Monday, March 25, 2013

March 25, 2012 Plainfield, NJ

This week was glorious and crazy.

1. Got doubled-in. (So Elder Leon and I are just barely learning the area. We're in Plainfield, NJ)
2. New COMP: Elder Leon from Virginia (but originally from Honduras.. WHOO another native companion)
3. Training - I'm exhausted all the time.
4. Car accident the second night in the new area - totaled the car we were driving. Don't worry, we're fine.
5. Like I said, new area: Plainfield, North Plainfield, South Plainfield, MIddlesex (yes I know, funny), Dunellen, and more. IT's a biking area now because we destroyed the car.

Plainfield is a city much like Perth Amboy but a little more spread out, a little dirtier, not as many cool, quirky things (no beach), and a lot more black people. The ethnicity is a good mix of African Americans, Guatemalans,El Salvadorians, Ecuadorians, Peruvians. The people are super great and nice. The active members in the branch are the strongest members I have ever met. BUt the only problem is there about 20 of them. Favorite people: Jose Brito: A short Dominican man, about 45 but looks like he's 25. He loves to come out with the missionaries. He drives us around all the time. Family Medina: Peruvians, They're awesome! Their son, Meliton just got home from a mission in Pittsburgh and he comes out with us all the time too. Already have learned a TON from him, mostly just about WHAT TO DO if I ever come home.

Elder Allan Fernando Leon Canales is such a great companion. He honestly came pre-trained. He went out with missionaries in Virginia, he speaks perfect spanish (duh), he's not afraid to follow me across the street to talk with all the illegal immigrants waiting for jobs, and he's just cool. He looks a little bit Chinese. He loves soccer (duh) and playing soccer video games and sleeping. He's a cool Elder and we're getting along really well. Our studies have been really awesome with a lot of focus on Preach My Gospel and doing role plays. I told him that he has to LOVE role plays. Kidding. I'm trying really hard to be super humble and learn a lot from Elder Leon and I LOVE training. I love the Savior and I love his gospel. I'm super grateful for the power of the priesthood restored on this earth through a Prophet of the Lord.

Got the package, family. Thanks so much. ALSO, Natalie got yours too.
TANNER - got your package, but I'm opening it today. Accidentally left it in the Perth Amboy Elders' car when we switched at Transfer Conference.

I'm living with Elder Key again. He's a workout monster and he just keeps getting more and more buff every time I see him.



Monday, March 18, 2013

March 18, 2012 Transfer

Transfer Gossip in the New Jersey Morristown Mission consists of this: everyone calling each other and staying up late on Thursday and Sunday night to try and find out who is going where, who is going to be District Leaders, Zone Leaders, Assistants, and trainers. It's seriously the most hilarious aspect of the mission and some elders are REALLY GOOD at it. It's gotten so bad that past mission-presidents have officially BANNED transfer gossip. I love it so much. Here's just some background info so you understand:

There are 8 zones in my mission. To drive from zone 1 (West New York, very top of the mission) to zone 8 (techincally zone 6 is the most southern but whatever) is about 3 hours. Which is WHY our mission has TRANSFER CONFERENCE where EVERYBODY who is being transferred meets in the middle in the Short Hills Chapel and President is there and reads off a list of who is going where, who's training, who is going to be a leader, etc. (crazy Emily, reading about you taking PLANES to go to different areas. Man oh man) So, if you get called to be a zone leader, (always two missionaries in every zone leader companionship so 16 zone leaders in the whole mission) you try and find out where you are going by talking to other missionaries, phone calls, and more gossipy things. The spanish word for gossiper is "chismoso". Hah. It's honestly super funny how intense it gets with some missionaries.

Anyway so here's the big news: Elder Blanco and I were teaching a lesson ( a little bit late in the evening, about 9:15) and as we were finishing up, President calls. So he goes to the kitchen and takes the call as I keep teaching and testifying. Then I look over and he's vigorously beckoning me over and my heart stopped. (Trainer calls always come on Thursdays). So I said "SORRY, I need to take this call" and I walk over there and Elder Blanco puts the phone on speaker and President begins to speak... he says something like "I have spent a long time on my knees praying and counseling with the Lord and it simply pleases me to extend a calling to the BOTH of you, on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ, to serve as TRAINERS." We looked at each other and smiled and said "YES."

So that's it. I am TRAINING and I'm also going to be getting doubled-in (DAD in your terms it's white-washing I believe?) so me and my new trainee are going to be put into an area alone and we are going to WORK SO HARD. I'm super super stoked. I'm honestly not even scared or nervous. I know the Lord is with me, supporting and strengthening me. I've been praying for my new trainee every morning and night that I can love him and be humble and show him how to be the missionary that the Lord wants him to be. It's going to be super fun getting doubled-in because we BOTH will have no idea what to do. I have learned a lot about faith recently, which has been truly preparing me for this opportunity and experience, I realize. I need to have so much faith in order to find new people in an unknown area, teach new people, and overall trust in the hand of God, so that we may do the work that he already has laid down for us. Whew.. done with the cheese train, I swear.

