Elder Kyle Jensen

Elder Kyle Jensen
I am a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am serving and sharing the Gospel in Las Vegas, Nevada until April 2015

Monday, October 13, 2014


My week was somewhat of a roller coaster. It seems like everything always goes wrong in the work we are doing and I'm really worn out. But I've also seen a lot of blessings as well. Your letter really helped. Then I got to go to the temple and that helped. Then there is Elder Haddon who has been a real companion for me - someone who will stand by my side even if he has to suffer with me. There has been no shortage of blessings in my life. I think the greatest determining factor towards my overall happiness has simply been my gratitude. Is it present or is it not? Based on my roller coaster comment, you can probably tell that my gratitude has been changing a lot throughout the week.
Brother Easterman is the ward mission leader in Heritage - his wife sent you the picture. They are amazing - you will get to meet them eventually (they are lifelong friends - they already made it clear that we cannot lose them -and they said that they will be at my wedding whenever that happens - if they're still alive).

We are allowed to go every 3 months to the temple (I didn't quite wait that long but my companion hadn't gone and I went over a year without going before my last visit so I figured it was ok). That rule varies in every mission though (I know that my roommate who served in Florida wasn't allowed to attend at all and my roommates in El Salvador didn't even have a temple to go to when they were there).
Right now we are teaching a lot of children and we will probably have some baptisms in November.
p.s. Yesterday Elder Haddon and I got to teach Lesson 39 in Gospel Principles. Everyone got a good laugh when they opened up their books and saw that the topic was the law of chastity. What are the chances that the one lesson we teach in like 6 months turns out to be that lesson (to a room full of adults who all are married and have kids).

Have a good week!
Elder Kyle Jensen

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Elder Haddon is my best friend. He is the funniest companion that I've had my whole mission, I need to write and tell you some of my stories with him. Yesterday at church he forgot his name tag so he borrowed another missionary's tag and then he was asked to give the opening prayer - and since he is new nobody really knew his name - and they introduced him as Elder Shaw to the ward. It was pretty funny (there was a lot of confusion yesterday). 

We have been seeing a lot of progress in our missionary work lately, but we still don't have anyone committed to baptism on a specific date. We've also really struggled with getting people to church. I love the people we are teaching so much, but it can be so frustrating sometimes when they fail to do the things that they know they should do (over and over again despite our efforts to help them). I often have to go through the same challenges as my investigators, and I feel that I am experiencing that right now - I don't know how to explain it but I just feel worn out. I often lack the hope and motivation to change - I lack faith in myself to change and faith in others to change. My testimony of the gospel is firm, but I just feel like a less active - I just want a break (the "I just am not cut out for this" fallacy) I hate when I feel like I make it past a road block and then it comes back - again and again.

Monday, August 4, 2014


"It's been super hot! But fortunately we've had a couple days this month that rained. It was so weird to see clouds in the sky (I actually felt like I might need to put a jacket on even though it was still in the 90's). Last night it rained a little as we got home. Elder Adams was bummed that we had to miss most of it while we planned. Speaking of Elder Adams, he is getting transferred tomorrow! It's crazy he's been here for only 6 weeks and now he's going to serve in the Warm Springs Stake (that's where I was before I came here). Initially he was really mad because he really loved this ward because it was full of "rednecks" like the guys on duck dynasty (that's everyone's favorite show here - if we don't catch it on their tv in their house then we hear about it in fast and testimony meeting). He was already making plans for us to go fishing on P-Day next month and for members to take us to The Bass Pro Shop. He also requested elk and deer from half of the ward for dinner so we''ll probably get a lot of that this transfer (even though he won't be here to eat it). But he was happy because one member gave him some frozen deer to take with him. Despite the part about him having to leave this area, he is excited because he is going to get a car in his next area (he will be covering two wards). In the 18 months he's been out he has biked his whole mission! My next companion is going to be Elder Balif - he's only been out for 6 weeks so I get to finish Training him! I'm really excited for that experience, I've wanted to train my whole mission and I was beginning to believe it wasn't going to happen. Also, we are going to be covering the Heritage ward in addition to the ward we have now (Newport) so the work should really pick up - especially since the sister missionaries who were serving there are really good missionaries. I'm excited for this transfer, I think it will be really fun even though it will also be challenging.

This Weekend the Lake Mead Stake had an activity called "Camp Preach My Gospel" where 50 young men and women in the stake over the age of 16 came out with the full time missionaries for a whole day (6:30 am until 9:30 pm). It was really fun to participate in that experience and help inspire the young men to serve missions. We saw so many miracles when we had them out with us - The Lord was really working to make it a good experience for them. Towards the end of the day on Saturday, the Spirit testified strongly to me that I was going to have the opportunity to train on my mission. A voice inside me said "I can do this" - and I realized that this experience was what I needed to confirm to me that whatever challenges I may face next transfer I will be able to overcome them if I rely on The Lord. About 5 minutes after I got this impression, we got our transfer doctrine and I was informed that I had been assigned to be a trainer. It was really neat."

