Monday, May 29, 2017

It's Winter... I'm Freezing... And the Air is So Thin!!

Happy Birthday this week Mommy!!!! 

So this week has been a decent one! It went by so fast! I didn't get to my new area of Carhuamayo, until like Wednesday night, because I was in Huancayo. I went to Huancayo for some leader meetings, and it was pretty great! I got to make some great new friends, and I got to see some of my good old buds, like Elder Orton and Elder Mathews, I haven't seen them forever!
I have a goal while I'm here in Carhuamayo to keep my spirits up and be positive always, and so far my goal is working out. My comp, Elder Vilcherez is from Piura, Peru. He has been in the mission for about a year, and he's been in Carhuamayo for 3 transfers. Yeah, he's not too happy about that... he's ready to leave, and I get that. I just wish he could see it the way I see it. He might wish later on in his mission that he could come back!!  I am having a great time here, it really is so good to be back, but there is no one to teach and....  it is SOOOOOOOOO COLD all of the time!!! I forgot how cold it is here. Last time I was here it was Summer, but now it's Winter and so it's so much colder I think! Also, I'm so out of breath and tired all of the time. I've got to get used to this altitude all over again! (Luke has just come from Huanuco where the altitude is 6,200 ft and warm most of the time. He is now at 14,000 feet altitude and it's always cold). We are living in the same room that I lived in the last time I was here, but I have a new pensionista. The other pension moved to Lima. She is here though and I'm going to go visit her tonight! 

Elder Christensen and Elder Vilcherez

The branch here is growing. When I was here before we would have about 8 people at church on Sundays. Yesterday there were 17 people there. The Branch President is the same guy. Remember we used to have to go get him for church or else he wouldn't show up. He actually showed up yesterday, and even started on time. Church meetings only lasted and hour and a half though so we'll be working on that! We were sitting in Sacrament Meeting and the Branch President announced the program and he said my name as one of the speakers! I had no idea that I was speaking and I had about 3 minutes to pull my thoughts together and prepare! Seriously! I'm sure it won't be the last time that happens here, I'll just be better prepared next time. I spoke for about 10 minutes, and it was all fine... I guess.

Remember Kevin, he was someone who Elder Bullock and I rescued. He is such a great guy and he's leaving on a mission in 3 weeks! He made us Pachamanca this week and it was so good. (Pachamanca is a Peruvian food.... usually lamb, chicken or guinea pig, marinated in Peruvian herbs and spices, wrapped in banana leaves and put in a hole in the ground with hot stones to cook for several hours).

Kevin making Pachamanca

I think that the craziest thing that happened this week was on Thursday when we were on our way back to Carhuamayo and I felt this urge to stand up and preach to the whole bus!! My comp was in a deep sleep and I wasn't sure what he'd think of it, so I had to speak by myself! So I stood up and I just started preaching about the restoration!! Everything went very well. It's great to have a captive audience! I felt like I was a Prophet or missionary from the old days. While I was preaching my comp woke up and just started laughing at me, he was super embarrassed, but that's ok! It was great and people were listening! We gave out copies of the Book of Mormon and also contact cards. It was a sweet day, I felt great about it, and we worked super hard for the rest of the week because of it! We literally taught like 5 lessons here this week, which is so good since we only had a couple of days, so I really hope that this week we can have another great week here in the greatest place ever!

This gospel is true, I know it! The spirit confirms it over and over again to me. I love you all, and I'll be seeing you all very soon!

Con amor,
Elder Christensen

First paved road in Carhuamayo
The rest of the roads are dirt!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

I'm Going to Finish Right Where I Began!

Hey there people of the Universe!!!   

I know that not one person in the world is going to believe this, but, I recieved the special calling to be able to go to the hardest area in the mission to finish. It is also the same place that I started my mission.... CARHUAMAYO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Near Cerro de Pasco!! I know that seems super weird that I would want to go back to the place that I hated when I was there at the beginning of my mission, but I am so excited to be going back to Carhuamayo to finish my mission. I'll be ending where I started! I could not be happier! It will be a great 12 weeks of learning and working as hard as I can to bring people in this tiny town to Christ. My new companion is Elder Vilcherez from Piura, Peru!
This past week was a pretty hectic one. So we had to break up the work and see what kind of things we could pull on Elders Moss and Johnson. We dropped ginormous waterballons on Elder Moss and Elder Johnson and we soaked Elder Moss pretty good. The score is 3-0 us, now!

