Saturday, December 29, 2012

December 26, 2012 (Perth Amboy)

Hey hey hey ho. Happy Christmas everybody. Thank you so so much family and friends for the wonderful gifts. I feel SPOILED. In reality I do.

So this email is NOT going to be very long because I got to talk to most of the people that read these posts YESTERDAY. But first know that I love all of you. Oh and the church is still true.

1. Transfers in a week. Elder Giglio and I have grown really close in these past 3 months and we think he's leaving.
2. WE HAD A BAPTISM YESTERDAY. X-mas Day baptism = greatest X-Mas Present ever. Thanks Lord, you're the best.
We visited Maria on Sunday night. We brought Hermano Vidal (from Peru) to help us teach and resolve some doubts, if we could. After answering a lot of questions, bearing testimony of the Book of Mormon, and finally breaking down the barriers she kept throwing around herself, we happily set her with another date: December 25th, 2012 at 5 o clock.
On Tuesday (yesterday) we got to the chapel late and President Jeppson was already there and we hadn't even filled the font. I was stressing out and running around trying to fill the fount, give Maria her baptismal clothes, send the other elders back to the house to grab the bap interview form, etc.. It was really hectic, but finally when she was in the water, and Elder Giglio and I wwere witnessing it, we felt AWESOME. Maria finally entered into her first covenant with God. I love that.
3. We visited Dante (65 year old Uruguayan man) this week and he we found he got another cat. He know has 11. It's insane, but we love him and we really wish he would come back to church.
4. Ate whole boiled lobsters with our ward mission leader. I don't know how he bought them but they were delicious.
5. We set Juan Jose with a baptismal date! He's our recovering alcoholic and he's progressing really well. He is really humble and is SO ready for baptism.
6. We ate 4 meals on Christmas Eve. I felt like I was going to DIE when we were finished.
7. I am ready to get back to REAL missionary work. This past Saturday was the last day of service. I feel like we have not had a real week or even day of missionary work since Sandy came.

Life is good. I love all of you and I LOVED hearing about mission calls and all my friends serving aka Bekah, Jonny Bigelow, etc.

1 John 4:10


Monday, December 17, 2012

December 17, 2012 (Perth Amboy)

Hello family! How is everyone? Is everyone STOKED for Christmas? I am. For some reason, I've never felt sad or that I'm missing out on the mission, even when holidays or marvelous events pass by. I'm here, where I'm supposed to be, and I'm happy. Know that.

This week was a normal week of work, except for Thursday. Thursday, in the morning, we went to the mission home for something called "Jingle With The Jeppsons". It was awesome. We went over as a zone and started by eating the massive homemade breakfast that President and Sister Jeppson prepared for us. After that we all met in their piano/living room and played some songs with handbells. It consisted of Sister Jeppson holding up big posters with the notes and words and we all sang and played. (It's like with Sister Tanner and her handbells that the primary kids use where each one is a different note). We all felt like were were five years old but in a good way. After that we had a great spiritual discussion lead by President where we studied several passages of scripture in the Book of Mormon (monthly focus in the mission) about the prophecies of Jesus Christ. I got a lot of cool inspiration of the life of Christ and his purpose for us as missionaries and for everyone in the world today. We had a kneeling prayer to close. I love hearing President Jeppson pray. I know he is called of God to lead us and to lead this mission. Every once in a while, President will say a blessing the middle of the prayer and that's what he did in this one. It always brings the spirit super strong, as if his words are filling us with the power of the Lord.

As for the rest of the week:
-Maria called us a set up an appointment again. We say her Saturday night and resolved some of her doubts and fears. It was really good to talk to her. We also invited her to church again.
-Speaking of church: it was awesome. We had our alcoholic investigator Juan-Jose there. And his boss kept calling him in the middle of sacrament meeting to come into work but he didn't answer.  He toldus that he felt the spirit, so we think that's the reason why he stayed. He's really great and he's progressing really well. We're going to challenge him to a date the next time we meet. We've already talked a lot about baptism so we think it will go over really well.
-Also, concerning church, MARIA ACTUALLY CAME. It was wonderful. She was there about 20 minutes early too. She sat to herself and I went and talked to her for a few minutes. She sincerely thanked me for the invitation to come, because if wouldn't have invited her, she would not have come. We still think she will be baptized, it will just take a little bit of time.
-I was thinking about members here in New Jersey. It seems to me that all of the members here that are stong in the gospel, with deeply rooted testimonies are really some of the most converted people I've ever met. I'm not dissing on Utah, but it seems because in Utah we become so used to being around members, and we are so accustomed to feeling the spirit, that at times, we forget about the fact that we are Latter Day Saints. So many of the members here ALWAYS know where they stand and are powerful teachers. It seems that none of them are afraid to share the gospel, especially the youth. I was really humbled by a high council member and his 11 year old son. They came to branch and the father spoke about baptism and baptisms for the dead. His testimony really moved me and I KNEW that he was servant of the Lord as he spoke to us. One thing I love about having Stake visitors is the translating. Because I always think about the different words that the spanish translator uses and if I would translate it a little differently. Language is honestly so rad.
-I've been feeling a little heavy lately. It's because of the cold, the grayness. But other than that, I'm doing really well. I'm staying positive knowing that I am a servant of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

We get to go the temple on Wednesday. I'm STOKED. Manhattanw will be cool. We're going for the 11am session so we have to be at the Harrison train station at 7am. Harrison is my last area so it will be cool to be there for a couple of minutes. Speaking of my last area, I found out that Maria Paez, the 84 year old woman that Elder Magleby and I taught and committed to baptism FINALLY got baptized. I heard the elder that baptized her had to pretty much submerge himself completely to baptize her. It was cool to see that my work in another area payed off.
I'm going to try to send out Christmas cards throughout the week. Elder Giglio and I took an AWESOME picture at the mission home. You'll like it.

I love you all. I know this church is true. I know the Book Of Mormon is the words of the prophets, chosen servants and vessels of God. I love you all and God loves you more. LOVE HIM BACK.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

December 10, 2012 (Perth Amboy)

This past week was nuts. Being in a trio + running two areas + adjusting to teaching styles + getting in a minor car accident + exchange + worst phone call ever = a slight step above being a normal missionary.

It was fun to work with Elder Storey (my trainer and father) again. He helped Elder Giglio and I out with a bunch of stuff and it was cool to visit all the people in his area and see how his investigators are doing. He's an awesome missionary. We found out yesterday that he's getting a new companion today, so things will be easing back into the norm starting tonight.

The pizza? Hmmmmmm.... don't know what you're talking about.......

[We had a Blackjack pizza delivered to our house on Friday night, with a message, "Happy Birthday from New Jesrsey." It was Finn's birthday--Matt]

Anyway, life's been great. We worked really hard this week to keep regular visits with our investigators. Referring to the "worst phone call ever": We received a call from Maria yesterday morning, just about 5 hours before her baptism. She sounded really stressed out and was a little upset with us. We finally found out that she had been researching a lot of things on the internet and told us that she wanted to learn ALL the deep, random doctrine and history of the church before she was baptized. Also, she felt like we and the church were "hiding" things from her because we didn't teach her about spirit children of Jesus Christ or how many kingdoms we will inherit in the Celestial Kingdom. We know the real reason: she got scared and the devil worked on that fear a little bit. We tried to talk to her but she was pretty upset and a little hardened. We asked her if we could visit her right then and there to talk with her and give her a blessing but she refused to see us. She said she would call us later, but she didn't and she hasn't, and she's been dodging our calls and not answering her door. I was really discouraged when I got off the phone but we had a prayer and a couple hours later I felt better (having taken the sacrament and being in church and all). We know that we did our part as missionaries but we are continually trying to help Maria to understand the reasons why she needs to be baptized.

So that was a bummer but we have full faith that things will turn out for the best.

That was the biggest thing that happened this week. Also I went on an exchange on Friday with our district leader Elder Tippets, from Ogden UT. He's awesome and a really good leader. I always learn a lot when I'm with him. It's funny because Elder Tippets has his funny, 21 year old, dirt biking, rock climbing, partying, "keep 'em girded" (a phrase he loves to say to us: the Danger District) side of him. And then, he has the District Leader side too, where he's strong and stern and counsels well. But sometimes he combines them and it's hilarious and strange. We visited a TON of people and we did role plays for comp study and he was being his investigator Steve, a black man who's "always prayin'." I kept busting up laughing while I was teaching him because he was making weird Steve faces and it was super funny. Anyway, exchanges are always good for me because it gives me a little time to talk in English as a teacher and as a kid with my companion.

