Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Week 86

(Monday, July 28, 2014)

Hey hey friends and family.  This week started out pretty rough, but ended a bit better.

Santiago officially dropped us.  He doesn't want to come back to church or talk with us until his drinking problem is under control more.  We tried teaching and testifying all we could to help him make the choice to stay with us, but he had made up his mind.  That was quite the bummer.

Nancy gets back today.  FINALLY!  We have been keeping in touch through Facebook (sooo glad we have that) and she still sounds pretty solid.  She wasn't able to go to church while in Mexico.  She found out the family she was staying with were Jehovah's Witnesses and they wouldn't take her.  She hasn't mentioned anything, but I'm going to be prepared in case she was fed "anti" stuff while there.  She seemed very sure of herself before leaving, so I'm not too worried.

So, when I was back in Pomona, one night I prayed saying, "Father, help me know what is your will and help me stay diligent in whatever you give me." This past week, I feel like I got a glimpse of why I was called to serve here in El Monte at this time.

Part 1: I'm not sure how much I have talked about our Stake  President, President Esquerra, in the past, but I have been in his stake all of my mission except for 10 weeks (Pomona).  My third day in the mission, he and President Becerra came with us on a lesson, and he still remembers it.  We have developed a pretty solid relationship.  For the past month or so, I have been helping the stake organize a massive project to rescue the prospective elders.  I have created some stuff on the computer that will help all the leaders keep track of these men and figure out what they need to be able to progress toward receiving the priesthood.  So far, all the feedback has been very positive.  It looks like it will help a ton.

Part 2: President Esquerra's work schedule is very flexible.  He often plays basketball with the missionaries on P-days.  Because of how far away we live from the stake, he often offers to take us back home.  That leaves us with about 20 minutes of one-on-one time with our Stake President each week.  EVERY single time I have walked out of his car and back into our apartment, I have gone to my iPad to type up something amazing that he said.  I have seen many patterns of leadership that I would like to emulate in the future. It has been a huge blessing, and this past week, I have felt like this was one of the reasons that I was assigned here at this time.

My testimony has recently been strengthened in the following: Even when we feel like we are in a situation that does not coincide with what we see as "ideal", God has everything calculated out in such a way that, in the end, all our experiences will lead us to become what he wants us to become.

Love you all so much!

Elder Christensen

Monday, July 21, 2014

Week 85

Hello family and friends.  First, I want to thank Mom for the package of goodies! You're awesome!

Nancy is currently in Mexico.  The lesson that we had with her the night before she left was super cool.  I can't remember if I mentioned this idea, but we are trying to help her get in touch with the missionaries in Mexico while she is there so that they can start visiting her family there.  When we shared the idea with her, she was pretty excited by it.  Once she landed in Guadalajara, she said that they drove past one of our church buildings there and it was pretty close to where she was staying.  We haven't heard yet whether or not she went to church, but it sounded like she was going to.  She is starting to announce to her family that she is getting baptized and everyone has been pretty supportive so far.

We'll probably stop working with Santiago for a little bit.  He told his member fellowshipper that he isn't interested in meeting with us till he has his drinking problem under control.  We tried explaining to him multiple times that God is what will make the biggest difference, but he hasn't been willing to do those things that will make a difference. He enrolled in AA and the course he's taking lasts 90 days.  We'll be checking in every now and again to see if he wants us to come back.

Elder Bardsley is doing a lot better this week.  Walking up to people and talking with them has still been a little tough for him, so we'll work on that more this week.

This next week we have a meeting for all the new missionaries and we also have interviews, so we will get to have a lot of time with President Villanueva this week.  I've been a huge fan so far.  I'm interested in seeing what things he'll want to do a little bit differently.  I wonder how many of those changes will be put into place before I leave.

Love you all so much.  I hope to be able to tell you a ton of awesome stories about the new people we will find this week!

Elder Christensen

Monday, July 14, 2014

Week 84

Hello family and friends, this week was a very interesting one.  So, my companion's name is Elder Bardsley. He's from Wisconsin.  He was placed in the advanced Spanish program, so he went to the Provo MTC. He probably should have been in intermediate, but we'll work with that.  He likes video games, anime, soccer, and a little bit of tennis.  He's pretty quiet and he is used to the cold, not the heat. Based on the lessons we have had so far, he can explain things very simply and he speaks with a lot of sincerity.  This week, we were hoping for tons of miracles and I was hoping to be able to get him started off with a great first week.  However, it ended up being one of the most difficult weeks I have had in a long time.

