Monday, April 27, 2015

Another week of living the dream has flown by!

Maayong Buntag, Maayong Aga, Naimbag nga Bigat, Magandang Umaga and Good Morning!  Wow, another week of living the dream has flown by!  So this week started with me and Elder Cox (just finished his training and his trainer just finished his mission) working together in Dap Dap on Monday and Tuesday.  It was lots of fun!  I really like Elder Cox.  He’s a good kid and he has good things ahead of him. 

Wednesday was transfer announcements!  And man, there were a lot of changes!  To name some, Elder Surio just became Elder Hedman’s companion as a zone leader.  Sister Penales transferred into her first area again, so we’re in the same district!  And…Elder Delante transferred and I no longer have kabahays (housemates)L.  Sayang. 
Goodbye to Elder Delante and the kabahays
Thursday was transfers!  It was super fun because I got to see Elder Armatage, Elder Jacobson and lots of others!

 My new companion is Elder Nalumen!  He’s a really chill, smiley guy.  He’s a little quiet, but he really likes singing hymns to himself! 
I’m getting ahead of myself…  Wednesday we taught Anthony again.  He’s good, but so hard to catch!  We finished off by teaching the Puno family about how belief combined with action makes real faith, then Al about fasting.  Al has work on Sundays now and he’s about to go abroad to work this week.

I met my new companion and we went to the new leader’s training, because he’s a new zone leader.  We visited Sister Sol and talked to her about helping out Daisy, to get her to baptism.  We taught Matthew (which was fun because my companion doesn’t speak much English) and he’s still the most amazing investigator, showing us his pages of notes on what he’s learned from his study of the gospel.  But, it looks like we may have some problems getting his guardian (grandpa)’s permission for baptism.  His grandpa is sick with kidney failure, is grouchy and is SUPER Catholic…We’ll fast. 

Friday we got rejected from our appointments and knocked doors in the heat….No one let us in.  BUT then we went back to an old contact, Kirby, and he let us in!  We taught Baby Jane and Edwin Ferrer, who told us that even if they found out this is true, then wouldn’t be baptized…and hopefully it would just work out for them.  Dang.  On Saturday we taught Matthew who is still solid, no doubt.  We taught the Fiesta family about repentance… I don’t know…The two youth-aged kids come to church usually but their mom and the youngest, Evlo don’t… We’ll figure it out.  In the evening we finally worked it out to have a great fellowshipper, Carissa, come with us to teach Daisy!  She is super awesome and she’s determined to be baptized in May!  Yes!  Super solid.  Also, Carissa had a referral/part member family, the Asis family, for us and Gweendee, 16, accepted a baptismal date for June!  I’m excited to work with them in the future.
Sunday Matthew and Daisy came to church!  These are our baptisms for May!  In the afternoon we visited our recent convert Lolita, the Ferrer family (no progress, but super nice!), the Tanedo family (active and they are going to work out referrals for us!), then we walked around trying to find some less actives for two hours, without luck.  Dang.  But life’s good!

I’ll attach a nice insight about faith I had during personal study found in Hebrews 11:39-40 (read the 40a footnote!).  I love life, I’m living the dream, and I’m sorry if I don’t respond to some emails.  I just don’t have time anymore!  Ingat palagi!     
  -Elder Christensen

Monday, April 20, 2015

Blessed in finding efforts and Andrew Layug (Sonny's brother) is baptized!

Hello, hello, hello!  This is Elder Christensen coming at you 1-7 days delayed from Tarlac, Philippines!  It’s been a good week!  Monday we were behind schedule (what else is new) so as soon as we got back from grocery shopping we went out to work exactly at 6 pm!  We had a Family Home Evening with the Mondejar family who gave us a family referral, but they live like 25 minutes away by jeepney…but if they’re prepared and willing, we’ll be there!  Tuesday we had exchanges with the Capas elders and I was with Elder Velez from Texas and he’s just finishing his training!  I felt what he has gone through/is going through.  I felt bad because he was really having a lot harder time than we thought toward the beginning there, but he’s doing a lot better now.  Next time I’m going to pay more attention to the new missionaries in my zone and make sure they know they have love and support.

