Monday, May 29, 2017

Week 56

Mommy & All,

"You gotta gotta protect it. If people cant do something themselves, they're gonna wanna tell you that you cant do it. If you want something, go get it. Period." -Will Smith

This week was pretty good. On Tuesday we headed to Rauls for a bit to see how he was doing. We walked in and there was a big plate of meat in the middle of the table. When we sat down he brought out 2 plates and told us to eat. So we started eating and it actually tasted pretty good, but it was a taste I'd never tasted in meat before. So out of curiosity like I do most times now when I'm eating a plate of meat here in Argentina, I asked what kind of meat it was. And of course most of the answers are interesting and different. So when I asked Raul, he looked up at me with his little Raul smile and said, "It's Roadrunner." Like the bird off of the Looney Tunes with Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner haha. I'd heard that people here hunted and ate that but I never had gotten the chance to try it and its actually pretty dang good! Thursday something similar happened. We went to the Familia Naimans house for lunch. We got there and ate some good Locro and Empanadas and such. Then Hermana Naiman put some slabs of meat down on the table and told us we had to eat it and guess what it was. So we picked it up and started eating and it tasted like regular meat for the most part. I guessed it was horse meat because I've already had that and that was the kind of flavor it had. Horse meat is the best sandwich meat in the world by the way and I highly recommend it. Anyways, we couldn't guess what it was. They ended up telling us it was Boar meat like Pumba the pig from the Lion King haha so that was cool. So just in the last month I've eaten Mussels, Road Runner, and Boar. 3 things I'd never eaten before. I don't suggest the mussels but the other 2 are pretty good. 

Thursday morning was interesting as well. We were contacting and we knocked on this wooden house. This lady who was about 70 years old opened up the window. I got to say "Hello we are missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ" before she looked at me and screamed, "I AM A WOMAN OF CHRIST!" And then this lady starts screaming, I mean SCREAMING, verses of the Bible at us IN HEBREW for about 3 minutes before she took a breath haha. It was another one of those times when my comp and I had to choke back a hard laugh. So after those 3 minutes she flipped back to Castellano and continued to tell us that when we walk in the streets we must tremble when we walk to show people that we have the fear of God in us and that we are true disciples of Jesus Christ, and that we must wash the feet of Jesus with our blood and stuff like that. Then she put her hand out towards us and blessed us, then told us to have a good day and shut the window. My comp looked at me and asked if that really happened. I looked back at him and told him that it was just another day in the mission hahaha we both had a good laugh in the end.

We have been working with a lady named Luisa this last week. She was one of our investigators when I was with Soto, but since I've been with Vega we haven't really seen her till this week. She came to church once when I was with Soto and is honestly super ready for baptism. So we went to her house 2 days this week and just talked about baptism and all the blessings that brings and it was pretty good. But she told us that she didn't wanna get baptized again. She was baptized once in the Catholic church as a baby, and then baptized in an Evangelist church a few years ago. We explained the whole line of authority thing and how we need to receive our authority to teach and baptize form God but she still has lots of doubts and doesn't really want to pray to see if its all actually true. So we will see what happens with her. 

We found found some new people this week named Fabiano and Angelica. They have 3 kids together, the youngest being about 4 months old, but we don't yet know if they are married. They are both from Salta (northern Argentina) and said they knew the church up there. Angelica told us that she has some Mormon friends and they are really cool. Fabiano told us that he actually talked with some Elders from the U.S. up in Salta and he actually had the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price up in Salta as well so that was way cool to hear. So we were able to teach them the Restoration and give them a Book of Mormon. We talked a little about baptism with them as well and we told them about Ana Maria and when Fabiano found out that we baptize her, his eyes got huge haha. Of course us being new here, it is different and surprising for the people who knew the church in other parts to see that here. Also Hugo, Susana's friend, came to church for the 2nd week in a row with her so that was awesome. We are barely starting to teach him as well, so we hope to keep continuing the progression with all these guys.

Much Love,

Elder Christensen

Added from another email today:  The housing situation still isn't great but that's okay.   We didn't have Church there because the guys from Comodoro didn't bring us chairs so we couldn't do it there anyway. There's lots of stuff I guess that we need to do to become a branch here including number of priesthood holders, number of people here in Perito etc.. we are actually a lot farther off than what I thought to become a branch. We don't plan the talks or anything for sacrament meeting, Hno. Naiman does that but we make everything work so its equal. All we do Sunday is take the sacrament and then someone gives a talk and if they don't take enough time then one of us gets up and just fills the time that we need to fill. The whole thing is only one hour so just sacrament meeting. We have 17 members in total with there kids I'm pretty sure.  The members take care of us and we are really united out here I feel and they do tons for us and just keep the church alive out here so its good. It will be hard to leave since I've never spent this much time in one area. This is technically my 4th transfer here so it will be something like 6 months working with these guys and a 4th of my mission. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Week 55 (Max's football number Jr. year)

