Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Week 51

Mommy & All,

"From a Mountain of Despair, comes a Stone of Hope." -Martin Luther King Jr.

This past week was pretty good. I was in Comodoro all day yesterday talking to Presidente Salerno. He told me he wants Vega and I to go to Perito and open it as its own area, to work and live there full time. We need to find a place to live first so it may not happen for a couple of weeks, but he wants it to happen. That will make us the first missionaries to ever live in Perito full time which is kinda cool. He is going to put 2 more Elders in Las Heras to take our spot. 

Here in Las Heras, we've barely started teaching a lady named Martina. Her husband Ricardo was baptized up in Trelew when he was a kid, but hasn't gone to church for a long time. When I was with Soto, we taught Martina 3-4 times and she had a "baptismal date" the only problem was that her and Ricardo weren't married and they were living together. We always talked about baptism with her and she always listened to us and Ricardo supported it 100%. Well in March they headed way up north to Formosa where Martina is from, and they got married! They just got back a few weeks ago. We passed by their house just to talk to them for a few min. We talked about baptism and the Plan of Salvation with them and how they can live together forever as an Eternal Family through baptism. Martina smiled and even remembered that she had a baptismal date before. Now all we need is to get them to church.

We got to go to Perito this weekend. On Saturday, we go to talk to a guy named Renson who we'd contacted before. When we knocked on his door, a little girl ran to the front window, peeked through the curtain, ran away, came back and looked again, then ran away again. After about 5 min, Renson finally came out and opened the door. He had a smile on his face and was laughing. He ends up telling us that when his little daughter looked through the window and saw us the first time, she ran to Renson and told him people were there. He told her to open the door and let us in. She looked at him and said "No Dad! There is a big Chocolate Man outside!!" When he told us she said that, Vega and I died laughing. I've honestly heard it all here, but I haven't heard something like that since high school. Always we ended up teaching him the Restoration and giving him the Book of Mormon. He told us he'd read it and we invited him to pray as well. 

We also got to see AnaMaria on Saturday. We'd been praying all week and fasting to know why she wouldn't accept a baptismal date and how we could help her, because there wasn't much more we could do. So when we got to her house, she let us in and we immediately started talking about baptism. And she immediately said no again. But we realized that she really did have fear of getting into the lake on top of it being glacier water in the middle of winter. So we came prepared for that answer. We told her that we were planning on bringing in a portable font or backyard swimming pool to do the baptism, and that we weren't going to do it in the lake. She looked at us for a sec thinking. Before she could say anything, I also said how we still had her date for April 29th wide open. Then she looked at us and said yes to that! So this week we are doing everything to get her baptism ready for this Saturday. We are going to have to travel to Comodoro again and Caleta this week before we travel to Perito, so it's going got be a really busy week but we are doing our best just to fly around and be ready for this weekend. 

Much Love,

Elder Christensen

Monday, April 17, 2017

week 50

Mommy & All,

"We dont do these things because they are easy, but because they are hard." -John F. Kennedy

First off I want to my bro Dustin Harris out there in New Bern, North Carolina to know I'm thinking about him. I'm praying for you every night big bro and I know how strong you are. I know your Dad passing away has to be so hard that I cant imagine it. But with the knowledge that you have, the knowledge that you taught me about the Plan of Salvation during the time we have together, I know you know it will be okay. Prayers up to you out there in NC big man. Keep on fighting the good fight.

