Sunday, August 4, 2013

29 July 2013

I tried Persimmon this week. It reminded me of Apple and Cinnamon instant oatmeal, but in crunchy apple form. Pretty good.

This week we had Zone Conference, and leading up to it I was pretty desperate. I wanted some answers about how I could improve the current situation. And, as usual, it seemed that Zone Conference was exactly what I needed. Many of the messages presented were all about focusing on becoming more like Christ, rather than dwelling on numbers and achievements. I realized that I had an even bigger problem than the ones I mentioned last week: I was not taking responsibility for the things I could improve; rather, I was blaming my current area for my shortcomings. In reality, every problem truly can be overcome, as long as I live worthy of the Lord's help.

One thing I realized this week during my prayers and study is that our planning quality was suffering. I knew how to plan, but I didn't really apply myself to the planning process. As a result, the plan would always feel half-baked, and I would never feel particularly committed to it. In the end, we'd always stray from the plan, hardly looking at our planners. Our days were full of randomly dropping by peoples' houses and pathetically hoping that we'd get a lesson out of it. My poor companion has been trying to put together plans, mostly on his own. I was usually doing follow-ups, which is good, but I didn't really make much of an effort to make planning a 50/50 process. So on Saturday night we both hunkered down and focused for a full 30 minutes on producing a plan. And after those 30 minutes, I realized I was actually *excited* for tomorrow. Not that the next day was particularly different than usual, but I felt like I was being productive. And the next day, our plan actually worked exactly how we wrote it. AND we saw miracles.
I'm still learning the power of a positive attitude. It's easy to find the things that are going wrong, but hard to see the things that are good. Naturally, this will be a life-long struggle for me, but thanks to the Atonement of Christ, I can repent of my mistakes and keep moving on.

After Zone Conference, I had the opportunity to meet up with 李弟兄, Rich, my recent convert in Lingya. Turns out he's doing really well: he's going to live in America over the next year to study English! He'll be in the States when I get back, so we'll try to meet up on his way home and chill for a day or two. I's super happy for him; going to America has been his life dream.

My companion and I also had the blessing of being able to exercise our priesthood and give two of our investigators priesthood blessings before one of them left to study in America as well. Both have been investigating for nine years. Or should I say, one of them, because the other doesn't have any interest in gospel discussion. So it was a miracle in itself that he asked for a blessing. The spirit was strong, and they were very grateful. I'm glad the Spirit prompted us to offer them blessings.

Another investigator, 劉爸爸 (Liu BaBa), is quitting smoking and BinLang, over the course of just a few weeks. We're super happy about his progress. And after investigating the church for many, many months, he came to church for the first time. He's a good friend, and we're overjoyed to see these changes. He's clearly happier now.

I love this work! If I had my way, you'd all be out here experiencing this stuff together with me. But all I can do is tell you that this is the Lord's work, and that the power of God is evident in all that we do. I hope that you can feel it as I do sometime in your life.

Have a wonderful week,

-Elder Jorgensen

22 July 2013

Yet another week blows on by. For your information, a friend of mine, Sunnia, thinks I look like Erik Stockton. Look that one up and tell me what you think.

I apologize in advance: this letter might have some negativity in it. I include it because I want all of you to understand what I'm learning, and sometimes, a little stress and pain is a catalyst for a good lesson.

Let's be honest, Hengchun has not been what I had imagined it to be. Most previous knowledge I had acquired about missionary work has been flushed down the drain. Many conveniences are gone as well. As I become more aware of the task I have been entrusted with, the more overwhelmed I feel, because I don't recognize any of the surrounding territory. I'm in a land completely foreign to me. It feels much like my first few weeks on island.

So what are the difficulties I'm facing? One, I'm in a tourist town. This means that everybody you see on the road is not from Hengchun. While they need the gospel too, my assignment is to help the people in Hengchun. Therefore, we don't spend time contacting them. Most of our day is consumed by knocking doors, a practice I don't particularly enjoy.

Two, the population of Church members here is puny, and most of them are women. This poses a large problem when it comes to teaching females: we must have a responsible male adult present in the lesson. Basically, there are only two males in our area that can actually do this service; one of them cannot leave his house because he runs a business, and the other one randomly and frequently goes out of town. This brings up a large conflict within me: I know rules are in place to protect me, but at the same time, it's restricting our investigators from progressing towards baptism and enduring conversion. I've never felt this way about a mission rule before, so I feel a little guilty that I even have these feelings in the first place.

