Monday, October 28, 2013

"The end of a beautiful chapter of my mission"


What a week! So where to begin…so since it was transfers, we were fed by members wanting to serve the missionaries left and right! It was awesome!

So Tuesday was the best day of work ever! Since we were going to have new sisters coming at transfers and our area would be split, we decided to explore a little bit to find some new people to teach! We just kind of stopped in a new neighborhood, right across from a Catholic church actually! We didn’t know where to start, so we literally just picked the closest house to knock. A woman, late twenties, came out looking a bit suspicious of us. We explained we were missionaries who wanted to meet her, and she let us come on the patio. We had a couple awkward small talk sentences, and then when we said we were from Ang Simbahan ni Jesucristo ng mga banal sa mga huling araw, she asked, “Mormons?” We said yes, then a slight smile crossed her face, she told us to wait then ran inside. She came back out with a restoration pamphlet! Apparently, she had been taught lesson one by the Ward 3 sisters a few months ago, and she pretty much knew the restoration pamphlet front and back! She was all smiles and so happy that we were there! It was pretty inspiring actually! Before we could schedule a return appointment, she asked us if we could come back and share more, on another topic though! I cannot wait to share the plan of salvation with her. I know we were led to that house. It was just awesome. We were able to teach tons of lessons that day, in fact the most we had ever taught in one day! 

Wednesday was transfer announcements, where I found out Elder Lungay would be indeed leaving for Tarlac Zone, and I know his new companion. He isn’t the most obedient, so I will pray for him. Basically every companionship is different now, except for the Zone leaders, and the two trainees/trainers. When we had our last planning session that night, it was a sad time indeed. The next morning when we left for Cabanatuan (the transfer point) he started crying during our prayer. He had told me he had only cried 4 times since he was a little kid, and I was there for the 5th. I felt bad for him. This place is his home basically. He said it was harder than leaving home!

At transfers, I just basically waited at the Cabanatuan Stake Center forever for my new companion to arrive from Tarlac. I got to hang out with Elder Armatage, which is always fun. My new companion is Elder Olila! He is the man too! He is a tall, skinny, half Filipino and half Malaysian! He is about one year in the mission, and he is the new District Leader. I’m very blessed to have him! We went to work a little bit that day, but we got punted a bunch. There was a beautiful sunset that evening, which matched the end of a beautiful chapter of my mission.
The sunset that "matched the end of a beautiful chapter of my mission"
New companion:  Elder Olila
The next day we got to show the new sister missionaries around their new area! Basically they have the entire city, and we have all of the super far away areas! Which is cool with me. Saturday we had a community service project, which was super fun! I got to meet all the new members of the zone. Sunday was hard as only one investigator came to church, but it was alright because we had a ton of less actives come! We had solid work in the afternoon, and that brings us to now!

I want to talk a little about Elder Olila! 
His entire family has been baptized within the past five years, but he was the last to be baptized just two years ago. He is the first from his family to serve, and he has another brother serving now too! He was in the seminary to become a priest actually when he was converted! He is way awesome. I feel so blessed to be here in San Jose right now. The future is nothing but bright.

Take care everyone!
I love you all!
--Elder Christensen

We also got an email from Brandon's mission president this week, telling us that Brandon is now a "Co-Senior Companion":

Monday, October 21, 2013

Gearing up for a new companion and the area being split

October 21, 2013

Dear all who have an ear to hear!

Wow, where do I even begin! Two weeks…I went on exchanges with my zone leader Elder Owen, where I learned I needed to have more faith in being able to speak the language, and subsequently received my own personal witness that I will learn this language!

We had the typhoon hit, which killed the power for 5 days. The water pressure was off and on, usually off, but when it was on, we stocked up on water! It was very interesting! So I still haven’t been able to watch all of conference. The church had a generator, but it kept overheating, so I’ve only seen 2.5 hours total! But it’s all good! The lack of power got to both me and Elder Owen as we just were getting sick of it, but I was able to keep my perspective when I thought about the people actually affected by this!

 On Wednesday I gave a workshop on receiving revelation through prayer at District Meeting, which went ok I think. Elder Owen said it helped him, as he’s been praying to know which college to go to when he gets home, so maybe it did something!

 October 18th may have been the best day of my whole life! Random investigators started progressing out of nowhere; we just made so much progress! 

Brandon and his kabahays with Sister Leah and her little sisters
The members have been feeding us a ton, because transfers are coming, and Elder Lungay will most likely be leaving. I am sad to see him go, and he’s sad to leave, but he has been in this one area for 7 ½ months! So I’m prepping for a new companion! 