So Elder Blanco will be staying in Perth Amboy and training and I'll be shipped off to who knows where. Cool right? I realize that for most people (unless you're familiar with missionary jargon and lingo) will not really get A) some of the terms I've used and b) how cool and exciting this really is but for I hope those of you that are in the mission understand. It's going to be a fun 3 months.

Other than that big news: it's my birthday today. Whoo-hoo. It's been pretty good so far. When I woke up I dragged myself over to the arm chair in our apartment (the loss of 1 hour of sleep is still killin me) and I lift up my head to see Elder Blanco, shirtless with my guitar, and he plays some Mexican happy birthday song for me and I was laughing. He's been a great companion and we've done WORK in Perth Amboy for these last 5 weeks. It's a shame that we only had that short time to be together. After studies and breakfast (we made pancakes and bacon in the kitchen in the chapel) we went over to the mall in Woodbridge and I bought a tie on sale for 50c (it's tweed and skinny and awesome) and a flannel shirt for 7 bones. No buyer's remorse there. Now we're here at the library and I'm talking to YOU ALL. I love everyone of you. (Especially YOU Kent, reading my blog and being such a champion).

We saw Andres and Marisol yesterday to teach them more about the Plan of Salvation and Hermano Ignacio and Hermana Lizeth Aponte came with us. The Aponte family are AMAZING. He is the 2nd counselor in the branch presidency and she is the president of the YM. Before they were super active, Hno Aponte wasn't even a member. He was happy with his normal life, simply living with his wife, not married. He would tell the missionaries to go teach in the jail where the people that actually needed the gospel were. They persisted with him and taught him about the Law of Chastity and he avoided them for many years. Finally the missionaries taught him again and again and FINALLY he was married and baptized. We brought them along because that's EXACTLY how Andres and Marisol are. Marisol has doubts about them getting married. It was such a powerful incredible experience to see Hno Aponte tell her about their story and testify that EVERYTHING is better now because they have the gospel. I LOVE their family so much, both Andres and Marisol and the Aponte family. It's so cool to see how members can help with the missionary work SO MUCH. I'm actually really sad that I"m leaving this area. I'm going to miss it so much, especially since I've been here for 6 months. The members have been great and the branch will very soon be a ward. tThat's the goal of the Scotch Plains Stake by the end of the year. I love everything about the church, from the boring organizational stuff, to every little calling that every person has, to the importance and cleansing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Speaking of that, I gave a "farewell" talk yesterday. I talked about how only through our church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, can you be cleansed from sin completely because you have 100% access to that atoning sacrifice of the Savior. I was inspired by our new ward mission leader, Tony, who is the man. I got really really intense and excited as I was bearing testimony, even so much that I drove my first finger into the podium several times and had to stop to take a few breaths in the middle of a sentence. I love being able to speak spanish fluently and tesity and say WHATEVER I want. Not to brag, I'm just braggin like Ammon does. Just saying.. the gift of tongues is real.

Well I love you all. You know that. The CHURCH is still true. You know that too. I love this gospel so much. I feel like the apostles that said basically, "what would we do if you die Christ? We have nothing left to go back to." I could never become super inactive because I wouldn't know WHAT to do with my life. What would I do without the Savior and the Sacrament and my loving HEavenly Father. Anyway, think about that.


Elder N. H. Christensen

ps - still have tons of letters.
pps - Shut it, it's my birthday, I can do whatever I want.
ppps - FAMILY - I love all of you and I'm thinking about you. Matt, Sharon, Natalie, Kai, Finn, Lars. You're all the greatest.

Monday, March 11, 2013

March 11, 2013 (Perth Amboy)

I realized this morning while I was studying that ever since November I have only been reading the Book of Mormon in spanish. Because we had that challenge to read it in like a month and a half and Elder Giglio was challenged to do English so I said "HEY I'll do it in Spanish so you don't feel like you're the only one reading it in a different language". And I did and I LOVED IT. And I've been reading it ever since in Spanish. And it's funny because it's written in the "vosotros" form when they're addressing more than one person, which is super formal and they only use it in SPAIN. ANYWAY super fun.

