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

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~