Saturday, December 24, 2011

December 20, 2011

What a week!!  It went amazingly fast. I'll start from last Wednesday:

Every week we visit a 94-yr-old lady named Dorothy. I adore her. She is still totally with it and has a hilarious sense of humor. She is always joking about the pioneer women and wonders how they went to the bathroom with all those loads of clothes on. She loves to see us and always gives us a big kiss when we leave. I want her to be my grandma! She says things like "it's colder than the Dickens in here" and "we thought she was getting shipped off to Timbukto" (about Madsen). She is just so funny.

Later that day we had interviews with President. Mine was maybe a total of five minutes. Basically he says, "Are you happy and healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually? yes? ok pce."  haha nothing too exciting. After interviews we went on sister exchanges. Madsen came into my area and I went into her area with her companion, Sister Coloumbe. Sister Coloumbe is from Quebec and has a thick French accent. I love it. I said something jokingly and she was like, "I don't know what that means but I think I agree" (in the thick accent), it was funny. I like her. I got to teach their investigator, Amanda, who was so fun and bubbly. She crochets and she made a carrot. I loved it so much that she gave it to me! I named him Garret the Carrot, or Garry for short.

Thursday was windy and cold. Coloumbe and I walked around and then went and did service for the Relief Society president. We did a couple member visits and then exchanged companions at three. Overall the exchange was good - I loved being in Madsen's area so I know where she lives and the people she works with. It made me happy.

When I got back to my area, we visited another older lady, Milda. She gave us a bunch of her clothes. Ha, she is so nice. She always tells us stories of her growing up and being a young mom. She loves to chat and we have fun listening to her. Later we went and shared a lesson with the Whitakers. They have three boys and the youngest is a girl. They are easily one of my favorite families because they are so fun and crazy. We also went and taught Rickie and Meg, which we do every Tuesday and Thursday night so that was same old.

Friday we had weekly planning. That night we had dinner with Jess and she got us Taco Bell. Previous to my mission I hadn't eaten Taco Bell in over two years, but Madsen loves it so we went a couple times. I rediscovered my love for Taco Bell, but Friday night I remembered why I swore it off. I was up till one a.m., totally sick to my stomach. It was awful! I still love Taco Bell (baja chicken chalupa, yes please), but I guess I have to pay the consequences for eating cheap food.

Saturday our ward had a bring-a-friend bike hike. We went for the lunch and got to talk to a couple non-members and hang out with the youth. It was so fun! I love being around the YM/YW (young men/young women). It makes me miss my teenage days and wish I had been better about missionary work when I had the chance. We did a whole bunch of contacting (walking around and hoping to run into people to talk to about the gospel) and then we went to a convert baptism. I love convert baptisms. The Spirit is always so strong and it's awesome to see someone change their entire lives for what they know to be truth. She was previously at Saddleback, which is the huge church around here that everyone belongs. We always, always, always run into Saddleback people, which a lot of times end up being bashers. Her baptism was great and in January we will get to teach her the new-member lessons!

Sunday we had Church. A guy gave us a couple hundred boxes of granola bars and cereal so we went around and gave some out to people in the ward. We had a fun dinner with some young couples in the ward and then we went to the Evert's and wrapped Christmas presents. She played some Celine Dion Christmas music which made me miss home, but I loved it! I love Christmas!

Monday was bomb. We had an awesome district meeting. Rokobuli and I made a missionary Jeopardy game to play and the elders had fun being competitive. Later in the day we went contacting and shared a Book of Mormon with a really nice girl. We exchanged numbers and hope to follow up with her. At dinner, there was a non-member. I decided to be sneaky and teach her by asking a bunch of questions to her son-in-law who knows a ton about the gospel. I love secretly teaching people haha. Later, we tracted an apartment complex and shared another Book of Mormon with a really nice girl who was recently invited by a Mormon guy to go to a Mormon party. It made me so happy! We finished the night teaching Jess and baby Oliver which is always fun. It was a great Monday!

All week we have been teaching people about the birth of our Savior and about the real meaning of Christmas. It's been an educational experience for me. I love that as a missionary, my focus isn't on getting people the best gifts, but on what the Savior's birth meant to the world. We can overcome every temptation or trial because that little baby boy was born into the world to take upon him the sins of the world. He makes up the difference for us because we cannot do it ourselves. There is a talk by Elder Holland that I love and use as a motivator when I am down. This is a little excerpt from it:
When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out and made a hiss and a byword, you are standing in the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived. You have reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Living Son of the Living God knows all about your sorrows and afflictions. The only way to salvation is through Gethsemane and on to Calvary. The only way to eternity is through Him, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Heavenly Father's gift to us was His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ's gift to us was the atonement. All week we have been asking people what their gift will be this Christmas to our Savior. That is my challenge to you. Take is seriously, evaluate your life and set a goal to change in a positive way as your gift to our Savior.

Love you all! Merry Christmas!!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

December 13, 2011 w/ pictures

Man, I was so grumpy this week! Me being grumpy = me having a very pessimistic view on the week so bear with me - there will be some good in this post, I promise! On Wednesday and Thursday we had a lot of cancellations and schedule changes. For those of you who know how anal I am, it drove me nuts. We did some service building bookshelves, which was fun, but otherwise Wed. and Thur. were a bust.

On Friday, we had our ward Christmas party. You would think that would be a highlight and fun but you would be wrong. There was a guy there who always pokes fun at me but sometimes takes it too far. He totally loves me and just doesn't realize how sensitive I am. He kept going and going and finally I burst out in tears and had to leave the party early. I couldn't stop crying! It was embarrassing and my poor companion felt so bad and it was just awful. I hate crying to begin with and I hate that I can't stop myself from another bust.

Saturday was good though. We rode bikes! Talk about humility -- I had an ugly helmet on, in a skirt (which kept getting caught in the brakes so I had to tuck it into my g's) and we stopped and chatted with people with sweat running down our faces and out of breath. Ha. We looked like such dorks but I don't mind. My companion literally did not make it up a single hill...she had to stop and walk. I am mean and wanted the workout so I left her behind and rode up the hills and would go back and check on her. Later in the afternoon, we helped clean a house (which I love cleaning and organizing so that was fun). We had an amazing dinner and then went to a Christmas choir concert called "Sing Noel" -- it was really cute and fun. We sat with some other missionaries who are hilarious and always make me laugh so it helped ease my grumpiness. Also, throughout the week we helped decorate three Christmas trees. I hardly ever even helped decorate my families' Christmas tree, so it was fun to do three and see the different ways people like to do their trees.

Sunday is always busy busy with Church and meetings. We had a yummy dinner and went to Sing Noel again. This time we sat almost front row, which made it totally different and still fun. It helped bring the Christmas spirit!

Monday was rainy and cold. And rainy. We had a good district meeting, had a couple member visits, and taught three recent converts/less actives. I like keeping Monday busy because it's the day before P-day (P-day's eve) and it will feel 100x longer if we don't keep busy.

This seems really short and without much "spiritualness" so I'll add some. For personal study, I am reading "Jesus the Christ". It is huge and hard to read, but I really like it. If you want something to do in your free time, read chapters 16 and 17. I am only up to chapter 18, but 16 and 17 were probably two of my favorites so far. We have what we call a "study journal" where we add any insights, quotes or scriptures to each day. I love it because it's so organized and I have a place to record everything. Anyway, when I am reading, I always find such good little insights that help put together pieces and allow me to feel like I know Jesus Christ on a more personal level. It's a legit book, but you def. need a dictionary when you read.

Hope all is well. pce out.
-Sister Christensen

Sunday, December 11, 2011

December 6, 2011 w/ pictures

The title of this email will be "Christmas kickoff"! The members we were eating with last night told us that December 1st they always have a party and decorate and eat a nice meal and they call it Christmas kickoff -- although there was no big party or fancy meal for us, everything we have been doing this week has been somewhat related to Christmas and I love it!

I'll start with last week - I got a new companion, Sister Rokobuli, from Fiji! I was crying like a little girl all the way to transfer meeting and when President called my name, I was not smiling or happy...but then Sister Madsen got called to Aliso Creek ward --- in my zone and in our Church building! We see them at the very least, every Tuesday and Sunday!!!  haha, the tears turned to happy tears because now she is not tooo far away and I can still see her. I love it.

