Monday, March 30, 2015

Because He Lives

Hello everyone! What a wonderful week we were able to have! Like I mentioned last week we were able to have the missionary department with us this week. And they did such a great job at training us, and helping us see what things we could do to improve. 

Tuesday night my companion and I had the opportunity to meet with them, and then we went out that night on splits with our Mission President. It was great to see him and his family again also! But we went to dinner with President Mortensen, and we were just telling him about how the zone is doing. We were telling him about all the great things that were going on with the wonderful missionaries in our zone. We truly saw some incredible miracles this month with in the zone. And  the Lord blessed us as we were able to elevate our vision as a whole. 

From there he came with us to a couple of teaching appointments, and they were very powerful. We taught a recent convert about temples and family history, and his mom came and listened. And after the lesson she told us that she would like to begin taking the missionary lessons again. So we met with her 1 other time this week also and she is praying to know if she should be baptized at this time of her life. 

Then following that appointment with the recent convert we went over to another members home to meet with Brenda. We finished teaching her the Laws and ordinances lesson, and as always you could see how prepared she was for her baptism. Following that we went back to our apartment and had a planning session with President, and overall it went really well. He gave us some great pointers about what things we could do to improve, but he said we did a great job with focusing the planning on the people we were working with. 

We were able to find a couple new investigators this week that we will begin to work with, so we are excited for that! The Lord is blessing us so much! 

With the missionary department being in town we had a big MLC (Mission Leadership Council) meeting. It included all of the zone leaders and the sister training leaders and the district leaders. They trained us on how we can plan more effectively. As well as we were trained some different skills to help us be more effective teachers and help our investigators better progress and be prepared for baptism. Our meeting went from about 9:00 am until about 3:00 pm. So it was a long meeting but it was really good! 

They also showed us the new video that the church has produced. It is called " Because He Lives." It is amazing, but I will talk a little bit more about it at the end of my email.  

We had our zone meeting the next day, and it went very well. This last month the zone put a lot of hard work into accomplishing the goals that we had committed to. And we were even able to exceed the goal we had for this month. And with all of the training the missionary department gave us I can just see the zone continuing to see that same success. So I am excited to see what the future has in store for this zone and stake.

  We also had Brenda's baptism on Friday, and it was a fantastic service! And then on Sunday is when we were able to confirm her a member of the Church. But she just mentioned how great she felt after being baptized! And now they are set on working to get to the temple to do baptisms for the dead and also in one year to be sealed in the temple! It is such a great blessing! 

Well going back briefly to what I said earlier, the church has put out a new video. The link can be found just below, but I would just invite you as you watch this video, think of who comes to mind that you could share it with. And in what way you could help others to see this wonderful little video. 

This is such a wonderful little video. I want you to ponder just for a minute on the way you felt as you watched the video. What does it mean to you that Christ has risen. Because Christ truly has risen it means that we can receive a forgiveness of our sins, but not just that. We can have a hope in the Resurrection of Christ. We can know that He overcame the bands of death, and by so doing He bridged the gap to help us overcome the effect of the fall. 

I have found my self often this week thinking of the hymn #136 And I love just reading through the lyrics. Again I would invite you to think of the same question. What does it mean to you that Christ Lives. 

I know that my Redeemer lives.
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, he lives, who once was dead.
He lives, my ever-living Head.
He lives to bless me with his love.
He lives to plead for me above.
He lives my hungry soul to feed.
He lives to bless in time of need.

He lives to grant me rich supply.
He lives to guide me with his eye.
He lives to comfort me when faint.
He lives to hear my soul's complaint.
He lives to silence all my fears.
He lives to wipe away my tears.
He lives to calm my troubled heart.
He lives all blessings to impart.

He lives, my kind, wise heav'nly Friend.
He lives and loves me to the end.
He lives, and while he lives, I'll sing.
He lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King.
He lives and grants me daily breath.
He lives, and I shall conquer death.
He lives my mansion to prepare.
He lives to bring me safely there.

