Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cong Youtazhou Ogden, Ni Hao!!

So. Miracles do happen. Regardless of the fact that I'm still just
here chilling in good old Utah, I'm loving this place. The food is
real, the people are real, lessons are real, I'm a real missionary.
And I couldn't be happier.
Elder Arrington and I

Sister Jenkins, sister Akita, and I got off the hour long train ride
to be greeted by warm and friendly AP's in a freezing cold and windy
Northern Utah haha. Got to the mission home to find out I'd be serving
in Syracuse Utah, whitewashing the area with a fairly new missionary,
Elder Arrington from Bentonville Arkansas, as my companion! Epic. But
we really couldn't have come at a more epic time in Ogden. The next
day, so last Saturday, was our mission conference up in Logan and
Elder Holland came and spoke to us with Brother Davies and some 70
presidency member. It was really good! But Holland gave the same talk
that I had watched 3 or so different times in the MTC, that YouTube
video of "missionary work and the atonement".. Yeah it was that talk
haha but good news is he's got it down and he didn't slip up once so
props to him for being so good at memorization!! But really it was
good I quite enjoyed it.

Next Sunday just so happens to be the Ogden Temple dedication as well
so no I don't get to go the actual ceremony but I do get to go watch
it at the stake center on Saturday and then skip church Sunday
hallelujah!! Bahahaha but church is great around here.

We got bikes yesterday! I was stoked. However they were definitely
made for 10yr olds. The handle bars barely come up to my hips hahaha
and it was just my luck yesterday that while I was shifting gears my
gear shift broke so I was stuck in first gear pedaling like a mad man
just to maintain my companions' slow and easy pace...I'm sure everyone
who passed thought I didn't know how to ride a bike haha! But that's
one of the fun things about being a missionary, you get to look like a
fool and no one judges you for it because you're the godly people!

I think I can already say I've had the grossest thing I'll ever eat on
my mission haha. Thousand year old egg. Yeah, a duck egg that is
hardboiled and left to rot for a couple months until it turns dark
black on the inside. Google it. It doesn't taste any better than it
looks bahaha.
thousand year old eggs…..yum…….
BUT I did eat it like a champ!
and tell Lisa they are "very expensive" hahahaha

Gave two talks this past Sunday with one day's notice. That was fun.
But really if you just trust that The Lord will give you what you
should say in the very hour you need to say it then it will always
work out. The promises I was given in regards to being a missionary
and having the gift to knowing what to say in the very moment I need
it has been very apparent. It definitely is a sure promise!

But as for the real miracle. Right after getting my things dropped off on Friday 
afternoon in my new apartment, we had a member come pick us
up for our dinner appointment with his family. Right when I got in the
car he recognized my name tag and told me he had served in Taipei. So
I got to practice my Mandarin with him over dinner!! But better yet,
he informed me of two Mandarin speaking potential investigators in the
area. So that night after we had tried all of our scheduled
appointments which coincidentally all fell through, Elder Arrington
and I went over to BaiBinDX's house and tried him. He let us in and I
was able to give an entire lesson in Mandarin on my first night in
Syracuse Utah. And it rocked. He invited us back for last night, so I
was able to give yet another lesson all in Mandarin and it rocked as
well, the spirit was friggin strong and was working wonders. My poor
comp can't say anything though so it really is all up to me to give
all the discussions, good thing I studied hard in the MTC. Gift of
tongues is real. Gift of the spirit of discernment is also real. I
believe I can help this man. It wasn't a coincidence I ran into this
guy on my first day out here. All part of the plan I guess. But it's
so so so so sick! So grateful God has provided me with this

I'm excited to go to Taiwan. I already miss my homies from the MTC
haha. I made some sick is friendships. The mission is so cool. It's
fun to see how perfectly placed I've been throughout this whole visa
situation. This work really is so inspired.

Elders Elliot, Heaps, Jensen, Huntsman, Robison and Wheeler

Wo ai nimen!

Jin ZhangLao
Elder Jensen

Triple Bogie

We have now been in the MTC 3 days past what we were supposed to be, hence the title. And as such I literally have nothing exciting to share. So I'll just share all of what I've learned from prison.

As fun as it may sound, don't be deceived. Prison isn't a good idea. Prison Break is a TV show, actual prison is not at all as exciting. So first, I have officially decided I will NEVER commit a felony because I swear I will not go through this again. Pay your parking tickets family, a couple dollars isn't worth prison time.

Patience is much easier said than done. I have had to exercise a lot of it. And it doesn't get much easier. But good news is you grow. And by the end of this I'm gonna be a patience guru, I'm pretty much becoming pro. However, the take home from this is don't pray to learn patience, you will definitely regret that hahah

From all my stories about my tongban I'm sure you could gather I've also had to learn how to love people that are on the opposite side of the spectrum from you. And I've found it really is possible to love anyone. So I'm proud to say that I'm a much more loving guy than I used to be. I love everyone. Except the travel office. I'm still mad at those bast......bad people. (I know, I'm a missionary.)

