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
“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.”
“Elder Palmer caught a butterfly on the bus.”
“Check out that beautiful love language mango. Mmmm, so good!”