He lives! All glory to his name!
He lives, my Savior, still the same.
Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives:
"I know that my Redeemer lives!"
He lives! All glory to his name!
He lives, my Savior, still the same.
Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives:
"I know that my Redeemer lives!"

I know that Christ Lives, and I truly am grateful for his atonement that he made for us. I have found so much joy and comfort come as I have turned to my savior. And because he lives, he will answer us, and he will help us. No matter who you are, or what you have felt Christ can help you. That is what the wonderful message of the Gospel of Christ is. 

Please this week find at least one person that you could share this video with. I know by you sharing it with others that you will be able to help someone feel closer to Christ this Easter season. The video is powerful and the Holy Ghost will testify of the truthfulness that He lives. 

And just think of how blessed we are also this next weekend to hear from the Prophet and the Apostles and hear them testify about the divinity of Christ. They truly are witnesses of Christ, and I know that as you listen to them this week end and you prayerfully consider the questions you have going into conference that you will be able to find and answer.  

Take the time to be prepared to receive what the Lord wants you to receive by going to the Temple, and by reading your scriptures prayerfully! And as you do this you  will be able to feel uplifted and edified! I know this to be true and I testify of it. 

Well I hope y'all have a great week! 

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Monday, March 23, 2015

Who let the dog out!

Hey everyone one! So this last week has been another great week! We were able to see some really great miracles with the area. We were able to teach Brenda a few more times and  right now she is still good for baptism this coming Friday. We are really excited for that!  It has been so cool to hear how excited and set they are for going to the temple in one year also. They are both progressing so fast!  

And in addition to that the zone will be having 5 baptisms just this Friday! I think a few weeks ago I may have mentioned about how at MLC we committed as a zone that we would get 6. Well we were really nervous because some of the people that we were expecting to be baptized were struggling with a few things. And so we talked with the elders and decided that we would pray specifically that this family could be baptized. And on Friday we heard that they were back on track fro this upcoming week end and instead of 6 we will be having 7.  So we will be able to achieve the goal that we set. And we can just see that the Lord truly is hastening his work! It just goes to show that as we put our faith and trust in the Lord he will bless us according to the righteous desires of our hearts. 

We also got a call from our mission president this last week, and he told us that this week the missionary department will be coming to town. And he wanted to have us go out on splits with them. So the missionary department guys are like the experts of missionary work! So we are excited to be one of the 3 companionships that get to go with them. We will learn a lot of great things from it. Then this coming week we will also have a MLC that is from the missionary department! So we are excited to see the training they come prepared with! 

At the end of the week we went to help an area in our zone that has continued to have a harder time when it comes to finding. So we decided to do a district blitz. So we brought in 4 companionships to this one area to help them find people to teach. 

Well we got to the place we were going to meet at and we got there a little early and some of the other area came later. But we decided to open with a prayer and in the prayer we asked for an opportunity to talked with someone else before the others arrived, and that we knew with he Lords help that we could teach. And then after we start knocking some doors. 

And the first was a nice guy. He was a Jehovah's witness, but he wasn't very interested in talking with us. So the 2nd door we knocked a guy answered and immediately told us he was not interested. And he didn't seem very happy to see us. And all of the sudden his little dog went out the door and just took off! Like I have never seen a little dog go so fast before. And he didn't seem to have any intentions just stopping. Well of course now the guy who answered the door is even more mad with us. He told us to leave, and now that his dog would never come back. 

So we went out and instead of knocking we tried to find this guys dog! So we walked for about 10-15 min trying to find it with no luck. My comp wanted to just stat knocking some doors again, and we just a talked for a bit about trying to find this guys dog. And I just remember saying that if this is the Lords will we will find his dog.  So were walking back to the car to meet some of the other elders, and then out of no where this little white fur ball runs across the street! My companion almost yelled "there he is!" And so we started going after him to get him. He saw us and started running towards us. I crouched to pick him up, and was ready to dive on him if he was going to run off another way. But luckily we got him! 

