Friday, February 28, 2014

28 October 2013

I am currently in a small internet cafe in Pingdong. It is a breezy, sunny morning, and I am sitting with Elders Buckwalter, Bardsley, Liekse, Teerlink, and Averett, hashing out emails to our family and friends. My short-term missionary companion left last night to go back home, and I am now waiting for my new companion to arrive at the train station. I got to talk with him this morning on the phone: Elder Wadley sounds absolutely amazing. I'm excited to tear it up with him down in Hengchun!
Life is exciting!!! We saw many miracles last week. We now have five investigators with baptismal goals, and four out of those five are either member referrals or willing to meet with us because they personally know members. I feel that missionary-member relations are improving at an exponential rate. I've never felt more exhilarated.

We are beginning weekly activities with the branch, starting this Saturday. The idea to do activities came as a stroke of inspiration while I was studying about using our talents to do missionary work. I thought, what are my talents? I listed as many as I could think of on a white board. After looking at the list, I thought that we could plan activities based around these talents. My reasoning is that activities are more fun when the person in charge is excited to do them; it would be impossible for me to not be excited about running an activity based on one of my talents. I'm borrowing most of these ideas from activities my own youth leaders did, and just adapting them a little bit. I'm so grateful for my fantastic youth leaders.

A member asked us to plan activities for his wedding on December 14. He personally knows all the people in Hengchun with the family name "Zhang" because he is a genealogy consultant, and he is inviting all of them to his wedding (about 300 people). His plan is to invite all these people to attend church with them the day after the reception. He is pretty confident that, with some good planning, we could have at least 150 guests attend. We will be planning activities that will allow members to share the gospel with their guests.
In preparation for this, I've been focusing on building members' faith and helping them do missionary work. I came across an article in the September 2012 Liahona magazine. It taught that thinking too much about the method or activity to introduce friends to the gospel can often make things feel unnatural. I personally feel this includes committing members to give missionaries referrals. The article goes on to show that personal conversion is the better way: (1) Others notice your change of heart and are naturally curious, and (2) living the gospel better prepares us to answer their questions. We are trying to make this more of a focus when we meet with members.
I'm having a BLAST out here! I've never had so much fun! And as for an update on some weird foods, this week I ate:

  • Hairy meat (I actually eat this quite often, but it's still weird. I can't describe it, sorry... just imagine cotton balls of meat.)
  • Sweet potato leaves
  • Pig intestine stew
  • Hog skin (Pale Jello jigglers, but they taste like fat.)

I wanted to puke. Love you!
-Elder Jorgensen

Thursday, February 27, 2014

21 October 2013

It's been one of those edifying, yet slightly frustrating weeks.

Stake Conference, a meeting where a bunch of local congregations meet together, was held this past weekend. The problem is that Hengchun is very, very far from where the meeting is held. After talking with some of the members, we found that very few, if any, were actually going to attend the conference. I was feeling a little panicked because, (1) we were nearly out of money and needed a ride, and (2) the conference would be all about missionary work, a message that would be really good to hear.

My companion and I whipped up a flyer inviting everyone to watch an older broadcast about this topic before the coming Sunday. Meanwhile, I was making phone calls to the mission office to work out the money situation.

The conference itself was fantastic. We had a broadcast with two of the apostles and some other general authorities specifically addressing the missionary work in Taiwan. I was inspired, and I felt like I gained some much needed guidance for the work in Hengchun. At the same time, I felt like I wanted to tear my hair out: only four members came. I love the members here so much, and I want so badly to help them be happy, but they didn't come to the thing they needed most.

Don't get me wrong, I'm having fun out here, and I absolutely LOVE Hengchun. I just get a little discouraged sometimes. I think it's a lot like how parents feel about their kids whenever their kids make incorrect choices.

Ah well, what's done is done, and now we just move forward and make the best of what we've got. Even though we face difficulty occasionally, it is definitely not the end of the world. With Christ and His power, anything is possible.


-Elder Jorgensen




“Our new, hideous, reflective suspenders that we are required to wear at night.”

14 October 2014

"When was your holocaust? --Oh! I mean, birthday?"

This was one of the first questions my new short-term companion asked me after meeting up in Pingtung, and I couldn't help but laugh. I empathize; I still have the same problem of mixing up vocabulary here and there in Chinese. Brother Li is very diligent in his English study, and while he slips up here and there, he has really earned my respect for his hard work.

