Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Elder Jepsen - Mission Entry 032 - Sharing the Bread of Life

Things are GREAT all around. Thunder Bay's other companionship just had another baptism. She has allowed God a good solid place in her life already, studies the scriptures faithfully and I am happy for her. My beliefs mean a great deal to me, it's made the difference in countless situations in my life already and adds a whole other dimension to life. It warms my heart when others open up their lives to those same options that has done so much for me.

Unfortunately, some of the people we teach seem to run some really tight schedules, or rank their priorities differently than what could be seen as optimal for learning about the gospel and building up a healthy line of communication with God. It saddens and frustrates me as I know that if they only knew the importance of the gospel they would choose differently. I know what the Atonement can do for people and if they would only accept Jesus Christ into their lives, they would see so many reasons to feast on His words. One could say that all progress is good progress, but slow progress almost wears down as fast as it builds up!

I love these people that we teach, but we have to rank teaching over driving around to appointments that don't materialize. We can only spend the same hour once and we have to consider where it's best spent. I wish we had more time, but I can't help thinking that I have to use my time properly as I feel that I somehow will have to account to the Lord for how I've chosen to spend each hour of this mission. It's a thought that weighs rather heavily on my shoulders. To think that the Lord may have to choose and prioritize in the same way as we do is actually a bit scary. The Lord has people ready and prepared out there and if we're continually knocking on the same few doors, how are we to find them? I have only two years.

On a more upbeat note, the family that took us out to Dog Lake, invited us over for pumpkin carving. It was nice and relaxing and it was of course cool to be with them as they just happen to be way awesome. Another one of the people we are teaching is scheduled for baptism. She took us to a hockey game (called Ice Hockey in Denmark, my first game ever). Thunder Bay's
Lakehead University has a hockey team called the "Thunder Wolves" and they were up against Brock University's team called the "Brock Badgers." Brock University is located in St. Catherines in Southern Ontario (also known as Ontario's "Bible Belt" located just North of Ontario's "Banana Belt" and yes, Ontario has a "Banana Belt" but I think it's on a more theoretical level) on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. The weather is so much milder there, that a few boys from Ontario's deep South were no match for the "Thunder Wolves" and they won 4-3! It was a lot of fun and I think I really like hockey! It was nice spending some good time with someone we are teaching and getting to know them under different circumstances.

Thanks for the recipe on Danish Rice Pudding, I will put it to use as soon as possible! I have been boasting about the cool Danish Rice Pudding to some people that my mother makes for me and have promised to treat them to some. Now I actually have the recipe and I can make my own. YES!.. So you can have your cake and eat it too!

I know that there are people out there who specifically has prayed to receive help, people that are seeking the truth and truly are thirsting for God's undiluted words. God has touched their hearts and they are there waiting for us to find, we just have to be sufficiently humble to be in tune for God's directions. In a world where it is increasingly difficult to find people that rate being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and believing in doing good as worthwhile goals, there are those with a sufficiently pure heart that still believe in and hope to find others around them who appreciate those very principles. Some live right here in Thunder Bay, we just have to pray hard enough to find them.

Well, time waits for no one. Have to run and try to catch it.

Love ya all!

Elder Jepsen

Friday, October 16, 2009

Elder Jepsen - Mission Entry 031 - Canadian Thanksgiving!

I didn't tell you much about the Canadian thanksgiving in my last mail, as I was feeling a bit rushed that day. But, Thanksgiving was wonderful! We had three different Thanksgiving dinners, beginning already on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, then Monday (the actual day for Canadian Thanksgiving) and again Tuesday. Canada is GREAT and to think I was born here! That was a lot of food! I had the usual turkey, stuffing and sweet potato, but also perogies and cabbage rolls, oh and pie--lots of pie! Missionary fuel (food) comes in many varieties and no matter how you approach it, you have had a lot of food at the end of Thanksgiving as a missionary in Thunder Bay and I approached it as well as I could and still ended up eating a lot of food for Thanksgiving! It was SO nice... crazy GREAT stuff. With all that focus on food and the subject eventually came around to seasonal foods special to Denmark, such as Danish Rice Pudding (also known as "Risengrod" and not to forget one of my favorite desserts [I know it's a Christmas Dessert, but I think I will keep that a secret] "Ris a la mande.)" Can I pleeeeease have a good recipe, ASAP?

