Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Disciples in a Digital Age!

This last week has gone by so fast, and has just in such an inspiring week! Sadly I don't have as much time to explain everything that happened. But we were able to get in with a handful of our investigators this week. 

We met with Brandon, and he told us that now he realizes the full commitment that baptism is. He knows he wants to be baptized, he just doesn't think right now is quite the best time. But he said he wants to continue to meet with us, and then when he goes off to School next month he wants to get in contact with the missionaries there, and start working towards baptism once some of those things start settling down. But it has just been incredible to see the change that has taken place in him in the last 7 weeks. The Gospel truly can changes peoples live!

With Sundae we met with twice and we taught her the rest of the commandments. She mentioned that she wasn't feeling quite ready for baptism. She knew this would be the right path she just didn't feel that she had received and answer to the Book of Mormon yet. So going into Sunday we prepared her the best of our abilities to receive an answer. We discussed the importance of the sacrament, and invited to to pray specifically about the Book of Mormon during the sacrament. We knew that our mission president would also be speaking in our ward on Sunday so we called him to ask him if he would be willing to bear testimony of the Book of Mormon, and keep Sundae in mind as he was speaking to help address any concerns she had. 

We prayed so hard that during church that she would be able to receive an answer of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Her baptismal date was scheduled for this next Saturday, but her receiving and answer would depend on if she would go through with it. We talked with her after church to see how she felt and to see if she had been received an answer. She mentioned that she still wasn't quite sure. So we told her that was fine and set up a return appointment for tonight. 

And then today after our mission conference about the ipads we got a message from her asking if it was to late for her to still be baptized for this coming week!!! So we are going to meet with her tonight to discuss the details of what needs to happen for her to be ready. But it just goes to show that the Lord will answer our prayers! Just as Sundae was sincere in her prayer, and as she came prepared to receive and then she pondered upon it she was able to receive and answer. So we are excited. We will try to still get everything to work out so it can be this week! 

Last night we were also blessed to have the opportunity to go over to the Mortensen's home for a family home evening with an investigator family that we are working with! And it was so great! The spirit was so strong, and you could tell the family that came loved it. After we were able to talk to them for a little bit about when we can meet again. They are taking the steps to find out if the Book of Mormon is true. And as they continue to do that they will be able to receive and answer. We stayed there a little bit longer after the family left because we had a pretty big storm hit yesterday. And so when the time came it was like 10 and we just decided to drive home in it because we need to go. We got home safe, but over this past few days we have had some good storms coming through. But it was such a great night! 

Well I know I kinda mentioned this, but today we had a mission conference. We received training on the ipads that are here. We will get the ipads in the next week and a half. But we talked about truly how the Lord is hastening his work with this wonderful technology we have! Christ called his disciples and asked them to drop everything they had to follow him.  We know  also at the end of his ministry the commandment the Lord gave was to take the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue and people. And how that commandment is still in full force today. We see in today's world everyone has access to a phone, and to the internet. This is common in almost every part of the world. This technology that the Lord has blessed is a wonderful tool to help us fulfill that commandment that he has given unto us. 

With these wonderful tools we will be able to reach out to reach so many more of the Lords children! And it will be such a great way to also help our investigators progress as we will be able to keep in better contact with them, as well as we will be able to use different Skype and face time feature to teach more people. Now that part of it won't come for a few weeks, but that is eventually where this mission will be.  We had Elder Nielsen of the first quorum of the seventy come and instruct us today. It was so inspiring! I know this email does not do it justice, but I just have such a strong testimony that this is the Lords work! I know that he is hastening his work! We are so blessed to be apart of it! 

I would just invite each of you to think of ways you and your families can use this Technology to spread the gospel, and use it to help lift and strengthen your families.  Talk about it over dinner or even during family home evening. I promise you as you prayerfully consider this that the Lord will help you know what you can do to accomplish this. And that you will have a great joy as you become a disciple of Christ in this digital age! 

I hope y'all have a great week! 

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Lord stand at the head of this great work!

Hey everyone! It was another great week to be in the woodlands! We were able to see a lot of really great miracles! 

On Tuesday we were able to meet with a former investigator named Andralia. I was teaching her right before I left college park for the first time. And at one point she had a baptismal date.  The Chappells invited her over to their home to watch meet the Mormons. They wanted to have us over for lunch and for the movie and a discussion with Andralia. And as we watched it there was such a great spirit that came. We talked with her after the movie to ask her what her thoughts were. 

