柯 长老 (aka Elder Christensen)

柯 长老 (aka Elder Christensen)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Goal setting

Hello my stupendous family,
I love you all. I hope I don't sound at all like a broken record when I say that. I work night and day for the Lord but I know that the work I do also leads to blessings for each of your lives. I work not only for God, but also for you. That is how much I love you. It is incredible being on a mission. We just had another message with Sage , Schuyler's Brother, and we invited him to be baptized on February 11th 2012. He has accepted the day as a time to prepare himself for and we will be meeting with him on Thursday in order to help us set up a schedule which will help him see how to accomplish his goal of Baptism. This is a big step for him, at least it seems that way, because Derrick said that he has trouble making commitments. I am very excited for him to progress down the path that will eventually bring him eternal life. It will be fun to see his progression.

I am loving my mission. As I was sitting in our YSA Ward Council this week the Executive Secretary (a man who graduated from MIT) shared with us an idea of creating a vision of what we as leaders desire to do with our callings. As I thought of it I remembered that our mission had made a vision statement a little while back and I felt that it really inspired me to move forward in my work as a missionary. I decided that I would ponder about a vision statement that I could make with my companion for our area. I thought about it all throughout church that day. I couldn't really keep my mind off of it. At the end of priesthood my brain hurt from my straining to think. But what I was able to write really excited me. I thought of ways in which we as missionaries could help the active members to increase in their desire for missionary work, how we could help Less-active members grow in their desire to come to church and obey the commandments, and how to help investigators strengthen their faith and grow in their desire to attend our regular meetings. I shared this information with Elder Thackeray and we decided that we will be discussing the ideas with our Ward Mission Leader this Wednesday. Hopefully from there we will be able to build excitement in the ward for missionary work and helping the members see how feasible it really is to invite others unto Christ.

There are a few other ideas that have come to mind such as a motto for us to say and a theme scripture. Our motto could be one of two things
1) Be the light or
2) Do it yourself, meaning that we need to be examples of the things we teach first before others will choose to follow.
As I talk about this I get excited! Why? Because I know this is what I truly want. I want to be able to be the person I invite others to be and do the things I invite them to do. A little while ago there was an area seventy who came to our stake and shared 5 ways in which we could be better missionaries. I hope that we will be weighing heavily on these points to help the members better include the Lord in the work they do. But, of course, it all starts with us doing them first. Everything that you want to get done starts with you. There is nothing holding us back but our own procrastination. Do you want to be happy? Start now. Choose to be happy and make that a vision. Then set goals to accomplish that vision. Sing a song that brings joy to your life each day, eat your favorite food, get good exercise, look yourself in the mirror and point out all the good that you see... As you do these things and work to set goals with Heavenly Father, He will bless you to be happy. You will be happier day by day. Do you want to build the strength of your family? Create a vision statement and set goals upon it. For example:
Our Family is strong in the gospel, we know that we are all children of God and we love each other. We help each other through trials. We praise one another and celebrate the accomplishments we make. We love our Father in Heaven and understand His plan for us. We have faith in Jesus Christ and will never falter. We are a family!
1) We will read the scriptures each day to increase our understanding of God and Jesus Christ.
2) We will have Family Home Evening once a week to grow in love for one another.
3) We will eat dinner together every night in order to help us understand each others' needs.
4) We will go to the temple once a week (or month) to help our children understand it's importance.
This is just a quick example, but as we are able to accomplish these tasks and use the guidance of the Holy Ghost in creating goals for us to achieve, we will be able to attain our vision and become what we desire to become. As time goes on we can read over and alter our goals and vision according to circumstances but through this process we will find true progression. I know that goal setting is important. I love to set goals and see myself accomplishing tasks I give myself. I know that Heavenly Father lives. His vision statement is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. His goals for that are to give us families where we can learn of the gospel of Jesus Christ, to give us prophets who will teach us how to fully receive the gospel in our lives, to send us His Son as a redeeming sacrifice for all, and work night and day to build our understanding through giving us personal revelation, angels, friends, etc. to help us along the way. God is perfect. God's plan is perfect. I know this to be true and I know that as we make plans for ourselves He can help us accomplish those plans and enable us to find joy therein. I testify that the gospel is true. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. As we serve Him with all our hearts, mights, minds, and strength we will find true and lasting joy. Endure to the End and you will find the pearl of great price. I love you all.
Elder Christensen

Tears of Joy

Dear loving and beautiful family :)
This has been a great week. From a numbers perspective it doesn't seem to have been very productive except for the fact that we found 3 NEW INVESTIGATORS. They are people who we have been hoping to start lessons with for a while, but do to circumstances we have only been able to meet this them officially this week. The other great thing is that they are investigators for the mandarin branch. They need to have investigators and we have a few now. We should be able to work with 4 or 5 different investigators soon and help them on their path towards learning about the gospel. It is great to have more people to teach.

