Monday, February 25, 2013

End of Week 12 in Cali

Hello family and friends.  Thank you to Mom, Dad, and Emmy for your emails, and thank you to Tara for your letter!  I am definitely behind on the responses to letters.  Preparation days are way more busy than I expected.  Know that I absolutely love getting your letters and I send you all my love!

So before we get into the business of the week, I thought that it would be cool to return to the topic of food for a second.  So this week, I had the first experience where food beat me.  Couldn't keep it down.  We were given goat to eat.  Tasted pretty good, but it just did not sit well at all.  So there's that.  But now, the strangest thing that I have eaten thus far on my mission: juerito tostadas.  Translated and interpreted: raw pig skin cut up into about 1/4 inch strips with lettuce and beans.  It was admittedly a little scary.  I didn't really understand what it was until after I ate it.  Description: consistency of gummy worms, and it didn't taste like much.  One of the other Elders in my district was sitting right next to me as we were eating it.  His face was priceless throughout the whole meal.  Just like, "what am I going to do?"  Good times.

Armando.  I don't really know where to go from here.  We did find out this week that he is not legally divorced.  So that is probably why the miracles were being held back when we were pleading for them.  So I guess that's the next step.  He already knows everything that he needs to know, we just need to get this stuff worked out.

Raul and Rosy.  They never cease to amaze me.  I think they will be passing me up on the spiritual scale very soon.  In our "lessons" we kinda just sit there and lightly direct the conversation and they just teach themselves.  The Book of Mormon is powerful.  We are still waiting for her papers to be worked out.  Hopefully that will come soon!

We have been visiting with some inactives this week.  There is a recent convert of ours, Jaime, that has fallen back into his drinking habit and I think he is starting to lose hope in himself.  He is another one of those guys that knows everything already, he just needs to act.

We have also been having a hard time finding people to teach, so we have started to go by some formers.  Particularly, we were going by the ones that had drop notes that were along the lines of, "really hard to find" or "busy all the time."  We met some really cool people and hopefully something will come of that this week.  If I may, I would love to petition for your prayers on the behalf of our finding.  We have kind of had a tough week with that.  But we have some awesome plans for this week, so hopefully it will pick up.

This week we have Zone Conference.  It should be super great considering one of the topics is Finding.  We really need it.  President Becerra is the perfect mission president for me.  His personality reminds me of Dad a lot.  Takes business seriously, but ready to crack a joke at any second.  Awesome stuff.

Elder Bennett and I are getting along really well.  We laugh a lot.  We are still working out unity during teaching, but we are well on our way.  We both are feeling like this might be our only transfer together, so we are trying to make the most of the time we've got.  

Thank you for all your prayers family and friends.  It sounds like my "friends" reading audience is getting smaller and smaller.  Congrats to all my friends in the MTC (not that they would be reading this).  The mission is the best thing that could happen to me.  I hope that none of you will recognize me once I get back.  (and not just because I probably will be up a few pounds)  I love you all.  For scriptures this week, I would recommend to read Alma 47.  It's the story of Amalickiah and Lehonti.  It teaches some important principles about temptation and how the devil works with our mind.  Don't fall into the trap that Lehonti did.

Love and kindness,
Elder Tanner Christensen

Monday, February 18, 2013


Hello, hello, family and friends.  Thank you to Jakins for the letter and Mom and Dad for the Valentine's Day candy!  So today is transfer day and I am...drum roll please...STAYING.  Super excited about that.  Elder Flores got transferred, which was less than exciting.  He is actually our Zone Leader now, which is still in our district.  It will be good to still have him around.  We learned a lot together.  My new companion is Elder Bennett. He has 6 months left in his mission.  He was a trainer before coming to my area.  He was in our zone, so we already know each other.  Zones here are a lot smaller than the zones in Texas.  We only have 18 in our zone.  He is from Alabama and his Spanish sounds really good.  He's the new District Leader for our district.  It looks like it will be a good transfer.

Jeaneth got confirmed this week!  It was such a good experience.  Elder Flores confirmed her.  She wants to go to the temple to be baptized for her grandma.  As of now, we are having a hard time finding her grandma's name and I don't know if they know all the required information.  So we'll be working with the family history people this week to get that all figured out.  Grandmas, if you have any suggestions I'd love your help.

