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, June 4, 2012

Palmyra rocked and my mission is ending

Michael in the Sacred Grove

Michael at the Grandin Printing Press

Michael and his MTC District at the Palmyra Temple

Dear everyone,

Nana, the last note I received was from my birthday :). The 'lucious' chocolate cake sounds great and Tia Rosas would be great that night, ha! Ste needs to have mac and cheese before his swim meet ;) ha. Sunday dinner, whatever you guys want. That's cool the ecclesiastical endorsement was done. I'll see today as I begin packing if I'm mailing anything home.

What an incredible time this is! I'm so excited to see you all soon. It has hit me more seriously that my mission is ending. Everyone at church yesterday was so kind and paid me great compliments and best wishes for the future. I can't express how much I love these people here, and in past areas. Wow. This week has been amazing. Palmyra rocked. Whenever we were outside, the rain cleared for us! So great to go to the temple again. All of it was incredible. I'll share more on that in person, of course. We had 7 investigators at church yesterday and 2 more other nonmembers we just haven't started teaching yet! I'll look forward to seeing you soon. I fly by myself the whole way; all the other MTC friends are going on different flights. Awesome.

I've loved this experience and as I look back on it I am filled with appreciation to have had these opportunities.

Thanks for all you do. See you soon.

Elder Christensen

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

On cloud 9 all the time

Michael and Elder Williams at Ann's Baptism

Pres. Bulloch plays some ping pong with the boys

Dear Everyone,

Happy Memorial Day!  It's so great to hear from you!  Things are great!  We had a ward picnic/bbq at a park for the Holiday, such a success!  At least 50% of the people there were nonmembers! There
were 11 nonmembers there who we know and invited!  We had an awesome game of softball, Ann's son (and his whole family) came and he was on our team.  We dominated, haha.  Such a fun activity.  Not to mention last week we pulled out a ping pong table at the mission home and played ping pong!  We got President Bulloch in on it, and he can play!  I'll attach a picture. So sweet.  Happy Birthday, Drue!!  You rock. Congrats to Ste for the back to back championship titles in baseball! Way to go.  I have yet to get Mom's letter (post office closed today) so, sorry I won't be responding to anything in there.  How cool Paige saw the Bulloch's at Panera!  Ha, they told me about it too.  I met their daughters who came up - they're great.  One lives in Scottsdale, the other in Gilbert.

Things are great.  I'm on cloud 9 all the time, it seems.  This past week has been incredible.  Well, actually I've been sick most of the week with a tedious cold and accompanying headache but it didn't slow us down too much.  I still went on exchange to Albany for my last tour there.  I love that place so much.  I was able to see a woman I was teaching when I got transferred from there; she and her two sons have since been baptized.  They're doing very well.  It was so fun to see them at this point now.  Also, I saw Namukolo.  Things are going great for her.  She's planning on going to the temple on the 16 of June for baptisms for the dead for the first time.  Sweet.  Return and Report this past Friday went very well.  Ann's baptism was great.  The service was well attended and it carried a great spirit.  She's so happy.  And the confirmation yesterday was great, too.  Her son and his family came to both the baptism and church yesterday (and, like I mentioned, the bbq today)!  We have high hopes to begin teaching them soon!  Ann is single and her grandson lives with her.

Tomorrow is the big day, to go to Palmyra!  Tonight we (my MTC group) stay in the mission home and then travel there early in the morning!  I am stoked.  First we'll go to the temple then other sites afterward.  In fact, because this is the last time the Bulloch's are going before they go home, the temple president and his wife invited us all over for dinner at their home tomorrow night!  I'm looking forward to that, too. Anyway, things are amazing and I'm so happy.

Thanks for all that you do, I love you.

Elder Christensen

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The week of weeks!

Michael and Pres. Bulloch at the Susquehanna River

Michael's 21st Birthday Cake

More Birthday Celebrations

Dear everyone,

This has been the week of weeks! Wow, it's been incredible. It's so great to hear from you! Happy Birthday to Kelly! That's awesome Paige and Ben drove through/by Cobleskill. It's great to see the pictures of Abbie and Jackson. Congrats to Ste on baseball and how cool he got to go to California! It sounds like things are going great for everyone.

As I think about this past week it's hard to decide where to even begin! Tuesday was AMAZING. We had our Zone Conference for the Owego Stake that day, which fell on May 15. If you'll recall, that's the anniversary of the Restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood, which took place in Harmony, PA! We held the Zone Conference in Binghamton, rather than Elmira, because this Zone Conference was going to be different from all the others we've been doing. (I've known we were going to do this for some time now but it was a surprise to all the missionaries in that zone so we had to keep it all on the down low). After the morning portion of abbreviated training, all the missionaries there in that zone went down to the site in Harmony! This was such an amazing day! We saw a great deal of Church History: the place where Joseph and Emma lived in Harmony (where a great deal of the translation of the Book of Mormon took place), the Susquehanna River where Joseph and Oliver Cowdery were baptized, the grave sites of Alvin (Joseph and Emma's infant son) and the Hales (Emma's parents), and we saw the home site of the Hales. Amazing, there is such a powerful Spirit there. Then, we traveled to some other sites: the Joseph Knight's Home (location of what was once the Colesville Branch, first branch of the church), Josiah Stoal's home (see JSH 1:55-56; Joseph and Emma's honeymoon spot), and finally the wedding place of Joseph and Emma. What incredible experiences these were! Thursday we had Zone Conference up in the North and we worked with those elders there (Elder Stratton is up there, it was fun working with him). Saturday we helped the ward out with what I may consider the funnest service project I've ever been a part of. We were clearing out an old cemetery that had been totally neglected and was essentially a forest, where all the graves were. I'm amazed at how fun it can be and how great I feel when I serve. We were chopping trees down and clearing it all up - the bishop and another member had chainsaws and were going to town, so cool. Ann's baptismal interview went great on Saturday and she is all ready to go for her baptism on the 26, this Saturday. She asked that I do the baptizing, so that will be fun. I had a great birthday yesterday! Thanks to all those who sent their love. My talk in sacrament meeting went well - I ended up not having as much time as I figured but I was able to condense it nicely. Afterward, we had lunch with the sweetest lady, Daisy, an older member. She makes the best fried chicken ever. She's a black Southerner with an awesome accent; we brought a member of the bishopric with us, brother Bloss (she calls him "Pastor Bloss"), haha. Later we had dinner with a really nice member who makes money decorating cakes. She made me a great cake, although it was very low-key in her mind, fully loaded with candles and singing me happy birthday. Then last night we taught Anne, she is excited as ever for her baptism. All in all, this week has been out of this world. I'm looking forward to the week ahead, too! This morning we had a little birthday party for me and the Sr. couple missionary here in the office (it's his birthday today, 75). I requested cinnamon rolls, so good. Tomorrow, I'm going on exchange to blessed Albany. Then Friday we have Return and Report with the new missionaries. Saturday is the baptism. I feel the Lord's hand in my life daily; it's so comforting to me to know he is there and cares about me as much as he does. I feel great and I'm incredibly happy and at peace.

Thanks for all that you do for me.

