Thursday, December 31, 2015

Merry Christmas!!

(December 24)

Merry Christmas, everyone! Today I got the best Christmas present ever, and that was to Skype my family - they are the best ever! Everyone really has grown and changed in their own little ways (although the Dad jokes remained the same). I'm so grateful that our family will last beyond this life and into eternity through the Atonement of Christ, whom we celebrate today. Truly His life and sacrifice set the rest of eternity on course. If you get a chance, look up "The Living Christ," the testimony of the 12 Apostles. Anyone in any walk of life really can become happier and more fulfilled by following the example He set. What a blessing it is to be able to celebrate His life today!

This morning, I was studying the December edition of the Ensign (church magazine) from the past few years. In the 2014 edition, an article by President Uchtdorf really stuck out to me. Here's an excerpt:

Think of the simple yet dignified way our Heavenly Father chose to honor the birth of His Son. On that holy night, angels appeared not to the rich but to shepherds. The Christ child was born not in a mansion but in a manger. He was wrapped not in silk but in swaddling clothes.

The simplicity of that first Christmas foreshadowed the life of the Savior. Though He had created the earth, walked in realms of majesty and glory, and stood at the right hand of the Father, He came to earth as a helpless child. His life was a model of modest nobility, and He walked among the poor, the sick, the downcast, and the heavy laden.

I know that Jesus Christ lived and died so that we could progress eternally with our families. Nothing will bring us greater joy :)

In other news, I have a new companion! My seventh companion in six months - definitely more than average. But we are doing really well! Sister Fritchen is from California and just got to Japan a little over a week ago. She's this cute little ball of smiles and energy, and also a really hard worker. We'll be together for the next three months, maybe more, and we're so excited!

The work in Japan continues to explode! Here in Iwakuni, we are spending a lot of time with American marines, actually, and teaching them the gospel. It's a little weird to spend so much time with Americans, but we are all children of our Heavenly Father and need the strength the gospel provides. We are working hard to find new Japanese people to teach, as well. This week, we had a fun Christmas party with our English class, where we sang Christmas carols, were visited by Santa, and decorated cookies (my favorite!). 

The other day, we were out talking to people by the train station and saw two cute girls waiting at a bus stop. We went over and talked to them about our English class and quickly became friends. When we found out one of their birthdays was the next day, we ran into the donut shop and bought all four of us donuts! The look on both of their faces was absolutely adorable. They couldn't stop saying "are you sure?" "Wow, this is so nice!" "Wow, thank you!" and it totally made our day. Little acts of service...you can do them anywhere and make new friends easily! (We're also pretty sure they posted our picture online, so we're happy about that too.)

This has been one of the best weeks! I'm wearing short sleeves and a light jacket today - it really doesn't feel like Christmas outside, but on the inside, the spirit is there. So grateful for that

Grateful for all of your love and friendship! Merry Christmas!

Love,

Sister Janette Jorgensen
Japan Fukuoka Mission
9-16 Hiraozyosuimachi, Chuo-ku
Fukuoka, Fukuoka
Japan 810-0029


Transfer 3 over and out

(December 15)

Here's a couple of highlights from this week:
1. We met a guy on the train who we think is ex-yakuza (Japanese mafia). He had a full-on python bag, and made a huge deal about showing us his new 3300 dollar Burberry coat he'd just bought, complete with the receipt in a little gold envelope. Oh, and his thumb had totally been cut off and grafted back on. I know it's usually the pinky, but it was the grossest thing I've ever seen. Reminded me of the Phantom of the Opera. So there was that. 

2. I got to visit my first Japanese castle today! It was beautiful, even though it was raining a lot. I love this country, it's so beautiful!

3. We've had three random people come up to us this week, saying "hey, sisters!" and we have no idea who they are. But they want to be taught the gospel, so we're gonna teach them! Heavenly Father is putting awesome people in our path!

4. I can't believe my third transfer is over! They go twice as fast as the preceding one, I'm telling you. For the next two transfers, I will be staying here in Iwakuni and training a new sister missionary coming from the states right about...now! I'm so excited for this opportunity! We're going to have the most fun and see the most miracles :)

5. I took the famous Japanese bullet train for the first time yesterday! It was super expensive so I don't get to do it a lot, but it was so fun! Even more fun was when I realized I can navigate the train/bus experience all by myself! I cannot get over how much I love this place and my mission in general!

The next time I talk to you, it'll be Christmas! So excited to be able to Skype my family, but more than that, I'm grateful to be able to celebrate the birth, ministry, and Atonement of my Savior, Jesus Christ. Truly I am and would be nothing without His constant care. Even though this year I'm not doing my usual holiday activities and concerts, I still feel that special Christmas spirit as I testify to people everyday of its importance. Sadly, in Japanese, the word for "Christmas" doesn't even have "Christ" in it. As we keep Him the focus of our upcoming weeks (and lives), we will be happiest!



Baptism!!

