Monday, March 27, 2017

Trials and Triumphs

Well hey there people!!

It seems like it was a rough week!  We didn't really have anything that happened that was too extravagant! But, we have been working very well here  I'm very proud of the things that have happened. So the crazy things that happened with Manuel stopped this week and I'm kinda sad and discouraged about it. We have been trying to find him for the past 2 weeks but he's been in Cerro de Pasco and we didn't understand why he was there so much. Saturday night we passed by his house and his daughter told us that he had moved to Cerro and is only going to come back every once in a while on the weekends. So once again he has disappeared.
The second thing that was a disappointment is that Yuli (Juli) didn´t get baptized on Saturday like we had set up because she hasn't been going to church, and I don't want to just baptize her if she is not ever going to come back to church. We want her to be strong and happy and active in the ward, also we want her baptism to be a spiritual experience. So she needs to makes the decision to be committed. She said that she wanted to get baptized and that she would be committed, so we were planning on having the baptism this next Saturday after the afternoon session of the General Conference. But, now that is not going to happen either because she didn´t come to church yesterday!! Gotta be committed! So we are pretty sad that Satan could work so hard just to make her not go to church. She would be a great member. Satan's scared that she might progress in the gospel! Her Sacrament Meeting is at 8:00 in the morning, and we all know that no Peruvian gets up earlier than 10:00 a.m.!! haha

So this week we decided to turn everything up a notch and fast 2 times for different reasons.  Seems weird, but I finally really started to appreciate food. I can´t believe how much I just didnt´t care about the food that I ate. But after 2 days fasting I do appreciate it. Oh and, we have not gone without food and water the other days this week, because of the flooding and impassable roads between here and Lima. The road between Huancayo and Lima is still not passable, but there is another road into Huanuco from the other side and it seems to be passable.

Also, on Wednesday I went on splits with an Elder from Arequipa (Elder Quispe) and we had an amazing time!!  He came to my area and he loved my area so much. He really gave me so much motivation to work even harder here. We were walking down the street contacting literally everything and everyone we saw. It's too bad we didn't count the crazy experiences that we had talking to people, because there were many.  But that day we basically had one amazing experience after another. We had several people tell us that they were looking for a church to visit!! Well, we took advantage of that and gave them our message! We also talked to a less active that hates Mormons but loves the church, yeah.... go figure???
Then when Elder Crosland got back we went over to visit a less active, Carlos. We visited with him and his wife and we decided to talk about the restoration. It was so amazing! The spirit was so strong and testified so strong of Joseph Smith and all that he did for us. Then Elder Crosland talked about how Joseph had to struggle, and search and pray and search again just to receive an answer to his first prayer. I love Joseph Smith and all that he did to restore this gospel, I'm so grateful for him and his first prayer. Then Erika just said, "Wow, you both really are sent from God.  We were talking just last night about how we are struggling so much to stay in the church, because it is just so hard.  But after having you here in our home and talking, now we see everything from a different point of view." Then I told them my story and all the trials that I've been through here on my mission, and that's it's just made me stronger and able to get where I am today. They were so grateful and they said "thank you both, we never thought that we would feel the way we do right now, we feel so good". We left from the appointment very edified. The spirit is amazing and can work miracles. I guess this week was a better week than I thought. The weeks are flying by... and there are always good things that happen, sometimes you just have to look for them! Count your blessings always and remember that God lives, and he loves us! Just trust in him.
Te veo luego,
Elder Christensen

My mission scripture which is so applicable to this week .... "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes." D&C 121:7-8

Making Tacos

Monday, March 20, 2017

I'm Safe .... But Peru is Under Mud and Water!

I'm sure you're all wondering if I've floated away in the floods of Peru... it really is so sad. I guess the coastline has major flooding and landslides and they are covered in mud and water. They have shut off the drinking water and food has flown off the shelves. Food that cost 3.0 Soles a week ago now costs 30.0 Soles. They can't get drinking water and food to the people fast enough. People have died and thousands have lost their homes. Haunuco has had rain but not much. We are expecting a lot of rain over the next 2 weeks and the Huallaga River that flows through the city is kinda high and pretty crazy. There is not much food left in the stores here in Huanuco. There is basically no meat anywhere, and the road between Huancayo and Lima is washed away. I wonder what we'll be eating for the next few weeks? President has told us not to leave our area, and that we will not be traveling at all until at least April 15th. Pray for the people of Peru.... pray for all of us. This country will have a hard time recovering from this. Resources here are scarce. #PrayForPeru

 Pictures are borrowed from Nick's (Luke's brother who served in Trujillo 2009-11) Pensionista Irma
Pictures were taken in Trujillo, Peru
She lives in Chimbote, Peru, a coastal city.
Thanks Irma!

So this week quite a bit has happened. It started off that we did absolutely nothing other than clean our room and rearrange it last Monday. But, yeah, I'm sure you're thinking like "who cares". This week was a pretty long, but wicked fast. 

