This is the Story of Elder Jens Jacob Simonsen
from the middle of his mission-
to May, 2012
In January, 2012 JJ was transferred from Layton, Utah
to Downtown Ogden. He has been there ever since.
Many have said that "you have not served in the
in the Utah Ogden Mission...
until you have served in
In this chapter of his mission,
you will discover the many lessons learned and
blessings given to those who are willing to
bring the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
to downtown Ogden.
It is the beginning of May. Elder Simonsen has spent the last 16 months in Northern Utah.
It has been a fine mission. We had the privilege of visiting JJ during the week of his
"Hump Day." This is the one year mark after he entered the MTC to begin his
mission. It has been a year of miracles. Elder Simonsen has been truly blessed. He has served as a junior companion, a senior companion, a trainer of three Elders- who had entered the mission field from the MTC. In traditional missionary language, that means that he is the "father" of three sons.
Elder Simonsen has been a District Leader over a group of ten (or so) Elders and Sisters, a Zone Leader in the MTC, as well as a Zone leader in the Utah Ogden mission. A Zone leader watches over a group of districts. It is a very busy, assignment...daily keeping track of the many Elders serving all over his mission. We are so grateful for his willingness to serve. He is a good man who loves the Savior with all his heart. He has become a very strong leader.
- Sister B
A Big Storm in Layton, Utah
During the first days of December, a high wind ripped through Layton at up to
110 mph. Elder Simonsen wrote:
"Good Afternoon, Elder and Sister Wilberg, :o)
Thank you so much for your letters. I just read the letter that you sent through the mail. Yes, the winds have been crazy around here. It got up to 110 mph and knocked over about ten 18 wheelers and took trees down and stuff... So they
cancelled Sunday School and auxiliaries to clean up on Sunday. It was very windy in some parts of our Zone.
It is getting cold now. We got 6 degrees F at the lowest yesterday and we are getting some of this famous Utah powder snow- which you can't see unless you shine light through it :o) It's great !
We had a mission conference and took a mission picture as well. It was great. It got a bit long at the end. Missionaries doing the HAKA (a Polynesian war chant, I think), doing hula dances, singing, playing guitar and doing skits. It was funny and a bit "UNACCOUNTABLE", but it was good.
-Elder Simonsen December 6, 2011
(continued) Layton, Utah
Photo: A picture taken in Missionary Mall-with Elder Morel pointing to his homeland- the Dominican Republic and Elder Simonsen pointing to his home in the south of Greenland.
" My companion is getting transferred to Ogden to be a trainer for a missionary from Spain. I am getting a new companion from the Dominican Republic, Elder Morel.
It's crazy that you are coming for my year mark. :o) It is going to be an awesome 'hump day.' It is the hump to on our way down, and it is going fast ! (hump day is the day that missionaries have been on their mission for one year- or half of their mission).
By the way, I got a call the other day. It was from Sister Williams calling from Kaysville, former Sister Lilijenquist, who got married right after her mission. :o) She wanted to take us to dinner and we'll prolly go to dinner with them as well in a week or so."
-Elder Simonsen in Layton, Utah
(continued- December 6, 2011)
Elder Simonsen sends to us his December Schedule prior to our visit.
1. We usually go to 2-4 correlation meetings on Sunday, so we are pretty busy on Sundays. We wake up at 5 to go to stake correlation and 6 in the morning.
2. We study a little bit from 7-8 on Sunday.
3. And we go visit people and invite them to go to church, but we go to church at our own as well as English wards. Sometimes to let them know that we are there to give testimonies. So we are pretty busy on Sundays.
4. We have dinner appointments all through the month of December, even on P-days, only thing we don't have is Lunch. We can do lunch any day.
5. Ward Christmas party 16th of December at 6:30
6. We have a family home evening "planned" on next Monday.
7. Tuesday Family Home Evening at the Church for investigators and recent converts at 7:30
8. We have meetings on Wednesday morning and Thursday morning in Centerville.
Thank you so much. I am looking forward to seeing you next Sunday...and I hope that you get the peace that comes from focusing on the Savior this season-
Before you break down and fall hard, (like my father always does !). Try to have the spirit with you at all times at all places. It will direct you and guide you, and give you strength to bless other people's lives !
I love you very much. See you soon. -Elder Simonsen-
December 6, 2011-
" I finally sent my father some blow up ornaments. He is so happy ! :o) He says that there are people that stop in the street (near JJ's home in Qaqortoq) and take pictures." -Elder Simonsen
December 6, 2011 Layton, Utah
Note: This blow up Santa is something that JJ's father has been wanting for a long time. JJ sent it to him from his mission in Utah.
These pictures are from Qaqortoq, Greenland. Elder Simonsen's father is standing on our right of Santa. I think that this is an outdoor view of JJ's decorated home in
Qaqortoq, Greenland on the southern tip of Greenland. Greenland, by the way is the north pole home of Santa himself !
When we met Elder Morel in Layton, he had just become Elder Simonsen's new companion... Elder Morel is from the Dominican Republic.
He was a fine, cheerful, hardworking Elder. The two of them were Zone leaders.
There is much work to do in the heart of Utah...and many miles to travel to serve the Elders who were in the Farmington Zone.
Elder Morel had been on his mission for 17 months, and Elder Simonsen had just past his one year mark. (December 14, 2010- 2011) These Elders were well prepared for the year to come.
They both have said to us: "I love my mission."
Thank you both for your hard work and for your great example.
- Sister B December 13, 2011
a note: (June 2012) Elder Morel is now home from his two year mission. Elder Simonsen tells us that Elder Morel just got married. (She waited for him). He got married two weeks after his return home. He is 27 years old, has a college degree, and has served in the best mission in the world.
Time flies in the life of a missionary :o)
We met them on a Sunday at their Spanish Speaking
ward (of about 400 Members).
Note: These pictures above were taken when we picked them up at their apartment, on their P-day to go to the Bountiful Temple. It was snowing.
- Sister B Layton, Utah
We had the privilege of visiting a family night of new members.
Both Elders shared their love for the Gospel at the family night. Elder Simonsen translated the Spanish for us.
It is always such a miracle to hear this Elder...who came into the mission field knowing Danish, English, a little German, and his native language, Greenlandic.
Now he thinks and speaks and reads in Spanish. We were with him when he opened his call, read that he was going to Utah on his mission and then a pause...It would be a Spanish speaking mission. He was so excited.
- Sister B December 2011
Probably the most valuable and sacred experience I had when we visited JJ in December...
During this important week (after he completed a whole year of his mission) we had the sacred opportunity to go with JJ and his companion to the Bountiful Temple. The temple is on a hill, a beautiful white temple that can be seen all over the valley. -Sister B
It was snowing that day. It was a quiet, white morning.
We picked the Elders up at their apartment,
still brushing their teeth as they came out to greet us. It was a rare opportunity to talk to them as we traveled to the temple...to ask questions I have had as I write for his blog. We usually only communicate by e-mail or letter. I have a million questions to ask and very little time. This was a quiet time to teach me some of the details of JJ's mission. Both of them are converts. They know the blessings that are there for anyone who will listen to their message.
- Sister B December 2011
Every visit to the temple ends in a place called the "Celestial Room."
It is a place to rest, to pray, and to quietly feel the Spirit of God. In the center of the Celestial room in the Bountiful Temple is a huge chandelier covered with hundreds of crystals. On the walls are tall mirrors reflecting the light.
There we gathered together- Carl, Elder Morel and our dear friend, Elder Simonsen.. all dressed in white.
What an amazing blessing it was to be with these great humble men who are so willing to follow the Savior and live the good lives that they live.
The temple is a place of peace and a place to just love one another.
I am so grateful for these memories. -Sister B
Ward Christmas Party 2011
We attended a Ward Christmas Party with Elder Simonsen and Elder Morel. There is a great love for the missionaries in this ward. It is a strong, stable ward with reliable leaders, humble families, and sweet little children.
Elder Simonsen had just received a Christmas package from the ward members in Odense, Denmark, his home ward. (he was attending school near Odense, when he
was called on his mission) In the box was this handsome Danish knit Christmas hat.
The Lord has blessed this ward with dear, kind people. There is a sense of peace about them.
The Savior said:
"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called 'Children of God."
3 Nephi 12: 9
I am grateful for the peace that we felt during this Christmas Season as these good people welcomed us into their ward family.
During the Christmas Party in Layton, we met Edgard.
He was probably the first young single adult that was near JJ's age- that he had
taught and prepared for baptism. Edgard would be baptized on Christmas Eve and confirmed on Christmas day.
