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

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

August 23, 2011 Email...with pictures!!

Hello everyone!

It's been a fast week. Our last P-day was crazy busy and then the week flew past. We had Aaron's baptism on Saturday which was awesome. I said the opening prayer haha. He is such a cool and fun guy. We hope his wife will soon be baptized but she just isn't there yet. We will continue to work with her and hopefully have her join as well. 

The morning of the baptism our car had to go into Pep Boys to get a bunch of stuff worked on. We walked over to Jack in the Box to sit and do our studies, but wordly music was playing overhead and it was so hard to concentrate. It's crazy how much I missed it! I have only been "out of the world" two months and I was like "music?!...whattt". We should have left but there was nowhere else to go and sit. I loveee music!

In my studies I am reading about Moroni in Alma and it's so awesome. Moroni is my hero. Both of them are as a matter of fact. They are so BA and just listen to God and do what he tells them and they are kept safe in their righteousness. I love it. Once I really dive into the scriptures and understand what the real message is, I get totally engulfed and love it.

Yesterday we had an eight-hour zone conference. Elder Gibbons of the Seventy came and was our main speaker plus our mission president. It was really good. It's so funny how you can learn a principle all of your life and then someone will say something and you can see it in a whole new light. There was a heavy focus on member missionary work. 40% of our baptisms come from member referrals. That is my challenge to everyone reading this. Get involved with your missionaries. Help them! Pray about it and give them referrals so that the work can progress. I love the people in my ward who are willing to work with us, encourage us, and are always looking out for opportunities to share the gospel. Every member a missionary right? Right. Haha, ok, I'll step off my soapbox now. 

Anyway, as for our other investigators, we are still working with them, but we really just need to go out and do some solid contacting and tracting. Nathan, our Bible basher, came to Church on Sunday, but as expected "he didn't feel like God was in it." He just isn't sincere at all and is reading the Book of Mormon because he promised a friend he would. We still have a "particle of faith" (Alma 32-haha) that he might soften his heart, but we might just be wasting our time. This week will really decide it. 

Our other guy, Bradley, who we found contacting, has canceled on us twice. I think he had a crush on us and then when he found out that the other guys would be coming along to teach him he is bailing. haha, I don't know, maybe not, but we still have hope for him. Although if he does get interested we have to pass him off to the singles ward elders which sucks!! I don't want to pass him off! We found him!! Passing off stinks, but I know that the singles ward would better fellowship him so I have to let it go. Oh man. 

Ricky and Meg are the Japanese family who I love, but a lot gets lost in translation. We continue to work with them and they come to Church, but we have to teach super basic and build from there. It could take a lot of work. 

My companion is still great. We both have dominant personalities which causes us to butt heads a lot, but I am def learning patience and love from her. She is a great missionary, we just see things differently the majority of the time. It's a work in progress at finding our happy medium. Anyway, the work is good. I still can't believe I'm a missionary. I look at my black name tag and I think "is this for real??" It's crazy.

Anyway, I love you all. The Church is true :) Write me!!!

-Sister Christensen 

The limo (from last email) with my comp.

My district at the Newport Beach temple.

Aaron's baptism. The guy who baptized Aaron is Brother Merrick, and his wife who I love! They just got married 7 months ago and are a couple months preggo. They are leaving for BYU-I next year. They helped a lot in fellowshipping Aaron and Jessica. We hang out with them and had FHE with them on Monday. They are both RM's. Love them!

Friday, August 19, 2011

August 16, 2011

Hola from California!

I always forget to write about the previous week in my emails so I am going back and starting from Wednesday of last week to update you all. We had sister exchanges on Wednesday (it's where you switch companions for 24 hours). I was put with Sister Falesui. She is from Samoa - she is like 6'2 and could put me through a wall. She was sooo different from my companion, Sister Madsen. The night we switched, Sister Falesui asked me if I knew how to iron. I was like "uhh, yeah" and she was like "oh good, can you iron my hair tomorrow?" and I said yes, thinking I would flat iron her hair. Nope, she literally meant iron, with a clothing iron. It was so funny. I walk out of the bathroom and she's like "I'm ready." I was like wtf?? She has a TON of hair so apparently ironing it goes faster. Haha. The exchange was an awesome learning experience and it allowed me to really appreciate Sister Madsen more.

