Monday, January 30, 2017

week 39

Max's pictures refused to upload this week with the slow internet.  Thankfully I got a few for other parents. I also got a letter from Max's companion Elder Soto today.  He is from Peru, where I served my mission.  It was fun to get to know him a little.  He said that they are working hard and were able to get 20 people to church in Perito Moreno which he said was incredible.  It is obvious that he and Max are getting along well.  

Mommy n All,

"Many people die with their music still in them. Why is that so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out." -Oliver Wendell Holmes

This week has been a little crazy and we traveled a ton. We went to Caleta on Wednesday to watch the World Transmission the church gave for missionaries only where they changed a few things with key indicators and the schedule you have depending on what part of the world you are in. They changed a few things for Latin America, but only a few different hours is all nothing big. They we traveled to Caleta again Thursday night and then Comodoro on Friday to have Conference with President. Then we headed back to Las Heras Friday night, then got up early Saturday morning and headed to Perito Moreno. Then Sunday night we headed back here to Las Heras haha. So we have taken a few bus rides already. Yesterday was our first Sunday in Perito. Since we have 2 areas, we switch each Sunday but visit Perito for 2 days each week. One Sunday in Las Heras, the next in Perito and so on. Out in Perito there are only 2 member families and they meet in someones house when they can't find another place to rent just to have sacrament meeting. There is only one guy out there who has the Priesthood and so he always does everything, so they like it when we come. Perito is really cool and the people there are nice as well. 

2 things happened yesterday. We contacted this lady named Luisa Saturday morning. We gave her a Book of Mormon and invited her to church. We started church at 11 and told her we would come to her house and get her. She was like ,okay, yeah whatever, thinking we really wouldn't. We showed up at her house at 10:40 and woke her up like we said and she was kinda surprised. Elder Soto really really insisted that she come to church. She lives with just her 6 and 1 year old daughters and pretty much told us she was going back to bed. We said okay but we would be waiting for her outside if she changed her mind. When we were standing outside the "church house" waiting, I got a prompting to say a simple prayer. I did and just asked if God could put something in her heart to help her come to church. It was about 11:10 and right as we turned to go inside, Luisa comes rounding the corner with her daughters!! Elder Soto and I looked at each other with big smiles and said "Oh...My...Gosh" hahah it was awesome.

After church we went and visited a reference from a member. Their name was the Familia Darian. They'd lost their first baby 11 yrs ago when he was 4 months old to a sickness. We wanted to share what we know about how they can have more comfort and peace through the message of the Book of Mormon. The Dad Javier came out and talked to us for quite a long time about everything. He was all over the place and has so many different opinions about God and religion and seems pretty confused even though he told us he wasn't haha. One thing he did talk to us about was how his baby died and that it was his fault is what he said. Apparently, he didn't believe in some medical thing and they didn't take the baby in and it passed away. He said he feels like he has a huge backpack of rocks that he carries all the time which is guilt that he carries. We told him he can get rid of that but he said he doesn't want to. He feels he deserves that punishment for not helping his kid. So we tried just giving him the Book of Mormon but at first he told us no. He had every other religious book and he said he was good where he was at. He said his heart wouldn't let him and that he is very hard. Then we said okay share this with your wife. He got a little softer then. He told us he has talked to every church that came knocking at his door, and we were the first ones to ever offer to leave our book. He told us he couldn't accept it for free. We insisted that he don't give us anything but he wouldn't even listen. He started to take off a chain he was wearing around his neck. He took the Book of Mormon from my hand and replaced it with the chain. In the middle of the chain is an emblem that is his baby sons engraved face, and on the back it has his name. I told him I couldn't accept that. He pointed to his heart and said "I always have him in here. Please take it and pray for my son and my family." His name is Agustin Darian.

Much Love,

Elder Christensen

Monday, January 23, 2017

week 38

Mommy and All,

"Real difficulties can be overcome; it is the imaginary ones that are unconquerable." -Theodore N. Vail

This week has been really good. We've found more people to teach in just the 5 days we've been here, than in the last month I was in Comodoro. Its a little different being here but its way cool. Our home base is Las Heras which is 2 hrs outside of Caleta Olivia and 1 hr outside Truncado which is where our District Leader is. So we live in a 2 story apartment house which is brand new. We are here most of the time, and this is where almost all the members are and the church house. The church building really is just a really big house they bought with the church plaque slapped on the outside. haha  It's interesting and pretty cool. But we also have another area called Perito Moreno. Its another 2 1/2 hrs from here and sits about 1 1/2 hrs from Chile. So every week, we ride a collectivo bus over there and stay in a hotel and work for 2-3 days. Perito is a town of only about 5000, but it has a few member families who meet together each week and at least have sacrament meeting. This week we went over there for just a day and saw that the church has a lot of potential to grow out there as well. Las Heras isn't huge and Perito is small and so its doable. I'm going to get to know the buses here really well because anytime we have District or Zone meeting, its a 1-4 hr bus ride depending on what are we are in haha. 