Three, and I'm being painfully honest here, I want to look good for the people in the mission office. I want them to see me as a possible candidate for future leadership positions. I want them to be impressed with what they see. And frankly, Hengchun is not the place to be for having large, impressive numbers. We're lucky if we get over twenty lessons a week.

All of this has caused me to have some other problems, which have only compounded on the original stress I have been having. I've been thinking about my family more, and how much I miss them, as well as getting tired and somewhat distracted. The quality of my prayers have even suffered.

Of course, I didn't notice any of this happening until I had some divine intervention. It came in the form of a letter, from my father. In the letter, he talked about true sources of happiness. He states: "Happiness is something linked with the present moment. The more we think about the past and future, the less happy we become." I realized the truth of his assertion: dwelling on the past (my family) makes me want to leave my current situation and return there, while dreaming of the future (leadership) makes me impatient and unsatisfied with the present.

I wasn't happy, I knew that. And it was clear that I needed to change how I looked at my situation. But how? I tried praying more earnestly for help, but it never seemed to come.

I haven't really improved very much since them, and it will probably still take some time. But I have learned a little. I think God was wanting me to have some experiences to help me see how good I've got it. Yesterday I was out knocking doors with my companion, and we met an old man. He had no interest, and looked like he was searching for an escape, when we mentioned that we thought he looked young. He seemed to really like that compliment, and it turned into a guessing game of his age, followed by a pleasant conversation about his family. And then he went inside. As I thought back to that conversation, I noticed that we didn't necessarily have any success in finding someone to teach, but I had really enjoyed talking with that man. I tried to hang on to that feeling for the rest of the night.

Learning how to be happy is a day by day process, but I am for sure getting better at it. I'm grateful to God for letting me have experiences to learn and understand the truth in the world around us. It's never easy to learn truth, especially when we have promised through baptism to act on it, but it sure is worth it.

Thanks for your love and prayers, and I wish you all a happy week!


-Elder Jorgensen

15 July 2013

Typhoon! Woohoo! ....unfortunately, we weren't really hit that bad at all in Hengchun. Everywhere north of us got hammered, but the only action we got was some strong winds. Ah well, maybe next time. Still pretty fun though!

In my song, I mention "A-ma's asking for your boxes." In Taiwan, you are paid for recycling. Old women typically earn a living here by asking everybody for recyclables. It's really funny to see an A-ma turning down a TV or some furniture over a few cardboard boxes.

We had interviews with President Blickenstaff this week, and it was a wonderful, rewarding experience. President Blickenstaff is truly an inspired man. Before the interview, he had us fill out a questionnaire, and one of the things he asked was: "What has been the most difficult aspect of your mission?" After some thought, I narrowed it down to "overcoming the natural man". Sometimes my motivation to sleep in a few extra minutes, be lazy, be prideful, and other destructive tendencies give my motivation to do good a run for its money. Lately I've been feeling like I'm in somewhat of a rut when it comes to missionary work, so when I realized that this was my problem, I was eager to talk about it with President. When I asked him how to overcome this stumbling block, he said to me that "all the self-motivation books out there all say the same thing: the key is to know who you are. When you understand your identity and purpose, you naturally will want to do good. You will be naturally motivated to act on that knowledge." He then counseled me to study my Patriarchal Blessing, a special blessing whose purpose is to tell you about your eternal identity. And interestingly, when I studied it this time around, many things just clicked, and my understanding was enlightened. Ever since then, I have felt much more of an urgency to stay diligent and focused, and the work has become much more enjoyable.

I loved something President Blickenstaff said in a short meeting beforehand: "The Lord does most of the work, but he's generous and lets us have most of the credit."

And I should give a shout-out to Sister Blickenstaff as well, who was eager and genuinely interested in getting to know me. I sat down in a sort of second interview with her as well, and we talked for a while about tender mercies I have received on my mission, as well as our families. She reminds me a ton of my own mother, which made me feel really blessed to be able to talk with her.

