柯 长老 (aka Elder Christensen)

柯 长老 (aka Elder Christensen)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Only by Faith

Hello my awesome family,

This week has been great. We finished teaching the lessons to Derrick and he is very excited for his baptism this Saturday. He expressed a concern about the Word of Wisdom and we shared with him that we are willing to help him in anyway he needs. We invited him to fast this Sunday for strength and he was very fast in his reply that it was something he wanted to do. We let him know that we would fast with him too. It was a great Sabbath day and I learned a lot from the incredible talks that were given.

Derrick really enjoyed the meetings as well and had his interview for baptism :D I am very excited for him and I love being able to share my testimony with him so often. We will be meeting with Derrick Monday- Wednesday to see how he's doing and then calling him on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. On Saturday he will then be baptized!!! Keep him in your prayers this is a very important week and Satan knows it. Thank you for all the prayers that you have already said. You are such an awesome family and I love you all very much. Schuyler is doing well. This week we talked about who he would like to baptize him and how he would like the proceedings to be. He shared a few names and then asked if we could help with the rest. We said of course and are also very excited for him. We are also happy that Schuyler's brother is friends with Derrick as well. Schuyler's brother's name is Sage who is going to be attending both of their baptisms. We hope to be able to start teaching him the lessons as well.

It is really amazing how things are playing out. I am amazed at how involved Heavenly Father is in the work. We were also able to meet with Pan this week. He is doing very well. For black friday his aunt bought him as suit and he was very happy. We are waiting for him to feel comfortable in receiving the Priesthood. He is very shy. Please pray that the Spirit will help him to understand the importance of the Priesthood and how it can truly bless his life. I know you will. Keeler is still not coming to church and I have tried to call him a couple of times. It hurts to see him turn away so quickly. I hope and pray that he will be blessed to grow in a true testimony of the restoration of the gospel today. I know that there is a prophet on the earth and I know this because of the testimony of the Book of Mormon which I have. Pray that Keeler may also grow in his testimony.

It is great to see the pictures of the Pageant. What a great way to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. There is no better way than through song. I love Christmas time. As I was saying about the talks yesterday, one was about why we need to have faith in Jesus Christ. This led me to study about faith this morning and I learned that faith is the beginning of our being able to grow in a knowledge of the promised blessings of God. Only by our faith (action) in keeping the Word of Wisdom are we able to see that God's promises are true. Only by faith in prayer are we able to see that it is truly possible for us to communicate with our Father in Heavenly and learn of His great love for us. Only by having faith (action) as Christ and studying His life are we able to see an example of someone who truly received all of the promised blessings of God and know that it truly happened. Only by being faithful scripture readers are we able to grow in our knowledge of the commandments of God and see how to build and grow in our obedience which leads to a building of our faith. As Nephi said about obtaining the plates of brass, "And now, when I, Nephi, had heard these words, I remembered the words of the Lord which he spake unto me in the wilderness, saying that: Inasmuch as thy seed shall keep my commandments, they shall prosper in the land of promise. Yea, and I also thought that they could not keep the commandments of the Lord according to the law of Moses, save they should have the law. And I also knew that the law was engraven upon the plates of brass." (1Nephi 4:14-16) Nephi knew that the only way to remember the commandments was to faithfully read them. This week I will be committing myself to work harder at faithfully studying the scripture, to praying with greater faith, to growing in my obedience to God's commandments that my faith may increase and I may be a better tool in the hands of the Lord. This work is His work. If we make our life His life then His greatness and glory will eventually become our glory. We must press forward with an eye single to the glory of God (Doctrine and Covenants 4) that through our faith and good works we may be blessed and receive everlasting life (Alma 7:27). I know that this is possible if only we choose to have the faith of a grain of mustard seed, the faith to move mountains. I know that God lives and that His promises are sure. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen

The Gift of a Child

Hello my wonderful family,

It was great to receive the photos of Robert. Just about a little while ago I thought to myself that mom had said the baby should be due any day now and that was a few weeks previous. I hadn't heard anything more and so today I was going to ask if Anne had the baby or not ;) Well he is really cute. Hello my dear nephew! :D Congratulations Matt and Anne. Sorry it's a little late.

This was a great week. We started off with great momentum and were able to keep it going through Sunday. We taught many lessons. Derrick came back from his vacation and we taught him the rest of the Plan of Salvation and continued on to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He said it was a lot to take in but in a good way. He is just like a sponge pulling in all that he can take. We met with him twice this week and taught him a little more about the commandments. This Sunday was his sister's birthday down in Oakley, CA and he attended church while out there celebrating with her. Derrick is such a great example of one who knows what he wants and is willing to give up everything else to make sure he attains it. He has learned of the truth found in the gospel and has placed it in the top priority of his life. Schuyler is also doing well. We taught him a few of the commandments this week and he committed to following them. He is also one who has felt the truth in the gospel. When asked why he wanted to be baptized, he said he wanted to make a change in his life for the better and knew that this would help him take the next step.

I enjoyed our Fast and Testimony meetings this Sunday. They were meetings infused with the Spirit and I grew in my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the power of His infinite Atonement. This weekend I pondered upon the words of one of my favorite hymns during this christmas season, What Child is This?

"What child is this who lay to rest, on Mary's lap is sleeping? whom angels greet with anthems sweet, while shepherd watch are keeping? This, this is Christ the king whom shepherd gaurd and angels sing. Haste, haste to bring him laud the babe the son of Mary."

I am grateful for the gift of a Child on Christmas. I know that He truly was the Son of God. I know that Christ was born of a virgin and that she was chosen by God for this great purpose. I know that Heavenly Father loves us, "God loved us so He sent His Son." I testify that the Atonement of Christ has power to heal me and you and if we only follow the Gospel preached by Christ we will be able to share in the blessings promised to those who endure to the end. "He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved." (2 Nephi 31:15) I love the Christmas season. Ponder the hymns that are sung during this time. They are filled with truth and as you ponder I testify that the spirit will share with you "great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures." (Doctrine and Covenants 89) I know that God lives. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Christensen

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Hand of The Lord

Hello my amazing family,
That is so crazy that you met Elder C's parents :) Well, I saw someone too. Guess who ;) The Goo family came and spoke at our little Chinese branch this Sunday. You remember them I'm sure. They were the Temple President/Matron in Hong Kong. Well they say hello and send their regards. I walked over to them after their talk and I said, "I lived in Hong Kong while you were temple President there." Sister Goo looked at my name tag and then her eyes went wide and here face lit up. She said, "You're the Christensen's son... Nadine and Brian." I said yes. After talking a little while I also told her that Sarah was in Hawaii and Sister Goo said that if Sarah will be in town they would love to have her over for Christmas.

This past week Elder Egbert finished his mission and I received a new companion named Elder Thackeray. He is a great missionary and we are already having a lot of fun together. We are putting our minds to the work and striving towards some worthy goals that will push us to our limits. It has been a wonderful week. This week, we sat down with Schuyler and he said that his father will be in town the week of new years and so we set a baptismal date for December 30, 2011. We haven't been able to meet with Derrick this week, but from what his friend has said he is doing well and is excited to continue meeting with us. We are very happy. Also on Sunday, I was able to go back to Fremont to accompany Elder Thackeray to the baptism of an investigator he was teaching before he left. It was great to see everyone again.

I also wanted to share a couple of things the families in that area said to me from when I served with them previously. I share these because I know that mom has been praying that I see the hand of the Lord and ways in which I have affected those I have served and I wanted her to see how those prayers have been answered. A sister, whose family I would often eat dinners with, came in a little later during the baptismal service and sat down in front of me. She saw me as she was sitting down and a smile came across her face. After the wonderful baptismal service she stood up and said, "Elder Christensen I have to tell you something..." She proceeded to tell me that as one of her sons named Joseph was preparing his baptismal program he told her that he wanted me to be a part of the program. She then had to explain to him that I had been transferred and what that entailed. After he understood, the sister said that he broke down crying. She said that she just wanted to thank me for connecting so well with her children.
After that I was cleaning up the chairs and ran into two brothers who also remembered me. It was great to see them again and when I talked to their parents later they said that the whole family heard a voice over the crowd and said, "We know that voice." It was Sister Hansen who sent the picture of me on Santa's lap last year. They were also an amazing family and I admired their children and their family greatly. I was smiling all night long just being able to see the growth that had come among the members of the Ward I had grown to know and love. They are all incredible!