This is a time they will always remember. This young man, in a year, could easily be going on a mission like Elder Simonsen has done. One of the best ways to strengthen your testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to share it with someone
else. - Sister B,
Elder Simonsen sends pictures of his memorable Christmas Eve...when Edgard was baptized.
Thank you so much for your letters. I appreciate them. I am sending some pictures of Edgard's baptism.
"Edgard Cerino got baptized. He had all of his family come and support him, and they are all non members. It was wonderful. The next day he got confirmed, on Christmas Day. He felt the spirit so strong. He knew that he was doing the right thing.
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to have served the Lord this time in my life. I am very grateful for all the things that I have learned in my mission. My mission means everything to me.
Thank you so much for being a big part of it. I love you, I thank you for all the things that have passed this year... and I pray that you and your family will have a great year next year, with strengthened testimonies and blessings being poured in your life." Love, Elder Simonsen
December 28, 2011
Lessons learned from the Book of Mormon about Edgard's choice to follow the Savior's example and be
An ancient missionary named Alma baptized over 200 people in one day. He taught them how to be new members of the church and how to help them grow in the gospel.
He told them that when they had hearts "knit together in unity and love one to another", and if they would preach the gospel to one another, that they would become 'Children of God.'
(Mosiah 18: 21-22)
Alma then taught them the importance of keeping the Sabbath day holy.
This is the place where we can share the gospel every week and take the Sacrament to renew our baptismal promises to the Lord.
Alma knew that Edgard, and all members of the church, needed to be reminded every week..
that the Lord loved them enough to give his life for them-
and that he will bless them if they remember to keep the sacred covenants that they made when they were baptized."
- Sister B
December 2011- Layton, Utah
Edgard's whole family was at his baptism. It was Great. We are teaching the mother and the sister, and they will be baptized this month. -Elder Simonsen (continued)
"Edgard, he still asks about you and how you are doing. and he told me why he always asks about you. He felt when he met you that he had known you.. that he had known you for years, the he has seen you before...:o) He knows now that you were suppose to meet him. He is great. We want him to go on a mission.
I don't have much time, but I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the things that you have done for me.. and from my parents, too. They are grateful for your support for me. Thank you. I love you. Have a great week."
January 3, 2012
Sister Burton and Sister Roberts ( now a married Emily Roberts Crosley) were the first missionaries he ever met...
They are the sisters who introduced themselves to JJ, on an empty street in Svendborg, Denmark where he was going to school. They gave him the Book of Mormon and he discovered it was true. When he was baptized in March, 2009..we were beginning our mission in Denmark.
We have been truly blessed to know this fine, peaceful young man. I am so grateful for these two sisters who took the time to go to Denmark to find him. He has been such a blessing in all of our lives. -Sister B (continued)
The Lord places great value on the worth of every soul. He said this about the value of finding JJ Simonsen, - one young native Greenlander on a deserted street in the middle of winter, looking for a change in his life ..
(grateful journal notes from an ancient American Missionary- Ammon)
"And now we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in:...now this is my joy, and great thanksgiving; Yea, I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen."
- Alma 26: 37
The Savior told Ammon, as he did Sister Burton and Sister Roberts, and now he says to Elder Jens Jacob Simonsen in the middle of northern Utah ...
"Go among thy brethren...and I will give unto thee success.."
And Ammon recorded:
"and we ...entered into their houses and taught them on the streets and have taught them on their hills...Now, behold we can look forth and see the fruits of our labors...they are many...we can witness their sincerity, because of their love towards their brethren and also towards us. Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were (missionaries) that had so great reason as we, since the world began."
- Alma 26: 27-35
What a joy this effort is ! -Sister B
Before we left Layton, Elder Simonsen wanted to give us a gift...
When he arrived in Ogden for the first time, he was given a little Book of Mormon by his Mission President.
In this book, he was asked to mark anytime the Savior spoke or was referred to.
His president wrote a personal note to JJ in the back of this little treasure.
JJ had book marks in important places. It was a well used book.
I am so greateful for this gift. It is the book that I carry with me in my bag every day. It reminds me of the soft heart of the young man we met in Denmark who was so anxius to learn and to share everything that he had discovered in this book.
Now he is doing just that.
Thank you Elder, for your great example.
December, 2011 Layton, Utah
Picture: P-day lunch after going to the Bountiful Temple
To these dear, hardworking Elders, thank you for sharing a part of the Christmas season with us.
There is such peace and cheerfulness in your lives. Though you both speak fluent Spanish (and many other languages) you speak another language...the language of the heart.
President Monson describes it: "There is one language that is understood by every missionary: the language of the Spirit. It is not learned from textbooks, written by men of letters, nor is it acquired through reading and memorization. The language of the Spirit comes to him who seeks with all his heart to know God and to keep His divine commandments. Proficiency in this language permits one to breach barriers, overcome obstacles, and touch the human heart." (Ensign May 1985, pg 68)
Thank you so much for touching ours and for giving your all to anyone who is willing to listen. :o) We love you, Elders- Sister B
December 2011, Layton
Dear Belva and Carl and Family,
Thank you so much for your letter, I appreciate it. Thank you for your kind words.
Thank you so much for the gifts. They are good.
But most of all, thank you for the year that passed. Thank you for all the things that you do, for your example in serving the Lord and magnifying your call to serve.
Thank you and your family for the sacrificies that you've made. I love you. I care about you, from the days where I used to come over and mooch off you when I didn't have any food, both food for the Spirit and for the Body.
December 20, 2011
I am so grateful for this Christmas... that I get to serve the Lord Jesus Christ as a gift, from this young boy from Greenland,
who doesn't have a gift worthy of a King of Kings,
but his life,
time and talents,
that he has to serve Him
and remember what He did for me
and for you.
I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas
from the bottom of my heart.
I wish you the best, because you deserve it.
I love you. I care about you and I pray that the Lord will
sustain you during these times of the Holidays,
That you may be a light unto the world and glorify Him.
Merry Christmas, Elder Simonsen
December 20, 2011
"I think that the Christmas Season has a special purpose for Elders and Sisters all over the world..far away from home. From the beginning of their missions they begin to focus on the main purpose of their mission...They are called to "bring people to Jesus Christ." There is great love in this effort. As they study and pray every day to be more like Christ...they discover the love that he has for them -as his
missionaries. Every day, all year long, they pray for the sweet spirit that will bring just one more soul unto Him.
Elder M. Russel Ballard (one of the twelve modern day apostles) wrote about the relationship missionaries have with the Savior...
"The Lord has no better place to get acquainted with you than when you serve Him in the mission field. When you are serving your mission, he will send you on errands to act in his name. He will give you experience with the power of the Holy Ghost. He will authorize you to teach, to convert, and then to perform the sacred ordinances of salvation in his name. He will come to know you. He will come to know that he can trust you and can rely on you."
- Elder M. Russel Ballard
(Ensign, May 1985, pg. 42)
The Savior describes how imporant it is to serve his children:
He said: "And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom;
that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings-
Ye are only in the service of your God." Mosiah 2:17
Thank you Elders, for your faithful, unselfish service. -Sister B
News from an old typewritter...
Dear Belva and Carl,
Here, testing out my "new" typewriter. It is working wonderfully. I am sending you a copy of our new training program. (the twelve week training program used by Elder Simonsen as he trains his new companion from the MTC)
It is P-day today, and I'm starting to read a little bit on the book that you gave me, about Carl's missionary companion in Denmark. I read about the sister in Svendborg (where JJ attended School)- who after receiving a blessing , her ankle was healed. I love that book. It's great.
Christmas was wonderful. We had breakfast with a family, an American family, less active part member family, who gave us so many gifts from socks, notebooks,
Note: This is the cover of the Training manual for new Elders arriving from the
MTC. It is a powerful new program that lasts twelve weeks and was
introduced into the Utah Ogden Mission last May. Elder Simonsen has
trained three new companions one at a time since this program was
"The most interesting part (of Christmas) was that she had us read some stories about Christmas. I am sending you some of the stories as well. They touched me in a very profound way, and made my Christmas very special and a Christmas like none other that I've had before. It was wonderful.
More news about Edgard's Baptism...
" The baptism we had was wonderful. The whole family was there. Everybody had never seen so much support from family as did Edgard, the brother, and his wife, the sister, the mother were there, all nonmembers.
It was wonderful...the brother invited us over for dinner that evening. The food that he made was very much like what we would have had in Greenland...
a lamb roast, (carribean style)
and the brother told us to comeback anytime we want,
and he wanted to introduce us to other friends that he had, that are from
the Domincan Republic as well. It was great !
It is wonderful to learn to type in this old typewriter. It is old fashioned and interesting. Thank you so much for it. I like it a lot. Thank you so much for the gifts and the paintings. I love them as well
I will find a frame from DI to put the Logan temple in and hang it.
