Wednesday, January 12, 2011

News from the New Year with Elder Simonsen - 2011

On January 1, 2011
Elder Jens Jacob Simonsen began the new year as a Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

There are 16 missionary training centers for the Church.  Elder Simonsen is in the largest MTC in the world.  It is in Provo, Utah- home of Brigham Young University, at the base of a magnificent mountain called Mount Timpanogos.

Elder Simonsen is living and learning, with about 2,000 other missionaries, in what I call this "Sacred University."  Nine months ago, JJ sent his "papers" (application for his mission) in- while living in Odense, Denmark.  He received his call to serve on
July, 2010.  He was to serve the Spanish speaking people in Utah (mission call changed from St George to the Utah Ogden Mission)
Then he worked and waited for his visa, his travel plans, and finally his welcome into the MTC.  For nine weeks he will learn the Spanish Language, how to get up at 6:00 in the morning, how to live with 30 minutes of computer time each week (to write to his parents), how to study and pray like he has never prayed before.  And then- how to "Preach the Gospel" of Jesus Christ to anyone who will listen.  This is quite a life changing experience.

I found a blog written by the parents of another Elder who lives in the MTC at this time.  This Elder recorded his daily schedule.  This is a good description of  what Elder Simonsen probably does- almost every day, as well. 

A DAY IN THE LIFE                                          December 2010    -----Recorded by Elder Daryl Chadwick (going to the Santiago Mission), living in the MTC at the same time as our Elder Simonsen.

Elder Chadwick sent his sister his schedule.
She said it was okay to share it here.
It kind of gives you an idea of what he is doing in the MTC

6:15 a.m.  Wake up, kneel, pray, shower, get dressed
6:55          Walk out in cold to class
7:00          Arrive and pray, study the Book of Mormon
7:45          Walk in the cold to breakfast
                 Get weird looking eggs
                 Sit down, pray, eat
8:07          Stand up, grab tray, put away in cool moving room
8:09          Walk in the cold to class
8:13          Arrive and pray
8:15          Pray, personal study
9:00          pray, companionship study
10:00        pray, language study
11:01       Walk to residence hall
11:05        Get dressed in gym clothes, look in mirror, flex, smile, wink, put on
                 name tag, leave to walk outside in the cold to gym.
11:10        group prayer, break, basketball, volleyball, 4 square
12:00 p.m.Walk back to residence hall half way, wait for mail. Pray mom sent a
                 dear elder, walk the rest of the way to residence hall
12:10        Read letters (if any), shower, get ready
12:30        walk to lunch in the cold
12:35        get better looking food, sit down, pray, eat
1:15          in class, settle in and ready to learn
5:30          Walk to dinner in the cold
6:15 Class-Tuesday's choir and devotional
9:30           back to resident hall to study/chill
10:00         In room, really studying
10:30         Pray, Lights out, in bed

Count how many times I pray. Did you think to pray?
Learning now to pray before everything, during everything, after everything.
Do your best,
God will take care of the rest.
That is a cool quote. Anyway, got to go do laundry. P-days are awesome but we still work 3/4 of the day.
Elder Chadwick
Posted by Tina at 8:26 PM  

Thank you, Elder Chadwick for all of your prayers, hard work and sense of humor.  Hope it warms up for you.

During his busy life as a missionary, JJ has found time to send us some of his first pictures of this experience from his new home at the MTC.  He has not sent any comments with this litte camera chip- but when he does, I will give a more accurate acount of these fine pictures.  Until then I will try to remember what it was like to live in the MTC and record what I think he is taking a picture of.  The names of the Elders in his district will have to come later.

Thank you for giving us a peek into your life as "Elder Jens Jacob Simonsen, who finally got his official "Elder Simonsen" missionary name tag.  I think he even wears it in his sleep (just kidding).  I know that these green and red dots have great significance for a new Elder on his first day of the MTC.  But I have no idea what they are for.  If any of you, who have been given a "dotted" name tag at the MTC have a clue why- please comment at the end of this post and I will tell the world why new missionaries wear red and green dots on their first day.  This, by the way, is our first glimpse at Elder Simonsen's new name tag.  There are two names on this tag... his and the name of Jesus Christ.  For the rest of his two year mission, he will be carrying with him the name- "Jesus Christ."  This is a sacred responsibility.