We started walking him back to the owners home. And my companion had a great idea to pray before we brought this dog back to thank the Lord and to ask for a opportunity to teach. And in his exact words he said please allow us to be able to have a discussion with this man. Well once we closed the prayer we rang the door bell again and gave this guy his dog back. And he was so happy. And then he put his dog inside and stepped out on the porch and closed the door behind him. And he looked at us with a smile, and he said alright this calls for a discussion what do you have for me! 

My companion and I just turned to each other knowing that this was a blessing from the Lord. We were able to teach him about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth. He has a really busy schedule, but I know because of sincere prayer the Lord opened up that opportunity for us to teach!

The Lord truly is in every detail of his work! As we rely upon him and ask for his help he will be able to help us! You can see even from this simple act of service it opened up opportunities to share the gospel! What a great blessing!  I know that to be true! 

Well I hope yall have a great week! 

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Monday, March 16, 2015

Temple Tours and the Blessings of Elevated Vision

  Hey everyone so this week was a great week! And just as always time continues to just fly by! I am excited for what is going on here in the mission. So this week we were able to meet with our investigator Brenda again, and she is continuing to progress. And right now she will actually be getting baptized a day earlier that we had originally planned for. But she is so excited to be there and to learn! 

We taught her the gospel of Jesus Christ this week, but before we began she started the lesson by saying, " So I have been reading a lot as you know, and I don't feel like I have had an experience with the holy ghost where I felt it super strong like my husband did, but I can't deny that this is true. I know that this is the true church and I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I have seen how much closer it has brought me and my husband, and I am ready and anxious for my baptism." 

Now as a missionary this is something that brings you so much joy to hear! When you see someone accept the gospel and apply in their life, and then see the increased happiness they have: its priceless! 
I have truly loved that aspect of my mission! 

But again while we may see that baptism is necessary, we know it is not the final step. We know that we must continue to push forward and endure to the end. Because we are human we make mistakes. But because of the gospel of Jesus Christ we can exercise our faith unto repentance. And as we partake of the sacrament we can be clean again! What a wonderful blessing. And then we keep working hard until the point when we can enter into the temple of God to be able to receive other necessary ordinances. 

So also this week we were blessed with such a great opportunity. We got a call on Saturday from the assistants, and they asked us to come be some of the tour guides for the temple ground tours that we were able to do yesterday. I was so excited when I heard of the opportunity we would have to give the tours of the temple grounds. 

President Mortensen started this just last month. And last month when they did it they had between 200-300 people come to the tours. We were some of the first missionaries to be able to help out with these tours so it was really exciting! We went to the temple on Saturday to meet with President, and he walked us through how to give the tours. 

At first we were pretty nervous realizing how big a responsibility this was. But at the same time we were so grateful for the opportunity to give tours of the temple grounds! What a blessing! So we were there for almost 2 hours and then we practiced. And obviously we had to go home and study that night to be ready. 

​( Random picture while we were at the temple on Saturday! 

Well Sunday comes and we were just about as excited as we could be! We show up to the temple around 3:00 and we are just going through and practicing so we will feel better about doing it. And then at 4 is when the tours would begin. At first it didn't look like quite as many people would come, but then at once you see about 80 people walk around the corner of the temple. And from their they just kept coming! It was so cool! By the time the temple tour was over we had about 200 or so people that were able to come!  

One of the reasons I Loved this so much was because when people came to the temple. They left with their vision raised. Like I said earlier in order to really experience all the blessing God wants us to have, we have to make it to the temple. 

Now during the tour we talk about the history of the Houston temple being built and how the land was acquired. We also talk about the Angel Moroni and how he is the fulfillment the prophesy we read about in the the book of Revelations (Rev. 14:6-7)  in the new testament. We talk about how when Christ was here he established a church but just as the bible prophesies there was be a period of time in which it would not be found here on the earth. But in 1823 the angel Moroni appeared to the prophet and delivered to him a record  later on that he translated through the power of God. We know that to be the Book of Mormon. And as we read and ponder and pray we can come to know that it is true. 

