MTC is serving in the New York Utica mission from June 2010 to June 2012. We hope to keep you updated with his latest letters, pictures and more.

Tuesday, 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