Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Howdy Y'all!

    Hey! So this week has been a pretty good week. Last Monday we were able to meet with one of the investigators who has been waiting about a year now to get baptized. She has been waiting for the support of her spouse. But Monday we were able to get to meet with her and the Bishop and talk some things out. She talked about how she is still very interested in becoming a member, but still wants full support from her spouse, which totally makes sense. That is how it should be. But she said she wants her husband to meet with the bishop so they can talk a little bit. But it was a really cool experience. 

The spirit was defiantly there, and at the end we got to share a lesson with her that I really think helped her out. But it was a great way to spend that Monday night, and then following that we were able to go over to our ward mission leaders home to teach him the lesson on commandments, that way my companion would be able to practice teaching them. It went really well, and I feel that we had a good conversation on the ones we discussed which were Prayer, and studying the scriptures. So that was a great night. 

It was a little bit of a slower day for us. We went out around 12 after having all of our studies and our training we have to do and then lunch. And we went around to a couple of different members that day. We were also trying that day to continue to find new people to talk to, so we just walked around a couple of different parks that day. And then later that afternoon we were able to go and volunteer at a food bank, where we helped organize food for those who were in need of it. We did this for about 2 hours that day. We then had dinner with family in the ward who I did not know to well, and I was able to get to know them better. We were able to teach them a lesson about prayer and scripture study as well. 


We had interviews with the Mission President, and also had the Assistants present some training to us. They talked to us alot about the topic of teaching simply with love and by the spirit. So we all practiced doing this in a role play where we taught the message of keeping the Sabbath day holy in about 4 minutes. But I felt like during this training and the time I had to spend with President Pingree I was just so excited to be able to go back and work again. It was a good recharge for my spiritual batteries. 

But after this me and my zone leader companion went on exchanges just for the afternoon. We had to prepare for Stake Correlation that we had on Just yesterday, but it took us a couple of hours to finish that all up. We were planning this night to have a lesson with one of our investigators Jenny, but it ended up falling through last minute. We were trying to meet with a lot of our investigators this week, but alot of the appointments fell through. So now we are trying to reschedule with the majority of them. 

We did our studies and we also did our weekly planning. But right after that, we went over to our bishops house. He wanted us to go with him over to his neighbors house so we could introduce our selves to him, and then he wanted to do a couple of actives with us. One of them was golf related. In his back yard he has a big putting green, but because of the storm we went into his shop where he has a little one. And they wanted to see who could putt the best. So it was a fun activity where we were able to get to know him better, and do something that he enjoyed doing. So that was fun. 

This day was pretty cold, and we had freeze warnings, and actually got a some ice and a little bit of snow. It was crazy and we are actually expecting more of it tomorrow. But after bishops house we went to more members to teach them the missionary discussions. And that night just walked around the mall and market street to try and find others that might be interested in learning more. We have really been trying to find more investigators this week so that we can have more in our teaching pool so we can continue to stay busy. 

Alot of members were home today because of the storm that we had. But also this day we did some tracting! And people were really nice! We tracted for about 2 hours in about 34 degree weather, and so it was a blessing because more people were willing to talk with us. But we had a miracle happen to us at them mall. We just went in and started walking around. And about 30 mins in, a lady named Dianna stopped us at the customer service desk, and started asking us questions. She had different questions about Joseph Smith and about other things about our church. And we were able to answer them. We gave her a card with our information, and she said if she had anymore questions she would contact us. She was very nice though! So we want to try and go back and talk to her the next time we see her. 

 We did service for the majority of the morning. We went up to a homeless shelter up in Conroe and helped them reorganize some of their storage facilities. It was a great experience to  be able to help them out and we got to meet some people with some really cool stories. But we got back around 2 30 and then got ready, and then we just went out for the day and followed the same patter as the rest of the week. 