After that we talk about the doctrine of baptisms for the dead that was restored to the earth. And how when we go to do baptisms we are able to liberate our ancestors from their sins by preforming baptism in their behalf. This was an ordinance in Christ original church. We learn in in 1CRN 15 29. . Christ taught the doctrine of how baptisms is necessary in order to inherit the kingdom of God.  Then we talk about that is the reason why we put so much emphasis on family history as a church! Because we know the gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone! So then we help find our ancestors and help give them that opportunity to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

And then my favorite part of the whole tour is when we end at the front doors of the temple. Because we talk about how in the temple we learn more about the plan of salvation. We discuss how in traditional Christianity the false doctrine has crept in that that marriage only lasts until death. But we also know from the bible that the Lord intended for marriage to last far beyond death. We read in 1st Crn 11:11 ,

"neither is the man with out the woman neither is the woman with out the man in the Lord." And we also remember from the Bible that Christ is teaching his apostle Peter about the keys of the kingdom and how what ever Peter shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven. Now this power and authority to baptize and seal is back on the earth today. It is the same authority in which Christ had and gave to his apostles. And it is the very authority and power of God which was used to lead and direct Christs church! 

This authority was was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith by Peter James and John. 3 of Christs original apostles. And now that same authority is here and for the purpose and sealing our families together forever. Just think of how amazing this is. This is truly what the Lord intended for his children! That is why temples are so important. And at the end I was just able to bare as strong of a testimony as I could about how our families can be sealed! 

It was such a wonderful experiencing to be on temple grounds and to feel of the great spirit there. And it was a great opportunity for the spirit to confirm the truth to those who came. There were many people who came to the temple and received the answer that they needed to be baptized and instead of that being their end goal, they had there vision raised to the temple! 

This was the case with Brenda! She started asking us after the tour how soon she could go to the temple. And her and her husband are both committed to doing everything they can in order to be sealed! They want those blessing. And truly Heavenly Father desires all of us to receive these blessings! 

The gospel of Jesus Christ is truly eternal. And it is here to help us and those who have passed on return to our Father in Heaven! And at the center of that is our Savior Jesus Christ! He came and suffered and died in order to help us be clean and return home to our Father in Heaven! That truly shows how much our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ Love us!  I know these things  to be true! 

Well I hope y'all have a great week! Please keep looking for missionary opportunities. And remember to focus your sights on the temple. I would encourage you to go to the temple frequently! I know blessing await you and your families as you do this! 

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Joyful Burden of Discipleship

March 7th - Happy 20th Birthday to our Missionary!

This week has been a good week! We had so many great adventures this week. We had MLC this week, and it was such an inspiring meeting. 

President Mortensen had us ponder on the question of, " What would we need to do differently as missionaries in order to double baptisms." As we were there we were able to council as zone leaders and sister training leaders about how we could accomplish this. President Mortensen then told us that this is the new vision that the Lord has in store for our mission! And immediately the spirit testified to me that this was true! President Mortensen then went on to explain how the missionary department will be taking our missionary count from 270 to about 200. Now this wasn't to big of a surprise for me because in previous transfers as an assistant we counseled about which wards we would pull missionaries from and where we would place the ones we have to still get the same amount of work done. 

 But we came together as zones to discuss what we could commit to in terms of how many baptisms and our efforts with setting dates. And we felt like for the month of March we could commit to 6 baptisms as a zone. So that is what we committed to. And so we continued to council and discuss what kind of efforts it would take in order to accomplish the new vision that the Lord has for our mission. And at the end President Mortensen said to us, " this might sound arbitrary but I want each of you to say your committed if your in." And he proceeded to go around the room 1 missionary at a time, and each missionary then said they were committed. At this point again the spirit filled the room and testified to us this is what we needed to do. So I am excited for what the Lord has in store. 

After the meeting I sat pondering on the best way that we could take this back to the zone. This was exciting to hear, but at the same time you felt this wonderful burden upon you to make sure you could present it well to our zone.  So I continued pondering and my thoughts went to some of the great missionaries we read about in the scriptures. 

