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.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Running 100 mph

Dear Everyone,
Hey, how's it going? I'm glad to hear that everyone's Easter weekend was celebrated in style and of course by honoring our Resurrected Savior. It really is insane that April is essentially over! Thanks so much for the Easter basket; it got to me in time and I was able to open it and such yesterday morning. It's all great and I wore the tie yesterday as well, of course. Yes, I got the letter Mom sent on 4/13 and glad that you made mention you didn't send one this past week in addition to the Easter things because I hadn't received one. We're basically all settled in the new apartment and it is so nice. It may be interesting, though, the mail situation because the owner/dentist has his PO box (my apartment mailing address) checked each working day, and he said he does Saturdays as well but I'm not sure because he's not in the office. So I'm not sure if things arrive on Saturdays here that I'll get them until Monday afternoons when we return after emailing and things. I suppose we'll see; Mom, if sending your letter earlier is possible it may just ensure I get it before I email on Mondays. If not, that's perfectly alright. You can try whatever you'd like this week and we'll see when it gets to me. Our Easter meal at a member's sounded quite similar to most of yours. We had ham, this sweet potato casserole side, rolls, etc. Quite good. That's great those in Mesa went to the Easter Pageant (or the "Easter Egg Pageant" from Ste ;) ). That's so awesome; I'm a little jealous. Ste what you wrote in the Easter card couldn't help but make me laugh. Nice work. I'm excited for that man to be baptized in Florida! And that's great you've been a part of it and will be a part of the baptismal service. Always such a nice Spirit is in attendance there. The Utah weather sounds a little tiresome, sorry about that. Papa, I'm glad you're continuing to have Country Club bacon! I don't need any here; thanks so much though. We can definitely make calling after 3pm our time work. We have Zone Conference tomorrow and I was told President will talk about our calling and stuff there so I'm hoping to find out any "rules" regarding the call. I'll let you know next week. We're looking at what we have already planned next week and after dinner our time will likely be the time (anywhere 6pm-9pm our time). Again, we'll pin-point it next week. There are 12 units in the Albany Stake, Paige, with missionaries in each of the units. We're pretty busy with all of that. Could it be possible to have some stamps sent to me in a letter? I'm running low. Thanks. I'm very glad you got my journal, Mom; hopefully it is as meaningful to you as it is me already. Writing every night certainly has been a challenge but I've remained faithful and true! Ha.

My, what a week it has been. I'll run through it all to give you a sampling taste. Things are really going great in the area and with Elder Potter. It seems like we literally are running 100mph all of the time balancing all of the many things we've got going on. I'm learning and building upon so many valuable lessons and character traits such as patience, teamwork, etc. On Monday we found a new investigator, Bro. Morris. He's a sweet guy in his 30's we tracted into a few weeks before and just stopped by and he let us right in to teach a lesson. I really connect with him well. He's looking for a church already and knows he needs to make God a bigger part of his life. Really excited for him. Tuesday we were running all over from 2 District Meetings training the missionaries there. They went well I feel; we trained on the importance of charity in the work. I feel I got so much out of the training in preparing it and giving it. Without charity, all of the missionaries 'things' we do are just checklist items, really. Something I'm desirous to improve and have been improving. Wednesday we had another District Meeting. Also we found a new investigator. I had a feeling to call a potential investigator we talked to the day before and she was available and desirous to be taught right away. We were right in her area, drove on over, and were able to teach the Restoration. Bro. Pascher is still amazing as ever. He has seen so many blessings in his life recently with all of the changes he's been making. We have his baptismal interview scheduled this Friday! And the service is still planned on May 7. Thursday we taught Sis. Hou. She's still doing quite well. We were able to get her a King James Version of the Bible in Chinese for her which I feel will help her out greatly. She hasn't been using the most ideal translation for teaching hand-in-hand with the Book of Mormon. Friday I was in Utica for ZLC. It was really intense as the meeting started at 9am on Good Friday. The day and essentially the time the Savior was nailed to the cross. We had a great, spirit-filled meeting. Saturday we traveled to 2 different areas for baptismal interviews. I did one for a woman in her late 20's. It was quite the experience; I learned it was most important to be aware of my feelings and the Spirit while interviewing her. She was ready. Easter Sunday was one of the sweetest days ever. I've had my testimony of the divinity and reality of the Resurrected Christ strengthened so much. My eyes have been opened and my understanding enlightened. A sister in the ward gave, what I thought, was one of the best talks I've heard in Sacrament. I'm sure that just had to do with me being more in tune, but nonetheless I thought it was great. One of the points she made was comparing the hype of Christmas to Easter. How celebrating the birth of Jesus is less dependent on faith, while for Him to be resurrected certainly requires faith. To go more into it would do it much more justice but in short all of it was fantastic. This week will be insane. Tomorrow is Zone Conference and we just got the training we're supposed to do for it at ZLC. Our Zone Conference is the first one in the mission; our time to prepare is very minimal. Also, we'll be van-less Wednesday and Thursday as it will be getting repaired. Arrangements for that have been very involved. And finally we need to get our old apartment cleaned and inspected by the 30th. Busy Busy Busy but we're managing it all well and trying to do so in a Christlike way.

