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, March 28, 2011

All is well in Zion

Dear everyone,

Hello there and greetings from chilly Albany! It's a beautiful sunny day today and temperatures in the mid-30's. Spring can come any time; everyone talks about how this has been the worst winter in 20+ years, crazy! It's been alright. Sorry about the email technical problems last week. That's not cool, but good thing you could get in and check it out. That's great that the contacts got there. I'll let you know when I need them but that is a year supply (each box lasts 3 months/90days). So, if you could send one of each in the next package that'd be great! And because we are moving on the 15th of April, don't send anything until the week of the 18th. Thanks! And again, please send everything to the mission office address (only exception being Mom's letter; thanks). That's a bummmmer about the memory card; yeah, they have clear plastic cases we can put them in. I've been thinking about that but never did anything about it. Dang. Oh well, all is well in Zion. You'll all just have to come here sometime after I'm back to see everything. I'm so excited for Conference! My goodness! I'm pretty jealous you get to go and the VIP hookups aren't bad either. It will be such an awesome experience!
So this week of work has been well. There isn't really too much to report, unfortunately, because I was sick two days with a stomach bug. Last Monday I didn't feel good and tried going out to our appointments anyway. I made it through dinner but didn't feel so hot. We then had two more teaching appointments after that, and they ended up both cancelling and falling through so it was just simply meant to be for me to go in. So we headed in for the night. I took a bath, chilled for a little then went to bed early. I woke up feeling a bit better Tuesday and went about the normal morning routine. After our District Meeting we taught Xiamin Hou with a member. It went alright but we think her uncle may have anti-'d her a bit when she was back in China for a month (before we met her but after meeting with the missionaries a little). She's doing good though and have been praying and fasting for her so we know it'll all continue going great. After, the Assistants came and blitzed us (E. Johnson who I was in the 3-some with in Albany first, and his companion who served in Albany right before E. Boyakin). Not much happened that night, and I still didn't feel great. That night I threw up a few times and was up basically from 3 on. I learned my lesson from Monday to just take it easy and we stayed in all day (other than going to the gas station on the corner to get a ginger ale in the middle of the day, ha). So Wednesday was a wash. Thursday we taught Bro. Kerius (Dennis) at U of Albany. We had a good lesson talking about the difference in spiritual things and academic things; and how the things of God are discerned spiritually, etc. It was good. Friday I went on exchange with the elders in Schenectady and I worked there with an E. Duffin. He's a great missionary, E. Stratton's MTC companion. We had a great time working together and teaching. It is a walk area so it was fun to be back in that kind of realm. Saturday we taught Bro. Pascher (they taught him Friday, too, when I was away; we had to reschedule from Wednesday when I was sick). It was a really good lesson on the 2nd half of the Plan of Salvation. He said he was going through a rough spot in the morning and was tempted to call and cancel on us...but he decided not to and he talked about after the lesson how he really felt lifted and better. So cool! He's doing incredibly! I forgot if I mentioned last week, he just stopped smoking on his own because he knows he'll have to. We're going to teach him the Word of Wisdom tomorrow, but he's so great! Yesterday was a good Sunday. Workwise, though it was kind of a pain we had to get numbers for the month of March from everyone and it ended up being more involved and difficult than it has in the past. It's all good though, we were able to schedule some really great things this week! It's already packed! We're going on 2 exchanges this week too; I'll stay here for the first Tuesday to Wednesday, and I'll go work in downtown Albany for the other Friday to Saturday morning. I had a really neat experience this week I'll mention real quick. In the MTC I started reading (but really studying) the Book of Mormon. I finally finished on Saturday morning, March 26. That day marked the 181th Anniversary of the Book of Mormon (publication) to the day! It was awesome; and, sadly, I realized it was really the first time I can recall really reading and studying it cover to cover out of my own desires and interest driving the action. I know it is true.
I hope you all have a great week and have a wonderful time enjoying Conference. I feel so connected to you all through Conference; so know, as we bask in the words of our inspired leaders, I'll be thinking of you greatly! I love you all so much and appreciate so much all that you do! Thank you Thank you.