On Friday we got to go see the movie "17 Miracles." It's about the Willy Handcart Company and their journey to Utah. I seriously love learning about the pioneers! It's so fascinating and really makes me sooo grateful for all I have. I cried at the end of it. It was def wroth seeing at least once. I really want to learn more about my own heritage. (cough, Dad and Mom, send me stuff about our heritage please!! Where did our ancestors come from?)

Saturday, our investigators, Aaron and Jessica were married. It was very cool to be a part of that. Aaron gets baptized this Saturday and hopefully Jessica will soon after. (And we are not allowed to hold babies because of legal issues, Mom). We picked up a couple of new investigators over the weekend. One is a total alcoholic/druggie. But I love her. We haven't gotten to see her in a couple days so hopefully this week we can get to meet with her more and help her. We also contacted a kid while walking around Mission Lake and he is very open to the gospel. He is 21 which sucks because if he is really into the gospel we have to pass him onto the singles ward elders. I totally understand why missionaries don't like passing people on. We've walked the 3.1 miles around the lake three times and he is the only one who let us come teach him. It's hard work finding investigators and giving them up sucks!!

Yesterday at district meeting, I had my first deep fried Oreo. Oh my delicious! Oreos are apparently the worst cookie you can eat and deep-frying them makes them like 100 times worse bit I LOVE them!! All you do is dip them in pancake batter and put 'em in oil. Try it, it's heaven.

Anyway, last night we taught a younger couple, the Woolston's. The husband has a very strong testimony of the Church but has been inactive for 20 years. The wife took the discussions, but decided it wasn't for her, which was really hard on the husband. We contacted them and they liked us better than their last missionaries which is why they let us come back to teach them. It was intense. I cried when we got in the car afterward because I really felt for the wife and want to teach her so badly. I get so attached to people and it was only our second visit, but I love them and want to help her understand the gospel so badly! Oh man. We left it in their hands to call us and invite us back and you better believe I am praying hard to hear from them.

I don't know if I have explained this but every morning we have personal study of the gospel from 8am to 9am and then we have companion study from 9am-11am (it's two hours for the first twelve weeks and then it will go down to one hour). Anyway, during my personal study the other morning, I read Alma 34 which talks a lot about the Atonement. I have always had a lot of questions concerning the Atonement and while I was reading, I had a whole new level of understanding about it brought to my mind. It was so awesome!!! I don't want to get too deep into it but I just wanted to share my testimony that the Atonement is real and can be used in our lives every single day. We needed to have Jesus Christ be sacrificed so that we could find mercy and sorrow in ourselves and have the desire to repent of our sins and be forgiven. I love personal study because I get to dedicate more time than I have ever had before to learning answers to my own questions and to help my investigators.

So today was also a great day. We got to go to Newport Beach a limo. Yes, you read that correctly. We got dropped off and picked up in a Hummer limo. Haha. Not only that, but the guy driving the limo (who is the ward mission leader for some of our elders) needed to be to an appointment and was running late so we were forced to go to Dana Point and walk around while he met a client. Haha, it was so illegal because Dana Point is way out of our area and it's the beach but we didn't have a choice. Our zone leader was having a mini panic attack but we called President and let him know the situation so it wasn't bad. We walked around the boardwalk and enjoyed the beautiful ocean. The waves were huge and gorgeous crashing against the rocks. Haha, it was my first time in a limo. They are def overrated but it was fun. We watched a Joseph Smith movie in it and took lots of pictures. I'll send some next week.

That's all I have to report. Missionary work is hard. A lot of times I feel super inadequate and miss home but it's those little moments where someone understands us, or a light bulb goes off, or when my own testimony and understanding are strengthened, that make it worth it. I love and miss you all like crazy!!!

Sister Christensen

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

August 9, 2011

Hello everyone!!