We were planning on having a baptism for Armando this week.  Summary: it didn't happen.  So at first, we didn't want to shove them into the marriage, so we were leaving it to them to get the marriage license.  On Wednesday, we started jumping in to see if they wanted to do it.  They seemed on board, so we got their stuff translated and we went to the clerk's office on Thursday to get the license.  We were 20 minutes late, so that was a bummer.  Wait, it gets worse.  We thought, "okay, we'll come back tomorrow."  Side story real quick:  Armando has been unemployed for the last 2 months.  Alright, so Armando tells us that he got a job offer to start on Friday and if he didn't show up to work on Friday, he would lose the chance to work there.  So he was forced to decide to pass on the job to be able to get his marriage license, or take the job and delay everything.  He took the job.  We put in a lot of time and effort this week to help this baptism happen because he has been investigating on and off for over a year.  That one hurt pretty bad, to be honest.  I'm not really sure what is going to happen from here.  He works all the hours the clerk's office is open.  Ya, it hurt...and still hurts.

Happy news, Raul and Rosy are amazing as always!  Still no baptism date, but they started listening to Oct 2012 conference.  They really liked the "Ask the missionaries they can help you" talk and the "know it, live it, love it" talk.  In Elders quorum on Sunday, Raul randomly spit out a bunch of awesome stuff about being instruments in the hands of God and helping be the answer to somebody's prayer.  I think he may have been listening to President Monson.  We also took Raul and Rosy to the "Despedida" activity.  This is the testimony meeting with all the outgoing missionaries.  They got to meet President Becerra, which they thought was awesome.  Visits with them always lifts my spirits.  I really hope that they can get everything pulled together in the next six weeks so that I'll still be in the ward to see their baptism.

So recently I've been studying a lot about becoming.  The key to becoming is not just doing the right things, but doing them for the right reasons.  It's not just about going to church, reading the scriptures, and praying.  It's about doing all those things for the right reasons.  There's a big difference between doing these things for the right reasons and just going through the motions.  We will not become anything if we are just going through the motions.  It's been a cool week of study.  Alma 36:3-27 the account of Alma the Younger's conversion.  Reading the account after helping people through the repentance process was really cool.  His account is so powerful.

Hope all is well, family and friends!  I'd love to hear from you all.  Just to clarify, my address is still the same.  Love you all.

Elder Tanner Christensen

Monday, February 11, 2013

Week 10--A Great Week!!

Hello family and friends, in case you haven't seen the picture already that is attached with this blog, this week was a good one.  Janet (and we found out it's actually spelled Jeaneth, but it sounds the same in Spanish) got baptized this week and she asked me to baptize her.  It was such a sweet experience.  More on that in a second.  Thank you to Gioia R, Megan W, Ali H, Mom and Emmy for your letters this week!  This week I'm going to make an extra effort to set aside some time for letters because I am very behind.  Disculpenme, tengan paciencia.
So the baptismal service was super great.  We had seven nonmembers there (closer to twelve if you count kids under the age of 8).  Her inactive mom and inactive sister gave the prayers.  Her sister has a nonmember boyfriend that came to the baptism so hopefully we will be talking with him soon.  We were hoping for more people to show up, but I think that she liked that there weren't tons of people there.  It was a really cool experience.  Elder Park was able to make it.  He was able to be one of the witnesses.  While I was changing, they had a little testimony meeting and he bore his testimony in Spanish! (He got moved to English work after being with us for 2 weeks)  His new trainer is from Mexico and currently serving in English work so hopefully they are still working on Spanish.  I wish I could have heard his testimony, though.  Cool experience.
We had a good talk with Raul and Rosa (found out she prefers Rosy, so she will be referred to as Rosy from now on).  It looks like Raul and Rosy will keep living together until she can get the necessary documents.  Kind of a bummer that there is that delay, but they are still growing so fast.  We talked to them about prophets and General Conference and they wanted a copy of the Liahona to read.  The best part of the talk with them is that they said the first time they talked with the Elders, they didn't really feel it, but for some reason with Elder Flores and me they knew that this was the right thing.  That really helped me feel like I'm here for a reason.  It was cool.
Armando is now having some document issues, but nothing like Rosy.  There is a chance we will have to move the baptism back a week or two for them to get married first.  He brought up a little worry this week.  The way he phrased it really made us laugh inside. "Yo respeto la agua mucho."  I don't know if it has a different connotation in Spanish, but translating it to English in my head first made me laugh.
All is well here.  We will find out on Saturday 16th if we are being transferred or not, so don't put anything in the mail with my apartment's address later than Tuesday 12th until further notice.  Love you all so much.  I've been studying a lot recently about the steps to become what we want to become.  It's a really cool topic to study.
Have a great week and read the Book of Mormon, because according to Raul and Rosy it changes lives.  So believe them if you don't believe me.
Elder Tanner Christensen