Love always,
Elder Christensen

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Great things on the horizon

Dear everyone,

Hey there how's it going? Yesterday was the first day of spring and it was so nice! This morning we woke up to slushy snow falling from the ground, hip hip hooray! I hope Orlando was a great time for all those who were there! It sounds like it was from the very little I heard. Hopefully you are all good and busy having fun together and getting ready to leave. Glad the weather was awesome and all the Disney parks were fun! Fyi, I just ordered my contacts from Wal Mart and sent them direct to Norcroft Street. They should be there in 3-5ish days. I had to use my debit card, thankfully I had enough money on it. Mom, would you please look into that; and put the amount of money back on my debit card I spent so that I have enough if anything else like that happens? Thanks so much, let me know what you find out and what you do.
This week has been a great week, my goodness. We've been so blessed it is unreal. I knew that great things were on the horizon and they certainly are coming to pass. Monday was good; had dinner at a recent convert's home. Later we taught my psychology TA and his wife the Restoration lesson - we're doing a program type thing with them that we came up with to get member referrals - and had pie on pi day. Tuesday was a great day! We had District Meeting in the morning with President and Sister Bulloch in attendance and giving our training. They're so awesome. That morning we received a Head Quarter referral for a man who lives in Cohoes. Funny enough, the night before that is the exact area we were planning on working that afternoon and day. We called him right after District Meeting and he told us how we could see him right away! We went right away and taught him! Other details aside, he is such a prepared guy! He recently has gone through a really rough time and knows God has humbled him and that he needs to turn to Him because he can't do it on his own. He met with missionaries before but wasn't really committed to do anything and hadn't even accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon. This time, he says and has already demonstrated, he's fully committed and willing to act. It's really funny and needs to be made mention that right where he lives is an area in Cohoes that we had worked a handful of times in the past weeks. (Even when I was here the first time). We had parked our car literally right in front of his house, even. We kept going back there with not too much happening but it just seemed to be where we went. Turns out he saw us outside walking/working; called SLC and spoke with sister missionaries there and referred himself. So, so sweet. More on how awesome he, Brother Pascher, is in a bit. Wednesday we went and checked out our new apartment we'll be moving into. It's quite nice and the move should not be too difficult, I hope. Later we saw Xiamin Hou and her husband. He's not too interested at the time being but we know that will change as Sis. Hou learns more and more. She's doing great. She's really interested in the Bible, which was her original interest and request, which is good but we're eager to get her reading the Book of Mormon. That night we were saying a closing prayer after a lesson with a Less-active family and I felt impressed that we should call Bro. Pascher. We did so after and he was so grateful that we had. I don't know why really it was so needful but it was just a really simple, neat experience we had. Thursday morning a unique thing we did is go into the Family History Center in our church building and got some information on the services there and family history in general. We learned quite a bit and look forward to using this valuable resource in finding more people to teach. Friday morning we taught Dennis at U Albany. It went good, he's really "academic" about everything but we're continuing to help him. After that we went on exchange with the Elders in Greenwich, I went there (yes, the skunk place; I've been there quite a few times now). I had worked with the elder before, too, but we had some really awesome things happen: ie, tracting into two guys who invited us in and we taught, tracted into a guy who invited us in tried bashing us hard so we left, and a lesson with a less-active who wants to come back and is so grateful we saw him when we did. Saturday was maybe one of the coolest days I've had out here! We switched back in the morning and E. Potter and I then went to a baptismal service of a guy we interviewed last week taught by the elders in downtown Albany. We were expecting investigators there but they didn't show, it was still a great, spiritual experience. After we did some service and painted a room in a less-active's apartment; it was really fun and hopefully will allow us to teach. We then taught an exclusive Spanish speaking woman. We (I) set up an appointment with her last week and Saturday evening we went over with a member who speaks Spanish. It was cool except she turned out to be pretty argumentative and a strong pentecostal. We have another appointment with her this Saturday, we'll see what happens. Then we taught a part-member family. After we taught Bro. Pascher, the awesome guy, with a member we chose to be his primary fellowshipper. We planned to teach lesson 2, Plan of Salvation, but changed mid-course to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as he was talking about his desire to be forgiven of his sins, etc. Such a powerful lesson; we set him with a baptismal date of May 7! He knows all that he'll need to do to get there and is totally willing to do it. He came to church yesterday and stayed for a baptismal service afterward of an 8 year-old. It was really awesome. Two other really great things happened yesterday too. First I gave a blessing to a member and it was really powerful; second, we had a simple prayer answered last night trying to find someone to come teaching with us Tuesday. E. Potter and I both prayed after trying for a while with no luck and right when we finished the phone rang with one we called willing to do it now. Really awesome; prayers are answered.
I love you all so much and appreciate everything you do for me! Have a great week and I look forward to hearing from you all!
Elder Christensen

