Tuesday, February 24, 2015

"We as missionaries have a perfect boss and a dream life!"

Well, I swear if this gets any faster I’m going to blink and be back in Lindon.  Ah, scary!  But here’s what’s happening in “the life”.  Monday we ended up teaching Danilo’s grandson, a 20-something named Rafael or “Raf”, and he had a great question: “How are we saved?”  And of course, we had a perfect answer!  He’s awesome.  We also taught Jess and the fam in which we discussed tithing in depth!  Tuesday we got 2 referrals!  Woo!  One from our neighbor, the Coampueds (we’ll visit her with them on Sunday), and one from an active member family, the Ramos’s!  We met a long lost less active member named Wilfredo Waje.  He still remembers about Joseph Smith, but he is somehow under the impression that pretty much anything goes in this church…We’ll get to that!  We taught Tatay Danilo about prayer and he finally prayed for us!  And he’s seriously thinking about his baptism next month.  And we finished the evening teaching the Victorio family and they’re a joy to visit with!
Wednesday…Ever since I got here we’ve spent our mornings looking at houses/apartments for the sisters in the other ward here, as apparently that is our responsibility here!  Well, we finally found a good one in the area/price range we wanted, but the problem was that on Wednesday when we discussed contracts with the landlord, we found out that he has an illegal set up going on and he’s evading taxes…so we are back to square one…pero ayus lang, just another adventure!  In the afternoon we had a good lesson with Lito where we answered all of his questions and he prayed for us at the end AND committed to come to church!  We finally, after a good amount of stress, found an adult priesthood holder to come with us so we could finish the Recent Convert lessons with Lolita.  AAAND she gave us cake and spaghetti because it was her birthday. We had an awesome lesson with Lourdes, Kris and their cousin Oliver (who has a lot of potential!) about Moroni’s challenge as they haven’t done it yet, and we committed them to pray that night and ask God.  They gave us biko, one of my favorite Filipino desserts, then the Tollentino family gave us monggo bread and Sprite!  So many blessings…
In a trike with his kabahays
Thursday was zone conference!  I had to conduct.  But, it was good!  We learned about making our area more like an efficient pipeline, reviewing our teaching pools, the area book, music, dropping or deferring investigators and what President Clark likes to call “real growth”.  I loved his quotes:  “We as missionaries have a perfect boss and a dream life.”  And “My success as a mission president will be determined by how many of your grandchildren get to the temple.”  Well, that gives me something to think about!  Awesome Zone Conference!  Afterwards, we had to take care of lots of Zone business and we didn’t get home until after 5! After dinner, we taught Nora with our 7th Day Adventist friend, Kevin there, which was interesting.  After our lesson with Nora, we fielded Kevin’s opposition to the Book of Mormon, and we both felt like we should leave 2 Nephi 29 as a reading assignment to pray about.  We’ll see how that goes!  We ended the evening by teaching Raf again and it was another great lesson.  The spirit flowed, he asked good questions and we had high hopes for him after that evening! 
Friday after weekly planning we headed out for exchanges with the elders way out in Dapdap, but I was late getting out and because Elder Lumugdang had interviews to do in the other parts of his district, we didn’t get back to Dapdap until after 7.  There I gave an interview to a very mature 9 year old and then to his mother.  The 9 year old said that he didn’t feel like he had repented of his sins, and further follow up questions revealed it to be true.  After explaining the importance of repentance in relation to baptism, we decided to work on repenting of the things he wanted to change about himself before he was baptized.  His mother passed, but opted to wait and help her son repent, and then be baptized together in the coming weeks. 
Exchanges with Elder Lumugdang
Saturday morning we taught an American Air Force veteran named “Buddy” and I found that, to my surprise, that the Spirit was still able to guide us and show us how to teach in English!  The rest of Saturday…I just feel like I can’t stop making these little mistakes that cost us time and productivity.  We taught only two lessons on Saturday back in our area, even though we worked all we could.  Then none of our investigators that we expected to come to Stake Conference came…Well, it just means we have to change our approach and work a little more efficiently!  I don’t know exactly how we’ll do it, but the Lord will provide!  Stake Conference was way good. Elder Bowen, of the seventy, came!  It was packed!  He talked a lot about families sharing the gospel with families!  I was eating it up!  In the afternoon Lui and John Chris introduced a couple of their friends to us and we taught them, so we’ll see what becomes of that!  We taught Carlos, who is now always on the road driving buses… We taught Jess and the Victorios, and Sister Lourdes.

