Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Climb


Hello President.

This is... It! I guess? My mission. Today was P-day. It's about 4:15. So far we have gone out with a member, taught a less active, have a meeting with the bishop in about 45 minutes, and then we have splits tonight so we can cover twice as much ground until 9. So in my last 2 days, we'll have gone out teaching with 4 different members. Trying to work to the end.

Elder Crofts is a little sad and stressed. It will be so wonderful for him to have Elder Boyson here. I can hardly shut up talking to the district about how fantastic Elder Boyson is! What a blessing having him come.

My mission. President. Six years ago almost to the day, I submitted my mission papers. Six years President. 25% of my life, and about half the life I can actually remember (because who remembers things from when they were 5? Besides you, of course.) has been completely focused on a mission. At first there was the long, long hospital stay. Then the at home recovery. Then becoming active and worthy again in the Church from having been away for over a year. Then little steps. A church service mission at the Bishops Storehouse was the first tiny step. I remember kneeling in the freezer packing produce into baskets, so overwhelmed and stressed just from the little interaction and structure I faced there, that I began sobbing uncontrollably until the tears froze to my cheeks. But I scraped them off, and stood up, and put the fruit on the shelves. And I felt like I was trying to climb Everest without arms or legs.

But I climbed. And He helped me. And the next step was to work at the regional Family history Center. And I remember the first time I tried to help a group of youth with their family history, and my mind, so fuzzy and worn out from years of anti-psychotics and anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication and everything, couldn't even recall the website I was supposed to use. And I just stood there, blank faced, until finally some little old lady came and rescued me. And I didn't even dare to pray that night, so sure was I that I was so utterly, hopelessly, beyond the reach of saving. Of a Savior. But I went back the next day. And the next.

And then I was given a temple recommend, and permitted to do baptisms for the dead as much as I wanted. So I went every day. I went so much I got swimmers ear. I went so much I knew the workers and the temple presidency by name and by shift. One time they let me do 50 baptisms all at once! And I felt like a little child, but I was happy.

And then, one day after the temple, came the phone call that I could serve a 3 month mission in California. I had all the necessary paperwork, interviews, and everything. I remember the terror of the mission home, the horror when I arrived to my area and realized I was expected to speak spanish, the pressure of trying to teach lessons I couldn't even read or recall in English. I counted the hours, and then the minutes, and sometimes the seconds, begging God to help me to give 84 days, even though it was so horrendously and obviously beyond my dwarfish capacity.

And here we are President. I have no idea what possessed me to say "yes" to the offer of a 2 year mission call. I was told again and again by my bishop and stake president that I could be honorably released from service. Going home honorably after my mini mission was also presented as an option. But there was something so devastatingly deep inside of me that revolted at the idea. That pushed through for 6 very, very, very long years.

People have asked me, "Did it fly by? Was it short?" And my answer is no. No it did not. It was lifetimes. It was eternity. Because I wanted it that way. People have asked me, "What will you do after you go back?" President, I will never go back. Never. Onward, maybe. Upward, definitely. But it was too long and too much to ever go back even if I wanted to. When I began my mission, I had never read a word of Preach My Gospel. I wasn't aware the Church even made pamphlets. I did not have a single verse of the Book of Mormon memorized. I could not have defined Priesthood, the Gospel of Christ, or accurately explained the Plan of Salvation. I was not sure what was and was not a commandment. I hadn't kept a regular schedule in my entire life, and hadn't slept 8 hours in over a decade. I was spiritually crippled, intellectually bereft, and emotionally destitute. And Jesus changed it all.

He changed EVERYTHING President! And at a terrifying cost. He doesn't just give all, He asks for ALL. At the cost of every drop of will and exertion. At the cost of exact mornings and rigid nights. At the cost of intense study, of praying until your shoes are bent and your knees are sore. Did I tell you President, that I knocked so many doors my knuckles became calloused and then one day an icy pain went through my knuckle as  I knocked and my finger went numb and I couldn't knock with it anymore? But I have other fingers. At the cost of 4 pairs of shoes torn apart from walking and biking. At the cost of icy fear in my heart so intense at every single door approach for two whole years that if a dog so much as barks I jump four feet in the air and fall off the doorstep (ask my companions. They've all seen it). But you just smile and apologize and try again! At the cost of a hundred nights spend crying and screaming into a pillow, curled into a sad little bad on the bathroom floor while companions snore away, begging Father not to ask for another day, not to ask for any more.

But He does. He roots out the wicked spirit in the breast. He doesn't modify, He reinvents. A couple weeks ago I was having one of my nightly wrestling's, asking Father to, I suppose, "take this cup from me". And I heard The Voice, piercing my mind, as it said, "What? Could ye not watch with me one hour?"