The singles ward is doing well also.Pan feels prepared to receive the priesthood and has accepted a calling as Ward Greeter :) It is amazing to see the knowledge that he has gained in such a short amount of time. I love him. Derrick was able to come with us to Tai Chi today (Monday) and he brought a friend of his who seems like a really cool guy. We might be able to help him also start learning about the gospel. We are excited for his also preparing to receive the priesthood.

There are quite a few people that are preparing to go on their missions. We had a sister, Heather Jacobs, just get set apart to go to sweden on her mission. There was a brother, Ben Lee, this past Fast Sunday who stood up and said that he received his mission call to South Korea. Another brother that stood up shared that he was about to go through the temple and receive his endowment. Andy Black, and awesome recent convert, is preparing to be able to go on a mission soon. We are now teaching a couple of brothers who will also be preparing their mission papers soon. It is awesome to see all of these people going on missions. I am so happy for them. One of the sisters in the Ward, Sister Raneiri, said that when Ben Lee announced that he was going to South Korea my face just lit up. I knew that because joy filled my soul as I realized the great work Ben was being called to. This is the work of the Lord. I know that God is involved in the work. Our job is just to see how we can be more involved with Him.

I received the applications and I have to admit that it is very hard to keep my mind on the work. I can say that I am working hard though. I have set some goals and ways to achieve them over the next 5 weeks. I am excited to see my faith in Christ build and feel of His guidance. I know that if I do not achieve my goals now, I will achieve them eventually. I know that God answers prayers as we work to receive the blessings asked for.

The new investigators that we received this week were the Shi Family and Ricky. I think I have told you about them before, but now we will be having weekly visits with them. The Shi Family has a very open attitude to learning about the Book of Mormon and how it helps to answer our questions. When we meet with them this coming Sunday we will be sharing the message of the Restoration and help them understand the need for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be restored. Ricky is also very willing to learn. He enjoys our branch and has attended many of the activities we have had. We will be teaching him a little more about the restoration as well and the possibly moving on to the plan of salvation. I can already feel my excitement building as I talk about them. I invite you to do all you can to invite others to Christ and see the faith that they build in their lives. It brings greater joy than we can ever imagine.

I love this gospel and I know that it is true. Read the Scriptures and help others understand them. Pray to Heavenly Father and ask for people to be placed in your path whom you can share the gospel with. Attend church each week and invite all of your friends to share in the blessings of church attendance. It is through service to others that our lives are filled with eternal joy. Read of the Savior's visit to the America's and see that He wept as He saw others accepting Him and changing their lives. His tears were tears of joy. Schuyler's mother also wept tears of joy when he made the decision to be baptized. I know that service is what builds us to become like our Heavenly Father. His work and His glory is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."(Moses 1:39) He serves us! Let us serves even as He does. Every day. In Every way we can. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Christensen

Lehi's observations

Hello my loving, great family,
I love you all. It is incredible to have a new year! Time is a ticking and I feel more and more that I need to accomplish all that I can with what little time I have left. I need to be out talking to more people. We just ran into a couple of chinese people on the street as we were walking to the library. It was great fun to talk to them and learn more about them. They knew a little about us since they knew that we taught english class at their complex. We had our entire conversation in mandarin!! It was great to be able to speak with them. We shared a little about the restoration and left them a pamphlet with our name and number. We also invited them out to english class this Saturday. They were impressed. What fun it is to meet new people and get to know a little of their experiences and background.

This week we started attending a Tai Chi group :D!! I know! It is great, we wake up in the morning and bike up to the park around 8:30 and the group does Tai Chi until 10:00. It's a lot of fun and the people seem happy and excited to see that there are two Americans who would like to learn about chinese culture. Just yesterday, Monday, the group decided to bring out their swords and gave us a couple to follow along with. It was cool! We are hoping that through our attending the group we will be able to reach the hearts of the chinese people and then be able to share with them what makes us so happy. We are in constant search for ways to be more involved with the chinese community. It is difficult since a lot of the people have enough money to constantly go and attend activities in San Francisco that there aren't very many cultural events out here. We have goals for this month and I know that as we work hard to achieve them Heavenly Father will bless us greatly.
I need to write to Jeff now since I promised him a letter last week.
Hey Jeff,
I am sorry again that I didn't get to write you last week. You are a awesome kid :) You are my favorite boy your age. You have a great joy in your life that I know others look up to. The light in your eyes and face gives others reassurance that there is a possibility for them to be full of joy. You always have a smile on your face. I would invite you to continue to share that light with your friends and help them to go to church with you. As you do, they will be happier and you will be able to help them grow in their self-confidence. You are a great young man with great potential to become even better. Your friends look up to you for guidance and council. Remember to keep the commandments for they will always lead you in the right way. I love you.
There you go my wonderful family. I love you all and I know that each of you are children of God. I would like to share some things that I have learned this week too. I was studying in 1 Nephi 8 and came across verses 10-12 which share Lehi's observations about the tree of life and it's fruit.