The branch here in Las Heras has a little more than 300 members, but the most they say they usually have in church is 50, and yesterday there was only 20. Elder Soto and I both talked in church, and the members are really excited to work with us. Before we got here, it was always known as a place in the mission where you just go and do nothing out in the middle of nowhere and that no one will really talk to us. But in 5 days we have 14 new investigators and 4 baptismal dates. We are also the unofficial opening of the Perito Moreno area. When we headed out there, we talked to people and most have never seen Mormon Missionaries, just have heard of our church. That is why President Salerno wanted Elder Soto out here, and for some reason, Elder Soto wanted me with him and we have been pretty efficient. Soto is the best missionary I've ever seen. I'm really learning how to teach and prepare people for baptism and the things we have to do as missionaries to help them feel the spirit and keep their commitments. He is just teaching me tons of things and really helping me become better.  

We are teaching one family who doesn't have baptismal dates yet. We call them the Familia Cyntia because the Moms name is Cyntia and she is super loud and really funny.  haha. We talked with her about baptism and she told us about 100 times we were not going to baptize her. She is Catholic and said she will die Catholic and will never ever change. The only thing she said she had a little problem with was the baby baptisms the Catholics do and how she didn't get that.  She LOVES to argue with Soto about the Catholic church because his mom was Catholic but became a convert when he was 6 so he knows quite a bit about it. After about 2 hrs of that, it got to the point where she said we had no right to tell her these things since she has way more life experience than us. That is when I could just tell her she was exactly right. But also that we were called by a prophet of God and have the power and authority to baptize her and to invite her to do things but not to force her. So I asked her what was the reason we needed to baptized and she said to cleanse us. I told her she was exactly right, so she needed to be baptized again plain and simple, and by the proper authority because there is no reason to cleanse a baby from sin when they don't have any. Her eyes suddenly got huge and she said "Elder Christensen, you actually might have a reason there!!" So we just invited them to pray and if they receive an answer, we will put a baptismal date with them as well. I realized after though, that it wasn't me talking at all but the Spirit. Elder Soto said he even felt it fill the room. It was easily the most powerful testimony I've given in my life.

Much Love,

Elder Christensen

Thursday, January 19, 2017

week 37

Mommy & All,

"The past is behind; learn from it. The future is ahead; prepare for it. The present is here; live in it!" -Thomas S. Monson

Well, I honestly don't have very much to say this week. Nothing really exciting happened except transfers got announced Thursday. I'm headed to Caleta Olivia which is about 2 hrs south of here. I'll be apart of that zone, but it sounds like I'm going to be in a little town called Las Heras which is in the middle of nowhere haha. I heard its about an hour and a half south of Caleta Olivia, and my District Leader is going to be in another little town about an hour and a half south of me so we will be a little spread out haha. Also Elder Harris is staying here with Elder Aquino.

My new comp is going to be Elder Soto from Lima Peru. He just finished his 4th transfer in the office as Assistant to President. So he will do one transfer outside the office with me then he is done. He is way chill and we have been good friends since I got to the mission. So he is officially my 7th comp in 8 months and when he leaves I'll have my 8th comp in 9 months. So the trend will continue with me having a new comp each transfer hahaha.

The only thing that really happened this week was we found a new investigator named Rolando. We put a baptismal date with him for February 11th so I hope they can get that done with him. He hasn't come to church yet and we almost had him the last 2 weeks. Something has always come up for him last Saturday night or early Sunday morning so he couldn't come. He is a really cool guy and truly wants to change his life for the better and we talked about baptism a ton and he seemed really excited. 

All in all it will be weird not to be here in Comodoro, but it´ll be good to get a change of scenery. I'm also really excited to be Elder Soto's comp for this next transfer because I know I'll learn a ton from him. He told me when I got to the mission that we were gonna be comps before he left and now its gonna happen.

