Monday, January 28, 2013

January 28, 2013 (Perth Amboy)

These past two weeks have been FREEZING. The wind has swept in and it feels like it's tearing your skin off when you step outside. For example, in my last apartment in Kearny I found long-john thermals, so I wear those over garments, pross clothing, cardigan sweater, wool socks, fake down jacket, peacoat, beanie, gloves, and 2 scarfs. One for my neck, one for my face. We look like buffoons, but obviously we don't care.

So this week was pretty awesome, and pretty lousy at the same time. I honestly don't know how I maintain a supreme level of happiness most of the time. I think it's because the Lord knows how easy I can fall, so he's constantly lifting me up and rewarding us for working so hard. We had a couple of cool miracles though. On Saturday, our kind-of-investigator Angel told us that he can now be baptized, because he doesn't live with his girlfriend anymore. We were a little bummed because they weren't progressing very much because they were living in sin and breaking the law of chastity, but know they have more potential. He told us that his girlfriend left and took their daughter too and he was distraught and depresed, but one day he was cleaning his room and found his Book of Mormon and started reading in Alma 14 about Alma and Amulek and felt that some of his questions were answered, because the very next day his girlfriend came back and let him see his daughter for a while. So he told us that he can be baptized now. The book of Mormon is true, duh.
Also, we visited our Honduranian, anime-loving buddy, Jorge Reyes. He's so cool and humble and loves what we preach and we finally got him a Book of Mormon (after the 3rd visit.. I know, worst missionaries better). He told us how excited he is to start reading the Book of Mormon and pray about it. He also, understands authority really well. He kept making awesome analogies by himself like "Yeah! It's like if you wanted to get married, and you had ME marry you and your wife, it wouldn't mean anything. Because an authority would ask you 'Well who married you' and you would say 'Jorge Reyes, my friend. He's super awesome and he always gives us a little water.' but it wouldn't mean anything because i dont' have the power to do it." That part about the water was hilarious because he had just given us bottled water to drink. Not very often do you have situations where you, your companion, and your investigator are all dying of laughter and practically crying together. But yes, Jorge is reading and praying and wants an answer so bad. He has such a powerful desire to know that it's true, and THAT is how we receive answers, through our righteous desires.

Transfers are in 2 weeks. I can't believe it. I love being a missionary, and I love this time taht Elder Giglio and I have had as companions. Last night, after giving service in a freezing cold house (because the guy that owns it can't afford heat or gas) we planned, prayed and then both collapsed on the floor and slept for like 15 minutes. Then at about 10 o clock, I dragged myself to the bathroom, brushed my teeth, and then stumbled into my bed in full clothing, except for shoes, and fell asleep and slept like a log all night long. I felt great when I woke up though (Ps - Sometimes sleeping in pross (your shirt and tie) is ok).

"I love the Lord, in him my soul delights.
Upon his word I ponder day and night."

The church is true. Love you all.


-Bayley: Writing you back TODAY. LOVE YOU SO MUCH
-Bekah: Writing you back today ok? OH man, I love you. ("No he's not")
-FINN: Write me. I listened to some of George Harrison's gospel album last night and I was in heaven.
- Chris: What's up, I love you, I'll write you soon, update me on music, tell me who's your best friend right now, how's john and karla?
-GEMMA: Hey where's your letter with your CALL? TELL ME NOW.
The church is still true.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January 22, 2013 (Perth Amboy)

And this is life eternal . . .

... that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent.
John 17:3

I read this scripture this morning, comparing it to Christ's prayers of the Nephites in 3 Nephi 19. I love the intercessory prayer and I love the scriptures. I love knowing that we have a personal relationship with our Father in Heaven and that as a missionary, I get to teach my investigators how to learn to know their Creator. As I was praying this morning to close my personal study, I felt a fullness of spirit and mind as I thought that I was about to kneel and speak with the Being that created me, and about the fact that he is my Father and more, that he loves me, more than any earthly father has felt. And to think that we can not even comprehend that love. Man oh man.

I am emailing today because yesterday was MLKJ day and the libraries were closed. This week has been awesome. We taught a high of 27 lessons. One reason why we taught so many was because we went on a split Sunday night. Elder Giglio went with our branch president, President Zapata, and I ran off with Ezequiel Vasquez, a Puerto Rican brother (my same age) who is preparing to go on a mission. It was a good night. Ezequiel and I visited a Dominican family, Germania Figueroa and Nelson Abreu (woman in the Latin culture don't take the last name of their husband so it can be confusing sometimes). Germania is so awesome. Nelson, her husband, is not a member and no matter what we teach, be it about prayer, scriptures, or the Plan of Salvation, she brings up baptism and testifies to her husband and tells him that he needs to be baptized. It's hilarious. I swear, she's a better teacher than us. Nelson will be baptized soon, he just needs to start investigating and really putting himself into what we're teaching him.