This week was pretty good. We were able to get to Perito so of course my comp wanted to go visit his buddy Raul again haha. So we got there and started talking about baptism. It was a really interesting conversation. We started off talking about how baptism is really important and he agreed with us, but said of course he had to be ready.  He also asked me about baptizing in the lake. It seems for some reason, not very many people are very fond of getting baptized in a lake of glacier water here as we are starting winter. So the first question that came to this guys mind was if the baptism would be with or without clothes. My comp and I both held back a nice laugh and told him with clothes for sure. Then he looked at us with a little grin and asked if lots of people would be there and we said quite a few. Then he asks if they'd be with or without clothes. This time my comp and I looked at each other and died laughing and Raul gave us his sly old man grin. Then he tells us that the water would be really cold so when he'd get out, he would have to change his clothes and all the girls would be right there and they'd watch him change because there would be no where else to do that. We promised him that wouldn't happen. Then he looked me right in the eyes and asked me the most interesting question of my mission. He asked "Well why wouldn't they wanna watch me change my clothes..?" So after I recovered from the laugh attack that soon followed only because it was Raul, I asked him if he'd take a pic with me so I could document the moment and he happily accepted. This guys is 71 yrs old, has 4 kids and like 9 grand kids and he asked me that question haha. Also as I mentioned before, he smokes quite a bit. We have talked about the Word of Wisdom  with him a ton but it doesn't really sink in. So just out of curiosity, I asked how long he'd been smoked. He told me "oh not very long, just this last little bit after I got separated from my wife." I asked how long ago that was and he said 40 yrs ago. So its a bit of a challenge for him. I think now he might be the most interesting guy I've met thus far haha be he is a nice guy. 

Also in Perito, AnaMaria is super ready for baptism. With the way we do things here, we are in Las Heras for on Sunday, and then the next we are in Perito so we do the every other week thing. So its sometimes hard to get investigators to church when we aren't there. She is the only one who goes to church when we aren't out there and she really likes it and its been awesome to see. But we've already invited her to be baptized twice and she's said no both times. We think part of it is the freezing lake as well. but we honestly aren't sure what the other part is. So we are praying really hard to know what to do for her. 

So yesterday we had District Conference in Caleta. They don't have enough people to make it a Stake, so its still a District. They talked a lot about the Atonement and it was great. There were 2 stories, 2 analogies given yesterday about the Atonement that I loved. The first went like this: There is a person sitting in a closed off room. They are spiritually hurting. There are a bunch of cards in the room. This person takes the cards, and one by one, writes every sin they've ever committed from their littlest to biggest. At the bottom of every card, they sign their name. Then they put all the cards in a box in the corner. Then the person says that they have to lock themselves in this from forever and cant ever leave because of all the bad things they've done. Right before they go to lock it, there is a knock at the door. The person says "please be anyone but Jesus." They open the door and its Jesus. The person walks to the other side of the room and sits in the opposite corner as the box. Jesus walks in and looks at the person, and then at the box. Then He walks over to the box, opens it, and starts reading every sin this person has ever committed out loud. The person starts crying and asking Jesus why He has to do that. Jesus looks at the person, and without saying anything He walks over and puts his hands on their shoulders and cries with them. Then He goes back over and takes every card one by one, and signs His name over the name of that person in red. In His blood. Then he looks at the person and says "Its okay. You no longer have any shame, guilt, or pain. I've taken that from you. You are free to leave, free to go. And I must leave as well. I have more cards to sign..."   That one really got me. 

The other one was this: There was a boy who wanted to ask the prettiest most popular girl to the school dance. The girl knew this and didn't really want to go with this boy, but didn't want to have to say no. So she told him he had to bring her a red rose and then she would go with him to this dance. Well she gave him the impossible task, because there wasn't  one red rose in all the town. This boy had a bunch of white roses in his garden, but knew that wouldn't be enough. The boy had a little pet bird who flew around everywhere with him. This little bird loved this boy more than anything and hated seeing him hurt and sad. The little bird knew the boys problem and did everything he could to find a red rose, but was unsuccessful. But this little bird was willing to do anything. So one night while the boy was sleeping, the bird left the house, and went outside to the garden. It sat down on one of the white roses and made itself bleed. The next morning, the boy got up, and saw this perfect red rose in his garden. He was so excited that he just grabbed the rose and ran to school, not wondering how it got there or where it came from. He also didn't see his little pet bird lying under the rose in a pool of its own blood. So when the boy got to school, he sprinted around looking for this girl. As he ran by the basketball court, his best friends were playing and told him to come and play. He told them no at first because he knew he had a goal to accomplish. But after looking for a minute longer he started thinking again about his friends all playing and having fun without him. He looked at his friends, then looked at the red rose. Then he said to himself  "She really didn't want to go to the dance with me anyways." So he threw the red rose aside and went to go play ball with his friends. So the little bird is Jesus Christ. The boy is all of us. The rose is the Atonement. The friends and the basketball game are the things and temptations of the world. 

