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.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A week of Excellence

Dear Everyone,

Hello to all far and near. Well actually, by the sounds of it I don't think anyone is "too near" (Wee Sing) to me here at this point with the trip in California. It's crazy, I can picture right where you guys are; especially if you are at Laguna Beach with the Jack in the Box right there and steps down to the beach. Very nice. I hope all of the time together is enjoyable and that you have great weather - of course you will, it's California. Bandera - ha, wow that's funny because I thought about that the other day. I hope Father's Day was enjoyable in Newport. I remember when that temple was just going up there, how cool. I am getting the letters on Fridays that you send, Mom. It's been working out really well. Driving in the Corolla has been good; we haven't had any issues, it's pretty miraculous. I think we are going to be getting the van back next Wednesday. Thanks for the letter, Ste. You are the bomb; way to go at swim team and basketball camp! The Rudats were/are the couple who we found with the ironic "Chris" scenario. (E. Potter knocking on the wrong door, us going back and after visiting with him for 10 minutes realize it's a different Chris who is not a member, ha).

This past week has been a really great one. About two months ago we (Zone Leaders) trained the mission on what are called the "Standards of Excellence." Basically what it is, Elder Ballard some years ago came here and identified some key-indicators (numbers) that would be recognized as "excellent." For example, the number of lessons taught in a weeks, investigators at church, new investigators per week. Anyway, since then it's been a great goal to strive for and finally this week we got it! We were really blessed this week...I'll give you the run down. Monday, Pday, was an eye-opening day, actually. E. Lyman wanted to go to the mall and get some slacks so we went. Long story short, as much as I liked/like going to the mall looking at all the sweet stuff there, etc - I found much more pure/lasting joy later that night teaching Yolanda and Tino in Spanish. I could expound on it all but that was a cool realization that I had. On Tuesday, we had District Meeting; President and Sister Bulloch were there and trained. President taught awesome things about the scriptures, how to read them, why they are written the way they are/hard to understand, symbolism's, etc. Really sweet. After, we had an exchange and I worked with Elder Schrader here in Albany. It was crazy being with him because (1) it feels like just yesterday we were in the MTC together sharing a room, and (2) he basically was, just yesterday, with Paige and Ben at their house having dinner. Crazy. He didn't have anything bad to say about you guys or your food, so that's good ;) ha. He did say that Ben is a baller and doesn't miss any 3-pointers, though ha. We had a good time working together and speaking openly about a lot of things. We taught quite a bit together that day: Namukolo, a less-active, the Donovan's, and an investigator Gretchen. They all went really well. Wednesday morning we (still with E. Schrader) taught a part-member older couple who lives close out by where we live now. We picked up the nonmember wife and have planned to teach them regularly. We're really excited about that. After, E. Lyman returned and Tino and Yolanda made us lunch! It was sweet and legit. They wanted to cook for us really bad so we had some arroz con pollo. It's still hard to believe how sweet the whole situation is with them speaking/teaching in Spanish, ha. Thursday we had 2 good lessons. One with Namukolo the other with a less-active Sister we are reactivating. Friday was a day we didn't have too much going on but it turned out to be a really enjoyable one. We made contact with a potential investigator who was really excited to see us again and is eager to be taught. Dinner was at a young couple's followed by an appointment with an investigator Bro. Waite. Driving there I had the distinct feeling that we should call and invite the member to teach with us who we just had dinner with. He came and it went really well. I've had several experiences lately where I feel a certain way and know that it is a prompting; I'm not the best because it sometimes takes me a couple nudges to recognize/act upon them but I know each time when I'm doing my best to heed the Spirit...and it always works out well. Saturday was one of those days (very rare) where everything we had planned and tried just worked out. We were able to teach 6 lessons (that's a lot here, ha). The most notable is Namukolo. She is amazing and so eager to be baptized! She loves everything we teach and reads on her own a ton and understands everything. It's incredible! The ward is really taking her under their wings and it's just going great. She will have her baptismal interview this Saturday! Yea! Sunday was a nice Father's Day. Church was nice and we had investigators and less-actives present. In contrast to the day before, it seemed that everything we had yesterday fell through and didn't work out. It was all good and we stayed hopeful and diligent. We ended up tracting on "Arizona Ave" which I thought we turn out to be a positive endeavor after all of our appointments and things falling through...not the case. We got yelled at, mocked, and rejected. It wasn't the most enjoyable experience I've had, ha. After we had dinner at the coolest member's; their 6 and 5 year old boys know more about the stories in the Book of Mormon than 50% of the missionaries probably, ha. I want kids like that. Then, lastly we taught and picked up a part-member/less-active couple. The husband isn't a member. Great stuff, we're really excited about it. It seems like E. Lyman and I just always do well with the part-member families (reflecting back on our work in Schoharie as well). Things are going great and I'm happy to be here (even though California doesn't sound half bad either). The work is going really well and this week ahead is going to be awesome. We're working in Saratoga Springs Tuesday to Wednesday which will be a blast to see the people there! Really excited. I hope you all have a great week. Know of my love and appreciation for all of you.