Elder Kyle Jensen


This week was Elder Adams' 18 month mark so he set fire to a pair of old pants (missionaries have a weird tradition where they burn a tie at 6 months, a shirt at 12, pants at 18, and a suit at the end of the mission - I don't participate in these wicked traditions but it was fun to watch). We video taped him lighting the pants on fire in the desert so we'll have lots of memories of this historic event. He also picked up the pants after they cooled off and they had turned into a puddle of plastic melted to a bunch of rocks (it kind of looks like Texas). Then he brought it home and pinned it to the apartment wall and labeled it "The Remains of Elder Adams' 18 month mark". It is now on display in our hallway for future missionaries to discover.
It got up to 116 degrees in the shade at one point this week. The summer has been brutal - but the ward has been very good to us. Our Stake President lives in our ward and we stopped by one day and discovered that they have a soft serve ice cream machine in their house! I have a feeling we will be visiting them more frequently now...
Yesterday we got a break from the heat. It started raining for about 10 minutes and we got a ton of lightning! I've never seen such cool thunder storms before my mission. A lot of people saw us walking and offered us rides but Elder Adams kept insisting that he wanted to walk in the rain. I didn't blame him - it felt so good to get rained on even if it really doesn't compare to home.
As you may have noticed, I mentioned we were walking. That is because earlier this week I finally wore all of the way through my bike tire. It started to fall apart and then on Friday night it finally exploded! It sounded like a gun shot. It was a little frustrating because I had to patch up a new record of 5 flat tires in 1 week leading up to the event. So when it finally exploded I felt like I had finally lost the battle. There was no choice but to walk. I'm planning on buying new tires today so I'll probably just have to use the debit card to do that.

We saw some success this week from a part member family. We started teaching Erin, Michael Green's girlfriend. Michael Green is a less active member who I've been working with since my first week here. He is probably one of the weirdest people that I ever met, but he is very friendly so we keep going back. This week he asked us to give his girlfriend a priesthood blessing which led to us teaching her the first two lessons. We realized that Michael really does have a testimony of The Gospel even though he may not be keeping the commandments. His girlfriend actually turned out to be very interested in our message and I have a lot of hopes for her. She said she is going to make a commandments jar for Michael that requires him to put money in each time he breaks a commandment. She'll probably put it next to the profanity jar she made for him. Unfortunately he is missing the concept of it since he's been prepaying ahead of time for the words he intends to use. Hopefully he won't apply the same principle to the commandments jar.

Elder Kyle Jensen

Happy Pioneer Day 7/21/14

First- two weeks ago we had a BIG rainstorm. Although it only lasted a few minutes, it was really intense and it caused some damage to my scriptures (even though I wrapped them in a plastic bag). It was almost as crazy as the storm last pioneer day. There was lightning everywhere and the roads instantly became rivers. The sidewalks were under inches of water and as we biked through it water sprayed all around us. Yep, we biked through it. We just kept on working through the storm and surprisingly people were not any kinder to us (they just made remarks like "looking a little soggy - keep on biking" as we approached them)! Some people took pictures of us, but we still couldn't get anyone to talk to us (we looked ridiculous drenched in water). I'm a little tired of the way that many people treat us here. But I suppose it has helped me to really appreciate the few people who don't reject us so much more. I have never felt so much love for a people before in my life. I really desire to help them. These last few weeks I believe my prayers have been more for these individuals than they have for myself. That is perhaps the greatest miracle.
This week was probably the first week this transfer that neither my companion or I have had a flat tire. Instead, as we biked Elder Adams lost his whole pedal! The whole thing just fell off right before dinner. Fortunately Elder Farr had a similar experience in North Las Vegas so we knew exactly what to do about it. Elder Adams took a clothes hangar from the closet of the family we had dinner with and he bent the metal wire around the single pedal so that he wrap it around his foot. Then he biked with one leg for the rest of the night! Actually, he only went a block down the road to a different member and we borrowed his allen wrench to put the pedal back on. But it was hilarious to watch him pedal with one leg even for a few minutes. Missionaries do the dumbest things.

We saw a bee this week the size of a humming bird. It was called a taranchula(incorrect spelling?) wasp. It lays eggs on tranchulas and the babies eat it. It was really scary so Elder Adams stepped on it three times (it wouldn't die because it was so big). I didn't realize that missionary work could be so dangerous!

I made it through week 4 of the companionship (I don't know if you've noticed the trend, but usually about this time I start to really get irritated by my companions). But we made it through the week by working on our communication skills (it's always so hard). There are still some challenges in my companionship but The Lord is teaching me how to work with Elder Adams.

Our ward mission leader fed us peanut butter and pickle sandwiches yesterday. They were surprisingly good. But then again there is a spiritual gift that I invented called "the gift of not being picky about the food you are fed as a starving missionary" and I think that this gift helped to mask the flavor a little bit (I don't know if I would recommend the recipe to non-missionaries). Also, I made Top Ramen Stir Fry this week and it was super delicious! I even used some leftover chicken from a previous dinner. I am going to become a Top Ramen chef when I return from my mission. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Update 5/5/14

