Sunday, April 27, 2014

Thanks to every last person who pushed me to go on a mission- It's the best thing I've ever done!

Hey hey hey!

So! Just like that another week has gone by. A week of unbelievable heat coupled with random, super crazy thunderstorms!
Exhausted from the HEAT
It was an adventure many times this week! So, on Monday we had a Family Home Evening at the Bishop’s home where our two investigators who will be baptized in May, namely Edwin and April, attended, and a good time was had by all! Tuesday we had some good lessons, and saw some promise in some investigators…the highlight though was when I met Jenibe, an investigator that Elder Antoni found last week when we were on splits. She just moved into her very active cousin’s house, and she’s totally into the lessons. She’s got solid potential, and a great fellowshipper! Wednesday we had a district meeting where I helped throw a surprise party for my district mate, Sister Penales, as she just turned 21!
Happy Birthday Sister Penales!
We taught Edwin and April that day, and they’re both progressing right along! Neither of them have crazy strong testimonies yet, but they definitely are growing and keeping commitments! 

Thursday was kind of a rough day. One of our ward missionaries now has a job at a mall where he works every Sunday, and he was supposed to be getting ready for his own mission…dang. We visited him and he said he would try to fix his schedule. We spent an extraordinarily long time at a recent convert's house as he shared with us an incredibly detailed account of this bogus YouTube video about some South American’s “vision” of heaven and hell. After it was done, we doctrinally tore it apart.  The highlight of the day was when we taught Jenibe again, and she already felt a “different” feeling in answer to her prayer about our message (and her cousin was right there to tell her that was the Holy Ghost, fellowshippers are AWESOME!). We shared about the Book of Mormon and she accepted a baptismal invitation! 

Friday I interviewed one of the sister’s candidates. We taught a few other lessons, and taught our investigator Maria Cristina’s house mate, Ofelia, and challenged her to pray to know as well! Saturday we kind of had a rough day again, just not too many appointments. We did have a super awesome lesson with Sister Lina, where we taught Lesson 2. We planned on teaching just the first part, “Where do we come from?” But the spirit was rocking and we both felt we should teach the whole thing. She told us some of her biggest questions had now been answered, such as the ultimate fate of Satan and his angels! So that’s cool! She said she would come to church, but when Sonny swung by to pick her up, she had some excuses and just said next time…agh!!! Sunday my companion and I gave talks in Church. I felt that I needed to talk about God’s love, so I shared about that, focusing on 1 John 4. My companion talked about callings, and many people shared with us their approval of his talk! We had 100 in attendance, but only two investigators at church. I gave another interview after church, then we had splits so we were able to get some more lessons.  Sonny and I worked together, and we worked hard, fast, and efficiently! It felt good, as I felt sometimes we hadn’t pushed as hard as we could have this week. Among our lessons we taught Nanay Norma, who still has a strong desire to push her family to be sealed! And she’s still coming to church, so that’s good! And she wants us to come to the temple with her! I would LOVE that! I miss the temple so bad…We didn’t get to teach Ofelia, but I was able to speak with her long enough to follow up and find out she did have a feeling in her prayer about the Restoration! We ended the night teaching the Reyes’ niece who is staying with them for the summer Lesson 1, and had a fantastic dinner appointment there! I ate salmon! I haven’t had that in so long! It was a good way to end the week.
At a teaching appointment...
And so now I’m here! I’m still enjoying the work!  Elder Antoni and I are laughing a lot and we’re seeing good things in the future! I love my life, love this work, and I want to thank every last person who ever pushed me to go on a mission; even though I didn’t know it at first, this is the best thing I’ve ever done. I couldn’t ask for more than this opportunity to serve here among this people.

May the Lord bless you all!

--Elder Christensen

Monday, April 21, 2014

Things are just looking great!

