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 

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Greatest Experience of My Mission ... I Still Can't Believe It's Real!

Hello everyone!!

This week the craziest thing happened in the history of my mission, but I will get to that story at the end...

We went to Cerro de Pasco this past week, and our way back I told my comp that he should contact the whole bus. I told him how to do it, and explained how to say everything so that we didn't contend with other churches. I also wanted him to talk about the restoration. He hasn't been in the mission very long and he was really nervous, but he said everything sooooooo perfect. You really could feel the spirit while he was talking, But, after he finished, everyone started to get so mad, and they started to ask about baptism and the Book of Mormon, and other things. They were trying to challenge everything he said, but it was so great to see this kid who just recently finished his training, have enough guts to do what I knew would get our word out. It really was so awesome! People will know who we are, and that's what we want!

 Elder Burt and Elder Christensen

 Elder Cartagena from Antofagasta, Chile
Contacting on the Bus

So we have been working with a family, their name is the family Hidalgo. They are trying to make the decision if they should get married or not, so they can be baptized. They went on vacation this week, but tomorrow we will know the answer if they want to get married then baptized. They are an awesome family and it would be so great to see them take the steps they need to become members of this church!

 The Beautiful city of Carhuamayo
So I have saved the best for last.... This may be the greatest experience of my mission. I have felt so lifted by it, it really is so great that God allows us to do the things that we feel like we need to do and helps us through it. Carhuamayo is a very hard area, and we are trying to think of ways to get the gospel to these people, but most don't have an interest in listening to us, until they hear us, and then some seem interested in what we are teaching.  So this past week was the anniversary of Carhuamayo. So basically from Wednesday through Sunday it was just one big festival and party. But, at about 5 o´clock on Friday we had absolutely nothing to do because everyone was at the festival. So we walked around for a while and when we got to the Plaza there was a huge dance party. (nothing like the United States dance parties.) They were dancing, old, traditional, ancient dances, and they were really cool. My comp looked at me and said, "that would be super crazy if we contacted this party right here", but we knew it wouldn't work, it was too crazy and noisy! But I said, "Great idea let's think of how we can pull this off."  He said "haha that was a joke, but yeah that's fine", I don't think he wanted to public contact again! I said, "follow me", and we snuck through this dance party and got into the Carhuamayo City Office Buildings. We found a guy, and I asked him if I could talk sometime during the celebration. He told me I'd have to talk to the Mayor. He said yeah that man right there dancing is the Mayor, He looked at us and when he finished dancing said, "hey, Gringo, what can I help you with?" I said to him, "I am a representative of Jesus Christ and the United States of America, and I just want to congratulate Carhuamayo on it's anniversary. Would you give me time to talk during this celebration and say some words?"  He said, "no, not right now, but on Saturday morning come back and meet me in this same spot and you can talk at the actual Anniversary Parade and Ceremony."  I said, "Perfect!!" Then I started to think about it, and I realized that like 5000 people could be there in that moment that I would be talking, and I got a little nervous! Carhuamayo has about 8,000 people so it's not huge but it's decently sized! I prepared and we returned on Saturday morning at like 10:00 a.m. We were invited to sit up on the stage on the front row, like 2 seats away from the Mayor. At that moment I honestly could not believe this was happening! The Mayor gave me time at the end of the ceremony to talk in front of the whole town of Carhuamayo. I really have no clue how many people were there, but there were a lot! I'm sure there were more than 3000 people in the Plaza at the time that I talked in front of them all. My comp and I were treated like dignitaries, and like royalty. This was truly one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. I was given the opportunity to spread the word of the gospel to 3000 people in 3 minutes. I feel like God's hand was definitely in this, he is helping us every step of the way. We were presented with a sweet pin to have and remember the anniversary by. You can probably see it in the pics. God is with us always, he hears our prayers, and he is there to help us if we will allow Him to! I know he lives! We will build the Kingdom in Carhuamayo!

That's was the end to one of the best weeks in my mission... now on to this week! I hope your week is great too! Love you all!

Elder Christensen

Monday, June 5, 2017

It Was No Coincidence ...

Hey there everyone!

It was a great week! So I know my mission is a bit crazy.... well, it just got even crazier. My comp, Elder Vilcherrez, on Tuesday had emergency changes. (I promise you that I have never fought with one of my comps, we have all been true homies!) but I had another change, so now my new comp is Elder Cartagena, and he's a really cool guy!  On his way here to Carhuamayo he saw a huge miracle. The Lord really does protect his missionaries and is watching out for us all the time. I have seen it so many times while I've been in the mission and my testimony that he watches over and protects his servants is so strong.  So Elder Cartagena was passing through Junin on his way to Carhuamayo, and for some reason the President's personal secretary in the office told him to get off in Carhuamayo, but he knew that I wasn't there, I was in Cerro de Pasco. I had just talked to the secretary and told him to send him all the way to Cerro. He was scheduled to get off the bus at 8 o´clock at night, and no one would be waiting for him. He would have no idea where to go. But, for some odd reason our pench´s son in law happened to be in Junin and got on the bus in Junin, and out of all the seats on the whole bus he just happened to get the seat next to Elder Cartagena, with a phone that only had 1% battery left. My new comp asked him, "how long until we arrive in Carhuamayo"? And the my pench's son in law said, "hey, are you the new missionary coming to Carhuamayo?" Then they made the connection. After that they called me, but when they called me, the phone suddenly had a full battery, and we were able to talk and figure things out. I told him that I was not in Carhuamayo and said, "send him on to Cerro". He told Elder Cartagena not to get off the bus, but stay on until he was in Cerro and I'd be there waiting for him. Well, everything turned out perfect. But, had my pench's son in law not been getting on the bus in Junin, had they not talked and made the connection of who Elder Cartagena was, and had his phone with 1% battery not worked just while we had a conversation, he would have been waiting all night long in the freezing cold wondering where I was. No, I do not think that it was a coincidence. I know that the Lord's hand was there to watch over and protect Elder Cartagena.
On Thursday our Branch President asked me to be the one to put the cords on his son's shoulders (he was being made something equal to a Brigadier in the Army or Marines) in front of his whole school. It was an honor for me. So we went to the High School and helped with the award for the Branch President's son.  Everything went well and it was a nice ceremony, and when it finished I stood up and started contacting to a crowd of like 150 to 200 people. While I was doing this my comp started repartiendo (handing out) some contact cards to the people that wanted them. It truly was a crazy day, but so many people showed interest! Now to follow up! The rest of the week was pretty normal. We have some good prospects and are hoping to progress with some of them during this week. I'm excited to see how it can change their lives! I love this gospel! I hope that you all have a great week. I miss you all and love you.

Elder Christensen

Elder Christensen, Branch President's Son, Elder Cartagena