I've met so many sick elders here. We've been planning out our life after the mission haha. Basically we're backpacking the world and owning all the International markets. We've all become so tight. If anything has been great about the MTC it's been being around all these sick bros.

My tongban left for Australia today! :D That lucky elder. On a big jet plane. But it's cool now because I get to choose which elders I want to be in a Tripanionship with. so I have no complaints.

As of today I still have no idea where I'm being reassigned to or where I'm going but we have gathered a list of all the possibilities we know of so far.

Boise (the best of them all hahaha)
San Francisco
Long Beach

So I'm stoked because there's some sick places on this list. Everyone let me know their guess!! I'll be sure to send out any news as soon as I get it. Hopefully by this coming Wednesday or Thursday I'll have my travel plans.

That's all. Not much to report at all. Keep it up and remember life is beautiful.

Jin ZhangLao
Elder Jensen

Thursday, September 4, 2014


I'm happy to inform you that we received news today of our eminent reassignment. The MTC decided they liked all of us Taiwanese missionaries so much that they found a loophole for us to stay. Our visas are not here. Will not be here anytime soon. Taiwan decided to suddenly switch the process by which they grant our visas and absolutely no one has any idea just how long it will take for those visas to get here. 

Here's the situation. We wake up this morning and tend to our laundry assuming that it was still possible for us to leave tomorrow (Sept 5) as originally assigned. Then we sat around all day awaiting 2 pm, when they would make the final call as to whether they would cancel our flight plans or not. 2 came, and we were told that we had no visas and would not be leaving tomorrow, but that they expected us to have our visas by next week and would be shortly on our way. We were bummed.

But then we went to dinner. The other districts told us we had to report to the travel office as a district following dinner and we did so to find out that we officially were going to be temporarily reassigned somewhere in the States in a week at the soonest, possibly two weeks, and then we would leave for that mission the week after. So our MTC time is still approximately two to three more weeks. And then we will head out to somewhere in the states for another 6 weeks. And hopefully, depending on our visas arrival, be on our way to Taiwan in November. 

This is quite the humbling experience for me. I am ridiculously bummed out that I had another 2-3 weeks of the MTC added on to my already ridiculously long stay here, I'll be perfectly honest. I'm not sure this visa situation had the hand of God behind it, or if it was just according to the choices of man, but I believe God is watching how we all handle this. How we handle this says a lot about our character and I don't want to disappoint anyone.

Who would have thought football had so many real life applications. Coach Rigby, Loo, Horlacher, Matua, Esplin, thank you for all you taught me. I remember the many times when you preached that the 4th quarter is the most important part of the game. When you're tired, hungry, sore, hurt, want to go home, and whatever else, that is when you prove yourself as a man. You pushed us to always give it our all out on the field, down to the last second. And it definitely wasn't always fun. In fact it sucked sometimes bahahaha. In many situations those last few minutes can seem to drag on endlessly, but its those who have that power of will to push through the pain who come out on top. It's how you handle those hardest moments that form you into champions. And it is because of you five, and the many others, that I will be able to make it through this disheartening situation. I learned out on the field that you don't let anything get you down, you keep your chin up, push through the pain, and go to work. That is such a valuable lesson that I honestly cannot thank you enough for teaching me. Thank you for building me up for my post high school life. Thank you for teaching me character. You men have made such a difference in my life.

I'm not so much irritated about the reassignment. It will be cool to serve in two different missions I think. I wish I could head out tomorrow for where ever that be but humility is key.

Any words of wisdom from anyone who thinks they have something to say would be greatly appreciated, however, I will be perfectly fine. I am firm in my decision to serve and am grateful in a sense to have such an opportunity to prove my strength. Thank you for all the love and support. You're in my prayers. I hope everyone is well.

Wo ai nimen,

Jin ZhangLao
Elder Jensen

Monday, September 1, 2014

Heaps' bed after tongban was done with it.

Tongban's bed after Heaps' and I were done with it hahahaha

This is our teacher's husband who also happens to be the star on the missionary show "The District"

Women shenme shihou hui qu??

The MTC has been getting really wild lately.. They've managed to keep us on our toes. My subject translates to "When will we go??" Yeah, no one has any idea when we're going to Taiwan.

I'll start with the bad stuff. As all of us Mandarin speakers were sitting in on our Infield Orientation, it got to the very end where they put on a cute little play for us when they stopped it and announced all those who were headed to Taipei were to report straight to the Travel Office. Of course we all knew what this meant but it still stung hearing it from them. All of our Visas are apparently delayed. We no longer know if we're leaving on the 5th or not. But here's the thing!! They said our visas are still possibly coming before the 5th so there's a chance we'll still leave this week.. So you know you're in trouble when not even the friggin Travel Office has any idea what's going on. That has been fun.

