Monday, August 26, 2013

Week 38 in Cali (Week 47 overall)

Hey everybody. 
Unfortunately, I don't have a lot to share about this week in particular.  It was, admittedly, pretty tough.  We switched to bus this week.  We tried bike the first day, but it was pretty bad.  Elder Marchan started having some crazy joint and muscle pain.  Elder Smith and I would ride back to our area (at our fastest) in 25 min and it took me and Elder Marchan 80 min.  So we'll probably be sticking with bus.  I learned this week that I have to get way, way better at planning.  We missed a lot of buses by just a few minutes, which cost us 20-30 min each time.  Because of our difficulties with transportation, it was a lot harder to get the drop-in-when-they're-usually-home lessons.  Finding was pretty rough, too.  This next week, we are going to be a lot better at talking to everyone.  I found out people are not used to talking while they're on the bus.  Looks like it throws them off pretty bad. 
Elder Marchan and I are getting along okay. I need to find a way we can start laughing.  We're having a tough time getting on the same page.  I'm still working hard to get him pumped about the work.  We are teaching a family that reminds him of his family, so hopefully that will spark something.
I've been having a super awesome study about the Atonement recently.  So we've all been taught that we need faith and repentance to have access to the Atonement, right?  This week, I was diving into questions like, "why does it have to be that way?" "How is it possible that mercy overpowers justice (why does that work / why is that sufficient)?" "How are the fall and the atonement linked?", etc.  It's helped me gain a greater appreciation for what Amulek called, "the great and last sacrifice."  Here are some helpful chapters that I've found: 2 Ne 2, Alma 34, Alma 11, Alma 42, D&C 19, D&C 45:3-5.  I'd highly recommend going into this stuff and studying it.  President McConkie said, in his final talk, (paraphrasing) "The Atonement is the most important, least understood doctrine that we have."  It's been pretty cool.  I've come to realize how perfect the Plan is and how it can't work any other way.
Love you all, and have a great week.  Thank you for all your prayers.
Elder Christensen

Monday, August 19, 2013

Week 37 in California

Hello family and friends.  The computers here are struggling a bit so I don't have tons of time.  Sorry in advance for the semi-short letter.

So the mini-miracle for this week came during a member meal.  There is a family here, the Balderas, that knows almost everyone in their neighborhood.  We have never been able to have a solid "sit-down-and-tell-us-everything" session.  So, we are there for a member meal and they say, "we have a surprise for you."  Half an hour later, a mom, Graciela, and her two kids walk in.  We finish up eating and talk with her and help her talk through what she wants for her kids and how the church can help.  Right now, her big obstacle is getting to church.  To be to church by 9:00, they would have to be on the bus by about 7:45.  Being a single mom, that's a little tough.  She was going to come this week, but her kids didn't get up. We have another dinner/lesson with them tomorrow.

Bad news, we have almost totally lost contact with the Garcias.  I have no idea what's going on.  Hector isn't answering his phone and when we stop by, only the wife is there and we just kind of yell back and forth from the front door to the back room.  That's been a little frustrating.

About two months ago, the missionaries that we were sharing the car with got moved and two missionaries were brought in. These two new missionaries weren't interested in having the car, so we have been in the car all the time for the last 2 months or so.  Now, remember how I said a few months ago that we were switching to all bike and bus?  Well, it's happening this week along with everything else. (I think something super cool is on the way.) And, we are trying to find a new apartment with desperation. Our current apartment is 3 miles out of our area, so we need to find something closer to our area since we will be on bikes 100% of the time now.

Elder Marchan is still coming along bit by bit.  He's totally opposite from my last companion in every way I can think of.  Since I was with Elder Smith for 4.5 months, the transition has been a little weird.

So ya, that's all.  Thanks for all the emails.
Elder Christensen

p.s. I saw Raul and Rosy at Stake Conference last Sunday. They are still doing awesome. Raul has the Aaronic Priesthood. I heard they are interested in getting sealed in Mexico. I hope (for my own selfish reasons) that they don't do that. ;)

Monday, August 12, 2013

All With Patience and Time

Hello friends and family.  So last week I told you all that I was going to be training!  Truth!  So this week, I got Elder Marchan.  He is from Guerrero Mexico.  He is 21.  He worked insane hours as a construction worker in Texas right before coming out.
I'm missing Elder Smith a lot.  I didn't realize before how much I fed off of him.  He was always on it, and I'm having a bit of a hard time adjusting.  All with patience and time, right?
As a district (this is a cool one) in the past 2 weeks, we have found 41 new investigators.  September and October are going to be awesome for all of us.  In August, we might be able to squeeze in the Garcia's depending on her health, but it looks like September at the latest for them. We still have a lot of people that we aren't really sure what they are going to end up being.  It's kind of cool and terrifying all the same time.  We have all these people, and they could either tank or take off.  It'll be interesting.
Learned a lot about patience this week.  I've been thinking a lot about my trainer, Elder Flores, this week.  Being on the side of trainer is definitiely a different one than trainee.  I find myself asking, "what would Flores do?" a lot.  He was so perfect for me.  Just what I needed.  Actually, I think all my companions have been like that, so we'll see what Elder Marchan and I have waiting for us.  Looks like it will all work out well.
Love you all, sorry for the shortness.
Elder Christensen

p.s.  Just for you, Mom!

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Week Packed Full of Awesomeness!

Alrighty.  This week has been nuts.  This email will be short, but jam-packed full of awesomeness.  Let's get started.  Mom, HUGE thank you for the package!  Love the talks.  Thanks for those constant reminders of the ones that care back home.  Thank you to Dad for the awesome letters of advice.
HUGE congrats to Gioia Reni on her mission call to Italy Milan.  Hope to be hearing good things from you really soon.
Transfers:  I am STAYING!!  Elder Smith is gone.  That was really tough.  We have been together for 4 months (1/6 of a mission).  Kinda crazy when we thought about it like that.  His new companion is super super awesome.  He's a former zone leader and they are in an area that was started 2.5 months ago.  Elder Smith has been in really new areas his whole mission.  We had soooo much fun together. 
Companion:  I don't know who my companion is because....wait for it...I'M TRAINING!!  Ya Woo!  Super stoked about that.  The last time I trained was when I was with Elder Flores 7.5 months ago.  And in that case it only lasted for 2 weeks.  I'll pick him up tomorrow.
Baptisms:  Jaime DID get baptized!!  It was so fantastic.  It technically doesn't count as a baptism as far as the numbers we report, but we are very very excited about it.  When Elder Smith and I started this area, he was the ONLY guy that we would be able to have steady appointments with. 
AND...that's right...AND, Armando got married and baptized yesterday!  I was able to go and he was so happy.  Elder Flores baptized him.  Elder Flores has been in that same ward ever since I left.  He was there for almost 10 months.  Huge blessing there.  I feel like most of the loose ends from my Bel 2 days are all tied up now.
Area:  Garcias were super busy this week.  They are all still back and forth with what's going on with their whole situation.  Remember two months ago when I said that I had the best week of my mission with all those baptisms?  Well this past week was the second-best week.  On top of everything I have already shared, we were able to find 11 new people to teach this week.  That is by far the highest we have ever found in a week.  Hoping for some really good stuff out of this batch.
Love you all so much.  This was one of those weeks where everything just worked out.  Thanks for the love and prayers.  I send them all right back at ya.
Thanks again,
Elder Christensen