Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hope through Jesus Christ

Hey everyone! This last week has been pretty crazy for us. We were running around yesterday doing a bunch of things we had to get done as assistants in preparation for our MLC today. And so we didn't get to time to email. So our mission president gave us this little bit of time to write home. So I am grateful for the chance to write home because this last week has been so great! It has been filled with great things as well as its challenges. This last week we had transfers. And it was my first week with my new companion Elder Halterman! He is doing really well, but I was showing him some of the ropes in regard to transfers.

Tuesday we had the chance to spend sometime with the departing missionaries. And we were able to go through the temple with them which was great. The temple has been closed down for the last month or so, so it was nice to be able to go there again! I felt so blessed to be able to go there with some questions that were weighing down on my mind and come out feeling peace in the answer that I received.  We had a great departing testimony meeting with them also. 

So overall  things went over smoothly with transfers, but unfortunately I got pretty sick this last week as well. This was probably the sickest I have been on my whole mission, and probably the sickest I have been since I was young. I woke up one of the mornings and just felt as if all the energy I had was completely gone. We still went over to get the incoming missionaries where they were staying to take them over to the mission home on Thursday morning. So I got there and I new that in order for me to make it through the meetings that day I would need a priesthood blessing. 

So I asked my companion to anoint, and my mission president to seal the anointing. And in the blessing he blessed me that I would have relief from the pain and discomfort and that I would have the strength to do the training that I needed to be a part of.  And I guess a bit of a back story 2 weeks ago our bishop called us and asked us to give talks  for this last Sunday. So they gave us the topic 2 weeks ago so we could prepare. And my topic was hope. 

And so during the week previous I had the chance to really study about hope and gain a strong understanding of what hope is. And it is the trust that God will bless you with what he has promised you. And so during the blessing I had this on my mind as I pondered. And I said I have a hope that God will give me the strength to preform the labors that he needs  me to preform. And after the blessing I felt so much better. I still didn't feel 100 % But I knew God was going to give me that time to feel better to have an effective training for these missionaries. And he definitely blessed me! 

It was kinda funny though because as we were getting ready to close the meeting, we were singing the last verse of the hymn we were singing. And I looked up the clock and thought well here we go again. And sure enough once we closed the meeting and got the missionaries on the way it hit me again!   It was just a really really bad cold. But it was great because it gave me the opportunity to really rely on the atonement that much more fully! And I know it was Heavenly Father that blessed me and helped me that morning! And he let me feel sick again so I could really more fully rely on him, so I am so grateful for that. 

Other than that the big highlight was being able to speak in church. Elder Hillebrant was able to come back down and speak with me. And it was such a great experience. I felt that we had a very strong sacrament meeting! They had the sisters speak first, and then Elder Hillebrant, and then they asked me to close off the meeting. And I was just so grateful to speak with him! We spent alot of time together and we became close friends. I loved the chance I had to speak because again I talked on having a hope in Christ. 

And in today's world the word hope sometimes has a different meaning. It tends it have a hint of uncertainty. For example, " I hope the weather changes, I hope  I passed my test, I hope that I can get this job or project done." Now the Lord intended hope to be unwavering. Now because we do live in a fallen world we are subject to death, sin, pain, sickness, and all manner of affliction. This includes stress, or others things that may cause us worry also. But they are needed because that is what helps us Grow. In 2nd nephi 2 we learn that there needs to be an opposition in all things.

I love what Mormon councils us to have a hope in though. In Moroni 7:41 We learn what we need to have a hope in. 

41 And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.

So if we have a hope in the atonement and resurrection then we have no need to fear anything. For Jesus Christ truly suffered for everything. Look at Alma 7: 11-13. He has suffered for all of our pains our afflictions and even temptations. The words of modern day prophets and taught us more about the atonement. We know Christ has suffered for everything thing you are feeling, have felt and will ever feel! That is such a wonderful thought. He knows how to help you because he has felt everything. And just think. He did it just because he loves you. He did it so he could know you. 

So when you call upon him for strength he is there with his hand out stretched ready to help you and lift you up. The answers may not always come right away, but know that the Lord is holding on to you. He will not let you fall. And when you come to feel that you are at the deepest moment of despair and you can't hold on any longer, he will uplift and support you. He will raise you and you will have a stronger relationship with the savior. You will have the hope that he is there for you. And that hope will eventually lead to a knowledge that he will support you in your trials or challenges. 

I know this last week as I felt like I was at the bottom, I showed my faith( for faith is absolutely necessary to be able to obtain this hope.) by doing everything that I needed to. Even asking for a blessing and petitioning for the Lords help.  And thats when I found strength. And I was able to be healed for that short amount of time. And I continued to have a hope that the Lord would help me to recover quickly and I did. 