Sunday was a little long but it was good. I had to wake up at 515 so that I could get ready for our early morning meeting with the mission president and stake presidency. I dropped my companion off with Elder Stewart's companion and then we went to this meeting. We talked alot about the missionary work going on in the stake. We had other meetings and things that morning, and then church. But after church we went and visited with members, and just walked around trying to meet new people. We then got a message from one of our investigators named Morgan. I haven't talked as much about him, but we met with him in December, and he seemed to be struggling, so we went over and talked with him, and tried to help him out. By the end of the night he seemed to be doing much better. 

But he told us he believes in the Mormon religion, but he also wants to be apart of other faiths as well. So we are still working with him, but he is so awesome and he is doing well. Then to finish the night we ended up walking for about 2 hours to try and find those who were around different parks, and we were able to teach a lesson to someone who was in a park and we were able to invite a couple other people to learn about the gospel. I know it was God who put those people in our path and helped us to be able to talk with him. 

So I know that there are those who are out there who are ready to hear the gospel. We just need to do our part as members and pray for opportunities to find them. Please continue to pray for the missionary experiences. I promise you that if you will be able to have them. And also just pray for the missionaries in your area. Pray that they will have success. I know that this will help them as well. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to be out here serving a mission, and I know this is where I am suppose to be right now. Great things are happening here in the mission. 

Well I hope y'all have a wonderful week. 

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Pictures from Texas Houston Mission Blog

We found the pictures below on the Houston Texas Mission Blog that included Elder Christensen.

The first picture is from the December 2013 Christmas Conferences.  The picture includes about half of the mission.

The second picture is from recent training meetings with the missionaries in each area.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Teach Simply, with love, and by the Spirit

  So when we met with the mission president a little while ago for MLC, he talked a little bit about this statement that I put in the subject of the email. During the training for that day he asked us to go and take the training we received to zone meeting which was a couple weeks ago. Well along with this he asked us to do follow up on this training with all the companionship in the zone. 

So the training that was received for this was, to teach the message of the restoration simply with love and by the spirit. The goal was to teach it simply enough that you could do it in ten minutes, and that the spirit could really testify to the investigator of the truthfulness of the message. So we presented this in the zone meeting we had a couple weeks ago and this week was doing the follow ups. 

Monday was just a day where we did a lot of traveling. I had to drive an Elder out to Cyprus so he could do some stuff for his visa that he is waiting for. So then with that we just got the rest of the stuff we needed to do for that day. That night we just went around to different members and taught them lessons found in Preach My Gospel. And then did normal street contacting until we needed to return to the apartment. 

We just went to different members also that day, and then following this we went tracting. Now I really don't like tracting, and especially here in the Woodlands it is very ineffective. But we were really trying to show our faith to the Lord by inviting others to learn. Also, as part of our new mission standards for the year, we are asked to try and invite 25 people a day to learn about the message of the restored gospel. So just this month as a zone we decided to keep track of how many Invitations to learn(ITL) we make. So we went tracting to try and get up to this 25 ITL Goal we had set. Well we went to a little over 25 houses and out of that only had 7 ITL's. So we just from there went and met with some more members to teach them the missionary discussions. But that was our day. 

We went over to a less actives home named Randy Davidson. He has been inactive more many years, and we went and knocked on his door about 2 months ago and he expressed to us that he wanted to start coming back to church. So the past few weeks he has been coming to church. So we decided it would be good if we went back and started to teach him the missionary lessons as well. He seemed to really enjoy the message of the restoration. And so we are really trying to help him truly understand the doctrine of Christ, as well as help his testimony grow of the restored gospel. 

What will be good is it will also give my new companion opportunities to see how the lessons are taught, and to better understand the doctrines and principles found in them. But Randy has this sincere desire to come back. He talks about how each week he just looks forward to Sunday because he enjoys it so much! I love just seeing the change that takes place when God is involved in our lives and when we live the commandments and really make the gospel central in our lives! 

