Monday, August 25, 2014

our travel plans

my roommates room 101!

Vaughn doesn't know how to look at a camera!

my scottish buddy elder McLaughlin

ZuiBuHao de XingQi

Translation: Worst Best Week
Friday August 22 was definitely the worst best day of my mission so far. An emotional rollercoaster. You might wonder why. First thing in the morning we got our travel plans for Sept 5, flying 15 straight hours from SLC to Tokyo Narita, 2 hour layover, then 3 hours or so to Taipei arriving at 10pm on Sept 6. So the whole zone of Taipei-ers is excited out of their minds.


No later than 5 min after I had my plans I was informed I was having visa troubles and had to turn in my immunization record right away.


Promptly turned it in and was assured it would be no problem considering it still had two weeks to get here.


Returned to the classroom and the first thing Wheeler does is give me a huge hug when he sees me to tell me the bad news that the Asian language administrator had just informed them our visas were all going to be delayed a week at the minimum and our plans were cancelled and would now be leaving Sept 12. Huntsman punched the brick wall haha.


Returned to the travel office to ask if my problem caused the whole zone problems as well. They had no idea what I was talking about and assured me they had no news on our visas and that if anyone besides them tried to give us news otherwise then it was false and should not be believed. I was told we were still leaving the 5 and no plans had been cancelled.


Return to the classroom to see the administrator right off and informed him the travel office said there was no delay and we were still on track. To which he said they probably hadn't been informed yet but we were for sure delayed and to just deal with it.


Sat through class semi depressed and completely distracted on my visa situation. Until at the end when two of our sisters walk in and tell us the very administrator who said we were delayed just received news that our visas had been cleared and arrived approx 5 min ago. I was relieved.


Went to pick up mail and stopped by the travel office once again to ask if my visa problems had totally been worked out and if there was anything else I needed to do. They blew up. They had heard nothing about our visas since the time they informed me of my immunization thing and they had no idea where this guy got his info on our delay and also on our visas being cleared. they said that no one had their visas but that they were expecting them and were very optimistic theyd be here soon.


I have my plans for the 5, I am set to leave with everyone else. But no one has a visa and it is still possible no one's will arrive on time or also that everyone's does except the 6, me included, who had problems. So i have no idea if I'll be going to Taipei or not.. But I have faith and a good feeling I will so thats something.

Mom you were worried i have gotten incredibly skinny and am starving. I am still rocking my original 165 lbs I came in on and I discovered a secret room full of healthy and homemade food that I can eat from under the condition that I get heartburn easily which is true. So my diet is fantastic here.

We got the new Mandarins this past Wednesday and Wheeler thought it'd be hilarious to prank them and make them think he was some beast of a person and anger management and whatnot. We got everyone in on it. It was funny. But he told them after like 45 mins of being crazy insane that he was actually a cool guy. Those poor missionaries were scared out of their minds. but theyre all super cool and we like them.

I got made DL yesterday. which is neat. basically I'm mailman now. And i get to sit in on these really fun 3 hour meetings next sunday to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of our districts. So that's exciting because now I have double the power as I am online coordinator as well still. Next thing you know imma be mission pres hahahah jk as fun as this little title game is I think I'm indifferent. its too bad. all my tongban wants is power and I tried to help him out by declining to be DL but they wouldn't let me so now I'm also senior companion for the rest of the MTC which he's already expressed he thinks it should be him bahaha!

Last thing I want to share is I think all of us at times feel like we have messed up pretty bad enough times that God might not forgive us. In our devo last night the speaker shared that some missionaries may feel at times that they arent worthy to be out on a mission. That some of us out there had made past mistakes and had tried to repent of them but had recommitted them after going through all the necessary steps to repent and being pronounced clean by the bishop, then trying to repent again, yet still feeling that strong tug of guilt and thinking we can never receive forgiveness after that. The devil wants us to feel we'll never be worthy, that no matter how hard we try to repent, we can't be forgiven. This struck me because although I'm at peace of conscience, I know missionaries out here and people back home that are stuck in this situation. Satan doesn't want us to feel like we can be forgiven. He wants us to think that repentance is a dead end. That there's no reward at the end. Mosiah 26:30 and Moroni 6:8 teach us that "as often as they repent will I forgive them." You can always come back, you can always repair past mistakes. "as often" as we go to God with real intent to change he will welcome us back. "as often". please, I dont know who I am feeling this way for, but whoever it is of you I hope you let this give you hope. I hope you let this calm your fears. Please come back. God will welcome you with open arms.

