Monday, May 26, 2014

Transferred to "PARADISE" and now a zone leader!

Now this is the story all about how my life got flip-turned upside-down and I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, I’ll tell you about how I became a missionary in a place called BALER!

Hello all! 
What an unbelievably crazy week it has been! Tuesday was a great second to last day in Tarlac, as me and my companion racked up 9 lessons and got to say goodbye to a lot of people. Wednesday was our transfer announcement where I found out I would be going to Maria, BALER! BALER ZONE! EVERY MISSIONARY’S DREAM! MISSION PARADISE!!! SO yeah that was crazy! 
Wednesday was honestly a rough day for the work, but we contacted a lot of people on the street and whatnot! I was up late packing and getting all ready to go. It didn’t hit me how hard it was until me and Elder Antoni prayed one last time as I was leaving the house. Man, that was hard.
Well, after a really hot trip to Cabanatuan, I met Elder Paredes, my new companion! He’s nuts, I love him!
[New companion]
​He is the happiest, smiley-est companion ever! He’s so much fun! Anyways, because Baler is SO far, we literally didn’t get there until nine at night, travel took all day. My area is Maria, a little town in the gorgeous green mountains close to the coast.
[New area]
​The ocean is actually in Baler itself, which is about a 25 minute trip. Our house is a two story flat above a bakery, which is awesome because there’s a bakery so close, but their ovens heat up our house a ton! I have two kabahays, Elder Williams, who I was zone mates with back in San Jose, and Elder Choresca, a super happy smiley Filipino! 
[New kabahays (housemates)]

Friday I got to work, and this area is pretty cool! Lots of potential here, and it is GORGEOUS. There’s a family we visited, The Senteno family, and they are awesome! They are a family of five that wants to be baptized, but just has a couple reservations. They haven’t come to church yet, but we’ll fix that! Saturday we had zone goal setting, which was ok! I got to meet the rest of my zone (there’s only 12 of us!). In the afternoon me and my companion had a meeting in Baler with the various leaders of Baler District and President Martino. President asked us to increase our goal of 7 baptisms in June to 17…holy cow! But he has faith we can do it, and now, so do I! We just got a little bit of work in that evening, but I was able to meet some more of our investigators here in Maria. 

Sunday was interesting, as we meet in the second floor of a little building for church, and there was a brownout (or blackout if you’re in America), so it was crazy hot! But it was ok, the members here are super nice! We went out to work, and the highlight was when I ended up dancing for a recent convert who didn’t come to church because she was feeling sad. Look, we do what it takes! One of our branch missionaries invited us over for dinner last night, and it turned out to be awesome, because his is actually a part member family. We met one of his sisters who just got back from Tarlac (kind of like me!) who was taught by the missionaries back when she was maybe 12. In our message, I felt prompted to share 2 Nephi 25:26 I believe it is, where it talks about believing and rejoicing in Christ. Long story short, we had a very spiritual lesson, a delicious dinner, and a return appointment with our branch missionary’s sister next week! Just a little thing, but I think it's significant. We went to the beach for a zone activity this morning and that was awesome! And that brings us to now!

I love you all! Thanks for everything!!!!
Elder Christensen

Note from me:  Brandon also became a zone leader with this transfer.  In response to my email, he said it's been stressful and that he doesn't get to work as much as he'd like to (in his area), but that it is going good.  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Letter from President Martino to Brandon, upon being called as a zone leader

Philippines Angeles Mission
"Where Only the Finest Serve!"

May 21, 2014

Elder Brandon Glenn Christensen

Dear Elder Christensen:

Congratulations on your appointment as a Zone Leader! In accepting this position, you accept a
responsibility of great magnitude. It is exciting and gratifying to see you develop the ability,
faithfulness and obedience required to handle this important stewardship.

You are expected by the Lord and your missionaries to excel in all aspects of the work. Prayerfully
study the responsibilities of your new calling.  The power of your example will be tremendous, so
put forth every effort to magnify your calling and your priesthood.  Gain the respect of your
missionaries and become a source of help for them. Be a light and a servant leader!

You now have a major impact on the success of the Angeles Mission as well as upon the development
of many missionaries.   It will also be an invaluable experience to you now and throughout your
life.  Use this experience to grow by helping others grow.

I am informing your family of this accomplishment. I know they will be most pleased with your
appointment as a Zone Leader. Continue faithfully in all aspects of the work and enjoy the
blessings the Lord has waiting for you in this new position.  Sister Martino and I look forward to
the opportunity of working more closely with you in this new assignment.


David C. Martino

Monday, May 19, 2014

Edwin is baptized!