Much Love,

Elder Christensen

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

week 36

Mommy & All,

"I complained because I had no shoes, until I saw a man who had no feet." -Unknown

Another cool and sad story about Juan Carlos this week. We were walking to lunch passed Carrefour (like a mini Walmart) and Juan Carlos was sitting there on the corner. He was looking down and didn't see us till we walked by so I just kept walking. About 5 steps passed him I did a real hard swivel because I remembered we were on good terms now.  He apologized for not meeting with us Tuesday because he doesn't have any food and the bones in his leg are really hurting him so he can't really walk.  He told us the street is a really hard place especially with he weather we were having because it was unusually cold here in the middle of summer. Then he looks at me and tells me he wants me to baptize him. I told him if he truly wants to change in his heart we will do everything we can to help him. So as we kept walked passed Carrefour, about 20 steps from Juan Carlos, this giant impression hit me like a truck that I had to go buy him food. I was shocked because that is something I NEVER would have done for him just a week before because of all we had been through haha. So I stood there for a sec thinking, then scrambled in and bought some food. When we came back out, he was gone. Not a trace of him. I was so mad. So we took the food back to the pension and went to lunch. After lunch we headed back to the house to decide what to do with the food and then left again. And of course just as we are walking down the road, we see Juan Carlos in our route sitting there. So I went and started talking to him and asked if he was going to be there for a minute and he told me yes so we ran back to the pension, grabbed the food,and ran back. When we got to him, he eyes got huge and asked if the food was for him. I told him yes and I don't think I've ever seen anyone jump so high while sitting down haha. All I bought him was bananas, facturas, a bag of Lays chips, a jug of juice, and some chocolate chip bread (because I like that stuff haha). I tell that because the next thing he said as he look's me right in the eyes was, "What am i gonna do with all this food?" I about started to cry. That was a snack for me. Yet he didn't know what to do with all of it. He thanked us and I told him that it wasn't from us but form a Father in Heaven who loves him and it just working through us. The feeling of helping people is unmatched. 

So just right after that we were walking down the road and it was getting hot so I took my jacket off. Right after, that a car comes driving by really slow and 2 ladies who looked about 40, roll down the windows and lean out and scream, "The shirt! Now the shirt! Take off the shirt! Take it off now! We want to see the shirt come off!" And I just stood there, smiling and waving like Penguins of Madagascar. I honestly couldn't make this stuff up.

Much Love,

Elder Christensen

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

week 35

Sorry, unless you want to see all the bloody pictures of Elder Romney's ingrown toenail 
"surgery" this is the best I got.

Background for this weeks letter.  This is an experience Max shared with me a few weeks ago that he thought he included in the group letter.  I know he has said more about Juan Carlos, but I can't find them.  He has confronted the missionaries several times, called Max Satan, and really antagonized the missionaries.  

So Saturday morning we were cleaning the church and Elder Aquino was outside cleaning the steps and a drunk guy in the street came up and started talking to him through the gate. They´d already been talking for a few min and by the time I got out there he was screaming at my Comp and I was like what the heck. Apparently he asked Aquino where our "Pastor" was because he wanted money to go buy a sandwich (or more beer) for lunch. Aquino told him he was at work and the guy asked how could he be at work when he just lives off our money. We were both just thinking oh boy here we go. So Aquino told him we didn't have any money to give him. So he looked at me and asked how can Aquino be a Saint if he is snot even helping people. So I told him again we didn't have any money to give him. He told us we had no right to be in the church because we really weren't helping people we were just hoarding all this money from them. Then he looks at us and tells us that when Jesus cones and when the Apocalypse happens that we are going to Hell and we are going to remember him. He also called me Aquino´s boyfriend haha. So at that point we told him to have a good day and turned and walked inside. He then told us to have a very bad day and called us every Spanish bad word he could before we got in. A neat experience for sure haha. But if I'm being honest, its just another day in Comodoro for us as missionaries. 

Mommy & All,

"When we hate our enemies, we are giving them power over us: power over our sleep, our appetites, our blood pressure, our health, and our happiness....Our hate is not hurting them at all, but our hate is turning our days and nights into a hellish turmoil." -Dale Carnegie

This week I wanna write about a new friend that I made thanks to an old missionary. A new friend who I used to hate. Good ole Juan Carlos. But I've written about him in past emails as Crazy Carlos. 