 Hello all!
So first of all, this week was phenomenally better than the last. Not that any of these problems seem to be going away, just that things are just starting to look a little better! And this week was CRAZY!!! And I want to try something different; I have some scriptures to go with my weekly letter! So first off, Hebrews 12:29 (For our God is a consuming fire.) IT IS SO HOT! I am literally dripping with sweat all the time, even in the evening when it would be nice and cool…nope, still sweating like crazy.
Next scripture: D&C 19:15-17 (Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not. For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I).  This is what I wanted to explain/yell at people this whole week. So it was “Holy Week” here, which apparently means a bunch of Catholics get together (against the will of their leaders and church) and say, “Hey, Jesus died this week some 2000+years ago, let’s all cover our faces, take our shirts off, wrap thorny vines around our head, and whip ourselves/carry around crosses in the streets, because, you know, it’s not like our sins and sufferings have been paid for, we’ve got to do this.”
It was seriously the most disturbing thing watching supposedly perfectly sane people walking down the street whipping themselves, blood everywhere…the whole nine yards. People kept telling me to take pictures…I didn’t even want to look! So I didn’t take pictures of the whipping, but I did of the crosses. At first I was just sad and disturbed, but it eventually turned into anger at the ignorance and traditions of their fathers. Kaya nga, I wanted to yell Helaman 13:29 (O ye wicked and ye perverse generation; ye hardened and ye stiff-necked people, how long will ye suppose that the Lord will suffer you? Yea, how long will ye suffer yourselves to be led by foolish and blind guides? Yea, how long will ye choose darkness rather than light?) Sorry, needed to vent a little bit there!
The work was really good this week! We were able to get 46 lessons this week, which is pretty high up there for me! Tuesday we met Lina, a referral of Wilma Layug, our recent convert. Apparently they joined a Baptist church back in the day together. Anyways, SHE IS AWESOME! She is the nicest lady with three grandchildren that live with her. She has such a knowledge of the Bible, and she is totally open! She had been taught by missionaries back in the day, but they stopped coming…no one knows what happened there. She just loved the first lesson, and totally soaked in every word we said! She called our visit, “a little bit of heaven!” And for me, after last week, she was what Paul described in Romans 8:26.
Wednesday was Zone interviews, which was my third and last interview with President Martino. I love that guy so much; I’ll miss him when he leaves in June. He gave me tons of good advice, like receiving personal revelation through this guy!
Other highlights on Wednesday, we got our recent convert, Arianne, to commit to help one of our less actives, and it totally worked!  They both were together at church on Sunday! Thursday was just a solid day, good lessons, and Lina accepted a goal date for May, but she was a bit hesitant as she’s not sure if she’ll be ready. 
Friday I gave a baptismal interview to the Sister’s candidate in their area, and he was so awesome! He literally has gone to no belief in God to the strongest testimony of the atonement in two months! He did check yes to one of the three questions that require an interview from the mission president, so that was a bit crazy, but we got that all coordinated and it worked out.
I have another scripture to insert here: Moroni 45-47 ( And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail-- But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possess of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.)  So we’ve helped this one old lady, Norma, come back to church. She’s a little grouchy, drinks coffee occasionally and has one heck of a sense of humor. When we taught her on Friday I saw her in a whole new light. There’s always this one girl that’s hanging around her, Leah. She’s about my age, and I think she has fetal alcohol syndrome, for who anyone who is familiar with that knows it greatly hinders her brain processing, mouth filter, and general social behavior skills. I always assumed that she was just one of her grandchildren, because she has tons of family who lives in this little compound. Well, as it turns out, Leah is some random distant niece or something like that, who was left with Norma when she was 3 days old. Norma, in her old age, raised her, made sure she was baptized, and has loved and cared for her for more than 20 years. She could have said no, or shipped her away to some other relative, especially when it became evident her condition was not normal. Nope, she just showed charity. She may not be a perfect Latter-Day Saint, but she is a brilliant example of charity. That one moved me and Elder Antoni. 

Saturday was another good day, we were able to teach 7 lessons, and we worked really hard! Oh yeah, there’s this one little kid of a less active member that has been joining us in our work! He’s 8, and we really want him to be baptized.  He and his mom just need to come to church! He’s really cute, so I gave him a CTR ring (Thanks Mom!).  His name is Cedric and he reminded me a little bit of Christian, you know, just having a little brother. 