Hello All!
Here is my weekly update!  Monday night was crazy as we found out that Elder Tsunoda, my kabahay/zone leader had become the new assistant! SO the Assistants were in a threesome, and so were me, Elder Hubbard, and Elder Antoni. So we had to share work in our respective area's this week until Friday when Elder Mosquera, the old assistant, became Elder Hubbard's temporary companion until transfers this Thursday.
SO! Tuesday the work was awesome. We worked in both areas and got 11 lessons combined on the day! The hard part about the day was when Sister Lina, an AWESOME investigator who is currently an active Seventh Day Adventist, has completely closed off her mind that the sabbath can be on any other day but Saturday, so that was really hard...but other than that it was a good day! Wednesday I went on exchanges in Dap Dap, an awesome town up in the mountains, with Elder Sanico!
He's super cool, and we had a blast! I gave an interview and had a spiritual experience where the spirit testified to me that they would indeed be ready by their baptismal date. 

Thursday I interviewed a candidate of Elder Hubbard’s, who is named YOLO FIESTA! Ok, its spelled Eulo, but it is pronounced YOLO FIESTA! He's a funny, bright nine year old, and he has the greatest party name ever. Afterwards we taught Elder Hubbard's investigator Matthew, a 16 year old Chinese kid that was adopted by a American Dad and Filipino mom from Minnesota.  He has the saddest story ever, and he is staying with his aunt here in the Philippines as a punishment by his parents. He is the humblest, nicest guy. He only speaks English, so we taught lesson one in English, which was nuts! He's totally open, and so cool!

 We had a ward home evening, which was so fun! 

Friday was just a pretty normal day actually. We taught a new family that Elder Antoni found when I was in Dap Dap, the Martin family, and they're really open! So that's cool! Saturday was great, not a whole lot of work though! We taught Vanessa, that girl I found last Sunday, and she is SO awesome and receptive!

We just taught a couple of lessons before EDWIN'S BAPTISM!!
It was so awesome, and I got to baptize him! He's such a goof, but he cried a bit during his testimony afterwards. It has been a small miracle to see him baptized, as he has been taught on and off by the missionaries for a year. It was beautiful to see his time come and I am so blessed that I was the instrument in the Lord’s hand that was able to witness it. And, afterwards I gave him his ice cream, as promised. 
Sunday was fun, as we got Nanay Norma going on preparing for her husband who is dead to be baptized for the dead, so they can be sealed in the temple as a family! We had a Stake missionary fireside that took a big part of our day out, but was highly attended and really good. We had a Dinner Appointment with the Venesuela family, and after our sharing portion they gave us five referrals!!!! SO aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawesome!!!
 Today we went to the Bataan Death March Memorial, which was way cool!

And yeah, that's all. Spiritual insight? Just that I love my Jesus, as Nephi said in 2 Nephi 33:6. He guides me and comforts me every step of my journey as a missionary. I love you all!
Add caption
Elder Christensen

Riding on the back of a jeepney--Yikes!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day Skype!

Dear Family and Friends -
We were so happy to get to Skype with Brandon tonight.   He wasn’t  able to write an update this week because he has a set amount of time on the computer and skyping with us took a big chunk of that time.  So, I thought I would just fill you in on some of the things he shared. 

First of all, he looked and sounded GREAT!!! He is really loving his mission.  It is super hot and he is sweating constantly, but he is loving life!  His investigator Edwin is set to be baptized on May 17th.  Edwin is married to a good, active member of the church, but until recently wasn’t too interested in the church.  But that has all changed and he is really growing in the gospel.  He is in Mosiah in his Book of Mormon reading.  He told Brandon and his comp that when he gets baptized they have to give him ice cream, so Brandon is bringing a tub of ice cream to his baptism.  He had grown really close to Edwin and his wife.

Brandon will be transferred a week from Thursday.  They only keep a trainer with their trainee for two transfers, so Brandon will be transferred.  He has really enjoyed Tarlac and he is sad to go, but he is excited for what is ahead.  I guess the ward that he serves in is planning a little farewell party for him for a ward activity this week.  Then the next transfer will only be 4 weeks, because then his mission president goes home and he gets his new president.

He says that when he is walking around, people say random things about him.  Like a mom with a child will say, “That’s your father”.  Or a girl will say to her friend, “That is my boyfriend”.  Filipinos often ask him if they can trade eyes with him.  They also ask if they can trade noses with him.  Isn’t that funny?

Oh, and he said that he is mailing us a package from the Philippines today.  It is for Glenn and I.  I can’t wait to get it.  And—I can’t really think of anything else--- but he was really happy and doing so well!

He did send me his weekly letter to his mission president, so I will include that here:
Dear President!