Elder Thackeray and I were both extra excited to come back to Pleasanton and work our tails off. I am excited for this transfer. I know that the Lord will bless us and we will go far through our exact obedience and hard work. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ and I know that it is the key to our Salvation. I know that God lives. I know that He is our Heavenly Father. I know that Jesus Christ died for us and paid the price of our sins that we might be freed from the bands of justice. I know the Book of Mormon is true. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen

Miracles Continue to Happen Today!

Miracles continue to happen today!!
Hello my special family :) (In a good way ;) )
I love you all. This week was amazing. We were out and about doing our work. We have been teaching many of the Singles Ward members and striving to help them gain even greater trust in us and our abilities in teaching. I have had many powerful experiences this week which helped me to grow in my testimony of the gospel and of Jesus Christ and His mission here on earth. But most importantly.......... this week we found a NEW INVESTIGATOR! It has been a while but we have done our best to work hard and use our time wisely. We can always improve but let me tell you the story.

On Thursday we went on exchanges and I was in a different area. That night I went back together with Elder Egbert and he said he had a meeting set up with one of the members, Paul, to meet with the member's friend. I was excited to study and learn what we needed to share with Paul's friend. The appointment needed to change, but it was moved to a time when we could meet in another member's home. We got there and taught Derrick. During the lesson Derrick seemed to be at the edged of his seat. He was intrigued and in awe at what was being told to him. We taught him of the Restoration and Paul really helped everything "click". As we shared the experience of Joseph Smith there was a strong spirit and we invited Derrick to be baptized after our lesson. As we were inviting him to be baptized his head was nodding and he said yes. We had talked about an experience when he had felt the spirit and after he accepted baptism he said that he knew this was true ever since the night of his experience. We set a date for his baptism on December 17th. This past Sunday we met with him again and taught a part of the Plan of Salvation. He said that it was all "clicking" and he was excited for baptism. We had prepared a calendar for him to set days in which we could meet. As he looked, he said, "I will put this as top priority, how about we meet monday, wednesday, and friday." He will be gone this week but when he comes back we will be teaching him everything in about two weeks and he will have a bit of extra time.

I was very, very excited. I still am! We might even be able to move the baptism up a little bit. Please pray for Derrick. I know you will. Pray that he may really know the truth found in this gospel. Please pray that Keeler will be able to gain a knowledge of the gospel. Pray that he may be led to know that God is real and that there is nothing more important that following the gospel of Jesus Christ. Pan is also having a few struggles and it is difficult to really understand him. We try to help him feel comfortable sharing his concerns with us but haven't had much success. Please pray for him to make strong relationships with the members. I know that as this happens Pan will be able to hold strong and be ready to receieve the priesthood.

I love missionary work and I know that it will bring us the greatest joy we can imagine. I know that the gospel is true. On Sunday we taught gospel principles and I looked at the picture of Christ breaking the bread for the sacrament. I think it was painted by Simon Dewey. As I looked at it I pondered the expression on Jesus' face and His attitude. As our perfect example, Christ looked as though he would give up everything He had to accomplish the will of the Father. If we are to be truly happy, this is what we must do as well. I know that the power of the Atonement changes lives. As we repent we are granted grace (or strength) to press forward and become a new creature. The only way we can do this is because of the sacrifice of Christ and our Heavenly Father. A talk on Sunday explained the origin of the word sacrifice and it's meaning. Sacri - meaning sacred. Ficio - meaning make. When we sacrifice we make sacred that which we give up. Christ was made sacred, or perfect, after His crucifixion. Our will's can be made sacred, or perfect, through sacrificing our will to the will of the Lord. I know this is true and I know it because I have taken my whole life to study the gospel and the spirit has witnessed of the truth of these things to my heart multiple times. I am grateful for the many miracles which have come over the past week and over my whole life. I love the Lord. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen

I've Got So Much to be Thankful For...

My dear family,
I enjoy being in the service of the Lord. There is so much that happens throughout each day to keep us busy. We are working hard to find those who need us and I know that through our efforts and prayers Heavenly Father will grant unto us those which we can teach and bring closer to Christ.

I love you all and I know that the gospel is true. I know that the Atonement of Christ is real and I am grateful for the many blessings that are given to me each day. I am grateful for having such a great family. I am grateful for having friends in each ward who watch and care after the missionaries. I am grateful for how much they feed us ;) I am grateful for my being able to wake up each morning with energy to have yet another full day in the work of the Lord. I am grateful for each day I have to devote my life to the service of God. I am grateful for each of those who have blessed my life with learning and correction. I am grateful for the sacrifice of others for my sake namely, mom and dad, my teachers, my friends, Matt, Tanner, Sarah, Audrey, Rebecca, Jeffrey, and most of all my Savior. I am grateful for the plan of salvation which blesses our lives. I am grateful for the Restoration of the Gospel. I am grateful for the opportunity to spend each day on this earth prepared especially for me. I am grateful for music which touches our souls. I am grateful for the life that I have lived. I know that these are all blessings from a loving Heavenly Father. As Bing Crosby sings in "Holiday Inn," "I've got so much to be thankful for..."
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Seeing what we and others CAN be

My dear family,
I love being able to write to you each week. The weeks simply get better and better. I find that each month I tend to focus on a different aspect of the gospel for my testimony. This month I was really able to learn a lot more about the love our Heavenly Father has and in turn I have found that my love for others has grown dramatically. As I have heard others talk about struggles and trials in their life I find myself hurting with them. As others share experiences of joy and gladness I find myself praising God. It is difficult to explain to others the feelings that I have had.

This past week was amazing. We taught 15 lessons (around 2 a day). Though all of out lessons were for the members we asked each of them to think of friends that they could invite to hear about the gospel. During each lesson there were people sharing names of family, friends, and acquaintances they could help. We shared what we could to let them see how to proceed. I felt the spirit directing my thoughts and actions and I knew that what we were sharing was what we needed to say. Whenever I felt that I wasn't sharing what was necessary, I would take some time to really think and search for a question or comment I could make that would help them. After that point the lesson seemed to guide itself. It was an incredible experience. Missionaries truly need to teach every day of their mission. They are called to teach. I would invite you to do all you can to find someone who the missionaries can help. They need the people and the experience. It will boost their confidence and make them better.

This Sunday
I heard a great quote that I can't remember but it baisically said, "If you treat a person how they are, that is all that they will be; if you treat a person for who they can become, that is who they will become." I thought that was so true. If we ever find that a person isn't kind or caring, treat them as if they are. That gives them the opportunity to fill the shoes of your expectations and step up to become a better person. From the many sports videos I have seen there is usually a young man who is found by a coach and the coach sees something great inside of him. The coach then works to make that potential come out. The young man doesn't always see why the coach pushes him so hard and chastises him but in the end that young man achieves greatness. In Miracle, the goalie is chosen because of who he can be, not who he is. The coach knew that the goalie had great potential and worked to bring it out. In the end, the team was led to victory and the goalie was strong.

Look for the good in other people. Only then can they achieve their true potential. I know that to be true. It is like the artist looking at a stone and seeing what sculpture it can be. It is as the architect looking over the San Francisco Bay and seeing a bridge crossing it. Michael Angelo saw that the Sistine Chapel ceiling would be covered in a beautiful painting before he did it. Heavenly Father saw the creation of the earth before it happened. All things were created spiritually before they were created physically. (Moses 3:5-7) If we have a vision of what we and others can become that is what we will be. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen

Monday, October 31, 2011

Service Brings Great Joy

Happy Birthday Dad!!!
I love you!
Hello my amazing family :)
How are you this week? I guess I will find out when I read your letter ;) I love being in the service of the Lord. This past Sunday was amazing. There were some really great talks and we had a fun time serving at a Stake Halloween party. It was lots of fun to see all of the different costumes people had.

This week we were able to teach quite a few more people than usual. Unfortunately, I wasn't there for most of them because I was on exchanges. But, I heard they went well. Keeler is doing much better, thank you for your prayers on his behalf. He is an awesome guy and I know that he will do great things in the future. Pan would like to wait a little bit before receiving the priesthood. Please pray that he will be given the desire to truly understand the things which we have taught him. When he understands the gospel he will want all of the blessings that are promised to him.