Love, Elder Christensen

Monday, June 13, 2011

All things work together for good to them that love God

Dear everyone,
Hello, how is everyone doing? It's a beautiful day here in the Albany area. I appreciate all of the emails and shout outs. I'm glad that everyone seems to be doing well and is happy. That is exciting about the upcoming trips and such. I hope you all have a wonderful time. Things have been really good here as well. Ste, sorry about the disappointment with the baseball game. It sounds like you did really well though, and that always feels good. For exercise here in the morning we go outside and I either run around or we hit the tennis ball back and forth or play some basketball. Our apartment is legit. Well, actually...hilarious story this morning (there is never a dull moment). The toilet breaks (not even clogged but something weird) and water overflows onto the ground. We get a knock on our door and it's our 'landlady' (the member's wife) and she said water was dripping on her while she was sitting at the front desk of the dental office right downstairs. Ay yi yi...her husband comes up shortly thereafter and he explains how across the bathroom floor there is a vent and it is right above the front desk downstairs and the toilet water was going through and going all over! HA. That shook up our typical morning routine. I can't believe Corey Oaks is home and that James Kempton is coming home soon. Wow. That's really cool for Jordan Gerard, he's a great leader.
This week has been really really good. On Monday evening we went to the Rudat family for our appointment. They met us outside as we were walking up and in the most polite and cordial way told us they weren't going to investigate anymore right now. It's really sweet, though, how cool they were about it and they then explained how they wanted us (or the other missionaries in the future) to keep in contact periodically because they've loved what we've taught and it's really helped them but they are just so attached at their current church it's too difficult to change now. But that their pastor is going to be retiring within the next year so they have a good chance of converting at that point. That was really good to hear; it's neat to think that these people I teach now who may not accept by way of baptism now, perhaps will later - and that I was a part of that. Tuesday we had a good District Meeting. We taught Namukolo with the soon-to-be missionary; she's incredible and doing so well. We taught the Word of Wisdom and she loved it. We also taught to brothers who are less-active later in the day. It was quite heart-wrenching because one of them is a RM who has absolutely no testimony of the church, Jesus Christ, and God. That blew me away. I don't understand how you can do this and deviate from it later. It doesn't make sense. I think it really hit E. Lyman hard because he is returning home soon. Wednesday was a nice day. I worked with one of the Assistants and we taught the Donovans. Only the mom and the 10 year-old were there; we taught the Word of Wisdom and it went great. Thursday was interesting. Long story short, the Assistants were working with us from Wednesday afternoon until Thursday afternoon. This wasn't the original plan so we had to adjust some things and Thursday I had no set appointments or anything (that hasn't happened in a loong time). I was going to be working with Elder Johnson (he's been an Assistant for 4 transfers, this is his last, not too common). In the morning I studied hope and how everything works for good for those who love God (Romans 8:28 - currently one of my favorites). The day turned out great; we even found and taught a new investigator! We swapped out our van and are driving a Corolla. They took the van back to mission headquarters. I had an interview with President Thursday late afternoon. I love him so much and it went so well. He's awesome. We had a testimony meeting with the Westphals that went really well. He's ready to be baptized it's just so hard to teach and push him. He (saying it sarcastically but the results really are true) 'believes' in the laws of physics - to everything there is an equal and opposite reaction. That relating it to us inviting/encouraging/pushing to be baptized. He'll come around soon, I know. Friday I was on an exchange and I stayed here in Albany. We taught like crazy and it was a really good day. Saturday we switched back in the early afternoon. We taught the whole Donovan family and reviewed the Word of Wisdom with them all there. Got a little intense but it turned out well. Sunday, we had 6 investigators at church! That's pretty snazzy. It was really great and everyone seemed to have a great time; ha, our Gospel Principles class was packed. After church we taught the less active Santana family and had awesome good and a great lesson. Sis. Santana has been coming to church the last few weeks! After we had dinner at a members and we had Namukolo come. Bless her heart, she is from Zambia (been here 4 weeks now) and wasn't familiar with mashed potatoes, rice crispy treats, and even our typical salad. She enjoyed it all, though, and it was a really good time. Elder Lyman and I are doing great and having a really good time together. I hope to help him have a really positive taste in his mouth when he leaves the mission field.
Everything is great. Thanks for all that you do in my behalf; I love you all so very much.

