柯 长老 (aka Elder Christensen)

柯 长老 (aka Elder Christensen)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Being Filled with Joy from Head to Toe

Hello my beautiful family,

I am so happy I was able to skype with you too. And I am grateful to Heavenly Father allowing me to also have the privilege of speaking with Tanner. It was exciting to hear your voices. So I have thought of something I think I neglected to write you about and I feel bad.

A couple of transfers ago I was sitting in the transfer meeting and a missionary stood up to read a scripture. He looked oddly familiar so I tried thinking of how I knew him. I thought, "that looks like Joshua Yarn." Then I thought, "no it couldn't be." I kept trying to look back at him inconspicuously as I know he was also trying to look at me. I kept going back and forth. Then after the meeting he came over and said, "Hey Elder Christensen!" I saw his name tag and sure enough it said "Elder Yarn". We talked for a little bit and he told me about the rest of our group from Maryland. It was very cool. He was sent here to wait for his Visa to South America. I think it was Brazil but I might be mistaken. It was fun to see him.
There you go. What a small world :)

Elder Ng is great. He is a very humble man ready and willing to do what he needs to do to serve the Lord. I know that he is blessed for his service. He is the only member of the church in his family! His parents didn't support his decision for a mission at first, so Elder Ng prayed for 6 months and when he had to go his family was supportive. He is such a wonderful missionary! I have seen good seeds being planted by our service in this area recently. There have been more people to talk to. More people are accepting and we are now striving to plant seeds of missionary work in the hearts of all the members by teaching them the lessons contained in preach my gospel. I am excited for the work that will come. The preparations we are making now might not provide fruit for our personal service, but I know that the missionaries who do reap the fruit of our labors have potential for a bountiful harvest. Continue to pray for us as we strive to help this area grow. We have many goals and can now only hope that our efforts lead towards achieving them. There are many wonderfully spiritually strong families in the Ward here and I know that as we are able to help them they will reap a bountiful harvest. "The field is white, all ready to harvest and lo he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not but bringeth salvation to his soul" ( The Scriptures ;) ). We are striving to put the gears in motion and sharpen the sickles of all. I love this work and I know that there are many blessings that come from our being willing to serve the Lord. His promises are sure. I have changed a lot of my bad habits into good and I know that we as a companionship are being blessed for it. I love the Lord and I know that he lives.

Quick story: Just recently I was lazy in my work and because of fear I allowed myself to be complacent and remain in my comfort zone. The work that we were doing didn't really progress because I didn't progress. My companion and I slowed each other down. It was hard to pick up the pace again. But, I decided I didn't want to be slow to act any more. I didn't want to be complacent any more. I was scared to death again in talking to others and in sharing the gospel with them. I also didn't know what to do to help remove this fear and sharpen my ability to speak with others. But I know that because I simply had a desire to do the work my Heavenly Father helped to make up for my weaknesses. He has been changing me ever since and I am ever grateful to His guidance.

As Alma says in Alma 32:27 "But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words." I desired to work effectively and I believed that I could. I also belived that Heavenly Father would help me and so I took a few steps in the right direction and placed my hand in His. I know that Heavenly Father desires to guide us and I know that He is guiding me now. "I am a Child of God, His promises are sure Celestial Glory shall be mine if I can but endure." (Children's Songbook) I know that this gospel is true. I love you all.

We will be meeting with Jennifer this coming Wednesday and her brother should be there. Please pray that we may be guided by the Spirit to know how best to help her gain an answer to her prayers. Also, pray that she may open her heart and mind to the gospel by using the faith of a mustard seed. As she does so her mountain of fear will be removed and her pathway shall be made straight and true.

Pray for David. He is still striving to hold to the rod. He knows that the only joy that is eternal comes from living the gospel. Pray that he may continue to clear his life of all that causes his sadness and progress to being filled with joy from head to toe. I know that the gospel has power to cleanse our lives. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Big Smile On My Face

Hello my incredible family :)

I am going to be training again :D My new missionary is most likely from Hong Kong. His name is "Elder Ng". I am soo excited to have another opportunity to grow closer to my Heavenly Father in learning how to help this new Elder learn the ropes of Missionary Work. Please pray for me to continue to follow the Spirit.

This was a GREAT weekend because I had the sacred opportunity to baptize David. I am grateful that he asked me to be there. After his baptism and confirmation I saw a completely new person filled with joy and light. He was happier and joked more with others. He was certainly prepared by God and I know that he will be a great strength and example to those around him. I love missionary work.

This past week we met 2 new investigators. They seem like a wonderful family. They have met with missionaries before but were never baptized. They are a great new family to help my trainee work with. I love their family after only meeting them once. The mother is really cool and the husband is very nice. They are incredibly friendly and we laughed together as we visited. They actually ended up asking the questions about the gospel and though we hadn't planned it, the discussion turned into our teaching a little about the plan of salvation. It was a great opportunity and we will be meeting with them this coming thursday to share the whole plan. I am excited.

I couldn't help but carry a big smile on my face the whole baptismal service for David. It filled me with so much joy and love for him. I know that this gospel is true. I know that there is nothing that can stand in the way of this church's progression so long as we do our part to live according to the moral standards it teaches. Heavenly Father wants to fill us with His love and I know that as we keep the commandments and serve others we will be filled with that love. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Are You Getting Baptized?

Wow. You are such a wonderful family. :) I love you all.
Thank you so much for the pictures. I need to take more its true. I don't take very many pictures at all :( Everyone is looking so much older now. Its crazy. I got your package and saw a picture of Audrey inside. Wow, she has grown. Now I see Jeffrey and Rebecca and Reid. Wow! Well I am excited and happy here. But I forgot to mention that I would really like some more Christmas music to listen to. One CD gets to be pretty boring after about 4 Weeks ;) I am able to listen to just about any Christmas music and I have been craving all of our Christmas music. Whatever you feel is good I would love to listen to it. The CD player in our car can read the MP3 CDs so you don't have to worry about my not being able to listen to them. We have so many regular activities that revolve around Christmas that it is dificult to not have many of them now. Anyway I will stop. I have been striving to concentrate more on the investigators I teach and their trials rather than on my own. Everything I strive to do is to help those that I have stewardship over. I am seeing now that there needs to be a purpose to all that we do or else we will eventually do a great many things but we will have nothing to show for our labors. When we study, when we work, when we teach all of these things are areas in which we need to focus on others and as we do so our Heavenly Father is focused on us :) He will guide and direct others into our path as needed to help with our circumstances. I know that this is true as I have focused on those I teach I find that I don't worry about myself and most of the problems I could focus on melt away while I serve. This week I received a call from David. Do you remember him? He moved up to Newark and we got him in touch with the Missionaries there. When he called he asked, "Are you busy on December 19th?"
I said, "Let me check... No I don't think so."
"Are you available around 3:00 in the afternoon?"
"Uh oh (I smile) are you getting baptized?"
"What was that? I didn't hear you." (He says in jest)
"Are you getting baptized?"
He then asked if I would be able to help with the ordinance of Baptism. And of course I accepted. I was so very grateful and filled with joy at his decision. It is a week away and he has already had a few more struggles. But, this time he has his eye on the prize and doesn't want anything to stand in his way. I pray daily for his success and I ask for your continued prayers in his behalf.

