Monday, September 26, 2016

So Many Things I've Taken for Granted


Hola everybody! How are you? Conference, Conference, Conference, Conference, I'm so stoked for Conference... Can't wait until Saturday!

So this week we have been working hard. We had a super sweet p-day with the whole district on Monday and we went to some random museum on the edge of our area. I am not going to lie, I really liked the museum a lot! But, I am serious, I have never seen so many depressing things in one building. The museum told about the history of Peru... all the people that died in the Spanish Conquest and other things, and also what happened with all of the terrorist attacks around Huancayo. (In the early 1980's there was a lot of internal conflict between the government of Peru and a terrorist organization called "The Shining Path". The Shining Path is an armed wing of the Communist Party of Peru. The Shining Path provides security for drug trafficking gangs, and they are very dangerous. They originated in the providence of Junin which is where Huancayo is.)  I am telling you, it was interesting, but if you aren't happy as can be before you enter you will leave super depressed!!!

As of lessons this week and all the other stuff, we have this super cool new investigator that we found this week named Jose Luis. This guy lives like 45 minutes away, by car, and comes to church. It is so cool! We found him last Sunday when he came to church. So this week we traveled to his house two times. He lives in this place called Pampa Cruz, but we only made it out to this little village called Cullhuas (kweewass) He's such a great guy! We've been teaching him and getting to know him and .... he has a baptismal date! I'm so excited for him!

Also we had a really neat experience and a super cool lesson with a crazy lady named Janina. She beats her children. Seriously! We were with her children also. She is an investigator as of like a few months ago. Before the lesson we didn't know that she was hitting her kids all the time, but during the lesson the spirit urged me to call her out, and ask her why she beats her kids. She answered and said that it is because they do dumb and crazy things and they aren't good kids. I was prompted to tell her about my mom (Wendi). I told her that I wasn't always the greatest kid either, and that I did things wrong sometimes too, but my mom never beat me, she just used those times to teach me, and somehow my mom just dealt with me. The SPIRIT was so strong, and it seriously touched her heart, and right then she promised me that she would never lay a hand on her children again, unless it was to hug them. My comp asked her son Joseph who is 15, what it was that his mom needed the change. I started to tear up, all of the kids were bawling and the mom was crying too. We also had a member with us who was tearing up also. It was so sad to think what she had been doing to her children. Then my comp told them to all hug and make everything better. Really, I don't think I have ever felt the spirit like that in a lesson. I loved it! It really made me appreciate what I have in my life, my family, my mom and my dad. So many things that I took for granted, that are real blessings.

That was my week. I miss you all. Oh, one more thing... on Wednesday I found the most beautiful puppy in the world! I had the urge to steal it, but I didn't.      

love you all,
Elder Christensen

Luke behind a water splashed window.
It's cold in Huancayo, but it's Spring and
Summer is on it's way.
But at 11,000 feet it's never really warm!

The puppy that I wanted to steal... but didn't! 

Beautiful hillside in Hauncayo

Joe (left) and Jeon Carlos (right)
Both recent converts as of a few months ago

Monday, September 19, 2016

I'm Gonna Love it Here in Chilca!

Hey there people!

So this week was slow during the week (oh my gosh, it was so slow!) But now that I think of it, it feels like I have been here in Chilca for only like a few hours!

But, I want to start out and say.... crazy cousin Kolt King! What the heck! Breaking your leg!! You've joined my cool club! Plates, pins and screws in your body are awesome! Send me a picture!!
This week was great! I really don't have much to say, because nothing really actually happened, other than just normal crazy Peruvians that I love! haha But really, my complaint this week is that I am really so sick of the ladies here just thinking it is ok to breast feed anywhere they go, really just anywhere in general! Yesterday in church some lady was breastfeeding her baby while she was saying the final prayer in Sacrament Meeting!! Why?? Enough of that! 

So this week we have been working super hard, and I have been studying super hard also. I have learned a ton this week, I feel like. First off, we literally leave our apartment at like 10:30 a.m. and get back at 9:30 at night. So we literally are working all day long. I really think I'm going to like it here in Chilca. Chilca is a Province of Huancayo. So it's going to be good to be in the city. I really like the ward here in Chilca. We have received like 8 references this week!! Really! It just feels amazing!! In my other areas I never or rarely received references. This ward is cool!! There are like 200 to 230 people in attendance!! It's just the best! Feels like I'm home! My pencion is la Mama Pachis, I love her too, she made me Mac and Cheese!!! My new comps name is Elder Cabrera and he is from Bolivia. He has been in the mission about 5 months. 