I have, with trembling hands, given everything I knew how to give, President. I have spent every time, worked every moment, shed every tear, sweat every drop, push my mind until it felt like mush and tried to open my heart until it broke. I have found, taught, and baptized about 30 people, and reactivated almost that many as well. I have trained four times, been a district leader twice, a zone leader and an assistant, biked, driven, walked, and tried. And President, I have heard the voice of the Lord. I have heard Him speak to me. I have felt Him modify my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual capacities. I am a completely different human being because of something Holy and High that happened to me. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ made me something new. Wonderfully, frightfully, brand new. A disciple. Certainly the least, but a disciple.

And I have said all this, to praise His holy name for it. President... thanks be to God. And thank you, Sir. For helping them to make it happen.

~Elder Jorgensen

Monday, May 25, 2015

WEEK 93: Happy Memorial Day!


Well Hello! Happy Memorial Day! Wanna hear about my week? It was pretty packed.

1) Monday we had dinner with a wonderful family at a super classy Italian restaurant. The waitress asked us where we were from and it came out that she grew up in Utah! She told us to try the veal, and we told her

Monday, May 18, 2015

WEEK 92: The Perfect Life

I'm hiding under my blanket from Elder Welsh, who has gone on a
Febreeze rampage, so I guess this is a good time to start the letter.

Happy week!! Hope you've had a good one. Today makes 17 moths since I
walked through the doors of the MTC. I think 17 months ago, I imagined
myself having a pretty good time, but nothing like THIS. This week was
especially fantastic. Lots of meetings and trainings and whatnot,
which are their own kind of fun (4 hours on Tuesday, 6 hours
Wednesday, 10 hours Thursday and Friday, and then yesterday we had
meetings from 11 AM to 11 PM with only a 20 minute break to end our
fast [yesterday was our fast Sunday for a complicated series of
reasons] and collapsed into bed). We saw some fantastic things happen.
FANTASTIC. I will present them in list form (my lists are famous

1) Ina and Nina

Ina and Nina are twin sisters in their early 60's and they are
HILARIOUS. Hooooooooly Cow (elder welsh says I have to stop saying
"HOLY COW! Because I say it In an Indian accent and that makes it
racist. So now I say, "FIREWORKS! Fireworks and Hot dogs!" in a
southern accent.) they are funny. One is catholic and one is baptist
(not sure which is which) and they are as sassy as you'd like. We sat
down with them for over an hour this week and we're going back
tomorrow and it was just so FUN! Hah. They were thrilled to have a
Book of Mormon. Can't wait to see them again.

2) Colleen and Gary

We had a weird day on... Wednesday? No, Thursday. We got back from our
meeting on the west side of the city, and on our drive back all our
appointments cancelled (and we were PACKED). So we were a little
adrift for an hour or so. Everyone we talked to reacted... Oddly. It was just an odd day. So it was getting dark and we hadn't really taught anyone anything and Elder Welsh decides to knock on the door of a lady he had spoken to weeks ago when I was gone off gallivanting around the mission somewhere. Well this lady, Colleen, turns out to be the greatest human being in the world. She invites us straight in, sits us down,talks to us about the Book of Mormon for 45 minutes, tells us how much she loves her neighbor (a member who just started coming back to Church) and invites herself to Church! And then she comes!!! It was magical. Tragically, Colleen and Gary are moving to MICHIGAN tomorrow! They're going to be "snow birds" (people who live up north 6 months of the year and then come down here for the winter months). So we're helping them move (they're making us bacon for breakfast!) tomorrow and missionaries will just baptize them in Michigan!

3) Lopaka and Michelle

Lopaka is awesome. AWESOME. He is an unreasonably short hawaiian man with a yellow motorcycle, a huge truck, more tattoos than you can shake a stick at, and a deep hatred of pineapple (really though, don't call things Hawaiian just because they have pineapple. I forget why...) Lopaka is excited to be baptized at the beginning of June. His wife Michelle is a member, and stood up and bore her testimony for the first time that anyone can remember and expressed her love for her husband and the gospel and it was just breathtaking. We're seeing them again tomorrow as well. Going to be a packed day!

4) Cody and Leah

Cody and Leah are getting MARRIED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Married on Saturday!!!!!!!!!!! Wow. We planned their wedding yesterday. That was a new experience. Never planned a wedding before. It was unique. We'll let you know how it goes!!!! It's going to be beautiful. I'd never been to a wedding before my mission! It seems like we get as many people married to each other as we get to investigate the Church! Missionaries, Messengers of Love.

5) "Covenants" and Missy

So this story was actually immediately after the lesson with Colleen and Gary on Thursday. We left their house and it was 8:30 or so and we were in a trailer park in not a BAD part of town (our assigned proselyting area on the south side is called Mandarin. It is by FAR the cleanest, most beautiful, greatest part of the city) but not the most luxurious either. We were walking down the street and there was a party going on either side in the front yards of the trailers and they were not the good kind of parties. So we just walked past them. But then I felt terrible, because you have to talk with EVERYONE! So I said out loud, "Alright! I'm making a covenant! The next person I see, I will talk to no matter WHAT is in their red plastic cup! Bring me someone prepared to receive the gospel!" The next people we saw, we saw through the window of a trailer, so we called out to them, "Hello!" "Uh, hi?" "Hi! How's your night?" "... Fine?" "Great! We have a gift for you! It's a card with a picture of Jesus Christ!" "Um... No one is home!" And then they closed the window.

