Monday, July 29, 2013

Week 4....Miracles

Well we still don't have any investigators, but that is ok. I have been so blessed this week to be out here. I have been lucky to still be alive with the heat. So many members are telling me how hot it is, and I find out that most of the days this week here were 90's to high 90's but it has felt like 80's back in Utah. The Lord is really helping me to adapt to the heat. This week we have been able to meet with alot of the members again, and we are working hard to build up those relationships of trust. We have seen lots of little Miracles take place. We talked with the 2nd counselor in the bishopric and he told us of one of the people he home teaches is named Brother G. He has been assigned to home teach brother G for six years, and he has only seen him like 4-5 times in the last six years. He asked us to go meet with him. So when we went, we knocked on his door, and he answered!! ;) He said he wasn't even suppose to be home that day, but he had a doctors appointment and ended up going home. He works alot at night so he is never home, but he agreed to let us practice teach him.

 Also one day we went to go to a members house we stopped to take a picture of a sign. This sign said Dude Rd. We thought it was pretty cool, but at that moment a lady came biking around the corner and was talking with us. She said we could go and get a glass of water, but we couldn't talk about the gospel. So we went and we just talked to her and about her religion. Her Name is Eileen, and she is the nicest lady ever. Right now we are just trying to get to know her, but she invited us to go with her family every Monday to St Max catholic church to do Yoga with her. So that will probably be a funny sight to see, we won't go tonight cause of an appointment, but next week we will being doing some Yoga!

Last night we called to check on a dinner appointment, and it was a family we met with just briefly and shared a spiritual thought, and they told us that the thought was inspired. It really was helping them. So that is just another example of how the Lord works through others to answer prayers. And one of the other ones happened Friday. We were biking towards a members house and we passed a road and a thought popped into my mind that said some one was prepared to hear the gospel on that road. So after meeting with the member we went back to that road and went tracking. One home said we could come back tonight, but I am not sure if they were being nice, or if they will actually let us in. I am praying that we will be able to go in and share our unique message that will bless there lives.
 But over all things are going well here. I am enjoying being in Texas, and it is so weird to think that I have been here for a couple weeks already. If my whole mission goes as fast as the last two weeks, then I am in trouble. :) But the lord is preparing people  here, and there are many prepared. When I first got here to Texas, my Mission President said that he received revelation saying that there are Tens of Thousands of people who are ready to hear the gospel. This  is so cool. We just need to go out and to find them. 

One thing that me and my companion are going to try to do here is start implementing more Family History. Last week I mentioned that alot of people here are against the church and want  nothing to do with us, but we both felt strongly that family history will help. We hope and pray that as we do this that people will interested and the spirit of Elijah will soften there hearts and will open doors for the gospel. 

And just to end I want to leave my testimony. I know that we have a Heavenly Father who loves and cares for us. I know that he sent his son Jesus Christ to atone for our sins so that we could live with him again. And I know that through Joseph Smith that the fullness of the Gospel has been restored to the earth again!! It is such a blessing to know that, and to know that we have a living prophet to loves and cares for us and can receive revelation for us. Well I am out of time, but I know that that this gospel is true and that the work is moving forward.
I hope Y'all have a great week, 

Elder Joshua Christensen

Monday, July 22, 2013

Week 3...Tender Mercies

Hey guys!!

Well I am in Houston now! Getting here was a bit of an adventure, so I left on weds morning at 6:30 and we landed in Dallas. We had a couple hour layover in Dallas, so we sat at terminal A11. That was where we were suppose to fly out of. We were sitting waiting, and we were suppose to begin boarding at 12:05, and at 12:00 our plane wasn't there. I was beginning to worry, so I went to check on our flight with my companion. Our flight had been changed to terminal C19. This was on the complete opposite side of the airport, and with how big the airport was we had to run through the airport and catch the train they had to get to the other side, and we made it there at 1210. We got so lucky that we hit the train when we did, or we would have been even later. We got there and found the other missionaries, and then we found out that the pilot wasn't there yet so we were delayed to take off until about 1:20.  Well once we took off, the flight was nice. It is so flat in Texas, but there are some pretty good views. 