We had a super sweet lesson with this less active man and his wife. His wife has been an investigator for like 4 years. haha!!!! But they never wanted to get married. Which is really common here in Peru! No one gets married! So, we had a super sweet lesson with them. I felt the spirit so strong as we were teaching them and the spirit was guiding us word for word. That is the best feeling to know that it's the spirit doing the talking! My comp and I felt great about the lesson, and the spirit was so strong in their home, and then we asked them if and when they would get married. After all these years ..... they ACCEPTED TO GET MARRIED. They didn't put an exact date for the marriage, but I knew right then that the spirit talked to their hearts and changed their minds.The spirit is an amazing thing. I'm so grateful to have it with me always. Later that night we went to a Family Home Evening at the family Quispe. It was a great day! These two things made my week! And the spirit testified to me once again, that IT IS TRUE.

I have to go, hopefully the next week is a little more exciting! I love you all!

Elder Christensen

la Mama Pachis

Shanara (11 years old) an investigator

Back left - Joey a member and  (Right) Luke's companion Elder Cabrera

Chilca, Huancayo Peru

Monday, September 12, 2016

Traditions and Transfers

Hey there people!! 

It was a crazy week!!  A very crazy week in deed!

So, this week was super cool. I about killed my comp though!! haha! So to start out... on Monday we made tacos and milkshakes as a zone. It was super fun! Elder Schully and I (he's my zone leader) we played pingpong for like 2 hours, and I got the feel back for it. That was about it for Monday.
Then Tuesday we had a great time. We went to Eloisa's house and we had a super cool lesson. She really is such a great lady, and she accepted to be baptised but she did not set a date. Then we went and found some other way cool new investigators! They are so great, and I was so excited to work with them. One's name is Donié and he was and orphan his whole life, from the time he was a baby. Then he decided to escape the orphanage and go to college, and now he has his own little room and is studying to be a doctor. He's such a cool guy!

On Thursday I hit ONE YEAR away from home and away from my house, my family and my friends! And one year in the mission!! We went over to the Zone Leader's house and we made a fire, then I burned my shirt, (a "one year in the mission" tradition) and we made some smores. It was so much fun!!! We got to spend the night with Elder Carrasco right before he went home. So we celebrated him finishing his mission! So many thing to celebrate this past week! It really was such a great time with mission friends and investigators! Also that night that I hit a year we all slept on top of the Zone Leader's roof for fun, and ooooohh was it cold!! I am serious... that is colder than I have been in years!!

Elder Bartchi (my room mate in Tingo Maria, not my comp but an Elder who I lived with) and Elder Carrasco left on Saturday morning. Elder Bartchi left me the best gift I have received in years. THE GOON MASTER!! So, the Goon Master is a foam roller. Like one of the rollers that you use for your back or that you sit on to roll your muscles out. Well, it is a super long story about the Goon Master so maybe in a year when I get home I'll tell it, or maybe next week. But it is seriously, super sad now. The mission is headed down hill, all of my buds are going home this week, like literally, I don't have one near me. And everyone who had more time in the mission, and that I look up to has gone home. 

Saturday we also got a call about some new rules that were put into effect this week. The new rule is that "the changes are going to now be on Monday." So that means on change day I most likely won't be emailing until like 4:00, 5:00, or 6:00, unless I stay with my current comp and don't change areas. Well, I got changed for the next 6 weeks. I went from Huanuco to Huancayo. I am now in the area Chilca. I just got here about an hour ago (4:00 Peru time). It was a 6 hour drive that was awful! There are so many turns, and the road is bad, and the drivers are all crazy, and this crazy driver I was with was going like 130 km (about 80 mph) the whole time. It really was sad to leave the people and the other missionaries, but I am finally out of the Huanuco region. I've really spent my first year in that region! It was great, and I did love it!

Beautiful Huancayo

I just want to add that I have been studying doctine from the Book of Mormon and my testimony is growing so much. It's the greatest book! I am happy, and when I'm struggling, I just always think about and remember 1 Nephi 3:7, it's why I'm here. "And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." I love you all.

Elder Christensen

A visit to Gelhin and her son Mathius
(Luke and his Comp taught Gelhin and she was baptized a few month ago in Puerto Puelles)

Monday, September 5, 2016

A Year of Learning ... The Hardest and Best Year of My Life

So.... what's up people of the great United States of America.

This email is just going to be a little of this week, because I really want to talk about my thoughts of completing one year in the mission, and in Peru...