(December 4)

Clayton got baptized! He was so excited and happy that he didn't even feel cold in the November Pacific Ocean. He radiates the light of Christ and his testimony so strongly, it really does inspire me. We met with him this week and he said there's been a lot of opposition to his conversion, both from the adversary and people around him. "There's going to be trials, though," he said, "it's how we show our faith." So proud!!! He is so awesome and has such a solid understanding of who we are, why we're here, and how we get back to our Heavenly Father. It seems a little crazy that we met and taught him on the other side of the world from where we all live, but it was undoubtedly the hand of the Lord guiding all of our lives to this point. I know He guides each of our lives, and that we can see it even in the minutia of every day. 

Check out "Because of Him." This video is just under 3 minutes, but given the choice between this and Gilmore Girls or even The Office for the rest of my life, I'd watch this all day. I always feel the Spirit and my love for Christ grows stronger! Let me know what you think!


Short and Sweet

(November 15)
Hi everyone! It's been an amazing week - can't believe how quickly time is flying! It truly is a blessing to be here in Japan, working for the Lord. I always feel most successful, happy, productive (and tired) when I know I'm doing what He wants. We have to be in our apartment by 9, but we always wait until the very last second, knock on just one more door, before we head in. We always run up the stairs, out of breath, laughing, exhausted, and plan for the next day. Sometimes we have to bike at rocket speed to get home on time, and during those times, I usually feel like dying. But being obedient is so worth it, and it's so fun! (Plus, I can't say I'd bring that intense of exercise upon myself if I weren't absolutely forced to as I am now.)

My English is going downhill...sorry for the awkwardness of my writing. And it's only been a few months. At this point, I often feel more comfortable speaking Japanese than English. 

It's been raining here lately, but today we visited an island called Miyajima, and had the most perfect sunny weather ever! It sure doesn't feel like the middle of November, but I'm not complaining! Hopefully we get to keep the sun and don't have to start dressing like Eskimos any time soon. 

A good friend of mine sent me a challenge, and I'd like to pass it on to each of you: 

Recently I read a talk called "The 40 day fast" and it got me thinking about a number of different things...anyway, Starting today there are exactly 40 days until Christmas! SO! My challenge to you is to choose ONE thing you want to improve on, ONE goal to focus on for these next 40 days. I promise that through prayer and hard work and not giving up...you can accomplish whatever this goal is!:)

She's awesome. I'm going to do it! I'm not sure what I want to focus on yet, but tonight before I go to bed, I'm going to pray about it and decide what I can do to become more like Christ. We can do all things through Him!

Random fact about Japanese culture: old people love to tell you how old they are. They wear age as a serious badge of honor. Usually it goes something like this, "I can't learn English. I can't learn about Jesus Christ. I'm seventy-six years old. I can't remember anything." Usually people that age look about 60, so I'm always in shock. When I'm 76, I want to look 60 and ride my bike all over the place. Better start loading up on fish and seaweed!

All the love!

Little America

(November 8)
Hi everyone, hope you're doing well! Guess what, I transferred! I was sad to leave Beppu, but after my fourteen-hour travel day to here in Iwakuni, it instantly became home. My new companions are Sister Welte (Vegas) and Sister Klein (CA). It's very uncommon to work in a trio, but I'm really excited! So far, it's been a lot of fun. They are both angels, and I know I will learn a lot from them. 

In Iwakuni is a military base, which has its own branch. We attend this branch every week, so after months in Japanese, yesterday I sang hymns, took the sacrament, and did three hours of church in English! It was weird, let me tell you, but I loved it! So many cute little kids and families. It reminded me of the church in Jacksonville where my dad grew up. Since we have so many members on base, we went a couple times this week. Hello, America! They still drive on the left side of the road, but everything is in dollars and there are things like Costco and blond people there. 

I was a little apprehensive at first, worrying I'll lose my Japanese, but I know the Lord wants me here serving, and when He wants me somewhere else speaking some other language, that's where I'll be. Fortunately, we also work with quite a few Japanese people, and we even teach a free Japanese class on base! It really is the best of both worlds. I'm also looking forward to Thanksgiving a lot more than I was last week :)

This week, I am ponderizing 3 Nephi 13:22 (compare Matt. 6:22). In my study of 3 Nephi this week, I feel so much love from the Lord. I know that Jesus Christ did appear to the people of ancient America and establish His church on both continents. Because God loves us, He always provides a way for us to access salvation and eternal happiness. Amidst ups and downs, we truly can find comfort and purpose as we turn to God. I know it!

Have the best week! I love you!

Sister Janette Jorgensen
Japan Fukuoka Mission
9-16 Hiraozyosuimachi, Chuo-ku
Fukuoka, Fukuoka
Japan 810-0029

Monday, November 2, 2015

What is Love?



(November 2)

Happy November! It's crazy to think that 2015 is almost over - I'm so excited to spend the first 360+ days of 2016 serving the Lord! The weather here is cooling down, and we've pulled out the tights and sweaters. Everything is still pretty green, though. I do miss North Carolina/Tennessee fall. 

This week, we found a new investigator! Her name is Maasa, and she is golden. She asks a lot of good questions about why we need the gospel and how Jesus Christ can help her specifically. She likes to learn from us, and we love answering her questions. No matter how complex a question or idea might be, everything in the gospel relates back to love. Want to be like Jesus Christ? Show love. Want to receive blessings from God? Love your neighbor. Why does God give us hard things or commandments? Because He loves us. Every time we act in obedience to His commandments, He reaches out in love to us! I'm so grateful for that!

