Monday, June 30, 2014

Week 82 in Cali

Hey hey family! So this week was pretty interesting.  I think the tough things outweighed the super awesome. However, it was still cool.  We had a decent end of the week.

First off, I would just like to express my gratitude to whatever team beat Mexico in the World Cup (Netherlands? I don't know...)  It was super annoying how much that got in the way of church attendance. Additionally, it was super annoying to hear updates on the game being shared around the hallways in between classes at church. So hopefully the craziness will get dialed back a little bit.

So tomorrow is President Becerra's last day.  It's weird how it doesn't feel like he's leaving.  I feel like I'm going to be at meetings still expecting him to walk in just to see President Villanueva instead.  My dad has had a chance to talk with him a bit at the MTC during Mission President's Seminar.  He said that he's awesome.  I'm not sure when I'll have a chance to meet him for the first time, but I believe we are on schedule to have interviews this upcoming transfer.  In related news, we get transfer calls this week. I'm pretty sure I'll be staying.  Not sure about my companion.  We'll see how it goes.

As of a few weeks ago, we were supposed to have 2 or 3 baptisms yesterday.  Unfortunately we had to move all of them back.  There was a lot of little junk that happened this week.  It was hard to watch everything happen this week.  It looks like they will all still be good, but it will take another month or so.  We found a lady, Mia, this week who also ended up being our only investigator at church, but then we found out she just moved two blocks outside our ward. Luckily, that area is covered by sister missionaries and I think that sisters will be better for her.

Cool story, I told you all that I spoke last week?  Well this week was Ward Conference and I had a part again. The Stake President asked me to present the Ward Mission Plan to help the members understand what their role was in everything.  The District Leader and I made the presentation and we felt like they were all the most attentive during our part. We felt good about it.

So ya, this week we need to find a lot more. I'll let y'all know what happens with transfers. Love you all, so much!

Elder Christensen

Monday, June 23, 2014

Member Friends for the Win!

Hello family and friends.  So this week was a little bit tough.  We continue to have lots of interesting situations with all our investigators.  I'm not sure if I've mentioned this previously, but I feel like the investigator situations that are most difficult to work with have been here. They are a lot more complex than the other areas I've been in.

Santiago has his baptismal date for this week, but we'll need to move that.  He fell this week.  He missed church last week, and we think that losing that momentum a bit made this past week harder to get through.  We'll push it back into July.  We have been having a hard time getting a hold of him, and we feel like he's been avoiding us a bit, but last night the Elders Quorum President texted us saying that Santiago wants to meet with us later today. MEMBER FRIENDS FOR THE WIN!!

Nancy has her date for this week as well.  We aren't sure if she is ready or not.  The last lesson we had she said that she feels like God is telling her that this is the path that she should be heading in, but we aren't 100% sure if she is ready to commit.  We'll also be meeting with her tonight.  Also, she got a job offer that would require her to start working Sundays and her decision on that one will determine everything.

At the moment, the rest of the people we are teaching are doing okay. There are multiple people that could be baptized if they would just take a step of faith to get over their obstacle.

This week we had our last conference with President and Sister Becerra.  They gave us their "last words".  It was very interesting how much of what they said had to do with families and marriage.  It almost felt like they were giving all of us the "you're about to go home" talk.  I assume it was a lot more meaningful for me at my stage in the mission than those that just got here.  To summarize what they most frequently taught us over the course of my mission, President often would ask, "what doctrine or principle, if better understood, will change attitude and behavior?" and Sister Becerra would often say, "You can do hard things.  It's good to struggle." Sister Becerra pointed out something that broke my heart a little bit.  She pointed out that because of President's new assignment, they aren't going to be super available for drop in visits or going to homecomings or going to sealings.  That reality was a little harsh, but they said they'd be faithful in answering emails and having reunions, so we'll be able to keep in touch that way.

They will be here for about another week, but I don't foresee any interaction with them before then.  They've been so awesome.