Elder Christensen

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Amazed by the workings of the Spirit

Michael with a recent convert

Michael and Elder Williams on their way to Albany

Dear everyone,

Oh hello again!  It was great to talk with Mom, Dad, and Ste yesterday!  Happy Mother's Day.  Family is the best and I'm so excited to be with the family soon.  I'm sorry to hear about Papa's being in a boot for his heel, that's too bad!  Feel better and I hope he heals up quickly.  The updates on your Book of Mormon reading is cool. I'm right in the beginning of Mormon so it sounds like we're all in the same ballpark :).  I'm happy for the Lewis family, again, and impressed with the amount of gifts from the shower.  I got Mom's letter today - everything there sounds good.  Hope all is going well for everyone.
I'm doing great.  The work here is wonderful.  Our investigator Ann is all prepared to have her baptismal interview this Saturday at 12.  I'm so excited for her and she's so excited for her, ha.  Last week was a blast and crazy.  3 Zone Conferences and 3 District Leader trainings. Saturday was really cool driving to and from Cortland with President Bulloch for a District Leader training.  This week upcoming will be equally crazy if not more so.  Tomorrow we'll be in Binghamton, Wednesday in Elmira, Thursday in Malone, Friday in Potsdam, Saturday & Sunday in Utica.  I feel great and I continue to be amazed by the workings of the Spirit in my life and in the lives of others.

I love you all and hope you have a great week.

Elder Christensen

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I'm lovin' it

Michael with Lois shortly before her baptism

Dear all,

Hey there. It's great to hear from you. Things here are as good as ever, I'm lovin' it. Congrats to the Lewis family on the news of having a Boy! I was totally not thinking they were going to have a boy, but that's alright. The homecoming talk on the 17 is fine, no problems. What is my 'topic'? (so I can relate my stories to a principle ;) haha, dad).  I will be going through Ithaca probably around 3ish on the 16th; as much as I love you guys, the Lewis fam, I think I'll prefer going without organizing a get together this one last time. I feel the last was pretty sweet :). I'll see you soon. Calling home at 4:30 AZ time shouldn't be too much of a problem. Look forward to it. The summer plans sound great. I would love to spend some time in SLC and at Lake Powell. I've asked several times already, but what info have you gathered on working at the mtc; or more specifically when I should apply this summer and what, perhaps, that whole process entails.  Hope all is well with Papa and Nana; hope Papa's foot feels better. I look forward to spending time with you soon. Good to hear from the Jennings! Abbie looks great.

This week was great. It was definitely the most 'low key' week of this transfer. Meaning, from here on out there are a lot of exciting things I'm looking forward to in the coming weeks! I must say that going to Rome had to be the highlight of this past week. It sounds like you already caught word that while I was there I was able to visit and teach Lois. We had a very good, scriptural based lesson with her on prayer and praying aloud/together. She's such a sweet heart and she looved meeting Mom. If you would please email her the picture of you all at the Easter pageant she would appreciate that; also you can attach the pictures I'm sending today. Work is going great in Utica. Ann is doing so good! She is right on track to be baptized on May 26. She couldn't be more excited I don't think. We taught her about tithing last night and she is actually excited to do so once she's baptized! Ha. Martin came to church yesterday as well as others we are teaching. Church was very powerful; the testimonies centered around mothers and families. And, not to mention, the sweet potluck lunch that followed. Elder Williams and I are traveling to Albany later this afternoon to then do a training with the district leaders in that zone. Then, tomorrow is the Albany zone conference. The focus is Obtaining the blessings and guidance of the Spirit. I'm very excited for it. Then Wednesday and Thursday are the Utica and Syracuse zone conferences, respectively. Saturday we are doing more trainings with district leaders in other zones in the mission. Undoubtedly it's going to be a very eventful week.

I love you all so much. Thanks so much for all you do for me. I look forward to talking with the Mesa crew on Sunday and seeing the rest of yous (New York term) in the near future.

Elder Christensen

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Loving everything here in Utica!

This picture is my lineage. 
 I trained Elder Stratton, and on his left is his son,
then the two on the left of him are his two sons.

Dear everyone,

Hello!  What a great time of year. It's nice to hear from you all.  I'm doing really well and loving everything here in Utica.  Glad that Mom and Paige are home safe from Orlando and that they had a good time there.  My homecoming talk on the 17th is sounding better and better - that'll be great.  Also, my birthday being celebrated at home (or rather, in a very small way out here) will be great.  I don't need anything out here, but thanks.  The phone call on Mothers' Day will probably work best for us at 7:30 - 8 pm our time.  If there are any problems with that, let us know.  How exciting for the Lewis family to find out the gender today!  Too bad her appointment wasn't this morning, oh well.  Gail was an investigator here in Utica who E Miller and I found on Christmas Eve; the dinner she had with the Bullochs was a major success.

It's been a great week filled with new missionaries and missionaries going home and Zone Leader Council.  These are great times and I'm really enjoying everything.  Our investigator Ann is still going remarkably well.  She is progressing without a hitch and couldn't be more excited.  The ward is really getting behind her and she feels the power of the Spirit.  This week will be relatively low key compared to the weeks ahead.  I am going to Rome on exchange Wednesday and Thursday which I'm very excited about.  But other than that the only other to-do list items we have are to get all prepared for Zone Conferences the following week.  I'm thinking back on the following week and nothing particular is standing out to report on; basically everything was just good, ha.  Martin is doing well, our Mexican investigator.  We set 2 other investigators with baptismal dates for mid and late June.  Really, it's all going great.

I love you all so much and thank you for all you do for me.

Elder Christensen

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Spiritually Blasted

Dear everyone,

It's great to hear from you all and again congrats to the Jennings family, how great Abbie is. I love family; I find the irony so interesting that it's when I've been away from family that I feel close to them and appreciate them even more. One principle I have undoubtedly learned in the mission field is the importance to find joy in what you're doing or to appreciate what you have while you have it. I'm happy that the bachelors in AZ aren't roughing it too badly without Mom home; and not to mention Ben being home without Paige. Ha, I don't miss doing 17 page reports for school, hope it went well, Ste. Nana is getting around, too, it sounds like which is great. I love you all so much.

This week has been amazing, I don't know where to begin. I'm soo excited to be serving here in Utica my last transfer! I absolutely love the people here in the ward, I love the people we are teaching, I enjoy the responsibilities I have as an Assistant, and I'm excited to be with E Williams for a 2nd transfer (this will be only the 2nd time on my mission I will be with the same companion for 2 consecutive transfers! Elder Potter is the only other one). Planning the transfer was very exciting and enjoyable, seeing the Spirit work as we council and make decisions is so cool. On Tuesday I worked with a missionary whose companion was on the Palmyra trip (and E Williams likewise, working with another missionary) in Utica. Between both companionships that day we taught 10 lessons! What a blessing to our area. Anne, our investigator with a baptismal date, is still right on track! She came to church again yesterday and loved it. Then last night we went over and taught her the word of wisdom and she decided to obey right then and there. Very exciting,  Other amazing things happened this week. Saturday night I felt prompted to call Martin (the Mexican man we taught before, ate with on Easter, etc). I found out later from him that the timing was perfect. He had had some events take place this past week which left him feeling pretty low; but upon calling him he quickly realized his need to trust in God and rely on Him. He came to church yesterday and loved it! We then taught him that afternoon, then a recent convert took him to a single adults dinner and activity. I think he was Spiritually blasted yesterday. What a great man and I'm so happy and excited to be teaching him again. President and Sister Bulloch are having Gail over for dinner tonight, I'm very excited to see how it pans out! This week is going to be another great one, too. Tomorrow we pick up the new missionaries from the airport and are with them. Wednesday is transfer day and Friday is Zone Leader Council.