Sorry. I hope that doesn't come across too strong, I have no idea who it is that I feel like needs to hear this, I'm not calling anyone out. I do this out of love. I tell you all in my emails how much I love you but I don't think you all understand. I wear your names on my heart. All of you and many more are all on a list I keep in my pocket over my heart to remind me to always think of and pray for you individually. Mom let me know of anyone outside of this email who would like their name to be there as well. I really do keep you all in my thoughts constantly. You're all amazing.

Cong wo xin de xia,

Jin ZhangLao
Elder Jensen

PS I have now outlived all the European language fools. Starting my 8th week this wednesday so i am super amped to get out to TAIWAN in 11 days!!!!! (hopefully)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

when in Rome

This guy was a stud and his shafar was sick!!


Wo xuyao jide NAIXIN!

Guess what all happened this week??

If you said nothing, you guessed right.

I really don't have anything to write about so this might be the shortest letter I've sent yet. Tongban found out about the Internet joke and he was ticked at me and really at the whole zone too because he was the only one out of all 50 of us that was clueless hahaha. But it was hilarious to watch him while the joke was still going! He was so amped to get people in trouble!! He was nonstop talking to me about what policies we should enforce about going over on email time and also policies about "locking people out of their accounts." it was so funny to watch the little power we held so quickly get to his head.

He's gonna be mad I wrote this, but in his journal one night I read "I can't stand that my tongban has absolutely no regard for the rules! Sometimes I just REALLY want to take away all of his agency!" my companion wishes he could control me. There's definitely a constant struggle for power with this kid hahaha. and honestly I'm fairly obedient around these parts, just not in the way he wants me to be I guess. I think me constantly reminding him we are late to everything because of him doesn't help haha.

CAFE RIO!! what a friggin blessing!! that made my week all better. just to taste food that wasn't frozen for 3 years before.. wow I can't wait to get to the field. LOVE YOU LISA!!!

I miss the family group message. I hope you are still having some funny conversations. maybe send me some screenshots of the funnier threads mom??

We found out we leave on Friday Sep 5 because our President will be in Hong Kong for a while so they either had to send us early or later and our President chose earlier so yeah I basically already love him. assuming it was his choice to send us earlier that is....

During our service this week I was again sweeping outside and the tongban was inside scrubbing door knobs and some righteous teacher comes up to me and asks why I wasn't next to my companion. "He's inside also doing service where the service people have ordered him to go." "Thank you Elder! just wasn't sure if you were breaking some rules or not!!" you're welcome for sweeping the entrance to your classroom Brother Idiot.

The district calls Vaughn "Little Vaughnsie" now. Or "Xiao Fang Zi" which is how you say it in Chinese. I should stick up for him but generally I'm laughing too hard to defend him. I need to be nicer to poor Vaughn bahahah

Glad to hear about the Fieldings. I was worried for them I won't lie. And I was also hoping God would be nice enough to bless their family since people do promise me everyday my family is constantly being blessed beyond measure for my service. So I hope thats the case.

I came across 2 Cor 4:17-18 in my reading! (man I hope thats the right scripture haha!!) Which then took me to D&C 121:7. Peace to your soul, your afflictions are but a small moment. Endure them well and then you will be blessed eternally. Sorry I wish I had some awesome, outstanding experience that I could relate to you better with a story, but I don't. So a scripture will have to do.

Miss you all!! Love everyone! You're all in my prayers.

