Monday, June 27, 2016

Rio Grande



Mom n Company,

Pday has been switched to Monday! Also found out my mission is the ONLY MISSION IN ARGENTINA THAT CAN GET PACKAGES AND LETTERS!! As long as its not food like cookies or anything perishable. Although I did hear somewhere beef jerkey is okay!

It took me 4 days to get down here to Rio Grande! It is the 3rd lowest point in our mission and I was told after its the coldest place, even colder than Ushuaia, because it literally sits right off the Atlantic Ocean! Ushuaia is surrounded by mountains so it just has a lot of snow but no wind like here, its like Cache Valley. Elder Harris is in Ushuaia though!! So, after spending all monday night in the Atlanta Airport (biggest in the world), a 10 hr flight to Buenos Aires, 2 hr flight to Comodoro, 11 hr bus ride, 20 min boat ride, and another 5 hour bus ride, I made it here by Thursday night! I´m 3 hrs ahead of you guys at home I think. Almost none of the 30 missionaries going to Argentine missions got into the country since none of us have visas or could speak Spanish. A lot of passport and visa checks on the bus too, so they were longer than 11 and 5 hours.

When I arrived at the mission home Wednesday morning, it was OFFICIALLY confirmed to me that I AM THE FIRST BLACK MISSIONARY IN THE HISTORY OF THIS MISSION!!! Its an honor. Our Zone Leader told my trainer, that if he didn´t come back with me, to just not come back at all haha. President Rogers said we were assigned to trainers and areas by revelation. I guess it was true here. There was literally a bidding war throughout the mission to have the 1st black missionary in their zone. Apparently I was famous in the mission about a month before I even got here. 

Elder Llactahuaman ( pronounced ´´shaq-ta-woman´´) is my trainer. He´s a convert of 8 years, is 20 years old, and has been out 20 months. He was born in Lima, Peru but has lived in Buenos Aires the last 10 years. Both places my parents served! The only English he knows is what he´s learned from other companions and what I teach him. So he helps me a ton with Spanish though I am struggling a bit.

The place we live is one of the nicest in the mission. SIDE NOTE: we dont have toilet paper.We have one of those European things that sprays off your bum after you use the toilet. SO COOL!!

Friday, all of our lessons cancelled so we contacted all day. One lady told us she was a witch of Satan... Saturday though, we taught my first 2 lessons! A lady we´d contacted just Friday named Aimada said we could teach her Saturday so we did. She´d never been taught by the missionaries before so we taught her the first lesson on the Restoration AND SHE COMMITTED TO BAPTISM!! My very first lesson in the Field haha! Elder Shaq (I cant say his full name correctly) did most of the talking but I did teach a little and it went well. She also came to sacrament meeting yesterday with her little 1 year old boy. They had me speak since I´m new and it went pretty well! Everyone after said they could understand me so that made me feel a little better. No one speaks English though except the other U.S. missionaries and there is only one other in my ward haha. Saturday night we also taught Joana. Shes been an investigator for awhile but is very Catholic. She told Elder Shaq she thinks I´m a spy from the United States. Its interesting here haha. Also, no one believes I´m 18. One guy thought I was 35.

Well, I´m just out here trying to prep the Patagonia for a TEMPLE! Yes, a temple.

Much Love,

Elder Christensen

A few added facts.  He is in a branch.  He was really glad his dad warned him about women breast feeding openly.  In the letter to his dad he said "Thank you for warning me about the breast feeding because it happened in MY VERY FIRST LESSON EVER WITH AIMADA!! Elder Llactahuaman and I actually practiced that situation THAT VERY MORNING! If I wouldn't have known, I would've fallen right through my chair haha."

A few notes that made facebook, but not here.  The plane they were supposed to fly out on from Atlanta on Monday night had a problem with a door, and the flight was delayed until the next morning.  Max was a travel leader, and they were trying to figure out how to notify the mission presidents with no international phone plan on the cell phone they had and no phones in the airport.  As they were talking a man approached them.  After talking to them for a while he told them that he worked for the FBI and was over the Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay areas.  He was a member and was good friends with one of the Buenos Aires mission presidents.  He whipped out his phone called this mission president and had his pass word on to the others.  The airlines offered them a motel room, but there wasn't going to be much time to sleep, and no one had a change of clothes any way. (Max's carry on had more than 25 lbs of leftover goodies everyone had sent the past few weeks).  They spent the night in the airport and the airline fed them all night.  

