Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year

  Well it looks like I will be here at least 6 more weeks, but sadly I am losing my companion. We got calls last night that said he was leaving. It is kind of hard because we have only been with each other 3 months, and so many things were going so well here. But we both know that the Lord has a plan. So tomorrow we will find out how it will all work out. I don't know if I am training or just getting a new companion. Once again I will just have to wait till tomorrow. Well this week had its ups and downs.

Monday we met with Stephen for lunch and he told us that we was absolutely ready for baptism, and we were excited to hear that. And then that night we met with Stephen and Ben, and Ben said he had a feeling of worry and just wanted to wait a little while before he got baptized. But we just talked to them about really studying the scriptures and praying. So we thought we helped them with some of there concerns.

Tuesday we helped our Ward Mission Leader put together a play set for his kids, and he had non members that were present, so that was good. But after we went around and visited with members. We went to a couple different homes that night that had us over for dinner. It was really fun to be able to spend time with those families. Then they did a little nativity as a family and we were able to just listen and feel the spirit. We have some amazing members here in the ward! 

Weds was amazing. We did our studies in the morning and then went out to visit some members and then went to our Ward Mission Leaders home to skype home. And that was like the greatest thing ever. I was so blessed to be able to hear from my older brother. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to talk with him but we got to talk for a little while! And then skyping and seeing my family was really fun! It scared me at first because when I logged on to my skype account my dad was trying to call me with in seconds and it freaked me out cause I wasn't ready! But as I called him back later it was so great to hear his voice and see my family! It was really good and by the time I got done talking with everyone I was ready to just get back to work, and work hard. 

Thursday and Friday were really hard for us. So many members left town and are gone until next week. We were struggling so bad to find people to teach and things to do. It completely slowed the work down. But we will still work hard to stay busy. It was just a little bit discouraging going back and forth from homes trying to find some one who would answer. 

But Friday we had district meeting, and it went all right. But right after district meeting we got a call from Stephen. He told us he wants some more time to investigate. He was reading something that his dad asked him to read, and we were nervous about that. But as of right now we are trying to reschedule baptismal dates with them. Right now we just need to help them overcome their concerns. But I know with the Lord that it is possible. 

Saturday was very similar to the end of the week. We were able to get in with some members that day, but really the majority of our success came that night when we went street contacting at the mall. So that was a blessing to be able to teach some lessons there. 

Sunday was a missionary day, my companion spoke in Church and I helped teach the combine 3rd hour. I talked about setting goals. And just really made me think of why we set goals in our life. We do it because we want to accomplish something. Well then we think well why as a missionary is it important to set inspired goals. I continued thinking, and just thought when we set goals as missionaries and we include the Lord in our planning, the Lord will provide opportunities for us to accomplish those goals. When we include Him, He will help us to achieve them as well as help us to go above and beyond those goals. We just have to ask Him and have a faith as well as hope that we can accomplish them when we rely on Him. 

So with this new year, I would just invite Y'all back home to set goals with the Lord. Goals about missionary work and other spiritual goals that  you may have. I promise you that as you do this you will be able to achieve those goals and that you will be able to be spiritually strengthened. I know that this is true.

I hope y'all have a great week! 

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Friday, December 27, 2013

Merry Christmas Y'all!

   Time is flying by so fast. I can't believe that Christmas is almost here! Well it has been a really good week. We have continued to see some amazing miracles happening at this time of the year. This week we were able to meet with Stephen and Ben a couple of times to teach them and had some great experiences. We got in with alot of families that we have been trying to meet, and we are just seeing the work continue to press forward. We also had an incredible Christmas Zone Conference. 

    So Tuesday I was on exchanges with the zone leader and we had some really good things happen. We were able to get in with alot of  the families and we were able to share some great Christmas messages. But we had a cool experience during our studies. We were both studying about the Book of Mormon because we were preparing to teach one of there investigators. And the study was truly let by the spirit. When we started our companionship study we were talking about the things that we had learned. And we read the exact same things and had the exact same thoughts of order to teach it in and what to talk about. It was truly inspired. So we went to go visit this investigator, but the appt fell through. We joked about preparing that lesson for nothing. 

But we went around visiting some different people that day, but one of the less actives in that ward was trying to get better at reading the Book of Mormon. So we were able to share that inspired lesson with him. And it really helped him. It is amazing to see what happens when you put things in the Lords hands. Even when you think that things fall through, God can lead us to others that need help. 