Monday, February 4, 2013

Week 9 in Cali--An Exciting Week!

Hello family and friends.  This week was a really exciting one.  We had 7 people in sacrament meeting - the most that has been had for our area since October.  This week was also an awesome week for letters!  Thank you to Taylor L, Jessica S, Nelson S, Johnny L, Mom, Emmy, and Dad for all the letters.  I'm sorry that I won't be able to write responses to everybody today, but I'll get a few done.  And thank you to Mom for the package!!  So so good.  The CDs were probably my favorite part.  Listening to conference talks has been a favorite past time here.  Also, an "unknown" user commented on the Week 2 blog.  Thank you sooo much for that little message whoever you are.  I really appreciated it.  My mom will copy and paste all those comments so I can see them.  So if you want to share a little something, I'd love to hear from you.

If I remember correctly, Tara Franklin and Brett Jaynes are quickly approaching their mission departure days.  Congrats!  You are both going to love it so much!  You will quickly realize how little you know and how little you feel prepared.  Haha it's great.  But you both will grow so fast.  It is tough to describe how great that time is.  I hope you make the most of the time in the MTC.

First off, the sad news.  I believe last week I mentioned that Elder Park had been dealing with some stress and anxiety.  President decided to move him to English work, so he is no longer with Elder Flores and I.  I really enjoyed those two weeks of being a trainer.  I feel like I learned a lot through being able to teach him and help him out with stuff.  Hopefully the opportunity to train will come again.

Now the good news.  I had an interview with the President this week, and his first comments were about Elder Park.  He has been doing much better.  So it is good that he won't need to go home for this stuff.  Hopefully we'll meet up in Spanish work again in the future.  In my interview with President, it kind of turned into a 10 min long 1-on-1 teaching session.  I asked him how we can in turn truly internalize something that we have learned.  There has been a lot of studying that has come from that conversation.  He said that "anxious engagement with patience" is how we can get that to happen.  Acting leads to understanding.  I'm understanding the Gospel more now because I have been studying it and living it 24/7 for the last 4 months and that understanding will continue to come as I continue to act.  It was a great conversation.  I'm starting to realize why it is so necessary for investigators to act for themselves to gain a testimony.  

Raul and Rosa are doing really well.  We had a lesson this week where they spent 30 minutes sharing scriptures that they liked.  It was so cool to see that.  Raul has been struggling with smoking, but has gone 3 days without smoking.  They have stopped drinking coffee and tea.  The only thing that is left now is the marriage thing.  We had a talk with them about everything that's been going on.  They are at the point now that they need to decide whether to separate and get baptized next week, or wait two months to get Rosa's papers, get married, then get baptized.  We invited them to fast about it and they'll give us their decision soon.  They only have each other here; everyone else is in Mexico.  This is going to be a tough decision for them, but I'm not too worried.

Janet is still on track to be baptized this upcoming Sunday.  We have a lot to teach her, but it's still very possible.  She is catching onto everything so quick.  And her inactive Mom came to church on Sunday!  It was sooo cool.  I believe it was the first time she had been to church in years.

Thank you for all the love, support, and prayers.  If you have about a half hour, read "Seek Learning By Faith" by Elder Bednar.  It talks about how acting on the part of the learner leads to understanding.  Great talk.