Also, my area is being split with some new sisters! So we will have two companionships in this ward! We’re giving the close, city areas to the sisters while we elders will teach out more in the “bukid” or country areas. It will be different for sure, but I’m excited! And we get to open a different part of my area that we haven’t been able to visit yet! So way cool!

Brandon and his kabahays (housemates): Elder Lungay, Elder Owen & Elder Iligan

As far as scriptural insights goes, I found a series of scriptures in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22. My favorite is 16, “Rejoice Evermore.” There is always a reason to rejoice, we just have to look for it!

I love you all!

--Elder Christensen
Brandon with a baby carabao (water buffalo)
Brandon with his district
Brandon, Elder Owen and the Assistants
Brandon with a random Lebron James poster in town
Elder Spiderman!

Friday, October 18, 2013


I just heard from Brandon!!!  I am SO HAPPY!!!  He didn’t have a lot of time, but I will pass on what he wrote and then add the additional things he said as we emailed  back and forth for a few minutes:


I'm so sorry I wasn't able to email on Monday!!! We had a typhoon last Friday night that wiped out all the power in Nueva Ecija, which is like from Bountiful to Provo, and so we didn't have power until two nights ago. On Monday there was no power for a hundred miles in any direction. It was quite an adventure!

We just got authorization from the president to send a quick email to our families under the discretion of the zone leaders. So I'm fine! Some of our food went bad, and it was really hot in our apartment, but I'm good! In fact I learned a lot from the experience. I learned not to count what you don't have, but count what you do! So I'm ok, I'm fine, no problems here! So yeah.

 The work is going forward. This is my last week with Elder Lungay, which is crazy. Anyways, I don't have a ton of time. I love you so much and everything's fine here!

A simple awesome scripture that sums up how I've tried to deal with no power: 1 Thessalonians 5:16—REJOICE EVERMORE.

Love you!
 --Elder Christensen

And now for the answers to my questions:

….I'm alive!!! Hahaha- we had a killer typhoon that knocked out the power!!!

….I'm doing just fine! Great, actually.  Our water and power has been on and off the past couple of days, but it's getting steadier now! Without power...dark! Ha--I relied heavily on that flashlight you gave me. Actually around 8 o’clock it gets bright because that's when the moon comes out and it’s pretty full now. We've been able to teach a couple times by moonlight! Kinda cool! 
How are you? I hope you didn't worry that much. I've been praying for you that you would not worry too much.
….We’ve done a little bit of service.  Our area didn't get hit as hard actually-- some rice plants got damaged and some signs got blown away, but everything else is good!

…. I promise I won't miss (emailing you) if I can help it. I'm so sorry, Mom.  I didn't mean to make you worry. Just always know that I'm safe. I am called and protected by God. And I can survive here, even without water and electricity as I found out! And it has not affected the work at all, thank goodness!

In response to asking him if he’d been able to see conference yet:  ....I have not still! Get this, we had a generator at the stake center, but it overheated twice! So I've seen 2.5 hours of conference out of the 10 that I wanted to watch! We're going to download the talks sometime and watch them at our apartment.

Hahaha-- I love you guys! Well, l I have to get going. I still have language study! Then out to work! Or in Tagalog: Aalis po ako, kasi may aral na lingua pa rin! Mahal ko kayo talaga!

‘Til Monday!  I love you!  Bye!

Monday, October 14, 2013

No Email from Brandon.....Typhoon Nari hits the Philippines-Angeles mission hard, especially in the Nueva Ecija province, where Brandon is......

We didn't hear from Brandon on his Pday, a first in the 4 months he has been gone.  I found out from other missionary moms of the Angeles Mission that none of them heard from their missionaries, either.  As I started researching on the internet, I found that Typhoon Nari (called "Santi" in the Philippines) struck his mission hard this weekend.  I'm sure he is without power, and may be for several days.  His province, Nueva Ecija was greatly affected by the typhoon. We are praying for his safety and the safety of all in his region, until we hear from him.  Please join us in praying for Brandon and all that were affected by this typhoon.

Flooding from Typhoon Nari

Thank you so much for your prayers.


Monday, October 7, 2013

The Most Spiritual Lesson of my Mission & Some Cool Scriptural Insights

Hello All!

What a week it has been! Tuesday I went on exchanges with an elder from my batch, Elder Rebelde. We had a great time together! That day I had a cool moment where, while teaching a recent convert, we shared Alma 34:32-33. That scripture hit me in a new way. We don’t have to wait to repent! We don’t have to be stuck in a state where all we can do is wallow in regret and shame! We can change NOW! And that’s why I’m out here! To share that awesome message! It fueled my desire to talk with everyone I met the whole week!

Lots of our investigators are progressing and building testimonies, but not coming to church. This week is conference for us, so hopefully we can get some more people to listen to a prophet of the Lord in their own language! 