Even after hearing our visas are delayed we still went to our Sunday departure devotional last night. No one is allowed to say we are leaving after the 5th hahah we are all so set on leaving this week. And I mean God parted the Red Sea for *heaven's* sake ;-)  So what is a couple visas in comparison?? Honestly.

My tongban has made considerable progress towards becoming an 18 yrold so that has been very nice for me. However, he still has his episodes. The best of this week was when Heaps and I decided to hide his chair while he was on the John. So we put it on my top bunk under a blanket, super obvious but.. Didn't notice. Went to gym. Came back. Freaks out thinking its a person under the blanket so I book it out of there before he has another melt down. After showering I come back to see Heaps' bed thrown across my top bunk where tongban's chair had been and a complete mess made of it. Heaps comes back in the room to see his bed destroyed but mine untouched hahaha so Heaps decides to respond in a similar manner and I helped out. We WRECKED tongbans corner of the room, absolutely destroyed it and moved his mattress in front of the door so he couldn't get back in! It felt so good to stoop down to tongban's level for a moment I'll be honest. maybe I've been the one who is missing out lately, it's fun acting 10yrsold every once in a while hahahah!!

Another funny thing about Tongban. I wonder if he just doesn't think before he speaks? We sat in our lesson with our Goldtag, who actually committed to baptism for us a long while back, and she told us how a different set of missionaries had been teaching her, not really addressing her concerns but more focusing on getting her baptized. She told those missionaries she wasn't sure about it until she could find more answers. So those missionaries told her if that's the case then there's nothing more they could do for her and dropped her. And she told us that actually really hurt her feelings. And that it wasn't a good way for missionaries to communicate with their investigators. When we got out of the room my tongban pipes in that he really agreed with those other missionaries, that if any of his investigators weren't willing to get baptized and weren't making much progress then to keep meeting with them would be "such a waste of time." I actually snapped at him. I told him I thought that was super shallow. This is role play, these lessons are for us to learn what works well and what doesn't from the investigators perspective. And our investigator told us right up that doing what those missionaries did was a really dumb thing. Maybe tongban just didn't pick up on it. But here's the best part. I repeat what happened to other missionaries in our district later and use tongbans exact words and he flipped out when I retold this story because "when I repeat exactly what he says then I make it sound like he's a really bad person." So when someone else says what tongban says then he understands how awful it sounds but when he says it he must just not hear himself because its totally fine in his mind. He's since told me he doesn't want me ever repeating what he says hahahaha I'm such a bad tongban because I still do anyways!

Elder Huntsman is such a stud. He was a paige for the Senate for like 6 months and knows everything and everyone in our government. The past couple nights we've all just been sitting around telling stories and listening about how all the Senators are nuts haha. It's been interesting for me though, during story time I pretty much just sit quietly. I'm not used to being around so many kids who have so many better life stories than I do. So mostly I just don't even try to one up them and listen quietly. But I love hearing all about it, it's way sick.

Tuesday night this past week was such a sweet night for me. We have devotional reviews on Tuesday nights where we usually just bear testimony of something and whatnot. But I wasn't feeling that. I went around the room and just shared a reason why I thought everyone was great. It was really moving for me to watch some of these people that really are so awesome but don't hear it enough, to watch them perk up and brighten up a little was rewarding. The love you feel for everyone while doing this work is crazy. We're all in it together.

I came across Alma 5:45-46 in my reading. "How do you suppose I know these things for myself? Because I've given myself to much prayer and fasting." I have hardly any traditional, ultra orthodox views of the church and life around here. I question everything. My tongban and I don't get along a lot of days because he hates the way I look at the world and how my faith works. But there are a surprising amount of other elders around here who also don't always just take things for granted because a church leader said so. A lot have told me they really appreciate that I'm not afraid to bring up the tough questions and address the uncomfortable subjects. That has meant a lot to know other elders respect my questions. But the important thing is I know what I know. And I have given myself to much prayer and fasting like Alma to know what I know. I cannot and will not forget my secluded and fervent prayer on the Mount of Beatitudes after finding out my best friend had just died hours before. Christ didn't show himself to me there, didn't speak to me, but I sobbed as I felt overcome by the most unique spirit I had ever felt. He's there for me. I have been carried in his arms so to speak before and I can't deny it. So as many questions as I may have had and will continue to have doesn't matter too much to me because I know beyond a doubt the only thing that truly matters. Jesus Christ is my Savior. And I'm so excited to share this message with other people out there who are in despair just like I was.

Wow the mission is a life changer. There's already been so much about it that I won't forget. I love it. Thanks for support out there. You'll all just wonderful hahaha hope you know it.

Gen Ai,

Jin ZhangLao
Elder Jensen