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring is trying to peek its way out

Dear Everyone,
Happy pi day! How's it going with everyone? Here we are on another Monday emailing; it really is pretty crazy how fast time is going and everything, weeks do fly by. This week was incredibly fast. Spring is trying to peek its way out but winter this year is hanging on tough. Finally some rain and warmer temperatures melted a lot of the snow and we see grass for a change, but it's been snowing today since we've been out - luckily it's not sticking. So, we're looking to probably move mid-April. We don't know much more than that; we are going on Wednesday to check it out and see how big of an endeavor this will be to move. Elder Potter is from Coleville, Utah. I had never heard of it but some people out here have; it's about 20ish minutes east of Park City. He has the best, slightest farm drawl accent. I love it. We're saying stuff like "Da-gum" and such, it's great. That's awesome you have been studying Preach My Gospel in Arizona. You can do so much with it as 'everyday' members of the church. I sent a package home today with my extra sheets and some other stuff I don't use and old letters. I know you're in Florida but perhaps tell whoever is getting our mail to look out for that. Thanks. I don't know the new address to the apartment we'll be going into but everything should be sent to the mission office anyway. Thanks so much for the package though, it got to me last Monday and everything in it was fantastic! I love you all so much and really know that you care for me greatly. That's awesome about the Huffs, Paige and Ben, E. Potter knows them and says that's so crazy! ha.
So this week has been a busy and crazy week. It seems like we are always running around with things we need to get done, from the normal missionary items to zone leader items, etc. Last Monday was a good day we taught a part-member family/couple. Gretchen is the woman's name, like mid 20's, and she is the investigator. They're awesome the guy, Uyi, is from Africa. They're involved in a burdensome court case right now that is really time consuming but we are seeing some progress which is great. Tuesday we gave 2 trainings at District Meetings. The focus right now is finding and how we need to talk with everyone and how we can use various sources to find new people. We've really been applying it ourselves and have had several neat experiences talking with people in the gas station, oil change place, family history center, etc. In fact, yeah; we were finishing up a report on the computer at the family history center in our building and a woman was in there we talked to who is really interested in the church and wants to learn about it and join. Her daughter is in the hospital now so we weren't able to teach this past week but likely this week we will! Wednesday the highlight is that we taught a less-active family named the Pagans, ha. They're so sweet and totally coming back! We're really excited for them. Thursday we had a Stake Correlation meeting talking about numbers and things in the stake (our zone). President Bulloch came and it was good. Afterward, though, we had to teach him a 10-15 minute lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It went fairly well; and he gave us great feedback we can apply. Following I had my interview with him; it was really quick but good. Friday we taught Dennis at the University at Albany in a study room in the library. It reminds me totally of BYU when I'm there it's weird, but cool. He's doing good. And guess what? He expressed how his wife has voiced interest in the 3 kingdoms of glory that she saw in a pamphlet we gave him! How sweet; he's been not so much letting us teach at his house or her so far but it looks like that will change shortly! We had him watch the Plan of Happiness DVD at home with her and he said they both really enjoyed it and want to see it again! Saturday was a great day. E. Potter did a baptismal interview of a sweet guy in Downtown Albany. I'll probably be doing one in the future, kind of crazy to think about. We flipped a coin who would do this past one, ha. Anyway, had another cool experience with meeting/seeing people out here with ties. We had dinner at a young couple's Saturday night and the husband had always looked way familiar. I asked him where he was from and stuff when I first got here but nothing sparked. In talking with them at dinner turns out he was one of my TA's for my psychology class at BYU fall semester, totally remember the guy. It's so funny and such a small world. They are great, recently had moved here, and will help us out a lot. We found a new investigator that night, a former/part member. She's in her 20's, lives with her aunt who is a member, and wants to be baptized. Her name is Myda. That was exciting. Yesterday we had 4 investigators at church! I haven't seen anything like that here since I've been here. Gretchen, Dennis, and Xiamin and Hong came! Everyone had a really uplifting experience, it was ward conference. Really good. We have a bunch of appointments set up for this week and we are optimistic for the future! I know that great things are about to happen here. I'm all settled and comfortable, especially more so with the ward which has been good and is really important. They are going to help us out quite a bit.
Well thanks so much for everything that you do for me! Really I love you all so much and hope life is great where ever you may be...Utah, Arizona, Florida, New York, etc. I hope you have a great week and continue being such a great strength to me! If there is anything I can do for anyone please don't hesitate to let me know! Thanks, I love you!