Jin ZhangLao
Elder Jensen

Monday, August 11, 2014


All my homies!! Johnson, Huntsman, myself Robinson

Shortly after I was yelled at for this.
That's Vaughnsie back there all blurry

District parties are dope

ErShiWu Tian!!

25 days left and counting!!!!! holy crap. I get a ton of letters from people mentioning how long ive been in the MTC and how they are so sorry for me but I don't know what they are talking about!! The MTC is so great I'm not even sure if I want to go to Taiwan at all! gourmet food, quality mattresses, rules and rules, white walls, endless class times, i mean what more could i ask for...

Laugh, my jokes are funny.

This past week my district celebrated our official HUMP DAY! I'm on the decline these days. So suck my balls MTC staff you couldn't break this tough little ChuanJiaoShi!! I'm so amped to get out to the field. Every day we look up tons of pictures of Taiwan and I mean what a gorgeous place just waiting for me. Its calling my name as we speak those people need this message I have. bahaha at least hopefully they need it, or else why would i be here?

Elder Wheeler started a fast from English last Monday night. I thought it was hilarious and me Heaps and Elliot all joined in. But poor little tongban didn't find it as funny and had a major meltdown. During his temper tantrum he proceeded to call us all idiots and stupid and annoying and dumb, punched some walls, but the best was in the classroom that morning. He gets up to the board and starts writing something like a mad man and it's making an unusually horrible scratching noise, so once he calmed down and sat in his seat we wiped the board down to find some gnarly scratch marks there. Which actually is kinda cool considering now anytime anyone looks at those scratches they can think about my tongban elder Vaughn. I've always been looking for a way to permanently leave my mark on this place but tongban beat me to it I guess bahaha. It was a sight to see so hope you all know you missed out big time bahahahahah. He's cool though, tongban aint always so crazy.

The fast was especially hilarious as we were hosting the new missionaries. We all bought these tiny whiteboards on which we could write English so we all had written "Where are you going?" and were just screaming at all the new missionaries in Chinese and when they would tell us we'd all shout "AHH HEN HAO!! HEN BANG!! JIA YOU!!" we may have terrified some of them very badly. I will have to repent later for that haha.

Everyone turn to 1 Nephi 17:1-2. I came across this in my reading and it hit me hard. Vs 1 - They did WADE through much affliction. To wade is to walk through deep water, nearly submerging you and completely overcoming you, but not quite, just to the point that you are still able to barely walk. Vs. 2 - "And so great were the blessings of the Lord upon us." We are all nearly drowned in our sorrows and pains in the world from time to time. We wade through some sucky stuff and it is rough. But so great are the blessings of the Lord upon us when we're doing what we should. Nephi was humble enough to recognize in his hardest moments that still the Lord was blessing him so greatly. I want to be that same way. So great are the blessings of the Lord upon me, especially now on the mission. Hopefully that's of some use to one of you as well.

Thursday was our service day. I was left to sweep the entrances to our classroom building outside. I was stoked. I forgot the sky was blue, I assumed it was orange because thats what it is through our lovely tinted windows. And guess what, the sun is yellow not purple!! crazy huh? I learn a ton here in the MTC.

I have now confirmed with the MTC travel office probably 3 times that our set departure date is Sept 5. that adds up to a total of 8 weeks and 1 day of the MTC for me!! Look at us Mandarins...beating the system so effortlessly. and btw, there's 31 of us set to depart on the same plane. 31!!!!!! how nuts is that. I love everyone going to Taipei. literally everyone. I think a requirement to go to Taipei was you had to be a boss and a stud. The brethren did a great job at choosing who all got to go to the coolest place on earth.

My tongban and I were given the prestigious title of the new Online Tech Coordinators in our zone. So we get to train the new missionaries how to send an email and how to type in their username and password and stuff. So pretty important stuff, we're big deals around here now if you know what I mean.