I know as we have a hope in the Lord Jesus Christ, we will find support in anything that we do. We will know that we can live with our Father in Heaven again because Christ overcame the bands of death and he suffered for our sins. He is the ultimate source of peace in this life. So if you are feeling like you are having struggles in your life. Pray for the hope of Christ in your life. Know that the Lord will come through and answer your prayers. It may not be in the way that you expect, but I promise the Lord will answer. And you will be able to have the calm assurance that he will bless you with the promised blessing! I know that to be true! 

If you feel you need more hope in your life I would invite you to ponder over the following scriptures and see what things you can do to increase this hope in your life. 

Alma 22:16
Moroni 8:16
Romans 15:4 

Bible dictionary: Hope. 

Well I hope y'all have a wonderful week! 
Elder Joshua V. Christensen

(ps. Next week we are having a general authority come to the mission so if I don't email on Monday it may be Tuesday depending on how the schedule works. Just so y'all know.)

Interviews are over!! And Transfers and just beginning! :)

From October 20th (we had problems with the blog)

Hey everyone!
   It has been a long and adventurous week! We have finally completed all the interviews this last week. And we had some of our biggest groups that we went and did trainings with this week. So that is nice that we are able to have that done just in time to get transfers going. So the majority of our week was just interviews and doing transfers. Monday night we had a great little adventure though.

  So around 11:30 we got a call from our mission President. And he said that church travel had called him and there were 8 missionaries that were stuck in the Houston Airport. So we drove over to the mission office to hook up the transfer van and trailer and around midnight we were on the road. President called us again and mentioned that they were in the C Terminal. And he gave us the number for the missionaries that were there. 

Well we pulled up to the arrivals at terminal C. So we were getting ready to go in, but then we realized that one of us would have to stay with the van so it wouldn't get towed. So because Elder HIllebrant was driving he volunteered to stay with the van. So we have two phones so we would still be able to talk to each other if needed. So I went into the airport and went to the gates where we were told they were. I was looking for about 10 min in terminal C and then asked if that is where they were and they originally said yes. And they tried to describe where they were again to me. And I asked them to check the terminal one more time and they did and found out that they were in terminal B. 

So I ran back out to the van and we headed over to terminal B. I went inside and started looking around for them. I called them again because I still couldn't find them. And I asked them if they had come out from the gates. And they said they hadn't. So I tried to guide them over the phone how to guide them towards where I was. And after a little while they made there way out of the gate and found where I was. They were a  great group of missionaries. There flight had been canceled and they had been in the Houston Airport all day. They were on there way to one of the missions in Mexico. 

  So we took them back to our apartment for the night. We got home around 1:20 am and we were told by our mission president that we needed to get them back to the airport by 530. So they got a couple of hours of sleep before we took them back to the airport. We got them to the right terminal and helped them get checked in. We said our goodbyes and sent them off again. 

It was a fun but crazy experience. They handled it very well. They tried to talk with a bunch of different and were able to hand out some copies of the Book of Mormon. So after we had dropped them off we went over to the mission Presidents home around 615 am to carpool with him out to Katy Texas. So it was a night with not a lot of sleep. But we were just glad that we were able to help these missionaries out. 

So also this week we finished up the transfer assignments in preparation for transfers this next week. So my companion Elder Hillebrant will be transferred up to a YSA Ward in Huntsville. And my new companions name will be Elder Halterman. The name may sound familiar to some. We were in the same dorm at the MTC and we were in the same district. So we came out at the same time from the MTC. So I will be picking him up tomorrow. So I am excited, it will be good! I  will miss Elder Hillebrant, but I know he is need up in the area where he is going. 

To finish off the week we had another mission presidents fireside. It was just another incredible night. The spirit was very strong. We had a lot of missionaries bring investigators and members to the fireside. It has been so fun to be able to participate in these firesides. I think they are really making a difference. So overall it was just a great Sunday. It was interesting though because our ward didn't actually meet yesterday. The YSA had a conference downtown it an area 70. And so it was just barley out of our mission so we weren't able to go. So we decided to just go to a couple of different family wards. So we ended up going about 3 sacrament meetings yesterday. 

Now the reason for this is because in this last set of trainings we really discussed about how we can become effective ward and branch builders. So we trained on how to work with the wards. We talked a lot about how before sacrament meetings needs to be our prime time to greet the members and try to get to know them better. So we went to observe and follow up on a couple of different wards on how they were doing with working with the members. And it was good because we were able to  give some feed back. So overall it has been another fantastic week to be apart of the Texas Houston Mission! 

