Monday, December 29, 2014

Feeling peace from the Lord and spreading Christmas cheer

Silliness at Christmas conference!
3 generations!
Well, this week has been all over the place!  Monday was alright.  We had a couple of unplanned teaching opportunities so that was fun!  We also had a really good lesson with the Solis family.  They still have solid testimonies but they’re struggling still.  Tuesday was Christmas Conference and it was SO fun!  They went all out and it was a lot of fun and really got  us in the Christmas spirit! It was so fun! They had different stations we did, like Mr. Krugers Christmas, cookie decorating, photo shoot, Christmas jeopardy, and then we had a musical nativity where Elder Armatage and Sister Dally read the Christmas story and various quotes from prophets and then different zones in turn would sing various songs. It was really cool. At the end, we sang I Know that my Redeemer Lives, and I finally felt the biggest peace that the Lord accepts our offering, because we're giving our heart to this work, and I know that He has accepted it. It was unexpected, but beautiful. 

 After the conference, we were able to teach April about the Book of Mormon.  I really hope she reads it!  We taught a couple other lessons but there wasn’t a ton of time after Christmas conference.  Wednesday we were only able to teach one lesson in the morning, then in the afternoon there was an interview fiasco where we were in the Kalikid elders’ area forever, and didn’t get back until 5:00 pm, and we had to be in our apartment by 6:00 pm.  So we just did visits to our investigators as we were punted from our appointment.  We had a fantastic Christmas Eve dinner because we actually had time to cook for once!

Christmas Eve dinner with the kabahays!
 The rest of the evening I spent organizing and preparing the AMAZING GIFTS my mom sent to give away to the various friends, investigators, active and less active members and recent converts here.  Seriously, she must have put in a ton of work!  So thanks a million, Mom! 
Christmas gift bags sent to the Philippines that Elders C & P gave out

Christmas morning was AWESOME!  We all opened presents and enjoyed the stockings Mom sent.  (Thanks!) Oh! And big thanks to Aunt Michelle!  The fudge and brittle are AWESOME!  I also got Mountain Dew from Elder Tufele, new sheets from my companion, Oreos and a Spiderman coloring book from Elder Westover and an awesome tie AND certificate for a new suit from my folks back home, NICE!  After personal and companionship study, I skyped!  LOVED IT!  Apparently my cat is fat now, we have a hot tub and Dad can still dunk!  It was good to talk with my “biggest fans”!  And next time I do that, I will only have 3 WEEKS LEFT.  Crazy.
Kabahays with their stockings!
Christmas Skype with the fam!

And then Christmas got really fun!  We got to play Santa and deliver presents, and we taught a few lessons, of course!  And yes, I made a list and checked it much more than twice.
Making a list and checking it twice!
 I was able to give out ALL of the gift bags! All send a huge thanks to you, Mom.  Your love has once again reached the Philippines! Some highlights of the day:  getting fed three full meals throughout the course of the day (Elder Palabrica was about to puke.  He told me so and I just said, “You can do it!  I’ll pray for you!”  That was a blessing and we didn’t have enough room to receive it!  We also were able to help Noli, who wasn’t feeling well, and we gave him a blessing.  Biggest highlight of Christmas:  We went to the Planco family and they’re just inside watching TV.  No yummy food, no Christmas lights, no presents.  Brother Planco was all like “Just as long as your family is safe and healthy, that’s a good enough Christmas.  We were like, “OK, time to spread some Christmas cheer!”  We taught from Luke 2 and just got them all excited about the miracle of Christmas.  You could just see their faces light up as we kept going.  And after the closing prayer, we gave them all presents, even Brother Jonathan, and he was surprised.  They were so excited, I just loved it!
Elder C and Elder Palibrica ready to play Santa!

And then the 26th came, BOOM pains.  I had a rough night of sleep then I woke up with a sore throat and a headache.  After weekly planning I just crashed.  Oh, in weekly planning we discovered we’re down to 7 investigators, only one of which is progressing but even she hasn’t committed to come to church yet.  SO, we’re going to start doing some new things, like church movie nights where members invite their friends, church tours, and starting English class, so that should be fun!  But yeah, currently I’m not feeling good.  You know, towards the first half of my mission I was always dying to have a break, a rest.  Now, it just bugs me so bad!  I’ve got people to find!  And people I love to visit and help.  But whatever, I have my orders from Sister Clark, and I need to be more patient.

So on Saturday I still wasn't feeling well. I couldn't get a hold of Sister Clark, so I just prayed to know whether to work or rest, and I surprisingly felt that I needed to rest, so I did. And then Sunday came around, and we had a couple of miracles at church! Jeffery, a less active 17 year old we've started working with came to church! And now he comes with us to appointments sometimes! And Sister Baby, the mother of our recent convert Dustin, came to church! She's been less active for so long and would just always tell us there was a reason she wasn't coming to church but she wouldn't tell us. Well, she still hasn't told us, but she came to church so that is a huge step in the right direction! Then in the afternoon, neither me or Elder Palabrica were feeling very well, but we needed to get some work done. But man, that was rough, we taught some lessons, but basically the remainder of our investigators basically told us they want to listen to the words of God, but they aren't willing to act or to be baptized. We asked one if when she received a personal witness that this is God's plan for her if she would be baptized [I am so sorry I cannot form a clear English sentence anymore], and she wouldn't reply. She told us she was not going to get baptized. She asked us why we keep coming back if she's not going to get baptized, and that was an inspired question. It was because she was keeping other commitments like reading, but she's not even doing that anymore...AHHH! So yeah. Oh, and with the Solis Family, on Saturday night JR was driving home on his motorcycle and fell asleep while driving and got in a wreck and broke his femur. We visited him at the hospital today, and he's in good spirits, but he has to have it set later on today...yikes. We're praying for him.

So, after all that has happened in our area, and after the fact of working in this area for 7 weeks and not having any progressing investigators at this point, we've decided to start pulling out of this area and focus in a different part of our area. The new part we're going to go to is called Atate, and we have a few referrals there, and we feel good about going there. It's going to be a little like opening an area, again, but our efforts right now are just not fruitful. I feel like this area we've been working in has a lot of potential, but maybe it's just not the right timing, like Middoni in Alma 20, but one day I know many more baptisms will come there. But for now, we're going to try something else. Last night my companion was having a hard time, so I shared my favorite chapter with him, John 15. If the world hated Jesus, they're most likely going to hate me and my companion a lot more, but that does not make me, my companion, or Jesus failures. It just means we have to dig a little deeper, and find those who will not harden their hearts when they hear the Lord's restored gospel. No unhallowed hand can stop the work. I had the thought pass through my head earlier this week, if I would be ok if I didn't have another baptism before I went home. I thought about it for a while, and that would be ok, as long as I do all I can to fulfill Christ's commission to "go and bring forth fruit, and that (my) fruit should remain." But I know that there are many more souls out there. We're not lowering our expectations, if anything we're holding on to hope more than ever that great things are ahead of us.

Love you all, take care!
--Elder Christensen
Christmas Conference w/ Elder C's side  of the mission
Sporting Christmas pjs from Gma Christensen

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