I love my mission. It means everything to me.
Thank you so much for all your help and support. I appreciate it.
I wish a happy New Year for you and your family. Say "Hello" to them from me.
with Love, Elder Simonsen
December 27, 2011
Note: This is a Christmas card of Elder Simonsen's entire mission- The Utah Ogden Mission 2011. Elder Simonsen identified himself with the pink arrow.
Dear Belva and Carl,
Thank you so much for everything...for all the gifts and for all the things that you have given me and people around me. I am grateful to get to have you in my life.
I just sent you a small package through the mail with some materials and Christmas things. Tried out my new typewriter. It worked like magic. I gained a new appreciation for computers and other electronic devices that we have today.
It was good. I hope you had a great Christmas because we did here.
It was a wonderful holiday season. I talked to my family through skype.
I saw them all, and everybody seemed very happy to see me,
and I was very happy to see them as well.
There were some tears shed and some good words said. It was a nice gift to get during this season of holidays. I saw my little nephew and he was very cute and I can't wait to hold him and see him with my own eyes in a year.
- Elder Simonsen
December 28, 2011 (continued)
I'd like to tell you a story: This picture I sent is one where we are at the office saying "goodbye" to Elder Wyatt.
"Elder Wyatt is from Logan. He began his mission two years ago. He can only move his eyes and mouth and two of his fingers. He has Multiple Sclerosis. He had the responsibility to handle the referrals that came in from the Church Headquarters in Salt Lake City. He and his family didn't think that he would live long enough to serve a full 2 year mission, so he took it six months at a time. His grandpa took him down everyday in a bus, and took care of him and worked beside him.
Elder Wyatt served his mission, even though he can only move 2 fingers- he served the Lord. He is very sensitive to sickness, but during these 2 years with almost constant exposure to a lot of missionaries, with a lot of sick people sometimes around, he never got sick." - Elder Simonsen
December 28, 2011 (continued)
Elder Wyatt is a great example for me,
He is a great example for me in his desires serve the Lord and not letting anything stop him from doing so. In January next year, his brother is following his footsteps and coming down to serve at the office as well. He has the same sickness.
-Elder Simonsen December 28, 2011
In January, after I received a letter from Elder Simonsen about the Elders gathering in the mission office to say farewell to their courageous office Elder Wyatt...
I prepared a lesson for our Book of Mormon Class at the Sac State University Institute (where we are on a mission). Elder Wyatt reminded me of the Book of Mormon leaders who had "True Grit."
At that time I wrote this to Elder Simonsen: January 10, 2012
"Thinking about Mormon and his very hard life... and his great example of courage, and love that he had for his people...and thinking of the strong Elder in your mission office, I thought about the words: "True Grit' the significance of knowing and being lifted up by people who really have 'true grit'...something more than just suffering through their lives...something more than just enduring it.
They have 'True Grit'.. grit that polishes off the rough edges of our not so perfect lives, our dumb mistakes, our disappointments, our pains, even when we are ready to give up...the Lord steps in and continues to polish us until we can stand again- Polished with the hope of one more good day. That is 'True Grit." I remembered the influence that Elder Wyatt had in the center of your mission: I wrote to JJ...
"I have been thinking about your dear, courageous office Elder Wyatt...about the tremendous sacrifice he (and his grandfather) made to serve the Lord- Every day of his life...trying to squeeze into what may be a very short life, to squeeze a mission in- by doing what ever he could- to be there when the Lord needed him...no matter what.
I looked at the faces of you and your Elders gathered aroud him as he completed, with honor, this important mission...maybe his last mission on earth. I saw the example that he set in the center of your mission...how you must have been lifted up by his great example." Here is a man of 'True Grit..." Thank you, Elder Wyatt for your service.
In Layton, Elder Simonsen lost his valuable missionary backpack. It held his well marked Spanish scriptures, teahing videos, and his Line of Authority- a record of his Priesthood line of authority. It was a time to begin again. He writes:
Thank you so much for your letter. I have a letter on my desk that I have been trying to send for the past couple of weeks, but I couldn't just get the letter sent...had so much stuff to do. Thank you so much for the check- it really helps. I really appreciate it. I might have to go and buy some Scriptures with it, because I lost my bag right before Christmas, in Layton right after your visit -I couldn't find it. Never have seen it again. So I will have to go down next week to buy some new sets of Scriptures, with a protective case.
I have to go. I will send my letter when I get home. Thank you so much. I love you. Have a great week." -Elder Simonsen January 2012
Every Day Missionary Life in Layton, Utah
"I hope that you and your family are doing good. I can't wait to meet them in person. Please be sure to tell them that I said, "Hi."
I still haven't gotten around to buying some new shirts. For the time that we have on P-day is so short. I can't really take time to look for some good shirts.
I lost three shirts. They were stained by my felt pen. They were my favorite shirts. They will be hard to replace. I am still looking for a watch. I think I might ask my parents to send me one, or to send me some extra money so that I can buy one that will last me a while. I really like the danish watches that they have.."Skagen" watches. They are very slim and minimalistic- Not like BIG, Huge American ones that don't fit under the shirt... :o)
I am very thankful for your support that you have given me. It really does help, a lot !
When you were here, I lost my bag. I still haven't found it yet. It had all my scriptures and folders and stuff, so it has been a little bit hard to focus, a little bit, with so much distractions...but I will get through it soon enough.."
"We are doing great in our area. It is finally picking up. We have a marriage and baptism on the same day and we are excited.
The family Arasola has decided to be baptized, but to do that they have to get married, so we are having a "marriage baptism."
It is a very nice family. They just gave birth to a baby girl on December 23. The sister stayed in the hospital for Christmas and we visited her and her baby while she was there. She was very emotional. We are so happy for them. I will send you some pictures.
We have transfers next week and I really hope that I stay for a while. I love this area. The members are great... they are very happy to visit anybody who we say that they should visit and invite. It is great. I am learning much about being a member missionary as well. I am looking forward to going home and helping out the missionaries every single time that I have left. I love this work ! It is the Lord's work."
-Elder Simonsen (continued)
Layton, Utah January 11, 2012
The Family Arasola begin a new life...Marriage and baptism on the same day..
Many gather to celebrate this great event.
"Abraham Lincoln once said: 'All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother.'
I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for my mother...
I am so grateful for the mother figures that I've had in my life.
I am so grateful for you, for my grandma, for my mothers, and for the mothers of the missionaries that taught me and found me on the street wandering in the darkness. "
-Elder Simonsen (continued)
"I am forever in debt to my Heavenly Father for sending me His angels. I know that there are angels among us, sent here to save us ! I've seen them with my own eyes. I have felt their testimonies and influence in my life.
I would like to share some of the things that I've learned. Our roomates came home from District Meeting one day with a book. We had been talking to the District leader about his district meeting, that he wanted to have a special guest, someone who knows how to set goals and plans to reach them... this man lived in their area.
His name is Sam Bracken. He has a book " My orange Duffel bag." It is one of the most interesting books i've ever read. I couldn't put it down. It is about change, and about 7 rules to radically change your life."
- Elder Simonsen (continued)
January 11, 2012
Elder Simonsen discovers a book about setting goals at a district Meeting.. "My Orange Duffel Bag." (P-day reading)
JJ writes: The book starts off by telling his background. It is a true story. It is an autobiography kind of thing and it is amazing...I love it. It is inspiring. Sam Bracken is a member. This is his touching story. You can look it up on http://www.myorangeduffelbag.com/. I want a copy of that book. I have to look at it myself. I want to send it to one of my friends." -Elder Simonsen
Elder Simonsen spends many early morning hours studying together with his companion, Elder Martinez.
"I am really excited to have learned so much in such a short time. It has been amazing, how the Lord has formed me since the beginning, to make me who He wants me to be, and I am pretty sure that He will keep doing that for the rest of my life.
I have begun reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish now, and doing everything in Spanish now. It has really been interesting to see how the Holy Ghost speaks through one and to have felt the Lord work through me so many times. It is amazing. I hope you feel the same way, too.
I love the Lord with all my heart and I hope that everyday that our efforts are good enough, and that they are worthy.
I love you. I am very thankful for you and your family. I miss you very much. I hope you have a great week.
With Love, Elder Jens Jacob Simonsen
End of typewritten letter of
January 11, 2012 Layton, Utah
" Dear Belva and Family,
Thank you so much for your letter. I appreciate it. The Farmington Zone is doing really good, half of the zone got transferred. We have many children of our Heavenly Father
progressing for baptism. They are going to have a great transfer.
I am really happy to be here. Thank you so much for your support, and your spiritual thoughts that always come regularly.