Though the week was difficult I feel that we were able to get a bit done. We taught lessons, attended meetings, taught english, and visited quite a few people. I thank you for your continued prayers on my behalf. In your prayers this week I would ask that you pray for us to find ways in which we can work even more effectively. We have done a lot of work and yet our efforts aren't yeilding the results we would like. I hope we can see where we need to improve and find ways to see more of the miracles in our lives this week. I love being able to serve.

At the Halloween Party we helped pass out Nachos and clean up afterwards. While we served I found joy in talking to others and seeing their excitement. It was great to talk and joke with those we met. I also thought of a great costume :) So, Matt since you have a kid young enough to do this with ;) You can dress up David like a squirrel and you dress up like a tree. Then if David is ever scared he will run to you and be like a squirrel climbing a tree. Haha. It just cam to mind as I saw a man with his son dressed in a dog suit. I love you all.

I testify that the gospel which we have been taught is true. I know that as we are in the service of our fellow beings we are only in the service of our God which service brings great joy to our hearts and peace to our minds. I know that through a prophet the Lord reveals His will for us and I know that President Thomas S. Monson is the prophet called for our day.

I know that Book of Mormon is true. I recently wanted to help teach others more of the significance the Book of Mormon has in our lives and religion. So, we made an arch with a picture of the Book of Mormon on the keystone. This way we have something that will give others a mental image of what happens when the keystone is removed. The arch falls. We need the Book of Mormon! It was Joseph Smith that testified of the Book of Mormon being the Keystone of our religion. That is why Satan works so hard to prove it is false and keep us from reading it's pages. I know that as we read the Book of Mormon it can give us power to overcome the trials in our lives. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen

The Love of God Filled My Heart

Hello my wonderful family :)
I love you all. It is exciting to hear about how you are doing. Mom and Dad, I hope your time in Thailand is amazing and I am sure it will be :)

This week has been really cool. We were able to teach more lessons this week than in the past five which was great. We are back to teaching Keeler, the young man whom I was privileged to meet and help accept a baptismal date before I left the YSA Ward. He has had quite a few struggles recently and I hope that you will pray for him to feel the love of Heavenly Father and the testimony of the spirit in his life.

We are now teaching an investigator named Schuyler and he is excited to be baptized in December. He is a great man and I ask for your prayers on his behalf too. Pray that he will feel the spirit testify of the truth to him and that he will know the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. We have also taught Pan who will be receiving the Priesthood soon. He is doing very well and I can't help but smile big whenever I hear of his successes and progression.

This week I caught another glimpse into the love which Heavenly Father has for His children. As I told you, Keeler is going through hard times. As he expressed his trials to me I could literally feel my heart breaking. I wished I had the power to keep him safe. I wished I had the ability to take away his trials and pain. I was crying inside and out. As we continued to teach him I testified with all of my heart of the truth found in the gospel. I prayed fervently that the spirit would touch Keeler's heart. I knew that he is a precious son and I could feel that his Father did not want to lose him. I can take this experience and strive to apply it even more to each of God's children around the world. God sees His children falling away, not understanding or knowing that there is a way out of grief and pain. This breaks His heart and yet because of the Plan of Salvation, He too can feel comforted that each of His children will be given the opportunity to understand and accept the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The Atonement and repentance process are the only way we can find true happiness that lasts for eternity. Also, they are the only way we can return to our Heavenly Father. I know that there is a true saving power found in the Atonement of Christ. I think of when Enoch saw God crying. And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept; and Enoch bore record of it, saying: How is it that the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains?...The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency; ... And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto Enoch, and told Enoch all the doings of the children of men; wherefore Enoch knew, and looked upon their wickedness, and their misery, and wept and stretched forth his arms, and his heart swelled wide as eternity; and his bowels yearned; and all eternity shook." (Moses 7:28, 32, 41) I know that we are all children of God. I know that Heavenly Father loves each of us deeply. I testify that His love is evidenced in the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, who died that the sons and daughters of God could be redeemed. I love my Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. I know that He is the only way back to the Father. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

You CAN do it with the Help of the Lord

Hello my wonderful family,
I love you all so much. Thank you for your constant prayers on my behalf, they really make a difference. This week has been an interesting one. We were just put back into the Tri-Valley YSA Ward over the Pleasanton Stake area. There are now four elders serving the Ward and we really have great potential and I am excited to see the work in this Ward boom! It will be awesome as we are able to work with each of the Wards individually in bringing their YSAs into the fellowship of the Tri-Valley Ward. Sunday was great to see all of the people I worked with only 3 months ago. There had been no changes to the leadership other than the Bishopric. Which is great because the Elders Quorum and Relief Society Presidents are awesome. Also, this week we had a woman from Dublin walk into our Sunday meetings. She had never been to our church before and she said that a friend referred her to this church. She seemed to have a great time and will hopefully continue coming. Unfortunately, we didn't have an opportunity to speak with her one on one and ask if she would like to take the lessons, but next time for sure.

I simply wish to share with you the testimony I have of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and how it can help us in our lives. I know that there is power in the Atonement to heal us both physically and spiritually. I know that Jesus Christ suffered the Atonement for you and for me as individuals. I testify that the Book of Mormon is true and the only way it points is to our Heavenly Father. Do not trust for a minute the lies of Satan and his followers. You are all children of your Heavenly Father and as you take the time to study and learn from Him you will be shown a greater you than the world could ever offer. I just realized this Sunday how often others of the world try to put it into our hearts that we cannot attain the promised blessings of our Heavenly Father. Satan works long and hard to sow seeds of lies. But remember that the only seed we need to plant in our hearts is the Word of God (the Gospel of Jesus Christ). As we do this Heavenly Father shares with us our true potential and we are privileged to see that we truly can become like God as we do what He asks. As we keep the commandments we feel the companionship of the spirit in our lives which bring us joy and reassures us that our goals are worthwhile. You can be perfect. You can be patient. You can be loving. You can be a great friend. You can have no fear. All you need to do is spend the day in council with your Father in Heaven. As you do this, you are as His apprentice and He teaches you to become even as He is. I love you all. Take the time to study. I learned something else from General Conference by listening to how the prayers were said. There was a pause after every sentence showing that each word was well thought out. As I have applied this to my prayers I have felt a new spirit enter my life. I know that this is a better way to commune with our Father in Heaven. Take the time to pray. I promise that as you do so you will feel the spirit more strongly. I love you dearly and pray for you as well. Thank you again for all of your kind service in my behalf. I thank you for your sacrifices. It is not easy to take time out of your busy schedules, but you do. Thank you.
Elder Christensen

