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.
CUT THE CAKE!
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.