Thursday, January 26, 2017

Car Crashes and the Birth of Sister Hamon!! (Week 33)

'YEP. just as the title says....Sister Jenne crashed a mission car. well. that sounds a little dramatic. I backed into another car and barely scratched it. but...I'm going to call it a crash because that sounds more impressive (in a bad way). Anyone who knows me will understand how it's totally me to crash a car that doesn't even belong to me... I also fell out of my chair onto the floor, met a lot of babushkas with sick husbands, listened to my companion thank Heavenly Father for "his pen in our lives" instead of his hand, and accidentally sent the number of the wrong Pasha to someone who really didn't want to talk to that Pasha, went to the dentist to get a filling fixed, cooked a really yummy chicken and spaghetti squash meal (thanks sister orr..or hope...i guess...), scared Sister Christensen in the was interesting

We have an awesome new companion! Sister Hamon arrived here, all bright and shiny, fresh from the MTC on Tuesday! She knocked her first door (side-not, it's way more awkward to try and fit three people on a doorstep than two.), and she learned how to sing I am a Child of God, and she experienced weekly planning, and everything has been absolutely wonderful! I am so grateful to have such a sweet and willing to work trainee. Plus, she's wicked smart, and her Russian is absolutely incredible!

This week was a week of many emotions. We had disappointments with our investigator and plans that have been in motion for about a month completely fall through and get postponed. It's hard to understand why the good work that we are doing sometimes doesn't come to much fruition. It's hard to keep the faith. It's hard to expect that there will be countless miracles around the corner. It's hard to even think of one miracle that happened everyday. However, that's the beauty of the gospel. We have these really difficult experiences, and we go through them with pain in our hearts and true sorrow, but we don't do it alone. We don't have to. We don't have to anguish in our trials and think that "it's not fair." The eternal perspective that is provided by the Atonement of Jesus Christ heals every single wound. That's something that I can talk to a person about until I am blue in the face, but they will never feel and understand it for themselves until they experience it for themselves. Watching people change and recognize that is the most beautiful thing I have ever or will ever experience.

I got to thinking about the pressure that we go through in our lives. The things that people tell us to do because they think it would be beneficial. And all of the things that we do just simply because it is expected of us. But, who is it that actually knows what is best for us? Who is it that actually knows the perfect plan that will lead us to joy and happiness? God knows. And, yet, we never even ask. We go around listening to this war of opinions and pros and cons and not knowing which thing to choose and then we get so overwhelmed that we choose what the world or other people are pressuring us to do simply because we want to please them. Why are we always trying to please other people? Our parents, our friends? Is that how we have been created to live our lives? I don't believe so! All you have to do is simply ask. And you shall receive. And it might come over time, and it might take a little effort and studying and coming up with ideas on your half of the deal, but Heavenly Father doesn't just abandon us. I love the story in the Book of Mormon of the Brother of Jared. He didn't know how he could have light in their boats and so he inquired of the Lord. And what did the Lord tell him? Ether 2:23: the Lord told him to think about it... I believe that this is one way that we will know what we should do.

And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared:

What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels? For behold, ye cannot have windows , for they will be dashed in pieces; neither shall ye take fire with you, for ye shall not go by the light of fire.

and the Brother of Jared exercised his faith and thought of a plan in Ether chapter 3:

 4 And I know, O Lord, that thou hast all power, and can do whatsoever thou wilt for the benefit of man; therefore touch these stones, O Lord, with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness; and they shall shine forth unto us in the vessels which we have prepared,that we may have light while we shall cross the sea.

 5 Behold, O Lord, thou canst do this. We know that thou art able to show forth great power, which looks small unto the understanding of men.

I believe that this is one way that we will know what we should do. Heavenly Father expects us to think for ourselves and think of a plan! And then have the faith that he will help us execute our plan,.
 I love all you beautiful people! Sorry for the long email.

Sister Jenne"

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Under the Weather (Week 32)

"Last week of the transfer! Not the best week ever. It didn't seem very effective because I got sick on Monday and the sickness had to take the course of feverish, coughing, stuffiness, and stomach aches. Today I'm still coughing a little and feeling a little stuffy, but definitely on the up side of everything. Finally.