I already received the package from Grandma! Please, make sure to thank Grandma a lot! I'll have to send her a letter when I get time. I can use EVERYTHING in there... well, the poncho was bit bright and VERY yellow. I sure love Grandma. Please tell Paul a GREAT BIG HAPPY BIRTHDAY! He was such a GREAT example to me with the way he served his mission. I sure have a lot to live up to. I know I am a bit late with the birthday greeting and should probably send him him something, as it might spawn letters in return. As for Eric, I know you already want to go, but you've GOT TO GO on a MISSION--it's THE GREATEST and I LOVE IT HERE! I'm still working on an epistle, tailored especially for you. I love you, bro. You are my best friend!

I VERY MUCH ENJOY GETTING MAIL, I just don't seem to get enough time to write much in return, but I'll get to it. I have received some very nice letters from Karin Sonderskov (Barcelona, Spain) and Jolina, among others. Sister Pedersen also sent me a very nice letter. I so very much appreciated hearing from them all and they are all very nice letters, but it's hard to answer them all as I barely have time enough to write in my journal, but I try my best. I don't want to seem ungrateful. but PLEASE KEEP WRITING! I LOVE THE MAIL! Until then, may my thoughts, my love and prayers reach you all.

As we live four elders in the same apartment, we see each other a lot and occasionally spontaneously, combustible fun happens. We have had little golf tournaments (the Thunder Bay missionary apartment came equipped with a golf bag containing a putter, three drivers and three irons), cold water surprises during showers, cooking experiments, Mo-Tab sing-along and much, much more. :) Our prep-day is meant for us to take care of all the non-missionary like things like grocery shopping, laundry, e-mails, sports and recreation, so that is what we do. Today, after doing all that was needed and writing our e-mails, we all then went to the church and played basketball (which I unfailingly fail at...). Last week for our prep-day we went on a cool hike with a family we are teaching. It was a river trail a bit past Dog Lake, it was quite cool and I thoroughly enjoyed getting out of the city, jumping around on rocks.

The weather isn't making any drastic changes yet, although cooling slightly. Temperatures are at the moment around freezing (five to ten degrees Celsius colder than Denmark). We've had snow a couple times already and our car the windows had frozen stuck. I am quite sure the best is yet to come (apply appropriate irony as needed in reference to the soon to be, unavoidable temperature changes)! :)

I guess I haven't told you much about my companion yet, his name is Elder Marsh, he is twenty-two years old and has red hair, so I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't a drop or two of Scandinavian blood running in his veins. He has set a good example for many missionaries and is a constant great example to me. I very much enjoy working with him and we get a lot done. We recently made contact with a family that I think would make wonderful members of the Thunder Bay Ward. They have two dogs, two children and another one on the way. In our attempts to find times where we could teach them, we have managed to pick the absolutely worst times to try so far, always inconvenient. Yet, they are not fed up with us and they want us to teach them more about the gospel! Consequently, we now have proper "Set in Stone" scheduled appointment to teach them.

We are teaching a native family that I like a lot. The Dad is a police officer. A funny thing happened when we first met. We had just barely sat down and the first thing he wanted from us was our proof of identification. He was serious and he had me go out to the car to get my passport! It was kind of intimidating, but all he wanted to do was to protect his family. I guess he knows more than us, how much is going on around us and how much can go wrong, if you are not cautious about who you let into your home. This all worked perfectly with the later gospel discussions as he obviously cared a great deal for his family.

Like all cities, Thunder Bay also has problems that are not easily solved. Among the people living in Thunder Bay some sadly enough are on a drug called Methadone. While Methadone is intended as a legal and cheap method of cure from active addiction and should provide a form of freedom from the usually destructive use of mind-altering drug use, it seems to be a hard road to have to take as it brings along its own addiction and side-effects, and lots of people here are addicted to it. To put things a little in perspective: Toronto with its 2.5 million residents has one drug rehabilitation clinic, Thunder Bay with 100,000 residents has two drug rehabilitation clinics. There are so many ways for people to get trapped and enslaved while their lives, opportunities and happiness pass them by. It's my greatest hope that with such obstacles some of these people might find some relief and meaning in their lives as they discover that God does indeed care.

