Monday, July 24, 2017

The Hardest Week of My Mission...

Hey Everyone,  

I hope it was a great Pioneer Day for you all. WELP! Let's get down to business here.

To start off.... we had probably the hardest week of my mission. I can say that straight up, it was basically just Satan trying to attack me so that I didn't work. We have a goal for the rest of this transfer to do at least 3 big services a week, and a bunch of smaller services during the day on all the other days. But the crazy thing was that not one person wanted to receive us and let us serve them.  We tried to make at least 20 contacts per day also, but I guess we didn´t need the blessings during this week because nothing was going on for us. But, lucky for us (or blessed we are) the zone leaders swooped in just at the right moment on Thursday to lift our spirits and help keep our motivation up! We walked around, did a bit of service and then while we were walking we saw a herd of sheep. I said, "RUN" so we ran toward them and talked to the old lady that was shepherding the herd. I asked if she would let us take a picture. She grabbed my cheeks and said "Oh, gringito, of course, anything for you!"  then she started laughing. We entered their house and talked to the people there and told them who we were and who and what we represent. They were all elderly people, and one lady that was like 30 years old also.  They told us that they were cousins of some man named Amansio, who is the 1st Councilor of the Branch here in Carhuamayo. We asked if we could visit them and they said, "well, of course you can come visit us, but we don't live here, we live in Lima."  I looked at Elder BolaƱos and said, "OF COURSE! the only people in the past week that are cool and willing to talk to us and listen to us, and they don't even live within 9 hours of Carhuamayo! They don't even live in our mission!" Isn't that just the way that a hard week goes! One thing after another! It's hard here in Carhuamayo. The people are so different than in other areas of the mission. They do not want to hear the message that we have to share with them. They don't want to change. They are very set in their ways!

I guess one bright spot in the week was that Rolando did show up to church on Sunday. He was late, but he did come! I do think he'll choose to be baptized, but probably not while I'm here! He's such a great guy and he'll be a great member.

Through it all we learn though, and I do want to testify to you all that God tests us to see if we can expound our boundries. He wants us to follow Him, but he doesn't want us to follow him blindly.  If you don't know why He exists, or what He's all about, try and find him for yourself. He is there, He is never far, and He will make Himself known to you if you truly have a desire. You will find tests, trust me, I think I have been tested more than I ever thought I could be here on my mission, but if I can get through those hard times, you all can too. God loves you, I also LOVE you, and I'll see you soon. Tune in ... only two emails to go.

Love you all,
Elder Christensen

Monday, July 17, 2017

Great Things Will Happen in My Last 30 Days!

Well everyone, this week was a pretty dece one. Not too many things have happened this week, so I`m going to keep it kinda short.

Tuesday afternoon we went to teach a man named Rolando. Rolando has a decent religious background, he knew about Jesus Christ and he knew the Bible. We talked to him for a while and he just didn't want to accept anything that we told him. We started to teach him about repentance and what the process to repentance is, and how we know that we have been forgiven and are clean after the proper repentance process. Then we went into The Restoration. We talked about Joseph Smith and how we have a living Prophet on the earth today. The spirit was so strong, and the words that we were teaching were perfect and definitely coming from the spirit. After we were finished teaching he just sat there and looked at us with the most puzzled look on his face. I don`t know how, (well, yes, I do know how) it was the craziest thing, he told us that it all made sense and he believed everything we had just taught him! I flipped open the Bible and it literally went straight to Revelations 14 where it talks about how an angel was going to bring the everlasting gospel back to the earth in the last days. And then we showed him and read some other scriptures. The whole time he had the funniest look on his face. But, the look of "Yes!" It was almost as if he had soiled himself, (not lying!!! haha) Then he said, "I know that you both speak only the truth. I will start visiting your church."  I told Rolando that I know for a fact that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, and that there really are living prophets on the earth today. I do know that Joseph Smith restored this gospel and that it was so perfectly set up for us today, so that in these last days we don't have to live without a purpose. We know what we have to do to return to live with our Heavenly Father. We just have to be obedient and follow His ways. The last dispensation has arrived, and we are in the last days! Believe in God, or don't believe in Him, it`s a choice. But I know with all my soul that this work is real, and it's so we can be happy. Thomas S. Monson is our prophet on the earth today, he has been chosen to lead us today, just as the prophets of old were called to do the same! Rolando wasn't able to attend church on Sunday because he had a trip to Lima planned, but we will be in contact with him, and he says he will be there next Sunday. The spirit is working on him and hope that we see him in the waters of baptism soon!
Saturday we went to this town called Paucartambo which is about an hour and 15 minutes into the mountains, toward Brazil. We went to do service, and help someone move. We spent the whole day just moving things! We were so tired! As we were finishing a lady came up and said, "You are Mormons, right?" We said, "yes", and then she gave us free juice, some crackers, and some bananas, and then told us that she has a daughter that was a missionary a few months ago, but is home now and is going back soon to Bahia Blanca, Argentina to finish her mission in August.  That is the same mission as Daniel Tree (a good bud of mine). I wish I knew what her name was?? 