I'm so grateful for all that you do for me! Thanks for your support and love. I love you all so much! Have a great week!


Elder Christensen

PS-pictures will come shortly. Thanks for the new card and case. We'll protect these ones. And I got the contacts, thanks so much!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Another move

Dear Everyone,
Hello and greetings from East Greenbush NY Library! It's so funny how many different places I've been (and will be) to email throughout my time on my mission. Well it was great to hear from you all this week - again no worries about last week; you're all just too with it and on the ball. I hope you all had a great week and had fun with the things going on. That's crazy that there are two new missionaries in Ithaca, one from Mtn. View. So crazy. And Elder Hardinger, really tall?, I believe is my brother (meaning Elder Miller trained him up in Malone I believe). That's awesome though. Nana I love your thoughts at the end of your emails and doing so each week will be great, I think that's a wonderful idea. Thanks! Dad, I'm trying to think back at writing in the summer and things, I'm pretty sure I was doing it at Ste's age. Not too clear recalling how old exactly - but I definitely, looking back, think it helped me quite a bit as much as I may have complained at the time. Isn't that always the case, though? Ha, that's just like our Heavenly Father. He asks us do things that we may not like first off or understand why it is that we need to do them but in hindsight we understand more how it was all only for our good. I love that principle. I have yet to receive the letter you sent last week, Mom; it likely was sent (forwarded) to our old apartment in Menands. No worries, though, as we'll be going back to clean it and tie up any lose ends we need to before we hand over the keys at the end of the month. And on that note, I sent my Mother's Day surprise in the mail this morning. Please open it when you get it, and perhaps it will make more sense when you do so. Yay! Speaking of which...we need to figure our particulars in the next while for the phone call (Mom it's whatever you want to do because it's your day). That was great to see pictures from Conference! K, I forgot to ask or mention this before. I might have seen Dad and Ste during Priesthood at Conference. Rewatch the intermediate hymn with all standing and singing and look toward the very end of the song to the left of the "picture-in-picture" box of the conductor and see if that is you two. Maybe I'm way out in leftfield but it's worth looking back. Let me know!
So this week has gone so incredibly fast I can't believe it. E. Potter and I have been trying to teach more lessons and people. We really were busy planning appointments ahead and running from appointment to appointment. It proved to be really beneficial and worth it! We're looking to continue to increase our effectiveness like that this week. This week was full of odds and ends as well which really hindered our time to teach and be out doing the work of the Lord. We had to do reports and make preparations for our Correlation meeting with the Stake Presidency on Thursday night. And as you know we moved this week, which was quite the feat, which soaked up basically all of Friday and Saturday. Tuesday we were able to teach Bro. Pascher who is still as amazing as ever! He's incredibly on track for his baptism on May 7 and he says how excited he is for it! Also, he likes that he's being confirmed on Mother's Day, which is pretty awesome! We taught Sis. Anato, the woman from Africa, again and she is doing quite well. Perfectly understanding English, let alone the Gospel, is a little challenging but she really is humble and receptive to the Spirit. Other great lessons followed that day, too. Wednesday we had a really good lesson with Sis. Hou. We taught how the Bible and the Book of Mormon support each other and shared scriptures with her. It was quite timely as she raised the concern in Revelations 22 (add or subtract to the Bible) and we were able to resolve it really well. Thursday night after our meeting we found a new investigator Bro. Waite. He was a Head Quarter referral who visited temple square. We're excited to teach him but unfortunately he's leaving to Fort Drum (near Carthage, NY?) at the end of the month. We'll be sure to maximize our time with him. Friday, as I mentioned before, was spent packing and everything else that is entailed in a move. It got quite tedious