I have decided that one way to find investigators is to get them to trust me and gain their confidence in me. So I've been practicing new ways of trying to gain the confidence of those we've been teaching this week. It has worked very well. I think God is trying to help me in His work, because I have found new ways and things to say that make people trust me very quickly and want to hear more. One experience we had this week happened while we were out contacting. We found a lady named Martha. She was so great, and she literally told us the whole story of her life. We had one of the greatest lessons I've ever had with her. I felt the spirit while we were teaching her so strong that I expressed to her how I felt. The moment we were about to leave, Martha asked us how she and her son could be baptized. She asked us to come back and visit her on Sunday. I am sad to leave Tarapaca because I know that she is going to embrace the gospel and be a great member.
The next great experience I had this week was on Sunday. I don't know why, but I was just feeling really sad and pretty depressed. As my mission comes to an end I have thought back over some of the experiences that I have had, and I know that the Lord knows exactly what I need, and I'm not doubting that, but, throughout my whole mission I have had so many things happen to me that NEVER EVER happen to other missionaries. I was just feeling bummed and decently sad about some of these trials I have experienced. At church Sunday morning the ward mission leader took us aside and talked to us. He started off by saying, "Why are you crying on the inside Elder Christensen?"  I said, "I just don't really know what to do. I am really decently sad. I really just want to be happy", (I really have had the greatest of great and the hardest of hard things happen.)  He started to recite to me 1 Nefi 1:1. We all take that scripture for granted, and we've all read it a thousand times. "...having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God...." As he was reciting this to me he said, "You may have had way too many afflictions while you've served your mission, and it may affect you and you may be very sad, but like this scripture says, "you are highly favored in the eyes of the Lord", but that also means that you need to keep working even harder, and do all that you can so that you can bring more lives to Christ, the Lord expects much from you." The spirit and his words hit me so hard. I felt the spirit stronger at that moment than I think I ever have in my life. I knew at that moment what was expected of me. I am here to work. I will work harder than ever for the next 12 weeks! What a blessing this mission has been.

The City Huanuco in the background
Luke has spent a good portion of his mission in Huanuco

It was a very great week. I am sorry I didn't write until Tuesday. I am in Huancayo now for a Leader's Meeting. So starting tomorrow I have exactly 12 weeks to work as hard as I can and do everything I possibly can to help others love this gospel.  I love you all and I'll see you all very, very, very soon.

Elder Christensen

Luke's mission scripture has been so appropriate for his mission. It is .... 
D&C 121:7-8, "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." 

 Zone Conference in Huanuco

 Elder Christensen and Elder Daza
 Elder Woltjen and Elder Villalobos
 A Family in Huanuco
 Luke's Stripling Warrior Ring that his brother Nick gave him the day he left
his plaque, and Huanuco City in the background
 Elder Jordan, Elder Walker, Elder Christensen

Monday, May 15, 2017

I Love Peru!!! And the Work I'm Doing!

Hello!! And Happy Mother's Day to all the Mother's out there. Even though I am a day late! Yesterday truly was a cool time being able to talk to my Mommy and my Pops and the whole family!! So cool to see everyone, I miss you all!

This week was a very slow week. I'm really working hard to stay motivated, but some days are so hard when no one wants to listen. In the past 5 weeks I think I've contacted probably 1,000 people with very few lessons. The lessons we have had have been powerful. We just need more of them! We contacted some more this week and did some public preaches (yes, just like the old days when the Apostles/Missionaries would preach in the park or on a corner) and nothing seems to be working out for us, but we will never stop trying! The good thing is that I'm still happy, I'm not going to let it get me down!
We had to have a little fun this week so we did .... We decided to pull a little prank and we snuck into Elder Moss`s and Elder Johnson`s room and hid under their beds. They didn't come home forever it seemed like, but they came home and when they went to bed we grabbed their feet and scared the crap out of Elder Moss. Seriously! It was the best ever! Then 2 days later they tried to do it to us, but we totally saw them! So, another day, I put a ton of pillows under my blankets on my bed so it looked like a person was there, then I hid under my bed. Elder Moss and Johnson walked into our room late one night thinking we would be in bed and tried to scare us, but I reached out from under the bed and grabbed their legs and scared them again! haha Yeah, the score is 2-0 for us! haha!!

