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, May 31, 2011

Crazy amazing week!

Michael's Albany District

The special "wide margin" Book of Mormon

Word of Wisdom Discussion

New Apartment
Hey everyone,

This email may be coming as a surprise because of the time it is being surprise! Yes, the libraries were closed yesterday due to Memorial Day and we've been crazy busy today so I just have a few minutes to write you guys. That's so crazy that Stephanie Gifford gave her farewell talk. I thought about that how a year ago last Sunday was my farewell; the thought came about because of my speaking in church that same Sunday as well and how it had been a year. My talk went well, I only had 10 minutes but I talked about the blessings of the 40-day fast for missionary experiences as we were closing the fast that day. That's awesome that Papa got a par on #18 - very impressive! All of the Zone Leaders in our mission are companions with another Zone Leader, so E. Lyman and I are both. I really like it. E. Shrader is, in fact, here in Downtown Albany - saw him today at our District Meeting. So funny he came from being around the Ithaca crew to right here by me. It's so fun. By the way, what is your new address going to be in Ithaca? Could you please send a copy of the picture of me and the darker, Hispanic man? That is the guy I taught in Downtown in Spanish and he really wants a copy of that picture (the DTown Elders keep telling me he wants one for memories, ha). Thanks.

Of all the weeks to be limited on time I can't believe it is this week! I will bullet point all of the events and just bare with me as I try and give you a sampling of this crazy week.

TUE - driving down to Hudson's area to help transporting missionaries, the van makes this awful high-pitched squeek. We're in the middle of nowhere and decide we need to pull over next chance we get. 10 seconds later there is an auto body shop. We get home way late and end up having 5 missionaries at our apartment due to the circumstances.

WED - I worked in Downtown Albany for the day while others went into Utica for transfers. We got in touch with the auto shop after they looked at the van that morning and they reported that nothing was wrong, they drove it around and it was good to go. Ha, crazy. So we got a member to go pick it up. E. Lyman arrives, great stuff. That night I teach Yolanda and Tino (Spanish couple) again. They are incredible!

THUR - Good day with E. Lyman in Albany. On splits I taught Bro. Morris and set him with a date for baptism! Awesome!

FRI - ZLC in Utica.

SAT - Most amazing less-active lesson with a 30ish year old guy. Most sincere prayer I've heard in a long time, so awesome! He wants to come back and is.

SUN - Amazing DAY! Spoke at church, closed 40-day fast. We (or I) set Yolanda and Tino with a date for baptism! A lady called us wanting us to visit. We do and she's the most prepared person ever. From Africa, been here 2 weeks. Lives in apartments where we used to live (interesting). Set her with a date! Most amazing lesson E. Lyman has had on his mission he says. It was really powerful! Driving home from that for the night a deer ran right in front of us (on a pretty urban freeway) and we smashed it. E. Lyman was driving. The van is again jacked. Luckily it's drivable and we'll have it this week and have something figured out next week. The van is cursed.

MON - good pday. We played tennis. Such a blast.

I'm going to teach Bro. Morris tonight on splits really soon should be a great time! I love you all so much and I am so grateful for all that you do. It really is incredible that I am hitting my year mark. I can't believe it. Time is flying.