How Great Shall Be Your Joy

Hello my incredible family,
I love you all. This past weekend was the Family History Seminar and it went great! We had a total of 60-70 people show up of which around 2/3 was non-members. We had set up a booth with many gospel DVDs, booklets, and copies of the Book of Mormon. As people were able to walk through the cultural hall and eat refreshments there were many who went to the table and took from the abundance of gospel literature. It was incredible to see so many people and how well they responded to the seminar. It is very different to be a part of the background crew rather than those just coming to enjoy the event. We were constantly running around hoping that things would work out for the best. Overall I was very satisfied with how the seminar turned out. There were members that came from my previous areas and I was able to renew friendships with them. It was great to see them again and remember the times of service in their branches. I love serving the Lord. He blesses us as we do our best and is so dependable. His blessings continually fill us with joy. I decided to fast that we would be able to find a new investigator because of this seminar. The day of the seminar we received a call that there was a chinese man living in Pleasanton wanting who had many questions about our religion. He was supposed to come to church the next day, but unfortunately wasn't there. But, as another great blessing there was a family, the Shi family, who we had tried to teach before who ended up coming to church. They had been attending another church for a little while because her sons liked it a little better, but after she came this past Sunday she decided that she really liked ours and wanted to come next week. I know that these two experiences are blessings from Heavenly Father. We were also able to meet with Pan this past week and start working with him again. He is doing well and still has a strong testimony of the gospel, but the missionaries serving with him are uncertain of how much he truly understands and how to teach him according to his needs. So we were asked to help out. I am excited and very happy to work with him again. He is such a great man with incredible potential. Please pray that we may know what to say and how to say it in a way that Pan will take part in the goal of Eternal Life and searching for the will of God. We have great potential from this Seminar with many people asking for help in beginning their search for family history. I ask that you pray for revelation to be given to our branch to know how best to enable these potential investigators to desire the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives.
Next, a blessing from Heavenly Father. During the seminar I was able to see the Li family whom I had served with in Cupertino. They are an incredible family as well. I love them greatly. They asked me if I remembered a Justin. (Do you remember that name? He was the young man from Boston who was very close to being baptized and then chose not to and return back to MIT. After being at MIT for about a week I called him to give his information to the Elders there. Two days later he called back and said he wanted to be baptized and about two weeks later I called him and he said he was in a baptismal interview.) Anyway, what they told me is that Justin came back to California and is looking for a job. Also, he went to church and looked so great in a suit and tie. I am sure that my smile stretched literally to my ears. I was so happy to hear about his progression in the gospel and to know that he is now a faithful member of Jesus Christ's true Church. He is now working towards salvation :) I know that Heavenly Father loves him and me. I know, because, out of all the millions of people in the world, Heavenly Father decided to let me catch a small glimpse of the effect my actions have made on one soul. "And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!" (Doctrine and Covenants 18:15-16) I have been blessed to see the promises in this scripture fulfilled to some degree in only the short two years I have been on a mission. I am ever so grateful to my Father in Heaven for these blessings. I know that God lives and I know that He loves His children. Thank you for your letters. Thanks dad for your sharing the special things that stood out to you from conference. Thanks mom as well for your sharing the precious truths that you have seen in listening to General Conference. I loved it as well. You are two of the best parents in the world. I am happy and proud to say that I am who I am because of you. As I listened to Sister Elaine S. Dalton's talk I also thought of how well she described the attributes of my father. I love you both. Also, from last General Conference as I listened to Elder Quentin L. Cook's talk about mothers and the great women of the church I thought of how I had been blessed with a mother of great values who has taught me well to keep the commandments. I thank you both for your examples to me.
I love you all. Matt, Anne, David, Tanner, Ali, Sarah, Audrey, Rebecca, and Jeffrey, you are also examples of greatness that I look up to. Your bright smiles in the pictures that I have remind me of the testimonies burning in your hearts. I love each one of you. Thank you.
Elder Christensen

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Choose this Day to Stand a Little Taller

Hello my stupendous family,
You are all awesome. I love you :) I have thoroughly enjoyed this week! We didn't find the new investigators but, we went to the temple and attended General Conference. It has been a powerful experience. I loved this General Conference as it was filled with simple doctrine about the Book of Mormon, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and how we can share these important truths to our friends. Also it taught me something very special about the importance of personal revelation.

I have always known that we have the right to receive revelation for our friends and family, but this general conference I thought of how we can better invite the spirit of the Lord to be with us always when we consistently seek out and apply revelation. We are entitled to receiving revelation right now to what we need to do in order to push the work of God forward today. As long as we are diligently keeping the commandments with 100% effort, we are promised to have the Spirit of the Lord with us always along with all of His gifts. One of these precious gifts of the spirit is the spirit of revelation.

As I was speaking with Elder Egbert about this yesterday I thought of how wonderful a blessing it is that we can receive revelation like a to-do list from our Heavenly Father. Then as we go out and accomplish the things that He has revealed to us, He blesses us for accomplishing His will. As missionaries we follow a tight schedule. Wake up at 6:25. Prepare for the day from 6:30 to 7:30. Eat Breakfast. 8:00 Personal Study. 9:00 Companionship Study. And so on until 9:00 when we take time to plan for our next day and prepare for bed from 9:30-10:30. It is a hard schedule, but it is a commandment from Heavenly Father which is accepted by every missionary who receives a call. During this whole day we can receive revelation to do God's will and confirmation as we act that we are doing the will of the Lord. When we wake up at 6:25 we are entitled to the blessings that come from obeying this commandment, namely an added measure of the spirit. Then as we study personally we start with prayer and ask to know the will of God for us. After asking we search diligently for the answer in the scriptures because "the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do." (2 Nephi 32:3). After learning our purpose for the day we take time to study as companions. During companionship study we have the blessing of learning how to accomplish our purposes together and bring the Holy Ghost into our companionship. We then take what we learn from these to study times and apply them throughout the day. In doing so we are showing Heavenly Father how much we value the revelation we receive which leads to His blessing us with even more. Then at the end of the day we start our planning by seeing what we were able to accomplish and how the hand of the Lord worked in our lives that day. We continue planning by studying the information of those we have met and searching for what we can do the next day to help them come closer to Christ. Because of our faithfulness in accomplishing the will of God, He takes the opportunity to place in our path those who have been prepared for us and showing us how to find them. With gratitude in our hearts and an inspired plan for the next day we lay down exhausted at the end of the day only to wake up and start the process all over again.

Receiving revelation is a process that if made a part of our lives will bless us to grow at an exponential rate. We will be able to see progression because we take the time each day to see how far we have come. We will be baffled at how true to His word Heavenly Father truly is. Also, our joy will be made full because we are becoming the very people we desire to be. That is Heavenly Father's plan for us. He want's to fulfill every desire of our hearts. If we truly take the time to sit and ponder what our desires are, we will find that they are infused in the gospel of Jesus Christ and desire to do everything within our power to make and keep sacred covenants at baptism and in the temple, because that is what it takes to become like our Heavenly Father is. In the grand council of heaven that is what we all wanted. We all desired to become like our Heavenly Father was, is, and ever will be. That is the purpose of the plan of salvation with Jesus Christ at it's center. We are eternally indebted to Jesus Christ because only through Him are we perfected, "there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent." (Mosiah 3:17)

All that we need to do to be able to receive our dreams is to accept the atonement of Christ. Thus I invite each of us to choose this day to stand a little taller and stretch a little further to come unto Christ. "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God." (Moroni 10:32) I know that the grace of God can work to give us the strength to change. I know that God lives. I know that Jesus Christ is His Son. I know that the Book of Mormon will draw us closer to God than any other book. Read from it's pages and study the messages it contains, then do as Enos did, "Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart. And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens." (Enos 1:3-4)

I testify that as we do this Heavenly Father will open the windows of heaven and testify to us through the Holy Spirit that He is there and that His plan of salvation is for everyone who has faith, repents, is baptized by immersion, receives the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endures to the end. I testify that Jesus Christ is our Savior. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet called of God to restore the true church once again upon the earth. That church is led by a prophet today and twelve apostles as in the days of Christ. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Better Than We Ever Dreamed

September 28, 2011 8:25 AM
Hello my dear family,
I love you all. Today I was able to go to the Temple :) What a wonderful experience. I have learned to appreciate the temple a great deal as I have been out on a mission for the Lord. We can only go twice a year to receive the blessings found inside of it. As I walked in I could feel a difference in my heart. I knew that I felt the presence of the Lord and that I was walking on holy ground. I enjoyed the great blessing of renewing my covenants with Heavenly Father and I learned a few things too, of course :).

I have learned a lot about how to access the power of the Atonement in our lives. As we do our best in living the commandments then we are promised that the power of the atonement will work in our lives. For "I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say, but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise" (Doctrine and Covenants 82:10). What I learned specifically is the meaning of "doing our best." As we move forward and gain greater light and knowledge we need to apply it immediately and never again live to a lower standard. As we do this the Lord is able to bless us with greater strength to accomplish His will and we are able to progress. We grow line upon line and precept upon precept and the quality of our lives progresses as our ability to act on revelation increases as well. Acting upon revelation as it comes draws us closer and closer to our Heavenly Father and in turn we are better able to accept the Atonement in our lives. I know that the atonement of Jesus Christ has true power to heal us and bring us closer to God. As we continually study the scriptures, pray, attend church, and follow the prophet we will be ae to feel Heavenly Father's presence more strongly in our lives.

I am excited for General Conference. I am excited to see what I can work on to grow in my abilities and better put on Christ. We haven't found any investigators this week but we do have an appointment with a woman who said that she would like to learn about the Book of Mormon. The woman's name is Eva and she was introduced to us a little while ago by a member. Recently Eva told the member that she would like to learn more about the Book of Mormon. We are excited to meet with her. We should see her on Thursday. I have decided to pray for two new investigators this week and I trust that the Lord will answer my prayer in His own time. I know that investigators will come I just don't know exactly when. I only hope that I can be prepared to teach them and bring them to Christ. I know that the gospel is true.

