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, September 26, 2011

Staying here in Rome

Dear everyone,

Hello. How's it going today? I hope you all are doing well and as always it is great to hear from all of you. As you may suppose due to receiving my email today, on Monday, Elder Farrens and I are staying here in Rome. I really wasn't thinking too much about the upcoming new transfer, or the possibility of change for it. It's hard to believe a new transfer is already here, the time is melting away. Yeah, E. Kunzler is extending a bit so we don't have to close
another area. He'll leave before this upcoming transfer is over, though, so some change will happen in the middle of it all. I'm very excited for the things ahead - with the work here in Rome and other upcoming events. This week we have ZLC and General Conference. Next week E. Farrens and I will be going around training at the District Meetings in the Zone. The following week a General Authority, Paul P Piper, is coming and we're having joint Zone Conferences; and that weekend this Stake is getting reorganized and the rumor is Elder Bednar is coming! This should be awesome. My best guess would be that there are 8-10 walk areas in the mission. We have the only 'big truck' like that in the mission and we have it because they want it close to the mission office in case they need it. We exercise everyday but Sunday, of course. We run about a mile and then other exercises for the rest - I do stuff for my hips primarily. I've stayed in 1 day due to illness back with Elder Potter, I threw up in the morning and stuff. I've never been with a companion who had to stay in because he was sick. Very, very blessed. The black family/kids in the picture are a less-active/part-member family. The dad was baptized some years ago and none of the kids are members. (there are a couple neighborhood kids over and in the picture, too. But there are 4 boys in the family). They're really funny; I didn't teach them too much but had a really good relationship with them - helped them with snow in the winter, etc.

The work in Rome has really picked up and is very exciting. We were able to find 4 new investigators this week and teach 20 lessons - that's good for anywhere around here and definitely an improvement from the past. Lois is continuing to do very well and is progressing nicely for her baptism of Nov. 5. Her nephew, the only member in her family who was baptized a year ago who lives in Mesa, subscribed her to the Ensign and she's reading that in addition to the Book of Mormon and pamphlets we give her. We taught the Word of Wisdom early last week and she's been living it 100% - very exciting and she feels very good about it. She came to church again this week and stayed for Gospel Principles, too. It's really great teaching her. I don't know what it is with elderly ladies but I've seemed to have quite the success with them, ha. (ie. Sister Flanders, Lois, and another 81 year old lady we found as a new investigator just yesterday). Lois is definitely on the forefront of my mind and I'm very excited as she continues to grow close to her Savior. Another new investigator we found this week is a guy in his 70's. We taught him at the bishop's home as they formerly were coworkers and know each other well. His name is Bill and he was taught before several years ago but we found him and will continue to teach him this week. It's certainly true that the longer I'm in an area the more comfortable/'easier' it becomes as I have relationships with the people we're working with and members of the ward. We're trying really hard to not only strengthen the ward by bringing outside people in, but by strengthening it from the inside out. Elder Farrens has 2 more transfers, this and one more. He's convinced that he will stay here the rest of his mission and feels it's very likely I'll be with him for that time. I'd be fine with that. I'm really learning what it means to put trust in God. Perhaps my favorite way to help people understand God's love for all of his children (and the way that it makes most sense to myself) is relating it to the love that a parent here on earth has for his child. I know that Heavenly Father only and always has our best interest in mind. 3 Nephi 14:7-11. Although I may not understand and see why certain things need to happen the way they do, I have trust that Heavenly Father certainly does. I know very clearly that I need to be in Rome at this time in my life - for myself and for others.

We had a good time golfing last week and are planning to go again this week - perhaps to a par 36, 9-hole course; we're trying to take advantage of this pleasant weather while we have it still. Thanks so much for all of the love and support that you have for me. It means the world and I can definitely feel it. I hope you all have a great week!

Elder Christensen

Monday, September 19, 2011

"I feel it already"

ear Family & Friends,

The leaves have definitely started their autumn transformation and the cooler weather is certainly upon us here in Rome as well. It's great to hear from all of you this week; I always look forward to hearing the updates from everyone so thank you. It seems like everyone is doing very well which is fantastic! Those pictures from the flooding in Owego is pretty intense. It's nice that Paige and Ben went down and helped out. I don't know if I should consider myself lucky or what, how I avoided the floods by coming to Rome when I did. It's good to hear that Ste is still involved in his sporting and scouting - it seems like that was me just yesterday, wow. Hopefully the "round up" goes well for Papa. I know he always looks forward to that time. That was interesting, Dad, about being sure to begin the kids' lesson with a prayer. That was actually something that I noticed more significantly than usual this week: the ability beginning a lesson with prayer has in inviting the Spirit. It sometimes can be tough here with situations in which we find ourselves where a conversation really leads into us teaching and how to have a prayer at the 'right time.' Anyway, cool you played Quintero last week - we're playing a par-3 course with our Ward Mission Leader this afternoon, I'm excited to get out and play a lil' bit. I'm very happy for everyone and again it's great to hear from you all.