Love always,
Elder Christensen

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Michael turns 20

Hey everyone,

It is great to hear from you all again and I'm so glad that you all had a great week. By the sounds of it, it seems like everyone had a pretty eventful week. I'm glad the trip to Philly was a success and that you were able to go to some good restaurants. Sorry, Ithaca, if you were saying you don't have Chipotle or Cheescake factory around you, because we definitely have those here in Albany. We have a lot of really good restaurants around. That's awesome that Julie Beck was the speaker at Sacrament, and you met an Elder Smith who knows me? Nice. I'll send home my memory card today in an envelope so you can expect and look forward to that.
Thanks so much for all of the Birthday wishes and gifts. It means a lot to be able to feel of your love so directly, thanks. We celebrated in style, of course. E. Potter did a great job treating me well and the day was full of great stuff; more to follow. But thank you all so much for what you did for me and continue to do for me. I really appreciate it and all of you so much.
This week has been a great and quick one. Monday our range balls outing was rained out but we still had a good day nonetheless. We went to our old apartment, got our old key and got a stack of mail. There was some confusion somewhere along the chain but in talking with the mission office I'm pretty sure it's all squared away. That night we taught the Rudat family (the 'wrong Chris' people). We had a great lesson and they are doing really well. Tuesday we had some opposition as Sis. Hou told us she didn't desire to meet with us anymore - that was really too bad but she's had a great experience with the church and will continue to have such with some of the members who have befriended her and her husband. Also, Bill - the food storage, just show up at church guy - told us he didn't desire to learn/meet with us which was really unfortunate. All is well though because we taught some great lessons with less-actives who are coming back. Wednesday we taught Bro. Westphal, the part-member family with the 'custom' Book of Mormon. He is doing great and his wife told us, afterward, that this is the most progress he's made with missionaries before. He's been reading the Book of Mormon and in his extended margins there are tons of notes and questions and things. It's pretty intense. I hope he'll read it more with a desire to know that it's from God rather than understand its intricacies, but he's progressing really well. Thursday the highlight was teaching an investigator with a member on splits. Bro Morris is the investigator, mid 20's, and he is so awesome. The Spirit was incredible at the lesson and he's really eager to read from the Book of Mormon. We have another appointment with him and the same member Thursday of this week! Friday was, of course, a great day! ---side note: Sis Hou just now came up and talked to us and we're still on great terms which is really nice. We'll probably go by tonight and get a picture with them! ha. --- My birthday was awesome. E. Potter got the shrine/banner and balloons and such all set! It was great. The day was full of teaching as well! We taught Bro Westphal again, awesome. The "cake money" Elder Potter was given was used for lunch instead. Wendy's, yum. Then we taught a less-active with a recent-convert, really good. Then we taught the recent-convert and his wife. Awesome. We had a great dinner appointment with members, too! The night appointment was incredible, though! We, or I, taught Yolanda and Tino exclusively in Spanish!! We had this appointment set and tried for a long time to try and get a Spanish speaking member to come with us but no luck. So we decided to still go forward with faith and I taught them the message of the restoration in Spanish! It went great! And Tino had actually met with or at least talked with missionaries before. He knew about the Book of Mormon and was really eager to get one and read it. We had a Spanish copy! It was so amazing. Saturday was transfer calls of course. I'll be staying here in Albany and Elder Potter is headed up to Potsdam. Guess who is coming to be my companion? This crazy saga doesn't end. Elder Lyman will come and serve with me for his last transfer!! How crazy is that! So I'll be here guaranteed at least another 1 more transfer once he leaves. At least 3 more months in Albany...I'm perfectly OK with that! It will be awesome. Sister Bulloch called me to wish me a happy birthday and she told me how excited E. Lyman was. Or rather, that he is "ecstatic." Ha, so that was really cool to hear that he's excited to serve with me again. Technically, I've already double-dipped with 3 companions - E. Stratton, E. Potter, E. Lyman - crazy. I'm excited for the future although I'm sad E. Potter is leaving. We have gained a friendship that will last long; he's awesome. Stake Conference, broadcast from SLC, was awesome. Unfortunately I didn't see the wink from E. Zwick - I don't know if the camera wasn't on him early enough when he did it or if I just wasn't paying attention. But I felt it nonetheless and it was really cool to hear him. His niece, Sis. Zwick had no idea he was speaking, I told her that morning and she couldn't believe it. Yesterday was great. Taught the Rudats again, they're awesome. The Pagan, less-active, family is doing really well too and will be coming back! I'm speaking at church this week to conclude our 40 day fast. First time I'll be the concluding speaker, should be sweet. We have ZLC on Friday, should be awesome as well!
I love you all so much and hope you have a great week! Thanks again for helping me have a great "golden" birthday, it really was great.
Elder Christensen

The pictures are a sneak preview from the memory card that will be sent.
First 2 are my birthday of course and the last is Yoland and Tino! (We're in his warehouse, he does upholstery)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Trust in the Lord