But where our new assignment gets funny is the past coordinators know Vaughn very well and know he believes everything they tell him. Elder Cook and Dunn told Vaughn we get to check everyone's email time and make sure they don't go over 60 minutes every week. Of course Vaughn believes that there really is something tracking our email time and let me tell you, he is SO STOKED to be able to bust people now! He couldn't stop talking about how excited he was to get people in trouble for facebook and such last night. I just have to keep this going till Thursday because that's when Cook told Vaughn we had our orientation on how to monitor everyone's time and whatnot. Thursday may be a funny day for me. I'll probably forget which room our meeting is in and have him ask the front desk about it hahahah.. we'll see I'll think of something.

Lastly. I'm sad to inform you that I have not yet layed eyes on Narnia. I'm too scared to drag tongban there with me because I have a sneaking suspicion he wont like what he sees although I'm super jealous of Robinson Wheeler Huntsman Johnson Humphries and so forth that all get to go daily. Let it suffice to tell you I might have to do splits one day so I too can behold Narnia.

The MTC never ceases to be spiritual. My spiritual experiences greatly outnumber my non spiritual experiences so you can guess that my days are pretty happening around this prison. Actually just happening in the blue book I'm reading. It's fun. Love you all!! Miss everyone. Send me letters. I love hearing from the outside world. I promise I'll always reply! You're all sweet spirits, God loves you and I do too. 

Ai Nimen,

Jin ZhangLao
Elder Jensen

Monday, August 4, 2014

Best friends from High School

Elder Loo (Mexico) , Elder Jensen and Elder Parr (Netherlands)

Elder Jensen and Elder Parr high school buds!

Snow Canyon friends


sooo... after having received a few cautionary letters from the family I have decided perhaps to not exaggerate my stories anymore hahah. i figured you all could use some entertainment but maybe i should just start being a missionary. (of course that doesnt mean i wont still have fun things to tell you i just wont make it sound like im really destroying this place anymore)

Funny though i should get so many cautionary letters this last week, I actually have been humbled significantly this week. Although i have not got into extreme trouble, meaning not even a wick of trouble with the branch presidency or anything they love me haha, but a little with the fresh off the boat RM teachers.. Our district is known to be the party district in these parts. which causes us a lot of trouble as it turns out. apparently weve been too rowdy and the other districts like us too much. funny how trouble goes here in the mtc.

Both of our teachers in the same day wrote the same things on the board.
-no eating in class
-no breaking the dress code
-no playing stick pull or anything with mop handles
-no stealing the decor from other rooms
-no wasting the lords time
I am guilty of every single one of those things. every one bahaha so yes i was squirming uncomfortably in my chair slightly. our teachers still love us though and really this list was pointed towards the whole district, everyone is guilty of everything. so I wasnt cornered up or anything dont worry. but maybe God is saying i should start obeying completely?

I mentally lost it a few days this past week. the prison walls finally started caving in on me and my free spirit blew up. the tongban would ask me any given question and because i was a mental wreck all i could respond was "HEN HAO" or "TING BU DONG" which mean "very good" and "i dont understand", respectively. he was slightly fed up to say the least. also the district is getting ticked that I have worn the exact same green tie everyday for two weeks now. I NEED SOMETHING TO MAINTAIN MY SANITY AND IF WEARING THE SAME BRILLIANTLY GREEN TIE EVERYDAY HELPS ME GET OVER THE MENTAL CRACKING EVERYONE IS EXPERIENCING THEN IMMA WEAR THAT BLOODY TIE TILL IT FALLS APART AND MY DISTRICT WILL LIKE IT. there is my rant. I have been better the past weekend so dont worry I will not be attending the psychiatric ward here, I'm perfectly mentally stable.

One of the major things that i accomplished this week is I finally figured out how to explain the concept of who God is. that may sound slightly sacrilegious however if any of you have ever tried to teach people who have absolutely no concept of God or heaven youd understand that its basically the most dreaded and difficult topic of mine. sometimes i feel like saying "I DON'T KNOW WHO GOD IS I'VE NEVER MET HIM!!!" but i know that wouldnt go too far and i apologize for all the caps its just that topic helped lead to my mental breakdown. its all good now though. its as easy as 1,2,3 now and me and Vaughn straight up wreck those lessons to the point that no investigator would ever dare not be willing to pray at the end of it bahahah.

