Monday, November 25, 2013

My Purpose

So this week has had its ups and its downs, I can honestly say that this has been the hardest week and the best week of my entire mission so far. 

So I don't remember if I mentioned this in my email last week, but we have new sister missionaries in the ward. We are excited to be able to have them here. The work here in College Park is just going to take off I feel. But we have been doing our best to help them get to know the ward and trying to get them all of the things that they need. So it has been a stressful week for me, and I felt on edge or a good part of the week. 

We added four new people into my district so now we have 12 people in the district which is pretty big for a district here in this mission. So that made me a bit nervous. We have been trying all week to get in contact with our investigators, and we haven't had much success with that. But we were able to meet with Lexi yesterday and her dad is now letting her get baptized and her mom seems to be interested. So we set a date with her to be baptized on January 11th. So we are excited to be able to see her to continue to progress. 

So kinda like I said this whole week has been just crazy and stressful, but absolutely 100% worth it. We were able to get to know many of the members of the ward a lot better. We were able to get in with some of the Less Active members of our ward and talk with them and see how they were doing. But here are some of the miracles we were able to see this week.

Monday we were schedule to have dinner with the Bishop and his wife, and so we went over there and the house was dark. We looked at each other and wondered if they had forgot about it. So we said if that was the case we wouldn't bring it up with them. So we knock and Bishop answers the door, and he looked at us and wondered why we were there. He said that he was getting ready for bed. And so we ended up talking to him for a little bit and then we left close to 7:00pm. 

So we thought well we could do a couple of things, we could 1. Go work for an hour and a half and then go in and eat and plan a little early, or keep going. Well the thought that went through my head was, well from 6-9 is the best time for us to be out and to proselyte. So I told him I think that we should just stay out and keep going. He agreed and we kept going on. 

Well we went and taught a couple lessons over by the mall, and then we thought we would go visit some members who were in our ward, the Chappels. They are actually in the mission presidency. So we started talking to them because they got back from a trip. So while talking to him our phone rang and Elder Harris answered it. And it was a long call, but after he looked at me and his eyes were just beaming! It was a call from the Prows family saying that they had talked with Lexi and basically her dad gave her permission to be baptized and her mom was interested in coming to church! So this was a huge miracle for us, but it doesn't stop there. 

Within 3 minutes of that phone call we got a couple of messages from another one of our investigators that have been taught in the past. We have been trying to meet with them for almost 3 months now, and she texted us and told us she wants us over this Tuesday to talk with them. She also invited her non-member friend that is interested in learning more! This was absolutely huge for us! Definitely a blessing of staying out and working hard!

Tuesday we went to an interfaith Thanksgiving event. It was where we went and we listened to different religions that talked about what they believe. Our Bishop was talking about temples at it so we went and got to meet some amazing people! That night we got to teach some lessons to people that were curious about learning more.

Wednesday we went and helped out some members of our ward, and went around trying to find more people to teach as well. So that was good, but that was about it for Wednesday.
Thursday we had a weekly planning and we met with the Sisters to try and help them out. And then we went back to work to find people to teach. 

Friday we had district meeting and that went well. And then we met with the Bishop that day along with the Sisters and correlated what was going on in the ward and how we would try to divide up the  missionary efforts. But we decided not to divide it up so we will just all work together in the area which really is what is needed. 

Saturday we went and met with different less actives and with some different members and we were able to get in with some of the less actives and we got to talk with them. But I had the most incredible experience that happened to me. This has been the most amazing thing that has happened to me on my mission so far, and has really grown my testimony of this church. 

So we went to one of the less active members of our ward named James M. And so the first time I heard about this family was 2 1/2  months ago when in ward council they said that there youngest son would be able to go on a mission. Well when they said that I took a mental note to remember that. Well through out those couple months we tried to stop by a couple different times and we would leave cards, but we never go any replies. Well we were in the area where this family lived and I thought to maybe try back at this home. 

So we drove there and we knocked on the door, and he cracked the door and said, "Who is it?" We told him who we were and he said ok just a minute, and closed the door. He was putting his dogs away and while he was doing this we got a call from the sisters asking us about directions on how to get somewhere. So I am trying to help them find out where to go and he answers and lets us in. I told him I was so sorry, and he said it was fine, but my companion was talking to him and he asked Brother M where he use to live and he said, Orem, Lindon and Provo. I heard the word Lindon and that stuck with me. 

