Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas 2015 Family Photo

Thanks to Christina's skills!


Happy Holidays! 2016 came quick... For me at least, like wow.

Hope everyone had a good one.

When I pick my nose right after getting out of bed here, it's not pretty. It's BLACK. Eye boogers are the same story unfortunately. XinZhu must be polluted I guess.. So naturally I am very happy that every morning I have the opportunity to go run a few miles in the cold weather and let that clear out my nose a bit.

Someone told me last night that XinZhu is the city with the least amount of rainfall in all of Taiwan. I don't think it's a coincidence that I was sent here during the winter when getting wet by the rain is the absolute worst thing. That made me very grateful.

We have some awesome members and investigators here. I love who I am surrounded by here in XinZhu. The people here are all so good to missionaries. Super easy to make friends with, which is honestly a major blessing. I love making friends now that I am able to speak this language with confidence and about more and more diverse topics everyday. Perhaps one of the biggest things that I have learned while on my mission is how to connect with people and make friends. Such a valuable lesson that I doubt I know just how beautiful that is just yet..

This week we went up to Taipei for a Christmas party. We had a massive high class buffet set up for us. It was amazing. I sat next to Elder Seely from Snow Canyon and watched him open the many packages and letters he received from names that I knew as well. It made me think that it is truly a small world..

For Christmas day we went to an all-you-can-eat hotpot. For those who don't know hotpot, they are these bowls filled with soup and then you have a billion choices of veges and meat to throw in there and it all boils together and it is literally delicious. Such a good Christmas celebration.

But to top it off, we went to the church for our baptism. He was a 4-weeker. Which is something I'm usually quite skeptical of. But this kid got up and bore testimony of the power of repentance and the Spirit, as if he had been a member for many years. It was moving. Neat to see that.

This week over all was full of a lot of candy and Christmas gifts. Lots of fun.

Happy upcoming New Year! I'll be in Taipei for the party :-) Going home for the day.

Love you all!

Elder Jensen and Elder Gray


December 20, 2015

Merry Christmas to you all! Except my family, I'll be wishing you a Merry Christmas on Friday! :-)

For P-day last week, we made it over to Neihu to play around a little bit. Our man Ernie took us out to play around again, even with his gnarly cold he had going that day.. He's so dang good to us. We made it up onto a mountain that was 100 percent covered in clouds. It was spooky walking around the streets, being completely unable to see even 20 feet in front on you. There's probably a good reason why Chinese people are known to be superstitious...

Life in the clouds

I ate some Chinese noodle soup with oysters and pig intestines in it. Whoever wants to hit me up here in Taipei anytime soon can come try some with me! hehe

Elder Dong and I had one goal for the week, enjoy every last second we had together in our beautiful area. Everyday was so good. I will forever look back on that period of time as one of the greatest in my life. It's a really rare thing to be able to say that your best friend is from halfway across the world from you and speaks a completely different language than you do. It's a beautiful thing honestly. I am so grateful for the friendships I have made on my mission. They are lifetimers. Elder Dong and I are brothers.

Good Old Taipei

So you can imagine how sad I was to find out I was leaving my favorite area and my favorite companion. It hurt a lot.

I miss that kid so much

This was scary standing here, it was over a year ago that I was last there

I moved to XinZhu with Elder Gray! Down a little further on the west coast. When you look closely on a clear day, you can see China! 

Kidding, that's a lie.

But I am truly moved by the people here. I can tell I will make some awesome friends here as well. Everyone is sooooo good to us. I've had such a warm reception already.

I am really looking forward to the experiences I will have here in my new area. Having the privilege of being a zone leader makes it a bit more fun as well. Fun times ahead.

And skype in 5 days!! 

Love you all!!!

Monday, December 14, 2015


I took a quick look back through my journal to update myself on the occurrences of this past week. I didn't read many too interesting things to share with you. Unfortunately.

The good news is last P-day after emails was a blast! We had an LA drive us up the mountain behind our city. It overlooks all of the northern half of Taiwan on a clear day I guess? At least all of Taipei. When we first got into the car, it appeared that it was going to be a fairly gray day. Luckily though, missionaries hold power to repulse the clouds and rain apparentally because as we drove up the mountain, the sky literally opened up a huge hole of sunshine like directly over the spot we drove too. It was actually kind of hilarious. Missionary humor anyways....

Good views. Nothing quite like Zion or the Grand Canyon. But breathtaking in its own way. There were some fun sulfur springs up there that we went ahead to take a few smells of. Not totally sure that was worth it bahaha. Except the fact that, tell me how gross this is, because I have developed a good taste for the Stinky Tofu here, so the smell of sulfur wasn't quite as unbearable as I ever remember it being. lol. 

This week I had a lot of reflection on the blessings of my mission. As I'm a pretty practical person, remember that there of course have been numberless small missionary miracles and cool things, however, the biggest things are very simple. Myself is the first biggest miracle. I have been stretched and grown in unimaginable ways. I have tempered my attitude and emotions to be much more loving and steady. I have further discovered things about my true character. I have literally become a new person. 

The second miracle has been the friends I've managed to meet here. To have a true, good friend is a very rare thing. Very hard to come by. I have been so influenced by the people around me it's weird to think about. I feel like I've met some of my siblings from the other side of the veil that I used to play around with a lot. Meeting back up with them has been the best thing of my life. Taiwan and the people here have a piece of my heart forever.

To those RM's who have expressed similar thoughts to me before, I now understand.

I love my life. I love my mission.

That beautiful city has my heart.

12 degrees for a short sleeve, do I look American?

