Monday, February 21, 2011

News from Elder Simonsen- Last days at the MTC

                  Elder Jens Jacob Simonsen- Last Days at the MTC

On February 15, 2011, Elder Simonsen left this "Sacred University" and entered the Utah Ogden Mission.   During the nine weeks he has been here, he has been filled with love for this work.

This post will give you an idea of the things that Elder Simonsen has learned to loved about this place.
These are some of the Elders in his first district on his mission.  He has spent nine weeks with these good friends.  Together, they have learned how to speak Spanish, preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and live the kind of life that will bring people to Jesus Christ. 

Elder Simonsen Loves to go to the Temple.

Across the street from the MTC is the Provo Temple - the House of the Lord.  The missionaries have the opportunity to visit this temple on their P-Day (Preparation Day) every week.  Everyone of the 2,000 missionaries who live in the MTC went through the temple for the first time before they became missionaires.

President Joseph Fielding Smith, a former prophet of the church, explains why every Elder and Sister needs to do their own temple work before they can become a full time missionary.  He wrote:

"Do you understand why our missionaries go to the temple before they are set apart
for their mission fields?
This is a requirement made of them- because the Lord has said it should be done.  He said that this was so that they could go with greater power from on high and with greater protection."

January 6, 2011 Elder Simonsen wrote this- after going to the temple.

"Thank you for your letter.  We have been having a great couple of days.  Yesterday we went to the temple on P-day.  It was my first English session and there were a lot of people there, coming into the Celestial room from every direction.  

I loved it there.  We are still coming back in our memories to recapture that spirit that we felt in there and we use that spirit practice teaching. 

The language is coming along pretty well, prayer and testimony in Spanish is getting better.  I've been thinking about the spirit we feel in these special places like the temple or while we teach, to channel them, to use them, to do good always, to have that spirit all the time.  I've been thinking about the tender mercies of the Lord.

In 1 Nephi 1:20 (in the Book of Mormon), Nephi writes-' I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the  power of deliverance.' 

How it strengthens us and fortifies and protects us in these troubled times.  You know the times when we feel the spirit most, and those 'coincidences' or 'lucky' things that we experience...Spiritual experiences that we need to remember, which will greatly help us so that we may be used as instruments in the Lord's hands.  That will help us love one another and to choose God.

I know that God has been part of my life for a long time, and looking back, and remembering those
tender mercies will keep me on a straight and narrow path.  I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."                         -- Elder JJ Simonsen

Elder Simonsen loves to study and learn the gospel of Jesus Christ.

He has been taught and inspired by many Apostles and General Authorities of the Church, as well as by returned missionaries who are there to teach many languages, and how to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to others.  One of the Apostles that Elder Simonsen heard was Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.

"Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave a wonderful talk and everybody was just emotional afterwards.  When he was leaving everybody stood up and just stood there even after he was gone a couple of minutes, just basking in the spirit until somebody told us to move... It was a great talk.

I was writing notes the whole time and didn't really have the time to bask in the spirt.  So afterwards I just started crying, singing (The Hymn) 'Because I have Been Given Much.'  It was very spiritual"
                                                                                                                            --Elder Simonsen

Photo: JJ on the day he went through the temple for the first time- Copenhagen, Denmark

 "I love serving the Lord.  I cannot wait to get out there, out in the cold, dark world sharing 'This little light of Mine."                                                                  --Elder Simonsen


Photo: Elder Simonsen's beloved first district in the MTC- 9 elders and Sisters

"My companion's name is Elder Monson and I just love him.  He got here late- we were in a threesome before he arrived.  He arrived after he had exams, finals.  He was studying Math in Berkley, California.  He is from Fremont, California in the bay area..and I just love him.  I was praying for him that he would be OK.  That nothing would happen to him-  that he hadn't gotten hurt or something.  I was afraid that I wouldn't get a companion while I'm here.  But he arrived and I have my companion and we share this room-  a very special room.  They call it the "Nana Room."  (ask Elder Jj what that means.)