This week, I received some specific direction to use my talents to help others (show them love, as it turns out). I thought about music and working with kids, but didn't really see how those would help me find people to teach and invite unto Christ on any given day. Well. God loves me, so He provided a way! Three, actually. Yesterday, we contacted an 86-year-old lady (Japanese people never hesitate to tell you their age if they're over about 70. It's so cute!) who was not interested in hearing about the gospel. We saw that she had a piano in her front entryway, so Sister Chun took a shot and asked if I could come in and play her piano. Only one other time in Japan have I actually entered the house of someone we contact. But she agreed! We had a nice time talking with her, and of course I loved playing her piano. On the way back to our bikes to go home for dinner, we ran into this adorable group of Japanese kids. They saw me and immediately asked where I was from. When I said America, they were so excited! We gave them stickers and took selfies. Again, not a typical occurrence. Then, before we could get on our bikes, we happened to run into an Eikaiwa student who lived in the neighborhood we were leaving. He invited us into his house and asked me to play his piano. I played some songs, and we also sang "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" for him and his wife. It was a strange coincidence that I know could only have been from God. He provides so many opportunities to fulfill His commandments if we just act in faith!

Our Halloween party was a success! We probably had 30-35 people there, which may not seem like a lot, but it is for the group here! We had fun games for the kids (my favorite being the room full of balled-up newspaper where they try to find the little ball hidden somewhere within), a costume contest, pictures, and made takoyaki (octopus, cabbage, ginger dumplings. SO GOOD.). It was so fun to be with members and neighbors and friends, having a great time!

On Saturday, our friend Tom got baptized. He is from China and a huge Tom Hanks fan. He is so awesome, and I'm excited to see how the gospel continues to change his (and my) life!

Wise words from my companion: "Today is the only November 2nd I am ever going to be a missionary. I already woke up, so I might as well get off this bed and do something good." Motivation was slightly lacking yesterday morning. But it's so true! 
"'Make each day your masterpiece!' - John Wooden" - Jim Jorgensen. 

I love you all! Have the best week!

Love,

Sister Janette Jorgensen
Japan Fukuoka Mission
9-16 Hiraozyosuimachi, Chuo-ku
Fukuoka, Fukuoka
Japan 810-0029

On the Origin of Pinapples

(from October 25)

Do you know pineapples grow on a bush? And they are, in fact, berries? I sure didn't. The 83-year-old student in our English class however is an expert on pineapples. I asked the harmless question, "where do pineapples grow?"  And then witnessed a debate between an elder and this older gentleman, his argument was, "I once read a book on the origin of pineapples. "In America, that would be some sort of sarcastic joke. And now, I will probably use that as a comeback. But it was the funniest thing I had ever experienced… All of us doubled over laughing, while he looked around, confused at what we thought was so funny. Oh, unintentional humor. The best.

One night this week, we were walking down the street at about 8:30 PM, when a man in a suit and a white hat was walking towards us. I thought he looks kind of sketchy, but we say good evening to him as he passed. He turned around and said, "wait, are you the Mormon missionaries? "We said we were, and he said, "oh, I saw you in the newspaper!" He then looked at me, "are you the one that's related to Abraham Lincoln? My friend has the copy of his movie that you signed." WHAT. A month later, and I'm still raking in the celebrity status! Hopefully when I meet President Lincoln in heaven, he doesn't resent me for this. It's just so funny! The guy was all too excited to shake my hand. The life of a foreigner in Japan. 

My birthday was a lot of fun! We ate dinner at the home of one of our investigators. He had worked to prepare this meal from Saturday night until Monday! It was delicious, but so much food, it was all I could do to keep going. Japanese people are so generous! Wednesday night, a member family called us during finding at night and told us to come over right now - and gave me a present! I felt so much love! Being 20 is exciting, but a little scary. Am I supposed to know how to live life now??

Wednesday, we learned calligraphy, but my Japanese writing skills are C- at best, so that was an adventure. It's such an art - welcome to Asia!

The work in Japan continues on! We are working hard at building up the church here in Beppu. We are learning a lot about faith and relying on God to direct us in what he wants us to do. Thank you for all the prayers and love! Sending it right back at you!

Love,

Sister Janette Jorgensen
Japan Fukuoka Mission
9-16 Hiraozyosuimachi, Chuo-ku
Fukuoka, Fukuoka
Japan 810-0029

Best of Both Worlds

(from October 18)

Hi everyone! I don't have a ton of time today - lots to do today! I am happy my birthday is on Pday because I get to do shopping and and fun things during the day, and then go out and do dendo (missionary work) at night. Thank you for all the birthday wishes, mail, and love. Sending it all right back at you!

This week, we went to another city to have interviews with President. It was so nice to talk with him about how I have progressed over the past two months in Japan. I can't believe I passed my four-month mark! Time really does fly when you're having fun. At the same time, I can't believe it's only been four months. It seems like I have been a missionary forever.