We also had zone conference on Friday. I love zone conferences. They're such awesome opportunities to receive revelation, to spend time with President Jeppson and listen to his wise counsel and blessings, and also to have a good time with other missionaries AND get a free lunch. We did How To Begin Teaching roleplays, which was basically where we practiced teaching missionaries acting as investigators as if it was our very first lesson with them. I LOVE How to Begin Teaching, because you set all of the expectations that they have and that we have as missionaries. There is a list of 10 bullet points, that Elder Boyd K. Packer himself wrote, in Preach My Gospel, and I've memorized them and I USE them SO much, even if we've taught an investigator like 6 or 7 times. It's so important to let them know again and again why you're there, especially if they're slow investigators, or ones that have been investigating for TOO long. WE call those eternagators. Sorry I'm rambling, as usual.

One hilarious thing I wanted to share: Maybe sometimes when we're on the computers updating our profiles and on, Elder Giglio looks at the profile pictures (on, mind you, so duh they're not bad at all) of all the asian women. It's hilarious. I know he's in love with Japanese people, especially with a Japanese sister that he met in the MTC, so I'm not sure if he's looking for her or something. All I know is sometimes I look over at his screen and I see him selecting the "asian" button and for the age "18-24" and then I usually start dying of laughter inside as he scans all the photos ever so nonchalantly. Man he cracks me up.

Anyway, it was an awesome week. I felt the spirit frequently, tried my best to obey it and we taught a lot of lessons.
LOVE YOU ALL. Know that I love this gospel, my Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and I love the scriptures.


ps - Some guy by my computer was asking me how to spell "conqueror" and another guy was asking me if I could help him with his resume and the word document, so I did. I definitely live in a low-income, blue collar world. I love all these people so much.
pps - Juan Jose's baptism is this week on Sunday and he's super excited for it. We're praying really hard for him and we're actually starting to teach him English too, as we teach him Gospel principles. I love him so much and I'm stoked for him to be baptized and become a MEMBER of the church.
ppps - HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM AND KAI. I love you both.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hurricane Sandy destruction photos

January 14, 2013 (Perth Amboy)

Our new district leader got the soundtrack for the Hobbit, so we've been listening to it a bunch, when we're driving around town. AND it's been super rainy and misty lately so the CD has felt perfect.

I don't have a TON of time as everybody sent me a bunch of emails, which was wonderful of you. Mom thanks so much for the information of your mission and revelation received at Stake Conference. It's going to be interested coming home to a new Stake Presidency (except, remember, I'm NEVER coming home). Also, Mom, Elder Giglio is from Guadalajara, Mexico and ceviche is a peruvian dish with raw fish, TONS of lime juice, onion, and a little bit of spices. Dad, great stories. Also, you sound like your billionarie-author self again... on sebatical this time (spelling?).

Lydia, I got your other letter. Thanks so much it was honestly so kind. And I LOVE hearing about your MTC experience. It sounds really similar to mine and it reminds me of how much revelation I received when I was there. Did you get my letter I sent you? I think it put it out on Friday.

This week was rad, although numerically it did not show. We spent some time with some less actives and members that ALWAYS want to feed us. We also visited 17 year old Mario Pena (Dominican kid). He's AWESOME. Only member in the house he lives. He lives with his aunt and uncle. But he is at church every week and has a super strong testimony. He plays saxophone in a Latin band and sings backup. He showed us a video and it was super cool.

Cool experience Friday night. I wrote this in my letter to President:

Friday night. It's raining. It is cold outside. The cheap blue rain jacket I bought at the mall last week isn't exactly doing it's job, and I'm afraid for the cascading water pouring into my backpack and ruining my scriptures. But I am happy. The rain makes me feel alive, like I'm a part of the earth itself; a tree, and my legs are wiry trunks.

After walking about a mile, we found the house we were searching for and we knocked the door. Nobody came to the door. We knocked the neighbor's door. A Dominican lady answered and we told her we were servants of Jesus Christ and we had a message for her and her family that we KNEW would bless her life. She said she wasn't interested. 
Tired, wet, and a little defeated, we stepped out again into the damp, cold air. We knew we had to find somebody else. As I scanned the street on which we were standing, I saw a house about 80 yards away with a light on. It looked promising and warm. We ran across the street, disreguarding the umbrella and stepped right up to that brown door. We knocked it. A woman came to the door but didn't answer. She said it was broken. Then she said we could come around back. We hurriedly scurried around the backside of the house and as we approached the back door, it opened wide, yellow light spilling into the blackness, and a woman in her 40's told us to come in. We did. As we sat down with her and found out that she had listened to the missionaries before, we asked her what she had thought of the message that we carried. She smiled and responded, "Yo fui bautizado." (I was baptized). I was shocked. Almost immediately after she said that, as we continued talking, I thanked the Lord in my head for sending us his spirit to direct us to this wonderful, but semi-lost woman (Magdalena is her name).