Today was follow ups for the training, so we went around to the Conroe 1st and 2nd ward Elders. And we just did the role plays over again in zone meeting. We sat down and went over the training again and then straight in to the role play. It turned out really well, and we had some great experiences. But after we met with the Conroe 2 Elders, we drove to the apartment and we were going to do the same thing with the other Elders. But we showed up and we were getting ready to start, and I did the same thing. We talked about what it meant to teach simply, with love, by the spirit. 

So after that we began the role play and they taught first. They did well, it was a bit broken up, but for the most part the spirit could really be felt. I love being able to role play and then still be able to feel the spirit just as strong as a real lesson. And so then we began to teach after and I thought it went ok but I had a feeling to stop and take a little longer on of of the principles of of apostasy. I asked 3 different questions while I taught. I asked,
1 Does God love us as much as he did his children in the New/Old testament times?
2. Does God have the same power he did in the New/Old testament times?
3 Do we need God as much as the people did in the New/Old testament times?

I felt prompted to say these and at the end of the role play the Elder commented on how that was something that they were were looking for. And it just made me feel good to have recognized that prompting and to teach it. So God really can help us and us as we listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. 

After this we started to head back to our area, and we needed gas. Well I had a silly little thought just to get a car wash while we were there, but we were running a bit late for a meeting with our bishop we needed to get to. But I just had that thought again so we got the car washed, but it didn't dry the car very well. So we pulled back up to the pump and dried it off with paper towels, and this lady asked us what we were doing, and where we worked. So we started to talk to her and told her we were missionaries, and we taught her about some of our beliefs. She said that she was interested in learning more, so we got her information and actually got a referral for some of the other missionaries. 

But again we see listening to the Spirit gives us opportunities to help others out. If we didn't get that car wash we never would have met this person. So I just know that as we do our best to follow the spirit in our lives we will be blessed. We will be helped and we can bless the lives of others. I know this and I testify of this to you! 

Friday, we had district meeting, and then just went out for the day to find people to teach. We got a call from Adriann and she told us she was getting ready to go in for a surgery. So we went to visit her in the hospital and then we we able to teach another lesson to her to help comfort her. 

Saturday was kinda a slower day as well. We were able to teach some of the members in our ward and then for a little while we walked around this big park and were able to talk with some different people. But for the most part that was pretty much our week. It was a good busy week. I am so glad for the opportunity I have to be serving in this area and for the chance I have to go declare this gospel to those around me! What a blessing it is! I know this gospel is true. I know that because I have read in the Book of Mormon and pondered its writings in my heart, and then I have prayed to my Heavenly Father, and through the Holy Ghost I was able to come to this knowledge and experience this happiness in my life! 

This is my invitation to y'all, read the Book of Mormon and even if it is just a small portion, ponder it and and pray about it, and I know that you will be able to find an answer. I know that this is true and I can promise that to you as a representative of Christ! 

Well I hope everything is well for y'all, have a wonderful week!

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

God's Vision for us

      Well this weeks has probably been the craziest most stressful week of my whole mission, but at the same time one of the best. 

    Monday I was with Elder Stewart for an exchange. He is my zone leader companion, but not the companion I am with everyday. So while we were on exchanges we were able to have some great experiences. 

Tuesday we had mission leadership council, which is where all of the zone leaders and sister training leaders meet together with the President and Assistants.  It was probably one of the most spiritual meetings I have been in. It is so cool because you really get to understand how the mission works, and how God uses us to help accomplish His great work. We had a great training, and we just discussed the needs of each zone and the needs of the mission. We went over our mission standards for this next year, and we are ready to elevate to the vision that the mission president has for us. But MLC was nice cause it wasn't just a meeting but it truly was a council where we all talked and were able to help each other out. So I came off on  a spiritual high from that meeting. 

Afterwards we had lunch at the mission home and then went over to the mission office for supplies, and then to  a church building that was close. We then took a couple hours to plan zone meeting. And between me, the other zone leader, and the sister training leader we prepared a meeting that we were excited to have.  Well by the time we got back to the area that night it was 6 ish and we just decided to skip dinner and get to work with trying to find new people. So we went street contacting at the mall and actually had some great opportunities to talk with different workers and even some members we ran into. But that was a long day and I was completely exhausted. 

