Monday, May 19, 2014

Klein Stake Youth Conference

The article below was published in the Deseret News. It is about the youth conference that Elder Christensen attended.  See the link attached.  Photos below from the Youth Conference blog.

3-day youth conference encourages participants to become perfected in Christ

By Ramona Siddoway
For the Deseret News
Published: Sunday, May 11 2014 10:55 p.m. MDT
Updated: Monday, May 12 2014 9:36 a.m. MDT

Teens in the Klein Texas Stake gathered for their youth conference, “Becoming Perfected With Christ,” giving youths the opportunity to re-enact experiences from the Book of Mormon.

Two nights and three days, 335 sunburns and a fight with the Anti-Nephi-Lehies.

This all took place during Easter weekend.

Youths and leaders in the Klein Texas Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered on 1,300 acres of private land for their youth conference centered around “Becoming Perfected With Christ.” This Book of Mormon-themed conference gave youths the opportunity to re-enact experiences from this book of scripture, including making their own family Titles of Liberty.

Each participating youth was assigned into one of the 16 “families” that were complete with a Nano and Tano (mom and dad) and a big brother or sister who also served on the planning committee.

After a brief meeting at King Benjamin’s tower — a 26-foot tower built with telephone poles — the youths traveled through the "wilderness" where they were subjected to mists of darkness (provided by fog machines), walked in an uneven field wearing blindfolds as they held onto an “iron rod” (made of PVC pipe) to finally be greeted by Lehi (portrayed by Lloyd Stutz) standing under the Tree of Life.

A large oak tree had been wrapped with several strands of Christmas lights and illuminated with additional floodlights to stand out as the Tree of Life in the darkness of the night.

“Lehi addressed the youth in his own Book of Mormon style of language, his message one of relating the events of the vision to their current dispensation,” Stutz said. “They were encouraged to pray many times per day, search and ponder the word of God continually, and to go and make a difference in this world. They were reminded that they are here in the latter-days to do more than just to save themselves, but also to prepare the world and its people to reach their full potential before the return of Jesus Christ.”

But it wasn’t just the youths that were touched.

“I felt the warm connection to Lehi as I prayed and prepared for this event,” Stutz recalls. “Standing in the dark night next to a beautifully lighted giant oak tree was a very spiritual moment for me. The youth stayed focused as Lehi addressed them with all of the tenderness of a loving parent, who wanted only for them to partake of the love of God.”

The next two days involved various workshops where youths listened to leaders speak about missionary work, scripture study and watched several live vignettes portraying Book of Mormon scenes and events.

Split into two groups, each army was rallied for battle by none other than their own Captain Moroni as he discussed the Title of Liberty. A few battle cries later, the two teams ran out onto the open meadow where a full-fledged whacking began.

It took nearly a year of planning to pull off such a large undertaking.

“Each of the youth on our committee was chosen for a reason,” said Greg Lyman, the Klein Texas Stake Young Men's president. “They each brought their own unique skills, personality, spirit and experience that we needed to pull off an event of this magnitude. And most importantly, they all worked together to seek the will of the Lord as they prepared this conference for the youth of the Klein Texas Stake.”

"We have a prophetic priority to prepare the youth,” said Tom Kunz, first counselor in the Klein Texas stake presidency, “to deepen their discipleship; to help prepare them for the increased expectations the Lord has for them. They are the modern day army of Helaman."

Another week of miracles in Silver Pines!

Hey everyone!! Things here in Silver Pines are going great!! I am still trying to get use to the area, and learn to get around it better. I feel like over all, I am learning the area really well. I am trying to learn all of the names for the ward members though. So this week has been a good week, but sadly we had a lot of appts fall through on us. But we did see some great miracles happen. 

  The first part of the week we were wanting to go to the other side of our area. And one of my companions didn't have a really good bike, and he fell a couple of different times, and one of the times he bucked the rim of his tire. Well this caused us to walk a little ways to where were were planning to go. Now at first you hear this, and it doesn't sound fun at all, but Heavenly Father blessed us with people to be put in our path. 

We got close to where we were going, and we stopped at a bus stop right as someone got there. I went over and started talking to him about if he went to a church in the area, and basically began to start into the restoration with him. Elder Alverenga came over and was teaching with me. Elder Allen was trying to call some members to see if we could get some help getting to where we needed to be. And while me and Elder Alverenga were teaching, another man came over and sat next to us. So I turned and began to teach him about the message of the restoration. We talked with them for about 30 min, and then the bus came and they had to leave. One of them took The Book of Mormon, and the said he wanted to find out if it was true, and the other took the pamphlet and said he would read the pamphlet. Both of them live out of our area, but we gave them our number if they had questions or wanted to talk to us more. I know that sometimes things don't work the way we expect them to, but as we keep showing our faith and we work hard, Heavenly Father will send blessing our way and show us miracles. 

