Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year's Eve!

Hello friends and family.  Thank you to Mom, Dad, Martins, Jensens, Kerrs, G&G C, G&G K, Clayne, and Jakins for all the Christmas goodies.  I definitely will not have to buy any candy for the next little bit.  I appreciate all your love.  I have very little time this week and next week, so I may not get around to sending out personalized thank you's, but thank you so much!

So I'm sure that you want to hear about Christmas, but some better things have happened this week, so I'll be brief.  Christmas Eve we ate with a recent convert family.  There are awesome.  They are the Rodriguez family and they have 12 people living in a house about half the size of our main floor.  He said while we were eating, "I don't just want to be a member of this church, I want to be a leader."  That was the coolest thing I had heard.  I can't wait to find somebody to baptize that has that same level of commitment.  It has been really fun to work with them.  Christmas morning, we got a group together and played soccer.  We played our ward vs the ward to the south of us.  Much of our team was made up of missionaries, so we lost horribly.  It was super muddy, so I have some awesome pictures to share sometime in the future.  We ate SO many tamales.  I guess it's a Christmas tradition.  Everywhere we went, there were tamales.  Am I complaining about it?  No way :)  They were awesome!  But I'm not a big fan of Chumporada (spelling help please, mom?).  It's kinda weird.  We had dinner with a family from El Salvador.  We had panes de pollo (these awesome chicken sandwiches that kinda tasted like Gyros).  There wasn't anything other than these things that made Christmas Day in particular all that special.  It will definitely be a memorable time though.  Oh, the guy we ate with?  HUGE into ping pong!  His paddle cost more than $120.  We played today and he beat me twice and I beat him once (got super super lucky with my win).  He was 5th in El Salvador at one point.  I have video to share later.

As always, I would love to hear any suggestions that any of you have about missionary work:

First, the sad story of the week.  Our goal was to have Armando baptized this week, and it didn't happen.  He still wants to be baptized, but the marriage thing is still the only thing in his way.  That was rough.  We found out on Thursday that it wouldn't happen.

Also on Saturday, we found a girl that is 18 years old, pregnant, and inactive in the church.  She wants to keep the baby and come back to church so that the baby can be raised right.  She has clearly had a really tough life.  She had aspirations to go on a mission, but can't now.  She has gone through the repentance process but doesn't feel like she can pray or read scriptures because she feels guilty still.  I really hope we'll be able to help her out.

Okay, so the story of the week.  We were in our weekly planning session and I started flipping through the potential investigator list.  I hadn't done this before.  I found Raul and Rosa and note next to their names said, "very very prepared.  They contacted us!"  I found this on Friday; we went and saw them on Sunday.  We knocked on the wrong door, and nobody answered.  (I knocked on 108, when the address was really 106.  Didn't figure that out till later)  There were two ladies talking in the hall, and I went up to them and said, "Hola Senoras.  Conocen a Raul y Rosa?"  (do you know Raul and Rosa)  She responded "Soy yo."  (that's me).  In my mind I was thinking, "no way no way."  So we walk into her apartment and a guy is there.  They are both super nice and open to talk.  We ask if they've heard about the Book of Mormon.  They said that they had had the Elders come 3 times before.  They picked the Book of Mormons off the shelf and we started reading in 1 Nephi 3 because they remembered some of the questions they had about the  chapter last time the Elders were there.  They said that the Elders stopped coming because it was hard to pick a time that would work with both of them due to conflicting work schedules.  Throughout the lesson we found out the following: 1) Raul has family in Mexico that are members, 2) The always come "at just the right time" according to Rosa, and 3) they aren't married (yet), but they have heard about being sealed in the temple and like the idea of being sealed together.  They both want to be baptized!  It felt unreal the whole time.  With it being the holidays, they'll be around together this week, so we'll be able to squeeze in 3 lessons before their schedules start posing a threat again.  I was smiling so big the whole time.

I love you all!  Thank you again for all your love, support, and Christmas presents.  The scripture share for this week is Alma 26:27.  It was basically the story of this week.  To all future missionaries, I can testify that this scripture is true!

God be with you till we meet again.

Elder Tanner Christensen

Thursday, December 27, 2012


Tanner's MTC district--with Branch President, Counselor & wife, and Brother Gunter (teacher)

Tanner with Elder Matiz (from home ward)

Tanner, Elder Bergemann, Brother Christofferson, Elder Crane, Elder Reinhardt

MTC District with their teachers

Tanner with Brothers Gunter, Wright, and Russell (MTC teachers)

Tanner and Sister Connelly--headed for the California Arcadia Mission!