I've been learning from a lot of great missionaries here.  Our Branch President tells us that we are a very special district.  And our teachers tell us that.  The spirit is so strong in our class and it is great.  And we can feel it too.  We have three sisters in our district and we are six elders.  It is a great blessing to have sisters in our class.  And our teachers are just great and are very spiritual and every time they teach we feel the spirit and we've been learning so many things.  We have been learning Spanish and it has been going great so far."                                                           --Elder Simonsen

"We made sure in our district that we all serve the Lord in his vineyard forever."

A couple of (our missionaries) had brothers and sisters that are drifting away even after being on missions.  Something that stood out to me was in Elder Holland's remark about Preach My Gospel.  That the purpose of it is to convert the investigator.  It was really hard for some missionaries to preach the gospel without having it in their hearts, and they could tell the difference. 

It was really easy for me, and it is a great opportunity to grow even more in the Gospel until I, someday, will have to convert my own kids and family.  This is great practice.

These past couple of days have been amazing, as a companionship we started to practice hymns everyday to invite the spirit and to sing to others who then will have the spirt, and we have seen great results with that.  Life is amazing when you loose yourself in the work !"          
                                  --Elder Simonsen loves this work

What do Zone Leaders do?

As Zone Leaders at the MTC, Elder Simonsen and his companion, Elder Monson, have been very busy.  He has from the beginning, felt a great love for the missionaries here.  He has said over and over again, "I love my companion.  I love my district.  I love my zone."  He writes about his new responsibility as a Zone leader. 

"We, as Zone leaders, in cooperation with the coordinating teachers in our zone, did a zone activity, the first of it's kind.. where we got together as a zone and we taught for 25 minutes as Zone leaders about our purpose, and how to study more effectively.  Then we divided into groups of districts, and went from class to class, and had workshops of different ways we can study, four different workshops, taking footing in "Preach My Gospel- 'How to study more effectively.'  The teachers in the zone taught a very good, spiritual, inspirational teaching on how to study effectively.

                                                    --Elder Simonsen 

"When Elder Holland was here he talked about (how) the missionaries didn't know how to plan, how to study and how to teach for commitment.  We decided to take the "how to study part and apply it to our zone's needs.  We are planning a second one, where we are talking about how to teach more effectively and for commitment."                                            
                                                    --Elder Simonsen 

Elder Simonsen shares his story with over 2,000 missionaries.

"I don't know if I've told you, but I got the opportunity to get on the "stand" and share my testimony and conversion story in front of all of the MTC.  And what a great thing.  Missionaries noticed me and thanked me for my testimony.

I am so thankful for this testimony that God has given me.  And I'd like to thank you for allowing me to share it with many, many people in many languages !  Thus fulfilling my Patriarchal Blessing.  It's amazing how it all works out.  Thank you for everything.  I love you and miss you ! "  

                                  Love, Elder Simonsen 

"We got a new district last Wednesday and we had the responsibility to train them and show them the ropes.  We were so stressed out, we didn't even have our planning session.  It was just a great thing to be able to do, receive new missionaries and inspire them and teach them and share our testimonies."               
               --Elder Jens Jacob Simonsen who loves this work.

I think Elder Simonsen has always loved music.  He plays the guitar and has sung in music groups in Greenland.  I have heard the lovely sounds of  a Greenlandic Choir singing at Christmas time at the snowy graves of their loved ones who have passed away...holding candles and singing in perfect harmony -old familiar hymns.  To him, music is a comfort and an inspiration.

The Lord has said:  "For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.. wherefore, lift up thy heart and rejoice..!"        --D&C 25: 12

Elder Simonsen has found so many songs in the MTC that have inspired him.."even to tears."

                                                 --Sister B

Pictures:  The Death of the Prophet Joseph Smith

In a video, Elder Simonsen made only a few days after he arrived in the MTC, he tells about an amazing devotional with a dramatic reading about the martyrdom of Joseph Smith and how the song, 'Praise to
 the Man', filled him with great joy.

