Tuesday, August 28, 2012

21 August 2012

On Sunday I was sitting on the temple grounds by the MTC (our district's Sunday getaway), and I thought about families.

Isn't it incredible how everyone is brought into this world into this automatic social unit? I mean, the mother and father don't even know the kid, but they love them unconditionally right off the bat. God provided us families so we can learn and grow together, in an environment of reverent, sacred love. Wouldn't it be sad if our families couldn't continue after this life?

God bestowed upon Elijah the priesthood keys, or authority, to seal families together for eternity. "...[H]e shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers" (see Malachi 4:5-6). That priesthood power is present in our day. Inside our holy Temples, we have the opportunity to have this blessing.

Even more amazing is that those that never received this ordinance in this life can still have this blessing. In the Temple, we can stand in proxy for those that have passed on, and do the saving ordinances for them, so they can choose to accept this work done for them.

Everyone will have a fair chance to hear and accept the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

I'm excited to start my own eternal family. I strive every day to live up to the covenants and promises I have made with God so I can be worthy to be married in the Temple. Heaven would not be heaven to me if I didn't get to keep these sacred relationships. To know that my father will always be my father, my mother will always be my mother, I will always have my siblings and wife and children... It gives my life so much purpose. It makes me want to make sure that I treat my family with love and respect, that I don't do things I would regret later. When you have this eternal perspective, the meaning of life completely changes. Every action you make is influenced by this knowledge. I am so grateful for my testimony that my family truly can remain together forever.


This week was hard. We got a new investigator, but he was really tough and we were stressed, and he kind of rushed us out the door and told us he didn't want to meet with us anymore. Our teacher said to the class that this was a result of lacking motivation to become good missionaries, and said directly to me and my companion that we "did not have enough faith." This was a soul crusher. I have never been more afraid of failure in my life. The idea that we are, as our teacher said, "losing souls" is terrifying. I started having very powerful doubts that I was not up to the task, that I couldn't do this work. Or rather, that I did have the potential, but that I would never reach it. When I would have hard days like this, I would usually talk with my mom, but I couldn't since I'm here, so I just stayed up late writing a letter to them.

It's clear the Lord is looking out for me. I got a letter from my dad two days later. It was remarkable because it said exactly what I needed to hear, even though by that time they had not received my letter yet. He said: "Whenever we talk about the Martin Willy Handcart Company we usually share the couple of harrowing days at the end, when really the real story is the day-on-day drudgery of pulling a 300 lbs. handcart for many months." (Not exact quote, don't have the letter with me.) I quickly realized that one failure is not what defines my entire mission, and how successful I will be. It's how hard I work every single day and how I grow from that which determines if it was a success.

I later listened to a talk by the church Apostle, Elder Bednar, who said that "success is a gift from God. We may be working as hard as we possibly can and doing everything right, but we must remember that we do not earn gifts from God. We do not deserve anything from him. He will give us gifts according to his time-table, according to his wisdom. We just need to be worthy to receive them when the time comes that he is ready to give us those gifts."

I appreciate all the kind words from everyone the past few weeks; it's really helped me pull through. I can't believe I was so vain to worry about how much mail I was getting at the beginning of my time here. I've gotten the nickname "The Mailman" because I now get at least one letter every day. Lesson learned: when I forget about myself and love those whom I serve, that's when the Lord will bless you. I have such amazing friends and family, I love you all so much!

I hope you enjoy the new slew of pictures! Let me know if there's anything specific that you want me to document before I leave the MTC on September 18th.

And a quick shout out to John: CONGRATULATIONS on your mission call!!! Have fun in Memphis, beware of the Elvis impersonators! I'm so pumped for you!

And one joke from Elder Deal: "James walks into a bar and sees John sitting there. James says to John, 'Ni de tongban zai nali?' ('Hey, where's your companion?')"

Ah, dumb multilingual missionary church humor.

Love you all,

Elder Jorgensen

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What a great brother—he remembered Britta’s birthday. She felt very special!