Jennifer is still meeting with us, but she is having a hard time waking up for church and I think she has also had trouble reading the Book of Mormon. I pray that she will be able to see the importance of the Book of Mormon and that she will come to church just once. I know that she is ready and prepared now and we need to help her. Please continue to pray for her to feel of the Holy Ghost telling her the truth in this Gospel. I love your support each week. I thank you for all of your letters that encourage me to do my best. How is Uncle Bob? I continue to pray for him and hope that his heart will be softened towards hearing the message of this gospel. I had a thought that maybe mom could send him my letters each week. Or, find little ways in which to bear simple and powerful testimony of this gospel by studying Preach My Gospel and learning the principles found in Chapter 10 "How to Begin Teaching" It is filled with wonderful insights that help us know a realize how easy it is to share this message with the world. I have learned great things from this chapter and I know that you can too. Then when you go through this chapter it can lead into Chapter 3. I would love to hear how Sarah and Tanner are doing now. Is Tanner still excited about being a music major? Is Sarah coming home for Christmas!?! Though I haven't been around you all for so long I know that my love for you has grown far greater than ever before. I love you all and I am grateful for the time to serve here on my mission.
Jeffrey - I am so excited to hear that you won a trophy in your Pinewood Derby. Congradulations! Just remember that it is never too early to learn great things from the scriptures. As you read Luke 2 with the family try to put yourself in the story. It will help you to realize more deeply the significance of the coming of Christ.
Rebecca - You look so beautiful in your dress. I love your earrings too with the Christmas Trees. I know that Jesus Christ truly did visit and live among the people in Jerusalem. I love being able to hear the story of His birth. I know that Christ came to fulfill the prophecies and to save us. Remember to think of the love the Savior has for you.
Audrey - You look gorgeous :) It is so amazing to see the brightness in your eyes that comes from your knowledge of this gospel. You know that the things you have been taught in the church are true. Don't be afraid to share them with others. They need to hear it! Christ the Lord was born for us. I know that there is nothing in this world more important than the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of the Gospel. No message is more precious than that which members of the church hold in their hearts. But, it is certainly time for us to take this message and allow it to flow from our hearts to our mouths in praises to God. I know that this Gospel is true.
Sarah - I don't have a recent picture of you, but I am sure that you look even more beautiful than the pictures I do have of you. Though it is pretty hard to imagine. I would like to hear of your recent adventures in Hawaii. I am sure you have grown a lot. You are a daughter of God and I know that He loves you. I love you too. Be sure to continue in letting your light shine to all nations. Your face shines with testimony and I know that this gospel is true. Don't forget the great importance of studying the scriptures each day and praying to your Heavenly Father. It is hard to be on your own but I know that you are strong enough to do anything you want to do.
Tanner - I am excited for you. I would love to hear about how your schooling is. I know that this gospel is true and I love being able to Teach it to others every day. I love the people here and I know that Heavenly Father loves them as well. Don't forget that missionary work is never complete :)
Matt, Anne, and David - I am so happy that you are able to live in Taiwan. How is your Mandarin? I also want to see pictures oy David every once in a while :) I love you all and I know that this gospel blesses our families to live together eternally. Preach My Gospel is a great resource for learning and teaching the gospel principles simply and powerfully. I know that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I am grateful for Christ's decision to come to earth. He has blessed my life greatly and I share those blessings with others each day.
Mom and Dad - I love you. There isn't much more to say. You are the best parents I could ever have and I know that you are doing your best to serve your family. Keep up the good work. If you ever need help I am here in San Jose ready to serve in any way I can. I am still trying to help Uncle David and Aunt Shannon. I feel that I shouldn't push but if your feel differently then please let me know. I know that this gospel is true and there is nothing that can break this knowledge. I gained this knowledge from you :) Thank you.
I would like some pictures of every one periodically. Ppppleeeeease.
Elder Christensen

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I Love Christmas Time

Hello my incredible family,
Recently it has been hard to find people who are ready. We have worked on contacting as many people as possible but they are either not home or they do not answer the door. I know this week has been hard for a reason though. Because of the struggles we have had in our missionary work we are looking at how we can better ourselves and the work that we do. I am grateful for the trials that have come. They have brought a great amount of learning which enables us to reach a new level of knowledge and work in the mission. I am grateful for the love my Heavenly Father shows me by helping me become my very best. We will be working more with the bishop and I have thought of many ways in which we can plan activities to help the work in this area gain momentum and press forward. The transfer is almost over though and it has gone by quickly.

One thing I would encourage you all to do as a family is look at the lessons in Preach My Gospel and study ways in which you may simply teach the doctrines found in them. The world is getting faster and faster and people have shorter attention spans. As we work to create simple and powerful statements about the truths we hold dear our friends will learn much more than if we gave them a long deep lecture. I wish I were able to teach you all the things that I have learned today about working with members and helping them to gain motivation but I can't all at once. I will need to have patience and teach one week at a time ;).

I love you all. This coming week will be different and the next transfer will be filled with many great and new experiences. I love the gospel and I love being able to bear my testimony each Fast Sunday. As I have done so I have found that the Ward is gaining trust in the missionaries. I don't know of the last time missinaries were asked to speak in this Ward. I don't think it was recently since I have been here for about 4 months and I still hadn't been asked. But, after sharing my testimony and our showing the work that we have been doing to the Bishop one of the counselors asked if we would be able to give two talks. One next week and another on the 24th of December. I am very excited and hope and pray that I may be able to give to do as the Spirit directs in my talk on the 24th. It will only be about 5 minutes long so I will have to study hard and prepare that short and powerful message which will help all in attendance that day. I know that my Heavenly Father will guide me as I listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Jennifer hasn't been picking up her phone for a while so we haven't had any contact for about a week and a half though we have called each day. It is hard to help someone that doesn't find your help most important.

We are working to find Less Active members and part member families that we can help to teach and provide an opportunity to accept the gospel more in their lives. The work is slow right now but it will pick up as we continue to be the heat at the bottom of a pile of dry wood. We just need to find the right kindling for the fire :) I know that this gospel is true and I know that there is nothing that can stop us when we have the Lord on our side.

At this time of Christmas I am grateful for the birth of my Saviour Jesus Christ and I know that He truly did come into the world the provide a way for us to return to our Heavenly Home. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
I love Christmas time!
Elder Christensen

A Quick Note

My wonderful family,
Unfortunately I left myself only a little time to write and so I would like to let you know that I know this church is true. There is no doubt in my mind that all that is said and believed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is truth. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I know that he restored the true church upon the earth today. I know that Jesus Christ came into the world for us and I know that His atonement is real. Sing about the wonderful story of Christ's birth. It is a great priviledge. I leave you these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen

Charitable acts of Kindness

Hello my wondeful family,
It is so great to hear of your experiences. I love seeing how Heavenly Father is blessing you to have joy and happiness while I am gone. I am so glad that dad was able to play in a band. I know that is something that he loves and what a blessing it is to have that opportunity. I am also very excited to hear that Matt and Anne are directing the Christmas Pageant. They will have a lot of fun with that. The Lord certainly called them to the right job :)

This week has gone by quickly and I am sure the next one will too. I have grown a lot as well and I am excited for continual growth. The growth that I have found is a change in myself from my selfish desires to charitable acts of kindness for others. I am finding that each day I desire more and more to just talk with others learn of them and then strive to help teach them of the gospel and the things that I know which have brought me so much joy and happiness. David is still having a hard time and we can't get a hold of him. I ask for your continued prayers for him. This week we found Jennifer O'Dei. She is originally from Ghana :D I am so excited to teach her. I also talked with her brother recently and he is a member our in Utah trying to help bring the Gospel to the rest of his family. I love the people of Africa! They are so kind and fun to talk to. Our first meeting with Jennifer went like this: She told us that her brother and father were members and have gone to the church all their life. She has learned a little about the church before but feels that she didn't really take the time to study the Book of Mormon and find out for herself the truthfulness of the Gospel. She said that she thinks it is time for her to really try the Book of Mormon and pray about it so she can learn from God of it's truthfulness. Isn't she awesome!?! I pray for these two friends everyday and hope that their hearts will be softened and that their spirits will be contrite to receive the wonderful knowledge of their Heavenly Father's plan for them.

I know that this Gospel is true and I know that there is true power in the Atonement. I love my new companion Elder Holmes. He is a great missionary. I ask that you keep us in your prayers as well and continue to help strengthen us in our helping others. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen

Let the Spirit Guide

Hello my incredible family,
Wow that is a cute puppy ;) I love being able to hear about our family happenings. This week David called and said that he had been going through some tough times and wanted to resume the missionary lessons again along with working towards another baptismal date. He is so wonderful and I am happy that he was able to see the difference the gospel made in his life and that he wants that joy back. He truly was a much happier person and I know that he will be able to make it all the way this time. He moved outside of our English area though and so other missionaries will need to make sure that he is taken care of.

It takes a lot of patience and trust to have to let David go but I know that Heavenly Father understands what is best for David. A week ago I forgot to let you all know that I have been given a new companion. Sorry. I am grateful to be with Elder Holmes and I know that Elders Christensen and Egbert will do very well in their new areas. Elder Holmes is an English speaking Elder which is a little different for me since I am used to having a companions that knows at least a little Mandarin. He didn't know any but I have taught him a few words and phrases and he learns very quickly.

Now the whole Mandarin program here in Fremont is on my shoulders and I ask that you pray a little harder for me during the next few weeks that I may forget myself and focus on my investigators. I know that Heavenly Father has already blessed my Mandarin ability greatly but I will need more as I start striving to teach alone. I am grateful for the miracles that have happened recently in our work as missionaries here in Fremont. We have found a few less active members that were off of our radar before and hope to fellowship them even more into the Ward activities. It will be great. Also we have been calling many former investigators and setting up appoinments to meet with them.