His language study is only a type and a shadow of the giant of a man he is. Four months ago, he was in Australia, working for the summer, when he met missionaries. He shortly had to leave, however, and agreed to meeting with missionaries in Taiwan upon his return. Two months ago, he was baptized. He developed a desire to serve. Being 27, he is too old to serve a full-time mission, so he dropped his accounting job and applied to serve a short-term mission. His story of faith and action has inspired many here in Hengchun.

It's been a rewarding experience to be with Brother Li every day and see his progression in the gospel. I have a wonderful opportunity of not only teaching him how to do missionary work, but also to teach him the doctrine of the gospel as well. Our companionship studies are often conversations about passages in the scriptures that he had read earlier. He's excited to be out here; I often catch him talking to himself, saying "Wow!", with a big look of awe and realization on his face. I know how he feels: My first month of my mission was exhilarating.

His faith has reaped great miracles. We met with a member referral named Agatha, and she is an absolutely amazing investigator. She accepted a baptismal goal for five weeks later, and she has diligently studied the scriptures and prayed for answers. We are hopeful that she will find the answers she is looking for.

We have been able to share our lofty goals with individual members of the branch, and their responses have been, for the most part, wonderful. Unity between us and the members is growing, and I'm optimistic that we might just accomplish our visions for Hengchun.

General Conference was absolutely amazing, and directly answered my prayers. I came to the meeting seeking to know how I could help the members in Hengchun grow more faith. The answer came from M. Russel Ballard, who said, "Fear will turn into faith as members pray for missionary opportunities." It could not have been any clearer than that.

After the Priesthood Session, some members took us out for dinner at Sister Huang's restaurant. Sister Huang feeds us a lot, and as payment she requires that I play a few songs on the piano for her customers. As usual, she asked me to play, and on this particular occasion there were about 150 mainland Chinese people dining there. It had been awhile since I've done a performance for others on the piano, and I found my left leg severely twitching when I took my seat at the bench. I broke down with "All Of Me" by Jon Schmidt, and to my surprise, I played it pretty well. I got a large round of applause when I was done, with some shouts of "Encore!". I sat there wondering if I should attempt another harder piece or not, for about five minutes. I decided to go for it, and as soon as I hit the first two notes, the place went dead quiet. "Waterfall" turned out to be a great hit, and there were lots of people posing with me for pictures while I played. It's amazing how popular a white guy at the piano can be.

I love you all, things are going great out here!


-Elder Jorgensen




Tuesday, February 25, 2014

7 October 2014

We were pretty much all over the place this week, with our fair share of meetings and exchanges. It was fun spending two days with Elder Bennett, my Zone Leader, who is in my same missionary generation. We actually found a golden investigator, an aborigine girl who was shortly moving up to Taipei. Elder Liu and I taught her a couple days later, and it was one of the best lessons I had ever been in during my mission.

...I'm really struggling to write this letter. My mind is pretty shot, considering the last few days. President has been pretty concerned about Elder Liu's knees, and after testing a variety of methods to fix the problem, he thought that the best option was to send him up to the office and see some doctors. That phone call was a real blow.

Today he's taken the train up to Taizhong, and I am currently with the Pingdong Elders waiting for my short-term (local volunteer) missionary to arrive. I don't really know anything about him, and I'm a little stressed out. If I'm completely honest with myself, Elder Liu is a major reason why this place started turning around. He was able to really, truly connect with people here, heart-to-heart, almost instantly, something that isn't really possible for me because of the language and culture barriers. Because of this, the people were more willing to hear what he had to say. One of the things that I worry about is that, while I will still be working with a native speaker, he's (most probably) not a trained, experienced missionary.

There's one big plus already, though: talking with him on the phone, it sounds like he speaks pretty good English. So while I'm nervous about the whole experience, at least we will be able to communicate a little more than I was able with Elder Liu.

Well, we'll see what the next three weeks have in store! Here we go!


-Elder Jorgensen

30 September 2013

Many of you know that I have been struggling here in Hengchun for the last three-four months. The beginning of this week was merely an extension of this tough situation. We had a few lessons, biking around for miles, same old, same old.