MTC Campus


Elder Raley and Elder Fronks—dorm mates with Elder Jorgensen and Elder Christiansen.


Elder Christiansen—Elder Jorgensen’s awesome companion. We think he resembles our good friend Mark Davis (or how we imagine Mark to look when he’s grown up.)


Do you see the “Y”? Elder Jorgensen and his dad hiked to the “Y” when he was about five years old.


Language notes sampling.


Krispy Kreme treats for all!


I see gratitude in those eyes. :)




Beautiful Provo temple.


On the temple grounds where the Chinese speakers hang.


We love you Elder Jorgensen.


Sister Newman and Sister Chord (on the left). They will be serving in the Taichung mission as well.


Elder Jorgensen’s MTC district.


MTC District—including the Sisters.


Elder Christiansen. Don’t you agree? He looks like a grown up version of Mark with brown hair. :)

14 August 2012

What a loooooong week. Very, very busy.

So I have to tell you about what learning the language is like. Imagine being dunked into a cold lake. Yep. You are placed into this environment where everyone only speaks Chinese, except for a few occasional English words for clarification. Our first day, our teacher walked in and gave us all of our instructions for our first assignment in fluent Mandarin. Imagine then, 11 pairs of wide, glazed over eyes. Thus, the teachers have to pantomime a lot of their words as they say them; they get a pretty good workout!

So here's the philosophy: if we devote all of our time to listening to and speaking Chinese, then the Spirit will kick in and grant us the gift of tongues. Fact: No ordinary 19 year old teenager can learn this language on their own in twelve weeks. But, with the Lord's help, we can accomplish anything that is in line with His will. And right now He wants me to learn Mandarin. The Lord qualifies whom He calls. I've learned way more here in six weeks than I learned in High School Chinese class in three years.

Just to give you an idea, at six weeks I'm expected to be able to speak 70% of the time in Mandarin. Needless to say, there is a lot of pressure on us missionaries. The crazy thing is that last year they were running a pilot program where the Chinese speakers only had nine weeks, not twelve. Yes, reliance on the Spirit is completely necessary to be successful. This. Is. Hard. It means giving all your energy to doing this stuff, then praying that the Lord can help you the rest of the way. We have to completely eliminate any sense of pride inside us, which is difficult for me. Unfortunately, I can be pretty self-centered.

And now for some other things...

The chief of security here is this huge, bald dude that constantly scowls. We think he was a Navy Seal. But the thing that makes him so epically awesome is his name: Magnum Angus. Ooooh yeah. He was born for his job!

Another Elder in my district is running a blog, and he's going to Taichung as well. Check out www.blakeraley.com if you'd like (there's probably more pictures of me there, because I'm not the one holding the camera).

In the scriptures, particularly 1 Corinthians 13, it talks about how Charity is the best Christ like attribute we can have. Charity is the eternal love that God has for his children. When we have Charity, we want to serve those around us the best we possibly can because we love them and want them to be happy. I'm trying hard to develop this characteristic in myself. My companion and I have been pushing ourselves to do little planned acts of service for others in our district, like compliments and little notes about how we appreciate their examples and things they did. This is easy in itself, but the hard thing is delivering these compliments in secret. I've learned that the best acts of service are the ones where the recipient never finds out who served them. Being in drama, I love the applause after a performance. It's addicting. If you are not careful, your main motivation for acting would change from entertaining people to getting recognition. When you eliminate the possibility of recognition, you focus more on your love for the person, and therefore the act of kindness is much more sincere. I hope I can embody that kind of love in myself as I serve others. I have a feeling it's gonna take my whole life long. But it's worth it, because "charity never faileth". As a missionary, I can teach them and help them and bear my testimony all I want, but if love is not present, it all is in vain. With charity, I can succeed in accomplishing my purpose to invite and help others to come unto Christ.

We had a cloudy day yesterday. Man, I miss Washington.

I sent an SD card with about 230 pictures home today, so you all will have those to look forward to pretty soon!

