Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pictures from the MTC

Tanner & Elder Brueggeman with MTC President Brown
Tanner (California) and cousin Morgan Evans (Madagascar)
Tanner and cousin Morgan in front of picture of
G&G Christensen, former MTC President

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving from the MTC

First off, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! (even though it's a day late)  I hope you all had an amazing day.  I also hope that you weren't worried I wasn't having a good day myself because, well, yesterday was probably my favorite day in the MTC!  Before getting into the details, thank you to Jessica, Tara, Karly, Emmy, Mom, Dad, G&G C and Clayne for your letters.  I don't know if I'll have time to respond to all of them this week, but I'll do my best.

Alright, Thanksgiving Day.  So we woke up usual time, had a simple breakfast, then had a few hours to study.  Then we had a morning devotional with Elder Holland!  As you probably could expect, it was sooooo good.  His main focus was about how grateful we should be that we live in this, the last dispensation.  We have more temples than ever.  There have been some projections that the total number of missionaries could jump over 90,000 and even approach 100,000.  In Elder Holland's words, "We've never had 90,000 of anything."  And he asked, "What did we do to deserve living in these days?"  then he paused for a few seconds, letting us think about it, then he said, "I don't know."  All past prophets saw our day, and they knew that our dispensation would be the one where the good finally wins.  All those prophets had to do their work knowing another apostasy was on its way.  He likened it to a sports game in saying, "Nobody wants to walk onto the field with a knowledge that you are going to lose."  But we don't have to worry about that.  All of our efforts will be worthwhile.  The thing that helped me most went something like this, "Some of you may feel that there is some pressure on your shoulders.  Well, ya there is.  But don't let it discourage you.  Let that pressure pump you up.  Go out and win this thing!"  Unfortunately I don't think they release the text from those talks, but always remember what a blessing it is to live in 2012, not 1835 with the rest of the Saints, or not in 835 when there wasn't a fullness of the truth on the earth.  This year I'm grateful for the Church!

After the devotional with Elder Holland, we had our Thanksgiving Meal.  It was pretty good.  They did a good job with it.  Standard mashed potatoes, gravy and the rest of the works.  After lunch we went to walk around the temple and to talk about what we learned in Elder Holland's talk.  It was a really spiritual experience.

Every year in the MTC, they do a huge Humanitarian Project on Thanksgiving Day.  This year, we made 4500 health kits and 4200 education kits for the Ouelessebougou region of Mali.  It was, admittedly, kind of a mad house, but it got done.  It was really cool to be a part of something so huge.

After the Humanitarian project, we got to watch 17 Miracles.  Oh wow, that's a good movie.  You all know I'm not much of a crier, but that moment that the text shows up at the end of the movie that says, "it'll all be worth it" I'll admit I got misty-eyed.

So from here, the day took an interesting turn.  We went back to the residence hall and a missionary needed to talk to me.  He said that he doesn't have the desire to be here that everybody else has, so he was wondering if I had any advice for him.  I had almost nothing since I hadn't dealt with that very much.  Any feelings I did have like that went away after the first week or so.  He's been in the mission for a little over a week now.  We got him in touch with a member of the Branch Presidency since I wasn't any help.  It sounded like they had a good talk.  While they were talking, I ran into President Brown and I asked him if there was any advice he had for me, as his zone leader.  He said that he would personally, or have one of his counselors, talk to this missionary tomorrow (meaning Friday).  That gave me a lot of comfort.  Once I talked to the member of the Branch Presidency for a few minutes, we went back to the residence hall.  So that part of the day wasn't as great.

Once I got back, there was an Elder in my zone that needed a blessing, and he asked me to give it.  It was really cool.  Almost all his district was around, and he chose me.  I think it was the third blessing I've given, and I'm getting to the point that my hands don't shake the whole time, so that's good :)

So, everybody, that's my day!  It was awesome!  I hope your days were just as good.  Family, I missed you, but I was having a blast while you were all together.  I'm sorry there isn't any info from the rest of the week.  It was kinda just same old, same old, but still awesome.  Oh, I got my travel plans!  I leave Dec 4.  At one point, I think I said I leave Dec 8.  That is not correct :)  Love you all so much!

Elder Tanner Christensen

Sunday, November 18, 2012

November 16, 2012

I want to preface this letter by saying this has probably been the best week since I have been here.  It was definitely amazing.  Thank you to Jessica S, Taylor L, my roommates, Tara F, Karly S, and Emmy for your letters.  I don't know if I'll have as much time today to write letters, but I'll get responses as soon as I can.  And sorry if you wrote me and I didn't remember you in this post.  I don't have my list of people I need to write this week in front of me.  And always, thank you to Sister Jakins for the "treat" this week.  Carrots were a nice change-up.