I pray now that I may rely wholly upon the Spirit in guiding me to those that I am supposed to meet now. I know that there are those who need me to teach them and I as that you pray for me to listen carefully to promptings I will receive. Mom and Dad would you be able to send me a few talks that you feel can help me at this time? I love you all very much and I know that you will be blessed through the service you render to others. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen

We can be filled with Light and Joy

Hello my amazing Family,
Did you know that you are the best family on earth? Its true. I love you dearly and I know that Heavenly Father is proud of the things that you do every day to help build His Church more fully upon the earth.
This week I had my first real experience with a broken heart. David decided to discontinue our lessons until he is able to have his feet on the ground and we had to let him make that decision. Through the past few weeks of teaching him I have grown to love and respect him more that anyone I have ever known other than my family. We had our last discussion with him and just before prayed more fervently than ever that we would be able to rely wholly upon the Spirit of the Lord and teach David with our Heavenly Father's words. We went and prayed again that we would be guided in knowing what to say. During our meeting we simply bore testimony and stated the truth of the gospel. The Spirit was very strong and we all had tears in our eyes but David said that he could not leave his friend and be separated from her. We gave him a hug goodbye and he said that he would be certain to give us a call as son as he had control of his life. Elder Christensen and I walked back to our car and I felt I could do nothing more. It pained my soul to hear him reject that light that had given him so much. But I constantly pray for him and I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for him. That day I realized to a small extent the love that our Heavenly Father has for us and the pain that he feels when his precious children are lost and do not quite desire to be found yet. I fasted this Sunday for David and felt that I should bear my testimony and share the words of the hymn, "Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd". It shares the message of our Heavenly Fathers true love fore all of His children and I felt the Spirit strongly while bearing testimony. I know that our Heavenly Father loves us and my Charity has been able to grow as I have been able to serve. Take every opportunity possible to serve all those you can. This is where true love and happiness comes from and then be grateful for the service you have been blessed to render to those in need. I still feel pain for David's choice but the Spirit is my constant comfort letting me know that my Heavenly Father loves David even more that I do and will do all He can to help David perfectly. In our times of service and love we can reach hardships that will break our hearts and throw off our personal goals or those of others, but I know that as we lean upon the arm of the Lord and learn from Him we will be taken care of and have no need to worry about our personal lives.
As we take care of others Heavenly Father will always take care of us. Helaman 10:4 "Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments. And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will." I leave this with you along with my testimony. I know that this Gospel is true and if we want to grow closer to God all we need to do is live the Gospel. As we do so we will be filled with light and joy beyond measure and we will not need to fear during our times of trial. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen

Oh What a Beautiful Morning

Hello my wonderfully scary family, ;)
This week has been another week of great blessings and (of course) great trials. But overall the blessings always outway the trials so long as we focus on the good. I realized after sending my email last week that I hadn't said happy birthday to dad. So,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DADDY!!!! :D You are the best dad in the world.
I don't know if I told you but Elder Christensen's father's birthday is also on holloween just a year earlier. Isn't that funny. So we celebrated our dad's birthdays on Sunday :).
We also had to move on Monday. That is why I am writing a later letter. We had a lot of stuff to move and were barely able to get everything done in one day. Now we just need to organize all of our stuff to fit in the new apartment.
Also, I do have some photos for you but they are all on my camera. I keep trying to ask for a mailing address because I don't think that I will get the camera to the library anytime soon since I can't seem to remember it. But, if you email me your address I will be sure to send you my memory card.
We were able to meet again with David this week and teach him about the Word of Wisdom. He had been taught part of it before from his member friend and so we quickly went through the pamphlet about the subject and invited him to live it. We knew before hand that he would have trouble with one thing and so we invited the Bishop to sit with us as he had the same troubles during his conversion process. At the end of the lesson we left David with a priesthood blessing and he felt stronger. I know that as he follows the process of recovery found in Preach My Gospel he will be blessed with the ability to overcome his addiction. Please continue to keep him in your prayers. He is excited for his baptism and I can't wait to help him with through that sacred ordinance with my companions Elder Christensen and Elder Egbert.
"Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day. I've got a beautiful feeling everything is goin' my way." I know that through our faithfulness and diligence in keeping our covenants we will be blessed to sing this song everyday. The Lord will bless us to know that all will go according to His plan and, as we are faithful, His plan will be our plan. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen

My special experience

Hello my loving Family,
You met Brother JUANG! :) That is very cool. They are a wonderful family. Sister Shen is his mother in law right?
Well I also met someone that I hope Dad remembers. Her name is Sister Su. She worked with Dad when we lived in Taiwan before with conducting the Christmas Choir. She plays the piano and sings very well. But I think she said that back then she wasn't a member of the church. She is now :) She will be in Taiwan for a little while so you might be able to see her too.
I have a special experience to share with you and because of time I will need to just copy it from the email I wrote to my mission president. I wrote:
Dear President Jackson,

I now understand why I had trouble last week. This week we worked with our new investigator David and he committed to being baptized. He also had a hard time this last Sunday and wasn't able to come to church but I felt that we should go see David during church. Right after sacrament meeting we left and drove to David's home. We called just outside since it was a homeless shelter and we weren't certain where to find him. He picked up and said that he really didn't want to talk right now and he needed a couple of days just to get his head back on his shoulders then hung up. We sat there uncertain of exactly what to do and so we said a prayer together. We prayed for guidance and direction in how to help David and afterwards we both felt that we couldn't just sit in the car and wait. So we went in the shelter and David was there he expressed what had happened and I asked, "What can we do to help?" He said he wasn't sure and Elder Christensen (the younger) asked if we could sit and have a discussion. David accepted and during our discussion we testified of Christ and invited David to put greater trust in our Heavenly Father by reading the scriptures and saying prayers. We continued our conversation and felt the we should say a prayer. We asked David to offer the prayer and he said he wasn't sure. I suggested that we all say an individual prayer aloud. David accepted and started to pray. Elder Christensen then prayed asking Heavenly Father to help strengthen David in his trials. I then felt prompted to bless David in my prayer and did so. After our prayers the Spirit was brought strongly into the conversation and David sat for a couple of seconds in silence with a surprised look in his face. He then changed in the way that he spoke and was able to see in what way God could comfort him. We testified again of the truthfulness of the Atonement and he expressed gratitude for our coming over. He said that he should do some more reading and prayer and I am certain that he did as he went back to his room before leaving on his walk. I was grateful I followed the promptings of the Spirit and I know that because of this experience David was also able to attend the Musical Fireside and feel even more deeply the peace and comfort that comes from the spirit. I know that the power of the Atonement is real and I know that Jesus Christ understands our needs perfectly. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
I know that David is special and I know that all things are done in wisdom. I was able to finish reading the Book of Mormon today and I loved every page. I found that the more I read the more I was sucked into the pages of history. I felt the pains of the prophets as their people fell away. I felt the joy that each had in being able to see their people progress and grow in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Also, I learned greatly from the many sermons and visions that were written just for us in this time. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and I know that it is by faith that miracles are wrought among the children of men. If we have faith, we have everything; If we don't have faith, we have nothing because only with faith are we able to progress. I know that Jesus is the Christ in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen

Do Good Anyway

Hello my wonderful Family,
I love being able to write letters to you. I love also being able to hear about the many things that are happening in each of your lives. What wonderful blessings we have to be able to write letters back and forth on a medium in which we receive the letters almost instantly. I am so grateful for technology. We found another investigator this week. His name is David and he is very open to learning more about religion. He is the friend of a recent convert and I am excited to help him. I am having one of those hard days again :) where all things seem to be bearing down on me but I know that this gospel is true. I have been able to learn greatly these past few weeks to a point where I am able to put more and more trust in my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I know that all things will work out for our good and I know that as I do my best I will be blessed despite the trials I have along the way. We were able to meet with Mary this week for the first time. As we taught her we were able to help clear up some of the confusion she had. We were also able to find a new apartment to move to. I haven't tried getting a hold of Uncle David yet since I wasn't sure if you have talked with him yet or not. I wish I didn't have to wait until next week to find out. I feel that I need an uplifting word or two. I leave you my testimony: I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I know that our Heavenly Father loves us. I know that there is a plan made for our Salvation which is perfect and has been put in full force through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. As we believe on his name and act upon the commandments he has given us I know that we will be blessed. There was a profound statement given this past Sunday in church by one of the speakers. "Do it anyway" I think he shared a group of commandments that had been found on a wall. For example one of the commandments said, "If you do good you will get kicked in the teeth. Do good anyway." In this world and as we keep our covenants with God we will receive the hardest trials in our lives. Follow the commandments and keep your covenants anyway. Though those trials come and though you might not see an end our Heavenly Father promises us "Thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment. Then if thou endure it well you shall be lifted up on high..." (Doctrine and Covenants) How do we endure our trials well? We do what we know to be right anyway. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Elder Christensen