I started reading through Alma 17 and 26, describing the way that they prepared themself, and as well as the success they were able to have. Well I pondered on this over the next several days, and little by little I felt I was able to receive revelation of ways that were could share it. Elder DeLuca and I counseled about what we wanted to accomplish and how we would go about teaching it powerfully. And we truly were able to feel the Lords help. And we felt that as we got up on Friday to teach that we were able o help elevate the vision of the zone. The spirit truly was strong this week as we taught. 

It was also a testimony builder to me because this week as I have looked back through the baptisms that took place over the last year here in the Klein zone, I found that we averaged to 2-3 baptisms a month. Well this was exciting to me because like I said before during MLC we committed that 6 would happen. And so we can see that the Lord is having this doubling baptisms take place! Right now for March we have a potential of having 9 people baptized into the church! How exciting is that! The Lord is truly hastening his work!   

But we also knew that the meeting would not be enough to  get this change to take place. It would take consistent follow up and accountability through our district leaders and the zone. So that is now what we are working on in order to elevate ourselves to a higher level of commitment.  

Also this week we were able to meet with our investigator Brenda. And she told us earlier in the week that she was ready and excited to be baptized at the end of the month. She said she was ready to be baptized for a remission of sins and feel clean again! We are so excited for her! 

We met with her yesterday also and when we first arrived she said, I have kinda  a weird question for yall that is kinda off topic. But I hear so much about the temple but I have no idea what it is. And then Elder DeLuca and I  just looked at each other and smiled. We came prepared that day to teach about family history and temple work. As we told that to Brenda and the spirit began to fill the room.

We taught about the importance of baptism and how it is needed in order for us to return home and live with God. It is the "key" that can unlock the gate that leads to him. And we asked her about everyone else in the world who had died with out a knowledge of Christ and his gospel. How would they get that key? And she just looked at us and said I am not sure, but I feel like the Lord would provide a way for them. 

We then testified that he would and we talked about how in the spirit world they have that opportunity to learn about the gospel. But because they don't have bodies they can't be baptized. And we then talked about the temple and about baptisms for the dead. We talked about her ancestors and how she holds that "key" for her ancestors salvation. And the spirit was so strong and she felt it! What a wonderful blessing it was to be able to teach her about the temple! By the end of the lesson she could not stop smiling! It was amazing. 

Well to finish the week, we were out knocking doors for almost 2 straight hours in the rain! We knew with this new vision that we had to make sure we are still out finding. And we knocked over 30 houses on this long street, and each of them said they would not listen to us, and many of them were in all honesty very rude. But door after door we kept going because we knew what our message could mean for a family. We knew that we would find someone who was being prepared.  

We finished knocking all the houses on the street. We were very wet by the time we had finished and on top of that as we were walking back to our car a police officer pulled up. Someone had called the cops and said that there were two guys dressed in dark slacks and coats who were going door to door. But this is where the Lord blessed us, we tried to still be as happy as we could, and the cop got out, and it turns out that she was a member. She looked at us and laughed and said so you are the two guys who are going door to door? We laughed and said we are, we are trying to find those who the Lord has prepared.  

She saw how wet we were, and she said that there was no problem with what we were doing. She let us go, and we continued back to our car. It was a tender mercy that she was a member. I have had other times on my mission where cops are called and they aren't always the nicest. But we went home that night knowing that we had done all we could that day to find who was prepared. 

It could have been so easy to just give up half way through, and go back to the car. it could have been so easy to say the people here aren't interested, and it is too cold and wet, but the fact is the message of the restoration is far to important.   I know how important this message is to the world. I know of the power and the peace that it can bring to the lives of families. 

It truly is a joyful burden that we are blessed to be able to carry to the world! At times it may get rough, but the Lord will always be there to help lift our burdens as we come unto him. I know this to be true! We are all blessed to be able to be instrument in the Lord's hands in bringing souls unto Christ. I love this gospel, and I know it is true. 

Please continue to do all you can to share it with friends or family. I know as you do so it will bless your life forever. And know that you truly do have the Lord on your side and he will guide you on what to say and what to do. I testify of that!!