"Okay, okay. I'm making a new covenant! The NEXT person I see, I will talk to! And THIS one will be prepared to receive the gospel!"

Well the next people we saw was the party people from earlier. I asked Elder Welsh, "Do they count if we already saw them?" And he looked at me like I'm some kind of crazy person (which is fair) and we decided that they still count, so I ran over and talked to them! They did not notice us at first. We had to go stand in the middle of their little party circle before they'd make eye contact. They were all circled around a firepit drinking and talking and laughing and cooking BBQ and saying some words... Well we just stood there with our backs to the fire facing them and let them know who we were! One man wearing a backwards baseball cap and baggy shorts and a skull tshirt started making fun of the way we were dressed and I couldn't help but look him up and down and laugh at that which was unfortunate and did cause one tense moment. But! When one of the girls said she had mormon friends and asked if we had anything for her, we started passing out pamphlets and testifying of the happiness we had found to everyone! Saggy-shorts guy apologized and we gave out everything we had and the party kind of resumed as we walked away. It definitely went better than expected, and we had some good quick conversations with a few of the younger (early 20's) partiers, but we still didn't get to TEACH. Teaching is the funnest. So I made another covenant!

"Alright, THIS time! THIS time the person will be completely sober AND prepared!"

Immediately a man ran out of his house, we said hello, and his reaction was... not positive. Then our partier friends swore at him a lot for his behavior and chased him back inside his house! So, that was different!

Well it was after 9 at that point (9 PM is when the proselyting time for a missionary ends), and Elder Welsh and I figured that was enough covenant-making for one day. We started walking back to the car. On our way we walked by a house where a lady was sitting listening to music in her garage. We waved as we passed by. Elder Welsh said, "Who is that?" "I'm not sure. I've tried to talk to the people in that house twice. The first time they threw some beer cans at me. The second time they took their dog off the leash and told it to get me. So... I've never really caught her name." "... We should talk to her." "Ok!"

So we turned around and were inside her garage before she even noticed us. We had a wonderful 25 minute lesson on the book of mormon, using the introduction and the pictures at the front to teach the history and doctrine of the book. She had a lot of questions about the difference between mormons and the book of mormon and the bible and all the typical things. We prayed (holding hands, of course. because this is the south) and read some verses and set a return appointment and everything! In the course of our lesson the members of the family who had done the dog-setting on me came out and they gave me quite the look. Hehe They declined our invitation to hold hands and pray.

So we did get to teach one more time that day. Then we sprinted to the car and went home. It was a crazy time.

6) Blessing at the Hospital

Oh! So Monday! Monday after P-day time ends at 6 we were out doing our thing, and we get a call at 8:30 or so after a very eventful evening, from a member in our ward. He has a friend who's sister is in the hospital. He asked for us to drive downtown and give her a blessing right away, that night. So we got in the mini van and drove! Well of course we got lost. Twice. Which probably wouldn't have happened if the people we stopped and asked directions from spoke english (or we spoke albanian) but we finally get there and the hospital is HUGE. HUGE old building on the river. We park in a parking garage right next to it, that is completely empty (no one parked there, no one at the gate manning the arms, nothing) and walk up to the door of the hospital. Well, as we walk up, two men are walking towards the door from the other side, and we can see them through a little window.  They get to the door, and can't open it. They are confused at first, but then they get frustrated and almost nervous... They start banging on the window and shaking the door... Odd... So we walk around to another entrance.

This is a full-blown hospital. The biggest one I've seen. And as we walk through the front doors, there is literally no one there. Not a soul. We walk past the empty front desk and ride the elevator to the fifth floor, and walk 150 yards or so down the hallway and we have seen not one person. There are desks and vending machines and a cafeteria and empty rooms and dimly lit hallways (at one point the lights flickers and we almost had a heart attack. Which would have been poetic) and trays of medical-looking equipment but not a soul in sight.

So we were terrified. Have you ever been to an inexplicably empty hospital at night? No? Well then you would not understand. We thought the zombie apocalypse had happened for sure. After whispering and walking and searching for several minutes though, we finally got to an inhabited part of the hospital, found this woman's room, and were able to sit and talk with her. This lovely woman has down-syndrome and has started having grand-maul seizures. She looked at us blankly at first, but as we talked she began to smile a big, open-mouthed smile. We sat with her for 20 minutes or so, open-mouth smiling back, and then we gave her a beautiful, BEAUTIFUL priesthood blessing, the kind of which I have no heard before and won't repeat here. Just the memory brings tears. Walking away, we were filled with light, and couldn't sleep that night we were just bursting. It was a beautiful thing. Amazing how much less scary those hallways were on the walk out. 