And she just began to start talking about her experience when she first starting meeting with missionaries. She talked about how her relationship with God changed as she was reading and Praying daily. The reason she stopped meeting with missionaries was because her family was not happy with her decision to meet with the missionaries. So we were talking one with another and we invited to start meeting with the missionaries again, and she accepted and said she was so excited. She said she was ready to give it another try. And so we will be meeting with her this upcoming week, but that was a big miracle we saw this week with her. 

On Wednesday we did an exchange with the Woodland 1st Elders. And I stayed here in our area for it. But during the day we had planned for several people that we were suppose to meet with. But it was just one of those days where appointments fall through. So most of the afternoon we were just going from place to place trying to get in with someone. And we were contacting anyone we could find along the way. But we continued to work hard, and that night the miracles came! 

After having a great appointment with some members and committing them to take the next step with their missionary we left with a prayer. The spirit was strong, and we went out to meet with David who I talked about a month ago. We were scheduled to come back and meet with him. But as he came to the door he decided he did not want to meet with us anymore. We tried to help resolve his concern, but he was was interested. 

After this point we had planned to go and drop by a member that the ward has been trying to contact for a while. We went and knocked on this members door, and this guy answered. We asked if this member was there and he said that she no longer lived there. He mentioned that he had also been receiving mail for this member. He said he still had one letter that hadn't been sent back yet. He invited us into his home while he went to get it. Then it was sweet because after he gave us the letter, he asked us who we were. 

And then he proceeded to as us to share our message with him. Now he didn't have a whole lot of time, so we did a brief restoration.  And the things we talked about were very similar with the things that he had been talking about. After teaching about the Book of Mormon he asked us when we can come back and teach him again. And so we set up a time to come back this next Saturday! It was amazing. But the miracles continue. 

We left his home and with in 30 seconds some one coming down the stairs in the same apartment complex said hi to us. His name was Greg,and he said it had been a few months since he talked with us. We introduced ourselves, and he said he talked with some other missionaries about 2 months ago and they gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon. He said at first he wasn't sure if he was going to read it, but then he said it is time that he looks more into it. He asked if he could take us out to dinner on Tuesday and then we could teach him more about the Book of Mormon. 

It was just an amazing night. And even though things didn't go exactly as planned earlier, the Lord saw our efforts and he blessed us with teaching opportunities. The Lord is truly at the head of this great work!

Thursday we also got a call from President Chappell. He said the Red Cross had called him and they need some help that next day.We have been having alot of Rain here this last couple weeks in Texas. So we have been having some flooding taking place. He told us that President Mortensen was ok with us helping out with this service project, and asked if we could gather our zone to help out with it. They needed 11 missionaries, and they needed us from 8:00 am till 5:00pm. They wanted to us to help load there vans with supplies to give to those who are being affected by these floods, and we also went out to gather information about the flooding and the damage that took place up in the Montegomery and Magnolia area. 

So we went there the next and helped them for the day. It was a great experience. After loading up the vans we went out on the road with some of there other volunteers, and we went to different areas that were reported to have flooding. The first area we needed to go to we couldn't make it into because one of the road was flooded over, so they have to wait for the water to go down just a bit so they can get some clean up crews back into this neighborhood. But luckily the other neighborhoods we were assigned to check didn't have any damage to them. 

So the rest of the time we were helping we were looking at maps of where the creek was and checking neighborhoods around it to make sure no one was affected by it. It was a great opportunity to help out where we could. The Red Cross was grateful, and said they really liked being able to work with our missionaries and members because of their happy attitudes and they way they interact with others. It just goes to show that our example as we serve can make a difference in the way people view us and the Church. 

​( This was a field that was flooded by a creek near by up in the country of Montegomery parts of this were about 3-4 feet deep)

And to finish off the week we had another great temple tours. This time around I did not give any of the tours, but we went in hopes that our investigator Brandon would show up. And we also took another companionship down form our zone that was had there investigators there. Now sadly Brandon did not end up coming, but while we were there we saw the different tours go through. 

These temple ground tours have been so great to be able to have! And at the end of one of them there was some one who was talking to our mission president. And they had a few questions, so President was teaching them. But another set of sisters in my old zone brought one of there investigators they have been teaching. She is a baptist minister. And she had some questions that she was confused about. The sisters signaled for me to come over and start talking to her. They wanted to me to try and help address some of the concerns of this investigator. 

We had a great discussion. I talked with her for about 40 min last night while President was talking with some of the  other people. "This lady is open to learning more, and she really is searching for truth. She is reading from the Book of Mormon everyday, and she is also praying to know. And the concerns that she had all came back to knowing if the Book of Mormon is true. If the book of Mormon is true then we know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer, and that Joseph Smith truly was a prophet and that the authority of God is on the Earth today! 