I spoke in Sacrament meeting yesterday.  They gave me 5 minutes to talk about what had the biggest effect on my mission preparation.  I think the biggest change came for me when I was a Junior at Timpview. I had Brother Little as my Book of Mormon seminary teacher and he got me excited about learning the gospel.  That year I read the Book of Mormon not to just finish it as I had in previous years, but I read it to learn something.  That change of attitude led to nightly uplifting experiences as I read the Book of Mormon.  I felt like my nature was
changing.  Looking back, I don't know if this was the most decisive moment, but I do believe it was one of the first essential moments. Everything else started falling into place because of that.

I hope you all are reading a bit in the Book of Mormon daily.  It can totally change everything!  Love and kindness.

Elder Christensen

p.s. I went to the chiropractor again, and it worked much better this time!

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Test in Our Patience

Hello family and friends.

This was an interesting, roller coaster week.  So the beginning of the week was awesome!  On Monday and Tuesday, we were able to pick up a few families as investigators that we have been trying to get in touch with for a while.  We had some solid lessons with them.  I went to the chiropractor on Tuesday and after it didn't quite feel as good as all the other trips.  For whatever reason, our whole week started to slip downhill after that.  At the end of the week, we ended up with only 9 lessons, with 12 lessons that fell through.  That was a bit of a test in our patience.

In other sad news, Santiago found out that the owner of his house is selling, so he needs to move out by next week.  We found this out on Sunday when he told us he couldn't come to church because he had to start to clean everything because they were going to be showing the house to somebody later that day.  We are praying really hard that he is able to find a new place in the area.  We have been writing down tons of phone numbers and addresses as we are trying to help him find a place.

This upcoming week, we will be having our last Mission Conference with President Becerra.  It will be here that we say our goodbyes.  That will definitely be a highlight of the week.  President Becerra is doing a very good job prepping the mission for the switch.  He said, "Your loyalty has to switch to him immediately.  It's not about the
man, it's the mantle."  He then went on to share the story of the mantle and Elijah and Elisha.  Dad, if you see President Villanueva during Mission President Seminar, give him a hug for me and tell him that we are ready for him!

My companion and I are getting along great!  As a whole, I have been very blessed with good companions on my mission.  We are dealing with a lot of interesting problems with investigators.  The majority of these problems are a lot more complicated than ones in the past.  But as Elder Holland once said, "Salvation was never easy."

I hope that all is well and that you are enjoying your summer! If you haven't read in the Book of Mormon today, read it!  Also, I would love to read a short summary of what you all are studying in your personal studies right now.

Love you all!

Elder Christensen

P.S. Thought from Elder Ballard:

"As an Apostle, I now ask you a question: Do you have any personal quiet time? I have wondered if those who lived in the past had more opportunity than we do now to see, feel, and experience the presence of the Spirit in their lives.

Seemingly, as our world gets brighter, louder, and busier, we have a greater challenge feeling the Spirit in our lives. If your life is void of quiet time, would you begin tonight to seek for some?"

Monday, June 9, 2014

Week 79

Hello family and friends.  So this week there wasn't anything super flashy, but we did see paced progress of the area and our investigators.

Santiago is still doing awesome.  We now have the Elders Quorum President in on the whole process as his fellowshipper".  He's doing an awesome job.  Santiago is still going strong.  We'll be moving up his date for the end of this month.  It is such a cool story! Love it.  He lives with his brother and he told us that he has been sharing with him everything that we have been talking about. Due to a mismatch in schedules, we haven't had a chance to talk with him, but we will this week for sure.

The Lopez family is also doing pretty well. The son, Brian still hasn't been able to go to church. He had to work again yesterday. The mom's interest is fading quickly. That makes us worry a bit for the long-run progress of the 10-year-old Jackie. But ya, they're doing okay.

Health this week was a bit of an issue. I think it's a matter of not getting enough water. Looking back on my mission, I have been blessed to not have any big health issues along the way, just a few constant annoyances. I'll be headed to the chiropractor again this week to help with the headaches.