Elder Christensen

Monday, June 6, 2011

Happy Hump Day

Dear everyone,

Hey hey. How is everybody doing? It's great to hear from you all! Things are quite peachy here in Albany. It's been a great week. Thanks so much for the Hump Day package and pictures - that was quite clever and cool. It reminded me of "Flat Stanley" from elementary school, very funny. I didn't do any burning or weird/clever thing to celebrate. Some missionaries out here burn a shirt but I forwent that experience; the day wasn't spent without style, though. Happy Birthday Drue!!! I can't believe that you are 16! I hope that you have a great, great year! Sounded like you had a really cool surprise party, too! That's really nice of Elder Zwick (the 70) and Sister Zwick (the niece) to say those things. I appreciate you relaying that, Nana. I'm very impressed with Ste's athletic stories as of late. The baseball games sound really exciting - it's crazy for me to think that I was watching his regular season games last year; and winning the soda isn't bad either. The heart attacking cracks me up! Thinking back, though, those kinds of things were definitely going on when I was that age. Ha. Who did it? Rachel and Tyler, that's cool that you guys are getting Elders in your ward, and that you're having them over for dinner! I've heard those missions are very successful. Congratulations on running the 10K, Paige and Ben!
This week has gone quite quickly and it's been filled with blessings as well. Picking up from where I left off last email (Tuesday)... I went and taught Bro. Morris, our sweet investigator with a member who has been his consistent fellowship. It was so awesome; I haven't seen someone so excited about the Book of Mormon in a long time. He had read through 1 Nephi 13 in 2 days but more significant was his "perma-smile" as he was talking about it and saying how much it is helping him! So exciting. We taught him the Plan of Salvation and he loved it. He's still preparing for July 23 to be baptized! Wednesday we went to the District Meeting in the Albany West district to give the training there. Afterward we went on an exchange with the Schenectady elders. I came back to Albany and was with a brand new missionary who had at that point only been out 1 week, his name is E. Pextan. And of course there is some relation of connection, just like I have with so many others out here, he is cousins with the Wilardson's. Ha, I thought that was really funny and especially because I saw Taylor up at BYU. We taught the Donovan's that night, a less-active family whose 10 year old daughter is preparing to be baptized on July 2. Thursday, the big Hump Day. It was actually a pretty bizarre feeling that I had when I woke up on Thursday, realizing that I have been out a year already. I wasn't really thinking too much about it beforehand but when the day came my mind kept thinking back and realizing how crazy it really is. It was a good day as, most notably, we taught Namukolo, the African investigator who called us last week. She is amazing and doing so well! We have a couple lined up to fellowship her and they came and taught her with us. She's also preparing to be baptized on July 2 and she's so excited! Later that night we taught a less-active Bro. Frank, who we taught the first time the previous week. He's really sincere and on the path, it's so awesome. Friday it was a treat to go back to the same auto body shop that I've been to many times for 3 different van incidents. Ha, the guys there are really cool and hilarious so it really wasn't bad but it was tedious nonetheless. We taught a recent convert couple later that day, the wife who is battling cancer right now, and it went really well. We have dinner with them tonight, yea! It's so cool to see and interact with people who have recently grabbed hold of the Gospel and can't get enough! Saturday we taught Namukolo again, so awesome. We took the Bishop's son who is home from a year of BYU and has his papers in. It was fun going with him and relating where he is now to myself when I was there. And the coolest thing is when he got home from the lesson his mission call had arrived and he's going to Riverside California English. He couldn't be more excited and he wants to keep coming out with us as he's preparing to go. Sunday was a nice day we had 3 investigators at church which wasn't bad although 6 or 7 were committed to come. Perhaps this week. We had several less-actives come who we are teaching which was really exciting. One of which we taught after church and it was a very Spirit-filled experience. Ha, a really funny experience yesterday was talking to these 4 Jamaican guys (1 of which was a member, inactive, who we were trying to contact). Without sharing too many of the explicit details they weren't up to much good but in the end two of them were debating about some doctrine of Adam and Eve, it was pretty hilarious. There are so many funny things that we experience on a daily basis, I wish I could share them all. This morning E. Lyman and I got our teeth cleaned downstairs by Bro./Dr. Alexander. It's very nice. To briefly give you updates on other investigators I have yet to mention...Yolanda and Tino, the Spanish speakers, are doing well. We weren't able to see them this week nor were they able to come to church but they are still awesome and my Spanish is really improving, ha. They both still have a date to be baptized on August 27 that they're working toward. Bro. Westphal is great, we blessed his baby in Sacrament yesterday. We weren't able to see him but we will this week. Likewise with many others, they're at the same point as last mentioned but maybe we were unable to teach them this week. But we have 5 people with dates now and 13 people we are teaching, most of whom are incredibly solid. It's quite amazing.

I love you all so much and hope that your lives are filled with joy and happiness - most importantly, the eternal and pure joy and happiness that is to be had by living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Have a wonderful week!

Elder Christensen