It's been an immensely better week than last. Still hard, but better. I got like 10 very long emails so it took me a while to read through them all! I am serving in the Mission Lake ward, which is the ward Tiersha Whitmore was born into. I got permission from my mission president for her to come see me and she brought my companion and I lunch. It was awesome! She served a mission and was able to give some awesome advice and update me on the Whitmore family. She is a great addition to the family!!

Anyway, this week was very good. I def felt all the prayers said for me and had a much more encouraging week. I am really starting to love the people and become attached. Being the planner I am, I am always freaking out about how much I already love these people and how I am going to be transferred eventually and how it will be sad for me! The ward has so many cute families. We get fed basically every single night. I love it! I am eating way healthier than back at home because we always have delicious fruit and salads. I wish I could take pictures of everyone and show you all so you could love them too!

Our investigators, Jessica and Aaron, are getting married on Saturday. I am so excited to go to the wedding and then the following week Aaron is getting baptized. I am so lucky to have been able to come and help teach them. They will be my first baptism. They are 21 and 22 with a two month old baby. We go over to teach them and end up hanging out with them and another young couple, the Merricks, who are helping fellowship them. Last night they forced us to stay and play Uno before we could leave. They are so fun. I always hold the baby (illegal, I know) and pretend it's my nephew. He cried a lot though. haha.

We picked up two new investigators this week, which I hope can be good. They both have been taught before but they are allowing us to come back. One of them is a Bible basher according to his teaching record (from past missionaries), so I am excited to see how our lesson goes. The other is a young couple who were really offended by previous missionaries but they are letting us come back and try again. They are super cute and I really hope we can teach them and allow them to feel the spirit and know it's true! That appointment is on Thursday so I'll let you know how it goes.

Today I had such an awesome personal study. I read Alma 26 which is when Ammon is boasting of the Lord and his brother tells him to stop, but he can't because he just loves God so much and wants to shout praises about the gospel. I loved it!!! I was overwhelmed with how much I want to learn and I am excited and ready to learn it all!!! If you go and read it, think about it read in a really excited and joyful tone---it's so awesome.

Also, my favorite hymn is "Come Come Ye Saints." I have already made my comp sing it twice for comp study because it just speaks to me. The pioneers went through so much. Some of the members in our ward are facing such enormous trials and heart aches. I was so homesick, but all is well, all is well!!! Read the lyrics, they are awesome.

Something funny that totally made me laugh was, my companion and I, were tracting and when we were leaving my companion accidentally said, "See ya later, Lady." She was like, "....Why did I just say that??" and then later that same night to another woman, she was like, "Have a nice night, Lady"....I died laughing. She was like, "I have no idea why I keep calling people 'lady'. It just comes out!"

Also, we stopped by a house where kids were having a lemonade stand and it reminded me of when Jill and I did a lemonade stand. Total disaster. We carried the juice up the big hill for like an hour, sold nothing, and when we were walking back home I dropped the whole thing of juice! And THEN, Dad was like, you girls need to cover the cost of the juice, but we hadn't even sold any!!!! Oh my gosh, I am laughing so hard right now and the guy beside me is like "wtf". Tears are running down my face. This is getting embarrassing. Ok. Anyway, I had a good laugh about it.

Anyway, the more I work and get to know these people, the more I love it. I have moments where I freak out, but I know this is where I need to be. I love you all and hope all is well at home!!

-Sister Christensen

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Visit From Tiersha!!

Today Tiersha, our cousin-in-law :), got to take lunch to Sister Christensen!!  It worked out so perfectly considering Josh and Tiersha are headed back to Provo TOMORROW.  Man, what a blessing!  I'm sure Amy was thrilled to see a familiar face after her first week out in the field (and a rough week at that).  Tiersha said she's doing great! 

Sister Christensen with Tiersha

Sister Christensen and Sister Madsen

Thanks so much Tiersha!!  We can't wait to hear all about it!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

August 2, 2011

Hey people!