"It has been really great being here.  I love it.  We learn so much, the spirit is so strong.  The other day we were in a devotional with someone who is acting to be Willard Richards.  He narrated in his voice- a powerful (story), acted out and explained what Willard Richards felt about the martyrdom of Joseph and his brother.

We were on the edge of our seats every single second-  he was so powerful- at the end he said- on one of the last days the prophet told Willard-  Your friends will fall down around you by a hail of balls-  but there would not be a scratch on you or holes in your garments.  When in Carthage-  he saw his freinds falling down left and right but he had no scratches or holes in his clothes. "  
                     -text from Elder Simonsen's video

"At the end of the devotional we sang "Hail to the Prophet" (Praise to the Man) and it was so powerful.  I just got this feeling in my heart that I wanted to stand and sing the hymn.  So then all of these missionaries just started to stand up.  And I knew that the spirit told me to stand up so I stood up very, very quickly and we could barely sing the first words.  It was just so powerful and we were in tears... it is a great testimony to be here.  And their spirit is great and our district is great !"     
                        --text from Elder Simonsen's video

Elder Simonsen has a high regard for the sister missionaries.  He writes:

"There was another great muscial event in a devotional with Elder Gerrit Gong- a General Authority from the 70's.  He spoke about the power and authority of our calling.

And his wife told the story of  Emily from England, who wrote a poem that was included in the hymn books, "As Sisters in Zion."  And she told the story of her.  She came with one of the handcart companies and got caught in a blizzard.  Her parents didn't survive.  It was a very touching story !  I was very moved by it and the MTC sisters sang  the song right after.  That song has become a very special song to me !"

 There is a quote by Abraham Lincoln; "All that I am, and all that I ever want to become I owe to my mother."

Elder Simonsen adds..'All that I am today, and all that I ever want to become, I owe to my grandmother who taught me how to pray, and to those two faithful Sister missionaries I met on the street, and to you !"                                                                                     

                                           --Elder Simonsen 

Elder Simonsen included in his letter the inspiring words of the Hymn: "As Sisters in Zion."

1.  As sisters in Zion, we'll all work together
     The blessings of God on our labors we'll seek.
     We'll build up his kingdom with earnest endeavor,
     We'll comfort the weary ad strengthen the weak.

2.  The errand of angles is given to women;
     And this is a gift that, as sisters, we claim;
     To do whatsoever is gentle and human,
     To cheer and to bless in humanity's name.

3.  How vast is our purpose, how broad is our mission,
     If we but fulfill it, in spirit and deed.
     Oh, naught but the Spirit's divinest tuition
     Can give us the wisdom to truly succeed.

Text by Emily H. Woodmansee  1936-1906

"Remember, when you comfort the weary, and strengthen the weak,  REMEMBER tht you are on the errand of angels !"                                      --Elder Simonsen

I love you !  Thank you for all that you do!  I will do what I can from here to inspire and lift and encourage your grandkids to go on a mission,  anytime !

                  With lots of Love,
                   Elder Jens Jacob Simonsen

Elder Simonsen has, with all of his district, been participating in the large missionary choir that fills every devotional with the powerful spirit of music.  His companion, and Jj love to sing, and his companion is a talented pianist.  Elder Jj often studies the scriptures while his companion practices the piano.  Music has been a great inspiration to him in the MTC.                            
                                --Sister B

It is not an easy task to devote your entire life in service of the Lord.

For the Elders and Sisters in the MTC, they learn how to serve the Lord everyday from morning to lights out at night.  They live the Gospel,
                     They learn the Gospel,
                     They share the Gospel of Jesus Christ in many languages.
                      It is a full time, sometimes very hard job.
                      Every day is not perfect.
                      Some days are discouraging.
                      Elder Simonsen wrote about one of these days:

"It is sometimes amazing how the Lord allows us to go down till we hit rock bottom, only to lift us up even higher.

A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling so stressed, so out of place,
and not having the peace in me that everybody knows that I have.  Then I felt impressed to go to the other room that had our district, and tell them right before we went to class: 
'I am feeling really stressed.  I don't feel well.  I don't know why'.. and what they said was 'Is there anything that we can do?' and I replied, 'I don't know."

