Monday, April 20, 2015

The Lord Provides!

Hey everyone! It was another great week to be back in the Woodlands! We were able to see some great miracles happen this week! We ares till trying to get some more traction in the area with how new we are still, but little by little we are getting there. We were able to meet with alot of Less active members. And it has been so great to see how involved the members are getting! There really is just this renewed excitement in the ward for missionary work! It is amazing! 

Tuesday we also had interviews with our Mission President, and this time around we did them just a little bit different. In the past we would have big groups of  missionaries come in and they would receive training as the mission president would pull people out to interview them. But this time we had them on a schedule where a new companionship would come in every 30 min. So we had them come in shifts. And while one was being interviewed we were with the other looking through their area books as well as help train them about how we can get wards more involved with new member discussion of recent converts. 

So that took up almost our whole Tuesday. So even though it was sad that we weren't out working in our area that day we still saw miracles. We were able to help missionaries have a raised vision of what they can accomplish in there wards, as well as during interview we kept getting texts from some of our ward members. 

So one text came from a member of another ward asking if we could come help them move an investigator into our ward boundaries that following Sunday and that she has been very receptive to the gospel and wants to come to church. And then we also got another message that  Sister Chappel was in contact with one of our former investigators that was really close to baptism while I was here. And that she was setting up a time for us to meet with her! So even though we were out of the area miracles were happening! 

And then also Sister Hoyer went over to get a limited use recommend to go do baptisms for the dead at the temple. She came with her family two weeks ago to the temple grounds tour. And after she decided that she wanted to renew her recommend and learn more about family history. So it is really cool because we will actually have the opportunity tonight go over and teach them more about family history! So we are so excited for that! 

This week we also realized that we needed to spend more time out finding because we didn't have  a big teaching pool at the moment! We have a lot of great potential coming, but at the moment it is smaller. So we talked with each other and said that we needed to put a great effort in to find those who were being prepared by the Lord. And then for the next few days we set new goal and plans for finding. 

Thursday we saw a great miracle with finding! So this week has been pretty rainy here in Houston. We have had some intense thunder and lighting storms. And we promised from 6-8 that we would go knock doors. And so we started right at 6. And the first 15 min were great. But then it began to start raining. So we went back to our car to grab our Jackets, and we put them on and then we started walking back and the rain turned into a crazy storm! We were soaked in like 10 min easy! And it rained like that the rest of the night! 

We went door to door and people just started laughing at us because there are to Mormon missionaries who are soaked still trying to go out and find people to teach. And it was fun being out in the rain, but for the first hour and a half that was the response we would get from people. But we did meet a lot of really nice people through out that time. But we just kept going knowing that we had committed to the Lord to do better, and we knew that we would provide someone for us to teach! 

And then at 7:30 a guy named David opened the door! He saw how wet we were and asked us how we were doing. And then after he asked us which denomination we were from. And so we told him that we were from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He was nice but immediately said "no no I am quite fine, have a nice night" And so I asked him if he had heard any thing about the church or had any questions that we could answer. And he just replied back saying, " No it's the fact y'all have another Bible that I don't like." I then asked him if he would allow us to explain our belief on The Book of Mormon, and that he didn't need to accept it, but just let us explain it. He sat quietly thinking for about 5 seconds, and then opened the door and told us to come inside.  

 He left the room for a second and he was going to grab us some towels, and then I asked if he had his Bible that we could use because it was so wet we left our full set of scriptures in the Car. As he left to get it I turned to Elder Graves and told him to pray for me. I wanted to use a different approach to explaining The Book of Mormon than I have used a few other times. I think I have shared this way with y'all a few times, but I would explain with talking about the 12 tribes of Israel. 

 So when he came back we had and opening prayer, and I asked him about what he understood the Bible to be. And he explained that it was the word of God. And I asked him how the word was revealed to God's children. And he then said how it was revealed through the prophets and the apostles. And then I asked him, who was the primary record keepers of the Bible, and he didn't know that one, so I just explained that it was primarily the tribe of Judah, and that is why the Bible is reference in the scriptures to the stick of Judah. And he then understood that part. 