Elder Christensen

Monday, March 7, 2011

Great being back in Albany

Andrew and Lauren

Dear everyone,

Hey there, how's it going? Last time I was sitting at these computers in the library in Albany I got the call from President about going back to Saratoga, and now here I am again! Crazy. Sounds like everyone had a really good week. I, too, had a really good week. Yes, the weather is somewhat ridiculous. I can't believe there was 15 inches in Ithaca, that is way worse than what we had/ve. Yesterday it was raining all day and this morning we woke up to snow but our van was a solid sheet of ice. Ha, it was crazy. I'm sorry to hear about Jackson bumping his head like that. Hope he's doing better now though and walking all over the place like he has been! So exciting. I can't believe it is already Spring Break either and that you guys are going to Orlando! That will be such a great time, can't wait to hear about it. Way to go Ste in your basketball game, glad you won. And awesome to be on TV! As always it is great to hear from Papa and Nana; hopefully the rain isn't too bothersome and spring is in the air for you guys. Thanks so much for your weekly updates. I haven't received a package yet but I suppose I have something to look forward to when we get back to the apartment today! Thanks. Yeah, E. Potter and I are in the apartment where I was before. It's been great we get along great, work hard, and are doing our best balancing all of our duties and responsibilities as missionaries and as leaders. It's going great. Interestingly enough, though, we found out when we were in Utica on Friday for Zone Leader Council that we are going to be moving to a new apartment. A member here offered a place free of charge over his dental practice where he used to live while his house was being built. The church couldn't turn it down. We've heard it's quite nice so it should be good...basically fully furnished, etc. Only downsides are it isn't as centrally located in our area as our current apartment (or as close to the church which helps us out a lot) and the hassle of moving but spirits are high about it all. Anyway, that was really big and surprising news! Yeah, we do get fed basically every night which is quite nice. It's really funny that Dad asked what we had for dinner last night, I can't wait to share in a bit.

So, my past week was really good. Tuesday after I had the joy of packing (again...) E. Stratton and I went to Wal Mart with Bro Badger. We didn't have a dinner appointment that night so on the way home that topic of conversation happened to come up and he took us out to Wings Over Saratoga and we ate back with the family. I love them so much. We taught Andrew and Lauren that night. They are really, really smart and it's quite fun and always interesting teaching them. Andrew finished the Book of Mormon, Lauren is quite a bit into it. It seems they are a little reluctant to fully dive in it all because of the many and seemingly difficult changes in their lives. They'll come around. Wednesday we basically had a normal work day until E. Potter came with E. Shurtz to do the swap at about 6:00 pm. E. Stratton and I taught some people that day, including the Whitmans who I hadn't seen the whole time I was back because his father is in the hospital in serious condition. It's been great being back in Albany though; it's awesome to know people and remember names of ward members, etc. Thursday was great, nothing too momentous. Friday in Utica at ZLC and we taught an awesome lesson with a young woman in elementary education we tracted into when I was here before! She's awesome and we're excited for the future with her. That night, too, we taught a family we are reactivating, great stuff. Saturday was good. I wish I could share everything but Sunday night we had dinner at the Ward Mission Leader's house, a Chinese family. And we had it set up with two investigators over there, Xiamin and Hong. They're incredible! They had been back in China for over a month and E. Potter and I had never met them before. Xiamin asked for a Bible awhile back and is interested in that. She's committed to church this Sunday! The future is bright and I can't wait to see this area explode!

I love you all so much! Thank you so much for all of the support and strength you give me!

Elder Christensen

PS- Phil Brewer was baptized and confirmed this weekend! I wasn't able to go but it wasn't what was important! Love that guy and am so grateful for the lessons he helped me learn; and also obviously grateful for the help we were able to give in his life! I got him a white button down shirt (his size) before I left to congratulate him figuring I wouldn't be able to go.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Back to Albany