We did officially find out that Sister Christensen and I will be training together this new transfer. It's exciting to have a new Russian sister together and to be able to be in a trio again! That was so much fun in the MTC! Be jealous, Sister Wilson and Sister Bolander ;)

We had a great experience with teaching tithing. You know that someone is prepared by the Lord and understands the concept of commandments when their first question is "so, how do I do it...with a check or cash or what..?" it was incredible and the spirit was so strong!

Something that I thought a lot about this week was the "music" of the gospel versus the harsh loudness of the world. We had a member lesson [and] we taught her about the possibility that Jesus Christ has to wipe the clay of the world off of our eyes and focus on the gospel. There is an analogy that Sister Orr and I realized one time when we were driving was that the music that we had playing was the same volume as the road outside that we were driving on. It was a really loud part of the freeway. We found that if we focus on the music, we cannot hear the road and if we focus on the road, we cannot hear the beautiful music. being on a mission is such a beautiful example of this same principle that when we focus so much on the gospel every single day, the loudness of the world just fades away into quiet background sound. It's still there, but we can barely hear it! I love this opportunity that I have to allow Christ's Atonement to wipe the clay off of my eyes, and help me to see. Like in Moses 6:35.

Sorry for a scattered email. There wasn't much time this week to sent this email! I'll do better next week. I commit to doing better.
I love you all!
Have a fantastic week,
Sister Jenne"

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Babuski Make the World Go Round (Week 31)

"Since nothing way too interesting happened this week, I will mostly be telling babuska stories. In case you don't know that the heck I am talking about, a "babuska" is a Russian grandma. Or Ukrainian. Or other nationalities. But, overall, they are grandmas who speak Russian. Typically the dress of a babuska includes pajama type looking pants or skirt and a colorful scarf with a sweater. or something along those lines. They are very easily distinguishable, especially since they "hang out" in groups together waiting for buses or crossing the street. For some reason, they're all about 4 feet tall, and they LOVE to invite us in and offer us interesting candy or fruit cake and tea. Sometimes it's really hard to explain that we won't drink tea with caffeine, and so we just have to carry peppermint or fruity tea around with us. (I've discovered a love for tea on my mission. That sounds funny...thanks sister orr, sister truax, and every Russian grandma I've ever met!)

Maria and her husband are both in their 80's. However, you'd never know it because the second that she opened the door, we both were blown away by the amount of energy that she had. So much for old people being frail. We asked about her family. Probably not the smartest thing to do. It took about 20 minutes to get through all of the family albums while she just babbled away at every single picture, telling us some sort of story about her cousins and grand sons and great grand daughters and whatnot. It's one of those times when you just smile and nod your head and don't ask questions. Just listen. Not sure how we started talking about exercising, but she put away the photo albums and started doing crunches and jumping jacks and all sorts of exercises on the floor. They then sang us Russian songs about Christ for a good while and gave us animal crackers and then sent us on our way. I love Russian culture.

One woman invited us in and was telling us all about how she is a doctor and she loves to give massages. All of her neighbors were young, except one of them and she apparently really needed a massage. Soo this grandma continued to tell us about how she wishes she could speak English to tell that woman that she will give her a massage. Suddenly she realized that we were American and she made us promise to go over there and ask if that would be possible. Unfortunately the neighbors weren't home. Her dreams were dashed. It's okay though because she got really excited when we asked for Russian referrals and started jogging down the road, yelling at us to follow her in our car. We did and then she happily pointed out the 2 houses down the road and then jogged away. I can't make these things up. Being a missionary is my favorite thing ever.

There are a lot more, but I am out of time. This week really was great! We learned a lot about how being a consecrated missionary takes you from being a good one to a great one. I know that's the same in everyone's lives. A word that I have begun to love is "re-commit." We have to recommit every week when we take the sacrament. Every new transfer as we set goals. Every new year. But more than that, we have to live our life, re-committing to the gospel and our lifestyle and our personal goals and values every minute! I know that in order to progress faster, we re-commit ourselves to our goals and then we can accomplish more things in less time. It's incredible how much it's really up to how dedicated and consecrated I am. It's so clear why sacrifice and consecration are so important in the temple.

It's been really icy...attached picture. I'm learning how to drive on that nonsense. It's really terrifying. Thank goodness Sister C is from Utah.

I love all of you people!
Have a great day and Happy (slightly late) Russian Christmas (January 7)!
Sister Jenne"

с новым годом и я вас люблю! (Week 30)

"Good news! I finally figured out how to type in Russian. The title says, Happy New Year and I love you all! It's a miracle. Turns out it's really easy..... of course.