Dear everybody,

Hello there to everyone. It's great to hear from you and as always it's great to hear that you all are doing well. It's been a nice week for me here in New York. The journal arrived this week without any problem! Glad that you enjoyed it (at the pace I'm on I'll complete this journal in about 6 months so I'll need a new one sometime before then) and I'm also glad that it's back here with me. Speaking of mail, we haven't gotten any in the last 2 weeks (other than what has been sent direct to our apartment); not sure what that is all about, but we're working on trying to get it sorted out. So, to all and any, if you've written and it's been a while since I've gotten back to you it is likely your letter has just been caught in the mail but I'll get it and reply shortly. Mailing envelopes (maybe 1, not more than 2) would be nice to have to send the memory cards in. I'll have to go to the post office to weigh them anyway but maybe for the first one seeing the kind of envelope you have in mind wouldn't be a bad idea. When I get that I'll mail the memory card (next week?). Thanks. I can't believe the Ithaca and Orlando crew are going to Philadelphia! That'll be a great time. I haven't had any allergies or anything like that this Spring season, that's too bad for Ben. I'm glad Ste did well in his games and that he and Dad had a good time at Father and Son's. I remember those like it was yesterday. And Ben got scraped playing basketball by E. Shrader, ha. When do they play?? How are Papa and Nana, no word from them this week? Again, great to hear that all is well.
It's been a good, quick week filled with lots of good. Monday we played mini golf - it was really fun. Then, that evening, we met this Mexican woman who I had spoken to on the phone prior (long story) and had a great conversation with her (in Spanish). I was able to sufficiently understand her and say what I wanted/needed. So incredible! We lined her up to come to church because she really wanted to come but the rain (sounds weird) threw it off yesterday. Tuesday was very busy; we made preparations doing reports in the morning followed by several teaching appointments. Sis. Anato, the African investigator, is still doing well. Her understanding is limited but we feel the Spirit there and know it is all going to work out! Wednesday the Assistants came and worked with us. I worked with E. Johnson. It was fun to be working with him again although some of the things we had planned didn't go the way we had thought. We taught Sis. Hou, though, and she was so excited to see him. He was the first missionary she met and who taught her. Hopefully we can help her read the Book of Mormon and reap the blessings in living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thursday evening we had a correlation meeting with the Stake Presidency and President Bulloch. It's always way intense but I feel it went well. After, we taught the part-member family again, the Westphal's. He knows the church is true and I know that he'll come around soon. He made the comment (about a week ago) how he wishes there was more room to write in the scriptures for notes and stuff to help him understand (even though he's really intelligent). So, the member whose house we were at said he could easily make a copy for him with a bigger border. Ha, lo and behold, we got it and gave it to him yesterday; it's really cool and no excuses now. Friday I was on exchange in Greenville. Highlight there was a dinner appointment with members. The wife is actually the member who referred Bro. Kerius (the UAlbany guy) to us to teach him. She told me that in talking with him he really enjoyed our time together and felt that I was really sincere, etc. It was really cool to hear an honest opinion from an investigator (even former investigator) how they felt my/our teaching was. Saturday we taught a part-member, less-active family who is sincerely eager to come back. We're way excited about them, the Donovan family. And their 10 year old daughter (who initiated all this) wants to be baptized and she now has a date for June 25! Yesterday was a pretty normal, nice day. Late last night we tracted into an ex-wife of a recent convert (very complicated); point being, it was very inspired and we're eager to follow up with her and see if she'll be receptive to being taught! All is well here in Albany and yes Transfer Calls are this Saturday. Quite frankly I can't believe it and have no clue as to what is going to happen. I suppose only time will tell and if we trust in the Lord there is no doubt that He will direct our paths.
We'll see if we can hit range balls today, not sure if the weather will be permitting. Thanks for all of the Birthday wishes and support. I love and appreciate you all so much and hope you have a great week!
Elder Christensen

