Sunday, August 25, 2013

Dengue Fever

Hey All-  I don't have an update from Brandon to share. He did say in email, "Just tell everyone that I'm sick, and that John 15 is the most beautiful thing I have ever read. Tell everyone to study it, not just read it, and you will feel Christ's love."

He woke up in the night Friday night with a horrible fever, searing headache, body aches and chills and he's been in bed for three days straight now with these same symptoms.  It seems to be dengue fever.  He is really feeling awful and his spirits are low, too.  He did have a wonderful spiritual experience the night he woke up sick that brought him some peace. I am hoping this will pass soon.

Please pray for him!  He really needs your prayers at this time.

Thank you.

WebMD: Better information. Better health.

Dengue Fever

Dengue (pronounced DENgee) fever is a painful, debilitating mosquito-borne disease caused by any one of four closely related dengue viruses. These viruses are related to the viruses that cause West Nile infection and yellow fever.
Each year, an estimated 100 million cases of dengue fever occur worldwide. Most of these are in tropical areas of the world, with the greatest risk occurring in:

  • The Indian subcontinent
  • Southeast Asia
  • Southern China
  • Taiwan
  • The Pacific Islands
  • The Caribbean (except Cuba and the Cayman Islands)
  • Mexico
  • Africa
  • Central and South America (except Chile, Paraguay, and Argentina)
Most cases in the United States occur in people who contracted the infection while traveling abroad. But the risk is increasing for people living along the Texas-Mexico border and in other parts of the southern United States. In 2009, an outbreak of dengue fever was identified in Key West, Fla.
Dengue fever is transmitted by the bite of an Aedes mosquito infected with a dengue virus. The mosquito becomes infected when it bites a person with dengue virus in their blood. It can’t be spread directly from one person to another person.

Symptoms of Dengue Fever

Symptoms, which usually begin four to six days after infection and last for up to 10 days, may include
  • Sudden, high fever
  • Severe headaches
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Severe joint and muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Skin rash, which appears three to four days after the onset of fever
  • Mild bleeding (such a nose bleed, bleeding gums, or easy bruising)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

"Golden" Investigator

Dear Everyone!

So my big update is going to be a little shorter this week, sorry about that! Just some highlights! First of all scripture study is fantastic! Everyone needs to take their questions to the scriptures, because more often than not there's an answer just waiting there and promises you didn't know existed! I have had so many scriptures speak to me this week, a lot in the book of Mosiah actually...

Anyway! We have this "golden" (as my mom would put it) investigator who is on track to be baptized. He's so awesome! He quit smoking and drinking coffee after the first time he came to one even told him to! So when we taught the word of wisdom he was already 3 weeks clean! So awesome! I know that the Lord prepared him for us to teach him.

We have a couple other investigators with baptismal dates, but one has a W.O.W. problem we're trying to work with, and the other doesn't have means of transportation to get to church! We pray for them always. Remember that same family that I talked about last week, where I got to bear my testimony in English? Yeah, we taught them like an hour and a half lesson this week. It’s so nice to be able to teach in English, even if it is once a week. The spirit was strong, and I hope they accept our invitation to pray to know the truth.

Um what else...On Friday we got to help some elders’ move, which was fun! We got to take a road trip of sorts because their area is far away.

 Anyway, it’s great to be in the service of the Lord! It's great to have his spirit! All we need to do is pray to have it, and do the best we can! I'm so blessed to be a missionary!

Lots of love from the Philippines!
Brandon studying Tagalog!

--Elder Christensen

Monday, August 12, 2013

Typhoon Utor hits Brandon's mission

Early on August 12th (Philippines time) Super Typhoon Utor, the biggest typhoon of 2013 so far, made landfall on the eastern coast of Brandon's mission.  We were a bit worried, but  gratefully where he was, all they experienced was heavy rainfall.  Unfortunately, there was a lot of damage done in other places on the island of Luzon.  Here is a short news clip about it:

(Click here for more information on Typhoon Utor)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Mahal ko ang Tagapagligtas ko...and that's why I'm here.