Just as an indicator of how our week went, we had 10 lessons set between Saturday and Sunday alone.  It was looking to be super awesome, then a total of 0 of those set lessons happened.  I know that there is a reason for everything.  We have a pretty well planned day today, so we should start this week off right.  I mentioned last week that I was thinking a lot about things I learned from training Elder Marchan.  Looking back, I tried to teach him everything all at once. I think I wasn't very patient in letting him learn at his own pace. I've been trying really hard to figure out where the balance is with this companion.  He was kind of frustrated about how this week went. We really need some miracles this next week.

Santiago is still struggling.  He cancelled or rescheduled 3 of our 4 lessons we scheduled this week.  We are not really sure what he needs or why he keeps cancelling.  He told us that the weekends are his most tempting times when his friends want to go out and party.  We have a plan to get the members more involved in helping him.  We have the idea of making a support crew and have somebody from "the crew" call him everyday to keep him focused.  As soon as he drops this addiction, he'll be super solid.

Nancy is going to Mexico this week.  Two super cool things that she said this week: 1) "Hey, in the meeting with all the women they were talking about cleaning the chapel.  I want to get involved in stuff like that." (I haven't heard that one from an investigator ever before.) And 2) after we asked, "what are your thoughts on baptism?" She responded, "Well why would I still be talking to you guys if I didn't want to get baptized?"  For a while we were a little bit worried about her commitment, but she has been progressing bit by bit and is looking really strong.

We picked up 2 investigators this week.  We had really cool experiences with both of them in the first lessons, and they have been really hard to get a hold of since then.  We'll keep trying. 

This next week, we have some stuff set up already that should be pretty good.  Oh, more good news, I've mentioned that I have been struggling with being so tired recently, right?  Not sure what it is, but ever since I found out that I was going to train, I have felt so much better.  I thank you all for the prayers that played a major role in that!!

Love you all!

Elder Christensen

Monday, July 7, 2014

Week 83 -- It's a Boy!

Hello family and friends!  With this being transfer day, I have to keep this a little short.  So, transfers.  Elder Vasquez is now a district leader on the other side of the mission. My new companion is...wait for it...I don't know yet. Why? Because I'm TRAINING!!! I'm so excited to be training again. By the way, did I mention that Elder Marchan (my last trainee) is a district leader right now? He's on the other side of the mission, so I don't get to see him very much, but he will be starting his 2nd transfer as a district leader. Everything is going sweet.

I met President Villanueva.  He is so cool!  He saw me, read my name tag and gave me a massive hug.  He said that dad made them feel like they were at home there at the MTC.  We'll have a few more chances to talk with him this week.  By the way, the farewell thing (with the outgoing missionaries) that they had yesterday was pretty bad, so the future of farewells for outgoing missionaries is in danger. (Sorry mom and dad...I'll keep you posted.)

So now this week:

Santiago had a rough week this week. We hope that we can help him bounce back.  He hasn't been to church in 4 weeks now.  We are officially worried.

Nancy is still doing well.  Unfortunately, she will be taking a trip to Mexico when we had her baptism planned. So we'll need to push that back.  Did I already tell you that? Sorry, everything is blending together a bit.

The 4th of July was pretty cool, but unfortunately nobody wanted to talk. There were lots of illegal fireworks.

Oh, cool story of the week.  This happened on exchanges so I don't have all the details.  My companion stopped by a former investigator's.  As they started talking, it turns out that he has been going to the neighboring ward for almost the last year.  They casually asked him the questions in the baptismal interview and he's basically ready.  We just need to figure out how to get him to switch to our ward.  The main problem with him going to the neighboring ward is that that ward is in the neighboring stake, so he can't get baptized over there easily. We'll see how that one goes.  That will be the first guy that me and my trainee visit.

Thanks for everything! Have an awesome week!  If you haven't reread any of the conference talks recently, DO IT!  One of my favorites was the "4 minutes" talk.  Can't remember the real name.

Love you all!

Elder Christensen

PS Thanks to everyone for the letters from the Kerr family reunion!!


President Villanueva's kids are super into tennis, so I hope we can play!

The last few days I've been feeling a lot better. Hopefully I keep going on the way up.

I got to see Raul this week! I was at the stake center when they were heading out for the youth conference (he was one of the leaders going). He told me that he and Rosy wanted to get sealed before I go home, but they feel like they should take the classes again to be a bit more prepared. So, they are looking at the end of this year, maybe into next year. :(  But I'll still be there!! They are doing awesome! He's still the Financial Clerk and a Ward Missionary. She's in the Primary Presidency, and the Elders have told me that she basically does everything. I'm not too worried about them.