I met a sister from Taiwan today at the Temple visitor's center. It was great to be able to speak with her in Mandarin. I love being able to communicate with a culture that I have grown to love. I know that Heavenly Father has plans for each one of us. Let us be worthy to receive all of the blessings He desires to give us. They will be better than we ever dreamed. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen

Monday, September 19, 2011

Big Family History Activity

Hello my incredible family :)
I am so happy to hear about your week. I remember fifth grade camp at TAS it is a lot of fun. I am happy to hear about Jeff and his choosing to play the trumpet. Keep up the good work practicing kiddo ;) I like Mr. Abernathy too.
Sarah :) You're great and don't worry too much about the diagnosis. I know that Heavenly Father has put this trial in your life for a reason and He knows that in the end it will turn out to be seen as a blessing. I have had many trials in my life and I thank my Heavenly Father for each one of them. The trials I have faced have always led to my drawing closer to Heavenly Father and understanding even more the Atonement and how it works in my life.
I am excited for Matt and Anne. I remember just last week to have thought about her being pregnant. I thought, "Wait a minute I have been in Pleasanton for about 7 months and I remember being back in Fremont when I was told the good news." I figured she was due pretty soon. Congratulations. I am excited for you both.
Tanner and Ali, keep up the great work. Remember that the Lord desires to lift our burdens and make them light. "And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord." (Mosiah 24:15) I love the Lord and I know that He is ever watchful of His children. I love you both as well.
What a great week. I loved seminary. This week I was able to bear my testimony about it and I found that in reading my scriptures the promise that mom made to her students came true. As I attended seminary my burdens were lifted. The power of the word of God is tremendous and it does gives us the strength we need to accomplish our daily tasks.

This week I was able to go do service and started talking to a woman there. I told her where I was from, Hong Kong, and she looked inquisitive. She said, "Did you attend an EFY in Fresno?" I said, "Yes."
"Did you have a roommate named Pace?"
(Suprised look) "Yes."
"No way, I'm his mom!"
It turns out that Pace is going on a mission on September 25th to Bazil. She asked me what words of wisdom I could give him. I said that the best way to prepare for a mission is through sharing your testimony. Through the baring of testimony ours is strengthened and others are able to feel the Spirit which testifies of truth. It was great to see her and she showed me a picture of him :) I love connections.
This week we were given permission to think outside the box with our area. President Watkins really wants to give us all that we need to move this area forward. I am excited we have made a few new ideas and will present those to him soon. We found a family last week from Beijing. They are cool and wanted to know how to become christians. Unfortunately, they leave tomorrow to go back to Beijing until March or April. We will be stopping by their house again today to try and see them off with a Book of Mormon and maybe some DVDs. We were able to get their email though and will do our best to keep in contact with them. Still no new investigators but a lot of potential. We need to find out how we can help the potentials become new investigators.

There is a big activity coming up that our branch is putting on. It is a family history seminar with someone from the Salt Lake Genealogical Library coming to talk about how to do Chinese family history on-line. We are excited for that too. We have high hopes that there will be a lot of people and that we may find many people who desire to learn more about the gospel and how it works with family history. This should be a great event and I ask for your prayers to help it along :) This is the Lord's work and I know that it will press forward in every language and among all people in the San Jose Mission and around the world. I know that God lives and that this is His church. I know that Jesus Christ accomplished the Atonement for us and lives this day as testimony that all He has been asked to do is complete. I know that the gospel heals lives. I know the Book of Mormon is true and contains the Word of God. There is power in the word of which I testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Turning Comments into Invitations

Hello my dear family,
I love you all greatly. You are wonderful examples to those around you of how they can be happy. I know that others recognize it. This week we had an incredible fireside with Elder Packer (the area seventy for California, he is really cool) and President Watkins. Sister Watkins sang a beautiful song as well. Unfortunately I forgot the name of the song :( Anyway the fireside was all about Preach My Gospel and how to do missionary work. They talked about 5 things that we can focus on to help the Lord get involved in our missionary work. I will try to remember them, I left my notes at home. 1) The Lord Prepares. 2) Ward Mission Process. 3) Prayer List. 4) Comments into invites. 5) ?. Well, I remembered almost all of them. Anyway. 2, in the Ward Mission Process we work in Ward Council to talk about people and their needs to see how we can help them become more active and converted to Christ. 3, for the Prayer List we make a list of all the people that we have influenced in our lives and then pray continually to find a few friends who have been prepared by the Lord. I just remembered the first one and wrote it in, but it is, 1, that the Lord prepares. We don't need to pray that we may prepare people for the missionaries to teach, the Lord prepares them and all that we need to do is invite those prepared to act. 4, for comments into invites it means to take a comments that someone makes about the church or you and find a way to invite them to change that idea. For example, if someone says, "Why are you so happy?" in reply you can say, "I would love to let you know. Would you like to come to church with me on Sunday?" Someone may also say something a little more mean such as, "How many mothers (wives) do you have?" and you can simply say, "I only have one and so do the other 350 people who come to church with me on Sunday. Do you want to come and see?" These are two examples of how we can change comments into invitations. I can't remember the last one, but I learned a great deal from the fireside and thought that I would share it with you. I know that these 5 things ( Well 4) can help us in our own lives to find those that are searching for the gospel and need us to share it with them. These few things can enable to Lord to become more involved in our lives. This is what we all want. Who wouldn't want to be a tool in the hand of a master? Someone who knows you, how you work, what you can do, what you need, and what makes you happy. Heavenly Father gives us callings that we may serve with all of our hearts and by doing so find the greatest joy. This week has been another week full of contacting and visiting members. We haven't been able to find anyone who would like to meet with us yet but I know that they are being prepared by the Lord and He will bless us in His own time. I simply need to be patient. I know that the gospel is true and I know that we have a prophet on the earth teaching the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel has been restored! Let's share it with everyone we can. As we apply ourselves in the work of the Lord, He will bless us and make us grow. I know that this is true, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. I love you all :)
Elder Christensen

The Gospel Can Help us Through Any Trial

Hello my loving family,
You are all so wonderful and I want you to know that I love you dearly. You are very special to me and I thank you for the letter from Scott. I haven't been able to read it all yet but I read parts and it sounds great. I love being on a mission. I know that I am in the best place for me right now. I know that Heavenly Father can help me to overcome any challenges that I have in my life through my being willing and able to follow the commandments He has given me. I know that this is the same for everyone else. I learned recently that if we are absolutely faithful in the gospel and completely obedient Heavenly Father blesses us with the Spirit as our guide and protection. I know that the Spirit is one of the most important gifts that Heavenly Father can give us. There are many great blessings promised to those who have the Spirit of the Lord with them. As we understand these blessings we will understand more fully the importance it is to strengthen our ability to heed His council and strive to constantly be in His presence. I know that this gospel is true. We are still struggling in finding new investigators. It has been difficult for me to break away from the thought process that my mandarin isn''t very good. I know that it has improved dramatically, but I find that whenever I am complemented I feel I have to say no. I think this has played a part in my thoughts that I can't speak mandarin very well. I need to just get out and talk! You too ;) Just go out and speak the language with everyone you can. That is the best way to learn the concepts taught in your classes. I will do better :) I love you all. Recently Elder Egbert and I have felt that we really need to get in better shape. So, we have bought a few exercise things and set up some meal plans that we will follow. It should help a bit for our purposes and I know that getting into a routine of physical fitness will help me throughout my life. I was able to see Brother Pan this week. He is awesome. He has been going to church and I really have seen his trust and faith grow since I saw him last. It is amazing how quickly we grow in the gospel. I know that Heavenly Father pours out revelation upon us as we live up to His standards. I know that the gospel can help us through ANY trial and I know that there is a prophet on the earth today doing the will of the Lord. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen
P.S. You are amazing :)

Let Us All be on the Side that We Know is Best

Hello my incredible family,
I love you all very much and I am ever grateful for your devotion to the Lord. I thank you for your examples of faith and commitment. I know that Heavenly Father blesses us according to our faith. If we are faithful the blessings of our Father can, and will, be poured out upon us and we will be able to receive great light. I know that through our diligence and obedience to the commandments we are worthy to receive the great blessings God has in store for us. This week we were able to meet a family of four. They are a great family! The mother really wants her sons to become the best they can through learning about Jesus Christ. We hope to help her in this goal. The father is a fun guy. They were able to go to Stake Conference and a Chinese Potluck with a family last week. We met them there and then this week we stopped by on Saturday. We were able to talk a little bit about the church and invite them to come. They came, and had a good time. The mother said she would come to church each week. She was a little embarassed about her kids being restless in the meeting (they didn't make any noise though :) ) but I think she enjoyed it. It was a special witness to me that all we had talked about the night before was testified of during the Sunday meetings. I can see that our Heavenly Father is revealing to others what the family needs in church. I prayed all throughout sacrament meeting that they would have a spiritual experience. I think that my prayers were answered. They are the Shi Family. I hope that this week we will be able to start working with them in their progression towards baptism.

