Monday, June 29, 2015

Final Email!

Well the time has come for my final email before I return home. I can not even believe that the time has come for me to leave. I am just so grateful for the opportunity I have had to served here in Houston. I have been taught so much, and I know this is where the Lord would have me be. I am grateful for all I have learned and for the way in which the Lord has built me up and strengthened me! I am so grateful for the age change that took place and for the time where the spirit witnessed to me that it was the time for me to go! I know that this is the Lord's work, and it will continue to hasten and expand more fully to every nation kindred tongue and people. So great things continue to happen! 

This week was amazing! We hit it so hard this week, and were just able to see some amazing miracles! We were able to meet with more less active members that have shown interest in beginning to come back to church. And some of them we have been meeting with for a while now and they are now been coming back to church consistently. And they are wanting to get a temple recommends. 

 One of which we had a incredible baptism with Brother Hoyer! It was such a blessing! I had the opportunity to be able to baptize him. After he was baptized we went and changed. And before we went back in we were able to talk with one another. And he thanked us for helping him get to the point he was at. And he talked about how amazing the journey was. And I was able to look at him and just tell him how this is going to be a wonderful Journey for him. And luckily it doesn't end but it has just began. And told him fight and do everything you can do to be in the temple in 1 years time. And I was able to testify to him of his decision and how the temple will bless his life forever. They are such an amazing family! 

Brother Hoyer was able to be confirmed in church on Sunday. After he was called up and sustained by the ward as the newest member he was just beaming with light! That has always been one of the things I have loved seeing on my mission! And you really can just see such a difference in Brother Hoyers Countenance. 

Well we had a great sacrament meeting, and then right after the high councilor  spoke the bishop got up and asked me to come up and share my testimony with the ward. He told the ward he wanted to do this because of how long I have served in the ward and they great things they have seen happen with the ward over the last few years. I was so grateful for the chance I had to bear my testimony to the ward. And the spirit was so strong. And I wish to also share my testimony now. And I hope and pray that the holy ghost can testify to each of you of the truthfulness of the message. 

Over these last two years like I said I have learned so much! But most of all I have come to an even great knowledge of our savior Jesus Christ! I know that he lives! I testify that he is the Christ. I love how often in the scriptures the Lord personally invites each of us to come unto him. And this is an invitation that is always there for us. There is never a point in which he is not standing at the door ready to answer. I know that he preformed the atonement, and by so doing overcame the effects of the fall. I know as we turn to him. That is when we can find true strength. 

Brothers and Sisters I testify that Christ has felt our sorrow. He has born our grief. He has felt every pain that we have felt. And he did it all for the reason that he could help us. So that is why when we humble ourselves even in the hardest of times and turn to him, we can find relief. I know and testify that Christ came here to the earth and established his church. And that he served and ministered and taught the gospel of Jesus Christ. He taught us the things that we must do that have peace in this live and and peace and salvation in the life to come. He also came and he gave the priesthood authority to his apostles. 

I know and testify that after the time that the apostles were killed and the authority was taken from the earth. That after many years the Lord reached out in love again to his children. And called Joseph Smith to be a prophet here in the last days. I testify with my whole soul that Joseph Smith truly was a prophet and that he saw and spoke with God the Father and Jesus Christ. And that through the prophet Joseph Smith that the same church which Christ had established was brought back to its earth in its fullness. And by so doing as we listen and head the the council that has been given to us by living prophets that we will be guided safely home. 

The gospel dispels all darkness from our lives. And it enriches and teaches us. I know and testify that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. And does contain the fullness of the everlasting gospel. Those of you who have not fully come to the knowledge that this is true I exhort you to reach The book of Mormon and ponder it in your hearts. And then ask God in the name of Christ if it is true. And I testify to you that as you do so that the Lord will reveal to you the truthfulness of the the Book of Mormon as you go to him with a sincere heart and ready and willing to act upon the answer you receive. 

I also testify that the commission that the Lord sets forth in the Book of Mathew is in full force today. And that the gospel of Jesus Christ is to be taken to every nation kindred tongue and people. And with the blessing of technology and with our faith. Each of us can help fulfill that divine commission. I know that this is the Lords work. I testify that he stands at the head and does lead and guide it through his authorized representatives! 

