Sunday, February 23, 2014

Brandon is sick with a fever and unable to email this week....

I've been waiting all night for Brandon's email, but it never came.  I just now got a brief email from one of his housemates saying that Brandon has been sick with a fever and that he is unable to leave the apartment.  I didn't get any details other than that, but he said that they gave him a blessing and assured me that they would take care of him.  

Please join us is praying for Brandon that he can recover quickly from this illness and that it won't turn into anything serious.  

Thank you-

Sunday, February 16, 2014

My best week here in Tarlac and maybe in my mission

Attention, the whole world!.....Or just whoever bothers to read this update this week--

Man, what a week this was! It was my best week here in Tarlac for sure and maybe in my mission. I seriously am just loving it. I’m working hard here, and I want to echo what F. Enzio Busche once said, “In thoroughness is satisfaction.” We were very VERY blessed this week, and were able to teach 48 lessons, which was an absolute miracle. We had 5 investigators come to church, which is a miracle as we had 0 not four weeks ago. We were about 100 in all for attendance at church; we have people excited and getting ready for baptism this coming March. We’re hoping for about 4-5 baptisms next month. Man, miracles are happening everywhere! I feel like I’m seeing the Lord’s plan for the people here in Tarlac, and the Lord has been providing a way to accomplish his designs here.

So! I just want to share some highlights. On Wednesday I felt like we weren’t doing our best and acting the best way to invite the spirit into our lives and into our lessons. I do believe that was true, but I now see that I was getting too hung up on little things. We talked about it during companionship study on Thursday, but it didn’t really do anything. We had a bit of an awkward feeling as we headed to our first appointment. We got spiritually slapped in the face. Our investigator had tons of really good questions about the Book of Mormon and its teachings, but we just didn’t have the spirit there and had no good answers. Thankfully he agreed to meet with us again, but it was a great lesson in that whatever we do as missionaries, if we’re not focused on helping our investigators, getting caught up on the little things won’t do a darn thing for the work! We were able to get refocused after that, and we had a good day and the spirit was in the lessons.

 Friday was fun as we had a district lunch after weekly planning, then we had another good day of work. 
Brandon and his distict at their district lunch
Saturday was just amazing, as I got to interview a man who truly exemplified the “Broken Heart and Contrite Spirit” for baptism. It was the most spiritual interview I’ve had so far, and his testimony was just beautiful. We went to an appointment where Maria Durian, an investigator, told us that as she went to read the Book of Mormon she fell asleep and had a dream in which she saw Moroni, the last prophet. She said he told her to read the Book of Mormon, specifically Moroni 10:27. (Read it, it’s pretty cool.)  She received her answer in a miraculous way that the Book of Mormon was true.
Moroni 10:27  "And I exhort you to remember these things: for the time speedily cometh that ye shall know that I lie not, for ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man, like as one crying from the dead, yea; even as one speaking out of the dust?"
And she duly came to church for the first time on Sunday. The entire day seemed to be charmed, as we had 9 lessons that one day. 

Sunday was great, as we got splits from the ward to cover more ground. I got to work with our Ward Mission Leader, and our lessons were super spiritual and great. He also showed me to the houses of some less active members, which was great to know! When we met back up, we went to Maria Durian again, because we knew her husband, who has no faith in God or anything really, would be there. Along with a less active member who lives close by, we showed the Restoration video. It was absolutely beautiful, the spirit filled the room. We then testified, as well as the less active member, and even our investigator, that what we had watched was the truth. I then asked Maria’s husband, Durian, if he had any feelings about what he watched. His face looked a bit stunned as he said, “Yeah, right here,” pointing to his heart. I testified that that was the Spirit of God bearing witness that this message is true. I don’t know for sure, but I believe that that was the first time that man had ever felt the Holy Ghost. I was just blessed enough to be there and be a part of it. Well that about sums up my week. It was so fantastic, just beautiful.
Brandon setting up to show the Restoration video

I love you all so much.  I feel your prayers on my behalf. Just remember that without Christ, we are nothing. But in his strength, we can do all things. More than I thought possible happened this week.  We just need to have faith enough to trust God in all things.