but amidst it all the work of the Lord didn't cease! We received a golden HQ referral for a woman who "has been taught all of the lessons and is ready for baptism." Ha, it was one of those referrals that missionaries always dream you get; and there it was! We're meeting/teaching her Wednesday! Other than that the move Friday was good. Saturday we had help from a couple people in the ward transporting everything. This move experience actually really strengthened my testimony and I'm so grateful for it at this level alone. I know that the organization of the church is so inspired. How people willingly offer service and how it is organized to do so really was humbling and neat - being on the receiving end for maybe the first time, at least for a move. It's awesome. But the new apartment is incredible. It really is so so so nice. I feel like we're in a little home. I'll take pictures once we get everything settled and organized. I love it. Yesterday, Sunday, we kicked off the 40-day missionary fast for the ward. We met after the block and I got up and explained it again and gave the prayer to start it off; this was a great experience, really powerful. We know that great things are going to come with this! This week ahead will likewise be really busy. E. Potter and I are training at the District Meetings and then Friday going to ZLC. Should be great!
I hope you all have a wonderful Easter! President Bulloch's email on this was really awesome today. Here is a piece of it.
It is my hope that this week, which commemorates the last week of the Savior’s mortal life, including His incomprehensible Atoning sacrifice, will be a week of study and reflection that will not only increase your understanding, but also your appreciation of what the Savior has done for each of us. Culminating Easter Sunday, it is the most sacred week in the Christian world, and commemorates the most significant events in history. Each day of this week I invite you to consider what the Savior would have been doing during this last week of his mortal life. Ponder the lessons that can be applied to our work. For example, today is Monday, and on the Monday of the Savior’s last week He cursed the fig tree that was full of leaves, but produced no fruit. It was just a “pretender” (Jesus the Christ, Chapter 30, p. 489) without fulfilling its purpose. Most think it was on Monday that He boldly cleansed the temple for the second time, declaring it to be “[his] house” (Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46). I hope it will be of special interest to consider the events of Thursday. It would have been on that day that the Savior instituted the Sacrament, taught several magnificent lessons, and went to Gethsemane. What an appropriate day to “declare repentance” (DC 15:6). A fitting day to “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him… And how great is his [the Savior’s] joy in the soul that repenteth!” (DC 18:10-13) It would be appropriate to spend some time in your morning study to consider the events listed on page 694-695 of the Bible Dictionary. As you begin your companionship study on Friday morning, reflect on the fact that it was approximately 9:00 a.m. that the Savior was nailed to the cross (Mark 15:25). If the days seem long to you sometimes, take into consideration that it was not until 3:00 p.m. that the Savior cried out, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Mark 15:34) It would have been some time after that time that He died. And what was He doing on Saturday? He went to the Spirit World where He “organized his forces and appointed messengers, clothed with power and authority, and commissioned them to go forth and carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness, even to all the spirits of men; and thus was the gospel preached to the dead” (DC 138:30). He was continuing His missionary labors! Then, on that beautiful spring morning, His resurrection broke the bands of death. I invite you to look around as spring bears witness of the newness of life made possible by the Savior’s victory over death. What a great time of year! What a great week this is! May it be a week of reflection, of contemplation, and of dedication for each of you.
I love my Savior and am eager to reflect on the reality of his life, ministry, and mission. I'm blessed to serve as a minister of him (Minister in the Bible Dictionary was a gem I found this week).
I love you so much and thank you for your support.
Love always,
Elder Christensen

