Sunday, September 1, 2013

Loving my mission!

Hello from the Blessed Islands of The Philippines!

I first-off would like to apologize for not sending out a large general update last week. I had Dengue, which has been described as “a week of hell” by other missionaries. Mine lasted only four days, so I count myself lucky! It was really hard, but it ended up being for my good. It humbled me enough to reevaluate why I’m here on a mission. I will be honest, I wanted to be back home during the middle of it, but I got over it, and now I feel much much better! In fact, the past two days have been my best days in the field yet!

I’m starting to love my mission. Like I’ve loved parts, but I’m starting to seriously love it now! When you can lose yourself in the work, all the sudden time flies and you’re loving every moment! It’s not easy to forget yourself, but when you do, It’s the best feeling ever. “Whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.” I know that’s true now! I wasn’t totally sure before because I hadn’t really experienced it. But I’ve tasted it now, and it’s truly fantastic! Thank you all for your kind words and prayers, they really mean a lot to me!

Elder Owen, ZL & housemate from Alpine, UT
Now to the update! After being stuck in my bed/apartment for a few days, I had interesting feelings about missionary work. I struggled to have a desire to serve, I don’t know…I knew I had to forget myself, but it was just hard! I wanted to be selfish, just straight up! Anyway, I prayed really hard about it, and I talked to my kabahay/zone leader Elder Owen about it.

Elder Owen, by the way, is from Alpine Utah, and has three months left. I learn so much from him because he has gone through pretty much exactly what I feel and go through as a kid from Utah Valley. Anyway, he suggested that desire to serve comes from repentance. He talked about how kids are (usually) so fired up to serve when they get to the MTC because they’ve been preparing and repenting of everything so they can go on a mission. However, when you get to the field, you may not be severely disobedient but little things can bring you down and make you more self-centered. I did some scripture study, and its true! Look at Enos and the Sons of Mosiah. They didn’t have a desire for the welfare of others until they had received a remission of their own sins through the repentance process. It’s so cool! So I’ve been applying daily repentance and praying for desire and for my investigators more seriously than ever before. And it’s working! I’m loving this!

Anyways…this week...we had some great lessons, new referrals, and a couple of cool miracles! For example, our appointments had fallen through so instead of going back to town in a trike (see picture and description at the end of his letter) like we usually do, we decided to walk and talk to people! Some members from the other ward pulled over on their bike and gave us two referrals, and then we talked to an older couple who said we could come by their house next week! So cool! And it wouldn’t have happened if our appointments hadn’t have fallen through! God seriously has been helping our work so much!
Elder Christensen and Elder Lugay, walking and talking to people!

Another small miracle, we sort of have this investigator named Michael. I say sort of, because since I’ve been in the field, we’ve tried to visit him twice a week and haven’t taught him once! Sometimes he’s home and says he’s busy, sometimes his family says he’s not around, sometimes there’s no one around. It sort of became like a joke that Brother Michael might not exist! Anyways, with that background, he just showed up to church on Sunday! Never been before, and only had one lesson way back before I got here. Last time we stopped by he wasn’t home so we didn’t even invite him to come to church or anything! He just came! And he was into it too! It was fast Sunday, so testimony meeting right? It was a super spiritual testimony meeting, which was great, and Brother Michael started clapping after one of the testimonies! It was so awesome! He just approved so much of what was being said that he didn’t control himself! It was too perfect! Anyway, I know that God granted us with that miracle because of our diligent efforts to invite, even if we never actually taught. It was just a small miracle, but I’ll take it for a miracle regardless.

We have investigators with various problems, of course. One has a word of wisdom problem still so we had to push his baptism back another week, and another isn’t old enough to come to church on her own and she needs to have a guardian come with her to church but her dad is a less active who just won’t come to church…it makes me sad. I pray that he’ll soften his heart and come to church for his daughter’s sake. But on the other hand we have new investigators coming out of the cracks! One when we taught him about the restored gospel just had a twinkle in his eye when I talked about Joseph Smith. He was so engaged in the lesson, despite my pangit Tagalog. That’s another thing, my Tagalog is improving! I’ve decided to not stress so much about it. I still work hard to learn it, but I don’t try to say things that I don’t know how to say and just let the spirit guide. The spirit doesn’t tell me to say things that I don’t know how to say! So that’s a good thing. Also, people in the ward are starting to say things like, “Wow, Nagtututo Ka! (Wow, You’re learning)!”, which has never happened before, so I guess I am actually learning! This week we (my comp. and I) are going to try a day of straight Tagalog, to push my abilities! That will be interesting for sure.

Anyways, so September has come, which apparently means Christmas music? A member explained to me that when the “Bers” come (i.e. septemBER, octoBER…) that’s when you should start celebrating Christmas!  Look mate, I don’t start listening to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving, so this is just insanity! I love Christmas music, but in September? Weird, but it’s now playing in our apartment thanks to my Filipino Elders! I might not like Christmas music anymore by the time December rolls around! Anyways, that’s what’s new with me!

 It’s all true, it’s all real, and God loves you as he does everyone else, so we should love everyone else too! Till next week!

--Elder Christensen

Picture of a trike:
Motorized tricycles are a common means of passenger transport everywhere in the Philippines, except on busy major highways and very busy city streets. "The tricycle is the most popular means of transport in small towns and cities, especially in the rural areas."

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