The last week in the MTC, As they were eating dinner, President Burgess, the MTC mission president came and sat down next to Max and Elder Harris.  He talked to them all during dinner, and then invited them to his office, because he wanted to hear more of Elder Harris' story.  They sat on a very comfortable couch while they were there.  Just before leaving President Burgess told them that they had bought the couch so that President Monson had a comfortable place to take a nap when he visited for training.  Max was pretty impressed that he had sat someplace the Prophet had been.  

Comodoro



Elder Lloyd, Max, Hermana Wilcox, President and Sister Rogers, Elder Harris, ?, ?


Rio Grande (Elder Llactahuaman)






Elder Hoth (From Smithfield)






Food



Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Max speaking of Elder Harris Max said "God let me be his companion"


Getting to know Elder Harris has been the highlight of Max's mission so far.  

Last week Max said "Being Elder Harris' companion has truly changed my life. Not a doubt in my mind anymore that I wasn't supposed to come earlier because God let me be his companion. He's grown me spiritually more in the last 6 weeks then in the last 18 years easily. I didn't realize how much I took the Gospel for granted until I came here. I also know I'm really going to try hard to never complain about things ever in my life. Because Elder Harris literally came from nothing and is the happiest person ever BECAUSE of this restored Gospel."

I wanted to share the Elder Harris story.
The first week Max wrote home he mentioned his companion Elder Harris.  At the first mention of his name I had a very powerful feeling come over me that I needed to make sure that he was ok. There were no red flags, but I knew I needed to do something for him.  I called a friend, Kim Nield, whose parents worked at the MTC and told her I was concerned about Elder Harris and asked if she would contact her parents and have them check on him.  I was sure that they would come back and tell me that there was something I needed to do to help this young man.  When Kim called the opposite was true.  They reported that he was doing great.  The feeling would not leave.  The next week I gave Kim a package for her parents to deliver, and asked again if they would check again. Same report.  He was doing great.  The feeling that I need to do something only intensified.  For 3 weeks I could not sleep for worrying about this young man.  I emailed Max, only to get the same type replies.  Finally, after 3 1/2 weeks a mother of another elder in their room contacted me.  Her son had emailed and asked if he could give a pair of his gym shoes to Elder Harris because he did not have any.  When she told him she would buy him a pair if it wouldn't put his luggage over weight, his reply was "Mom he doesn't have very much".  We got a list of items needed for the Comodoro Rivadavia mission to our boys and asked them to let us know what Elder Harris was lacking.  When the list came back I sat down and cried.  Despite the fact that his mission is practically to the South Pole, he had no warm clothing at all.  No long sleeved shirts, no coat, no sweaters, no boots, no sleeping bag, thermals, or wool socks.  He had only one pair of shoes.  I knew I could not provide all that he needed.  I talked to a few friends and posted on my facebook page.  I got some donations.  The next day I took the what had been donated and the money we could put in and went shopping.  I thought it would be hard to find all this winter stuff in the Cache Valley in the middle of winter, and I knew I didn't have anywhere near what we needed to get everything he needed, so I prayed before I left home that I would be able to find what I needed and make the money stretch.  It was amazing, not only did I find many of the items, but they were hugely discounted because they were out of season. Even more amazing was the fact that when I got home, more donations had been left and I had more at the end of the day than I had started out with.  We were eventually able to get everything on his list and a second suit case and carry on for him to put it all in, and had extra money to put in a savings account for emergencies.

So here is Elder Harris' Story.......
Elder Harris is a convert of two years.  His conversion story in his own words.