Mommy & All,

"Its easy to dream a dream, but its harder to live it."-Wale

This week was interesting. Up until Thursday all we did was pack and get our stuff ready to go to Perito. Friday morning we took and hauled all our stuff to the house in Perito and see how it was. The very first time we gotta see the inside of the house was when we moved in because the guy who owns it wouldn't give us the key till he had all his money. On the bus ride out there Friday morning, the police stopped the bus like they normally do and checked everyone's ID's. Of course I was the only one on the bus who didn't have Argentine ID. So they stopped the bus for about 20 min asking me all these questions and I almost had to go to jail for a sec but they ended up letting me go after looking through all my stuff. So the next thing on my checklist is getting them to send me my ID card which they just barely finished but its in Comodoro.

 So when we got to the house it was interesting. It wasn't as big as we'd hoped because we needed a place that had a big enough kitchen so we could do our church meetings there so we will see what happens with that. The bathroom experience here was a fun one. So the very first time we used the toilet it got clogged so the very first thing we bought for the house was a plunger. But every time after that the toilet got clogged so something was wrong. That was proved to us Saturday morning when my comp went to go take the first shower. So the water from the toilet and shower run to the same spot and we could hear it go down but it made a funny sound. So a few minutes after my comp started his shower I heard a scream from the bathroom. Apparently while he was showering, EVERYTHING that we'd flushed down the toilet came up through the shower drain hahaha and the drain for this shower is about the size of a medium squared floor tile, so for the shower its big which makes that experience even worse but funnier haha. Anyways that's when we knew it wasn't actually the toilet, but everything under the floor that was clogged up and never got cleaned out. So Hermano Naiman came over yesterday with a hook to see what he could find. He ended up fishing out half a rug that someone had flushed down the toilet and about enough hair to make a basketball. So after clearing that little blockage, our bathroom was at least functioning up till this morning so I'm not sure what we are going to do. We are still waiting on a fridge, washing machine, and microwave so hopefully that will get here sometime this week. 

Saturday we got to talk to Gisel again. We were able to talk a lot about marriage because that is the only thing she needs and then she can get baptized. We told her about all the blessings she will receive by getting married and baptized. We said that marriage isn't just for baptism in her case, but its for her family and life in general. We were able to testify of how she will be able to have a better relationship with Julian not just through marriage but having the gospel and that spirit in her home as well. I was able to testify through the example that my parents have shown me. We work with and meet a lot of people who aren't and don't wanna get married but wanna get baptized and it seems that the main fear and reason they don't wanna get married is the "what happens if we fight" factor. A lot of them fight with their boyfriend or girlfriend often and the very first thought they have is breaking up and getting separated. In almost every case the only reason they stay together is for the kids, not for each other. We talked with Gisel about how every relationship and marriage is going to have fights and disagreements. The only difference is when you are married your first thought isn't to split up but try and work it out. Also that when you have the Gospel to hold it together your marriage and the spirit that comes with that, its a lot easier to forgive that is the key. So we had a good lesson  talking about that. Only problem is that her boyfriend Julian just barley left and headed up north to go through a police course for a month so it will be a sec before they can talk about that together.

Much Love,

Elder Christensen

Monday, May 15, 2017

Week 54

Mommy & All,

"To every son the mother ought to be preeminently the woman of women; she is the one woman in the world to whom the son owes his earthly existence; and though the title "Mother" belongs to every woman who has earned the honors of maternity, yet to no child is there more than one woman whom by natural right he can address by that title of respectful acknowledgement." -James E. Talmage

Just wanna give a huge shout out to my Mom and the whole fam for all they continue to do for me and it was great talking to them yesterday. I hope Mothers Day was good for you Momma and of course I can't repay you for all you've ever done and I'm so proud to call YOU my Mom.

This week was pretty good. We were in Las Heras until ThursdayOn Wednesday, I was doing divisions with Elder Arismendi who's been in the mission about a month now. As we were walking down the street, a guy stopped us asking where we were from because he said he knew we weren't from around here. So I told him I was from the U.S. and he looked at me a little shocked and said "You look like you have the face of a Chilean!" So that was a first. The funniest part was the Arismendi is from Chile and he looked at this guy like he was insane haha. So now in my mission I've had people tell me I'm from the Dominican Republic, Africa, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay, Salta (northern Argentina), and now Chile haha. Anyways he went on to tell us how us Mormons don't believe in the Holy Ghost and how we think that Joseph Smith is Jesus Christ and stuff like that. Then he told us that God truly loved us, that we need to stop lying to people about the Book of Mormon and the message we preach and we need to preach the truth, and invited us to search for the kingdom of God. We told him that God loved him as well and invited him to search as well haha. So that was a good time. 