Sister Rokobuli is awesome. She attended BYU-Hawaii and used to dance at the Cultural Center. She has three brothers and two sisters. She is the youngest, but the first to serve a mission in her family. Yesterday she paid me the nicest compliment - she was like, "My whole mission I have never felt so happy or comfortable" --- her other companions were white hand book status, which means they left their personalities at the door and are ridiculous about following the rules. I try really hard to balance my personality with being obedient, but hear you me, I will NEVER be a white hand book. I refuse. On Thursday I gave her the speech which I also gave Sister Madsen, that we WILL laugh and we WILL have fun. It's quite an inspiring speech if I do say so myself. Ha, that was a joke.

Anyway, Wednesday and Thursday were rough because I missed Madsen, but I did a lot of praying and surprisingly didn't break down once. All day Wednesday and Thursday were spent handing out fliers for a Christmas program called "Follow the Star" that our stake puts on every year. It's a live nativity with real animals that is performed outside. Inside is hot chocolate, cookies, and the life of Christ depicted in art and scripture. It's a reallyy big deal. People have been talking about it since I got here in July! It was Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night. I got to see Madsen all three nights which was legit.

As promised, "Follow the Star" was awesome. It stirred up the Christmas spirit in me. I had a light bulb moment where I realized that Jesus was born - our Savior and Redeemer - to humble Mary and Joseph in a stable with yucky animals all around --- I don't know why it hit me so hard, but I was so happy and excited. I have a new appreciation for this time of year. On Sunday, my companion and I got to play the role of Mary!! It was so fun! I got to be pregnant and then hold the baby Jesus and sit in a stable. When walking back, the crowd was taking pictures and one guy was like, "My daughter wanted to meet Mary and baby Jesus." It was so cute! See pictures.

Also on Sunday, our investigator came to Church for the first time while we have been teaching her. I was so happy she was able to make it. Sundays are crazy at Church because everyone talks to us and we have a million meetings and appointments to set so it's really chaotic, therefore I didn't get to talk to her to see how it went, but according to B. Thatcher, she said it was good! We are seeing her tomorrow so I am stoked.

Everything is going well here in sunny California. The Church is still true. I am working little by little each day to increase my faith and dedication to the Lord. I saw a quote the other day that said something along the lines of, "Some blessing come now, some blessing come late and some blessing don't come until Heaven, but for those who follow Jesus Christ, the blessings will come." I loved it because sometimes I expect instantaneous blessing because I am doing what's right, but I just gotta be patient. I love the people I have gotten to meet and the different ways my testimony has been strengthened. The saying stands true, this might not be the best 18 months OF my life, but it is the best 18 months FOR my life.

Love you all! PCE!
-Sister Christensen

Goodbye Sister Madsen! I love you!

My new companion

The nativity scene. The lighting is bad, but you can see the three wise men (two were elders in my district), a sheep, a horse, and a donkey.

Me, Joseph, and baby Jesus

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

November 29, 2011 w/ pictures

As far as missionary work goes this week, there was little to none -- relatively speaking -- Thanksgiving was on Thursday which was basically a day spent eating. We had two Thanksgivings and three desserts. I most definitely have now gained about 12 pounds since I've been out. Harsh, but delicious. On Thanksgiving I also got to see my cousins, Josh, Tiersha, and Megan. It was so fun seeing them and it was nice getting an update on the Whitmore family.

On Saturday Sister Madsen and I decided to do it elder's style and ride bikes all day. We looked like total dorks in our helmets and skirts, but it was fun. It was close to 80 degrees so we were sweating hard core. We have some huge hills in our area which were killer. S. Madsen put the mountain bike on speed one and I was on speed five. She was peddling so fast and furious, but getting nowhere. I was already halfway up the hill, but once I started laughing it was hard to keep going. Oh my goodness it was hilarious. Another biker passed her and was like "Good job! Keep going!!" She felt like an idiot so she turned her speed up and made it up the hill. Unfortunately with riding bikes, you end up spending so much time trying to get to your appointments that you lose out on a lot of your proselyting hours. Our bums really hurt afterwards, but we would totally do it again if we were staying together.

Yes, that's right, Sister Madsen is leaving me. She is getting transfered out today. I feel really bad for the new sister coming in. Everyone loves S. Madsen and it's going to be hard to compete. After we found out on Saturday night, both Sunday and Monday were spent tying loose ends and saying goodbyes. Hence, not too much missionary work. I am really going to miss her. We have a lot of fun together and I laugh to tears at least once a day. Last night we had our last lesson with Aaron and Jessica together. The Merricks and the elders came over too, so it was a little party. We played Apples to Apples, ate a million cookies, and played only the funniest game known to man, the slap game. I have video evidence of how funny it is, but I don't know how to upload it?  Anyway, it was a really good last hurrah together. She will be missed.

This is probably my shortest and least inspiring letter written, but missionary work took a back burner to holidays and friendship. I promise it won't happen least until Christmas. I have just started reading "Jesus the Christ" and already I am learning so much. If you decide to try it, make sure you have a dictionary nearby -- he uses a lot of tricky words. Anyway, the Church is still true! Spread the gospel and be good examples. I love you all cause you are all children of God! Holla!

-Sister Christensen

The elders made us have district meeting on Thanksgiving so I made them all Indian headdresses with appropriate names to match. Ha, they were all willing to wear them the whole meeting, it was funny!

Us in our dorky helmets. Don't hate.

There is a house all decked out and it shoots out bubble-snow. It was so fun! We love seeing all the Christmas lights and decorations. People go big here - it's awesome.

Friday, November 25, 2011

November 22, 2011 w/ pictures

What a week.  It went fast and slow, like it tends to do. First and foremost, shout out to my adorable sister and awesome brother-in-law and their new baby, Aiden Kent Knuckles. I got the phone call on Friday morning that he arrived. Before the lady could even tell me that he was born I was in tears of excitement and may or may not have been somewhat screaming into the phone. I could not be happier for them and am already in love with my new nephew. Ha, I keep randomly telling people that I'm an aunt! It's so surreal and I wish I could be there to see him, but I know that when I come home, he will be as cute as ever and more fun than a newborn!

The second big event of the week was the baptism of our investigator, Ricky. She was the first lesson I ever taught as a missionary. At the time, I really didn't think much would come from teaching her, but as we progressed, we grew to love her and her daughter Meg. She is from Japan, so we involved a lot of Japanese speaking RM's (older men, who loved getting the opportunity to use their mission language again). Ricky was so happy at her baptism. She just kept talking about how good she felt and how it felt so right. Sister Madsen and I got to sing at it and overall it was really special and awesome. See pictures.

It's awesome getting baptisms, but then there is that problem of not having investigators. It's been stressful because we want to just sit back and enjoy our baptisms, but the work ain't done! We have been doing a lot more tracting, contacting, and working with members, trying to find new people to teach. We are both really crossing our fingers that with the holiday season and all the ward activities going on, that through member referrals, we will be able to put some people into our teaching pool. Pray for us haha.

On a freaking awesome note, we had some Bible bashers last week, and guess who was awesome and did not freak out, but just calmly stated our purpose and left their home on good terms??? Yes people, it was me. These people were hard core and pretty much ready to bash the moment we stepped in the door, and Madsen started to do it, but I was like Nope. I told them that in other circumstances we would be happy to have an animated discussion about the Bible and the Book of Mormon, but as missionaries and servants of the Lord our purpose is to teach and educate people about our belief in the Book of Mormon and help them gain a better understanding of our faith and gospel of Jesus Christ. Thank you very much and good night. Haha it was legit.

We did some service and lots and lots of walking and talking to people. I am such a whiner and don't really have supportive shoes so it really hurts! Poor Madsen had to endure it all, and she endures it well. At one point, we were walking up the 100th hill and I made Madsen let me hold her purse handle so she could kind of pull me along.  We looked like the biggest dorks, but just laughed about how wimpy I am.