Another great miracle happened this week. We met with a new investigator yesterday named Armon. He came to church last week with one of the members of our ward and said he had some questions for us. We went and met with him yesterday, and we spent the 1st hour and a half answering his questions. They were really good questions, and he was very sincere about learning. After we answered his questions he wanted us to start into the first lesson with him. 

So we taught him about the message of the restoration. It was a longer lesson, but it was a great one! By the time we had finished teaching him, he had said he wanted to read more then we asked him to read. He understood all the things we had taught, and he understood Christ's life so well!! .   I also at the end asked him " Armon, what would it mean to you if this was all true." He said he would look more into joining the church. Then we talked to him about Christ setting the example of how to return home to live with God again, and asked him why he thought Christ was Baptized. And he said to show us the example, and he committed himself to be baptized once he finds out if this is true!! This was another great miracles for us to see! Again it just goes to show that God does prepare his Children to recieve the gospel! I know that he was prepared and is wanting to take the steps to build his faith in Christ. 

To finish the week off, we went to a members home for dinner. The husband is active, but the wife is less active. We actually went to give the wife a blessing about a week ago. She was in the hospital getting a procedure done. She was in a lot of pain, and I had the opportunity to give her the blessing. While we sat there before we gave her a blessing, I was praying and asking what I should say to help her. And as I pondered, I wasn't sure what I was to bless her with. And the scripture D&C 84:85 came into my mind.
Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.

I knew that the Lord would tell me what I would need to say. I began to give her the blessing, and I remember saying that she would receive comfort and relief from the pain that she was in, and that soon this would pass. I felt so strongly that I could bless her with this. Well we left that night from the hospital to go back to our apartment.

Well when we went back last night to see them the wife came and told us how she felt after we gave her the blessing. She said she still felt pain, but it was almost like there was a weight that was lifted off of her. She had a tube that went into her lungs, and it was causing her alot of pain, and she said she knew that it was still there, but it was almost like she couldn't feel it anymore. As she was telling me this, her eyes began to water. It was such a blessing and a testimony builder to me. 

Sometimes as we get up to give blessings or speak to other, or what ever it may be, we may be nervous that we won't say the right things. But I know, and I testify to you that if you are worthy, and your are prepared, that the holy ghost will tell you exactly what to say, and you will be able to fully accomplish all that our Heavenly Father would have us do. I know that to be true, and I bare witness of that!! 

So don't every be afraid to talk with friends about the gospel. Those who hold the priesthood, don't be afraid to exercise it! Just be worthy and ready! 

I am excited to be apart of this great work! I know we will continue to see miracles this week! 
Well I hope all y'all have a great week!

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Monday, May 12, 2014

Welcome to Silver Pines

Hey Everyone things are going well! As many of you know, I have been transferred to a new area. I am now back in the Cyprus Stake, and I am serving in the Silver Pines Ward. It is a good ward, and it seems to have a lot of potential. I am also back in a bike area, and I am in a trio. 

My companions are Elders Allen, and Alvarenga. Elder Allen has been out 3 months, and Elder Alvarenga have been out 8 months, and is waiting for his visa for Brazil. This week has been alot of biking and trying to get around and meet investigators. It seems like this ward that the sisters work more with the members, and we are to be doing a lot of teaching. We are trying to work it out so there is more of a balance. 

 So Monday I just got everything all packed up and went out to say goodbye to all of the members! I had a lot harder time saying goodbye than I thought that I would! After being there 9 months I became very attached to this ward! It almost felt like I was leaving on my mission again. I tried to get in with as many members as I could, but sadly wasn't able to see all of them. But it was a good night to see everyone! 

( Saying Good bye to some friends in College Park)

I also got a call from the mission president that night telling me where I was going. But he told me I would be going out to serve in Silver Pines, and he told me about the companions I would be having. I was kinda nervous to come back to Cyprus but I was ready to go where I needed to go. 

Tuesday we drove down, and I found my new companions, and we had to do some things at the mission office, but then we drove back and started to go around the area.   This new area is very different from the woodlands. It is alot more of a humble place.  There aren't very many trees in this part of Texas either and it can get very windy. This last week we got hit pretty good by a storm. 