It's hard for me to believe that this transfer is already coming to a close. This week flew by and it was filled with much success and great things happening. I'll begin with some of the highlights. On Saturday, we had a tour of the church building with Lois, our investigator with a baptismal date, and a member. It was a very good experience for her to ease the concerns that she had about coming to church and all of the 'newness' and unfamiliarity of it all. We talked about everything there and showed her everything she should see. The finale was the baptismal font. She wanted to get in it (as it was empty, of course) so we did and showed her exactly how the baptism will be performed and explained that whole process again. It was very Spiritual and she is very excited about it all. She then came to church on Sunday for the first time! As she walked into the little chapel (no pews; "phase-2" building I believe?) she said "I feel it already." We asked what it was she was feeling and she said the Spirit of course. Ha, it was great. A returned missionary (only a convert of a little over a year before he left) spoke and it was a great meeting. We also had another investigator come to church that we're working with. I went on exchange with Elder Nielsen from Carthage this week and I stayed here in Rome with him. He was in Ithaca for a while and he knows Paige and Ben. It was funny a time or two he commented on how something I said or did reminded him of Paige, ha. Thursday we had interviews with President, he's a great man. That night we had Stake Correlation meeting in Utica. It got postponed from 7 to 8 just prior to when the meeting was to start. Elder Farrens and I hadn't eaten so President took us around the corner to the mission home and we ate there with him. It was a really cool experience to be there with him in that environment. I offered to allow the Bulloch's to copy the program from Sis. Bentley's funeral but turns out they had 2 daughters in attendance who live in the Phoenix area and were expecting one in the mail from them. There were lots of other really cool experiences this week. One I wish I had more time to share is going and contacting a less-active member whose records randomly showed up last Sunday. We knocked on the door and addressed him by name but he proceeded to act like it wasn't him, that there was another "Bill Smith" we must be looking for and that he was Catholic. He then, though, invited us in. We sat down and talked for a bit. It became obvious he was a member by some words he used but continued to say he wasn't and had never been baptized in the Mormon church Then his Mexican wife comes home and rats him out. It was quite humorous and they were very nice. She's a non-member and he served a mission in Honduras. The sad part is we got a message from him yesterday saying he sent in to have his records removed from the church and didn't want to have contact. I doubt that'll be the end, though, and that he even really had his name removed. Who knows though. We have other really good things happening here in Rome and I'm excited for what's going on. Transfer calls are this Saturday and we'll see what happens there Oh, and we got a 2011 Silverado here. It's pretty funny driving that around as a missionary - it's the only one in the mission and they want it close by the mission office in case it needs to be used for something.

Well, I hope you all have a great week and know of my great love and appreciation for you all.

Elder Christensen

Monday, September 12, 2011

The highest highs and lowest lows

Elder Farrens and Elder Christensen try a different look

Dear everyone,

Hey there I hope everyone is doing well! It seems that way from the emails that I received. Yeah, it is pretty crazy that 9/11/01 was ten years ago. I can vividly remember sitting in Mrs. Moore's 5th grade class watching the news and having a very abnormal day. Time really does fly. Ste is now older than I was when that happened, holy smokes. That's so cool about Patrick Benjamin's baptism! He's 14? Would he go to church alone, with his Mom, or someone else? That's a pretty impressive age to be baptized and especially with his upbringing and background. That's good that Papa is involved in his tutoring again; I know that those kids love him. The situation with Lindsey and her baby is intense. I'll keep her in my prayers. I like the DBacks picture from the TV! Haha, nice - that's fun you guys have been going to so many games and such. That's a bummer BYU lost. Fun that the Lewis' were able to go to Texas though for the event. Would I know the Curtis guy who was reactivated? Today's Elder Farrens' birthday, we're going to celebrate in style with some golf or bowling or something of that sort. The letter that Mom sent this week was pretty intense with all of the things inside. I was surprised to see the program from Sister Bentley's funeral - I'm really happy that Mom decided to go.

