Friday, June 28, 2013

The End of the Beginning


Today is my last P-day here in the MTC! It's also my second P-day ever... Anyway, today we get to go to the temple, which is amazing!! I have had an interesting week. Being in a tripanionship is tough. There are some benefits. Well, one. When we roleplay, we can have a companionship teaching an investigator. That's the only up side I can see. It's tough planning for lessons with investigators, because we don't seem to be able to agree on what to teach, which leads to conflict and frustration, which drives away the Spirit. Without the Spirit, I feel a little down, and I have trouble focusing on my studies, which makes it harder to feel the Spirit. It's a vicious cycle! So I've been struggling a lot with that this week.

However!! Yesterday was a great experience that brought the Spirit back into my life, and I am now at a better place than I ever have been in the mission! We had in-field orientation at the main campus all day, so I got to experience lunch and dinner, as well as a few classes and so on at the "real" MTC. I'm glad I'm at West Campus. I would be so fat if I was at the main campus. In gthe cafeteria at lunch, Elder Rodgers and I were stopped by an Elder Rogers who is going to Japan! What are the odds?!

Your question: "Have you seen anyone else you know?" Yes! I was looking around the main campus all day for someone I know, because there's about 3,800 missionaries there or something, so I figured I was bound to know someone! I saw a sister from my highschool. I think her name is Amanda. I didn't get the chance to talk to her, and I don't think she noticed me, but it was a learning experience for me. She had been in my seminary class one of the years of highschool. I can't remember which... But she rarely showed up, and I assumed she was disinterested with the Gospel. She has now made the decision to dedicate herself to the Lord for 18 months. Who am I to judge another?? Good for her. 

Also, just before I left after dinner to go back to the West Campus, I heard "Elder Jake Rogers!" behind me. It was Elder Nick Bingham from our Stake! He's going to Mexico, and he got here on Wednesday. (He's the one President Salmon asked to give a short talk in Stake Conference.) I sat near Elder Hausenfluck during our devotional on Tuesday, so I got to talk to him a bit more. At the broadcast, two Elders shouted to get my attention at the same time! Elder KJ Green, going to Brazil, and Elder Quinn Marble! (sorry these are out of order sequentially, I only have so much time to write, so I am just typing what comes to my mind). Also, Elder McLaws, going to Winnipeg, Canada from our Stake was in my zone until he left Wednesday morning.

I have to tell you about the devotional on Tuesday!! The guest speaker was Janice Kapp Perry. She wrote a slew of the primary songs, including "A Child's Prayer," "I Love to See the Temple," "I Belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints," "I'm trying to be like Jesus," "Army of Heleman," and "Love is Spoken Here." All of the best ones, right? She had us sing a medley of all those songs, and it was great. She also re-wrote the words to "As Sisters in Zion" (I'm not sure if she wrote the orgininal or not. I think she might have). She had us sing the EFY Medley with the new words, which have the sisters also focusing on their call as missionaries! So cool. Instead of singing "We will be the Lord's missionaries," we sang "We are now the Lord's missionaries to bring the world His truth!"

Brother and Sister Perry served a mission in Chile, and Brother Perry served as a young Elder in France. Sister Perry shared the story of how they met. Before I relate this story, you have to understand that they are 78 and 74 years old. Brother Perry has a very old, raspy voice, and shuffles as he walks. My point is, he's old. After his mission, Brother Perry attended BYU and was in some music programs. Sister Perry was also there studying music. They had a few classes together and Sister Perry noticed him, but she didn't think he noticed her. The time came for final exams. Sister Perry was next up to play a piece for her exam, so she was warming up the reed for her clarinet. Brother Perry, who was sitting next to her, nudged her. "What?? I'm up next!" she said, a little irritated.

"I was just thinkning... Those lips were made for something better than playing the clarinet." Needless to say, the whole stadium cracked up at that! Then Brother Perry got up from his seat on the stand and hobbled up to the podium. He put his hands on the sides of Sister Perry's face and planted a big one on her! The audience was laughing so hard! Then Brother Perry turned to us and pumped his fist in victory! All of the Elders clapped, and some gave him a standing ovation! He sat down, then got up and did it again. Quite an interesting devotional... Not typical, for sure. It's my only MTC devotional, so at least it was memorable!

We got to meet President and Sister Murdock! They are SO awesome!! I am so so so excited to serve with them! I would say more, but I'm running out of time!

Now to explain how I came back to feeling the Spirit yesterday. The in-field orientation was not our typical spiritual classroom setting, so our companionship was feeling a little bit of a lack of the Spirit. After we came back to the West Campus, we had an appoinment with our TRC (teacher training resources) investigator, Gabriel. He is from Chile and has a strong Christian background (he's Catholic). In our last lesson,  we had shared the message of the Restoration and invited him to read the Book of Mormon. He seemed a little confused when we left, but very interested. Before we went in to teach him yesterday, we sang "I Am a Child of God" to invite the Spirit. We had a wake-up call to the importance of our calling, and we made a true and sincere goal to be exactly obedient. As we felt neccessary, we knelt in personal prayer and asked for forgiveness for certain things (nothing too serious, but just losing focus, not being exactly obedient, etc.).

