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Somehow, two years have passed. And Dallin will be flying back to the states on March 26th. It has been quite the adventure! I will encourage him to add his own summary when he gets back...(Living the good life in the Philippines, Quezon City North Mission. Entered the MTC in Provo on April 4, 2012. Flew to the Philippines on Sunday, May 13, 2012. What a great adventure! And what an honor to serve the good people of the Pines!)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pics for "Rice"

01-28-2013 Elders, rice...

That, my friends, is the glorious, yet terrible sound that you will hear over and over in the Philippines, always accompanied by a very sick stomach, brought on by over-eating. But at the same time, it means you are about to be forced to add more delicious food to your plate which will taste so very good! But you also have to factor in the guilt you will feel for knowingly adding weight and size to your belly. It's quite a battle of mixed feelings. But in the end, who can say no to the kind Filipino offering you the bowl of rice with the expectant look on their face? Not I. And that's why I look the way I do. I like to think of it as charity. Good excuse, eh?

Well folks. I hope you are all doing so well. It has been a good week on this side of the world. We have had some killer lessons this week. But probably the most interesting thing happened on Thursday. That was transfer day. We got two new elders in the apartment! But that's because...they split my area!! Ano ba iyan??? Sad day. I admit. I am selfish and do not want to share my wonderful people with the other elders. But for the good of the people, I will share. We will be able to get out and find more people. Our area is just sooo good! There are so many people in it being prepared to receive the gospel!! And it's too slow with only 2 missionaries. So apat na lang!! It's been good. We've spent the last few days showing the other missionaries their new area. And we will continue like that until later on. One of the elders here now (Elder Sommer, who in some pictures looks like a brother to me) is only here til about Thursday. He is serving in India, but visas there only last a year. So he bounced over here while they renewed his visa. And when he leaves, we will get another one from India to replace him. In India they teach in English. So these guys don't know Tagalog. As in, none. As in, less than a greenie American from the MTC. I feel a little bad for the man's comp. It'll be an interesting transfer for him. But all good there. 

Last night, we were teaching some lady. She told us that she will not be baptized. She refuses. But she does like being taught. And she just loves our Bible. She has been praying to know if our church is true, but she hasn't received an answer. But she always feels good when she reads our Bible and she always seems to find the answers to all her questions there. Yeah, needless to say, she is pretty much a goner. We will of course continue to teach her. She doesn't know it yet, but she will end up being a member. Funny how the Spirit can help you change your mind. She just needs a little help understanding it. Dope. 

We also have a little girl that we've been teaching. She is almost 12. She turns 12 on my birthday actually. So, naturally, we are friends. But her parents are not members. Always drinking and smoking and partying. But we decided that we would much rather teach them as a family. As awkward as it might seem, we just need to get her parents to listen. Last night we were talking to Christine (the almost 12 year old) and we asked her if we could talk to her parents. They weren't home. Haha, they pulled up right after we talked about the idea of teaching them. We talked to sister. She is all down to learn. Brother, not ready yet. But one parent is better than none. And then, from their example, Papa bear can get all ready too. It is a nice process. But so momma sat in last night. Went like gold. She is very accepting and willing to try what we teach. Hopefully, she continues to be that way. 

Elder Sumagaysay and I get along very well. We've just been killing it. His English is better than he likes to admit. But we mostly just Tagalog it, which is a huge help for me. His training is going so well. He is going to hop out and destroy the mission, in the best way possible. 

Come Saturday, we've got a triple baptism coming up. I'm way excited for our people!! And I've been here long enough that these are all people that I've been teaching from the beginning. It's so cool to be able to compare the beginning to the end result. The gospel is such a huge blessing! These people are completely changed. Ah man. Just share the gospel. With everyone. And don't worry about the result. The worst thing that can happen is they say no. And then you are no worse off. But they always might say yes. And then everybody wins!! So share!!

We have a youngster that we are teaching right now. Haha, actually we have tons. But this one in particular, we have been teaching for a while. His momma is a member, but inactive. He has a hard time coming to church because she doesn't. But she wants him to get baptized. And I'm thinking, so he can immediately go inactive? Forget it! So we've been trying to help momma. But we haven't been able to find out why she is shy about the church. But we felt like we needed to teach JM about the word of wisdom. He's 9. Shouldn't be an issue. But ok. Haha!!! The Lord works miracles for you if you do what you are supposed to and follow promptings. Momma has a word of wisdom issue. Was shy about it. But then realized she didn't really know why she needed to give it up. After a wonderful lesson following to the Spirit, she understands. She gets it. And hopefully, they will all be good to go! Or maybe there is more. But if so, we'll find it and help them all be blessed as a family!! This is the best job in the world! 