Hey Everybody!

"I can smile!"
So this week…crazy stuff! Tuesday was a pretty normal day, though I started to become frustrated with the language then. I realized something though. Even though I can’t really speak this language, I can smile! And I have a goofy smile, so when I smile at people they always smile back, I suspect because they’re laughing inside at this American who is happy for no apparent reason! So until I can speak this language, I’ll stick to smiling! 

Wednesday we had our district meeting, which went great! After our district meeting we went out to this barangay, which is just like a neighborhood or borough, which was a bunch of rice fields with a house every kilometer or so. AND IT WAS SO HOT. I cannot remember a time when I was sweatier than that. It was crazy. We were teaching this one less active where we were sitting in the shade, and when we finished the lesson after about 25 minutes of not moving I was still SO HOT. Oh my gosh, but it was all good! We were proclaiming the word after all! Later it finally cooled off, but we kept getting punted so we walked most of that day. 

Thursday was the complete opposite, where it rained like nothing I have ever experienced before. We only taught one lesson that whole day, and we had to take shelter for a while under the roof of a less active member. We eventually went out, but got turned away. I was drenched, despite using an umbrella…we left that barangay a little bit earlier because we ran out of people to teach there. 

That night we went to a less active’s house that is close to us.  They are middle class so they speak some English. The mom felt like attacking our doctrine a little bit and kept saying that the gospel was that Jesus is the Christ. She was right in a sense, but would not budge from that. I felt inspired to say something, but I didn’t know how to say part of it in Tagalog.  I started bearing testimony, then looking at the mom I said, “Mahal ko ang Tagapagligtas ko,” which means “I love my Savior,” then, in English I said, “And that’s why I’m here.”
The spirit was strong there, and I knew that it had touched her. My companion finished the lesson with conviction, and we left. It was the first time I felt like a real asset out here in the mission field.

 Friday zone leaders went on exchanges, so I got to know Elder Roberts, native of Rexburg, a bit. He told me all sorts of crazy Angeles mission stories, which got me excited and a bit worried. We straight up had a hard day on Friday, without much success. We got turned away a lot, and the lessons we did teach to less actives they didn’t really feel it. 

Saturday we got some new investigators! One is a girl my age, going to college, and studying marketing of all things! That was a great way to strike up a conversation (Thanks Dad!) After a nice conversation, we had a great discussion about the restoration and prophets. She has a great knowledge of the Bible, and she was very engaged in the lesson. I am very excited to continue teaching her. Sunday was good, and we got another new investigator! He has been to church a couple of times with a friend, and I got to commit him to baptism! YEEE-AAAHHHH! I was so psyched! The rest of the day was good with the lessons we taught, but that was definitely the highlight! And that takes us to now!

And now for some things that don’t really have a place:

I am too big for this country! I constantly have to duck and squeeze through things, and my shirts get fairly dirty because of it.

The phrase “ants in your pants” is a bit too literal here, and I’ll leave it at that!

People here have a different conception of decency. For example, one of our new investigators just started nursing her baby during the lesson. Yup, right in front of us. Yeah…Another time, when we were helping a member move, there was about a nine year old boy just standing outside his house stark naked, just watching. Alright! Something I’ll have to get used to! But it’s all good!

I’m growing a lot and learning a lot, and trying to be the best missionary I can. And at the end of the day if you can say you tried your best to invite others to come unto Christ and you tried your very best to be a good missionary, you can go to bed with a smile on your face. My goal is just to do what I can, and try to figure out how to do more every day, and that keeps me busy and happy! 

I love you all, I miss you all, but I don’t want to come home anytime soon!

--Elder Christensen

Monday, August 5, 2013

Out to the field!

 Here's my big update:

Hey Everybody!