We are working to build relationships with church members here, and find more people to teach. The days are long, and sometimes we don't talk to very many people, but I know that the Lord blesses those who try hard and are obedient to him. In life, whether we want to find people to teach, get a good grade on a test, or just make it through the day, we can all receive help! I encourage all of you every day to pray and ask God to help. Even missionaries to be reminded of that sometimes. I received yet another reminder this week.

We continue to see miracles from our obedience and diligence. I love this area and the people with whom I associate every day! This is the work and gospel of Jesus Christ! If you want to know how I feel, read Ammon's story in Alma 26. I loved studying Alma this week. I was reminded that even though God is all-powerful and doesn't need anything from us, He chooses us to allow us to help him and have our own experiences. It's a whole lot more work for Him, but He does it out of love. What a blessing!

Alma 32:26-41. Experiment upon the word! I love you!

Sister Janette Jorgensen
Japan Fukuoka Mission
9-16 Hiraozyosuimachi, Chuo-ku
Fukuoka, Fukuoka
Japan 810-0029

God Has a Plan

(from October 11)

Hi everyone! I hope you are doing well :-)

One thing I learned is that God molds and modifies people in order to fulfill his purposes. I used to be fluent in two things: French and sarcasm. Now I can do neither without extensive headaches and thought. So I don't even try anymore...I wasn't called to speak either of those. I'm happy to be learning Japanese and the language of the Spirit. They keep me more than busy!  My companion think she's curing me of sarcasm. I'm not sure any human being could eliminate that part of my personality. Therefore, it must be the hand of God. It's all part of the plan!

This week we taught lessons to an investigator named Danjo. He has been taught by the missionaries before, but never wanted to be baptized. We felt that the Lord wanted us to try teaching him. So we taught him out of the Book of Mormon starting at First Nephi chapter 1, reading with him and talking about what it said. He made a lot of good connections and seem to understand very well! However when we challenged him to be baptized, it was clear that he is not ready. We are sad that he is not getting baptized now, but know that God has a plan for him, as He does for all of us.

Probably the hardest thing I did this week was bike up the mountain to a hospital. Oh the irony. By the time we got there, I thought I was going to die. But I stayed on my bike the whole time and did not have to walk. Because I did it once, I know I can do it every time we go up to the hospital. I know that as we work hard and accomplish hard things, our faith increases. We can always receive God's help for whatever problem or situation we may be facing. I received God's help this week in a lot more than just biking up a mountain.

In other news, I am developing the "the second stomach" that is common among the missionaries. On Saturday, the members fed us lunch, a huge dinner, and then an investigator took us out for ramen. I thought I might explode, but it was actually quite delicious! We don't get fed by the members very often, but when it rains it pours!

The biggest blessing of this week was to watch General Conference. From General Conference, I received answers to a lot of the questions I had and some questions I didn't know I had. I know that the profit, Thomas S Monson, was called by Jesus Christ to lead the church today. The prophets and apostles are guided by God to know how to help the members of the church. One of the major themes I noticed was love. I think in every talk, the speaker mentioned love. I felt the love of God as I listened to the general authority speak. I know that as we follow their counsel, we will give and receive love in our lives and be happier!

Pray always that you may come off conquer! God loves you and has a plan for you! I say this to people countless times every day, but it never loses its meaning. I hope that each of us will take time to ponder and reflect on the meaning of that message. I know that as we do, our lives will have more meaning and direction, and we will be able to conquer the challenges that come up in our lives. I love you all!

Sister Janette Jorgensen
Japan Fukuoka Mission
9-16 Hiraozyosuimachi, Chuo-ku
Fukuoka, Fukuoka
Japan 810-0029

Feeling the Love

(from October 4)



Hi everyone! Hope this email finds you well and happy!

This has been a crazy week. We're having a harder time teaching lessons, as our investigators are starting to fall away. But we still teach lessons on the street and spend lots of time finding. It's amazing but people actually do agree to pray with us on the street, then and there, even if they have never heard of God before. It proves to me that we can feel the spirit and love of God at any time and place. 

This week, I experienced four new unique-to-Japan (or at least foreign-to-me) foods. Japanese McDonald's: so good! I had a shrimp burger (shrimp, lettuce, and sauce..whatever you want to call that). And I decided I like ketchup! Almost 20 years in the making, I leave America of all places and then decide to like it. That happened because a member bought it for us. When people buy you food, you eat it. Plus, ketchup is pretty harmless in terms of foods members could give you. 

Less harmless: natto. Fermented soy beans. Japanese health food and disgusting. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I also ate intestines (why would anyone eat that? It's not gross, just weird and rubbery. If you're going to take in calories, they might as well be delicious) and a little fish - bones, eyeballs, and all. And lived to tell the tale! I'd never choose to do that at home, but I guess missions give us all sorts of ways to grow!

MIRACLE: my money supply was running low because this month, I get about 60% of what I usually get per month. I was worried about paying groceries, transportation, fast offering, etc. Then, out of the blue, I noticed the flap of my purse where I keep money was really heavy. I found that there was a tear in the lining inside. Behind the lining, there were coins! This morning, I dug out the coins and found 3225¥ (about $32) in my purse! That is huge! That was the exact amount I needed to pay fast offering for this month and groceries for this week. I don't know why I didn't notice it sooner, but the Lord sent me manna when I needed it! I know that as we do our best to follow His commandments, we receive more blessings than we can think of!