On Friday morning, we were doing a Weekly Planning Session, and both my companion and I just sort of vented our frustration, wondering aloud what we were supposed to do. Then it all at once sort of hit me: There is very little unity between the missionaries and the members. The members have no idea what we are doing every day, and we haven't really helped them understand what they need to be doing to help along the work. We thought for a moment and decided that we needed to meet with the Big 5 (The Branch Presidency, Relief Society President, and Elders Quorum President), and discuss with them the lack of growth in the area, and what we can do to start growing church membership in Hengchun. I called up President Zeng, and plans changed: Instead of a meeting, he'd give us the third hour of church services the coming Sunday to talk with the members about missionary work. Realizing the potential in this, we prayed for guidance and through many small revelations we put together an amazing presentation.

When we started the class, we showed them a chart that mapped sacrament meeting attendance numbers over the last two years. They were stunned. Several members pointed out that attendance has been a flat-line, despite baptisms that we've had over that period of time. We then told them that with concentrated effort from both the missionaries and the members working together, we could increase attendance by 400% over the next two years. We discussed where those people would come from, and then unveiled our plan, stating that we would never be able to help others come to church if we weren't doing the things our church leaders have asked us to do.

A brief outline:

  • To begin, you must become personally converted.
    • Do personal prayer daily.
    • Personally study the scriptures daily.
    • Attend church.
  • You must be converted in order to start working on the next step, developing an eternal, sealed family.
    • Do family prayer daily.
    • Study the scriptures as a family daily.
    • Have Family Home Evening every week.
  • Your home must be in order in order to help our Branch grow into Hengchun Ward.

    Do Service.

    • Home Teaching
    • Fulfilling church callings

    Clean the church building.

    • Attend the Temple as a Branch every month.

They were able to clearly see how each step and sub-step correlated directly with raised church attendance numbers. Many were excited and willing to go forward with the new vision for their Branch.

After the meeting, one of the sisters came up to us. "I can tell you put a lot of effort into this, and that you really care about the work and about us. I feel like I can trust you with teaching my husband. Come over this week and I'll introduce you to him." I was floored. This was a very special request. I knew then that the Spirit was working, and I felt grateful that I also was in tune with the Spirit enough that the members were feeling willing to trust us with their precious referrals.

I'm excited for another week! Great things are happening!


-Elder Jorgensen


“My ‘It's-been-a-really-long-day’ look.


“My ‘I'll-try-to-make-up-for-it-and-force-a-wimpy-smile’ look.


“My companion Elder Liu making calls.”


“Our posters for our Sunday presentation. “


23 September 2013

We spent most of the week introducing Elder Liu to the members in the area. We visited the Wang family. Their dog has always hated us, but this time it got a little brave (or stupid) and it bit me. I kicked the dog pretty hard and it ran off whimpering... Luckily, the bite didn't puncture, and the boys in the family thought it was pretty funny.

Thursday I received a surprising phone call while we were eating lunch. I answered the phone, and I heard a woman's voice: "Hey, this is Sister Zhang, from Shizhong ward." I said, "Oh, hello!", but I was thinking in the back of my mind, Sister Zhang, who is that? Shizhong? Sister Zhang, sister Zhang... OH! SISTER ZHANG!!! My good ol' Taiwanese mother and her daughter, Amy, had come down to Hengchun to visit me. I had a fantastic time catching up with them. They are two wonderful friends that I will dearly miss and never forget.

Friday was Zone Conference, and it was a wonderful meeting. President Blickenstaff likes to have smaller groups instead of the half-mission lecture halls that I was previously accustomed to, and I find the change refreshing. I like the classroom setting, and it provides a lot of opportunity to learn things on our own and explore. We focused a lot on the Atonement, and President Blickenstaff asked us to read "The Meaning of Repentance" found in the 1998 Ensign. I thought it was a wonderful talk, one of the best I've read on the subject, and it certainly changed my perspective on the repentance process.

We came home to howling winds and cold rain. All the stores were boarded up. We spent the night worrying that the windows were going to blow in.

The next day a large typhoon had settled in. We did venture outdoors for a few minutes to see how bad it was, and when I felt like I was going to blow away, we decided it would be best to go back in. We spent the day making calls, reading church periodicals, and playing board games. The next day, church was shortened to only the first hour. Those days were, uh, fairly unproductive.

BUT. We have a new week ahead, and it looks like typhoon season is over. So I'm looking forward to some good work and some miracles. My companion is the bomb, he's a convert of only two years, and he has a testimony of solid iron. I love working with him.