I get my transfer call on Saturday and I'm pretty sure that I'll be leaving to a new area next week since I've been here for 6 months and with Elder Farr for 4 and a half months.
 We've continued to work really hard at finding more people to teach. We gave a blessing to Carolyn (who we had to stop teaching for a few weeks due to her getting shingles) and we hope to resume teaching her this week. We've picked up a few more investigators through our efforts and it will be sad that I won't be around to teach them (once again I'm pretty set on leaving - I could really use some change). I want to build up this area as much as I possibly can before I leave so that the ward will have a lot of enthusiasm when the next missionary comes in (unlike when I came in and everyone kept wishing Elder Smith had stayed - one kid even told me "you'll never replace Elder Smith" - that kind of sentiment always makes it hard on a new missionary). It is always hard to leave behind a ward when you develop friendships - and it is hard to leave those behind to enter a new ward where you have no friends (especially when your companion isn't even your friend). So I hope that I can prepare this area so that it will be a good experience for whoever follows me here. 
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend a baptism in the Shadow Creek ward for Patience McCarty (Craig's daughter that he got custody of before I left). It was so nice to be able to see the McCarty family and many of the other ward members as well. Brother Keser was especially happy to see me - his wife exclaimed "there's the one that never talks!" as they greeted all of the missionaries in attendance. Then Brother Keser came up and said "welcome back Smiley!" (that was what he nicknamed me some time ago).

Also, we had interviews with President and Sister Neider this week. They made it very clear to everyone that they felt that I had changed so much. They are so proud of me :) - President Neider even told me he thinks I'm finally ready to be a senior companion (that's good news I think). Sister Neider exclaimed, "you don't even look the same - you've grown up"  - they might just be confusing me with Elder Jenkins or something, sometime I'll tell you the story behind that one). One way or another, my perceived improvement these last few months are clearly not just in my head. Other people are noticing it too, so I figure that must be physical evidence of The Atonement in my life.
Rumors about the coming iPads were dissolved by President Neider at our interviews. Although the leadership have been mentioning that they are coming soon - he explained that soon meant sometime this year (probably not for a few more transfers). He said that out of the 21 missions in our area, we were the highest baptizing one. Which means that we are in the top 5 highest baptizing missions in the United States. That means that when the church implements changes - like iPads - we are also going to be in the last 5 missions to get them. I'm excited to see how they change things (supposedly I'll get to email on a personal iPad instead of these computers - which would mean I might get to send pictures?). 

Elder Kyle Jensen


April 21, 2014

Last week I reached my one year anniversary since I started my mission.  It feels really strange saying that.  In addition to that, I’m approaching six months in the area that I’m currently serving in (by area I mean ward - every ward in this mission currently has at least one companionship of missionaries).  I’ve been with Elder Farr for about four and a half months out of those six, so I don’t really feel like I’ve seen much change lately.  This is my second zone but based on what I’ve seen throughout the mission-the biggest change is probably dependent more upon your companion than your area here in Las Vegas.  Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot about getting along with different people - that definitely encompasses that most important and difficult lessons that I’ve learned on my mission.  
Here the standard of excellence is one baptism per ward per month.  So far I’ve been able to meet that for the most part.  (I think I’m at 11 if you include today’s baptism).
My mission has been a series of lessons on gaining new perspectives when really not much changes around you.   I've had to learn how to become the one who make change happen.  Las Vegas is really a pretty boring place when you are a missionary.  What I mean is, that not many exciting things happen unless you really work to make them happen.  It is a big city and it is a desert.  It’s the ugliest and the most unfavorable place I’ve ever been (in terms of the weather and scenery).  But when you begin to develop the capacity to see the good around you, it can become a beautiful place.  The key to that is in the people (as I am sure that you have found on your own mission).  I love these people so much, It’s such a blessing that I get to serve them.  It really doesn’t matter where I am when I get to spend my time serving those around me.  The spirit of the Lords strives even in Las Vegas, the city of SIN!  It is such a blessing to be able to fell that spirit so strongly every day.

One of the hardest things about serving in the area that I’m in now is that it is so hard to find people to teach.  Nearly every investigator that I have taught more than two lessons to has been baptized.  We just haven’t taught many people.  Here are some reasons:

  • Everyone has excused before we even confront them (they’re already familiar with missionaries and the church)
  • They’re all to wealthy and on’t think they need, God, or think they already have found Him.
  • They all drive cars-you can only find people in garages.
  • They keep to themselves-they’re as anti-social and cautious as I am!  No, they aren’t going to allow strangers into their house!
  • They are catholic -that seems to be a popular excuseI just want to say, “it’s all right you can repent!”
I could go on but I won’t, nothing gets done when I make excuses.  I’ve been working really hard to improve my street contacting as well as my finding through members.  Although I have seen little success come from my efforts, the Lord has helped me to find peace and joy from the small success that I find each day that I serve with my whole heart, might, and strength.  Today I talked to every single person that I saw (even the people who were talking on their cell phone) and I still only talked to twenty people.  (We literally spent an entire day just knocking on doors and talking to people-only one person let us in).  Today was a really good day, we have had much worse days than today (normally talking to everyone means talking to 5 people).  Out of all of those people, they had all spoken to missionaries recently, they know who we were, and all of them declined our offer to even say a prayer with them (or accept a pass along card). Despite our lack of success in finding people to teach (anyone-not just solid investigators) I was filled with the Spirit and the Lord blessed me with a positive attitude as well as an abundance of energy throughout the day.  Those are blessings that I have often missed out on in my life.  I am so grateful that the Lord has given me a chance to serve a mission.  I am so grateful that He has trusted me to work in His vineyard for a season.  Even though I have remained a junior companion my whole mission, I often feel inadequate even for the assignment.  I am grateful that the Lord is more patient with me than I am with myself.