As for me: I am doing well. Excited to hear about all these awesome new missionaries coming in. Also, the program we did last night was rad. The "Noche de Luz" piece was great and sounded cool (Darmis recorded a video for me. I'll send it to the family soon). I had a lot of people come up to us afterward and say that they were touched by the music and the spirit that was there. I love sharing that spirit with people through music.

LYDIA: Got your Cd's. You're seriously the best. Love you.
Chris: I expect a Christmas letter from you.

That's all for now. Love you all. I know Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.


ps - Confirmed Darmis yesterday. It was a really cool experience. She is "super feliz" now.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

December 5, 2012 (Perth Amboy)

This week has been a roller coaster. Literally we went to 6 Flags on P-Day.... nah I'm kidding. But I have never been more depressed and more happy on the mission. Let me tell you.

We started off pretty good with some good contacting in the streets and some awesome members coming out with us to teach. Hermano Vidal Herrera (from Peru, I don't why but I love Peruvian people so much) is such a champ. He told us a little about his mission in Peru North mission. He baptized 430 people. How dare he...
He is literally one of the nicest, most sincere people I've ever met. Members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, although we may be lonely, sad, imperfect, or unintelligent, have the light of truth in them. That's what's most important.

Later, on Wednesday, we went to see Maria, who is the greatest and is progressing towards baptism really rapidly. We started reviewing all the lessons with her to prep her for her baptism in a week and a half and when we hit Law of Chastity, we asked her about it. It was a good idea.
She told us that she was living with her boyfriend. We had never really met him because he always came home really late from work, after we return to the house. We were pretty devastated, as we knew that she probably wasn't going to make her date, or even be baptized at all. Her boyfriend came home from work early because she wanted us to talk to him. We did. He got pretty angry at us and told us to "No se metan en mi rancho!" which basically means, "Don't tell me who I can and can't have sex with!"
We were pretty down when we got home that night (at least I was. Nothing seems to affect Elder Giglio.) 

The next morning I woke up and was still depressed. It was probably the worst I've felt on my whole mission. After some conversation/pep talks with Elder Giglio, work on the area book, and some good uplifting music (The Lamb of God - Thanks Lydia), I felt a lot better and we went out to work. The only problem was that I still didn't really believe that Maria would make the right decision of choosing God over her boyfriend. Because, statistically, it NEVER HAPPENS.

Later that day (Thursday) Hermana Cuba (from Peru) referred us to her husband's cousin Juan Jose, a 30 year old alcoholic. He came over and we talked for a little. All he wanted to do was stop drinking and change his life and he told us repeatedly that he needed God to help him do that. He noticed that Rosa Cuba had something in "her church" that he couldn't feel in any other church. He's investigated several and he hasn't really enjoyed any of them. 
That was an awesome experience to see that God prepares people for us to teach. I am a spoiled brat when it comes to God making me feel better and helping me to recover from sadness. (Honestly I feel that it the closest I'll ever come to feeling Godly sadness. Maria was trading the gift of baptism and cleanliness for a grave sin concerning the law of Chastity).

On Sunday, Maria came to church as usual! I thought she would be have been burned out or sad, finding out that she couldn't be baptized, but she was there none-the-less with her 19 year old autistic daughter.

That night we visited Maria again. As we climbed the stairs up to her apartment and stepped in the front door, we saw several large boxes and filled containers, with men's clothes's draped over the top of them. She promptly asked us if we could carry them down the porch for her. Sure, we said. As I was about to ask her what they were, she looked up at us and said, "I broke up with him yesterday. This is his stuff. He's coming to get it in about 25 minutes."
We could not believe it. I walked down those stairs with a massive box of possessions that felt like it weighed nothing. When I hit the bottom stair, I got a little teary-eyed and thanked the Lord for helping her to understand the importance of his commandments. I felt powerful, like God was leading us. My testimony was strengthened 10x, in the sense that God will always make the seemingly impossible, possible.

So Maria is going to be baptized this Sunday. And it's going to be grand.

We have not seen Carlos for a while. WE're bummed because he got another job and works a TON. We'll see how that goes.
ALSO, Darmis got baptized in Pennsylvania on Sunday. We called her and congratulated her and she sounded super stoked and happy. We will be confirming her a member this coming Sunday.
It's been hard to see all of our investigators as we've been focusing a lot on a few of the really progressing ones.

Quick updates: Elder Storey's companion and trainee Elder Steele went home yesterday. We were really sad to see him go but he needed to go home (he hurt his back really bad and needed to work some family stuff out). Elder Storey and him were in the Perth Amboy driving area, but now we are in a TRIO. Second trio of the year (first one was in the MTC). The funny thing is Elder Storey trained me so we've technically been away from each other for 2 transfers and now we're back together. It should be fun. There's going to be a TON of work to do as we're dealing with both areas between three elders. We will be very busy.

I love all of you and I know this church is true. President Jeppson has kept the theme for December as the Book of Mormon. EVERYONE: It's still true. The Book of Mormon and the Church. I'm reading it in spanish right now and it's great. I find a lot of things I don't normally find.


Ps - I know this letter was straight stories. Sorry if you're bored. 
PPS - Bought myself a Christmas present. I told Finn what it is. (speaking of... HAPPY BIRTHDAY FINN.)
It's a Jimi Hendrix Experience Framed Poster from his London Tour in 1967. It's seriously the raddest thing in the universe. Chris you would love it.

See you later.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

November 27, 2012 (Perth Amboy)

Sitting in the clerks office in the small chapel in Perth Amboy. Sorry we didn't get to email yesterday. We had a practice for the fireside for all the Latin members/investigators in New Jersey area yesterday and it took up quite a bit of P-Day. I'm doing a spanish version of Silent Night at this huge fireside. It's going to be really cool. I just came up with a finger picked guitar part on the spot and showed the people who were in charge and they loved it. So it will be me at the mic, with a choir singing parts behind me. It's going to be really rad; the practices sound awesome. I'll try to get someone to record it or something so you all can hear it.

This week was grand, but a little slow. Elder Giglio caught a bad cold, and then a nasty virus, so we were in the house for about 3 days, I made some videos on the camera that I thought were funny. I think I was just really bored. The problem is, we can only play guitar on P-Days, so I spent a lot of my time: pacing, making my agenda/planner look cool (aka cut out Carl Bloch pictures from the Ensign decorating the front), singing, eating, napping, studying, reading Jesus the Christ, reading magazines, reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish, out loud, thinking, etc. It's no fun having to stay in doors all the day, the only benefit, I believe, is the chance to catch up on a few hours of lost sleep.

Okay. A little bit of possibly exciting news. Elder Ream (missionary friend, rad piano player, really cool guy) just got called as the new Assistant to the President. And when I was on exchanges with him, he was telling me about how he could see me training in 3 transfers, and that he wanted me to train. Well. Now that he is in a position where he has a say in who does what, and who goes where, that actually might happen. Elder Storey and my district leader were talking with him, and they both told me that Elder Ream was really leaning on the idea of me training. So we don't know for sure yet, but we'll see. That'd be terrifying and fun.

We found a few new investigators on the street the other day. They were 3 young kids (12, 12, and 14) playing soccer in a tiny, asphalt schoolyard. We walked by them to try to visit an investigator but he wasn't there so we walked back that same way and we saw that they had stopped playing. The largest of the three was awkwardly carrying one of the smaller ones to a picnic table with a look of concern on his face. We went over to check it out. Apparently he got hit in the stomach with the ball and got the wind knocked out of him. We talked with them for a few minutes and then taught them about the Restoration of the Gospel. It was awesome. They totally understood and they thought it was cool. We're going to try to convince them to see if we can talk with their parents and teach the family. That would be awesome to teach an entire family. Well see what happens.