I hope you all are doing extremely well and again know of my love for you.

Elder Christensen

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

On cloud 9

Dear All,

YAY! Congratulations to the Jennings Family and their new addition to the family! How exciting! Thanks for the awesome picture that you sent, Rachel!! I must say, though, that Ste hands down wins the award for actually informing me most about it all! So she was born Thursday morning? How long and heavy was she? She looks very healthy (and old, perhaps just with the open eyes in the picture!). How cool. I hope Mom is there helping out and having a great time; and that will be fun when Paige arrives, too. I think Paige and Ben are going to have a girl. I'm happy to hear Nana was able to go to her meeting this week; hopefully the doctor appointment this week brings good news. I got Mom's letter this week with the sheet on Premed information - I have yet to really look at it, is there anything about it I should know? Also, I bought new contacts and they should be arriving at home within the next week or two; the eye appointment last week went great. Sorry, in advance, this email will be short as we are lacking much time today. We have begun the transfer planning process today - it's so cool to see the Spirit work in these council sessions (and in events leading up to them) with President.
What a great week it has been. There are so many highlights but the most notable is our new investigator Anne. The week before this last week we went to a funeral of a member in the ward. We felt prompted to go early to the service, during the viewing portion. We felt it would be the best time to actually talk with people compared to when we all would be sitting listening to speakers and the program. This prompting lead to a great thing, meeting Anne - a friend of an active member in the ward, Jim. Anyway, we taught Anne with this member on Wednesday night and she is already preparing for baptism on the 26 of May! She came to church yesterday and was on cloud 9! So sweet, and we taught her again last night and it went very well. Saweet. Also this week going back to Albany was a blast. I love the people there so much. E Williams and I sang a duet in Sacrament meeting yesterday, which went very well. He's very talented and I just backed him up but we both felt really good about it. Also, a recent convert who I am very close with received the Melchezidek Priesthood yesterday! He was so touched by the Spirit and feeling so good. He also brought a friend to church we are excited about teaching this week. Oh, it's worth mentioning, President Bulloch said he woke up early in the night and thought about our former investigator, Gail. He feels prompted to invite her over for dinner and speak with her :). This week is going to be great, too. E Williams and I are going to each be working with a different missionary tomorrow here in our area (these missionaries' companions are going to the temple trip tomorrow). We'll be planning this next transfer throughout the week, teaching a bunch, and also we have Return and Report with the new missionaries and their trainers on Friday.
Well I hope you all are doing great. Thanks for all that you do for me.
Elder Christensen

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter was great in Utica!

Michael's mom meets Lois, Kevin & his mom at the Mesa Easter Pageant
Dear everyone,
I hope everybody had a great Easter! What a great holiday it is. It's great to hear from you. I received the Sheffield's nice Easter surprise, thanks very much to them for that! Hopefully they all are doing well and had a good Spring Break! It's Spring break this week for the kids here. That's great that Nana has a new and easier boot to get somewhat around with. I'm happy to hear that the Easter traditions are still alive and well in the Christensen home, even if Ste is beginning to think he's too cool ;) ha. I'll never be too cool for those. What a joy it is that Mom finally met Lois! That picture of you all at the Easter Pageant is so amazing! How cool. Hopefully Lois enjoyed the pageant and meeting Mom as much as I can imagine she did.

Easter was great in Utica! We had Stake Conference which was a real treat. The Bulloch's spoke, as it is their last Stake Conference before they go (in the Utica stake). Sister Bulloch spoke about what it's like being the wife of a mission president; it was hilarious and great. In fact, one of the reasons it was so great is because I was featured in the talk, as I was referenced as an elder who was sprayed by a skunk at close range. Ha, it was a hit. Elder Williams and I put together some Easter cards for people we are teaching, hoping to teach, who help us out, etc. and went around delivering those and visiting with them. It amazes me how much people appreciate a simple, thoughtful act like that. The feeling of joy that comes as you see the recipient feel loved, thought of, and appreciated is priceless. This Easter wasn't without an Easter miracle, either. I may have mentioned in the past that Martin (the Mexican man and family; who stopped investigating not long ago) knows a woman from the ward. When he came to church he was surprised to see her there; they used to live in the same building until Martin moved across town. Anyway, this Sister from the ward had us signed up on the dinner calendar for Easter. When we called and confirmed she told us that she invited Martin and his kids over too! Ha, I had no idea how this would go but we hoped it'd be great. And it most certainly was great! We had an awesome meal outside on a picnic bench with this Sister and Martin (and the kids at the kids' table, ha). Martin is such a good guy. He was overwhelmed with a poor family situation but has since calmed down about it a bit. He wants to come to church again and sounds like he will allow us to come teach him and his family! It's great. One cool part of the story is that the sister who had us over for dinner had no idea about Martin stepping back from the church and investigating; so she invited him over and I am so grateful she did and it worked out. After we ate and talked we hid some eggs for the kids and they did a little egg hunt outside. Also, it was awesome yesterday we were invited over by the Puerto Rican family to eat and have a lesson. We had awesome arroz con gondules with pork. This family is so great and I'm very excited for their progression. Going to Rome was a good time this week; it's so fun seeing people again with whom you've grown close. Speaking of which, we are going to Albany this week for our last district meeting trainings and working with the Elders there. I'm very excited for that.

I hope that you all are doing great and know of my love and appreciation for you.

Elder Christensen

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Gifts of the Spirit are great and certainly real

Dear everyone,

Hello. It's great to hear from all of you after this exciting weekend. I hope you all are continuing to do well as it sounded so from your emails. I'm excited for Rachel and Tyler! Do you have the name decided already? How cool. And very fun that Paige & Ben made their official announcement - nice timing with April Fool's and all..haha. Thanks Nana for the Easter card, I just got it today. I received the Easter goodies from home; everything is great, thanks a lot. That's great Sarah made cheer leading and Ste is doing well in his sports. It was great to see Jackson's picture from his birthday; I'm excited to get to know this now 'big-boy'. As far as my contract at Alpine, my first inclination is to say go ahead and do a 12 month contract. I don't know if I'll do Spring/Summer (probably?) but it's likely that I'll be working, ideally at the MTC, and won't want to step away from that for a little season like that. That's great you've signed up for some classes - we'll fine tune everything more so in the future. I failed to bring my other memory card with Lois' baptism pictures on it. Next week, sorry. How is everyone coming along with their Book of Mormon reading?