My family is very grateful for the package that you have sent to them, and they are really proud of me as well, thank you for that. " -Elder Simonsen Jan. 17, 2012
I have great news, I am being transferred.
"I am being transferred to Downtown Ogden, to be a trainer and a district leader... I am looking forward to it, and I am happy to receive this new exciting calling, and stretch myself a little bit more.
I am going to the Ghetto, the most Ghetto part of Ogden, and I am going to be walking/biking. I am looking forward to be there and to talk to everyone, and meet new people." - Elder Simonsen
January 17, 2012 (continued)
Note: I found these beautiful pictures of your sweet little nephew...I couldn't help seeing the resemblance of you next to this dark eyed little boy. Looking forward to meeting him.
Letter continues from JJ:
"My little nephew is doing good...seems to be growing really fast, and making noises. I can't wait to see him, and the time is going so fast, and there are so many things I (would) like to do, just don't have time to do them. I still haven't packed, (for his transfer to Ogden) and it will take about three hours for me to pack, with so many small things to pack. I might have to have some members keep a box for me. Thank you so much for everything. I appreciate it. I love you. Say "hello" to Paul, tell him that I miss him. Have a great week.
-Love, Elder Simonsen
January 17, 2012
Elder Simonsen begins to train a new Elder from the MTC..
Elder Jose Marinez.
From Elder Simonsen:
"Elder Jose Marinez from Guatemala, is my new companion. He lived in Idaho for ten years with his family, and had decided to go on a mission. He is great. He already takes charge of the lessons and the contacts that we make. He is going to be a great missionary."
January 24, 2012
New move to Downtown Ogden
Elder Simonsen writes about Paul, the young man from Fuzhou, China..He baptized Paul in Odense, not long after JJ, himself was baptized.
Elder Simonsen on January 24, 2012- wrote about his concerns for Paul..
"I worry about Paul sometimes. I keep him in my prayers that he will find the light.
The light that is Christ, that will make him more happy than he ever has been. As I was reading your letter you sent and his situation- the eye of my mind took me into a vision, that one time in the future when both me and Paul Li-Cong are old- We will see eachother again. I promise you, as a representative of Jesus Christ, that he will be Okay. The he will find his way to Utah. I know that to be true. :o)"
"Paul is living in Orlando, Florida. He is a good friend and I often send Elder Simonsen news about how he is doing. We visited him in the fall and ate at the restaurant where he works very hard, long hours. He showed us his pedicab that he uses to make some extra money at night after he finishes with his day job. He is a good man, and we pray for his safety every day. ( He has been hit by a car on his bike three times since he came to the USA). The Lord has been watching over Paul. Since he came to this country, I have talked to him on the phone once or twice every week. He has learned many lessons since he has been here. We pray that Paul will never forget that he is a Child of God."
- Sister B
Thank you so much for your letter. I appreciate it. I am grateful to have somebody to tell all about the things that I do, and that you'd understand it.
The Book of Mormon that I gave you right before Christmas, was when I finished it in English. Right now I am reading it in Spanish. I am right there after King Benjamin, where Alma started organizing the Church, and he was worried about the people who were too
little at the time of King Benjamin's speech, too little to understand.
They were rebelling against God and the people went to Alma to have them judged. But Alma sent them to Kin Mosiah and King Mosiah just sent them back to Alma and Said: "I gave you authority to judge. YOU deal with it !! :o)
And Alma, not knowing what to do, went to the Lord to ask him what he needs to do. The Lord responded: "For behold, this is my church. Whosoever is baptized shall be baptized unto repentance. And whomsoever ye receive shall believe in my name: and him will I freely forgive. For it is I that taketh upon me the sins of the world: for it is I that hath created them: and it is I that granteth unto him that believeth unto the end a place at my right hand.
For behold, in my name are they called; and if they know me, they shall come forth, and shall have a place eternally at my right hand." Mosiah 26: 22-24
February 7th letter continues from Elder Simonsen...
"Sometimes we just try to 'send' the problem to somebody else, to the Mission President, to the Bishop, to the Stake President, but really sometimes it is us that have to deal with it...and I am very grateful for God and a Savior, who are willing to guide us, answer us, an give us strength and knowledge that we need to progress...to become dependant on God and not on man.
Second, I really like where it says, 'If they know me.' If we know the Savior, if we have Him in our lives, close, and we talk to Him everyday, and we let Him talk to us...and Guide us, and we do what He wants us to do, we follow His example...
we will 'know Him.' and He will 'know us'...and we shall be called by His name. :o) I love that. I wanted to share that with you. I was reading it during my personal sudy this morning.
I am very glad to hear from Paul, and that his family misses him. Hopefully, he will be motivated and strengthened to move on and keep going. I would really like to write him sometime. Maybe I will send him a snail mail through you. Thank you for the opportunity. I have to start doing that to the rest of the people that I baptized as well.
I have to go, but thank you for your letter and it was really nice to hear from you. Thank you again for the money. It surely was needed. Yes, we got the Lanterns, thank you so much. It lighted up our apartment day and night."
Love, Elder Simonsen
February 7, 2012
Every so often, I receive some beautiful photos from JJ, that he has received from home.
It is a wonderful step into his culture, a glimpse of his family, a reminder that
he is a proud, native Greenlander...a young man with a very rich heritage.
In the middle of this icy land, his family takes time to dress in 'Halloween like costumes' and celebrate with this
Danish and Greenlandic custom
- Sister B
Photos: JJ's hometown-Qaqortoq, Greenland, his little sister Melissa,
and his dear little Grandma.
JJ' News from Home...
"This is a painting of my Grandmother, done by my youngest sister, Melissa. She has art class in school and she got an 'A' for it." -Elder JJ
Note: This little Grandma taught JJ to read the Bible, and to pray every night. She died about a week before he entered the mission field.
This is a family gathering while JJ is away.
It is a colorful old Danish custom celebrated in Greenland.
Welcome to "Fastelavn."
Seven weeks before Easter, Elder Simonsen's family gathered to celebbrate a nordic "Halloween"...all dressed up in crazy costumes ready to "Hit the Cat out of the barrel" (in midieval times, a live cat would be placed in a barrel, and the barrel was beaten with sticks until it broke and the cat, if he was lucky, escaped !) -Sister B
Their sweet little babies were dressed for their first Fastelavn...They were already crowned as "King of Cats." an honor usually given to the first one to break the barrel.
- Sister B
This celebration marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring.
The handpainted barrel is filled with candy- like a piniata.. and sometimes a toy cat.
Photos: from the left-JJ's grandfather, his mother, and his dad
below- Qaqortoq in the icy spring, and the northern lights
When the barrel is broken, candy spills, the cat is gone, and JJ's Dad becomes the crowned king as he beats the last of the barrel to the ground. He is the "kattekongen"-
the King of the cats.
Black cats were once believed to harbor evil spirits. So "beating the cat out of the barrel" was banishing the darkness to make way for spring.
Today, Fastelavn is just a great way to gather together, all dressed up, enjoy the family- young and old...and to welcome in the first light of spring.
I am staying with my "son", Elder Jose Marinez for at least one more transfer...
Dear Belva and family,
We just got back from a zone activity to end the transfer and to see where everybody is going... I just read you letter and thank you very much for it. I appreciate it. (I got prompted to read your letter first before I sent a letter to the President.) I usually send a letter to the president before anything else. I just got done with uploading the movie clip that I made, to a thumb drive. I will be sending it to you. I couldn't find all the other thumb drives that I have. I must have lost them with my bag, which I never found by the way.
I got my Spanish scriptures. They are really nice. It will take a couple of months to mark all the verses that I use, but definitely they will be very nice when I amd done with them. I still have my English quad that I got from Sister Emily Roberts. They are a prized possession to me. I keep them safe in my drawer until we have trainings in English.
I am staying with my "Son," Elder Jose Martinez for a least one more transfer, and we are looking forward to a great month of March miracles ! :o) We have many people that we are working with that we are really excited about. And we are looking forward to seeing the fruits of our labors.
February 28, 2012
I am grateful for my Heavenly Father who loves me...Who is always there when I need Him.
I am grateful for your friendship as well, and for your dedication, this gives me strength to finish strong in my mission and keep going, until we are brought before the almighty God to be judged for our works and our desires. :o)
I want to be those people that when they are asked, "where did you serve your mission?"
I would say: "Earth ! I served my mission on EARTH, my whole life !"- like you.