I then began to talk about the 12 tribes of Israel and how they were God's covenant and chosen people. And he agreed with that. I asked him if God were to reveal his word to the other tribes also if it would hold equal weight with the Bible in terms of being the Word of God. He said absolutely. I continued to talk about how we know that the Bible is the record form the tribe of Judah, but I asked him what happened to the other tribes of Israel. He said that they were carried away into Babylon. And I asked him how many tribes were carried away. And he wasn't quite sure. So I told him how 10 were carried away. 

So I said, " ok so 10 were carried away into Babylon, and then we know about Judah, what happened to the other tribe?"    He replied, "oh my goodness, the lost tribe!" And by this point he is like on the edge of his seat. He was asking me to tell him about it. So I opened up in his bible to Ezekiel 37: 15-18, and he read about the stick of Judah and the Stick of Joseph coming together and being one in our hand. So he said the stick of Joseph is the missing tribe. 

This whole time you could tell that the spirit was testifying to him. And then told him he was correct and then pulled a copy of The Book of Mormon out of my back pack and put it on the table and he just went silent. He understood, but he was still a little bit hesitant. 

And so my companion started testifying immediately about the Book of Mormon, and then committed him to read the Book of Mormon. And he said he wouldn't read the whole thing but he would commit to read for two hours out of it and then pray and ask God if the things we had taught were true! The spirit was so strong and you know that he felt it. And he asked us to come back in about two weeks. So we left with a prayer and he offered it and he was so open and sincere in wanting to find out if it was true!  

So we again see how merciful the Lord is to us. And that as we do our part that the Lord will place people in our path. I was so nervous to explain the Book of Mormon that way but that is what I felt I should do, and the Lord helped fill my mouth with the words needed. I am so grateful for the spirit and for my Father in Heaven! This is such a great work to be involved in. And like I said in the beginning we planned from 6-8 to find, and we walked out of his house right at 8:00. The Lord provides according to our faith and desires if it is His will. 

Well to finish off this week, we helped move the investigator into our ward, and it was a great experience, and she was very interested in coming to church and starting to learn. So she will be at church next week, and hopefully we will start teaching her soon after that. 

And Sunday we had a wonderful stake conference! It was such an inspired meeting, and then we were able to go meet with some different members in the ward. We had two other families that wanted us to come over to meet there neighbors and try to start teaching them! So we just see the Lord continuing to bless the area!  So it was just a great week! 

Well I hope y'all have a great week! 

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I am going home... to College Park!!!!!

  Hey everyone! So it has been quite the week! Many of you may remember how last week I told you I was getting transferred! Well I found out this last Tuesday where I was going! Turns out I am back in College Park!! It is so crazy to think! I left college park about 1 year ago, and I was there for about 9 months. I was so excited to hear I was going back to this ward! 

When I was hear last time we had so many great things going on, and the trust with the members was amazing. But I guess after I left over the next several month the missionaries and members didn't work as closely together and so the ward wasn't feeling that same missionary excitement, but things were still going really well! The companionship that was here before me and my companion( By the way we got white washed into the area, so we are trying to get everything figured out.) did a great job and bringing and bond back between the members and the missionaries. So things are really beginning to pick up in this ward! This week alone we have been able to see so many miracles! 

It has been a crazy week, but so good! Because we are new to the area we went around to all of the different auxiliaries, We met with Bishop Dowdle. Him and his family were really excited to see me again, and I was excited to see them. We met with bishop 3 different times this week to discuss the needs of the members and places he needed us to stop and and visit. So already we have gained his full trust, and we are seeing amazing things happening! 

We also met with the Elders Quorum  president and the relief society President, and the High Priest group leader. and so on. So we have been able to get alot of information this week about the ward and the needs of the ward. We are so excited to be here in the ward and to just work as hard as we can! 