It's been quite the week; it's gone by so fast it's as if it didn't exist. This week ahead will be much more low-key, relatively speaking. I'm going to Rome tomorrow for the day - that will be fun! Too bad Lois isn't home, ha. I loved General Conference so much. You're right, seeing Elder Zwick was awesome giving the prayer. And great memory about Elder Pieper being the one who
interviewed me some months ago; it was very fun listening to him speak. I always feel connected to family while watching Conference as a missionary. There is such a renewing, uniting Spirit that comes as we gather (even if it may be in different locations across the globe) together. It's hard to identify one favorite talk because I loved them all. We were able to get one investigator to come to a session of Conference. She said she got a 'good vibe' from listening to the people speak. Gail was planning on coming to the Saturday afternoon session (which Elder Cook's talk was perfect for her) but cancelled at the last minute. Bummer. With all of the traveling and meetings and Conference this week we didn't have too much time to work in Utica. That didn't stop the Lord's work from progressing, though. At lunch in between Conference on Saturday a guy came up to us asking if we could come over and visit with him sometime, ha. And yesterday night we went over to that part-member Spanish/English speaking family I mentioned before. Only the husband was home this time, who we didn't get a chance to interact with much the
last time we were there. This was great because we were able to teach him directly and get him up to speed with his wife and son who we taught the last time. His Spanish is much better than his English so I taught and talked with him in Spanish. I still cannot believe how these words and grammatical patterns come out of my mouth with the little studying and experience with Spanish I have. Gifts of the Spirit are great and certainly real. I hope you all have a great week preceding Easter and that we all ponder on what the Savior did His last week in mortality. I feel His love in my life and know He lives and cares for each of us. Let us show our love and care for Him.

Thanks for all that you do for me. Happy Easter. I love you.

Elder Christensen

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A surprise visit

Michael driving through Panera Bread with Paige at the window
Michael visiting Paige & Ben's apartment for dinner
Paige & Michael saying goodbye


How's it going? It's great to hear from you all. I love you all very much. This week has been a good one. I don't have any idea where I will work in the summer that would hire me for the short time I'm there. Any suggestions? I'm planning on applying at the MTC early, soon after I get home to hopefully beat the rush to work there. Thanks to the HV ward for the sweet letter/notes. I loved hearing from Brother Jones, hope he and his family are doing well. Logan Stevens, missionary work has been really good; it definitely is work though. Brayden Stevens,
we are still teaching Princess and she is doing very well. Camille Stevens, I don't have a favorite meal but I do know my least favorite thing served to me out here is this nasty homemade seaweed salad - tasted like the ocean. ha, I don't recommend trying to recreate that. I'll email Lois' baptismal picture(s) next week. I don't have the right memory card with me.

It was great seeing Paige and Ben. I'm impressed how it all worked out; it was quite spontaneous. How cool. So as you probably know we were down around Ithaca in the beginning of this week. District Meetings went well and E. Williams and I are looking forward to the
week ahead. It's going to be cray-zee. Tomorrow we are doing an exchange with the Auburn elders; I'm staying here in Utica to work and we have 6 appointments scheduled. Then Wednesday we are training at 2 District Meetings in the Syracuse zone and traveling up North to
Potsdam. Thursday will consist of trainings and travel and Friday we will be working with the Potsdam Elders. And of course this weekend is General Conference, how sweet! I'm so excited. I didn't really get it, before, just how significant and amazing an opportunity it is to listen to modern day prophets speak. Saturday night this past week we had a really great experience. E Williams and I felt like stopping by an active Sister's home, so we did so. The Sister wasn't home but her nonmember sister and nephew were! They invited us right in and we taught them about the restoration and modern-day prophets. It was a very spirit-filled lesson and visit and we have appointments scheduled to return and teach more with their member sister to be there! She,
the member, is extremely excited and so are we. They are a very nice family. I just had to get my temple recommend renewed this morning, I couldn't believe that it's been 2 years!
Things are going great here in Utica and I'm enjoying the work more and more. Thanks for all that you do, I love you.

Elder Christensen

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Amazing Africans


How's it going? It's great to hear from you all. The sun is out and shining brightly here in Utica. I'm very grateful for the awesome weather. Elder Williams and I are looking to sneak in a little tennis today or something fun outside like that. That's great all of the festivities in Utah went well. Sounds like it was a great time. I hope Nana continues to be in good spirits and endures this little ailment well. I'm curious what Elder Bowles was quoted on in the Mormon Times or that show? How cool. Did Dad golf with Elder Zwick, is that why he 'wants me to meet in his office'? haha. I got a great letter from Elder Miller this week from the Y; we'd like to room together in the fall, possibly in Alpine Village. He asked for a way to contact Mom about it so I gave him your number. You can send the information about the majors and stuff - I'm curious as to what to take. I believe I did take PDbio 120, though, Fall semester as a freshman?? Maybe it was a different pdbio class but I'd check that out before signing up for it. Happy to hear from Justin Stevens and his family. I have been to the Hill Cumorah, Brayden, and I'll get to go again in May before I come home from my mission. Logan, the best way to prepare to serve a mission is to become personally converted yourself; and once you're out here all you need to do is give it your best.
This week has been great. Whenever there is a departing group of missionaries, especially when one of those leaving was my companion, the reality of going home becomes more real. It's been great with Elder Williams so far though. Monday Elder McCleve and I had an amazing experience. We had an appointment with Princess, our Liberian investigator. While there, her mother joined us as well as 4 friends who came over! It was so amazing, all of these people just kept coming in and being interested and having great spirits about them. Princess and one of the other nonmember friends came to church yesterday all dressed up in awesome African clothes. It was great. We've been doing a lot of preparing for trainings this week, too. We prepared one for ZLC that was on Friday and then this weekend we've put together the training that we will be going around to the District Meetings giving. We're going to be down in the Owego zone/stake tomorrow and Wednesday. Ha, we'll see if we find ourselves in the drive thru at Panera in Ithaca...haha just kidding ;).
Things are going very well with the work and personally. I'm happy and enjoying the time that I have to serve. I love you all so much and appreciate everything you do.

Elder Christensen

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Spirit brings such a peace and comfort to me.


It's a beautiful day here in Utica, NY. I hope you all are doing well and it's great to hear from you. Today is as crazy of a day as they come with all of the things that Elder McCleve and I are trying to accomplish (in addition to teaching at 3, 4:30, & 7:30). Getting ready for the upcoming transfer and all of the trainings that that entails has us very busy. It's great though, I wouldn't want it any other way. I'm happy Ste is so excited about Spring Break - I love(d) going to Utah that time of year to snowboard/ski AND golf! Jordan Gerard is home! How cool and exciting for their family. What are his plans? That's too bad about the homecoming time situation. (It would be cool to have a topic to speak about/relate stories to if possible, when the time comes). It's now light until around 7pm with 'Springing forward' the time. My new companion is Elder Williams, coming from Albany. He's been out about 14.5 months and is great; I'm excited to be his companion. With the new mission president coming in it makes sense to have him here who can span the gap and know how things work by the time he arrives. I have no idea if I'll stay here next transfer or not - it's pretty up in the air. I definitely have had the most companions in our mission out of the people currently serving, ha.
This past week has been great preparing the transfer and making plans like that. Elder McCleve had a great time at Palmyra and I enjoyed working with Elder Baird for the day while he was gone. Yesterday Martin and his 3 kids came to church! They loved it and turns out he knows a sister in the ward because they used to be neighbors a few months ago. The sister said when he lived by her that he was one of her favorite neighbors because he is such a good person, etc. We have a great Hispanic recent convert who has befriended him and is teaching him with us so we have high hopes for this family! I called Gail last night and invited her to a RS dinner Friday night. She was pleased to hear from us but is going to be out of town and unable to come to the dinner. She was happy to receive the invitation, though. We'll see how that all pans out. Things are great. I'm doing great. I really enjoy the opportunity to serve here in Utica; I'm growing a lot, I feel. The greatest thing is feeling the influence of the Spirit daily in my life. The Spirit brings such a peace and comfort to me. It also enables me to do things beyond my natural capacity, for which I am so grateful. Constantly striving to obtain the blessings and guidance of the Spirit is so important to me. I hope it is to all of you too.