I had a humbling moment with my companion the other day. Elder Tippets, our district leader, challenged Elder Giglio to read the Book of Mormon in ENGLISH by the end of the year (originally the goal from President: to read the Book of mormon by the end  of the year with a certain emphasis). Elder Giglio has been doing it, but it didn't seem to me like he was really trying. So we had an intense discussion and in the discussion how hypocritical I was being. I was reading it in English too, my comfortable native language. I realized how dumb I was being and I made the switch over to Spanish this week. It's really cool how i understand things differently in Spanish, and get new things out of the text that I would not have noticed if I would have been reading in English. 
And now our goal is to read every night together, him in English and me in SPanish, just for the last 15 minutes before we crawl into bed and pass out. The first night we did that was amazing. It was unplanned. We both just started reading before bed. I was at a desk and Elder Giglio was in his bed reading. As soon as we were quiet and started to read, the spirit just swept into the room. It was palpable. It's so cool to see the spirit that a simple book can bring> It can engulf an entire room in seconds.

Life is good. I hope all is well with you all, every last one of you that may see this. I'm sorry if I have not written some of you frequently enough or failed to mention you in any of my letters. I love you all and I pray for you all as often as I can. 

Jesus Christ is the Holy Son of God. The Spirit of the Lord is real and has the power the purge evil, change hearts, and bring light into the lives of those who most need it. God's love is ever abounding.

Elder N. H. Christensen

PS - Hymn #133 "Father in Heaven"
PPS - Dad could you send me the lyrics for the Christmas song "Bring the Torch Jeanette Isabella"?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

November 19, 2012 (Perth Amboy)

Oh man oh man do I have a story for you guys.

This happened about 2 and a half weeks ago and I was planning on telling you guys earlier but I kept forgetting. Here we go. Scary story for elders.
Elder Giglio and I went to visit an old lady (84), from Honduras, that lives a couple of blocks away from us. We hadn't seen her in a while, and we figured why not pay her a visit and teach her about the doctrine of Jesus Christ. She was there, as well has her daughter (about 50) and her grandson (9). We sat down on the porch with them and started teaching them about the doctrine. They all understood pretty well and asked pretty good questions. The only problem is, the daughter is Catholic, and although she doesn't assist church, she's pretty hard hearted and doesn't really want to have anything to do with us. As we finished the lesson, she and her son left us and went inside.
I learned very quickly, why there is a rule concerning Elders. It is: in order to ENTER a house, there has to be one other male INSIDE the house. We didn't break any rules, because we were on the porch but LISTEN:
We finished the lesson, prayed, she kept talking and talking (Latina + 80 years old = bound to talk for eternity) and finally we said something like "Alright we're going to take off, ok?" She had been talking about some hospital experience a few years back when she had bad sores over her body (which we didn't really want to know in the first place). Then she was like, "Elderes mire mire..!" (Elders look look) and she whipped out her LEFT BREAST showed us a gross sore on it! We were horrified, didn't know what to do. Luckily, she quickly put it away, we said bye, and walked away quite rapidly.
Now, guess where tons of our jokes come from? Oh it was the worst.
Friends who are going Spanish speaking: look what you have to look forward to.

On the spiritual side of things....

We have this investigator who has been investigating for quite a while now, about a year. She usually bails when we try to set up appointments and she hardly ever answers our phone calls. My faith was increased substantially this week as we had a really cool experience with her.
We had set up an appointment with her Wednesday night for around 7. We went over there at 7 and her cheery Puerto Rican mother let us in. Very friendly, very nice, just not interested. We sat down, she came out and we made small talk for about a minute. She then told us that she had talked to our branch president about getting food for people that were affected by the hurricane, and he had apologetically told her that members were priority and there were already lots of them that needed food as well. Elder Gilgio jokingly said, "Entonces, cuando va a bautizarse? Jaja.." (So when are you getting baptized?). She got pretty serious and then started speaking to us in really good english. I kind of took over, as Elder Giglio doesn't really speak it a whole lot. Very solemnly, she told us that she had been actually hoping and praying for a few weeks now over "that question". She then related to us several sublime experiences concerning the Book of Mormon, the Plan of Salvation, and several visions she had had over the past year that she had seen the missionaries. I'm not sure why, but I feel like I have a particularly hard time FEELING the spirit. I can tell when it's there, but it's difficult for me to really feel it. But could I feel it there. I knew the things she was telling me were true, her experiences, and I strangely enough knew what they meant. I felt like Joseph interpreting Pharaoh's dreams. it was a really intense discussion and the spirit was there the whole time. After, we invited her to be baptized and we prayed with her that night about a date that would be good for her. It was to our surprise and delight, that the very next morning (we were planning on passing by that night) she called us and told us specifically that she would be baptized on December 9th.
God answers prayers. He sends his spirit to those who need it most. And he has given us his word in the form of books to lead and guide us every day that we need him. All we need is the faith to know that he's there.

Carlos is still progressing but he didn't go to church yesterday so we're going to have to move his date back a week. He's still great though, and he keeps all his commitments, except for church. He's reading the Book or Mormon and retaining the information. This week we felt inspired to bear our personal baptism experiences to him. I told him of being in the water with my father and coming out of the water completely clean, and knowing that I was a son of the most High God. Carlos was smiling the entire time. It was awesome.

We did more service on Saturday in Union Beach and Freehold. There was a tree that fell on an old lady's house in Freehold. President Jeppson gave us a chainsaw and we went to work. 9 twenty-year-olds with a chainsaw and axes trying to remove a massive tree from a house = sketchy, but so much fun. After helping her with all that, we headed out to Union Beach again to help people with clearing out garbage and tearing up a wood floor. More and more devastation, we saw. We went into an area that was practically an island that jutted out pretty far into the ocean that had only been opened two days before because of how dangerous the area still was with powerlines and downed houses and whatnot. It was insane. I've never seen anything like it before. Entire houses were just crushed by the wind and water. Pieces were strewn all around for miles, hanging in trees, out on the beach, everywhere. There were boats smashed into the sides of houses, 2 miles away from the water. We talked to one guy, and he said that the water was over twelve feet in his kitchen, which happened to be how tall the ceiling was. I got lots of pictures. I'll send them next week.

Last week, I got two old school board games: UNO and Battleship. HOWEVER, Battleship was from 1981 and UNO from 1978. Elder Giglio and I play them in our apartment sometimes, after nightly planning.

The focus for this month has been the Book of Mormon. President Jeppson challenged all the missionaries to start it and finish it again by the end of the year. He also wanted all of us to have some sort of focus. I chose the Atonement of Jesus Christ, as well as his ministry and his divine calling as the Messiah. It's been really cool for me to study the Book of Mormon and see how it truly is ANOTHER TESTAMENT OF JESUS CHRIST. There are so many prophetic chapters, simply testifying of His divinity and goodness to man.

The Book of Mormon is true and has more power than you know. Read it. I love you all.


PS - Got letters from Verina and mom... I think that was it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

MUD. November 13, 2012 (Perth Amboy)

Geez you guys. It took me about half the time I have to read through all your emails this week. Thanks so much for all your love and support. Thanks to Mom, Dad, Lars and Natalie. PS - Nad. ALways love reading your weekly emails. It's fun to compare missions and see everything we do differently.

We had interviews with President on Friday. His son-in-law Alex Boye was there (to speak at a multi-skate youth conference) and I chatted with him a little bit about music, conversion, being positive, changing your mission, etc. He was really cool and it seemed like everything he said was straight out of an inspirational quote book. HOWEVER, he helped me to realize a couple of things. He told me that if you wake up every single morning with an idea, a specific idea in your head, you will always be happy with the way your day went. The idea was this: "I AM ALWAYS DIVINELY GUIDED." Interesting right? Because if you always follow the spirit and you tell yourself that God is ALWAYS directing you, in EVERYTHING YOU DO, you will never make a wrong choice. Because of that, I was inspired to contact every person in my way this week. It went super well. We didn't see a whole lot of numerical success, but we talked to a lot of people about the gospel and planted the seed. It always feels wonderful to contact people and let them know that God is good, that he's there, that he cares. It's hard sometimes because Elder Giglio does not like street contacting so I'm always the one to initiate the contact. But I feel like that's good for me because I'm always forced to step out of my comfort zone.

We had another good week with Carlos, our Dominican investigator. We taught him about the Word of Wisdom, which was a surprisingly powerful lesson. We heard from the grapevine (his sister) that he drinks A LOT and that he turns into a really horrible person when he does drink. So we committed him to live the word of wisdom. He seemed really inspired to live it and to stop drinking altogether. AAANNND we set a baptismal date for him. He is going to be baptized on the 9th of December. We're super stoked for him and it's the most incredible thing in the world to compare him to where he was when we began teaching him. Before he didn't really have a knowledge of God, Jesus Christ, The Holy Ghost, anything really. He just knew that God was there and that he existed. Now, he is fully aware of our gospel, of the greatness of God, of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I told Carlos' sister that we're going to change his life and its so amazing to see it happen before our eyes.