It was a pretty good and fast week all in all! The work is slow, but things are happening. Pray for Rolando! Love you all and I'll see you in 30 days!

Elder Christensen

Monday, July 10, 2017

Famous in Peru


Well, another crazy week happened here in Carwashmayo (Carhuamayo)! It actually was a very normal week of service, service, service.  We ran into this pastor of another church and he was saying many bad things about our church. It's so hard, but we just have to say something nice and then walk away! Ya know, it's pretty typical around here!

But the coolest experience of this week happened on Friday when some lady came running up to me and said. "Hey Mormon, stop!  Where are you from gringo?"  I said, "I'm from the United States of America".  She laughed and said, "oohhhhh, just what I'm looking for!" I said, "what? why?" She then went on talking about how her sister-in-law (or cousin?) wanted a gringo from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to go to the little village that she lives in, it's like an hour into the mountains. It's a place where there are old traditional, Peruvian people that are just all about Pishtacos and potatoes, and many other old, ancient beliefs. (Remember a Pishtaco is a "boogeyman" in the Andes Mountains of South America, mostly in Bolivia and Peru. The Pishtaco is an evil monster or "white" man that kills Indians and eats their fat!) So, they want ME to go to Ulcumayo, in the mountains, and talk at the Anniversary Celebration of Ulcumayo, just like I did here in Carhuamayo. The lady then said that she had seen me all over National news in Peru, and all over Facebook in Peru!! She said that all of Carhuamayo is talking about how they have a North American resident, and how my speech changed the history of Carhuamayo, and she wants Ulcumayo to be the same. She wants Ulcumayo to receive the same interest that Carhuamayo got. The only problem is that it's not until September. I said, "Ah, I won't be here in September, but if you want, we can send another North American to speak in Ulcumayo". She agreed and said yeah that would be fine if we sent someone else. So I guess I'll work on getting that set up! People are starting to know who we are, and that is what we want. The work is slow here, but we are doing a lot of service and helping where we can in this little town. I guess we can't focus on what we can't do, but what we can do. We are here to share the gospel of Jesus Christ by word and by example. We will keep working hard, until the end.

I had another really amazing experience, but some things just shouldn't be shared in an email... so I'll tell ya in 5 weeks. I love you all.

Elder Christensen
Jersin (the newest missionary, haha) and Luke
 BBQed Alpaca burgers
 An old sheep head and yes, it's real!

Feed My Sheep ....

Monday, July 3, 2017

My Last Transfer ... My Time Here is Short

Well hey there!
It truely was a great week in the vineyard, but not too many stories to tell this week that were absolutely amazing! So this week is transfers. I will be staying in Carhuamayo with Elder Cartagena to finish my mission .... 6 weeks to go! President told me that he would like us to concentrate on service here in Carhuamayo. It is very difficult to find investigators here, so we may be doing service and getting to know people in that way, and hopefully it will help us find those who have been prepared to hear the gospel. So we'll be doing service, service, service for the next 6 weeks!

