Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Elder Jepsen - Mission Entry 35 - Life is Good in Thunder Bay

Here I am, still in Thunder Bay! Elder Whitehead left and we got Elder Fonua instead. He's from Provo, Utah, but his ancestry is from Tonga. He's a cool missionary with a great attitude and I like him a lot.

I was called to be the DL (District Leader) again, giving me a little bit more responsibility. But since everybody here answers to the Lord first and hence tries to lead themselves accordingly, there is probably little left for me to do. The concept spoken by Joseph Smith can just as easily apply to the situation here as at his time: A member of the Legislature asked Joseph Smith how it was that he was enabled to govern so many people while preserving such perfect order (remarking at the same time that it was impossible for them to do it anywhere else). Joseph Smith answered that it was very easy . "How?" responded the gentleman; "to us it is very difficult." Joseph Smith replied, "I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves." Well, the missionaries here have already learned correct principles long before they came on their missions, so...

As you can guess, life is all good here. I'm more cheery and I'm getting along with myself really well for once (as I am finding it increasingly difficult to find anything to disagree on, no just kidding a little there). All kidding aside, I have actually had a little battle with myself, as I have had a hard time feeling that I measured up. Everybody around me was such great examples of what I thought I should be and when I couldn't be as them I thought myself insufficient for the task at hand.

I have of course had a lot of talks with the Lord about this and in time He and some people He knows really well, helped me realize that He already had one of every one of those other people I admired so greatly and desperately wanted to be like, doing their missions. What He really needed now was one of me. While I don't have the qualities that I so admired I apparently do have something, even of value, qualities that also are needed. I understand that I yet have a lot to learn on this idea, but I am getting there a little at time.

So as you can tell, all is well in Zion!

Yesterday was an intense day of feeding! Following the usual meetings that one can expect on a Sunday, we visited some delightful members to administer a blessing as they have surgery scheduled for this coming week. They gave us Root-Beer Floats and I shamelessly ate till I was full. No, I wasn't making a pig of myself but I did enjoy it.

An hour later we had a dinner appointment with a family of Finnish descent, they're an awesome family and they make REALLY GOOD food. Being the great people that they are, fellow Scandinavians and all, highly sensitive to the typically unavoidable withdrawals one can experience as a Scandinavian, far removed from anything Scandinavian at a time like Christmas, they promised me a full Finnish Christmas dinner... that is, IF I have not been transferred before Christmas... For all I know (which really isn't all that much), I might get transferred. Well, back to the story about my Sunday, it was at this point already the kind of day to write home about--and I am. But my day was not over yet, we attended a missionary farewell for a young man going on a mission... tomorrow! This of course brought on an immediate overload of flashbacks.

In my capacity as a missionary, every day is filled with opportunities to visit families in their homes. It is a real privilege to be allowed into someones home. It's as if people are letting you in to a portion of their collective hearts. In visiting so many good peoples homes I have concluded that apart from temples, the most holy places on earth must be the families where the Spirit dwells.

There is more of these homes where the Spirit dwells than one would guess, as it in theory is rather easily accomplished to have a family where the Spirit dwells. Now I did say "In theory" knowing from past experience, that even beautiful and simple principles takes hard work and a constantly vigilant eye to maintain. But, it is merely required to utilize the good principles given us in the gospel, using them to establish the foundation of the family. They are good principles that really can be applied anywhere such as faith, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, good activities and hard work. But they must be incorporated in the very traditions and culture of the family, as we now more than ever before do need to fortify our families with the full armor of God. The alternative holds devastating and far reaching consequences as families wither and are broken by the winds of the world. I believe that our families can be like the strong, grand and towering Redwoods, individually strong because of our strong intertwining roots, together a force as we brace each other from the rigors of heavy winds and sometimes even storms.

On the subject of family: Eric, my good brother. You better be studying "Preach My Gospel," if not, get yourself into gear.

I love you all and I MISS YOU LOTS!... not that much though. ;) (You know me, I am happy where I am, knowing that I have you all with me, wherever I am.)

Elder Denmark (you know, Jepsen)

PS: Due to circumstances out of my control, I'll be writing on a later day than usual next week.

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