We are super excited for Thanksgiving! We are eating TWO Thanksgiving meals which is going to be....interesting but fun. Also it's transfers week. On Saturday we find out who is staying and who is going. It's like 99.9% that Madsen or I will be leaving (more likely Madsen), but we really don't want to!!! I am not ready!!!!! Our bishop made us give him our Mission President's number so he could call and our ward mission leader plans to call too to try and keep us together, but I am not holding my breath. I might be in the depths of bitter sadness and depression by next Tuesday. Ha pray for me.

The Church is true people. Don't hide it and don't deny it. Be good missionaries and share the gospel in every way you can. Our challenge to our ward and my challenge to you is to link to your Facebook pages. I know that 99% of you reading this have a Facebook page so don't be lame and make excuses! Share the gospel because it's that important. And read Moroni 7 because I just read it this morning and I love it.

pce out from CA
-Sister Christensen

These first two are from the baptism.

This is our ward mission leader and his family. We took a "family photo." We are seriously at their house all the time. We love them!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

November 15, 2011 w/ pictures!

This update is going to be a little different. I have titled this letter "A Love Hate Relationship" because I have a love hate relationship with being a missionary. I will intermix the loves and the hates so it doesn't sound too negative haha.

1. I HATE Bible bashers. I am pretty positive I have said this one before, but let me reiterate. I HATE Bible bashers. Ha, I need to start praying for more patience because I know I am going to run into many, many more Bible bashers, but oh man, they totally get under my skin. We taught a Bible basher last companion did amazing. She kept her calm and explained things and bore testimony and left feeling victorious. I, on the other hand, was awful. I was shaking I was so angry and I may or may not have been slightly mocking him within my questions. It's fairly easy to catch Bible bashers in a web that they cannot explain, but yet they still stand strong that they have a point and that we are wrong and are doomed to hell. No joke. People love to tell us they "will pray for us" and try to help us change our ways. In my head I am like, "Buddy, if you could only hear what I really want to say to you, but won't because I am a disciple of Jesus Christ...." I guess it's a good lesson in loving everyone and patience. And clearly it's a lesson I am still learning.

2. I LOVE doing service. I love doing service for people who need it. This week we did a lot of service and it was so fun. We helped clean a woman's house whose husband has cancer and they have two young daughters. Their girls are beyond adorable and I loved getting to play with them and organize and clean at the same time. Also, we helped with a ward service project, packing Thanksgiving meal bags for less fortunate. It was nice to think that these families can still have a nice Thanksgiving even when they are having hard times. Service is awesome.

3. As a missionary, I HATE the rain. It rained twice throughout the week, and when it rains it's so dreary and hard to work. I just want to curl up on the couch and read a good book and take a nice nap, but nope. Not as a missionary. My shoes were so wet and gross that I just started proselyting barefoot. I was wearing a long dress so I tried to cover my feet so no one would notice. It's just not fun at all walking around in wet shoes. But people do tend to be a little nicer when you are standing on their porch in the rain haha.

4. I LOVE my ward. There is one neighborhood, that no matter what time it is, we can find kids outside to play with. This week we have played some intense games of tag, football, racing on scooters and bikes, and lacrosse. It's so much fun because we will be playing with one family, and then another family will come out to talk, and more kids will come play, and someone else will be walking their dog, etc. We always end up talking with at least three LDS families and get a moment to relax and have fun.

5. I LOVE baptisms. Jessica got baptized on Friday night. It was awesome. I was beaming. It felt like my little girl, growing up and making the best decision ever. Haha, Jess was smiling so much - I love all the pictures because she looks so happy and we were all so happy and it was just awesome. Sister Madsen did bomb in singing and my talk was good. It was a great night! Pictures will be included. This Saturday is our next baptism with my investigator Ricky, so it should be another great weekend! Tonight we are setting the program and making the final details - yay :)

6. I HATE 6:30 am alarms. It's impossible waking up on time. My bed is so cozy and warm and nice --once I am up I am fine, but that initial getting up is painful. Although I do go to bed at 9:30, the latest 10:30, so I really shouldn't complain, but I just love my sleep.

7. I LOVE Zone Conference. We had Zone Conference yesterday from 8am-4pm. It was legit. We learn a lot and were inspired and given great advice. It was much needed.

Missionary work is a roller coaster, I love it and I hate it. The fact of the matter is that I love it MORE than I hate it so it's all well worth it. Keep rocking on and be good examples. The Church is true. Be a living example of that. Loves from CA.

-Sister Christensen

November 8, 2011

I am such a wimp. It's getting "cold" here in sunny California (aka 60's at the lowest) and I am freezing my lil bum off! Finally, yesterday, the women we stay with turned the heat on. I was sleeping with three, yes THREE, comforters. Every time we go from a house to the car, I have to let out a "I'm cold" screech which my companion loves (jk, she really hates it, but I can't help it! I hate being cold!) I want it to stay warmm!!!!

Ok onto the week. I have a couple funny stories:

Wednesday, Sister Madsen and I went to check out a referral we had been given. We knocked on the door and this older man comes to the door and invites us in immediately (we hadn't even introduced ourselves). We were really confused but we never turn down friendly people so we went inside. His wife comes out and is sooo nice. She is telling us about her dog, Charles, and about her daughter's recent wedding and all this stuff and we are just smiling and talking, but both of us are still thinking, "Wow these people are so do they know us?!" So after playing with Charles for a while, she's like, "So you must be here to see George!" and I said, "Who's George?" (Sister Madsen was like, "We are??") and she laughed and was like (in a you're-so-silly-you-know-who-George-is-tone), "Who's George? This is George!"....Both Sister Madsen and I were thinking George was another animal, but no, George is their sick grandpa...Now we are reallllyyyy confused. But still we continue to play along and start talking with George! Finally I bring up the Church and we find out that they thought we were the nurses coming in to take a look at George because he is sick. AWKWARD! Yeah, as soon as we got out of there we died laughing. It was funny.

Later that day we had sister exchanges. Sister Hermanson came into my area and Sister Madsen went into their area. It was.....hard being away from Sister Madsen. Sister Hermanson was, what we like to call, an extreme white handbook. Sister Madsen and I are generally very obedient, but there are some rules we are not good at (like holding babies, chewing gum, etc). In an effort to be positive and nice, I will say that it was an educational experience and I was very happy to get Sister Madsen back on Thursday, as was she.

Thursday we taught Activity Days for the kids 8-11. It was a lot of fun. We set up a "day in the life of a missionary" relay race, which was so cute! The little girls loved it and it was a fun change to our schedule.

Friday was lame.

Saturday I had a great personal study. Read D&C (Doctrine & Covenants) 6. It's legit. Also we did more tracting in one day than we have in like 8 weeks. Not so fun, but the weather was beautiful which made it easy and fun to be outside. Second funny story: We have a list of former investigators that we go visit. So we drive to one house, get out of the car, go knock, no answer, so we get back in the car. We buckled our seat belts, pulled out the map, turned on the car, and Sister Madsen was like, "Where to next?", I tell her the address, she starts driving only to realize that the house was only two doors down. I died laughing. We must have looked like the biggest idiots to put on our seat belts, get all prepared and then drive two houses over. That night we attended a baptism and then had a late dinner.

Sunday was fast Sunday. We had the best apple pie I have ever tasted at our dinner appointment. Seriously it was amazing. She is going to teach me how to make it.

Monday was sort of lame. We both weren't in the mood. But we did have a fun dinner and played Phase Ten.  I won for the record. And then we had a great lesson with Jess and Aaron. Jess's baptism is on Friday! We are really excited. On Sunday I was introducing her to some people and I said she was our investigator, but that felt so wrong. She is my friend! I love her and Aaron and baby Oliver! They seriously help make this experience even more worth it. I am speaking at the baptism. I am nervous, but it will be fun. Sister Madsen is singing.

Ricky has her baptismal date for the 19th so hopefully that will happen as well!

Hope everyone is doing well. Write me!

Sister Christensen

Sunday, November 6, 2011

November 1, 2011 w/ FIVE pictures!

It's November 1st. What the what?! This is going to be a very jumbled email because I am sleepy.

