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

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