I still would not say that I am fluent at all with the language. In fact, I think my companion Elder Palmer, who's been out here for 3 months, already has Chinese ability that rivals mine. But I did have an experience this week that really comforted me about that. I mentioned before that there was this old man that we'd see all the time my first week here, who'd shout at us, "Very good!" One day we didn't see him, and then we saw a funeral party in front of his house. Funerals in Taiwan last forever, so about a week and a half later we ended up talking to some of the people at the party while we were going to see some church members who lived a few doors down. My companion spent time talking with the member children while I talked with the party people. For some reason, I could speak really fluently to them, and I have no idea why. I could even slip in quite a bit of Taiwanese, the local dialect, and they were all over themselves about it. They kept going back to the party and pulling other people out, telling them to "go talk to that white guy". After some time I was able to confirm that it was indeed the old man that we saw all the time who had died, and that the lady I was talking with the most was his daughter. Our conversation carried on for a good 20 minutes, which then I found a good opportunity to share the doctrine of eternal families with her. She seemed touched, and while she didn't have much interest in meeting with us, I can tell a seed was planted there. And I am so glad that I was living the way that I ought to receive the spiritual gift of tongues, which I know is the only reason why I was able to talk with them the way I did. I am so grateful for the Holy Ghost, and for miracles.

I started an "Achievement List" program, and I already have a bunch of subscribers within the mission. I'll send you an image of it so you can see what kinds of crazy stuff we want to say we did on our missions. :) By the way, I compiled this list with the previous Assistant to the President, Elder Hoer, who's super awesome. (I mention "Taike" in the achievements. A Taike is the equivalent of a sort of punk kid in America.)


Hope all is well back home. I miss you guys, but I want you to also know that I really love it out here. I love the work, and I'm so blessed to be a part of this. Thank you for all your prayers and love.


-Elder JorgensenIMG_5480

8 July 2013

Whoa. One year from today, I'm going home. My mission is halfway over, and I feel like I've only been out here a few short months. Time flies so fast.

I spent some time this week seriously pondering what I've learned on my mission so far, and where I want to be when I leave a year from now. I'm still far from a perfect person, but I have learned a lot, and I am stunned at the progression I have made. I feel as if I have transformed into a completely different person.

When I began my mission, I thought I was pretty knowledgeable. But a few hours at the MTC changed that pretty quickly! I was humbled, and then I was teachable. It's still a work in progress (I can be very prideful sometimes), but as I truly forget myself and seek the happiness and well-being of others, my own knowledge and character grows and improves. Daily personal and companionship study, along with my everyday experiences, have helped me gain a deeper understanding of the foundational doctrines and principles of the gospel, a knowledge I realize I majorly lacked before I left. There is great glory and beauty in the simple doctrines of the gospel, and a great power in them to transform the hearts of men.

I also have learned the effectiveness of planning. When I was in high school, I sometimes fell behind on homework. Procrastination became the norm. My parents saw this and begged me, time and time again, to plan out my time. "At least make a to-do list!" But I resisted: it was too difficult and stressful to make a plan, and I would rather lay around in complete denial and pretend everything was fine and dandy. But now, when people's souls are on the line, not making a plan is stupid, period. And when I have made thought-out, thorough plans, my effectiveness as a missionary increases exponentially. It is a skill I want to use for the rest of my life.

My love for my family and friends has deepened. Isn't it sad that it's only when you are away from your loved ones when you start to truly appreciate them? I could be such a jerk at home, but now I wish I could take all those hard moments and poor choices back. I wish I could rewind the clock and instead of saying harsh, biting words, I could just go hug my mother and tell her I love her. But alas, since I can only change the future, I resolve to change it for the better. I will instead choose to open my eyes to the many small acts of kindness and love that my parents show to me on a regular basis. I am immensely grateful for my father's and mother's constant efforts to rear me and my siblings in a home centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I am overjoyed that I can continue my special relationship with them in the eternities.

Perhaps the one thing that I have learned that resonates the most in my mind is that every one of us is a literal child of God. This doctrine has been taught to me ever since I was a toddler, but I never fully understood what this statement implied. Once you leave that protective bubble that filters the harsh things of the world from your sight, you start to gain that realization. I've seen people living in immense poverty, people stricken and crippled by disease, and even more people who feel their life has no purpose. And then you think about that statement, "I am a child of God", and suddenly there is hope. There is light. I have a Father in Heaven. And He loves me. He knows me personally. He rejoices with me when I am happy, and He weeps with me when I am sad. ...When you have that understanding, you then know that you are never alone. When you have that understanding, you have purpose. I am so grateful that I know I have a Father in Heaven that loves me.