I was baptized 2 years ago it has changed my life....I cant ever repay my Heavenly Father for how much he has given me.  ALL that I have is because I chose to give my all to him and follow Jesus Christ.  I had nothing when I first joined....no job...no car...nothing but the clothes on my back....I didn't even have a High School Education....but after I got baptized my whole way of thinking changed.  My heart changed all because of my decision to follow the creator of the universe :)    I was homeless for a while and I decided to move in with my grandparents (they hated my dad which sucks but that a whole other story)  I had nothing at all but the clothes on my back and my id.  That was it I had nothing I didn't even have a high school education. I moved in and I was there for a day or so and my grandmother told me to watch out for the Mormons upstairs. I was like ok?  But I have always been a nice person so I saw them one day and spoke with them and they seemed so nice and loving. They were 2 sister missionary's.  I love them both so much and miss them so so much.  They are both now married and live in Arizona.  Their names were Sister Taylor and Sister Averett.  Anyway, they invited me to come to this Christmas party and I was like sure I'll come so I went to the party and the people were all so nice, and I felt somthing different about the people and the church.  I didn't know what but it felt so different and not a bad different but ...I belong here kinda feeling.  My entire life I have strived to keep Gods commandments and it all felt right.  Well like a week later they invited me to come to church.  I said, "yeah sure".  My grandparents didn't want me to go but I felt like I should go, so that Sunday my grandparents didn't want to give me a ride so I walked the mile and a half or 2 miles to the church.  I'm guessing the sisters didn't think I was going to come because when I walked into the chapel they were about to give a talk and they were freaking out when they saw me.  I loved it so much.  Well I took the lessons from the sisters and when they taught me the plan of salvation I was so amazed...it made so much sense.  I loved i!  They eventually invited me to be baptized.  I was like yessssssssssssss!!!  The day of my baptism I wore this black and gold polka dot tie and to this day I have it and every baptism I go to I am going to wear it.  After I was baptized I never felt so clean and loved in my entire life and I felt so happy and at peace. I will never forget it.  After that my entire life changed.  After I got the gift of the Holy Ghost my way of thinking changed and I walked to school everyday for a year to get my diploma.  On December 11, 2014  I got it.  I was baptized on January 11, 2014   I got a job that same year at Walmart and then in August of 2015 I got my licence and a car.  My life was getting better, but I sold it all and gave everything I had back to God.  I love this church and this Gospel and I want to testify to you that I KNOW God is there.  I don't hope or think,  I KNOW he lives and that my entire life I have been lead and guided by his hand even when I was in my darkest moments.

As he said, he got a job at Walmart.  Every penny he made went into a mission fund.  His ward agreed that if he would pay the first third, that they would help him with the rest.  He paid the third, and submitted the papers.  When his call came he sold EVERYTHING he owned and bought the items he packed and brought with him to the MTC.  One suitcase only half full, but the faith that the Lord would provide.  And with the help of many of you he did.  I got to talk to Elder Harris as they were in Salt Lake getting ready to fly out.  He told me over and over that he had no words to describe how thankful he was, and how amazed he was at the generosity of strangers.  We were the answer of fervent prayers.  He knew that God knew us individually, He knew our needs and our hearts.  In letter received later that day he says "I will forever be grateful for all that ya all have done.  When I got the suitcase of clothes and other stuff I cried so much.  Not just because it was an answer to many prayers, but for the fact that there are people in this world that listen to God's promptings and and act on them.  Thank you all for everything.  I thank God for allowing me to bless others by blessing me and showing me so much love.  I pray that all that I went through will be a tool to help others increase their faith in Jesus Christ.  I have seen God's hand in my life.  I love you all.  Thank you so,so,so,so, so, so, so, so much!  Words can not describe how grateful I truly am.

To all of you that helped, and there were a lot, thank you!!!  This is an amazing, humble kid, who will be able to go and do the Lord's work now without worrying about the necessities.  You have help answer the many prayers offered by this young man.  You have been part of a miracle. I have no doubt that his faith and love of the gospel will touch many lives in Argentina.  Thank you again!