Thanks for everything you do for me! I love you.

Love, Elder Christensen

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Great hopes for things in Utica

Dear everyone,

Hello there! I hope you all are doing well; it's great to hear from all of you. I cannot believe March is here. I love now that the sun is up in the mornings when we run. Those pictures of Ste at the Suns game are sweet. How did he get that opportunity to be the High 5 kid? Steve Nash's hair is short? ha. How sweet that Jordan Gerard is coming home this week! I remember when I
saw him walking out of the Provo temple during his stay at the MTC - and that I had my mission call already. How cool, it'll be great to see him again. I failed to mention a week or so ago who the new mission president is going to be after the Bulloch's. I suppose that's easy to do when I know I won't be serving under the new mission president, but it's exciting nonetheless. The new mission president, arriving July 1, is Joseph B. Wirthlin Jr! Son of the apostle. How cool is that! I definitely only feel blessed, though, to be serving under the Bulloch's. In the next package that is sent, it would be great to get some new socks & stamps. Thanks. Today we began planning the upcoming transfer with President Bulloch. This process is so neat to be a part of. I did get Annie's wedding invitation in the mail. How exciting for her and the family. I hope the trip to Utah with everyone is awesome.

This week has been great. I was in the area the whole time! Elder McCleve and I were able to teach a lot and get a lot of things done. Unfortunately, though, we have had a set back with Gail. She is going to explore some other things at this time; the good news is that the door is not entirely closed. She is at least going to continue reading the Book of Mormon and come to General Conference. (Can you believe it's almost already here again?) Yesterday was a great day at church. Our African investigator, Princess, came to church and had a great time. Also, the majority of the testimonies shared were by recent converts and recently reactivated members who we or previous missionaries have been working with. There are a lot of really good relationships we have built with the members, particularly less-actives, in the ward which is really helping the work progress. Return and Report on Friday was fun. It was cool to see how excited the MTC group was to be reunited again after being out in the field about a month. The upcoming week will be similar to this past one other than planning the next transfer with President. Elder McCleve is going to Palmyra tomorrow and I'll be working here with another missionary from a different area. We have a lot of good appointments planned all week, too. I have great hopes for the things going on here in Utica.

I appreciate so much all that you do for me. Your love and concern is felt from wherever you may be.

Elder Christensen

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Elder Christensen is given permission to hug a girl

Paige & Michael
Paige, President Bulloch & Michael
Dear Everyone,

Hello there. Another week has flown by, it's great to hear from all of you! It certainly has been an eventful week - the highlight undoubtedly was being with Paige! More on that later. Things seem to be going well and it always makes me so happy to hear from you all. Thanks for doing so well at being in contact, you rock. I will take care of my new contacts out here; that sounds like it will be the best thing. I hope Nana gets familiar with the workings of the laptop, ha! It's great to hear from you. I bought an inexpensive suit at H&M (75$) that will serve its purpose just great.

This week has been great. We were all over the place but it was very enjoyable! Zone Conference in cool. During the first part of Zone Conference I passed a note to Sister Bulloch informing her that Paige was going to be there for the lunch. She got all excited and was eager to see if they were there yet and things (at that point they weren't). She was very happy about it, ha. I kind of figured that Paige was listening in during the training; I didn't know for sure but I supposed she could pull off something like that. I don't know how much she heard, though. Ha, Elder McCleve and I feel like that was the best training we gave of the 5 that we did. So then after we had a prayer on the food (still in the meeting room) President made everyone aware of the situation. Ha, one of the first things he said was something along the lines of: Now you all know I have permission to make exceptions to the missionary handbook (white handbook) and today I'm giving permission to Elder Christensen to hug a girl. Haha, people unaware of what was going on were really confused but then President explained. Then, walking into the gym to eat Paige and I were center stage, everyone watching our first embrace and talking. Haha. It was fun. Do you want to know the weirdest part of the whole ordeal? The weirdest part, to me, is that it wasn't weird at all. It felt like I had just been with her the week before, no joke! I feel it was so bizarre that it wasn't bizarre, ha. I'm very grateful for the opportunity. Later, then, we traveled the long journey from Elmira to Malone. We had a great time up in the north country with the Zone Conference and working with the elders. We were away from home Monday through Friday night. I am baffled, though, at how well the work is progressing in Utica. So many things are coming out of the woodwork, it's amazing. I think 3 or so members brought nonmember friends/family to church yesterday and we received another 2 or 3 calls from members with friends/family who are interested in learning about the Gospel. It's unreal.
Things really are going great! Elder McCleve and I are having a great time together, he's way focused and enjoying being here even though his time is short. Gail is progressing nicely and now we are beginning to teach these others and we'll see how it all pans out! This week we will actually be around the whole time. We are doing an exchange with the Rome elders (Elder Bowles is still there) and it's planned now that I'll stay here in Utica and work with his companion. We have Return and Report this Friday which we will be making preparations for earlier in the week, but it should be a very effective, exciting week.

Thanks for all that you do! I love you all so much and can feel of your love and support for me.

Elder Christensen

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Harvest is the Lord's

Michael with Elder McCleve
Dear everyone,

It's great to hear from you all. I'm happy to hear things are going great for the most part. Nana is recovering and it was awesome to get her email. Thanks for the pictures that you sent, those are always great. I don't have a problem with Paige magnifying her calling and helping out with the Zone Conference lunch tomorrow, haha. Yeah, I really am fine with it and look forward to it! How fun and rare an opportunity to see your sister on your mission like this. I'm just forewarning that I don't know how much time we will be able to visit and chat like I'm sure we'd like to but it will be great! See you tomorrow, ha. I have a favor to ask, can you send a list or some form of the descriptions of the games from Minute to Win it (assuming that show is still around). I can remember a few of them but not many; I figure there could be some that can be useful for object lessons in trainings and stuff. Thanks. About the contacts, the issue is my prescription is expired and I cannot order just 1 more month's worth without getting a whole new prescription. Should I go ahead and take care of that out here (probably just at Wal Mart, which is more than fine) or try and wait until I get home (not knowing if I'll be able to get in before we leave for California)? And if I get them out here, I'm sure it will save money to buy a year's supply rather than just month's worth. Thoughts? It's really interesting how last week I made mention asking about what major I should pursue and stuff and this week some events that have happened. Mom was recommended zoology and ironically I was in a situation this week talking with a Senior Couple where they (after me telling them I'm thinking of going into medicine) went off on how zoology was so good for their son preparing to go to medical school, etc. I also had a very neat experience in light of these things this week that I'll share later but not in this email.
It's so warm and nice, I can't believe it! Elder McCleve and I are going to go shopping today - I'm looking for a nice, inexpensive suit that I'll want here and after. Things are good.