Wednesday I had to leave the area again, now with the new district leader to go to a new leadership training meeting. It was good to hear about how we can do better, and the spirit was defiantly there. After this meeting we went back to the mission office, and the district leader had to take a test so that he could be able to drive here in Texas. So while he was doing this I was with the AP's helping them out with some little things. So I really enjoyed being able to do that. 

Well just like the day before we didn't get back to our areas until later that evening. So then we just got back to work trying to find more people. We got back that night and again was just had no energy, but then I had to make calls and make sure everything was ready for Adrianns Baptism. I had been calling all week trying to set things up, and there were scheduling issues that came up after I had scheduled the building and it was just phone call after phone call trying to get everything worked out. I was also making calls out to the zone to help them prepare for the zone meeting that we were going to have. Finally after being on the phone for almost an hour it look like things were beginning to work out. 

Thursday was my first real day in the area for this week. But we had weekly planning, and were working on ways to better find those out here are prepared. So we kept praying and were looking for ways we could help out investigators to progress. We also had our weekly meeting with the bishop. And half way through the meeting we paused and went across the street to a house that there children had bought, and helped them to get a dryer moved in. The moving people did most of it, but after I was able to talk to them briefly. 

That is one of the big things that I have been trying to get better at. I have been trying to go and just talk to every one that I can. Even though there are those times that I am scared about bringing it up with some people I have been trying to work through that. But I am slowly getting better. And it makes me feel good even when I just am able to invite them to listen. Even if they don't accept, I know that I have done my part. I know that they will still have chances to listen to the gospel eventually. This gospel is such a great thing that we experience and we should be striving to share it with others. The Lord is Hastening his work, and I feel that this year we really will begin to see the work here in Houston just explode. It is truly a prepared place and we will see so many miracles!

Friday was the first zone meeting that I have helped teach. The spirit was defiantly there though. We talked about the new standards for the mission. And the first standard is baptize weekly. Now some of you may look at this and think that it isn't possible, but with the Lord it is absolutely possible. We may not be at the mindset needed for this to happen this very second but in the coming months we will work as hard as we can to get there. 

I have a testimony that this is true. The work really will begin to grow here in Houston and so many people will be blessed because of this. But we are also needing the help of the members. This is the only way that we will be able to accomplish this. And I know the same goes where you are. Please pray for missionary experiences. The members need to be the full time finders and the missionaries the full time teachers. Last conference we heard this through out many of the talks, and I would just invite you to continue trying to spread the gospel with friends and family. It will bless your life just as much as it can bless the lives of others. 

So with that being said, the rest of zone meeting went well. And the rest of that day we just went around to go and visit with members, and with anyone we could talk with. We tried to go to a Less Actives home and he wasn't there. I noticed that there were some people that were in the street, and usually probably not worry about trying to talk with them, but like I said I really am striving to talk with everyone, so I built up the courage and just started walking towards them, and started sharing the gospel with them. They didn't up up being interested, but I felt good that I was able to do that. And I know that later on if they want to learn more they certainly can. 

Saturday we went and were pulling some weeds for a member that needed some help. And then just figured out the last details for Adrianns Baptism. And then that night we were able to watch her get baptized. It was a really good baptismal service, and were had 3 of our other investigators there. And we had so many members show up to the baptism so she defiantly felt welcome. The spirit was there and it was just great to be able to see how happy Adrianns is. Again, the best thing about being a missionary is being able to see that change in the people you teach. Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can all become better and happier. It allows all of us to change! What a blessing it is to us. 

I was able to confirm Adriann in Church, and that was a cool experience for me. And just another great day. Before church was even over Adriann came and found us and asked how she could get a limited use recommend for baptisms for the dead. We haven't really talked to her as much about this and she is dying to be able to go do work for the dead! She is truly prepared and will make a great member! 

