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!)

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