And one more fun fact: If you want to say hello in Thai, just say "So what eh cup!"

I love you all, and I wish you all the best! Until next week,


Elder Jorgensen

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

8/7/2012 Halfway Through The MTC



So I decided to keep a note card on me to record what happens during the week, and it resulted in a whole bunch of uncorrelated, random bullet points. Forgive my apparent case of ADHD.

You know the band Imagine Dragons, that popular rock band that popped up out of nowhere in the last few months? Turns out, Elder Teshima knows the lead singer personally because they are in the same Stake (geographical location that contains several smaller congregations). AND Imagine Dragons just recently released a new EP, which news made me severely depressed because of the strict music rules on my mission. Ah well, I guess something to look forward to when I get back, right? (Mom and Dad, birthday present for when I get back!? Maybe!? clip_image001)

This week the older generation of Chinese speakers leave for their mission fields (one is going to Ireland! Weird!). It's really sad to see them go. They were a great inspiration to me. But the cool part is that their departure marks my generation's halfway point of our stay in the MTC. Six down, six more weeks to go!!!

For those of you who have seen the movie "Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration" (and if you haven't the whole thing's on YouTube!), the actor for the younger Joseph Smith is at the MTC right now. I've been itching to get a picture with him, but all the opportunities I have with him are horrid, like in the temple or during a fireside. I believe he's serving in Virginia... Still gotta ask him. I often have to look at him twice because he has red hair, but in the movie he's blond.

Sunday I watched the church film "The Testaments" in Mandarin. I've done this before at home, but unlike previous experience, I actually understood about 1/3 to 1/4 of the words that were said. It's times like these when I realize my time at the MTC is paying off.

This week was one of the first weeks where receiving letters was almost completely out of mind. This week was also the week where I got two to three letters a day! I'm learning more and more that the Lord is a perfect teacher, and will do whatever is the best way to teach us the lessons we need to learn. For me, it was "Forget your darned self and get to work!" So for those of you who send me letters, forgive me if it takes a while to reply, I'm trying to write back in the order I got them. And thank you, thank you, thank you so much for all your kind words! It's clear that I am greatly loved, and I am very humbled to have such great friends and family.

My dad gave me a Portuguese nametag that he got from his cousin while he was at the MTC, and I decided to wear it one day this week. It gave me nothing but trouble. One elder sat down next to me at lunch and started speaking Portuguese, and he was so frustrated when I couldn't understand. And then when I was teaching our progressing investigator, the investigator pointed at the end of the lesson and asked me what was up with my tag. It was so fun, I might do it again!

A few more funny quotes to add on to last week:

"Dude, that's the thing with crushes. Sometimes you just gotta burn down cities. Just burn 'em down." -Elder Deal (While talking about Alexander the Great and Cleopatra.)

"I was upset when English was decided as the official language of the Church. That meant I had to learn it. But don't get cocky, English speakers, because you will have to learn a new language too. I am convinced that in the celestial kingdom, we will be speaking German." -Apostle Dieter F. Uchtdorf

"You're a stud. Now get outta here." -Elder Christianson

And an inspiring quote:

"You can't write a paper unless your pen's moving." -Elder Greer

Before I go, I just want to take a moment to testify of the divinity of The Book of Mormon. Many say that The Book of Mormon is a fraud, that it was devised in the mind of Joseph Smith or the minds of a party of people. But when I read this book, I know without a doubt that no mortal man could ever write a book such as this. I add my witness that this book is another testament of Jesus Christ, and that a man can get closer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book. I testify that The Book of Mormon contains God's word, and that Joseph Smith translated the ancient records that comprised the book by the power of God. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that through him, Christ restored his church to the earth today as it was when he established it in his mortal ministry. This is His gospel. His church is the only way whereby man can be saved. I exhort you, member or non-member, to receive this knowledge for yourselves through the power of the Holy Ghost. If you study it out, ponder its message, and pray with the sincere desire and real intent to know if it is true, I can promise you that God will give you an answer.

I love you all, and stay cool!


Elder Jorgensen