Thank you, Belva and Carl for your great support group of family and friends that you might have. Thank God for the opportunity to get to have you in my life.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
With love, Elder Simonsen
February 28, 2012
Note: For some time I have been trying to discover what Elder Simonsen lost when he lost his backpack. Finally, he reluctantly gave me this list. -sister B
Dear Belva and Carl,
Thank you for your letter the other day. I appreciate it very much. I wanted to answer some of those questions that you had so that you don't have to repeat the questions.
I never found my backpack. I lost my scriptures, maybe my thumbdrives, and all the movies (teaching movies) that I had.
I bought new Spanish Scriptures. I don't need English scriptures. I still have the quad that Sister Emily Roberts gave to me.
I bought the Mormon messages DVD, and I have the movie about the boys (Two Brothers), but I haven't seen it. We cannot watch it. It does not have the Church Logo on it.
I have started a small collection of movies that I like to bring home, but there is a lot needed still.
Photo: Elder JJ with a tiny new watch (not a giant American Watch). I am not sure who the companion on his shoulder is. :o) -Sister B
Letter of lost things and needs...continues.
I need some new contact lenses. I just ran out last week. I need to buy some for the next six months. (12 Contacts, a pair each month)
I still haven't found a watch. I am looking for a small tiny one that shows the time and the date, but so far I only found HUGE and HEAVY American style watches that weight you down. :o)
I still haven't bought shirts. (JJ washed three of his favorite white shirts with a pen and they were stained with ink)...I don't know why I haven't bought the shirts. It just keeps getting put back, the time to go to shop for shirts just comes and goes and the money that I shouldn't use gets used for food and snacks. :o)
If you could send me a small, very small package of snacks, with some slim shoe strings for my shoes, I woul appreciate it greatly. I am in a walking area and walk at least five hours a day.
I am surviving the "wilderness" of Ogden. Some needs can wait. But thank you for asking. I appreciate it.
Thank you so much. I love you very much.
Have a great week. With love, Elder Simonsen
February 28, 2012
A Note in response to this letter about the pratical needs of this
busy, hardworking Elder...
Dear Elder Simonsen, (written to him in February 2012)
In a few days you will be getting some small things in the mail. I can't tell you how sorry I am that you lost one of your most valuable things that you own...your backpack full of your life. I can't help but think that it is still out there somewhere. Hope it shows up one of these days. After all this walking, you look like you have lost some weight, Elder. Good for you !
With all your sizes changing- I hope you can give me an idea about your shirt size. I will guess on some of the other things. Thank you for giving me a good picture about what you really need. I just don't want you to worry much about the temporal things in your life- so that you can do what you do the best- Just be a humble, happy missionary, JJ..what could be more important than that?
to JJ in downtown Ogden
Elder Simonsen's Apartment in Downtown Ogden...
"We have been living here for a month and a half...
Wow ! How time goes fast ! "
February 28, 2012
Dear Belva and Family,
Our internet connection didn't work to well so we don't have too much time. But thank you so much for the letter and the check. We are very grateful. I opened it last night after a long day of walking and teaching and inviting 16 people to come unto Christ.
We are doing good. Our area is finally about to pick up. We are "whitewashing" and Area training. (Whitewashing means that the area has all new missionaries),
and we have a District that is a little bit new to the mission. So we have our hands full.
I sent a picture where we found a note on the door. We had an appointment with this family after we contacted the daughter, but they didn't want to tell us face to face- so they left us a note :o) It is the first time I ever have gotten a note on the door... :o)
Thank you so much for your support.
We love you. Love, Elder Simonsen
February 14, 2012
Valentine's day in
Elder Simonsen's disappointing note on the door...
They had had an appointment with the person behind the door. Instead of a friendly visit, they received this brief note:
We appreciate what you're doing. But our beliefs are different than yours.
We'd appreciate it if you would not stop by here any longer. Thanks."
Elder Simonsen wrote at the bottom of the same note: "Well thank you so much for your honesty. If there is anything that we can help you with, call us. (the elder's phone number). Have a great week." -Elder Simonsen
February 14, 2012
"They are dividing the mission. Layton and south (of Layton) including Bountiful- is going (into) the Salt Lake City mission. They are taking three missions and making five."
- Elder Simonsen
Still in downtown Ogden
Staying in the Utah Ogden Mission
March 6, 2012
The Familia Delgado-Ceja...
Dear Belva and Carl,
Thank you so much for all the support that you have sent me this past week. I really appreciate it.
Happy Birthday last Saturday. I hope you had a great day, and I hope that you'll have many more. Wish you the best. You really deserve it. :o)
We are doing great this week. We have a really great family that we are teaching,
familia Delgado-Ceja. They are just wonderful. They are preparing for baptism on the
25th of March.
We are teaching them with the Stake President and their family as fellowshippers, and the whole branch, basically, and seminary teachers and family members.
It is wonderful. - Elder Simonsen
March 13, 2012
We have been having a "Visa Waiter" with us for almost a week...
note: A "Visa Waiter" is an Elder from the MTC waiting for his Visa to allow him to enter the country to which he was called. -Sister B
Our "Visa Waiter" left yesterday to be with my "Son", Elder Laurente, here in the same District. All of the missionaries that I've trained are in our Zone, and one of them is a District Leader. :o) I am very happy to be here, and applying the things I've learned so far. It has been great.
I am very grateful for all the things that I've learned in the past few months..all the trials and afflictions that have strengthened my testimony by much and working with people that have changed my life.
I love you, and I am very thankful for the support that you give us. I am very grateful for the pictures/paintings that you have sent. We gave them to the family that got baptized. They love them. Thank You. Happy Birthday to all, and Happy Easter. I wish you a great week and I hope it is going good with the blog.
With Love, Elder Simonsen
March 27, 2012
In the middle of March, Elder Simonsen sent a fine video describing what it was like to serve in Downtown Ogden. He has learned many things from this area. This is a text of this video. I will try to enter the video itself after I publish this post.
- Sister B
Dear Belva and Family,
Thank you so much for your letters. I appreciate it. It's great to receive them now and again. I am really grateful to receive strength from each and everyone of you once in a while. I really appreciate your support and I really appreciate all the things that you do for me as well.
Recently this area has been one of my favorite areas where I've grown the most...where I learned the most and definitely where I started to realize all the things that I could do ...all the talents that my Heavenly Father has given me and the ability to share them and the ability to realize the amount of help that my Heavenly Father gives me.
-Elder Simonsen (continued)
text from March Video
"I am really grateful for the opportunity to be here in Ogden.
It's a challenge but it is an opportunity for us to grow as well. We are
serving in the Spanish Central Zone.
That includes Roy, Clinton, South Washington Terrace, and
Buena Ventura (Elder Simonsen's Spanish Branch) and Jefferson 2nd,
North Ogden, Ogden and all the Spanish speaking missionaries in these areas.
We are really excited. We have two Sister missionaries in this zone. And its very rare but they are really a great contribution as well."
Text continues from his March video
Downtown Ogden 20
"You receive all kinds of strengths from the leaders here as we work together to bring people closer to Christ.
I really like this area. It makes me stretch as well. I really like my companion. He's a really good son. He 's a really good trainee. He's from Guatemala. He's been here in America for ten years. He's from Idaho, from Caldwell and he's really excited to be here as well.
I am grateful for him. We've been working a lot when we preach here in Ogden. Like I mentioned before, there's an aray of different people, different personalities-
"We have many people that we are going to work with so they can progress towards baptism...towards receiving all the blessings of the atonement.
We have great leadership in the branch and they are really excited to have us here in their branch and even the Stake President. The Stake President speaks Spanish. He went to Mexico on a mission in Mexico.
His wife is from Sweden. President and Sister Meyers both speak Spanish. Sister Meyers is a professor at Weber State. She teaches Spanish. She speaks English, Spanish, Swedish, and German. It is really exciting to get to know them as well. They are really a great help as well. They will go out with us any time we need them.
We recently had a death in a family, a death of a very, very devoted member of the church. She died of old age and of sicknesses. And the children, they were all non members, and the Stake President and his wife, they took them in under their wing and provided them with support- with emotional support and spiritual support as well. And gave us the opportunity to meet them and talk to them and share a little bit about the gospel. It's really exciting.
I've Never had this kind of a relationship with a stake president in our mission.. but it is really exciting !"
text from his video continues...
Downtown Ogden March 2012
"...Not long ago, last week, we were out contacting, trying to talk to everybody that we can and we talked to this guy outside his house and he said:
'Well, I go to church almost every Sunday up in North Ogden. I've been going to church for almost a year. I'm just, me and my family, we are just waiting to see if this is the right church. We've never been baptized and nothing is really stopping us from being baptized."
Those are the kinds of people that we see around here in Ogden. There's a lot of them.