And I know that Thomas S. Monson is a living prophet! And he speaks the word and will of the Lord. Hearken unto it with all of your might and see the change that takes place in your life. I testify you and your family will be blessed for time and all eternity by doing so.

I also testify also with the restoration that with the restored gospel and authority on the earth that families can be together forever. This is the will of the Lord. And the way in which is is made possible is through our savior Jesus Christ. Brothers and Sisters there is safety found within making and keeping covenants. I again testify as we do so we will be protected and we will have no need to fear for the Lord will guide us through the storms we face in each of our lives. And I know that these things are true. For the spirit has manifested itself to me that they are. And as a called representative I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

I hope each of you have a great week and I will see you soon. 
Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Last Pictures with the members of the great 
College Park Ward! 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Faith & Sacrifice Brings Forth the Blessing of Heaven

  Another great week has flown by yet again. And week after week the Lord is continuing to bless us. This last week has been amazing! We had the opportunity to be able to go to the temple this last week as a district. And it was much needed.  Our mission president has talked about how he wants to continue to build our faith in Jesus Christ. 

He explained how he was pondering on how to do this, and his thoughts came to the old testament. He remembered the experience of Moses shortly after he was called to be the prophet and to go talk with the people. He prepared by to going  up to the mountain of the Lord. Now anytime the scriptures talk about the Mountain of the Lord we know the Lord is referencing the temples. And so by Moses going to the mountain of the Lord he received strength. And so after thinking about that President asked for each district to attend the temple and ponder on these questions. 

What are the blessings of faith? 
How do we increase our faith? 

And as we were able to ponder on these questions so many answers and impressions came to me for the people that we are teaching now, and as well as thoughts about my own faith. And just being able to ponder on those things brought me so much closer to the Lord. And coming out of that temple session I just felt so amazing! It helped strengthen my testimony for the need of going to the temples and the happiness that is found with in.

 Going to the temple is one of the biggest blessing we can experience on this earth. It is the place in which we can feel closest to God. And as faithful members of the church we are able to enter the temples and experience the greater sense of peace and clarity that comes in to our lives as we focus on the things our Father in Heaven wants for us. I would invite each of you to evaluate your efforts in making it to the temple. 

Many times in our lives we think that we don't have time to be able to make it to the temple. And truthfully by not going to the temple you are denying yourselves the blessings that our Father in Heaven wants to give you. Life does get busy, but I promise each of you that as you show your faith by setting aside the time to go to the temple the Lord will bless you with the time to accomplish the other things you need to get done. 

Just as we learn in the Ether 12:6, we can only receive a witness after the trial of our faith. I also promise you do this you will have a great sense of purpose and peace in your lives. And the blessings you receive will go far beyond what we can see now. 

In addition to this week we were able to set another baptismal date with someone in the YSA ward that we have been working with. His name is Michael, and he has been progressing well. He mentioned to us that his reading in the Book of Mormon has helped him to feel so good! And we were able to teach him how those feelings come from the Holy Ghost and it was testifying to him that the things he was doing was right! And then we were able to teach the plan of salvation and then set a baptismal date for July 18th. The Lord continuing to place people in our path that are being prepared! 

And then last night was probably the best way to end our week. We were able to teach Brother Hoyer last night. And just seeing him each week there has been a change in his countenance you can tell that he is feeling the spirit that comes from reading the Book of Mormon.  

And we were following up on his experience in reading the Book of Mormon while he was gone. He read from the end of 2nd Nephi up until Mosiah 20 in less than a week. And he just said he feels really good about it. And then we followed up by asking him the big question. We asked how he was feeling about this baptism. 

He paused and then went on to continue by saying he was excited as he could be! He said he felt he had received his full answer this last week and is ready to go forward with being baptized. Now before hand we had set a date with him to be baptized July 4th 2015. But after talking yesterday he asked if we could move it to this weekend. He said he would do anything to be ready by then. We only had two more lessons to teach him before he would be fully ready, and he assured him that he would be able to do ready by Friday. And he then said Friday is the day he wants to enter into the waters of baptism. 