Monday, April 11, 2011

"Fake it till you make it"

Dear everyone,
Surprise! I am emailing (having Pday) on Monday this week (week 6 in the transfer) instead of Tuesday because Elder Potter and I are staying here in Albany and aren't affected by the transfer. We can take Pday on the Monday like the norm if it works better with your schedule and routine, so here we are. If you didn't email me because you were anticipating my email tomorrow that's quite alright, no worries. Perhaps you can just assume Pday is on every Monday and if it's a transfer week and if myself or my companion is getting transferred we'll just email the next day on Tuesday. Well I hope you all have had a great week. I can't believe Utah keeps getting snow, that is crazy! And great to hear that Drue had that experience playing violin. I meant to comment last week how special that is that Sarah had the opportunity to meet President Monson in the Temple! I can't believe that. It was awesome to hear some of the insights into Jean's talk! I had some cool experiences with Xiamin, our investigator, telling us how that is the talk that meant the most to her; as well as our gospel principles teacher at church yesterday saying how that talk was the answer to a question he had as he's raising a young family. It's really such a cool situation. And C. Scott Grow of the Seventy who also spoke this Conference is who came to our All Mission Conference in October. It was great to hear him speak. So as you may know we are moving this week to our new apartment in East Greenbush. So Mom, it'd be best to not send anything to this apartment in Menands this week, thanks. As far as things go for the next package you send, I don't have any requests or needs that I can think of now other than those mentioned in the letter I got this week. Thanks! Papa and Nana thanks for the package! It got to me safe and sound, I really appreciate it!
So this week has been a good one and there certainly hasn't been a dull moment. There definitely has been some 'downer' moments, but looking back all of the positive experiences really outweigh any of the bad. Monday night we had an interesting experience. The night before (last Sunday night) in our planning session E. Potter and I felt like trying by a less-active family that we didn't know. We ended up doing so a little after 8pm on Monday night. Long story short, the wife came out and spoke with us for an hour really openly about her situation with her family (all of this in the rain, mind you). And she told us how that night at 3am she prayed sincerely for help with this and knew that we'd come. It was incredible - especially thinking about how we received the revelation the Sunday night around 9:15pm to see her when her prayer for help wasn't until 3am some hours later. The Lord is so mindful of all of us and even knows our needs and can begin answering our prayers before we even pronounce them. Unfortunately, we won't be able to teach her and her family with the family situation she told us about, but it was a really neat experience nonetheless. Tuesday was a very interesting day, wow. The day was filled with awesome appointments and members coming out to teach with us at 3 different occasions. I was on exchange with an Elder serving in Greenville here in Albany and it turned out to be a bit of a rough day. 2 of our appointments with members fell through or bailed on us right then when the member had already made the effort to come out, which was tough. But on top of it we had an incident with the van. We had to back up about 5 feet to get around a parked car in front of us so I had this companion get out of the van to back me up (trying to be obedient). Since it was such a little bit we had to back he left the passenger door open and directed me to go. So, foolishly, I did and ended up bumping into a little garden bed type thing on the sidewalk that prohibited the door from moving with the car. We weren't going fast but when I became aware I pulled forward quickly and examined it and didn't think there was much damage. Until the next time he opened that door we found that it was a bit of a problem. In summary after talking with the mission office and getting estimates and things for the repairs it's going to be about $700 and we'll likely be 3 days without our van. I feel great. I'm not sure exactly what will happen - I think the church pays for it as they have with other car repairs in the past but I'm not sure if driving privileges for me or that companion will be affected or what. We're still waiting to hear back from the mission office. But it's all good and I've moved on (other than being ready to accept any ramifications that come). Wednesday E. Potter and I went and worked with the Elders in Hudson. We had a great time getting a lot done and I was able to work with E. Smidt who was in the MTC with me which was really awesome. He's a good guy. That night back in Albany we taught the Pagans - they loved Conference and are doing great. Thursday night proved really awesome. Our split cancelled so we stopped by a less-active and part-member family. The wife is a convert/member from back in her teen years and hasn't been since she was 17 (she's in her early 30's now). Her husband and kids are all nonmembers. Due to recent things in their lives they're looking for a church and faith to lean on. We have an appointment with them tomorrow and they're committed to come to church this Sunday! It's really exciting. Friday we spent the morning and boxing things up for the move and such. Then that night we had a really funny experience. When I was away in Downtown Albany the week before E. Potter set an appointment with a less-active family that we didn't know for this past Friday night. So we go. The house is a duplex. It turns out that they had knocked on the wrong door but the man who lives in the non-less active house is also named Chris, the name of the less-active member. Anyway, we get in a talk with Chris for about 10 minutes until we realize he isn't a member and was just nice enough to invite us in and listen to what we had to say! We proceed to teach the Restoration and totally act like we knew what was going on the whole time! Ha. Fake it 'til you make it. He's really eager to read and pray about the Book of Mormon! It was quite funny and there are great surrounding details I'll be sure to share later. Saturday we taught Xiamin. She's committed to read the Book of Mormon finally, which is great; but she is attending a Chinese nondenominational Bible class on Sundays now that keep her from church. We'll work on it. Sunday we saw a less-active family, the Santana's and taught the first half of the Restoration. It was really great and they're going to be coming back! Also, we organized a 40-day fast in our ward for missionary work starting next Sunday that we're excited about! That's been in the works for a while and it's finally happening which is awesome! A great week is ahead filled with work and a move! Should be a good one!
I send you my love and hope you have a great week!
Elder Christensen