I often call Las Vegas the “Furnace of Affliction”(alluding to Isaiah)  because it truly is the place that has changed me the most in my life while at the same time it has caused me to sweat more than anywhere else (seriously 120˚ weather with 0-5% humidity is just ridiculous).

Elder Kyle Jensen

Friday, February 21, 2014

Patching Flat Tires

I feel impressed to take a moment to share a sacred experience that I had this last week.  There are some days when you wake up and you just know that it is going to be a long day-days when “all the elements combine to hedge up the way”(D&C 122:7).  It seems as though I have had a lot of days like that lately.  However, there is one day last week which stands out more than the others.  If I were to analyze my week and present it in the form of a line graph(it might look something like the stock market) then, I would label this particular day as the valley or in other words, the lowest point.  This low point helped me to learn many valuable lessons.  the lesson that I wish to share is that although the Lord does occasionally lead us into “the valley of the shadow of death,”  He always leads us back out(Psalms 23).  We must always remember that it is a valley, there is more than one direction.  If the Lord leads us down a path of hardship, then it is only because that difficult path is the same one that will lead us to salvation and exaltation or in other words, a greater sense of happiness and joy (is that not the path we begged Him to lead us down in the first place?)
This week not only did my bike break and Elder Farr’s bike break, burt even the missionary that accompanied me on exchanges broke his bike (they popped/punctured their tires-but it always seems a lot more significant at the time seeing that flat tire can result in hours and hours of time being lost depending on the circumstances-such as preparation, location, availability of bike patches, etc).  And it was during this exchange that my capacities to endure were truly tested.  As we walked about a mile or so back to the apartment to drop off our now useless bikes, I was overwhelmed by a storm of unpleasant thoughts.  I was sick of talking to the terrible people who we had seen that day (I’ve never had so many people cuss me out in one day-not one person would have anything to do with us-I’ve never felt so rejected).  I wanted to just return to the apartment and give up-I wasn’t sure that I really wanted to be a missionary anymore.  As we walked up that painful hill in silence (I’m not making this up, it really was a hill-which conveniently matches this poetic theme) I began to readjust my thoughts.  I stopped Elder Christensen (the unfortunate missionary on exchanges with me) and attempted to pump up his bike tire (although I didn’t expect it to work, I decided to try it anyways).   It became apparent that it did not matter how much air I gave the tire, it simply was not able to receive it.  The leak was too fast to allow the tire to maintain it’s shape.  My efforts were simply not enough, we needed to patch up the damaged tire before we would be able to make any more progress.  So we continued up the hill towards our apartment.  Along the walk, I felt a whole lot like that flat bike tire.  It wasn’t making it very far, and I certainly wasn’t going anywhere at a reasonable pace.  In fact, I had a few neglected spiritual punctures of my own that needed mending.   As we walked I remember recognizing that I was frowning.  “Why am I upset?”  I asked myself.  “Who am I upset with?”  Was my next question.  “I’m not upset with Elder Christensen- it is not his fault”.  I reasoned.  “I’m not even upset with the people who were rude to us-I wouldn’t want to talk with strangers in Las Vegas, who approached me with the topic of religion, either.”  I continued.  “If not them, who is it?  Surely I’m not upset with God!”  Came the startling realization.  Then I began to correct myself by thinking of all of the blessings I had received.  “How could I be mad at God, He woke me up this morning!”  Came the voice of Augustine Johnson.  I began to smile, for I wan’t upset anymore, I was at peace.  Then I began to talk to Elder Christensen.  I got to know him better, I believe that I helped him endure his own trials as I made an effort to address his own concerns.  I found out later that he himself had been experiencing spiritual punctures.  His health problems were dragging him down and so were the events of that day.  My silence was not helping the situation.  He very much needed a friend-a companion who would hare his burden.  Together we returned to the apartment and patched up his tire (he was a new missionary and didn’t know exactly how to, so I patched it up for him).  Afterwards I gave him a few extra patches for future flat tires.  Then we went out and continued working(despite our weariness).  The conditions did not change much, and I do not believe that we were anymore successful in our missionary efforts that evening.  However, I was at peace because the Spirit of the Lord was with me.  As we ended exchanges that evening, we met outside the mission office.  Just as we were finishing, President Neider walked out and greeted us.  He turned to his friend who was visiting him and said, “These are our best missionaries”, and introduced us (similar to the way that Dad tells everyone that they are his favorite child).   Then he embraced each of us and said, “good night”.  I truly felt the spirit testify to me that evening that the Lord was pleased with my efforts.  Looking back on this experience, I now recognize that I never would have made it very far on my own spiritual flat tires.  I needed the Grace of God to help me recognize my need for repentance and improvement.  I needed the Grace of God to help me repair my flat tires before I could increase my capacities as a missionary.  I never would have been able to receive anymore air in my tires if the holes had not been mended.  It fills my heart with gratitude to think that the God of the Heavens and the Earth would reach out to me through such an experience-one that would allow me to recognize without a doubt that He loves me (The Mission President becomes somewhat of a father-figure to missionaries-one who represents the Lord in presiding over the mission field).
This experience filled up my tires for the remainder of the week.  All I needed was to know that the Lord was pleased with my efforts.  That evening, I wrote down the scripture reference Alma 26:27 in my planner.  “Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success.”   I don’t know of a better way to describe my experience that day than by this scripture.  Just as Ammon and his brethren found success, we did as well.  Within the week we gained 6 new investigators, and in the following week we committed one of them to baptism on March 15th (I also find it funny that all of those investigators were hispanic-meaning that they were probably descendants of the Lamanites-we may have taken the scripture a little to literally).