This is what Elder Simonsen calls home.  He and his new companions had just arrived with their luggage on the first day.  This will be their room.

Because of these familiar Christmas stockings, and the ties hanging on the door, I assume that this is our Elder's corner.

This stocking was given to him by seminary students in Odense, Denmark..and the tiny Santa in the window plays and drums at least five Christmas Carols.  It was the first Christmas gift that we let him open before he entered the MTC.  I'm sure that every Elder has a need for such a pratical gift.  Most of our family has one of these little Santa's.  I gave it to him in memory of his homeland because it is pretty well documented that Santa comes from Greenland.. and most of JJ's gifts were from Santa.
When Elder Simonsen entered the MTC he was given a new companion...Elder Monson.  They were both given name tags, an important weekly planning book, and I think that the other little manual is a "Gospel Essentials" manual- in Spanish.  There will be more teaching and learning materials to come.

Meet Elder Monson, and our Elder.. companions learning how to teach the Gospel together...Hope they are enjoying the intensive, focused learning that takes place all day at the center.

It looks to me, like this is the other side of his room.  I am glad he doesn't sleep under that leaky ceiling above this new Elder's bed.

This is how you keep 2,000 missionary's white shirts, and washable ties, clean and ready to look like Mormon Missionaries.

The Church spares no expense at providing an inspired, beautiful landscape on the terraces, and walk ways inside the MTC.  Elder Simonsen loves the out of doors.  The Christmas lights, a stable, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus, surrounded by snow-- invited every Elder and Sister to remember our Savior. Elder Simonsen saved these beautiful photos as a reminder of  his memorable first Christmas as a missionary and second Christmas as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 


News from the New Year with Elder Jens Jacob Simonsen... January, 2011

"Thank you for all the Christmas gifts, and I thank you on behalf of my companion.  We had a very nice Christmas fireside with Elder Russell M. Nelson-- and other firesides are amazing!  I love it."

--Elder Simonsen and Monson under the Christmas lights.

-- Elder Simonsen knows Danish, English, Greenlandic, and some German and now he is becoming a master of the Spanish Language..What an experience.

--This is a Danish classroom that I'm sure Elder Simonsen was happy to visit.  Denmark is where he has been living and going to school.  When he first arrived here in America, he said that his tongue was getting tired as he spoke to us all day in perfect          English.    When he speaks Danish or Greenlandic his tongue has a nice rest down in the bottom of his mouth.  I think that they teach over 50 languages at the MTC.  Greenland is in the Danish Mission but there are no missionaries there at this time.  I hope, that with the arrival of this dear Greenlandic Elder, the door will open for the Gospel to be preached to the  very religious people of Greenland.  They are weekly church goers.  I hope that Greenlandic will be one of the next languages to be taught at this center.

Elder Simonsen: 
"We had so much fun at New Years, too.  Our district leader got a bottle of sparkling cider and we brought candy from our room, which we had so much of.  We had candy and cake with our teacher (brother) Castilla.."


"And we counted down from ten seconds, from nine and yelled Happy New Year!  We were the only ones that were "partying" on our floor.  Our teachers wanted to say "good bye," because they have been transfered to new classes.  We now have new teachers.

It's great to be here.
"We just had a General Authority from the First Quorum of the seventy.. Elder David S. Baxter from Scotland and his British wife.  They are both converts.  It was an amazing fireside about how to answer questions about the church, about being Christian, and the trinity and more...  I love these firesides.  Our MTC presidency is being released next week.  They are very good people. 
We love them."

"I love the Gospel.  I love my district and Zone.  There are great people here constantly, and fine, valiant, young men and women chosen and called to be here."