 We began our lesson with Gabriel by singing "I'm Trying to be Like Jesus," which we felt would invite the Spirit. After a prayer, he shared with us all of his thoughts about what we had shared the last time we met. He is so interested in the prophet Joseph Smith and his story. He said he started reading the Book of Mormon from the beginning. The VERY beginning, meaning the testimonies of the Three and Eight Witnesses, and of the prophet Joseph Smith. He said he also looked online for more information about him and found articles and videos (in Spanish) about his life and the first vision. He said (basically), "Why would he have continued to suffer all of that persecution for the first vision if it wasn't true? Why would all eleven of those men put their names on those testimonies for the world to see if they did not actually see what they said they saw, jou know?" (He says 'jou know' [you know] a lot!) 

He said he was excited when he read the prophet's testimony, and he felt somehow that he was also a witness to the first vision. He said he thinks he knows it's true (Elder Rogers translation: He believes it's true). Elder Hawkes and I shared with him that we would put our names right next to theirs in that book, and I said that I know he was a prophet, and that he saw what he said he saw. Tell the world, I would live and die for that testimony. He appreciated that. He said he wants to get baptized when he really knows that it is true. He said, "If all of this is true, jou know, my life... My life will never be the same, jou know?" I told him that he was right. His life would never be the same, but it would be better. The Spirit was so strong, and I gave Gabriel the biggest hug after the closing prayer. I love him, and care so much about his eternal salvation.

The Lord blessed us, I feel, for our new resolution to be exactly obedient. he allowed the Spirit to be in that meeting. Our obedience affected Gabriel's salvation. What a great responsibility, and what trust the Lord has placed in His missionaries!

We need help here at home. I'm glad to be serving in the U.S., where I can relate to people and help the Lord bless families right here where we need it most. Also, my district is so awesome!! We decided that they take those who were friends in the pre-existence and then put them in the same MTC district.

I appreciate all of your letters, the zucchini bread (Elder Hawkes and I love it!), and the love you send from home! I'm sorry if I don't respond to all of the letters, but I can only write back on P-day, and there's so much to do! I love you all.
For the mission plaque: 2 Nephi 31: 11-12

If he has the power, make sure Brother Nielson knows that the mission has NO commas in it: Colorado Denver South Mission

The Church..... Latter-Day Saints (with a hyphen)

I hope I didn't forget to answer any of your questions, but I feel like I did. Sorry! Stay true. Read, please read from the Book of Mormon every day!


Elder Rogers :)
MTC District

Friday, June 21, 2013

First Letter Home


Today is Friday, June 21st, my first P-day in the mission! The West Campus is awesome! Let me start from the beginning.

On Tuesday, Grandma, Grandpa and I went to the Salt Lake Temple. There was another missionary reporting on Wednesday in the session with us. He came up to us in the lobby afterwards and asked me if I was going into the MTC on Wednesday. I told him yes, I was going to Denver, Colorado. He said, "South?" and I said "Yeah..." He explained that he had a friend from high school who was going to the same mission and also reporting on Wednesday. He said his name is Jason Hawkes, and that if I see him, I should tell him Elder Jepsen says Hi. I thought, Oh, cool. I probably will meet this kid if we're going to the same mission. After that, we went to see the conference center. It's HUGE!

We had a great dessert at Dan and Steph's, where I met Sara and Daniel (they're so cool!). Andrew gave me two ties from his mission. I wore one of them to the MTC on Wednesday. We pulled up and some elders took my bags. I was directed to the multi-purpose building (a re-purposed chapel). I walked into a room that was kind of like a tall relief society room (hope that makes sense). One sister at a table waved me down and asked me my name. I said, "Elder Rogers." She flipped through a box of mini manila envelopes she had and said, "Jake?" Yup! Inside was. . . MY NAMETAGS! (among other things!!!)

Another sister took out one of the nametags and put it on my suit coat. It had a "dork dot" (a sticker) so people would know it was my first day. The sister asked to make sure I had been to the temple to recieve my own endowment, and that I had been set apart as a missionary by my Stake President. Then, I was given an MTC I.D. card. I looked at the envelope I had been given earlier and it had the name of my companion. Jason Hawkes. Whaaaat?!

I went outside where an elder helped me take my luggage to my residence. Then, all of the arriving missionaries met in the chapel for an orientation. We were directed to sit with our districts, and that's when we would meet our companions. Elder Hawkes is 6'5". One elder in our district just never showed up... We're still waiting for him, I guess. He's from Canada and it's my personal conclusion that he probably has visa problems or something. Who knows. Whatever the case, it's too bad... But his companion, Elder Rodgers (HA!) is a cool guy, and he's 6'2". Elder Hawkes is from Sugar City (Rexburg), Idaho, and Elder Rodgers is from Alpine, Utah.