~Elder Kyle Jensen~

Friday, January 10, 2014

Sacrament Talk on Missionary Work

December 8, 2013
My first Sunday here I was asked to give a lesson in Relief Society on Missionary work.  The following Sunday I was asked to speak in sacrament.  Her is the talk that I prepared .  Hopefully you’ll find it interesting.  Also, I thought it was funny because my companion pointed out a man in the congregation who looked exactly like John Schmidt.  The entire time I could not stop staring at him after that, and now I’m convinced that he was John Schmidt.

A Sacrament talk based off of Elder M. Russell Ballard’s conference talk.

Intro-I am Elder Jensen, I’m the newest missionary in the ward and I am excited to serve here.  I must say, I feel very inadequate to serve alongside so many wonderful, faithful, God-loving people.  Today, I’ve been asked to review Elder Ballard’s talk from this last conference titled “Put Your Trust In the Lord”.  In this talk Elder Ballard stressed that “there is an urgency for each one of us to be engaged in sharing the gospel.  Elder Ballard reminded us that missionary work is a commandment “from which we...cannot escape”.  Not only is sharing the gospel a responsibility that all of us share, but it is one that comes with somewhat of a deadline.  Time will continue on regardless of how we utilize it.  Our neighbors will move, our hobbies, jobs, and friendships may change.  During the time that I have spent on my mission, there is one thing that I have been convinced of time and time again, and that is that missionary opportunities very well can be missed.  I am not doubting that God will provide future opportunities to an individual to hear the gospel, if I never invited them to church.  However, from personal experience I have seen that once I let someone slip by me on the street without talking to them-I will probably never have an opportunity to see them again-much less witness miracles as they take the opportunity to access the Atonement in their life.
I am a missionary because I love to see miracles, and I don’t want to miss out on any of the miracles that the Lord has in store for me.  The funny thing about miracles is that they always come on the Lord’s time table.  Sometimes that requires us to wait, while other times that means that we are about to receive blessings a whole lot sooner than we might want them.  
Since we don’t really understand the Lord’s timetable perfectly, I think we had better be prepared by following the advice of Joshua who counseled “Choose you this day whom you will serve...but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”(Joshua 24:15)
Brothers and Sisters, I believe that all of us have already chosen to serve the Lord.  And since all of us  are on the Lord’s side, surely we will give heed to the Prophet Thomas S. Monson who recently said, “Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together...(and) labor in the Lord’s vineyard to bring souls unto Him”.  
Elder Ballard and Thomas S. Monson both remind us that “The Lord is Hastening His work”.  The question arises: “Do you want to be a part of His work?”  If so, the the time is “NOW”.  Surely “this” is the “day” that Joshua spoke of.
In his talk Elder Ballard points out that the two greatest enemies of missionary work are fear and misunderstanding.  Elder Ballard mentioned that “many members do not even pray for opportunities to share the gospel, fearing that they might receive (them)”.  I would like to share the experience of Brother Graham-who received such an opportunity.
One morning as Brother Graham was conversing with his friend just outside his home, he was approached by his “crazy-weird” tattoo covered neighbor, Craig.  Craig asked to borrow a garden hose to fill up his backyard swimming pool.  Being the great neighbor that he was, Brother Graham let him borrow his hose.  When Craig was leaving, he asked “Hey, I see you heading off to church every Sunday, what church do you go to?”  Brother Graham hesitated then said, “...uh...I’m a Mormon”.  
“That’s cool.  Do you mind if I come with you sometime? Craig responded.
To which Brother Graham reluctantly answered “sure”.
Then Craig added: “Also, do you think that you could send those guys on the bicycles over here as well?”
To which Brother Graham responded:
“Really?  Are you sure?  Okay...”.
Over the next few months, Brother Graham joined the missionaries in several lessons with Craig.  Some of the lessons went well, while others didn’t go so well.  But in the end, not only was Craig fully converted, but Brother Graham’s own conversion was strengthened.  
This last September I had the opportunity to witness Brother Graham Baptize Craig.  I also had the opportunity to witness Craig bless the sacrament and to participate in Temple Baptisms with him.  Over these last few months Craig and Brother Graham have become best friends.  In addition, they have both been actively engaged in sharing the gospel with their friends and family.  Countless blessings have come from this one simple experience.
From this experience, I am convinced that the Lord does not ask us “to do unrealistic things in our relationships with friends or neighbors”(Ballard),  
Elder Ballard promises us that “fear will be replaced with faith and confidence when (we) kneel in prayer and ask the Lord to bless (us) with missionary opportunities”.  He adds “surely those opportunities will come” and “they will flow as a natural result of our love for our brothers and sisters”.(Ballard)
I want to take a moment to talk about the Lord’s command to “Feed His Sheep”(John 21:16).  In a letter that my mother sent me a couple of months ago, she advised, “There are opportunities everyday to serve and teach, or in other words “feed” others.  We have the opportunity and obligation to “feed” and to “be fed”...though it is necessary to be fed before we can feed others, it is not necessary for us to be stuffed full like Thanksgiving dinner before we can “feed others...all we need is just a simple testimony, not 50 scripture references, 12 conference talks to be able to “feed” someone else... All that is required is that the love we have for the Lord, and feel from the Lord, be shared with all His sheep.  They simply need to know that He loves them.  And the best way for them to know this, is for them to see the love through you.(mom)
In closing, I want to extend to you the same promise that was extended to me in my mission call:  “Greater blessings and more happiness than you have yet experienced await you as you humbly and prayerfully serve the Lord in this LABOR OF LOVE among His children.”  (Thomas S. Monson)