This past Saturday Keeler was baptized! It was great to see him and his devotion to Heavenly Father. I know that Keeler is a special Son of God with a great work to do. I was blessed to be a part of the service. I sang a little. Keeler's friend Andy, who is also a recent convert, baptized him. I miss working with the faithful singles, but I am grateful to continue the work of the Lord alongside the Chinese Branch here in Pleasanton. I know that they have strong testimonies and I am grateful for their examples of faith and diligence as well in pushing forward the work of the Lord. I know that this work will not stop until it has sounded in every ear and touched every heart in a way that all may make their choice of Eternal Life or Eternal Death. Let us all be on the side which we know is best. I know that Heavenly Father lives. I know that Jesus Christ is His Son. I know that Joseph Smith was called as prophet to establish the Lord's church upon the earth. I know that the scriptures are true and that the Book of Mormon is the Keystone of our religion. I know that God watches over His children, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Through Music we are able to Reach Heaven

Hello my wonderful family,
We are still having a hard time but we have been blessed to see some light at the end of the tunnel. We are working and we were introduced to a chinese family living here in Pleasanton. We invited the wife to our Wednesday English Classes so that she can practice and learn English and the members invited them to make us dinner ;) I am excited for that day. The wife is from north east China and so she makes the best dumplings :D (At least that is what she told me ;) ). I love the Chinese people. Their culture is amazing.

This week was Stake Conference and I learned a great deal about what I can do to overcome the challenges that I am having in my life right now. I know that Heavenly Father constantly watches over his children and knows exactly what they need. As we have the Holy Ghost we are never left in the dark, so long as we listen. I know that Heavenly Father talks to us individually through His Spirit and through His servants. Those servants can be prophets, apostles or regular church members called to give a talk. Through that calling they are given authority to receive revelation for their audience and I know that there were many great things taught to me. Now, I simply need to apply it. I know that as we receive revelation and act on revelation we will be blessed and progress in the gospel.

I was also able to sing in the Stake Choir. It reminded me how much I love to sing and help others to learn of the power of music through my performance. I know that through music we are able to reach Heaven and bring it to the hearts of those who listen. I am glad to hear that all is going well and I am grateful for your constant efforts on my behalf. I know that this gospel is true. We don't have anyone we are teaching now, but we do have a lot of potential. I know that through our efforts Heavenly Father will bless us, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen

We are Helping to Prepare Others to Accept the Gospel

Hello my magnificent family,
I thank you greatly for the time you take to write and let me know of your love. To be honest, it is something that a missionary looks forward to each week. I ask for your continued prayers on my behalf. I am having a little trouble with some trials right now and I could use it. I love you all.
This week we have decided to really do our best to learn about the Mandarin Branch that we are serving in. Through this we hope to recognize the needs of the Branch and be guided by the Spirit of the Lord in knowing how we can best use our efforts to strengthen the Branch. As we do this we hope to help the Branch members to grow in their faith and desire to serve. They do a wonderful job in striving to help the Chinese people in this area. I know that Heavenly Father will guide us. I was able to give a talk this week in another ward. We are going to all of the other wards to try and receive some help from them in expanding our ability to find chinese people in the area. As the other wards see and know that there are Chinese elders they will know what to do with their neighbors. My talk was specifically about Missionary Service and how to be more effective. Well this was topic that each missionary strives to learn every day and now I had to give a talk about it ;) I decided to look through Chapter 9 of Preach My Gospel and I learned greatly from it's pages. After reading through the chapter I wrote down a talk. I did my best to be in tune with the Spirit as I wrote. Before I stood up I pleaded with the Lord that He would forgive me of my sins the past week and enable me to speak His words. Because of the grace of our Heavenly Father I was able to feel the Spirit guiding my words. It has been a long time since I last gave a talk. But, I knew that I said what the Lord wanted me to say. I love being able to feel the Spirit work through me. I love being an instrument in the hands of the Lord. On thing that stood out to me from my talk was when I talked about how none of our efforts are wasted. I shared an analogy from a woodshop. In order to take a block of wood and shape it into something useful the wood passes through multiple tools. We are the tools and those that we meet each day are the pieces of wood. Whenever we talk to others and help them feel the love of our Heavenly Father through the Spirit it shapes them even more into what they need to be. Sometimes we are at the beginning of the spectrum, just starting to saw off chunks. Other times we are at the other end polishing and placing others in their proper order through helping them to receive their saving ordinances. No matter what we do if we act in the name of the Lord, or according to His will, we are helping to prepare others to accept the gospel. I know that through our efforts and faith we will find many who will desire to hear of the gospel and live within the bounds of covenants to help them be truly happy. I know that this gospel is the only things that fills our lives with true joy and peace and I leave this with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen
P.S. I love your letters thank you for your dedication in writing to me. They are what keep me running through the week. :)

Continually Invite Your Friends

Hello my wonderful family :)
I love you all greatly. I was able to talk with Brother Pan recently and he is doing well. He has been working hard with school and I hope that he will be able to continue in striving to find ways in which he can continually nurture the word that he has accepted. We were switched out of the Singles Ward and so I haven't been able to meet with him since his baptism. We are working all Chinese now. It is a great blessing which causes me to have to use my mandarin abilities a whole lot more than before. I haven't been great at studying the language. Let's just say that I had become comfortable with where I was, but now I see how it hurt my ability to speak and express myself even more fluently. I love being able to serve a mission. This week has been great. We don't have any investigators but we have been working hard to try and find those chinese souls who are ready and willing to learn from us. It will be an interesting few weeks as we strive to help the area climb in speed and effectiveness. There are a lot of changes that we need to make. But I know that as we are able to trust in the Lord and use our time most effectively we will be blessed to find those who truly need the gospel. I know that this gospel is true. I know that the Lord will guide us in the work and help us to find success through our efforts. In Luke 10:7 "And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house." If we study this and look at the footnotes we can learn that Jesus Christ is teaching us that we will only be paid for the effort we give. If our effort is small we cannot expect to have great blessings poured out upon us. But, if our efforts are to exhaustion then the Lord will bless us according to the work we provide. I believe and know that this principle is true. I have found that the days I work hard are the ones when I am able to receive the most blessings. On the other hand the days I work less I don't receive the same multitude of blessings which the Lord has in store for me, "the laborer is worthy of his hire." I know that only through the Atonement of Christ can we be saved and the only way to accept His atonement is through our following the true gospel of Jesus Christ and becoming a part of His kingdom here upon the earth, namely "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live and I love them. I know that if we all open our mouths we will be able to receive great blessings. I would invite you to study the scriptures and look for the blessings that relate to missionary work. I know that through doing this our faith in missionary work will grow and we will desire to open our mouths to everyone. "Every member a missionary." "Lift up your heart and rejoice, for the hour of your mission is come; and your tongue shall be loosed, and you shall declare glad tidings of great joy unto this generation." (Doctrine and Covenants 31:3) It is time for us all to open our mouths and proclaim the gospel. I know that we will receive blessings through doing so, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen
P.S. (I repeat myself a lot don't I) I love you all! Continually invite your friends to hear the gospel and you will find true joy :)

