every day! It's called "missionary WORK" for a reason. I am here because I I answered His call and I volunteered to this work. Yes coach, you can count on me!

I want you each to know how much you mean to me and all I want to do is make you proud of me. I want to make my family proud, my friends proud, and most importantly, my coach, the Lord, proud!

Sister Jorgensen

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sacramento Week 18

Dear Family & Friends,

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I can't believe it's Pday for me again already!

Here's an update on our investigators: We helped Amanda, the mom of one of the families we are teaching, organize for a garage sale and convinced her to come to the Stake Relief Society activity. She loved it! We had a good talk with Shelly, one of our other investigators, and though she is still church hopping, she wants to meet with us this week when she is away from her kids so we can answer her questions. We weren't able to meet with the Ott family (hooray for canceled appointments) but we did find two new investigators this week, Joyce and Stevie. We're excited to teach them more this week!

Larry called us Friday and basically told us he didn't want us to come over anymore... that was not a fun conversation. We had a heart to heart with him that afternoon and I think we are all good now. He's getting close to decision time so the adversary is working hard on him. Lots of opposition! Stay strong Larry! He HAS TO get baptized. He's come way too far not to be.

I had a few experiences this week that helped me realize that I am not in this alone and I cannot fail as a missionary. We taught Stevie about the Restoration when we saw her on Saturday and it was probably the worst lesson my companion and I had ever taught. It was just an awkward situation and I felt like I had no idea what I was saying, probably rambling about who knows what. BUT she was captivated! When we were telling the Joseph Smith story she was like, "So what did God tell him? What happened next?!"- totally engaged. That just proves to me that the Spirit is the teacher and not me. No matter how bad I mess up a lesson, as long as the Spirit is there as we teach and testify of truth, I don't have to worry! I know she felt the Spirit of our message. She committed to praying about Joseph Smith and we have a return appointment with her next weekend!

On Thursday after district meeting I was laying down for a few minutes after lunch because I was exhausted. I started to feel very overwhelmed and stressed about the day ahead of us. I was feeling like I didn't want to go through another transfer in this area, I didn't want to even be a missionary that day. See how Satan messes with our thoughts?! I turned on my MP3 that my mom sent me a few months ago and listened to the piano music of "I Know that my Redeemer Lives". After crying and pleading with my Heavenly Father just to give me the strength to make it through the day, I felt immediate comfort and peace. I was reminded again of how hard my Savior's mission was and that He knew exactly how I was feeling. As much as I didn't want to, my companion and I hopped on our bikes and started visiting the people on our list. That day ended up being one of the best days of the whole week and we had many productive lessons and visits. All I know is, if I had to do this work on my own, I would have quit a long time ago. I am so grateful that the Lord labors with me.

"And he said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness...I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong" - 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

In those moments of weakness, when I have no where to turn but to the Lord, THAT is when I grow the most. That's when I am molded and shaped into the missionary my Father in Heaven wants me to be. That's when I become a true representative of Jesus Christ. If this mission was easy, I wouldn't learn anything! Because it's difficult, and hard in ways I never expected, I am becoming strong and valiant in my purpose and faith.

I pray that the Lord will bless you each with the strength to make it through your days, no matter what comes your way. He is always there to turn to and fill us His immediate love and peace. With the Lord on our side, we cannot fail.

I love you all!
Sister Jorgensen

P.S. One of the pictures is from this past Sunday when Sister Cleverly and I helped teach a primary class about missionary work. It was so fun and look how adorable those kids are!! The other picture is from this morning, wearing our lovely St. Patty's day scarves from my mommy :)
Also I'm starting to get the best sister missionary shoe and watch tan line. Yay for the California sun!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sacramento Week 17

Dear Family & Friends,

"Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you" -1 Peter 5:7

That's my motto for this next transfer. Sister Cleverly and I are staying together in Northridge again! It's a long time to be in one area but I guess there is still work for me to do! The beginning of last transfer (6 week block in the mission) was a bit stressful but now we have found our groove and we're going to continue to see great things happen here. I'm not going to worry so much because I've realized that this is truly the Lord's work and He is in charge. As I cast all my cares upon Him, He will prepare the way and help me because He cares. He cares about this area, He cares about the people here, and He cares about me, little Sister Sydney Jorgensen, as small and inadequate as I often feel.

This week we had a really powerful lesson with Larry, who we are starting to focus on again because he will be able to (hopefully) be baptized in April. We talked about the Atonement and for the first time in his whole life, the concept of Christ's sacrifice was starting to click with him. Christ's suffering is so personal to each one of us; even if I or you were the only person on the Earth, Christ still would have come down to atone for us individually. That's how much He loves us! And that's how much Heavenly Father wants us back home. It was a very spiritual lesson and I could tell Larry was really pondering. This showed me how important it is to help people gain an understanding of the Atonement and what it can do for them personally. Though I still don't fully understand the Atonement, I have felt its power in my life as it gives me strength to do things I certainly can't do on my own... like being a missionary!

We started teaching the Otts, a part member family with two sons, 9 and 11, who love to play sports and haven't been baptized yet. The nonmember dad asked me a lot of questions about being a Mormon in Alabama and I got to share some of my experiences and talk about Ensley. I felt like I really connected with him and I was able to just be myself and not a missionary robot! The dad straight up said the only thing holding them back from being baptized was not being able to play sports on Sundays. He asked my opinion and I was pretty bold about setting priorities, as I shared some personal examples (thank you to my brother Josh!). When we put God first, everything else works out for the best. That's the simple truth. We're praying for their hearts to continue to be softened!