It is such predicament teaching the gospel to people. I love the people and I care for them, but it is hard to help them realize the blessings and the quality of life that the restored gospel can give them by merely telling them about it. The gospel is a funny thing that way. We can teach it and the Holy Ghost will testify of its truthfulness, but the wonders of the gospel remain unseen until acted upon. I so wish to help the people we teach realize this, but to share my vision and feelings for God in my teaching and testimony is so difficult when all I have is words. But how I love them. I know there is no need to start quoting scripture as you all know them so well, but I know of no better description of my feelings on this than Alma's words in chapter 29 where he says:

O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people! Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth. But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me.

I, like Alma wish that I had all the advantages of an angel that could speak to people with the powers of heaven and have them know that the Lord their God is there, cares about them and their choices and that He indeed hears their prayers. But I am only me, small and insufficient when compared to the great task of reaching all the many people that should be reached and taught.

If people could only understand and know that while we only represent our God and Savior, we are indeed offering them a share in His atonement. That they can know for themselves that Jesus Christ is the literal living son of our literal living God, who took upon Himself the sins of the world, paying an infinite price for every sorrow and sickness, every heart-ache and unhappiness from Adam to the end of the world. In what greater way could he show his love for us?

I can't help to not be saddened by my own limitations and yet the work that I am doing cause me to continually feel blessed and satisfied that God lives and will reach all on His terms, giving them an opportunity to bring Him into their lives with all the blessings that entails.

I love you all and miss you. You are all in my heart and prayers.

I only have five seconds left on the computer. So--
I'm a bird. Fwap, fwap and awaaaaay!!!!!!

Love you all,
Elder Jepsen

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Elder Jepsen - Mission Entry 030 - Choosing to Serve the Lord!

We had the first snow in the mission this week around Buffalo, Minnesota, just North West of Minneapolis and way South of Thunder Bay, Canada, where I am stationed. We are actually getting snow as well now, it began on October 10 where we woke up to 1.5 cm of snow (Canada is METRIC unlike the US).

A woman who had called us up to be taught and baptized on her own initiative (see the details on enclosed link:


an entry that assigned us the distinction of "Blog of the Month" on the Internet), is now baptized and confirmed a member and a Sister of the church. YES, I am so happy for her it's enough to melt all snow in ten block radius wherever we walk (they can probably track our whereabouts on the weather
satellites)! Her experience was nothing short of personal revelation that she then followed and acted on promptly, you've got to admire such faith! She will be a great sister and valued addition to the Thunder Bay Ward. Her baptism happened on her birthday and went very well, the confirmation last Sunday was another great experience. It was special having my first baptism and we're working on more to come. ;)

Thank you for your mails and thank you so much for helping me recognize my growth, I don't even think about it and much less notice it on my own out here. I find myself busy looking for progress in the people we teach. We are currently teaching a good amount of people about the gospel and I feel very blessed to be able to see them progress and to get to know them. They're my best friends with whom I'm sharing the gospel, I love it here.

Monday, October 12 was the Canadian Thanksgiving and I must say I have a lot to be grateful for. No, not just that I am in Canada and that we had a great Canadian Thanksgiving which I really enjoyed, but generally. I am just so happy to be here serving on a mission. Although I for these two years spend every day serving God to reach as many of His children as at all possible, to let them know that He cares for them and cares about their choices, I still seem to gain the greatest benefit of all. It can be hard work and it seems, get REALLY COLD, but besides that there is no downside. Well except the constant lack of time, there is just not enough hours in a day.

It is amazing how little time you have on a mission, time just flies and there is so much to do. I have discovered a mission to be a lot like life in that you have a heap of choices to make on how to spend your allotted time and each choice will have some effect on your direction. The choices available to me today depends on the choices I made yesterday, last week or last year, as today's choices will influence not only my tomorrow, but the future of those around me--an awesome responsibility. Life continually depends on choices.