I know that missionary work truly is a “labor of love”.   It is inspired by love and it spreads love.  Because of this, I know that it truly is the Lord’s errand.  And Elder Ballard has said, that “It is impossible for us to fail when we do our best when we are on the Lord’s errand”.  
I know these thing to be true, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

~Elder Kyle Jensen~

*Mom's Note:  When he quotes me I am actually quoting a talk by Brother Brian Smith in the Murrayhill ward Sacrament meeting, he made the reference that I clamped onto about being "Stuffed full like Thanksgiving Dinner".  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

New Year-New Companion-Email 1/6/14

It was a pretty good week. On new years we had to return to our apartment at 6 pm. I decided to use the time to fulfill my dream of creating the largest ward map in the mission. It takes up 9 posterboards and I am very proud of it. I have now earned the title of "Map Master" (although it was self-appointed, my companions will now remember me as the map making missionary - I also made some other maps for our planners and area book earlier in the transfer). Someday when I get to use a good computer, I'll have to send you a picture (along with a few other pictures). The good news is that I discovered that Walmart lets you print pictures instantly, so perhaps I will attempt to send hard pictures sometime.
Transfers are tomorrow, and Elder Phipps is going to be transferred to the Mountain Shadows Ward (my first ward up in North Las Vegas), while Elder Butler is going to the East Stake (where Elder Hearne -my trainer- started his mission). I am surprised that Elder Phipps is being transferred since his VISA could be here any day (and his new companion is another missionary waiting to get his Visa so they could both be transferred and then the ward will be left without any missionaries at all), but I am excited for him to go to my old area. Elder Butler is going to the ghetto after spending all 6 months of his mission in one of the wealthier parts of the mission (He's in for a BIG surprise). 
My new companion will be Elder Farr from Dubois, Idaho. He's been out for 6 months just like Elder Butler - and he will be the senior companion (like Elder Butler). I just hope that he's not as bossy as Elder Butler.
I am really hoping that the work will pick up this transfer. It is hard to stay focused (and sane for that matter) with 2 companions. But now I think that I will be able to get a better grasp on things, and we can be more actively working now that both of us will be fairly new to the area (the longer missionaries are in one place, the less motivated to work they become). I also intend to write more (as far as journals and letters go) this transfer now that I will hopefully have more opportunities to concentrate)
The Book of Mormon Challenge is the best.
(Mom insert:  I shared with him that we have started the Book of Mormon reading challenge in the Young Men and Young women Group this year)
 I have seen it bless many people (including myself). I have been able to read The Book of Mormon twice this last year. I am a slow reader so that was quite an accomplishment for me. I usually spend about an hour on every 1-2 chapters (I write a lot of margin notes and study the footnotes). But I want to try skimming through the book as quickly as I can sometime just to see if I can gain any insights from looking at the bigger picture. One of the blessings of being a missionary is that it is so easy to consistently study the scriptures everyday (because that mostly all we can do everyday). 
One thing I thought I would mention is that yesterday President Neider attended our ward's fast and testimony meeting. It was incredible - I've never had a sacrament meeting quite like it. The entire meeting was focused on missionary work. He got up at the beginning and shared his testimony, then he called my companions and I up to the stand to sing"called to serve". Throughout the meeting, nearly everyone who shared their testimony focused their message on their favorite hymn. Following each testimony (that mentioned a hymn) we sang the hymn as a whole congregation (it kept the organist on her toes). Overall we probably spent half of the meeting singing. The Spirit was very strong and the testimonies were so valuable - there were no lengthy and distracting stories or random comments - but rather everything that was said was consistent with plain and simple doctrine. It was the ideal meeting to bring investigators to (unfortunately only one of our investigators showed up -while 6 others did not).
The last thing I wanted to mention is that an investigator named Brandon, who I taught in the Shadow Creek ward, was baptized last Saturday. I got to go and it was a great experience. I was beginning to worry that it wasn't going to happen (his girlfriend and parents hate the church). Also, the Olavincia family in the Las Palmas ward was unable to get baptized this last week because of a family emergency. However, they should be baptized soon, and there are also a couple other baptisms that I hope to see in the near future (with other investigators). I'll have to write about them another time (feel free to remind me).