-Elder Jorgensen


“The wind was so strong that it blew water through the seams of the window, and water was constantly spraying up from the windowsills.”


Thursday, February 20, 2014

16 September 2013

So my letter was a little short last week because I was struggling, and I had quite a bit to write to my family and my mission president.

When I was transferred to Hengchun, I was a little overwhelmed. It was my first time as a senior companion, I was with a missionary that had just finished being trained, and I was in an environment that was completely different than the densely populated areas that I was in previously. I quickly found that my original strategies for finding people didn't work (namely street contacting, tracting, even English class). Since then, I've been trying to change strategies and focuses many times (member referrals, different tracting methods, etc.), but I have not been finding success. I've also felt immensely guilty about not providing my companion with experiences that he needs, such as finding investigators and baptism.
I knew that investigators don't come from my own efforts, but I could not help but think that there was something I was doing wrong, and therefore preventing this area's progression. I've spent a few late nights crying and praying and feeling completely helpless. The Lord has been gracious and granted us with a few moments to really help Less Actives in the ward, but the happiness didn't stick with me: I found myself in pretty significant mood swings on an almost daily basis. I sorrowfully admit that our companionship had suffered somewhat because of these depressive moods.
To boil it down to the main point, I felt like I had no idea what I was doing, and I'd lost a lot of faith. I was trying my best to be obedient and plan and teach by the Spirit, but outside of that, I was just lost. I'd wish I could get back a fraction of the confidence that I had in my last area. In those times, I had a lot more faith. I knew without a doubt that God would provide. And He was providing! But now... I was not so sure. I sincerely wanted to believe that we could baptize in Hengchun, and I'd been trying to believe that, but it didn't make sense to believe that suddenly God would just snap His fingers and turn the situation around for no solid reason. I felt that there was something specific I was supposed to do. But what?

I've had some experiences this week that have been helping me overcome my level of stress and switch my perspective. I had the opportunity to go on exchanges with Elder McKenzie on Tuesday, and I shared with him my concerns and feelings about my situation. I was surprised to learn that he had been through almost the exact same experience. He told me about his early desire to be a successful missionary, and how he couldn't help but feel like he was falling behind when he saw his generation and the generation below him train new missionaries while he was still "only" a senior companion. He said he was also not seeing much happen in his area during that time, and he felt kind of like he had been left behind in the dust, that he had "failed". He counseled me that while it is nearly impossible to resist comparing yourself to others, I still needed to focus on how good I've got it, to do fervent prayer, constantly, and thank Heavenly Father for my blessings. He also told me that these trials do not last forever, and that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. It felt good to talk with someone that wholly understood, empathized with me, and had compassion for me. After that, I had a lot more desire to go out and do the work.

I also got a letter from my father. He told me a story about a man who attributed all good things that happened in his life to "luck", despite the fact that all his teachers and colleagues attested his success to his brilliance. My father later stated, "Of course, accepting things that come to you as luck doesn't mean we don’t work hard, it just means that we don’t derive our happiness by achieving some artificial expectation. ...'Lift where you stand.' Don’t go looking for opportunities/promotions/special treatment. Instead, let the Lord place you, then work like crazy to improve the spot where you have landed. When your work is done, the Lord will move you and you won’t have to do any looking. Opportunities will flow to you. Luck will flow to you. You won’t have to do anything else other than improving what you have right now. It requires faith to do this, but it works."

So, I applied this. And we saw success. We found some former investigators that were willing to meet. We extended a baptismal goal. We met some wonderful people tracting. As I focus on the good, and focus on my work right now, I see miracles and blessings.

This week is the start of a new transfer, and I learned that while I am getting a new companion, I am still going to stay in Hengchun. No, I am not disappointed that I am staying here. In fact, I was quite a bit worried that I would be pulled out. While the work has been hard, I don't want to leave until I feel like I've learned what I'm supposed to learn, and accomplish the mission the Lord has preordained me to do here. I'm grateful to Him for letting me stay in Hengchun a little longer.


-Elder Jorgensen

PS My new companion is native Taiwanese!




“I forget the name of this place... It's a park at the bottom of the left peninsula right below DaGuang. Beautiful!”


“Elder Palmer with our good friend Joe.”



“Checking out the dam at the local power plant. Apparently it's a good place to fish.”


“Elder Palmer in mid-move.”