Sunday was SWEET! We had 95 people at church, and tons of less actives come!!! We got splits on Sunday as well. I worked with the Bishop’s son, CJ, who is preparing for a mission, and Sonny, while Elder Antoni worked with the ward mission Leader and a brand new RM. They had awesome success in finding TWO NEW FAMILIES who are totally open to the gospel message, just ready! We also had good lessons, one with Brother Edwin, who has stopped smoking cigarettes, and so he’s on track to get baptized the Saturday before I transfer out of here! And he really wants me to baptize him, so I hope I can do that. He’s so funny; he demands I give him ice cream before he gets baptized! We had some other good lessons, and ended with a dinner appointment, which was AMAZING.
We had a really fun zone activity this morning, which included Ultimate Frisbee but using a football. It was pretty much incredible. We also played basketball earlier, and had a water balloon fight after!
Zone Activity
And now, I’m here! I’m loving it, even though it’s crazy hot! And things are just looking great! I wake up excited every morning now, I love it!
Well, take care everybody!    
 -Elder Christensen
Elder Christensen eating adidas (chicken feet!)

Monday, April 14, 2014

A roller coaster week

Dear All!
This week…wow. Last week was SO awesome, and this week seemed to punch me in the stomach. Our first few days of work were not so hot, relatively few appointments from Tuesday to Thursday. Wednesday was transfer announcements, where there were lots of changes in the Zone. Almost everyone who is not a Sister Training Leader or a Zone leader is training now! Crazy! In other news around the mission, my trainer, Elder Lungay, just became a Zone Leader, as well as my good buddy Elder Armatage! And Sister Tuione, my batchmate, just became a Sister Training Leader! Super cool! Way excited for them! Thursday was transfers, and because the transfer point is in our area, we stopped by the church right before lunch. I got to see Sister Tuione for the first time since we arrived in the field! That was way exciting! I also saw many other friends, so that was fun. 
Elder Christensen with 3 of his batchmates

Thursday was actually a pretty good day I guess, as we had some good lessons, then a Ward Home Evening at the church to welcome home a missionary who just returned. It was lots of fun, and we were even able to teach one more lesson afterwards.
Ward party for a returning missionary!
Friday was my companion’s birthday. He’s 27!!!! Holy Cow! We had a district lunch at a restaurant called “Chic-boy”, which is a kind of funny pun in the Philippines. We also got him a cake, and sang, all that good stuff!
District birthday lunch for Elder Christensen's comp!
And the rest of the day was…rough. After being rejected and walking around for hours, we prayed and went to a house of a less active, who ended up being home. I had an impression to try to find the girl we met a few weeks back whose situation rocked me to the core. We found her house, but they were already asleep. Their neighbor said to come back in the morning. So Saturday morning, before conference, we went to them and shared the plan of salvation. I really thought it would help her or give her hope…but she didn’t seem to care too much. We explained about priesthood blessings as well, and despite the petition of her mother, she refused to have a blessing. Just seeing her in this condition and having her turn away…it was hard.

Conference was AMAZING! I loved all of the talks, if I could chose a favorite I would, but I honestly can’t. Elder Holland, Sister Reeves, Elders Anderson, Eyring, Scott, Hales Zwick, Cook, The ENTIRE PRIESTHOOD SESSION…I’m sorry it was all so good. However, in between the Saturday afternoon and priesthood session we were able to teach one lesson to a longtime investigator, who just this past week who turned out to commit a VERY grievous sin, which was really hard for us. All 5 sessions of conference, we didn't have one investigator come. 

Sunday after conference, members approached us and told us how they had evidence that one of our investigators had committed a fairly serious crime against them. Then as we went out to work, I had an asthma attack, and thankfully I had my inhaler. I was lightheaded, exhausted, and not feeling well the rest of the day where yet again, the lessons were very scarce. But there is one thing that I have a new testimony of: in D&C 84 it speaks of the Holy Spirit sanctifying unto the renewing of bodies. Even though I was lightheaded, exhausted, and overall not feeling well, when we were finally able to teach a couple of lessons in the evening, I felt rejuvenated by the Holy Spirit and I was back to feeling my normal self. It was a cool experience.
And that brings us to now! This week was a roller coaster if there ever was, and sometimes I felt like I was barely holding on. But I’m growing closer to my Savior every day, and what else can I really ask for?
 I love you all, and He lives!
--Elder Christensen

