MTC is serving in the New York Utica mission from June 2010 to June 2012. We hope to keep you updated with his latest letters, pictures and more.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Hello New York!

Elder Christensen and Elder Miller

Greetings to all from Schoharie Valley, New York!

It is incredible that I am really here, really serving in New York now! It was so funny meeting all of these people on Tuesday that knew Paige and Ben. But I'll perhaps start from the beginning and give an overview of what happened these last few days. Tuesday we woke up at 2:45 and flew from SLC to Chicago. The plane was smaller than I imagined for that flight - 2 seat rows - but I was on an emergency row with 3 other Elders. The flight attendant, John Carlos, came to give us the low down for that and Elder Israelsen next to me in the isle offered him a pass along card. To tell it briefly, he had talked to a Mormon before, and had a Book of Mormon. Turns out he GOES TO CORNELL, lives in Ithaca in the fall and winter (flies full time in the summer) so in our mission, ridiculously coincidental (not, meant to be). AND, his dad lives in Gilbert (told him obviously from there and the Ben and Ben's dad connections). It was basically just me and him talking because we had the most connections and everything but it was so cool - the first "REAL PERSON" I got to teach/talk to. The plane was incredibly loud so it was way hard to talk to him but I had him go back and read the introduction and he then asked questions. He was intrigued and gladly gave me his information. It was definitely an experience to remember for my plane ride out into the mission field! Then the plane to Syracuse was a smaller plane. 1 seat, isle, 2 seats. I was in the very back in a solo seat - nothing cool happened there. But we were picked up by President and Sister Bulloch and Elders Warr and Fullmer at the airport! They are all so awesome! We went and got pizza and wings close by the airport then traveled to the mission home in Utica. It was awesome here and we had some "training" there that night. Their backyard is like the Sacred Grove. Wednesday morning we had awesome breakfast then went to the Mission office (the church building there in Utica). We saw all the trainers and I recognized one from my BYU ward, Elder Miller! I had remembered hearing he went to this mission from Holly Perkinson but we never interacted or crossed paths there. In fact, he didn't recognize me at first but got talking and it was hilarious. He's sweet. Then I found out a few minutes later he would be training me! We both were just cracking up. He only went Fall at BYU and went in the MTC January 27. So he's only been here 4ish months, clearly still new but a stud, clearly, as he is training. He's been here his whole time so he knows this land and people really well. The apartment is pretty nice, all things considered. I'll just take pictures rather than describe it. We're located in Cobleskill. Our area basically consists of several "villages" of 2,000-3,000 people - we're in the biggest "town". But we've been working very hard, we have around 15 investigators from all walks of life. The first lesson I had on Thursday was with a man named John who smoked the whole lesson, shirt off tats, bullet marks in his skin, etc been in jail. Rough, rough life and guy. Very memorable first lesson though - he is actually very sincere and interested; who knows where it will lead though. The one investigator we have/had with a baptismal date when I met him he was hammered drunk, smoking cigarettes and watching porn. He knows it's true but the devil has him bound down with his strong cords. Anyway not all the people are like that obviously, we've taught some more "typical" people that went well. It is so incredible to actually be talking to real people with real concerns in the real world. Definitely still getting used to everything but it has been great so far. Yes we have a ward of about 170 people. There are a lot of less actives or part member families here that we try to see as well. We haven't received any referrals yet but that's alright. Elder Miller is good and we're getting the members behind us and on our side. There are so many stories or people I could tell you about but those are the more noteworthy things. Like I said I am still just getting used to everything but it becomes more of a reality and natural the more I am here and lose myself in the work. We are working really hard and want to be entirely obedient. We've seen blessings already with people opening up to us who hadn't before I was here, etc.

Thanks for the pictures and letter it was great. I don't know when I'll send my memory card. Perhaps next P-day I'll take pictures this next week when we are out a little more so you can see. Could you send me some blank CD's, the Bawden Reflections CD please and I'm curious when you're sending the mink blanket and other sheets? Was I suppose to have already gotten those because they weren't in Utica when I was there but I wasn't worried I figured you had it under control. I'll probably send some stuff home from the MTC and letters and whatever else here in a week or so.

But the work here is really progressing. There hasn't been a baptism in this area since August of last year - I heard some nubs were here before, but it's been turned around and we're trying to continue to do so. And Elder Miller and I have some things we are really excited about so we'll see how it goes. I've learned a lot here already. So happy I am here.

Got to run but I love you all and hope to hear from you soon! Thanks for all the love and support. Thanks for the brownies Ben. Pictures will come soon.

I love you all,
Elder Christensen

145 North Street
Apt. 15
Cobleskill, NY

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Last P-Day in MTC

June 15, 2010

Hello all!