When we got to Perito, we were able to meet with Susana the new member we found last week. She told us a little bit of her story how she was baptized when she was 8 yrs old and how her dad loved the church and the missionaries. She moved down here in 2002 and had always asked for missionaries down here but never saw any and she never knew about Natalia or any of them that were here as well. She talked about how she felt so alone and how she took a turn for the worst and how she smoked and drank a lot up until she had her first kid. Now she has 2. After her 2nd kid she started smoking again but told us that she hasn't smoked now for almost a year. So we showed her a Mormon message about when Thomas S. Monson was in the marines and felt like he was the only Mormon standing alone and how even when we are alone we must still stand strong. It ended up being that he wasn't the only Mormon as he came to find out. He quotes a primary song he learned that says "Dare to be a Mormon! Dare to stand alone..." and how we never really are alone because we have our Heavenly Father. So for the first time in 15 years, Susana attended a church meeting yesterday.

We also got to teach Gisel again and she came to church as well. We got to teach her the Plan of Salvation and focused on the fact that she had her 2nd little girl just 3 months ago and how she can be with then forever. She actually ended up telling us that she knew it was true. That shes felt it twice and believes it. She wants to get baptized with her boyfriend (so they need to get married first) and her 10 yr old daughter. So now hopefully we will start working more with her boyfriend Julian.

Much Love,

Elder Christensen

     Max told us on the phone that he had turned into "That" fanny pack guy.  Here it is in all it's glory.

Max and Elder Arismendi (An actual Chilean.  Don't they look alike?)

To demonstrate that though he has changed he is still Max.  I had to ask what it was.  Pigeon feathers and dead pigeon bodies that he was so impressed with, and knew his Mom would appreciate it, that it deserved a tag picture as well.  

The motel they have been living in while the search for more permanent living quarters. It apparently has the nicest bathroom he has seen since getting to Argentina and since they have no kitchen that have been "forced" to eat in the hotel downstairs when they don't have eating arrangements.  He is still excited to get a place to settle into since half of there stuff is still in Las Heras. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Week 53

Mommy & All,

"To be or not to be. That is the question." -Shakespeare

This week was pretty good. We still haven't found a place to live yet in Perito so we were in Las Heras till Friday. The missionaries who are replacing us got here Wednesday at about 1:30 in the morning so that was fun haha. Wednesday and Thursday we were able to show the new Elders around and say goodbye the some people. There is a guy we found and have been talking with the last couple weeks named Raul here in Las Heras. He is 87 and claims he is a member of our church. He does have the Holy Bible with the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants references, but he doesn't have a Book of Mormon. He said the Bible was a gift that he got after his baptism which is why we were a little confused why he had that and not a Book of Mormon. He also described his baptism to us and said missionaries were there. He talks about how the church he went to (He couldn't remember the name) were renting a house and then one day they got up and the group left. So when we started talking to him, he said he wanted to come to church with us. So we still don't know if he is a member, but of course we went and said goodbye to him and told him about the change with us and the new missionaries. I went and visited him with one of the new Elders and told him I was leaving. Raul got really sad and actually started crying, saying that I was one of his best friends and how he'd never forget me. We'd only visited him an few times, but he loved receiving us. He said we were the first missionaries to visit him in years and he didn't really get many visits in general. So it was awesome to have met him and we arranged for him to get to church. I was also able to see Adrian before we left. We were able to teach him the Plan of Salvation and talked about Eternal Families. We were also able to arrange for him to get to church as well. 

We got here to Perito Friday morning. We were walking down main street when a lady stopped us asking where the church was. We were kind of shocked and told her we didn't have a church yet but that we do get together and meet ever Sunday. She ended up telling us that her name was Susanna and that she was a member!! She told us she was baptized in Corrientes in northern Argentina, but that she has been her in Perito since 2003. She had been asking for a church here for a long time, but never found anything and never met any other members. So we told her where we were going to meet and she could come. Saturday afternoon as we were walking to my favorite ice cream place, a man stopped us in the street this time. His name was Daniel and he told us that he was a member as well!! In just our first 2 days here we had met 2 new members. Daniel is from Rio Grande, where I started my mission. He was baptized in Misiones up north 2 years ago, and right now lives in Los Antiguos which is about an hour away but he is working her. He also lived in Miami for 5 years working but has been back in Argentina since 2002. He loves to speak English with me and for not having spoken it for 15 years, he speaks really really well still. He told us he left his Book of Mormon in Misiones and I happened to have one in my backpack so we were able to give that to him and invite him to our meeting Sunday as well. 