This week, Sister Chun and I have been talking a lot about the Plan of Salvation, mainly things that aren't explicitly taught or maybe even known. The more we think and talk about these things, the more my testimony of and love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ has been strengthened. Maybe right now I don't know what spirits are made of, how the process of judgment works, or the nature of heirs of the terrestrial glory, but I know the Plan is perfect because its Creator is perfect. It's fun to think about deep things like this, but the important thing to remember is that we are children of a loving Heavenly Father and by following His direction, we can be eternally happy with our families. The most important things we can know are taught to four-year-olds. The rest comes as we are able to receive it - line upon line, precept upon precept. The Lord never gives us more trial, temptation, knowledge, or responsibility than we can handle. 

It's an honor to be a missionary here in Japan. I'm grateful every day for the miracles, challenges, growth, and setbacks that come because I know they are all for my good and that of those around me. Whatever phase of life we may be in, let's enjoy it to the fullest while looking for ways to ease others' burdens. That's what Christ would do. 

I love you all! Thank you for your love and prayers!

Love,

Janette

Never Forget to Show Hospitality to Strangers

(from September 27)

I'm sure it was a beautiful, eloquent statement in Japanese, but when it was translated into English in the middle of a sacrament talk, it was all I could do not burst out laughing. My English is suffering badly - either I don't speak it or I see places with awfully-constructed phrases. Apologizing in advance. 

It's been a good week - not much new has happened. Yesterday Sister Chun and I taught Sunday School for the first time. 45 minutes on The Creation...could I even do that in English? Sure couldn't in Japanese. It was a struggle. Thankfully, people participated some and we made up some semi-relevant questions. Ohhhh, it was so hard. We don't know a lot about the creation in the first place! One of the mysteries of God that show His love for us. 

The Japanese is coming well, despite the lesson. We taught a less-active member this week, and when I spoke, the words just flowed. I'm so grateful for that! I know it was the power of God helping me then and always. Japanese sounds natural, even if it's a word I don't understand. I never would have expected that to happen. But the gift of tongues is real and is supporting me in my efforts to reach the gospel to God's children here in Japan. What a blessing!!

I made a quesadilla this week! It was the first I had had in four months. How I have missed Mexican food! But I love the food here too - haven't eaten anything I don't like :)

I've studied the Book of Mormon a lot this week, more than my usual "a lot." I always feel God's love for me as I read it. The gospel of Jesus Christ (how to be happy in this life and in eternity) is laid out so plainly, even amidst the old-English style. I've been able to apply it to my investigators' lives as well as my own. I loved 2 Nephi 25:28 - "the right way is to believe in Christ." Roger that :) part of showing our belief in Christ is praying every day. Sometimes I'm so tired, I fall asleep praying, but I know God hears the part I do say and understands the rest. If we pray to Him every day, we will receive the help we need and more. 

The Church is true!

I love you all!

Sister Janette Jorgensen
Japan Fukuoka Mission
9-16 Hiraozyosuimachi, Chuo-ku
Fukuoka, Fukuoka
Japan 810-0029

A Celebrity in Our Midst

(from September 20th)

Useless fact about me: I am eleventh cousin to Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States. I don't even know what eleventh cousin means or how we know that...but I am. For some reason, I mentioned that to some men here in the church group and they about flipped. Turns out Lincoln is their number one hero in life! Walk in to a church activity this week, a guy comes up to me with Henry Fonda's "Young Mr. Lincoln" on DVD and asks me to autograph it! No joke! It was all I could do to not burst out laughing. But I obliged. A few days later, another man comes in with a three-volume set of "Team of Rivals," also about Lincoln, and asks me to autograph them! What?? Again, obliged. Hilarious. I feel a little weird about autographing things about him as though I have any significant thing to do with him. But it's so funny, I can't do much else! Anyway, do your family history and figure out what historical figure you're related to! (Then go to Asia and become famous).

It's been a great week! P-Day is Tuesday this week because transfers are happening on Thursday. I can't believe it's already been a whole transfer (six weeks)! Sister Chun and I are staying here in Beppu, and we are happy about that. I have to finish being trained, anyway. We have seen miracles here! I have progressed so much in the language and talking to people about more things than just the gospel. Still have a very long way to go, but I'm grateful to be improving!

We weren't able to meet as much with our investigators this week as we wanted, but we continue to meet new people and teach them, even if the message is only for five minutes. I know this is the work of the Lord and that He is preparing people to learn more about Christ and how they can be eternally happy with their families. Being separated from my family is giving me a new appreciation for God's plan of happiness. What a time to be alive!

I started the Book of Mormon again two weeks ago and am now almost through with 2 Nephi. I'm making a list of Christlike qualities I see in Nephi and working to develop them in myself. We can all learn so much from the scriptures! Before my mission, two hours of scripture study every day sounded insanely long. But it goes by fast! I'm grateful for the hour of personal and hour of companion study every day. They strengthen my testimony and help me be a better missionary. By small and simple things are great things brought to pass!