7) Meal Calendar Miracle

Our ward has not had a meal-calendar in a month. But one of the sister missionaries made one this week and passed it around and we have dinner appointments every day but friday this week!!! YEAH!!!!!!!!!! It had been a long month of cold cereal and fruit snacks that we stuff our pockets with every time we go to the mission office (alright alright, don't judge us. These are STAR WARS fruit snacks! And on the inside they are liquidy so they're really Star Wars Fruit Snack Gushers!!!! They are great!) so that was a tender mercy.

8) Leckwarts Move (Wrestling Joseph)

Hah! One the families investigating the church that we are working with moved this week within the same apartment complex, so we helped out a lot with our muscles and mini-van. Elder Welsh brought the muscles, and I drove the mini-van. We have this CD that talks about the Prophet Joseph Smith that we listen to all the time, and we happened to be on the part where it talks about how much he loved to wrestle. And then for some reason there is a long violin solo on the CD and Elder Welsh and I imagine the prophet wrestling just, hundreds of people at once. Throwing them left and right and laughing and standing in the middle swinging some big burly scotsman around his head having the greatest time. Well, I was driving the mini-van with one of the other elders in the seat next to me, hauling a load full of boxes across the complex, and just as the violin starts I look out the window and Elder Welsh is pushing the family's 10 year old son in a go-cart next to us! Elder Welsh is SPRINTING at top speed and the boy is wide-eyed and loving it. So we roll down the windows and turn the music up and drive beside them and it was just fantastic. Just one of the million random things that happen throughout the weeks that I usually don't remember to share, but highlight just how much FUN we have. Just how great our life is.

9) Car Gas

Hah! This is another "Our life is awesome story". So we get to drive as much as we want, which is great except I spend half my life in the car now. But we never have to worry about mileage limitations like the other missionaries do. But! This week we get into the car sunday morning and the gas light is on! We're out of gas! Well this just won't do! We have places to go! People to see! Gospel to preach! So we just... drove to the mission office, and got a new car! Hah! But, we decided we should at least accept SOME kind of consequence for our thoughtlessness, so we took the least desirable car available so that we would learn from our mistake at least a little. So we took the 15 passenger van we use for the airport trips when missionaries arrive from the MTC or go home at the end of their 2 years. We showed up to Church in that thing and people were just stupefied! "What is that?? Why are you driving an aircraft carrier? You could fit two star destroyers and a dead blue whale in the back of that van! Where did you get it??"

I guess we just do what we want!

10) Perfect Day

Alright, alright. So lets talk about the perfect day. This is Saturday, May 16th, 2015. Mark it on your calendars.

We woke up in the morning and immediately went to move the Leckwarts, then picked up lunch from a BBQ place for President and Sister Craig and all the senior couples (the husband and wife missionaries who are retirement age and serve in special assignments all over the mission) who were having their quarterly meeting. President lives in a HUGE and VERY nice gated community (gated is an understatement. There are guards and private security and all kinds of things) where we are NOT allowed to proselyte EVER. Ever. Well as we're leaving, I was on a phone call (which is about as constant as breathing) and all of a sudden we're doing a u-turn and elder welsh has gotten out of the car. I hang up and I see him standing in someone's backyard talking to a lady in a bee-keeper suit who has a chainsaw in one hand and a tree-branch in the other. We are still in normal clothes (t-shirts and shorts) from the move and he is offering to help her with her yardwork and she says YES!!!! No one has EVER said yes in that neighborhood EVER. We were thrilled. But the yard is COVERED in poison ivy and she was taking a break for lunch, so we have to go get jeans and long-sleeves and gloves. So we're off! And after a quick stop to have lunch with a member of the ward (sushi. I had an alaskan salmon roll, a california roll [of course] and a one other one that I forget. Yeah... My mission is pretty great. We listen to violin solos and eat suishi and when we run out of gas we just get a new car.) we got into our sweats (which is quite a feat of bravery in a floridian summer) and we went to town! We had a mountain of brush and branches piled up on the side the the road after a couple hours and this magnificent woman was ecstatic. As we worked we obviously talked about religion. She mentioned she was catholic (we were standing next to her five-foot tall yard statue of St. Francis of Assisi at the time, so it was a pretty easy transition to make) but that her children attending catholic school were not going to be allowed to continue to attend unless they got vaccinations. She said that the vaccinations use stem-cells harvested from abortions, and she, a marvelously strong and faithful catholic woman, could not possibly support abortion in that way. She said she was going to need a new place to go to church after the school semester ended this month, and asked where ours is, what time, and what it's like.

We almost fainted. Then of course I brought up how YOU, marvelous mother, can't stand vaccinations either, and how our family, so similar to hers in so many ways, has found strength and peace in a world of conflicting and warring ideologies through the Book of Mormon. The clarity, confidence, and safety of that book is matchless. We asked if her neighbor, who is member of the local congregation (and also our Mission President!) could come bring her the gift of a copy of this holy book and she was ecstatic to say yes.