Wow. It's been the longest seven days of my life. The field is dramatically different from the MTC and is definitely an adjustment. I got up at 3 am last Tuesday and didn't get to sleep until 10 pm. I was dying. You know me and sleep. I met my companion on that Tuesday and got assigned to the Rancho Santa Margarita mission. Tiersha's stake. A lot of people know her and her family. My comp is Sister Madsen. She has been out eight months. She is from Mesa, Arizona. We are still getting to know each other and figuring out how we both operate. Thankfully we kept busy that first day, but then Thursday was SLOW. The weather is amazing most of the day, but it seems that the times we have nothing to do are the times it's the hottest and we have to be outside knocking. Tracting is not very successful here because it's a community of two-person working households.  Aka NOONE is home. Thursday night I asked to do tracting so I could get some doors slammed in my face and have the experience. I was not disappointed ha.

We have three investigators right now which is not enough. Two are a couple. They are getting married next week and baptized the week after. Their names are Jessica and Aaron. They have a cute two month old baby who always makes me think of baby boy. It's awesome but also makes it hard to focus. Our other investigator is a Japanese woman named Ricky. She has a 7 year old daughter, May, who is super cute and full of energy. I really hope we can make some progress with them and eventually get them baptized. We have a lesson tonight so I pray it goes well.

I love the ward. Because we don't have many people to teach, we spend most of our time getting to know the ward, hoping to build up trust and show them we want to work and then get referrals off them.  We get fed every night which is great cause at the very least we will have some interaction with people and an opportunity to practice teaching. I am slowly getting more comfortable with talking and praying which is good. We have a car just for us and we live in a member's home. It's kind of annoying cause we have to work around the mom and her daughter but all is good. I definitely could see myself living her in CA. The nights are so awesome - it's perfect and beautiful. I am trying really hard to stay positive and take it one day at a time. People were not kidding when they said it was hard. It's funny cause I get eight hours of sleep each night and we don't tract very much but I am EXHAUSTED by the end of the day. Waking up is hardd but again, it's an adjustment that hopefully I can get used to soon.

I now fully understand why missionaries gain weight. Mom, be ready to sign me up for the Biggest Loser ranch so I can lose it all when I get back. I am so stressed all the time that I eat all the time. I am always hungry. It's ridiculous. The members feed us pretty healthy but I still eat my fair share of chocolate and cookies.

Anyway, I am hoping that as the weeks go by, I get more comfortable and it gets better. No one said it was easy so I am ready to dig in my heels and convert people! I love getting to really read my scriptures and learn about the gospel on a whole new level.

I love and miss you all!

My comp made me a "Welcome to the Field" gift bag with all things green cause I'm a greenie.

Madsen (Amy's trainer/companion) and I with the Olympic gold medalist, Peter Vidmar.

July 25, 2011

Hey family,

I haven't really told you what day-to-day life is like so I'll write that. We get up around 6:20 each morning. Breakfast is always at 7 am. Then we have class from 7:30-10:30 or gym or a service assignment. We have lunch at 11:30. And then class from 12:15-3:15 or personal study time or companion study time. We eat dinner at 4:30 (early!) and then have class from 5:15-8:15 or district meetings and personal study time. We get back to our rooms at 9:30 and lights out is 10:30. Sundays are fun because we have a fireside and get to watch movies. Yesterday I watched "Legacy" for the first time and I love it! I got emotional like three times - embarrassing! But it really hit home that these people, my ancestors went through so much for the gospel. They were just innocent people, trying to do what they thought was right and they were persecuted and killed and basically went through hell. I am so glad that wasn't my trial! It made me really want to learn more about my family history and what they went through, crossing the plains etc. Love it.

I am sad to leave the MTC, it's been such a great experience. I have seriously learned SO much about the gospel and Jesus Christ and the atonement. My testimony has grown immeasurably. Randomly I will just be so overwhelmed with happiness and excitement and I know that is the spirit helping me. I was so nervous I would be sad and depressed but it's a rare occasion that I feel down. I have such a new appreciation for the Book of Mormon and am finding it easier to read and understand and apply to my life. I love it!