   Wednesday we went and did some more service at Panther Creek inspirational ranch. That was good and then the rest of that day we just went around trying to meet with different members of the ward. And we were able to see some great things happen. That night we met with Ben and Stephen and we taught them about the gospel of Jesus Christ. We did it a little different then we usually would. We decided to read through 2nd Nephi 31 and point our the doctrine in there. It went really well and they said they understood it. We then committed Ben to be baptized on January 4th with his Brother. He said if he finds and answer then he would. See these blessing that are going on here. That is 4 with a baptismal date in January. The Lord is truly hastening his work. It was really great too because we had a member at the home that connected really well with Ben and Stephen.

Thursday we did our weekly planning and were able to plan for how to help each of our investigators. We really focused on what we could teach that would help them as a person progress. And we really feel that we found ways to help them. We came up with lesson plans and way to teach them. Then that afternoon we went out and again were able to get in with alot of different families and meet other members of the ward that we didn't know as well. And we got in with some of the Less actives that we have never met before. So those were miracles in an of them selves. 

   Friday was when we had an amazing Zone conference. We talked so much about the plan of salvation and the need for our savior Jesus Christ. And then after that they did a Christmas Program with music and with talks about this time of the year. The spirit could be felt so strongly while we were in there.It was just an all around great day to be a missionary. As we all sang the spirit was just so strong. We had over half of the mission there for this zone conference. 

   Saturday we were able to have lunch with a recent convert from another ward that I have come to know really well. He was the one we went and helped at a food drive a couple months ago. He told us that he is now moving to take another CEO position in San Antonio. Well we just started talking and we got on the subject of Schooling, and he asked what my plans were for when I got back into college in a couple of years. I told him originally I thought about majoring in Mechanical Engineering, but now I am thinking more in business and finance. And he like that and said, " Well when you graduate college, give me a call and I will have you come work with me." I know that is a long time away, but it was just a cool thought.  Being able to have a job out of college and being able to come back to Texas. 

Well after this we went to teach Ben and Stephen again. And we were planning on teaching some of the commandments. But we thought we would talk about keeping the Sabbath day holy and follow the prophet and the Word of Wisdom. We started talking, and opened with a prayer. It was like a spiritual roller coaster ride for the first part of the lesson. One minute the spirit was so strong and he next jokes were being said. I was trying to keep pushing through he lesson. Well were talking to Ben about the Word of Wisdom and when we said that it included not drinking tea he was not very happy about it. He wanted to know where it said that in the scriptures. We took him to Doctrine and Covenants 89. When we read the vs. talking about the hot drinks we told him that it meant tea and coffee. 

And he began to say well if got wanted us not to drink coffee and tea he would have put it right in there, and my companion was beginning to get a little frustrated and was beginning to say " Ben we can tell you this all day what it means but you need to pray about it and ask God." Ben then said well if I pray to God and ask and he says I can't then I am drinking it. It was getting a bit contentious, and then I just looked at Ben and started talking. I said something along the lines of... " Ben at the end of the day the Book of Mormon is true or its is not. We ask you to read and pray about it because if you come to the knowledge that it is true, then it means that Joseph Smith did see God the Father and His son Jesus Christ. That means that Joseph Smith was a prophet in these last days and could recie.........." And then he cut me off and said " Fine I have my answer."  my stomach dropped thinking that he was going to want to drop us. But he then said in a hushed tone, while you were speaking I got an answer to my question, and I didn't even pray." He had the still small voice touch his heart. He then told us I will dump out all of my tea and wine. The spirit was so strong and my jaw was just dropped. I couldn't believe what just happened. They tell you alot  that the spirit it the teacher and you are the mouth piece. 

   I again have a stronger testimony of this. I know that God will put words in our mouth that can help someone. I know that the spirit testified to him of the truthfulness of the message. The spirit really teach others. It was such an amazing experience I can't even fully describe the feelings that were felt at this point in the lesson. I know that this gospel is true.I know that Jesus is the Christ and in and through him we can find peace that our Heavenly Father wants us to have. I know that this is true, and I testify of it. 

Well I hope y'all have a very merry Christmas! Remember to look for ways to help others out this Christmas season! 

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Monday, December 16, 2013

CHRISTmas season!

Hey hope y'all are having a wonderful week! 