"I got really emotional when Elder Lowell L. Snow was here.  He works at the Missionary Department as a director at the church Headquarters.  He told us the unfortunate tragedies he recently found out.  He got emails about a young woman getting killed with her mom in a car accident.  She was supposed to report here at the MTC, a week later.  And a young man being murdered down in Brazil right before his report date.  They don't know who the murder is. 
How great a blessing it is to be here for us,...for me !"

Note:  Only a few weeks before Elder Simonsen was to come to the United States- he was welding on the job with his good friend and boss at a large warehous in Denmark.  His boss went to get some supplies after using a large piece of equipment- I think it was a  hydraulic lift.  It was a cold night and some of the piping had partially frozen allowing gas to escape.  After some time, JJ smelled the gas.  He was welding with an open flame, near the frozen gas line.  He had noticed some discomfort in breathing.  Thankfully, he was able to turn off the gas and escape into the open air for some fresh air.  It is wise to be very careful about your safety- especially when you are preparing to serve a mission for the Lord.  This is a very real concern.  We are grateful for Elder Simonsen's safe arrival here and for the comfort he has felt as he mourns the loss of his little Grandma- who died only days before he entered the MTC.

--An invitation on the walls of the MTC to "Heal the starving spirits of this (dangerous) world."

Elder Simonsen continues:  "At another devotional, an Elder asked

 ' How many of you know somebody who should've been
here with you?' 

...and tears just started rolling down my cheeks thinking of (our dear friends from Denmark) who should be here.  It is still hard sometimes to think of them.  Every now and again, I would think of them because of a hymn we sing, or a talk, or just randomly."

--These are some sister  missionaries, hard at work in Elder Simonsen's district.  Two other sister missionaries taught the gospel to him for the first time almost two years ago in Svendborg, Denmark. He is so grateful for them.   He has a great love and concern for the women in the Young Single adult center in Odense- who were preparing with him, to go on a mission.. and decided not to go.  He has a great love and respect for women.

The Tiny Note Section:

With every letter from Elder Simonsen, we
are privileged to receive teeny-tiny notes that spill out of each envelope from the MTC..notes with very small messages.  If you take the time to read them (even with a magnifying glass), you will discover some profound wisdom.  Here is the first edition of our Elder Jens Jacob Simonsen Tiny Note Section.  I am looking forward to this treasure hunt every time I open a letter from this wise, unusual Elder.  He must use a teeny-tiny pen for this effort.  When you write to him, you may include a tiny message that he can put in his collection of tiny notes and quotes.

Welcome to the Elder Jens Jacob Simonsen's Tiny Note Section:

1.  A Christmas message:  "You might know the song 'Little
Drummer boy'.  In that song he sings 'Come, come they said to
give gifts to the king, but I didn't have a gift worthy of a king,         so I played my drum, played my best for Him.' 

I don't have a gift to give a king, all I have is my time and my
talents!  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."  --Elder Simonsen

2.  "Study the atonement and your desires to share the Gospel will
increase."                                            --notes from Elder Simonsen

3.   For almost a month we did not hear from Elder Simonsen after
we dropped him off for our final goodbyes at the MTC. 
We were anxious to hear and record his first impressions
of life as a new missionary.We wondered if he was
alright during the Christmas season away from his
family in Greenland.  On the bottom of the envelope
of his first letter to us - he wrote:
"I was lost, now I am found, was once blind, now I see."

4.  " Thank you so much for all that you have given me. You are 
angels from heaven to give me strength and comfort away
from home.  I mss you."                                      --Elder Simonsen

  Note:  Thank you for all of the prayers and support that you
   have given to this Elder.  As busy and full as a missionary's
   life can be, especially at the MTC, no one can replace the
   love and concern of the family and friends that they have left
   behind.  Hope you all have discovered "" a fine
   way to write to JJ.  He will get a hand delivered hard copy of
   your e-mail within 24 hours after you write to him on the
   internet.  This service is free until he enters the mission field
   and then you only pay for the price of a write the
   email, click  and they do the rest.  Elder Simonsen only has
   30 minutes a week on the computer to write to his parents.
   So hand delivered mail is the best way to say "hello" to this
   well deserving Elder.---sist w