Well then we drove straight to an appointment with a young couple who we hadn't seen in months. They sat down at a picnic table with us, announced that they'd read 200 pages from the Book of Mormon, committed to come to church the next day (he had just miraculously gotten his first sunday off in 7 months) and asked about baptism. Then we had to race to the home of a part-member family and cut their lawn and split some wood for them. As we worked their friends came over to see what we were doing and we all sat down for a lesson when the work was done and they all came to church the next day. Then we REALLY had to fly to another investigator's house for a late dinner (lucky we had so much sushi to tide us over until then!) which was loaded potatoes, and shrimp sandwiches. We played gospel, taught them the articles of faith, and got home just before 9:30 (curfew) to fall to our knees and thank God for such a perfect, PERFECT life.

It is so great to be a missionary. It is so much FUN to serve the Lord. We got a call form a missionary this morning worried about changing. Worried he'll be a totally different person and have to give up his whole personality to be a missionary! We pointed out the difference between habits and personality, and told him that he SHOULD be a different person! He should change! He should change so that he can have this much fun. He should change and enjoy this perfect life.

We change because we want a perfect life. We give up what we are and substitute what He is. We think His thoughts and feel His feelings and do His works and desire His will. We forsake all that we are. We approach meekly the altar of sacrifice, we leave there our fears, our ambitions, our predilections, our vanity, our talents, our weakness, and our souls. We kneel for a moment in abject submission, and then we humbly walk away. We reject the mantra, "Be yourself!" and embrace the Lord's teaching, "What manner of men ought ye to be? Verily verily I say unto you, even as I am."

And we're not perfect. And we have a long way to go and that's okay. But He lived a perfect life. He is perfectly happy. He experiences a perfect love, a perfect joy, a perfect service, a perfect work, a perfect rest. We love Him. We are trying very hard to be like Him. We talk of Him and rejoice in Him and prophesy of Him and command in His name. We are His mouthpiece, and sometimes we bring people down onto their knees with us and grab their arms and in the name of God pronounce glory, light, truth, promise, and warning. We speak with such boldness that were we liars or fools, mistaken, our utterances would be such bald-faced blasphemy that any eavesdropping deity would strike us down upon the spot. But we are not mistaken. We are emissaries of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the tongue of angels and the authority of an Everlasting Order, we declare the will of the Master of the Cosmos, the Lamb of God.

This is His Church, His Kingdom, His vessel to accomplish His work and His glory. He commands all, male or female, old or young, bond or free, rich or poor, unlearned or wise, to come unto Him. He commands us to repent of our wickedness, and to forgive. He commands us to be baptized, to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, to enter His temple, and to become as He is. He does not negotiate at the table of sin, or settle in the marketplace of Babylon. He commands, then enables, and then sanctifies. Even me.

I love my Savior Jesus Christ. I love the Prophet Joseph Smith for teaching me more of Him. I love Thomas S. Monson for bringing His voice to my ears to silence all other voices, shadows, and impressions that have raged upon this world and in my mind. I love the Book of Mormon. I love being a missionary. This week I heard a little indian lady bear her testimony of the restored gospel in Hindi. Her daughter translated. At the end, the little indian lady burst out in very thickly accented english, "My family... Many blessings... Very happy." and then the tears overcame her. And me. Especially me.

I love you. Thank you. I know this message to be true. In the energy of my soul and with divine daring I declare that I know Jesus to be the Christ, Joseph Smith to be His prophet, Thomas S. Monson to be His living mouthpiece, and the Book of Mormon to be His holy word. It fills me with unutterable joy to contemplate such things. With unbridled ecstasy do I say that I know, in the name of Jesus Christ.

~Elder Jorgensen

Monday, May 11, 2015

WEEK 91: Matters, and Why it Matters

Companion:  Elder Welsh
Jacksonville, FL
Ian and Me

Hi! Happy Mother's Day. Stories from the week:

Monday, May 4, 2015

WEEK 90: May the 4th be With You!

Jacksonville, FL
Companion:  Elder Welsh

Hah! Puns.

I love my mission! This week we had stake conference, we played volleyball with 20 people a side, I went down to St. Augustine, we set a baptism date with Michael for the weekend of the 24th (#mightymiraclemay!), and I learned a lot of lessons.

Lesson #1) Do. Not. Stop. Ever!

“Stick to your task ’til it sticks to you;
Beginners are many, but enders are few.
Honor, power, place and praise
Will always come to the one who stays.
“Stick to your task ’til it sticks to you;
Bend at it, sweat at it, smile at it, too;
For out of the bend and the sweat and the smile
Will come life’s victories after a while.”
~Author Unknown (Quoted by Thomas S. Monson)

That's how you change. Elder Munns of the 70 did a training with the mission leadership counsel where he talked about change in nature being more (way more) important than a change in results or in behavior.