Man this week was still a little slow BUT it was because of the insane amount of service we did.
We did some more service with Bruce on Tuesday chopping wood in the freezing rain and stacking it. On Saturday, we got a text from our zone leaders that said that we needed to be in Eatontown (farther south than us) at 8:00 in the morning. So we headed down to Union Beach to start our service.
I did not even realize how intense the hurricane was. We literally saw NOTHING in our area and in the Brunswick area. But farther south, and on other areas of the coast, house after house after house was simply leveled to the ground because of the winds and waves. We saw people's entire lives, ripped to shreds, floating in six inches of muddy water in murky area that used to be their basement. There was this insane "half-house" which was basically a house that the front half looked ok, like it had got a little weather but not too bad. Then we saw the back of the house, which was non existent.

Elder Tippets, Elder Morrill and I were in one group and we headed down into this dank storage cellar that smelled like feces and rotting cardboard. There was this Mexican guy named Leo that was wearing a bunch of plastic bags and a face mask and was carrying bin after bin of garbage, glass, grime and destoryed storage out onto the curbs to be taken away by garbage trucks. We basically just helped to carry stuff out. By the time we were done, we were FILTHY. Dad - filthy animals.

Then on Sunday, the same thing happeendd. Except it was from our Branch President, President Zapata. We had a 15 minute service for church, basically just taking the sacrament and then immediately after we headed over to Staten Island, New York. It was basically the same situation there, but not as bad. BUT I had a cool feeling with one of the guys we helped that he would receive the gospel later on in his life, due to the service that we rendered to him.

Doing service is a really cool work that we can do to spread the gospel and simply help people out in times of trial. We helped this guy Bob with ripping out all the sheetrock in his flooded house and he said to us so many times, "You guys... I don't know that to say.. I can't thank you enough...God bless you guys.."

There's a lot more service to come, I was just surprised that it took us 2 weeks to actually start doing it. 

God is good. He loves us all. Jesus sacrificed his life for us so that we can live with him and our Eternal Father again. I wrote a poem the other day about Kai in jail and I included Isaiah 9:6 or 6:9 I can't remember but it says (and you're all very familiar with it)
"Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder. And His name shall be called



Elder Christensen

Thursday, November 8, 2012

November 7, 2012—Post Hurricane (Perth Amboy)

Elder Giglio and I did some more service this week. After being cooped up for 4 days in an apartment, we got out and helped out around the town. We went with the other Perth Amboy elders yesterday and today to help a member in the ward, who lives in a house that was built in 1907 (it's so rad, more on this later), chop wood, cover a tree-destroyed section of his roof with a tarp, and get pizza at a delicious American Italian place afterwards. So this guy is named Bruce. He is white, but he attends the Perth Amboy branch, even though he doesn't speak any spanish. He's a little weird, but I'm pretty sure he's a widower. He's really lonely and he lives in this big old house in Woodbridge (right outside Perth Amboy). He has SO MUCH STUFF. His house is just packed with "things" mostly really old things though, which is really cool. He has an semi hollowbody electric bass from the 1970's. I was geeking out a little over it. He also has an incredible book collection with many of the books dating back to the late 1700's. His house is falling apart on the outside, but the inside is newly painted with rich wood banisters everywhere. I want to come back after the mission, become best friends with him, inherit his house, fix it up, and rent it out to super wealthy people. It's seriously the raddest house ever, with trap doors, attics, old bookcases, etc...
The ax we used to chop wood was the sketchiest thing in the universe. The head was practically falling off so we had to be super careful on the up swing. Let's just say, it probably wouldn't have been completely approved by our zone leaders.

We were planning on heading up to Patterson to do some more service this morning, but we received word from President that it was canceled, due to the snow storm. IT's going to be rough for the state, especially for the people that got hit really hard, to  have a big snow storm 1 week after a big hurricane. For example, in Patterson, where we were going to do service, a dam broke so there was MAJOR flooding in all the houses in that area. Also, in the more heavily wooded areas, there was lots of damage to roofs and siding of houses as well.

It's actually a) snowing right now and b) absolutely freezing cold. So THANK YOU MOTHER for the wonderful peacoat which I got yesterday.

It's been super hard to see our investigators this past week, as well as the beginning of this week as well. On Monday we had a lot of people bail on us and yesterday, after zone meeting, I started getting weird tunnel vision, which meant that a migraine was coming on. I HATE MIGRAINES. During the drive back, I started getting nauseated and heating up really bad, so I started stripping off layers (cardigan, peacoat, tie) as we got close to the house. When Elder Giglio and I finally got in the apartment, I dropped everything and ran for my bed. By that time my eyes and head felt like they were going to explode. I slept feverishly for the next 2.5 hours and woke with only a little pain in my head. But we missed an appointment already and we only had time to see 2 more, a Mexican electrician named Aurelio (the most humble man I've ever met) and a member family. I realize again and again that all I want to do is teach and be out of the house.

Today (Wednesday) we have to be in the house again by 6. Man oh man, I just want to be out doing service and teaching. it's funny how that is my biggest desire. Because before my mission, i would have never thought that THAT would be what I want most. I love how much the mission has changed me.

LYDIA GOT HER CALL. (am I allowed to tell?) Jacksonville, Mississippi. So rad, I'm stoked for you Lydia. ps - got your other letter with the CHocolate. THANKS.
I have written letters for Emily (finally I know), Lydia, and Bekah. Sorry it's taken a little while.

Elder Giglio and I are best friends. We have way too many jokes. I love him.

I love you family and friends. Thanks so much for your love.


ps - this "newsletter" is boring. Sorry.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

November 1, 2012—Hurricane Sandy


Yep. A tree fell on  me.

No, in all reality, the hurricane wasn't that intense where I was staying. Elder Giglio, Elder Storey, Elder Steele, and I all had to evacuate our apartment though (as Elder Giglio and I live 3 blocks from the beach). We left Perth Amboy Sunday night and stayed in New Brunswick until this morning (Thursday). It was a riot. I felt like we were living inside of a protective, divine shield. A few trees fell over in the complex that we were staying in but other than that, we didn't see very much... until we left our apartment complex.

Trees broken down, powerlines in the street, 500 car lines for gasoline, half the state doesn't have power, and we heard that Atlantic City is underwater. Crazy. We missed all the action though. Elder Packer, serving in New Brunswick spanish, (quick story: NATALIE he served a service mission in Nauvoo before he came out here. Yep your worst fear; singing, dancing, acting, thespianing.. but you never would have been called there because you have to try out for it) were chatting about how we felt bad because we were all hoping and praying for the storm to hit us hard so we would have cool stories. But then we decided that there are probably 1 million people praying for the storm to NOT hit us. So we joined in with them and prayed for peace and safety and we GOT IT.

Over these past few days, we spent our time playing UNO, Harry Potter Clue, LIFE, other games, and doing musical stuff. I played a lot of guitar while the wind was howling and the rain was lashing the windows and roof of our house. It was pretty fun. I wrote some more stuff and felt good about it. I wrote a song, one night in the bathroom with the light off, about God. It's been probably my favorite song I've ever written and it's honest. Those are the best kinds of songs.

WE found out our GOLDEN investigator Darmis is getting baptized in Pennsylvania with her member sister. We were super bummed when we heard it but I know that the Lord's work is the same (haha see my last letter) and I am STOKED to see her enter into the waters of baptism and enter into a powerful promise with the Lord.
Lots of work with Carlos was done last week before the hurricane. I can't remember if I told you about him. Carlos is a 30 year old Dominican man that lives in a house with practically all of his family. We were originally teaching his mother, when he said he wanted to meet with us sometime. Cool. We did and he's amazing. NOt a very religious person but wants to strengthen his relationship with God and Jesus Christ. We have already taught him 6 or 7 times and when I mentioned the fact that he could baptize his own son, he was touched and humbled and didn't really know what to say. As he was raised Catholic, he's always had the idea in mind that only the preacher can baptize and perform those ordinances. HE understands the need for authority and he understands our doctrine really well. It's cool to see someone learning so much in such short time. i feel like I can practically see the light slowly growing brighter behind his eyes and chest.