On Friday we went to the swap meet in Ninacaca. We started to preach, but not like other times, we were preaching like this word had never been preached before!! We went with our pensionista, her daugher, son-in-law, and nephew. It was truly a great experience! Preaching in public, on buses, etc. seems like the only way we are going to get our word to the people here. Hopefully someone will show interest sometime. While we were in Ninacac we got to go see the cows, llamas, alpacas, sheep, and many other animals.  I tried to get a sweet authentic Peruvian picture with an alpaca, but the sun was way too bright, and I couldn`t see anything, and I was squinting way too hard, but I got some cool pics! After playing with the animals, people just started to come up to me and ask if they could take pictures of me, and with me. So I said ahh OF COURSE! haha They love me here because I have blonde hair, blue eyes and I'm American! I'll just be a nobody when I get home, I'll just blend in! haha I took some pictures with a few people and more and more people started to approach me, then I decided it was the perfect time to tell them who we were. A lot of these people were from other towns and villages near Carhuamayo. They listened to me and then wanted more pictures! We "planted" lots of "seeds" that day! The opportunity to plant those seeds is evidence of God's love for those people. Hopefully, someday, future missionaries or members will harvest those seeds. I guess I did my service too, because I feel like I had my picture taken a ton that day, but the sad thing is, is that no one took pics on my camera! 

We have been working with our pension's son-in-law, trying to get him to marry our pension's daughter so that they can be baptized. It is just so expensive to get married here in Peru, so no one gets married. It's just easier to live together and pretend to be married. Well, on Saturday at like 8 o`clock in the morning we went to our pensionista`s ranch. They put me in charge of making the pachamanca (chicken, and sheep) and a toooooooon of potatoes. So I made and tended the pachamanca while my companion and like 15 others harvested potatoes. My pench and her husband own a restaurant where that's all they serve is panchamanca and potatoes. I eat it everyday! And I love it, it's such a great Peruvian food! (Panchamanca is a traditional Peruvian dish where meat is cooked with hot stones in an earthen oven. The meat, usually lamb, sheep, chicken, pork or guinea pig, is seasoned with an Andean spice called Chincho, wrapped in banana leaves or corn husks and cooked in an earthen oven. This dish is specific to the central Andes Mountains and especially in the region where Luke is serving.) This is probably a service we will be doing a lot since our pension needs a lot of help.  After we finished cooking and harvesting the potatoes, I carried heavy sacks of potatoes which weighed +200 lbs down the mountain. I still can't walk, but it was an amazing day. I learned a lot, and service really makes you feel so good! I want to make Panchamanca for everyone with Grandpa Vern when I get home! So after we returned from our all day excursion at the ranch, our pench`s son-in-law announced that they might just get married in the next few weeks! Pray that they continue to feel the spirit and want to take this step! Service really does make miracles happen. D&C 4:2 "Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day."

Love you all, and I'll see you in 6 weeks! Until then .... I'll be working hard!

Elder Christensen

 Luke's Pension's husband
Headed to the ranch to pick potatoes and make Panchamanca

 Jersin, the pension's nephew
I asked Luke if he could bring him home!
 Luke making Panchamanca

Some of the potatoes harvesters eating lunch

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Branch President for a Day

Hey everyone!

It was a very great week, basically all of it was service and service, and guess what?  More service!! I don't think I have peeled as many potatoes in my whole mission as I have this week, and I've peeled a lot of potatoes! That's all we eat! We even peeled Tocosh (Tocosh is fermented potato pulp that reeks way, way, way so awful!! They use it during celebrations, and they also use it for medicinal purposes) And yes, they eat it here!
Last Friday we put up a stand in the middle of the Feria (like a swap meet) and started to preach. We gave out hundreds of contact cards, pamphlets, and copies of the Book of Mormon. We had a BUNCH of people that wanted the free pictures of Jesus Christ. It was actually really quite funny to see how many people run and trample others just to get a picture of Jesus. These people literally are hysterical for a little 3"x 2" picture of Christ. It was truly fun, and a little funny too. Oh how I love Carhuamayo and the people here!!

On Sunday the Branch President did not show up to church. He did not tell anyone he wasn't going to be there and he didn't give the keys to anyone else to open up the building where we meet. So we found a key, and we had to hurry to get everything set up and ready for Sacrament Meeting. We didn't know if anyone was supposed to speak, or what the program was, so we knew we were winging it! The best and the funniest part is that I had to conduct and be the Branch President. I had no clue what to do. I was doing some quick thinking to pull things together. My comp gave like a ten minute talk and I also gave a talk and conducted. Everything went fine, but wow! I'm learning how to pull things off right on the spot!  We haven't heard from the Branch President since, so maybe I'll have to do it again next Sunday!