It was super super great. It's things like THAT that help me realize again and again that God is always with us and he always seeks to direct us. We just need to find his hand and use it.

WE also visited a Honduranian family and Hno Espinoza, who is like 50, was talking about the Beatles and Led Zeppelin and all the music he liked. We then read a scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants about music and how it is a divine gift and blessing. He wanted me to come over and jam with him sometime. ALSO, he was in the air-force when he was younger, and he had an angel Moroni painted on his plane. Super cool.

Friday night was also great because we are seeing more and more progression in Andres and Marisol (Mexican couple who are not baptized because they're not married, BUT their daughter is baptized). Marisol is really softening up. We know that we just need to continue to pray for her, for her to be softened even more, because he husband is totally ready for baptism. We watched the Joseph Smith film with them. For the closing prayer, 4-year-old Angelina was like "Pizo pizo!" so we all got down on our knees and the oldest, baptized daughter prayed (She's 10 i think). Then after, Angelina wanted to say a prayer too, so she said like a 10 minute prayer saying things like "thank you for the flowers that grow and for mommy and poppy and work and dogs..." It was hilarious and Marisol was like "Como quinze minutos" (like 15 minutes). Haha. I love them. There are gettting so close to be being baptized.

The church is restored, true, and wonderful.

Love you all so much. I'm sending a few photos right now. Sorry it's been so long.


Darmis and her daughter

Manhattan Temple

Lobster with the Luna Family

Branch Christmas Party
Maria's baptism

With the Mission President

Service project: member's trailer got soaked and destroyed so we ripped everything out.

Monday, January 7, 2013

January 7, 2012 (Perth Amboy)

First thing so I don't forget: BEKAH. Do you think you could send me a picture of you and I at Delicate, the one take on your phone, I think? I want that photo because it's the BEST.

I can't remember if I wrote it in my last letter but I got to confirm Maria K. a member of the church last week. It was all like heat of the moment. We went up to confirm her and she just pointed at me and said "Christensen". So I did it. And Elder Giglio made fun of me for saying 1 thing wrong. I don't even remember what it was. Sorry I don't have perfect Spanish, native Mexican. 
Mine and Elder Giglio's relationship is hilarious: We love each other, in the sense that we hug and make food for each other, and then I tackle him in our apartment and punch his shoulder 50+ times until he throws me off and wails on me. He's my brother and we've been together so long that I feel like we'll never leave each other.

We had a really good week with the New Year and everything. On New Year's Eve we watched the Joseph Smith film (full length) with Juan Jose. He loves Joseph Smith and he really enjoyed the film. After that we saw Darmis for a moment and gave her our fighting Christmas card. She loved it so much and hung it up on her wall immediately after we gave it to her. Man, I was telling our District leader, Darmis is more trunky than anyone else I know. Even more so than my family. She's always talking about "after the mission" and when we get married, and when we have kids and how she's going to come visit us and stuff. We always tell her "Hermana! Ya le dijimos que la mision nunca termina!" (Hermana, we already told you, the mission never ends!).
Finally, after those appointments, we saw the awesome Familia Chico, from Puebla Mexico. They fed us delicious homemade red chili and green mole tamales. Oh MAN it was rich. Their little kids are so hilarious: Vanessa, who is like 8 or 9, is missing her two front teeth, and always wears a red dress to church, and Daniel is like 4 or 5 and has a lisp (like in the side of his mouth, it's adorable).

Anyway, I'm rambling.

Hermano Luna took us to the car wash on Wednesday night after Ward Correlation, because he was giving us a ride home. It was one of those awesome ones where you just sit in your car while Latin men in jumpsuits dance and hover around your car like worker bees, spraying and scrubbing. Then we went through the part with the tentacles and the high powered air pressure. I don't think I've done that since I was 4 or 5 years old. I probably had one of the biggest, dumbest smiles on my face the whole time. I looked back at Elder Giglio and he was smililng and laughing too. Now THAT is joy. We felt 5 years old. Hermano Luna was just laughing the whole time. He's awesome.