Monday, April 4, 2011

I love Conference so much

Dear everyone,

I don't know what is much better than the incredible Spirit of learning, revelation, and unity that is had during General Conference. My goodness what a great opportunity that was to listen to the inspired words of our beloved prophet, other church leaders, and of course Jean! Perhaps I'll go through my week and allow Conference to serve as the finale. I hope everyone had a great week and traveled safely, those who traveled. It's great to hear from all of you! This week has been a great one for me too, I can't believe it is over! April showers seem to truly be upon us this morning; I love the rain, and especially when it's thundering (it can be a little tedious trying to keep pass-along cards dry and copies of the Book of Mormon, but it's great). Essentially all of the snow is melted which is awesome. And guess what? Hilarious, walking out to our van one morning I see a really dirty and crusty old glove by a pile of snow that had been melted (all pushed to a common place from the parking lot), and it happened to be my missing black glove that was lost! Ha, it needed to be washed and such but it was a funny little surprise to turn up once the snow had melted. I didn't plan on finishing the Book of Mormon on that special day at all; in fact, I only remembered the significance of the day that night. It was a really cool experience, though, that I'm sure I won't forget. That's awesome the Arizona family did lesson 2 in Preach My Gospel - Ste, know that even though I've heard it and taught it many, many times I still study it each week and learn new things, pretty sweet ;). That's great Ste did so awesome pitching at his baseball game, way to go. Paige, your missionary experience is so awesome! I absolutely know the incredible feeling you get when you have a successful encounter sharing the gospel with someone and testifying about how much it's blessed you. Way to go. E. Potter served in Owego and I mentioned it to him and he's really excited, ha. Tyler, I hope you have an awesome time in Georgia this weekend - I appreciate the offer but I don't think I need anything from Augusta right now. Perhaps a rain check? Ha, I'm glad the family was able to get together in Salt Lake for Conference and all of its festivities. Hope all there had a great time and enjoyed the fun and Spirit.
This week has flown. It's crazy all that has happened and great to be healthy and able to get out and do things all week. Last Monday E. Potter and I actually did something fun and to relieve ourselves and went to the church and played some ping pong and basketball and such for about an hour. It was a good day. Tuesday was incredible. We taught Bro. Pascher the Word of Wisdom and it was so, so cool. After going through it all and answering great questions about it we invited him to live it. Realizing the significance of it and the true commitment of it he paused and seriously pondered on it all. We answered again what it all entailed and what it meant and he got up and started gathering together all of his contraband. He willingly, though it was difficult, passed over his tea, coffee and tobacco and committed to live the Word of Wisdom. It was so neat, the Spirit was working so strongly on him of the truthfulness of it all. We then gave him a blessing after, which only invited the Spirit more. What a memorable lesson and experience! After for the rest of Tuesday I was on exchange with an E. McCleve here in Albany. We had some cool things happen and ran into some prepared people willing to learn more. That day we found a guy