Week Filled with Miracles

Hello my stupendous Family,
Each of you fill me with awe as I think of the many talents and accomplishments you have or have had or will have. I am amazed at receiving an email from Audrey about her teacher. I am so glad to hear her strong simple testimony stating that she believes in miracles. I do to and I know that the will of the Lord will happen in all things. I am happy to be able to read your letter this week. Also, Sister Morey will be in the MTC soon :) I am very excited for her and her family to begin to receive even greater blessings from her missionary service. I know that they will all be blessed greatly.
This week has been filled with miracles and blessings that all come from just being out and serving. We met a woman named Karen while tracting and she had actually just been woken up by her daughter. But in the course of our first small visit we asked if there might be a time that we could stop by later. We settled on the next day at 6:30pm. That was on Saturday. On Sunday afternoon we took the time to study and to learn from our Heavenly Father what Karen truly needed to hear. We went through bullet points in chapter 10 of Preach My Gospel under How to Begin Teaching. We then took turns teaching Karen and being taught while trying to think like Karen. During this time the Spirit was very strong and we then left to meet with her. She was very open and kind. She was a wonderful woman and at the end of our 15 minute discussion we were able to provide a Book of Mormon for her and she said that she would read it. She is so wonderful. Please pray for her. We actually had to give her to other missionaries since she is outside of our English area but we can always pray for her. Today we had another great experience just as we were out doing the work. We were visiting some former investigators and a man next door to one of them stopped us and said, "Are you mormons?" We replied, "Yes." He then invited us to sit down with him and share a little more of our beliefs. He said that he loves to just learn of the beliefs that others have and he explained to us that he wasn't really set on joining a religion so much as learning about it. Through our discussion he asked many questions and we then tried to ask more questions towards him so that we could understand his beliefs. He was so kind. His name is Jose. He had some interesting beliefs and near the end of our discussion we asked if he would pray for us. He then expressed that he didn't really pray and explained why. We continued to teach about how important prayer was and we were very persistent in asking if he would take 5 seconds and say one simple prayer. Finally he expressed that he didn't know how to pray. We then showed him the simple steps of prayer and bore powerful testimony that Heavenly Father listens to, hears, and replies to each prayer offered by His children. It was a great learning experience being able to talk with Jose and he finally agreed to say a prayer. He offered a simple prayer of gratitude and during his prayer I was praying as intently as I could that Jose would feel the Spirit. After his prayer I could tell that he had changed a little. He was excited to be able to have us return again when we could. We left him with our phone number and he said he would certainly call us. Please pray for Jose. I believe that a miracle is only beginning to happen within his life and I know that he will need many prayers in his behalf. The spirit needs to work within him a little more. He has such an open mind that he could be led any way but I know that our Heavenly Father wants Jose to be led the best and right way. That is the way of the gospel of Jesus Christ in it's fulness. I know that this gospel is true. I know that Heavenly Father loves us and will answer our prayers individually. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
I was excited to hear from Audrey but I was a little dissapointed that I wasn't able to hear from anyone else. I love you all.
Matt and Anne and David, continue to do your best. That is all that is needful and I know that Heavenly Father will bless you as you endure whatever hardships you have in faith.
Tanner, remember I love you dearly and I know that you are a great man.
Sarah, continue in what you know is right and you will never falter.
Audrey, miracles do happen according to our faith and I know that he will answer your prayers and the prayers of others. Be sure to have a open mind in truly understanding the will of our Heavenly Father and you will learn greatly.
Rebecca, never give up, never surrender. You have the power to do all that you want to do. Do not doubt your abilities and you will reach new heights in your learning. You are a daughter of God with great potential and nothing is impossible. All you need is faith.
Jeffrey, you can also do many great things. You are very very smart and you do not need to feel bad when you make a mistake. Just keep pushing forward and eventually you will break free of all that holds you down. You are one of the smartest people I know and I love you little brother.
Mom and Dad, I have Uncle Dave's address now and I will be sure to contact him soon. I love you both and I am so glad you are learning great things from Heavenly Father through this conference. I learned greatly and I know that you will always be blessed in your life as you keep the commandments of God.
Elder Christensen

Conference was amazing.

Hello my incredible family,
You are all so wonderful and I am excited to be able to read your letters to me. I feel my testimony strengthened as I listen to yours. I feel your love for me as you write. I am so thankful to have such a great family. I would like to hear from more people that just mom every once in a while too ;)
General Conference was amazing and will be amazing for you. You will be taught great basic truths that pertain to all areas of life. Take the time to think. Take the time to ponder. This will bring the revelation that you truly need as you think and ponder on the messages shared. The brain is incredible in that it connects the dots of all things. If things are related it makes that connection. Pondering will allow you to make connections between the things taught and the trials that are most troubling your mind. Be sure to listen to the talk given by Jeffrey R. Holland. Along with his sacred words I share my love to each of you, my family and friends. You are all so wonderful and caring. You are all talented in so many ways. I am so grateful for your love and tender words of comfort towards me. It truly strengthens my desire to do all that I can. It builds my resolve to be the best I can be. "The Lord is my strength and my song and he has become my salvation" (Isaiah, I think) Why? Because he constantly encourages us and builds up our confidence in ourselves and in him. You are also my strength and my song because you as well build up my confidence and express your love for me which I in turn express to others. Don't forget how far a smile can carry those you meet. Don't forget how far your light can shine to the world around you. We all have at least a small amount of borrowed light which gives us the strength to move on in the world. Also, don't forget to be grateful for those who shine their light. Mom and Dad, brothers, sisters, and friends I thank you for giving me of your light and helping me become who I am today. I love you all.
Jeffrey, I can give you a promise. God will always be there to build you up and give you the strength needed to overcome all of the hard times. The 2000 Stripling Warriors were saved from death many times. It was not easy for them to be saved, they had to work, but because of their work they were able to win.
Elder Christensen

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A mission is the best place in the world for any young man 19 or older to be

Hello my amazing, wondeful, completely awesome family :),
Guess what... this week I got transferred to Fremont :) And... I am training a new missionary :D and... my new missionaries name is... Elder Christensen :D Yeah! Truly, honestly. I am in a group of three Elders now as well. This area will take a lot of work to get back up to the way my last area was moving but it is great. Elder Christensen and I are getting along quite well. He had the oportunity to live in Shanghai for 2 years. I was thinking he might be the son of the family whose mail we get a lot but he isn't. His family has lived in Idaho for all his life. He did have another missionary named Elder Christensen in his MTC district who lived in Asia for a long time. So the Christensens are taking over the missionary force in California ;)

There is so much to talk about but not a lot of words to describe everything. Elaine and Allen are doing well though and I hope they are able to get out to General Conference this next weekend. Yesterday, I was able to go to the Oakland Temple :D That was sooooooooo cool. I love to go to the temple and I love being able to feel of my Heavenly Father cheering me on and teaching me how I can be better. I know that the temple truly is the House of the Lord. There is such a special spirit there that is so overpowering and comforting. I wasn't able to put anyone's name on the temple roll though :( I couldn't find it. Mom could you put a few names in the temple for me? I will tell you them later.

I love this gospel and I know that it is true. A mission is hard but it is the best place in the world for any young man 19 or older to be. There is so much light that this gospel brings into the eyes of those that live according to it's principles. I am sorry that I didn't bring my camera again. I know I probably should have asked you this sooner but what is your address in Taiwan so that I can send you my memory card? It will just be easier to do that for now until I actually make a habit of bringing my camera to the library. I love you all.

Matt and Anne and David: There is a little boy in the Cupertino branch that I just left from who is only a few days older than David. Whenever I saw him I was reminded that my little nephew is probably that big or bigger ;) Keep living the gospel and I know that you will be blessed in your service to others.
Tanner: Remember to always keep up your mandarin ability. My mission president said that, "The church expects you to keep this ability." He was asked in his interview for a mission how his Spanish was and he said, "okay" and the one giving the interview said that he should probably make an improvement. I love you and I know this gospel is true. You are a wonderful brother and example. I truly am honored to be your brother.

Sarah: You are incredible. I just read about how you are possibly in the Vocal Performance Major. I am sure that will be a great place for you. You have a wonderful voice with great talent. I am so priviledged to say that you are my sister. One because you are such a great example to those around you. And two because you are drop dead gorgeous :) This gospel is true. Just remember to keep a smile on your face at all times and your light will shine the way.

Audrey: I love you. You have such a big heart filled with love towards all others. You are a mother to all and I know that there are many who look to you for help and comfort. You are also great at sports and singing and acting. What a tremendous opportunity you have to be able to work on all of these great talents through your schooling. "O be wise what can I say more" (Jacob) Take the time to learn, to truly understand the things that are taught and internalize them. You will be blessed greatly in your life through the intelligence that you gain. Don't take school for granted.