Dear everyone,

Hey there! How's it going? It's wonderful to hear from you all. Sounds like the St. George trip was a success and a great get away for the female crew. Thanks a lot for the letter, Mom, especially as you did it even though it may have been a little harder on a trip. Be sure to let all those who wrote those notes how much I appreciate them, they were great. That is really lame to hear about the memory card; I don't know what the deal has been with them, why they are malfunctioning and such but thank goodness you were able to get all of the pictures off and on the computer. I cannot believe that Stephanie Gifford is coming to this mission! That is totally crazy! Good for her! I'm sure we'll be seeing each other around and things, wow. It's so interesting to hear where people from back home are and what they're doing with their lives...whether they decide to serve a mission like that or whether they're married, etc. Ha, I totally forget about all of that until it's mentioned. That's so ironic Papa asked why it is that we are called Elders. Recently people (who we contact out here) have been asking that same question even more so than typical it seems. What we tell people, quite simply, is that it is a title for teacher and that seems to satisfy. A little bit deeper and personal meaning, though, I am aware of is that Elder also means 'defender of the faith.' I wish I had the time to expound on that, but I don't. It's so funny how many people try and give us grief because we aren't 'old' and our name tag says Elder.
But, to perhaps ease the troubled or curious minds, I'll be going back to Albany and serving with Elder Potter! I'm stoked, I love that guy. And check this out, Elder Stratton will be staying here and serving with Elder Shurtz, my MTC companion! How sweet is that! So it's great to know that there will be 2 solid missionaries here to continue the work that is going on, and there is so much that is going on.

This week really was wonderful. Looking back on my experiences during my reunion in Saratoga Springs, I am so grateful for it all. I know that this was needed for so many reasons. Forever will Saratoga Springs have a tender spot in my heart. I love it here. I love everything about it. Leaving so quickly the first time and so unexpected it really made it interesting; I don't want to say I was bitter but not being able to say goodbye and leave on a little more 'normal' terms almost seemed that it didn't leave a great taste in my mouth. Coming back since then has definitely changed that as I have been able to mentally and literally be more gradual in my departure. There are many many reasons why, for me, this has been what was needed. There are so many more reasons for others that this has been best, too. For certain investigators, less-active members, active members, and especially Elder Stratton I know that my short time here has been positive. In short, I've learned so much through this all and am so grateful for the experiences I've had. I'll quickly try and give a run-down of this past week. Tuesday at our service at the soup kitchen we give a man had a seizure or heart attack and it was kind of scary and I got to hold a big trash can while he was vomiting and things, that was noteworthy. After that, E. Stratton and I presented a training at District Meeting that went really well on receiving revelation through church attendance (how to teach this more effectively). After that, we had an interesting appointment. We went to Brother Swetish's who is in the Navy, all set for baptism, to go over the baptismal interview questions for the next day. Right when we got there he told us how he had been not entirely obeying the Word of Wisdom and felt awful, etc. It was a total shock but we did our best to handle it well and just show him an increase of love. It ended up really well and we taught the word of wisdom and he's committed and wants to live it and be baptized and do it all properly. Really neat experience there, which I could mention more. We saw him (and his member-wife) 2 more times after that and talked about repentance and then went over the baptismal questions. He's very humble and wants it to be done right. So cool, he's ready and will have his interview this Thursday. Wednesday was full of appointments that fell through. Thursday we tracted into a lady, it was pretty cool. Walking up to the door I said we should do a family history approach (pretty random, as we don't do that too too often). We do, and she busts out Titus 3:9 (though she didn't know the verse) and it wasn't how we expected she would react but we resolved her concern and she ended up inviting us in! Ha, and we taught about the Book of Mormon. Friday, huge snow storm. Phil Brewer had his baptismal interview and passed! Holy moly! He will be baptized this Saturday. I don't think I'll be able to attend but that's perfectly alright, really really neat experiences with him in my time back in Saratoga. Sunday I'll just mention I actually got the Book of Mormon all of our testimonies and picture is in that I had given to a member to give to a lady he worked with who came to church. It didn't really work out with her. So I have that special Book of Mormon again and look forward to being able to give it to someone special. Pretty neat. Yesterday was rainy in the morning but it didn't stop us from working. Had some appointments and said a couple goodbye's. Well, I'm really looking forward to what the future has in store in Albany! I know that this work is so divinely guided. We need to trust wholly in the Lord and that he knows what is best. I'm certainly trying to improve.

Well I hope you all have a wonderful week filled with great experiences and the Spirit. Thanks so much for all the support!

Elder Christensen


1.Bus driver patrick, love this guy (taken today)
2.The swetish's
3.Phil brewer (right), sandra larney, alden trimble

We'll see Andrew and Lauren tonight. They came to church. Cool insights Paige, thanks.
Rachel, got your email! Thanks so much!!