I love you all! Thank you for the prayers and support!

Love,

Janette





Words on the Street

(this is from September 13 oops)
Hi everyone! Hope this email finds you well and happy!

This week has gone by super fast. A lot has happened! One of the
things we're doing more of now is teaching lessons on the street. So
we get off our bikes and talk to someone, ask if we can pray (that's
the new thing), share a message/teach principles, and then close with
a prayer. We call it LOTS. I'll be honest, I had so little faith in
this finding approach...who wants to pray on the street with two
foreign strangers in white helmets anyway? Prepared people, that's
who! I know that God is preparing people to receive the gospel, and so
even if it seems weird from the outside, they're ready to hear it!

I'm getting to be friends with a little five year old girl in the area
here. She is a handful - lots of energy, free-spirited little thing
who takes great pleasure in throwing things around and beating up the
elders. But we play and draw on the white board together, and she even
gave me a hug! It was a victory!



Monday, September 7, 2015

What a week!

Next week, a wittier subject line. 

Every day this week, I have written five things I'm grateful for in my journal. They're always different and usually include a little sentence or paragraph after them. It's a good way to notice blessings and feel more happy, and it's also a good way to keep a journal when you have no time to do anything. Some things I was grateful for this week:

1. I really wanted Black Thunder (prime Japanese candy - kind of like a chocolate covered Oreo without the frosting. Heaven for the small price of 31 yen!) but couldn't get it. Then, randomly, someone gave me one with a sticky note written on top! What a gem!

2. I got to play a beautiful grand piano for 45 minutes as prelude to a special multi-zone meeting in which we heard from a member of the first quorum of the Seventy (important church leader). I took eight pages of notes/impressions from that day. 

3. Service opens people's hearts! On Monday after our 22 mile extravaganza, we saw two girls pulling heavy suitcases down the road, so we stopped and helped them until we had to go (run) to our lesson that night. They are Vietnamese students here at Asia Pacific University, which is in our area, but at the top of a mountain so we never go. Anyway, they agreed to meet with us in Thursday! The meeting was super long, but we just had dinner and got to know each other. After we taught them about God and Jesus Christ, we gave them both copies of the Book of Mormon in Vietnamese. One of them especially was so excited to have it, she kept flipping through, reading random passages, asking what things meant...when we gave her one in English, too, she was so excited I thought she was going to pass out! I'm not even exaggerating. I know I've never been quite that excited to read scriptures before. Maybe I should be! They're an enormous blessing. Through the Bible and the Book of Mormon, all of life's questions are answered and we feel God's love. So what started as carting heavy bags down the street, probably looking ridiculous as is the norm, became helping two awesome girls become closer to Christ! Miracles!

Oh, and the really excited of the two girls also accepted the invitation to baptism. "Of course, that seems like the natural next step." Wow, yeah...that! She is amazing. And God is amazing for letting us have these miracles. 

4. Banana soy milk

5. A family in our group, the Uchidas, had us over for dinner on Saturday night. They are so cool! As soon as I walked into their home, I felt how much love they have for each other and God. The food was delicious, and we all had a great time. Their sixteen-year-old girl is fellowshipping our sixteen-year-old investigator. We love them!


6. We taught two of our thirteen-year-old investigators yesterday after church. We'd just taught them the Plan of Salvation and wanted to do something fun, so we created a board game starting from pre-earth life and ending in the celestial kingdom! It was so fun! (And I got to heaven first, but who's keeping track? (Mark 10:31) next week, we are doing origami with them! I can't even make a paper airplane so we'll see how that goes. 

It's a great day to be a missionary! Since I'm ahead of most of you in time, I'll go ahead and tell you that Monday is going to be great! I love you all! Thank you for the prayers!


Love from Japan,

Sis J

Today I biked 22 miles.

Never in my life would I ever elect to bike that much. On P-Day, no less!

And played two hours of basketball! I'm so happy to be here - days like this are so fun and rewarding. The most rewarding days, though, are those where we see miracles! I have very little time today, but here's my favorite miracle:

Last Sunday, we had three members at church including the bishop. Yesterday, we had thirty! Chun Shimai and I have four new investigators from this week who literally just fell into our laps! (picture attached). We've been working so hard these past few weeks - biking around the mountainside that is Beppu, Japan, stopping people on the streets and knocking on their doors, trying to share the gospel. Most people are Buddhist, and they're all very traditional. 99% of the "kekko" (I'm fine, thanks) people, though, reject us very politely. I appreciate that about Japan - everyone is so polite! I wish everyone could come and have this experience. It's so amazing. 

One funny thing about Japan: everything is a few inches shorter. Sinks, doorways...the top grocery store aisle is at my eye level...it's hilarious. And tiny bikes are everywhere! I am taller than all but maybe two of the members here. I love it!

Also love the food here. Can't get over it. I might come home heavier, but it will be worth it.