Just like every single week in the Barrio Micaela we walk around contacting allllllllll daaaaaaay looooong. The days are long, but we usually see some good come from them. So on Wednesday we went out to contact and it turns out that we have already contacted almost our entire area.  So we posted up on a corner after 2 solid hours of contacting rude people and getting rejected many many times we started to think of what in the WORLD could we do at that moment to find someone who would be willing to listen to us! And just as we were starting to think of ideas and make a plan, we could see way down the street a man from the ward named Tomas. He was like a whole block away.  Elder Crosland looked at me and he said RUUUUUUUNN!!!!! So we started speed walking toward Tomas. But just when we were about to catch up to him a thought came to my mind, there was a lady right there.... "CONTACT THAT LADY!!" So I stopped and contacted this lady, her name was Valery (she was really nice but didn’t live in our area), so after talking to her for a few minutes, we started our speed walking again to catch up to Tomas. Just as we almost reached him he turned a corner and then we couldn’t find him. Well, we turned on our "super smelling senses" and took off faster and yes, we found him! It turns out we basically did a huge circle trying to find him. By the time we caught up to him, we found ourselves outside the house of a less active lady. Tomas asked us to visit her with him. We entered into the house and taught an amazing lesson to her and her friend named Fila. Fila is now our newest investigator!!!!

As I looked back at the situation later on, and as we were counting this as a huge blessing, I thought to myself, "if we never would have stopped to contact the lady on the street named Valery we possibly never would have found Fila and had the opportunity to teach her at that exact moment. We may have never found Tomas who led us to her." The Lord is so mindful of every one of us. His hand is evident in everything we do. I see that more and more each day that I serve Him.

After the great lesson with Fila I felt an urge to go and visit the Family Delgado. This family is very active, and we wanted to ask them for a referral to visit someone. We stopped by their house and it turns out that we talked to them for about an hour. We talked about how they are and a lot of the crazy things that they did before they were baptized. Brother Delgado told us how he had rejected the missionaries, he was very mean to them, and he kicked them out of his house while his sister was cutting their hair. He said that, that day still haunts him. He said that he wishes he could go back to that day and relive it, and change the way he acted toward the missionaries. Then he started to cry, he told us how his family loves us, and how we are good examples to his family and good people, and that they love this gospel so much and are so grateful for it. It was such a spiritual experience, probably the most spiritual experience that I have had on my mission with a family of members. They are great people and great members. We love this family.

We ended that day on such a spiritual high. Those are days that you don't want to ever end. The Lord blessed us and yes, the next day ... the SAME EXACT THING happened. Faith that good things will happen and hard work always pay off! Elder Crosland and I feel happy and we are ready to keep working hard!  I love you all!!

Elder Christensen

Luke and Elder Crosland

Monday, March 13, 2017

Traditional Burning of the Pants .... 18 Months Down


So just wondering, how is Donald Trump doing in office? I really have no clue what is going on in the United States. All we hear here are Peruvians talking crap about Trump and saying that he is going to build a big wall? Is that true? Or just talk?

I think I mentioned last week that we travelled for 12 hours on Monday in a bus headed to Huancayo for Consejo de Lideres, and then Tuesday we had such a sweet missionary council. I love these councils. I love the training and listening to President. He really knows how to lift us up and motivate us. He talked about us being Ambassadors of Christ, and representing Him through everything that we do. After our meeting on Tuesday we walked around Huancayo and had our pday there. We ran into some medical students from Virgina Tech. They were talking really bad about the Peruvian doctors. I bought a sweet Tumi that I can carry around. A Tumi is a ceremonial "knife" ancient legends say the Tumi was used to cut open an animal that was being sacrificed. People in Peru say they are "good luck". Then at about 9:45 pm we emabarked on our journey or adventure back to Huanuco.  We traveled back home all during the night in a bus with recliners, and I think I slept like 3 of the 8 hours. It was a great time to think & ponder about things while speeding through a canyon in a bus. Jaja!

 "I see myself as a representative of the Lord"
Consejo de Lideres
 P-Day in Huancayo with Elder Crosland (front) Elder Walker (back)
The long bus ride back to Huanuco with Elder Crosland

On Thursday we were at the church all day long. We had a multizone with President Silva, and had interviews. We talked again about representing Jesus Christ the best that we can and in every way possible, through our dress our behavior, everything we do should represent Him. He also talked about having a "great imagination", and coming up with ways to teach and get past hard things. He likened it to David becoming stronger than Goliath and being able to overcome the giant. It was another great day, but long, we got back to our room (with President's permission) at about 10 o´clock that night.