Things this week have been really good. We have continued to see miracles going on in this area. I went on exchanges this week. It was really good! On Monday and Tuesday I was on exchanges, and exchanges are a great chance to go and learn from other missionaries! Tuesday we were able to get lessons taught, but that night when we were trying to contact people at the mall we ran in to someone who wanted to ask us some questions. We tried to answer his questions and use the scriptures to help him understand. We were there for an hour and a half. It was a long night, and he walked away trying to prove what his bible believed and wasn't very happy with us. It was another one of those moments that are hard to be a missionary. But at the same time, those moments are where you really can grow and learn and feel of the saviors love for each of us. We didn't have all of the answers to his questions, because we are not perfect teachers. But to end Tuesday night we exchanged back and did our planning. 

Wednesday we went around finishing delivering invitations to the Christmas party that we had planned for Saturday. We were able  to get in with some different less actives in the ward, and with other members as well. We were giving extra invitations out so others would invite there friends to come. But that night we went over to teach Ben and Stephen the next lesson. And for the first hour we were just there answering alot of the questions that they had. And Stephen is one that is truly prepared. He has started reading the Doctrine and Covenants just for fun, and he is really sincere when it comes to learning about more.  

Ben is also very prepared. They had alot of good questions that tied into the lesson we were going to teach them on the plan of salvation. So after answering alot of questions we dove into the plan of salvation and started to be able to answer some of the questions they had. I love being able to talk about the plan of salvation because of the joy and knowledge that it has brought into my life. I love being able to know that because of the atonement of Jesus Christ I can continue to progress back towards my Father in Heaven. I love being able to know that as I continue to repent and become better that someday I can live with my Heavenly Father and my family and have eternal life! That is such a huge blessing of knowing about this wonderful plan. 

So we taught it and committed Ben and Stephen to come to church, and they accepted and they also said they would come to the Ward Christmas Party. So it was just a great night and the spirit was so strong, they are truly interested in learning more, and are very open to the idea of Baptism. 

Thursday we did a lot of service with the Bishop. We helped him boil 4 sheep heads. That is also whats cool about this ward, its the only ward where you will talk about missionary work while helping do taxidermy! It was a good day and we were able to really help the Bishop out. After helping him out we did our weekly planning which was good! We got a lot of ideas for how we can help our investigators to progress and help them out. Weekly planning can be long, but it is also so good! When it is done right you really can receive revelation on what we can do to be better and help others out. 

Friday we had a great specialized training by the President, and it was about planning and setting inspired goals. It was such a great training and some of the things that were said I absolutely needed to hear. It was good to learn more about how to better use our time. We had the chance to also meet with one of our investigators named Morgan and we taught him about the plan of salvation, and he agreed that he would take the time and read the Book of Mormon. Also that night we made these little bundles that we wanted to give out at the Christmas party as gifts people could take to there friends. So we had a big assembly line of us putting those together and we made about 40.

Saturday we had our ward Christmas party and it was a really good turn out. We had Ben and Ashlie come to it which was really fun. We were wearing these ugly Christmas sweaters that we found at Walmart, so that was fun. 

And alot of people took the bundles for gifts that we made. So we will be following up to see how it goes. But we were so happy when we saw Ben come to the party. They stayed and we were able to share a Christmas message with those who were at the party! Sharing messages about our Savior Jesus Christ really can bring the spirit into our homes so much! I love being able to share that with others! 

Sunday we had Ben and Stephen and Adriann all come to church. So that was way good. Ben and Stephen stayed for all 3 hours and they said that they enjoyed it. The ward did a great job at making them feel welcome. They had alot of good questions that we were able to help them answer while they were there. That night we met with Adriann and taught her the next discussion. She is continuing to progress. We are so blessed to be able to have our investigators progressing!  There are alot of great things going on here in this ward. 

 Things are going well, and I would just encourage each of you to continue to look for opportunities to serve during this great Christmas season. I know that so many people can feel that peace and love that comes from the savior Jesus Christ. It all just starts by talking with one person. You can do it. Things really are going well here and I feel so blessed to be able to serve in this ward this Christmas season! :)

I hope y'all have a great week! 

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Monday, December 9, 2013

Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Hey everybody, 

Sorry this was a slower week, so it might not be a very long email. But this week was kind of crazy trying to get in contact and meet with some of our investigators. But luckily this next week we will be able to meet with a bunch of them. But this week was good, we had some great service opportunities. 

We had a member of our ward that had surgery on his knee, and he was up and moving really quick. He was able to work at the temple and get some things done around his house last weekend. But on Tuesday right before we were going to the temple we got a call from his wife saying that he was now in the hospital because of blood clots. So we went and helped give him a blessing. And then after we went to the temple which was really good! I always love going there. 