With Sonny, whom he baptized a year ago. He just received the Melchizedek priesthood!
I’ll be honest, I don’t really know what this next week has in store for us, but it will be an adventure for sure!  And I know if we do our best, the Lord will grant us according to our desires.  We’ve just got to know that everything’s going to be alright, stay strong and believe!

-Elder Christensen

The saying on this trike expresses how Elder Christensen feels on his mission!

What happens when his dad's mission (North Carolina) meets his!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Always remember Him

Aaaaand just like that another week has gone by!  Wow, this is fast.  Monday we had a super-efficient P-day and got a lot done, including a long-needed haircut!  We taught Maria Lourdes, Kris and Jeff about the Book of Mormon and it was a super awesome lesson.  We taught Danilo and Nellie Castaneda about prayer because they didn’t totally understand the whole answering prayers thing.  Then we finished the night teaching Jess and the Tollentino family.  On Tuesday I was just kind of feeling weird all day and we didn’t teach much.  We taught Allan, Nora’s husband, and he still for sure has a testimony.  We went less-active hunting and we found a father and his son who have been less-active for some 20 years.  This father, Eduardo, invited his non-member sister to listen so that’s how we met the Binloan family!  We also visited Tatay Lito who was in a bit of pain because of his illness, so we didn’t stay too long.  We tried to find less active members, but basically we just walked in circles for a couple of hours. 

On Wednesday I went on exchanges with Elder Ortega, who is a Filipino who moved to England when he was nine, then after three years moved to Maryland!  And most recently he studied at BYU!  It was fun to be with a fellow zoobie for a day!  And he’s a really great guy.
Exchanges with Elder Ortega
  Their baptismal candidate passed ok, but afterwards I twisted my ankle pretty bad in a dark alleyway, so that wasn’t too fun hobbling around to the rest of the appointments!  Ha ha, just a little thing though.  Thursday we had exchanges AGAIN but this time I was in my area with Elder Naylor, a fresh greenie from Idaho who has a glowing testimony!  And we had good lessons with Lito, who’s feeling better and Eduardo and Mina (his sister I mentioned),  Lourdes, who is progressing and Danilo Casteneda, who kept pointing out how Elder Naylor couldn’t speak Tagalog.  Good thing Elder Naylor has a good sense of humor!  We also taught Allan Victorio, a less-active who’s returning ok! 
Stuck in Tarlac traffic...

Friday I woke up with a migraine and a fever…yeah, that sucked!  So I was in bed all Friday and all Saturday!  Valentine’s was just me sick, BUT I did have that package from my folks!  So I chilled with that little stuffed dog they sent!  Oh, and Elder Delante is also grateful for his! 
Sick Elder Christensen with his Valentine's stuffed dog
On Sunday Allan Victorio came to church, but that was it from those we’ve been working with…we’ll get them next week!  We had a really good stake missionary coordination meeting with President Espinosa and President Clark.  We’ve got a lot to do in Tarlac Stake!  And I’m excited!  We taught some other appointments and a member of the bishopric fed us.  It was a good day.  I also saw the Mormon Message called “Blessings of the Scriptures” with Elder Christoffersen.  EVERYONE SHOULD WATCH IT! And I’ll attach an excerpt from my study journal of my spiritual reflections this week.

Love you all, but I love HIM more!
-Elder Christensen

Study Journal excerpt:
I think there’s something more to the part of the baptismal covenant where we promise to “always remember Him” (Moroni 5:2).  I feel like this might be overlooked.  Not only overlooked, but under-applied.  I don’t think this merely means putting a picture of Christ somewhere we can see it every day, though that is a good start.  I believe it includes truly pondering Him, his character and example, but more importantly his sacrifice to save us from our fallen and quite worthless state (Mosiah 2:21, Alma 38:14) and what we must do to receive Him and His sacrifice daily, namely repenting (Alma 42:22-24).  I’ve noticed that when this is not merely passing through my mind every so often, but “occupies my mind, and press(es)…upon my feelings” (D&C 128:1), it has the most wonderful effect.  I am much more able to resist temptation.  This part of the covenant helps with the next part, “to keep his commandments which he hath given them” (Moroni 4:3).  This covenant was beautifully constructed and definitely developed by God, not a man (i.e. Joseph Smith).

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Firm and undaunted"

Elder C with his anak, Elder Antoni at MLC ( A dream come true!)
Wow, time just keeps on going!  Monday was a bit crazy, but we did manage to pull off a small zone activity and we got some stuff done that we needed to.  In the evening we met and taught Kevin, a really nice 21 year old who was very into the message of the Restoration and even asked for a copy of the Book of Mormon!  We met and taught the Victorio family- a cute, nice little less active family.  Then we finished off the night teaching Jess, our recent convert.  Tuesday was MLC (Mission Leadership Council)!  Oh man, it was so good!  It was interesting, though, because when I look back at my first MLC back in July, there wasn’t one person left from that one.  It had all been changed and there were all new faces!  Kind of interesting.  But yeah, President Clark talked about teaching repentance and using the enabling power and the assistants talked about keeping commitments.  It was also good to see so many of my old friends!  Elder Dejino and Elder Antoni are zone leaders now, so it was way fun to catch up with them.  
All of the father/son and mother/daughter relations at MLC

With Elder Westover

With Elder Gomez and Elder Rebelde (batchmates)

Good buddies Elder Gomez and Elder Dejino

Wednesday we had our accountability meeting with President. Basically we talked about the performance of the zone and our goals and plans.  Basically we have a big responsibility here to “move Tarlac” because currently we’re flying far below our potential.  After lunch, we went out and scouted another house for the sisters then we came back and reported to President and he wasn’t too impressed, so we’ll keep looking!  Wednesday night we taught Carlos about repentance, which is a big concern for him.  Thursday morning we had our zone training where we relayed all of the messages from MLC to the zone and that went well!  In the afternoon we went finding!  We found an old, sick Tatay named Lito who really understood the Restoration, especially that part about the Apostasy and he accepted a goal date for the 21st of March.  We had a lot of good contacts as well that we can go back to! We taught the Rivera family who are members and they might have referrals for us in the future.  Then we taught the Yang family and did get a referral from them!  We then taught Nanay Lolita, our recent convert, and then we taught Jess and his family to finish off the night!  And it was a good day, as I really felt that I was helped and strengthened by the Lord.

Friday...Man, Friday was tough!  We had an alright weekly planning session, but then my companion wasn’t feeling super well, so we were a little late getting out.  We just went tracting in the afternoon because we were punted from our appointments, and we had no success.  We found the house of a member and set a dinner appointment for Sunday, but before we ate dinner that night, that was about all we’d accomplished.  I’ll tell you what; it wasn’t exactly easy to go back out with no set appointments whatsoever.  But we were blessed!  We met and taught a semi-active grandma and her grandson, so that was good!  WE also decided to go door to door on our street and we were finally accepted by a nice couple who run a little bakery!  We taught lesson 1 to Loliita and Gerry Coampued.  They didn’t exactly accept the baptismal invitation, but they accepted a Book of Mormon and committed to read and pray about it!  And we squeezed in one more recent convert lesson to Nanay Lolita along with our investigator Carlos, so we finished strong!