Elder Kyle Jensen

Teaching Experience 12/31/13

On Christmas Eve we visited a man from Cuba that we had previously street contacted. As we went inside to offer a blessing on his home, he introduced us to his partner and informed us that he was gay. We decided to go ahead with the blessing, and we asked him "If Jesus were to walk into the room and He asked you what you would ask from Him, then what would you say?". His response was "I would ask him to accept me and my partner for who we are, as we are". My companion then graciously volunteered me to offer the blessing (later he explained: "you give the best prayers"). At first I wasn't compeletely sure what to do. However, as I went ahead and prayed, the Spirit guided my prayer. I asked that Alex and Max would be able to feel and recognize the Lord's love for them, and that if they would strive to come closer to God then that they would feel of His Spirit in their home. Despite my dissapproval of their philosophy and the sorrow that it brought me to see them so confused by worldly fallacies regarding homosexual relationships, I felt a genuine love towards them and I had a desire for the welfare of their souls. It was a neat experience for me because although it was extremely awkward and uncomfortable, it helped me to learn to have a greater love for the people around me (as well as people in general). I truly felt the Spirit of Christ this Christmas. 

Christmas Message 12/13-20/13

Dad mentioned in an email that he was concerned about Tyler missing the point of Christmas.  As I pondered on this issue, I was led to write my thoughts in the form of a Christmas Letter.  I suppose that it is more for my benefit than anything else, but I thought I might share it anyways.  Merry Christmas!

Part 1:  The Spirit of Christmas

When it comes to feeling the Christmas Spirit, I’m sure that all of us have been told, “You need to think about others”.  While this is seemingly great advice (as it holds true in every circumstance that I can imagine), it is not very useful.  That is because when an individual truly is consumed by their own self-interest, the last thing that they want to hear is an annoying man dressed as an elf(supporting paganism I suppose)  ringing a bell in their ears demanding so called “charity” in the form of money (which I find to be quite ironic-that money, a symbol of materialism, now represents charity “The True Love of Christ”.  When compelled to consider others, we tend to allow our pride to get the best of us.  We may ask “who are you to tell me that I need to think about others?”  Perhaps we may differ in the ways that we offer up service to others-we may simply not make the same connection between clothing, food, televisions, gifts cards, iPods, socks and happiness.  In the end I would guess that most of us either justify ourselves in someway, or simply conform to whatever it is the we are being persuaded to donate.  I would propose that all of us, chiefly myself, ought to be more charitable.  I do not say this in the sense of monetary donations, but rather to refer to a much greater offering.  The offering of one’s time-perhaps even at a time when that time is most treasured-in the Christmas season.  I suspect that there is nothing that pleased the Lord more than to see His children sacrificing a portion of their most valuable resource (which surely is time) by spending it in the service of their brothers and sisters who might otherwise be neglected.  
It is not easy to “think more about others” when we live in a society that teaches us to “just believe in yourself”. (Matthew 15:8-9)  I suppose that if we make ourselves the god of our own self-consumed universe, then it is only right that we spoil ourselves by indulging in the luxuries of Big Screen Televisions, Brand now video gaming systems, stylish clothing, and sweets galore.  I don not wish to be bitter, I merely want to draw attention to our spiritual resemblance to Thanksgiving Turkeys preparing for the slaughter.  We are setting ourselves up to be greatly disappointed once we discover on that great disillusioning day of Christmas that none of those things did in fact buy us the happiness with which we had associated them with.  Each year we find ourselves mourning over broken knick knacks, shoes that don’t fit, and many other gifts that were less than what we had expected them to be.  It has occurred to me that I must sound an awful lot like the Grinch.  That is my intention.  The Grinch had many valid points for despising Christmas-for it had become nothing more than a social gathering of “ME Monsters” (as Brian Regan might say).  As missionaries we meet many Grinches-people who are excluded or feel like Christmas is nothing more than an inconvenience.  Sometimes we may even feel this way.  These are the people who we must focus on serving the most.  I also want to point out that obviously the Grinch was wrong in regards to the way he handled the problem since his crazy scheme to steal Christmas was inspired by his own selfishness.  However, I believe that if he had instead decided to help the Who’s change their ways in a constructive way, he might have become a Christ-figure.  It is no surprise that Christ is often overshadowed and even forgotten on such a day as this.  Yet, His name remains in the title-perhaps because once again, we must justify our selfishness by masking our real intentions with the name of a glorified being (either that or “Me-monsters doesn’t have the same ring as “Christmas”).  Although His title remains as the excuse for our celebrations, the way in which we actually celebrate surely is not consistent with what He actually stood for.    If we really do attempt to defend our cultural traditions as an accurate representation of Christ’s doctrine, are we not speaking out blasphemy against His teachings?  Once more, I must apologize for my bitter and critical tone.  It is not my intention to condemn anyone for their potentially selfish acts-for as I said before, I am just as guilty as anyone is when it comes to selfishness.  However, I do wish to invite you to take a moment to look at Christmas from this horrible perspective.  What is regarded as the most sacred time of the year suddenly becomes a hollow sepulcher seemingly offering us refuge from our otherwise miserable lives.  Although it is an ugly picture to look at, there is some degree of truth in what I have described.  the reason that I feel that it is necessary to introduce such a terrible outlook is because I wish to emphasize, thought contrast, the ultimate significance of the point that I am about to make.  And that is that a closeness to Jesus Christ is absolutely essential to our happiness.  And in order to be close to Him, we are required to heed his counsel “Come Follow Me”.  Wherever He is, we must be also.  (Matthew 4:19)