We were biking close to 1960 and the 249.  It started pouring rain! I have never been so wet! We were biking, and I ended up hitting a lip in the road and ended up wrecking on my bike. I tried to catch myself with my leg, and it hit and it bent my knee the wrong way! It didn't hurt super bad, but for a couple of days it was felt very weak. It has been doing a lot better today though. 

Lets see, what else happened this week. We got in with a new investigator that seems very promising. She seemed very interested in having us come back and teach more. Her name is Tyna and her sons name is Kendrick. They are so kind and sincere. We will hopefully be meeting with them sometime this next week. 

  It was kinda hard this week to say good bye to all of the members back in college park. I am going to really miss being with them. It is such a great ward and area! I will no doubt miss it! But I was very blessed to have an opportunity to back on Saturday for a baptism. I just had to try and find a ride to get back up there. Well I was trying to think of who could take me, because I hadn't really met alot of the ward members. 

But I realized that there is a family that I know here in the stake that I knew back in Utah. So I gave them a call, and they were able to get me back up to College Park. The lady that was baptized was named Laura. The College Park sisters taught her, and I had a the chance to give her a blessing a couple weeks back. I guess she remembered my name, and so she asked me to come back and to baptize her. It was such a cool experience to help preform the ordinance of baptism. This was the first time on my mission where I got to baptize someone. 

(Right Before the Baptism)

She has some physical disabilities, and needed some help getting baptized. So Elder DeLuca and I baptized her. And we got to go and do it a a swimming pools at a members house! It was so cool! It was a great baptism service! The spirit was felt so strong, and even though I was only gone a couple of days,  it was great to be able to see all of the members! 

(Members I saw at the baptism again!)

To finish the week I had a blessing of being able to go and skype my family. I had such a great time being able to talk with them! I also got to see my older brother for the first time in 1 year. Last mothers day I was home and skyped him, and this year it switched!  It was been a great week.

Sorry it was a shorter email this week, but I hope yall have a great week!

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

College Park, I will miss you!

    Hey everyone!! So I found out that I am getting transferred. I have been serving in College Park for the last 9 months, and have loved it so much! I am sad to leave, but ready to see what else I need to do. I am sorry for how short this email will probably be, but I just want to share and experience with you that happened....

     So all of you may remember last transfer I thought I was totally gone! Brother Marshburn received a calling and was active again, and so I thought my work was complete here in College Park. 

Me and Brother Marshburn!

Well when I found out I was staying last transfer  I was really surprised. I thought my work was done and didn't understand what else I still needed to do. Well I tried to just keep going and working hard, and I didn't feel like I found anyone else that I was sent to find. We met lots of different people through out last transfer, and had great opportunities for service. But I think I know why I was suppose to stay one more. 

We have an investigator named Morgan, and I have mentioned him before but it has been quite a while. I met him back in October, and we started to teach him the discussions. We met with him time and time again over the last 7 months. After teaching the restoration with him in October, we just continued through the coming lessons. And we just felt he wasn't grasping the principle of priesthood authority. So since I have been here we have taught him the restoration like 3 times and many other lessons on the priesthood! 

But over the last two transfers I didn't really get to work much with him. Every time I was on an exchange that is when he would be available to meet. So I didn't really know where he was at or how to help him next. A couple weeks back he came to church and during priest quorum he said something that told me he still wasn't understanding priesthood authority. So over the past couple weeks we have tried to get in with him to teach him again, and I didn't know if I would get in with him before the end of the transfer. 

Well we got an appointment for last Saturday, and during the lesson the spirit was there so strong, and he came out with an answer. So I will be talking alot about the lesson from Saturday. But other stuff we also did this week was just meetings in preparation for zone meeting. I went on a couple different exchanges to help some elders move to a new apartment, and also to finish planning for the great meeting we had. 


 I started my study with a very sincere prayer to know what to teach Morgan and how to teach it. And I saw so many miracles that morning. I felt prompted to talk about Christ's life on earth, the Great Apostasy and The Restoration. And as I began to study these things I had questions begin to come to mind that needed to be asked to Morgan, I felt like I was given the knowledge to know how to teach him! I don't even really know how to explain it, but it was just so cool to see. 

By the end of my study I felt that I had this framework in my mind of how the lesson needed to be taught. We didn't have time to role play the lesson, but I just told my companion that we need to teach him differently that we have in the past, and he asked how. I wasn't very sure at the time I just felt we needed to be more bold and teach more in detail on this subject. 

