Monday, December 28, 2009

Elder Jepsen - Mission Entry 41 - Merry Christmas to You All

It was awesome talking to you on Christmas day. It was truly a pleasure hearing and seeing all of you again. I soon realized how much I miss you but that my place isn't to be at home right now, but over here working. This is what I am supposed to do right now and I am happy doing it. I love you all and I know that I will have plenty of opportunity to spend time with my wonderful family after my mission. Now is not that time and I am way to busy enjoying myself here, so I don't feel trunky or homesick at all. I hope that dulled your fears.

I received so much attention at Christmas that I feel terribly spoiled and really wish that I could have reciprocated faster and to a much greater extent. But I feel in my heart that you all understand that I am not throwing my time away on lazing around in the sun. If I am slow in responding to your kind prayers, thoughts, encouragement and NICE treats it is NOT that I don't care. You're all with me in my heart and prayers and I feel stronger knowing that I (and the work that I do) has a place in your heart and prayers. I try hard to put my mission first in the time that I have available here. Two years is a very short time and it will soon be all spent, leaving me with only the memory and I want to make it a GOOD memory. I want to thank especially Grandma, the Meline family, the Price family, the Esbjerg Junior Sunday School and you, Mom & Dad for your special attention at this time, Thank you!

Christmas has indeed proved a time of being Christ centered for me. For the first time ever, I honestly didn't care what I did or did not get but what I could give, regardless of the size of my offering. Elder Marsh and I have done a small little Christmas shopping for our investigators, to show that we appreciate them. We made some cookies as well. The cookies didn't turn out as great as I may have wanted, but they were all right. We anticipate people might appreciate the thought more than the cookies themselves.

Christmas, in a whole, was wonderful. I enjoyed every little bit of it, and we all had a lot of fun and opportunity to get to know some of our investigators on a different level end they us. There were also so many wonderful members that also made Christmas a wonderful experience for us by getting some small Christmas stuff that they they thought we could use. We had Christmas dinner, SEVERAL TIMES and I was asked to carve the turkey. I thought "They spent hours preparing this wonderful meal that they enjoy only once a year and they ask ME to carve it??? I took a long look at the turkey. I really didn't want the responsibility and I didn't want to ruin their Christmas meal with the next chance a whole year away. The turkey both looked and smelled as perfect as possible for a turkey at Christmas and I finally thought: This will taste great no matter how I cut it. I still don't know the right way to carve a turkey, but every last bite of it tasted fabulous.

The weather here has been perfect weather for Christmas. It finally got down to -10° Celsius (14° Fahrenheit) again today while it was averaging in between -2° and +1° Celsius before, which isn't cold at all! I finally had a WHITE Christmas again, it probably snowed every day all through Christmas! This meant of course that there were plenty of opportunities to serve by shoveling driveways. Needless to say, my body is sore now.

Something that I really enjoyed was the opportunity to see the movie "Joy to the World." I have lost count of how many times we've seen it but the message has sunk in by now, I hope. I am grateful for Christmas and more importantly the spirit of Christmas, which essentially is the spirit of Christ. Remembering Christ should never be necessary, if we never forgot Him in the first place. So many things in our lives are impacted by the degree that we manage to retain, nourish and nurture that spirit so that it stays with us all year round. The world would be full of better and more unified families and packed with tightly knit caring friends.

You can't be much of a missionary without Christ-like love (charity) and I have so much to learn about just that. As missionaries we are in a very privileged situation, allowing us to focus all of our available time and attention on serving God, remembering Him in all we do to always keep His Spirit with us. It's the only way to truly represent the Lord and it leaves you with an absolutely GREAT feeling. That is why we are here and that is what we do. It is our calling as missionaries to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places. But everywhere around us are people struggling with everyday lives, problems and obstacles that can be not only difficult, but sometimes overwhelming. How different people handle different problems in life varies from person to person; I am not in their shoes and I don't think I would last long if I was. Yet it is so easy to judge things from afar, although I know I have no right to judge. I am to love unconditionally, share my testimony and teach the gospel, then the Lord in time will judge me and those around me. The gospel holds the directions for accessing God's help and mercy and I know that we have all been promised that if we stay close to the Lord, He will stay close to us. With God by our side, we will never have to face bigger challenges in life than we can handle, WITH HIS HELP. Life can take your breath away, but is anything too hard for the Lord?