President Becerra took the new missionaries to a hill that overlooks their mission boundaries.
From Tanner's assigned area, he is able to see the "Hollywood" sign on the hill.

Elder Crane, Tanner, Elder Reinhardt, Sister Connelly, Sister Johnson

The new mission bike--however, Tanner is in a car area right now :)

Tanner is in heaven with these Carne Asada Street Tacos!!

One of the elders did a fire dance at their mission Christmas party

President Becerra doing the Mexican Hat Dance at the mission Christmas party

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas!!

Christmas Skype
Feliz Navidad!  It's been a fun week.  A lot of Christmas related stuff has been going on.  It definitely does not feel like Christmas because of the lack of family gatherings and the lack of snow.  Thank you to Emmy, and Tara F for the letters.  And thank you to Jensens, Martins, G&G C, and G&G K for the Christmas gifts!  I'll be opening them tomorrow morning!  You all are so kind.  Thank you for the support.

So this week was kind of a tough one work wise.  I feel like we have a lot of lessons, but nobody is progressing consistently.  We have a lot of appointments fall through, and it seems like people are only around in their homes after 6:00pm.  We've also had some difficulties getting the members involved with lessons.  I think that it's probably a lack of planning on our part, so we'll fix that this week.

So the temple trip went well with Armando last week.  Unfortunately, he still has not accepted a baptism date.  And also, we found out after we were at the temple that he had already been to the temple visitor center 2 times before with other missionaries, so it wasn't a completely new experience for him.  But the Spirit was definitely there.  He's still listening to the Book of Mormon and is deep into Alma, almost to Helaman.  He has a strong desire to be baptized.  Him living with his girlfriend is the only thing getting in the way.

Another awesome lady we started teaching more this week is Angelina.  She is the mother of one of the people we have been teaching on and off.  She has had the missionaries over a few times before us.  In getting to talk to her more, she believes that she has already been baptized by giving her heart to Christ.  Also, we found out that she is worried to get baptized because she doesn't feel like she can fulfill all that is necessary after baptism.  Tithing is her main worry.  They are pretty poor.  She basically started a church, but is no longer involved with it.  She is very religious and she would be a referral gold mine if we could help her become converted.  So let's hope all goes well there.

As far recommendations for talks, I don't know if I have already recommended this one, but His Grace Is Sufficient by Brad Wilcox is awesome.  Highly recommend it.  Another really good one is The Great and Wonderful Love by Anthony Perkins from Oct 2006.  I've been studying a lot about the Doctrine of Christ as well.  Also, we have been focusing on teaching about baptism to help them receive a remission of sins.  We've really tried to help them understand what a blessing that is.  If you have any ideas, let me know.  I'd love to hear about you suggestions.  A common doubt we hear is, "There is one God and it doesn't matter what church you join as long as you are worshiping Him."  Then we go into authority and the message isn't getting across.  That's probably happened about ten times this week.  If you have any suggestions with that one as well, I'd love to hear.

We had a Christmas dinner as a ward and we were able to get a few investigators to come.  Unfortunately, it didn't convert to investigators in sacrament meeting the next day, but hopefully it planted a seed.

I love you all.  Happy Christmas Eve!  I hope that you all have a wonderful week.  God be with you till we meet again.

Elder Tanner Christensen

Monday, December 17, 2012

Week 2--Getting into the Groove

December 17, 2012

Hello family and friends. Thank you to Mom, Dad, Emmy, Tarryn J, and Morgan E for the letters this week.  Also, I received the Christmas packages from Home and Jakins.  You all are so kind!  It's going to be tough not opening them till Christmas.  I feel like a child all over again.

Quick order of business.  Since the mission home can't forward mail to my apartment, I may not receive a letter for up to two weeks if it is sent to the mission home.  If you want to send anything directly to me, you may ask my parents for the address.  (I don't think I'm supposed to publicly post what it is, so just ask them for it)  Also, I can't receive anything bigger than a normal envelope at the apartment because of the size of our mailbox, so for that stuff, send it to the mission office.  Alright, there's all the business.  I love you all!

So some more info about my area.  It seems like there is a dollar store, a liquor store, and a laundromat on every single block.  And I think the population of dogs to humans is about 1:1.  I haven't had any encounters yet, just a lot of barking.  On a really really clear day (which is extremely rare) you can see the "HOLLYWOOD" sign on the mountain miles away.  That was kinda cool.  Also, on a clear day, you can see some mountains that are snow capped.  Cool stuff.  I've had more good food this week.  There's a guy that's going to teach me how to make tortillas and carne asada for street tacos.  That will be VERY valuable info.

We had a mission wide Christmas party this week.  It was so much fun!  I kinda wish that I could have had a break like that a little bit more into my mission, but it was still a great time.  I got to see all my friends from the MTC again which was great.  Also, I met Aaron Wheatley's cousin who is serving here in Arcadia speaking English (Aaron is one of my closest friends for those that don't know the name).  The whole day was basically talent shows and missionaries singing songs.  It was awesome.  The best act of all was President Becerra dancing.  His family is from Mexico and he did a traditional Mexican dance with some of the Hermanas. (this computer isn't letting me upload the picture, so it will come later)

So do you remember the semi-homeless guy that I talked about last week, Antonio?  We ran into him AGAIN!  It was the weirdest thing ever.  We were talking with Marta, from Guatamala, who just arrived from Denver looking for a new job.  She had no money and was waiting to be picked up by an acquaintance to go to her home for the night.  We bought her lunch and sat on a bench and we were talking to her for a bit.  Then right in front of us as we were talking, we see Antonio.  So we stop him and start talking to him.  He thanked us for the help again, but he said that he had been sleeping outside still.  My companion gave him his nice fleece coat, we bought him some food, gave him some water and gave him a pass-along card and told him to call us if he needed anything else.  And, of course, we had a gospel conversation.  I feel like there is now a good chance that we'll run into him again somehow.

Scripture share for this week is a very simple one:  Phil 4:13.  I don't think I had ever read it before this week, but I think that it is very powerful.

Also, I want to share a quote from Pres. Uchtdorf's Conference talk from Oct 2012.  I'd like to invite you to read it a few times, because there are some huge promises in there:

"Discipleship is the pursuit of holiness and happiness. It is the path to our best and happiest self. Let us resolve to follow the Savior and work with diligence to become the person we were designed to become. Let us listen to and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit. As we do so, Heavenly Father will reveal to us things we never knew about ourselves. He will illuminate the path ahead and open our eyes to see our unknown and perhaps unimagined talents. The more we devote ourselves to the pursuit of holiness and happiness, the less likely we will be on a path to regrets. The more we rely on the Savior’s grace, the more we will feel that we are on the track our Father in Heaven has intended for us."  -Pres. Uchtdorf

On Tuesday, we will get to go to the LA Temple Visitor Center with Armando Hernandez.  Armando was my very first lesson in the mission field.  He knows everything is true, but is hesitant to marry his girlfriend that he lives with.  They have a few kids together.  These past two weeks, he has been listening to the audio of the Book of Mormon because he doesn't read very well.  It has changed him so much.  He says that he listens to it at work all the time.  It's really cool to see.  He was really confused by the scripture in the Book of Mormon that says that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one.  We tried to explain it was talking about unity, but I don't know how well that got across.  We are hoping that the spirit of the temple will be thing that helps him accept the baptism date.  The goal is to get married on Christmas, then get baptized on Dec 30.  We really hope it will work out well. (He is the first of our investigators to come to church. It was so good to see him there yesterday!)

Thank you all for all the prayers.  I think I can feel them.  I hope that you all have a fantastic Christmas.  Not having family around (or even snow for that matter) will definitely be a change.  I love you all!  As always, I would love to hear from anybody that is reading this.

God be with you till we meet again,

Elder Tanner Christensen

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

1st Week in the Field

December 10, 2012

Hello family and friends! It is so nuts that I'm here. It's all kind of been a blur this week.  Thank you to Mom, Emmy, and Tara for the letters.  I'll try to get responses out this week, but no promises.  So I thought that I felt good about Spanish leaving the MTC.  It is definitely not the same language coming from the lips of a native.'s been tough.  My companion is Elder Flores.  He is from Virginia and his parents are from El Salvador.  He speaks English better than Spanish, but he's pretty good at both.  Unfortunately he can only give me my least favorite response to any grammar question: "I don't know, it just sounds right."  Ugh...!  He's been speaking to me in all Spanish.  I admittedly have been getting a little frustrated the last two days, but I'm seeing improvements.  I just need to be more patient.
I am serving in the Belvedre 2 ward and I'm in the north portion of the ward boundaries.  It's right in the middle of East LA (it may technically be LA).  It's pretty rough, but I haven't ever felt in danger.  I've just been "cautiously aware" of my surroundings.  If you want to see what my area looks like, hop on Google Maps and look at were the 10 and the 710 cross and that's my area.  Most of our investigators live near City Terrace Drive.  Our area is huge, so we have a car.  That's a huge blessing.
Mom and Dad, that bike you got me was sooo pretty.  I am so grateful that you bought it for me. 
P1000171.JPGWe've eaten with a member almost every night.  Nothing scary yet.  But I attached a picture of some carne asada street tacos the Elders Quorum President's wife made.  They were everything I wanted to experience in the realm of food while being here.  I've seen a lot of Orange Fanta, a lot of bottled water, and a lot of iPhones and satellite dishes in homes that I know can't afford them.  It's been sad to see that.

We don't have any solid progressing investigators at the moment.  There are potentially some really really good stories coming, so stay tuned.  We had a confirmation on Sunday of a guy who had to come over a heavy drinking problem.  He is such a funny guy!  And he speaks English really well, so that makes it easier to relate to him.
Cool story of the week.  We are teaching a lady named Flor.  She speaks English and Spanish equally well, so we teach in English so her son can understand.  We drop by her house to talk to her, but she was busy.  We walk out and start talking to this 75ish year old man sitting on a bus stop bench drinking a ton.  He said that he had an appointment of some kind in the morning and he lived in a different city.  He traveled there because there would be no way to get there in the morning (for some reason).  It was kind of a cold night and he was planning on sleeping on the street.  His plan was to drink until he passed out so that he wouldn't need to deal with the cold.  We tried to convince him that it was too cold and that we would try to call somebody to come take care of him.  He refused to move.  We finally convinced him that he couldn't stay there.  So we walked back to Flor's house (maybe 50 feet away) and asked her if he could stay the night on her couch with how cold it was.  This single mom living in the roughest part of the town takes this drunk old man in for the night.  We later found out that she fed him too.  Sooooo cool!  I don't know if I would have done that.  The people here have such big hearts.  I love it.  Almost everybody is willing to strike up a conversation.  It's super cool.
Well, I love you all!  One of the things that I've liked doing here is listening to conference talks while I'm showering, getting ready, or am in the car.  So, PLEASE download some of your favorite talks and burn it on an audio CD and send it to me!  I would absolutely love it!  That's what I want most for Christmas, to be honest.  That, and letters.  So write me!  Thanks for all the support.  Have an awesome week, because I know that I will!
Elder Tanner Christensen

p.s. I GAVE A TALK MY FIRST WEEK!!  It went pretty well.  Nobody believed that I got here on Tuesday.  It was awesome.  The topic was the Ministry of Christ.  LOVE YOU!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Hello from California!

Tanner with President and Sister Becerra
December 4, 2012
December 4, 2012

Hello, Hello, Family!!!

I am alive and well! :)  President Becerra seems like he is going to be a great Mission President. I think he and Dad would get along very well. He has an awesome sense of humor. So, I didn't know that Grandma Christensen helped keep President Becerra's grandfather in the Church. He said that Grandma's area was Pueblo and she helped him stay active or become active again. It's amazing how many overlaps we have in our lives.

The flight was probably the smoothest flight I've been on. An Hermana in my district from the MTC was very kind to talk to me through the whole flight. That helped a lot. So with everything that has happened so far, it's all feeling very right.

In the middle of writing this letter, President Becerra pulled me aside for my first interview. He asked what the best lesson was that I learned in the MTC, and I told him everything I was feeling the last week. Oh...I never told you what I felt in the temple. So, I was praying with all the faith I had, and I asked to feel more faith in my abilities and trust in the Lord. I felt prompted to read D&C 5:10. I'll let you read it. Crazy, crazy, crazy! Then I read D&C 6:33-36 (I think those are the right verses), and then I read my mission scripture (D&C 68:6,8). I was pretty misty-eyed by the end of it. So tying this back to my talk with President Becerra, I told him that I knew I needed to live my life with more trust in the Lord. He said that was a good lesson to have learned because I'll need it. This is going to be very good!