Today is Tuesday, obviously pday! It is still going fantastic here at the MTC. It is seriously still so surreal that I am even here, and just so crazy to realize in a week from this time I am out of here. In fact, yes we got our flight plans late last week. We are flying American Airlines (#3825) from SLC to Chicago at 7:10am. Then from Chicago to Syracuse leaving at 12:40 (still on American Airlines). So it has us arriving there around 3:25pm. I assume well all drive to Utica and then disperse from there! We have to meet at a place here at the MTC at 4am! haha. I am so excited its so awesome!

Well just to update briefly with what has been going on, last Tuesday Elder Hales spoke on the light of Christ and relating it to investigators and missionaries it was very very powerful awesome. Tonight is another GA fireside no idea who is speaking. Ill be sure to let you all know. (rumor around the MTC is President Monson is speaking next Tuesday with all the new Mission Presidents getting here-which would stink cuz we leave that morning!). But this past week went by so incredibly fast it is ridiculous! Elder Shurtz and I have continued to grow closer and closer and its so great to learn and teach with him through the spirit. There are so many cool things that happen here with amazing teachers and the spirit being so strong but there is one instance I want to share. On Sunday an Elder in my district Elder Rickords (glasses in the pictures) was having these weird shaking spasms during a fireside and it was pretty scary and weird. He and his companion went out to walk around in the middle. When we got back to the rooms he was still dealing with it and it wasnt good. He asked to have a blessing and wanted Elder Shurtz me his companion and two others standing in. Right before we were to start he asked me to give the blessing. Ive never given one before. It was the most incredible, powerful experience. After I sealed the anointing and pronounced a blessing upon him there is no doubt that the words that came to my mouth were not my own. The spirit was able to work through me in a way I have never before experienced. Its hard to put in words how it felt-but simply amazing. There is no doubt this is the Lords work.

We are going to the temple today in about an hour which is very exciting. Pretty sad too though considering its likely this is the last time for basically 2 years. I hope to make the most of it.I really love hearing from all of you and appreciate the letters and love - please keep them coming. (yes, I can read mail each day but not write). As to try to answer some questions from letters received this week: My district is from the West Coast. Cali, Utah, Washington, Oregon, Idaho. Elder Shurtz from WA. Ive run into so many people I know here its so fun. In addition to BYU people you wouldnt know Ive seen Elders Killpack, Owens, Terry (gilbert byu friend), many other MVT elders, etc..its such a blast.

That plan with the memory card sounds great. I have more pictures so when I get that back Ill send the one I have the next chance I get. (by the way since were flying on a Tuesday, our pday, I dont know if I can write you until the following Monday if that is pday in the mission. well see, maybe I can write letters on the plane if Im not sitting next to someone I need to get baptized). Im sleeping on the top bunk, such a blaast ha. Yes, E. Shurtz was in Helaman in May all year. I have a question what should I do with all the letters/dear elders I get? And if you could send me just a couple MTC pictures thatd be awesome! I love the pictures you sent me and Jackson looks so HUGE! Hes so awesome!

Ste, I loved playing soccer on pday, but my england friend left this morning so i doubt ill play anymore it wont be fun haa so maybe 4 square or beach volleyball now. I dont think ive gained weight, im trying to eat healthy though they dont exactly serve healthy food here all the time. ha. I would love a YC shirt. size large. very exciting thats going on. Sundays are a little more on your own (meaning with comp.) but good. You asked how the weekend went? i answer with the question, there was a weekend? its all a blur here. Ste there are japanese elders from japan going to japan here cuz the japan mtc closed and we wanted them to play soccer so we yelled konishiwa to them from way far away and they totally turned and responded, it was hilarious couldnt help but think of you. I like Take-5 candy bars or mr goodbar i suppose. I dont want to get fat though. OH please be sure to thank Kim and the girls for me for the cookies! please they were loved by all!

So what youve been wanting to hear, perhaps... Ill probably be at the airport anywhere from 6-6:45am (Utah time) and able to call sometime in there between when we get checked in and before we board. Plan for about a 5 minute conversation. ha Im very excited even though it seems like I just left! (i suppose because I did!). But write and confirm you are okay with that. I guess Ill call the house so those there can all hear. Let me know if something other than that would be better. please let me know and keep writing. obviously if you think something wont be here by the time i leave then just send it to the mission home. otherwise keep using dearelder while you can :) haha. i love you all so much and certainly miss you but there is no other place i would want to be than serving the Lord. I know this is a divine work and I am doing my best to make the most of every min. Sorry if i didnt address you directly, i got your mail and emails. love it all but simply no time. please keep writing. i love you.