Saturday, June 18, 2016

And he is off.....at least almost




Nothing really new about my week except I had to give a few blessings of Comfort and actually gave a blessing to a sick Hermana about 20 min ago. I'm travel leader but they haven't told me any more after Buenos Aires. An Hermana flying with us in our group apparently has a brother who will be in the airport at the same time so her Dad called and got all the info and this is what I heard: After we get to Buenos Aires we sit in the airport for about 8 Hours until someone from the mission comes and gets us. They'll take us to a smaller airport where we'll catch a small plane to Comodoro around 6. But that's word of mouth and all I know after that. The food here has treated me well honestly. I think I've put on 6-7 pounds and am up past 240. I'm not fat yet though. I'm still looking about the same size. We are done teaching since we are leaving now. We actually committed all 3 of our investigators Myrium, Carlos, and our main one Ivette to Baptism. It truly is an amazing feeling. For fun, we just mess with each other in a good way and of course play ball. I honestly play better here than I did in High School haha. The MTC is really monotonous but has been a really good experience as well. The last 3 weeks have really all been drama filled, but like is said, its been amazing to watch myself, and the whole District grow. Being Elder Harris' companion has truly changed my life. Not a doubt in my mind anymore that I wasn't supposed to come earlier because God let me be his companion. He's grown me spiritually more in the last 6 weeks then in the last 18 years easily. I didn't realize how much I took the Gospel for granted until I came here. I also know I'm really going to try hard to never complain about things ever in my life. Because Elder Harris literally came from nothing and is the happiest person ever BECAUSE of this restored Gospel. It will forever be the center of my life now. God knew I needed Elder Harris. I hope to one day help someone like he has helped and blessed me. God knows us individually. He knows our needs, our wants, our weaknesses. This is an amazing experience and I'm glad I chose to be here.

Much Love, 

Elder Christensen

Max C lll #88 #GOPACK









Eating Snickers from the Heaton's


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Week 5




To All My Great Support (and Mom especially),

Hola from my last P-Day here at the CCM. This week has been a good, tumultuous week. A lot of interesting things going on in our District which I won't speak about in this letter, but its been a good growing experience for all, especially for me! Since I've had to be in the middle of it, fulfilling my District Leader Duties haha.  I helped one Elder who's girlfriend is on a mission in New Jersey and both are really struggling, and just plain life drama. But overall, all is well! Elder Harris is really grateful for all the Emails and donations by everyone involved. And PLEASE keep him in your prayers. He found out his older brother is in Prison, and I literally just found out his Dad is back in the hospital because he got sick and wouldn't wake up. Its hard for this man out here, and its truly an honor to be his Companion. Much Love to you all.

So Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles came and talked to us last Tuesday. He talked about how God knows us One by One. 3 Nephi Chapter 11 verse 15 says, "And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth ONE BY ONE until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and feel with their hands, and did know of a SURETY and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come." The most interesting thing I thought Elder Bednar said was, " The FIRST word God uttered to man in this dispensation was "JOSEPH."  That proves he knows each of us by name." I could spend a whole letter on his talk but I won't. I will close with this though. He started the whole talk by saying he'll never be able to give another devotional like this one ever again. We were all really confused until the very end. Elder Bednar wrote a new Hymn. It's called "One by One." It will be published in the "New Era" next month. This devotional was the first time it was heard publicly and OUR choir sang it. Very Powerful.

Wanna give a BIG S/O to my Dad since Fathers day is coming up this Sunday. I would not be here, I would not have the chance to play college football, I wouldn't have ever lived in Cache Valley if it wasn't for the amazing man I call Daddy. Of course Momma has a large factor in that as well haha and I love you both. Also I Large S/O to my Little Big Sis who his the age of 20 on Sunday, are you kidding! Hope BYU-I and good Ole Rexburg are treating you well Jess, thanks for the great example you've keep to me throughout the years as well. I know literally you were the one always looking up (hahahahahaha)😂 but figuratively, it was always me. Love you guys a lot.

Well as always, thanks so much for all the Love and Support from back home. Kind of scary going down to the Arctic Tundra on Monday, but cool as well! You develop a comfort level here at the CCM, yet its also very repetitive.  Please just keep me in your prayers. :)

Much Love,



Elder Christensen


Max C. lll #88 #GOPACK


When asked about the following few pictures, Max said "We are agents of the Lord. Its our Zone thing haha"






Proud Mama


Bubble fun






Random Photos














The greatest invention EVER!


?????


And he is off in a week