Being a missionary is the most indescribable thing. I love it more than I love anything else in the world. I bore my testimony in zone conference a while back and I said, "I've never felt this much love in my entire life." Only after having said that, did I realize how true that is.

I got letters from Hayley, Bekah, Lydia (not the package yet. soon hopefully), Chris, and others... I can't remember...

I love the Lord.
"Nevertheless I know in whom I have trusted... He hath filled me with his love unto the consuming of my flesh." 2 Nephi 4:19, 21
Every day I feel more motivation and more inspiration to change and be better; to become the shape that the Lord sculpted from the beginning.



October 22, 2012 (Perth Amboy)

Rough week this week. I'll be honest. We didn't teach very much and had to spend a lot of time walking and talking to people on the streets. At times it's hard to see if you're making a huge difference in the work, but we do know that the Lord is on our side and that he will lift us when we need him.

I loved Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk in General Conference about not having regrets. He gave counsel about how to avoid regrets and honestly, I feel like it's truly blessed me as a missionary and helped me to stay happy:
"-Resolve to spend more time with those we love
-Resolve to strive more earnestly to become the person that God wants us to be.
-Resolve to find happiness, regardless of our circumstances"
I love that because, at times, it's so difficult to see feel like you're truly helping people come unto Christ, because they don't even choose to accept you. But if we are happy and we serve with joy and with a willing heart, we will find happiness in every situation, no matter how rough it may seem.

We have the most amazing, prepared investigator.
She's a 40 year old, hip mother from Columbia. Speaks really good English but we teach her in Spanish of course. Elder Giglio wouldn't have it any other way. Here are just a few facts about her: She's a school teacher, specifically works with kids with autism, so she's really loving and patient. She takes NOTES when we teach. I was astounded when she brought out a notebook with her Book of Mormon and other spriptural materials. She laughs all the time and LOVES to talk, like all Latin people. Her sister is a member. She's already had several amazing spiritual experiences. She already lives the Word of Wisdom. She is still getting out of a divorce with her husband, which was her worry about getting baptized. Yep, she told us she wants to be baptized. She is so cool and I can't believe that we get to teach and probably baptize her.
I had a cool little revelation the other day when we were teaching her:
She took one missionary lesson with her sister in Pennsylvania, with those elders and i was thinking about how those Elders are probably saying something like "MAN WE wanted to baptize her... ah man.. what a bummer.." And I was thinking about how universal the Lord's work is. Of course, I'm on the lucky end of this situation, but still. If we don't get to baptize this woman, it's okay, because she WILL be baptized. I love how God works.

Still working with our investigator, Francisco, from the Dominican Republic. He has a hard time believing in our doctrine but TOTALLY respects the testimony we live. He bases a lot of his belief on the Catholic church, as his leg was healed by a catholic father, because he has an AMAZING amount of faith. He's really interesting to talk with because he's well read and really smart.

Letters received this week: Chris, Gemma. I am so stoked to write you guys back. PS - Gemma. I was literally about to ask for your address from Lydia and then I got your letter. Thanks so much. It lifted and blessed me and made me want to go out and help people. Thanks for your example.

FAMILY: I'm so glad you got to hear from Jackson. He's so rad and I already miss  him. Dad. I KNEW YOU GUYS WOULD HIT IT OFF> Haha. Called it. How's everything going back home? Love you all so so much. Write you soon. I'm ticked cause I really want to get the mini package you sent me. I'll probably get it next week.

Love you all. Thanks for being there for me, because I always need you.


Monday, October 15, 2012

October 15, 2012 (Perth Amboy, NJ)

Alright cool. Here I am in the Perth Amboy Public Library. Surrounded by Mexicans and Dominicans. I love every last one of them.

So I got transferred to Perth Amboy, farther south and right on the coast. It's super cool, but way different than my last area. We are a WALKING mission, which is awesome. That's honestly all I wanted on my whole mission was to be in a walking area.

COMPANION: Elder Giglio (Gee-lee-Oh). He's half Spanish (Spain) and half Italian but he was born and raised in Mexico. He speaks a little less english than I speak Spanish. But he's super cool. We get along SO WELL. The other day we were walking on the pier and I pointed to my butt and said "What's this?" (assuming he understood that I was asking what was the spanish word for it). He looked at me and said "Hmm.. ass?.. NO. BUTT!" in english. and I started busting up laughing. He apologized and felt bad but I told him it was alright and that it was actually hilarious. Some good influence I am.
We work REALLY well together. Our comp uinity is great and we teach with the spirit. It's rad. I love Elder Giglio and we help each other so much with the language. I ALWAYS speak to him in spanish, and he usually speaks to me in english. There's deifinitely a language barrier, but it doesn't seem to bother us at all.

Tons of our conversations begin with something like "What's THIS in spanish" or "What's does THIS mean in English". I seriously already, after 5 days, have a boatload of hilarious conversations with Elder Giglio.

This transfer is honestly going to be such a dream. I wanted a native companion and to be in a walking area and I got both.

Story #1: Really short but awesome: We had just finished teaching our investigator named Ysrael, from Peru, and as we started to leave, I saw a road bike sitting in his hallway. I said "HEY! Who's is that?" in spanish of course. He said it was his and we walked up to it and started checking it out. OK! Dad and Finn. 1978 Peugeot Road Bike with all original parts, nicely tuned and cleaned up by Ysrael. About 15 seconds later of talking, he let me go outside and try it out. It was awesome and super smooth. MAN. I was in heaven. AND THEN GUESS WHAT HAPPENED.... He was like "Do you want to borrow it?" I almost started crying. He said that his wife was pregnant at the moment and he didn't have time right now, so he said I could have it, until I leave the area. That's the thing about Perth Amboy. Everyone is so filled with the Love of God. They're all so prepared for the gospel. We have like 10 investigators that are progressing and we had 6 investigators at church yesterday, which is the highest I've had.
So yep, I've got a road bike now and Elder Giglio has his bike and we bike around town feeling SO AWESOME in the autumn breeze.
The area is nuts and really fast paced. We have a bunch of investigators that are so close to being baptized, they just need something to push them over the edge. I learn so much from Elder Giglio, who has taught me that you don't have to be super stressed, when people bail on you and everything goes wrong. When he speaks english it's wonderful and humble.  

Sorry if I confused anyone about talking in tongues of angels or something. I'm still speaking Spanish, I was just feeling super stoked and filled with love when I wrote that email, as I was leaving the area and I got an incredible email from Lydia.

My new address is:
186 Patterson St. #4
Perth Amboy, NJ 08861

So you all can write me, BUT if you have packages, send them to the mission office.
The other night we went and visited a Mexican family in the ward. The Chico family. They're AWESOME. Hermana Chico made us pasta soup with spicy avocado sauce, salted beef, fresh tortillas and apple soda. It was unreal. The food here is great, as usual. AND Elder Giglio makes Mexican and Italian food, which is awesome. He's already taught me to cook a little bit.

I feel so great right now. I think we're going to head home after this, write a few letters, cut each other's hair, go for a bike ride and maybe sit on the beach in the cool autumn weather. It's overcast 70% of the time here, which is awesome. It's cool being in a port town.

FAMILY: I'm jealous of your cool experiences in West Yellowstone. It looked absolutely beautiful in the fall colors, up there in the mountains. Thanks for the photos, Dad. I got your letter but it got sent to my old apartment, so I'll get it in a few days. And thanks for the little update, mother. You're both incredible parents, who have raised splendid children.. except for Lars. Still a nerd (JOKES).
Finn: How's school going? WRite me a little letter.
Lars: Good to hear about your project. I loved the Egyptian day. It was rad. Have you made a bunch of new friends... EXCITED TO get the Priesthood? I am. You're gonig to be such little spiritual powerhouse. Remember to read your scriptures and pray. Finn and Lars: I can promise you right now that it will make you happier than you know.
Kai: write me, brother. I want to hear how your life is. I heard you wrote a little something to Natalie. Let me know how you're doing.

Kent: Got your other letter, but not actually. It got sent to my old address, so I'm going to go pick it up this week. THanks man, you're the best.
Bayley: Got your letter too. I'm sorry I've been the worst at writing back. Writing back soon.
Everyone else: thanks for everything.

Sending my memory card home today. Hope you like it.