With the new year, I hope everyone is exercising a little hard, eating a little healthier, and nourishing their spirits a little more!

What a great week this has been....and so much fun! Sister Christensen and I have been trying to be the living embodiment of the song "Scatter Sunshine". In case you are not familiar, here are some of the lyrics:

Slightest actions often
Meet the sorest needs,
For the world wants daily
Little kindly deeds.
Oh, what care and sorrow
You may help remove,
With your songs and courage,
Sympathy and love.

Scatter sunshine all along your way.
Cheer and bless and brighten
Ev'ry passing day.

Isn't that just so simple and profound?
 I love the part that talks about songs and courage, because as missionaries, something that we do all of the time is sing to people! We sing a little duet of I am a child of God or something else simple and spiritual. The other day, we actually met a woman who just cried and cried when we sang to her. She was so overcome with emotion because of the simple words of the song. We are children of a Heavenly Father who loves us. So he sent his son and he sent us to our families and our circumstances so that we could learn exactly what we are MEANT to be learning here.

Something that I learned from the spirit this week was that daily repentance is so important. Zone Conference this coming up week is going to be focused on teaching repentance, and I am so excited to have an excuse to spend some time studying repentance. Every time I think that I understand it, I learn something new. A way that I have been using the atonement is just to overcome the little things where I don't feel 100% in that small moment. I can pray (such a privilege) and I can ask God to get me through this one moment when I feel 82% of how I should be feeling. Then about 10 seconds later, I overcome it. And I feel better. When I can acknowledge that I am not 100%, then I can move past it. But, if I give myself a reason and justification for feeling the way that I feel, the feeling will be perpetuated. Then I'll feel bad later. It's just all about recognizing that I'm not feeling Christ-like right now and so I need to change. It's just recognizing a weakness and asking Heavenly Father for strength to overcome it. It works every time. It's pretty cool. Like if the atonement was a hypothesis, it would be a theory by now for me because I've experimented with it so many times, and it works every single time! Except it's not just a theory, it's an eternal truth.

We went to Cafe Rio! And ate entire entrees by ourselves! it was ridiculous, but it was so amazing. Another food adventure this week was eating cold cereal in the car. We packed cereal, bowls, milk, and spoons and then had to be very careful, trying not to spill anything. And somehow my clumsy self didn't spill! That was truly a miracle.

One thing that I have noticed this transfer is how much my and Sister C's russian has skyrocketed. Nooo we aren't fluent. In fact, we are far from it and probably won't become fluent on our missions. However, we are improving. In Sunday school yesterday, we actually understood every thing that was being said and actually noticed that the vocab words that we have been working on the past few days were used in the lesson. It's been a big re-commitment to the language this transfer, and I am beginning to actually love Russian so much more than before. It's not an obstacle anymore, I can actually understand and participate in deep conversations about many things! (mostly just church things, but still...Russians like to tell a BUNCH of stories and so we learn a bunch of random words).

That's about all for this week! I love all of you! I hope that 2017 is a wonderful year for each and every one of you. Stay strong.
Cectpa Jenne"

Sunday, January 1, 2017

With Christmas and a New Year (Week 29)

"Hello everyone! Yesterday, the libraries were all closed, and so we are emailing on a Tuesday again.

Let me explain the interesting title. Whenever a Russian wants to say a parting greeting, they tend to say "with" something. like "with Christmas" or "with God." It's like saying "Merry Christmas" or "God Bless You." Kind of like "God be with you"

Happy New Year, and I hope that everyone had a fantastic Christmas! It was incredible. The best time to be a missionary. The spirit of Christ was everywhere, and talking with my family on Skype just reminded me so strongly of why I am here on a mission! I want other people to have the opportunity to have an eternal family and experience the blessings of the temple.

Something that I learned this week was that the simple truths of the gospel really do carry the most power. I think over the past few weeks, I have actually been able to feel the power of the words that I am speaking in Russian. And, the best part is, that when I am speaking in Russian, that's when I feel the spirit the strongest. When I am sincerely listening and trying my best to understand what the person is saying and just praying that I will be able to say something that will help them feel the spirit or just feel the comfort of God's love. We were role-playing in district meeting and Elder Peterson was being a difficult investigator with a lot of questions, and I was freaking out a little bit inside because I wasn't sure what to say. Then I decided that I would be okay with a pause. I would pause for a minute, and sincerely think about what I should say to help. The next thing that I said was definitely inspired. I could feel the spirit putting words in my mouth. It's true, that if we give time for the spirit to work in us, we will receive help from our Father in Heaven.