The Lord answered our prayers. Since we have been back in College park we have prayed for him continually, and then we were able to start teaching him. And then we continued in fasting and prayer that we could be ready and receive his answer. And as always when we sacrifice for the Lord he will answer when we call. And he did that by helping giving Brother Hoyer the answer to his prayer.

And in addition to that he has asked that this upcoming Friday that I go forward with baptizing him. I promise Brothers and Sisters that the Lord does hear and answer our prayers! If you feel you haven't been receiving the answers to prayers, continue to hang on and know that he will answer. And have the faith that the answer that comes is what will be best for us.  The Lord is mindful of each of his children. And Many times our faith and our answers to prayers depends on us going to the Lord and asking for his help. And when we depend on the Lord he will be there to lift us up and help us with what ever we need if it be his will. 

So last night we were able to finish the commandments lessons, and then we will be going back tonight to finish teaching him. And he will be interviewed and ready to go by tomorrow! Things truly are going so so well! I am grateful for the chance I have to be a missionary. I now this is the Lords work, and testify and we unite with his will and do our part in helping with his work, great shall be our joy! 

Well I hope all y'all have a great week! 

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Put your trust in the Lord!

Letter from 6/15:

Hey everyone! 
This has been an incredible week! 

We were able to have some great meetings and lessons with some of the Less active members in our ward. There has been some families we have been working with. And both families are taking steps to coming back to full activity. We are getting there focus changed to the temple, and as we have done so and reminded them of the blessings that the Lord wants for them it has helped to increase and strengthen their faith. It has caused them to pray for the desire to act and by so doing it has brought much more happiness and peace to there lives! It has been such a great blessing to be able to see that. 

This past week we were able to meet with Brother Hoyer twice. We taught him the plan of salvation the first time we went over this week! And it was a powerful discussion. And by the time we had finished the lesson we were getting ready to invite him to be baptized. And as we talked with him, he discussed how he really wanted to be in the Celestial kingdom. And we asked him why he wanted that. He explained he wanted to be with his family and with God and Christ. And so we told him that he was exactly right, and that is what Heavenly Father wanted for him. 

And then we asked what were some of the first steps he would need to take in order for that to happen. He said he wasn't sure. So we turned open to John 3:5 and asked him the question, " What do we need to do in order to be able to inherit the kingdom of God. And answered by saying baptism. As soon as he said that the spirit entered the room with even more power. We asked him, "Brother Hoyer, do you now see why it was we invited you to be baptized last time? After thinking for a few seconds he said he understood, and again the spirit was just so strong! It was such a blessing. 

So after we invited him to follow the example of Jesus Christ by preparing him self to be baptized on July 4th! He accepted the date and said he would pray and prepare himself for that time. We were able to meet with him the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we had a great lesson with him! He is just progressing so well! 
We also did a  finding exchange with the  Woodlands 1st area. I was able to go out with the district leader in that area and we saw some great things happen.. Going into it I was determined to not leave until we found a new investigator. So we started with a prayer and started knocking at around 610 after dropping off the other companionship.  And we knocked for almost two solid hours. 

The first door we knocked a lady answered and said now wasn't a good time but she asked if we could come back by in the next few days. It was awesome to see that to start off our night. And we had a handful of others that said we could come back at another time. But there were many houses that we knocked where no one had answered. And we literally knocked an entire neighborhood. But like I said I wasn't going to leave until we found someone. And so at around 750, I looked over and told The elder I was with that  we had ten minutes to find someone and that we should stop and pray for the Lord to bless us with a miracle. 

So we did so and we prayed, and after knocking for about 15 more minutes, and the last house in the entire neighborhood across the street from when we parked our car: a 17 year old guy answered and started talking to us. We talked about the activities of the church and he seemed interested in going to them. And then Elder Pace asked if we could come back by another time. He said he was busy, and so I asked him if we could teach him right then and he said we could . So we taught a 15 minute restoration lesson with him, and set a return appointment for tomorrow. And turns out this guy is dating a member from one of the wards in spring. 