But as soon as I got to the class, just as I went through the door, this warm feeling came to me, and I was hit with the spirit, and I received an answer why I was feeling that way.  Our teacher, Hno. Gamez, taught us about unity and having the spirit with us, and kept asking, "do you have any questions?" or
"anybody have any thoughts on.."                  
                                             --Elder Simonsen

"...And at last, he asked, at the end of the lessson 'I still have this feeling that there is something that somebody needs to say..'

And I said it: "There will be times in your mission where you will be so stressed, and tired and feel inadequate, and full of doubts...and I went to  you (looking to the missionaries that I went to with my stress) and said that I felt stress and tired.  What the Lord wanted you to say was "Let's pray together' or Let's sing a hymn,' or 'Do you want a blessing?'  It is a great comfort to know that the Lord wants to use you as an instrument and how great a privilege it is.

I know that the Lord builds us up again when we fall.  He builds on the sure foundation that we may never tumble down and hurt ourselves, and hurt others.

In another event, the Lord was doing the same thing to another member of the district, where he began to second guess his testimony and doubt his knowledge of the restored gospel.  And through  prayer, and fasting, of asking why and wondering, he finally received an answer:  'I made you feel that way, so that you may know, what it feels like not to  have a testimony !  Not to know that this is true !'  and it made so much sense- why he felt that way.  So that one day, he may know what the investigator or less active member feels.  That we may realize how lucky we are, knowing these tuths, knowing that God loves us, knowing that he knows what we are going through, and (He) wants us to be happy."

                                           --Elder Simonsen

Elder Simonsen continues to describe his desire to feel the spirit of love and peace in his life as he prepares to lead people to Chirst on his mission.  He quotes:

"God created earth and heaven from nothing, as long as we are nothing- He can make something out of us."
                                     --Martin Luther the great reformer.

"The Lord gives us weakness to humble us, to be able to receive correction, to be able to learn from our mistakes and lift us up even higher."                                --Elder Simonsen

"Never let a problem to be solved be more important than a person to be loved."
                                        --President Thomas S. Monson

"I love this place.  I don't want to spend any second without the spirit if I can help it.  I don't want to
diminish what the Lord wants me to do, because 'to whom much is given much is required.' and I can't afford to lose focus on the most important things in this life."

                                                      -- Elder Simonsen

painting by Danish Artist- Carl Bloch

"I know that Jesus is the Christ.
  I know that He suffered for our sins,
  our infermities, our doubts, so that we may become perfect.
  And as we strive each day to be perfect
  and do everything a little bit better than yesterday,
  to go step by step,
  and I know that 'the only way you can eat a
  whole elephant is one bite at a time.

  I know that we are not perfect,
  and we learn from our mistakes each day.
  I know that He will guide us in everything,
  As long as we 'take time to be Holy... as long as we restore ourselves,
  "Reboot" ourselves."  
                                                       -- Elder Jj Simonsen

After a wonderful film, Mr. Krueger's Christmas, Elder Simonsen described a vision that Mr. Krueger saw- " In one of his visions, he saw the shepherds gathering around baby Jesus, and he came towards the manger and saith what he always wanted to say to baby Jesus- 

Which made me think deep,  "You have been beside me through all my life, when I was down, you lifted me up, when I was happy you were happy with me."

What would you say if you were there?  Thank you for every thing?  Thank you for thy sacrifice?  thank you for all the times that you stood by me both in times of trouble and in times of joy?

I love the Lord, Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for us, His undying love fore us!  I know that He lives, with all my heart.  He lives !  I feel Him every time I serve Him, and every time I serve God's children.  I know that the atonement is real !  It has worked for me, and I know that it will work for you !  In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen

                  --The testimony of Elder Jens Jacob Simonsen 

"I'm sorry we have just been so busy these couple of days.  We didn't even have time to study.  We wanted to leave the Zone with everything we can possibly do.  We talked to our district leaders individually and taught them about the importance of planning.

