Monday, February 27, 2017

I Think I'm Going To Stay Here Forever!

It has been a wonderful week! So this week Elder Islas was sent home, haha not for being stupid, but because he had finished his 2 years. He was such a good guy. Rest in peace Elder Islas! It truly is so fun here. I'm just so happy to be here in the mission. I'm not going to lie, to see Elder Islas cry so hard to leave it made me say to myself... "Why would you ever want to go home? Just stay in Peru forever!" I'm so happy to be here!

So this week was pretty hectic! We have been working hard but still having a great time, and YES we are dead tired! We have over 230 contacts and very few lessons this week. So this Monday we had a decent zone p-day, and then after we ate LASAGNA!!  But the great week started off on Tuesday when we didn't have any time to work. We had like 2 hours to work, so we went out with all the energy and tried to talk to every living creature, (even the demon dogs, they also need to repent).  I was on divisions with Elder Grandstaff and we went to a lesson with Biliana (investigator) and Milton (less active).  While we were there they told us that they were going to move back to their old home in the middle of the jungle. They are here in Huanuco on vacation for 3 months.  He, Milton, is a returned missionary, but now a less active and they live in this little jungle village that is about 8 hours from here. The nearest church to them is about 4 hours away from where they live.  So we started off talking and we were telling the story in 1 Nephi 16 about Nephi's bow and his brother's bow and arrows. At the end of the visit I felt like leaving a promise with them. They are just the neatest people! These are the word I said: "In the name of Jesus Christ and as a representative of Him, I promise that if you will leave your work and move to a place where there is a church close to you so that you can attend meetings, you will find a new job that will support you and your soon to be family, better than the one you've got now." He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "I am ready to act on that promise!" To receive inspiration from the Lord is such an amazing feeling. It was just all so right, and the words were straight from Heavenly Father. We finished with them and went home. Then on Saturday I went back to visit him, but this time I was with Elder Baca. (Not Elder Baca from the beginning of my mission, we now have a new Elder Baca, he's a great guy too!) We started talking about how we receive a testimony, and the lady, Biliana said, "I also believe that the church is true. I have a testimony." I was stunned. It was such a crazy thing to hear that this lady just changed her mind 180 degrees, and for her to say that she loves the church and wants to go every Sunday, and be a part of the gospel was the best thing I've heard in a long time! They kept talking and said that they were still planning to go back to their old house in the jungle on Tuesday. I was kinda sad and confused, and then they told us that they are going to come back in a month to Huanuco, and Milton is going to look for a new job for 3 months, they are going to get married, and Biliana will have their baby here!! If he finds a good job in those 3 months then they are going to stay and live in Huanuco forever!!! They want to stay here so that in a year and a few months they can go to the temple and get sealed together.  They will be such amazing members! I see good things happening with them!

It was a crazy week in other ways. I have seen so many car crashes and dead dogs and cats! Maybe the world is ending or something! but, whatever, I'm in a great place if it does! Also on Saturday morning we sent Elder Islas off to Huancayo. He is officially going to be home in Mexico tomorrow at 4 o´clock pm. Elder Grandstaff also finished his mission.  Two really great guys!! I'll miss them!

So.... the new changes have happened and no one is going to believe this, but my new comp is ELDER CROSLAND! again!!!!! We were companions my last transfer in Tingo Maria! I am stoked to get him back! We worked so great together. We're gonna do some great things! It's going to be a super great change, or maybe a couple of changes!!  We are headed out on "The road to total conversion" just like President Montoya talked about! We'll be converting others, while totally converting ourselves! Can't wait to see what happens and who we find to teach!
Love you all and see you all very soon! Chau!
Elder Christensen

Elder Christensen in Huanuco by the side of the Huallaga River
 Elder Tai Baca
Elder Christensen's very organized desk!
And... having a Mountain Dew after a long hard day!

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Greatest Miracle .... To See a Man Change His Life

Hello world!

T'was a very great week! So let's just get down to business! PRESIDENT MONTOYA came to the mission!!! Honestly, it was just so cool!! President Montoya is a counselor in the Area Authority Presidency that is over Peru and a few other countries in South America. We were to have a Multi Zone training on Wednesday here in Huanuco. So that morning at about 8:30, President Silva came running to my comp and I and said, Elder Montoya is going to be here soon and we don't have any decorations for the meeting! WE NEED FLOWERS!!!!" So my comp and I booked it into Huanuco City in a mototaxi, we had to find some super beautiful flowers, and fast! We found a shop, and some sweet flowers and we raced back to beat Elder Montoya to the church, we didn't want to look unprepared!! We had to be there before he got there. We got there just in time! Two minutes later at like 10 o`clock he arrived!! Whew!

 Elder Christensen and Elder Islas (companions)
Flowers for the Multi Zone Conference with 
Elder Montoya, First Counselor in the South America Northwest Area Authority Presidency
Elder Moss, Elder Christensen, Elder Islas (Luke's companion)

We had a Multi Zone with him and he told us the coolest stories ever. I felt the spirit so strong during the meeting, and so many times I felt like I was going to tear up. As I looked around the room, half of the missionaries were crying.  It was such a cool experience to feel his spirit and the love that he has for the gospel and the work we are all doing. He talked about "love". Loving your companion, loving those we are teaching, loving our President and most of all loving our Father in Heaven. If we are truly loving all of these things then we will be happy, and that happiness will show through, and others will want that same happiness that we have. Serving my Heavenly Father does make me happy, so those other things should just come natural. I love this work. It was amazing to spend time with a servant of the Lord and listen to his words. I learned so much! I love this work!
 Elder Islas, Elder Christensen and Elder Montoya

On Thursday we were on our way back to Huancayo for a Leaders meeting with Elder Montoya that was to be held on Friday! We had a great time there and had the chance to hear more of his cool stories and to learn from him and all of the wisdom that he has. He's such an amazing man, and his spirit is so strong! So on Friday, we again listened to this wise man, teach us how we can be better and become better people and better missionaries and build on our own testimony! Honestly, I thought the teachings at the Multi Zone were better than the Leadership training, but really I could listen to him every day!

We got back to Huanuco on Friday night, seeing straight miracles on the way home! No lie, I'm pretty sure we almost died like 15 times! Every time I travel in this crazy country I just feel so antzy because we literally almost get in 10-20 accidents just traveling a short distance. The roads here are sketchy at best, and the drivers, well that's another story! Hopefully I get home with all my hair! haha  

On Saturday we also saw miracles. I have always been told "the greatest miracle, is that a man can change his life". And there is nothing greater to see! So, on Saturday we were picking up our clothes from the lady that does our laundry, and we asked her if there was anything she needed help with or anything we could do for her. She's a member in our ward, and so nice. So she asked us to help her put Chicha Morada that she had made in bags, because she was having a Pollada (selling bbq chicken). While we were there helping her a kid came walking in. I looked at him for a second and he said, "Elder Christensen"!!! I looked closer at him and said "MARK"!! What's up man! Mark was and 18 year old guy that I found and taught when I was with Elder Arpires my first transfer in Tingo Maria!! We taught him and his family for like 4 months, almost the whole time I was in Tingo! He said, "I FINALLY GOT BAPTIZED"!! It was a great reunion and such a good experience to see him after such a long time. And to hear that he recently had been baptized in November really made me so happy! His mom is getting ready to be baptized soon too. We had a great time talking and catching up. But to see the change in him was amazing to me. The gospel changes people spiritually, mentally and sometimes even physically. It is so great to be surrounded by miracles every day! And, it was almost like that just set the tone, because that whole day literally everyone that we taught was so interested and excited about the gospel and the things we were teaching them. So many of them told us that they want to be a part of what we have, and they want to get baptized. 

Mark and Elder Christensen

I really did see the greatest of miracles this week. I love this work, I love this gospel, I love where I am and what I do every day, I love my Heavenly Father, and I love you, all.

Nos vemos, pronto!
Elder Christensen

Also.... Happy Birthday to Kaitlin, Demi, Remi and Grandma (wow! lots of bdays!) and big CONGRATS to Kolt and Jen on baby Nora!!! 

 Luke's Pensionista Jessica, Elder Islas and Elder Christensen
Looks like they're eating Canchita?? (Peruvian Popcorn)
Jessica's husband and the Bishop of the ward
Elder Christensen and Elder Islas live with the Bishop and his wife.
 Back-Elder Moss
Middle L-Elder Campbell R-Elder Walker
Front L-Elder Ramirez R-Elder Christensen
 These missionaries all went into the mission together almost 18 months ago!
Elder Christensen, Elder Moss and Elder Ramirez

Monday, February 13, 2017

"... for in His strength I can do all things..."

How are you all!

I'm doing just great!! This week was truly a great one! I'm really loving my time here, it's going so fast! This week was a week of testimony building experiences, and full of a ton of patience testers. haha!!

You asked a few questions .... My pensionista's name is Jessica. She is an amazing cook! Her husband is the bishop of our ward, and we live with them. They are such great people. I really love them!

To start off with the week, we headed off to Huancayo on Monday for Zone Leader Training Conference. We were supposed to leave early, but we didn't end up leaving until like 3:00 because we got stuck in Huanuco doing a ton of little random things. We also ended up waiting for the mini van that was going to drive us to Huancayo, to come and pick us up. So the mini van got there and it literally was like 3:30 (we'd waited a long time!) and we had to go so fast! Huancayo is a 6 hour drive from Huanuco, if you go really fast. We were planning on getting to Huancayo at like 8:30 p,m. or 9:00, but, the mini van was driving sooooooooooooooo slow. Really, he drove slower than my dad drives (Barry, haha), and so we were so late.  At 8:30 p.m. we were only in Oroya, and it is 2 hours from Oroya to Huancayo, so we ditched the mini van, and the driver, and just got in a taxi and practically flew to Huancayo in the rain. And... the roads are not like they are in the good old USA. They are at best like a mountain road! haha It was a great learning experience though, I learned a ton of patience!! As you all know, I don't like to be late! We got there at 10:30 at night, with permision of President, of course. But when we got there we were welcomed with a big bag of Burger King!!! Greatest thing ever!!! It was super awesome! The training was on "the conversion, and becoming totally converted". It really was so good, and it gave me a great desire to really become fully converted myself in my testimony and in the gospel. I want to be fully converted to this gospel forever. I know that if I am fully converted when I return home that I will be able to withstand the temptations of the world. I want this in my life. I know that I will always be happy if I make this a part of my life! I have a stronger testimony of this now, and I will strive to always be fully converted to this gospel! I love it! We will be heading back to Huancayo this week, on Thursday, to meet with Elder Hugo Montoya, Second Counselor in the South America Northwest Area Presidency. I'm really excited for this and excited to learn from him!

In the old van on the ride to Huancayo
Elder Moss, Elder Christensen, Elder Walker

 This group all entered the mission together

 Elder Moss, Elder Ramirez and Elder Christensen

 A small village on the way to Huancayo called Ninacaca, just outside
of Carhuamayo, Luke's first area in the mission.

Consejo de Lideres
Leaders of the Peru Huancayo Mission

The rest of the week was a pretty normal week. We are just trying to work so hard even though it seems nothing is on our side, and things aren't happening like we'd like them to. We will not give up though! We literally walk all day and all night just trying to find people that want to listen to us. This work is hard, but it is also so rewarding. Our legs are so tired and when we get home at night we just fall into bed and die until morning. 

We did have a super cool experience that happened this week. We have been praying so hard to be able to find new people that will listen to us and have the desire to repent. But, we haven't found anyone lately, and some of the ones we have found, lose interest quickly. So on Sunday we were passing by the church and we saw some missionaries at the church waiting for a referral that they had just received. We went over to talk to them and see what they were doing and they told us that the referral didn't actually live in their area, but she lived in our area! So we waited for her to come, and we got talking to her. Her name is Juli.  She has been attending church for the past 2 to 3 months in another ward. She had been receiving the lessons from the missionaries and SHE WANTS TO GET BAPTIZED!!!!  SO SHE HAS A BAPTISMAL DATE FOR THE 25TH OF MARCH!!!!  We are so stoked! So we are planning to have the first baptism in the ward in 9 months haha!! We also have a few other people that we've started teaching that are planning on getting baptized on the 12th of April

So many times this week I have been reminded of Kolt's favorite scripture, Alma 26:12, "Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever." I know he lives, and loves us, and he's there to give us strength, if we ask. I know that with Him I can do all things. Through obedience we are blessed.

love you all!
Elder Christensen
All photos from Leader Training in Huancayo

 Luke really loves President Silva
Luke teaching at the Leader Training
I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Such a Special Week

Hello everyone!
How are you all? I'm doing great! This week was a very special week for me. I feel like I learned so much this week. And I feel like I just continue to become a better missionary and a better person, of course all because of my Heavenly Father. So to start off, I just want to say that we were blessed so much in the work this week. I know that we are being so blessed because of our hard work and diligence and obedience. The two previous weeks we basically walked all day, everyday.  It was seriously making us super tired, worn out and a little sad too. But this week we didn't have to walk so much and the fruits of all of our past work have shown. All of our walking, and talking to people, and walking more, and stopping to pray wondering where to go next, or what to do next, paid off this week. We had many days with 4 or 5 lessons, and a ton of contacts. We also found several new people that really want to listen to us! It really was such a wonderful week. I hope for more just like it! 
So this week, like I said, I learned a lot. I learned that I have a ton of hidden strength that maybe I had forgotten was there. Strength that I haven't used since my football days. It was one of those lessons that I learned on the football field and I had to dig deep to find again. This last Friday I woke up really sick. This is the first time in my mission since I left Carhuamayo that I've been so sick, but I woke up and I felt like I was dying!! I got up and we started to study, but, I couldn't even sit up. I had to go and lay back down. So, I slept until about 10:00, then we did weekly planning laying in our beds, well, my comp did weekly planning while I laid in my bed, so sick. Then at about 11:30 a man came to our house. His name was Guillermo, and he wanted us to do some service for him. When he told us that we had to help him I couldn't imagine how I could do anything, I was so sick. But, my comp said yes, and I said, "yeah, but I don't know if I can do anything. I might just have to sit".  We got to the place he needed help, and the man got super mad at me that I couldn't work. I guess he didn't get it that I felt like I was dying! So I just dug down deep and pulled everything I had out of myself and I started working. We had to put 600 bricks into a truck in less than 30 minutes. They really did need my help. So we worked. And, yes, I was about to die, or maybe just pass out. But I got the extra strength and I worked hard until we finished. I don't know how I was able to work as hard as I did and finish the project, but I know without the help of Heavenly Father I could never have survived. I know that I gained strength from Him to be able to work hard for that time.

I also felt so strongly this past week that I needed to read some talks that I had, and also some letters that my brothers and cousins had given me the night before I left on my mission. I haven't read through them since the beginning of my mission. I used to read them all the time to get through hard times, and times that I felt like I couldn't do it. Once again, these talks and letters motivated me so much to be able to work hard all day, everyday. I look up to these guys, they've all served missions and their advice and experience has helped me to be better in the mission. They have given me hope and strength to continue on each day. I am grateful also for my Savior and the strength and hope that He provides each day. I know that I am so blessed.

It really was such a great week. I feel great and I'm loving it here!! Pray for those we're teaching that they will have a desire to follow Him. I'm looking forward to another great week, full of great experiences!! I'm headed to Huancayo today. We'll see what happens there!! Have a great week, I love and miss you all!

Nos vemos,
Elder Christensen