Saturday in companionship study we studied the importance of trying to teach lessons in their entirety, so we made a new lesson plan for the Plan of Salvation and it is super compressed!  It was hard to make, as it’s supposed to teach the whole thing to a new investigator in a half hour!  Anyways, we went house- hunting for the sisters and found a good option!  And we ate at McDonalds.  In the afternoon it was AWESOME!  At first we were punted, but we literally turned around and saw a girl come out of a house and we talked to her and found out that she was almost baptized when she lived in Olongapo!  And that’s how we met and taught Maria, as well as her cousins Kris and Kris’s husband Jeff and also Ace.  They accepted a goal date and a return appointment for Monday!  Then we went about two doors down and met Benedic.  He let us right in and it was AWESOME!  He used to me a Methodist assistant pastor, but left that to pursue his career.  And now, while somewhat successful, he feels like his faiths is cold and he wants to be “hot” again.  He asked great questions like if there were living prophets.  He related well to the concept of apostasy and he was grateful when we gave him the Book of Mormon.  He accepted the baptismal invitation, as he’s really open to re-kindling his faith.  We then had dinner and afterwards met Danilo and Nellie, and elderly couple who have seen missionaries walking by for years, but no one has ever stopped to talk to them.  The longer I’m in this area I think more and more that the old missionaries just assumed this area was worked over so they just focused in the farther out parts.  They were nice.  Tatay was a tad cynical, be he did just get out of the hospital from his second stroke.  They understood the Restoration well and accepted a goal date and committed to read the Book of Mormon!  We finished up the day teaching Jess and his family.  It was a really good day! 

Sunday was good, but only Jamaica came to church from our investigators and we couldn’t teach her afterwards as we had scheduled.  But it was still really good!  I like this ward a lot!  In the afternoon we were punted and had some miscommunications, but we eventually taught Carlos and that went really well!  He’s a really penitent man and it’s just too bad that his marriage situation is a mess.  We’re going to try to fix it before he goes back to Manila to work in April.  We had a dinner appointment with the Garcia family where we challenged them to bring one less active/nonmember to church on Sunday!  We taught Nora, whom Elder Hubbard and I actually contacted last year, and she and her husband were almost baptized, but they just got busy.  We re-taught Lesson 1 and she has the strongest testimony of the Restoration and the Book of Mormon.  She’ll get baptized.  Afterwards we were punted by the C. family, so we went less active searching!  We found one less active’s house, but she wasn’t there.  But her little brother turned out to be childhood friends with the member that was working with us!  So we set an appointment with him for Tuesday!  Another good day. 

I learned this week that you just always have to be “firm and undaunted” like the sons of Helaman were.  I love being a missionary!

-Elder Christensen

Monday, February 2, 2015

“I testify that with President Clark ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE”

Man, I don’t even know where to start this week.  Monday was swell.  We met a really nice Catholic family who let us teach them, and then we taught Darwin, then the Solis family!  I love those guys.  And Elder Westover was with us so that was a bonus.  Tuesday morning we gave a blessing to Sister Tuilaeta in my district who had been sick for quite a few days.  In the afternoon we convinced CJ to work with us (after Elder Westover collected sticks all over his yard because that was his excuse why he couldn’t work), and we visited the Jamlig sisters and Ronald Pagaduan, a really nice long-time less active we met.  We taught the Mendoza family and it was great as always to visit with them.

Wednesday morning was when everything got flipped on our heads.  During companionship study before the transfer announcement, President Clark called me and asked if I would serve again as a zone leader in… Tarlac.  Back to Tarlac!  I didn’t exactly know how to feel about that.  Ha!  Until now I still don’t know how I feel about all this!  Well, when it came to transfer announcements, our area, Palayan B, was whitewashed again.  Elder Palabrica was transferred to San Jose Zone, the San Isidro Ward.  We were all shocked and really sad, as the area was just starting to look better, and we had 2 baptisms hopefully in February.  Well, we were all pretty down about it, but we prayed and found the peace of the Lord.