Alright, so now the exciting things of the week.  First, I have been made a Zone Leader.  Many of the responsibilities are the same as when I was a District Leader, but there are also a few more.  Also, I switched companions.  To be 100% honest, my previous companion and I didn't have many problems between us, but we both had very different styles of teaching and I think our lessons may have suffered a little from that.  So now, my new companion:  he is the other Zone leader, his name is Elder Brueggeman, like my old companion he is also a convert of a little over a year, he is 22 years old, he knows why he's here, he's always focused, he's a super hard worker and we've had a great week.  This change came on Friday night, so we've been companions for a week now.  During that time, I have had my favorite TRC experiences, my favorite investigator experiences, I've been progressing in Spanish a lot faster, and we have had absolutely 0 problems with each other.  He speaks almost as much Spanish as I do, so we try to speak in Spanish together ALL the time.

For the TRC this week, we talked to a brother about the Restoration.  This week was the first opportunity we have had to teach a 40 min lesson.  Our goal going into the lesson was to help him feel excited to share the Gospel and the message of the Restoration.  After talking to him and hearing his testimony, I feel like I may have been more excited to share the message of the Restoration than anybody else.  The Restoration is the only thing that is 100% unique to our church, which means it's also the most important to share.  Now, I'm really excited to get to work.

For investigators this week, Elder Brueggeman and I were in different places with their progress, so we ended up going off of the progress of Elder Brueggeman.  Up to that point, he had not been able to get a baptismal commitment from either of the investigators.  We taught them both this week, and on the first visits that we had with each of them, we got commitments.  The Spirit was stronger than ever in those lessons. 

After I wrote my letter last week, I realized that I didn't talk at all about what I've been studying.  I have still been focusing on studying the Atonement when I don't have to plan for an investigator.  Thank you for everybody that shared their insights with me.  I'd like to share what I learned this week about the Atonement.  As I was reading in 2 Ne 9, I got the prompting to read the story of Christ walking on water with Peter (I think it's in Matt 14).  If you have a chance, read that story again thinking about the Atonement the whole time you read it.  Here is what I got from it:  living a perfect, sinless life is kind of like walking on water.  Think of the water as sin, and walking on water symbolizing overcoming sin.  You can do it for a little while as long as you have perfect faith and are focused on Christ.  However, the second your faith wavers and your sight goes off Christ, you will begin to sink.  But then you will read in the scriptures, Peter cried out for help and Jesus immediately stretched forth His hand to help Peter.  I know that Christ is there to help us and all we need to do is ask.

This week I'll be studying about faith and hope.  PLEASE send me some of your thoughts because you all are much smarter than me!  As always, if you hear about any mission calls that are coming in.  I love you all and thank you for your prayers.  I really need them.  God be with you till we meet again.

Elder T. Christensen

Friday, November 9, 2012

Week 5 Update

Wow this week flew by!  Time is really weird here in the MTC.  Some days pass by super fast and others seem to never end.  But the week absolutely flew by!  Thank you to Mom, Dad, Emmy, Tara, and Johnny for the letters this week.  Thanks to Morgan and G&G Christensen for the emails, and thanks to Sister Jakins for the brownies.  I haven't weighed myself this week, but this life style is starting to take its toll a little bit. 

I have no idea how this happened, but almost everybody in our district hit a point this week that we just needed to sit back a second and cool down a little bit.  The schedule here is so demanding and you are going all the time.  Everyday is 16 hours long and you do something productive literally every minute.  Before the MTC, I wondered how it's possible to grow so fast in the MTC.  Now I understand.  It's because you are working hard all the time and the Spirit is always present.  It sounds kinda rough, but with the right attitude this place is amazing!  

Congrats to Verina, Lydia, and Aya with your mission calls!  This week, Elder Zwick from the Seventy came and spoke to us and he said that within the 1 month that Sisters have been able to apply, there have been as many applications as there are Sister missionaries in the field right now.  So to clarify, once all the Sisters that currently have their mission calls are out in the field, the number of Sisters will have doubled (ignoring the Sisters that return home during that time).  I think that is a huge testament to the faith of all you Sisters!  Congrats to all of you!  Keep letting me know as mission calls come in!  I love hearing about it.

This week, as I've already alluded to, has been kind of a roller coaster.  There have been some moments that I am ready to go convert the world, and other times that I'm not sure if I can handle the weight of it all.  Something one of my teachers said this week made me realize what was happening.  There is opposition in all things.  After Moses saw Christ face to face, Satan came and tempted Moses.  A lot of things in this world are clearly worse than ever before.  Sometimes it's easy to lose hope for the future.  But it is important to remember that we currently have more temples on the Earth than any time in the history of the World and we (soon) will have the most missionaries for the Church any time in the history of the World.  God's army is growing and Satan's army is growing power.  But we know how the battle ends so there's no reason to get down.

