Tuesday, February 25, 2014

One of the Most Precious Experiences

(Monday, February 24, 2014)

Hello friends and family.  This week was, hmm, let me think. Everything is starting to blend together.  Let's see... We had our zone conference this week.  For the leadership, it was more of a review from Mission Leadership Council.  It was still super cool.  We did lots of role plays and President had us roaming around.  That helped us get a feel for where the zone is at.  In our zone, December was super cool, then January and February were pretty rough. In our whole zone, our companionship was the only one that baptized.  We're not really sure what's going on.  All of our district leaders are kind of in the same place.  We are seeing the trend that we are needing to set more and more dates to actually get a baptism.   March is looking like it will be good.  We're working toward 2 baptisms in our companionship.

I think I mentioned the 87 year old guy, Jesus. He hasn't missed a single week of church since we found him. He has a baptismal date for March 9th and is on the right track. He called the sisters in the ward (pretty random) and he asked them what he needs to be doing to be able to be ready in time. As soon as he found out that he has the chance to see his wife again, he's been progressing super well. He keeps telling us how excited he is for his baptism. It's a cool story.

It looks like we might need to pass Leslie off to the English elders. She can get by in the Spanish ward but she would be way more comfortable over English ward. In our mission, since we have entire Spanish stakes, we can't teach English investigators because once they are baptized, the numbers get messed up with the way we do mission statistics. So that's kind of a bummer, but she'll be good.

The last two days I've not been feeling well. I stayed in the latter half of yesterday because of it, and Elder Perez went on splits. During that time, I was growing impatient at the fact that something was getting in the way of what I wanted to do. I started beating myself up a bit and then, for whatever reason, the recognition of all my weaknesses started to attack my brain. I started looking throughout the gospel library for any talks that had to deal with perfection. I found a few cool things, but it wasn't really helping at all. The thought then hit me, "wait, didn't Joseph Smith have some problems with being hard on himself?" 

In JSH verse 29, Joseph Smith talks about a few youthful mistakes and that he was worried about how everything had been going.  It had been about 3 years since the First Vision, and he hadn't really heard anything more regarding his assignment since then.  He was starting to wonder if he had done something wrong to bring some kind of condemnation upon him.  So he prayed that he "might know of [his] state and standing before him [God]."

So with all that negativity spinning around my head, I decided to do the same--offer up a vocal prayer asking of my "state and standing before God."  In short, it was one of the most precious experiences of my mission. Since that prayer, I've been feeling secure, energetic, and at peace.  It was a super cool experience.

Thanks for your love and concern.  I love you all and hope that you all have a great week!

Elder Christensen

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

We Walked Away Flabbergasted!

Hello family and friends.  This week was pretty cool.  First, thanks to my family for the Valentine package. Thanks for the constant reminders that you're thinking of me.

This week, the Contreras family got confirmed.  Unfortunately, we weren't able to get in touch with them from Wednesday till Sunday.  We were a little worried that something had happened.  We tried calling and texting and nothing was working.  Then Sunday morning at 8:55, they walk up like they were already comfortable, long-time members.  It was pretty cool to see.

Our zone is struggling a little bit.  We were seeing numbers go up and up and none of it was transferring to baptisms, and we are still seeing the same problem.  We still aren't sure what the problem is, but that's okay.

So now, some more cool stories of the week.

This week was the iPad training. On Tuesday, we had Elder David F. Evans, Steve Allen, and Chris Randall (my stake president) there with us.  It was super cool to see all of them.  We talked a lot about my family. President Becerra told Elder Evans during that training of how Grandma Christensen helped President Becerra's grandpa stay active while she was on her mission in Mexico. Super cool connection!  The training went pretty well.  We ran into a few hiccups that we hadn't seen before, but luckily we were able to get past them pretty quick. President Randall said that it was the smoothest training he had seen to this point.

We started teaching a girl named Leslie.  She lives across the hall from an active family and she's going through some tough stuff with her family.  This family invited her over for Valentines so she wouldn't be alone and we were there too.  We had a pretty cool lesson.  I still don't have all the details because I was on exchanges that day. Saturday afternoon, we texted the member family saying that they should invite her to come to church. Leslie got off work at 4 a.m. and still came to church!  Super cool.  She said it was different than what she's used to, but she liked it.  We then had another lesson Sunday night and Elder Perez asked her the question, "As you have been talking with us and as you were at church, do you feel like you're heading in the right direction?"  Her answer was a quick, "ya, I think so."  Cool cool lesson.

Also on Sunday, we got stopped by a lady.  She thought that we were the English Elders that had contacted her earlier in the week.  She prefers Spanish.  She said that she thinks God is giving her a sign. So here's her back story.  Her best friend is a member in San Diego. This member couple has served a senior mission and their sons served missions.  She has been reading the Book of Mormon since the 70s, and she has read the Pearl of Great Price.  When her friend asks her, "why aren't you baptized yet?" she always responds, "I know my time will come, but not yet."  She went a long time without seeing the missionaries around.  In the last week, she has seen them three or four times.  Each time she sees us, she feels like her "heart jumps as if calling out to [us]". She is heavily active in the Catholic Church but said that she "will go where God wants her.  She won't get
baptized just to do it, but because she knows that that is what God wants her to do."  So we will be meeting with her on Wednesday and hopefully help her understand that this is what God wants for her.  We walked away from that conversation flabbergasted!

So it was a week full of little miracles.  I feel like the Hastening is, well, hastening.  We are seeing so many cool little things happening here and there.  It's cool to see that almost everybody at least has seen us or knows who we are.  Now it's just a matter of getting them where the Spirit is trying to take them.