One morning during study hour, Vaughn and I were going over our lesson plans when suddenly the thought occurred that we need to find a goldtag (actual investigators the church pays to come meet with the missionaries here) before i even finish getting all the words out one just appears!! so we taught her about the restoration. prophets is also a sketchy topic with most people. Dad here is where you are an honest savior in my mission. I shared the story of you listening to Pres. Hinckley's counsel to get out of debt and how that blessed our family so abundantly that compared to most people we've skated through the recession just fine. thank you so much for heeding the prophets words. and also sharing that story with me so i could then share with others. you shouldve seen our investigators eyes. they lit up and went wide open. she really liked hearing that. I think that was the kill shot for this week in our many lessons we've taught.

We had a devo by Elder Groberg the other night...the actual missionary from the best two years. it was dope. but he said something about how he vowed with his companion that theyd share their testimony with 3 people every day. one day at night Groberg realized they'd only shared it twice. but his comp said something along the lines of "It's too late now. We'll make up for it in the morning." but Groberg persisted and ended up finding his third opportunity who months later was baptized. this little story spoke volumes to me. The day before, so last monday to be exact, Vaughn and I were going to the temple. We made it nearly to the grounds before we realized neither had our recommends. so we went back. then once we got there with our recommends mine still wasnt activated so for the first of the 40 times i've used it I had to sit in the front for 45 minutes to wait for it to get activated. then we got into initiatories and the wait was over an hour. so I said to Vaughn, "chance missed. we are too late." as we were walking out, the front desk caught us and said they needed two men up in sealings pronto. so we made it up there and skipped all the lines and witnessed some beautiful sealings. though that temple experience in sealings probably wasnt overly influential for anyone, it was a good eye opener for me. I dont want to be that comp that says "It's too late, we'll make up for it later." I committed to this work when I accepted my call. the time is now. I need to get with it 100% or miss out on some awesome opportunities. I'm so glad I learned this in the MTC so in the field I dont make similar mistakes. Hold true to your word and give it your all right now. dont settle for compensating later. hahah i know all of you just love getting advice from so called "wise 19 yrolds" but perhaps that might be of some use to one of you.

This week has been the most spiritual week in my life. I've grown so much. I understand now when Nephi writes there are many more too sacred of things to be written. Some things are too beautiful they honestly cant be put into words. but know this, I am forever changed by the experiences I've had in the past week. My heart is refined. Jesus is my Savior. 

Love you all! hope the outside world brings you great happiness because it sure does bring me happiness hearing about it lately!! keep me updated on all the news and everyones whereabouts and send me letters I eat them all up!! its crazy how fun mail becomes in the MTC. Sad I missed the family outings of this past week. Know that I love you all. youre all amazing!!

Nimen dou bu zhidao duoshao wo ai nimen!
Jin ZhangLao
Elder Jensen

Jinzhanglao and Xu Zhanglao my Chinese friends I talk about.  Don't they look hilarious!

This isn't even our whole zone.  And there is still 2 other zones of Mandarin missionaries.

Gonna miss these goons!

Jiemeimen he Dixiongmen HAO!

I'm almost, yeah get this, ALMOST 1/3 of the way through here!! Wow the MTC is a long stay..

I decided I dont necessarily have yellow fever yet, but I am DYING to have an Asian body! Elder Sng from the zone does these dope pushups where his whole body comes off the ground a foot and he can do like 20 or 30 in a row!! I tried them and I am also capable of doing them although his little ninja build would be prime for it because they are all tiny balls (no pun intended bahahah) of muscle and probably dont have to work to build up all those lanky muscles that us taller people do. also i think i might take up taichi and kungfu in the field because I think my calling in life is to simultaneously fight crime and share the gospel. hopefully elder rigby feels the same so we can be sidekicks and partners in crime hahah with his jujitzu or whatever them hondurans do..

The district's science experiment is coming along fantastically. We have had 4 or 5 OJ bombs go off and I think we are on the verge of perfecting it so we can blow up some classrooms around this prison. I think the walls would look much better orange than drab white. 