So we prayed with him and then left after.. We prayed after to thank the Lord for letting us teach, and then I testified to this Elder that is is because of their faith that it happened. And it was just a great teaching opportunity to teach him that as we put our full trust in the Lord and are determined to find those prepared that he will bless us with the opportunity. Truly we receive a witness after the trial of our faith. The Lord is aware and he answers our prayers! 

The Lords truly is at the head of his work, and I know and testify that as we put our trust in the Lord that we will see miracles. I would like to invite each of you to continue putting your trust in the Lord and look for opportunities to bring others closer to Christ. I know he will bless you with the opportunity. We just need to be willing to truly act, and then the promptings will come. 

Well I hope y'all have a great day! 

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Lords Promise to each of us!

Another week has gone by way to fast! But it has been another great week! We had MLC this last week, and we had all of the iPads distributed to us to take back to our zones. I didn't end up getting one because I only have a few weeks left, the rest of the mission is now using iPads. It will still be a few months before they are using the iPads to there full use. But it was a great meeting we really focused on finding, and how we can do better at helping our investigators progress to baptism.

We were also able to meet with Brother Hoyer this week, and we had just an amazing lesson with him. We taught the restoration, and it was one of the most powerful restoration lessons I have been in. The first vision always invites the spirit so powerfully. So after talking about Joseph Smith, the first vision, and the book of Mormon, we asked Brother Hoyer what it would mean to him if everything we taught him was true. And he just took a second to think. 

And Sister Hoyer just bore her testimony at that point of how much the church has helped her in her life, and immediately the spirit came even stronger to the room. Brother Hoyer was just sitting quietly listening for a second and he went on to tell us, how he is praying that everything we taught him was true. He said this spiritual journey he has been on was a long and difficult journey. He said he wanted to fine the truth so he could feel at peace.  

We then testified to him that this was true, and that as he would continue to read the Book of Mormon and then pray about it he would be able to receive and answer. We testified how once he found that answer he would be able to experience that peace in his life. And then at the conclusion of this amazing lesson, we extended a soft baptismal commitment to him. And he accepted. So we will be meeting with him this next week, and we are excited. We will be going back and teaching him the full plan of salvation, and we think that will help answer a lot of questions. We are so blessed because the Lord is leading us to these people who are truly prepared to receive the gospel. 

And like I said we had zone meeting this week, and we focused on finding alot with in our zone. And so I trained on that part. And the part I focused on was found in Doctrine and Covenants 100, 4-8

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

I just love the promises that are found with in these scriptures. And they apply to each of us so well. Where ever the Lord sends us in our lives it is expedient for the building up of the kingdom of God. And the first thing we are asked to do is raise our voices and then we have the promise that the Holy ghost will give unto us in the very hour and the very moment what we need to say. 

That is a powerful promise that is given by the Lord. And when it talks about lifting up your voice that is even simple invitations for others to come unto Christ. Where it be friends who are members of our faith, or even with those we home and visit teach. But I love in vs 7 what the Lord commands us to do. 

He tells to to declare whatsoever thing we declare in his name. Well you hear that and you ask what does that mean. The Lord is asking us to bear our testimonies with others. And a testimony is such a powerful tool that we have to protect us as well as bring others closer to our savior. 

And in vs 8 The Lord promises as we do this the Holy Ghost will bear record of all things that we say. If we believe that they will feel the spirit when we testify then we have the promise they will.  Many times we think that people we know aren't receptive, or they aren't ready to accept the gospel or come back to church. And sometimes this is true. But until you invite and bear testimony we can't say that. Remember you are where you are at for the salvation of many souls. This is a great and eternal work we are apart of. 

I promise each of you as you continue to exercise faith and then act, you will be able to teach and testify with power. And as you ask the Lord for those experiences they will come. I know and testify of that to be true. I would just invite each of you to really pray for opportunities to reach out to those around you and pray to know the best way to reach out to them! And as you do so you have the Lords promise that he will help you. I testify of that.
This week has also been great because we were able to meet with some other recent converts and less actives that no one from the ward has been able to contact. And a few of them we met with this week  expressed that they want to start coming back to church! And so now we will be able to meet with them more regularly and help them as they are coming back to church! It was so great because we had two of them start come to church yesterday! 