Huge Smile on My Face

Hello my magnificent family,
I love you all greatly and thank you for your many prayers on my behalf. I know that Heavenly Father has placed me here for a reason and desires that I will be able to be my best. I have been working on that a lot. I love being able to work hard and yet there are times in which it is hard work ;) Right now we are in a situation where we are working hard mainly to fill our time with productive activities. The area is moving somewhat slowly in comparison to others but I know that as Elder Egbert and I work hard together we will be blessed to see success from our labors. I am happy with the successes that I have been blessed with. There have been times of doubt and discouragement but through all of the trials I remember most the wonderful days of others coming unto Christ. Sister Liu was able to be baptized and has been a strong member through her many trials. She has been able to go to church as often as possible for her situation and I know that the Lord has blessed her for it. She was baptized the first week I was out on my mission. Brother Jin was baptized and he has been able to baptize his friend into the gospel and pass the sacrament in church. David was baptized and has been able to completely overcome his addiction to smoking and find a way to make money off of something he loves to do. Justin Zhang was able to be baptized after moving back to Boston. I am sure that he feels now the peace that he has been searching for. Most recently, Brother Pan was able to be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost. I have seen him change dramatically throughout the course of our teaching him and I know that his desire to have the Holy Ghost will be a great drive for him to always follow the commandments of the Lord. He is a strong member and I hope that he will be able to share his knowledge with his family.
Each of these experiences have been wonderful. They have been filled with great joy and happiness. I can't help but have a huge smile on my face when I think of or see these people striving to do their best to follow Christ, even after the missionaries that taught them have gone. I know that they understand they are following Christ and I trust that Heavenly Father will continue to hold them in His hands and care for them. We can all be successful as we are able to follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Have Faith, Repent, be Baptized, Receive the Holy Ghost, and Endure to the End through constant repetition of these principles. I know that this gospel is true. I have seen it work in the lives of others to make them happy. Also, this gospel is only made possible through the Atonement of Christ. Only through the Atonement are we able to be releived of the chains of any and all weaknesses to allow our progression towards becoming like our Heavenly Father. I know the Atonement is real and has power to heal, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen

Never Stop Praying, Never Stop Reading your Scriptures and never stop Going to Church

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 4:25 AM

Message body

Hello my dear Family,
I love you all and want you to know a miracle that happened this week...
I am so happy for him and I know that it was the best choice he could have made at this time in his life. I have seen a great change in him as we have taught him. His smile has gotten bigger and brighter. His excitement about our visits has grown each time. He has read the scriptures, prayed, and attended church when about four months ago he had probably never picked up a bible, let alone the Book of Mormon. He has also never worn a shirt and tie before. But he looked great and I know that he felt something different. I am sure that as he is able to listen to the word of the Lord he will be guided in his life decisions. Now he knows what answers to look for. I love him and I know that he has been a great blessing to my progress as a missionary as well.
Before that day I had never had to prepare a baptism, neither had our Ward Mission Leader. Everything was left up to me. It was difficult to know what to do. I am so happy that I remembered we were given a worksheet to know what needed to be on the baptismal program. We invited everyone we could and I know that Brother Pan will be taken great care of with the Home Teachers he has been assigned.

Brother Jin was also able to come. Do you remember him? He was the first person I was able to baptize back in Cupertino :) I hadn't seen or talked to him in about a year. He is still a great young man and I hope that this baptism reminded him of his own. Also, an investigator who I had taught in Cupertino came just because she heard that I would be there. It made my heart fill with gratitude that I could be that important to her. She still hasn't been baptized, but she comes to church and activities. I think a part of it is her daughter. She wasn't baptized before because she wanted to know what her daughter thought of the church. Now I think she wants to help her daughter feel comfortable in not believing as well. I hope that she also felt something at the baptism. It was a wonderful day.
Just before the baptism President Watkins, the new mission president, walked in. I was happy and nervous to see him. The baptism went well with a few mistakes but I am sure those will be forgotten as time goes on. The thing that I will remember most is the Spirit that I felt in the meeting and that is most important. I love President Watkins! He is a wonderful man who understands how to work with people. I am sure that is why he is such a remarkable buisnessman. I am sure he is doing well, along with his wife and family. The blessings the Lord has for him are being poured out as he is able to continue in faith.
This Sunday I learned more of faith and how our Heavenly Father works with us. We were talking of President Uchtdorf's talk from this past general conference "The Road to Demascus". As we talked my mind connected this talk with that of Elder Bednar when he talked of receiving revelation. One of the brothers in our Priesthood Meeting said that you can either be in an upward spiral or a downward spiral, whether you are obeying all of the commandments or not if you continue to have faith and use your faith you will be in an upwards spiral. You will constantly be progressing. Too often when we do something wrong we stop doing what is good because we feel we don't deserve it. Never stop praying, never stop reading your scriptures, and never stop going to church. These are essential for our progression in the gospel. I have seen in my life as I do things wrong it is because I have stopped praying or stopped studying the scriptures. This leads to less and less control of our lives..I know this to be true from personal experience. But, if we do something wrong and continue to do that which is right after our mistake we show the Lord that we desire more than anything to stop and never do it again. This brings me to the talk from Elder Bednar. Too many people desire to have all of the bad things taken away, everything to be made perfect including themselves. Relating this to revelation, they desire for the light in the room to be turned on. This takes away all personal growth. But, if we make mistakes and continue to do that which is right we learn and grow to understand the importance of keeping God's commandments. In relation to revelation this is the Sun slowly rising in the morning. If we stop reading, praying, and attending church we stop that sun from rising and allow it to set.

In the scriptures prophets such as Enos, Nephi, and the Brother of Jared are cleansed of sin, but a term that is used in each case is "because of your faith." It was because of their constant faith in allowing that sun to rise that they slowly were able to get rid of the darkness in their lives and fill it with light. They became more and more like their Heavenly Father and that is why they were able to hear the voice of the Lord, or, in some cases, see God. Their constan faith brought the sanctification of the Holy Ghost because of their accepting the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that as we are able to continue in faith, reading the scriptures, praying, and attending church, we will be blessed to "deny [ourselves] of all ungodliness" (Moroni 10:32) and eventually be "brought back into [our Heavenly Father's] presence" (Ether 3:13). I know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real. I have seen it work in the lives of many others and I know that there is nothing that can keep us from growth in the gospel except our own choices. Choose to have faith and you will be blessed. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen

Excitement is Building

Hello my dear splendid family, (Hey that's a new one ;)!)
I love you all very much. We were able to see Brother Pan twice this week with our Ward Mission Leader, our Ward Mission Leader is wonderful, and we helped Brother Pan to learn about Enduring to the End. We taught him about those things and then answered any questions he had. He was able to pass his baptismal interview and will be baptized on July 23 at 8:00pm. He is excited and we are excited :D Also, this week we were able to meet with Keeler again. I don't remember if I told you about him. Well, he is a piece of gold that fell from the sky ;). A recent convert named Andy Black called us last week on Tuesday and asked if we could meet his friend the next day at 4:00pm. We said sure and had a great meeting.

Keeler is about 19 and has been a christian all of his life, but even though he was praying and reading scripture he never felt anything. We taught him a little bit about prayer and invited him to pray. He said okay and the next day we texted him and he said he feels that he has had an epiphany (if that's how you spell it) and wants to continue meeting. We met with him a second time and before we started to teach about the Restoration we invited him to be baptized. He said yes and accepted a date for August 13th. We then taught him about Joseph Smith and the First Vision and how through scripture study, prayer, and church attendance Joseph Smith was able to learn the truth. We also shared how the priesthood authority to perform baptism was necessary to access the Atonement. During the lesson the Spirit was very strong. Keeler has a hard time reading and has always had trouble understanding them. We invited him to pray for God's assistance in studying the Book of Mormon. Since that day Keeler has read through chapter 2 of 1 Nephi and has seen a great improvement in his ability to understand what he reads. Miracles happen, I know it because of Keeler's and Brother Pan's experiences with learning of the gospel. Keeler really wants to come to church and find friends, but he hasn't been able to for the past two weeks and won't be able to next week because he will be travelling. Please pray for him. He already knows this gospel has something different. He knows that the church contains the truth and he desires to join himself to it. Pray that the way will be opened up for him and that he may see more miracles happen in his life because of truth.

Brad is doing okay we haven't had contact with him this week because he has been out of town. I hope that he has been able to read the Book of Mormon. I think he is still not quite willing to move forward in fully immersing himself pursuit of truth. I know that prayer brings about great things and I know that through small and simple things, great things come to pass (Alma). Reading a book is easy to do, but reading the Book of Mormon brings about greater conversion in our lives. Prayer is a very easy thing to do, but prayer to our Father in Heaven helps us to truly know of His reality. Attending church each Sunday can seem like a chore, but it opens the opportunity to receive the Holy Ghost for the rest of the week. I know that this gospel is true and I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church of our Heavenly Father here on this earth.