As far as the week goes, we taught Matthew, who’s still incredible, and we also got to teach a couple of less active families that the ward sent us to teach!  We also taught our less active Al and his best friend, which was cool!  Even though Elder Velez spoke mostly an English/Tagalog mix, he understood the important doctrines like the continuation of the priesthood and the baptismal invitation, which he accepted!  I thank the Holy Spirit for helping us teach on that one.  Wednesday was oddly American, as me, Elder Velez, Elder Olohan and Elder Checketts joined Elder and Sister Nagle (mission presidency) in helping the Webers (the new office couple) move into their very American apartment!  And they treated us to McDonalds and let us take pictures on their super soft bed and CARPETED house! 
On the Webers' memory foam mattress that they helped them move!

Laughing like crazy on the Webers' CARPET!!!
Me and Elder Velez took our language assessment test, then we went back to the church where there was a district leader’s council going on and Elder Anasario (who goes home next week), who is now assigned to Angeles, brought me Krispy Kreme doughnuts…That was glorious. 
When we went out to work, we went tracting down this one street named “Pennsylvania Street” (don’t call it destiny) and met this super prepared young family!  Crisylyn is a former member of Iglesia ni Cristo and Roger is a Catholic.  They were both way into the message of the restoration and they accepted baptismal goal dates for the 23rd of May!  Afterwards, we taught the Puno family and that’s about it.  On Thursday we had district meeting and it was the last of our two district mates, Sister Holmes and Sister Pardinas.  Afterwards I went on exchanges with Elder Surio in Zaragosa!  It was good fun and he’s a fantastic elder.

Friday we had weekly planning na naman… In the afternoon we finally taught Anthony again!  He’s still awesome and has real intent.  He still didn’t accept a goal date for baptism, but he understood the plan of salvation.  We taught Roger and Crisylyn, and she has a concern about baptism.  Roger is all in, but Crisylyn’s father before he died said that he had no other inheritance to give her except their religion, so she feels some loyalty toward her former religion.  But they’re keeping commitments and loving the lessons!  We taught Liza and Rod Puno lesson 1, which went well, but they’re not married so we’ll have to work on that.  Saturday we received an impression to visit a certain semi-active member in the morning who was not on our plan, Sister Sol, and it turned out that she had referrals for us!  Daisy and Ralph Mallari (siblings) who accepted baptismal goal dates on the first lesson!  Listening to the spirit pays off!  In the afternoon we taught our recent convert, Teresa, then we went to Andrew Layug’s baptism.  Andrew is my recent convert (from last year) Sonny’s older brother (and convert Wilma’s son) and he is my former investigator as well! 
Elder C with Sonny and Andrew Layug (who he found and taught last year) at his baptism!!! Andrew's brother Sonny and Wilma Layug were taught and baptized last year when Elder C was serving in Tarlac :) 
Matthew also attended so that was a good experience for him!  We also visited the Echanes family who are working out some referrals for us! 

Sunday was good!  Matthew came to church again and Sister Ami, our less active, came again for the first time in a while! 
With his comp and Matthew at church!
After church we had our meeting with President Clark and President Espinosa where we got a new vision and plan for the zone/stake, especially in planning with members.  Afterwards we taught some new investigators, Baby Jane and Edwin, who admired our efforts, but mostly just compared our message to the Catholic Church.  We have a return appointment on Wednesday, so we’ll see!  We also taught Ligaya, a referral, who happily received the invitation to baptism next month!  So that’s exciting!  We then taught Jess and then Daniel, our less active, so it went OK on Sunday!  Oh, and I’ve passed 22 months in the mission now!  Totally doesn’t even feel real!  Well, the Lord blessed us in our finding efforts this week, and I can’t wait to see what He has in store next week! 

I love being a missionary!

-Elder Christensen
District picture at KFC

Monday, April 13, 2015

All I really want in life is to please my fathers—both earthly and heavenly—and to be more like Shiblon.