I learn new things about my Savior Jesus Christ every day and its incredible. Salvation isn't easy and it isn't free. We will never have to pay like Christ did. But we all have to pay at least a little of that price. And that doesn't always mean we have to hurt. A lot of  the time it will be giving things up that we really want to do or have. Yet we didn't come to earth to suffer, but to learn how to progress and learn not just now, but eternally.

Much Love,

Elder Christensen


Monday, April 10, 2017

Week 49

Mommy & All,

"They say that in life suffering is mandatory, but misery is optional. We all have problems, but we also have choices...being miserable requires effort, you have to ignore a lot of things..." -John Bytheway

This week was pretty good. The rains visited  Las Heras Wednesday and Thursday so we didn't get a lot done those days. We also couldn't travel to Perito because of all the rain and buses were getting stuck.

Monday we were in Pico Truncado with our District Leader and went to visit some of their investigators. We got to meet Milton, Noelia, and their 12 yr old daughter Frida. I think they are the coolest investigators I've met my whole mission haha. They love the missionaries and made us 100 hamburgers and just fed us a ton and are way nice. Milton and Noelia really really wanna get baptized, but they don't wanna get married. They just don't seem to understand why they have to be married before they get baptized, and they are just really comfortable how they are. They don't believe marriage is necessary to be an eternal family because even without it, they're a family right now. So we didn't know what else to share with them on marriage because they already know everything about that. So we just decided to show them the #PrinceofPeace video the church made for Easter and I saw it for the first time. It was AWESOME and really hit me. The thing that stuck out to me the most was the video called Jesus Christ the "King of Kings" of course, yet said that the only crown he ever wore was made of thorns. That for me really just says how great a sacrifice He made for each of us. As Elder Holland once called Him "the greatest life the world has ever known" only wore a crown of thorns. And He did it for us. The only perfect and most powerful being to ever walk the planet was never at the head of any army or country, never sought gold or riches or fame, but only to do the work of the one that sent Him who is our Heavenly Father. So if the best that the King of Kings got was a crown of thorns, then He really can do all things. And so can we when we humble ourselves like He did, try and change just a little everyday, and put ourselves on the path He wants. That's not always what we want of course, but its always whats best for us. That's what I shared with Milton and Noelia and they seemed to really like that because they invited us back haha.

We also got to see Adrian again. I was racking my brains on what we could share with him as well because he already know everything about the marriage before baptism as well. Then something different came to mind. We decided to share "The Family: A Proclamation to the World." That was the first time in my mission I've shared that with an investigator. We read through it with him and he really liked it. We didn't even ask him but he finally told us why him and his girlfriend have been fighting so much. They are both from way up north in Salta. Joana his girlfriend feels way lonely down here because her whole family is in Salta and she hardly gets to see them. So she wants to go back to Salta. The problem is there is no work up there which is why Adrian is here in the first place. So if they go back, he wont really have money to take care of them right now. So they always fight because she wants to back but he says no because there is no work. There's a reason that in 3 months here Ive only met 5 people who've said they were born in Las Heras and everyone else is from the north part of the country. Everyone comes to the Patagonia to find work because there are a lot more opportunities down here. Adrian told us he'd talk to Joana about marriage to tell her all the things he's learned. 

Much Love,

Elder Christensen

Note from mom:  We thought that Max's area had escaped flooding, and it is nothing like Comodoro which will take years to recover, but the rain did leave some flooding in Las Heras, and hamper their work this week. These are pictures from Max's area.  Also, transfers were today and for the first time in his mission, he is staying in the same area with the same companion.  