We know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is Gods kingdom here upon the earth.   And so I just testified to continue to read everyday, pray, and don't stop meeting with the sister missionaries. I promised her as she did so that she would receive and answer. I talked to sisters just briefly after with some ideas they can use to help her find her answer.

 The Church is so true! I am so grateful for this opportunity I have to serve the Lord! He really is at the head of this work, and I know as we all continue to strive to serve him and pray for missionary opportunities and pray for the those who are being prepared for the gospel to be found, they will. I testify of these things! 

So the time as also come where the ipads are here in the mission. We will be receiving training next week of how to use them and after the training we will be using ipads here in the mission!   We are so lucky to be living in a day when the gospel is on the earth so we can be led by living prophets and apostles. It is inspiring that the Lord is enlightening minds to develop technology that enables the message of salvation to reach all of His children.  The Lord is blessing this work, and it will continue to go forth.  Miracles will also coming with this blessing of technology. 

Well I hope yall have a great week! 
Elder Joshua V. Christensen

(Tracting after a storm, and this is Elder Graves in this picture.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A week of exchanges and miracles!

Hey everyone! 

This week was a pretty great week! We are continuing to see some great miracles take place here in the woodlands. The Lord is continuing to bless us! We are seeing more and more baptismal dates being set through out the zone. The Lord will continue to make it flourish. We also had some great miracles happen this week. We were able to go on a couple different exchanges this week. One was with one of our district leaders. And the other one was with the assistants. Both exchanges we were able to see some great miracles come from. 

 When I was with Elder Thomas we stayed here in the college park area, and we were able to find one new investigator.That same day we met with Christian who was a former investigator, and we had a great restoration lesson with him. There were so many points where the dots connected for him and he understood so much better. He said how it made so much sense he couldn't stop smiling! The Spirit was strong and we were bold with our commitments and he accepted. We will hopefully be meeting with him again this week on Thursday. 

  We also had a stake meeting that night. Many of you may be familiar with the new program has been using called Just Serve. It is a website that posts different service opportunities that can be found through out the community. So as zone leaders we sit in on this stake Just serve council, and we discussed the best way that we are wanting to get this all rolled out to the stake.  It was about and hour and a half meeting, and we had some great discussion on when we wanted to present this to the different wards in the stakes. And originally they said they would present after the summer when everyone starts getting back to school. And it was a great idea to do it at that time because many of the members here in the Woodlands go to Utah or other Places during the summer. So many of the members are gone. 

But as we were counselling one with another I kept receiving the prompting to try and get it rolled out before summer gets out. And the thought that kept running through y head was, if we can get people to feel the spirit of this before summer starts during the summer they can be doing service opportunities and feel the great spirit that comes from serving others. And now only that they will gain a stronger testimony of service that will lead members to want to continue to offer service into the next school year. If we were to present it once everyone would be back many people would be so busy with school and work and other things so not as many people would be using this great program that the church sponsors. 

So after saying that we began to council some more and we came to the agreement that it would be harder to get it all ready by summer, but it would be worth it. It was just a cool experience for me because it just grew my testimony so much of the revelation we are able to receive as we council and talk about the things the Lord would want us to do. 

The other exchange went great with the assistants. I went to the Woodlands 2nd ward and we were able to teach some of there investigators, and we were also able to go knocking some different doors and we were able to find them a new investigator also that  day! It was wonderful.

We had zone conferences on Friday and they were amazing! It was a real eye opener for me! It made me see how fast my mission is coming to a close. We discussed about a lot of things things that will definitely help me when I am home. But at the end of zone conferences they have the departing missionaries give there departing testimonies, and they called me up right at the end. 

Now of course I still have a transfer, but it just made me realize how short this time is that I have to serve the Lord! And it motivates me that much more to work as hard as I can until the end! But the great thing is even once I am done with the mission my spiritual progress does not end. This is one of the big things I focused on  during my testimony. I told everyone how the spiritual growth that takes place on our missions should be a catalyst for our spiritual growth through out the rest of our lives. This life is a life of progression to become like our savior. 

A question I would like you to ponder on is "How am I doing with my spiritual progression." When was the last time I had a spiritual witness that these things were true? I would invite you to evaluate yourself, and set goals and plans of how you can continue to progress in this great gospel. 

I know that as you do so you continue to strengthen your relationship with you Father in Heaven! And you will have a great spirit in your home! I testify of these things! 

Elder Joshua V. Christensen. 

( Just before skyping home to talk to the family after tracting out a neighborhood!)

​( zone conferences)

The Road to Emmaus

Email from May 4.......

