Monday, March 25, 2013

A Week of Classic Stories

Hello family and friends.  First off, thank you to Johnny L for the letter.  Thanks to my family for the package, and thanks to Hermana Franklin, Elder Jaynes, Sister Jakins, and my family for the emails. So this week had two classic missionary stories that need to be shared.

First off, much that is going on in the work is the same as last week.  Raul and Rosy are still waiting for papers.  Armando is wanting to wait for some reason that we have not yet figured out.  Hopefully there will be some clarity on this stuff this week.

Alright now, storytime.  They say that there are some stories that are better left till the end of your mission for your mother to hear.  Well, here are two of those kinds of stories.  In short, I got bit by a dog this week.  I've had a few close calls till this point, but this week, it finally happened.  Luckily, it wasn't bad at all.  He didn't tear my pants or break skin.  I just had a nasty bruise.  We knew that the dog didn't really like us very much.  I looked to the porch where his doghouse is and the rope that they tie him up with looked like it was in place.  We hit the fence a little bit and made some noise and he didn't move so we thought it was good.  We get to the porch and he stands up.  I realize that he isn't tied up and then I start thinking, "calm, stay calm."  He then kind of trots up to us.  He leaned in, for what I thought was to sniff me, but instead he bit me.  He let go right away.  I'm pretty sure it's because once he bit into my calf, he realized it was rock solid.  Haha.  But ya, all is well.

And now, story number two.  On Friday, we ride bikes.  Funny thing that happened, but isn't part of the story:  we were riding down this pretty dark alley and it looked kind of sketchy.  We ride up on the group of guys that are crowded around a cement wall.  Once I get closer I realized that they were tagging it.  The guy with the spray paint can turned to me and said, "I'm just erasing this, Bro."  I started laughing really hard as I kept pedaling away.  

Alright, back to the story.  We were pedaling up a hill about 2 miles from our house.  I get to the top of the hill and start going down the hill slightly to where we were going to lock up our bikes.  I turn back to see where Elder Bennett was, and he wasn't there.  I'm thinking, "oh man, this is the beginning of one of those really bad stories."  I run with my bike to the top of the hill, and I see Elder Bennett pushing his bike up the hill.  It turned out what I thought was gears shifting was actually his bike kind of breaking.  His derailer got stuck in his spoke somehow.  The housing for one of the bolts got stripped and we had no idea what we were doing.  Then these two guys that were drinking came up to us and offered to help.  They said that they didn't know much about bikes, but they did have a bunch of tools.  We messed around with stuff for about 30 min and found out the problem.  We ended up taking this 3 inch long bolt and force threaded the derailer back in place.  It looked so funny.  As Noe and I (pronounced No-EH, means Noah in Spanish) were working on the bike, Elder Bennett and Efraim (pronounced ef-ra-EEM, means Ephraim in Spanish) were talking.  We are pretty sure they were gang members.  They were super cool to us, and they liked everything we shared about the church.  So now I have first-hand evidence that gangsters love missionaries.

So now, back to the spiritual stuff of the week.  We had a mission conference this week.  I love having a small mission that makes these possible!  They talked a lot about finding.  Finding is what our mission struggles at most.  In our mission, as soon as an investigator comes to church, they have a pretty good chance of getting baptized.  I felt like almost everything that was shared was meant specifically for me.  It was so fantastic.  We found out there is going to be a change up in our mission in the coming weeks.  They are taking away almost all the cars and converting it all to bikes, buses and train.  I guess it's some kind of new experiment.  It definitely will be less convenient, but I think that in the long run, it will end up helping us find more people.

We started talking to a guy that lives in Raul and Rosy's apartment building.  His name is Pedro.  The first lesson, he said "no, I can't be baptized again" then during the second lesson, he agreed to baptism.  It was super cool to see.  We also had a good lesson with a guy named Francisco and his wife Lucia.  In the past, they have been "all religions are welcome here."  I think they are starting to see the difference in our religion.

Thanks for the love and support, everybody.  I feel your prayers daily.  There is no way I could do what I'm doing without divine help.  This week I studied a lot about submitting our will to the Lord.  I figured out a way to help me follow His will.  I think to myself, "Though I want _____, God wants _____.  Therefore, _____."  Hope this helps somebody that's reading this.  Love you all!