In addition to that we had a baptism this last week, we got to the area and then found out there was a baptism. So this week we met with the investigator and finished up the lessons with her. Her name was Juany. We had an incredible lesson with her this last week at the Jensens home. The Jensens are the ones who found Juany. They saw here and her roommate trying to unload furniture out of a moving van up 3 stories of stairs. They offered to help, and brought members from the ward to help, and little by little over the last 3 weeks it lead her to investigate and decide that she needed to be baptized. 

She has an incredible story. She comes from a rough background, and as she learned more and prayed to know, she said the spirit came to her so strongly and she knew that she needed to be baptized! So as I said we had a great lesson with her. We taught the laws and ordinances lesson with her and talked to her more about how she was feeling about her baptism. We also covered the restoration of the priesthood and family history and temple work! Her understanding of the gospel is incredible everything we taught she understood. 

And one question I love to ask while teaching about family history is, " Have you had any ancestors on you mind lately?"  Now this sounds like a weird question to ask, but so far on my mission every time I have asked this question they have said yes, and it has been a relative that has passed away. And we then explain the reason for why they are thinking of them. We will reference to the promise found right at the end of the book of Malachi, where he prophesies about how Elijah will be send and the hearts of the father will turn to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers. 

We told Juany the reason why she was thinking of them was because her ancestors have accepted the gospel, and they are fully ready to take that next step, but on there own they can not. That is why baptisms for the dead are so important as well as any other temple ordinance.  And after teaching about this the spirit was so strong and Juany knew it was true. And that only made her that much more exited to get to the temple and start doing family history work! So just a great week! 

It took quite some time though to get everything ready for the baptism. There were so many details that we had to get figures out, but we were able to finish! It was a great baptismal service, and she even brought her room mate, and she felt the spirit so strong also! So hopefully we will begin to be able to teach her! 

And to finish the week, I had a wonderful experience at church! I was able to greet all of the members and see how they were doing! So many of them were so excited and they want us over in there home to teach them and there families! It is so amazing.  But Sunday evening we got a late phone call from the assistants, and they wanted me to come down to the temple that evening and give one of the tours of the temple grounds! I gladly accepted and we went down to the temple grounds that evening! 

We had so many people again! Alot of the groups were bigger than last time! We can see the Lord hastening his work. The group I helped tour last time was about 35 people. This time around I did the full tour on my own, and then the group was around 64 people just in my group. These tours are amazing! So many people have there visions raised and are wanting to work towards getting to the temple so bad! 

We brought a part member family from the college park ward. And the husband isn't a member, but you would never expect it! He is so awesome! But their whole family came to the tour and was in my group! And after they started asking more questions! So in two weeks we are going to start meeting with them! The spirit is so strong while we were walking around and talking about the temples! When they hear about all the parts of the gospel of Jesus Christ that were restored  back to the earth, the spirit can easily testify to them that it is true! They can feel that peace on temple grounds! Such a great

And to finish the night we met with different members and we just talked about missionary work and so many members are beginning to be more open to looking fore missionary opportunities. This week alone we have seen so many miracles. And then this morning we got a call from our bishop. And he has asked us what we did this week! He was so excited because he got and email from the Part member family we were talking about and the wife wants to get a limited use recommend for the temple and start doing our family history. And the ward has been working with this family for a little while! So we just see how much the Lord is guiding his work right now! It really is amazing!  

And one more miracle to add to that we are in our office emailing right now and like 15 min ago someone I met while I lived in this complex walked in and started talking to me! He said after I left he met with some missionaries and then for a while he stopped. But now he wants to start meeting. And he said I need to be baptized so we can start working towards that! What is going on! I just again know and testify that this is the Lords work. He stands at the helm and leads us each and every day! And as each of us as members and missionaries come together we can assist our Father in Heaven in His work! I know this to be true!