Rebecca: You as well have a wonderful desire to help others and make known to them their great abilities. You can see the best in them. You also have talents of great proportion and variety that you can gain as you continue to pray to your Heavenly Father for guidance and direction. You will be old enough for a Patriarchal blessing soon. Think about the importance of that blessing and take the time to prepare for the great priviledge of having that guide in your life. I know that it will be a great help and source of comfort to you.

Jeffrey: I can't believe how grown up you will be once I am home. This mission is the bes thing that has ever happened in my life. Prepare now for a mission by reading the scriptures daily, praying every morning and night, and attending church. These are the ways that we receive revelation from our Heavenly Father. If we wish to be successful in life the best thing we can do is become aquainted with the voice of the Spirit. He is your constant companion as you live according to your covenants and the best thing about his presence is that he knows all the answers. He will let you know all that you can do to best help yourself and others. Be sure to carefully cultivate (build up) this talent and as you do this I can promise that you will be greatly blessed by our Heavenly Father.

Mom and Dad: I love you both. Keep in mind the opportunity it is to be in Taiwan and the blessings that have come into our famliy through living there. I love being able to help my family receive blessings through my service and I pray for you as much as possible. This is a great work that we are involved in and I know that this work is true. You are just as much missionaries as I am :) Mom were you ever able to go see that Convert with your first greenie?

Elder Christensen

The blessings come

Dear Family,
This week has been another week of a lot of hard work and we are starting to see more and more fruits from our labors. There have been a lot of doors closed, words flying, and kind denial coming from those that we strive to help but it is all worth it when we are able to find those that are elect. We are still working with Elaine and she has a date set for October 16th. She is still moving along so well. She does start school today so that might have a little affect on her reading and prayers but I am quite certain that she has built up enough of a habit that she will continue to come to church and learn. Keep praying for her, she is really great and I know that God will continue to bless her because of her faith.

Also, this week Jing Hao (our recent convert :) ) was able to bring a friend from school to church and after church we were able to get to know him better. Allan is his name and what is really cool is that he is actually from the same area of Shang Hai that Elaine is from and they came to America at the same time but only met each other at church. He is a cool guy. We asked how he liked church and he said that he really liked it and wanted to come all the time. He even signed up to participate in a canning activity this Saturday. We will be setting up an appointment with him as soon as we can. Jing Hao is also still a very strong guy with a big heart and a willingness to change. He is so awesome. He is a very, VERY shy person but he is now slowly branching out as others invite him to offer prayers and this last Sunday he was able to pass the sacrament :D That was very exciting. I love being able to see him every week walking into the church in the way he does as though he is so comfortable being there.

I love the work and we are seeing the blessings that come from just being out and about and working. Only when you work can the Lord bless you. I know that the Lord will bless us as we offer our lives to him and give all that we can. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen

If we want to increase our faith then we need to increase our personal righteousness

Hello Family,

Well this week has been quite exciting. On Sunday we were able to talk with Elaine again (one of our investigators) and she has been reading the Book of Mormon. She hasn't quite been praying yet but I am sure that this week she will start. We also invited her to be baptized on October 16th and she said okay :D She is so awesome! She takes the bus by herself to church and after the first lesson she started reading the Book of Mormon. She has no questions so far which is great but sometimes can seem almost too easy. But, I have been counseled never to constrict the faith of your investigator and if I start saying she won't make it I put a restriction on her ability. She has a great spirit and I am certain that she knows that this is a good church and she believes that what we say is true so what else matters? She is progressing.

Just yesterday we had a wonderful meeting with Elder Christoffel Golden Jr. who is in the First Quorum of Seventy. He is from South Africa :) I don't know why but I feel a special love and connection for all who come from Africa. They are such an amazing people. He and his wife came and he had a great accent too. He taught me a couple great principles that I really needed to hear. I will only have time to share one though.
Personal Righteousness = Faith.
If we want to increase our faith then we increase our personal righteousness. I have been wondering how I can better increase my faith and allow it to grow faster and I received this answer to my prayers. All I need to do is see the areas in which I can improve my personal righteousness and then work on those areas. I have a confession to make, I prayed for more humility ;) Well, it has come and I am grateful for it and now I can work on those weaknesses that the Lord has shown unto me and allow Him to build them into my strengths (Ether 12:27).

I was able to ponder more on these things today in my personal study and I read Alma chapters 4 and 5. Alma chapter 4 talks of the how the church grows then people become proud and persecute the saints. The saints are described in the latter verses of the chapter by their constant service to those in need and I thought of how Mosiah 5 talks about being "steadfast and immovable always abounding in good works." How did these people do this? Why did they continue when all around them even their own were persecuting them? How did Job do it? Why did Job continues?...How? Why? those were my questions. Then I read Alma 5:12-13, "And according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart. Behold I say unto you that this is all true. And behold, he preached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God. And behold, they were faithful until the end; therefore they were saved." Why? Those people suffered those things because they had received a mighty change of heart. How? Because of their faith in Christ, following and living His example. Personal Righteousness = Faith. If you want to know that this gospel is true, if you want to change yourself for the better, all you have to do is start living the way God has asked. Read the scriptures daily, pray daily, attend church weekly, and follow His commandments. As we do these things we will become humble servants and we will put our "trust in the true and living God." I have often prayed for a mighty change of heart. I have often prayed that I would be changed but "faith without works is dead" and we need to start living a righteous life to be able to receive that mighty change. I know that because of faith miracles happen and it is when we are living the laws of God that we receive blessings. There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated -- And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated." I leave this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Another little thought, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain..." Exodus 20:7. When we live unrighteously after baptism is another way we take the name of God in vain. Not only swearing.
Elder Christensen

Christ is the sure foundation

Aloha my beautiful family :)
This week has been crazy and great and wonderful and hard and just about everything else. We spent hours on our feet this week striving to find as many of God's children as possible. Mainly street contacting and visiting old investigators and potential investigators. We saw tons of people this week! Our records showed great amounts of effort but the number of people at sacrament didn't. It was hard to have no one at sacrament this week. But, we did have a less active member come and stay for sacrament meeting. It was a spiritually strong meeting at te beginning and then in the middle it we interesting and then strengthened at the end again. I am sure that Lu Zhou had a wonderful experience.

We have an investigator named Elaine who is really cool. We met her on the street on a friday and talked for about 1 minute and she gave us her phone number. Then that Sunday she came to church! Then we called during the week and asked if we could set up a time to meet and she said, "how about after church on Sunday" :) So we taught her two Sundays ago about the Restoration of the church and at the end of our lesson we asked what she thought and she said, "I need to read the Book of Mormon." She also said a prayer that sounded like she had prayed all her life :D She is from Shang Hai and doesn't really have a religion.

We don't have anyone else that we are teaching right now other than a few names who we are trying to get a hold of and set up times to teach. It has been difficult with them. But, this week I called Justin to see how his move went and how all was going in Massacheusettes (That is a really long name) and he said that everything went well but school is really busy. Then a few days later I get a call back from him and he says, "I want to be baptized. I want the peace that comes from prayer." :) So I did what I could to try and get him in contact with the missionaries ASAP. We will call him soon to make sure he is set up with the missionaries in Mass... ;)

I love you all. I love this gospel and I love having the gift of the Holy Ghost with me helping guide me to the mark of a happy life. This life is the life that is full of the spirit. The Lord will stretch us when he needs to and give us the strength to broaden our horizons and find that he will take care of our needs. Thus giving us the ability to serve others more than before. This because we build on the foundation of Jesus Christ. I know that the foundation of Christ is a sure foundation, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

We walked at least 50 miles

My beloved family,
How did I know it was going to happen? ;) I just read the big news as I skimmed the letter. Not surprised at all. ;) I love you all. (Tanner and Ali got engaged!)

This week has been another one full of amazing events. We have been working even harder. We have walked at least 50 miles this week trying to save miles and on our walks we have run into many people. Hardly any work out but we at least have time to plant seeds and leave a card for them to act in faith. Elder Long is amazing. I love his enthusiasm and his desire to meet others. I can feel it affecting me greatly in the best ways. I love being able to work with him and grow together in love for the people here in San Jose, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Mountainview, Palo Alto, Milpitas, Saratoga, and Campbell. (The areas we cover) I love this gospel and I will send another email tomorrow but now I have to leave a little early. I know that this work is true.

Dear Family,
Happy birthday mother. I am sorry but I guess I will have to talk again next week. Love you.