Thank you all who have been praying for me and all the missionaries in the field. I have certainly felt the power of your prayers, and I have been greatly strengthened by the hand of the Lord. I pray for you as well, and I hope you can all come to know, as I have, that this gospel is true. It is real, as real as you and I.

Love, -Elder Jorgensen

P6170430 P6170432
“Making a song for Elder White and Elder Cox... Hard work!”
“Sister Christensen with some English students playing Uke.”
“Richard and the gang.”
“Willy and Jim at McDonald's.”
“Sister Burr, Sister Christensen, and their super awesome recent convert.”
“Brother Ye, super shuai.”
“Me and the Wu brothers' kids.”
“My Gangshan ward family!”
“Us and the ward missionaries.”
“Four-man at Gangshan.”
Elder Jorgensen with Elder Ereksen.
Elder Jorgensen with Elder Jensen.
“Brother Wu is a super goofy, awesome guy. He has a friend down in Hengchun.”
“Sunset in Gangshan.”
“Our sweet American friend in Gangshan, Marcus.”
“Beautiful Hengchun.”
“Elder Palmer caught a butterfly on the bus.”
“Check out that beautiful love language mango. Mmmm, so good!”

1 July 2013

You know you are in Taiwan when you feel like the inside of your apartment is cold, and when you look at your thermometer it reads 83 degrees Fahrenheit. You know you are in Taiwan when you walk into the jungle to find an investigator for a couple minutes, and you walk out absolutely covered in mosquito bites. You know you are in Taiwan when the women at church are asking you how you use an oven. You know you are in Taiwan when you go biking with a bunch of kids through the jungle to play baseball at the Elementary School with a plaster bat and duct tape balls. You know you are in Taiwan when you can't enter a house without being commanded to eat an extraordinary amount of food. You know you are in Taiwan when you see this old guy on a bike every single day and all he does is shout at you, "Very good!" in English. You know you are in Taiwan when people are surprised that, despite being American, we actually eat other foods besides hamburgers and pizza.


Let me just say that Hengchun is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. As we ride from one area to another, we get glimpses of stunning vistas of mountains and jungle. Occasionally we may bike by an endless field of rice or grass, with a few older woman tilling the ground off in the distance. The breezes are heavenly, and the colors are vibrant. It truly is a land of milk and honey.

The branch in Hengchun has about 40 active members in attendance. The Branch President actually lives outside its boundaries, a 2 hour car ride away. The people are very friendly and welcoming, and they make lunch for the missionaries after church every week. It's been wonderful visiting them and getting to know all of them.

The work is strikingly different here. Everyone on the road is a tourist. Contacting is no longer an option. Door to door tracting has produced much better results, and we have to be a little more creative since most of these people have been visited by missionaries before, many times. Ukulele comes in handy! It's been a struggle to adapt, but luckily I have a terrific companion, Elder Palmer, to show me the ropes. Thanks to him, I've been learning fast, and we are seeing successes. We just picked up a new investigator, and he committed to be baptized at the end of July. He came to church too, so he's looking good to hit his goal! We are excited to be seeing these blessings already, and we hope to see many more throughout the course of this following week.

There was a worldwide broadcast for all members of the church last week, and I just got to see it yesterday. How exciting to see the changes happening in the way we do missionary work! I can't wait to see how the missionary efforts in the church transform over the next few months. I was also really happy to see my friend Tiffany Campbell in some video clips during the broadcast. I've always seen her as a terrific example of someone who exercises faith and charity in everything she does, and I was happy to see her joyfully carrying out the Lord's work in her capacity as a missionary.

We also caught a few glimpses of our new Mission President and his wife, the Blickenstaffs. They were the couple that were always excitedly talking to each other and smiling. They looked like the most animated listeners in the entire audience. It made me really excited to meet them. He's already here! President Bishop and Sister Bishop left two days ago, and now the Blickenstaffs are up in the mission office. I talked with Elder Forbes today who works in the office, and he said that President Blickenstaff is "so much fun!" I will miss President Bishop, but I can't wait to work with President Blickenstaff over the next year.

I love you all, and I hope all is well! Thank you for your emails and letters, I love hearing from you!


-Elder Jorgensen

presenting english certificate

“Mr. Wang in Gangshan, whom I presented with a Certificate of Advancement for his faithful attendance to English. He is 83 years old.”

four man in Gangshan

“Our four man in Gangshan.”