missionaries had talked to not too long ago but fell threw the cracks, he reminds me of Paris Thomas (on; mainly physical appearance and demeanor not background) a lot; we directed him to watch that video and are eager to teach him this week. Wednesday morning, still with E. McCleve, we went by a less-active who we found out had moved but an awesome 20 year old guy was there who is eager to change his life after overcoming some serious addictions - we directed him to Valentin Pavia on Awesome; coolest part is I had a feeling we needed to find someone that morning who was prepared, through prayer and planing and things, and it definitely happened. We're excited to teach him this week, too. We switched back and E. Potter and I taught a woman from Africa named Yawa. She's really humble and hasn't been here for very long but is excited to learn more how she can strengthen her faith and family she's starting. Thursday we taught the Pagan family (LA), they're doing really good and will be coming back soon. Friday we were anticipating 1-2 feet of snow from the weather man; it proved to be a great April-fool's joke (not seriously planned but it worked out that way, ha). We taught Bro. Kerius at the university again, it went well. (The unfortunate update on him now, though, having just got off the phone with him prior to getting on the computer is that he wants to take a break and study things out on his own for at least a year. It's a bummer, but we're looking forward with an eye of faith). Then, I went on exchange to Downtown Albany with a missionary who's this is his 2nd transfer. It was fun and different to be there and walking around talking to everyone, or almost everyone. His name is E. Ferguson and turns out he knocked on my door at BYU looking for my next door neighbor and I directed him there, ha. It was a puzzle to fit together but we realized it all and couldn't believe it.

General Conference was incredible! Jean did amazingly! It was such a cool experience to know that we were all listening to her and some were actually there experiencing it that way and others watching it in our respective locations all around. So so cool. Conference really does just bring us all together. It's always really hard for me to decide on a favorite talk but there were many principles that were recurring that stood out to me. I really found the comfort and answers to those things that were on my mind or that I was looking for. I know the Spirit is able to give that portion which shall be meted unto every man as we are humble and receptive to it. The principle that we will be happiest when we follow Christ was reiterated and rang very true in my head. I can testify that I know this is true, especially experiencing mission life where that is entirely my focus and the focus I have for others. On that note, serving and caring for others really is one that proved to 'correct' me well. I'm eager to help others and put their needs and concerns above my own: be it my companion, investigators, members and nonmembers alike, and the missionaries I serve. I love Conference so much and am eager to ponder on the messages and the Spirit of it all (or as E. Holland said to ponder on what Conference itself is, specially how it brings us all together). It's great and I'm excited for everything ahead!
I hope you all have a great week and take the strength from Conference into your lives forward. I know that Conference blessed/es our family and that especially as we heed the words given we will only be more blessed. I love you all so much and thank you for your examples of faith and love!
Elder Christensen