Now, the craziest thing that happened this week.  To start, President Brown is an amazing MTC president.  He is so personal with the missionaries.  I hope some of you will be able to be around him.  So every Fast Sunday, we have a Mission Conference.  One little tradition that I wasn't aware of, is that President Brown likes to invite missionaries up to bare their testimonies.  President Brown knows all my grandparents and my dad, so naturally, I got called up.  I was called up to bare my testimony in front of 1700ish missionaries.  Holy...cow...  It was like there were so many people that it didn't even register that they were all real people.  My voice was super shaky, and I'd like to think that was because of the Spirit being so strong and not because I was a nervous wreck.  It was a really cool experience though.  I don't remember everything I said, but it was cool nonetheless.  Another funny part, President Brown also called up a sister from my district to bare her testimony (he had no idea we were in the same district).  He called her before he called me, so I had a few seconds to laugh...and then the laughing stopped abruptly.  Hahaha, it really was a cool experience.

Thank you all for the support.  I ask for your continued prayers.  Love you all!

Elder Tanner Christensen

Friday, November 2, 2012

Week 4 Update

Wow.  Today is November 2.  Tomorrow is my 1 month mark.  I am about half-way through the MTC.  I feel like I just started and I have a hard time believing that I could be anywhere close to ready.  Before I get more into that, thank you to Jessica S, Matt W, Dad, and the Martins for the letters.  Also, thank you to Durstelers, Jakins, and Martins for the treats.  All the food and treats plus sitting all day is starting to have it's effect.  I weighed myself 2 weeks ago for the first time at the MTC and I'm up 5 pounds today.  So that's not counting whatever I gained the first 2 weeks.  So Emmy, maybe I will return huge per your request.

So again, I'm almost half way through the MTC.  Super hard to believe.  I am slowly beginning to forget the world, but I still remember it exists every now and then.  This past week I kind of had a hard time focusing.  I'll need to rededicate myself this week.  Spanish is still going well.  I'm to the point that I can say almost anything that I want to say in a lesson, but outside of lessons, I'm pretty lost.  I still get to see Elder Matiz from our ward pretty frequently.  He is learning English and is fluent in Spanish.  I know what he's saying maybe half the time.  We had a really cool moment this week.  I ran into him outside reading the BoM in English with his Spanish BoM open at the same time.  He threw some Spanish at me that I didn't understand and handed me his Spanish BoM.  For the next 15 min, we just went back and forth helping each other with pronunciation and stuff.  His accent is pretty heavy, but I could understand everything he was saying.  Hopefully it was the same for me :)

I'm still having a good time here.  I feel like I've grown more in the last 4.5 weeks than I have in the last year.  It's a crazy feeling.  

This week was pretty good with my companion.  He injured his shoulder this week diving after a soccer ball and it's still bugging him.  His Spanish is coming along.  I'm trying to get him to just speak without thinking so much.  When he relaxes, he can speak Spanish pretty well.

On Tuesday, Elder Don Clarke from the Seventy spoke to us.  His talk was 40 min of pure applicable missionary advice.  It was really enjoyable.  He focused his whole talk on the word "help" in our purpose.  One of the 8 major points of his talk was "help your family experience your mission."  I would like to follow one of his pieces of advice starting now.  He said something along the lines of, "get your loved ones at home involved in your studies.  Let them know what you are studying for the week and invite them to study the same.  Then ask them to share the things the learned throughout the week."  You all know way more than I do, so I hope that I could tap into all of your huge knowledge bases.  This week, I am trying to understand the Atonement better.  We've had a few really good talks in class and I've been trying to gain a greater appreciation for the Atonement.  Since all of our teachings lead to Christ, and Christ's greatest work was the Atonement, I feel like I probably should understand that better than any other Gospel concept.  So, if any of you would like to join in on this study with me, I would absolutely love to hear your insights!  

So now an "investigator" update.  We have 2 investigators: Rancho, and Angel.  Rancho currently doesn't believe that he needs to be baptized because he was baptized as a baby.  He also isn't sure if Joseph Smith was a prophet.  This upcoming week, we are going to focus a lot on the Book of Mormon and hope that a testimony of the Book of Mormon will lead to a testimony of Joseph Smith.  Angel is "un pecador."  He said that he had many many sins and that he is trying to be a better person.  We talked a lot about repentance and the Atonement this week.  He said that he repented, but didn't feel much different.  Based on what he said, he did everything correctly, so we think the problem is that he doesn't know what the Holy Ghost feels like.  So that will be our focus this week- helping him feel like he has been forgiven.  He has already committed to prepare to be baptized and I think we are on a good track.

Thank you for all the love and support.  Again, if there are any mission calls in the works, I want to hear about it!  I love you all.  God be with you till we meet again!

Elder Tanner Christensen

Scripture Share: 1 Cor 2:9