Text from March video
Downtown Ogden 2012
In Ogden.. The leadership around here is really nice. It's Ogden. It's down town and they have a lot of experience in working with people and working with all varieties of persons around here in Ogden.
Ogden is a, it's a pretty wild place. We want to know all. We meet all different kinds of people that struck us that we never thought that in our life time that we would meet.
We have all sorts of people. We have drug addicts. We have people with mental diseases, and disablities, and all sorts of people here in Ogden. And we are in a walking area and we bike.
Text continued from the
March video 2012
It's really, really easy for us missionaries to pick up the energy of people around us- to pick up the energy of the people we are contacting- that we are talking to. And a lot of the people in here in Ogden are really down and they are really struggling both financially, emotionally, and physically as well. And it's really easy to pick up on that but we have been trying, as a companionship, to be really, really, happy as we share about the gospel and have a positive body language as we do that. We've been having a lot of great experiences here in Ogden. We've met a lot of people.
Text from March Video 2012
"We just try to talk to everybody and share the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the restoration. And we try to commit them to do something. Commit them to pray or to read. Or commit them to have us over at some point.
And it's really interesting, we have a lot of potentials here in Ogden in this area. And we are really excited to work with them as well. Our six week transfer just ended today and a new transfer is beginning from tomorrow. And the month of March is going to be awesome. It's going to be a month of miracles.
-Elder Simonsen (continued)
March video text 2012
The Ogden Experience...
"These are the kinds of people that we see around here in Ogden. There's a lot of them.
They are just waiting for somebody to invite them to push the button and to fill out their needs so that they can receive all the blessings that our Heavenly Father has in store for them.
We have seen many miracles here in Ogden and we just see them every day- even just the tiniest miracles that sometimes as people, we fail to recognize in our lives. But they are there."
"Our Heavenly Father loves us enough to send us these tender mercies of the Lord. Tender mercies of Him to guide us and to strengthen us and to lift us up as well."
- Elder Simonsen (continued)
text from his March video 2012
Observations about Downtown
Elder Bednar of the twelve: The Lord's tender mercies
"We should not underestimate or overlook the power of the Lord's tender mercies. The simpleness, the sweetness, and the constancy of the tender mercies of the Lord will do much to fortify us
and protect us in troubled times." - Elder Bednar (Ensign, April 2005)
"There is a book I've been reading on P-day. It is called "My Orange Duffel Bag" by Sam Bracken. It is a really interesting book. It talks about his story and how he overcame all the difficulties of life. He was from Las Vegas..a very abusive family both physically and mentally as well. But he talks about his journey. I definitely recommend it. It's a really nice book. I really like it. Sam Bracken lives in Kaysville, Utah.
We had (him come to ) a District Meeting once. One of the District Leaders down there in Kaysville invited Sam Bracken to talk to us a little bit about making goals and stuff. And in this book he talks about how we can use the goals to change our life so that we can get to the destination that we like to be at...some point in our lives.
These goals are daily goals, weekly goals, and monthly goals, and yearly goals that will just enable us to keep us focused on the dreams that we have. It's a really nice book. I really love it." -Elder Simonsen (video text continues)
Downtown Ogden March 2012
" I would recommend this book for (the boy), you told me a little bit about- a young man, a boy struggling through his life. This is, I think, the first thing that I thought of when you shared the story. And I would recommend it if you could get it on the internet or something, it is really nice.
It's about just making a life, changing your life so that you could be the most productive, so that you may get the most out of it.
Here in the apartment we are really doing good. We love being here and we love the members as well. And we are going to work very, very hard this month of March- and we are going to see a lot of miracles and many fruits of our labors that we have been preparing for until this point...."
Video text continues
Downtown Ogden 2012
Elder Simonsen reading in Spanish, about an ancient American Missionary,
Alma the younger.
"I've been studying a little bit in Alma.. I've just begun the book of Alma..I have been studying a lot about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father's plan...as Alma is out preaching being rejected and having to come back to a city that rejected him and kicke him out. (Alma 8: 8-24)
"It's been really nice. I've been studying the Book of Mormon in Spanish. And it's really interesting as well.
I read it in Danish, and in English, and now I am working on it in Spanish. I'm halfway through, I guess. I am really excited about that !"
His love for the Book of Mormon-
in many languages.
Downtown Ogden- 2012
(from text of his March Video continued)
"We are really excited and I know that our Heavenly Father loves us and He gives us these challenges...so that we can make it and so we can stretch, so that we can get closer to Him..and realize that we can be strengthened and receive strength from the people around us...the leaderships- from missionaries, from your companion, from your family and from your friends.
It's a very, very humbling experience for me as well- to be cast out in unknown waters with all the things that I have on my back. It's been very challenging but very, very rewarding as well.
And I'm really excited to have these next six weeks to work on the things that my Heavenly Father wants me to do in this part of his vineyard.
And I know that the gospel is true.
And I know that we are here for a reason.
And He just wants his children to be happy as well.
-Elder Simonsen (March video text)
Lessons learned in Downtown
"I know that we are here for a reason.
I pray that I will be able to handle it and do the best I can in this area..
And that I will leave it a little better than (when) I came.
And I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer,
and he loves me.
and he died for my sins...
and he died for my frailties and my temptations and everything...
So that I can have somebody to turn to- so that I can receive the strength from Him.
And I know that there is no greater work than Missionary work.
And there is no greater satisfaction than working as a missionary
And having all the miracles that happen to you every day...
And recognizing them...
And allowing them to change you...
And to become what our Heavenly Father wants us to become.
I know that it is true.
And I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."
His final testimony in his March video 2012
Lessons learned in the middle of his mission.
Congratulations on the new baby boy. (our new grandson). :o) He looks very good all wrapped up in the blanket. Thank you so much for your letter. I don't have much time. I have to write to my family.
We went to the Bountiful Temple today and got back around noon. It was great. We went with the whole Zone and the A.Ps. (Assistants to the Mission President). It is going great.
Thank you for your letter through the mail as well as the small snacks. The Beef Jerky was great ! :o)
note; "In response to some trouble I had with an odd flashdrive that JJ sent us, and I sent back to him- after he lost his others, Elder Simonsen wrote...
"It is very difficult for me to send back the flashdrives. We don't have time to go back and forth (he is without a bike or car)...so when I send you something that doesn't seem right- please hang on to it next time...but definitely I will never, ever in my life- send you something more complicated than a flash drive, knowing you and Carl.
:o) hahahaa..but I will do what I can to send it this week.
I wish your little grandson a happy birthday ! Congratulations to the family.
Have a great week !
I love you, Elder Simonsen.
March 20, 2012
The Day of baptizing a whole family- The Barajas-Ceja Familia.
What a joy !
"Thank you so much for your letter. I really appreciate it. It is a great help to have those envelopes. :o) I finally sent the small package to you today.
We have been busy this past week. We are finally done with preparing the Barajas-Ceja family, Primavera, Jesus, Rodolfo, Samanth, and little Suzanna.
The Baptism was great !"
- Elder Simonsen
The Buena Ventura Branch
March 27, 2012
"Many people came to the baptism and we had a choir from the Seminary where "Jesus" (the new teenage son) goes. We had many friends and family that came.
We had it in the Chapel because the baptismal room wasn't big enough. The service was both in English and in Spanish."
Joy in the Buena Ventura Branch
Letter sent March 27, 2012
"We had a huge party afterwards. The Stake President's wife organized a big party with punch, cookies, and icecream. It was great ! " -Elder Simonsen (continued)
"We are still going to drop by and teach the Barajas-Ceja Familia, and help them to become strong, active members." -Elder Simonsen
They are awesome !
"We are doing good now. We are now teaching a couple of families more,
and we are very excited to teach them and get them baptized."
-Elder Simonsen (continued)
March 27, 2012
The Buena Ventura Branch
"Baptism is a sign to God, to angels, and to heaven that we
do the will of God,
and there is no other way beneath the heavens whereby God hath ordained for man to come to Him to be saved, and enter the Kingdom of God."
- Joseph Smith
A note written to Elder Simonsen about the many blessings I've observed as he writes to us from his mission:
"There are many tender mercies on this mission of yours, Elder...quiet, unforgettable experiences that "distill upon thy soul as the dews from Heaven."(D&C 121: 45)
These young Elders, work probably harder than they ever have in their whole lives. They have all been given the gift of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood before they enter their mission. This gives them the authority to Baptized and to confirm the gift of the Holy Ghost on anyone who has the desire to "come unto Christ."