Elder Alvarez hiding under the bed

We did find this sweet lady named Daisy this week. She seems very interested in the gospel and what we have to offer. We will see how it goes with her. We need to do a lot of teaching. We have been trying to follow up with Brandon (the one Elder Shaul and I had the cool experience with). He is really busy, he is a college student and doesn't have a lot of time. He is still on track for his June baptismal date.

I did get another companion, sorry I forgot to tell you that. Elder Alvarez from Costa Rica! He's a way cool guy and we get along great and work great together. His companion also left, so the two of us were without companions, so President moved him to my area. It's working out great! We still don't have a pensionista, but I'm not starving, don't worry!
During these trying days I truly have come to understand the natural state of God. No, I haven't see him, but I have felt his presence so strong. One night when I was super sad, and having a bad day and really kind of struggling with things, I went into the next room and started to pray for an extended amount of time.  When I finished praying I had the greatest sense that He was right there with me. I know he hears, and he is there to help us. God gave me confirmation that this gospel is true, and that all would be well. I know that God lives and I know that He wants the best for all of us and for our families. I know that is why He restored his gospel and His church through Joseph Smith. I love Joseph Smith, and all that he did for all of us. He is one of my heroes. In my opinion, Joseph is the second greatest man to ever live, of course following after the greatest man ever to walk this earth, our Savior, Jesus Christ. I love this work, I love this gospel, it's true, I know it. I love you all and I thank you all for supporting me over the past 21 months while I've been on this adventure of a lifetime. I'm learning, I'm growing and I'm experiencing so many things! Love you all.

Elder Christensen

Monday, May 8, 2017

607 Days Served ... 100 Days to Go!

Hey there people!
So this week I felt like I just walked around my area and contacted like 300+ people and only taught like 6 or 7 lessons. It seems so strange, my time here is so short. My mission has passed by soooo fast I feel like! I can't believe that I'm down to 100 days from today. I think I'll miss it here. 

Last Monday for P-day we had a great time going to some ruins outside Huanuco. They are called the Hands of Kotosh or the Temple of Kotosh. They think they were built in about 2000 BC and believe it was a religious site. There aren't any other ruins near them so they think it was a temple or something. I don't know why, but Peru sold the ruins to some Chinese people a few years ago and they have tried to reconstruct some of them, and it kinda ruined them. They should have just left them alone.

 Elder Christensen and Elder Moss
 Elder Johnson, Elder Moss and Elder Christensen
 Temple of Kotosh
Temple of Kotosh

The rest of the week we contacted like one-fourth of our area and I don't think that anyone would guess how many drunk people tried to talk to us during this week!!  I think that about 5 drunk people tried to talk to us every day. All they ever say is "yeah papa, yeah papa mucho respeto, ayudeme a cambiar!!"  That just means "lots of respect, and help me change."  All of them say it while crying there eyes out and hugging us so tight that I thought my eyes were going to pop out!" And they don't mean it... they're drunk! haha

We found a sweet lady, Marleni.  She talked to the missionaries like 15 years ago and said that she would love to be Mormon, but then said, "I want my son to go to church tomorrow and the next week, but we can't talk about my baptism." I said, "why won't you go to church tomorrow?" she replied, "it`s because I want my son to see if it's beautiful (the church) and if it is, then I'll go, and we can talk about baptism there." It was actually a really cool experience. I haven't had anyone just tell me they needed to get baptised in quite a long time. She knows she needs to be baptized, but wants her son to check it all out first. We'll keep working with her. She was a great lady and I felt the spirit so strong when we were with her! 