We were able to give Ivan a Russian Book of Mormon last week and Panda accepted a Chinese Book of Mormon. We have also found a couple of members who speak Russian. We hope that they will be able to meet with Ivan and help him come our to church and understand the truth contained in this church. They will both come to church next week if they are able to. We will work on helping them grow in interest. Hopefully they will be able to attend the baptism this week. That will be a great springboard into more missionary excitement for the Ward and Branch.

Please pray that Brother Pan's baptism will be a day to remember. Please pray that all will go well. The adversary is real and doesn't want it to happen but with our faith I know that we can thwart his plans. We also taught about prayer this past week in one of our english classes and had three of our students ask for Chinese copies of the Book of Mormon. We are excited that the work is moving forward. I know that Jesus Christ lives and I know that His Atonement is real. This has been a great week and I know that the excitement is building in the Ward and Branch. I love being a missionary. I heard that Jing Hao hadn't been able to come to church for the past few weeks and so I invited him to come up to the baptism as well. Hopefully it will help him to remember his covenants and build his faith so that he can press forward and not lose hope. I love you all. I leave you my testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen

Trials Help us to Appreciate the Good

Hello my incredibly amazing and wonderful family :)
This week has been absolutely amazing. It has been filled with blessings from the Lord and I know that there is nothing that happened this week without the Lord being a part of it. We had four people we teach come to church this week. One was a young boy named Andrew who's mother is less-active and his father is not a member. Missionaries have been working to help their family for a long time and we have been working to help Andrew be baptized into the church. He is a very, very bright young man and it was exciting to see him at church. It was the first time I saw him at church since I have been here.

Brother Pan was able to come to church this week and during the week we met with him 3 times :). On the third visit he said that he will be taking a test on July 30 and would need to change the date. We asked him when and he said, "What about next week!" We would have loved that but we knew that he still needed a little bit more time to be able to fully understand what we taught. So we moved the date from the 30th to the 23rd. Brother Pan knows that he will be baptized and he has already said things like, "when I am a mormon...". It is amazing to see the progression that he has made in the past two weeks.The thing that really helped his progression was coming to church and I am very grateful for the help of the members in the ward giving him rides. He is a special Son of God and I know that God has a work for him to do. I can't wait for his baptism!!!

The next person to come to church was Ivan. He is our Russian friend and this week when we tried to teach him a little more about the gospel he rejected it. But when he came to church he really started to ask questions and open up on some concerns that he has. It was a real testimony to me of how important it is to have people not of our faith come to church. We asked Ivan if he would like to receive a Book of Mormon in Russian. He said he would rather have english. But we explained that if we gave him both it could help his english and understanding. He agreed and we are working on getting him both an english and russian Book of Mormon.

The last person was Panda and her cousin. Well, with Panda she wanted to come to the singles ward and she came early enough for her and her cousin to just hit the last few minutes of RS in the Mandarin Branch. From that the members were able to invite Panda's cousin to activities and got her email address. It was cool. Then I sat with Panda during Sacrament meeting and taught her a little bit about the sacrament and it's significance. I had her read the Sacrament prayers in the Book of Mormon and she continued reading Moroni chapter 6 about baptism. I don't know if that hit her or not but hopefully she will come each Sunday for church and english improvement. After Sacrament meeting she her cousin came and picked her up. I don't know too much about how that affected her but I hope she was able to feel something different. It was incredible to see them all at church and I am grateful to my Heavenly Father for his help. I know that His hand has played a big part in the things that happened this week. I am very grateful.

We were also able to find a new investigator this week. One of our recent converts named Andy called on Tuesday and said that he most likely had an investigator for us. Later he asked if we could meet with him and Keeler on Wednesday. We said sure, of course ;) and were able to meet with them. It was great! Keeler had so many questions and we helped him to see the importance of finding an answer to those questions for himself through prayer and scripture study. Keeler said that he hadn't been feeling anything from his prayers in the past and so we taught him a little bit about how to pray. He almost came on Sunday to church but through a series of events (he came and texted us that he didn't feel comfortable coming in but we had forgotten our phone and didn't know that he needed us to help him come inside) he wasn't able to make it to church. We called him after church when we saw our phone and apologized. He said that was okay and I asked him about his prayers. He said, "I think I'm realizing something and feel really good." I said, "Really! I am so excited for you! Have you been able to read the scriptures yet?" He said no and so I encouraged him to read the passage we left with him (Enos 1). He said he would and he is excited to meet with us on Wednesday. It is so great to hear someone say that they are excited to meet with us ;)

I love you all and I know that this gospel is the "only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost..." (2 Nephi 31:21). I know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real and as we help others develop the faith to follow the commandments they will feel it's healing power work in their lives and desire to learn more. I know that Heavenly Father plays a large part in our lives. He guides us each and every day. I know that there is a living prophet today who leads and guides this church. I also know that we receive no witness until after the trial of our faith. (Alma) We have had some really tough weeks without a whole lot happening but because we were able t continue in faith we now see the great blessings that Heavenly Father was helping us to appreciate. Trials help us to appreciate the good that we have or receive. Think of those starving around the world and you will appreciate the food you have. Think of those who have lost limbs and you will greater appreciate yours. I look back at the trials that I have had these past few weeks and I know that I am much more grateful for the blessings because of my trials. I love this gospel and I know that Heavenly Father is the perfect teacher. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen

Better Grasp of Who I Am

Hello my amazing family,
You all look huge in comparison to my memory ;) Wow it's amazing how time flies. I love being able to be on a mission. I know that the trials I am having now are refining me and turning me into a much better tool in the hands of the Lord. It can be easy to be reluctant to change, but I hope that I will allow Heavenly Father's will to be done and I am sure that it will turn out better than I ever could imagine. I was able to have a great 4th of July with a big breakfast and dinner. Some of our English Class members were able to attend and the members did a great job in accepting them and sparking their interest a little more in learning about the gospel. Most of the English Class students think that all of our time is spent teaching english and we are working to change this thought and help them to understand that we bear a message of truth that can bless their lives and their families lives eternally. I know that the scriptures can play a large part in helping others to come unto Christ. We have seen it happen to Pan Zheng Yu as he now has a baptismal date for July 30th. He has said that he will work towards it and we are striving to help him make a solid commitment to baptism through helping him understand the scriptures and the doctrines of the gospel. "True doctrine understood changes lives..." (President Boyd K. Packer) I am learning more and more about the truth contained in this quote. As I have gained understanding of the doctrines of the gospel I have seen treamendous growth and change, even in areas I thought it would be very difficult for me to change. As Pan Zheng Yu has understood the doctrines of the gospel, he has been more willing to come to church and participate in personal prayer and scripture study. Pan Zheng Yu loved being able to attend church two weeks ago and when we were able to meet with him this past week he said that he had been reading the scriptures and praying every day. It was a miracle! He was also much happier than before and much more excited to be able to see us. I love being able to work with him. We are planning on calling him each day this week to help him be sure to read and pray since he wasn't able to come to church with us. We are excited for him!!
We have been trying to get a hold of Brad this week and unfortunately he hasn't been responsive. We hope that he will be able to meet with us this Thursday. We met last week and he said that he wasn't sure about meeting anymore. We then worked to help him understand the invitation of Alma in the Book of Mormon to experiment upon the word. Afterwards I felt he was still unsure, but he said that we could come back this Thursday. We met a man from Russia this week. He came to our english class and we weren't exactly sure how to teach him english, but his english was pretty good. We invited him out to basketball that night so that he could meet a few of the members and he said he wanted to come. We helped him get into the game and then sat on the sidelines while he played. It was cool to see him there and our Ward Mission Leader invited him to come to church. He said that for the 4th of July he would be gone but maybe the week after. The man's name is Ivan and we hope to be able to get a Russian Book of Mormon for him to read and ponder.
I have learned a lot about myself this week and I feel that I have a better grasp of who I am and how I can help myself to change. I know that this understanding has come from the trials I have been in and I know that this is the hand of the Lord working in my life. Heavenly Father understands what He wants me to be and I know that the Atonement can help to change me. I know that there is great power in the Atonement. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen