Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A steady stream of less active members coming back

Hey again!  The days are going so fast now, it is unbelievable.  Last Monday was ok, but man, email is not fun nowadays—super trunky stuff, like Alex getting married, finalizing student housing arrangements for rooming with Elder Armatage, and scheduling classes for fall semester at BYU.  Ay!  I don’t like thinking about this.  It’s so distracting!  Oh well…  On Monday President Espinosa had us over to meet the less active he’s been fellowshipping.  His name is Marlon and he’s a super good guy!  He has a couple of kids who aren’t baptized, so we’ll see about that!  President Espinosa is the man.  He works so hard!  Tuesday was alright!  We had a new investigator named Gener, who just graduated from high school (the end of the school year is in March here).  He’s nice, just quiet.  We taught a couple new investigators that my comp taught while we were on exchanges.  One, Jomel, has a lot of promise and he really understood the Restoration, but his problem is that he’s super busy.  We taught Lourdes the Gospel of Jesus Christ lesson and it went really well.  We brought her friend Loui (a member) and his example helped her see herself being baptized one day.

Wednesday…Man, Wednesday was one of the toughest days of my mission.  It all started at district meeting when my companion and I, the two members of the Mission Leadership Council, were the only ones who did not have any investigators with goals for baptism in the month of April.  That got me thinking.  I just felt frustrated and inadequate.  I feel like I’ve been trying so hard to do everything right but we just aren’t seeing the results.  I talked with my companion about it before we went out that day, but I was still kind of down.  Work didn’t help a lot.  We taught Al, but after that everyone wasn’t around or they hid from us, or they told us to try another day.  We didn’t really try to find new people because we were just running from appointment to appointment and back-up plan to back-up plan and they were all rejections.  We did end up teaching Nora and Allan in the evening, but man, that was a rough day.  Thursday we had exchanges and Elder Surio came back with me to my area and man, God is good.  Something like this happened in the MTC when my companion was feeling down, when we had a practice teaching with two hilarious young men that cheered him right up.  Well, we talked with this crazy, sarcastic old guy on the jeepney, and he was SO funny!  He said that the missionaries came to his house once and he tried to give them coffee and when they declined he told them to leave and not to come back!  We asked if he would let the missionaries come back now and he said he would as long as they drank his coffee; he would have them over every day if they would drink the coffee!  We were laughing pretty hard.  And that cheered me right up and Thursday was a much better day!

On Thursday we got to teach JR, Michelle, Lorry (the less active grandmother of our recent convert Harvey) and Al came with us to Aguso and referred his best friend there to us!  Good day.  When Elder Delante and I met back on Friday for weekly planning, we both had felt inspired to drop our current investigators and switch our area of focus, so that’s what we are going to do this week!  Friday was another good day.  We taught Gener, who is still doing ok, and we taught Al the word of wisdom, which he wants to live!  We taught Ami about being an example to Marvin, and we ended the night by teaching the Victorios.

Saturday was an interesting day… We taught 4 lessons, but literally not one of them was on our plan or our back-up plan!  This is another evidence that we need to change our area of focus.  We had a new investigator, Carlo, who was good and had good questions, but got quiet when we got to the actual Restoration with the first vision.  He just silently nodded at the baptismal invitation.  Oh well, we’ll see!  We also taught Kevin, our 7th Day Adventist friend, who had tons of questions about the Sabbath and dietary laws, to which we bore testimony that all of our interpretations come from living prophets and continuing revelation.  No one really has much to say about that.  Sunday was good, as Marlon came to church and so did Harvey and Lorry!  Our visit was not in vain!  Allan still came and another one of our less active neighbors came as well!  No investigators came, but a steady stream of less actives are coming back.  We had our new ward mission leader, Brother Evangelista, work with us and man, is he excited!  We taught Gener again, then Jomel, who had some authenticity questions about the Book of Mormon.  We taught Allan Victorio, who is doing great.  We visited the Ongs, who told us about some terrorist plane crash?  I don’t know, completely unplugged here.  Lastly, we went back to the Garcia family who had invited a less active family over for the lesson and refreshments!  Overall, a good week.  Patience and faith tried? Yes, but valuable lessons were learned, and I’m just happy to serve my king.

Love you all!
Elder Christensen

Monday, March 23, 2015

I hope this stone cut out of the mountain without hands just keeps going!

OK guys, it’s not even funny how fast time is going!  And a quick shout out to Alex Thayne for getting hitched and Brianne Pederson for getting engaged!  But hey, back to the life!  Monday we taught Marvin, who is doing well and feels like the Book of Mormon is true, but hasn’t asked God yet, so we talked about that!  We also taught Jess and he’s still solid!  Tuesday we helped the sisters move!  And the term “Bakit why” was coined there as well.  Good time with the district!  In the afternoon we taught a referral, but he just got up halfway through the lesson and said he had to go… that was weird!  We taught Al, who is still the man.  We went out to Aguso (?) and met Kim, a 17-year-old less active (who came to church on Sunday) at the house of a different less active, Michelle!  We also taught Harvey and at the last second we chose to read about Ammon chopping off arms to get this 9-year-old’s attention.  Hey, it got my attention when I was nine! 

Wednesday we had exchanges with Elder Burnett, who was back in my district in my last area!  I learned a lot from him.  We taught a contact, Ferdinand. He’s really nice and he was interested in how his life could improve after baptism.  We went with Al to teach Rheyn, who wasn’t home, but we met his mom and it turns out that his parents are less active members!  Whaddayaknow!  We finally taught JR Ramos, and old referral, and he’s got tons of potential, a rock-solid support system and a baptismal goal date for next month!  We finished at Ben’s, whose real problem is the fear of what his mom says/thinks about him investigating/joining another church and his testimony isn’t that strong yet.  Thursday we visited the 1st counselor in the bishopric, Brother Fernando, and his family.  They are super awesome in their callings and happy to do missionary work!  We taught Harvey and he was more engaged in the lesson this time!  The Lord also provided dinner for us in that far out area by the way of Sister Lorry, Harvey’s less active grandma.  Blessings!  We taught Kim and Michelle, which went ok!  I just feel like it’s hard for them to get into the lessons.  In the evening we visited with Kris and Lourdes and Ben as well, for the first time in a very long time.  We showed the Restoration video, but it didn’t quite have the effect we hoped it would.  But overall, Thursday was a good day!

Friday we had weekly planning, which is something we are getting better at!  Then we had exchanges with the Victoria elders again but this time I was with Elder Naylor! I got to interview their candidate Hannah who is SO prepared.  That was a treat!  Little did I know that as I was interviewing, Elder Naylor, a greenie halfway through his training, just started teaching her dad the Restoration for the first time by himself!  I was impressed!  And we taught a couple other lessons and it was a really good exchange.  Elder Naylor is pretty awesome.    That night I was able to talk to his kabahay as well who was having a hard time in his companionship.  I felt I was able to help…I hope so.  Saturday was another good day!  We visited Lito, our investigator who is really sick and weak.  We were able to bring him some mangoes and bananas, because that is what he is eating nowadays.  We taught Al, then Mina, who accepted a new goal date for April if she gets an answer.  She isn’t asking God, but I really hope she will!  We had a good lesson with Marvin and Ami, where Marvin opened up about some concerns with the Word of Wisdom keeping him from progressing towards baptism, almost disqualifying himself.  But we were able to help him see the big picture by teaching the Plan of Salvation.  They committed to come to church (but the whole family except for Marvin came…gah!).   We taught Kris, Lourdes and Oliver all about how the answer to which church is true is no farther away than the Book of Mormon, and Lourdes committed to come to church (And she did!  Kris couldn’t and Oliver was sleeping).  We finished up at Jess’s and they are as good as ever.
Eating poptarts at the mission office with Elder Naylor

Sunday Anwar, our ward mission leader, was finally released (He is so hard-working but he just got called as Stake Young Men’s President so he really doesn’t have time) and Brother Jose Evangelista, whom we’ve already been visiting, is the new ward mission leader!  Exciting stuff!  And we had 2 investigators (Lourdes and Carlos) and 3 less actives (Allan, Al and Ami) come out to church! 
With Al and Lourdes
Oh, and Sonny and Wilma hit their one year mark as members!  And Sonny gave me a nice pair of shoes that his aunt in Chicago sent him but they don’t fit him!  Cool!  Blessings!  After church there was a huge grass fire behind our apartment and the smoke was super thick!  And the fire got within like four feet of our apartment…Pretty crazy! 

We taught our recent converts, Teresa and Lolita, and then while trying to visit an investigator this drunk guy we now caught us one by one in a death grip handshake and “blessed” us and told us how much he loved us…I was laughing really hard.  We walked through a part of our area where it’s kind of like a maze and somehow we ended up on the complete opposite side of our area…Weird, like a portal!  We taught the Ong family.  Then we taught Allan Victoria about getting to the temple and he wants to, but says that’s going to take a lot of preparation.  We let him now we’re here to help him, and he was kind of touched I think.  He noted that we were the first elders who talked to him about getting to the temple. 

So this week was pretty awesome!  I loved it, and I hope this stone cut out of the mountain without hands just keeps going!

-Elder Christensen

P.S.  I saw the new hundred dollar bill for the first time while on exchanges with Elder Naylor.  I’ve never seen uglier money.  Sorry, but I just had to record that; it’s that bad.
Old Spice in the Philippines!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Good work with less active members-- attending church and referring friends!

Alright!  So last Monday was a solid day for sure!  In the evening we were able to teach Tinay and her boyfriend.  Her boyfriend, Ampeng, was pretty uncomfortable and fidgety at first, but when the Holy Ghost came in, he calmed right down.  We talked about repentance and that was good.  Afterwards we taught a less active boy who came to church last Sunday for the first time in a long time.  He feels he needs to talk to the bishop and some things, but he is scared to, so we were happy to help him out.  Tuesday morning we finalized the house for the sisters!  We finally found one for them!  So that was a relief.  Now our next task is to find one for the new senior couple moving to Tarlac.  We had exchanges with the Capas elders, so Elder Viquera (Elder Armatage’s trainer and my longtime friend) was my companion!  We had such an amazing day planned….and it all fell apart.  But we still managed to squeak out lessons to Al, our less active neighbor Jess and the Evangelista family.  Wednesday was transfer announcements!  Elder Delante and I are still companions, which is what I wanted!  And Elder Olohan and Elder Checketts are staying, too.  Not a whole lot of changes this time around!  In the afternoon we taught Reynaldo, an old contact, and he accepted a goal date on the first lesson and he set the return appointment for when his wife could join as well!  Also we taught Ben about praying to know and he finally accepted a goal date for April 18th!  Yes!  Then we were mega-rejected in the evening from 4 appointments, but we won’t dwell on that! 

Thursday we taught Carlos who hasn’t asked the lawyer about changing the letters of his name on his marriage contract yet, but he said he would soon!  We taught Ami, a less active with her nonmember husband there, Marvin, who really understood and related well with the message of the Restoration.  He said he would read and pray to know ad he even accepted a goal date for April 18th!  Hopefully that goes through.  They’ve got big potential as a family!  Friday morning we headed over to the sisters’ apartment with Elder Weber to take down their spare bunk beds are they are moving hopefully next Tuesday.  That was an adventure!  After that we had exchanges with Elder Choresca in Victoria!  I don’t know, I really like working in Victoria and I especially like working with Elder Choresca.  Their two interviews passed so that’s good news!  We were running a little late all day, but overall it was good.
Exchanges with Elder Choresca

Saturday morning we came back and had weekly planning.  This week we’re planning on visiting 6-8 active member families to help them do missionary work.  That’s our strength in Ward 4, so that’s what we are going to push!  In the afternoon we taught Mina, who is so nice, but she just doesn’t have that real intent, so that’s rough.  We’ll see if this goes anywhere.  Our drunk less active, Brother W, was trying to get us to teach him and to drink soda with him, which was weird.  I don’t know—lots of weird stuff happens in this area that keeps us from teaching the gospel.  After dinner we taught Lolita and Carlos and Carlos promised to go to the lawyer on Monday and we related it to Nephi getting the plates to help inspire him.  We then taught J. and visited a couple members on the way home. 

Sunday started with good news and bad news.  Bad news- no investigators came to church L.  Good news- three less actives came to church!  Michelle, who lives in that far out area that we visited last week, came.  Al, our neighbor who hasn’t been to church in who knows how many years came and Allan Victorio, who is returning to activity just nicely!  In the afternoon we had our SMC with President Clark and President Espinosa, which went well!  Tarlac Stake is planning to split next year, so wards are starting to split and it’s exciting!  We taught Al afterwards, who felt welcomed and happy at church.  After the lesson when we asked if he knew anyone we could teach, he said, “Marami!”(many!)  And then he showed us two of his friends, a couple whose names are Rheyn and Karen, whom we taught and set return appointments with.  Afterwards he showed us a few more people on the way back home.  It was AWESOME.  Such a blessing.  After dinner we taught the Ombac (?) family, a recent convert family who has gone less active a bit, and we challenged them to reset the temple as their goal.  We finished the evening by teaching Steve and Abigail Ong and they are so awesome and nice… They always give us food, too!  Anyway, this week ended with a bang!  And we have a lot to do this next week. 