Monday, April 3, 2017

Week 48

Some investigators the sisters are teaching.  They wanted to meet Max.

Mommy & All

"After lifes fitful fever, he sleeps well." -William Shakespeare

First off, Shout out to Uncle Dave in the Mormom Tabernacle Choir I saw you on TV yesterday dont worry haha did a great job as always.

This week was pretty good. We went to Perito Wednesday and Thursday and we got to see Raul again. Next time we go again I will take a pic with him so then you guys know he isn't fake haha. He is a super popular guy out there. He has people in and out of his house just randomly all day and he always tells them to listen to us when we are over. Although he usually doesn't do all that much listening. We tried to teach the plan of Salvation and we asked if he ever had the question where he would go when he died. He told us no because he already knew. He told us that he would go to another world. But not like the spirit world, but another planet like Mars or Jupiter. I about died trying to choke down a laugh. We also tried to put baptismal dates with AnaMaria and her daughters out there but they kind of rejected it. They still have a little bit of fear and it really doesn't help that the only place we have to baptize out there is in a lake of glacier water and its now turning into the coldest part of the year so no one has a lot of excitement to do that right now. But we seem to still have success in Perito finding new people and just all the potential that is out there.

We got to see Gabriel for just a few minutes this week and that was good. We bought all the books he wanted to read and loved that. We were able to meet 2 of his 3 kids who he wants us to share things with and they are really cool. He seems to have a lot more energy about the gospel and studying the scriptures and trying to change his life again. It will be really interesting to see what happens when we share a message with his kids. 

We also got to see Cyntia this week. The last time we went over to her house, we talked about baptism and she rejected us right off the bat. She is dead set on dying as a Catholic and is never ever EVER going to change her religion is what she tells us haha. She tells us all the time she does not want to get re-baptized, but she always tells us to come back because she loves talking about the gospel and having conversations like that. She did also read a part of the Book of Mormon we left for her. So we went over on Friday and didn't talk much about baptism, but shared Ether 12:3-4 about having Faith and how that can bring us hope for a better world. She really really liked that and we shared how we can find that through the Book of Mormon since it contains the fullness of the eternal gospel. As always, we invited her to pray about the Book of Mormon and see if what that says is really true. She tells us all the time how much faith she has and how that has helped her all her life to believe in God. We told her that is awesome, and now we want her to put that faith into action and offer up a sincere prayer. It was pretty cool to share that with her and see as the spirit was kind of able to touch her.

Lastly, we finally got to see Adrian again. I thought he was avoiding us, but he honestly just had a ton of things going on at work and was really happy to see us on Friday. We talked a lot about the Plan of Salvation and how we can have eternal families. Its amazing having my own eternal family and being able to have the testimony of that in my own personal life, especially with all of us being adopted with no blood relation in my family, yet the power of God still can bind us together forever. There are lots of people who really like that and are really able to see a demonstration of Gods power and how it really can happen if it happened in my family. I was pretty sure we were going to put a wedding date with them, but he is still thinking about it. Before we ever started talking to him or even met him, he told us that him and his girlfriend almost separated because of how they always fought and didn't really get along. But in the end, he told us he cant live without seeing his 2 yr old son Leon, so they stayed together. I was able to testify also that we always are going to have fights inside our family, but when we are married and also have the gospel in our lives, its a lot easier to forgive and mend bridges and how they can enjoy so much more peace and pure joy in this life and the life to come. Its been a little hard how when we teach him he feels really good, but then after we leave, him and his girlfriend have another bad fight and then his excitement about marriage goes way down and then we have to start over again. So we are really praying that they can work out because they have so much potential as an eternal family and are great people.

