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