The power of this Holy Priesthood is given to these faithful men only by their kind "persuasion, by (their) long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile..
by "full charity towards all men, and to the households of faith.." that they visit every day. They are to let "virtue garnish their thoughts unceasingly"
And as they do this, month by month on this mission of theirs..their "confidence will wax strong, and the doctrines that they teach, through the power of the Priesthood which they hold..will distil upon on their souls- and on every soul who will listen to them, the true message that they bring...as the dews from heaven. "
- Promises found in the D&C 121: 41-46
"What a tremendous blessing this is for these dear Elders, as well as the families and friends that open the doors for them to share this precious message...the Gospel of Jesus Christ .. to share this all over the world.
As I type these dear letters from Elder Simonsen, I am so grateful for him.. He never gives up. What an opportunity he has had to travel across the world to preach the gospel in the heart of Utah.
Thank you, Elder Simonsen."
Thoughts from Sister B
I really appreciate your letter, thank you. :o) - (a response to our concern that a package from us went to the Ogden post office instead of directly to his home...It is not easy for JJ and his companion to walk to the post office during their busy schedule..
from JJ: "It is alright with the package. Do not worry about it. We have now worked hard and the members have seen our hard work and they trust us more, so that they are willing to give us rides and stuff. We have some great families here in our branch that are always willing to help.
Besides, we know the Post Man. He is a return missionary from Italy. (He always yells at us for not getting letters from many girlfriends that we have back home ! :o) and he knows that he an just drop off the package at the manager's office if we are not there, but for this past couple of days we've had a substitute Post man, maybe that's why he didn't drop it off.
(In response to a question from me, whether JJ wanted me to record in the blog news about Paul, our dear Chinese friend) JJ responds: You decide if you want to publish the letter about Paul, it is your letter. With Paul's consent, it is okay to publish it." (Paul gave his consent ...)"
Downtown near the Ogden Temple
April 3, 2012
Elder Simonsen sent me this cartoon...
I didn't understand it until he described to me the downtown poverty in Ogden, a beautiful city between the snowcapped mountains and the Great Salt Lake.
- Sister B
"There is a dark side of Ogden." -Sister B
"It is good to hear that people (in Sacramento) have some problems over there as well,
because it is hard sometimes for us to see that there are more sick people than here in Ogden. People that are addicted to harmful substances, people that have been abused and have become crazy, and people that need the Gospel desperately in their lives.
We call them "Ogdenites", the regular people can't notice them. They only come out at night, certain times at certain places, but we know them. We talk to them We invite them to come unto Christ and "Go and sin no more." or "come and be healed by the good word of God."
It is true. There is power in the Gospel. There is power to heal, power to strengthen, power to resist temptation.
I know that power. I have seen it, and I know, with all my heart that it is true."
-Elder Simonsen among the Ogdenites
April 3, 2012
" We are doing good here in downtown Ogden, as we near the end of the training of Elder Jose Martinez, my third "son" who is going to be a great missionary and who is going to add unto me much "posterity." :o) We have transfers next week. " - Elder JJ
(note: "Posterity" for an Elder who is a trainer means 'many baptized converts' taught by his 'companion' as he leaves his 'father'...the companion who has trained him for weeks- this is such a blessing for them both. They will never forget it).
"By the way, I've been meaning to ask you for a new Line of Authority. I lost it with my scriptures in Layton. Can you ask as well, Zack Clayton, if he can send me one of his line of Authority. That would be awesome. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
Thank you for the packages. Have a great week. I love you."
Love, Elder Simonsen
April 12, 2012
click to enlarge his line of authority
Note: On March 14, 2010 Elder Simonsen was ordained an Elder, and received the Melchizedek Priesthood by the laying on of hands by Carl Wilberg. This took place before he came on his mission in Odense, Denmark. JJ's line of Priesthood authority goes back
to Peter, James, and John who were ordained apostles by our Savior, Jesus Christ.
(John 15: 16)
Elder Simonsen kept this document, I think, in his scriptures that were lost with his backpack while he was serving in Layton. -Sister B
Dear Belva and Family, April 10, 2012
Thank you so much for the Easter package. It was really nice. We shared it with our recent converts as we watched the movie "Joseph Smith the Prophet of the Restoration."
They loved it. They are awesome.
We are staying in our area Buena Ventura, with Elder Martines. We are really excited.
We had an activity this morning. We went to the waterfall up in the Ogden mountains.
It took 45 minutes to get up there and we found out where everybody was going. (during our transfer)
The Spanish Zone is being disolved. It is really exciting." -Elder Simonsen (continued)
The Photo: "This is a picture of our Zone Activity to the waterfall here in the mountains of Ogden. It was great. Ths is our all Spanish Speaking Zone, until we got put together with the English Speaking Zone. -Elder Simonsen
We are now part of the Ogden Central Zone, with mostly English (Speaking) missionaries. It is going to be an awesome transfer. We are looking forward to it.
- Elder Simonsen- in the Ogden Mountains
April 10, 2012
"Elder Martinez is going really good now... He is now finished with his training, and he is really excited. We are going to work, really hard this transfer.
We are staying in our area- Buena Ventura. We are teach a very nice family right now, the Ortiz family of five. They are really excited to be baptized, and the father went to church this past Sunday. The mother was sick, but the father really enjoyed the Church. He had some friends there as well. We had been teaching him with the Branch President and he is helping us out a ton."
- Elder Simonsen-
Buena Ventura Branch
April 10, 2012 (continued)
Photo: Elder Simonsen with the contact of the day- a fuzzy tarantula :o)
"We meet so many people here in Ogden...
The other day we met a lady walking
her tarantula out in the sun."
-Elder Simonsen- strange things in Downtown Ogden
April 10, 2012 (continued)
My companion was so afraid, he stopped 20 feet away,
but after a while he got the nerve to hold it a little.
It was good.
We had a great week. It is getting HOT
It is reaching 78 degrees now, and I am suffering... :o)
I love you. Thank you so much for everything, for all your support. Have a great week !
Love, Elder Simonsen
April 10, 2012
A warm spring day in Downtown Ogden
Elder Simonsen has spent most of the winter and spring in Downtown Ogden.
He is serving in the Buena Ventura Spanish Speaking Branch.
Buena Ventura was the first name given to the original town now called "Ogden." A mountain man named "Miles Goodyear", built a cabin, married the daughter of a Ute Indian Chief and they had two children. He built the first white settlement in Utah. It was called "Fort Buenaventura." (1846)
In July 1847, when Brigham Young arrived with the first company of Mormon Pioneers- Goodyear visited them and tried to entice them to settle on the Weber River, near Ogden. He was successful and about five months later the Mormon High Council purchased Fort Buenaventura for $1,950 and the tiny fort, the outbuildings, and all the animals became Mormon property. This little fort has been rebuilt along with a few Indian Tepees on the shore of a small lake, part of the Weber River..near downtown
Ogden." - Sister B
"Today there are about 83,000 people who live in Ogden. Elder Simonsen comes from the largest island in the world. In all of Greenland there are about 57,000 people.
Here are some facts about the city where JJ has been serving for months.
1. Ogden is the third largest city in Utah. Salt Lake City is the largest, and the Provo
area home of Brigham Young University is the second largest.
2. Ogden's elevation ranges from 4,300 feet to 5,200 feet above sea level.
3. About 75% of the population of Ogden is Caucasion and about 30% is Hispanic or
4. About the only thing I have ever heard Elder Simonsen complain about on thismission that he loves- is the summer heat- that, for him, begins in the spring when
Northern Utah has a "heat wave" of 75 degrees. :o)
5. Summer in Ogden can be very hot..reaching 95 to 100 degrees F.
6. It can also be humid during summer thunderstorms between mid-July to mid- September during the height of monsoon season.
7. Winters are often cool and snowy- powdered snow, that Elder Simonsen thinks is
invisible and can only be seen if you shine a light on it. Temperatures can be as cold
as -0 to - 10 degrees below zero. (a comfortable temperature for a native
Greenlander like Elder Simonsen)
8. JJ and his companion have been walking for most of his mission in Ogden...thru the
snow, the rain, the wind, and whatever the day brings. He loves his mission.
When he leaves this mission in December, I think the only thing he will not miss...is
summer heat. :o)
Thank you very much for your letter. I hope that you are having a great time in Iowa. Say "Hello" to your family over there.
We are doing great in Buena Ventura (the Spanish Branch in Ogden) We, the four missionaries that cover the branch, have finally got the support of the leadership, and we are trying to get up and going with the Area- with the help of the members.
Member/leadership involvement is so crucial, and it helps in the progress of our investigators to make them converted to the Gospel.
We had a visitor this past Sunday, Elder Summerhays from the 8th quorom of the 70's came and visited our branch. We had our investigators there and they felt the sweet spirit that was present.
The Ortiz family is still progressing towards Baptism. Their baptismal date had been pushed back a week, because the mother stayed home to take care of the 9 month old son, Angel. We are looking forward to their baptism next month.