Well, here we are, aren’t we!  Fourth journal of mission!  Can’t believe we’ve made it here.  But we somehow have, not without a few heart warmers, heart breakers and a few straight up miracles.  And I’ve loved every bit of it!  I wouldn’t trade this for the world.  But anyways, we’ve had quite a week here!  On Monday we taught the whole Victorio family!  Even the Mom was there!  And now it’s THEM bringing up the temple, not us!  Afterwards we taught a couple of less active families that live kind of far away, but it was good!  One, the Anivan family, has a lot of potential with part members and the other, the Millanio family, is this older couple.  The wife is an RM and the husband is a recent convert of 2011.  They’re really struggling for money now so they haven’t been able to come to church for a while, and they have some Baptist friends who are really pushing them to be baptized in their church.  Honestly, I just felt like they needed someone to talk to.  Tuesday was… Mission Leadership Council!  It was so good!  We had chocolate chip pancakes in the morning and that just kind of set the tone for what kind of day it was. 
Elder Johnson making chocolate chip pancakes at MLC

We talked a bit about the Church’s program “Because He Lives” and how we’re going to use it.  If anyone hasn’t seen this video yet, check out  We also learned about ethnocentricity and how that causes problems, but my favorite topic was about FAITH, which is the new theme of the mission up until I go home.  I love it!  We talked about how Nephi’s first two attempts to get the plates were pretty much faithless, and only on the third attempt did the Lord’s power work according to Nephi’s great faith and millions have been blessed because of the results of his faith.  It was of course great to see all of my friends, too, and I had a great time. 
With MLC mission buddies

With Elder Westover

Wednesday we had exchanges and Elder Choresca was my companion again!  The miracle of Wednesday was when we taught Matthew the restoration in English.  It was amazing!  He is so prepared!  He’s completely golden and he accepted a baptismal goal for May 16 without hesitation.  He is the answer to our prayers!  I’ve been waiting for an investigator like this for SO LONG!  Thursday we had zone training, and I think it went well!  I pray that this zone develops the faith that we need.  Thursday the work was weird…all over the place and not a whole lot of teaching!  But we were able to teach Al about temples, a topic we’ve been wanting to share for a while.  Friday we had exchanges!  I was with Elder Cox, a trainee, and literally I interviewed people for baptism all day.  Good thing I heard the funniest song in a jeepney while travelling called “This guy’s in love with you, pare.”  I was laughing so hard. 

Saturday we had General Conference and it was SO GOOD!  I noticed that a lot of them were about marriage, families and fatherhood, so I’m not going to read those ones too closely until I’m home.  But it did for the first time hit me that I could possibly be married this year…Scary.  Some highlights:  learning not to be just a latter-day sinner, having Shiblon get an overdue shout-out, “Don’t text her!”, “Many of the things you can’t count really count”, realizing I have to really work to speak in God’s place, and hearing the Prophet come to life in relaying his priesthood experiences. Saturday night was a test of walking around for about 2 hours and having no one be home.  I felt like God was checking to see if we really would work until our 9:00 pm curfew.  Sunday morning Matthew came to church!  He was inspired by the General Conference messages and came back for the afternoon session!  We taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ lesson afterwards and he loved it.  He even took notes!  That’s a first!  Afterwards, we taught our recent converts, Lolita and Teresa, and finished up teaching the Victorios about the word of wisdom as a part of their temple preparation. 

This morning the greatest thing happened: President Clark played basketball with us!  It was glorious. 
P Day Basketball with President Clark!
We then had a zone activity which was fun and that brings us to now! 
Zone activity

I just want to echo possibly my favorite line from conference, “All I really want in life is to please my fathers—both earthly and heavenly—and to be more like Shiblon.

-Elder Christensen

Monday, April 6, 2015

"Maybe they weren't on your plan, but maybe they were on God's plan"