Then right after that we headed out to get over to my old area Micaela, where Milton & Biliana got married!! I've waited a long time to see this happen. Friday was the wedding, and it was very interesting!!!  I have never been to such a weird wedding in my whole life.  They do everything so different here!! But then I guess I haven't been to that many actual weddings, since they are usually in the temple! They gave me a cup of Coke, and they didn`t say what it was for. So of course, I drank it.  Then some lady came out and looked at me like I was an idiot, and everyone in the whole wedding party started laughing, and I said "what??? in the heck!!" And they said, "it`s for the toast!!!!!!!!" I couldn't believe that they actually do that here, with Coke!  So they brought me another coke and I felt like a complete idiot!! jaja It was kind of crazy!! And.... Billiana will be getting baptized next week! I'm really happy for them! So happy they are taking the steps to make everything right!

Elder, Elder, Elder Crosland, Milton, Biliana, Elder Christensen, Elder
Elder Crosland, Milton, Biliana and Elder Christensen

I went with Elder Walker to a baptism of some people that he taught. It was another great day to see these people take the baptismal covenants. It's so great to see what the gospel does in people's lives. It just makes it better! This gospel's true and it will bring us closer to our Savior in so many ways.

 Elder Walker and Elder Christensen
Elder Christensen, Elder Walker with 2 other Elders and
those being baptized 

Well that was my week. I'll talk to you all on Sunday, Mother's Day!! Can't wait to see you all! 

Elder Christensen 

Monday, May 1, 2017

I Love It! I Just Keep Seeing Miracles!


Hey there how are ya´ll? I'm doing pretty good, I guess.  So I think God needs me to learn something about working without a companion... trust, obedience??? Haha hopefully this is not a bad sign... and I find a wife who stays!! So my awesome comp (Elder Shaul) went home.  He was truly an amazing man and an amazing missionary, I'm really gonna miss that guy a ton. He just got notice last night and he left on the bus last night. So... I will be with Elder Moss and Elder Johnson for the next 3 weeks and I will be doing the same thing that I had to do when I was in Chilca and Tingo Maria, hopefully getting members to be my companion during the days. Hopefully I can do the same thing and keep working in my area. My area is doing so good! So I'm actually super pumped and I'm super ready to go and work my butt off with the members. 

Elder Christensen and Elder Shaul
Elder Johnson, Elder Moss, Elder Shaul and Elder Christensen 
 Luke's favorite drink .... Inca Kola
Elder Christensen, Elder Shaul and Elder Moss

THE MIRACLE IS UNFURLING. Elder Shaul, a member and I were in a lesson with one of our investigators, Brandon on Wednesday. We were super prepared and I made Elder Shaul memorize a "godly promise" that we felt was relevant to the situation, then we went to the lesson. Brandon was convinced that he wasn´t going to get baptised for like 5 WHOLE years.  We talked for like 30 minutes and the whole time I was just trying to make everything lead into 3 verses. We finally got to the point and I looked over at Elder Shaul, I said "do it" and he pulled out a scripture, Mosiah 18:8-10 "And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another's burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life-- Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?" And then I testified of Jesus Christ and then I nodded to Elder Shaul and said "say it" and then Elder Shaul, recited the promise, but he didn't just say it memorized, he really said it, and he said it so very well!! Before we left to go to Brandon's, Elder Shaul was having troubles memorizing it slightly, but when saying it to Brandon he said it perfectly! The gift of tongues is real, he said it perfectly.  I said, "Brandon, this man speaks very little Spanish, do you think that all of a sudden he can just speak like a latino?" GOD EXISTS, he is real, and the spirit bore a strong testimony that he is real and he is with us. He helped Elder Shaul and he'll help Brandon too! Brandon looked at me and said "when can I get baptized, what day?"  I said, "when do you feel the right time is?" and he said (with tears running down his face) "the 13th of June, it's my 18th birthday, I'm getting baptized and I'm going to need help getting there!"  We all left so edified and so lifted by the spirit! It really was a miracle, it happened right there at the exact time that we needed it to happen. Heavenly Father is so aware of each of us, he loves us. HE is real! It was an amazing week filled with lots of great things, but this was the best of the best! 
I miss you all and I'll see you all very soon.  LOVE YOU ALL!

Elder Christensen