Sunday, July 27, 2014

Marcos gets baptized!

Hey everybody!
Well, this week was a bit of a tough one, but overall it ended really well. We had a really good lesson with Marivel on Tuesday all about faith, and she did say she had the faith to be baptized…but just not yet. We don’t really know what’s stopping her…we had a good lesson with the Centeno family all about grace...I don’t know-- We had all of these lessons that I thought were good, but no one really came to church on Sunday. We did bless one of our former investigator’s child that night, and she was all better the next morning, so that was good! Wednesday we went back to a contact we had on Sunday, and it’s this cool little family that was taught back in the day, and they really understood the lesson and were so receptive, so that was the highlight that day for sure. Oh, and Happy Birthday. Mom! 

Thursday we sort of played marriage counselors to two of our new investigators who are having relationship problems. We shared all about love and whatnot…I hope it helped…They sure do have a lot of problems. We did have the coolest new investigator though! She was taught a little less than a year ago and was coming to church and everything, but she moved away, and just came back! We set a baptismal date for August on that first visit. 
Friday we had a ton of lessons, and we just had fun with the work. I don’t know, we were just super happy that day. Even though we had investigators just shut down baptismal invitations like so hard, it was just a good day. Fevelyn, our recent convert just got called to be the branch chorister, so we helped her practice leading music that night. Just a good day. Saturday we had a good zone goal setting in the morning, and then we had the craziest baptism ever…Well, the craziest baptism that almost didn’t happen. I won’t go into all the details because of a lesson that Elder Lund, one of the senior missionaries, taught me: it’s all about perspective. At the end of the day the doctrine of Christ is that a man must exercise faith, repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. And even if all the details weren’t perfect, Marcos Rivera was baptized last Saturday, and what else could possibly matter more? Sunday he was confirmed a member, and just kept telling me how happy he was! It was great.
Elder Christensen and Marcos!

Nancy was our only investigator besides Marcos who was at church, but that’s ok. I was feeling pretty sick all day on Sunday, which made me not so effective during lessons. We did get some work done though. We found that our recent convert Niko has not been making the best decisions lately. He showed up to church early in street clothes, then left to change and never came back…I’m worried about him…but yeah, the day ended ok with cooking up some breakfast burritos, thanks to the tortillas Mom slipped into my last package! And I just want to end this email with a quick, fun story. So it was our town’s fiesta recently, and a bunch of streets are blocked off with these tents selling things. While we were walking through there one day and this kid, maybe three years old, comes up to us holding his moms hand and says, “Police!!!!” I had to laugh. It was adorable. Then his mom sort of corrected him, by saying, “No they’re not police…maybe Jesus’ police!” And that made me smile a bit. This month we’re going to work on smiling more and just being positive no matter what, which has been a real weakness of mine to be honest ever since I got to Baler. I just get super stressed and frustrated…it’s just been a whole new level of stress here! But I will work on it, and the Lord will help me. He sure is trying me sometimes, but he’s helping too.

 Love you all!
--Elder Christensen 

**When I asked him in my letter how he liked being a zone leader, he said that overall he loves it, but that he’s never been so stressed in his life. 
He says he’s been stressed, sick and sleep deprived this week, but having Marcos get baptized helped get him through this past weekend.**

And now here are some pictures of his zone:

Monday, July 21, 2014

Fiesta killed church!

Dear All!

Movie star pose at the Baler Museum
The rest of last Monday was fun; we went to this free museum in Baler and took a ton of pictures. That was pretty legit! 
At the Baler Museum
Tuesday we did a little bit of finding, as a lot of our investigators are just not progressing. Wednesday we went back to that family we found and taught them Lesson 1. They're SO receptive, but their mom is just like never around...And we found out our one investigator, Marivel's real concern. It’s not a testimony issue as it is so much a commitment issue. Oh yeah, on Tuesday night, we got caught in a rainstorm and there were no more trikes heading back to town at night so we walked a while in the rain. Well, little did we know that our investigator, Sister Centeno, who had turned us away earlier that day because they had somewhere to go, saw us and was actually touched by our dedication or whatnot. She told us all about this on Thursday in our lesson, and expressed a real desire to get baptized. It was a really spiritual lesson!