Thanks for the love and support.

Love and kindness,
Elder Christensen

Week 62 in California

(Monday, February 10, 2014)

This week was pretty cool.  First off, when I got on Facebook this week to check up on some investigators, the first thing that comes up is a picture of the complete Martin family. So glad that Cam made it home!

This week, we had 2 baptisms.  I forgot my camera, but I have pictures.  Margarita and her son, Roger, got baptized.  Roger (11) shared his feelings after being baptized.  He said he felt "protected in Christ's arms", "filled up with the Spirit", "excited for his new life."  It was so so cool!  Margarita didn't end up sharing her testimony because as she was listening to Roger, she was getting a little misty, and didn't want to cry in front of everyone.  Ni modo... It was a really cool baptism.  There was a lot of junk that almost got in the way, but it still happened.

Many of the other baptismal dates that we had have kinda slipped off a little.  Number-wise, this last week was a little rough.  But then Saturday and Sunday we got everything pulled back together to meet standards again.

Between Saturday and Sunday, we found 7 new investigators.  One whole family of 5, the mother of a family of 4, and this super funny old guy named Jesus.  They are all super cool.  Jesus came to church the day after our first lesson.  He's 87 and he went the 45 minute bus ride to get there.  So next time someone says it's hard for them to get to church, they'll be hearing about that guy.

It's taking a bit to get used to the iPads.  I think planning is faster and easier to coordinate on paper, but the iPads help us be much more thorough.  I'll be leading a training session tomorrow with another sister missionary and in attendance will be Elder David Evans and Steve Allen.  I'll tell them to say "hi" for me.   

Thanks for all the love.
Elder Christensen

PS  HUGE thank you for the package of food!  The Milanos were definitely my favorite.  I'm trying to make them last, but I still have some Christmas candy, so it's not too hard to spread it out.

NOTE from MOM...

I'm pretty sure Tanner's favorite food in the package was the Milanos because that is the only sugar item I sent him. :)  In an effort to help him with his headaches, I sent him a "protein package" full of items he can throw in his backpack to eat in between meals.

Week 61 in California

(Monday, February 3, 2014)

Hello family and friends!

This week was another good one.  There were some ups and downs, but everything turned out all right.  Rocio's son is not interested in continuing to learn.  We still aren't sure why, but we, including his mom, were pretty sad about all that.  We are going to be having a baptism this upcoming week for the Contreras family.  We will then be having another baptism the following week for Evelin.  I don't think I've talked about her.  Her records got lost. Her husband is a recent convert and he will be re-baptizing her.  It's a pretty cool story.

The Garcia family is still having a hard time finding a new apartment.  We can tell that they are starting to freak out a little bit, and we feel like we are stressing them out a little when we come over, so we are giving them a little bit of space for the next 2 weeks, then we'll jump back in.  We'll drop by once or twice this week and just see if there's anything we can do to help.

We are teaching a few other awesome people.  We aren't quite sure how far they are going to go yet, so stay tuned.

So I have some good news for Mom.  I finally have found an OTC medicine for my headaches!  Excedrin Tension Headaches.  I was reading something that the mission nurse sent out about headaches and I found out that the majority of the headaches I get are intense tension headaches.  This document mentioned this OTC so I went to Target. They were out of the Excedrin brand so I got the Target brand, and it has worked wonders.  Hopefully it will work for you too.

So some cool news, we got our iPads this week.  We don't have wifi in our apartment complex so there is a lot that is pretty frustrating. The Gospel Library app has failed me every personal study I've had since I got the iPad. Each time, wifi was required to fix it. Hopefully a better solution will come soon.  I personally prefer the paper solutions to the iPad solution without internet.  Fun fact, the Missionary Department tried Skyping us while we were receiving our training.  The employee on the other end?  Chris Randall, my stake president.  I don't know if he saw me in the group, but that was really cool to see him.  Next week, Elder Evans (uncle Pete's brother)
of the Seventy and Steven Allen will be coming to watch one of the training sessions we'll be doing.  I have a suspicion that President will choose Elder Blanchard and I to do the training that day.  We'll see how that goes.

In my studies this morning, I found something that's pretty cool.  But first, some background info:

Lehi - Patriarch   <==>  Joseph Smith Sr. - First Patriarch of 7th dispensation
Nephi - Prophet/King  <==>    Joseph Smith Jr. - Prophet with Political Power
Mosiah I - Exodus   <==>  Brigham Young - Exodus of early Saints
King Benjamin - Discourse on Atonement   <==>   John Taylor - Atonement
Mosiah II - Political Changes   <==>    Wilford Woodruff -Political Manifesto
Alma - Wars & Missionary Work <==> Series of Wars throughout the 1900s
Helaman - Gadianton Robbers   <==> Terrorism, including an attack in
the main part of the land that nobody thought was vulnerable
3 Nephi - Christ Comes Peace Commences
4 Nephi - End of PeaceMormon/Moroni - End of Civilization

"The Book of Mormon is the Patriarchal Blessing of this Dispensation."
-Lee Donaldson

So now with that backdrop, I read 3 Nephi 2-5.  There is a lot of stuff in there that seems to me like a foreshadowing of the saints going to the New Jerusalem.  Specifically, check out 3 Nephi 3:22-25.

Sorry for being so scattered in my thoughts this week.  But lastly and most importantly, congrats to Elder Johnny Liao on his mission call!! You'll be fantastic!

Love and kindness,
Elder Christensen