Monday, April 7, 2014

Saving Grace of the Galaxies

Hello All! 
Wow what a week it has been! This has easily been my favorite week this transfer, and it is all thanks to the Grace of The Lord which has attended our lives this week. The opposition hasn't lessened, but the spirit has increased! So at the start of things, Monday was good, I bought a football, so we have some fun P-days ahead of us here! The rest of P-day was good, though I did see posters for the Amazing Spider-man 2...oh well, first night when I get back! We had a dinner appointment with with the bishop's family that night, which was good. Tuesday, we had an awesome lesson with Sister De Jesus, a recent convert who has been struggling a 
lot, and has hid from us quite a few times. It was a super spiritual lesson, and my companion was simply on fire! He truly was an instrument in the Lord's hands in that lesson. We were able to teach a couple of less actives who usually hide from us, so that's good! Sometimes my mission is a giant game of hide and seek...oh well! 

Wednesday we had Mission/District Leadership council, which was absolutely awesome! It was all about grace, and I absolutely love that topic! President Martino gives the best workshops. We had good work that day, and met another less active teenager, who has some promise. Her name is Christina and we gave her a Book of Mormon, so that was something. Thursday we had Zone training meeting where we relayed the messages given during MLC/DLC to the zone, which went well, and afterwards we had Lechon Baboy...SO GOOD!!!! It's classic filipino style roast pig...awesome stuff! I also got TWO packages from my awesome Mom! Thanks!!! We're enjoying the easter candy already! Lessons were a bit scarce in the afternoon, but we had lots of contacts so that's cool! And we had an awesome dinner appointment with the De Jesus family! Lots of good food that day! The work was SWEET on Friday! I had a lesson in which I drew how the gospel is the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life. We taught Sister Arianne, who is still glowing from her baptism. We taught a less active who has returned, Norma Ho, who is in her seventies and really wants to be sealed to her family, but her less active kids couldn't care less...its sad, but she can still be sealed to her husband who died a ways back, so that's good! We taught April Roxas, who has a goal date for the 26th, and she is a waitress at a little resturaunt owned by members that we always eat at. We also taught Edwin, the husband of an active member, Sister She, and he is starting to progress! He said he felt the spirit in the lesson, wanted his own copy of the Book of Mormon, asked really good questions about the plan of salvation, and after the lesson we set a baptismal date and then they even started talking about a sealing about a year from now and whether or not I would be able to attend! Holy cow! We haven't been able to teach him since then, but he came to church and he has apparently been reading and has a lot of questions! So awesome! 

Saturday was a good day, Sonny worked with us! And speaking of which, he told me he found this Hi Sonny! Oh- for the first time in my life, I felt like I was literally filled with the spirit of prophecy! We were in a lesson with Nanay Soriano, a 70+ recent convert who hasn't been to church in a while, and she was telling us about how she can't walk to church anymore. While she was talking, I felt the spirit so strong multiple times tell me to promise her that if she would use her faith and go to church, she would be able to walk to church and it wouldn't hurt. She didn't seem to believe me though, even though I promised her it was coming from the spirit. And lo and behold, she didn't come to church. I know she didn't try, because if she did she would have been able to make it. Our last appointment on Saturday night was sad, as we taught the Bonus family and they informed us that they are being forced to move out of the house they've been renting, because the owner needs it for his family. They will be moving to a different part of Tarlac, in a different area, so I won't be able to be there for their baptism...dang. But I'm sure the Sisters there will take care of them and see them all the way to baptism. 

Sunday was good, as our Sacrament attendance is up to 93! That's improvement! We had pretty good work, as we had help coming from Brothers Sonny and Ryan, our ward mission leader. We taught mostly less actives, but we taught one investigator that had a 1 year old nephew die suddenly this past week. She has been taught the Plan of Salvation before, but we reviewed it and shared from section 137 how all small children who die are saved in the celestial kingdom. We had another fantastic dinner appointment with the Reyes family, who are always so nice to us missionaries. This morning I gave our bathroom the cleaning of the lifetime, which was very satisfactory. We have a Family Home Evening scheduled with a member who has lots of less active teenage neighbors, who hopefully will join as we invited them last week, so that should be fun. So yeah, right now I'm loving my mission, loving my life, everything is pretty much great! I love you all, I love my Savior, and there's no other place I'd rather be!
Elder Christensen