I’ll leave off with the verse we shared with Al yesterday:  3 Nephi 9:14.  It’s all about coming unto Him.  He’s just waiting to help us and show us the more excellent way.

-Elder Christensen

P.S.  I hope no one gets offended if I don’t respond.  I just never have time to respond to friends anymore and email time is about to get shortened even more.  I’ll try to respond when I can, but it not, we’ll talk when I get back!
Trunky papers :(

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Awesome MLC, fun trip to Manila and feeling hopeful

Last Monday we had a district activity which was super fun.  Email was good and I got to buy a new watch and a new basketball!  Both desperately needed!  In the evening we visited Oscar, who has gone apostate to the point of becoming a missionary for a different church!  He kept questioning us and our testimonies and our spiritual experiences, but I’m not gonna lie, we testified boldly and the spirit backed us up.  But man, he was hard.  It took us a while to just get in… and Satan has tricked him pretty good!  On the opposite end of the spectrum, we visited our stake president and his family, the Espinosas!  We presented our message again, and to our great joy, they’ve already started with two families!  And then they fed us Kalabaw BBQ for the first time on my mission!  We then went over and slept at the Assistants’ for MLC!  And of course, it was a blast to see and talk with everyone.

MLC on Tuesday was AWESOME!  It was super amazing and exactly what we needed to hear as a mission.  My favorite part was when we were talking about the atonement.  President gave us time to just sit and ponder and write about the atonement.  It was super spiritual!  I loved every minute. 
March Mission Leadership Council

Wednesday I went on exchanges with Elder Olojoun in the other part of my old area!  Sonny worked with us, and I was able to show them different places and people I knew.  The highlight for me was when I was able to teach Tinay.  She is a member who was active when I was here, and we were pretty good friends back in the day, but she had some stuff happen and now she is living with her boyfriend in, get this, my current area!  We had a great lesson with her and we scheduled a time to visit her next week in my area.  Thursday we went house-hunting for the sisters yet again, and we found the perfect house….almost.  It only had one bathroom and that’s a deal-breaker apparently.  Man!  In the afternoon we got a new investigator, an old nanay named Aurora, who apparently wants to feed us next time!  Later on we went to this far out area where there’s tons of less actives.  The ward requested that we go there sometimes, so we will!  We taught three less active members.  They are all really nice and open to our message, so that’s good! 

Friday!  We had zone training meeting in the afternoon, which went well.  We taught the new teaching style of focusing on their interest and needs by teaching the simple, clear, short doctrine they need to hear, then focusing on them by asking application questions and showing the doctrine’s relevancy according to their concerns.  It went well!  It went long though and there were a lot of other things we needed to get to so we didn’t get home until 5:30.  After dinner we went out to work but we were only able to teach Ben.  His concern is that his mom doesn’t want him to change religions, so he’s kind of closed off his mind there and his mom doesn’t want to listen to us so that doesn’t help.  But he’s really sharp.  We’ve just got to get past this. 

Saturday morning I woke up early and took a road trip with Elders Armatage, Hedman, Westover, Gordon, Johnson and Eggett, just to name a few, to Manila.  No joke!  We had to get our fingerprinting done in order to leave the country.  Elder Armatage and I chatted the whole way down.  Man, I forgot how big Manila is!  We did the fingerprinting at the MTC complex, so that was trippy to be back there!  And it was great to see the temple, even if we couldn’t go inside.  I saw so many missionaries I knew from the MTC, because all of the foreign missionaries from around 7 missions were there!  I looked for Elder Brian Christensen, but I found someone from Baguio Mission and they said he wasn’t there….Oh well!  That whole process took about 3 hours and it was fun to be with so many missionaries! 