This past week was a blast, going to 3 Zone Conferences. They have all been very Spirit filled, yet different and unique in their own ways. Elder McCleve and I are training on the teaching skill of "How to Begin Teaching" one of my favorite skills. They've gone quite well and I'm looking forward to continuing with it this week. Here is a simple outline of what we have going on: we are traveling to Elmira tonight, Zone Conference there tomorrow, working with the Elmira elders until Wednesday afternoon, traveling up North to Malone and staying the night there, Thursday Zone Conference in the North Country, working with the Potsdam Zone Leaders up there until Friday late afternoon, and driving home that evening, and we'll be in Utica teaching Saturday and Sunday. Good times. I'm still amazed at how well the work is going here! Gail is doing great and we are going to sneak in a lesson with her this afternoon before we travel to Elmira. She's really acclimating well in the ward and enjoying the Spirit in her life. We also had the investigator we visited last Monday at church yesterday, she's a sharp lady. We had another cool experience finding another new investigator. A couple weeks ago at Wal Mart we talked to this guy in the parking lot who was really interested in coming to church. He's Hispanic and speaks pretty good English but he is more comfortable with Spanish, so I talked to him in Spanish and he opened up quite a bit. Long story short is we stopped by his place yesterday and he invited us right in and we visited with him. He wants to strengthen his family and do this for himself and them. We are going to teach him and his kids Saturday morning with a recent convert who is an awesome Puerto Rican who speaks perfect English and Spanish. Great stuff. The Rome elders just came into the office and they were telling me of some great things happening there with people I know and taught - the harvest is the Lord's and the joy I feel just hearing about those things is as sweet as if I was there a part of it more.

Thanks for all that you do! I love you all so much.

Elder Christensen

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Don't know if I have ever enjoyed missionary work as much as I do now

Dear Everyone,

Hello to you. It sounds like so much has happened this past week I really don't know where to begin! My heart goes out to Nana; she is such a good sport! I'm so sorry to hear about the accident in the alley. I'm learning first hand how nasty walking around on ice can be.
Miraculously I have yet to have a slip on the ice (I'm sure I just jinxed myself), although missionaries do quite regularly out here. I've had some funny experiences with companions slipping, but nothing nearly as serious as Nana's. Get well soon! Back in Arizona it sounds like all of the visitors and events went great! How fun; I love the pictures. I hope to hear more about all of that in the future. The California trip sounds like it'll be great. Basically my contacts will be all used up right at the end of my mission. I'm not sure if it'd be best to go ahead and get another eye exam and get more contacts out here...or if it'd be best to do it when I get home. If I did wait until I got home, I would hope to be able to squeeze that in before we take off to California. Out here would be fine in my mind unless you feel differently for any reason? Next week I'll be in Elmira. Zone Conference is there on Tuesday, we'll work there Wednesday then travel up to Potsdam for Zone Conference up there Thursday. So, if we want to do the Lewis Luncheon it'd need to be Wednesday the 22nd. I've thought since we last mentioned this that it may be neat to wait and do it...especially with Paige and Ben on the cruise when I get off the plane. So perhaps we could wait until my last transfer (with the assumption I'm still in Utica) and do it then (which would probably be May 16, surrounding the next zone conference down there). Thoughts?

This upcoming week is going to be crazy! Tonight E McCleve and I are traveling to Albany in preparation for the Zone Conference there tomorrow. Then Wednesday we have Zone Conference here in the Utica Zone. And Thursday we have it in Syracuse, and following the meeting we are going to be working with the zone leaders there for a day. It's been fun getting all ready for the Zone Conference tour. Also, we went to Albany and worked with the elders there for a day. As far as reconnecting with old friends there, this trip was less exciting; but overall I had a great time being there, it will forever have a sweet spot in my heart. Amidst doing that this past week we were able to teach as much as ever! Things are progressing very well. This past week we found 2 new solid investigators, and the week prior we found 4. In fact, we're going to teach one of those 2 new this afternoon at 1. I'm really excited. We talked to her initially a few weeks ago visiting a less-active man in a nursing home/rehab place after he had a stroke; she was one of his nurses - and asked to have a copy of the Book of Mormon. Then she ended up coming to church the week before and this past week we were able to teach her! Good stuff. The other new investigator we found this week is a 18 year old girl who is friends with a less-active family we are teaching. She's really sharp and fun to teach. Since I arrived in Utica the area/ward has been split in two with Sisters here as well. The portion we cover includes the city of Utica which hadn't been worked much by the elders previously. There are tons of less-active members on the roles that live there so that's been a big focus since I arrived here. It's been great not only for teaching and reactivating these members but for finding their nonmember spouses, children, and friends to teach too. It's been great. Gail is doing really well. We had a very powerful lesson on the divinity of Christ as the Son of God. It went well. She's a thinker, which is great. Some of the doctrines (ie. that God has a body of flesh and bone) don't sit too well with her intellectually right now, but she says that all of these experiences she is having (ie. at church, reading the Book of Mormon, etc) feel good and bring her more peace than she's felt before. I feel really good about how things are going there although she isn't preparing for a specific date to be baptized yet. I'm doing really well. All in all, I don't know if I have enjoyed missionary work up to this point as much as I am currently. I enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Everyone does.

Thanks for all that you do. I love you all so much. Happy Valentines Day.

Elder Christensen

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What Superbowl?

Dear everyone,

Hello, how's it going? It's always enjoyable emailing you updates and getting updates from you all. Glad to hear things are going well. Ha, it's pretty fun to be in the world and not up to date on everything, like the Superbowl. We were too busy teaching a young, less-active member last night to watch it, haha. I remember last year during the Superbowl, though, tracting out
in the cold in Albany. Good times. I was with Elder Potter at the time, and guess what. Elder Potter just a few minutes ago called President Bulloch to say hello and catch up for a moment and President handed me the phone and I got to talk with him for a while. How crazy; he's doing good, it's fun to hear his voice. He is still the only companion that I have served with for 2 consecutive transfers...pretty unique. I'm sorry to hear about Fred and Anne's friends, that's really sad. I see this morning that Papa and Nana sent me a little something, I've yet to open it but thanks! I also received Mom's letter and package on Friday - good timing, before the weekend. Thanks for that and all the things inside. Did you say those are the last of my contacts? I got the memory card - I was looking at the one that's in my camera (the one you didn't just send back to me) and there are only a few recent pictures on it. Did you clear the pictures from it intentionally or did something happen to it? I'm assuming they've been loaded and saved and stuff so I'm not worried about it but curious as to the details on that. I would prefer speaking my first Sunday home, I believe, with all the things that were mentioned surrounding that. As far as BYU is concerned, I don't remember what other questions were asked other than where to live. I'm thinking Alpine Village is good (or I was prior to coming out) - I'm not familiar with any other place, really, though. What else are you wondering about, for school stuff again?

This week was a good week, crazy fast. Elder Miller is back in Las Vegas and I'm here with Elder McCleve (from Chandler, not Mesa. went to Basha). With a companion going home it always makes the reality of going home more real. It was fun being with Elder Miller again. This transfer will be a quick, fun one too going around to all of the Zone Conferences. This week ahead is basically already all mapped out. We have a bunch of teaching appointments already set, we're going to Albany on Wednesday, and we will be making preparations for the upcoming Zone Conferences and the training we will be giving. The work in Utica is as good as ever. We continue to have tender mercies from the Lord. Here is just one neat experience from this past week. Elder Miller and I a few weeks ago talked to a woman on the street while it was snowing pretty hard; our conversation was very brief and by the end of it all we knew was her address and that she's African. On Saturday, now with Elder McCleve, something came up where we happened to be on her street, and I remembered someone lived on it. After looking at what I had written down I saw that it was this lady. We decided to stop by even though she wasn't someone we were eager to try by because we didn't know how interested she really was. When we knocked a different African lady, younger, answered and invited us in. As we sat down and visited with her she told us she is from Lyberia. We jumped all over that because there are 2 members of the ward from there...and it turns out she is good friends with one of them, who is a returned missionary (30 now). And it just so happened that he was actually on his way over there right then to hang out with some other people, ha. Five minutes later he came in and helped us teach a bit. It was really cool how it all played out and we're looking forward to begin teaching her. Other investigators are continuing to do well, too. Gail is still very interested and we're excited to teach her again this week. In fact, she asked for 4 copies of the Book of Mormon to give to family and friends, ha. Things are going great here in Utica and I'm excited to continue to be a part of the Lord's work.