Love always,

Elder Christensen

Saturday, June 12, 2010

First P-Day in MTC

June 8th, 2010

Hello all, I hope everyone is doing well and is happy. It's Tuesday - P-Day! So I realized I am only allowed to write letters on P-day, and that's not just here but throughout my entire mission. So I'll get 30 mins on the computer for email (hardly anytime to read yours and write back), so I'll put most of what I want to say in hand written letters for now. But ya, I hope you're all doing great. The MTC is pretty awesome. We have personal and companion study, classes (kinda more like class time), teaching appointments, gym somedays and service one day a week. The food is fine - basically what I expected, cafeteria with a few different options each day but really not bad. (I forgot exactly what I wrote before so sorry if I repeat stuff)

But my district is sweet. Definitely has its different personalities. Ha. For example, my other 2 roommates just walked in having bought pocket protectors. One is dead serious about it and loving it, and the other one is wearing it as a complete joke. And, I love Elder Shurtz (fyi: he's from Washington State, about my same size). We've got different personalities, but here that's good. He's totally obedient and wants to do good. Its pretty cool, when we teach he is so sincere.

Anyway, I'm doing well still - basically one week down! I'm getting the hang of everything but definitely still don't know everything going on around here. But since I'm District Leader, everyone asks me stuff that's going on and where to be, what we need to wear (ie some stuff you need a suit coat etc.) and stuff like that. But it's good - I know I'm supposed to be here helping and serving them. I think all my missionary gear stuff is good - at least so far. I've been sleeping well and everything. It's sort of a weird feeling how temporary this place is for me - so I don't want to get too comfortable and settled here, but you want to get certainly enough to get by. I don't have a "favorite class" I guess because we don't really have classes but certainly my favorite teacher (we have 2) is Brother Davis.

I see so many people I know though, it's awesome - other Elders I knew from school and employees (Larry Mecham, Adam Killpack, and some more)/ I love hearing from you all though - so please keep the letters and "Dear-Elders" coming!

I love and miss you all.

Elder Christensen

First MTC Photos

Michael with his companion, Elder Shurtz

The elders in Michael's district, all heading to Utica

Michael, Elder Olea (good friend going to New Mexico), Elder Shurtz

Michael with his roommates

Michael in the classroom with his roommates.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

First Letter

June 4th, 2010

Family -

The MTC is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Wow it is so great here & everything that has been going on is great. My companion is Elder Shurtz (shirts) & he's a straight arrow, works hard, strong testimony, impressive knowledge of the scriptures, etc. Love him. We work great together. I wish I could tell you everything but literally every minute of every day is planned out for us if we are diligently working.
Our district is SO GOOD. There are 10 (2 of which are sisters) & we're all going to Utica! How exciting to know all these people there & its quite rare for that to occur. Seriously they're all trying very hard to grow and learn & really a strong bond between us all has already formed. Last night we met our Branch Presidency and they assigned a District Leader after meeting with each of us. I was chosen. I love serving my District & trying to bring everyone together as we all grow here. It's really awesome.
The best friend I've met here so far is Elder Olea* (THE KID WHO TOOK OUR FAMILY PIC AT THE MTC SIGN!!) So random! He's in our adjacent District so in our Zone and lives 1 room away. Such a great guy. He's a convert to the church, joined after high school and the only member in his family. He has such an amazing story & amazing spirit.
The teachers we have are good (we have 2), especially Elder Davis. He's a RM of 6+ months & is so enthusiastic of the work, it's so encouraging. The food is surprisingly good. I seriously love it here. The first day (Wed.) I was pretty uncomfortable just as everything was so foreign but now it feels so natural (the schedule & everything, not the teaching the gospel aspect -- YET).
But I love and miss all of you and really wish I could tell you everything but so far there really hasn't been the time. P-Day is Tuesday. I get only 30 mins for email so pretty limited, but I can write letters. I love you all and know this is where I am to be.

Elder Christensen

*Note - when our family was taking pictures there was one other elder taking pictures at the MTC Sign. We asked him if he could help us out and take a picture of our whole family. Michael talked with him for a bit and found out his name is Elder Olea, from California and serving in New Mexico. This was the only person Michael met before entering that day - what are the chances they end up being good friends in the MTC!

Monday, June 7, 2010

M.T.C. goes to the MTC

With his family after his amazing farewell address, May 30th.

The bags were packed, and he was SO ready to go!

We took some pictures before he officially entered.

Well, we know he's in there now, BUT we are still waiting to hear from him. We haven't received any emails or letters yet! As soon as we receive his first email we will post it on the blog.