Jason and Shelly, our miracle family from a few weeks ago, have been church hopping but still want to meet with us. We had a lesson about reading the Book of Mormon and praying to receive an answer. We committed them to read 3 Nephi 11 so this week we will talk more about restored Priesthood authority and baptism. We are not going to let them go!

My favorite moment this week was when one of the less active members we visit read two chapters in the Book of Mormon on her own for the first time since she was a child. We read a few verses with her and asked her to read the rest of the chapter and she just kept reading! I can't even tell you how happy that made me! It's amazing when people keep commitments. Now she needs to make it a daily thing and she will continue to feel a difference in her day. 

It's those neat moments, seeing small "fruits of our labors", that make it all worth it- all the disappointments, the stress, the exhaustion, the flat tire... oh yes, my baby blue and white beach cruiser had a flat this week. I learned quite a bit of humility as we had to depend on people for rides to all our appointments but it worked out just fine. Thanks to the Elders for getting me a new bike tube and now I am quite the bike fixer-upper. Well, not really, but I can put on a new tube and tire! Look at all these fun skills I am learning on my mission. 

I'm looking forward to another 6 weeks full of miracles and hopefully a baptism!! We can do it! Heavenly Father will continue to lead and guide us as we serve with all our might!

Remember, cast your burden upon the Lord because He cares for you. And believe it or not, He cares about those little things. Onward to valiance!

Sister Jorgensen

P.S. This was when we went out to lunch for Sister Acker who leaves to go home TOMORROW!! They all liked the fun mardi gras stuff you (mom) sent :)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Sacramento Week 16

Dear Family & Friends,
It's March! And I hit my 5 month mark last Tuesday! How have I been a missionary for 5 months already?!!
We did alot of service projects this week. We pulled weeds for our ward mission leader and cleaned the kitchen for a less-active family. We helped a lady whose son was in the hospital do some house work and organize her linen closet. We also cleaned for our crazy bird lady friend- I can't even tell you how gross that was! It's fun to do service for people. It's a good way to get to know them and they can see how much we care as we are willing to do pretty much anything to help, from folding laundry to getting on our hands and knees to scrape up bird droppings.
On Wednesday we went to Youth Night (mutual) and talked to the Young Women about what it's like to be a Sister Missionary. I loved it! Our them was "through small and simple things are great things brought to pass" (Alma 37:6), as we discussed why we came on a mission and our most memorable mission experiences so far. That's what I feel like my mission has been so far, many small and simple things- no huge baptisms, but lots of little miracles and testimony building experiences that are helping me to become a more valiant missionary day by day.
Here's some neat stories from the week. On Monday night we felt prompted to go see an older single lady in the ward. The moment she let us in she started telling us how she hadn't been feeling good about herself and wasn't even sure if she was really a daughter of God. We listen to her as she weeped and we expressed the immense love her Father in Heaven has for her, whether she felt like she deserved it or not. We asked her to pay careful attention to the way she felt as we sang "I am a Child of God". In that moment, the Spirit testified to her of her divine identity, her individual worth as daughter of a King. That was so much more powerful than us just telling her! She felt it for herself and we promised her she could continue to feel it as she did what she knew was right. That experience was what I needed that night- I had a rough day and Heavenly Father knew that's what I needed to feel for myself as well, a reaffirmation of who I am and my small but great contribution to this great and marvelous work.
Ivan and Belen texted us late Saturday night and told us they were moving that night to another city. Even though we were about to go in for the night, we felt like we needed to ride all the way back out there to say good bye. I wish I could have recorded that conversation we had! They thanked us for all we had done to teach them about the gospel and even though they weren't getting baptized right then, it had changed their lives. A tender moment for me was when Belen told us one day she knew we would stand beside God because of all the great work we are doing to help people find Him. As we said good bye to them, I had such a feeling of love come over me and I realize how much I truly did love them. I felt like I could see them on the inside, their pure, innocent, radiating spirits. Their souls are so precious and I know that's how the Lord sees them. I know Heavenly Father will continue to watch over them as they set out on this new adventure. One day they will be baptized!
We got to sing the song for Julie in Portuguese so that was good! As far as our other two families (Craig & Amanda and Jason & Shelly) we are working with, we have had a very difficult time making appointments with them. We also had many rainy days this week which were not very fun... but complaining doesn't help! Frustrating and disappointing, but not discouraging! Even though we didn't have any investigators at church yesterday and we fell short of many goals for the week, we know the Lord is continuing to labor with us and everything will work out for the best.
A new insight I found during my scripture study this morning: Luke 23:46 "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit" This is when Christ is hanging on the cross and He is about to die. The footnote for the word "commend" says "commitment". Christ was FULLY committed to doing the will of the Father, even though it was painful beyond comprehension. At one point He even asked the Father if He could "remove this cup" (Luke22:42) but He continued on, and submitted to His Father's will because He loves us. Because He stuck it through and completed that infinite Atonement for all mankind, you and I can make it back to our Father in Heaven. Because He was fully committed, you and I can be free from sin and receive comfort through our trials. Because He did the Father's will, He gives me the strength to be the missionary He wants me to be, to do the Father's will here in Sacramento. I am fully commited to doing His work, with the Savior as my example.
I know Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer. Because He is the Son of God and I am a daughter of God, He is more than just my Guide; He is my older Brother. I am Christ's "Sister" Missionary and I will seek my Father's will to bring the world His truth!
I love you all!
Love, Sister Jorgensen
P.S. Next Pday is transfer day so it'll be on Tuesday. Also, quick Visa update. I got cleared by the FBI but I had to fill out another electronic application so another 3 weeks to 3 months of waiting. I guess I'm just meant to be a California girl!
Enjoy the pics. One from cleaning our bird lady's house and the other with Ivan and Belen before they left.