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

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