Part Two:  The Character of Christ

Although I do not feel qualified to write about Jesus Christ, there are a few basic truths about the Savior which I have come to better understand through my missionary experiences and I feel inspired to share them at this time.  
The prophet Isaiah taught that “it is not for his appearance that we should desire him”(Isaiah 53:2 see footnote “d”)  Christ was never flashy or appealing and neither was His work.  It was never meant for service to sound pleasant and enjoyable.  Nor was it meant to be easy.  For service was designed to bring us to our knees-level with the dust.  It was designed to change our very natures, to rewrite our ver dignity- not just as a Child of God but as a servant of Him also.  The gift of God’s son, Jesus The Christ, didn’t come in pretty wrapping paper but rather in the humblest form-within wall of a stable, placed in a food dish designed for animals (I often wonder if there is a connection between this scene and sacrament meeting-where we may find ourselves reduced to animals without partaking of the Atonement of Christ for He is truly the bread and the water-John 6:32-35).  Our king did not live a life of luxury by any means(Matthew 8:20).  Why then should luxury be a characteristic of our own lives?  Why do we so often associate luxury with happiness?
Hugh B. Brown put it this way-he said, “In luxury a man can dwell as lonely as in a prison cell”(Father are you there?”-Hugh B. Brown)  Should we not then strive to free ourselves from this distraction-this illusion of happiness that we envision to the solution to the emptiness within us?  Aren’t Christmas lists merely some kind of formula for happiness which we have developed as a replacement for Christ?  Christ was the gift that we didn’t think we wanted.  We didn’t think that we would need Him.  He didn’t even make the list.  But God offered Him to us anyways-because he Knew that there was something so much better than a pile of toys beneath a decorated pine tree.  God offered us happiness- but only if we wanted it.  We would have to leave the toys behind if we chose God’s gift-for it meant that we would be required to leave the home altogether and lose ourselves in His service.  (If we fill our hearts with toys, how can there be room for Christ?  There will be no room in the Inn).  The other day I found myself struggling to find the motivation to go outside and work.  Then I began to consider my Savior Jesus Christ.  As I thought about His life and His love, I was filled with the desire to be with Him.  I was miserable, I didn’t want to be here anymore, I just wanted to be with Him.  (I felt a sense of Celestial homesickness).  Then everything clicked.  I finally understood that I can be with Him-but I need to follow Him out into His vineyard.  I need to join Him in His vineyard because that is where He will be-out there working, serving-while I would otherwise be relaxing in my home, mission out on the true meaning of the Christmas season.  Because I love Him and desired to be with Him, I got up and went to work.  The spirit of the Lord was with me that night, and I was happy.  The Lord won my heart through love- not by persuasion or appeal.(Hymn 188).  Work never sound appealing or pleasant, yet somehow it is the secret to our happiness.

For the individual who is trapped in the dilemma of whether or not it is worth it to choose to serve God, I would make mention of our Savior who “fell on his face and prayed, saying, O my father if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt”.(Matthew 26:39)
When I picture my Savior upon His face, praying on my behalf, I jump to my feet, for that is a man whom I will follow.  I will serve others because it is God’s will.  Through acting upon my love of Christ, I can learn to love my brothers and sisters.

Part 3:  Listen to the Bell

In The Book of Mormon, the prophet Nephi warned us of a fallacy that the devil will use on us in these last days.  Nephi warned that the devil will pacify and lull (us) away into carnal security, that (we) will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well- and thus the devil cheateth (our) souls”(2 Nephi 28:21).  I believe that the Christmas season has become a form of carnal security.  It has become an excuse to allow ourselves to believe that “all is well in zion” .  It is pleasing to sing “carols...wild and sweet... of peace on earth, good will to men”, but let us not forget the following verses which remind that “hate is strong and mocks the song” (Hymn 214).  If all we do is celebrate the possibility of “peace on earth” then surely we will “cheat (our) souls” of opportunities to actually go and do “good will to men”.  Surely this is the “peace” that Christ spoke of when He said “peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you:  not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let now your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)  Worldly peace is the kind that involves singing this Hymn in comfort and luxury while neglecting to labor in the Lord’s vineyard.  The peace that Christ offers comes only through serving alongside Him as he ministers to others.  Rather than only focusing on the good in life, let us acknowledge that bad.  But once we acknowledge the bad, then let us not be troubled or afraid- but instead, let us get up and do something about it.   It is not the effect of a frenzied or deranged mind to believe that we can in fact do something about the chaos we see in the world around us (Alma 30:16).  For “God is not dead, nor doth he sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right prevail.”(Hymn 214)  These are the “words of truth and soberness”-of this I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.  (Acts 26:24-25).

~Elder Kyle Jensen~