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"?