--Elder Christensen
Playing basketball for P day!
Silly pictures with his distict!

Monday, February 10, 2014

There are so many people here that have so much potential, it’s crazy!

Hello All!
So! I do not feel like I just had my fourth Sunday here, but that just happened! So update time! Monday we went to visit one of our most progressing investigators and when we got there she was crying, but invited us in. We taught her and tried to comfort her, but she just wouldn’t open up to us…we’re a bit worried there, we’ve been praying hard. 

Tuesday was cool as we worked super hard and had lots of lessons. We also made a return appointment with some street contacts.  Wilma Layo, who was super interested in our message, invited us back on Thursday. Wednesday was cool when we met Maria Christine, who is a former investigator who discontinued because she moved.  She is looking for, in her very words, “The true church of Jesus Christ.” We readily scheduled a return appointment with her as well. She is also neighbors with a member, so we hopefully will have a fellowshipper there! 

Thursday was fun as we had some ward missionaries work with us, and they’re all super cool and getting ready to serve missions. At the end of the day, I treated them to McDonalds, which was super fun as well!
Treating ward missionaries to McDonalds
We went back to Wilma Layo, who introduced us to one of her sons, Andrew, who just had his wife leave him and take his kid too, which has been really hard, but he really wants to learn and come closer to God. Friday we had a really solid weekly planning session, and I’m hoping our planning will pay off with better use of our time this week. We taught Maria Christine, which was hard with her little boys running wild, but the spirit came in when we got to the Joseph Smith story and the Restoration. We taught one of our investigators with the most potential, Sister Ravera, about the law of chastity, and we found out that she and her husband aren’t actually married. She’s been a bit shy to us ever since then…We went to a part member family in the evening where we met a very active member's nonmember, 20-something year old son. He is very receptive to us and wants to go to church with his mom, so he’s going to try to get work off there! 

Saturday morning we had no appointments, so we went door to door knocking for the first time in my mission! We did not have any success, but I felt American! In the afternoon we went back to the Layo family, where we met another son, Sonny, who had a CTR ring given to him by a classmate at the local university! They practically begged us to tell them what time church started, and we had an awesome lesson with them! Sunday the Layo family came to church, and they were the only investigators who did! We taught Maria Christine in the afternoon, who has received an answer that our message is true! Woot!!! The rest of the day we just got SUPER punted.  By the time 6:30 rolled around we had only had two lessons, and all of our plans and backups had fallen through. We randomly talked to a guy playing on his phone, and it turns out he and his wife are, get this, former investigators, and back in 2010 the missionaries apparently got pulled out, because they both transferred and no replacements came. They were really close apparently too! So we taught them, and they readily accepted a return appointment! There are so many people here that have so much potential, it’s crazy!

Earlier this morning, we had a fun zone activity…and that brings us to now.
As far as spiritual insights goes, I just want to second what the prophet Brigham Young said, that Jesus Christ ought to be on our minds all of the time, as the very thought of him is sanctifying. I bear witness that is true.  I’ve been trying to do that this week and I feel the spirit far more consistently, the spirit is stronger in the lessons, and I’m better able to follow the spirit and teach according to the needs of the investigator.  And also, Satan has been trying to tempt me and distract me by bringing up past mistakes in my mind, but instead of dwelling on them, I pause to think that Jesus Christ, for a moment, suffered for that very sin of mine, so that I don’t have to “droop in sin.” When I do that, the spirit fills my soul and I can’t help but feel His love for me, and for those around me. I love you all!  The Book is blue, and the Church is true!
--Elder Christensen

Brandon and his comp

Monday, February 3, 2014

Having a great time in Tarlac!

*Brandon sent us a little video of him talking, in place of a written letter, so I transcribed what he said here.  It sounds less like a written letter, because it wasn’t one!

Hey!  This is Elder Christensen!  I wanted to try something a little bit different for my weekly update.  I wanted to try making a video, so we’ll see how this goes.  I will be reporting from my journal here and by the way, it just got filled up, so I will be using the journal that you sent me a few months back, Mom.  