It was a pretty good week in terms of fun, but may not have been the most productive week in terms of missionary work. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Halloween. On Friday it was our ward Halloween trunk or treat. It's against the rules to dress up, but Madsen and I got permission to be pioneers...and we may or may not have decided to be dead pioneers. The next night, a family in our ward threw a huge Halloween party that we took both of our investigators to and, since I never repeat a costume, I was a peasant girl. The party was legit and our investigators loved it. We took lots of pictures, but I'll spare you and just share a couple. Also we got to carve pumpkins with one of our favorite families. We made ours be throwing up. It was so fun and I am glad I got to carve one so it felt more like Halloween!

Our investigator, Jess, has her baptismal date coming up so soon, we are excited (11.11.11)! She is right on track and doing well so we are just on the countdown.

On Friday, we did sister exchanges for the day and I went into a Spanish area. I had fun trying to talk to people in Spanish. I love Spanish and hope one day I can be fluent. I also enjoy going in other peoples areas to get a feel for how they do missionary work. We have another exchange coming up this week, but I'll be staying in my area. Madsen is not happy about it. Ha she hates when she has to leave the area/me :)

In our ward, we have a German war veteran, Brother S, who spent four years in a Russian prison camp. He was raised as one of Hilter's Youth and has the most fascinating stories ever! We spent almost two hours at his house just hearing his insane stories. He wore the same outfit and didn't shower for an entire year. He was Mormon and while in the camp the only drinks were coffee and typhoid fever water. He promised God that he would keep the Word of Wisdom if God would allow him to survive, and he drank the typhoid fever water every day and was totally fine! Another story was, the prisoners would always steal to survive and one of his buddies got caught stealing. For punishment, the guard was going to put him into a hole and pour water over his head so he would freeze to death over night (it was below freezing), but instead the friend beat up the guard, took his clothes and poured water over the guard. The next morning the guard was found dead in the hole and the friend escaped back to Germany. Brother S. just laughs as he tells the stories, but he is no joke. He is in four books, has been on TV and apparently you can Google him! It was an educational night to say the least.

Sunday we started our 40-day fast with our ward. Each family that signs up for dinner, fasts for a missionary opportunity that day and then we break their fast when we come over. We are hoping it really gets people focused on missionary work and thinking about the different ways they can serve and share the gospel. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Monday was good. We have a great district that is really good at pumping us up to do better and work harder. We stayed crazy busy right up till 6:30 when we were forced to go in because it was Halloween. We were sad we didn't get to stay out and hang with members but whatev.

This morning we went to the temple (Newport Beach) in the white hummer limo again. It's legit. While in the Celestial Room, I decided to start reading D&C (Doctrine and Covenants) since I have never read it cover to cover, so I open it up and read the was written November 1st in the 1800s. I thought it was a funny coincidence!

Anyway, I am super tired. Sorry this was a lame update. I promise the Church is true and that God loves you!
-Sister Christensen

OK five pictures:

Ward trunk or treat with one of our favs, the Reynolds

Pumpkin carving with the Everts', we love them!

Halloween party with Jess and Aaron. It was a multi-million dollar house and was legit.

They built a haunted house in the garage, it was terrifying. My throat hurt I was screaming so loud.

My district after the temple.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

October 25, 2011 w/ pictures!

Tuesday: Madsen and I went shopping at Old Navy. Holy heck I have missed shopping. It was bad though---it was like giving an alcoholic a sip of vodka and then taking it away. Now I just want to shop all the time. I found a way cute shirt for 7 bucks and a long maxi dress for 12. Old Navy was having a sweet sale. I got compliments on my shirt on Sunday...for those of you who know me, that made me very happy haha. We made a no-shopping November rule---pray for me. ha.

Wednesday: Ugg was so annoying. We are teaching another Bible basher, Conner. We will probably drop him tomorrow. He wants evidence that the Book of Mormon is true and basically he has no belief in faith, just facts. I totally shut down when people start going off on us. All Bible bashers want is to convert us and I am thinking, "Are you serious?! I am giving up 18 months of my life, working my butt off, preaching the gospel all day everyday, and you think you can shake my testimony and change my entire life path by showing me some anti-Mormon crap and talking my ear off??" I really really dislike Bible bashers. It's emotionally exhausting. ha, ok sorry for the rant. Also on Wednesday we taught Aaron and Jess and had a Relief Society activity which was fun.

Thursday: We woke up at six and went for a three mile run/walk. There are a TON of hills where we live and it's brutal. I can run pretty well on flat ground and slightly uphill, but we were dying on the bigger ones and had to walk a little. I wore braces on both my knees and it went o.k. Later that morning we taught Heather, our mission leader's sister-in-law. We taught all about Joseph Smith and it went really well. She is progressing and we love it! Also on Thursday our dinner appointment canceled and instead they brought Cafe Rio to our house. I am a die-hard Cafe Rio lover so that was legit! We also did some service for people and visited with some people in the ward that we love.

Friday: We had our weekly planning session and then had a bunch of appointments in the afternoon. Our nightly appointments all canceled so we went out and visited less actives and former investigators.

Saturday: We had breakfast with some former investigators which was a lot of fun. They are a really sweet older couple and they are a lot of fun. We want to pick them up as investigators, but they are pretty devout Biblical Christians. They love us though and we really enjoyed breakfast with them. Later we did service for a family with triplets and helped them move. In the afternoon we went tracting which produces very little results, but we are trying to be better about doing it more often. Madsen and I are really working on finding new investigators and we have to start somewhere right?

Sunday: We had Church and meetings until 230. Then we went and did member visits. There is this one area that is full of families we love so we just go and park and go house to house, sharing a message. We had dinner with the Merrick's and I finally had her upload our rap video from back in September in the ward talent show. I think she tagged me on Facebook? It was a lot of fun to do so check it out.

Monday: It was Amber's 15th birthday! Shout out to Amber--love you lots! It made me a little homesick to think that next year at this time she will be 16 and have grown up so much and I will not be home yet :( I got a little trunky, not going to lie. But then we had an awesome district meeting and a great afternoon and night, full of teaching and talking to people, so that helped me focus again. We still have two baptismal dates, one for Jess on the 11th and one for Ricky on the 19th. I hate getting my hopes up so I am scared to be too excited about their baptismal dates, but I would be so thrilled if they went through. I have been teaching them both for the last 3.5 months and I really love them. I just want them to be ready to take that step and feel good about their decision and it's hard not to pressure them, but Madsen and I both really want to be here for it, but we def don't want them to get baptized before they are ready....such is the life of a missionary. It's slightly stressful. And then once they do get baptized, our teaching pool is down massively so that's a little scary too. Oh well.

Missionary work is hard but it's worth it! I have grown to love these people so much and I am finding myself get more and more bold in talking with everyone we see and sharing the gospel. I still have a long way to go, but I am feeling like I am really starting to "get it." This week is going to be sick. I love love love Halloween and we have fun stuff planned and it should be awesome. Party hard for me :) and convert people everywhere!

Love you all lots,
Sister Christensen

We found this beauty, or monster, in our bathroom this morning. That thing is like a little baby compared to other ones we have seen.

Madsen and I are making little magnets for all our dinner appointments that says, "Now's the Time: Alma 34:23" with this picture - helping people remember that their labors are to bring others to Christ and be missionaries! We took a million photos and finally decided on this one because it's dorky. Ha, my mascara was running in some of the photos because I was laughing so hard -- Madsen takes really good goofy photos.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

October 18, 2011 w/ pictures!

I survived another transfer!! As did my companion!  Ha - our ward mission leader wrote a letter to my mission president requesting that we both stay for another six weeks and we had a bunch of families praying that we stayed. Not going to lie to you people, but my ward loves us! When I got here, it took two or three weeks to get our dinner calendar filled and now it takes one Sunday and it's done. Madsen and I just work well together and we know the balance between having fun and working hard:: the downfall is that now we are almost positive that we will be separated in six weeks which is like an awful countdown to the unknown. We would love to be together for the holidays, but we are pretty sure it won't happen :( Such is the life of a missionary.