Well we landed and I had the chance to meet President Pingree and he wife. They are so kind, and I got to talk with them for a bit. Well you guys are probably wondering if I am dying because of the heat. Well I am so so blessed that it has not been too bad. I was praying before I left to have me be able to adapt to the heat and humidity. I was nervous about how much it would affect me. But  once I got to Texas it was only like 77 degrees, and it was raining. It had been raining all week, and had cooled it off so it didn't feel any different then Utah just a tiny bit humid. This whole last week, it has been sunny in the morning, and cloudy and stormy all after noon. The missionaries that have been here for a while have said that this was a perfect time to come, and that this has never happened in Texas where it is stormy every day, at least in the Houston area. So I have been able to slowly work my way into the heat and humidity. Heavenly Father really does answer prayers, and I know that the storms have been a tender mercy. 

Well I got my new companion and area. I will be in the white oak ward, in Cyprus and my companion is named Elder Brown. He is an awesome kid!! He lives in Hyrum Utah, and he is exactly like me! It is kinda scary how similar we are!! But it will be so cool. The area we have has alot of potential but it won't be a quick change. They white washed the area, and on top of that we don't have an area book. So we are basically starting from scratch. This is going to be the hardest part because we don't know anyone, or any place around here. President Pingree thinks that we will be able to help this area flourish, he said he had a spiritual prompting to put us together, and in the area we are in. I am excited to be able to work.

Lately we have been trying to meet all of the members. We are hoping that through them we will be able to get investigators. Because we have no area book, we have no previous record of investigators, and tracting has proven ineffective. We have knocked alot of doors, but it has been a bit rough to have people not interested. In this area, so many people want nothing to do with religion or are set on the church they are attending. It is just hard to see people not want to take part of the gospel. I know that things will get better, but we are both relying on the Lord, and on the members to help us out. 

    This week we did have a cool experience, in the area I am in I need a bike. So on our way to get a bike we were going to walk 5-10 miles, and then bike back. But while we were on our way, we were waiting at a stop light, and a car pulled up and a guy named Jose asked why we were out in the heat. We explained that we were missionaries, and he seemed interested, so he pulled into the parking lot and we talked to him. Sadly he is not in our area, but we are sending his information to spring ward. It was a miracle that we met him, and it just shows that Heavenly Father prepares people for the gospel. We just have to be ready to talk with them. It was a cool experience.

I know it is off to a slow start, but as we learn the area more, and as we look  for people Heavenly Father has prepared, and with the help of the members, we will be able to help this work move forward. I am excited to be able to be apart of it, and to be a instrument in the hands of my Heavenly Father. Well this has been my first week in Houston, I can't wait to be able to tell you guys more about it later on. 
I hope you all have a fantastic week.

Elder Christensen

These next two pictures were sent to me by a ward member who texted me a bit yesterday to tell me my son was doing well!  

Friday, July 19, 2013

Elder Christensen is in Texas!

Josh left the MTC at 2:30 am Wednesday morning and flew to Dallas, then onto Houston.  His trainer is Elder Brown and I talked to Sister Pingree, the mission president's wife, this morning and she said he was doing well, enthusiastic and in good spirits.  He will also need to purchase a bike which is something his mission didn't require before.  Most missionaries had cars, but as the missionaries are increasing in his mission and they are getting a lot of sisters, the sisters get the cars and the elders are on bikes.  Josh will be happy, he wanted to ride a bike to stay in shape.  Why anyone would want to ride a bike in sweltering heat and humidity in July is beyond me, but there you go.
  Josh before he left the MTC with his two good friends from our ward.  The three amigos.  

