Thursday, August 25, 2005

Letter #1 - MTC Arrival

Dear Family,
I love you very much. I am writing this as I sit in our first
meeting. It's about 3:45 on my first day at the MTC. I'll be writing
this one letter to everybody, because I'm not sure I'll have time to
write anymore today.

After getting here, we went to get our new immunizations. The world
believes that 10 years is enough time between TD shots, but the Church
thinks missionaries need them every 5 years. Plus, of course, they
decided that we need to get innoculated against bacterial meningitis.
I'm not complaining, after I was what happened to my friend Nate
Landon. I'd like to dance with my God-given feet again some day. No
amputations for me, thanks.

After the medical stuff was done, I went to my room and met my
Australian companion, Elder Evans. He seems nice, but we haven't
spoken much yet and I think it'll take a few days to get used to his

Accomodations are good. We each get a closet, a few clothes drawers,
a desk with a couple of drawers (one of which has a padlock) and a
bunk. We're sharing a room with another pair of elders, whose names I
can't remember right now, but one of them went with me to San
Francisco for his VISA.

As soon as I got here I started remembering things I'd forgotten.
After I check out which things I can get from the book store, I'll
write you a list and see if you can send them to me.
Please thank Steve and Mila for the money, and Mom please thank
everyone else that gave me money earlier.

Dad, expect a few debits from my checking account here, the first of
which will be about $107, I think, for those vaccinations.
James K. Jensen

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Yet another "Shame on Walmart"

No wonder the southern baptists hate us so much. I took this picture at Walmart last month, but lost it for a time. You'd think they could have at least taken down the "LDS Inspirational Center" signs, if they're going to use the stand to sell Harry Potter and "hip swag."

Monday, August 15, 2005

Farewell talk

We have all been invited to come home to our Father in Heaven.  Scripture likens the event to a wedding feast.  Our Brother is getting married, and we’ve all received invitations to the reception.  It will be held at the classiest reception hall in all the world, and (knowing that we could not possibly afford to pay our own way) He has paid the price required for each of us to come.  But there are still things that we have to do in order to come.


First, we need a wedding gift.  What has Jesus asked us to bring him?  Only a broken heart and a contrite spirit.  This is not just the best thing we can offer; it is the only gift that is acceptable to Him.  It is not expensive, and it is something that everybody in the world can give, if they are willing to.  If you don’t show up with this gift all wrapped up and ready to give, you won’t be allowed in.


Next, we need something to wear.  The dress code is something like “all white,” so you’d better not show up in street clothes.  For that matter, you’d better make sure that you’re bathed and that your clothes are clean.  These are things that he told us to do.  Too many people figure, “Hey, this is my brother.  He loves me.  He’ll let me in no matter how I come.”  The fact is, if you love Him, you will surely want to do these things that He has asked of you.  You can do all that you want that you think will make Him happy, but why not just do what He has asked you to do?  Parents, what if you told your kids that they can go to the movies if they clean their room, and when you ask them later whether they’re finished they say, “Look, I drew a picture for you!”?  You would certainly appreciate the gesture, but the child still wouldn’t be able to go to the movies.  Or if you tell your babysitter that you’ll pay her extra if she can have the dishes done and the kids in bed by the time you get home, and when you come home to a full sink and kids running around, she says, “I did some laundry.”  Believe me, God appreciates everything you do for Him, but if you can’t obey the most basic, simple things that He has asked of you, you cannot expect him to give you the rewards that he promised conditionally.


You can call Jesus Brother, and you can call Him Lord, but He has said:


21 ¶ Not every one that asaith unto me, bLord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that cdoeth the dwill of my Father which is in eheaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not aprophesied in thy name? and in thy bname have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never aknew you: bdepart from me, ye that work ciniquity.

24 ¶ Therefore whosoever aheareth these sayings of mine, and bdoeth them, cI will liken him unto a dwise man, which ebuilt his house upon fa rock:

25 And the arain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and bbeat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a crock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a afoolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that ahouse; and it bfell: and great was the fall of it.


Finally, we need to get there.  We’ve been given the address, and we’ve been given the map, but for some reason, this may be the most difficult task for us. 