Anyway, this week was good! On Wednesday we had sister exchanges. Another missionary, Sister Richards, came to my area with me, and Madsen went into their area, with Sister Columbe, for 24 hours. I was a little worried because Sister Richards has a bad rep. for being a white handbook and some what stiff, but I actually really liked her. She was different and def. more strict, but it was a great learning experience. I found out that her bad rep. came about because of the elders in her district who haven't quite found the balance between fun and reverent, so they didn't like her. My opinion changed though and even though I missed Madsen, I was glad to see different ways to do missionary work. Also, I came to realize how awesome my area is. She was white washed into her area and is lucky to have three or four lessons a week. Teaching is easily my favorite part of missionary work so I can't imagine not being able to do it a lot. I appreciate my area and ward much more now!

We switched back on Thursday. At the beginning of the week, Madsen and I made a goal to teach 21 lessons and so we really tried to stay as busy as possible. We got canceled on a bunch on Thursday so that was a downer. Making goals that are hard to attain really stresses me out!! I hate making goals I cannot achieve so I was frustrated Thursday because things just kept not happening for us.

Friday we kept way busy and taught three lessons to investigators which is awesome (all while trying to get our weekly planning done which usually takes 3.5 hours so we were never without stuff to do). I don't know if I shared this with you, but it's a bit of a long story. Awhile ago, Sister Madsen and I started this "member missionary lesson" where we teach active families and then leave them with an envelope and challenge them to give us a referral within a specific date. So we did the lesson for our ward mission leader and his wife and daughter. Thankfully, they took the challenge seriously and were really trying hard to pray about a name to give us. Sister Thatcher, the wife, was praying about it and her sister (who is not a member) kept coming to her mind. She kept thinking, "No no she is not ready and wouldn't want it." Brother Thatcher (our ward mission leader) said to her, "Stop trying to decide who the Lord has prepared to hear the gospel" so Sister Thatcher challenged her sister to take the missionary lessons. Her sister accepted. This is a big deal for their family. Now we are teaching her sister, Heather, once a week. She is so awesome. She has had a hardddd life and is really humbled. She is following through with her commitments and really has a desire to know the truth. My challenge to anyone reading this is don't try to decide for God who is ready to hear the gospel. If you have had a friend for 20 years and you get the impression that you need to talk to them about the Church, do it. That is the Spirit telling you that it could be the right time or moment to let them know. I loved Sister Thatcher's story because I know I am guilty of making up excuses for why I can't give missionaries referrals. Now I am a missionary and I know the other end. We just want to knock some of you people upside the head and tell you to do what the Lord has asked and gather his sheep! haha. Ok, I am stepping off my soapbox.

Saturday we did service and had a picnic with one of our favorite families. Sunday was busy busy busy with meetings and appointments. It was the primary program which was so cute and fun! I love that I can look at the kids on the stage and I know 3/4 of them and their families and I adore at least 1/2 of them! We have really gotten to know our ward which makes it feel like home.

We didn't reach our goal of 21 lessons but we got close enough that I was happy with it. We tried really hard. I got a taste of how Heavenly Father must feel. I so badly want to force people to let us come over and teach and allow them to grow in the gospel, but everyone has their agency and are free to choose how they want to live their lives. It must really frustrate Him when we make dumb decisions and pull away from Him. Madsen and I just want to help people and do service and allow people to feel the Spirit and enrich their lives, but we cannot force it on anyone. Ha. Oh well.

Monday was great despite the fact that we got canceled on. We have such an awesome ward that even when we get canceled on, we can still find a family to teach and get our lessons in. We also got a referral this week and have an appointment set up for Wednesday, so we are excited about that. We really want to increase our teaching pool so we plan to do some solid work to find more people to teach.

Today in personal study I was reading in Alma and it felt like stuff I was reading for the first time. Alma is giving some solid advice to his sons, and when you think about it in terms of your parents giving you advice, it can really hit home. If you cannot read the whole chapter at least read Alma 37: 32-37 and Alma 38. It's legit advice. Currently in my Book of Mormon reading, I am marking all mentions of any member of the Godhead and, in only six verses, a variation of God is written 11 times....I think putting our trust in God is important, no?

We also discussed faith in our companion study. I love teaching about faith, but faith is so tricky!! If you have lots and lots of faith you can move mountains and perform miracles, but if you don't exercise your faith CONSTANTLY, it gets taken away. And it's easy to have a little faith, but to be constantly building it up, sometimes we hit walls where we aren't really sure what we need to do next to increase our faith. For instance, I am reading my scriptures daily, and I pray like 10000 times a day and I am teaching people all the time, but I am falling into a rut. I want to challenge my faith to build it stronger...does this make sense? I don't know. Feel free to send advice my way :)

No matter what, I love the gospel and I love what faith in Jesus Christ can do for your life. It makes life more beautiful and meaningful. Never forget that! Have a great week everyone! Loves from California!

-Sister Christensen

Sister Madsen and I happy to still be together!

At the picnic playing games with the Scott's.

Ok this picture is so funny. We were playing with the Everts' and the little boy got mad and ran outside and sat by the tree crying. I got permission from Sister Everts to take a picture of him -- we couldn't stop laughing. It was the cutest tantrum ever!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October 11, 2011 w/ 2 MORE pictures :)

Ok, so last week the only thing I missed reporting on was my first experience eating an artichoke. My companion hates artichokes and I don't think I have ever really eaten one. I just assumed I hated them. So I tried one, and it wasn't bad at all! Although it's a lot of work to eat one, so it's not really worth it. But if you have ever eaten one, you know how annoying the hairs on the heart are. I was warned several times "DON'T SWALLOW A HAIR" and I was trying really hard not to, but I did. The hair basically attaches to your throat and is very annoying and scratchy for a long time. I tried everything to get it to go down, but it wouldn't and it drove me nuts. Moral of the story....never swallow an artichoke hair.

Anyway onto the week. On Wednesday it was rainy, rainy, rainy. I hated it. I am such a wimp. We stayed indoors as much as possible and thankfully we had enough appointments that I never had to get too wet. We picked up a new investigator named Conner. More updates on that later. That night we had a dinner with a family full of boys which was so fun and reminded me of my family even though it was all boys. The mom had accidentally hit her oldest son and he was joking around that his mom beat him. I totally did the same thing when I was in high school -- my mom scratched under my eye and it got all red and a little bloody.  Haha I even took a picture of my face to show people. And they play lacrosse so I can talk about that with them. They are a fun family.

On Thursday we had our 5th lesson with a lady named Velvet Rose and consequently, we dropped her. To put it nicely, she was a bit eccentric. She believes that when we talk about Jesus Christ we are secretly talking about Joseph Smith because she thinks we worship and praise Joseph was....interesting. We also picked up a second new investigator, Heather. She is awesome and is so ready to hear the gospel. She has definitely had some hard life experiences and she is humble enough to finally turn to God. We are excited about her.

Friday we had a funeral for a lady in our ward. It was my first funeral since one of my close friends, Rachel Bucci, died. It made me sad. Life is so short. We had a couple lessons we taught just for people in our ward.

Saturday we cleaned a man's house which hadn't been cleaned in a long time. It was awesome. We washed his house and dirt and cobwebs were just pouring off it. I love cleaning and organizing. That night, during dinner, my companion started having an allergic reaction to the cat. From the moment it started, within 20 minutes, her eyes were so swollen they were almost shut. It was hilarious. Ok, that makes me sound like a jerk, but it was just like on "Hitch" -- she got so swollen and puffy it was insane. It didn't affect her throat at all so it was fine. The whites of her eyes filled with fluid so she looked like a crazy person. We called a doctor and she just took some Benadryl and went to bed. At Church the next day, four people legit asked if I had a new companion and others started speaking in Japanese to her. See attached picture. It was funny.

So Sunday was bomb (other than Sister Madsen looking Asian). Our ward mission leaders' wife talked about the gathering of Israel and how important missionary work is. She had us come up and do a little section of the lesson. We are excited because she got other women excited to do missionary work and help us out! I loved it!

Monday we had an awesome district meeting that helped inspire me and made me want to work harder and do better. We kept busy all day which makes the day so much better. We also had a great lesson with Aaron and Jessica - we are still working towards 11.11.11 for her baptismal date.

Anyway, that's all I have to report. Life is good on the mish. Write me :)

Love, Sister Christensen

Sister Madsen's allergic reaction.