Monday, May 9, 2011

The spirit as my guide

Dear everyone,
Hello again! It was great to be able to talk with some of you yesterday. This last phone call was much better (for me, I guess) than that on Christmas. I really felt good afterward and excited to continue the work today. Like Mom mentioned in her email that it was cool to hear me talk about my stories and experiences, I didn't really realize how fun it is to talk about them with you guys! I'm glad that everyone is doing well and sounds well! That makes me feel quite good. It sounded like Papa and Nana have had a great week and that Ben in Salt Lake likewise has had a good time. It's great to hear from you, Nana, each week; know that I really appreciate it and love you and Papa so much. The picture attached last week was, in fact, Janero - the Spanish speaker/lesson. Such a good guy. He has a date for baptism now, too! Speaking of pictures, what is going to be the best and cheapest way to send memory cards (in the protective case) back and forth? My birthday list really only consists of the following: 2 white short sleeved shirts, possibly some more of the socks we got from Pomeroy's (just because they're a little faded but that's it), and dark/conservative classy ties. If I think of anything else I'll be sure to let you know but I'm well off and all is well! I don't need much! Nor do I have space for much. Thanks so much, though :).
This week has been a pretty good one. It was one of my goals this week to be sensitive to, and act on, anything I felt was a prompting from the Spirit. On Monday we had a really sweet experience with this. I was driving and we were on a quasi-country road (rural) heading to a less-active members house to stop by when I looked at a house on the side of the road and thought that it'd be cool to go knock on the door. Realizing that this may be a prompting I explained myself to E. Potter and turned the van around a little ways down the road to come back and try it. We knocked and Jean answered; her sister is married to a Mormon and lives in SLC and her brother also lives there. She grew up Catholic but isn't too fond of that faith. We set up an appointment to come back and teach more after teaching about the Book of Mormon and Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ briefly. It was so sweet, and so obviously the Spirit guiding us! Tuesday I got slapped in Troy, ha! It was a unique experience. Walking around a corner we saw a man about 15 feet in front of us and we tried talking to him and he said don't even talk to me. Then I asked if I could simply give him a card with our website on it and before I finished saying that he said if you don't stop talking I'm going to slap you. Starting to apologize (and standing close to him as I tried handing him a card), he then full-blown swung at me. I dodged it pretty good and he basically just got my neck and lower cheek, but without a doubt contact was there. Ha, after E. Potter told me I had a red mark and also how surprised he was at how happy/not flustered I was afterward. Great shall be the joy of those who are persecuted for [His name's] sake, I suppose. Alma 26:29..."smote upon our cheeks." Wednesday we taught the man who showed up at church last week. He's so awesome! He came again to church yesterday and is very willing to act and 'pursue this course which has presented itself.' Thursday we were going to celebrate cinco de mayo in style with a family taking us out to a Mexican restaurant for dinner, but it was way crowded so we ended up at a Vietnamese place instead, ha. Sis. Hou is very skeptical of the Book of Mormon and it's been tough teaching her lately; we'll see how it goes from here. I was on exchange with a Tongan elder from Logan, Utah on Friday (I was still in Albany, though). We had an awesome time, he's a great missionary. Elder Matongi. We gave a blessing to a recent convert who has cancer and in the blessing I felt prompted to say that she hadn't done anything wrong or that this was not punishment because of something like that. And right after she said how that was such a direct answer to a question she had of what she had done wrong to deserve this. Really neat experience. We're teaching awesome people right now and it's all going well. E. Potter and I are doing our best; it's not easy but it's certainly fulfilling - and the phone call yesterday really helped me realize that, looking back on past experiences and things and recounting them. I feel I've grown quite a bit in the time between Christmas and Mother's Day. Who know what this time until Christmas this year will hold? Should be a normal week this week. Excited to go mini-golf today, it's really nice outside.
Hope you all have a great week and know of my love and appreciation for all of you!
Elder Christensen