Thanks for all that you do for me. Have a great week.

Elder Christensen

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Puerto Rican food was a bad choice

Dear everyone,
Hello there. It's great to hear from you all. Things are progressing along nicely here in New York; and I'm happy that things sound to be doing the same in your various locations. How is everyone coming along with their Book of Mormon reading? I'm loving looking for references to Christ. One name I hadn't realized before that I particularly enjoy is the 'founder of peace'. Thanks for
looking into the school stuff. I'd be totally cool with doing online Byu independent studies in the summer. How many credits are the writing classes, average? And I don't know about the biology and all that, my major, etc. Is what you were saying, I need to have the classes I want to take in Fall decided by March/April? Keep me posted on all that; it's valuable info for me to know.
Also, any insight on working at the MTC? I would be fine with speaking my first Sunday back, too. Is it true that the Lewis' will be gone then? A trip to California afterward feels more reasonable than the others; I'm just excited to spend time together. I wouldn't be opposed to that idea. When would we leave?/get back?
The Zone Conference on the 21st is in Elmira - I was thinking it was in Ithaca. After the Conference we will be in Elmira working for the day/night and staying there and working in the morning. The next day, at some point, we will be traveling all the way to Potsdam for another Zone Conference on Thursday of that week. So maybe we could do lunch on that Wednesday, the
This new transfer is about upon us, crazy. Elder Miller is about out of here. I'll be serving with Elder McCleve, from Mesa. He only has one transfer left but I'm excited about it - it was very enjoyable being a part of the transfer planning process. This week has been craziness; it's been great though. Tuesday was fun with Elder Butler, he's a zone leader in Potsdam.
Gail, our investigator, is doing great still! We taught her with President Bulloch, sweet.
Yesterday was interesting, I woke up in the middle of the night feeling sick. Saturday night we went to a Puerto Rican restaurant which turned out to be a bad choice, ha. I thew up in the morning but knew that I needed to go to church regardless (with it being E Miller's last Sunday, Gail and other new people's first time we were expecting, etc). So I got through church and
I'm glad I went. Afterward, though, I knew I couldn't be up and about working - E Miller didn't want to be in his last 'full' day as a missionary nor cancel our he went out with a member all day and I stayed at the mission home under Sister Bulloch's watchful care and slept. The Bulloch's are so great.
This week ahead will be very fun. We're picking up the new missionaries tomorrow from the airport/being with them all night. Wednesday is transfer day which includes more training and being with lots of missionaries. And Friday is ZLC with the Zone leaders here. It's amazing amidst all of these other things we are doing we are still being blessed with lots of work. We had quite a few appointments fall through last week but some of them turned out to be a blessing
by freeing up some time, ha. Anyway, things are going great and I'm looking forward to what is ahead.
Thanks for all of your love and support! You are all the best.
Elder Christensen

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A visit to Albany


It's so great to hear from all of you! I am incredibly limited in my time today so I'll try to get the most bang for my buck. We are starting the Transfer Planning which involves making plans for the upcoming transfer with regards to companionships, trainings, and things of the sort. Also we have been helping the mission vehicle coordinator with getting new cars and driving them off the lot, ha. That's crazy about Paige being right there at Panera when I was going past. In response to her question about Zone Conference lunch - if she wants to that'd be cool (President doesn't have a problem with it). I don't feel particularly strongly about it one way or the other. I think it'd be way fun. My only reservations are with all the other missionaries around I don't know 1) how much we would be able to really interact/talk, etc and 2) if they'd feel like it's 'unfair' or something. We could perhaps have dinner or something of the sort surrounding the Zone Conference if you think it'd be good? Let me know your thoughts. The vacation options sound good, I read through them very quickly so I need to look over them and think about it and get back to you. (Don't feel bad about writing about that stuff; it's helpful). About the vacation options what makes the most sense all things considered in your guys' minds?? I think that's a great idea to call BYU and find out information about registering and all that and about what requirements I need/etc.. Particularly that last part so that I can know what to take at MCC this summer - if you wouldn't mind looking into that as well :). Keep me posted and let me know. I don't have any needs as far as the incoming package is concerned. I'm not in pressing need of them but you could put more contacts in there if you wish.
This week has been really fun. Going back to Albany was a blast. A lot has happened there since I left. I had an incredibly neat experience there this week and another particularly saddening one. The sad one was visiting the Flanders. They haven't been coming to church for the past couple months and aren't doing too well in the Gospel. Basically they're done with the church as it stands now; it was quite sad. Our conversation about it was rather upright and frank but there was not persuading/teaching them that would sway them at this point. On a more positive note, Tuesday night was great. I got to teach Namukolo and she is doing really well and planning on going to do baptisms for the dead very soon! Even more notably afterward we stopped by an elderly German woman who I taught and helped become active again in the church. She happened to have gone to the temple for the first time to receive her endowment that very day. When I was there we talked about the goal of the temple a lot and it was just an amazing experience how it all panned out that I was there and saw her the day she went! She felt prompted to finish a scarf she was making for me (which is pretty sweet) the night before even though she didn't know why. She then was able to give it to me in person rather than mail it as intended. Really cool. Return and Report was a really fun time; it's cool to be around the new missionaries and see their growth. The trainings all went well. The work really is going great here in Utica. Sunday was amazing. Gail came to church and loved it again. She enjoyed the lesson on the sabbath day in gospel principles; she felt she had missed the mark before and was getting too caught up in the do's and don'ts of it all rather than the principle of setting the day aside to remember and worship the Lord. She felt edified. We also had another investigator, James, come to church. He participated a lot and had an uplifting time. We already have 19 appointments set this week, amidst the additional trainings and transfer planning we have going on this week. Elder Miller is going to Palmyra tomorrow and I'll be working here with Elder Butler. Things are great and I'm very happy.
I love you all so much and appreciate all that you do for me.

