柯 长老 (aka Elder Christensen)

柯 长老 (aka 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

On the Way to California

You are such an awesome family. You know that don't you? ;)
This week was a little hectic but we have pulled through and we had to move our email time to Wednesday. I do know that missing a week is not allowed and I wouldn't miss a week unless I had no possible physical way of emailing, I promise :) This week like I said has been a little out of the norm for us mainly because we have had many families moving and/or not being around when we needed them because of vacation but because the Lord works in mysterious ways we have been able to do all that we need. A couple of weeks ago Elder Wang and I met a man named Justin who is an intern from MIT at NVIDIA over the summer. On his way here to CA he had a stop off in Salt Lake City and found a poster advertizing Temple Tours. He decided that since he had three hours and the tour only took two hours he would go and check it out. So we ended up with a referral from Temple Square. We called and set up a time for us to stop by. Our first meeting with him was a get to know you meeting that took about 10 minutes and we then invited him to church the next day. He accepted and we had a brother from the branch drive him to church. He came and He Loved it :D. He learned a lot and stayed for the linger longer afterwards. We then invited him to a branch BBQ and he came to that. At the BBQ we got to know him a little better. He is studying for a Doctorate degree in Computer Science/ Computer Engeneering (my mandarin didn't pick up exactly what it was). He is here in California until the middle of August. He really enjoyed the activity and came to church the next day again. He came and looked really, really tired. BUT, he stayed awake. It was fast and testimony meeting and all of the people who got up gave wonderful testimonies. During priesthood meeting he picked up a talk (printed in mandarin) that was randomly sitting on the table and started to read it and he took notes on his blackberry. We set up an appointment with him for this Friday and I am quite certain he will progress well. I am so excited for him and I hope that he will be able to continue his learning. I am not too worried but I would ask that you pray for him :) It NEVER hurts. This week I have gone through a few more struggles but my loving and wonderful Saviour has given me the strength and ability to learn from my mistakes and move forward. I love my dear Heavenly Father and I know that He has given us a way to return to live with Him. I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of called. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know that through prayer and scripture study we are able to receive power from our Heavenly Father to do all that we need to do. Through the Atonement of Christ I know that we can overcome any trial in our lives and all we need is the faith to do so. I know this to be true. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Oh, mom and dad I met a Brother Ure here in San Jose who told me to say hello for him. He is a taller man and that is about all that I remember about him. So, if you remember an Elder Ure I have met him. He remembers you :)
When does Da Ke return? I know it will be soon but I thought it might have already happened. I am happy to hear that he is still out serving the Lord though. I love you all and pray for you constantly.
Elder Christensen

Beautiful Gardens

Hello my dear Family,
This week was great. We met a new investigator on Saturday who was a referral from Temple Square. We talked with him for about 10 minutes and then invited him to church on Sunday and said we would have someone pick him up. He said, "Sure". He came to church and afterwards told us that he learned a lot and really liked it so we will set up a time to meet again with him really soon. I love you all and I don't have much time left. I will talk to you next week. Here is what I learned this week.
This week I studied about Virtue. My companion and I have been doing some service at a less active member's home by doing yard work. Their yard really needed a makeover and so we have been helping them with it. Just this week I thought of how our minds can be related to a garden. Think of the prettiest garden you have ever seen. Now, think of the worst garden you have ever seen. These two gardens are able to be related to the space of our minds.
The beautiful garden. "Garnish thy thoughts" (Doctrine and Covenants 121:45). What does the word garnish mean? My Branch President in Hong Kong was a banker and so he taught me about how you can garnish your funds. If someone is not paying a loan the funds of that person can be garnished so that their paycheck is divided and part of the paycheck goes to the loaner. I am sure that you have heard of this term. So with this definition in mind we look at "garnish thy thoughts with virtue" (D&C) What is virtue? I see it as a word much like temperance. You take the time to restrict yourself in certain areas. For the garden to look beautiful the weeds must be restricted and pulled out. All of the trees that you see are planted for a specific reason and the ground is prepared with waterlines and sprinkler systems that give the trees and plants water. Drip lines are set for the trees and sprinklers are set for the grass. Every so often weeds come up and are easily seen and taken out. These weeds can be related to bad thoughts. If our garden is cleared with space then we see the weeds come up and can easily remove them because we have tamed the garden of our minds. We then take the weeds to a section of the garden for trash. If we don't take out the trash then eventually all of the trash will fill our beautiful garden and clutter our minds. How do we take out the trash? It is through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We can only take the trash so far but we will always know where the trash is unless someone else moves it when we aren't looking. If we know where the trash is then we can very easily be like the "dog returning to its vomit" (Bible) and the "swine wallowing in the mire" (Bible). But we give this trash to our Savior and "garnish [our] thoughts" to Him giving Him the ability to take away all of our trash to a furnace. Through this our garden is given the ability to only produce good fruits in their season.
The ugly garden. A wild, untamed place of ground that is filled with weeds that have become trees. The fruits of these trees are still slightly sweet but with a bitter after taste. We are trapped in a corner of the garden with vines and branches restricting our movement. The thorns are big and the ever growing branches and trees are cutting off all light that you see. When you are trapped in sin all you can do is try to run away from the pain. What is the only way to do so in this situation? You eat of the sweetness of the fruits more and more to try and hide the bitter after taste that follows. There is no hope. Your choices of escape are almost gone. You have no tools as they are inside of the growth. How do you get out? The Atonement of Jesus Christ! You see only a sword sitting just a few feet from you. Surrounded by thorns and rodents. You finally gain the courage to grab the sword. There is pain but you now have the ability to cut back at the weeds. You do all you can and with each swing you are pocked and abused but, you continue in Faith. You have decided to tame your mind and you will not stop. You continue to find more light as you cut. Eventually you find your tools and are able to dig up the roots of those trees that bear bitter fruits. You work each day to create more space and you till the ground. All of this work eventually leads to the beautiful garden but all along the way you are pocked and abused by those thorns. The Atonement works but we need to have the faith, hope, charity, love, knowledge, virtue, diligence, and other traits to press forward with a plan for the end. As you cut back trees and things you are given seeds and plant them. You nurture the seeds and constantly build your garden with patience. Knowing that it will take time to bear fruit that is sweeter "above all other fruits" (Book of Mormon).
I am out of time but I hope that this was helpful :) I know that this gospel is TRUE. I know that the Atonement works and has true power to free us. I know that Jesus Christ lives and that He and our Heavenly Father love us. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
I love you all very much and I know that your Heavenly Father loves you too. I sure hope this knowledge I have gained was helpful and spoken clearly. You are the best family ever :)
Elder Christensen