"And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy. And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen. And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit." Here Lehi, expresses to his sons that the fruit was
(1) sweet above all that was sweet,
(2) white, to exceed all whiteness, and
(3) desirable above all else. Also,
(4) Lehi shared that it filled his soul with exceedingly great joy.

(1) I think there are two types of sweet. One is a flavor, such as being sweet to the taste. The other is a feeling, sweet as in gratifying or pleasing.
(2) White stands as a symbol of purity. The fruit was pure thus is gave Lehi pure joy, pure sweetness, a pure desire for more, and a pure desire to share it.
(3) The fruit was desirable above all else. Because Lehi tasted of the fruit he wanted to taste it again and again. It took top priority in his life because everything else paled in comparison to the blessings the fruit gave to Lehi.
(4) Lehi knew that this fruit was not only for him, he knew that it was not only able to make him happy, but it was also able to fill others with the same joy and he knew that everyone else was looking for the same pure joy that came from the fruit on the tree of life.
These 4 observations are blessings that the gospel brings into our lives. Later, in 1 Nephi, Nephi shares his own experience of seeing the vision of the tree of life. Nephi then learns of the meaning behind the symbolism. He learns in 1 Nephi 11:22 that the tree is a symbol of God's love. "And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things... [and the angel says] Yea, and the most joyous to the soul." Feeling the love of God fills our lives with joy. How is the love of God expressed? I refer again to the simple and sweet words of a children's hymn, "How could the Father tell the world of love and tenderness? He sent his Son, a newborn babe, with peace and holiness. How could the Father show the world the pathway we should go? He sent his Son to walk with men on earth, that we may know. How could the Father tell the world of sacrifice, of death? He sent his Son to die for us and rise with living breath. What does the Father ask of us? What do the scriptures say? Have faith, have hope, live like his Son, help others on their way. What does he ask? Live like his Son." (He Sent His Son, Children's songbook #34)

We can only feel the presence of the Father through first accepting Christ as our Savior. We need to have faith in Him and believe that He truly did die for us. I know that Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself for us in a great expression of love. We must then choose to repent of our sins or transgressions and become perfect "even as [Christ] or your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Scriptures) Then make a promise to God that you will continually do this throughout your life. In return He promises the companionship of the Holy Ghost, one of the greatest gifts He can give us. I know that the Holy Ghost leads us and guides us. He testifies of the Father and Son and helps us feel the love of God. After this we must endure to the end. Through doing this we enable ourselves to partake of the fruit, the love of God, and receive the sweet, pure, joyful, desirable feelings Lehi felt. I know that the gospel is the key to opening the blessings of the Atonement. Those blessings are complete cleansing of our sins and our becoming perfect, even as God is. I invite you to continue studying the gospel and I know that it is true. Have Faith, Repent, be baptized and partake of the sacrament each week, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. As you do this you will be filled with the love of God. I testify that the authority to baptize and bestow the Holy Ghost was restored to the earth through the prophet Joseph Smith. That authority is only found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know that God lives. I now that Christ did perform the Atonement. Let us receive of it's blessings. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. I love you all.
Elder Christensen
Hello my wonderful family,
I would like to take some time to speak to each of your individually today. We'll see how this goes ;)
Mom and Dad,
I recently started a study of the Book of Mormon where I only highlight those things which stand out to me about the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I may have told you about it earlier, but I would like to share some of the things I have already learned in only reading the first three chapters of 1 Nephi. It has been a wonderful experience. The first thing I have learned is that we are blessed according to our faith. Our faith is not measured by he blessings we receive. There are many men and women who had to endure great hardships and yet had tremendous faith. Look at Joseph of Egypt. He was given trial after trial, but still maintained a firm faith in Christ. That faith eventually led to Joseph's being blessed to become Pharaoh and save his family, and many others, from starvation. Even though Joseph did not see the end of his trials he endured to the end in righteousness. The second thing I have learned is, no matter what keep the commandments. When times are hard, keep the commandments. When times look bleak, keep the commandments. Only through 100% obedience to God's commandments are we able to receive 100% of the blessings. It is a very simple math equation 100 = 100; 98 = 98; 50 = 50. Nothing less than the best for the Lord. Third, I have learned more deeply the great importance of bringing this gospel to all the world. In 1 Nephi 2:12 it states, "And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them." Later in verse 1 Nephi 3:31 we read, "And after the angel had departed, Laman and Lemuel again began to murmur, saying: How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even slay fifty; then why not us?" Laman and Lemuel had just seen an angel. They later on they hear the voice of God. They knew that there was a God and acknowledged His existence, but they had no idea who He was and what He could do. In 1 Nephi 4:1-2 Nephi takes time to educate them by using a scripture story, "And it came to pss that I spake unto my brethren, saying: Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea,or even his tens of thousands/ Therefore let us go up; let us be strong like unto Moses; for he truly spake unto the waters of the Red Sea and they divided hither and thither, and our fathers came through, out of captivity, on dry ground, and the armies of Pharaoh did follow and were drowned in the waters of the Red Sea." Many people have no clue where to turn for the truth. They desire to know that there is someone who can deliver them from their pain, guilt, grief, and shame, but they don't know. They need the gospel of Christ and it is found in the Book of Mormon and other Holy Scriptures. The Book of Mormon is used most because it is the "most correct of any book on the earth... and a man [will] get nearer to God by abiding its precepts, than by any other book." (Introduction to the Book of Mormon) The Book of Mormon explains doctrines so clearly that there is no mistaking the power of God and His Son's Atonement. I know that the gospel of Christ, faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end, is the only way back to our Heavenly Father. Thank you for being such great examples to me of these principles and helping to teach me the way to grow in my understanding throughout my life. I love you.
Matt, Anne, David and Robert,
I love you all! I testify to you that the gospel is true. As you read the Book of Mormon I would encourage you to take time looking for the promised blessings and testing their reality. Through this your testimonies will grow and strengthen. As I have studied the blessings of the gospel, I have found that they are everything I have ever wanted and all I have to do to receive them is obey the commandments. It is that simple. Obey the commandments of Heavenly Father and He, in His own time, will give us all the blessings we stand in need of. It takes a lot of patience to endure to the end, but it is certainly worth every minute, hour, or day. I know that God lives. I know that Jesus Christ is His son and it is only through Christ that we can be saved.
Tanner and Ali,
It fills me with joy to know that you have been able to enter into the covenant of Marriage. I do not pretend to understand all that is entailed in that covenant, but I know the blessings of honoring that covenant. It leads to our eventual exaltation, life with God and our families forever! What a grand blessing. I love you both and am happy to hear you are doing well. I would like to hear more ;), but I know time is crunched. You are both great examples to me. Thank you for all you do.
You look gorgeous! I was in awe as we talked on Skype :) I love you. If you don't remember anything else I say, remember that I love you and God, your Heavenly Father, love you. The trials in your life are small and fade way eventually, but the blessings of keeping God's commandments through them remain with us our entire existence. The spirit is a grand gift with many gifts connected to it. I know that you are doing all you can to have the spirit with you. A word of advice, see how you can help others receive of that spirit as well. Not just missionary work to non-members, but enabling all of God's children to receive this incredible gift of the Spirit and all the blessings that come from it. As you do so, your life will be filled with an even deeper spirit than you can imagine and you will feel God using you to bless the lives of many through your small actions. This is what brings true happiness. It is the nature of all young women to give and to please others (Elder Richard G. Scott). You will be blessed as you remember not only that you are a daughter of God, but all others as well. I love you.
You are amazing! I cannot believe the incredible talents you have. Your natural abilities are many. I love you dearly. I am excited to see more of who you have become over the time I have been gone. You have grown in many more ways than one ;) Remember that light shines into everyone we have a choice to either share that light and reflect it to others or to hold the light. Who are we to hold inside of us the love our Father has for each of His children and not share it. You do a marvelous job at being a window. Others can see the light coming from your face and eyes as you stand as a witness of God at all times, in all things, and in all places (Young Women Theme). You are a great young woman. Continue reading the scriptures! They will bless you with an understanding of God which will help you to stand against the lies of the devil. He tries to make sure no one feels hope, but with the scriptures we know that hope cometh in and through the Holy Messiah, who is mighty to save (Mosiah). I know the scriptures are true. I know that we have a prophet alive on the earth today. Sharing is caring. Caring for others makes us happy.
I love your hair! :) You look beautiful and I can't believe you are in eighth grade already :S. Just remember that your older brother prays for you always. I hope you're finding friends and feeling comfortable where you are. I know it can be hard at times to fit in, I have been there. Others have relationships that they have had since they were little. You and I have had to start relationships from square one, but it is a great gift and blessing to know how to talk to others and build relationships with strangers. I have found it easier on my mission to go and talk to everyone because of my being in your situation now. Remember that God loves you. He knows who you are and He knows who to bring into your life to help you be happy. I love YOU!
I love you kiddo. You are my best friend and little brother. I look up to you. You have great gifts and talents. You are a funny kid and I love you. I would write more but I ran out of time a little while ago. I will write more to you next week buddy.
Elder Christensen

Faith Starts Us Down the Path

Hello my wonderfully amazing family!
I am excited to be able to talk with you this week :) I love you all so much. Thank you for all the gifts. For the past little while I had been telling all of the elders that I never received mail since I had only received one letter in the past 7 months. I then was asked to help with collecting some packages for elders in the area and I said, "okay, but if anyone forgets I think I will just keep them." Well, when I got out to the truck and we started collecting the boxes all of the ones handed to me had my name on them. I was quite amazed! :) It was a great surprise. Except now I can't tell anyone that I don't get mail ;) Thank you very much. I have to confess that I opened the packaging for the pens and then found the note to wait until christmas. Sorry.

I love being on a mission. Derrick's baptism was great. We had a wonderful evening. He was baptized by one of his best friends Paul who is a returned missionary, but never had a baptism. He served in Germany. Now that he has come home, he has brought a couple of his friends to church and Derrick ended up wanting to be baptized. He was confirmed a member on Sunday and again I could not stop smiling. Derrick's grandpa confirmed him a member. There is great joy brought to our lives as we help others to receive the ordinances of Salvation and I know that the choices Derrick has made will bring him great joy. I learned that David , another recent convert is having a hard time right now. He has been moved into a homeless shelter a little ways from here and isn't familiar with anyone in the ward. He told the other Elder Christensen that it was difficult and he doesn't know anyone. I ask that you keep him in your prayers and help him to have a special christmas this year which he can remember throughout his life.

Schuyler is doing well preparing for baptism. We are excited for him and hope that we can make the timing of the baptism okay for many people to attend. Schuyler will be baptized on December 30th at 6:00pm. Pan is doing well also in coming to church and maintaining his faith in Christ.

I am now starting a new study in the Book of Mormon with a couple of questions in mind. The study will be highlighting all of the passages of scripture that stand out to me of faith in Jesus Christ, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. The questions are, How can I become a better missionary through living the principles of the Gospel? and How can I grow in my knowledge of God through the principles of the Gospel?

The gospel of Jesus Christ is amazing. It is the Doctrine of Christ and the only and true doctrine of the Father. I know that only by making these principles of faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end a part of us, are we able to return to our Heavenly Father's presence. We must become like our Father in Heaven in order to feel comfortable living with Him again and it is these principles alone that help us to become like God. I have grown in my understanding of how important these principles are through being on a mission. Through teaching others my testimony of these things has been able to strengthen more than ever before. I know that the gospel is a great tool for us to use. Faith in Christ leads us to starting down the path of becoming like our Father. We start to do something that we believe will bring us the desired outcome. Faith in Christ then helps us see where we fall short as well which leads to repentance. Through repentance we forsake the natural man and are able to become more holy. We stop doing what is wrong and continue to do that which is good. The things that are wrong stunt our growth in the gospel. That which is good guides us down the path of our desires. Repentance then fills us with such joy that we desire to make a covenant or promise with God that we will never do wrong again. As we do so we qualify ourselves for the companionship of the Holy Ghost which brings with it innumerable gifts which we are promised through our hard work. Thus, we see that there is much more we can change and adapt through diligent work which leads to our Enduring to the End. Enduring to the End means that we are anxiously engaged in the good cause of applying faith and repentance in our lives each day. They work together and lead to our receiving baptism and the Holy Ghost for the remission of sins. I know the gospel is the key to unlocking our ability to become even as God is. "Be ye therefore perfect even as I or your Father in Heaven is perfect." I leave this with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Christensen
P.S. I am not sure about what time to call since I don't know when you are going to church. I will call you at 4:00pm my time (8:00am for Taiwan) to confirm a time when you would like to have it. If 8 works well then we can just talk then. If later would work better then let me know and I will call back later. Thanks.