 We we got there and decided we wanted to go outside to teach the lesson. So he opened it perfectly a scripture from 1 kings 3 :10-14. It talks about praying to God for Understanding, and it will be given. And from there we just started right into going and teaching about what Christ did while on the Earth. I asked him what he believed Christs purpose in coming to the earth was? 

Morgan: "Well he healed many of the people and he suffered for our sins and died for us."
Me: Morgan How was Christ able to heal those people?
Morgan: "Well to say the least, he had some kind of Power"

We then explained how that power he had was from God and was called the Priesthood. We then talked about how he preformed many miracles, and the greatest being the Atonement. I asked him what he understood about the Atonement.

Morgan: "Well as we accept Christ as our savior and redeemer, we can be saved and be happy while we are here. He also can be forgiven.
Me:" What does it mean to accept Christ? How do you do that?
Morgan:"Well first you pray and ask to be forgiven and do better. Also you accept him by following what he says, and following his teachings."

 I then was prompted to go to Mathew 3, which talks about Christ getting baptized. And I asked him by did Jesus travel so far to get baptized by John? And when I mentioned he went about 100 km to be baptized he just looked at us and said, "I never thought of that before! He must have had that power and authority!"
 We then took him from scripture to scripture as I was prompted!  We went through these scriptures during the lesson...
Hebrews 5:4
John 3:5
Mathew 10:1-10
John 15:16-18
Luke 10:1
back to John 15
Amos 8:11-12
2nd Thesolonians 1-4
And then we ended the lesson with Joseph Smith History, vs 1-20? 
Moroni 10:3-5
Acts 2:37-38

This was the way the lesson went! And we went through Christ's life, the apostasy and the restoration and it was incredible! And the spirit was there, and I truly feel that it was guiding me, and telling me what to say. Most of the questions that I asked I truly felt like were inspired, and I could have never come up with them on my own. And I was also using so many different scripture references. There were parts where it seemed like he was teaching himself the doctrine! The spirit was truly communicating with him! 

We were there two hours with him teaching him, and finally at the very end, everything thing just clicked! He understood everything that we had taught! He started saying, I finally have received the answer I have been looking for! He look at us and said it is because of the Priesthood authority that we are able to to make it to the celestial kingdom,  if we do everything that we can to follow the example that Jesus Christ set. At the very end the spirit hit us all so strong, and he said What should I do now? And Immediately a scripture came into my head!  Acts 2: 37-38

37 ¶Now when they heard this, they were apricked in their bheart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men andbrethren, cwhat shall we do?
 38 Then Peter asaid unto them, bRepent, and be cbaptized every one of you in the dname of Jesus Christ for the eremission of sins, and ye shall receive the fgift of the gHoly Ghost.
He looked at us and said, "I need to be baptized this Sunday! ...Wait I need to get to church these next couple weeks so I can get baptized! I now know what Gods mission is for me! This is the answer I have been waiting for! " 

The spirit was so strong and I just have such a solid testimony of the fact that as we include God in our lives, he is going to support us. He will help us to know what to say and who to help! I know this is true! This whole lesson brought me back to a scripture that I love. D&C 100 4-7, and I just invite you to go and read it. 

Therefore, I, the Lord, have suffered you to come unto this place; for thus it was expedient in me for the asalvation of souls.
 Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; aspeak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be bconfounded before men;
 For it shall be agiven you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say.
 But a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall declare whatsoever thing ye adeclare in my name, in solemnity of heart, in the spirit of meekness, in all things.
 And I give unto you this promise, that inasmuch as ye do this the aHoly Ghost shall be shed forth in bearing record unto all things whatsoever ye shall say.

I know that God has suffered me to come to Houston for the salvation of his Children. I know there are people prepared for me to meet! And I know that as I open my mouth, It will be filled! I will not be confounded, and Gods work will continue to move forth! I know this to be true, and this is my testimony and I bear witness of that! 
 I am sorry this email is shorter and doesn't go into very much detail about the lesson like I would want, but I will try to talk more about it next week. Please pray for missionary opportunities and You will see so many blessing! This work can only be hastened if the members and the missionaries both work together. Pray to know where you fit into it and I know the Lord will guide you and help you know what you need to do. 

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

 The Bishop and his wife

 This is the Richter family.  They are some of the members of our Ward!

 Some field that we found.

 Another pic with Elder Neville

Elder Neville and I Taking random serious photos! This was during one of our exchanges this last week.