Things I've learned about biking:
1. Gear shift. A useful feature when biking up a mountain. The first time, I didn't know about it and I cried/prayed my way up. Pretty funny. 
2. For every hill up, there's always an equally exhilarating hill down.
3. Never say "I've been in Japan for 2 1/2 weeks and never remotely crashed my bike!" You will crash. Twice, according to my experience. Yep, today the streak was broken. Tough loss. I'm so covered in rain, sweat and dirt from biking down the coastline to basketball and back that I don't even care. It's just a great day!

This week, I studied hope and God's love. 1 Ne. 11:17 is my favorite. I know that if we rely on hope during difficult things, we will come out all the stronger because God loves and watches over us!

I love you all! Thank you for the prayers!

Yume o seikatsu shite imasu

Currently living the dream. 

Last Monday, we went to Monkey Mountain! It's exactly what it sounds like - a mountain entirely covered in monkeys. It's so crazy, people will pay money to go look at/step around monkeys. But it was so fun! One of the elders got charged by an angry monkey, but not to worry, everyone is okay. 
On Thursday, while streeting, we saw a bunch of plastic bottles on the sidewalk and a man working. We decided to stop and ask if we could help clean them up. He agreed and proceeded to ask us to pull giant weeds out of bushes for the next hour and a half...a little more complicated than we thought, but it was the best! We looked a little ridiculous, as you can imagine, but we said hi to all the strange looks we got. One man rode by and said something - I thought he was pointing out more trash under the bushes (we know, thanks). And rode off. Turned out, he was parking his bike and coming to help us! He talked to us (I just smiled and nodded haha) and he pulled a TON of weeds! After we ran out of bags for the weeds, the first guy, Sato San took us to the vending machine across the street and bought us drinks. He was so nice!!
On Friday, we went back to the same place and helped finish the work! It was so fun. Sato San bought us drinks again. This time, I got grape soda that you have to shake for awhile and there's this jelly stuff inside...I can't really describe it. Very Japan, very good. We sat and drank them after two hours of bagging weeds and branches, and thought "man, this is the life." And it is. This whole experience reminded me of how much I love service and why I am here. 
Also, at Thursday's Zone Training Meeting, we were challenged to teach full lessons to people on the street. We do short lessons already, but we never prayed. So that evening while contacting, we did it! We taught a girl about prayer and prayed with her in the middle of a sidewalk on the busiest street in our area! And it was the best ever! Even if we don't get to meet with her again we know she felt God's love, and that's what it's all about. 

Can we please appreciate how beautiful Japan is??
I love you all! Thank you for the prayers and emails! Good luck to everyone starting school this week - hasten the work and anchor down! :)

Hello from Nihon!

Sorry, couldn't think of a less cheesy subject line. But yes, indeed, I am in the Land of the Rising Sun!

A little short on time - we're going hiking at Monkey Mountain as a district in an hour. 

So our journey to Nihon went something like this: fly to Denver an hour late. Miss flight to Tokyo by 20 minutes (kind of knew that going into it, kind of wanted to hope we would make it anyway/not return to the beloved MTC). Stay at the airport for 3 hours working out flights. Stay in Denver over night. Fly to Tokyo. Except for 5 of our group. They stayed in San Francisco for that night. We fly to Fukuoka. Orientation 11pm-2am. My companions both got called to Okinawa! I cried. Next morning (Thursday), 8:30 am I think, went to bus station to bus to Beppu, my first area! It is on the eastern coast of Kyushu, the main island. It is so beautiful here - everywhere I look, there are cool buildings, mountains, trees...man. Even when I'm biking up a hill and sweating more than ever in my life, I just can't get over how beautiful it is here. 

My companion is Sister Chun from California. She's so fun and outgoing, and really focused on the work. She makes me think for myself instead of giving me answers, which I appreciate. What a gem. I'm the quirky one in our companionship, she thinks...is it really that weird to eat raw potatoes? Speaking of, the food is delicious. I thought I would get bored or miss American food, but in my whopping five days here, it's been awesome. 

The church is small here. Our ward is actually a group...we had about 25 at church on Sunday. But we have six missionaries - 4 elders and 2 sisters in our area, so we know the work is hastening! Church is just 2 hours in a rented floor of a building (the other floors are businesses/bars so that's fun). We don't have auxiliaries because there just aren't enough people. 

Yesterday at church, something cool happened! I sang a solo in church yesterday! It's called "Savior, Redeemer of my Soul."At first I was like "man shoot I sound nothing like Cox Shimai" (she sang this song in our MTC branch - basically an angel) but then I decided that doesn't matter. We have different voices. I recorded it with my iPad when we practiced and was not a fan of my sound. I haven't sang a vocal solo since I was seven years old, in a stake production. So it was a growth zone moment for sure. Anyway, I wasn't hugely into how practices went, but when I got up to sing for the group yesterday (not ward, not branch...group), as soon as I sang the first note, I felt an overwhelming love for the people! After that, I have no idea how it actually sounded, but I knew the Spirit was there and touching the hearts of people in the room. It was so cute, they clapped when we were done haha. I know that the Lord doesn't need professionals - He just needs people with willing hearts and a desire to stay on the straight and narrow. He takes our imperfect offering and transforms it into what He needs. Just like the world was created from existing matter, our efforts can create miracles in the hearts of others. 