I’ve reached the point in my mission where I wear a watch not so much to tell the time, but to have undeniable evidence that time really is going this fast.  Monday was our crazy reports day, as in 4+ hours in a computer shop…Glad that’s over with!  We had a family home evening with the Ramos family and JR was there, and it was really spiritual.  The highlight of the day was when we taught Al and he showed us all of his plans he had written down to live the word of wisdom.  *Fist pump here*  Al  is awesome!  Tuesday we started using the “Because He Lives” video the church came out with: targeting people with smart phones and tablets to street contact, giving the link ( along with pass along cards, and testifying of the living Christ.  We also had an 18 year old who is waiting for his call, Brother Isaiah, come work with us!  We taught Teresa, our recent convert, then we taught our last lesson to JR, as he’s moving to Pangasinan, but we committed him to listen to the missionaries there, and we’ve already referred him.  Wednesday was actually really good.  In the morning we actually found the Fiesta family, who are like a part member-semi active family.  It’s funny because about a year ago I interviewed their youngest, Evlo (pronounced YOLO) for baptism!  Anyways, we shared with them about sharing the blessings of the gospel with others, so we can follow up there in the future!  We shared with Lolita, our recent convert, then for the first time with her less active neighbor, Armando!  We were finally able to teach a golden contact, Jonedd, and he had lots of good questions and accepted a goal date for May 9!  We taught Al again and he’s still doing ok!  We taught Carlo again and he hadn’t read the reading assignment and he is moving next week actually…I don’t get it with all of these people moving! 

Thursday we had interviews with President and workshops with the assistants!  The workshops were really fun and interactive, and I found a lot that I need to work on!  And my interview was awesome.  I opened up about my recent frustrations about our investigators not progressing and all of our plans falling through.  I shared with him about how last Saturday we improvised 4 lessons because not one name on our plan/back up plan accepted us.  And here’s the dialogue:
President:  “And that bothers you?”
Me:  “Yeah!”
President:  “Why?”
Me:  “Well, because we made lesson plans for them and we really wanted to teach them.”
President:  “But you taught four lessons.  Maybe they weren’t on your plan, but maybe they were on God’s plan.” 
Not gonna lie, that kind of blew my mind a little bit.  I had somehow convinced myself that my nightly plans were God’s plans, and if they didn’t come to pass, somehow I failed as a servant of the Lord.  President said that sometimes we try really hard to make good plans, and God kind of chuckles as He has a completely different plan in mind for us.  President encouraged me to try to look and see God’s plan in things, and I have been and it’s been awesome!  I’m happier and more optimistic now, and I’m just so grateful that in some small way, I get to be a part of God’s plan as a missionary!  What a tremendous blessing!

Anyways, when we finally got back to work we taught a nice old Nanay with her brother Isaiah and she understood next to nothing.  In her closing prayer she gave thanks for the three prophets (us?) that visited her.  Alright!  But after that we met and taught the Puno family, a less active member couple in their 60s or so that have tons of kids and friends who are not members.  I’m excited to help them, as they’re very receptive and still have strong testimonies, and I’m sure they’re going to be a big help to us in this new area.  On Friday we walked a lot!  We visited the Fernando family and the Pare family as well, and they’re working out people to refer to us, so it’s starting to look like these visits will pay off!  We also taught Harvey, our recent convert, and the Victorio family.  We just really need to find out a way to teach the mom with them, so eventually they can all get to the temple! 

Saturday we had district meeting in the morning and then we had a gazillion change of plans and we only ended up teaching two lessons….BUT one was to this super prepared father of four!  We found him by going door to door, and he had so many good questions and concerns, like about false prophets and whether one could go to heaven or not, even if your religion was wrong.  His name is Anthony and I think we just found the father of a golden family!  It was SO awesome!  Also, about a year ago I met a Chinese-American kid named Matthew who was dumped here by his parents.  Anyway, we found him and I’m really excited to help him out! 
Picture of Elder C with Matthew, taken a year ago!
Sunday was a really good day.  Ami and her investigator husband, Marvin, came to church!  So that was exciting!  Church was really good and afterwards we had some meetings and got a lot of stuff done!  In the afternoon God’s plan overtook our plan, as we had hoped to teach almost all investigators, and instead we taught almost all less-active members!  We also taught the Echanes family who are active, after they fed us, and they said that they’re working out a couple of families to refer!  Yes! 

Overall life is really good. I’m so blessed to be a missionary and to be a part of God’s plan for his children every day.  It truly is an adventure!
Elder C and the kabahays sporting their ties and moustaches on St. Patrick's Day  (from a few weeks ago!)

-Elder Christensen