So Saturday we watched a movie as a Zone in my Church La Prensa. Holmes, Orellano, Romney and I were sitting there waiting for the rest of the Zone when Juan Carlos walked in. So Orellano with his quick mind told him we were just leaving and we were able to walk him out. For those of you who don't remember, Juan Carlos is the drunk guy who lives in the street who has almost fought me twice, and who told me I'm going to Hell and I will remember him. So we have had our encounters before. So after we walked him out he starts talking to me. He grabs my hand and starts crying and saying "forgive me forgive me I want God to forgive me too...." I have no clue if he even remembered me or not from before, I didn't know if he was drunk or not because he always smells like alcohol, and it didn't even register to me that he was saying sorry until after he left because every time we talk he just says whatever so my ears kinda shut off. So I just told him it was okay and he left. He also saw my name tag and asked if my name was Jesus Christ hahaha. I laughed for about 5 min after. 

So he wandered in right at the end of church yesterday as well. I'm not the only missionary in the Zone he has battled before so of course Holmes, Orellano, Romney and I did our very best to avoid him and let the members handle that one since he usually hates us. So Eric Aphoriseth, the bishops son who just got back from his mission in Uruguay on Thursday, finally gets him outside and talking to him. He then leans back through the door and motions for me to come over and I thought here we go again. I walk over there and he asks me when we can sit and teach him. I thought he was joking me. So I stared at him for a couple seconds waiting for him to laugh and say just kidding, but he didn't flinch. So i said "7 tonight here" and they agreed. So we got to the church at 7 with Eric and we sat and talked and got to know him more. He is way cool. We were sure Juan Carlos wasnt gonna show up, so we were about to leave for an Asado when he came at 8. He sat down outside adn so we went out and talked to him for a few min and then Eric and I looked at each other with the same question: Are we really gonna teach him? It was the least drunk Id ever seen him (he may not have drank at all he just has the same smell) so Eric said lets take him inside and just talk for a few min. I had the Word of Wisdom all ready since he told us he wants to stop drinking, but I asked him what he wanted to teach. He told me, "lets just listen to what he wants to tell us, and that will help us feel what we want to tell him." I thought that was really cool. So he told us he really really wants to change and doesn't wanna be like his street friends. Said he has 4 kids and he had a life before. we talked about baptism and he quickly accepted a baptismal date for February 4th and was pumped about it. He knew before that baptism can take away all your sins and really help with change. After, I taught him the simple form of prayer and he prayed for us at the end. I don't know what happened, but its the most powerful thing I've felt in my mission. The spirit was incredible. One of the sincerest, most heart felt prayers I've ever heard. Maybe, just maybe, he really does want to change.

Much Love,

Elder Christensen

Sunday, January 1, 2017

week 34

Mommy and All,

"If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man´s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility." -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This week was kinda like the last week, so I'm not really sure what to write haha. It was really good to talk to the Fam yesterday through Skype, and we had a good Christmas here. Didn't do anything special really, but that doesn't matter it was still good. Most of our investigators including Javier went North for the Fiesta and Vacation, so now we are really just trying to work with someone to listen to us. We did find a new investigator this week named Sandra. She was just a lady I contacted when I was with Aquino and I never saw her again. At one point this week we didn't have a soul who even wanted to look at us, so for some reason I thought of her house and we headed over there. She ended up letting us in and we were able to teach her the Restoration and gave her the Book of Mormon. She was really receptive and seemed to like our message. I also invited her to church, but she told us that she has a problem (of course I didn't ask what it was) and that she couldn't leave the house or else she´d gladly come. But I still hope we can teach her a little more and just see where we can go with her. 

A little Argentine fact for you. Christmas Eve and New Years are HUGE here. I know they are big at our place as well but I've never seen anything like Christmas Eve. It was really the 4th of July. Here, Santa Clause still comes on the 24th, but then they sit and count down like New Years and at 12 o'clock when its officially Christmas day, everyone opens their presents and they fire off fireworks like maniacs. Then they leave and have a fiesta dance party till about 7 in the morning. The fireworks are what got me. They sell EVERYTHING to ANYONE. People were firing off Fireworks like you see at the Stadium of Fire (or whatever its called) at BYU just off their front porch. Or if they were really cool, they´d go set one of these that literally looked like a mini rocket ship right in the middle of the road and wait for a car to come and then light it right in front of the car hahaha I did see that a few times. These are people who drink from when they get off work at 7 until 12 then some how end up with a Santa Clause Bag of fire works. One of the more entertaining really cool things I've seen here ye.t haha.

Much Love,

Elder Christensen