But then we just got back to work that night trying to meet new people at the mall and teaching members. We met with one of our investigators named Adriann and she accepted the invitation to be baptized on January 11th! We have some great things going on her in the ward!

Wednesday we went back to the hospital to check back on this Brother in our ward and he was doing a lot better. They put him on some blood thinners and it was helping him a lot. He just mentioned that he needed to be careful to not cut him self. But we just went and checked up on him and then met some new members of our ward. They are such a great family, and are really wanting to help in anyway they can with missionary work. I love seeing how much members of this ward are wanting do missionary work now. It is so amazing!

Thursday we had weekly planning, and came up with some different finding ideas that we can use for the holidays. And we came up with some good ideas that we were wanting to share the next day at district meeting. We also had the chance to go and meet with our bishop that day. We just discussed and were seeing how we could help members in the ward with there missionary work. 

Friday we had district meeting, and we were sharing some ideas for finding, and for the role plays that day we discussed how we could include members in the finding this great Christmas season. One of the ideas that me and my companion came up with is this. We will get a copy of Joy to the World DVDs and then a copy of The Living Christ, the Testimony of the Apostles, and a copy of The Book of Mormon. And we are making a bundle out of those. And we are going to make about 40 of them. And our Christmas party is this week and we are taking them there and we are going to show them to the members. We are going to share a brief Christmas message and invite members of the ward to take these bundles and give it to there friends or neighbors this Christmas season. Christmas is truly a great time when we can help and serve others, and we know that these little bundles can help bring Joy to others. 

Saturday we went over to the Brothers home in our ward that had surgery and we helped him put up his Christmas lights. We had to keep watching what he was doing because he really wanted to help, but he is on a blood thinner, and every time we turned around he was trying to string lights through a rose bush! So we had to keep giving him a hard time. But it was a great chance to go help out. It was a bit chilly, but it was so fun. I am amazed at how cold it can be here in Houston. This year it has been a bit different than past years I guess, it may only get down to 30 degrees, but the humidity and wind chill really can get you. But it was still fun. After doing the lights we were able to just chat with this family for a little while and help them out with some other things.

 Later that day we went around and were delivering invitations for our ward Christmas party. And then we went to our ward mission leaders home that night to decorate ginger bread houses. Now the great thing about his is there were about 20 non members. So we got to meet some of his friends and got to talk a little bit about what we do as missionaries. Well we did decorate ginger bread houses that night, but me and my companion decided to switch things up and so we teamed up and made a ginger bread temple! It took some work, but it was really fun! But it was a great day.

Sunday we had church and we had 3 of our investigators come, and it was really good! We are have a lot of our investigators progressing right now which is really good! But that night we went to a members home to watch the Christmas Devotional! It was really great! I loved the things that were said during it, and I just love this time of the year. We celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. Because of Jesus Christ we can find true peace in each of our lives. Because of the atonement he created we can find peace when we are going through hard times in our lives. I know that it is true, because I have been able to feel that peace in my own life when I have had struggles. I also love how Christmas is a great time to serve. I thing I remember hearing when I was younger was this, " Joy comings through serving, it comes through Serving Jesus, Others and You. This Christmas season I hope we all can look for more opportunities to serve those around us. Keep praying for missionary experiences. Remember what M. Russel Ballard said in last general conference.  

  "We are not asking everyone to do everything. We are simply asking all members to pray, knowing that if every member, young and old, will reach out to just “one” between now and Christmas, millions will feel the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. And what a wonderful gift to the Savior."

I know that if we do this, we will be able to help so many people feel the love of Jesus Christ. So keep up the good work and look for those chances to serve. As you do it you will have more of a desire to share the gospel and I also promise that the Lord will help you with the things you need to say. I know that it is true. 

I hope all Y'all have a great week!

Elder Christensen

Elder Christensen included the following picture in his email:

When asked what this was he explained:
That is the Pavilion, if you look it up you will find it, but it is a big out door theater where people perform. 

Random....So if you are in the Woodlands and want to see a concert, you can go check it out.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Howdy Y'all, this week has been a good one. We had a great opportunity on Monday to have a thanksgiving Preparation day. We went to the stake center and got to watch Ephraims Rescue. It was such a great movie. It is very similar to 17 miracles. But it was great to watch, and the spirit was there as we watched it. I loved seeing how obedient Ephraim Hanks was. Whenever asked to do something by the prophet Brigham Young. It was very touching to see that when Brigham was asking some of the men to go and help the saints coming across the plains. And many of them were willing but needed some days to get ready to make the journey, but Ephraim was ready to go at that moment. I love the message of how we should always be prepared for callings or things we are asked to do by the prophets. 

