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.

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