And speaking of church yesterday was just an amazing Sunday! Fast and testimony meeting was so great in both the family ward and the singles ward. But in the family ward it was amazing to see Sundae Lewis get up and go bear her testimony of her experience coming in to the church. It was so pure and so powerful. Over all it turned out to be just a wonderful Sunday. The spirit was so strong! 
The church is true! And it is such a wonderful time to be living and be a member of Christs restored church. 

Well I hope y'all have a great week

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

​(one of our members has some be hives, and so he let us go over and get a picture by them! )

The work of the Lord continues!

Hey everyone,

This was another great week! Sundae Lewis got baptized one Saturday! And the spirit was so strong! We met with her on Tuesday night to finish teaching her, and to go over the details of her being baptized. She said that after she had pondered on her experience at church on Sunday and the way she felt when she read the book of Mormon she had received an answer. And so at that point she knew it was right and wanted to be baptized. 

It was so exciting! So that night we went over the baptismal interview questions with her, and she was so prepared. Just as she answered the interview quotients you could tell that she had received a personal testimony of the things in which we were able to teach her. And so a lot of this last week was getting the logistics of the baptism figured out, and preparing the program to be a spiritual experience her Sundae. 

These details would include getting the baptismal clothing, getting the building reserved and then also getting the interview set up. So there was a lot of planning that had to go into making it a good baptism. We also wanted to make sure that the building was clean for when the baptism happened. So we went Friday night to the building and cleaned it for two hours! 

Last week when a baptism took place they had some problems with Ants getting in the font. We did not want that to happen again. So we went to clean it all out. So that way the next day we could just go by and fill the font. Well we showed up the next morning ready to fill the font, and we looked into the font and found more ants everywhere! We were in a mad dash to clean the font again to make sure it would be ready. We went and got a vacuum and cleaned  them all out of the font so we could begin to fill it. 

Luckily everything still turned out well, and we were able to get the font filled and we took care of the problems with the ants so we wouldn't have anymore problems. But the adversary defiantly was trying many different things to have this baptism not work out very well. We had a hard time with a bunch of outlets in the building working, so we couldn't get the t.v to work so we could play Mormon messages in between the time of the baptism, and the rest of the talks. But like I said when the baptism was all said it done, it was wonderful! 

You could tell that Sundae have felt clean after coming up out of the water. She was smiling so big, and was happier than ever. And then Sunday when she received the holy ghost she was even happier. Everyone could notice and feel the great spirit she had with her. The Lord truly has been preparing Sundae for the gospel. And I am again so grateful for this wonderful gospel! 

I love seeing others show their faith, and follow the footsteps of the savior. And as they do so they begin to have there heart changed and softened by the spirit, and they repent and make those changes in there life that bring them closer to our savior, and help them to feel joy. And then as they take those steps to be baptized and receive a full remission of sins and receive the gift of the holy ghost, they experience true joy. 

I am so grateful for our Savior and I know and testify that because of his atonement we can all experience the joy that our Father in Heaven wants us to feel! And we can have true peace of mind in knowing His plan. What a great gift. 

This week we also stayed very busy with many teaching appointments! We are finding more people to teach in the singles ward, and are having more opportunities arise in the family ward. The work is just exploding here! There truly just isn't enough time in a day! 

Another great thing that happened this week happened yesterday. We had an appointment with a part member family that we have been getting to know better. The husband isn't a member, but he is like one of the coolest guys! We met with them last night and he began to ask us some questions about the plan of salvation and baptism. And so we were able to begin to answer them for him, and we had a great gospel discussion for about 1 hour. 

And it was able to help answer some of his questions. But soon after we had left we got a message from his wife, and she had talked with him after we left. He said he wanted to take the discussion from the missionaries! My companion and I both literally jumped out of our seats. We were so excited. So in the coming weeks we will be meeting more with them, and I think they will continue to progress very quickly. They are such a great family! Well that is about all I have to report on from this last week. 

I would again just ask you to please be pray for missionary opportunities, and be specific. Think of way you could reach out to people and pray to the Lord and present your plan to him. I testify as you do so you will be ready to help those whom are being prepared to receive the gospel. 

I hope y'all have a great week!