"We have known great sorrow, but we have seen the power of the Savior turn our most devastating defeats into glorious spiritual victories. We who once lived with daily depression, anxiety, fear, and debilitating anger now experience joy and peace. We have witnessed miracles in our own lives and in the lives of others." ~The Addiction Recovery Program

That's the miracle that matters! This is mighty miracle may. Miracles happen all the time! Which is why lesson #2 is: Marvel at the Miracles.

"But let us beware. Our ability to marvel is fragile. Over the long term, such things as casual commandment keeping, apathy, or even weariness may set in and make us insensitive to even the most remarkable signs and miracles of the gospel.

"The Book of Mormon describes a period, very similar to our own, that preceded the coming of the Messiah to the Americas. Suddenly the signs of His birth appeared in the heavens. The people were so stricken with astonishment that they humbled themselves, and nearly all were converted. However, only a short four years later, “the people began to forget those signs and wonders which they had heard, and began to be less and less astonished at a sign or a wonder from heaven, … and began to disbelieve all which they had heard and seen.”

"My brothers and sisters, is the gospel still wonderful to you? Can you yet see, hear, feel, and marvel? Or have your spiritual sensors gone into standby mode?

"As we follow Jesus Christ, God bears witness to us “with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will.” ~Bishop Causse

Lesson #3 is how to have a miracle. The answer is... Be confident! Confident in Him.

"Whenever the adversary cannot persuade imperfect yet striving Saints such as you to abandon your belief in a personal and loving God, he employs a vicious campaign to put as much distance as possible between you and God. The adversary knows that faith in Christ--the kind of faith that produces a steady stream of tender mercies and even mighty miracles--goes hand in hand with a personal confidence that you are striving to choose the right. For that reason he will seek access to your heart to tell you lies--lies that Heavenly Father is disappointed in you, that the Atonement is beyond your reach, that there is no point in even trying, that everyone else is better than you, that you are unworthy, and a thousand variations of that same evil theme.

"As long as you allow these voices to chisel away at your soul, you can’t approach the throne of God with real confidence. Whatever you do, whatever you pray for, whatever hopes for a miracle you may have, there will always be just enough self-doubt chipping away at your faith--not only your faith in God but also your confidence in yourself. Living the gospel in this manner is no fun, nor is it very healthy. Above all, it is completely unnecessary! The decision to change is yours--and yours alone." ~Elder Klebingat

All we have to do is change, and we can have awesome miracles.

"No matter how high your hopes, I’m here to tell you they can be even higher. You can accomplish more in this life than you know. With the Lord at your side, you can experience miracles." Russell T. Osguthorpe (CES Devotional)

Lesson #4 is more about who we have to be, and not what we have to do, to have a miracle. We need to be selfless:

"The man who lives by himself and for himself is apt to be corrupted by the company he keeps.” (Charles Henry Parkhurst, quoted in The International Dictionary of Thoughts, Chicago: J. G. Ferguson, 1969, p. 659.)

We need to be peaceful:

The tumult and the shouting dies;
The Captains and the Kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget--lest we forget!

We need to do the things that enable us to have real, lasting happiness:

The Prophet Joseph Smith counseled: “Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God.”

We need to be free. From sin, from despair, and from addiction:

And then, thrillingly, Lincoln said: “I know I am right, because I know that liberty is right, for Christ teaches it, and Christ is God.” (Ibid., p. 285–86; italics added.)

We need to love ourselves:

“Great God, I ask thee for no meaner pelf
Than that I may not disappoint myself.”

We need to be honest:

“Sin,” said Oliver Wendell Holmes, “has many tools, but a lie is the handle which fits them all.” 

But most of all, we need to love. Pierre de Chardin wrote, “The day will come when after harnessing the ether, the winds, the tides, gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and on that day for the second time in the history of the world man will have discovered fire.”

Does that seem like a lot? It can intimidate me sometimes. That's why lesson #4 is "Begin with the End in Mind"

Heaven is not reached at a single bound;
But we build the ladder by which we rise
From the lowly earth to the vaulted skies,
And we mount to its summit round by round.

The end of the Church is captured by one of my heroes:

"You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: victory. Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however hard and long the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival." ~Winston Churchill

And also by a story told by Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone about the son of a king who understood who he was and how he should act. King Louis XVI of France had been taken from his throne and put in prison. His young son, the prince, was taken by those who had captured the king. Because the young prince was to be the next king, they wanted to destroy him morally. They knew that if they did, he would never be able to become the king of France.
These people took the prince to a faraway city, where they tempted the boy with every filthy thing they could find. They tried to get him to eat foods which would quickly make him lose control of himself. They used terrible language around him all the time. They tempted him with evil women. They exposed him to dishonor and distrust. He was surrounded constantly by everything that could make a person lose his moral values. For over six months he was given this treatment. But not once did the boy give in to temptation. Finally, after doing everything they could think of, they asked why he did not do these things. He replied, “I cannot do what you ask, for I was born to be a king” (adapted from “The King’s Son,” New Era, Nov. 1975, 35).