“A common mailbox in Taiwan (outgoing mail).”


9 September 2013

A momentous announcement: Taiwan has started selling Peanut Butter M&M's!!! WOOHOO!!! As soon as I saw them, I couldn't resist buying a pack . . . so many childhood memories contained in those candy-coated balls.

The funeral was good, very similar to a Christian funeral (being as we're a Christian church). It was a beautifully simple funeral, and I enjoyed having the opportunity to be there and remember Sister Zhang. One thing I noticed: those who had a testimony of the gospel, albeit they were sad, still find moments to laugh and be happy. They also firmly testified of the reality of heaven and eternal families, and you could see the hope shining in their eyes for that day when they can meet her again. I felt sorry for those who did not have this testimony, for they were sad and emotionally distraught the whole way through. I sincerely hope that this experience will open their hearts to the beautiful doctrine of eternal life, as expounded in this restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, this week's letter is going to be short, I apologize. Thank you all so much for your thoughts and prayers! Things have been getting really tough for me emotionally, and yet your prayers and love have sustained me through all the trials.


-Elder Jorgensen

Monday, February 17, 2014

2 September 2013

We had a pretty crazy Monday last week. After we emailed, I got a call from a member needing English help for her application to BYU Hawaii. We spend a good two hours assisting her in recording a video of her answering questions. As we left the church, a less active member that I've only seen once and an MTC teacher I've met before parked in front of us and asked if we wanted to go out to dinner. And then, as soon as we got back to town, we got a call from LB, who asked us to pray that "demons would not enter his house". Naturally, we were concerned, so we went there right away. We rolled into his driveway to find him sitting at a table with two police officers, talking about a snake that he had killed as it slithered into his warehouse. And then this 80-year-old man came, someone whom we had met once before, and he told us that whenever he sees us he no longer has a desire to smoke, and that he knew the power of Christ was real. He said on his own that he wanted to come to church, and that he's been planning a time to go. Pretty sweet Monday, if you ask me.

So I suppose I should let you know about the snake encounter I had a few weeks back. I've been waiting because there's a lot of information I needed to collect before I made any kind of inference as to what kind of snake it was. We've narrowed it down to two snakes, both poisonous. We were riding down a back road, late in the evening, with only one light to guide us (mine was out of batteries). We were going pretty fast, and I wasn't really paying attention to the road far ahead, because the road was really bumpy and full of potholes. Suddenly, about a yard in front of me was a big snake. It stretched across the road, and it was anywhere between 6-8 feet. I squeezed the brakes, but only my left hand had a good grip... My front tire locked up, and I flew over the handlebars and landed about two feet on the other side of the snake. At that point, all I could think was, "Oh my gosh, I'm right next to a huge snake, and I'm on my back!" I looked over in time to see it slide into the grass. ...As far as we know, there are two possibilities as to what kind of species it was. One, it was a cobra, which pretty much everyone knows is pretty dang dangerous. Or, two, it was an Umbrella snake, also referred to as the Many-Banded Crate. The Umbrella snake is rated the 2nd highest killer in Taiwan, and the mortality rate is pretty high for its bite. Its bite only has a slight tingle, and does not draw any blood. However, after a bite, you only have three hours to live.

So, I consider myself very blessed to have landed on the tail-end of the snake.

A member died in our ward recently, and they've invited us to come to her funeral on Saturday. This will be my first Taiwanese funeral, and I'm a little nervous about the difference in tradition and culture, but I'm sure the members will help us along. It will be interesting to see this aspect of the culture, as not many foreigners are socially connected enough with the natives to be invited to participate in this sort of thing.

We took a bus this week down to Kending, and found ourselves faced with a long walk back since there were no nearby bus stops. It was raining, and we had probably walked for a good three kilometers when my dream came true: a blue truck pulled up and offered us a ride. In Taiwan, blue trucks are the official merchandise trucks. Probably a third of the traffic you see is blue trucks. I was always fascinated with the idea of hitchhiking on a blue truck, and while I didn't seek this opportunity out, they were kind and helped us out. So, in the end, four people were crammed into the single row cabin, and we talked about the gospel and stuff all the way back to the bus station.

English got trashed by the Typhoon this week: no students at all. Ah, man.

