Mark A. Jensen, 65

Published 10:39 am Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mark “Babu Mzee” A. Jensen, 65, of Annandale, formerly of Elko, Minn., and Mabel, Minn., died Monday, June 13, 2011, at his home, surrounded by the love of his family and the grace of God.

Mark Jensen

Memorial Service will be held 11 a.m. Friday, June 17, at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Annandale with Rev. Dave Nelson officiating. Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, June 16, and one hour prior to the service on Friday, both at St. John’s Lutheran Church. There will be a 7 p.m. prayer service Thursday, lead by Pastor Nancy Brown of Christiania Lutheran Church at St. John’s in Annandale. Memorials are preferred to St. Paul Area Synod for the Institute of Agriculture in Tanzania, Africa.

Mark Appelt Jensen was born Jan. 15, 1946, in Estherville, Iowa, to Millen and Blanche (Appelt) Jensen. At age 6, Mark moved with his family to Hayfield, Minn., where he graduated high school with the Class of 1964. He then attended Augsburg College on a 2-year football scholarship before transferring to the University of Minnesota. Mark married Teresa Olson on Dec. 16, 1967, in Hayfield. During his time at the U of M, he was drafted by the Army. Upon his honorable discharge, he returned to the U of M to complete his Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education. Mark began teaching in the Mabel-Canton Schools from 1973 to 1976. He then began farming a dairy farm in Mabel. In 1982, Mark and his family moved to Elko where he worked for 22 years as a regional sales manager for Genex/CRI. Before moving to Annandale in 2004, Mark worked as a mortgage officer for Wells Fargo and JRA Financial Advisors until he became a missionary in 2003. Most recently, he was a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Annandale, including the Men’s Bible Study. He enjoyed golf and competing in the Single Action Shooting Society. Most important, he was the founding director for Institute of Agriculture, Tumaini University, Iringa, Tanzania, East Africa since 2003. The Institute is dedicated to sharing the love of Christ and teaching improved farming practices to Tanzania’s people.

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Mark’s calling in life was serving the Lord, which he did lovingly and humbly. He began his service in 2002 when he went on his first mission to Belize. In 2003, Mark along with Terry, became rostered volunteer ELCA Missionaries. Mark began the first of many trips to Tanzania, even though he had been diagnosed with colon cancer while preparing to leave for that trip. He rotated his time between Africa’s agricultural mission and cancer treatments in America. He received the name Babu Mzee from the people of Tanzania, which means “Old Grandpa”. Mark’s last journey to Tanzania was in July 2010, after which he had to remain home and continue treatments until February 2011. Still desiring to serve the Lord, he continued to be active in the mission from the U.S. Mark’s presence and faithful service to the Lord was evident by all those he encountered, whether in Tanzania or with others even during chemotherapy. He placed others before himself and always glorified God in all that he did.

Mark is survived by his wife, Terry of Annandale; daughters, Ann Joos of Hamburg and Billie Jo (Lane) Van Lith of Becker; six grandchildren, Elizabeth Van Lith, Cole and Crystal Joos, Victoria, Alicia and Sophia Van Lith; siblings, Margaret Haukom of Austin, Bill (Jan) of Kasson, Blaine (Mary Jo) of Askov, Joel (Marsha) of Austin and Jon (Lila) of Owatonna; many other family and friends.

He is preceded in death by his parents and brother-in-law, Lowell Haukom. The honorary pallbearers will be Lane Van Lith, Cole Joos, Dean Jones and Bill Kolb. Mark and Ardis Nelson along with Crystal Joos and Angie Kukacka will provide music for the service. Arrangements are entrusted to Dingmann Funeral Care, Annandale. Obituary, guestbook, video tribute and funeral webcast are online at