So I finally was able to get off the phone with the sisters, and I asked him immediately which part of Lindon he lived in. And he said 835 East Lindon, now I don't now why in my head that made me think of my grandpa, I am not even sure exactly what his address is, but I had the thought to ask about my grandpa. So I looked at him and asked do you know a Lloyd Christensen? He looked right at me for a few moments and his eyes watering a little, and said this to me. " How do you know that name?"

I explained to him that was my grandpa Christensen. He continued to look and me, and he said this. " I know him, I worked for him." My grandpa use to have his own typewriter business, he worked for my grandpa for many years. He said that because of my Grandpa Lloyd he was where he was today. He got started off with typewriters and later go into word perfect, and now works with a college down here in Texas. But he told me how much my grandpa helped him. And he knows a good portion of my family on the Christensen side.

Brother M served a mission in Colombia and that is actually where he met his wife. Well once he was home and after he got married he told me that My grandma and grandpa put together their wedding reception at their home in Orem by the University Mall.  My Uncle Reese came and took there photos, and he knows my uncle Peter. They use to always go water skiing up at Deer Creek together. He told me he know knows my father and worked with him a little bit. He opened up so much. The spirit was so strong and my eyes were watering. 

I then went on to tell him about how my grandpa was doing, and I told him that my grandma Marilyn Christensen passed away on June 1st 2001. And he was sad to hear that. He continued to tell me how much my grandma also helped him. The spirit was so strong and I felt like my grandma was right by me on the couch during this meeting. We continued to talk about it, and sadly we didn't have a lot of time to talk. But at the end he looked right at me again and he was almost crying, and he said, " Every time I have come in to contact with a Christensen I have questioned them and asked if they knew Lloyd Christensen, and now you are right here in front of me. His Grandson, and this was absolutely meant to happen. You came here and you found me!" 

At this point we were both in tears. After this he said he wants to come to church, he wants to come back, and after talking to him I went out to the car and just started crying again! It was incredible! I have such a strong testimony that we are sent to places for certain reasons, to find certain people. 

When I got my mission call I prepared myself, and said I would go any where. And when I opened my call at first I was happy to go to Texas, but I did wonder if it was the right place for me. I can tell you with all of my heart that I KNOW that this is where I am suppose to be. I know that all mission calls are inspired from God. God knows all of his Children, I know that it was not coincidence that James M worked for my Grandpa and not coincidence that I am here in Texas in his ward. God has a plan and he knows the people we can touch in each of our lives. 

I know that this gospel is true, I know that there are others out here that I am suppose to help. So after a long week it was the most rewarding week. This email doesn't do the experience justice but it will have to suffice for now.

Keep up the good work and I hope all Y'all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Monday, November 18, 2013

Another transfer here in College Park!

Howdy Y'all!

 This has been a really good week. We had some really great miracles happen. We also had some fun with car troubles. So Monday night we got a call from our vehicle coordinator telling us that we need to take our car up to the Ford dealership to get some repairs on the transmission. ( It has been miss shifting really bad, probably for about a month and a half.)  So we did that and we dropped off the car and got a ride from some of the Elders who work in the office and they drove us up to the mission office where we got a new car to use. It was a 2014 Chevy Cruze which was a fun little car to drive. But we used it for two days and got our car back. 

Thankfully it actually wasn't the transmission, it was actually the software that was loaded into the cars computer that went bad. So they changed it and now out car runs so much better.  That is what mainly happened on Monday and Tuesday. We also went around to members of our ward to try and get to know them better and help them in any way we could. 

  Well Weds was  a day of Miracles, the first being that is actually when we got our car back and it wasn't to much trouble with it. But Weds I was scheduled to give a baptismal interview to an investigator named Loveline from one of the other wards. And so we got there at 5:00pm and we were expecting her to be there at the same time as us. But she didn't end up showing up till about 6:00 pm. But the whole time I was super nervous about giving the baptismal interview. 1.  being that I have never given one before and didn't receive any training on how to do it. 2. being that Loveline is a super nice Nigerian lady with a really thick accent. I was told by my companion and by the other Elders that it was really hard to communicate with her and understand her. I was praying so hard that it would all go well. 

Well at 6:00 when she got there, I introduce myself to her and lead her to the room we would do the interview in. And we went in the room and started off with a prayer. I said it and asked for the spirit to be there and some other things that I can't remember. At first I just had to listen really careful to her, but the spirit was absolutely  there. The gift of Tongues must have kicked in or something. I was able to communicate with her and  could understand her completely. It was truly a miracle! 