We have some new investigators here as well named Gisel and Yanel. The last time I taught Gisel I was with Elder Soto and I'd never taught Yanel before. They are sisters and their brother is the Branch President in Pico Truncado. Gisel lives with her boyfriend and 2 daughters and Yanel we don't know if she is married or not but she does have at least 1 daughter and lives with a guy we think is her husband. Gisel had a new baby girl 2 months ago so we taught the Plan of Salvation and Eternal Families. Gisel really liked that, the only problem is her boyfriend Julian isn't all excited about talking about marriage so she can get baptized. Yanel has tons of problems at work with her co-workers being rude to her and how it makes her almost have depression. So we taught her the Plan of Salvation as well and focused on Jesus Christs Atonement for us and how he suffers everything that happens to us. How it is necessary that we have trials in this life because it is the only way we can progress and grow our faith. And how we can always find comfort and peace when we focus on Christ. Sometimes we feel like on one else in the world knows or can understand what we are going through. Yet there is always the one person who suffered that before we did in Jesus Christ. Also Gisel and Yanel's mom hasn't been doing great health wise and was battling cancer recently. She lives up north as well, but just as we found Yanel Saturday, her parents were down here visiting. Gisel brought them to church and we were able to pray for her mom together. We are seeing a lot of blessing in just a few short days of starting here full time.

Much Love,

Elder Christensen

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Week 52

Mommy & All,

"I choose to rise not fall, I choose to live not die!" -Ray Lewis

This week was the most tiring week of my mission, but also one of the most rewarding. Pretty much all we did was travel and get things ready for AnaMaria's baptism. From Saturday the 22nd to Saturday the 29th, we took 8 different bus rides (with the shortest one being 2 1/2 hrs) in those 7 days. So that wore me down a little haha. 

Saturday the 21st, we headed to Perito that morning. Sunday we headed to Las Heras, were there for about an hour, then headed the rest of the way to Comodoro. Tuesday afternoon we headed back to Las Heras. Wednesday morning we looked for baptismal clothes and Wednesday night we headed back to Comodoro to have Conference with President Salerno. Thursday we had conference all day with him and then came back to Las Heras Thursday night. Friday morning we headed to Perito, and then Saturday night back to Las Heras.

Friday was really good. We got to Perito and I got to go visit AnaMaria with Elder Sudweeks while Vega went with our District Leader to visit Raul. We talked with her just about a few more things and I just wanted to make sure she was still excited for her baptism. We went through the baptismal questions and that was funny. There is one question where it asks if you feel like you've repented of all your past transgressions and when I asked AnaMaria that question she looked at me and said no. I think she wanted to see how close she could get two 19 yr old kids to have heart attacks because it was close haha. But then she looked up at me and saw my face and started laughing and told us yes that she was all good. It was even funnier because she is a really quiet person. She doesn't really laugh and never makes jokes and only talks when someone talks to her. Friday afternoon, I headed with our District Leader Elder Kidd and we did the real baptismal interview and she answered all the questions and it was actually really cool to hear her testimony. She didn't receive a direct answer telling her that what we taught her was true or that the Book of Mormon was true. She told us just that every time she talked with us or every time she prayed or read the Book of Mormon, she felt peace that she'd never felt in her life. So she assumed that God really does love her and that it is true just through the feelings of true peace that she receives. I thought that was really cool. After the interview, we went and set up the little kiddy backyard swimming pool that we were going to use as the baptismal font. We set it us at the back of Nahuel's house, the guy we baptized in the lake. Saturday morning we got up and headed back over there and we ended up having to fill it up by hauling buckets of water from the sink to the pool because the hose was so slow filling it up hahaha. The baptism went great though. Elder Vega had to kneel to do it because even though the pool was almost full, there still wasn't tons of water. It was really really cool to see how far we have come with her. From knocking on her door one day and for some reason letting us in haha, to about 6 weeks later seeing her baptism even after she told us no twice. On Sunday Nahuel and Natalia brought her to Las Heras and she received the Holy Ghost. It was awesome to have another baptism in Perito, especially now that we are moving there full time. Hopefully we can start teaching her 8 kids now as well.

Much Love,

Elder Christensen

A few side notes: 

Max's new full time area has 7 baptized members.  With kids and the missionaries there are usually about 14 people at church.  The nearest missionaries to them are 2 1/2 hours by bus.  They are still trying to find a place to live and a more permanent place to hold church.  The goal is to open a branch there in the very near future.  He sounds so happy and will be hitting hump day in just 9 days.   

Yes this is the baptismal font.