My second district.

October 4, 2011 + more pictures (she's on a roll!)

I am so mad right now! All throughout the week I take little notes so I can remember what to write in my weekly email and I forgot my notes!!! So you all are getting the condensed version. I'll start with all the funny/random stuff.

1. My companion always keeps me laughing. She loves to be crazy and play with kids but a lot of times ends up getting hurt. Last week she decided to jump a curb on a scooter. She jumped it and then totally biffed it and fell on her bum. You'd think that would be enough to make her not want to do it again, but no, she made a second attempt. This time, the scooter whip lashed and smacked BOTH the insides of her ankles. Her pained face left me laughing for a solid five minutes. She got two huge bruises on her ankles.

2. My companion started a contacting approach with "Did you just come from the grocery store?" She immediately knew it was a dumb line because she made a funny face and in my head I was like "ehh....yeah...good one Sister Madsen." It's inevitable that when contacting people, you will say something dumb and think, "What was I thinking?!". We have a lot of those moments.

3. The zone was all together for General Conference and the elders taught us a new, very entertaining, but totally not spiritual or reverent game. It's called the Slapping Game. You stand in a circle and literally slap each other across the face, but you can't show your teeth (laughing or talking). It sounds terrible, but oh my heck it's so funny. Obviously my companion decided to play and she was determined not to lose. Her face was priceless. I wish I had recorded it.

4. Playing with some kids, we were pushing around one of those little tyke cars and chasing the little boys. Sister Madsen decided to sit on top while I pushed. I put all my effort into pushing her and she decided to jump off, hence causing me to fly OVER the top of it and crash to the ground. My skirt flew all the way up, face plant into the ground....needless to say it was embarrassing but hilarious.

5. Again with some kids, we were playing frisbee. My companion picked up the frisbee and accidentally launched it straight into the back of our Relief Society president's head. Then a couple minutes later we are playing a paddleball game. It was getting dark and harder and harder to see the little blue ball. Her son hit it straight into her cheek and then a couple minutes later the ball whacked her right in the eye. She was such a trooper and just kept trying to play. We all died laughing.

Ok, so a lot of my stories have to do with inflicting pain on other people, but I promise no one was seriously injured in any of these situations. It was just a funny week. Now on to the spiritual stuff.

Tuesday and Sunday we taught Ricky and Meg - they are progressing slowly. Ricky loves the Church but she isn't so sure about the Word of Wisdom. She is still working on it.

Monday night we taught Aaron and Jessica. We acted out the story of Alma and the four sons of Mosiah. It was really fun. Some elders joined us in helping perform the play and then we taught on repentance and obedience. For our activity we played the Slapping Game. Hilarious. We also met more with our new investigator Rose....I'll report more on that one next week if we are still working with her.

So General Conference this weekend was legit! I cannot wait to go back and reread all of the talks. I loved the one about the little girl being like, "Mom, is that a REAL missionary?" Some days I still have to remind myself I am a REAL missionary. I am trying every day to be the best example I can be and do the things that REAL missionaries do. It's not easy but randomly I will be overcome with so much excitement or happiness and I know I am doing the right thing with my life. I love it!

The Ensign this month is awesomeee! It's all about the Book of Mormon and how it is a second testament of Christ. There was one part I liked a lot and wanted to copy down. It says:

"To know that this book is true is to know that Heavenly Father and his Son live. It is to know that life is beautiful and eternal. It is to know that as long as you keep trying to be your best and repent when you fall, then you will always be forgiven. It is to know the true meaning of family. It is to know that you will never lose a loved one, as he or she waits for you. It is to know the blessing of Heavenly Father. It is to know the comfort that whatever storms comes your way, you can face them, as they are for your essence, it is to know love in all its expressions."

I have never thought of the Book of Mormon like that, but as I read and get more and more familiar with it, I know it is the word of God. The Bible is awesome and is filled with the great teachings of Christ, but the Book of Mormon changes lives because it testifies of the one true church of God on this earth and is untouched by men and other religions. Some days when you don't feel like reading, remember that that is what Satan wants! He doesn't want us to read the word of God, so strive everyday to read and show him up!

Anyway, I know I had a lot more to share because we do a lot every day, but I can't remember it all. It was a good week.

Love you all lots! Be nice to the missionaries!

-Sister Christensen

The Halloween decorations Mom gave! I love Halloween!

Aaron and Jessica and baby Oliver, Brother Thatcher (our ward mission leader) and his daughter Dez and Madsen and I. We had a BBQ and watched Conference together on Saturday.

Friday, September 30, 2011

September 27, 2011 w/ 2 more pictures!

It was an AWESOME week. I shouldn't say that because then I will be cursed with a terrible week, but oh my heck, it was a great week. I will start from last Tuesday:

We met with our investigator Ricky and her daughter Meg and we set a baptismal date for November 5th! She still has so much to learn but we feel really good about having a date set to work towards. She is from Japan and sometimes we face language barriers/cultural differences that are hard to explain to her, but we think that over the next month we can prepare her enough for baptism. Meg is only seven and is very ADD, but we love them and enjoy teaching them.

Wednesday: We had interviews with our mission president. It was short and to the point and yes, I cried the entire interview. Haha. He was very encouraging and helped me realize that I just need to focus, really focus, on the work and everything will be ok. Later that night we had a great lesson with Jess and Aaron on the Plan of Salvation.

Thursday: In the morning we went to the library and checked out It's obviously a Mormon website, but the Church is putting a lot of work and effort into it. I love! We get to get on it every two weeks and check it out so we can recommend it to people and tell them what they should check out. We watched Mormon videos about different Mormon families around the world (under "meet our members")--there are some awesome, cool Mormons out there!! One guy is a hard core Harley Davidson motorcyclist, we have an Olympic swimmer, a lady in Australia who does a TV show called "Polka Dots", etc. It's so fun! Check it out for sure if you have time.

Also we picked up a new investigator. She is 19 and has had a very hard life. She is so different from anybody that I would ever know or hang out with and I love the opportunity to show love to her despite how different our lives are. We aren't sure how sincere her desire to learn is, but we plan to meet with her again tomorrow and if she kept her commitments and is open to hearing our message, we are more than happy to teach her. We also taught some members.

Friday: We did service in the morning, then had our weekly planning session. Then we took cookies to people in our ward. We have so many people in the ward who are fighting cancer. Like at least ten! It's crazy! Cancer is becoming a common-place illness in my area. Not cool. Anyway, later that night we stopped by our ward "empty nester" party (all the old people who don't have kids at home have a party once a month) and we got a referral! I love getting referrals!

Saturday: We cleaned out a lady's garage-- I loveeeee cleaning out garages. I love organizing. I am becoming well known for my organizational skills. I love it. Anyway, we went to the referral we got Friday and she was great-- her name is Rose and she is really interested in learning the truth about the Church. We will see her again this week and see how it goes. Saturday night was the Women's Relief Society broadcast which we went to. I loveeeddd Elder Uchtdorf's talk, as I am sure many of the women did. He is such a skilled speaker. Afterward the stake put on a salad bar dinner. Sister Madsen and I were leaving and Sister Madsen was like, "My mom would kill me for not staying and helping clean up." It hadn't even occurred to me to help clean up, so we stayed and helped. Sister Madsen is teaching me a lot about service and I love it. She is very service minded, I appreciate it and hope to become more like her!

Sunday: Busy busy. We had Church and meetings until 3. Ward council takes an eternity. Afterward we went and visited some ward members until dinner at 5 and then we had lessons all the way until 9. It was a busy day. I was exhausted.

Monday: Great day! The weather was beautiful, we had district meeting, we went tracting and we had a delicious dinner with a hilarious family. Kids here do early morning seminary and since I did it, I can totally relate. Sister Madsen had release time seminary so she gets made fun of alll the time. It's pretty funny. We might be subbing for a seminary teacher in the near future so I'll let you all know how that goes. After dinner we met with Aaron and Jessica and Jessica set a baptismal date!!! She wants 11.11.11 haha. Sister Madsen and I were so excited!! We love Aaron and Jess and cannot wait to have Jess be a member so they can eventually be sealed as a family at the temple. Loveee it! At 830 we went and did a lesson with a younger couple, the Everts, who are soo funny and great people. We laugh so much with them. It was a great end to a great day.