I am going to miss my district so much! Most of them are going to St. Louis. I have become really good friends with one of them, Elder Shivers. ha, we got in trouble because we are too good of friends (don't freak out, he recently baptized his girlfriend and is going to be an awesome missionary, it was not inappropriate in any way, we are just too "friendly" - whatever that means). We are just drawn to each other because we are both super energetic and like to laugh. I am really going to miss him. I'll miss my district leader too because he is soo full of energy and radiates a love of the gospel. He seriously can give a lecture for like 30 minutes on one comment and it's always very powerful. If I can gain so much in just two weeks, I can't even imagine what I'll be like in 18 months. I am nervous to get out there and be working with real live people but I also feel I am ready. I am planning on having an awkward first transfer (learning, making dumb comments, not being able to answer questions) but I want to work really hard and get the hang of it so that I can have an awesome rest of my mission. If I think about it in terms of 18 months, I get freaked out, but taking it day by day is easy. Remind me of that when I am going crazy in the field, ha.

One of the teachers here just got back from my mission and she talked so highly of it. She gave little stories about the mission president that made me feel like I am really going to love him. I don't have any funny stories cause all my funnies are things you kind of have to be there for, but I am still laughing and enjoying life. Don't send anymore dearelders or letters to the MTC - send everything to CA. Holla!

The Church is true and it's freaking awesome! Love you all!

Sister Christensen

2 Pictures from the MTC

Here's Amy with her 2 MTC companions - Sister Black and Sister Brinck (who is 28 in case you were wondering) - with Elder Shivers and Elder Elkington (from New Zealand).

For this picture (above) Amy said, "My favorite elders. We were dorky and put a Book of Mormon between us so we weren't too close. Shivers is the one next to me who I got in trouble with cause we talked too much."

"Elder Elkington and Sister Black and I being gangster."

July 19, 2011

Hi everyone!

Thanks for all the dearelders! I love getting mail. It's been a good week. When I don't think about it, time flies past. I have been sick this week with a cold and my companion had an inner ear infection so we spent a lot more time in our dorm than normal. That got pretty boring but whatev. We have been teaching three "investigators" since the second day and we finally got through to our hardest one. I invited him to baptism which was pretty cool. Even though it's fake, it feel real and it's a good experience. I feel like I have learned so much in the two weeks that I have been here. Teaching the gospel is a lot easier when people tell you exactly how to do it and then follow the spirit. My companions and I don't say stupid stuff as much. We love the MTC but we are kind of ready to just get out of here and try it for real. Some days I am overwhelmed with how much I love missionary work and the gospel. The spirit and gospel can make me feel so happy!!! I love it!

I have never prayed so much in my life. We pray morning, over breakfast, lunch and dinner, during every role-play (which we role play at least four times a day) and twice with every investigator (and before we go in), then nightly companion prayer and personal prayer. It's a lot of praying!! Because we don't have any music I whistle A LOT. I don't even notice that I am whistling anymore. My companions will be like SISTER!!! ha, cause I am always whistling something. Sometimes I accidentally start doing worldly song but mostly I stick to hymns. Yesterday my companion started humming the Star Wars theme song. My other comp was like....why are you humming that. It was like on FRIENDS when Monica is humming it with all the braids in her hair and Chandler is like "why are you singing Star Wars?" I laughed. I miss FRIENDS!!

haha Dad, I smiled a lot when I read that you watched Harry Potter. That whole day I had been whining about how sad I was to miss the opening of number seven part two. I am glad you thought of me while watching!! Try and see the seventh and shed a tear for me because the EPICness is over. I LOVE HARRY POTTER!!!!! In my journal that night I wrote "I am devastated to be missing Harry Potter. In my head it goes 1. Jess's baby 2. Harry Potter. Sad day" haha.

So far I have been able to stay really optimistic and happy. I have only had two major breakdowns and each was only about ten minutes. I am nervous about getting into the field and really freaking out so pray for me!!! My comp had a breakdown too and almost went home. I was really sad so I am very happy she stayed. I still adore my district. Shivers and Elkington are my favorite. They make me laugh. Elkington is from New Zealand and can get away with anything because of his accent. I took a video on my camera which I'll send home next time I send an SD card.

I am glad you were able to sell the dumb van!! Yay for no more green van! Ok I am out of time. Love you all and miss you. Next time I email I'll be in CA!! Holla!!!