The message we bring is, "You were born to be a king, a queen, a child of our God. You were born for something greater, something higher. You are known, you are loved, there is a gift awaiting you."

Hope you have heard it. Hope you know it. Forgive the lack of stories. Elder Munns came yesterday and he taught about consecration. What a beautiful commandment. What a perfect covenant.

Hope I'm different! we try to change, so that we can love more perfectly. One of our investigators objected to the "Mormon" concept of the eternal destiny of mankind. We believe we can, in the celestial kingdom, become perfect, that we can become all-knowing, that we can become creators, that we can become all-loving. He insisted that this detracts from the status of, and our relationship with, our Heavenly Father. We explained that the object of our refinement, improvement, and sanctification, is to be able to appreciate, and therefore to love, and to imitate, and therefore more meaningfully and perfectly to worship, our God.

The better we get, the higher we climb, the cleaner we are, the more we change, the more we worship and we love. Isn't that perfect?

I love you.

~Elder Jorgensen

Monday, April 27, 2015

WEEK 89: Summertime!

Jacksonville, FL
Companion:  Elder Welsh

I know it's still April, but it is summer here for sure. When you walk outside at 11 PM and start sweating, it's summer.

Highlight Reel!

Monday: Family Home Evening. Had one of our recent converts and two families of returning less-active members all got together and we had an FHE lesson. Awesome!!

Tuesday: Elder Welsh went to the west side of the city and I went to the north side. Good times! Got to see Elder Collett! Elder Collett caused an accident by getting really excited about a dinosaur statue with glowing eyes on the side of the road, pointing it out to his companion who was driving, and then they rear-ended the car ahead of them. HAH! Dinosaurs. A menace to society.

Wednesday: ? It was probably an awesome day.

Thursday: Drove to Georgia. GEORGIA!!!!!!!!!!! There is something very very special about Georgia. That is the south right there. 'Murica! Fireworks! Hot-dogs! Other 'Merican things... We went up for a district meeting and took the district leader (Elder Burton!) to lunch at Olive Garden. Love it there.

Friday: Got kicked out of two apartment complexes in the course of half an hour. That was faster than usual. Also talked to a LOT of Hindu people. For reasons neither of us understand, there are thousands and thousands of Hindu people living in our area in Jacksonville. Here, in the middle of the Deep South Bible Belt, every third door is someone without a Christian background! Very odd. Once we learn Hindi we're going to have a whole stake!

Saturday: Crazy storm brought in a tornado. All the missionaries are fine. I guess it just tore up some trees... And some houses... Then we had the spaghetti dinner and dessert auction. A member gave us a bunch of desserts, which we then took to a part-member family that hasn't been to church in 20 years. And the next day, the mother and her three children came to church and stayed for all three hours! OH YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!! Kingdom-Building Brownies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh! Also on Saturday, we spent a couple hours with a part-member family tearing out Palmettos in their backyard. Palmettos are tiny palm trees with roots that just go... down. And then they wrap around pine-trees. And then missionaries come out with pick axes and shovels and almost die trying to get them out. I have never been so tired. I tried to wipe my face on my shirt and it just made my face MORE sweaty. It's like breathing soup out there, it was a million degrees, right before a storm... By the time we were finished I was using pretty much only gravity to bring the pickaxe down. Holy cow.

Sunday: Awesome church day. Had half a dozen families there with us. Got a new Ward mission leader. Taught an investigator about the Atonement. He was struggling a bit (a lot) with forgiveness. We talked about Abigail (gorgeous name. LOVE that name. Love it. Abigail Hannah Jorgensen.) and David. We told him the story of how Abigail's husband offended David, and David was coming to kill him. Abigail gathered up everything she had and went to the road to wait for David. She begged for her husband's life, and gave David what she had to make up for the offense. David accepted the intercession, and everyone lived happily ever after.

In a similar way, we have an Abigail who intercedes on behalf of those who wrong us. Ours is the Savior. He owns every sin. The adversary tried to get us to believe that we have to forgive each individual who wrongs us. But all wrongs, all offenses, all weaknesses, all sins, are owned by the Master. He stands on the road to make intercession, and we need only forgive Him. Every wickedness, every sin, every wrong against us, is an opportunity to forgive our Savior, to exercise our love for Him, to deepen our relationship, to adore.

Maybe it made more sense in spoken-form. Anyway, he liked it. One of our investigators recently lost his father. I will include as a post-script one of my favorite talks, "But if Not". I am confident in the reality and nature of the afterlife. I am secure in an excellent hope. I know, by the power of the Holy Ghost, that families are forever. A brief separation will only make our feelings all the deeper, sweeter, and more poignant when it ends. An eternity of love is the promise the gospel efforts. A triumphant rest.

Eons says:

27 And I soon go to the place of my rest, which is with my Redeemer; for I know that in him I shall rest. And I rejoice in the day when my mortal shall put on immortality, and shall stand before him; then shall I see his face with pleasure, and he will say unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father. Amen.


11 Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection--Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.