Josh with his mission president, President Pingree

Josh and his trainer

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Week 2...And the Work Shall Go Forth

Hello guys!!
This week was pretty good, just like last week. It had its struggles, but relying on my Heavenly Father has helped me so much. In the MTC you have TRC investigators who are members who act like they are investigators or sometimes you have people who are real investigators. You don't know which is which, but our TRC appointments went well. But we also do a thing called progressive investigator. This is a role play where our teacher Brother Woolf acts like an investigator named Chris, and we take it about as real as we can. The first lesson we taught with him to weeks ago was not good. Me and my companion were on two different pages. So it was just confusing. The second lesson we got him to pray and start praying. He felt the spirit and it was as great experience. But the 3rd lesson is about when the problems started coming. The lesson was going really well, and at the end we committed him to be baptized, and he said they he had already been baptized. I was searching through my scriptures for a scripture to help him, but he needed to leave right after that. So my companion was just a bit discouraged from not having the investigator understand why we need to be baptized by the priesthood authority of God. I told him we were ok and we would now know that we needed to teach him about the apostasy and the restoration.
 That next lesson we got a couple min into it, and I was explaining the apostasy. I did a terrible job at explaining it, and I asked Chris if he understood. He said yes, but he really didn't, he said that because he didn't want to feel inadequate about not knowing the answer. So we stopped the role play right there, and the teacher explained a better way of teaching it. My companion was still just a bit discouraged from this, and he thought that we lost all trust in the investigator.  I was beginning to feel a bit discouraged as well because I felt like I was just a terrible companion. I love him so much, and I  wanted to help him so bad, but I did not know what I could do. I prayed for how I could help, and asked for help in making our companionship more united. After getting things figured out, I told my companion that we needed to find what we were going to teach. A lot of Elders here kept saying that we just need to follow the spirit, and not to follow any plans on what to teach. But really what needs to happen is you find out what you need to study, and then you study that. When we do this the spirit will be able to help us remember those things that we have studied. And this is what has really helped me and my companion.
The next appointments with Chris were going well, and he was understanding and believing the things that we were telling him. And they went well not because we were teaching, but because the spirit was there. And then on Monday was our last chance to meet with Chris. In the morning I was reading The Book of Mormon in Alma 31. And I would encourage you guys to read this because it was so cool. It talks about Alma and one of his missions to preach to the Zoramites. And this story is so cool!! Alma, Amulek, Zeezrom,Ammon, and two of Alma's sons. Talk about the dream team of the The Book of Mormon!!! And they were being discouraged and saddened because of the wickedness of the Zoramites. And Alma offers a prayer to Heavenly Father. Start reading in vs 25 and keep reading, he is telling the Lord how the people have hardened there hearts. But vs31 he is praying to be strengthened,  and to help strengthen his fellow brethren. And then 37-38 are absolutely awesome!! And they did take no thought for themselves or what they would eat or drink, or what they should put on. They were able to forget themselves and go to work. The Lord does bless us when we pray. After I read this, I shared it with my companion, and we both felt the spirit. We then talked for a bit, and then went on to teach Chris after this. The spirit was so strong, and at the end of the lesson, I asked Chris, " Chris, will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God?" And he said he would!! Now this may have just been a role play, but it felt as real as could be. It was an amazing experience.  
I love this gospel so much, and I am so excited to go out and serve my Heavenly Father. I leave tomorrow early in the morning, but I am ready to go and teach the people of Houston, and I know that the Lord has and is continuing to prepare people to be taught, I just have to listen to the spirit, and have that spirit as a constant companion!! I am excited, and I look forward to seeing this work go forth, because the Lord is hastening His work!! (D;C 88: 71-75)
  wish you all the best week!! And thank you guys for the support!!
    Elder Joshua V. Christensen
 Assuming this is Josh and his Branch President
 Josh with the other missionaries all going to Houston tomorrow
Josh with his district
Josh with his Cousin Sis Christensen at the MTC

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

First Week in the MTC

This week has been so crazy, but it has been so good. When I arrived at the MTC the host took me to the places that I needed to go. From there he took me to the class room, where I met my new teachers. Brother Woolf and Brother Gray. They have the spirit so strong in class and it is just a neat place to be. I then found out who my companion would be. His name is Elder Anderson, he is a way cool guy. He is from Gilbert Arizona, and he is just fun to be around. But what is really funny is the morning that I was going into the MTC, I had some really good neighbors come over and talk to me. And they were telling me of an Elder they knew going to my mission on the same day. They didn't know what his name was but they said his mom just was remarried to a guy with the last name of Stalei. I was telling the Elders in my district that if they met anyone going to Texas with their father having the last name of Stalei to let me know. My companion looked at me and said wait a minute that’s me. I was totally joking around when I said that he would be my companion the morning just earlier.