Hey my loving Family,
How are you? You know I don't think you missing a letter for me isn't allowed either ;) (That's what happens when you change your address without telling the family! :) added by mom) I love you all. This past week has been crazy but great. My new companion Elder Long and I have been slowly cleaning all the space that we are in charge of. Namely, our apartment and our car. We have gone through everything in the apartment and dejunked and organized the whole space. We threw away old stuff that missionaries left behind and has never been used. We cleaned the bathroom thoroughly. We vaccumed and cleaned the spots in the carpet. Also, we organized our areas of study so that everything is in it's proper place and now we have the abilty to maintain clean living :D It feels so great to walk into a house and not have to worry about stubbing your toes, the door not opening all the way, or tripping on cords.

This week we also did a lot of missionary work :) We decided to walk a lot since we are running low on miles in the area and we want to go over as little as possible. While walking we strive to talk with all the people we see on the street and invite them to hear the wonderful message of hope that we bear. We met a chinese woman just a couple of days ago on the street and asked if we might be able to get her information to be able to teach her more. She said yes and we called on Saturday to see if we could set up a time to meet. She said she wouldn't have time but she would try to get out to church. So we hoped and prayed that she would be able to come and to feel of the family, hope, and peace in church. Most of the time when people say this they don't come. So on Sunday we went to church and had our morning meetings we also went to Sacrament meeting and she didn't come. Then, just before the closing hymn of Sacrament in walks Elaine Shi :D Even though she missed the first meeting she stayed for the next two hours and really enjoyed her time in Relief Society. We set up a timid appointment for Friday and we will hopefully be able to have a member come with us :)

This week before church I prayed very hard for each of the members in the branch to be able to learn more of the power of the atonement and the love Jesus Christ has for us. Sacrament meeting went great and the topic of the talks was Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. I felt the spirit very strongly as Sister Li from the branch gave a wonderful talk. She shared some powerful experiences and during that time I learned how much I admired her and her family. They have, just like mom and dad, what everyone wants. A perfect family. Not necessarily perfect in actions or words but perfect in construction. A mother, a father, and three great children who are bound eternally by the bonds of love and the covenants they made in the temple of God. This family and many others in the branch are an inspiration to me of what kind of life I want to be able to live. I want to be well educated. Education is what puts us above the rest. If a man gains knowledge in this life "he will have so much the advantage in the life to come" (President Joseph Smith). I want to be worthy of my covenants and the blessings that come from them.

Oh, this week we were able to have a meeting with Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy come along with a few other brethren in the various Quorums of Seventy. It was a wonderful meeting. The biggest thing I learned was of sacrifice as an Elder Shane Bowen gave his remarks. He talked of how everything we do is taken to the altar of God. This made me think back to a talk given by one of the Sisters in the going away fireside for Elder Wang and Elder Lee. She talked about how life is about sacrifice. I thought of how in ancient america and bible times they had sacrifices on the altars. Then I thought of Ether chapter twelve when Heavenly Father says, "I give unto men weakness that they may be humble and if he humbleth himself before me then will I make his weaknesses into strengths." (Paraphrased) When we desire to follow our Heavenly Father we sacrifice our lives on the altar and then God gives us in return all that He has promised us. Elder Bowen stated, "Once we have placed it on the altar we cannot take it back." We are held accountable for what we know. I know that as a missionary I have been asked to live to a higher standard and live according to the way the Saviour did. I sacrificed myself to God when I signed those missionary papers... and I wouldn't take it back for the world. When Jesus Christ saw the kingdoms of the world and was tempted to be able to rule over them if he would give up, he remembered us. He remembered that he had sacrificed himself already in the pre-existence to save us all. In the Garden of Gethsemane He remembered us. He remembered that promise he made and knew he could not go back on his word. Thus he submitted to the Father again and "gave himself a sacrifice for man that man would not die if they should come unto him..." (A scripture) Jesus would not go back on his word even for the world. He knew that what he was doing was far more important and he showed perfect honesty as he said, "nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." He fulfilled his promise and we are now able to grow because of it. We sacrificed ourselves to God when we entered the waters of baptism and covenanted with God to live according to the commandments and take upon us the name of Christ. When we are tempted we can remember that we must be true to our word. Be completely honest and fulfill all that we have promised. I know this gospel is true. I know that Jesus Christ suffered for us in the name of my beloved Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

Families are Eternal! What a great promise!

Well, this week was transfers and I said my goodbyes to Elder Wang and Elder Lee this morning :( They will be in Taiwan on Thursday I think. I now have a new companion :) his name is Elder Long and I am certain that we will be able to work very well together. We just dejunked our apartment and were able to throw away all the excess stuff. I felt like mom during moving time ;) love you mom :) It feels so good to have a cleaner apartment and know that there is no spot left untouched to grow mold or gather dust. This week has been a little slower than others since my companion had to pack and there were tons of people who wanted to make last minute calls for dinner or lunch appointments. But, now my new companion and I will hit the ground running. Literally. I will start running in the mornings with my companion and we will make sure that we do all we are asked to do. Exact obedience is the key to success and loving others with your whole heart. Obedience to the commandments of God. This is what I want and I am amazed that others do not desire to live this way as well. Oh and this week I was able to go with Elder Wang and some of our investigators up to Oakland for a temple trip. We visited the visitor's center and listened to the Sister Missionaries who shared wonderful testimonies and great insights. I love this gospel and when I saw the temple I couldn't help but have a big grin sweep across my face. This happened because I know the blessings that are received there and the joys that it has brought into my life and our family. What a great gift to know that families can be and are eternally bonded. Think about it. Families are eternal! What a great promise. I know this is true and I love this gospel. I love you all and am so happy to be able to read Sarah's Talk. I am sure it will be great. I leave you these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Book of Mormon reveals plain and precious truths

Dear Family,
I love you all. I have limited time today. I love you all very much. This week has been hard again but we do have a former investigator that we went and saw this past week. He told us he was still praying and he made the decision to come to church by himself even though I am sure that his daughter is probably against it. It was so good to see him again and I hope that we will work with him soon. He is ready and waiting. I love you all and I know that this gospel can change our lives and build us to be people we never knew was possible. Just look at Joseph of Egypt. He was faithful and became a Pharoah. I love you all. This gospel is true in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Elder Christensen

My wonderful, loving Family,
I was able to take a little more time today. Yesterday was pretty hectic and we had to run within 10 mins so now I have about 30 to share more. I love you all. After I wrote to you about my guitar strings I was able to then read that you all actually went and bought the strings I am using now :) I am glad that you learned your lessons about being prepared ;)

We haven't been able to get a hold of Justin again this week and he didn't come to church on Sunday. But, Heavenly Father has blessed us. When I was in a companionship of 3 we had an investigator named Zhang Hui who we worked to help. His daughter is pretty strong in another church and when we would meet with Zhang Hui his daughter would usually be there. It was hard to know and understand him because he would work off of what his daughter was teaching him. She would say that Zhang Hui is doing well in really getting to know his Savior Jesus Christ. Also, she would make sure that he said "what he was supposed to say" at least that is what it felt like. So we eventually stopped meeting with them. He got a job at a chinese market here and he stopped coming to church because of it. Then about a week ago we went to his work to say hi. He was excited to see us and asked about my companion who was transferred named Elder Lee. Also, he said that he is still praying! It just popped up out of nowhere. I was excited when I heard that, but we had to leave. A few days later he called and talked with my companion again. I didn't think to ask what they talked about. This Sunday Zhang Hui also decided that before he went to work he would come to Sacrament Meeting and then go. My heart swelled with joy to be able to see him at church again. After the meeting we talked with him for a little while and asked about how he had been and what brought him back to church. He said that when he is in church he feels peace and calm and he likes to see us. I thought to myself that I should ask Zhang Hui to be baptized. Unfortunately I supressed the thought... During district meeting today as we role played I tried acting like Zhang Hui and found that I was very receptive to the things that were taught to me and thoughts kept running through my mind of baptism. I can't wait to be able to speak with Zhang Hui again and invite him to make this commitment with his Heavenly Father. I know that this gospel is true and that we can receive revelation for those over whom we preside and have been appointed by the authority of God. I am so grateful I can be on a mission now and for the things I am learning.