Happy New Year, love y'all.

Elder Lee Jepsen

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas - What Shall We Give... ?

Elder Jepsen - Mission Entry 40 - Merry Christmas to you all!

Thank you for all the mail. It's been wonderful and I feel both spoiled and appreciated. It's good to know that I have all your love and prayers with me and it warms the heart nicely on days when the cold bites to the bone. I really try to do my best, knowing that you're all with me here on my mission. For the weather update, the coldest temperature we've had so far is -22° Celsius or -7.6° Fahrenheit (that's NOT counting windchill and Lake Superior gives the wind a LONG flat stretch to pick up speed).

I feel so privileged and grateful to be here on my mission at a time of year when many parts of the world are celebrating the birth of our Saviour. I can't imagine a better way to celebrate the Saviour's birthday than sharing His message. Everywhere people seem to be rushing around to find gifts for each other, or wondering what they are going to get. Yet, I wonder if Jesus really likes His birthday and is He happy with His share in all the presents? If I had a birthday party and all the guests just gave presents to each other and none to me, I would be disappointed. But, mostly people are happy and cheerful and it's a good time of year for reminding people that Jesus is the Christ, that He lives and that's worth celebrating.

When I was first transferred to Thunder Bay I was told by other missionaries that an average Thunder Bay turn around usually is six months. While I kept thinking that I might get transferred sooner, when I heard of other transfers in the mission. I was wrong and I have now been informed that am definitely staying in Thunder Bay for another seven weeks. I WILL then be transferred to somewhere else in the mission, and I will have been in Canada for six months and on my mission nine months. Not that I am counting, I like it here and time flies by far too fast. There is so much to do and just not enough time.

We are allowed one phone call home to family at Christmas and I expect to be making my Christmas call around 10 AM, Thunder Bay time on the December 25. but double check the time difference, PLEASE? It might take me some time to find my Skype info again, but what I can do is log on my MSN account and Eric can log on his to sort it out, and we can work it that way. Is your audio working?

I love you all and stuff. Take care and have a Merry Christmas! I don't have much time, gotta go! Sorry about the short mail this week. But I'll try to make up for it when I call for Christmas.

Love you all!!!!!

Elder Jepsen... in a Christmas'y mood!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Christmas Message from Missionaries Worldwide

May you all have a Merry Christmas, a Blessed and Happy New Year!

Jepsen Family

Elder Jepsen - Mission Entry 39 - Thunder Bay -18° Celsius (-0.4° F).

Christmas greetings from the now colder Thunder Bay with a chilling temperature of -18° Celsius (that's -0.4° Fahrenheit) this morning. Well it's cold, but we love it. We're working hard and life is good. But things freeze when it's cold, so we thought we'd check if Lake Superiour was walkable yet and it is! I walked on Lake Superior! If it hadn't been walkable it would have been a really dumb way to find out, I know, I know--probably not the smartest thing in the world to do. But hey, who said I was a genius?

In a another few weeks they'll start building whole villages on the ice, that stays up for the whole winter. Each hut is there for one reason only and that's for housing a fishing hole and themselves. They bring out their comfortable chairs and start fishing. If that's where everybody goes for the season, I wonder if we will end up knocking doors on Lake Superior this winter???

As cold as it sounds, it's not bad. I believe my skin is getting thicker, or maybe the outer layer of my nervous system has simply lost all feeling. No one knows and I am too numb to find out.

Waking up in December is a special treat with the Christmas calendars waiting to greet me. Every day, they're there to remind you how great an idea they are and every morning I smile thinking of the people with me here in my heart and yet so far away.

I know I can't expect more than I have received, as I have already received much more attention than I ever could hope for and I feel so spoiled. But because of some rumours coming my way that it's not over yet, if anybody asks then please ask them to send cards and greetings for Christmas to my Thunder Bay mailing address:

Elder Lee Jepsen
1216 Walsh Street E, Apt. A
Thunder Bay, ON

A couple of weeks ago I began changing my approach to addressing the Lord on the subject of missionary work. My thought was that serving the Lord we ought to include Him more in our work and consult Him more on how to direct our efforts. Now we are experiencing a little wave of miracles coming our way. We have no less than seven people with baptismal dates for our companionship, and the other Elders in the district have five! January is looking good, a wet month with plenty of baptisms. It seems that time spent on knees are rewarded with having to spend more time on our knees, in gratitude! We feel extremely blessed and we have so much to be grateful for. It's like I am on a whirlwind tour of a mission where everything that just happens to fall into place perfectly? But then, with God in charge why shouldn't they? I just work here--lucky thing too or I could mess things up real quick. Our success is really just an indication of God's love for the people we teach. I know and feel it deeply in my heart, that God loves every one of these of His children and wants for them to learn more about what He has in store for them. It's exiting to be a part of it.

A Merry Christmas to you all, I love and miss you. You're a great bunch!

Elder Jepsen

Look Mom, HEALTHY food!

Look Mom, HEALTHY food and I prepared it myself! You know--an army of Elders travel on their stomachs. ;)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Elder Jepsen - Mission Entry 38 - White December in Thunder Bay

So much for my supposed immunity to cold that I suggested might be the case in my last email. December is here, the temperature dropped below comfortable and snow came right on time this year. On the first day of December, Thunder Bay was WHITE.

I decided last week to revise the time and approach spent on my knees and once again it turns out, that it is what I should have been doing all along. It's a valid request to seek God's help in how serve Him best and sure enough, time spent on my knees is once again promptly rewarded as if to send me a message: We had forgotten our phone at a members home and went by Robin's Donuts to pick it up when we met this guy that we began telling about the church, he mentioned about a friend that might be interested as well. We set up an appointment to teach them both at a nearby rehab center where they were staying. His friend has battled serious addictions for thirty-five years and has now been clean for the last two years. As he has learned about God and let that influence his choices and priorities he has been rewarded with the strength needed to fight the obstacles facing him. Thanks to God and one person's faith in Him, a great change has happened and this man has gradually been able to find a purpose and take charge of his life again. The lesson turned out to be an awesome experience, the Spirit there confirmed everything said and he is committed to be baptized in January.

It is amazingly obvious sometimes to see how the Lord works. It is almost embarrassing that we don't consult Him in ALL THINGS and then follow His directions in every last detail, every day and every second. But, somehow we get confused and think that we are doing the work and not God. We carry on with our daily routines thinking that our effort is what brings about the results when in reality our effort would have no worthwhile results without the inclusion of God in every step of the way. He prepares His children to hear the gospel and accept it in their lives and leads us to them. We begin our day by praying for direction and yet get so surprised when stumbling across His intervention... If we had failed in being our usual short-sighted, forgetful and easily distracted selves and hadn't forgotten our phone, or if we hadn't tried to pick it up at that time and taken the chance to contact seemingly random people coming our way, we would have never met this man. How grateful I am for the Grand Architect (even He sometimes counts on our imperfections).

A couple weeks ago we went by a former investigator and left a sticky-note on her door offering our help in her move. We just happened to be in the area and thought nothing of it other than being the thing to do at the time. Well, I guess there is not much inspiration involved in accepting extra hands for helping in a move so she calls us up and accepts the offer. We helped her move and amazed by our sacrifice she loves us! She will be taking the lessons as soon as possible. She is a really awesome and fun Italian lady with a son and she makes great food. Hopefully we'll be getting her to commit to baptized in January as well.