So, first day to this point...It's currently 2:05 local time. We landed at 9:20. We walked out to meet the Becerras. We got all our luggage loaded and headed up to a point on the mountain where you could see almost our entire mission. It was pretty cool, and really smoggy. You'll see in the pictures I took how bad it is. In our mission, there are 6 million people, according to President. There are tons of trees, which is nice, and houses everywhere. No concentrations here and there, but just packed everywhere.

So from the mountain, we went to the mission office. We took a quick tour and then some pictures. (I think you'll be getting some of them.) The office is smaller than the one in Texas, but it is still nice. Then we had lunch. Panda Express! Oh...ya...real food. It was awesome! I forgot how much I like that goodness. Then we got some very general training...intro on bikes, and cars, and money cards.

And now, I'm writing this letter. :)  And wait, it's going to get better. From here, I'M TAKING A NAP FOR 2 HOURS. OH...YES!!

So, good night family. :)

Elder Tanner Christensen

p.s. For now, just send all mail to the mission office. Zone Leaders are in the office at least weekly, Once I know my address, I'll give it to you just in case something's going on.

p.p.s. I LOVE YOU!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Last Week in the MTC

Tanner & Brandon Wardrop
Tanner & Aaron Wheatley
District (only 4 of them go to Arcardia)
Thanksgiving Day--assembling 9,000 humanitarian kits
Elders Crane, Brueggeman, (Tanner) & Reinhardt
He's going to miss this!

Wow, the time here has flown by so fast!  The last six weeks have felt just as long as the first three.  I'm glad to hear that you all had a good Thanksgiving.  Thank you to the Kerr family for all the quick notes from Thanksgiving.  Thanks to Tara, Kenna, Emmy, Mom, Dad, and G&G K for the letters as well! (I apologize if I forgot to shout out to anybody that wrote me a letter.  If I did, send me a DearElder to scold me)  And Sister Jakins, thank you so much for that amazing treat!  That is the first of the treats that I haven't been able to conquer quite as fast :)  Congrats to Tara on her mission call to NYC!  Spanish will be sooo good!  You'll love it.

So this week has been a huge growing experience.  I'm glad that I was studying Hope and Faith, because I ended up needing it.  I haven't been sleeping very well, and my mind always races when I'm low on sleep, so I've needed that Faith and Hope to dispel all negative thoughts that came when my mind would start racing.  Thank you to everybody that gave me their insights into the subject.  Scripture share for this week is 1 Pet 5:2-11 and Moroni 7:31.  For the scripture in Moroni, missionaries are doing the exact same work that angels are doing.  I think that's cool to think about.

I can't think of anything that was super special about this week in particular, so I think I'll just spend the time I have writing about my overall MTC experience for all of you that are headed here in the coming months or years:

I have learned so much here in the MTC.  The MTC has this way of pointing out your weaknesses fast.  But that's okay, because then you have the chance to improve them.  In the first weeks, I realized how much I was lacking in patience with others and in the latter weeks I realized how much I was lacking patience with myself.  I feel like I've grown more in these 2 months spiritually than any other 2 month period of my life.  There are many missionaries that considers this place prison or just some pit stop on the way to the mission field.  It is so much more than that.  I'm sure the following statement will change once I get to California, but right now the MTC is my favorite place in the world.  

The work is hard, the schedule is long.  Satan does everything he can to try and stop you, but you keep going day after day.  The thought of giving up has come into my head dozens of times, but I know that it's not me putting that thought into my head.  It seems like I have felt the Spirit here almost hourly.  I have never had that happen before.  I have found dozens of golden scriptures that I didn't even know existed, and I've just scratched the surface.  Many people come into the MTC thinking that it's all about the language.  In fact, I would say that may be at the bottom of the list of important things to learn here.  More important lessons learned are: learning about yourself, learning how to interact with other people, relearning the Gospel, remembering how great the plan is that God has for us, learning how important yet simple this work is.  And then at the end of that list, learning Spanish.

Thank you all for the support that you have given me throughout these weeks.  I would appreciate your prayers throughout this upcoming week as big changes are heading my way.  I love you all!

Elder Tanner Christensen

P.S.  Two quick notes on letter writing.  I leave Tuesday morning.  If you want to write me using before I leave, it needs to be written by Monday at 11 a.m. for me to receive it.  For writing letters to me in the field, the mission office is no longer able to forward mail due to changes in the Arcadia postal service.  So, for the first week or two, you can email the letter to my sister at and she'll forward it to me through the email available for missionary families. Once I know where I'll be living, my mom will post my address.

P.P.S  I love you all!  Goodbye Utah. Hello California.