Miracle this week: we were waiting for our ride to church and this guy pokes his head out the window and said (in Spanish) "hey elders, are you waiting for a ride to church? Who's coming to pick you up? Cool, is there room for me?" Turns out that he is a member of the neighboring ward (even though he lives inside this ward's boundaries). So he went to church with us and after the services we think he told bishop that he is going to keep coming back.  We currently have 5 or 6 active elders, so we need all the help we can get. He and Santiago hit it off really well also, so hopefully it ends up working out.

Sorry, this week's letter is a short one. Elder Vasquez is still awesome. We are getting along super well.

Have an awesome week!

Elder Christensen

Monday, June 2, 2014

Buckle Up!

Hey family and friends. So first off, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!! Everyone in the world says that they have the best mom in the world, but it turns out everyone else in the world is lying. Thanks for taking on a job way harder than Rock Canyon and UVU--motherhood. You're awesome!

WARNING: This is a long letter but I promise it's worth it!  A little bit more about the area.  The part of our area we work in is all Latino and Chinese.  The northern part of our area is mostly white.  I haven't really been up there much.  The part of our area that we spend all our time in is small enough that we can walk the whole time. It's soooo much better than biking!!

So this week we had one of the coolest stories I've had in a while so buckle up.  So we met this guy named Santiago.  We were heading to a set appointment that we had at 11:00.  That doesn't happen very often because usually everyone leaves super early to go to work.  So as we are walking to our appointment, this guy starts talking to us on a street corner.  After talking to him a little bit, we can tell that he is a little bit drunk.  One of the first things that he said was, "I would like to get involved with your church group."  So now with him being a little drunk, we were thinking, "alright, is he serious?" Sensing that the conversation might take a while, we started walking with him toward our appointment.  Turns out that he lived on the same street as our appointment.

So we talk with him for about 10 minutes as we are walking. He tells us that he wants to give up drinking.  He said that as he was walking around that morning he was specifically looking for somebody that could help him change his life. (for those that have watched District 2, this guy is totally like Eric)  We get his number and his address and tell him that we will stop by after the lesson we had on that same street.  So we go to the appointment and they weren't there.  So we go back to Santiago and talk for a bit.  We showed him the Because of Him video and gave him the Restoration pamphlet to read when he was in a better condition.  Seeing as we were going to be helping him stop drinking, we realized that we would need to drop by fairly consistently.  We thought that as we did that, he would have the needed support and we would also be able to find out if he was serious about quitting or not.

So this first lesson happened on Wednesday and we set up a return appointment for the next day.  Thursday, he shoots us a call about 2 hours before our lesson to make sure that we were still coming.  When we showed up, he was a little bit drunk again.  He told us that he called his family and told them all that he was now Mormon. We introduce him to the LDS Family Services program to help people fight addictions and invite him to read the first step.  We set up a lesson for Friday.  He wasn't there for the appointment.  A lady there said that he was probably at the convenient store on the corner.  So we go there and we found him with a group of drunks and everybody except for him were getting a little violent with each other, so we kept our distance.

We give him a call on Saturday evening to drop by and he said that he would be there.  We find him sober!  He said he had some beer in the morning, but in the lesson he essentially said, "I'm sick of this. I'm quitting drinking."  We invite him to church and set a baptismal date for July 20.  We told him that we would swing by and walk with him to the bus stop and ride the bus with him.  He calls us 15 minutes before we were supposed to meet up to make sure we were still coming. We get to our meeting spot and he's totally sober. He said that he slept awfully because of the problems with withdrawals but he was excited to go to church.  We get to church and the whole time he is talking about how good he felt there.  San Gabe is super good at saying hello and welcoming unfamiliar faces.  He told all of them that he will keep coming and that he is meeting with the missionaries and the missionaries are helping him to change his life.

Then we go by him last night to follow up on church a bit more.  He said he loved it and he wants to keep going with everything. He still hasn't had anymore drinks.  He's doing super well!  At this rate, we will probably have his baptism much sooner than July 20th.

So there's the miracle of the week.  Hope you all are recognizing all the awesome things that God does in your lives everyday.  As we look for his hand in our lives, we will find it.  As a result our gratitude and trust in God will inevitably increase.

Love you all!
Elder Christensen