Tuesday, October 9, 2012

October 9, 2012

I have NO time. I am leaving Harrison/Kearny Spanish. We're driving up to transfer conference in just a few hours. The time I've had here has been absolutely beautiful and powerful, but I am ready for a change. I am ready for the chance I will have to serve different people, to speak in another tongue of God. I feel like my mind and spirit have been changed due to a few things that happened this week and today. I am ready to give everything I have to the Lord. Thank you all for your wonderful support and never changing love.

We baptized J.P and John (cousins) on Sunday. Baptizing is an incredible feeling. I'll send pics soon.
I'm sorry, I can't think of very much to say. I am filled right now with the joy of God. I feel as if a change has come over me and I know that this is the LORD'S WORK.

General Conference was incredible. Just amazing. It's going to be crazy to see how many people serve missions now, especially sisters.

Love God, serve Him. We need his help.


ps - FAMILY: An Indian man named Jackson is coming over to your house next week. He is bringing some old letters that I want you to put away and a NEW letter for you guys. He wants to talk cooking with you, Dad. He's amazing. Please talk with him, feed him, and share with him your testimonies.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

October 1, 2012 (Kearney)

The subject line is what's written on the back of garbage trucks around here. And it's hilarious ok?

I am doing great. We had an incredibly week this week. Here's what I wrote in my weekly letter to President Jeppson (slightly revised):
Dear President Jeppson,
"This past week as been very rewarding, full of miracles and hard work. We started off on Monday evening, of course, visiting a less active guy named Christian. When we got there, his girlfriend was there (whom he has a son with) and he wanted us to teach her. She was so ready and willing to change, a little stubborn, but very understanding and wanting the best for her family.
I love seeing the people that the Lord truly prepares to receive this Gospel and enter into the waters of baptism. We don't have a date with her yet, as they need to repent and get married, but she said that she would be baptized. The only problem is, we're not going to see them for a little while. But I have FAITH that she will continue to progress and they will see the powerful change overtake their family.

We got 5 new investigators this week, 2 of which are 16 year old cousins who have already been baptized, however their old ward in Florida lost their baptismal papers. They both have really strong testimonies and have both come out on Team-Ups with us, but now they need to wait to come out with us again, as they're considered "investigators". It's cool that they get this opportunity though, to enter into this covenant again with God, especially after having a really sound understanding for their age. Elder Magleby and I have been teaching them the lessons again, which has brought a lot of joy to my heart. Especially the simple fact of being able to start from lesson 1 and move through them. These two kids are golden. Obviously.
I learned two really valuble lessons this week. One was a very humbling listening experience. After teaching a lesson to a returning family (because the 9 year old daughter was baptized) we chatted just for a few minutes afterwards. The husband of this family is not a member, and he loves to argue with us, however, we are pretty good at staving him off and not giving him things to feed on. Anyway, he went upstairs after the lesson and Elder Magleby began helping the 9 year old girl with some homework. I was chatting with the Hermana and she began talking with me about all these hardships and trials concerning her husband and her daughter and with the church and how she was feeling. I stood there in the kitchen and listened. And instead of trying to speak back and give her counsel, I simply listened as she broke down into tears and continued to pour out her heart and soul to me. I couldn't help but smile after I responded simply and powerful, according to the spirit. Being a member of the church is difficult, but it's so incredibly worth it.
The second lesson I learned is that as a missionary, I have become rather hard-hearted when it comes to hearing what other people believe. We had a street lesson with a black guy named Melvin. He obviously wasn't spanish but we felt like we needed to talk to him. As we did, he simply brought up the fact that he felt like he was already so blessed and that God had given him everything. He was very humble and willing to listen and even shared some of this insights on religion. It was fascinating and I feel like everything he said was a part of the gospel of Christ. I can learn so much from the people I teach, it's amazing.
Elder Magleby and I are continuing to do well. We have realized that we are NOTHING alike. However, it does not stop me from loving him and trying my hardest to help and serve him. I love the strange unity we have. We celebrate our differences and work well off the things that we're both good at.
Missionary work is glorious."

Another awesome thing I learned this week is how wonderful the church is. Everything about it is perfect. But I feel like I have grown so much simply by being a member. There were so many incredible lessons I learned just by going to church and doing the things I was supposed to be doing, (even if I didn't do all those things for a while). But those things have jumped out at me and have helped me to realize how incredible it is be a member of the church. I will NEVER go inactive. That would probably be the most hypocritical thing I could do in my life.
I have learned to incorporate the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the my life and I have a hard time believing that it will ever leave.

My stomach is making the most gnarly noises right now. Sorry this letter isn't that funny.
Kent: Writing you back today. Thanks so much for your letter.
Hayley: Write ME.
Bayley: I'm writing you NEXT week for sure. Sorry I'm the lamest.

Family: I love alll of you. Thanks for your words, support, wisdom and excellence. It has been great to have you on my side.
"It's gonna be glorious day." -Radiohead

Elder Christensen

PS - I finally got around to posting some photos. Sorry for taking forever. I'm not sure about which one is which but here are some easily identifiable captions:
-Delicious muscles from dinner at Bro. Jackson's house
-Dark clouds on Ferry Street in Newark
-Elder Magleby and I on Wilson Ave, in Kearney
-Shopping receipt at ShopRite.
-HUGE slices of pizza at Gina's Pizza

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September 24, 2012

Friends, family, and all you other goons:

HEY. How is everybody? It's wonderful to be here, typing this letter to you from the Princeton Public Library. We drove here at about 7:30 this morning, but we hit some bad rush-hour traffic and didn't get here till about 9. Normally the drive is about an hour long. But as we drove into this area (farther south than Newark), greenery and fall colors took the place of high rise buildings and garbage litering the streets. I always forget how dirty Newark is. I still love it though. But little trips like this out to the country make me LONG for something with more beauty. But this is the Garden State and every time I leave Newark I am reminded of that.

So when we got here, we went to the Princeton Stadium and played some good old American Football. It was pretty rad. Elder Key (from Samoa), Elder Hafoka (from Tonga), and Elder Kakeva (from Hawaii), are the only three Polynesians in the mission, so naturally they took the lead in leading the game. I'm pretty sure we won.
But at the end, I caught a short pass and turned to run the ball, and Elder Brimley (who I came out with) was right there. So we clocked heads, probably harder than I ever have in my entire life and now we both have MASSIVE goose eggs on our foreheads. And headaches... Then afterward, we drove to the library. It was weird to drive through an area that is not my own, especially because it was ALL people my age. Weird. I saw a bunch of people with cool shoes and jackets and I wanted them. College campuses are awesome and beautiful. I realized that I don't even know what school is like, though. Man I'm going to be such a nerd.

This week was SLOW. We only found 1 new investigator, and only had 1 investigator at church. On Friday, we had no lessons, no investigators, NOTHING. Straight zeros. The only funny thing was, I was on an exchange with Elder Key. And we had an INCREDIBLE day in the english area. We set 2 baptismal dates, found 3 new inv., did some awesome lesson teaching, and commited a new inv to baptism. It was unreal, and it helped to renew my faith that God is always there and he always has people prepared for us, even when we are down and not searching as hard as we can. However, we know that when we work as hard as we can, he will reward us in more potent, but perhaps, more subtle ways. All I know is, the blessings will be greater. And I've defnitely seen them. Man. Working with Elder Key is so fun. We sometimes will talk about life when we were in the same ward, and how crazy it is that we're now serving in the same mission. Rad. I love him. Every time I work with Elder Key, I learn SO MUCH about listening to the spirit and being humble. Elder Key will never take a compliment though, and it's super annoying.

Our investigators are progressing REALLY slow. Man I get so fed up with them. I tell Elder Magleby that I just want to "punch them right in the face." Not really, but that's how I feel sometimes. Let's be real, when someone tells you to read your scriptures for 3 and a half weeks straight, every other day, and they don't do it, it's pretty obnoxious. But I still love all the people we serve. The other night, I was almost in tears telling Elder Magleby how much I love a long time investigator in the ward and his member family. Like I've probably told you a thousand times, I feel like that was the easiest thing for me: loving people. And everybody said once you love them, all you do is think about them and want to serve them: TRUE. It's crazy how many dreams I've had with less-actives/investigators. I just want to help them all the time and it's hard to find the EXACT way to do that. Because they all have different needs and challenges. I'm rambling.