Sulfur springs ....

Some KungFu

Still got that hurkey down

Our man Ernie

From the top of the world!

Sunday, December 6, 2015


Although it is not yet Christmastime back home, there is no Christmastime here in Taiwan so really anytime could be Christmastime for us.

This past week can be summed up into two days, Saturday and Sunday.


Woke up at 6:30am for a good couple mile run as usual. Normally we don't bring the keys, therefore we don't lock the door when we go out in the morning. Elder Dong actually locked it without noticing until we got back. Not much you can do when all you own is behind a closed door. So we went out for breakfast with money borrowed from our apartment manager.

That I didn't mind much :-) Taiwanese breakfast food is delicious and I unfortunately don't eat it enough.

Best tasting omelette of my life

American style French toast :-)
When we finally got back into the apartment at 10:30, we didn't have a lot of time for studies and lunch because we originally had lessons set for 1pm and 2pm. All until 1pm and 2pm when they called and texted and cancelled. We went and hit the streets instead. 

We saw what is probably the only Harley gang in Taiwan out for a wedding though! That was exciting!

I gotta find me one of these back home
That whole afternoon I was seeing stars as I was walking around trying to stop people to talk to them. True exhaustion. I survived.

I was happy though to have two more appointments set for the night at the chapel. We were to get two new investigators that were super solid. And we had mulitple families from the ward come up to help us as well. The first was set for 6:30pm. We called her at 6:31pm and she sounded very confused about the address we told her. We took off on our bikes riding in circles looking for her for a good 20 minutes before we finally called her and asked her to hand the phone to one of the people standing next to her. She was at the same address we told her to go to, but about 1 hour subway ride away from us down in the heart of Taipei. So that fell through of course. Taiwanese addresses...........

She doesn't even live in our area either as it turns out.

Then the 7:30pm didn't show.

We had a mini party with all the members out in front of the chapel instead. Could've been worse..

Then Sunday:

Slow morning. I like to take me 20-30 minute showers on Sundays with that extra half hour we don't have to exercise. Finally got rolling and got up to church.

Walked upstairs. Looked to my left. There were two ghosts standing there waiting for me. It was the most terrifyingly exciting thing of my mission life. Thanks guys for the surprise. :-)

The surprise of the week! Thanks Shawn!!!
In the afternoon we went to visit a sister with cancer. We sat in her hospital room and sang hymns to calm down her pain. It quickly became a very sacred place. Holy hour. Tender moment.

At night, we got cancelled on. So we put on the little Christmas light necklaces I received and went around to members' home singing carols to them to say thanks for all they do for us and to express our love for them. It was good fun. It lifted my spirits pretty good.

When you're starving, go caroling LOL

We made it home at 9:01pm. Success.

Hope you all have a good week! Love you!

Look really closely and you might see some people in there

Three generations

Christmas shopping with some good guys here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


Happy Thanksgiving! I told Elder Dong I still remembered where I was, who I was with, and what I ate for last Thanksgiving. Scary thought to realize that was a year ago.. Time does indeed go by quickly.

As it so happened, it was also my companion's birthday Friday. So we got to celebrate two days in a row which was a dang good time. We went to a Korean BBQ all-you-can-eat and ate until I thought I was going to throw up haha. Two days in a row. May have dropped a bit of cash, but it was a worthy $20 altogether! Food here is so cheap it kills me.

As far as the week went, starting at last Monday, it was a good day to get some serious Christmas shopping in. I bought the whole street, so be prepared for a good package this year! The best part of the day was we made it back home in time for me to take my first nap in literally a year and then top it off with a huge Thai dinner. Such a good day!

Tuesday morning I was able to shake hands with the newly called apostle Elder Stevenson. He came to pick up his son from the TaiZhong mission and made a pit stop for a conference with all the TaiBei missionaries as well. It was fun stuff, though I don't remember much about what he talked to us about... That's what happens when speakers go an hour over what they originally said lol. His wife gave a beautiful talk on an average missionary who just simply worked hard everyday and at the end his shoes were trashed. Every missionary, whoever they are, honestly deserves more than just a pat on the back making it through 2 crazy, fun, emotional, beautiful years. I want to be that average hardworking missionary!

This week brought the first cold air of the season, although I'm fully aware that when I say cold, it is warm, tropical air compared to those in Russia and Europe, those of you in such places have my respect. But anyways, this past weekend we made it up to our LA's house who lives way up on the mountain here. She was concerned that all the weeds that had grown up on her roof were driving her crazy as they withered and would blow all over her hanging laundry. We got up on her roof in the cool air with an intense orange sunset lighting up the sky. It was a sight. I enjoyed a few minutes of silence pulling those weeds up there.

Last night we made it out to a member's house for dinner who lives forever away from us. It was a good time drinking out of the super traditional Taiwanese tea cups. But as we were riding back, I told Elder Dong how I felt bad about staying there a little longer than we should've, so we said we were going to make the best use of our remaining hour of the night that we could. We pulled up to where we wanted to contact people and I noticed the guy next to me drinking Apple Milk, so I asked him if it tasted good. He asked if I wanted to see all the crap in his massive bag he bought himself for dinner that week. I love goofy people like him. He ended up following us up to the chapel for a quick tour and left his info. Finding new investigators is never that easy. I guess Heavenly Father forgives his missionaries and gives them exactly what they desire sometimes. It was cool.

This week was beautiful. With the cooler air and wind comes fairly fresh air and vacant bike trails which is nice for me every once in a while.

Have a good week!

The only picture I took all week. But a worthy one. All shirts here are this badly spelt lol.