The spirit so strong and you could just see the desire she had to make that promise with our Heavenly Father. She wanted to be take upon herself the name of Christ. I can't even tell you everything that was said, but the conversation was led by the Spirit. I know that because of the Help of my Father in Heaven I was able to understand her, and she was able to understand me. Our Heavenly Father does listen to our prayers, we just need to remember to have faith and know that he will provide away for us. 

So right after the interview we drove over to the house of one of our members. They invited there friend from work to come and listen to the missionaries. We learned that there friend was afraid of dying, and didn't know what would happen after death. So we got to teach the Plan of Salvation! It was so good! We were teaching her and she had a lot of great questions about it, and the best part was when she learned about the great gift we receive where we will all be resurrected. This made her so happy, and at this point we were able to bare testimony to her about the truthfulness of this principle. 

And it was cool because after we said this she looked at us and said I know that you believe this but how can I learn this for myself? So it was the perfect intro to The Book of Mormon. She said that she would start reading it, and she said she wanted to see how it compares with the Bible. But she has started to read it. I can't tell you everything that was said but it was defiantly driven by the Spirit. 

I have said that a couple times already this email but it is so true we had this happen to us so many times this week as we tried to meet with investigators and members. We come out of an appointment and can't even remember how we answered the questions. The Spirit is the true teacher in missionary work. As missionaries we prepare and do the things necessary to have the Spirit, but in the end the Spirit communicates through us, and it can tell us the things that we need to say to be able to help others out. 

 Thursday we had a great meeting with the Bishop where we talked about what was going on in the ward. But after we thought we should go check on an investigator that lived by. And we knocked on the door and no one came. So we were walking to the car and Eva walked out and we were actually able to meet with her that day. And her biggest concern about being a member is what her family would think. She come from a Roman Catholic background, and so she doesn't want to disappoint her family. But just asking her how she was doing she began to start crying, and me and my companion didn't understand, but we just let the Spirit speak through us again. I don't know what was said but the lesson was great! 

This week was so full of miracles! I just love seeing the tender mercies of the Lord. He does care about all of his children and wants them to be able to return and live with him. I know that this is true! I have seen it out here as I have come to know the people here in this area. I care so much about them and there are amazing people here in this area! 

Friday we had a good district meeting, but at first I was worried that I taught terribly, I was worried I didn't help the district out in ways we can use The Book of Mormon to help our investigators. But I have a firm testimony that the topic is presented each week in district meeting is inspired by the Mission President. After district meeting I heard of different companionships using what they learned that day in their missionary work. And we had an experience that night where we were able to give Ashlie (The leasing agent for our apartment complex) a copy of the Book of Mormon. The things president asks us to teach on is really to be able to help us in all of our missionary work! 

Saturday we met with different members and went to Lovelines baptism, and that was it for that day. The spirit at the baptism was so great! You could tell how excited Loveline was to be able to be baptized and feel clean from any feelings of guilt and sin. Her countenance  has changed so much! This gospel can change lives and can bring so much happiness to others. It is a gospel of change and joy. 

Sunday we had our normal meetings, but for the 3rd hour we talked about a new program the church has come out with for family search. They have a booklet called my family, and it is so great! I would invite all you that are reading this to look it up and get a copy. It is such a great way to be able to look at your family history and get started and show it with others. It helps deepen that connection you have with your ancestors. Please look into it. 

But to finish off my week we had a devotional at the bishops house. And I was asked when we got there to share my thought on goal setting and how we set goals here in the mission field. I loved being able to stand in front of all these youth that I have been able to get to know and share my testimony to them. I talked to them about how it is important to set goals that are important to you and to check back in with them and measure them. 

There is a quote in Preach my gospel that says, " When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates." That is so true. When we report back on our goals we can see how we have improved and see how we can improve. But the important thing about goal setting is having your Heavenly Father involved. With the Lord nothing is impossible, and he can help you to be able to accomplish any goal you have in your life. I know that this is true. I know that this church is true, and that Jesus is the Christ, I know that Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers! He cares and wants to help us we just need to go to Him! I say that in the name of Jesus Christ Amen. 

Well I hope y'all have a great week!

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Elder Christensen sent the following pictures of P-day activites:

 He said he loves ultimate frisbee because it is fun and a good way to work out any stress.  The missionaries play with members and some others each week.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Howdy Y'all

Well this week was a bit rough, but still really good. We tried to meet with alot of our investigators, but a lot of them are out of town, or they had to cancel with us. So that was a little rough on us, but the work will continue to move forward. Some really great things happened this week. 