In another blink of an eye a week has come and gone. I am still loving my life, loving the people, loving this work, and loving the Lord. Yet again, I think Elder Antoni is brilliant. We had a night where I became frustrated because a few members were frankly wasting our time and there wasn't a whole lot we could do about it, and at the end of the night we fell just short of our goals that in my eyes were very attainable. During our nightly planning, my companion told me what I needed to here. He didn't coddle me like a parent and told me everything is going to be ok, as I probably would have preferred, but he told me what I needed to hear. He told me when that happens, maybe we can't help if members waste our time, but we can still help if we have the spirit with us. And it was true, I had driven the spirit away because of my impatience. He really did help me. He's so awesome. And he's super fluent in English, so that's a bonus because when I get frustrated Tagalog becomes hard for me. He is one amazing companion.
This week the work was good, and we had one experience that I would like to share. It's nothing crazy, but it shows that the Lord's hand is here. To make a long story short, me and a ward missionary were stuck, no appointments close by, and everyone we had tried was busy. I said a silent prayer in my head for guidance. I glanced over and saw a young woman in yellow. I felt I needed to talk to her, the feeling happened twice actually. So we did, and she readily let us in and we taught a 15 minute version of lesson 1 and set up a return appointment. She seems very interested and ready and willing to learn. She even asked if we were coming back! The Lord really does prepare people and lead us to them. It's amazing, this thing we call the Work of Salvation. Thank you so much for everything president!
Elder Christensen

Monday, May 5, 2014


Hello All!

Well, just like that another week has gone by! And the work is moving forward! And I’m LOVING IT! Monday was pretty fun as me and Elder Antoni just kind of chilled with Elders Westover and Gemintiza all day as we did our various P-day errands. Tuesday was interesting. We went back to Sister Mina Castro, who is not doing well. Her and her mom kindly told us to come back next time. Her mom also mentioned how Mina was hardly eating her meals, which usually consist of meat and rice, and if she doesn’t go to the public market to work, they don’t have any other income for food. We mentioned how fruit and vegetables might be better, and asked if she liked that. She said she did, then we left. Me and my companion had the exact same idea, as we went directly to a little supermarket and bought some fruits and vegetables. We brought them back to Sister Mina, who seemed surprised and appreciative. I felt really good that morning, the spirit was ROCKIN. We had some good work in the afternoon, but that was definitely highlight of the day. Oh! And Sonny gave me this Spider-Man water bottle thing he got at Jollibee. It at changes color depending on the temperature of the contents, cool!
Cool Spiderman waterbottle Sonny gave him!

Wednesday we met a less active named Melanie, who lives in the slums, has the most darling little family, but her husband HATES Mormons and Mormonism. In fact, he hates anything but Catholicism and debates with any other religion. Last time she went to church, her husband didn’t come home for two weeks and they had to borrow food from neighbors. He’s ripped apart mga Book of Mormon, and threatened to leave if they go back to the church. We shared with her about the mighty change of heart Alma experienced, and she just has so much hope, saying stuff like, I wish this would happen to my husband, even if he would just listen to you guys one time. Which leads me to a little rant, as this is an international phenomenon: AWESOME LDS GIRLS AND WOMEN, WHY ON EARTH DO YOU GO AFTER ABSOLUTE SCUM?!?!?!? I don’t care if he’s a “bad boy”, this can ruin your life/salvation! AGH! Alright, moving on! 

Thursday we had Zone Training, where the topic was accountability and stewardship. At first I wasn’t feeling so great about myself as a missionary, as they were saying stuff like how we need to give our best all the time, because if we don’t, the sins of those we didn’t help but could have are on our heads. I was pretty worried, like what happens if I’m just not feeling it one day and I don’t do my best? Then as they started talking about it more and I thought about it what my Dad used to tell me every time before a swim meet when I was little: just leave it all in the pool.
Young Brandon "leaving it all in the pool"
I don’t really know why, but that really helps me to think about everyday as an all-out sprint to be the best missionary I can be, then return with honor every night to my Heavenly Father to report on what I’ve done. I love it! The past few days have been AWESOME with this new mindset! We talked to so many people on the street the past few days, and teaching more enjoyable, spiritual lessons—Oh! We had a small miracle! Elmer from the Canlas family during a lesson basically told us not to bother with them anymore, but after the closing prayer he was complaining how his legs were hurting because of boils I think? Anyway, we explained a priesthood blessing and he hurriedly asked for one. After the blessing his heart was softened and he said that they were going to church that coming Sunday. Yes!!! 
Friday was interesting, as we helped plant potatoes with one of our less actives before a lesson, helped proofread Arianne’s English for a student council assignment (she’s doing great by the way!), and a little kid upon seeing me asked his mom, “Mom, is that a human?” I laughed pretty dang hard. We had a good lesson with this teenager  Ralph as we’ve been helping him come back to church. You can just see a glow coming into his countenance! Same with Edwin, who will be baptized on the 17th, you can tell that his testimony is growing! I LOVE IT! Saturday Sonny told us he was having a bit of a problem with his mom, but by Sunday he said it had been worked out. We taught Sister Lina and Jenive, who are our goals for baptism in June, and they are still very receptive, and both so intelligent! They just understand things the first time around! Sunday was good! Fast and testimony meeting is always fun! We had 4 investigators at church! The work was alright in the afternoon. I feel like we could have got at least one more lesson, but we got stuck at this one house for like an hour….oh well! Need to let it go! And we had a delicious dinner to break our fast with the Reyes family again, they are so nice! So yeah! Its super hot and super awesome in the Philippines, and I’m loving my adventure here!
Beautiful sunset!
--Elder Christensen