We teach English class (Eikaiwa) once a week. We teach vocab, pronunciation, have conversation, and play a game. When we contact, it's often a good way to get people to talk to us. 

So funny story, a member here interviewed me for the newspaper yesterday because I'm new (still waiting to hit that one-week mark), and he asked about North Carolina being part of the Civil War. He asked about Abraham Lincoln and said how much he respects and admires him. When I told him we were 11th cousins, he, wow, he was the most excited I've ever seen a Japanese person be. It was hilarious. We'd just had a lesson on family history, so I told him to do his and see what he finds. 

Favorite scriptures: DC 6:34; Job 38 (kind of makes me laugh. I'd hate to be Job here)

Love you all! The church is true!

JJ

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Hi, everyone. This is Emily! I've been out of the country and very preoccupied lately... and a horrible blog updater! This is from a while back. Janettte IS in Japan now and will be sending updates soon!!

So I'm actually not in Japan yet. Before shipping out, I'm spending nine weeks at the Missionary Training Center in Utah, learning how to be a missionary and how to speak Japanese (you know, important things). Every day starts at 6:30. We have gym and then half an hour to get ready. Breakfast is at 8, followed by 6 hours of class, with lunch in the middle. Class is all in Japanese so we can learn faster. It works so well! When you have people who really want to learn and a teacher who's really good at charades, it's very successful. Every day since June 12, except Sundays and Thursdays (got here June 10), we've taught a 20-30 minute lesson to an "investigator" (who later turned out to be our teacher. Awkward.) But yes, in Japanese. At night, we have an hour of individual gospel/scripture study, an hour with our companion [insert companion photo here] and then an hour of language study. There's also a software we use an hour a day to learn the language. If you lost count, that is eight hours a day of studying, speaking (or attempting to speak) and listening to Japanese. It is awesome. We are in by 9:30and lights go out at 10:30. By that time, we are so ready for bed, it's not even an issue.

Such is the life of a missionary. We call it finding joy in the journey :)

It's been amazing to feel the Spirit when teaching/learning in this new language! Like Peter walking on water, I sometimes glance around for a second and say "wait a minute! I can't be testifying to a stranger in Japanese - I don't even know Japanese!" But then I immediately look back to Christ who's right there in front of me, cheering me on. And we can all do that in our lives, in something as simple as daily scripture study. Sure, it might seem impossible to get anything major from reading a book, but it's not just reading a book. So don't look around saying "eh, that's not even possible, reading doesn't do that to you." Just do it!
 
Also, exciting news of the day: we moved. Again. Follow me here - I moved in Wednesday June 10. We relocated to a new place on Thursday June 18 (made for the 6 girls we have instead of the 4 our old room was made for. So that was nice.) Today, Thursday June 25, they found bats in our building, so we had an impromptu move back across campus. Back to a 4-person room, smaller than the first one, with our same six girls. Good things we love each other.

The days feel like weeks and the weeks feel like days. Friday is the new Monday. I don't really have a life right now. I study Japanese for 8+ hours a day, I go to bed at 10:30, I don't have a first name, and I wear skirts. But the Savior said that if we lose our life for His sake, we'll find it (Matt 6:25). So that's my motto this week. 

Ai shite imasu (eye shtay moss - I love you)!

Sister Jorgensen

Saturday, June 20, 2015

All Set Apart and Nowhere to Go

I was set apart Sunday, June 7 but wasn't assigned to report until Wednesday, June 10. So early Monday morning, I said my goodbyes to my family and flew out to Utah to stay with one of my favorite people, who I hadn't seen in seven weeks! It felt like a long time apart until I remembered that it'll be about ten times that until I see her again. But we have had the best time.




















I cannot get over how beautiful Utah is! The weather has been perfect, the mountains are beautiful, and there is something to be said for dry heat, coming from the ever-humid South. Temple Square is one of the most glorious places on Earth, I've decided. Pictures don't do it justice. There are flowers everywhere, the buildings are breathtaking, and the spirit there is absolutely wonderful. 




The highlight of the adventure, as beautiful as the flowers are, was seeing family members after years and years. It was so fun to reconnect with aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents I hadn't even planned to see. Emily and I were blessed to play a concert at the retirement home where my 99-year-old great-grandmother lives. Her life is a true legacy, as she has over 100 descendants, many of whom have served missions and served in other ways to touch and change lives. She is a golden example of what it means to be faithful, and coming up on 100 years! I told her she doesn't look a day over 90 - and she is just as mentally strong as ever.

This is Emily, and I will finish this post before the weekly letters start coming in from Sister Jorgensen! On Wednesday morning before heading to the MTC, Sister Jorgensen and I stopped at the Pleasant Grove cemetery where, with the help of Sister Jorgensen's Grandfather, we found her late Grandmother's grave. It took a lot of searching, so it was especially exciting when we finally found it. 
Finally, Wednesday afternoon at 1:10, we pulled up to the MTC and a cute sister missionary took our picture before Sister Jorgensen went into the MTC. She will be sorely missed, but there is nowhere better for our Janette to be! She's already doing great things. More updates to come. God speed!