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.