We also started teaching Marcos's family on Thursday, and hopefully they will be receptive as well! We're having a family home evening with them later on. We reviewed the interview questions with Marcos as well, as his interview was on Saturday. Friday we had exchanges in a tougher area in the zone, San Luis. I worked there, and we had a good day of work! And I think I was able to help Elder Escosio as well. I hope so anyway...

Saturday was a crazy day. I went from San Luis to Baler for zone interviews, then back to Maria as President Clark did a house check (I love that guy by the way, I feel so comfortable with him), then I went to lunch with the Assistants as they were also there for interviews, then we went to our area with Elder Hedman to interview Marcos for his interview (he passed!) then we went back to Baler for District Missionary Coordination with President Clark and the district presidency and the various branch presidents. Then we went home, and it was a downpour, and we got out to work at 6:30. It was a long, wet, tiring day! 

Sunday was hard. It's our town's fiesta right now, so basically no one came to church. No investigators, no less Our attendance was around 45...big drop. We were pretty punted as well on was just a hard day. But today we've actually been able to enjoy the fiesta, parades, cheap stuff they're yeah! That’s all for now really!
Children in parade at town fiesta
More parade at the town fiesta

Just keep going, because our light affliction now works us for our eternal weight of glory!

--Elder Christensen
At the Baler Museum
Elder C has an oven for the first time on his mission!

Facebook profile at the Baler Museum

Monday, July 14, 2014

There (to Tarlac) and Back Again!

Hello All! 

What A week it was! So last I left I was about to go to Costa Pacifica, an awesome beach resort/restaurant, where thanks to a little birthday cash from Grandma and Grandpa, I was able to treat the zone! It was way fun! Then Elder Paredes and I got on a bus and went to Cabanatuan, then Tarlac for Mission Leader Council! It was really fun, as I got to hang out with tons of friends around the mission (Elders Armatage, Cash, Lungay, Olila, Tsunoda, Sisters Marcucci, Tui'one, Altea, and many more!) for about two and a half days at the mission home!
With 3 out of his 6 mission comps in the field at Mission Leader Council
It was so great; the testimony meeting was the best part by a long shot! Loved it. We learned a lot about councils and culture and how to be more one with the members through branch council meetings. Way awesome!
With two of his batchmates at Mission Leader Council

That Wednesday we got a free lift back to Baler from the assistants as they came on exchanges with us! I worked with Elder Tsudona, and it was way fun and I learned a bit too. On Thursday we had zone training meeting, but as we were giving the workshop, I started to feel sick. I think it was because of lack of sleep (I had been getting up at five for four days straight at that point) and I took a little nap when we got back to the house. When I woke up, I wasn't feeling great, but we went to work anyways. While we were out a little girl came up to us and asked if we knew Elder Ramsey (a missionary assigned here WAY back in the day). She showed us where her house was, and there we met the Manaois Family. Ok get this, they were supposed to be baptized 6 years ago, but WHILE THEY WERE SITTING IN THE CHAPEL WAITING FOR THE BAPTISM TO START Sister Josie got a text saying her husband had passed away, so she left and it never went through and she fell away. She still has a testimony, and like 5 kids who are all ready and anxious to listen! Miracle!

Friday was cool I guess as we got a referral from a recent convert and taught her. I'm not sure if she totally understands lesson one, she doesn't seem to have a great knowledge of the bible or anything, but we'll work with her! Her name is Florida by the way. Saturday we put on a district missionary fireside at the Baler Chapel, which went well! Each missionary was involved in the workshops. It was all about the members’ role and responsibility in conversion. It was ok! Sunday was a good day, as we had Branch Council meeting for the first time since I've been here! We had some good work, and found out a major concern of a recent convert family that is now totally less active, so that's good I guess! We had a good lesson with the Centeno family as well, where we found out that they do want to be baptized, but they just don't think they can go to church on a consistent basis. We'll fix that!!! And yeah, that takes us to now!

I love my Savior so much and the fact that he loves me enough to take all my frustrations and weakness and fears and imperfections and wash them away in his name just never ceases to amaze me. I just love my life. I love my Jesus, who is my hope, light, and strength.