12 And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.


7 And if Christ had not risen from the dead, or have broken the bands of death that the grave should have no victory, and that death should have no sting, there could have been no resurrection.

8 But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.

9 He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death.


34 And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen.

Time to go. We are fishing in a pond somewhere in downtown Jacksonville. One of the elders caught a turtle, and another one just reeled in a beer can. Good times. I love you.

~Elder Jorgensen


But if Not

As a young man, I returned home from an eighth-grade basketball tournament dejected, disappointed, and confused. I blurted out to my mother, “I don’t know why we lost—I had faith we’d win!”
I now realize that I did not then know what faith is.
Faith is not bravado, not just a wish, not just a hope. True faith is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ—confidence and trust in Jesus Christ that leads a person to follow Him. 1
Centuries ago, Daniel and his young associates were suddenly thrust from security into the world—a world foreign and intimidating. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego refused to bow down and worship a golden image set up by the king, a furious Nebuchadnezzar told them that if they would not worship as commanded, they would immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. “And who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” 2
The three young men quickly and confidently responded, “If it be so [if you cast us into the furnace], our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand.” That sounds like my eighth-grade kind of faith. But then they demonstrated that they fully understood what faith is. They continued, “But if not, … we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” 3 That is a statement of true faith.
They knew that they could trust God—even if things didn’t turn out the way they hoped. 4 They knew that faith is more than mental assent, more than an acknowledgment that God lives. Faith is total trust in Him.
Faith is believing that although we do not understand all things, He does. Faith is knowing that although our power is limited, His is not. Faith in Jesus Christ consists of complete reliance on Him.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego knew they could always rely on Him because they knew His plan, and they knew that He does not change. 5 They knew, as we know, that mortality is not an accident of nature. It is a brief segment of the great plan 6 of our loving Father in Heaven to make it possible for us, His sons and daughters, to achieve the same blessings He enjoys, if we are willing.
They knew, as we know, that in our premortal life, we were instructed by Him as to the purpose of mortality: “We will make an earth whereon these may dwell; And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.” 7
So there we have it—it’s a test. The world is a testing place for mortal men and women. When we understand that it’s all a test, administered by our Heavenly Father, who wants us to trust in Him and to allow Him to help us, we can then see everything more clearly.
His work and His glory, He told us, is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” 8 He has already achieved godhood. Now His only objective is to help us—to enable us to return to Him and be like Him and live His kind of life eternally.
Knowing all this, it was not difficult for those three young Hebrews to make their decision. They would follow God; they would exercise faith in Him. He would deliver them, but if not—and we know the rest of the story.
The Lord has given us agency, the right and the responsibility to decide. 9 He tests us by allowing us to be challenged. He assures us that He will not suffer us to be tempted beyond our ability to withstand. 10 But we must understand that great challenges make great men. We don’t seek tribulation, but if we respond in faith, the Lord strengthens us. The but if nots can become remarkable blessings.
The Apostle Paul learned this significant lesson and declared, after decades of dedicated missionary work, “We glory in tribulations … knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed.” 11
He was assured by the Savior, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” 12
Paul responded: “Most gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. … I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” 13 When Paul met his challenges the Lord’s way, his faith increased.
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac.” 14Abraham, because of his great faith, was promised posterity greater in number than the stars in the heavens, and that that posterity would come through Isaac. But Abraham immediately complied with the Lord’s command. God would keep His promise, but if not in the manner Abraham expected, he still trusted Him completely.
Men accomplish marvelous things by trusting in the Lord and keeping His commandments—by exercising faith even when they don’t know how the Lord is shaping them.
By faith Moses … refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;
“Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
“Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt. …
By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king. …
By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land. …
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down.” 15
Others “through faith subdued kingdoms, … obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
“Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight.” 16
But in the midst of all those glorious outcomes hoped for and expected by the participants, there were always the but if nots:
“And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, … bonds and imprisonment:
“They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about … being destitute, afflicted, tormented; … 17
“God having provided some better things for them through their sufferings, for without sufferings they could not be made perfect.” 18
Our scriptures and our history are replete with accounts of God’s great men and women who believed that He would deliver them, but if not, they demonstrated that they would trust and be true.
He has the power, but it’s our test.
What does the Lord expect of us with respect to our challenges? He expects us to do all we can do. He does the rest. Nephi said, “For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” 19
We must have the same faith as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.
Our God will deliver us from ridicule and persecution, but if not. … Our God will deliver us from sickness and disease, but if not … . He will deliver us from loneliness, depression, or fear, but if not. … Our God will deliver us from threats, accusations, and insecurity, but if not. … He will deliver us from death or impairment of loved ones, but if not, … we will trust in the Lord.

Our God will see that we receive justice and fairness, but if not. … He will make sure that we are loved and recognized, but if not. … We will receive a perfect companion and righteous and obedient children, but if not, … we will have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that if we do all we can do, we will, in His time and in His way, be delivered and receive all that He has. 20 I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.