Other then that we just went and visited with members that day, and tried to get Elder Peterson introduced with more of the ward.

This week was kind of crazy, but it was defiantly worth it. We got to see so many miracles this week it has been incredible! 

Well I hope y'all have a wonderful week!

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy New Year!

Hows it going y'all! Things are good here in Texas, although it is beginning to be a bit chilly! Luckily it will only be like that for a couple days. Well this week has been kinda a really crazy week, and we have seen miracles and surprises and everything in between. So In my last email home I mentioned that my companion was getting transferred, and I wasn't sure if I would be training or what would be going on. 

So... Monday we went and visited lots of members before Elder Harris was leaving. Monday night around 9:50 we got a call from the other zone leader who was joking with me and called me zone leader Elder Christensen, and told me I would be training and all that, he then told me he was just kidding and to call him later. Well he got me pretty good, but I thought I was just getting a companion that had been out for a little while because I hadn't got a call from President Pingree. 

Well I spoke to soon, around 10:20 I got a call from the Assistants because President Pingree wasn't able to call, but they had a couple questions for me. They first asked how the work was going here in College Park, and how the Sisters were doing. I told them that we have been seeing lots of miracles happening with them here and explained that they were doing great. They said they were grateful for the work we were doing, and then they asked me if I would be willing to train again. I told them that I would love to. I don't know if I am the best at it, but I told them would be willing to accept any calling. I might have spoken to soon, right after this they asked me if I could be able to serve as a Zone Leader. This kinda shocked me but I did accept. So with that being said....

Tuesday we drove up to transfers and I dropped Elder Harris off, he will now be serving in the Magnolia Ward which just right next to where our ward boundary is. But it is just barley out of the stake so I won't be seeing him in any meetings. But I was with another elder for a couple of days, and we were between the different areas. So that night we went around and just visited with some different members, and we went over to the Richters for a little while where one of our investigators was, and we were able to see how she was doing. She is the one who will be getting baptized this Saturday if everything works out. 

Weds we did the same things with visiting members. So were still out of town so it was a bit difficult. But It was good, that night we were able to teach Adriann again. But things went really well. Then right after that we went to a part member family over in one of the other wards. They were such a great family! I really enjoyed being able to talk with them and get to know them better. it was really enjoyable! The father is not a member but he is so kind and a perfect example of what southern hospitality is. So we had a great night with that.

We went up to the training meeting where we would be picking up our new companions. So my new companion is another Elder Peterson, he is cool. He is 19 and graduated around the same time as I did. He is from Richfield Utah, but he will be great! 

So really just the rest of the week we went around trying to get him introduced to members, and just have been trying to help him get use to missionary schedule. 

Sunday we had Stephen and Adriann at church which was really good, Ben wasn't there, but that night we were able to go over to his apartment with Stephen. And they had some different concerns that I was really nervous about answering. But we were able to get the spirit there, and we were able to help overcome the majority of the concerns. So now we are working with them with their other concerns, and trying to see when we can reschedule dates for them. 

We talked a lot about prophets and they were wondering when to know if the prophet is speaking with the power from God, or if he is just speaking as a man. And we were able to read a couple of different scriptures and really we just bore testimony about how we can receive a 2nd witness for ourselves on whether what the prophet is saying is true or not. When we listen to the Prophet we can take the time and read the scriptures and to pray. If we have concerns then we can take them to our Heavenly Father. I know that He will answer our prayers, He loves us and wants whats best for us. We just have to do our part and ask Him, and just like it says in D&C 9 we can find out whether it is right or not. I know that is true and I bear testimony of that! I have seen in while I have been out, I have seen it work in the lives of the people I have worked with out here. I have a knowledge that God will provide an answer through the Gift of the Holy Ghost! 

Well over all it has been a great week. I hope everything is well back home! Y'all are awesome, keep up the good missionary work. Please with this new year pray for opportunities to serve and bring others closer to Christ. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints this is our responsibility. 

Elder Joshua V. Christensen