Another person that is showing promise beyond our expectations, is the boyfriend of our recent "1-800-Dial-A-Baptism!" He is a very timid guy that doesn't say much, but the Lord has blessed him tremendously in the time the Gospel has been in his life and the changes are amazing! We taught him about tithing last week and he paid his tithing this week. He visits and makes friends with ward members on his own accord and is helping out with service projects in the ward! I did NOT see that coming, but then who am I to know what the Lord has in store for us? But, WOW!

A great big happy birthday, Grandma! I heard you're thirty again! Please share the trick with me, I think I am going to need it after my mission. Just remember, that even though I am miles and miles (kilometers sorry, this is metric Canada) away, I love you, Grandma! You're awesome! You raised my mother and that's something! Keep it going!

Love y'all
Elder Jepsen

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Copenhagen Road

As you can see, our area is a lot BIGGER than I first expected.

Elder Jepsen - Mission Entry 37 - Grateful to you all!

WOW! Did I get a lot of mail... oh, yes I did! I feel so appreciated. Christmas calendars, chocolate, chocolate Christmas calendars, a box of wonderful cards and letters from my Sunday School Class. I loved it all and I will be reading it over and over through Christmas and what a Christmas! From beginning to end I smiled, cried and laughed out loud. It brings a great big smile to my face through the day, when I think back to some of the stuff I have received. You guys are all so great. I am beginning to see the mailman so often that I have wondered if we might not as well teach him the gospel as a sign of gratitude for all the good stuff he has been bringing my way. Thank you so much, I laughed so hard when I saw the dry roasted onions and remoulade.They are a prized possession of mine and I can now easily find the remaining items to prepare myself a truly Danish experience, building myself a hot-dog with all the Danish fixings. What a trunk-out, I have to admit that I now realize how much I miss that little country that I call Home.

We're working hard to get some of our investigators to more fully understand the importance and significance of the message. Still, missionary work is not just walking from one success to another. People make their choices based on a variety of reasons and they don't always consult God prayerfully before making a choice. We just had a depressing call this morning from a fellow we've been teaching, saying that after looking over the Book of Mormon he and his wife decided to stay where they were... it's hard to describe the deep pain one feels at such a time. It not only hurts, but stays with you while wondering what you could have done different to give them a better chance. My heart goes out to these people as I know for myself what the gospel has to offer and they just turned it down before even really tasting it. Elder Marsh had a good talk with him trying to save the situation, but to no avail. It's a sad, but far to common part of life as a missionary.

Things have been going slow. We haven't been able to meet with some of the people we really want to be teaching, as it seems they're just too busy living their regular lives to think of God. It is as if many peoples spiritual health becomes an optional afterthought, for when it is convenient! Imagine when the big things in life come our way, turning everything upside down while leaving us confused and scared, if God was to consider us and our problems an optional afterthought, saving our deepest concerns for some time when it is convenient? Well, days have been turning into weeks and we just never seem to meet with them. I've decided to apply some serious kneeling to the problem and see what the Lord has to say about it. He'll probably tell me to listen to Him more often, instead of running around without a head like a decapitated chicken, to trust in His arm rather than my feet. That's just so typical. I should have listened sooner and better, He's just always right! I have to wonder how long it's going to take me to learn how to get it right?

The weather is getting colder, but then again, so far I don't really care much. The Lord is continually blessing me, that the weather seems surprisingly mild. Most of the time I'm walking around with just my suitcoat if it gets to around zero, but other than that it's just my shirt with my sleeves rolled up. Maybe I'm thick skinned or maybe it's just that I am thick. That would explain a lot more than just my resistance to cold.

Last sunday Elder Fonua and I had the opportunity to speak again in sacrament meeting. I spoke on ''the Standard of Truth", on how important truth is to our church, the source of truth, etc. I think it turned out really well and people seemed to like it. Elder Fonua spoke on adversity, basing his talk on Joseph B. Wirthlin's talk, "Come what may , and love it" and he did a great job.

Love you all, thank you again!

Elder Lee

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