5.  "Gym is amazing.  It is a blessing from God to relieve stress!"
                                                                         --Elder Simonsen

6.  "When it's time, return home from your mission, but do not
leave the mission field."                            --Elder David Bednar
"Missionaries forever !         signed:  Elder Jens Jacob Simonsen

7.   "My faith hath made me whole."    --Elder Simonsen

8.   "I'm a little bit sick and have to rest a lot.  I have some
medicine and I'm getting better."             -- Elder Simonsen

9.    (a longer note)  " A couple of days ago, one of the elders in the district had to leave, to get checked out by the doctor.  Right before he left, I got the feeling that I sould give him the address to the website.  I told him that he sould give it to some nurse.  And he did find somebody who needed it, a receptionist at the doctor's office.  She had a husband who's been a member for four years and she  knows about the Book of Mormon.  She didn't want one, but the elder gave her my website and blog address !.  They looked at it, and we hope that she'll find enough  faith to come unto Christ.  So it is important!  That blog and that website  Thank you for doing this, it will help!  I love you and miss you!  Have a great weekend!"
                                         --Elder Simonsen

Note: Two days ago I wrote an e-mail to a mormon missionary blog that posts addresses for those who keep missionary blogs for elders and sisters all over the world.  About a year ago they discovered our blog in Denmark and named us "blog of the month."  Yesterday, this blog site wrote to me and said that I would be pleased about what they had written about Elder Simonsen's new missionary blog.   Elder Simonsen, you now have joined the "blog of the month."  Your testimony and thoughts will be read by many people who are looking for the truth.  They will hear your voice.  Thank you for sharing it with us.

Here is a copy of the post about our
We love you too, JJ.  sist w
(to enlarge these next few pages, click twice on a picture)

10.  Here are a few more tiny notes from our Elder: 
"Ps. "Yes, I'm considered the best looking in my building, not
 kidding !  And our district is renowned for being examples,
 and always good looking, representing the Lord." --Elder JJ
You look great in this name tag, Elder but don't take it so
seriously.  you have always represented the Lord. -sist w

11.  PPs.  "Please don't send any more chips or too much candy.
we are having trouble staying in shape and treating our
body as a temple!  ha haa, unless it's ryebread and
liverpate' or liverpostej!"              --hungry Elder Simonsen

             final note: 
   Dear Elder, 
   I appreciate your desire to stay
   fit during the two years that you have committed to this
   effort.  It is a fine thing.  From now on, liver postej and a
   bit of dried seal with whale blubber oil-.  This, for me, is
   a great way to loose weight. 

   It may take several days to read this post..but it is a 
   record from an Elder who loves his work and in the
   next two years he will have many stories to tell and many
   people to meet.

   Thank you, Elder Simonsen for coming to America.  
   We love hearing from you.  You are the voice of this
   blog.  It is a pleasure to continue this amazing story.
   Hope to hear from you soon.  much love, sist w       

Next time you write, let us know who these mystery Elders are.  We need  to get acquainted with the best looking, most mature, and hardest working district in the MTC.  Love your humilty.  Keep smiling, love sist w 

Just got a 30 second email from Elder Simonsen and thought you all would like to hear his news..

" We are now Zone leaders and we have a lot of responsibilities! and we don't have much time to do anything much  out of our time, so you have to bear with me..!    --Elder Simonsen

Congratulations, Elder Jens Jacob Simonsen.  I loved that 30 second email.  You have been well prepared for this new assignment. Good to hear from you.  Your zone is truly blessed.  Have a fine, peaceful, not too rushed day.  love, sist w  (remember to "take time to be holy.." that song)

1 comment:

  1. Kære ældste Simonsen. Dejligt at læse alt det du oplever og din begejstring, det smitter af. Jeg tænker på dig når vi er i templet, dit glade smil når du var i herrens nærhed. Jeg vil prøve at få fat i Benjamin, vil du have ham med i dine bønner, ligeledes Kathrine, hun kommer heller ikke for tiden. Må Herrens velsignelser nå dig. Kærlig hilsen fra Gerd