Saturday, June 30, 2012

We bid you "Paalam na po"...

"Paalam" in Tagalog means "good bye - I am leaving now"...
And yes, it is time...
70,000km put on the car. 467 missionaries later...
It is difficult to describe our feelings as we depart for home after serving here for three years. With five children and ten grandchildren and family and friends waiting for us at home, our homecoming will be sweet, but not without some sadness of saying goodbye to the people we love here.

Despite our white colored skin, I think we both have become Filipino in our hearts.  Despite my legs not seeing the light of day for the last three years,  I am still waiting for shades of brown skin to appear - and dark black hair to appear on my bald head.  The color of our eyes is not yet black, but getting close...  Perhaps we need more time here?  Our feelings and respect for our Filipino friends are tender and we will miss them deeply.  We have become part of them and they have become part of us and now we must say, "Paalam na po".

What we will surely miss the most is our missionaries.  Every one of them that we have served with for the last three years.  They have come from Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa, Vanuato, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, England, America, Canada and the Philippines.  I think our feelings about our missionaries can best be summed up using Helaman's own words, "And now I say unto you, my beloved brother Moroni, that never had I seen so great courage, nay not amongst all the Nephites.  For as I had ever called them my sons (for they were all of them very young) even so they said unto me, ...behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall...".
We will deeply miss being around them all the time.
We will also miss our senior missionaries that we love so much - The Andersens, Thomsons, Allreds, Perkins, Sister Cooper and Sister Walker, The Lindsays, Mortimers and the Engels. It has been such a wonderful experience to know and work with such consecrated people and they have truly enriched our lives.

What have I learned?
Many things for sure...  Firstly, that the love of Heavenly Father for every one of us is incredibly generous and tender and Divinely anxious (no exceptions please).  Secondly, that this is not my work but the Lord's.  We are stewards serving in the The Master's vineyard.  It's not my vineyard - but His. We have seen his hands, heard his voice, felt his Spirit, witnessed his miracles and tasted the sweetness of his infinate grace .  I have learned that most of his miracles have eyes and mouths and ears and noses and feelings, and they just need to be loved.  I have learned that greatness is not in us, but flows through us from Above.  I have learned the importance of having His Spirit to be with us always - as much as humanly possible.
What have I felt?
Firstly, deep gratitude to the Lord for so much.  Also deep gratitude to my wonderful 'asawa' Kathleen who has been the best eternal companion possible.  We could not have succeeded without each other.  That is the essance of marriage and companionship.
Secondly, hold on to the Iron Rod and don't let go.  Never quit.  Never say die.  Never, never, NEVER!  Stay firmly planted on that pathway to the Tree and keep your hand firmly grasped on that Iron Rod.   Nephi says that we must endure to the end.  That means never letting go and never giving up.  Those that do - will die.  I see it happen everyday.
What have I often been reminded of?
The correctness of the Restoration and the miracles that happened to bring it to pass and that I am standing on the correct side of the fence...  His Atonement and my part in it...  And also that 19 and 21 year old young men and women can move mountains and fight great battles and experience wonderful miraculous changes within themselves.  They are so impressive.
What would I do differently?
This one is hard to answer.  I think it is the little things in life that bring about the greatest changes.  The little things that add up along the way that make the biggest differences.  Big changes in life don't come by making big leaps.  They come by smaller steps of change and attitudes of pressing forward day after day, despite adversity.  It really is the small and simple things that make great things come to pass.  I would try to improve the small and simple things in hope to serve others in a more effective way.
What has been the saddest moments for me?
Having to see a missionary go home early.  I feel crushed.  But in some cases pain turns to joy and tears turn to smiles.
What has been the happiest moment?
Besides our grandchildren being born and the joys within our family - Watching our missionaries change.   I see them coming into the mission and watching them change and "become" what they need to become during their 18 or 24 months.  That has brought the greatest joy to mom and I.  Our happiest moments have come to us by just being with our missionaries and loving them, working with them and watching them.  We have received from them FAR more than what we have given.
What do I hope for the most?
Obedient, healthy and happy missionaries.  Also that our missionaries will go home and stay strong and true and have His Spirit to be with them always.  I also want the people of the Philippines to get out of their poverty and challenge.  Tithing and obedience, including Sabbath Day obedience will be the only way for that to happen.
What advice do I give to a new missionary?
NEVER give up!
What advice do I give to a missionary going home?
NEVER give up!   And prepare yourself to be offended many times.
What is my best advice to the new Mission President?
Besides to keep your cell phone turned on all the time - Love them with all your capacity - and then some more...  Be patient and firm.  Tell them what you expect.  And stay incredibly close to them without them knowing.  And don't stand between them and the Lord.  Point them all to Christ as much as you can, and not to yourself.  Expect greatness but be increadbly patient.  This will be my best advice.  And maybe also - have your wife make sure there are cookies in the freezer when tissues don't wipe the tears away.  Sometimes even a 19 year old just needs a breather and a handful of Sister Jensen's cookies.  She tell's all the missionaries that her cookies have a very special ingredient - "love". They just smile when she says that - and they know it's true...

Previously I shared a story that I still feel best describes our feelings...
Years ago I sat in a restaurant waiting for my breakfast.  I looked down at my menu and on the bottom of the menu was printed a little line that said, "Our company motto - Give the customer more than they expect."  My breakfast was served and indeed I was not disappointed at all.  The food came hot, delicious and abundant.  I have never forgotten that.  And I don't think the Good Lord has forgotten that motto either - because in our three years He has given us much more than we ever expected.  His love has been generous.  His tender mercies and blessings have been abundant.  We never could have imagined the abundance of rich experiences and blessings that were in store for us here.  When the call came to leave home, family and business - and come to serve a mission - we just said - "yes".  We always say yes to the Lord.  He always has a way of giving so much more to us when we love Him and just say - "yes".

Paalam na po to our loved ones here.   
Mahal namin kayo.  Magpakailanman...
President and Sister Jensen


Pop said...

Have quietly watched your blog for many months. Became interested in your comments and photos as I served in the Philippines 44 years ago. Thank you for your remarkable service and thank you for sharing on this blog.

Elder N. Pappas said...

President and Sister Jensen, Thank you for loving our Missionary. Each week he tells us how hard it is but at the end of every email he tells us how much he loves his mission and he would not want to be anywhere else. He loves you and will miss you. Again thank you for caring for our son.
With our Eternal Love
Greg and Veronica Pappas