Love you all,
Elder Tanner Christensen

The following paragraph was in Tanner's letter to his's so "Tanner" like! The sweet, gentle, yet totally sarcastic boy we all love continues to make us laugh!  :)

So, I guess the winter here in Cali has been scary cold, too. There was a north breeze today that almost forced me to put on a sweater, but then I just kept rocking the short sleeves anyway. At night, it dropped into the 30s the other day. We don't have heat, so that night we had to use a space heater and wear hoodies.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Week 8

Hello family and friends.  It's been a very interesting week.  First off, thank you to Mom, Dad, Emmy, Elder Morgan Evans, Vanessa W, and Bro Moulton for the letters.  I've heard about many Young Women getting mission calls.  Congrats to all of you!
So first, let me explain some stuff that's been going on with me.  I was sick for a whole week 2 weeks ago, and now I'm sick again with almost the same thing.  Last time, I didn't talk to the Mission President's wife at all and was just letting Dayquil and Nyquil take care of the problem for me.  This time, I called her and her suggestions have been helping me feel better much quicker.  Hopefull by Wednesday I'll be back to 100%.  I weighed myself for the first time since leaving the MTC this week.  In the MTC, I gained 10 lbs, and now...wait for it...I'm up another 10 lbs.  In my defense, I have been working out like never before in my life, so I'd like to think that it's at least half muscle.  My pants are still fitting fine.  Also, Mom you always said that if my hair got too short it would just stick up everywhere.  Well now we never have to wonder whether or not that was true.  I got a haircut and using the words of a member of my district "You look like a baby bald eagle."  The skinny neck probably doesn't help that image at all.  We had a good laugh over that.  So ya, that's me.
Elder Flores and Elder Park are doing well.  Elder Park is having some problems, and I'm doing my best to help him with that.  I feel like he's in this particular companionship for a reason.  He's kind of a reserved person, so I don't know how much he wants my help.  We consider every time we get him to laugh to be a victory.  Laughing really helps the situation a lot.  Knowing how frustrated he must feel with all this, I don't know how much to put on him.  We are going to Arcadia today to talk with President.  Hopefully that will help him.
So the biggest news of the week comes from a guy I haven't talked about in a while.  We have still been meeting with Armando about once a week.  After a really good talk we had this past week, he has finally accepted a baptismal date.  He will be getting married to the long-time girlfriend and be getting baptized on Feb 17.  Now, what makes this date so cool:  There is an Hermano in our ward that is a convert of a little over a year.  He will be going through the temple on Feb 16.  The missionary that baptized this Hermano is coming to the temple with him.  This same missionary is Armando's favorite out of all of them, so it looks like this missionary will be able to baptized him! (this may have played a role in Armando finally accepting the date)  We are so happy.
We are still waiting for Rosa's papers.  She needs the papers so that she and Raul can get married.  It's kinda hard to give them a date while everything is out of our hands.  Rosa made arrangements with her supervisor to work the morning shift on Sundays and leave a little early so she can come to church!  Yesterday she was able to come and she loved it!
Janet is still progressing well.  We have her baptism date set for 2 weeks from now, and she will definitely be ready.
I don't know if I mentioned this, but Armando brought a friend to church a few weeks back.  His name is Javier and he works at El Tepayac (Man v Food guy ate there.  Javier might be able to hook us up)  He has a baptism date too and is progressing well.  He learns a little bit slower than others, but he's keeping all his commitments. 
So this week was pretty great.  Looking back, we had appointments dropping like flies.  We found a few new people that have potential, but we had very little success other than the progression of our current progressing investigators.  Also, there were 3 baptisms right before I got here.  2 of the 3 are less active now and 2 of the 3 are having Word of Wisdom problems again.  I know that help from the ward is what they need, but we just need to coordinate specifics with them a bit more.
So there's my week.  Thank you all for your love, support, and prayers.  Scriptures of the week are Alma 22:16 and Ether 12:4.  If you feel like you are low on hope, apply this scripture.  Also, as always, if you are reading this, then you probably have time to kill, so go read the Book of Mormon.  I hear it's a pretty good book.
Love you all!
Elder Tanner Christensen