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

Sunday, April 12, 2015

General Conference/ Final week in Tomball

(Josh's email from Monday April 6th)

Hey everyone! This week was a wonderful week! I so very much enjoyed being able to hear from our beloved Prophet and the apostles! There was so much great council that came over this last weekend. That is one thing that I just love about General Conference is the fact that as we  go in prepared with questions and we are prayerful about them, we will receive answers. General conference is just so inspired! And it builds my testimony so much of how Christ church truly is on the earth again, and he is at the helm leading us through his prophets and apostles.

 We had some other amazing experiences this week! We taught one of our investigators named Anca, and we retaught the restoration to her. And as we began to teach about the restoration, and we recited the first vision, she had an a ha moment where the spirit testified to her about prophets. It was amazing we were teaching her out in this park, and after the first vision we were just quiet. And after a few moments of silence, she said oh my goodness. Until this point I hadn't even entertained the thought about prophets. But what if there are prophets on the earth! That would be amazing! And she just kept talking about how amazing it would be. And in follow up to her excitement we invited her to come listen to general conference. 

Now unfortunately some things came up and she wasn't  able to make it to conference. But she will go back and watch some of them, and then we will be meeting with her again this week. But some thing else she said really stuck out to me. She said in the past she met with different people to learn more about theology and to increase her knowledge of different religions.  But she said after the lesson that is would now be different. It was more a spiritual thing for her now. 

We also tried to meet with Julie and Madison and we talked with them last night. And Julie said that her and Madison still want to be baptized May 2nd and they are planning on it. So we talked with them about the expectations and the things that would need to happen in order to have her be ready to be baptized. So that was great and we will meet with her this week also. But a cool miracle with their family happened this week. 

So Julies Husband in the past has not been very open to the missionaries. And so during the times we have gone over there the past few months we have been able to talk with him more and more. And then on Friday when we talked with him he asked if we could go running together the next morning around 6:00 am. We said that we would love to, and then after he said " Once we are done running maybe we can sit at a picnic table and you can share a thought or message with me that can help me" Oh my goodness I was so excited when he said this! Over the past few months the lord has continued to soften his heart and prepare him to listen to the restored gospel. 

And so that next morning we went and ran with him, and we felt prompted after to show him the Because he lives video. And at first he said he really liked that. But after talking with Julie last night we found out after seeing it and talking about it that he went home and showed Julie the video and started talking about it! We see the Lord is continuing to open doors to help others experience the joy that God wants them to feel. We will hopefully begin to teach the whole family. 

One more miracle I wanted to share real quick happened when I was on exchanges this week. So I went to the memorial springs ward, and while we were there they had planned to drop by a few of the members in that ward. And while we were biking from place to place, we biked past a man who was getting something out of his car. And we passed by him and I had the thought come in to my mind that we needed to turn around and talk to this man specifically. And so I called a head to the missionary in front of me and said lets turn around.  

We went up to him and I started talking to him about the because he lives video, and then he stopped me and he told me that he use to be a member of the church like 20 years ago. I was very shocked. He said that he was baptized shortly after high school and use to go teaching with all the missionaries, but then when college came and the time for marriage he became "too busy" to continue. But he still fully believes that it is true. And he then asked me where the closest church building was at and we gave him the address for it. We had a really good discussion with him. 

So that ward will pull his membership record in, and then he also said we could come back and talk with his family. So it may be a great opportunity for those missionaries to go back and teach the whole family and elevate there vision to the temple where they can receive the blessing of being able to be sealed for all time and eternity. 

It just was a blessing to that the spirit prompted me to turn around, and I was so happy that I recognized it and then went and acted upon it! I have said it so many time but truly how great of a blessing is it that we are able to help others come closer to Christ! It is a wonderful blessing! 

Well I hope y'all have a great week! 

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Also just so you know I found out that I will be getting transferred this week. So I will head to my new area tomorrow.