Elder Christensen

Monday, March 18, 2013

No Longer a Teenager

Hello family and friends.  Thank you to everybody for all the birthday wishes.  It feels so weird not being a teenager anymore.  You know how everybody says, "I don't feel that different."  Well for me, this birthday I kind of did feel different.  It was strange.  Anyway, thank you to G&G K, Emily, and Mom for the letters.  And thanks to the Martins and my family for the packages!  They were so fantastic!  Since when can Maryn write!  That was so adorable!
So this week was pretty dang good.  Let's jump right in.  There is this guy named Francisco that I first met in December.  I felt good about him from the first time I met him.  We have been stopping by once every week or two to set something up, and he was always busy.  And not like "no, I'm busy," but he was legitimately busy.  So this week, we FINALLY had a lesson with him.  We talked for about 2 min, and then he opened up out of the middle of nowhere how God saved his life.  He isn't attending a church right now, but he was raised Catholic.  We have a return appointment on Friday.  During that lesson, I felt almost as good about him as I did during our first lesson with Raul and Rosy.  It was fantastic.
There is a guy named Arturo that we started teaching.  We left him a Book of Mormon, and for some odd reason, we didn't leave him anything to read.  We were embarrassed about that one.  He started reading in the Book of Mormon at the Introduction and he read the testimonies of the witnesses.  He understood so much of it.  He has two jobs right now, so he is unable to attend church, but we'll work on that one.  He says, "asi es jovenes" a lot and for some reason it makes me laugh inside. ("asi es jovenes" = that's how it is young ones")
Raul, Rosy, and Armando all have broken cars.  Kind of a bummer.  They didn't come to church because of that.  Other than that, there isn't anything super new EXCEPT...alright this is a good one:  Raul's sister is a member (I think I mentioned that forever ago) but she's inactive.  The name of the Elder that past by all the time in Mexico to teach the family?  ELDER TANNER!  WHAT?  I freaked out a little bit when I heard that.  They now know my first name and we all kind of freaked out together.  Maybe that's kind of like a "last will be first and first will be last" kind of thing.  Ah, gospel humor...
Things are looking up a lot.  The 6 missionaries in my ward got together and talked with the Bishop yesterday. It was incredible.  I really hope I'm around next transfer to see all the cool stuff we have planned happen.
So ya, other than this stuff, nothing is incredibly new and exciting.  The work goes on.
Scripture of the week: D&C 84:106, and I hope you are all reading in the Book of Mormon daily.

Elder Christensen 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Week 14 in Cali - plumbing problems, appointments dropping like flies, and an explosion on the way, and some other stuff

Hello family and friends.  This week was just weird, frustrating, and still awesome.  Before we get more into that, thank you to Emmy, Mom, and Dad for the emails, and thanks to Hermana Tara Franklin, G&G Christensen, Millrace #11 and Uncle Clayne for the letters.  You all are fantastic.  Oh, to all my friends I have some good news.  Apparently Salt Lake has said that it is okay to email whomever you'd like now, so if you want to shoot me an email, I will be allowed to respond from now on! Woot!  The email address is  So ya.

So I think we'll start with the bad and steadily work toward the awesome.  We had a plumber come by our house 4 different times this week.  We had to wait for him a lot, so we got a lot of extra studying done.  That was kind of frustrating.  Thinking it was fixed, then having it not fixed.  Then everytime we would flush the neighbors would have issues.  It was awful.  We would drive to the other Elder's appartment every time we had to go to the bathroom.

It felt like appointments were dropping like flies again this week.  I am starting to wonder if that is normal and we were just super blessed during my first few months.  It admittedly is kind of tough not getting discouraged when that happens.  Sin embargo, estamos siguiendo adelante.

So here is some "mas o menos" news.  Jaime came to church!  At first we were super, super stoked.  So I go down and sit next to him.  About 10 minutes into sacrament meeting, I realize he is drunk.  I had no idea what to do.  I was admittedly having a tough time.  The bishop and the Elders Quorum President had a chance to talk to him, so hopefully that will help.  

On Saturday we helped a sister from our ward move a bunch of stuff from a rented storage shed.  We realized after we go there that she is officially a pack rat.  We tried as hard as possible to convince her she didn't need 98% percent of the stuff that was there, but she told us to leave it all outside and she would go through it all.  She was really torn about it all.  Her new appartment can hold about 40% of all the stuff if it was packed in every nook and cranny.  It was tough to see her in that position.