And I had a wonderful surprise on Sunday: my convert Brother Ye and my friend Sister Zeng came from Gangshan to visit! It was fast and testimony meeting that Sunday, and I got to hear Brother Ye share his testimony. I was super happy to see him becoming so firm in his testimony of the gospel. He has grown and changed a lot since we met him on the street three months ago.

I love you all, and thanks for the updates on your lives! I miss you!

-Elder Jorgensen


“Lego car!”


“I had a tweaked neck. “


“Hitchhike! It's recommended!”


“Freja's letter, after it encountered the rain and the postal service.”




“Our trip to the beach.”


“Our trip to the beach.”

P9010222“Taiwanese currency”


“Taiwanese currency”

26 August 2013

This was one of the most trying weeks of my mission. You can only endure trials and cancelled lessons and low numbers for so long before your patience bubble bursts. On Tuesday, my companion and I talked for about two hours on what was going wrong with us and our area. After a lot of introspection and talking, I drew the conclusion that I myself must have lost faith in the area. Or more specifically, I lost faith that God would bless us with investigators. We only have three investigators—two of which cannot be baptized now for certain reasons—and hope for more investigators in the future is looking pretty shaky at best. Church attendance has dropped significantly since I came here, and in the three months that I've been in Hengchun I still don't understand how to find investigators here. I just kind of threw my hands in the air and tried not to care anymore.

...But that didn't even last a day. After all, I knew why I was out here: I was out here to help others come unto Christ and experience real happiness, and with that so ingrained in my mind, there's no way I could put that off indefinitely. Wanting to resolve the problems we were facing, I decided that night to turn to my Zone Leaders for help.

Elder Teng has followed me around throughout my mission, and has served as my Zone Leader three times. I've come to really respect and admire him and his insight, and I've always found his viewpoints and advice to be valuable. As I talked with him on the phone, he asked me an interesting question: "When was the last time that you were rebuked by the Spirit?" I thought back to when I started this last transfer, about four weeks ago, and at that time I was disappointed that I wasn't training a new missionary yet. I'd prayed about why I wasn't training, and the response I got in my mind was, "You are not ready. You have much to learn. You have not been using the skills and tools you learned previously in your mission and you need to repent and start using them now." After that moment, I was more motivated to improve and work more earnestly. Elder Teng asked me why I feel we are having struggles in our area now, and I responded that I have been feeling inadequate and incapable of the work. He pointed out the key difference between my two experiences: One set of thoughts was edifying, while the other set was destructive. He told me that all thoughts that edify and persuade man to do good and come closer to God are from the Spirit, while all thoughts that cause us to desire to escape and withdraw from God and ultimately prevent ourselves from reaching happiness are from the devil. He showed me that success is not judged by numbers and status, but rather by our spiritual experiences:

  • Do you feel the Spirit testify to others through you?
  • Are you obedient?
  • Are you praying for your family, your area, and your investigators?
  • Do you feel the presence of the Spirit constantly in your life?
  • Do you live worthily?
  • etc.

As I judge myself righteously, I still may face disappointments, but I won't be disappointed in myself. I will be able to rest with ease knowing that I am doing my best and that I am fulfilling God's expectations of me.

Naturally, to change a thought process of this magnitude, considering that I've judged myself the more degrading way for a very long time, I was going to need some help. I started to study intensively about Christ and his atoning sacrifice, knowing that if anybody would have the power and knowledge to help me change, Christ could.

Towards the end of the week, we visited a wonderful family, of which the mother and the oldest son are recent converts. With four young, energetic boys in the family, my companion spent this time trying to keep the boys under control, so that I could have a good discussion with the mother. I had started teaching about the family, and after a little bit I began to sense that she wasn't really listening to me. I stopped for a moment, and tried to listen to the promptings of the Spirit. I then asked: "What is the most important thing to you in your life?" She looked down for a moment, thought, then looked up at me and said, "My family." "Why?" She looked down again, then looked up and said, "Because I love them. And this relationship is eternal, and we can find the most happiness in the home." But her words were a little strained.

I knew she was thinking about four weeks previous, when something had happened at home, most probably an argument, and she had afterwards left home and stayed up north for a week. Following a prompting, I looked her in the eyes and testified that families are eternal, and that we can find happiness in them. She looked down again, and this time when she looked back up she was crying. "I'm worried about my children," she said. "They're naughty, they are starting to make bad decisions, they have friends that are not good influences, and I can't control them. I don't know how to help them. I love them and want to help them, but I don't know how."