This week we played ping pong for p-day, and I have lost the ping pong touch!! I think that my little niece Tiegen could probably beat me now. haha!! We also had some pizza rolls and yes! I still love those things!!! The rest of the week was super cool. It was a great week!!! We found a new investigator that is SO COOL. Her name is Eloisa. She comes to church, reads, prays, and is a complete "homie", we love her!! She is trying to find her answer that the church and the Book of Mormon are true, and once she gets her answer from God she will get baptized!! I would love to be here to see that, but I probably won't still be here in the area when that happens, because changes are next week. I still am not for sure if I am leaving Pedro Puelles or not, we'll just wait and see.
But let's get on to the best part of the letter.....

This week it will be ONE YEAR! This past year has been a crazy one! As I think back over all that has happened I can't believe that I could cram that much into one year! It has been the worst year of my life, yet it has been the best year of my life. It has consisted of so many things that I just can't name them all. But as I think back over it, these are some of the things that stand out to me to be highlights, and the low lights... 

The CCM (MTC in English) was a great experience. Elder Ramirez, and many others, but especially Ramirez, quickly became my best friend the minute we met at the airport. I couldn't have made it through those first few days and weeks without him. We've stayed great friends and will always be, we have so much in common, and now our experience here in the mission.

In this place, my first area, I learned how to suffer. The Lord broke me down, and I truly went through the refiner's fire, just like it says in Isaiah 48:10. "Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." These days were the hardest, so far, in my life. The mission is not easy, but it makes us into who we need to be. Thankfully I had a good trainer, (Elder Bullock) I loved him. I learned to pray like I never have before. And I learned that our prayers really are heard and that they are answered in different ways.

I learned to deal with someone that I absolutely could not handle being with (second transfer). It was hard, but a good life lesson in people skills. I learned and developed good study habits. I learned to be able to live away from my family. I also made some of the best friends I have ever had and may ever have in my lifetime, (Elders Baca, Crosland, Bullock, and Raiser). We all learned a lot together and had a super good time in Cerro de Pasco, one of the most contaminated and polluted cities in the world and also one of the highest in altitude cities in the world (almost 15,000 ft). I learned how to stay warm while living in a room with no heat and no hot water, and to get to the bathroom we had to walk outside. It was 20 degrees at night and on a good day when the sun could get through, it was 50 degrees during the day. I learned to have a good ATTITUDE in the worst of situations. 

Then came the blessing.... I was sent to the JUNGLE of Peru! 
In Tingo Maria I learned to love everyone. I met some amazing people. I had some great companions. I trained a mini missionary. I was without a companion for a few weeks, and I learned to be obedient. I learned how to have humility, how to work hard, how to not be lazy (because I had a lazy companion), how to live in ONE MILLION DEGREES OF HUMID HEAT!! I learned how to teach the lessons better, how to follow the spirit (or as Kolt, my cousin, says, follow your heart). I learned the gospel of Jesus Christ to a new depth. I learned HOW TO BE MORE PATIENT THAN A SLOTH! I learned how to not be trunky (even if you have a trunky companion), and how not to miss watching TV, skateboarding, snowboarding, music, and girls. And probably the most important, I learned how to GROW MY TESTIMONY OF GOD, CHRIST, AND THE BOOK OF MORMON, I love them all! I have grown to like Peruvian food, and it really is so much better in the jungle than in Carhuamayo/Cerro. Living in the potato capital of the world (and Idaho thought they claimed that title), I know that I still hate potatoes, but I still love french fries! I loved Tingo Maria and the people here! I ended here again, with my good friend Elder Crosland.

Then I went to HUÁNUCO, the area of Pedro Puelles 
Not as cool as Tingo Maria but still a beautiful city with the greatest people. My area has been as hard as when I was in Carhuamayo with no one progressing, and no one interested in talking to us, but I've learned to still push on and know that when the time is right we will be led to the one who is ready to hear our message. Here I've learned about the doctrines of Christ, and his Atonement, not fully, because no one can really understand the atonement to it's fullest, and if someone says they know the whole thing, well they are wrong. But I have learned what it means, and what a gift it is to us to have the atonement. I have learned to use it. I have studied hard here in Huanuco because sometimes that's all we could do, but it's been a blessing, because I have learned so much and have become closer to my Father in Heaven. I have learned the importance of obedience and following our leaders and my Mission President.

But, I think the most importand thing I have learned on my mission is the fact that I am now beginning to understand what I need to do in the future to be able to return to  live again with my Heavenly Father, my Savior, and my family. I have learned the importance of my family, and the family that will be my own someday. I have learned so much more than this, in fact, I could write a novel, but for now, these are the important things. I'm loving it here, I love this gospel and know it's true. I look forward to another year of learning new and different things. I am now more confident and I know that year 2 will be even better! Thanks to everyone who has loved me and supported me through emails, letters, cards, and packages. They've helped me through those days when I wasn't sure I'd make it.

Love you all,
Elder Christensen

Photo Credit: Elisa Posey