I have learned so much from the training that we have received over the past couple of weeks. What I learned this morning was precious and I also as I tried to teach I was able to apply something I learned just a little while ago about how to teach. In chapter 10 of preach my gospel are some great points about how to teach and I have learned more about how these are to be applied. First, we must open with prayer and get to know the investigator. (Talk about their lives and things that are not too personal.) Second, we must Listen to that which is said by the investigator. (This will bring forth the thoughts of those we teach along with their concerns.) Third, we testify of the points of true doctrine that they speak of. (As we listen the Spirit will "bring forth out of obscurity" the truths that the investigators are striving to describe.) Fourth, we teach and expound on those things that ring true to the investigator and strive to resolve their concerns. (Through the direction of the spirit.) Fifth, we ask questions that help us to know how the investigator feels. (This will also bring out more concerns and truths that you may testify of.) Sixth, we rotate through steps 2-5 until our time is finished. I had an experience with this sort of teaching during today's district meeting and I felt the spirit more strongly in my teaching and felt the investigator really open up and feel comfortable. Just as the bible has had many plain and precious things taken out of it. The teachings of this world have small truths that are surounded by lies. The Book of Mormon reveals those plain and precious truths that are lost and that is what we as missionaries must do in the lives of others. Help them to remove the lies and show them the truths. I know that this gospel is true. I know that God lives and loves us. I know that Jesus is the Christ in His holy name, Amen.
Elder Christensen

To Really Know Something is True Requires Action

Dear Family :)
I love you all. Thank you so much for my guitar. I pulled it out today and played a little bit. Oh it felt so good. Last night I opened the case and found that one of the strings was broken. (I am not blaming anyone ;) ) But, I found out that my years of being a boy scout payed off when I remembered that in the pocket with your note I had a brand new set of strings :D It sounds great and thanks Audrey for taking such perfect care of it :)
This week has been a hard hit on me. I have had many trials but things are working out. Mainly I am finding all of my weaknesses and I never knew how many I had. Some of those weaknesses I also thought were strengths. But I have also found many strengths that I didn't know I had. Also this week, on monday we went and had a great lesson with Justin he was very happy and filled with hope and peace. He was also very excited to have seen Jing Hao get baptized and was excited for his own. Then we went to see him on Wednesday and he had changed completely. It was as though we had just met him and he was bringing up past ideas and concerns that we had talked about before. The whole lesson my heart was aching. I truly felt hurt inside that I wasn't able to help Justin. I felt that he was not sharing his true feelings with us and he was trying to cover his doubts with others. At the end of the lesson I felt that I should ask a few simple questions. After asking these questions and striving with my broken mandarin to share my feelings of the lesson with Justin simply he opened up. We truly understood what he had troubles with. As I look at him I see a child who because of certain circumstances doesn't know where to turn and desires only one thing. He desires peace, he needs to feel the love of his parents. I learned the way our Heavenly Father sees Justin and truly understood him. I wasn't able to keep 100% chinese but he was able to learn a little that night of the love God has for him. This was a sacred experience. Justin still doesn't have another date set but we are striving to work on his true needs and help him to personally gain a testimony of this gospel. He isn't sure if Heavenly Father can help him. He hasn't been sincerely praying for himself and reading the scriptures. I ask you to pray for him. With our combined efforts we will be able to help save this one precious soul. He is also a very deep thinker but I have found that being a deep thinker isn't all that is needed. It is not enough to believe something is true. To really know something is true requires action. We need to step out into the unknown and use our faith. It is like the scene in Indiana Jones with the invisible bridge. Indiana Jones throws some dust out an reveals a bridge and so he sees a bridge there but he is still nervous to take that one step. He then jumps and finds that there is a bridge that will hold him. We must take that leap of faith and do our part to allow our Heavenly Father to show that He will catch us.
Mom, Dad, how did you study mandarin on your missions? I found that a big weakness of mine is studying and balancing the studies I do. I have not had language study for a while and didn't notice the damage it was doing to my language until recently. I can hardly speak with anyone! Tanner how did you study mandarin? I am reaching out to as many people as I can for help.
I love you all. You are a great family. (The Winns told me that as well :) )
Don't forget to each GENTLY give Uncle Bob a hug for me. Tell him how much I love him and pray for him. I am so grateful to hear the he is out of the hospital. Then give each other hugs.
I have learned to a small extent how much our Heavenly Father loves us and how he sees us. Think of President Eyrings son who tried to walk home alone. Tears rolling down his face, he chose to pray. So many in this world are lost spiritually. Tears rolling down their face, they don't know to pray. They are lost until they are shown the way home. You all can be that influence in the lives of others. We as members of the church are guides to those lost. The single most important thing we can learn to do in this life is to pray. Learn to truly, sincerely pray. That is what Joseph Smith did. And because of that prayer he was able to learn from his loving Heavenly Father all things. God desires to show unto us all things and "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39) He does this through guiding imperfect hands to make perfect results. We only need to be humble enough to be guided. I know that prayer is powerful and leave this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen

Monday, July 26, 2010

Anxiously Engaged in a Good Cause

My wonderful Family,
I love you all very much and I am so happy to hear about your week. There are two families in the branch with babies and whenever I see them I think of little baby david :) I imagine how cute he is and it always brings joy to my heart. I love this work and this opportunity to serve.
So something exciting happened this week :)... Jing Hao WAS BAPTIZED :D. I was also privileged to baptize him and don't worry I took pictures. The first baptism I attended here I forgot my camera and that was a big mistake that I never wanted to make again. So I made sure I had my camera for Jing Hao's baptism. It was great. We were able to have everything set up and ready about ten minutes before. Everything flowed wonderfully and Jing Hao's mother was able to witness the whole thing. She is a great woman. Unfortunately she doesn't speak a lot of Mandarin she speaks more Korean. But she understands everything. It was great to see her there :D I am sure she will be a good strength to Jing Hao for the future and helping him endure to the end.
Justin is also doing great. When we met with him on Friday he asked us what the soonest date was for him to be baptized. We weren't sure what to tell him but we will meet with him tonight and set a date for next week Sunday August 1st. That is what we will shoot for and do our best to get everything ready especially preparing Justin. He is so great and actively chooses to learn more. I am so excited for him and when he came to Jing Hao's baptism he told us he felt really good and liked the whole thing. We are only worried for the future with him because he will be going back to Boston soon and he likes talking about this gospel in mandarin. There are no mandarin branches in Boston that we can find and so we hope and pray that he will be able to keep going. Just keep praying for the plan the Lord has for Justin to flow perfectly :).
I am so happy to hear that you were able to meet Elder Edwards :). He said he would look for Tanner when he left but I don't think he was expecting to find the whole fam ;) haha. I am sure he is doing a great job as well.
I know this gospel is true and I ask that you will pray for me and the elders around the world to be able to fully comprehend the urgency of this work more deeply and use full dilligence in fulfilling the calling we have. The time that we have is so preciously short and the only way to stay out of trouble is to keep ourselves in the right. We need to use all of our time and not let a second pass away in which we have not planned, served, or shown our love for our fellow man. Make sure you are "anxiously engaged in a good cause" instead of anxiously engaged in not doing good. (D&C) I love this work and I know that Jesus Chist lives. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen

The Creditor is the Law

Hello my loving Family :)
This week has been crazy :) and a LOT of fun. We now have two investigators with baptismal dates (incase I haven't told you already) Jing Hao is one who will be baptized on the 25th. His date was changed so that his parents could attend. Also, Justin (Zhang Zhun Ping) who is such a wonderful investigator and person. He has such a different way of looking at the things we teach in comparison to the other investigators we have taught and learns quickly. That is most likely why he is a student at MIT ;) Oh boy. I love this gospel. I have started reading through the Book of Mormon (I might have told you this before as well) as my mission president has asked us to read it by October and look for specific instances of receiving and teaching revelation. I am now in the Isaiah chapters and they have come alive in comparison to the other times I have read through them. My understanding of the Atonement and the plan of Satan has grown incredibly. Oh mom I have an answer to your question but I don't remember where the scripture for my reasoning is. Anyway, I have read 2 Nephi chapter 9 recently and I love the many ways in which Isaiah says "O the great plan of our Heavenly Father" (or something to that effect) and then explains why he says these things. He shares why the plan of salvation is so great and why the Atonement is so amazing. I wish I had my Book of Mormon with me :( So, my thoughts went back to a little while ago when Dad told me that there was a sunday school lesson in Hong Kong where you talked about the two different plans that were presented in the pre-mortal life and why Satan's plan was a threat. I have thought about this a lot and have come up with an answer that of course is still in modification but it makes a lot of sense. Satan's plan to bring all the souls to earth and bring them ALL back to heaven but all the glory would be given to him. How could this work? I never thought about this before, but Satan is fulfilling his plan in the world today. He is showing us exactly how he would accomplish this plan. Through lies and addiction he would make us need to always go to him for satisfaction and relief from our physical needs. Like someone who smokes needs to go to the store and buy a pack of cigarettes or else he would not be able to satisfy the aching desire for a smoke. We would be going to Satan asking him for this relief and he would demand our loyalty in return. Then, when we all die we would not be able to live with our Heavenly Father we would have to live under the rule of Satan because we would still have the same desires and feelings of need that we had on earth. We would be thrust down to outer darkness and thus all of the glory that God has would go to Satan. But, none of us would be Gods and none of us would be eternally happy. The plan of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. As we have all seen in our own life it is to help us have eternal joy and be self developing. We are given the tools that lead us to constant progression and eternal happiness and shown the way to use them through the example of our Savior. As we strive to do all that we can to follow the example of Jesus Christ we are given blessings and eventually we become Gods. The difference between these two plans is that one teaches us how to fish and the other just gives us the fish when we ask. Satan and churches all around the world cause their members to need to go to church and need to see their pastor before they can make their own decisions. They don't learn more about the bible for themselves they learn from their pastor or preacher and then throughout the rest of their week they don't think about God any more. Jesus Christ and his one true church teaches us all to learn for ourselves the truth of the gospel and to dive into the scriptures more deeply as we see fit. Thus we progress and grow and are able to give talks and our own sermons and testimonies about the things we have learned to be true. I just thought of things as I typed so it might jump around a bit but make what sense you can out of it.
Now mom to give you my answer to your question: Who is the creditor in the story of the creditor and the debtor? The law. We judge ourselves and when we get to the feet of our Savior we know that we have sinned and we know that we have done wrong. The creditor is the consequence of the law. As Alma states "we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks to fall upon us and the mountains to hide us" from the presence of God when he comes. I think it is 2 Nephi 7:1 that talks about what I am trying to explain. I will make sure to give you more correct version of this answer next week :) But that is along the lines of my thinking
so far and I promise that I will continue to think about this. It always happens. Just like that Sunday school lesson coming back into my mind.
I love you all and I know that this gospel is true. I know that Jesus Christ lives. Oh a quick story. We had an investigator named Yun Bo who we had been teaching for a while. She was living with her sister who is 15 years younger than she. Also her daughter had lived in Shen Yang until about 2 weeks ago. Yun Bo planned to move when her daughter came and we weren't too worried about that. She found a place and her daughter came. So, she moved but she hadn't given us an address because she was staying with an older woman's home while renting a room. We then tried to call her on her cell phone and found out that Yun Bo had been using her sister's phone because the phone Yun Bo had was very expensive. So, we lost all contact with this investigator. We weren't sure what to do and so we prayed. We prayed that Yun Bo would come to church that week or continue to come to the English class we teach on Tuesday nights. We also tried to ask her sister for Yun Bo's address but her sister never got it. Yun Bo didn't show up to church that week. So we continued to pray throughout the next week and we remembered her describing the place she worked and tried looking for her. We found her car and left a card with a little note hoping that the situation wasn't going to be awkward. She didn't come to church the next week. We continued to pray. We wen't to dinner at a member's home and while driving there we found her car again but this time it was parked near the home in which she was staying. We weren't sure if we should leave a card or not and so we just left the situation alone for a little while. This past Sunday we went to church and had our meetings before church afterwards we set up the translation equippment in the Relief Society room (where we have sacrament for our branch) and I walked over and met a woman who was brought to church that day by a member. I then went to take my spot passing out the programs and the branch clerk said, "Did you see that Yun Bo came?" I said, "No... where." He gently turned me around and pushed me forward and I walked passed a divider for the middle of the room and there she was. Yun Bo was at church again but this time she had also brought her daughter. It was so wonderful to see them at church and we will continue to pray that she will come to church. Through this experience I know that our Heavenly Father answers specific prayers. I know that our prayers were answered by God. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
I could only quickly skim through the e-mail you sent me before I wrote this letter and I know that you have written some great things. I just realized yesterday that I might not have wished Sarah a happy birthday. I am so sorry Sarah. I will make it up to you by getting two baptisms this month okay? ;) I love you and I promise that I thought of your birthday before it happened and was planning on saying Happy Birthday before. If I have already said it I am still sorry and wish you a wonderful time in school :D.
Well, Tanner it is exciting to hear that you are back. I know that you served a great mission and I am excited to read more of your short note to me. I love you and I have prayed and will continue to pray that your transition will go smoothly and that you will be guided by our Heavenly Father to get back into the swing of things quickly. I am grateful for your example and I love you again.
Audrey, your awesome I love you too. Have a great time in Utah and Hawaii. You can do anything you put your mind to. Trust me, I did ;) I love you.
Rebecca, you have such a great smile and your happy attitude makes all around you joyful. You are wonderful and I love you.
Jeffrey, you have probably grown to great lengths since I last saw you ;) I love you and you have a contageous smile. Your laugh is awesome too. I love you.
Mom and Dad. I would not be here on a mission meant specifically for me if I didn't have you two as parents. You have followed the spirit in guiding your children and I know that you still do I love you both and thank you for your constant support.
Elder Christensen

Our Heavenly Father is There to Build Us Up to Reach our Fullest Potential

Hello my loving family,
This week has been a good one. I have felt the hand of the Lord guiding me in my life and almost pushing me to do things that I truly need to do. I have learned a lot. We have been asked to read the Book of Mormon by October 2010 and highlight the passages that we find with regards to revelation. I have been doing so and it has strengthened me a lot. I feel so blessed and know that the Lord loves me and my Heavenly Father loves me. We were able to talk to Justin this week and have a great conversation about the Gospel. He is such a smart person and he asks great questions. The best thing though is not that he asks great questions but that he takes the time to listen and to improve himself. As I said before he has read a few talks from General Conference and he has found how they can improve his life. Also, he is willing to change. As we talked with Justin he told us that his family relationship with his father hasn't been very good and so when he hears that we have a Heavenly Father he automatically repulses the idea. So we changed the approach a little and made sure that he felt comfortable. We helped Justin to know that our Heavenly Father is our best friend and when we talk to Him in our prayers we can talk as though we are talking with a friend. This made me think of the book "Clean Hands, Pure Hearts" in the chapters where the author talks about getting a new god. If you think of Heavenly Father as a person who hates you and this makes you scared of that image then, get rid of that image. Heavenly Father is not there to condemn us or bring us down to the "gulf of misery and endless wo" (Book of Mormon) that is Satan's desire. Our Heavenly Father is there to build us up and help us to reach our greatest and fullest potential, and He is there to give us love at all times. I have felt this love and the joy that it brings and I know that our Heavenly Father loves us. As we talked with Justin that night I also thought of how to relate the gospel to Computer Programming since Justin is getting a doctorate degree working with software. I told him that if he were to read a C++ Programming book he might not understand everything all at once but as he worked with the book and tested the programs that the textbook had he would learn and understand what codes worked and what codes didn't. This is like the Book of Mormon. God gives us this book filled with formulas on how to attain happiness and how not to attain happiness. Nephi found happiness through following the prophet and learning from God. Laman and Lemuel did not found happiness because they went after the things of the world. As we input these formulas in our lives we see that they truly work and this gives us a testimony. Sometimes our computer is slow to get a response and that is when we must have patience and humility. The slow connection is not because the code is wrong but there is a problem with the memory being cluttered or there are too many programs working at once. Justin really liked this and understood the reason for having a Book of Mormon. He is a great man and I know that the Spirit guided me through the lesson to strive to teach in a way that was understandable for Justin. At the end of the lesson Justin even said a prayer :) It was a good prayer. Not in the usual structure ;) but it was still a good prayer that was heartfelt. I pray that Justin may truly understand the Gospel and it's importance in our lives and desire to always come to church. He has been blessed with the opportunity to come to an area that has a mandarin branch. He will learn what he needs to learn and then go back to MIT and go to an English ward. But, because Heavenly Father loves him, Justin was able to hear the gospel in his own tongue so that he could truly understand the good news that is available to all men who come unto Christ. I love this gospel and I know that it is true. Congradulations Sarah again for your wonderful award and I know that you will be blessed.
Sarah, I don't know if you thought of this but if you are able to take a nursing class at BYU Hawaii and take care of Uncle Bob that will help you already have experience. I just thought of that when mom told me about you maybe being able to take care of Uncle Bob when Nikki needs a break. The Lord works in mysterious ways. But, these mysteries are unfolded to us when we take the time to sit and study and ponder. I think that your Heavenly Father might be telling you something when He gives you the opportunity to go to Hawaii, study nursing, and be able to gain experience in the field through taking care of your Uncle. Just maybe ;) I love you and want you to know that you are a great woman who can do anything you want so long as you take the time to work at it. You can learn all things if you take the time to learn. That is the one catch, we must put our faith into action! I love you so much.
Family again. You are all wonderful and I hope that you all know that you truly are sons and daughters of God. Even you mom and dad :) and don't forget that He loves His children. I have been humbled recently enough to open my eyes and see that I need to feel of my Heavenly Father's love and truly converse with Him. We all need it more than we know or realize and we mustn't let our pride get in the way of our joy. Use your faith and you will achieve great things.
Elder Christensen