We had some really good lessons with less-actives and recently found investigators too. Blanca, from Peru, who lives 2 houses away from us, had us over and we both felt like we should stay for longer than the usual hour appointment. It proved to be a really good idea from the spirit. We talked with her about bettering her prayers, and really COMING unto Jesus Christ. By the end of the lesson, it felt like we had broken down all of these barriers of bitterness, laziness, and fear and she was so happy and full of the spirit. She even invited us over for dinner tonight (Monday) for ceviche and other Peruvian food. I LOVE CEVICHE. It's like a sea-food soup, but so delicious and spicy with lots and lots of chili and lime. 

Anyway. It was a good week. But we might be in jail next week... but seriously. A member put in a demand for us to be sent to jail or pay him/her 3,000 dollars. More on that later. We know everything's going to be alright. The Lord will always provide for us.

There's this hilarious old guy named Elder Clark (senior couple) who always says stuff in a gruff, old man's voice, "Hey ELDER! Elder. Did you hear the news... the church is still true.. Heh HEH! It's still true!" It's seriously the most hilarious thing ever. OH and sometimes when he answers the phone (when he knows he's gonna be talking with another member he says, "The Book is blue, the church is true, and I'm talking to YOU, this is Elder Clark!" Man Elder Storey does a really good impression of it and I DIE everytime he does it.

BUt really, the church is still true. I love the Book of Mormon and I'm so grateful for the Restoration of the church of Jesus Christ, the SAME church that Jesus Christ established when HE was on the earth and ministering unto the Jews.


ps - Sorry this was a long, boring email. Love you all.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

December 31, 2012 (Perth Amboy)

We got the text last night for transfers. Elder Giglio and I are both staying. That means we'll be together for another month and a half. So by the end of this transfer, we'll have 4 and a half months together (which I promise, is a lot).
We were talking about companions and new companions and leaving the area and everything last night as we were out visiting people. Elder Giglio and I get along really well, and he was voicing his concerns to me about getting a companion that he didn't get along with. I told him that sometimes that is just the life of the mission. Because even if you could choose all of your companions, there would still be those little things that you argue about or don't agree on. HOWEVER, you need to be the one to first humble yourself and accept the will of your companion, as long he also wants to do something to help the work. I have realized that PRIDE is the worst thing in the world. When we have it, we are completely shut off to what God wants us to do. But when we are humble, we open ourselves up to the will of the Almighty, and through him we can establish stronger relationships with him and everyone around us, like stubborn companions.

My spanish comprehension is growing and growing and growing. I love so much being able to talk with a hispanic and just have a regular conversation with them. Sometimes, in the middle of a convo with a random person, street contact or whatever, I step back out of my mind and think in English, "Whoa. You're speaking spanish like a spanish person. Like it's so normal for you to open up your mouth and for spanish to come rolling out." IT'S AN awesome feeling.

OH G-PA and G-MA! I cashed your check today. Thanks so much for the breakfast and X-Mas money. My companion and I went to a delicious Cuban restaurant for omelets and hot chocolate this morning. It was cheap to so hopefully we'll go out a few more times.

So I hung my huge apostate Jimi Hendrix poster up on the wall on Christmas day. That thing's gonna be with me for the rest of my life. I don't know if it's actually from 1967 (I doubt it) but it's so cool and sometimes while getting ready for the day I'll jsut stand in front of it and stare and smile for like 20 minutes. Anyway.

The work is going awesome. I'm super happy with the work that we've done and the work that we're doing. The people that we've helped bring into church are so strong in the gospel. It makes me feel like I've really done my part. So many times, you see missionaries bring people into the gospel that go to church 5 or 6 times and then they fall off the face of the planet. That makes me depressed. But I know that those people have a purpose too and we work with less-actives so that they can see the blessings of the gospel REIGNITED in their lives.

Cool/funny experience last night: Elder Giglio and I were walking in the freezing cold last night (sorry Emily, I know it's not AS cold as RUSSIA) with our scarves wrapped around our heads searching for a less-active that is NEVER home. We put her as a back up and as our primary lesson bailed on us, we set off to see her. As we got to our door, naturally we knocked it. Nothing. Knocked again. Nothing. I looked to doorway NEXT to the door that we were knocking and say that it was open and that it lead to a pitch black staircase that lead up a flight. It was pretty creepy looking but I honestly didn't think anything of it. I told Elder Giglio that we had to knock that door. He complained, saying that it was creepy and dark and that Satan dwelt in the dark. I laughed and walked up the stairs as he warily climbed after me. We knocked the door and a young guy answered. I told him we were missionaries of Jesus Christ and we had a message for him. He ran to get someone else, a younger woman, who invited us in. As we stepped into the light of kitchen we saw her face and BAM it was the less active girl we had been searching for. I love listening to and following the spirit even if we don't recognize it at first.

New favorite scripture: 1 John 4:10
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he aloved us, and bsent his Son to be the cpropitiation for our sins.

Happy New Years everybody!


I know God leads his children and I know he loves us .