I looked at her again, and said, "God loves you. He knows your needs. He knows your desire to help your boys. And He wants to help you. You yourself do not have the power to change the choices of your children. You cannot force them to do anything. But God has the power to change hearts. Seek Him out, pray earnestly for His help, and I promise that He will help you." At this point I was crying too. "You are not alone. God loves you, and He loves your wonderful children too. I know it's hard sometimes. I'm sure my mother would say the same thing. But I'm also sure my mother would say that all this hard stuff is absolutely worth it."

My testimony in Christ's Atonement has grown. I'm grateful for the experiences I've had recently to help me expand my faith in Christ's power, so that when the time came, I could help someone else. I now know of a surety that the Atonement can heal any heart, any relationship, and any family. I've seen this many times, and I'm seeing it all the time in myself.

Thank you for your letters and prayers. I am blessed beyond comprehension, much more than I remotely deserve. I love you.

-Elder Jorgensen

PS I am happy and beyond pleased to announce that my brother Hans will be reporting to the MTC on October 2nd, in preparation for his service in the Reno, Nevada mission. Woohoo!!!

19 August 2013

What a week, what a week. Have I got some stories to tell you.

We had a big miracle this week! When I first came to Hengchun, we had taught this guy named Brother Z., and he had progressed really well. Unfortunately, because of past transgressions concerning violating national law, he still had to complete his probation before he could be baptized. After he heard that, he just completely vanished. We could never get ahold of him on his phone, and we never saw him. Then, this week, we saw him trimming the bushes outside the police station. It turns out that he had jumped right into community service ahead of schedule. As we talked with him, we found he was still eager to be baptized, and he was still reading the scriptures and praying daily! He also introduced us to his friends who were working with him, whom, later in the week, tried very hard to convince us to drink some beer with them. (We didn't give in, and they seemed to really respect us for that.) It was good to see that he was still progressing, even when he was no longer in contact with us. He still has about two months, so I might still be here when he finishes his sentence.

I'm glad we had this one big blessing, because the rest of the week was pretty bad. To wrap it up in a nutshell: we had two flat tires, one blown tire 15 km from the nearest bike shop, pouring rain, cancelled lessons, a late Saturday night assignment to give a talk on Sunday morning in church, and a whole day blown because of a two hour Zone meeting way up north (which cost about $60 US for travel). To put icing on the cake, hurtful rumors have spread about our most progressing investigator, and we've had to sort out the aftermath. Needless to say, we have been stressed.

I think the thing I am learning throughout all of this is that I need to trust in God more, and less in my own ability. Sometimes, life just flat out stinks and it's at times like these that it's important we learn to rely on the Lord and his perfect power. Frankly, we should be relying on him all the time, even in the good times. One of my problems is that I think too much, and pray too little. It is good and very important to be self-reliant, but we also have to realize that maybe God has a better idea about what we need to do.  "Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings," says the Book of Mormon prophet Alma, "and he will direct thee for good" (Alma 37:37). As I come up with plans and ideas, I have to make sure that it is according to the will and timeline of God.

Despite all the tough stuff, I truly am grateful I am out here, and I do not want to go back home early. Not once do I wish I hadn't come to do this work. I am tremendously blessed to be helping the Lord in his great harvest of souls, and witness the changes of many lives and hearts.

I have had some questions about what missionaries exactly do. Here's a video from the Church news department that should give you a good idea about what I do on a daily basis.

I love all of you and pray for you all the time. Have a wonderful week!


-Elder Jorgensen


“Elder Christensen is awesome.”


“中山路 in Hengchun.”


“Our Elders Quorum President’s wooden sandal shop.”


“Recognize the man carved into the sandal?”


“Me and Elder Christensen.”


“English Class!”


“English Class banner.”


“A military Humvee in the rain.”


“A dead bat we found hanging on the church door.”