Planning is an eternal principle.  God has a plan for each of us.  And saying that one doesn't need to plan is to put oneself higher than God.  Life is short.  Missions are short.  We have to be as effficient as possible.  And plan every minute so that we don't lose focus and go about doing what we are not supposed to do."

                                                                                                                   --Elder Simonsen
   Zone Leader training in the MTC

"We are on the Lord's errand. We are on His time."

"In order to be effective missionaries, we need to understand that we are on the Lord's errand.  We are on His time, borrowed time.   There are people waiting for us out there.  I know for myself, that I don't want to spend another second more not having the gospel in my life.  There are real people waiting for us, waiting to hear our testimonies in Spanish.

 When we plan, what we are doing is creating things in the spirit before we create them.  And that is an eternal principle.

And when we study, we don't study for ourselves, we study for our investigators, even in our personal study !  Because our purpose is to invite people to come unto Christ, whether it is yourself, your companion, other missionaries, or even your teacher and your president!  We invite all to come unto Christ.

I know that there are people waiting for all of us, that God has prepared.  I know that Jesus is the Christ and I know that I know nothing compared to my knowledge that God loves me, and You !
I say that in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."

                      --Missionary training by Elder Simonsen

"Final days here at the MTC will be hectic.  I didn't go to the Salt Lake Temple to be with my teacher, and to teach at the Training Resource Center- where we taught a volunteer- a young mother, with her baby.

I really felt that I needed to stay (at the MTC) instead of going to the temple.

I went to the Danish room and talked to Brother Stacy and his class.  I shared my testimony and shared a little bit about Denmark.  And afterwards we went across the hall to the South German Alps mission to share my testimony as well and told them to say "Hello to Elder Barkou" when they see him.  It was really great !"

      --Elder Simonsen shares his testimony with the world

Another missionary, from long ago, was called, like Jj, to serve the Lord on a mission.  This is what he wrote, over 2,000 years ago.  His name is Alma.

"Oh, that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people !

Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder...that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth.

Now, seeing that I know these things, why sould I desire more than to perform the work to which I have been called?
Why should I desire that I were an angel, that I could speak unto all the ends of the earth?

I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it.
I do not glory in myself, I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me.

Yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy."                                                          --Alma 29: 1-9 (The Book of Mormon)

Photo:  Elder Jens Jacob Simonsen in Provo, Utah at the base of Beautiful Mount Timpanogos, the second highest mountain in Utah's Wasatch Mountain Range.

Well, Dear Elder,

You have completed nine weeks in the Missionary Training Center.  You have been quite a student and a leader.  During these great days, you have said many times:

"I love serving the Lord."
"I know that He wants us to return safely to Him."
"I know that He lives, with all my heart, He lives."
"I can't wait to get out there in the cold, dark, world, sharing 'this little light of mine.'"

I hope your family knows what a fine missionary the Lord has prepared to serve Him in the Utah Ogden Mission.  I know your focus is on your calling- "To Lead People To Christ."  You may not realize this, but your example, your faith, your powerful testimony, your desire to be humble, and to put yourself in His hands everyday...This fulfills the great desire that you have- to lead your loved ones, your district, your zone, and now the Spanish speaking people of Northern Utah- To Come unto Jesus Christ.

Thank you for your hard work and constant testimony of Jesus Christ.  He knows how focused you have been.  He loves you.

A few days ago,  I wrote this to you:

"Well Elder,  it has been quite a fine time for you in the MTC.  You came here with so many talents.  You willingly jumped in with both feet and all of your heart, and then you used those talents-  Now the Lord is ready to say to you, as you leave the MTC:

"Well done thou good and faithful servant.
  Thou has been faithful over a few things,
 I will make thee (a wise and faithful companion) over many things;
  Enter thou into thy joy. "  (Matthew 25: 21)
  In other words, 'Enter thou into the Utah Ogden Mission'.

Well done, Elder.  We love you.  Thank you again, for serving with all of your heart, and for staying the humble soul that we have loved since we met you in Denmark- many months ago.

                                       -- Love, Sister B