Last P Day was super awesome!  I got to eat at Pizza Hut for the first time here in the Philippines and it was SUPER good!  “Demons” by Imagine Dragons was playing in the background at Pizza Hut, so it was a nice moment…It felt like America….It was kind of weird.
Tuesday was super, super fun.  It was just a super awesome day.  We found some cool people.  We found a really awesome former investigator who is friends with a member and we set a return appointment with him, so that was cool!  We also followed up on one of the people that we had contacted before who is a heroine addict and he really wants to change so we are going to try to help him.  He is really receptive, too, so hopefully we can do some good there.  We have this family, the Canlas family, who is really starting to progress.  The mom really wants to get into the Mormon culture and she has lots of friends who are members, so that is super good.  We were able to teach Tatay Salsedo again.  He is that super cool guy that we found in that new area that we hadn’t gone to before a couple of weeks ago.  At the end of the day, we had had just such a solid day that I didn’t want to go home.  I just wanted to keep going and teaching.  It was a great day!

On Wednesday it was my first MLC/DLC, which is a giant counsel with all of the district leaders, zone leaders, the sister training leaders and the President.   That was super fun. I got to see some old friends there.  It was super inspiring and uplifting.  It was all about covenants and it was super awesome.

Zone Training Meeting was on Thursday.  I got to give a workshop about persistency and integrity.  They didn’t really go together, but that is what I was assigned to give a workshop on.  That went alright, I think.  We had another good lesson with the Canlas family.  When we gave the mom the Book of Mormon, she hugged it and just loved it.  It was super cool.  We contacted a referral, Marie Fea Bonus, and she is SO awesome!  She has a problem with the word of wisdom, but she is just so solid.  She has a solid testimony and her whole family wants the gospel.  The husband immediately recognized us as messengers from God and he was just so happy that we were there.  So that was super cool!  So, Bonus family—thumbs up--hopefully something happens there!

Friday we taught the Rivera family, who is really cool and they have a lot of potential.  We had the bishop work with us a little bit on Friday, which was super awesome, and we visited a recent convert family that has been struggling a little bit lately to stay active, so that was good.  Also, we get our monthly support each month through our credit card and my companion didn’t have support when we tried to withdraw, and he still doesn’t.  He has 300 pesos of support which is about 2 kg of rice.  So he doesn’t have any money, so I’ve just been paying for stuff, but it’s super funny.  I also had a super solid personal study that day in Alma 24.  Man, those Anti-Nephi-Lehis had serious faith.  They understood the atonement and they understood covenants, and I want to be like them.  They understood it—they got it. 

On Saturday we had a service project in the morning.  Saturday was a little hard because I had to go over to one of the wards with sisters because I was going to baptize their investigator over there, so that took up a lot of the day, but it was super cool.  So we only had three lessons that day, so it was a little bit of a low day for our numbers, but we had some OYMs and it was an alright day.

Then Sunday was a good day.  Church was cool because we had tons of less actives that came to church that day and our sacrament meeting attendance was pretty high.  We didn’t have many investigators come, which was a bummer. We just had one investigator at church.  We were hoping for five or six, so we don’t really know what happened there.  The rest of Sunday was good.  We taught 5 lessons that day. Then we had a super awesome dinner appointment at the 1st counselor’s again.  He is super nice and his family is just an awesome solid Mormon family.  We ate a lot!

Then this morning (P Day) we got up at 5:30 and played basketball, which was super fun.  My companion is really good at basketball actually.  Oh! And I got your package, Mom, so thanks so much!  The calendar is now hanging up in the apartment.  Anna is now known as “Hermoine” because on the cover photo, where you are all wearing the jerseys, you look like Hermoine apparently!  So yeah, that’s my week!  It’s been a really good week.  I’ve had a lot of fun this week.  I’ve spent a lot of time laughing.  My companion is just crazy.  He is funny.  I spend a lot of time laughing with him, so I am having a good time here in Tarlac, my second area.  And so this is my weekly entry!

Elder Christensen