I am so grateful for the chance that I have to be a missionary here! And I know that this work that we are involved with is a great and important work. We are able to help bring others unto Christ and help them to see what they potential can be. It is such a blessing to be able to do! I would just invite you to keep praying for the missionaries in your areas, and pray for missionary opportunities. God will give them to you if you ask and it will bless you and your families abundantly! 

Well I hope everyone has a wonderful week! 
Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Here are some different photos from this week. ( The one with the lights was on our way to pick up the missionaries from the airport.) ( And the others is a barbeque.) 

Another Great week to be in Texas!!

From October 13. (this is late as we had some problems with the blog)

Hey everyone! 

  Life is still great and just some great things are continuing to happen. We still had another full week of interviews. The interviews have been pretty good though. On Tuesday we were back up in college Station, and then on Wednesday we were north east of College Station in a city called Madisonville. It was so cool because on Tuesday we asked to carpool up to Madisonville with President Mortensen. And so for the 1 1/2 hours up we were able to talk with him about a variety of different things. 

But he just really helped give us great suggestions about how to be successful in life and he tied it all back into the gospel of Jesus Christ! It is just so inspiring to see the things he has done, and really just ponder more fully on how I can continually improve. It was just a great chance to also discuss with him what things we can do in the mission to help get the missionaries working even more effectively. 

 Those interviews went great, and after being in Madisonville we traveled down to Huntsville to the Sam Houston State University. We went around the campus and toured the instituted building. We met with the senior missionaries over the instituted program, and they are doing great. We also recently added another companionship in that area to assist with the work. We are really making a big push to get missionaries on college campuses. 

So many young people are receptive to learning from the missionaries and we have fun some great success. So we talked with the instituted director also and talked about what there plans were for increasing the number of members in the program. And they set a goal to help expand there vision even more. It was a great day to be there and to just see another way we see the Lord moving his work forward. 

So interviews went from Tuesday to Friday, and then Saturday we took a big amount of time to get a full weekly planning in. Weekly planning has been the emphasis we are also pushing for in the mission. Not just weekly planning but chapter eight of preach my gospel. The average amount of investigators needed to be found in this mission  for just 1 baptism is about 23. And in other missions that are using chapter 8 effectively it is only about 5 new investigators. So we are striving to improve in that aspect. And we are already seeing much more success. 

Going into these trainings we had about 270 progressing investigators and only about 70 with a baptismal date. Now obviously there is a big difference there. So we have been working on always inviting people to be baptized in the first lesson when they come to the knowledge that it is true. And giving them a date no later than the 2nd lesson. Now the reason for this is because the church did a survey with about 3500 recent converts. And they asked them what was the most spiritual moments when you were being taught by the missionaries. And almost of of them said it was the first vision, and the plan of salvation. 

Now these principles that we teach are found in the first 2 lessons. These are going to be the principles that will allow the holy ghost to help them have a spiritual witness. But we will also not move on unless they are keeping there commitments! This is another big thing we are changing here in this mission. And just since we have been doing it in these last couple weeks we have seen miracles. As missionaries have been more bold in there work they have set more dates for Gods children to enter into a promise with God that will change there lives forever. It is such a blessing to be able to be apart of missionary service.

  On Sunday we had stake conference. And we had Elder Schwitzer of the 2nd quorum of the 70 come along with Elder Southerland an area 70. And they came and created a new stake. The new stake is called "The Woodlands Stake." And the new stake president is one of the members I got to know really well while I was serving in The Woodlands. The spirit was so strong and as we sustained him and the new stake presidency. It helped my testimony grow on how much of a blessing it is for us to be able to sustain church leaders. It made me ponder alot about General conference 2 weeks ago, and all the talks that were given about sustaining. 

After sustaining the new stake presidency Elder Schwitzer had an amazing talk about the Book of Mormon. It was just an all around great day yesterday! 

Things are going great and I am just so grateful to be here in Texas! It is a wonderful place! I would just invite yall to keep look and praying to be able to strengthen the wards that you live in and seek out friends and help them feel God love for them. I promise you as you do these things you will experience so much joy with in your lives. I know that to be true because I see it from day to day. I love being a missionary and I wouldn't change it for anything! 

Well I hope y'all have a wonderful week! 

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Monday, October 6, 2014

Conference was the BEST!!!

So this last week was a great week! We started it off with a great MLC with all the mission leaders. And it was great because we brought up a lot of great discussions  on different things we are working on as a mission and how we can accomplish those things. All of the leaders were participating which was making it a great revelatory experiences as we came to conclusions of what we should do to be more effective. 