We spent the day showing Elder Westover all of the people in our area so they wouldn’t get lost and so he could show the new missionaries around.  We said goodbye to everyone.  As we were walking around Elder Palabrica turned and looked at me and Elder Westover and said in his best English/Thomas S. Monson voice, “I testify that with President Clark, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.”  Truer words have never been spoken.  We taught Mia, then Bien and then the Llamas kids before we went home and packed.  It was hard to say goodbye…

Thursday we had the epic challenge of getting our luggage from our house, down the rough road, and up the hill to the highway.  That was a true 7-minute workout!  In Cabanatuan I said goodbye to Elder Palabrica before leading the travel group to Tarlac. 
Goodbye to his anak, Elder Palabrica
There I saw many old friends, including Elder Antoni [his 1st anak]!  He’s the new zone leader in San Jose!  Oh, that was awesome news!  I met my new companion, Elder Delante, who is the nicest guy ever.  We had some meetings and some zone business to take care of, and then we got to the apartment, which is just around the corner from where I lived a year ago!  We had companionship study and went out to work.  Apparently the area needs some work, as there is only one real progressing investigator.  The Yang family (I knew them before) fed us dinner and they may have a couple of referrals for us!  Afterwards we tried to teach another recent convert, but they were busy, but they thanked us even for our presence.  That was nice!  We then picked up our new kabahays (housemates), Tarlac 2B (2A, my old area, is now the office elders.  Well, technically my old area just got split I guess).  Elder Olohan had some complications with transfer day so they didn’t get there until around 9.  Elder Checketts is coming from the India-Bangalor mission because his visa expired.  He’s about a year out, but almost brand new here!  We got talking and he’s from North Salt Lake and he knows the Creers!  Small world! 
Transformer jeepney

Friday morning was weekly planning, and then I went on exchanges to Victoria with….Elder Choresca!  Yup, he’s in my zone!  While we were waiting for him at the stake center though, I got to see Sonny, Ryan, Bishop Reyes… it was like déjà vu!  This whole week has been!  Anyways, exchanges with Elder Choresca were good, even though their baptismal candidate had to be moved a bit.  Saturday morning we checked out an apartment that the sisters are currently looking at and it seemed good to us!  In the afternoon we taught two investigators who aren’t progressing, then we got mega punted.  Eventually we found and taught a cool 18 year old kid named Daryl who many have some potential.  We finished off the evening by teaching a recent convert, Jess. 

Sunday I got to see the ward and it was a sort of homecoming because I knew so many people.  There were lots of “Welcome backs”!  There’s also an American family, the Smiths from Toelle, Utah, in this ward!  Brother Smith served here way back in the day and he knows Rob Young from my ward back home!  Small world, again!  Déjà vu again!  We had 2 investigators at church.  Carlos is progressing but his not being married to his “wife” is the problem and the papers haven’t been all fixed yet!  Jamaica was the other and she is the niece of the 2nd counselor and she lives with their family.  We taught her right after church and she accepted a goal date for March!  We also taught Carlos to fast about his concern, and then we taught two recent converts, Teresa and Harvey.  We got super punted after, so we went home and talked about the area.  Basically, we’re going to have to open area again here.  I don’t know…  I don’t know what to do!  But it will be ok.  God has helped me so many times in my mission when I didn’t know what to do.  I know that “the Lord [will] show me from time to time after what manner I should work” here in Tarlac.  ‘Til next week, I’m back in Tarlac!

-Elder Christensen

Note: As the zone leader of the Tarlac Zone, he is over the largest zone in the mission:  5 districts, 18 companionships,and 36 missionaries.  He says it'a a bit overwhelming :)

ZL, good friend and kabahay, Elder Westover
Fun being in the same zone with Elder  Armatage for 2 transfers
His Palayan distict
Elder C with new comp, Elder Delante!