For one thing, men are notorious for refusing to ask directions.  If we think we’re going the right direction, we’ll often refuse to even look at the map.  The problem with this is that we’ve been told there is only one route to the reception hall.  Even if it feels like you’re going the right way, if you’re on the wrong road you will eventually have to backtrack to the point where you left the given route.  The farther you go on the wrong road, the longer it will take you to get back.  Sorry, but that’s just the way things work.


Beware the temptation to follow the crowd.  I read a book recently where the main character’s primary navigational method is to find somebody who looks like they know where they’re going and follow them.  He rarely gets to where he was trying to go this way, but he often ends up being exactly where he needs to be.  There’s only one problem: the book is a satirical work of fiction.  Real life doesn’t work that way, as much as we want it to.  It’s so tempting to say, “Look, everybody else in the world is invited to the same party I’m invited to.  If I just find someone who looks like they know where they’re going, I’ll get there just fine.  But we’ve been warned that many, many people will not get there, and this is far too important to risk following somebody who is just following somebody, who is following somebody who felt really lucky to have found a nice wide road that’s less crowded than the one they were on.


The trip is much easier if you can pair up with a companion.  This way, one person can navigate while the other is driving.  The passenger can also help to make sure the driver isn’t falling asleep.


It is okay to show up early and over-prepared, but whatever you do, don’t show up late. Consider Luke 13, verses 24-27:


13:24 “Exert every effort82 to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 13:25 Once83 the head of the house84 gets up85 and shuts the door, then you will stand outside and start to knock on the door and beg him, 'Lord,86 let us in!'87 But he will answer you,88 'I don't know where you come from.'89 13:26 Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.'90 13:27 But91 he will reply,92 'I don't know where you come from!93 Go away from me, all you evildoers!'94


Now I’m going to go out there and deliver some invitations.  I hope you’ll consult your maps, the scriptures, carefully, and that you’ll exert every effort to enter through that narrow door on time and well-prepared.  I’ll see you there. 


God be with you till we meet again.


Mission mailing address

Starting Wednesday (August 17) I will be in the Provo Missionary Training Center. While I'm there, you can send me letters at:

Elder James Kenneth Jensen
France Paris Mission
Provo Missionary Training Center
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604

After about 6-8 weeks of training, I will go to France. As soon as I get a chance, I'll let you know my specific address, but until then, send letters and/or packages to:

Elder James Kenneth Jensen
France Paris Mission
23, rue du Onze Novembre
78110 Le Vesinet

Telephone: 011-33-1-34-800-483

During the entire mission, there will only be one day per week that I can read and write letters, send email, and do pretty much everything else not directly mission-related (e.g. laundry). Your letters will be a source of strength and enjoyment for me while I am out there, and I hope you will keepsending them, even if I cannot respond or if my responses are short.

I will not have email access while I'm at the MTC. Once in France, I will at least be able to email my immediate family, but beyond that the rules are set by the mission president and I won't find them out until I arrive. If possible, I will try to keep posting to my blog at That way, you can check up on how I'm doing without me emailing everybody all the time. Even if I am allowed to receive and respond to emails from people other than my family, I may decide not to. If this happens, it's nothing personal; I will just have a lot of veryimportant work to do while I'm out there, that's all.

God bless you all!


Elder Jensen

PS: Since I don't have email addresses for all of my friends and relatives, please forward this information to other people you know that will beinterested. Thank you.

Update: My darling Liz pointed out a typo. I will be at the MTC for 6-8 weeks, not months as originally stated.

Getting ready

I'm getting all of my final preparations together for my mission.

I gave a talk in my home ward on Sunday. I kept trying to come up with ideas for what I should talk about, and even though I liked some of them, none of them seemed like "the talk." Then, as I was outlining the talk Sunday morning, one thought really caught on, and I could tell that that was the one I was supposed to give. So I scrapped everything I’d written up to that point, and just wrote what the Spirit prompted. I finished shortly before it was time to go to church. I really enjoyed the sacrament meeting. My cousin, Chris, had arranged a piece based on “God Be With You Till We Meet Again” and "The Spirit of God" and it brought tears to my eyes as he played it. Everybody seemed to really enjoy the talk and I had several people ask me for copies of it, which felt good because it helped me to know that I’d allowed myself to be guided by the Spirit.