Hey everyone! This last week has been another great week! We were able to have MLC and as a mission council one with another about standards that we could set as a mission to increase your vision, and raise the faith of the mission. Some of the new standards that we have established have to do with the number of investigators we have each week at church, as well as the number of member present lessons we have. It just makes so much sense, as we strive to increase things the progress our investigators will make towards coming closer to Christ will increase so much! Its such and exciting time to be a missionary and be apart of the church when so much growth is taking place. 

We also were trained by President Chappel, and he talked to us about how to have more success in our contacting and finding. He had us share some examples of some of the things that have happened in our ward of the past couple weeks. We talked about the miracle with David and teaching him about the Book of Mormon. 

(This is me, and my companion is on the left of me. He is a new zone leader that I am training. Elder Harris is on the left of him, he is the first missionary I trained, and then Elder Platt is on the end.)

  We also had a great training about the Sacrament. We read the account of the Saviors Resurrection that takes place in Luke 24. I absolutely love this so much! 

This talks about to people who were on the Road to Emmaus, and they were discussing about the events that happened previously. So they talked about Christ and his Crucifixion. Starting in vs 13 this is what we read. 

 13 ¶And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
 15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.
 16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.

 So an important this to see right now is the fact that Jesus Christ joined with them on there Journey. But did they recognize him? No they didn't, it talked about how there eyes were holden. So at this point in the story, they didn't have the eyes to see. 
 17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?
 18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?
 19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:
Now we see here that Christ is beginning to teach these men. We can see he checks to see what they understand before he begins to teach them. Now we know at this point in the story that they still do not recognize Christ. But Christ will continue to teach them. 
 20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.
 21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.

 24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.
 25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
 26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
 27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
 28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.
 29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.

 So from those vs, what did Christ expound to them. How did Christ teach them, what did he use? We see that Christ teaches them using the scriptures. But we see they still don't recognize Christ. Now we can liken this unto our lives. So often as we are searching for answers to questions we are reaching the scriptures we are praying, but it seem like we can't find the answers we need. This isn't always the case, but there are times in our live when we feel like this. But as you read these last few vs, look for what Christ did to "open their eyes."

30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
 31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
 32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

 So what made the difference? We see that it was after Christ gave them the sacrament that their eyes were opened and they recognized Christ. They even acknowledged after that they had felt the spirit. They felt good when they walked with Christ and when they were taught the scriptures but there understanding didn't fully come until they had partaken of the Sacrament. I found that to be so interesting as I studied this. It made my testimony of the sacrament increase so much. I know with out a doubt as we put in the preparation just as the men in the story did, through scripture study and prayer, and then we are prepared to partake of the sacrament we can find a greater sense of peace in our lives, and we can find answers to the questions we may have. I know this to be true! I just would like to invite each of you to think about what you can do this next week to best prepare for the sacrament. I promise you as you do you will truly find so much more spiritual strength in your day to day activities. I know that to be true! 

This week we also had a conference call with our zone. We had a great discussion as a zone to the things that we needed to do to take our zone to the next level in being much more committed to the Lord. And since we had this discussion and zone meeting we have been seeing so many more miracles in the zone. 

One we have seen this week in our area came on Saturday when we taught our investigator named Sundae. We had a powerful restoration lesson with her, and she accepted a soft commitment for baptism. She also came to church the next day, and we are meeting with her tonight so teach the Plan of Salvation and hopefully extend a baptismal date to her! The Lord is truly blessing This ward and this zone. 

We have also been able to meet with our other investigators this week also! Great things are happening with them. Each of them are taking the steps to come closer to Christ! So over all it was just a great week! 

I hope each of you have a great week! Sorry it was a shorter email in terms of the things that happened this last week. We are just short on time! 

Please keep looking for those opportunities to serve others around you. Pray for them and be willing to act upon them and the Lord will help lead you to those who need help! I testify of this! 

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Just after our zone meeting we had a meeting about service opportunities in the area. 

The Lord is guiding His work in The Woodlands!

Email from April 27th. Behind on posting again....

Miracles are happening here in College Park! I love The Woodlands so much! So when we got here a few weeks ago our teaching pool was not very big. And we didn't know any of the people the missionaries had been teaching. We were trying to get a hold of them with very little success in doing so. Elder Graves and I talked and I told him how we are going to work our tails off in this area, and we are going to see success. He was all in and we started going hard! 

The first two weeks we had great things happening in terms of building the trust of the members! But this last week we have seen miracle after miracle! It has just been so amazing! The Lords is truly directing his work here, and we are just so blessed to be apart of it. So Monday we were able to go over and meet with a part member family. And we were able to do family history with them. The Husband is not a member, but he is an amazing guy! We were able to have a great conversation with him. 

