Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Elder JJ Simonsen was Baptized two years ago, today..Out of small things proceedeth that which is great !

On this day, March 21, 2009 Elder Jens Jacob Simonsen entered the waters of Baptism and became a member of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints.

We had the privilege of being there.  We had only been in Odense Denmark (as a senior couple) for about a month.  Carl, (Elder Wilberg) fifty years ago, had baptized his first convert in the very same Baptismal font in the basement of the Church in the middle of town.  This was an important event for all of us.  JJ, from the beginning, was a wise and thoughtful new member of the Church.
He was so grateful for this opportunity, surrounded by the missionaries who taught him.

This is the program from his Baptism.  (click to enlarge)

We all learned to love and appreciate JJ.

He brought with him, from Greenland, a rich heritage of peace and great love that he has always shared with his family and friends. I think on the day of his baptism he sang a musical number from Greenland and with great humility- gave his first powerful testimony as a member of the Church.

This is a collection of pictures from this
special day with the missionaries and ward members.

In two short years we have seen him receive the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood.

Four Months after his baptism,  JJ baptized Paul Li-Cong our good friend.
We have watched him pass the Sacrament for the first time and enjoy the friendship of the ward family and missionaries.

We watched him become an important leader.  Someone once said that he was "born a missionary."  He was called to be in charge of Family Home Evening for our Young Single Adult Program.  We learned how to be a missionary
as he learned how to be a missionary.

As a fresh new member and our next door neighbor, JJ was invited to every district and zone missionary meeting that he could attend in between his classes at the Maritime Acadamy (where he was attending to become a Maritime Officer). 
He was a very busy young man.
He became an important part of the Danish Mission.
A little more than a year ago, after an American Thankgiving day with all the Elders and Sisters on that side of Denmark- It was a day of American Football, turkey (roasted by the Elders), and american apple pie created by the Sisters.

It was a fine Thanksgiving day. probably the only one
celebrated in all of Denmark. When we returned home, JJ asked us if he could talk to us for a minute.  He was so happy.  He had decided that he wanted to go on a mission.  We had no idea that he was thinking about a mission.  He was well into his education, on a scholarship.  He loved his studies and had spent the summer at sea as an intern.  He had learned so many things.
It was such a great surprise to hear him express his desire to change the direction of his life for two years as a full-time missionary.
We had the privilege of being with JJ when he got his Patriarchal blessing, when he went to do baptisms in the temple for the first time, when he shared his conversion story many times in the two Odense Wards, and translated for me my testimony into Danish- when I wanted to share it.

JJ received his mission call in our home in Denmark. What a remarkable weekend.  It was just after St Hans Aften-the lightest day of the year.  Large bonfires were set all along the beaches of Denmark.  When we returned home his call had arrived..a Spanish Speaking Mission in Utah..who could find a better mission for our dear native Greenlander.

A few weeks before we were released from our mission, we gathered with many of his good friends, the missionaries, to go through the temple with JJ for his own endowments. 
It has been such a pleasure to watch this strong young man grow so quickly in the gospel that he loves so much. 

Two years ago, he knew nothing about the Book of Mormon, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But he knew how to pray.  He knew how to be an honest and loving friend and son.  When he found the gospel of Jesus Christ, he recognized the truth.  And in two years he has become a full time missionary..living and teaching the gospel every day with great enthusiasm for life and a great love for the Spanish speaking people of Utah..including the Elders and Sisters who worked so hard to learn this language in the Missionary Training Center.  He loved these dear friends.  That is what keeps him going..the natural love that
he has for the children of God. 

Before he left the MTC to go into his mission field,  Elder Simonsen bought a little box full of tiny Books of Mormon.  He was thinking about our grandchildren, and wanted to encourage them to go on a mission just like he has.  He wrote his personal testimony in each little book..individual thoughts for each child.  We gathered for Family Home Evening last Monday, and tonight.  Each child read JJ's testimony from each of their books.  We each shared what we believe about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We talked about how to prepare for a mission and how to follow the Savior.
Elder Simonsen is a missionary wherever he goes.  I am so grateful that he made that choice two years ago and opened the sacred door to the rest of his amazing life.  All of us have been blessed by his good life. Thank you, Elder Jens Jacob Simonsen.

In the next post, we will follow Elder Simonsen from the busy life of a Zone Leader at the MTC to becoming a Junior Companion under his new Spanish speaking trainer from Guatamala.. walking from place to place in Brigham City, Utah.