Because Elder Goetz isn't here, we're a trio (or tripanionship or threesome). It actually works out pretty well, except that we all have to be together all the time. Three isn't as easy as two in that respect. Anyway, our district consists of us three elders, Sister Baker, Sister Bird, Sister Jones and Sister Remmington. There are four districts in our zone, and two of them have sisters. I'm glad we have sisters. They're awesome! They are really mature, but super cool to be around. Elder Rodgers (and his companion) and Sister Bird will be serving in the Florida Fort Lauterdale Mission, and the rest of us are in Colorado Denver South. 

At the orientation, the MTC presidency talked to us about a bunch of different things, and it turns out we WILL get to attend the "Work of Salvation" broadcast at the Marriott Center on Sunday!! Yay!! They have really strict guidelines for the sister missionaries' apparell. Elder Hawkes and I have the exact same suit from the missionary store (the striped one), very similar shoes, and he has two identical ties. So we're definitely twinning it up on Sunday for the broadcast. Go to it at the Stake Center and look for me in the croud of 3,000+ missionaries!

After going back to our residence to unpack, we went to "The Investigator Experience" at the chapel, where we had three experiences teaching three different "investigators" as a thirty-panionship. It was pretty rough. There's a lot to learn, and I already feel like my knowledge of how to be an effective missionary has multiplied a ton since I've been here. Our teacher for the experience was Elder (Brother) Christensen from The District (the missionary training videos)! I know you probably don't know this, but it's kind of a big deal. Like EVERY missionary since 2008 or so knows him, or of him, rather... That night, I saw Elder What's-his-bucket from our Stake, who's going to Winnipeg, Canada!

Yesterday was our first full day at the MTC. I had a tough time falling asleep, maybe some one-hour jetlag, maybe because I slept had slept in that morning, maybe because Elder Hawkes is the LOUDEST sleeper I've ever had to room with!! Poor Elder Rodgers had to pull a mattress in onto our floor to sleep. They have bedding here, in case you were wondering. We sleep at Wyview, and do everything everything else at Raintree. We get up at 6:30 (or earlier), get ready, and go do our personal study at Raintree with our district.

Our district is so awesome. Seriously. And Elder Hawkes is totally cool! He played basketball and has this sort of comedic mixed-feeling situation about the girl he left at home. Sometimes, he thinks she's way to sappy and says he'll break it off, and the next moment he's writing her a love poem. Elder Rodgers is also a cool guy, but a little more laid back. He played football. All three of us just graduated from high school and are 18. I feel sorry for Elder Hawkes, though, because whenever he says, "Elder Ro(d)gers!" we both turn around. We eat our food in the cafeteria at Raintree. I'm not sure if it was a cafeteria before the West Campus, but it is now! I think it used to be like a club house for the complex or something. The food is fatty, and we're all convinced they're trying to make us fat. But Elder Hawkes and I aren't giving in. We're not gaining weight! At least not at the MTC... At least not a lot... Hopefully... 

Today, we were walking into the cafeteria for lunch and I spotted Elder Hausenfluck!! small little desks attached to chairs. Our teachers are Sister Piton (Pea-tone), an awesome convert of four years who served a mission in Salt Lake, and Brother Cowan, who we haven't met much yet. Brother Cowan is cool, and he will be playing the role of our investigator, Mark, for the duration of our stay here at the MTC. We teach a single "investigator" twelve times before we hit the field.
Whaaaat?! He had just been transferred from the main campus on Tuesday, and he, along with every other missionary we've talked to who's been transferred, says that West Campus is WAY better! For classes, we meet in apartments, one district to a room, with small,

We have a ton of time to study throughout the day, and I'm loving it. They keep us so busy. I hope you're not offended to hear that I'm not homesick. Everyone tells me, "Don't worry, the first three days are the hardest..." And I'm thinking, Okay, so... What if they're not hard at all? So I'm hoping it doesn't just hit one day or something. I think I'm going to be just fine, and I'll do great emotionally! I have had a lot of revelation and guidance from the Spirit in study for my investigator, and for the talk all missionaries have been asked to prepare for for sacrament meeting. I have a color-code system going with the six scripture markers I have, and some of the pages in my Book of Mormon look like Christmas!! Time is running short, So I'm gonna close this email up.

I have a testimony of the Atonement, and of the Restoration of the true Church of Christ. It's growing every day. In the MTC, they don't teach you the lessons. In fact, they mostly spend time trying to get us to really soak in the idea that our whole purpose, everything, is to bring others closer to Jesus Christ. Invite others to come unto Christ. We study, we as children of God need to do that, and how we do it, but it's really interesting to me that no one has said, "Okay, let's turn in Preach My Gospel to lesson three!"

The Church is true. I love you all, and I miss you, but I love the work so much and I wouldn't rather be anywhere else! I love my Savior. I know He lives.

Elder Rogers

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

He's a Missionary!

Elder Jake David Rogers has been called to serve the Lord as a full-time missionary in the  Colorado Denver South Mission. He reported to the Provo West MTC today, June 19th, 2013. He will arrive in Colorado on July 1, 2013, where he will faithfully serve the Lord by preaching the gospel to the people there for two years. HE IS SO EXCITED!