Well I hope y'all have a great week!

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Monday, March 2, 2015

Waste and wear out your lives in the service of God

 Hey everyone! Things continue to be amazing here in Tomball! The Lord is hastening his work. This week we were able to set 3 baptismal dates, as well as we have two of our recent converts who are committed and actively working towards getting to the temple to do baptisms at the end of the month. What better work could we be involved in! 

 I have said it so many times, but this gospel truly is such a blessing. I just think of the miracles that we were able to see this week, and again how the Lord places those who are prepared and searching in our path. We were able to teach one of our investigators that we found last week. Her name is Anca, and we were able to go to the park and walk around with her on Wednesday. She had so many sincere questions about the Book of Mormon, and about the plan of Salvation. And she just mentioned how excited she is to continue to learn. 

She originally is from Romania, and is going to be moving to Canada in a few months. She was going to leave sooner, but she is waiting for a couple of things to be finished before she leaves. So we will have the opportunity to continue meeting with her. We also invited her to a baptism in our zone this week and to church, and she was about to come but she had something come up last minute. But she said she would love to come in these coming weeks!

We were also able to teach one of our new investigators named Matt about the Book of Mormon and the restoration of Christ's church. And once he was taught about prophets he was so excited and he said how it made so much sense that there should be prophets on the earth today. And he said at the end of the lesson how he feels as if God has been leading him to the church. The Spirit was strong and we were able to leave him with a soft baptismal commitment and he accepted.  We will be hopefully seeing him this coming week. 

One of the other big miracles we saw this week was with our investigator named Brenda. I talked about her a little bit last week. She has come to church 3 weeks in a row and she is continuing to learn and progress. When we met with her yesterday she said she had been reading from the Book of Mormon and has felt as though she is becoming a better person by reading it. We talked to her about if she has had a chance to pray about it yet, and she said she wants to do it when she can go to a quiet place and ponder and really ask God if it is true. I wish I could explain it the way that she did, but she was so sincere in her response. Again you can see how she is a sincere seeker of truth. 

  Well she was keeping her commitment to read so we were able to move on to the plan of salvation. And we were able to teach it powerfully to her. She was able to answer the questions and you could just see her countenance lift as she began to understand the plan of salvation and how it relates to her. And at the end of the lesson we were able to talk about the Celestial Kingdom and how we have lives with our families eternally there. And then at the end of the lesson we invited her to set the goal to live in the Celestial Kingdom and explained how we can get on the path that leads back to our Father in Heaven. 

We read through John 3:5. We discussed how Christ taught us the way to enter on to this path. And we discussed how it is through baptism that we are able to start on that path. Once she read that it totally clicked for her! And we then let the spirit testify to her of the truthfulness of that. And then after a few moments, I looked at her and said, " Brenda, do you now see why we invited you to be baptized last time we met?" And she just was quiet for a second and replied how it made sense to her now. 

The spirit was strong and we invited to her to prepare to be baptized one March 28th. We explained how baptism was just a short term goal, and is ultimately not the end. The end goal is to return home and live with God again. But as we follow Christs example through baptism we put ourselves on the path and can prepare our self for returning to live with God. She accepted and is ready and excited to meet again. We will be able to meet with her tomorrow to continue to help her be prepared for her baptism. 

The Lord is providing! It again just makes me think of the scripture in D&C  18:10-11

10 Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;
 11 For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.
The Lord wants all of his children to return home and live with him again! And EVERY soul is great in the sight of God. 

 13 Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven—
 14 These should then be attended to with great earnestness.
 17 Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.

I know that as we follow this council in D&C 123 that we shall have great joy as we bring souls unto Christ! And that the Lord will be able to use us as instruments in his hand in bringing much good to his Children! I know this to be true and testify of is as one of His called representatives. 

I would just invite you to ponder upon other things you can do this week to help someone closer to Christ. I would also invite you to pray specifically as families for missionary opportunities, and I promise you will be given them. 

Well I hope y'all have a great week!

Elder Joshua V. Christensen