 We were able to meet with some of the recent converts in the ward and to meet with Robert. I think I mentioned to y'all last week about Robert. We have been working with him to work towards going through the temple to receive his endowment. This past few weeks I have been really pondering about what things we can do to be able to help the zone rise to a higher sense of commitment. And out of our zone, our area, the assistants area, and the singles ward have our best chance of baptisms right now for the month of may and June. So we talked and decided that we would call the assistants to ask them about there plans for people they are working with in their wards. And after talking to them for about 5 minutes we got a call from our bishop. And he told us that there was a family of 5 that live up in Jacobs reserve that were taught by missionaries the previous week, and they want to keep learning more form the missionaries. Our mouths just dropped. 

It was only a few days earlier we discussed trying our best to find a family that we could teach. And a family that could experience the blessings of the restored gospel together. The bishop told us that they would be at the ward activity that following Saturday and they would be attending church and the mission presidents fireside. The spirit was so strong when we found out, and we were so grateful that the Lord had been hearing our prayers and seeing the efforts that we have been putting forth. 

We called the assistants back to let them know of the miracles that are happening. So often through out my mission I have heard, "no one baptizes in the Woodlands." But the entire time I have been here I knew that it was possible. And especially where I have served the majority of my mission in the Woodlands being able to see the growth take places has been amazing. And each week at church we have more and more families who are moving into the ward! The Lord is preparing for some incredible growth in the church to take place here in the Woodlands! 

This week we also went over with some other elder to help them with their weekly planning. We spent probably 4 hours at least planning with them for their upcoming week. It was a great teaching opportunity, and you could tell that as they did they were able to feel the spirit confirm to to them about going into the details of planning. Because this is a eternal principal. And it relates very well with families. But planning is so important, because as we have problems or questions in our life. As we study them out and we make plans and take them to the Lord. We can know and gain the assurance of the things that he would have us do. As we plan effectively and put the Lord first, we will have the time to accomplish all the things we need to do, and we be able to see the blessings of the Lord more fully in our lives. 

We also met with another one of our investigators who will be moving at the end of the month. He is agnostic, and he has been taught a bunch of the lessons. But we really made the lesson focused on prayer. The reason why it is hard for him to progress from where he is at right now is because he doesn't have a testimony that there is a God. But we are continuing to work with him, and we are excited for the change that will take place in him as he comes to that knowledge. He is a really cool guy though!

We met with our Bishop Friday night and talked with him about all the great things happening in the ward! We talked alot about the relationship between missionaries and members. So often we think that as long as the missionaries are obedient as they can be and are prepared then the Lord will bless them success. Now this is true, but to really hasten the Lords work, He needs to be able to trust the missionaries, and the wards. If the Lord can't trust the ward to make sure the recent converts are going to be cared for and nourished by the good word of God, and will be remembered, then they won't be put in the missionaries path. And that is why it is so important the the members and the missionaries come together with His work. Because that is how he will hasten it. There are so many people that are prepared, and many of them will be found as the members continually exercise their faith in inviting people to learn from this missionaries. This is why we are seeing so many miracles in the ward right now! The Lord is trusting us and the members, and just with in one week our teaching pool has gone up by 7. The Lords is blessing the ward! 

We also had that ward activity I mentioned just a little bit earlier in my email. Our ward did a family history ward reunion. The family history specialists put the activity together. It was an opportunity for people to come learn more about there family history, and the Miatello family came and they were welcomed so warmly by the ward. We also got to talk to many of the members about their missionary work, and so many members are saying how they have friends that they are working with, and they want to meet with missionaries. So great things are happening. 

Sunday was a busy but wonderful day. My companion and I had the opportunity to speak in sacrament meeting. We spoke on the 8th article of faith.  It was a great meeting and we had 4 non members at church. The members also greeted them so warmly. We also started back with the singles ward. We will now be helping out with both wards. And right as they started sacrament meeting in the singles ward we got a text from the sisters saying their investigator broke down on Woodlands Parkway, and that she had run out of gas. So they wanted us to go help her get to church. So we drove over and made some phone calls to some members in the family ward, and were able to get some help for her, and then we were able to help get her to church. So it was an adventure yesterday, but we finished off the day with a powerful mission president fireside. The Miatellos also came to that, and they set up and appointment for us to come teach them on Wednesday! 

 I have such a strong testimony that as we continue to do the little things the Lord has asked us to do that we will be able to bring others unto Christ. This is a divine and eternal work and we are blessed to be apart of it. Please be praying for missionary opportunities and the missionaries in the area. And see the miracles that take place. I promise that to you! 

I hope y'all have a great week! 

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Family history activity.