Afterwards we got lunch at Burger King and then dessert at Dairy Queen, because those are things that are just not in the Angeles Mission…and it seemed like such a good idea at the time, but man, that killed my stomach!  But it was ok, because Elder Armatage and I had more chats on the way home.  We decided that from now until we go home in June, we’re going to try to do a little better every day, or become a little more like Christ every day, and record it, then share it at the end.  And once we got home, I had my moment where I think I was a little bit more like Christ, because my stomach hurt and I straight up did not want to go out to work.  But I prayed for strength and we went out and got good work done!  We taught Erwin.  Then we taught Alexander, an old contact, and his 9 kids.  But we set a return appointment to teach him and his wife and their 9 kids!  Wow!  And he is so cool.  He was super active in the lesson and this message was made for him.  We have high hopes for them!  We ended the night by teaching the Tollentino family, then visiting Nora.  Nora is now separated from her husband, so she’s having a hard time, so we won’t be able to teach her for a while….
Sunday was good!  We were able to schedule a lot of appointments with members for this week!  Elder Tucci also came to church with us because he’s going home this week, so it was fun to see him again!  In the afternoon Carlos had a cool experience.  Carlos is our investigator who isn’t legally married to his wife (a member) because he used a different last name when they got married (because he was legally married to someone else and it’s nearly impossible to get a divorce in the Philippines.  His first wife is now dead anyways.  He didn’t know what to do, because obviously he has to be married in order to live the law of chastity and in order to be baptized.  He has such faith and such a testimony.  So he made it a matter of prayer and prayed about it for two weeks.  This weekend the spirit whispered to him what he needs to do:  He needs to take his certificate of marriage to the municipal hall and petition to the lawyer to change the last name on the certificate from the wrong last name to the correct one, which is just a two letter difference, so he said that he’ll do that on Monday!  What a guy.   We also got to visit with Allan Victorio, who came to church again and who is making great progress in returning to activity!  We also taught the Ong family, who is this young married couple.  Abigail is a recent convert and Steve is an RM.  Their cute kids are super hyper.  I love those guys. 
And so this week was good and I feel hopeful.  Every time I look out our window during companionship study as we recite D&C 4, I feel the spirit telling me that they’re out there.  Things are looking up and the High Priest of Good Things to Come is our captain.

-Elder Christensen

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Mission buddies, investigators to church and a dead zombie lizard!

Sorry - I've gotten so behind on my journal this week and I forgot to take a picture of it...so I’m just going to give a little update now! Monday we were in a computer shop pretty much all day working on reports, and we got super punted in the evening...We met some people, but we weren't able to teach anyone...Tuesday all of our plans fell through again...but we found out that our investigator Mina came to church last Sunday but because she was late and it was full they just left...but they came to church!!! And Elder Dejino stayed with us the night as he got special permission to fly to Cebu to be sealed with his family, so that was fun! 
With Elder Dejino, who got to fly to Cebu to be sealed to his family :)

District meeting!
Wednesday we went to District 2 for district meeting (Sister Brady was there, go T-wolves!),
and I went on exchanges with Elder Lizano in a bike area! First time! So that was an adventure! 
Thursday I went house hunting and saw my good buddy Elder Westover (Elder Dejino's companion) in the office!
I worked with Elder Eggett in my old area, where we tried to visit Arianne, but she wasn't home yet, and we visited my old buddy Tristan who is now less active. It was fun to show him some places he didn't know about where they could find and work in the future! That night the departing batch slept at the assistant's house, so I got to see Elder Lungay and Elder Tucci again, good friends of mine! 
With his trainer, Elder Lungay, who goes home next transfer

Friday I was back in my area but with Elder Lumogdong, because they had another interview. We taught Ben Saavedra that day, an 18 year old kid who has some real potential! We also were able to visit with the bishop and his family and commit them to lead out in helping other families learn about the gospel, so we have high hopes there! Saturday pretty much all our plans fell through again (every day we come up with great plans to visit different people and do different things, but they always never, ever come to pass! We're lucky if one or two of the appointments actually happen. It's hard to improv and get the results you want!), but we did get a new investigator, Harry, 24 year old kid of a less active couple. We also had a dinner appointment with The Ong family, the wife is a recent convert, and then we visited with an active member family and again shared about sharing the blessings of the gospel with other families!

 Sunday Mina came to church again, as well as Carlos! And we found some long lost less active girls that we taught in the afternoon. We were asked to report and present our results, goals, and plans at the stake bishopric meeting, which went well! In the evening we visited the Garcias, just the picture perfect LDS family, and they were more than happy to commit to helping other families start living the gospel as well. This morning we had a fun district activity, and that brings us to now! Also, I found a dead zombie lizard, so I thought I would send a picture!
Dead zombie lizard

 Life's good though! Crazy busy, but good!

-Elder Christensen
With Sonny!