Monday, at like 7:00 in the morning we jumped on a bus and went to Huancayo so that I could have a meeting with President Silva. It was kind of out of nowhere, he just called me on Saturday morning and asked me to come and be there Monday. I wondered why he wanted me, so my companion and I took the long bus ride to Huancayo. And it was so worth it! I had the most spiritual experience of my life as I sat with President. I feel so blessed. I have seen so many miracles during my mission, but I have never felt the same feeling, they were all so great and the spirit was there, but it was different every time. When I finished the meeting with President he pulled me aside and we talked privately for like 45 min to 1 hour more about life and everything else. He taught me so much, we laughed, we cried, and he told me some of the coolest stories that I have ever heard in my life. We finished with him giving me a blessing, and in the blessing he said some things that were very personal that I am not going share in this email, maybe after my mission. He gave me a great big bear hug and cried. I did the same and as I was leaving I felt the presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ like I have never felt Him before. This time it wasn't the Holy Ghost I was feeling, I know the Savior Himself was right there with me. I know he lives and I know he loves us, he wants us to know that.

Well, that was my week, and it was a good one. Thanks for everything, for the prayers, for the love and the support that I feel constantly with me. I love you all!

Elder Christensen

 A view from Luke's room while drinking a little Coca Cola
 Jersin, the nephew of Luke's pensionista
The pension's daughter on her birthday.
It's winter in Carhuamayo now, it's about 35-40 degrees during the day.
They have no heat in their homes, so she's celebrating her birthday with her big coat and hat!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Godly Promises to be Fulfilled

Hey There!

This week was a super super super fast week! Like the fastest week of my mission, but also one of the hardest of my mission. 

I just feel like we didn't accomplish much this whole week. I was decently sick most of the week. Not too sick, but enough that I had no energy which made it hard to work. The altitude is so high here that not feeling good makes it hard to walk.  Also, my ankle that I injured playing football has been really bothering me, so I have not been able to walk too fast. I've walked many many miles here in the mission, maybe it's just wearing out! Pray that it holds up! We also didn't get to teach very many people this week. We only taught like 5 people, but we contacted soooooooooooo many people. One day we contacted over 200 people, and walked all day long looking for more!

For P-day last Monday we went to Huayllay, or the Stone Forest, near Carhuamayo and Cerro de Pasco. I came here at the beginning of my mission. It's such a cool place, with lots of big petrified rock formations.

A highlight of my week .... Do you remember the kid named Brandon from my last area in Huanuco? Well, Brandon was the one that Elder Shaul and I had the crazy miracle with, (Elder Shaul recited "the promise" to Brandon, only he said it in perfect Spanish and he really didn't speak much Spanish, a testimony that the gift of tongues is so real) this happened just over a month or so ago. Well, on Saturday the 15th he got baptized!!!! I wasn't able to go because it was in Huanuco, and that's quite far away, but it was soooo cool to hear that he got baptized. Just like Elder Shaul told him, godly promises will be fulfilled. I'm really so happy for Brandon! He'll be a great member, and he'll get to see the fruits of those promises that we made him that day!

And maybe you'll remember Kevin here in Carhuamayo. When I was here at the beginning of my mission we found him, he was less active. Well, last Tuesday he left on his mission to Bolivia Santa Cruz North, Andrew Davis' mission. Too bad he gets there the day Andrew comes home. He'll be a great missionary. It's great to see him become active, progress in the gospel and now serve a mission!

Brandon and Elder Christensen
Brandon left for the Boliva Santa Cruz North Mission

I guess I failed to tell you last week what I said when I spoke at the Anniversary Celebration of Carhuamayo. Well, I just congratulated them on the Anniversary of the town, I told them a little about who we were and about the church, then I quoted Ether 12:41, "And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever. Amen" I just explained to them how important it is that they search for Christ and have him as a part of their lives. It was a great experience, hopefully one that softened some hearts, definitely an experience that I will never forget. I love when the spirit is strong and people know they are feeling something good, they may not know what, but they know it felt good. That was how it was that day. Missionary work is hard, but it's the best work ever.

I will have a great week and hopefully it will be a week full of great work here in the town of Carhuamayo. I will keep working hard and make these last 8 weeks really count! I hope you all have a great week too, I love you all, and I'll see you soon. 

Nos vemos pronto,
Elder Christensen
Elder Christensen preaching to a bus full of people