I have NO TIME. SO here's an exerpt from my letter to President:

"Elder Murray and I went on an exchange this week, on Saturday and we really had a good time. Not only do I LOVE Elder Murray and admire him more than practically anyone I know, but he's a hard worker and we get along really well. When I was with him I wanted to do some street contacting, so we did for short time. It wasn't too successful so after some time and effort we went and visited a less active girl we had planned on teaching that day. We taught her on her porch (because the weather was MARVELOUS) and afterwards we saw her brother walk out the front door with his buddy. We asked where they were going and they said to play basketball. We asked if we could come and they said YES so we followed them to an outside court. We played for about 45 minutes and then taught them for 20 and it really was grand. And after the lessons and the game Elder Murray and I waltzed away and started chatting to two other guys that were waiting on the side of the court and we taught them how to pray to their Heavenly Father, about Jesus Christ, the Atonement, and left them with commitments. We felt ON FIRE after that. We left and not 5 minutes later a Puerto Rican guy walked next to us and started talking to us. He told us that his mother was baptized in our church and that we wanted to listen to us. His name was Thomas and we got his information and he said that when we came by to teach him, he would give us his mother's info so we could teach her too. EXCHANGE MIRACLES. It was an incredible day. We felt amazing and really tired by end."

And we destroyed those three 16 year old kids in basketball. It's probably the fact that we're 20 and have a little bit more body mass than they do and also I'm taller than I thought I was. Anyway, it was grand.

This week consisted of a lot of finding which was great because we found 6 new investigators and they're all AWESOME. One thign that the Lord has truly blessed my with is my ability to love people and I am extremely grateful for that. I love everyone I see, even if they're creepy looking or drunk.

Another awesome finding miracle: We were going to visit our investigator Nelson (with a baptismal date) but he left right as we got there. So as we walked back the way we came through the parking lot of the apartment complexes, we saw an old lady and a 10 year old kid carrying this massive heavy sofa. We offered to hellp and they accepted. The next 1.5 hours we carried that thing into the building, crammed it into the elevator, screwed on different pieces when we got into the their apartment and finally taught them about the Restoration. It was another cool finding chance. 1. I love being an Elder because people will totally accept things that require physical strength. So that's a dominican family that became new investigators too.

LOVE YOU ALL. I love the church I know it's true.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

March 4, 2013 (Perth Amboy)

Editors note: I've been in China the past two weeks where Western-based blogs are blocked. Sorry. All up to date now.

Glorious week.

I loved the emails from everyone! Thanks Mom, Dad, Natalie, Degrey.. you guys are the best. NAD - I loved your finding stories so much. It's crazy how different the work is here than in Taiwan... but I love hearing about contacting every person you see and how TONS of them will totally listen to you and you get awesome lessons and new investigators out of it. Oh man being a missionary is seriously the greatest blessing/experience ever given to me.

As I mentioned before, this week was glorious. Our Monday started off really great as we went to visit the Rosario family (part member/less active family that fed us a RIDICULOUS amount of food last weekend) to see how they were doing. My great companion, Elder Blanco was like "Ahhh let's just try and visit them/.." and I was being all doubty because we had seen them not even 2 days before.. but good thing we did because the LAST time that we were there, the non member mother Marien told us that she wanted us to teach her 17 year old son. She said that she wanted him to be mormon because he needed a better foundation in his life. So we stopped by and knocked on the door and HE ANSWERED. His name was Fernando. He answered half naked, and hesitantly talked to him for a minute, but after we explained to him that we wanted to talk specifically to HIM and talk about faith and Jesus Christ, he ran upstairs, put a shirt on and we had an AWESOME lesson about the gospel of Jesus Christ. The spirit was totally there and we were definitely supposed to have found him that night because he told us that wrestling season ended in like 5 days and after that we could come see him whenever we wanted. Love when my companion listens to the spirit.

Later on the week we had a really good lesson with another Dominican less-active family. Socorro is the hermana in the branch and she's living with her 2 daughters and her boyfriend, Jose (investigator). And we started talking about 4th Nephi and how when we obey the commandments of God, we can at least establish peace in our homes, with our families. And for some reason, Socorro brought up baptism and started bashing on catholic baptism (which I secretly love, but I have to act like I don't) and then her and Jose started arguing, even though Jose doesn't really believe in the Catholic church. I turned to Marley (16 year old daughter) and said something like "Ooooh this is getting so intense" and she busted up laughing. We ended up talking about reading the scriptures and committing them to read as a family, and then Jose gave us a ride home in his tiny little 1996 volkswagen. Haha - imagine a 6'2, 250 pound Dominican guy driving a tiny litle white car.. haha.