--Elder Christensen
New mission president and wife:  President and Sister Clark
***When I asked how he liked his new president, after spending time with him at the mission home, he said, " President Clark is the man! He is very straight forward, not soft, not harsh, just forward! I like it. He's a big fan of the council method, which I like. And he is definitely inspired. He's not President Martino, but he is fantastic. I wholeheartedly sustain him."

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Elder Christensen's 20th Birthday today!!!

Hey Everybody!
So it’s my birthday, so I’m trying to email quickly, so I can enjoy a little time at the beach before I get on a bus and head down to Tarlac for another meeting! SO Tuesday we were back at it, and when we were teaching Marivel we found out that we actually hadn’t taught her The Restoration, and that’s why she doesn’t know that this is the true church. We taught it to her sister, and then she started listening in during the following lessons. Whoops, THAT’S embarrassing. We had good work that day, and we were really glad to have found out our mistake! Wednesday the work was alright. We’ve started teaching this former investigator girl, who is super smart and is very receptive as well, her name is Queen! We taught the Centeno Family, whose progress is stalling…we found out actually they’re having family problems, so we’ll try to help there.
We all got in a van again and went down to Cabanatuan for another ZONE CONFERENCE, but this time is was meet the New Mission President! President and Sister Clark are way awesome, definitely different style than the Martinos, but still good! They’re from Illinois, and President Clark’s mom’s name is Coleen CHRISTENSEN Clark (relation???). It was nice to meet them, and I’m looking forward to having them here for the second half of my mission.
Elder C. with his new mission president, President Clark
We got some work done after we got back from Cabanatuan, and we went back to one of our contacts, Reah, and taught her lesson 1, and it went really well! She’s definitely got potential. 
Friday was an alright day, and we started teaching all of the people about the importance of staying the full three hours of church (you guys would seriously not believe it; it’s like a mass exodus after sacrament meeting every week. This last Sunday I stood by the exit and just asked everyone where they were going and why they weren’t going to class. I made them own it if they were going to leave. I even looked one sister in the eye and said, “Sister, you know you’re not following God’s commandment.” She said, “I know.” And I said, “Ok, your sin is not on me.” She said, “Ok,” and then walked out. What on earth??? Sorry, little rant). 

On Saturday we had good work, getting 11 lessons, and the highlight there was when we taught Reah again. After our lesson about the Book of Mormon, we got talking about missionaries and missionary life. And she could not believe it when I told her I’ve never been happier in my whole life than when I’ve been here in the Philippines sharing the gospel all day every day for no pay. But hey, I don’t really care if she doesn’t believe me there; I just hope she believes the message. Sunday was ok, we only had two investigators attend church, and there was the mass exodus again…I ended up teaching the third hour again, which was good, because the third hour almost just didn’t happen. We got super punted from tons of our investigators, and a lot hid from us. That’s discouraging. BUT we had a really good lesson with one of our less actives, who opened up to us about her problems, and the spirit was really strong there. AND afterwards, we went to the Habala family (Fevelyn, Marivel, and Tonton’s family) for a dinner appointment/birthday party! They sang Happy Birthday and made my favorite, chop suey,
Chop Suey- his favorite!
and wrote me little notes. It was super nice! Felt the love!
Birthday Dinner for Elder Christensen at the Habala home!
When we got home, I opened up my birthday package for real, thank you so much! Oh and thanks to Grandma and Grandpa Christensen for the “Over the Hump” day shirt! It’s pretty funny! And thanks to the best Mom in the world, who knows how to make her boy smile even halfway around the world! The package was seriously awesome!
Elder Christensen with some of his birthday package stuff!
And that brings us to now. I’ve now been riding this rock going around the sun for 20 years now…pretty crazy! I’m no longer a teenager…its ok though, I haven’t really felt like a teenager while I’ve been on the mission, and that’s a good thing.
Well, I love you all, love this gospel, and sure love the Savior. And our whole hope is to be pure like he is pure, and hopefully I can do better at that in the third decade of my life! Till next week!
--Elder Christensen
Brandon with Elder Antoni, who he trained, at zone conference
Brandon with members & missionaries of Tarlac 2nd Ward, who made them dinner for zone conference