Anyway, that was my week. I feel like this email was a little boring, but I am telling you it was a great week. We were busy all week and got referrals and new investigators and set two baptismal dates (which will double the baptisms for the year for my ward) and we are getting to know and love our ward more and more each week.

The Church is true! It changes lives, gives direction and makes bad people into good people and good people into great people. Be nice to any missionaries you see because hopefully they are working their butts off to make this world a better place and bring people back into our Heavenly Father's arms.

Love you all
-Sister Christensen

My zone after a zone meeting. I am sitting next to one of my zone leaders who gets done with his mission October 16th.

At the park where Sister Madsen and I drew the Plan of Salvation.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September 20, 2011 w/ pictures!

This past week was long! Sister Madsen and I both felt it. I don't know why because it wasn't a bad week, it was just....long.

One thing I have been meaning to make mention of is super random but, here in California, there are huge spiders everywhere!!! Huge, no joke. And they build webs everywhere and we walk into them all the time and it's disgusting. And scary. Thankfully I have only had one inside the house which I screamed very loudly and killed very quickly. But these spiders are like multi-colored with huge butts and are really scary. It's weird.

Anyway, onto the week. Last Tuesday we had a district activity and played a whole bunch of sports. We did volleyball, basketball, pac-man, ninja, super knock out -- we were running around and active the whole time. My knees were killing me. And then the next day, Wednesday, Sister Madsen and I were like old women. Our backs and arms were sore and I was limping around. Ha, apparently having no cardio activity for a couple months turns you into a sissy. I was using ice packs for a couple of days and we had to take it easy because my knees are such a joke and can't handle stairs and hills and all the fun stuff that CA has to offer. But Wednesday was a good day. We had an awesome lesson with our recent convert and investigator, Aaron and Jessica. A guy from our ward who is a recent convert of a year, came with us to the lesson and we taught about the importance of prayer and scripture study. I think I have said this before, but I love recent convert testimonies because they are so pure and simple and powerful.

Thursday Sister Madsen and I went to a leadership conference. It was eight hours long. We learned a lot. President Cook talked about how people will lose their faith if they aren't constantly working to put their faith in action and always reading and praying and doing what our Heavenly Father asks of us. We also learned about how to have successful dinner appointments and other important things. It was a good conference.

Friday was the big ward talent show! Sister Madsen and I performed our rap and everyone LOVED it! No joke, we were one of the best performances that night. One of our members is going to post it to Facebook and tag me so everyone can see it. One lady sent the video to her son in Germany and people keep requesting personal performances. haha, it was really fun and Sister Madsen and I enjoyed doing it. Now if the members could just give us referrals so we could have a million people to teach, we would love our ward even more.

Saturday we did some tracting and ran into some former investigators. They were super nice and we hope to get to know them and possibly teach them. While tracting, Sister Madsen and I got into a little argument and I was so bugged. Normally, it would take me a couple hours to let it go and get over it, but on a mission, you learn to get over fights real fast. Haha, it was a nice lesson on how to forgive and forget quickly because otherwise the day would suck. Anyway, later we did service and then had dinner with the family that has twin, triplets, and a single and a baby on they way. They have two dinner tables haha.

Sunday was great and Monday was long, although we had a lesson with Aaron and Jessica which went really well and always makes me happy. Ricky and Meg, our other investigators, are progressing slowly. We have a lesson tonight which we are crossing our fingers goes really well. Ricky loves us a lot, we just aren't sure how much she understands about the Church.

Anyway, that's all for now. Hope all is well and everyone is happy and loving life!

Sister Christensen

The ward talent show rap. We are g's.

The Scott family who I love! And they love us!

With some members from the ward at a Labor Day BBQ.

Monday, September 19, 2011

September 13, 2011

Ok, so every week I always forget stuff that I wanted to write so today I am trying a new method. I am going to write each day and little tid bits about it.

Wednesday: It was freaking hot. The member we live with doesn't have AC so we were literally boiling. The inside of the house is hotter than the outside so during our lunch break, we were dripping sweat and at night we didn't even bother with the covers. We kept trying to remind ourselves that our missionaries are serving in places that don't even have AC anywhere and that we are blessed. ha. Also on Wednesday, we got our new district. Two sets of elders were white washed out and we got two greenies (white washed means they are both totally new to the area and a greenie is someone straight  out of the MTC and  a new missionary....I still call myself a greenie). So we got four new elders in our district. I am thrilled. My last district was......painful. Is that mean to say? They were just really awkward with any/all girl interaction and very unenthusiastic. At one meeting I was so bored I wanted to start sawing my arm off just to have something to do. Ok, that was a little mean but it's the truth! Anyway, yay for a fresh district.

Thursday: We didn't get much accomplished. We kept busy but our appointments kept falling through and we spent a lot of the day getting rejected. We did teach a lesson with our investigator Ricky and talked a lot about baptism. She is having trouble giving up tea because tea is a big thing in Japan. Hopefully we can figure out a good substitute. Also there was a huge power outage all around us but we weren't affected haha. Apparently some guy in Yuma, AZ disconnected something that shut down all power from Mexico to Coto, CA. Somehow my area wasn't affected which was great.

Friday: We had a lesson with the Scott family (we have a lesson with them every Friday night, the kids adore us) and Brother Scott, the dad, made a comment I really appreciated. He is a recent convert with a crazy past. He went from ex-convict to loving father and adoring husband. I love him and his example. He is an awesome guy. Anyway, we were talking about the passing of Sacrament during Sacrament Meeting and he mentioned how sacred that time is for him. If any of his 5 kids are irreverent during the passing of the Sacrament, they are grounded for the next day. That might seem a little extreme but he has taught his kids that the Sacrament is a time to reflect, repent and grow closer to our Heavenly Father. I love that! As a member of the Church my whole life, I have become a little jaded about the importance of Sacrament and what it should mean to me. I am def going to try harder to be more reverent.

Saturday was crazyyyy! It started to drizzle rain, then got heavier, then it started to HAIL and water was gushing down the street and the thunder and lightning scared me and then it stoppped and was sunshine and beautiful all day. So random! Anyway, I had a really great personal study. I read D&C 109:21-30 where Joseph Smith dedicated the Kirtland temple I believe: it's really powerful. It talks about the blessings that come from temple attendance and how important it is. If you have time, read it. I swear it will make you want to run to the temple and do a session. Ha.

Also, Saturday was the adult session of Stake Conference. Elder Baxtor of the Seventy was the main speaker. He made all of my district (about 16 of us) stand up in front of the entire audience (about 300 people) and sing "Called to Serve." Twice. I enjoyed it but the dumb elders were hardly singing and it sounded terrible! ha, the session was awesome though so it was all good.

Sunday: I totally had a meltdown. I got a pounding headache that wouldn't quit even with medicine. I just did not want to be a missionary for the day. I wanted Mom to comfort me and baby me. I am such a wimp! Haha, my companion is awesome though and totally helped me through it and I said a prayer and we got to work. The miracle of the day was that every person we talked to was friendly. I know that might sound dumb, but I am still super sensitive to when people are jerks to us and I think Heavenly Father knew I couldn't handle a harsh rejection. We probably talked to about 50 people and all of them were nice. That doesn't happen very often.

Monday: We had a district meeting which was good. We taught Aaron and Jessica which is still going well. Also Madsen and I started our member missionary lessons. We plan to do it with every family in the ward and want to get a referral from every single one of them. We did a little lesson and then role played to show the family how easy it is to be a missionary and invite people to learn more about the Church. We even had costumes for our role play. The loved it haha. We are such dorks.

Today Madsen and I were practicing our rap for our ward talent who. We were both trying to throw down beats to rap to. It was hilarious. We are such white girls with no rhyme. It's going to be....a very entertaining performance I think.

Anyway, just wanted to share my quick testimony that I know that the Church is true. I know the work that all the missionaries around the world are doing is the work of God. I know that the gospel blesses families and unites them not just for time, but for all eternity. I know that the small pains I face as a missionary don't even come close to the pain that Jesus Christ suffered so that we could all overcome sin and be able to return to our Heavenly Father. I know that God loves us. I know it because I look at my life and the beauty around me and I know that it all comes from Him. I love you all and miss you!