On Saturday we had Zone meeting and we presented everything to our zone that President taught us on Tuesday at Consejo de Lideres.  At the end I was prompted to testifying about how our final judgment will be. It was another one of those amazing feelings of knowing that I was following the spirit precisely, I felt like I was floating. I know that sounds crazy, but as I was testifying of how we will be the ones who choose if, or if not, we make it into the Celestial Kingdom. And, how if we choose not to go, Heavenly Father will be pleading with us and crying because of our decision to not go with Him. I started to tear up, and at that very moment, I had a prayer answered that I'd asked prayerfully about so many times. My prayer was just to know how much God loves me and each one us. At that moment I felt His overwhelming love, and I knew how much he loved me, I had the distinct feeling that He gives us our absolute agency to choose if we will love Him and follow Him, or not. Grateful I have chosen to follow Him and love Him, grateful for this opportunity to serve Him 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 2 solid years. I love what I'm doing.

Luke's Zone
Elder Christensen & Elder Crosland Zone Leaders

I love you all. My time here is short, and I have much to do! I hit 18 months in the mission on March 8th, but it's less than 6 months till I'll be heading home. I performed my last traditional burning... I burned a pair of pants to celebrate 18 months in the mission. I'll see you all in just over 5 months!

Hasta luego amigos!
Elder Christensen

18 Month Burning of the Pants

Elder Crosland
Luke said, "I love being back with Elder Crosland! We are doing great together! 
He loves to work hard, and that's refreshing! He's changing me. 
I'm learning so much about myself, and about life. I love this guy!"
Luke breaking his fast with a handful of Sweetart sugar!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Suri ... Another Peruvian Cuisine Delicacy

Hey there!

So we had an amazing week. Sorry I am writing on Tuesday. The reason is that yesterday we traveled to Huancayo for a Leadership Training Meeting. We left Huanuco at about 8 o´clock in the morning. We got just a little ways out of Huanuco and there just so happens to be a toooooooooooon of boulders and dirt in the middle of the road. There was a huge land slide! So we sat on the bus for a good 2 hours. We traveled for 12 hours!!!! by bus to Huancayo. We finally got to Huancayo and ate some Popeyes, yes, Popeyes Chicken (I'm really getting bored of chicken)!! and also some decently cooked french fries. So, right now I am in Huancayo getting ready to travel back to Huanuco tonight at 9:30 by bus again. We are supposed to arrive back in Huanuco at like 5 o´clock tomorrow morning. You know these sketchy roads and conditions here in the mission, now in the middle of the night! Everyone be praying that we make it there safe! haha (Nah, we will be safe!)

So this week was a pretty normal week. I'm so excited and happy to be back with Elder Crosland! It really is the best ever! 
 Elder Crosland and Elder Christensen

So we spent most of our week just walking around. We have contacted 1/4 of the doors in our area this week. Yeah, it is super small, but still! On Tuesday we had been contacting all day, and we were a little stuck and wondering which way to go and what to do next. I look at Elder Crosland and say "how about we contact the whole area! and where do you feel we need to go next to contact Elder?"  He responded with a crazy answer!  I said, "that's like the worst part of our area, and at the opposite end from where we are now!" but he answered and said, "well, we might as well start with the part we feel the worst about." So we went to one of the far corners of our area and started to contact. We contacted a whole street and it was getting to be about 7:00 at night. We had gone all day without a lesson. We looked see a guy down the street and I said, "Let's go and talk to that man."  Just as we almost get there, the man walked into his house, so we knocked on the door and he came out.  He said, "welcome, come in." Yeah, that doesn't just happen that often! We walked in, sat down and started to talk to him. It turns out that his name was Manuel, and he's an investigator that was supposed to get baptised the Saturday before I got to this area, one transfer ago. His daughter got really sick the day of his baptism and he had to take her to the hospital. After that he disappeared and we could never find him! That is until Tuesday!!! He told us that he still wants to get baptised, but he feels like he had failed God and the people in the church. We taught him about forgiveness. He is now willing to change again and he's excited an wants to get baptized.
God never loses track of his children. Sometimes Satan tries to intervene and redirect the path, but Heavenly Father is always aware and if our hearts are pure he will guide us back to where we really need to be. It was a gigantic miracle that we were able to find Manuel. Really he was placed right in front of us, and because we followed the promptings to go to that area we found him again. Miracles happen every day! I love this gospel, and my mission! I know that God lives, and he really does want all of His children to be happy. I love Him and I am so grateful for Him.

Elder Christensen

PS ... As you can see I tried another "delicacy" here in Peru! It's called Suri. Yeah it's the larva of a beetle. I'm here and I want to experience everything, so I guess I have to try everything here once!
About the Suri  ....  This worm, larva or grub is one of the largest edible insects in the Amazonia of Peru. Suri have a pearly white body, black head, and two teeth that look like little claws. Suri is the larva of the beetle, but until this grub becomes a beetle they live in the center part of a palm tree. Palm trees have a very delicate flavor, as do Suri. This insect has a high protein count, and is considered a medicinal substance by some. It's a delicacy in Peru. Natives prefer to eat it raw, however grilled is highly recommended or toasted in a pan so that the skin is crunchy and crispy!