Alot of the week was interviews with the different missionaries. So we would help present training as President interviews each missionary. Now 3 months ago when we did this it was a bit more exhausting. And the reason for that was we taught the entire training which was about 4 hours long, and we did the same training 26 times over the course of 11 days. Luckily this time around we are giving a much smaller training. And it is also much more hands on. We do peer reviews for lesson outlines as well a lot of role playing. We have been trying to help many of the missionary become more  effective through working with members and also setting meaningful and realistic goals. Now we have split the training between us and the zone leaders and sister training leaders.   

Wednesday was our first day that we did interviews and we got there about 1 hour late. We had to run to the mission office real quick to pick up some supplies for other missionaries. And right outside the mission office was a guy that had high centered his car. Hafer rd. is a very small road, and on the side it has ditches that go down about feet. And so we decided that we would get out and try to help him move his car up. So we were in our suits in a ditch trying to help this person. And this guy only spoke Spanish so we had a harder time communicating. Just the two of us were able to move the car forward about 10 feet, and we had the car in a spot that it would be easier to push out. So we also called two more missionaries that lived in our same apartment and they came and helped. We had some police officers that drove by and then turned around to come and help with traffic. But we were able to get this car out safely, it just took a little longer than we expected. 

It was cool because the Spanish elders were able to get the guys information, and then the police officer that was helping direct came and talked with us. She invited us to this big police department/ community party. She said they would do a little barbecue and then we would be able to meet new people. So that was a great way to start the morning. We got to interviews, had mud on our shoes and suit pants, and we were ready to go train on effective member missionary work! :)

The rest of the week was just more interview sessions until Friday. We were able to leave the 2nd interview session early so we could go to a ward service project. We went over to a library near the temple and helped set up tables and chairs and other things for this event called Creek Fest. It basically is a big event where kids can come and then they can do arts and crafts. We were able to serve there for about 3 hours. 

Our mission is really wanting to emphasize being out in the community more each week doing meaningful service. Also the church has just come out with a new website that is called And it is a website where you can find all kinds of different service opportunities. It is so great because of the fact that when we are out serving people recognize us and talk with us. When we serve we do not openly proselytize. If someone asks us questions then we can freely answer. But while were were serving we are just as happy as can be! 

And it was funny because we were having a great time serving and talking with people, and the person who was head over the service project came up to me and said, " who are you people? Y'all are just so nice and friendly and you work hard?" It was so simple but we were just able to explain how we were missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and then explained how we just love service opportunities and helping out in any possible way that we can! They expressed to us how grateful they were, and it was just a great experience.

And then to just finish off the week we were able to watch general conference! This is like my favorite time each year! I love being able to sit down and listen to what he prophets and apostles teach us. I know I came out of all the session just feeling so motivated and happy! And there were a couple of great themes that I was able to see! I loved how much they talked about prophets and apostles and sustaining them. There were so many talks that discussed that. There were also many talked about gaining this testimony through studying the scriptures and then asking God. 

Now through out the sessions we were able to have a couple of people who are not of our faith join us for general conference. And specifically one of the girls we have met with a couple times came. And before hand she said she didn't really have any basic belief in God. And so then right at the end of conference when Elder Bednar spoke it was just the cherry on top. He did such a great job at discussing the role of missionaries and why members invite their friends. I also just love the boldness of his talk and the love that you could feel as he spoke. 

I just have such a strong testimony about prophets and apostles! I know that they Gods mouthpiece here on the earth and are the way that we can learn more full how to stay on the path that leads back to the presence of our Father in Heaven. I love the idea that Elder Neil Anderson talked about in his talk about how for those who may not have a testimony of Joseph Smith, now is the time to get one. And he also explained how  can also strengthen our testimony of Joseph Smith. 

I loved the idea of how he said to read Joseph Smith History, and record it as you read and listen to it time and time again. And then read then how as we read the Book of Mormon we and pray with a sincere heart we can come to the knowledge that Joseph Smith was a Prophet here in the last days. This is something that I am going to try to do. I have a strong testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet, but the great thing is we can always strengthen our testimonies that much more! I would just invite each of you to strengthen your testimony of prophets and apostles. 

There is a variety of ways to do this. You can start by doing just as Elder Anderson counseled and read the testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. You can also then read the Book of Mormon as a family and pray to ask God if Joseph Smith was a Prophet. I promise you as you do this that you will come to the knowledge and and even stronger knowledge that Christ's original church was established back to the Earth through Joseph, I know this to be true. 

I also promise you as you make this a priority in your families and as y'all strive to do this that you will find more peace and happiness with in your families. And you will  know with an even greater knowledge that we are being led by a living modern day prophet and apostles! That is so comforting to know! I am so grateful for this knowledge and I know that to be true! 

I hope everyone has a wonderful week! 

Elder Joshua V. Christensen