Monday, May 2, 2011

A roller coaster week

Dear everyone,

Hello there and happy May! It's great to hear from you all! Glad you had a great week. Mine certainly hasn't been without excitement, business, some disappointment, and of course an abundance of blessings. I can't believe that the Jacksons are already finishing their call as Mission President! It seems like just yesterday she was teaching me in Sunday School. And Corey Oaks and James Kempton - that is really really bizarre as well! Thanks for the letter (which I did receive on Friday, so it worked out great) Mom, and the stamps as well. I got the Easter letter from the Sheffields, too, this week (late only because it was in the mailbox at our old apartment)! Thanks so much. That means a lot and it's so evident that you care about me! You all rock. The call on Mother's day I'm planning on 7:30pm our time here in New York. Rereading the white missionary handbook, the call is supposed to be to "parents." So I'll simply just call home; if others were able to conference call or something for a portion that'd be appropriate I feel. But it's up to Mom what she wants...I'll just call home. Again, the call won't last longer than 1 hr :). That's crazy Ste met Jimmer; way to go. You should have asked him why his profile isn't up yet! Ha. Nana I'm not sure what the Conference is that Elder Zwick will be attending. I haven't heard anything about it and we just had our Zone Conference this past week, so who knows. I'll be very excited if I do get to attend something where he is - and added attention will be given when he stands for the wink. Ha.
This week has been full of up's and down's and everything in between. Monday we taught the family we "accidentally" found (the Chris story). We were able to meet and teach the wife which was awesome! They even had a friend of theirs. whom the husband is close to, come because he was interested. They're very tight in their Lutheran church but we have faith in the converting power of the Book of Mormon! The rest of the evening we made preparations for Zone Conference: setting things up and such. Tuesday was Zone Conference. It was a great meeting. Although we didn't have the most time to prepare for our training we feel it went well and got good feedback. We got sweet new LG phones with full keyboards which was exciting. We trained on "The Standards of Excellence." Which for our mission there are goals to reach: 20 lessons/week, 3 new investigators/week, 3 investigators at church/week, 1 baptism/transfer, 1 reactivation/transfer. Generally missionaries have felt it's unattainable so that was the topic. We've been extending ourselves here to reach these goals and we almost did this week! It was pretty incredible. We taught our investigator Bro. Waite right after the meeting. He's great and heading to Fort Drum for 2 weeks so we won't be able to see him but he's going to read the Book of Mormon every day he's there! Wednesday we took the van in for repairs and we were van-less Wed. and Thurs. It ended up working out great. It was difficult getting things coordinated with rides and if we were still able to teach investigators and such but it all worked out and I learned a lot through the experience. Wed. for the afternoon we worked in the Downtown Albany's area with them (a walk area anyway). I had a really incredible experience teaching a spanish speaking investigator, Janero. The gift of tongues is real - I essentially taught the whole lesson in Spanish! There is no doubt I had help understanding and speaking; it was so awesome! Thursday worked out great in E. Greenbush without a car we taught Sis. Hou who lives way close. We had a very powerful lesson with her and she's praying about her baptismal date of June 18! Later we had dinner at a member's home who invited friends who we taught afterward! They're heavy born-again Christians but they're willing to learn more and see for themselves! Friday was sad. I wish I had more time but Bro. Pascher is dropped as an investigator. Going through the baptismal interview questions with him on Wed. (I wasn't there, E. potter was on splits) he had some things he needed to take care of and let settle in court and things. We told him we'd postpone his baptism to allow it to get under control. That hit a sore spot with him ("denying his baptism"). Long story short, we saw him one more time and his decision is to step away from the church for a season while he gets his "house in order." He's such a great guy. A really valuable lesson I've learned from that, though, is the satisfaction that is had in knowing we did what he needed at this time in his life, though he may not be ready for baptism now. He'll be baptized later in life when this is squared away. Anyway, we found 5 new investigators this week! And, a very impressive guy showed up at church yesterday who wants to learn more and possibly "become a member." We're so excited! It's all good. It's been a roller coaster this week and I've learned and grown a lot. I wish I could tell all the rest of the events but that's alright! Know that I'm happy and well and that I love you all so much.

Have a great week and keep smiling.
Elder Christensen

PS- talk to you soon.