Monday was just P-day, but later that night we went to the mall to walk around and try to talk with people. This is proving to be a good place that people will approach us. But we always open up with a prayer before we walk in, and we asked to have someone put in our path. Well that night we were able to teach a couple different lessons. We talked with a guy that worked at one of the shops, and he was just cleaning the windows of the store but he started talking with us, and we talked with him for a little while. And he told us about how he has young kids and how we wants to raise them in a good environment. And so we got to talk to him about the youth programs that the church has, and he seemed interested, but we will see what happens. 

That night we also got to have an experience with someone that didn't really like us. He stopped us and started to talk to us about Jesus. So we got to talk with him for a little while. He was a nice guy, he just didn't think that we should have organized religion. So he started bringing out scriptures right and left. We asked him questions to try and help him see what we were trying to tell him. With all of the scriptures he was reading I could have put out a scripture to try and help him see what it meant, but right when I was ready to do this, I felt that I shouldn't. I felt that if I would try to help him see what we were trying to see with him it would progress into Bible bashing, and this is the last thing that I wanted to do, so I had a feeling that we should just say thank you for talking with us and then to keep going. So that's what we did. Listening to the spirit really has helped me so much in my mission. 

 Tuesday we were going to meet with Lexi, but she had something come up right before. We wanted to meet at the church building so after she could have the chance to go to young womens. She is way nice and a great person, but she just couldn't make it that night. But that night we had a miamaid in our ward invite her friend to young womens. So we went and were with the young women that night. We got to meet her friend and we were able to tech a lesson to the  young women in the ward. 

Thursday we had a great meeting with the ward council where we were able to talk about a lot of the members of the ward who were Less Active, or other members who needed help with something. We were able to help the ward council out a lot  that night because we have stopped by every house in the ward that is LA, and those that the ward council wanted us to meet with. We unfortunately haven't made contact with everyone but we have knocked all the doors, and were able to answer a lot of questions that ward council had.  

We just visited  with members the rest of the week, and just have been going through the lessons with a lot of them still. It is great to see them looking for more missionary opportunities. But my favorite part of the week was on the training we received from our mission president. It talked about how we need to become more converted. First he asked us what is the difference between a testimony and conversion. And we went through and talked about it. And we talked about how testimony is gained through the holy ghost, and it is the foundation up which conversion is built. We went through the scripture Moroni 8:25-26. And it talks about the process of conversion. 

First before we start reading this we need to understand that conversion starts with the words of God. It starts by reading the scriptures and going to church and living the gospel principles. This then leads us to build faith in Christ and we want to then change. This change is simply repentance, and then later on when we are baptized and confirmed we enter onto the path of discipleship. So starting in vs 25 of Moroni 8, it says  that the fruits of repentance is baptism. When we do this we are able to receive a  remission of sins. 

Going on to vs. 26 it says that the remission of sins leads us to become meek and lowly in heart or humble. And when we are humble we are able to have the Holy Ghost as our comforter which fills us with hope and perfect love. So as we do this we are slowly becoming converted.And this whole process is centered around the atonement. When we use the atonement in our lives and when we always strive to be better, we can become converted. A great quote that was talked about says, “You cannot convert people beyond your own conversion” (General Conference, April 1996).  As you deepen your own conversion, you will have more power to help others become converted. I love this, so I would invite you to take these steps and try to become more converted to the Lord. I promise that as you do you will be able to help others around you feel the Love of our Heavenly Father. I know this is true, and I have felt this in my life. 

Well it is weird to think that another transfer about about to come to a close. This Sunday we will get transfer calls. I am not to worried, I am sure me and Elder Harris will stay in the College Park Ward. I love this ward so much and I am so excited to continue to see it grow. The members here are great and I have truly grown to love each of them. 

Have a fantastic week Y'all

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Week of Miracles!

This was a crazy good week! On Monday we taught a guy who is totally prepared for the gospel! His name is Tony, but we went and talked with him after a couple weeks of trying to get in contact with him. We had a great dinner with him and his girlfriend that is in the ward. They were so kind, and after dinner we had the great opportunity to teach the restoration. 

The spirit was so strong, and when I recited the first vision, " I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun,which descended gradually until it fell upon me... When the light rested upon me I saw two personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description,standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other-- This is my Beloved Son. Hear Him!" There wasn't a dry eye in the room. You could tell that Tony felt something. 

He has been reading the Book of Mormon and see that the Book of Mormon and Bible support each other. And me and my companion both felt that we shouldn't give him a firm commitment for baptism. But we left him with a soft one. We committed him to baptism once he finds and answer to his prayer. And he accepted. After we asked if he would come to church and he said yes. He also wants to start inviting his friend to church. It is cool to see Tony already being a missionary and he isn't even a member! 

