Missionary Survives Traumatic Brain Injury – Shares Testimony 1 Year Later

Missionary Survives Traumatic Brain Injury – Shares Testimony 1 Year Later

LDS Missionary Survives Traumatic Brain Injury - Shares Testimony 1 Year later
Elder Jensen at the MTC

Editor’s note: This story is being published one year from the day the accident (mentioned in the story) happened and is reposted with permission from Laura Jensen, Elder Jensen’s mother. 

While serving in the Arizona Phoenix Mission, Elder Jensen placed a penny in his shoe to help him “Always Remember Christ.”

On February 13, 2014, Elder Jensen & Elder Linkogle were driving to their teaching appointment and were T-boned on the driver side, spun 3 times, and then broadsided again on the passenger side by a half-ton pickup before landing in a ravine. Though both missionaries came out alive, Elder Jensen’s skull fractures produced a blood clot, the size of a tennis ball that was increasing in size and placing pressure on his brain. The Arizona Phoenix mission president, President Taylor, gave Elder Jensen a powerful priesthood blessing, promising a “full and quick recovery.” On Valentine’s morning, Elder Jensen had his head shaved prior to brain surgery to remove his blood clot and cauterize the bleeding around his brain. Elder Jensen’s surgery was successful, though it left a scar to write home about. His companion, Elder Linkogle, received a concussion, causing some temporary memory loss, but was released from the hospital, the next day (Valentine’s Day).

This surgery required quite a bit of recovery time in the hospital, but this didn’t stop Elder Jensen from continuing to preach the gospel. For six days in Elder Jensen’s ICU room, Elder Jensen shared the gospel with every nurse and every hospital staff member that he came in contact with. He said:

“I was still a missionary in ICU and invited all of the medical staff to go to Mormon.org and learn more about our faith. Even a couple of them seemed really interested. I am glad to say that I used my time the ‘best’ that I could in sharing the gospel while in the ICU.”

As thousands of missionaries can attest, missionaries are watched over on their mission, especially in situations like this. As he recovered, Elder Jensen’s ICU room became a spiritual and sacred haven with angels attending. Elder Jensen shared: “Anyone that comes by and visits can feel the presence of angels that are in my room.”  Marcy Black, a local ward member that visited Elder Jensen often recounted: “If they don’t let Elder Jensen go home soon, he will convert the hospital. We took our 18 year old daughter to visit Elder Jensen and she couldn’t stop talking about the feeling in his ICU room.”

Elder Zach Jensen in ICU
Elder Zach Jensen in ICU

As Elder Jensen was preparing to leave the hospital, he discovered that his “Always Remember” penny was still in his shoe!! This same penny had made it through his accident, through the ride in the ambulance, through the ER, and through his six days in ICU!

LDS Missionary shoe
Elder Jensen’s shoe with the penny to remind him to always remember the Lord

Elder Jensen will “Always Remember” that he was never alone on that February night. He will “Always Remember” that angels were protecting and watching over him, that his Heavenly Father loves him deeply and knows him personally, and is involved in the details of his life. By “Always Remembering Him,” Elder Jensen was blessed with power to do hard things.

After recovering from the accident, Elder Jensen said this: “I am so thankful for this accident, because it has helped me become more converted to Him and His gospel. I have learned that we need to treat every day like it is our last and truly cherish the gospel. It is through the knowledge I have of the gospel of Jesus Christ that I was able to have peace and comfort through this trial in my life. Always have hope, no fear, and no doubt, and I promise through this gospel that miracles will happen in your life.”

One year later, Elder Jensen reminds us of the miracles that come from remembering the Lord:

“Hope you all remember the true meaning of Love this Valentine season and what Jesus Christ has done for us. One way that you can remember Jesus Christ and his Atonement, is by placing a penny in your shoe. You are probably thinking ‘Why in the world is Elder Jensen inviting us to place a penny in our shoe to remember Jesus Christ?’ Haha. When you do put a penny in your shoe, every time you feel the penny, you can be reminded to remember Jesus Christ, His Atonement, and how He can help you through any trial. I have had a penny in my shoe basically my entire mission and I still have this very same penny that I started with in my shoe. Yes, this same penny remained in my shoe throughout my car accident, ambulance ride, ER and 6 days in the ICU. When I put on my shoe for the first time after the accident, I felt the penny in my shoe. I remembered Jesus Christ and His Atonement during this difficult time in my life, when I was away from my family and in the ICU during my mission. Now looking back, I also remember how His Atonement carried me through this huge trial of my auto accident & emergency brain surgery. So I invite you to put a penny in your shoe and each time you feel the penny, remember Jesus Christ and His Atonement, and what He has done for you. I promise that by striving to “Always Remember Him” you will become more Christlike and will see the many blessings in your life that come from this gospel.”

Just like with Elder Jensen, we too can all experience the miracles that come from remembering the Savior. This story is full of miracles, tender mercies, love, service, faith, priesthood blessings, and the blessing of missionary opportunities. What a great reminder of love at this time.

LDS Missionary shoe penny
“Always Remember”

Warning: Some post-surgery images are graphic; viewer discretion is advised.

To read even more details of Elder Jensen’s story with all the pictures, go to Elder Jensen’s mission blog. 


  1. I suffered a TBI when I was 8yrs old.This is topic I speak and write on. The difference is as it is with 73% of all TBI victims–we didn’t and we don’t have any help. We are usually pushed away and do not fit in anywhere. I have suffered with my TBI for over 60 years now. I am tired of the bad dreams, the anxiety and being pushed away. With no place to go I decided to start speaking on this subject to those than know nothing about what a TBI is and how effects a person that has had one. This isn’t fun. I spoke at a club here a month ago and one man shouted out–“what’s the point of this talk?” I had already had told him five times–some has to acre. I guess he didn’t.
    For me the point is to teach–to care about those that suffer. There is no recovery but there is always hope.

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