As a kid, I watched Veggie Tales. During the one about Dave and the Giant Pickle, Larry the cucumber asks Bob the tomato, “Bob, what are the Philippines?” I ask myself that question every day.

I am a real missionary now! Out in the field and everything! I’m so psyched! I’ll start from the beginning: Leaving the MTC was super hard. I miss my MTC family like crazy! It was like leaving my family all over again. The night before during the farewell meeting was sad to say the least. Me and my kasama had a cry-like-a-man moment. Anyway, saying goodbye was super hard.

 We were trained at the mission office and had a delicious dinner at the mission home. I love my mission prez! And his wife is unbelievably nice! I wish I could see them more!  We slept at the AP’s apartment, and I decided I want to be like Elder Palmer, as HE IS THE MAN! He is a great example.  We met our new companions the next day, and then got on the road.
Brandon with President and Sister Martino

 My companion is Elder Lungay, who might be the most loving kid I’ve ever met. He loves everyone, and is never ashamed of himself or the gospel.  We get along great! We have a lot in common as well, and he has really been helping me in Tagalog! 
Brandon and his trainer, Elder Lungay
I also got to see Elder Weitzel, which was amazing! So great to see a face from home!!! I met Elder Jacobs, my cousin Brian’s friend, who now has a Filipino accent when he speaks English! It gave me hope for this language! Notwithstanding all this, I was very sad whilet traveling to my area, San Jose Ward 2 in the San Jose Zone.
Brandon's 1st are:  San Jose in the Nueva Ecija province

When we got to our apartment we had a short comp study then went out to work. I was super sad still. However, we taught one lesson and the spirit was so strong and I loved it! Best part of that day for sure. The next day was the LONGEST DAY OF MY LIFE. My kasama is the district leader, and he had this meeting in some other zone that he had to go to, so me and this elder from my batch were put together for the day. I didn’t know the area; I didn’t know the language, so my kasama said it was ok to just sit in the apartment and study. Which is what I mostly did. IT LASTED FOREVER. I was super sad most of that time too. It’s hard to forget yourself and go to work when I don’t know how to work! If you know what I mean. We then had companionship study where we studied our purpose as missionaries. That’s when a fundamental truth I needed that day hit me: It is all worth it. No matter what I go through, or how tough it is, IT IS ALL WORTH IT. No matter how much I miss the MTC or my family IT IS ALL WORTH IT! That gave me great hope. We then went out to try some OYMs, which didn’t go terribly! My Real Kasama came back, and we taught more lessons.

 Saturday wasn’t standard either, as we had a zone conference. I like my zone! A lot of cool people in there! And Sister Foukimoana, from my class at the MTC, is in my district! So I’ve seen her a few times. It’s great to see a face from my time at the MTC. We taught more that day…one lesson we accidentally ran into a funeral service! But it was ok, because we got to share a brief message with everyone there! One guy kept calling us out for paid ministry and we tried to explain what we do, but he just wanted to argue, so we dropped it!

 It amazes me how much I have. Even my apartment here, which is not what I’m used to to say the least, is incredible compared to some of these homes. My first Sunday was good! I met the bishop, who is the man, as well as the other members of the ward. They are all great; I just wish more would come to church. Apparently there are 1000 less actives in our area alone…we got work to do! We went around with the ward mission leader Brother Arthur and taught lessons to people not living in San Jose City, but out by the rice fields.
Nueva Ecija is called the Rice Granary of the Philippines
 The kids there treat me like an all-star! It’s fun! Well that’s about all I’ve been doing. I love teaching! Which is good, because that’s all I will be doing every day for the next 22 ½ months! I love being a missionary!

Mahal ko kayo!

--Elder Christensen

More Pictures!
Brandon's batch of missionaries entering the mission on 7/31/13
Elder Christensen and Elder Armatage say goodbye to their suitcoats for 2 years!  They leave them in the mission home until after their mission!
Brandon and fellow missionaries at his 1st transfer meeting