Monday, January 21, 2013

Week 7 - HUGE Change Up

Hello hello family and friends.  So before I get into the crazy news of this week, I want to thank Mom, Dad, Mark J for the letters, and a HUGE thank you to Tara F for the "Late Christmas / New Year's" package.  It is always so good to hear from all of you.  To Mark, I don't know if I'll have time today to write a proper response, but just to make you feel a little bit more jealous, I successfully made carne asada this week and made one of the best tortas I've ever had.  It was a really good week in regards to food.  I look forward to sharing all the glorious food with all of you once we get home.

Alright, now the HUGE news of this week.  So last week was transfer week and we didn't get any call, so we assumed that everything was going to stay the same.  FALSE.  On Tuesday, we missed a call from of the APs at about 4:00, then at about 4:10 President texted us saying "Call me ASAP."  We called him at about 4:30.  He was talking to me and he asked me to put the phone on speaker phone and to bring Elder Flores into the room.  My first thought was, "Don't take Elder Flores from me!"  He then started talking and he said something like: "Alright Elders, something has come up and we are going to be sending you into battle.  Are you ready for that?"  At this point I noticed he was talking to both of us.  My next thought was "Don't take Raul and Rosa from me!"  Haha.  He then said, "We would like to call you both as trainers."  TRAINERS!  Elder Flores and I looked at each other and were in total shock.  We are co-training Elder Park from Florida.  So all that happened at about 4:30 and we got him at our apartment at 6:15.  It was such a crazy day.  Then the following day he got the stomach flu that has been going around the MTC.  He's better now but super low on energy so the days are pretty hard for him.  He didn't have a solid foundation of Spanish going into the mission, so he is having a hard time understanding everybody.  Since we are in a trio now, Elder Flores and I are almost positive that one of us will be out of here next transfer.  But it's been so nuts.  

Because Elder Park has been sick, Elder Flores and I have had a lot of time to talk about long term plans for the area.  We have two ideas to start switching things up a little.  We are thinking of having a Family Home Evening at the church where we are going to watch Finding Faith In Christ.  As a part of it, we are going to try to get everybody pumped up to bring a nonmember to the activity to find some more people to teach.  Additionally, once we start teaching these people, we'll have the member support already in place since all these people will be friends of a member.

Also, in our ward, the stake president has the goal to divide the ward.  In talking to Elder Park, he said that in his ward the ward mission leader wanted to start focusing on supporting all the people that are already members.  Once they started doing this, member involvement in missionary work shot up as well.  So we think that work with inactive members will 1) help the stake president achieve his vision for the ward and 2) give us tons more people to teach.  These ideas are still kind of a work in progress, but it is fun being here and to have the vision of where all this can go.  If any of you return missionaries have any awesome ideas for finding, I'd love to hear what worked for you on your missions.

Raul and Rosa update, we haven't been able to see them all week because of Elder Park being sick, then once he got better, Rosa got pretty sick and didn't want us over.  We still have high hopes for them.  Their baptism date will need to get moved back a bit while we figure out marriage stuff.

I don't know if I have talked about Janet at all, but Janet might be baptized before Raul and Rosa.  Janet is the daughter of an inactive single mom.  Janet is progressing really well.  She has been to church twice.  We watched Finding Faith in Christ with her, and she gave us a name of somebody that should see it.  (this other girl's parents are against her going away from the Catholic church so I don't know how all that will work out, but it will work out)  She has accepted a baptism date for Feb 10 and is well on her way to meet that day.  After we invited her to be baptized, she said "Tell me what I need to do to get ready."  It was so awesome!  And it was also Elder Park's first baptism invite.  It was a great moment.

So ya, this was an awesome week.  We have a pretty good idea of where we want to go from here.  Hope all goes well.  As always, if you are reading this, I love you and would love to here from you.  For the scripture share, I'll be sharing something that is modern scripture, because it comes from an apostle.  Elder Bednar's article in the Ensign from April 2012.  It made me see grace and the Atonement in a whole new way.  President Becerra, Brad Wilcox, and now Elder Christensen say that Latter-day Saints don't understand enough about grace.  I feel like I can say that since I am one of those that didn't understand it enough.  Another good talk (I may have already recommended it) is "His Grace is Sufficient for You" by Brad Wilcox.  

The Church is true.  If you know somebody that is inactive, bring them back.  I think that is some of the best member missionary work that can be done.  Vayan con Dios.

Elder Tanner Christensen

Monday, January 14, 2013

Transfer Week

Hello friends and family.  Today marks the day of a new transfer.  And my area is...drum roll please...staying the same!  Super stoked about that.  Elder Flores and I will be here for at least 5 more weeks.  This transfer is one week shorter for some reason.  Thank you to Dad, Emmy, Mom, and the Jakins for the letters this week.  It's always good to hear from you. 

I hear it has been pretty nasty cold up there.  If it helps you feel any better, I haven't worn long sleeves in 3 weeks.  Haha.  That's slightly misleading, because I have to wear a coat every night.  It dips all the way into the 40s at night.  Last Pday was awesome.  I learned how to make carne asada, salsa verde, salsa rojo, a running guacamole, and tortillas.  So much fun.  We bought all the stuff to do it all on our own today.  Hopefully that will go as well as it did on Monday.