I think this is the first week I didn't get very many letters. Which is alright, because hopefully I'll have time to write back some people today. Sorry everybody that hasn't gotten letters for a while. You're all on my list. ("You should've known by now, you were on my list".)

In all honesty, this week has been hard. It's been a week to help me realize that I don't depend on God enough, even if I feel like I do.

I just want to bear a simple testimony relating to a quick story.
We were teaching an inactive lady, and we were trying to weed out her doubts about coming back to church. She didn't really have the desire to still be a part of the gospel, so we asked her some leading questions. She said that it bothered her that everybody talked about Joseph Smith so much. She felt like everybody put him before Jesus Christ and she felt that was lame. I told her I agreed. But she didn't understand the reason why people felt so strongly about Joseph Smith and I knew that was where her testimony faltered. So I bore her my testimony of these things.
I basically said the following.

I know that this gospel is true and has been restored on the earth today. The reason why so many people seem to "praise" and "love" Joseph Smith, is because of what he did. Without Joseph Smith, I wouldn't be here. The gospel of JESUS CHRIST would not have been restored and we would not have any of these ordinances and powers that we have today.
I know that Joseph Smith was called of God to restore the happiness of the Gospel of Christ to the earth once more. I know that he was a prophet of the Lord.
I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I know that only through his Atonement, I am free from death and sin. This is His church. We are his disciples. Don't forget that.

Elder Niels Christensen

PS - I heard from my investigator Israel that the XX came out with a new album?? Why did nobody tell me?? Unless it's a lie.

September 17, 2012

Ok. Not much time. Email can be stressful.
-It is September. It's cooling down and it's awesome. I don't notice the humidity anymore.
-I never thought this would happen, BUT I started picking up a little New Jersey mannerism in my speech. The only one I can think of right now is the fact that I say "How you doin"? to everybody but I sound a little like an East Coast person. Embarrassing. Parents, remember how I told you if I come back with an accent or anything, you can beat me? That still stands. So I've been consciously thinking about how I talk now.
-Spanish is improving. Still struggling with being able to understand everything that people say. I know that that will just come time. TIME: greatest gift from God. Time to live, time to be.
-Had an UNREAL french dinner last night at Jackson's house (Indian guy in the english ward). Dad you would have loved it. Listen up: Appetizer: mussels with tomato, fennel, garlic and onions, with fresh bread and pesto.
Pork shoulder with potatoes, rosemary, salt, pepper and an apple cider sauce, with sauteed apples on the side.
A macaroni gratin with grated Gruyere on top
Cooked baby carrots with creme fraiche, butter, salt and thyme.
Dessert was just some fresh seasonal fruit with homemade french sour cream on top.
Goodness, it reminded me of home.
We had an AWESOME lesson with him too. We talked about forsaking the world, through the Atonement of Christ and how we can better understand the Atonement. I seriously want to be just like Jackson when I get home.
-Investigator Israel made me a "WWJD" bracelet. It's awesome.
-Visited a converted Jew in the english ward, (because we had a lesson with his spanish speaking mother) named Moshe. He's 23, preparing to serve a mission and is an amazing person. He got the Melchizidek Priesthood last week.
-With that lesson with Maria (Moshe's mother), it went pretty well. But it was weird because it was like she was interviewing us for her thesis statement on Christian religions. BUT, while we were teaching, Moshe's brother in law came home and sat and listened and then started arguing with us. And literally, the second that that happened, the spirit got up and left. So we just sat there as this guy yelled at us about the Bible and how we don't need prophets because of the Holy Spirit. it was ridiculous. Finally Elder Magelby just cut him off and told him that we needed to go.
-We've been doing TONS of finding this week, as our investigator pool is running thin. Lots of hard work with little success. it's alrigth though.
-KENT - Got your letter. I about died when i saw that you wrote me. Writing you back SOOON.
-Tanner thanks for the photos.

Love you all. Thanks for your undying love and support. Let me know if you need anything from me.

-Elder Niels Christensen

ps - Jackson is coming to Utah to check out BYU and he said he'd take stuff to you guys for me. He's awesome and unreal. Family, you need to meet this guy, he's one of the most amazing indiviudals I've ever met. So I'll let you know soon.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

September 10, 2012

I couldn't think of a subject line. And WELCH is based off of this short, hilarious experience:
Elder Magleby and I went into Burger King on a depressing night of finding people all night. But we didn't really find anybody, so after a good 2 hours of work in North Newark we went to drown our sorrows in bacon hamburgers and fries. So we order and as we're waiting for our food, there's this old black guy wearing jeans and a baseball cap that walks in, walks over to the soda fountain and starts willing up an old bottle of Welches grape jelly wrapped in a plastic bag. It was HUGE too probbaly like a 32 ounce bottle. Anyway, he fills it up, mumbles something under his breath, and walks out without another word. Newark is awesome.
So we had training this week on Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 am to 4 pm. It was really great. Towards the end, President Jeppson (who is a patriarch as well, (it's one of those positions that stays with you forever, like a bishop)) basically gave us all a blessing as he bore his testimony. It's incredible to hear him speak and then hear a literal change in his speech as he pronounces blessings on the heads of us missionaries. Mission Presidents have so much divine power, it's amazing.

I used to hate role plays but NOW after doing literally 500 over those two days, I can appreciate them more. They're really good opportunites to work out kinks in your lessons and receive revelation too. I got some sweet ideas from various missionaries that I worked with. ALSO, I got to hang out with Elder Romrell, one of my MTC companions (he got put with me and Elder Waite when his companion went home).
It's weird because Elder Romrell, Elder Waite and I are the only New Jersey missionaries left from our MTC district. Everybody else has gone home due to depression/health problems. Super sad. Hopefully they'll be coming back out soon but it's still gives me heavy boots.
This week we only taught 17 lessons. Boo! But that was partly because Tuesday and Wednesday got destroyed due to training.
But we found two new investigators this week. One guy named Tony, a peruvian that we met on the streets. He was great because we just talked about the churches and if there was one true church and whatnot. So he basically set up the return appt himself, which hardly ever happens because people usually aren't interested. The other person was Vanessa, from Uruguay. She has two sons and 3 step children. She's probaly only like 35 or so too. She was super great and listened to our message and her son Lucas who's like 9, has long beautiful brown hair. I'm jealous. When I got home, you all better believe that I'm growing my hair out again. And a lush beard as well.... moving on.

Going back to the training really quick: the biggest things I learned are the following:
1. Be quiet.
2. Slow down.
3. Listen to the spirit.

YOU ALL KNOW ME. I love to talk and communicate with people and just be their friend. But the problem is, is I talk TOO much and don't the spirit room to come and and speak for us. Elder Magldby is cool, collective and reserved. I'm trying to be like that, and it's incredibly how much I've calmed down these past weeks, JUST FROM listening to eh spirit more. I love it. They say every companionship is a trio: You, companion, Holy Ghost. It's a wonderful feeling when you know that and when you use the Holy Ghost as the tool that God has given us.

My spanish is coming along. Elder Magleby has good spanish, but he speaks like a total gringo. So I've already noticed my accent is going a little downhill. OH. COOL thing: I've been told that I look Puerto Rican and Italian so far. We'll see what else comes next.

I'm going to the ZOO today in South Orange, (WHERE GARDEN STATE WAS FILMED). I'm stoked.
For everybody that wrote me, I probbaly won't have time today. But I'll try to post some photos so Matthew can post them on my blog.
Tanner: got your letter,. IT WAS AWESOME.
Chris: wrote you back.
Hayley" WRITE ME.
Bayley: I'm sorry I'm the worst at writing you. I'll try to get you next week.
FAMILY: I'll try really hard to write you all next week.

ELDER Niels Christensen

ps - Indian Bro. Jackson, from the english ward is cooking a rich french meal for me and Elder Magleby this Sunday. I'll send pics. Also, he's awesome and printed off lyrics for me for "On the Floor (brandon Flowers) and "I'll Fly Away" (Allison Krauss and Gillian Welch). SO I'm going to sing them for other missionaries and it will be grand.