This week has been a very good one, certainly a roller coaster. It's so true that you experience the highest highs and lowest lows in mission-life. The work in Rome is continuing to progress although that certainly doesn't mean that everything is peachy all the time. Definitely the high water mark of the week was a lesson that we had with a 81 year old investigator names Lois. She is so sharp and sweet. She was tracted into right before I got here. She has a nephew who is a member in Mesa and because of him she has a very good perception of the church. The lesson this week was so incredible because it was entirely guided by the Spirit. What I mean is this. Earlier in the day we, E. Farrens and I both, felt strongly that we should invite her to be baptized on November 5. This was pretty interesting as she had expressed in the past not wanting to feel pushed and not sure if she wants to 'be a part' of this yet. We thought a lot about it throughout the day and prayed about it and we were sure that that's what we should shoot for. The lesson content was to teach the second half of the plan of salvation, where we left off last time, but when we got there we understood what she really needed. She asked a bunch of different questions that all, eventually, led to questions specifically about baptism and her expressing her desire to be baptized once she understood the need for her to be baptized 'again'. It was very powerful and I have no doubt that we were doing exactly what the Lord wanted us to be doing at that time. What a great feeling that is. So Lois has a baptismal date set of November 5 that she is striving for. I'm confident she will be ready (and feel ready) by then with the good chance of it happening sooner. There have been other good things happening with the people we are teaching, too. I went on exchange with the Assistants this past week which was a good time. I worked in Utica with E. Kunzler. We already have a lot of things set up for this upcoming week that I'm excited about. I've learned, or was reminded again, this week that I can do everything in my own power to make things happen but others still have their ability to turn away. That can be the hardest thing, at times. I know, though, that as I
do do everything that is in my power that I am literally on the Lord's errand and will be exactly where He wants and needs me to be. I'm grateful for this reassurance and the comfort I feel to know.

I hope you all have a great week and continue to do what's right. I love you so much and thank you for the love I feel.

Elder Christensen

PS- I was sitting by the Emily girl again in the Library today. What are the 'odds?'

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A week of reflecting and pondering

Dear everyone,

I hope everyone is doing well today. You're definitely right when you say that my week has been pretty bizarre, emotional, different, you name it. My thoughts are pretty scatterbrained as well so I'm not sure what exactly is going to come out. The experience last week emailing was pretty crazy, sitting by the lady who was baptized a few years ago. With countless experiences like this I absolutely know that the Lord's hand is involved in our lives. We didn't end up playing golf last week and we were going to go today but it has been raining all day, ha. Thanks so much for sending the reinforcements to help in replacing those keys that were lost. I really appreciate it and it helps greatly because they have to re-key our deadbolt lock which isn't too cheap. Thanks for the information about Granddad's profession and such. Well, I'm glad to hear that Papa and the "Mormons" won the golf match! How big was the branch that Ste went to this weekend? That's awesome he bore his testimony there!

Like I mentioned before, my thoughts are all over with the events of the week. I had no idea about the flooding in Schoharie and all of that. Wow. I hope everyone is doing well there. Very interesting that you found Sis. Dutcher's facebook page and that it mentioned the flooding and things. So, on Wednesday morning we got a call from the Assistants about the tragedy of Sister Bentley and Sister Love. What a complete shock that was to hear just before 8 o'clock in the morning on what seemed like it would be an ordinary day. I/we don't really know too much about the accident; we were told very little. I'm sure you know more than we do in reading articles about it all. In trying to reflect positively on the events of the week, I have definitely felt an added sense of appreciation for my life and my being here. Being reminded of the frailty of life, although the reminder unfortunately had to come this way, is an important perspective I've been able to gain. I really appreciate this reality check. How great I have it to be where I am. I'll never forget a fortune cookie that Elder Potter got, it said: Happiness isn't in having what you want, but in wanting what you have. How true this is - and the sad event from this week helps remind me of this true principle. This week has been good and filled with a lot of reflecting and pondering. We're continuing to work hard here to progress the work and to find more people to teach. There are some really great people here in Rome. Currently Elder Farrens and I are in the mission office (library is closed for the holiday) and Elder Miller and Elder Kunzler are here and President and the office couple so it's a little difficult to write a focused email. Sorry about that.

Just know that I'm doing well and happy to be here. Elder Farrens and I are having a really good time together, too, which is a blast. Thank you all so much for your love and support. I love you all so much and am so grateful for all that you do.

Elder Christensen

Summer 2010 - Schoharie District
Sister Vanessa Bentley (in the white blouse)
Died on Aug. 30, 2011