Speaking of classrooms, Chinese class is the equivalent of 3 bottles of whiskey, itll knock you out cold and you wake up with the worst hangovers. I thought it was a joke that you get more tired than ever before in the MTC but turns out thats actually accurate! So Robinson Wheeler and I have taken up running 2 or so laps outside around the building every water break except when the tongban (comp) gets demanding that I stay in the building. then I run stairs haha. So improvisation is very important around this place for sanity.

Mom Dad as I tell you this story remember I'm a smart 4.0 kid. But sometimes my dumber side shines through. I was complaining about how tired I always was during break one of those days. So of course Wheeler and Elliot decide to play with me a bit. According to them, getting slapped across the face is the equivalent of 12 cups of coffee and will wake you up for up to 3 or so hours. I'm thinking "yes! if that works then this is fantastic because I have the hardest time staying awake!!" but I guess it just didnt cross my mind that getting back handed isnt exactly a pleasant feeling. So i voluntarily let Wheeler, the huge army dude that benches 900lbs, smack me soo hard across the face I almost cried!!! and worst yet right when I sat back down in class my eyes got heavy again but my face was throbbing too much to sleep so maybe thats how its supposed to work? for like an hour half of my face was bright red and the other side normal so some of the sisters had to take my pic.. (But really they just wanted pics of me because I'm so good looking ;) an inside joke we have going since elders and sisters arent supposed to flirt hahah) 

Dont let anyone tell you if you need a wake up call then to let them back hand you across the cheek it doesnt work.

Besides that little prank, I actually love Wheeler. We have explored just about every custodial closet around this place for the 'works'. But unfortunately the MTC is smarter than to have works cleaner just hanging around this place so we settled for a less reactive chemical that wheeler still thought would work. So we attempted 5 or so works bombs but none of them ever blew although they got to be like a 1000 degrees and just melted the bottles. So we turned to Elliot. I'm not kidding when i say hes the smartest kid I've ever met. During study time again he drew out the entire chemical equation of the reaction and solved it for the class and found that it only produces some metal and heat, not any gas and thats why the bomb didnt go off ever. We learn a lot more than just chinese around this place thats for sure!

But the most epic of all this week was FRUIT NINJA!! Wheeler carries around this hugeA knife everywhere he goes so we decided to be little ninjas and quietly stole a couple arms full of fruit from the cafeteria and we killed it! I got down some knifing techniques whilst obliterating those poor bananas. it was the dopest of dope. Vaughn even got into it and wrecked an apple. for those who dont know, fruit ninja is where you toss fruit into the air at someone with a knife and they slice it midair. its basically the funnest game I highly recommend it if youre feeling reckless hahah. Lisa this will be the perfect game for me to teach your little samurai when he's two right? hahaha. or Annipants and tess, i think they'd also get a kick out of it too!

So for my spiritual update so you dont think I'm a terrible missionary like I make myself sound like. We do role play teaching in class with the other chuanjiaoshis (missionaries). TanLaoshi one of our teachers suggested to me a while ago that I ought to try to implement personal experiences in my lessons to invite the spirit. So sister Jenkins played the role of being too scared to get baptized for fear of being disowned by her family. So i came in with the kill shot and shared Grandma Ott's story of being disowned for joining back in arkansas. All of it was in Chinese, (which was sick) but as I was telling this story for the 800th time in my life I felt so uplifted this time for some reason. Sister Jenkins cried. and the others were silent. role playing in chinese.. who would've thought it worked. That made me so excited to be a missionary. to share that peaceful message that all will be well in the end. missions rock.

Thanks for all the emails and letters you all are amazing. Mom keep sending me those emails if anyone ever wants theirs added to the list. tell the animals I'm very excited for my crazy random package! I miss those 5 and one on the way. keep making babies, siblings, theyre all so wonderful haha. Love you all and hope you enjoy life to its fullest and make the best of everything. 

Jin ZhangLao
Elder Jensen