On Thursday I got really frustrated with the language during companionship study. Elder Lungay and I have been trying to speak more Tagalog, as that seems to be the trick to learning faster: speak the language all the time, especially with your companion. Anyways, he really helped me that morning. He said, “You can’t learn everything all at once.” And he’s right. All I can do is just keep going! So I did! And on Saturday, I really felt like I was able to speak the best Tagalog I had so far.

But on Friday, the Assistants stayed with us because they went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders. Super fun! We had a service project with them where we cleaned and help prepare a member's new apartment, which was super fun! I got to know the assistants a lot better, and one of them is the trainer of my trainer’s trainer! Or my great grand-father! That’s pretty cool! 

Saturday I had another insight that was pretty cool. While sharing 2 Nephi 2:11, I realized how no one can truly know the blessings of obedience without knowing the sorrows of sin. Paul even touched on that, saying the sorrow of sin leads men to repent. So not only is sin an unavoidable part of life, it is a necessary step for us to come closer to Christ in the great plan of redemption. If we never turn away from Christ, we will never know what it is like to come unto Him. Thus, there must be opposition in all things! Kinda cool!

 We taught a lesson to the Valiente family, the family I talked about last week where the mom wanted to become worthy to return to Father. And man, that was the most spiritual lesson of my mission! The spirit improves my speech a lot too. I put together sentences that I had never tried before in that lesson, and they were correct (according to my companion). I am better able to discern when those we teach have concerns or questions when the spirit is strong. The spirit is everything! They accepted an invitation to be baptized!

Church was good, but many people we have been teaching didn’t come this week, which was a bit discouraging, but we were able to make some progress with one certain investigator later on that day. Usually she has a hard time staying focused and remembering what we teach, but she was much better yesterday!

This morning we went to Milka Krem, which is this super awesome dairy/cafĂ© where everything is made with Carabao milk. It was soooo good! 

*Note: Carabao is a swamp type domestic water buffalo found in the Philippines. Milka Crem is at the Philippine Caraboa Center (PCC), which operates to conserve, propagate and promote the carabao or native buffalo as a source of milk and meat as well as draft animal power and hide to benefit the rural farmers. 

And that brings us to now.
To close, I wanted to make a list of things that I have done in the Philippines so far that I would not have done back home: Ride on the back of a motorcycle side saddle. Eat quail (like it was prepared and cooked, but when they handed it to me it still had the head and wings and legs and everything!). Eat pork fried in boiled pigs blood. Eat WAY more coconut than I used to. Shower using a bucket. Walk until I start falling apart, yet love every minute. Share my testimony every day. Bring souls to Christ. Be an instrument in the Lord’s hands.

I love you all, this work is so important, and I know this is the Lord’s Kingdom. Remember, if you believe that this church is just another church, that’s all it will ever be for you. But if you have the faith that we hold the power that split the Red Sea, makes the blind see and the lame walk, then you might begin to understand the “Visions and Blessings” of this dispensation. Miracles happen. Visions are real. Revelation is received. Angels visit the earth, and Christ will too.

--Elder Christensen

I thought I'd add some questions and answers from my emails from Brandon!  Here are a few:

1.  How was your week?
My week was super good actually! We taught the most lessons (I think) and had the most OYMs in one week than I have in any other week of my mission! Way fun week, I had lots of cool spiritual insights as well!

2. What are your mission’s rules about what is required before a person can be baptized?  Do they have to go to church a certain number of weeks, etc.? 
That's a good question! We would baptize MUCH more if we didn't have these requirements, but then we would probably have that many more less actives. OK- so 4 Sundays of church attendance, and you can't miss twice in a row (unless a valid reason). Next is 4 consecutive weeks of living the Word of Wisdom. And of course, all the baptismal interview questions found in PMG. Reading the Book of Mormon, all that jazz! 

3.  How are things with your companion? What's he like? Do you work well together? Do you have fun together?
Where do I even begin!  We are great!  I love him to death.  We only have about two weeks left together.  I'm sad this will come to an end.  We've done good work together.  What is he like...He's a bit like Anna actually!  But always, I mean always happy!  I've never heard him get sad about anything.  Sure there are times when he isn't as happy as other times, but for the most part he's just enthusiam, which has really helped me.  We work great together.  We have a system working right now where I lead the lessons, introduce the general points and topics, offer what insights and ramifications I can, then he goes even deeper because, well, he speaks better Tagalog than I do!  And Mom, we laugh all the time!  Pretty much in between every lesson after we talk about how the lesson went we just talk and laugh and have good times.  I was talking to Elder Owen (ZL & housemate) last night, and I said that even though I know there are many miracles and great times ahead in my mission, I don't know if I will have a better situation than I have right now.  I'm just trying to take in every moment!