Sister Christensen

Monday, September 12, 2011

September 6, 2011

Hello Peoples,

It was transfers week but I was not transferred and I am still with Sister Madsen in Rancho Santa Margarita. Because it was transfers week, all of our mail was held until tomorrow, so any letters sent in the last week, I have not gotten yet. I will get them Wednesday and won't be able to write back until next Thursday. Lo siento! I promise, any letters I get I will try to write back so don't think I am ignoring you!

Anyway, last week we extended two baptismal invites to both our progressing investigators. We didn't set an official date for either one of them, but we are in the process of them praying about it and decided what date they feel comfortable with. We also had a 14-year-old boy walk in to Church, already having read the entire BOM [Book of Mormon] and wanted D&C [Doctrine & Covenants] and POGP [Pearl of Great Price]. He is golden, but he is a little iffy about taking official discussions. We will work on him haha.

Last week I wrote about how much I cry and I read a quote in the Ensign which I loved. It said, "He [Jesus Christ] came to wipe away our tears, not to ensure that we would never weep." So it's ok that I cry all the time!!  And I do lots of praying to help me with that. I love the Ensign. It's like my fix of People magazine or Us Weekly, just a little more spiritual. I read it cover to cover and would def. recommend doing it. It's so good!

I accomplished my goal and finished the Book of Mormon on Sunday. Now I am starting it and marking all the references to the Godhead, all Christlike attributes, gospel teaching, and God and Jesus directly speaking. It's crazy how much "Lord" or "God" is said on one page. And it's a lot of fun reading with a purpose. My BOM is going to be sick when I am done with it - it will look awesome!

I had a couple funnies this week. Many of them are things you had to be there for, but one of them was particularly funny. My comp and I were doing companion study and we were doing an activity from PMG [Preach My Gospel]. I was assigned to look up some scriptures and talk about them in context and the importance of them. So I look it up and it's the story about the woman who committed adultery and Jesus told everyone who was clean from sin that they could throw the first rock to punish her etc etc. I was excited so I said to my comp "oh I love this story!" and then read the scriptures I was assigned later in the chapter and in my head I was like "WTF...I don't understand this at all, how does this even relate to that story??" but I didn't want to look dumb so I just tried REALLY hard to understand it and talk about them. So then I started sharing my verses and Sister Madsen is like "wait...what???" and we realized I was working on the wrong scriptures!! The whole time in my head, I was like this is making NO sense but I tried so hard. And Sister Madsen thought I had just stopped to read the story about the adulterer because she knew my verses didn't have anything to do with that story, so it was just a whole bunch of embarrassing confusion. Ha. I felt like an idiot.

Something really cool that happened was I met someone who served his mission in NY in the 90's and he was like "yeah I served in the ward of the vice president of Kodak" hahah. I was like THAT WAS MY GRANDPA!!!! It was soo funny!!! I was so happy. He told me about how he asked Grandpa what he looks for when he hired employees and Grandpa's answer was "they have to have had an education" and then he told me how Grandpa was like a region rep. for the Church and he got in a fight with the bishop AND how one time Gram and Gramp were talking about the newest sports car Grandma wanted. I laughed. Gram and her sports cars....Such a small world! He said Grandpa was awesome and would feed them every single month. I wanted to keep talking with him but we had another appointment. He was Elder Toomey back in the day.

Anyway, this is a long email with not much missionary information, but that's because we have a small investigator pool at the moment so a lot of our time is spent contacting and visiting formers and getting lots of rejection. Gotta love the rejection! And we do service.

We had a fun Labor Day BBQ with some of our members, and Sister Madsen and I worked on our missionary rap. It's gonna be legit.

Love you all,

Sister Christensen

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August 30, 2011

I sit at the same computer at the same library each week so it's weird that I am back again, writing another letter about another very long, but yet very short week. I feel like I have nothing to report on. Unfortunately, the work has slowed down considerably and we find ourselves needing stuff to fill the long (and very hot) hours of the afternoons. The evenings are awesome but the afternoons are an eternity. We had a mini zone conference on Thursday with the stake mission leader, Brother Andre. He is seriously so funny. He is such a live wire and so pumped about missionary work and getting people baptized. He was talking about all the creative strategies we need to use, and being me, I totally ran with it and want to start trying more creative approaches in getting people to listen/get involved.

I am becoming more comfortable with the members and showing my personality. There is a ward talent show coming up and Sister Madsen and I are planning on doing a missionary rap. It's going to be beyond dumb and weird but we want the members to see we are fun and crazy AND awesome missionaries. I'll let you all know how it plays out. We won't do it if we can't do a legit rap so I'll be working on that throughout the week.

Here is my "die laughing" story of the week. So my companion and I were helping the cutest family move this week (The Saguhans, they have triplets, twins, a single and a baby on the way. I love them. The twins are girls and are the oldest and both want to serve missions and they love the missionaries! They are so fun! And Sister Sahagun is seriously a saint. I don't know how she does it all and still looks gorgeous in the process). ANYWAY, so first Sister Madsen climbed the laundry shoot and couldn't make it all the way out so she had to go back down. THEN, she decided to slide down their wooden banister. I looked at the banister and remembered when I was younger - I slid down a white metal one and when I hit the bottom, I smashed my crotch and it REALLY hurt. Like I burst out crying immediately and ran to my room and just cried. So I am thinking in my head, "Oh man, this is going to hurt her", but I didn't say anything. So she slides down, hits the bottom and her whole body distorts as she comes off of it and she just screamed and fell to the ground, holding her crotch. It sounds awful but oh my gosh, I was laughing so hard. I am crying as I write it. A big reason I didn't tell her it was going to hurt was because we are both "know-it-alls" so I knew if I told her she would be like "Oh please, I used to do this all the time." She got a huge bruise. No matter how many times I tell the story I still laugh so hard. Only because I know how it feels and it sucks so bad, but you don't think about it until you do it.

Anyway, on Friday, a lady got us Cafe Rio for dinner. I was in heaven. I love Cafe Rio!!!! Also this week, I am trying to finish the Book of Mormon so I can start fresh at the next transfer with a new one and mark all the places that talk about Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. It's going to be one marked up Book of Mormon. I love reading fresh copies because then different verses stand out to me and mean different things. I think it's funny how stoked we get to read the Book of Mormon as missionaries. I also LOVE reading the Ensign. It's like my "Us Weekly" magazine fix. The August one had a great talk about being committed. It talked about how we can't be partially committed to the gospel. We need to be in it 100%. If we are only sort of committed to the gospel we can only expect to sort of receive blessings and sort of be with our families forever and sort of be saved. I def need all the blessing I can get so I am trying to be beyond fully committed.

Fact: I cry a ton. It's ridiculous. Every little thing causes me to cry. I hate crying. My poor companion has had to deal with lots of crying. I don't even bother with tissues, I just grab a washcloth and cry - haha. But yesterday, I had a mini-meltdown because I was worried about the kind of example I am being. My name tag no longer just says my name. I represent my Savior Jesus Christ, and anything I say and do, is a reflection on what we believe and how we carry ourselves as members of the Church. It was eye opening. Not that I am doing anything terribly wrong, but I just want to work on refining my language. Anyone who know me knows I am a little rough around the edges and like to say anything that comes into my head. I know it will be hard, but I am going to try and temper that to be a little better. But I am also scared of losing myself and becoming this robotic sister missionary with no personality. It's going to be interesting trying to balance the two.

Anyway, life is good. I learn so much each week, it's hard to remember it all and try and share it with you. But the basic principle that is drilled into my head every day is that the gospel of Jesus Christ is simple. Have faith (check). Be baptized (check). Repent of your sins (something I do every single day, check). Receive and use the gift of the Holy Ghost (check). And endure to the end...still working on it. Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in really deep doctrine that doesn't make sense or is hard to comprehend, but when it comes down to it, having faith and doing those steps is all we need to know and we are golden. haha, now if only the whole world could learn that....hmmm....ok, the Church is true! Now go do some missionary work :)

Sister Christensen