September 4, 2012

Because it was Labor Day yesterday, none of the libraries were open (duh) so we didn't get to email. And we have an appt with a Dominican guy named Lloyd in about 10 minutes. So I gotta fly.
Quick updates:
-Baptismal date with Maria Paez. She's like 80 years old and is awesome and tells her children to go to hell.
-Peruvian BBQ yesterday with Hermano Vallejo (high priest group leader). Incredible. Grilled steak, chorizo-like-sausage with sliced peppers, grilled corn, fresh bread, rice, INCA KOLA (the BEST) and other stuff. It was amazing. (PS another favorite drink is a purple corn drink called Chicha Morado. It's out of this world.
-ELDER Magleby: follow up trainer, from American Fork, 6'3, used to be a male cheerleader, really hard worker, good missionary, we get along pretty well.
-I'll send some photos soon. DAD - The SD card that you sent me doesn't work. Don't know why. I'll send it back though.
-Beach volleyball yesterday (beach court in a members apartment complex). Brother Jackson, from India is incredible. MATTHEW, her wears some incredible shoes. Like 400 dollar chucka style leather dress shoes. Wow. I'll send pics. He's ALSO an amazing chef. Sending pics and whatnot SOON.
-Got some more letters. Still backed up on writing letters. Trying to respond to everybody.
-Miracles in Newark. OUt of gas. Found a new investigator. TONS of street contacting. Elder Magleby is pretty good at it.

Love you all. HOpefully I can write a wee bit more in a couple of days.

Elder Niels Christensen

Saturday, September 1, 2012

August 27, 2012 (Kearney, NJ)

It's INSANE how quickly this transfer passed by. And this is only the first one. I was talking to Elder Key about how quickly I felt it went and all he did was laugh and say "You have no idea."
Elder Storey is getting transfered, which means that I will be getting a follow-up trainer tomorrow at the conference. It's going to be great though. Elder Ream (zone leader, also getting transfered from Central Newark) told me that he was super glad his trainee got a follow up trainer because he learned things from his f-up trainer that Elder Ream NEVER would have been able to teach him. Hopefully that's the way it will be. I'll miss Elder Storey though. He was great and exactly what I needed. He taught me a great many things but mostly he taught me how to love your investigators and have eternal patience with them. Goodness gracious is he patient.

So this week, we taught Lydin again (finally!). She's still progressing, reading the Book of Mormon and keeping up on her prayers. She said she feels like she needs to learn some more but when she does that she'll be baptized. I can't remember if I told you about her but she's like 21, from Ecuador, is a hostess at Applebees, and is REALLy sweet and nice. Always willing to listen and always keeps commitments, EXCEPT for coming to church. Super frustrating. That's one of the biggest things we're working on with her. The importance of church. Nobody realizes that. And it's hard to get them to really understand.

We also taught Mario a few more times. Mario is in his 50's, from Ecuador, lives with his "esposa" (though not married), but wants to be baptized. The problem is, is his esposa, Lola, is not super into the idea of marriage, as well as being a member too. They live above a super active, really devoted member family, which consists of Ronald (16, has a mohawk, loves working out, comes out with the missionaries frequently though) Rosa (Ron's mom, endowed, incredible member, supports the ward really well) and Ron's grandmother (also awesome, also a super devoted member in the ward). Anyway, we're continually working with Mario to try to get him to set something up with Lola while we're there. He's really funny and nice and always wears a yellow or grey tank-top. I'm telling you guys, the tanktops here are in abundance.

A few nights ago, Elder Storey and I did a music lesson at a Thursday night family night at the Castro's house. We played the guitar and sang hymns and talked about music and why we use it in the gospel and the spirit that it brings and whatnot. Afterwards, Hermana Castro asked me to come play "Brightly Beams our Father's Mercy" in spanish at a ward activity on Saturday night. I said sure. So we went and I sat down and started playing in front of about 40 members and NOBODY started singing with me. They all just looked super confused. So I frantically looked over at Hermana Castro who swept in to rescue me. She showed me the lyrics and guess what? DIFFERENT LYRICS. Not the regular lyrics for Brightly Beams. So we started over and I was a little peeved and embarrassed and I looked back at Elder Ream, Winslow and Storey, and they were all busting up and taking pictures. It was funny though. OH and afterwards Elder Ream (who is the ward pianist and probably the best pianist I've ever met) started jamming on piano and guitar and we were going NUTS. Both of us soloing and shredding and playing jacked-up versions of hymns. It was so rad. He's incredible at taking a chord progression and just JAMMING. Goodness I love music so much.

A super less-active family started coming back to church. They're in the zone leaders area, in Harrison and Central Newark but it's SUPER AWESOME to see that light come back into their life. They have been inactive for 19 years and yesterday the father of the family recieved the Priesthood. Incredibly experience. He's going to be baptizing his daughters next week. I'm really excited for them.

Good week. Time to start anew with a new companion and a new-take to missionary work. This area is really slow moving and my goal is to speed that up in whatever way I can. I got a really good compliment from Elder Storey the other day. We were talking to our investigator Israel and Elder Storey basically just praised me for being able to walk right and just talk to people as if I was friends with them. It felt good to hear that because I've been feeling low lately, basically that I'm just a crappy missionary work, because we haven't had any baptisms or confirmations. But it was wonderful to hear that, especially from Elder Storey.

I'm super backed up on letters right now. I have to write 10-11 people. So sorry if you don't get letters for a few weeks. BUT I LOVE ALL OF YOU.
Keep reading your scriptures and praying. I mean it.

Elder Niels Christensen

CHRIS: got your letter. Writing you today.
Hayley: I don't know if you're sending a letter soon or have already sent one... but I'm sending one today.
Bekah: LOVED YOUR LETTER still/ Writing you today.
Lydia: writing you today FOR SURE.
FAMILY: I'll try to start writing you next week. Love you.
VERINA: totally got your letter. Next week I'll write you.


Monday, August 20, 2012

20 August 2012, Kearney, NJ

EVERYBODY. This week was rough. We didn't have a lot of lessons, new investigators or real success with our the little people that we taught. But we did reconnect with an old investigator and a family of potential investigators, which should be awesome.
-Got some CD's from Lydia. She's gets a gold medal for that one.
-Did more contacting this week. I'm getting better with just talking to people on the streets. Like I just walked up to a family sitting on their porch and asked them if they knew a good place for pizza close-by. They told me a few places, and we talked for a few minutes and then I was just like "Oh by the way we're missionaries..." and jumped into a discussion. I was proud of myself. We set up a return appt but they bailed on us yesterday.
-NATALIE - got your letter, writing you TODAY. Be stoked.
-BEKAH - got your letter, going to try to write today. love you so much.
-We had president interviews this week. They were wonderful. I love talking to President Jeppson. I get super stressed though because I've had at least 3 people tell me that they feel like I'm going to be "future of the mission", including Pres Jeppson. It freaks me out, but at the same time, OBVIOUSLY, I feel pretty great and humbled. HOWEVER, quick story, while we were driving to pick some other Elders in an area called Bayonne, we saw something gross/crazy. We were waiting in the car for the other Elders to come out, and we saw this guy stumble out of a bar (this is at 9 o clock in the morning) with a grocery bag in his hands and he puked on the sidewalk. Then we noticed that his pants were down. He stumbled up against a car, drunkenly trying to pull up his pants without success. Let's just say I saw a lot more than I wanted to see. Total frontal nudity. It was pretty gross. I'm just glad that we were like 30 yards away from him.
-Have had a couple of dreams in Spanish. SUCCESS! I'm actually learning.
-We were teaching a less active/recent convert a couple of days ago and out of the blue she was like "next time we need to have the dating discussion, like what's okay and what's not..." Elder Storey and I just looked at each other and laughed. We LOVE teaching Law of Chastity, especially in spanish. So that's going to be fun. We'll see how that goes.
-Cool discussion about faith with Elder Storey this week. Mostly just this: The reason why faith is SO important to have is because it's ONLY needed during our lives on THIS earth. Think about it: before, we lived with God. We didn't need to believe in him. And after this life, we know what's coming. We know we're going to live with God, as long as we keep doing the things we need to be doing ON THIS EARTH. It's insane how much this life matters, in comparison to how short it is. FAITH is what drives us to continue to follow God. It's what drives us to act, to change, to better ourselves and to ultimately reach salvation.

Last week of the transfer. Can't believe I'll already been in Jersey for 5 weeks. I was telling Elder key yesterday how quickly I felt this transfer went by. All he said was "You have no idea." He's almost been out a year now. I love him and respect him so much.

Have faith. I love you all.

Elder Niels Christensen

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A few photos

Niels finally sent some photos. Here are a few of them from the MTC and New Jersey.