Elder Christensen

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A snowy, icy tundra

Dear everyone,

It's great to hear from you. Winter is definitely here in New York. Last Monday we played soccer/football outside with some other missionaries in shorts and t shirts; this week that won't exactly happen, ha. It's a snowy, icy tundra now. Driving to church yesterday the thermostat on our truck read -9. Pretty crazy - for me anyway. I hope the campout this week goes well; I don't remember ever camping out in, though. I have yet to get Mom's letter this week so I can't respond to anything in that, sorry. If you send them earlier in the week I'll get them before the weekend and that's better that I get them before I read your emails and email you back.
I have had another great, quick week. Our district meeting in Binghamton went great as well as our exchange in Elmira. Wednesday morning we drove right through Ithaca...that was pretty weird/cool. Unfortunately we were running late, trying to get to Utica for a district Meeting at 10am, otherwise I would have made an attempt to visit those in Ithaca. Where were you around 7:30-7:45am on Wednesday morning? We drove past the Panera (sign) but I had no idea if Paige was there then. We'll make it happen, ha. Other than the trainings this week we were able to actually get quite a bit of teaching done. Gail, our investigator, is doing amazingly well. We taught her at the church with some members Wednesday night and it went great! She also came to church and after the 3rd hour we met up with her and asked how it went/if we could answer any questions for her. She said something to the effect of - yeah, I have questions but you can answer them later, I'm just enjoying this great peaceful feeling. Haha, it was great! It's amazing to me how much Spanish I am using here in Utica. I love it so much. I used it a bit in Albany but it wasn't nearly as frequent/common in interactions with people we encounter on the street and such. Here it's been almost every day we're out and about that I use Spanish. There is a Sunday School class in the ward exclusively in Spanish, too. I forgot if I've mentioned before that we are teaching a man - who was a member's acquaintance - from Puerto Rico who speaks little English. It's been great teaching him, he's very receptive and knowledgeable. All in all things are really going great and moving swiftly along. I'm excited to travel to Albany late tonight! We are doing trainings over there this week (2 Tuesday, 1Wednesday) and working with Elder Checketts (previous companion there in Albany who is still there, going home with E Miller). The Albany ward has continued to have tons of success since I left which is great to see and I just heard that a man I started teaching, a part-member family I wrote about before, has a baptismal date! It's so cool. So I'm excited for all of that and Friday we have New Missionary Return and Report - where the new missionaries (like Sister Smith in Ithaca) come and we meet with them with President and have trainings and such. I'm excited for that. This week is going to go by very fast. I'm happy and happy to hear from all of you. Thanks for all that you do for me. I love you.

Love, Elder Christensen

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ithaca is a beautiful city!

Dear everyone,
Hello! It's great to hear from you all. It's been a great week here in New York and I'm happy to hear that likewise it has been good in your respective locations. I love seeing the pictures of you guys; the more pictures the merrier. The house in Mesa never sleeps, it seems. That's fun that there are visitors and you guys are having fun. 70 degrees sounds hot to me, haha. It was cold in the earlier part of the week (in Ithaca) but this later half really hasn't been bad at all - I'm acclimated/ing I suppose. Snow in Utah sounds normal. That will be fun for Papa and the golf guys to go to Phoenix, per tradition. Congratulations on the home run, Ste. I never had one over the fence like that, pretty sweet! Other than Rachel and Jackson in Mesa, everyone will be getting back in the normal swing of things which will be good too. We've definitely felt the influence of Romney running for president out here in the mission field. I've found that it is such a positive thing! Even for those who come at us with an antagonistic approach, it allows us to resolve their concerns, tear down misconceptions, and teach truth. I found the same thing with The Book of Mormon musical when I was in Albany. Ps, am I registered to vote?
This week has been a great one! Filled with travel and training there hasn't been a minute to spare. Ithaca is a beautiful city! I think it may be the prettiest spot I've seen up here - and all the trees are dead, ha. All of the hills and falls are neat. I didn't see the Lewis' apartment - but we stayed the night at the Elders' apartment which was fun. I thought that the "cry room" adjacent to the chapel with the window was hilarious, ha. I worked in Trumansburgh for a few hours that afternoon. Wednesday we traveled up to Carthage, trained, then continued on up to Potsdam and worked there with the Zone Leaders for the day. It's very rural up in the "North Country." Very different. Especially for my experience as I've only been in wards and each of my areas has had a "city" (other than Schoharie) which brings more hustle and bustle which I enjoy. Then Wednesday we trained in Potsdam, traveled to Plattsburgh and trained there, did a baptismal interview for a couple (so amazing. That's one of the best things, seeing investigators right before they're baptized), and traveled the long journey home. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we worked in Utica. I talked to our investigator Gail (who we found on Christmas Eve and came to church on Christmas) on the phone Saturday and she is loving the Book of Mormon! She is through 1 Nephi and loves when the Lord is speaking - she loved 1 Nephi 3:7 (found it all on her own) and applied it to her life, etc. So cool. Anyway, she came to church yesterday and we had an incredible time! Yesterday morning we got a call that the gospel principles teacher wasn't going to be there so we needed to teach the class. It ended up working great because we were able to teach Gail the restoration! She has great questions and really ate everything up! We are teaching her this Wednesday and I can't wait! She's a very sharp, impressive woman. It's also been fun working with the sisters, or I should say balancing our efforts with the sisters in the Utica ward. It's great to find joy in others' successes. This week ahead will be fun. Binghamton tomorrow, then working in Elmira the rest of the day. Wednesday we're training in the Utica zone. Thursday Rome is coming here and blitzing us. Time is flying by at an incredible pace; I'm having great experiences and learning and growing a lot.
Thanks for all that you do for me. Thank you for keeping in touch. I love you all so much.
Elder Christensen
ps- I got Mom's letter this morning, so I'm getting them. ha thanks :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Nurse Michael

Michael with Elder Miller (on his right) his new companion and trainer and Elder Stratton (on his left) whom he trained.
Michael enjoying Thanksgiving Day

Dear everyone,
Happy 2012! It's pretty amazing that 2011 has already come and gone.It's been a great and quick year. Hopefully you all had a good one and are as optimistic as I am looking forward to the year ahead! I'm glad those in Mesa are having a good time together still. How cool. I'm looking forward to being in Ithaca tomorrow...ha should be great. I have yet to get a letter from Mom this week if she sent one. It was exciting to hear this week that Jordan Richardson is engaged!Congratulations to him! Awesome.
This week has been a good one and a different one. Elder Milller was sick the majority of the week with Benign Paroxymal Positional Vertigo. He was really dizzy and had difficulty getting around and stuff. It came on Tuesday evening and we came in to the apartment early that night and stayed in Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Bizarre. I got a lot done, though, around the house! I was able to clean, get things organized, look through old investigator records, prepare our District Meeting training, and take care of Elder Miller. Above everything else, I've gained a greater appreciation for the role of mothers. What is most rewarding to me, though, is that serving someone like that - even in the 'home-maker' capacity - brings joy just like any other service. I found it very enjoyable actually, ha.
We had a great lesson on Tuesday with the family we found on Christmas. They're doing awesome. Then Saturday night E Miller went to the Mission Home with President and Sister Bulloch and I went out teaching that family with a member. It went really well. After that we taught another family we found on Monday whose first language is Keran (similar to Bermeese?). I don't remember the unique country that they're from. But it was cool they had friends over and we were able to teach them too! In order for them to understand we had to teach like we were teaching a child. Good experience and we're looking forward to seeing them again on Saturday night. Yesterday E Miller was feeling up to church so we went and had a good time there. I gave a brief 5 minute introduction of who I am and a message for the new year on finding joy in the journey/gratitude. After, the Bulloch's invited us to lunch over at their house and we had ribs and some other good things :). E Miller seems to almost be 100% and we're looking forward to start going around giving our training. Ithaca tomorrow, Carthage Wednesday, Potsdam and Plattsburgh Thursday. Should be fun! Thanks for all that you do for me! I love you all so much.
Love, Elder Christensen