Tuesdays was just going around to visit with members, but we were able to go do some service at a local food bank.  So that was fun. But then after we did that we then went and talked with members. But that night we had an opportunity to teach some new investigators. So that was a great experience. We were able to set up a return appointment for tomorrow. 

Weds was a bit crazy. So we started out by visiting some members and we were actually able to help someone who was moving out. He was a really nice guy, and after we just continued to go to members homes. So after going to a couple different homes we parked and were getting ready to go meet some more members. My companion tried to open the door, and it made a clicking noise and the door would not open. Something on the inside of the car had broken off. So then we got to call our vehicle coordinator, and he already doesn't like our car cause it had different problems. But we basically spent 4 hours in the car in traffic driving to get it fixed and then driving back to our area. But luckily it was a quick fix once we got there and we decided to go to the mall that night and see if we could get some more lessons there. 

So we got to the mall and went in and with in the first 15 minutes of being there we were able to teach 3 lessons to some members. We had a big family stop us and we were able to talk with them and teach them a lesson. So after a crazy day we were able to teach some lessons. 

Thursday was Thanksgiving, and we only had a few set appointments that day. But in the morning we did our studies and our weekly planning. And while doing our weekly planning I started to set up this Christmas tree in our apartment that we had and started to get the lights to work with it. And when you are poor missionaries with know decorations you need to get creative. So we did. We decorated our tree with cards and with pictures of the temple. 

We also put some other things we had there in the tree. I found a golf ball and thought how I could use it in the tree. So I also realized that I had a couple other golf balls in one of my bags, so I got those out and then I had the thought to put a push pin in them and tie a string to them and I make decorations out of those. That was what we did during planning for the morning. 

So then we went over to the Jackson's home where they made us a wonderful thanksgiving meal. It was so good. I really enjoyed being able to have a thanksgiving this year. I joked with these members about how last Thanksgiving I couldn't eat anything because I had just got my wisdom teeth out. But then following this meal we were able to get to know the members a lot better. We then went to some more members homes and we had the chance to be able to teach some lessons. So it was a great day! 

Friday we had zone meeting and I was having a hard time concentrating during it. This week I came down with a cold, so I didn't feel to great. But it was a good meeting we just talked about how we can do better at making commitments and following up with our investigators. Because we we invite our investigators to do things like read the scriptures or go to church or to live certain commandments then we are inviting them to repent. Or in other words helping them to make changes in there lives where they can come closer to our savior Jesus Christ. 

But that night we had dinner with a a member of the ward and with her non member friend named Stan. And Stan is a great guy. We were able to explain some of the things that we believe as well as why were came out on mission. And he thought it was very interesting. He told us he will not convert, but we aren't out here only to convert people to the gospel. We are here to help others come closer to Jesus Christ. And as we do this it does help them to gain a testimony as they do read or pray. So that helps them, and that can lead them to want to make that decision of baptism and becoming a member. But we are not here just to increase  membership in the church. 

Saturday we had a cool miracle happen. So we got a referral from the church, and usually when we get them from they really aren't real. They always fall through. But we got a referral and we went to go check on it. And we pulled up to this house that was in the same neighborhood as a different referral we got a couple weeks ago. That referral wanted nothing to do with us and wanted us off his property. So we were a little nervous when we went into that same neighborhood. But the new referral we got was two houses away from that old referral. And we saw a black ford fusion in the driveway and we both thought, why do we know that car? And it turns out it was one of the people that lives in our apartment complex named Ben. So we knocked on the door and Ben answered and we told him that we got information about someone wanting to learn more about the church and he told us that it was his brother Stephen that was interested. 

So we set up an appointment to meet with him yesterday. And we took one of the priests with us and he was so awesome during this appointment. It was really good. Ben let us teach over at his apartment and Ben invited one of his friends that is a member. And it was just an incredible lesson. The spirit was there and we invited Stephen to be baptized and he said if he is ready and has an answer to his prayer he will get baptized on January 4th!! And they are both going to try and go to church this next week! Stephen is going back to school until December 14 but Ben said he would come. So it was just a great night to be able to and teach. 

I love being out here, and it is crazy to think how fast it is flying by. But I know that this is where I need to be. I am grateful for this gospel and the chance I have to share it with others. I hope that all y'all have a great week! Keep praying for missionary experiences! 

Elder Joshua V. Christensen