Sometimes, it's really hard to see the Atonement working in the moment. When we feel like we aren't getting any better than we were before. But, I look back at where I was 6 months ago and it's honestly astonishing. I love this quote from General Conference:
"Please, my beloved brothers and sisters, we must stop comparing ourselves to others. We torture ourselves needlessly by competing and comparing. We falsely judge our self-worth by the things we do or don't have and by the opinions of others. If we must compare, let us compare how we were in the past to how we are today. And even to how we want to be in the future. The only opinion of us that matters is what our Heavenly Father thinks of us. Please ask him sincerely what He thinks of you. He will love and correct, but never discourage us, that is satan's trick."

Scripture for the week Hebrews 12:1-3. Christ is the "author and the finisher" of our faith. I am working constantly every day to figure out what that phrase means for me. I would encourage all of you to study it out for yourself!

 Have a great week! Love all of you,
Sister Jenne"

Christmas Miracles (Week 28)

"Wow! Longest week ever (not in a bad way, just in a way that a lot of crazy things happened and it was packed full of MIRACLES!).

Something that was fun this week was our zone Christmas video. We did the Kid History thing where the adults (we) are acting out things according to the kids (primary kids from our wards) voices. Each zone does a funny video and we all got to get together and watch them last week. It was so weird to have the lights go off and to be watching a screen and laughing at it for a long period of time. I almost felt like a normal person, and then I remembered that I was watching a bunch of missionaries acting like total fools and doing things that would only be funny to missionaries. I stopped feeling normal. It was way strange though because we stayed out past 9:30 and then we had to drive home and so we were driving at 10PM. It's been 6 months since I did that!

With it being Christmas-time and all that, the spirit of the season is just so strong. For anyone that knows me, you'll know that in my previous life (and when I say previous life I mean before my mission), I never would have sang in front of an audience. Especially not in another language. However, that is exactly what Sister Christensen and I do all of the time. And guess what? It's such a blast! Of course, we don't sound like we should record an album, but singing Russian Christmas carols literally brings a smile to even the most grumpy person! It's so wonderful, and it's such a non-threatening way to share the spirit of Christ. We are singing in front of the entire ward for Christmas on Sunday with the Bishop on the guitar. That should be interesting.

I had an experience where I was standing in the crowded rows in church post-sacrament meeting. Sister Christensen was talking to someone and I was standing just a few feet away, unable to join in on the conversation because of all of the people that were in the way. I was watching her and just sitting there thinking of how awesome and amazing it is that she is talking to this person in Russian all by herself and laughing and smiling and having a good time. How is that even possible? How could she and I have learned Russian so fast that we can hold conversations with people every single day? We can teach people?! It's insane how real Heavenly Father is. I think the coolest part of the experience was though, that I got to catch a tiny glimpse of the feelings that Heavenly Father does feel when we are here on the earth and he is literally just a few steps away, watching us, cheering us on. And when he sees us have a victory and do something right, he is right there watching and he is soo happy for us. It's like when a kid is in tee-ball and he finally is able to hit the ball off of the tee after swinging 5 times. How crazy the parents go! How excited they are that their little child was able to accomplish such a seemingly simple task. I caught a little glimpse of that feeling when I was watching Sister C. It was such a warm feeling. Such a testament to me that he is standing right here. Always. He is reaching out His hand to us. Always. And, all that we have to do is take it. Reach out and take His hand. And when we truly do that, we will be following the example of Jesus Christ and trusting in the Father's will..even when we do not understand why something is happening. Where else could we get such a large measure of peace in our lives? Nowhere. I promise that that is true. I know it's true.

We had another miracle! We were driving in a neighborhood. Looking for Russians, just like always. We just decided on a house to knock. Randomly pulled over and knocked on this house. It was a member! And they gave us 2 Russian referrals! It was an incredible miracle, because the whole day we were looking for referrals and that was the last place that we had planned to go.

Anyways, I love you all! Sorry for the novel. Have a WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS! Stay tuned for more adventures next week.

Love always,
Cectpa Jenne"