Alright, now the awesome news of the week.  Javier has a baptismal date and he essentially asked us what he needed to do to be prepared.  It was fantastic!  Also, Raul and Rosy are now officially engaged.  Raul bought her an engagement ring and roses this week.  We have finished teaching them everything.  We had the lesson about obeying and honoring the law, and they were asking about illegal immigration.  It sounded like they were about ready to pack up and go to Mexico.  It was so cool!  They are now officially more converted than I am.  They have almost got all the way through Oct 2012 Conference and are super excited about the April 2013 conference coming up.  General Conference is the first weekend of the next transfer, so hopefully I will get to stay for that.

We have gotten a fair number of member referrals that have some solid potential.  I know I've been talking about potential for the last few weeks, but hopefully this week will be the one that everything starts moving.

So I hope that all is going well there.  Thank you for the birthday wishes.  I've got two days left as a teenager!  Weirdness.  Maybe I'll do something crazy like buy tacos de tripa or tacos de cabeza.  Nope, nevermind.  That won't be happening.  Hopefully you all are reading in the Book of Mormon daily.

Love you all and thank you so much for your prayers.

Elder Tanner Christensen

Monday, March 4, 2013

"5 Months Down!".....says my mom :)

This week was pretty similar to last week.  We had some big goals that just didn't end up coming through in the end.  It's all good.  This week is a new week.  Thank you so much to Hermana Franklin and Jessica S for the letters.  Thanks to Emmy, Mom, and Mark for the emails, and a huge thank you to Jakins for the birthday package!  I'm forcing myself to wait to open the Milanos until my birthday.  Again, thank you all so much. 
Things are moving bit by bit with Raul and Rosy's marriage and also with Armando's marriage.  Hopefully Armando will be able to be baptized this month.  I believe that he now has all the information that he needs to get his divorce papers filed.  And they were married in California, so there shouldn't be any crazy waiting times.  Raul and Rosy want to go on a mission as a couple.  That may have been one of the bigger smiles I've lashed out on my mission.  Also, Raul's mom and niece said that they would go to church yesterday (in Mexico).  I don't know if they did or not, but they are doing so good!
I don't know if I've mentioned Javier before.  He lives with Armando and we have been teaching him on and off.  He wants to change his life around and he wants a fresh start.  To this point we have had a hard time teaching because he doesn't read very well and doesn't understand super quickly.  We were able to have a really good lesson with him on Sunday morning.  It was by far the best lesson we had had with him.  He is reading in the Book of Mormon, he just needs to do it slowly.  He also has finally got the proper way to pray figured out.  That was really cool to see.
We have some potentials and referrals that may get moving pretty soon, so hang on till next week for an update on that.
The highlight for the week for me was probably Sunday.  Elder Trauntvein and I (he's in my district) went on an exchange to sit in on the Young Men's meeting.  Many of the priests are Ward Missionaries and we are trying to get them more pumped up to help us out.  We had a lesson on the Atonement, like I'm sure many of you did.  The Young Men's President shared his part and then kind of turned the last 10 minutes to us with no real warning.  Elder Trauntvein and I switched back and forth testifying of how important the Atonement is.  Like many Young Men's groups out there, they were all on the back wall and had their phones and ipods out.  I shared a bit how we shouldn't be taking any of this stuff lightly and that the Atonement is literally the most important thing that there is.  Then Elder Trauntvein shared a story that I would now like to share:
"There is a train conductor that works by a bridge along a canal.  His job is to go out and hold the switch to lower the bridge for the train to come along, and to raise the bridge so the boats can pass through.  This train conductor had one son.  One day his wife got sick, so the train conductor had to take his son to work.  He sits his son down in the little shack along side of the tracks and then walks out to lower the bridge for a passenger train that's coming off in the distance.  As he is lowering the bridge, he hears his son call out to him.  His son had left the shack, walked onto the tracks, tripped, and was now crying out for help.  If the train conductor let go of the switch, the bridge would not have enough time to lower and everybody on the passenger train would be killed.  If he kept hold of the switch, he would save all the people on the train, but his son would be hit by the train right in front of his eyes.  What would you do?  Who would you choose to save?  For us, God chose to keep holding onto that switch.  We are the people on that train.  Christ sacrificed His life for us, but God made an equally excruciating sacrifice.  At any moment, God could have stopped everything, but he didn't.  'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved' (John 3:16-17).'" 
I know that the Atonement is everything.  As you come to understand it more, the weight of the sacrifice will grow within you.  Through the Atonement we can receive strength to overcome all things.  I know this is true.  Read the Book of Mormon, because it was written for us.  It's such a good book.  I love you all and hope to hear from you soon.
Elder Tanner Christensen