I am so grateful to the Lord that I can be here on a mission. While I chose to prepare for this goal within the options available to me, it didn't happen without others making choices that made it possible for me to achieve it, thereby having an immeasurable impact on my present and future life, as well as the lives of the people I get an opportunity to reach and teach--and for that I am eternally grateful and forever indebted.

I hope life is going well for you at home. I miss you and think about you... now and then. :) You are in my heart and prayers.

Well, gotta go. Don't worry about me. I'm in good hands (in spite of the fact that Thunder Bay apparently has more stabbings per capita than anywhere else in Canada).

Grateful to be on a mission. Love you all!

The Dane (born in Canada)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Elder Jepsen - Mission Entry 029 - Adversity & Affliction

I hope you're all enjoying the last sliver of heat before winter kicks in. If you have been following our weather (or my mails), you probably know by now that our weather changed pretty quickly over here and that last sliver of heat didn't even show up. Winter hasn't begun yet and already it's FREEZING! I hear that they already have snow up in Winnipeg. I have also been told that Thunder Bay usually has lots of Northern Lights during the winter, I can't wait! Oh, HOLD ON FOR JUST ONE MINUTE--I am not in a rush after all, winter here (it seems) is going to be COLD!

I have promised myself not to buy junk at all, as we get enough cake and stuff from members, maybe that will allow me to save up for some winter gear. Thanks for reminding me though :)

We had a baptism and it was GREAT! I view a baptism in the proportion of one of life's most important experiences for the person being baptized, they will think back to the spirit they felt on that special day and draw on it when adversity and difficulty strikes. It is important that nothing gets in the way of that experience and to ensure that everything works out right is quite the responsibility and seemed to take a good deal of planning, but the Lord helped and it was successful. I guess I was stressing a bit more, still being such a greenie I was very worried that everything would work out properly. It worked out great and everybody was happy (especially Sister Kathryn) and I was relieved when we were done.. It is truly a priviledge to be one of the Elders that played a part in Sister Kathryn's baptism and I pray that the testimony she now has will continue to develop and be a source of strength for others that come her way. It's my prayer that the Lord will continue to bless this area, as we continue to show commitment in our work.

Our intended viewing of General Conference didn't exactly go as planned. The Saturday session worked perfectly for a while, then suddenly something went wrong and we lost our signal. We eventually routed it through a computer and got some sound out of it. For the second session we went to a members home and got there in the middle of Elder Hollands talk about the Book of Mormon, GREAT talk, I loved it!

As a continuation on the previous General Conference, it was also good to hear how the First Presidency admonished us to help each other through life, as bothers and sisters caring for each other and in the process to learn from both our own mistakes as well as others. I have myself benefited from others being there for me on many occasions and I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for others helping me to whom I am eternally grateful. When the opportunity has arrisen I have also occasionally lent a hand where needed and where I could, but not all things are so easily cut and dry, or readily understood.

All I have is one pair of hands and it seems like single drop in a great ocean, when so many are in need of some sort of help. Not every problem that comes our way is of a dimension to be solved in the time frame of a sitcom on TV or by fighting an imaginary enemy in a quick game on the computer. Real life problems can't always be solved by everybody pitching in for a Saturday or two (although a good many problems can be helped that way). Some problems are bigger than that and bad things do happen to good people, everywhere and all the time.

When I observe the people around us all and the troubles they fight to uphold life itself and everyday responsibilities, I find it difficult and petty to complain. How can I ask anything of God for myself when I am healthy, alive and have the opportunity to do what I so enjoy, serving Him on this very mission?

It seems that everywhere you turn, people are having their share of problems and yet they fight them bravely and upright. Sometimes it is as if you find the best of people amidst the greatest gathering of obstacles and problems--I have so much to learn!

Well, I gotta go (the work is waiting and time is running).
Love you all! (muah!)

Elder Jepsen

President Henry B. Eyring - Adversity and Affliction - Part 1 of 2

President Henry B. Eyring - Adversity and Affliction - Part 2 of 2

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