Tuesday was so great! We had the chance to go to the temple to do baptisms for the dead with the youth. We couldn't do baptizing, but we got to help confirm. It was great! But the reason we were able to go is because it was Austins Carroll's first time going to do baptisms. So I had the great chance to see him there and be able to do temple work. It was so cool when I got to confirm him in proxy for someone else, and when I got to see him preform the ordinance of baptism in proxy for those who have past on. I have loved being able to see Austin progress. We also have been able to start into the new member discussions this last week with him, and they have gone really well. But it was such a great experience to see him there dressed in white in the temple. I loved seeing how happy he was. 

Wednesday we did service at Panther Creek inspirational ranch. And it was raining and we were trying to move hay to a new building that they built. But we had to be careful cause there were some snakes hiding on the bottom level. Those who know me know that I don't do snakes very well, but it was a great experience to be able to serve. 

But later that afternoon we went out and tried visiting with less actives in the ward. We went to meet with a LA Member in the hospital. He is 91 years old and he is still as sharp at a needle. He really opened up to us and allowed us to share a message with him. But he is a super friendly man. 

Thursday, so this last week has rained quite a bit and there has been a little bit of flooding here in some parts of the Woodlands so we got a call from Panther Creek Ranch and they said they needed some help evacuating the horses from the ranch. So we got ready and went over there as fast as we could. It was absolutely pouring. When it rains here, it pours. And I don't have a jacket yet, so I got soaked! But it was good. 

We volunteered for those hours of the morning and helped get the horses to safer ground. This same thing happened last year and they lost a horse last year because the flooding was so bad so they really needed some help. I just love being able to be out here and serve everyday. Whether it be for physical needs or spiritual needs. That is my favorite part of serving a mission is being able to help others out for this period of two years. But that day it got even better. 

So we got to meet with a guy name Morgan. We set a time to meet with him, and we met him at Greg's mission farewell open house. And we went there to see how things were going, and his dad sat in with us and we got to just talk about god and beliefs for the first 30 min or so. But we just decided to go into the restoration. And the spirit was truly guiding the conversation. They were asking so many questions, and for almost every single one I had a scripture pop into my head. 

We were talking about apostles and prophets, and Morgans dad ( Phil) Asked us this, " I think it is so interesting that there are apostles and prophet just like when Jesus Christ was here. But I wonder if there is a prophet and apostles why they don't make them selves known to others." We started talking about general conference and how he could go online and see and listen to them. He got so excited and he asked for the website immediately. But this went on for the entire 2.5 hours we were there. At the very end he asked if we could pray with them. And it was so cool, they both prayed and asked our Heavenly Father if this is the path that He would have them take. They said when they get an answer from God they will follow it. 

Friday we had a wonderful zone meeting, it was focused on making members a priority in our everyday finding. The spirit was so strong and I loved being able to listen to the message that was taught that day. But members really are the best way to get things done. So after zone meeting we went on exchanges with another elder in my district, and it was a good chance to learn and teach. That is what is nice about exchanges. You have different opportunities to learn from other missionaries and other areas. And that kinda finishes out the week. 

 But again what I want to focus on is the member missionary work. We have been  going around to about 20 different families in the ward going through the missionary lessons with them. And we can see that they are getting excited about the work there are more missionary chances that members can see. The 2nd counselor in the bishopric wants to be know as the Master Inviter.  He wants to become the best at inviting everyone he talks to. He had a great experience this week where he prayed for a missionary opportunity and he found one that day and he acted on it. He bore testimony and said that his co worker should meet with the missionaries. And she said, "You tell me when and where, and I am there." Just a simple invite and they accepted. 

A priest decided to just invite his friend to learn more, and we will be meeting him on weds and teaching his friend. Another family is going all out the daughters went trick or treating this week and talked with there friends about coming to church and other things as well. These are just a small amount of things that have been going on in the ward. But because of the member efforts we are seeing the fruits of teaching them in this last week alone we got 4 brand new investigators all based on members inviting or member activities. We have two more potential that I just talked about. We are almost up to 10 investigators, and only a couple have been found through us. Believe me when I say we try everything we can do to find on our owns, but when the members get involved miracles happen. 

This is my testimony! I have seen this here in this amazing area that I am in. So pray for those opportunities and you will find them!  Once we show our faith to the Lord by setting a goal and asking, we can be blessed and help someone to experience the happiness of the gospel. I know this is true, so please I invite you to keep doing your best. Just remember the the Lord answers the prayers of his children through others.  

Have a wonderful week Y'all

Elder Joshua V. Christensen