Thursday, February 6, 2014

12 August 2013

Some interesting cultural stuff:

  • Sarcasm doesn't work.
  • The other day there was this terrible racket in one of the streets, and my companion turned to see a rusty garage door closing. I laughed when he told me he thought it was Taoist traditional music. I will be completely honest, to me that music really does sound like rusty, scraping metal. I miss my mp3 player.
  • The Taiwanese do not seem to want sun tans. Whenever it's sunny outside, they will wear clothes that cover their entire body despite the tremendous heat, and at stoplights they will wait in any shady spot they can find. It is common to see women walking around in long sleeves with umbrellas. A couple days ago we were at the library, and a little kid came up to my companion and asked him, "How is your friend so white? He lives in Hengchun, and it's really sunny. How is he not black yet?" Beats me, man. I thought I was getting pretty tan, but I guess not yet.
  • The address system in Taiwan is genius. Instead of attributing random names to smaller roads like the US (Roosevelt Rd., Franklin Dr., etc.), the name of the smaller road is always linked to the major road that is connected to it ("Charity Rd. Franklin Dr."). Therefore, you can hear an address and pretty much know exactly where it is. In more rural areas, the rules get broken a lot. The worst I've ever seen is the village of DaGuang, which contains about 50 different roads all under the same name, DaGuang Rd. Plus, the house numbers there follow no specific order, so to find a house, you have to ride down the 50 and some-odd streets and hope you run into it. It's the worst when you have a wrong address. You might go back there five or six times before you finally conclude that the place just might not exist.

I forgot to mention last week that Elder Palmer and I got to teach the mayor of Manzhou. He's a nice guy, just really busy and I don't think he has much interest in the church. But he's really fond of one of our church members (whom had actually asked us to go meet him), so it was a good visit.

I woke up at 1:30 in the morning to fireworks outside our building. Good ole' Taiwan.

Mindy Gledhill is a famous Mormon singer and songwriter, but when I left, she was not really known outside of Church member circles. So imagine my surprise when, as we are knocking doors, I hear one of the songs from her album "Anchor" playing inside. The guy was not a member, but he had found her music online and listened to it all the time. It's a small world. It was a fantastic conversation starter.

As it turns out, the member in Hengchun that is good friends with a member in Gangshan is getting married in a couple months to a member from my first area, Lingya. I'm super excited for them! It's just so funny to me how all my areas seem to overlap like that.

I'm loving it out here! I hope all is well for you this week, and I love getting your letters! Thank you for your prayers.


-Elder Jorgensen

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

5 August 2013

Have I ever told you that my nickname out here is 葛啊花? 葛 is my family name, and 啊花 means "Drama Queen". It was given to me by a group of girls in my first area, and it has followed me around ever since, probably through Facebook. Anyways, all the kids here call me that.

Fun Fact: Do not whistle at night. It attracts ghosts. The Taiwanese people are terrified of them, and much of their superstitious behaviors are based around the concept of ghosts and spirits. However, if you are a foreigner, it's okay to whistle, because the ghosts are afraid of foreigners. This is because the ghosts are actually the spirits of their deceased ancestors, and they only like to haunt their posterity. White, American missionaries are apparently the last thing they want to haunt. Some Taiwanese actually prefer us to whistle around them, because it scares the ghosts away.

My dad asked me if missionaries do Tai Chi. While I myself have never done it; there are some others that will do it on Monday mornings. Elder Jensen and Elder Bean were nuts about it. While it is a good exercise that keeps most of the elderly population active, I think that Tai Chi probably doesn't do much at all for young people.

LB has been making significant progress. This week he completely quite smoking and BinLang, and he came to church again. He seems a lot happier. I'm sorry to admit I didn't think he'd progress at all when I got here. But thus far he has not ceased to amaze me. The Atonement is really working through him, and changing his heart immensely. Christ is also changing me, and helping me to see the eternal potential he has. I am learning to look past imperfection and see people as they really are, as sons and daughters of God.

It's the start of a new transfer, and I'm still with Elder Palmer! Because of major Zone boundary changes, our district has changed, and I'm the District Leader! (We are actually the only two people in the entire district, but don't tell anybody that.) Still, it's cool that President Blickenstaff trusts us to be able to do this without the support of a District Leader. It will be hard (I personally really enjoy nightly follow-up phone calls), but it will be a good experience.

-Elder Jorgensen


Elder Tsao, Elder Chang, Elder Palmer, and Me


Me with my ridiculously stretched out shirt, trying to look epic.


Elder Palmer actually accomplishing looking epic.


The Beaches are beautiful!



Klara and her mom with me and Elder Palmer at South Point.


Elder Palmer and I


Doing a photo shoot for a ward service project.


Beach Pics




"Chu huo" is a natural fire in Hengchun.


Smokey Joe's, a wonderful missionary retreat. :D