This week was so good with Rosa and Raul.  So she doesn't have her papers, and I guess you need papers to get married civilly.  Rosa also works on Sundays, so she hasn't been able to attend church yet.  So that's all the bad news.  Now all the good news.  Thursday, they both came to the weekly ward activities.  This was the first time that they got to meet the people from the ward other than the people that we have brought to lessons.  I think it went really well.  Friday morning they made us breakfast.  We had eggs and some of the best pancakes I have ever had.  Saturday afternoon we were able to go to the Temple Visitor's Center with them.  During the video describing eternal families, Rosa started crying.  They sure have an amazing understanding of everything.  For example, we asked them why they thought that Christ was baptized if he was already pure.  Answer:  To set an example for us.  They then went on to think out loud a little bit and said something along the lines of: "So we were both baptized as babies.  But if baptism is to wipe away sins, then it doesn't make sense to baptize a baby, right?"  Elder Flores and I are constantly in shock during the lessons with them.  As I mentioned before, being sealed in the temple is their end goal.  Oh, and Raul wants me to baptize him!  And Rosa wants Elder Flores to baptize her.  There is such a sweet spirit around them.  I know that the road to their baptism won't be an easy one, but they are definitely on the right track.

Little funny story of the week.  I was kinda stressed out one night with all the things that I want to accomplish that I don't have time for.  There were also some things going on that depended on other people.  As I was talking about what I was feeling in the car, Elder Flores said, "No worries, God's got it covered."  Then I responded, "What makes you say that?"  He pauses for a second, and says, "that bumper sticker."  I turn to see this bumper sticker and I started laughing hysterically.  It was just the comic relief I needed.  And it's true, "No worries, God's got it covered"  It seems like all of my studies this week have tied back to "Trust in the Lord" in some way or another.  Scripture share for this week: Mosiah 23:20-24, Mosiah 24:13-15.

Love you all so much.  If you are reading this message, that means you are on the computer.  If you are on the computer, that also means you probably could spare 10 min to read in the Book of Mormon.  So once you are done reading this, go read in the Book of Mormon for 10 min.  It will be worth it.

Vayan con Dios

Elder Tanner Christensen

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Week 5--Roller Coaster Week

Hello family and friends!  This week has been a very interesting one.  Before I get into this week, thank you to Mom, Dad, Jakins and Aaron W for the letters!  I'm starting to find out it's really hard to find free time on PDays, so if in any case I don't write a reply, I'm so sorry, but I still love you! 
So on Tuesday, I had a really good talk with President Becerra.  We talked about all the headaches and sleeping issues I've been having.  He has allowed me to start taking an hour nap every day until I can start getting all the way back into the groove of things.  He is so nice, and very supportive.  He also suggested Melatonin to calm my mind down before going to sleep, and that has been helping a lot.  So I felt like I was starting to get back into the groove of everything yesterday, and now I have a cold coming on.  It just never ends. Ha ha.  You just have to be able to laugh about it.
Investigator updates:  Raul and Rosa are still awesome, but we have a few problems we need to resolve.  We brought up the Law of Chastity and the problem that it is that they are living together.  They talked it over and said they don't want to get separated and they want to go through this whole process together.  So that's the good news.  Raul needs to stop drinking coffee and smoking and he's working at it bit by bit.  Now the bad news.  Rosa works on Sundays and her supervisor won't let her have Sundays off.  We are going to try to get help from the ward to find her a different job.  Elder Flores and I both feel like the solution for her specifically is to change jobs.  We asked them to fast about everything and we haven't had a chance to follow up with them, but they sounded like they were on board.
Armando has said that he will get baptized and married, but he's just waiting for the "right time".  I think he's expecting some kind of Joseph Smith experience or something.  We're trying to help him realize that now is the time and that there is no reason to wait. Cool story: he brought a friend to church on Sunday, and we have an appointment with the friend tomorrow.  Also, he said that of the 10 missionaries Armando has had (he's been investigating for over a year) Elder Flores has been the most helpful.  That brought Elder Flores to tears.  I think it all ties to his patience and the fact that he got him to start listening to the Book of Mormon.  Funny thing about that appointment is that Armando was getting after me because I wasn't crying with him.  He asked for President Monson's phone number so he could report me.  We had a good laugh.
While we're on the topic of Elder Flores, I don't think I've said anything about him. He is from Virginia. His parents are from El Salvador, so he's fluent in English and Spanish. He has been in the mission a little bit over a year. He is our district leader. He doesn't learn things super quick as we're studying, but his desire to learn and understand is like nothing I've ever seen. He's a really good example of hard work and patience. We have transfers coming up this next Monday, and I would be beyond happy if I got to stay with him in our area. We laugh a lot...A LOT. That helps keep everything flowing really well. His sense of humor is pretty similar to mine.
Oh, and Casandra, the inactive pregnant teenager in our ward that we just met, came to church yesterday!  YA!  When we asked her what it was feeling like, and she said "Honestly, I'm feeling pretty aweful right now.  I just feel like everybody is staring at me."  If there is one thing that I have learned, it is this (and it comes with an invitation):  When there is somebody that comes to church for the first time in forever, make them feel welcome! Don't be thinking, "oh what are they doing here. Did you hear what she did?"  NO!  That is in direct oppostion of what Christ would do.  They are trying to get back on the right path.  Don't push them away!  If they are a few feet from the strait and narrow path, grab their hand and put that hand on the iron rod!  I kinda feel strongly about this if you couldn't tell :)
I would love to hear from anybody that is currently reading this.  I love you all and hope that all is well.  The scripture I want to share this week is Mosiah 10:10,11,19.  When we are going into battle, we have to go with the Lord on our side and we can't just rely on our own strength.  So if you are approaching a new battle this week, this month, or this year, make sure you are going forward with the Lord at your side.  Prayer, scripture study, church attendance.  It's that easy.  If there is one thing that I want to accomplish before the end of my mission, it is to be able to trust in the Lord 100%.  I've definitely been improving on that.  Poco a poco, paso a paso.
Vayan con dios,
Elder Tanner Christensen