Much Love,

Elder Christensen

A few notes from mom.  Max lost his camera.  He is pretty upset about it.  The last time he saw it was in the apartment, so there is still a glimmer of hope.  He has sent most pictures home, but there were some videos that couldn't be sent.  I am sure he would appreciate some prayers that it can be found.  His area got rain, but not flooding.  Right now it is work as usual.  They are not planning to have the missionaries outside of Comodoro help with clean up.  Transfers are next week, and he believes he will stay put with his companion.  (His first transfer with the same companion if it turns out that way).  He is in Pico Truncado until tomorrow.  They went there so they could watch conference and are staying until tomorrow for district meeting.  He says it is just slightly uglier than Wyoming and there is not much to do there, but that it will be fun to visit with the other missionaries, which they don't get to do often in Las Heras.  

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Week 47

Mommy & All,

Greatness, is a lot of small things done well day after day after day..." -Ray Lewis

This week was pretty good. We didnt get to see Raul so it wasnt as exciting and we only saw Adrian for about 3 min so I dont really have an update on him either. 

Wednesday last week, we were just contacting for a bit and knocking doors. The very first door we knocked on a guy named Gabriel opened up and said "Hello Elder how are you guys?" At first of course we were kinda shocked but stuff like this now becomes an old story. There are about 350 members here in Las Heras and only about 25 come to church each week and we know very few less actives. So it happens quite a bit when we contact and it happens to be a member that we don't know haha. But this was a little different. Gabriel opened up and told us to come inside and talk for a bit and he told us his story. He is from Trelew which is the north part of the mission and was baptized up there when he was 14. He said the church pulled him off the streets and saved him and that he was best friends with the Elders up there. He actually served a mini-mission and was super active. Then time passed and he got in trouble with the police and a lot of things happened to him. He said he's repented for everything he did and he had a family. He ended up losing a son (I'm assuming his oldest kid) to a disease when he was 7 years old and he lost all his faith in God. He says he prayed for 4 straight months in the hospital and God didn't save his son. He said the God he who he used to know abandoned him. He told us he is mad at God and didn't believe God could do anything anymore. After this happened he said he tried to go to the church leaders and find help and comfort and they all turned him away because of things in his past and nobody in the church wanted to talk to him. He was so hard and bitter that he told us he was talking to a preacher from another church who was talking about God and how you have to  believe and have faith in God. And Gabriel told us he said "If God brings back my son, then I'll believe again." And the preacher said that's impossible and Gabriel came back and said "You talk of a God who can do the impossible. So show me that's true and only then will I believe." Vega and I were both pretty shocked. He was so low and down. He said his son was his best friend and that he followed Gabriel around everywhere. He then says he just wants to have faith that he will see his son again. So of course we reviewed the Plan of Salvation with him and he told us he'd honestly forgotten that. He then tells us that he knows he son is with God and just wants to see him again. We then asked him about the Book of Mormon and he told us he could never deny the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith and he knew that to be 100% true. After all this he ends up asking if we can find him a Bible and the Book of Mormon with Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price, because it had been so long since he had read those. We pulled out the Book of Mormons that we give to investigators and you could just see the memories flooding back to him. He told us that his time in the church was the best time of his life. That he did seminary and how much he knew and used to study the Book of Mormon and all he did in the church. He told us that one day, maybe not in the near future, but one day he wants to come back. He vented all that to us and said he didn't really think it was a coincidence we knocked on his door that day because he was doing especially bad. At the very end he ends up telling us that he has 6 kids still. 3 live with their mom in Trelew and  live with him here. They are 21, 17, and 16 and none of them are members. He tells us he wants us to stop by another day and talk with them too! It was so interesting to see how he went from nothing and in an hour he was asking us for a Book of Mormon and to teach his kids as well. Crazy stuff.

We also have some pretty good investigators in Perito. AnaMaria and her 2 daughters have come to church the last 2 weeks and seem to be pretty interested. They don't talk that much but they are progressing. We also have Hugo who we taught for the first time yesterday. He is the husband of a member and has 3 little kids. Kinda the same situation as Nahuel. He's heard tons from the missionaries before and the church in general since his wife's whole family are members and live here in Las Heras. But when we talked with him yesterday, he said he wants to start from ground zero with everything. So now we all get a fresh start.

Much Love,

Elder Christensen