Well we had a chance to go to a meeting with all the new Elders, and when everyone was singing the spirit was so strong. Later that night we met the zone leaders and Branch Presidency, and we had interviews to see how we were doing our first day. After they did all the interviews, they walked back in and called new zone and district leaders. I was asked to be the district leader for my district. This came as a bit of a shocker, but I knew it would be a great opportunity to serve.  So with this calling I now am in charge of approving all companion exchanges in the district, as well as I conduct every class, and I am in charge of leading Sunday discussions during district meeting, and I also conduct district devotional review. It is just some more stuff that I get the chance to do. But it is so nice, over all I haven't been feeling home sick at all. I have just been so happy since I have been here. After the night I got set apart, all my fears and worries went away, and I was ready to go and serve.

 Class can be very long. We are in the class almost the entire day learning and studying. When we got here they warned us it would be hard, and they were right. But it is so good to be here. They say learning here is like drinking water out of fire hose, and they are right. There are so many things to learn. My companion has had points where he has become discouraged, and he felt like he was the only one who was struggling to pay attention and focus on what was being taught. We tried to talk to him as a district but he still didn't seem to be his normal self. So on Monday I had the chance to give him a priesthood blessing. He seemed to calm down a little bit but when we went back into study he still wasn’t quite in it. So I said "Elder Anderson let’s take a quick break and get some water." We went out and after we had a companion inventory. We discussed things that were going well, and things not  going too well. And after that he seemed to do a lot better.

Monday we also received our missionary referral investigator. His name is Arnold Young. He loves the outdoors, and he is a neat guy. For the first 15 minutes he was just talking about lacrosse with my companion, and I didn't even really say much. But when those 15 min had passed I knew we need to start to get into a lesson. So I saw he had a bible and said what’s your  belief and relationship with God? And he said that he had to different views about him. Well the discussion went on and I didn't feel the spirit quite there liked I hoped, so I said a prayer in my heart asking Heavenly Father to allow the spirit to be there. And then we got to a point where I was introducing the Book of Mormon to him, and I can't remember if I read something in preach my gospel to show them the introduction or if someone told me, but I asked Arnold if he would read the 2nd to last paragraph of the introduction. He began to read it out loud and then he got quiet as he read it. He was thinking and then he said to us, " many men have tried to teach me about religion, but never have I had someone tell me to ask of God for an answer. The spirit was strong and I looked him in the eyes and bore my testimony and invited him to follow the example of Jesus Christ, by being baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God. This kinda shocked him. He didn't know what to say. He said he would think about it and let us know. So we get to meet with him tomorrow and lead him more towards the Savior.

 The highlight of the week had to be on Sunday after the devotional. They played a film of Elder Bednar talking to the missionaries, and it was called "Character of Christ". This was absolutely a life changing message. He talked about how God would ALWAYS turn out even when men would turn in and be selfish. If we read in Mathew 4, we see that Satan is trying to tempt God. Now He is tempted to turn rocks to bread, and we see the other one in verse 5-6, but these are secondary temptations. Satan says If thou is the Son of God... this is the thing satan is really trying to tempt Christ with. So this is after we also learn that Christ has been fasting for 40 days and nights. In  vs. 11. It says, Then the devil leaveth him, and behold, angels came and ministered unto him. This is a miss translation, go to JST 11a. Jesus knew that John was cast into prison so he sent angels to minister unto John. After fasting for 40 days and after being tempted Christ could have complained or been selfish and said feel bad for me, I just did this, and it was hard. But no, He didn't.  He helps someone else while he went through a hard time. This is incredible to me. We also can see in John chapter 18 and 19. After Christ made the great intercessory prayer, he was betrayed and was arrested. Peter drew his sword and cut the ear off of the soldier, Christ healed him. This is incredible to me. God loves us so much and I love seeing how he is. I am striving to be a better follower of Christ. I know he loves us and cares for us and I bear testimony of that.