The heat has been crazy here in Ogden. I am already dying and melting. It is crazy. I am thankful for the three short sleeves that you have sent. They are most useful in this heat.
-Elder Simonsen- Spring in Ogden
(continued- April 24, 2012 letter
"A season of Christlike service has begun anew.
We are looking forward to growing in humility and in unity with the people here in Ogden. It is going to be great !
My family is doing great back home, the friends are looking forward to seeing me again, after Christmas. As soon as we have our new Mission President, I am going to ask for an extension, so that I have three Christmases and three new years in my mission, and make it over the hectic Christmas season traffic. When all is said and done, the only thing that we have is the time that we spend serving the Lord ! :o)
We are very excited to be here, and I am very excited to get to serve. Side by side with you. I know that we can make a difference. Thank you for your support.
I hope you have a great time there in Iowa. Say "hello" to your grandchildren.
Thank you, Love Elder Simonsen
Spring in Ogden, April 24, 2012
"Paul, the young man JJ baptized four months after he joined the church in Denmark..
"It is good to hear about Paul. I am glad that he is okay. I know the he will learn from the experiences that he has down there in the wilderness (Orlando, Florida). I know that it can be hard and that he is a very special person with Guts to deal with it and have patience to pass through afflictions that he has. I know that he still has that hope of settling down and living the American dream that seems so far away from him right now. I know that he will make it."
-Elder Simonsen in Ogden
"He is a strong, simple young man. Say "hello" to him when you talk to him. Tell him that I miss him, that he should get himself here before I end my mission at the beginning of next year. Tell him that I love him. :o)
I think I will be here in Ogden for a while now. There are going to be changes next week. We have transfers. It is good to have experienced to be here in Ogden.
It is going to get better in the nearest future.
I hope that Nick and Fran are doing good (our friends where JJ stayed just before he entered the MTC) Tell them I said, "Hi". Tell them that it was really good to have had the opportunity to stay at their home and get to know them a little. Thank you so mucy for your letters and your support. I hope you are doing better in your thumb, and in your computer, and in your kitchen, and in your class. :o) I love you.
-Have a great week !
Love, Elder Simonsen
Dear Belva and Carl, May 15, 2012
Thank you so much for the letters that you have sent me. I am very grateful for them. I got the package that you sent with the flash drives and stuff. Thank you for the money, too. I really appreciate it. I am going to grab some slacks and some garments, and I have asked some friends to help me with some short sleeves. :o) -Elder Simonsen
"We are doing good here, sorry that it took me so long to write back, we have been so busy even on P-days that we just had limited time to do e-mails. And the time that I had , I wanted to write my family and share some of the Gospel with them."
Spring in Qaqortoq. All over the world, missionaries call home on Mother's Day.
"We talked to our family this past Sunday. It was great. I talked to my grandma. I talked to my aunt, and my mother, and my little sisters, my father, everybody was on a different phone.
We didn't get a chance to find somebody with Skype abilities, so we just called them."
"And the word spread fast and they gave my phone to everybody and everybody was calling. I talked to my grandmother from my bio. father's side. When she heard my voice she almost burst into tears...and she said that she missed me and thought about me everytime that she made food.
She told me that my grandfather was getting old and can't stay on his leg that long. That he was working in the garden getting ready for the Jubilee Anniversary, where everybody is going to come from distant lands, :o) except me."
- Elder Simonsen
May 15, 2012 (continued)
Many of Elder Simonsen's old friends from Denmark are now returned missionaries working and going to school in Northern Utah where he is serving his mission. It is a blessing for him to see them every once in a while.
- Sister B
"We had the opportunity to have lunch with some returned missionaries from Denmark, Canada, and the States, this past Saturday. Brother Zach Brown from Arizona, Brother Oakey, Brother Boman Stacey, and their friends came up and invited us out to lunch. It was Great !
I got to talk to brother Nate Barnard in Idaho on the phone as well. They are all doing great. Brother Stacey is still working at the MTC as a teacher for the teachers there and had some exciting news about the Danish Mission...that President Andersen got released to be called to serve as a Seventy."
May 15, 2012 Downtown Ogden
"Brother Brown is working in Layton selling food storage for 'Daily Bread," brother Oakey is about to finish studying at BYU and going to New York to work as an intern in a company affiliated with Denmark. It was great to talk to them and get to see how they are doing. They are going to help to get what I need. (Short Sleeved shirts.)"
-Elder Simonsen (continued)
Ogden, Utah May 15, 2012
with his dear, old missionary friends
"We are doing good here in Buena Ventura Branch...
...in downtown Ogden. We finally got the branch up and going and working hard with us. They are very supportive, and have some great referrals for us. Most of the time though we pass the time knocking and tracting the streets, where people are outside.
Our recent converts are doing great. "Jesus", the oldest of the kids gave a talk and testimony about his mom at Mother's Day- alongside with the youth in the branch. We are really proud of him. They are doing great, helping us out with the missionary work as well, with their neighbors and families.
"We are working with four families right now, trying to help them progress towards baptism and it is hard at times and challenging with all the problems and difficulties that they have. But we are hurdling against principalities and nature to help them to grow in their faith and act on it
It is good to be here. I am grateful to have met the people that we have met,
the members, the friends that we have gained, the Ogdenites, the companions, and the Hispanics of Ogden. -Elder Simonsen
May 15, 2012
"Dear Belva and Carl, May 22, 2012
Thank you so much for your letter, and your schedule for the trip. It is very soon that I will be able to see you. :o) in three days or so.
We are doing good here in Ogden. It is getting very hot here. :o) I am being transferred tomorrow. Not very far though. Just across the street from our area...to the Jefferson 2nd Ward.. (Spanish speaking). We even meet in the same Church Building. :o)
I will be serving as a Zone Leader for an English Zone with Elder Dudley from Michigan. He will be going home after a transfer with me. :o) I am very excited. Elder Martinez is staying in the area.
We don't have any plans yet for next Tuesday or this Saturday,yet. I haven't yet changed companions. We will live right east (behind) the Ogden Temple in the Colonial Courts Apartments.
May 22, 2012
Still downtown Ogden
Where this young Greenlander may go when he comes to the end of his mission?
"As for plans after my mission, they are not too clear right now. But this I know, I will be spendng three Christmasses and three New Years in my mission. I will be asking the new Mission President Hiers for an extension, so that I don't come home around the crazy holiday times. Besides, I would rather serve my Savior during Christmas time."
- Elder Simonsen (continued)
May 22, 2012
"Zach Brown offered to take me around the last week of my mission- to take a tour and maybe even go down to Arizona to visit everybody, and visit St. George on the way.
But it would be awesome to have you come and help out with the packing and stuff.
I am looking forward to seeing you in a couple of days. I hope that you will have a safe flight. I love you. Thank you so much for your support."
Love, Elder Simonsen
May 22, 2012
"Dear Elder Jens Jacob Simonsen,
When I came home from our last visit, I had no idea that I would be gathering your letters and pictures this late in the spring.
It has been a busy few months on our mission here in Sacramento at the Sacramento State University Institute. I know that this is an unusual blog...one that you did not expect, but as I write to you, as I hear from you every week, and as I record the moments of your amazing mission...I can see a valuable pattern."
"I have learned so much from you, Elder. As I reread your letters, and work with your pictures, I find great purpose on every page. I can tell that it is a daily struggle, but there are great rewards almost every day for you, your fine companions, and for the family of Spanish speaking children of God- that you were sent there to teach.."
final note... June 2012
This story of yours is a testimony...
"This story of yours has been a testimony to your own family, to your friends who live all over the world, to us here in Sacramento as we share what it is like to be a missionary and why you have sacrificed these two years for the Savior, Jesus Christ- who you love with all your heart.
It is a Pioneer Story...
"I will never forget it. It has been a fine experience to step into your life and witness from the time of your baptism in Denmark, to the last hot summer of your mission here in Northern Utah. I am grateful that you are still the humble, kind soul tht you have always been. When you return home, they will know you. You came this way.. prepared to do just what you are doing. In this world of confusion and lost souls...you have given us an example of strength and courage. You do not waver. Your loved ones can depend on you. You are a walking, living testimony that the Gospel is true.
I know that you are not perfect, Elder. I have known you for a while. :o)
You have probably made plenty of mistakes and lost a few important things...but you have been called to this mission at this time, and in this place, to do what you have been asked to do. And you do it.
Thank you, Elder Simonsen. And thank you to your parents for raising such a strong, dependable son. He is a good man and we love him."
Hope you have a mild, cool summer with many
open doors and tiny miracles,
Much love, Sister B