One thing that surprised me was when people started to hand me checks. Apparently it’s a tradition to give missionaries money. It’s nice, because it’s expensive both to serve and to prepare for a mission, but God has provided so many opportunities to earn money and my dad made a significant financial contribution and my girlfriend is buying my car from me and between all of that I expect to have more than enough to last me through the mission. So it was nice to get this money, in a sense, but it felt kind of weird accepting it. Maybe I’ll use it to buy people chocolates while I’m in France.

Blogger has a feature that lets me update my blog via email, and this is the first posting that uses that feature. We’ll have to see how it works out. I’ll ask my mission president if I can continue updating my blog. That way people can keep tabs on me without me having to email people outside my immediate family.

Last glance

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Thursday, August 04, 2005


Since I'll be reporting to the MTC on August 17, I will be speaking in the sacrament meeting at church on Sunday, August 14. It will be in the Winder 3rd Ward, which meets in the Salt Lake Winder West Stake house at:

4551 S 1200 E

Sacrament meeting starts at 12:45 PM.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Judge Roberts, 5-4, 98-0, and What It All Means to Scouting

I'm on a mailing list where I receive updates about the Boy Scouts of America, and their continuing battle to receive funding despite homosexual and antitheist activism. This is worth sharing:

Dear Defender of Scouting,

The pending confirmation battle over President Bush’s nomination of Judge John Roberts underscores the increasingly influential role the federal courts are playing in determining social policy in this country.

The reason, of course, is activist judges who are going far beyond the proper role of the judiciary to merely interpreting the law and the clear language of the Constitution. Instead, we see too many judges becoming judicial activists, imposing their own personal agendas and ideologies on society through their rulings.

Probably no group in this country in recent years has been more affected by this development than the Scouts. After all, in the Dale decision just five years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Scouts’ right to exclude openly homosexual men from serving as scoutmasters by just one vote, 5-4. This is why the confirmation of justices like Judge Roberts, who clearly is an individual who will strictly interpret the Constitution and refrain from “legislating from the bench,” is so critically important not just to the future of Scouting, but to our country.

As we report below, a runaway federal judiciary can cause great damage to an organization like the Scouts even in the face of overwhelming opposition to such decision. The most recent example of this is the injunction issued in June by Chicago Federal District Court Judge Blanche Manning. If allowed to stand, this injunction would prohibit the Defense Department from supporting future National Jamborees specifically and, by implication, Scouting generally. The Bush Administration is planning to appeal and the Scouting Legal Defense Fund will be filing an amicus brief in support.

It was a preliminary ruling last fall in this same case, originally filed in 1999 by the Illinois chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), that led Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to introduce the Support Our Scouts Act. Among other provisions, this bill will make it clear that the Defense Department can continue to Support the Scouts. On July 26th the Senate adopted the bill on a 98-0 vote as an amendment to the Defense Department authorization bill.

While this unanimous vote accurately demonstrates once again the overwhelming public support of Scouting, it cannot completely nullify a ruling made by an activist judge on constitutional grounds that the Defense Department cannot fund Scout activities such as the Jamboree. The only sure ways to do that is for Congress to limit the jurisdiction of the courts on Scouting issues or to amend the Constitution. Both are extremely difficult and unlikely remedies.

This means that appointing responsible judges is the only practical way to truly protect Scouting and the critical role it has played for nearly a century in building our national character. And, clearly, the most critical court to focus on is the Supreme Court.

If you have not already contacted your senators with regard to Judge Roberts’ nomination, I hope you will do so. You can find complete contact information for them at the Senate Web site. Communicating our views on this nomination to our senators is one of the most important things any of us can do to defend scouting.

Thanks for all of you efforts in this critical effort!


Robert B. Carleson

P.S. You can help defend Scouting even more by making a tax deductible contribution to the Scouting Legal Defense Fund, Click here to make a secure contribution on line or to print out a form to mail in a contribution.