Well I hope you guys have a great week! I love you all and thanks for the support!

   Sincerely Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Monday, July 8, 2013

First Letters!!

Today we finally received our first couple letters from Josh in the MTC.  It looks like he wrote them his first few days there but didn't come in the mail until today due to the holiday. His p-day will be on Tuesday so we will get an email tomorrow!!  After several days of communication drought we were excited to receive these short notes.

Dear family,
I am sorry this will be short, but I just wanted you to know that the spirit here at the MTC is incredible.  I love being here so much.  I still feel really good and I am excited to serve.  Believe it or not, I haven't felt homesick at all.  I feel really good and ready to serve.  I just want to let you know that my p-day isn't until Tuesday so I can't email until then.  I am not ignoring you, but I can't write an email until then.  And in that I will give you more info about my companion Elder Anderson. He is from the Gilbert area of Arizona and we already feel connected.  It is so cool.  Also my first night here I was interviewed by the 1st counselor in my branch presidency and I have been called to be the district leader for m;y district.  Kinda scary!! I will just have more opportunities to serve, I am so grateful to be here and I know this is the right thing to be doing.  I know this gospel is true and I am ready to work my best for the Lord.  I love you all and I hope you have a great week.

Elder Christensen

Hello family,
Thank you for the notes and letters that have been sent.  The MTC has been a great learning experience.  I am enjoying it here.  I am trying to learn how to feel the spirit better.  Our first lesson today ended up being more preaching than teaching.  The spirit wasn't quite there.  I am trying my best to work hard and I want to be able to feel the spirit.  Me and my companion have tried to figure what the investigator needs and we weren't on the same page. We are preparing to do more tomorrow.  Sorry time has been limited but know I will write more on my email on Tuesday.  I have a long weekend ahead with meetings and with learning.  Time goes slower but its good and the spirit is strong here.  I hope everything is good at home, I love you all.

Elder Joshua Christensen

Friday, July 5, 2013

Saying Goodbye

This blog is set up to document Elder Christensen's mission adventures.  It is managed by his parents so feel free to leave comments for Elder Christensen here and we will forward them to him.  You may also contact him by email or regular mail by the addresses on the right.

This week has been a challenging but spiritual one.  Trying to come to terms with letting a child leave home knowing you won't see them for two years is a daunting task.  But this week also had some great high notes.
On Tuesday night, Josh was set apart by our Stake President as a full time missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  The blessing which accompanied it was beautiful and left all in the room with a feeling of peace and the assurance that this was absolutely the right thing for Josh to be doing at this time in his life.  I know that what he will be sharing with people over the next 24 months is essential and absolutely true otherwise we couldn't let him go.  But the joy we have as a family with our understanding that we can be together forever is so precious that we want others to know of the same peace and happiness we feel so being a small part of Josh sharing this with others is a sacrifice we willing make.

These are pictures taken from Tuesday night.  Elder Christensen is officially a missionary!!

Wednesday morning we loaded up the car and drove to the temple minutes from our home.  Even though the temperatures were already high, we enjoyed taking a few minutes walking the grounds and snapping a few pictures.

We went out to a late breakfast together as a family and drove to the MTC.  As we drove in we saw an army of missionaries standing shoulder to shoulder welcoming the new arrivals and it was an awesome sight!  We got out of the car briefly, gave soggy hugs and final goodbye's and drove away.  Our newest missionary walked away with a smile.

Our family hasn't helped the Utah drought with water conservation these past few days and Josh's absence is readily felt every time we turn around so I am sure the tears will continue for a bit, but we are so grateful for the opportunity he has to learn, grow and share in these coming years.

Even as I am typing this, although I am a bit teary, I have a great feeling of peace in my heart and I am so appreciative of my Heavenly Father sending blessings already my way.

Each week we will post Elder Christensen's emails, so if you would like to follow this blog, just enter your email address in on the top left under his picture and you will be notified when something new gets added.

Thank you for all of your prayers and support for our family and for all of the 70,000 plus missionaries serving around the world.