Anyway, just found out I've only got 10 minutes... Gotta run. 
Quick facts
1: this transfer is a five week transfer so it ends in 2 weeks
2: we're still working with the Castillo family.. man we love them so so so much. There is no way I can explain how much Godly love I feel for them. Andres and Marisol are slowly progressing and we still have them set with a baptismal date for the 31 of March. AHHH. Man. Pray for them.
3. We had to drop Juan Jose. I was pretty bummed but he admitted to us that he likes his life the way it is and is not ready to change and obey ALL the laws of God, just some of them. I honestly don't really get mad at people for saying dumb things like that anymore, I just become a little weary and I pray that they may understand the negativity of the sin that they are committing. 
4. I had a dream about a song I started writing. It's pretty cool. it's called "Thou Loveth" and it sounds like the Beatles. 
5. Had a hilarious lesson last night with less active lady Mayi (Ma-ji) and her friend Eneri. Mayi was sick and Eneri was caring for her and giving her meds and stuff and it was hilarious. Mayi was acting all sick and dramatic on the couch with a blanket and Eneri was telling her to take meds, and eat oatmeal and drink this and that. And she gave her 2 pills and Mayi was like all suprised and said "LAS DOS?!" (BOTH?!) but Dominican's dont' say their "s's" and so it sounded like "LAH DOH?!" We love DOminican people. And then I did the dishes and Eneri was trying to stop me and I kept washing plates when she wasn't looking. HAha. I love forced service.
6. Mom - thanks for your email.
7. Dad - you too, your email was great with excellent pictures. 
8. EVERYONE: sorryI've bene the worst about writing you. I'll try to get some quality eltter writing time.

There's this black couple arguing next to me and I looked at them for a sec and the lady looked at me with WIDE EYES and said "Am I disturbing you?!" all sassy like.. I just laughed and said..." Naaahhh you're good."

The church is true. The Book of Mormon is the word of God. It's so pure and true and clear. Jesus is our Saviour and Lord.


February 25, 2013 (Perth Amboy)

Eating Weekend

Which means that I've had stomach problems for the past 3 days. We visited
a Dominican less active family (who usually treats us like we're mangled
pieces of cold fish) and they yelled at us to come in and eat. It turns out
that it was the daughter's birthday party and so they had made TONS of
food. So we sit down and she gives us an entire plate filled with 2
different kinds of rice... it was a lot. So we start eating. Then she asks
us if we want salad. We say "sure". She gives us another plate filled with
2 different kinds of salad. Elder Blanco and I looked at each other with
this look of like "Well, here we go. Let's go for it". Then without asking
she pulls out a tray of pork and gives ANOTHER plate filled with huge
chunks of pork. I looked at Elder Blanco and and said without speaking "ARE
YOU KIDDING ME!" Anyway, as we ate, I kept telling myself that I COULD NOT
STOP. So I kept eating and finally we finished and left to walk 12 blocks
to our next appointment. We wanted to die. And THEN, we get to our next
appointment and it's a lovely little Mexican famliy that has made mexican
ceviche for us (with shrimp). I wanted to kill myself but we both,
seemingly happily ate our bowls of seafood. And then I was dying of
laughter because Elder Blanco (as we were chatting with them) slyly typed
in a text message in our phone and set it next to my leg. I looked over and
it said, "Im going to piuke".

That lesson that we had though was incredible intense. It was with the
Castillo family aka Andres and Marisol. They are such an awesome family.
They go to church every week with their 3 kids, the oldest one if baptized,
but Andres and Marisol are not. Because they are not married and obviously
are living together. They still have some things they are working through,
doubts and fears, but we have been working so hard with them this past
week. We have been teaching them of the importance of baptism, of faith, of
repentance, and having the Holy Ghost, and of enduring to the end. I love
the doctrine of Jesus Christ because you can answer any question someone
has with either A) the doctrine or B) the Book of Mormon (which testifies
of the doctrine of Jesus Christ). And that's what we did. It's cool to be
in a lesson where we planned on going to teach them something, but the
spirit told us to teach something else. And then we realized that we
basically DID teach what we planned, just in a completely different way.
Sorry this is getting boring.

We BAPTIZED Angel Santiago yesterday. It was such a happy day. It was
double great because yesterday was the first day in 3 weeks or so that he
got to see his daughter. MIracle. She's a cute little, half-Mexican,
half-Puerto Rican, 1 year old with chubby cheeks and baby thin hair, named
Keylani. And she always (except when laughing) has this look of concern on
her face but she's super quiet and doesn't really cry at all. The recently
released Ward Mission Leader , Hermano Arcadio Luna baptized him. I got
some good pictures I'll try to send them next week. He was so happy to be
baptized and he  kept telling us that he knew it was just the door to a new
life of opportunity and happiness with his trust in God. Yes! He
understands his purpose as a human and I love that.

Anyway, I gotta run. I love life, being a missionary, (Natalie DON'T EVEN
START, I love you so much and you're a WAY BETTER missionary than me) and I
love the church and the gospel with everything that I hold dear. I know
Christ is our Eternal Lord.

ps - thanks for all the emails and stuff this week. I love you all.
ARIEL - your email was the best. I already wrote you back duh.
FINN AND KAI: Write me a quick email.

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