And now, for my pics. Be ready. So I have tons of me with kids. Man, kids are just the greatest kids. The kids here, as long as they don't know the F word, are so cute!! And they all love to talk to the Americans! Man, it's a good time. So I've got loads of those. And then a pic of a dog that someone burned. Just out amongst the trash. Kinda gross, but I had to take a picture.  Welcome to the Philippines!! And then one of my comp, just being him. Man, sometimes nightly planning needs to get spiced up! He's awesome. 

Anyway. This email is not the greatest I've written. Sorry. But that's all for now folks!! Have a wonderful week! 

Much love, 

Elder Christensen

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

01-22-13 "Good Morning, Monsteropolis"

Maybe you could lie in bed, sleep in, or work out that flab that hanging over the bed!!!! 

Good morning all of you people! This is how I feel all the time!! It is the only thing still motivating me to exercise instead of sleep. It is a sad existence indeed. But not really!! Life is sooooo good!! Let me hit you with it. 

Sorry I forgot to mention last week that it would be a wednesday P-day, but I'm hoping that by this point, when I don't email on monday, you figure that it's coming wednesday. 

This week can go down in the books as a success. Then again, it is probably in there with every other week of my mission as well. Missions do that to you. Every day seems to be good, which turns into a good week, which then becomes a good transfer. Next thing you know, it was a good year, and then, you had a really good mission!! Life is just good! And too fast. I don't know where the time is going. We are now half way through Elder Sumagaysay's training. Oh yeah!! Fun side note; my boy Elder Broadhead will be training this upcoming transfer, as well as my MTC comp, Elder Hibbert. We have toooooonnss of missionaries coming in the next two transfers, and likely for the next who knows how many. Pretty much everyone in the mission will be training. If you are not being trained, you had best be ready to do the training. Woohoo!! What a wonderful time to be in the mission!

So I actually have some notes this week. That is exciting for me. Emails are so much easier to write when you use notes. High five to myself. 

Sunday, I did a scary thing. Always when you are new to a ward, the bishopric invites you to the front in sacrament meeting to introduce yourself. I've done that 3 times now. It's still scary, but no big. After I finish with that, they get a good feel for how bad my Tagalog is, and they decide to bless the ward by not inviting up to the pulpit ever again. Well, the ward this week was desperate. They only had two speakers. So for the first time ever, I got invited up to give an impromptu talk. That's hard enough in English. But in Tagalog???? WHAT!!?? But of course, fake it til you make it. We told them we would be glad to. Luckily, it was on missionary work. Well, that's something I can easily talk about. And we attended an Area Presidency Broadcast last week which gave me some good material to use in addition to my wonderful Aklat ni Mormon. I was nervous as a man on his first assassination mission. But after I got going, luckily and thank goodness, the Spirit took over. I breezed through it and the ward didn't seem to notice my iffy Tagalog. The Spirit happens to speak a universal language. So they all got something they understood. One more reason to be grateful for the Spirit. 

We also had an FHE this week with an inactive family. The father used to be the ward mission leader, and he used to work with the missionaries all the time. But then, like just about everyone else here that doesn't attend church, he got offended. His family hasn't been to church in 7 years. I've taught them once before. Usually when we go, they are 'sleeping', which when translated correctly into English means they don't want to talk to you. So it's been rough to get in with them. But this time, we took a very super active awesome family with us. Sister told us that she would like to give the lesson. She absolutely laid down the law!! Talking about trials of faith that make us become what we need and how in times of trial, we definitely need the church. I was a little afraid that they would be more offended, but the lesson went way well and in the end, they assured us they would come to church. They seemed all excited. Brother even asked for a blessing, which we were more than happy to help with. Sometimes as members, we forget the influence that we can have on those who are struggling or new to the church. We figure, ah, that's the missionaries job. But what an influence members can have!! They can get in where no missionaries can. So don't forget that as members, we are all to be missionaries. The Lord is preparing people for us to be able to influence them and to help them to accept the blessings and healing of the gospel. As a member of our Area Presidency said, we as members are lifeguards. Our job is to save souls. No life guard looks out and sees someone drowning and thinks, "man, I'd love to help, but the water is kind of cold." Or "What if there is a shark?" or "well, he got himself into the situation, he'd best get himself out" or "I'm really comfortable over here" or maybe "I'm not so sure that person really wants to be saved". But instead, they go to work and save a life, regardless of the 'inconvenience' to them. When you see an opportunity, share something to help others. See a need, save a soul. Or as my good friend Sid the sloth says, "see a tree, eat a leaf; that's my tracking." 

Oh man. Also. In case my pics have not made it clear; I love kids. They are one of my very favorite parts of being a missionary. All the kids want to talk to you and play with you and just know everything about you! I love kids!! We have been teaching tons of kids lately. Jeff Buban is one of those kids. He is from a part member family, but most of his family is inactive. His parents like to smoke, drink, and party. But Jeff is excited to learn about the church. He comes with his older sister to church, unless she can't come and then he comes by himself. Yeah, dope. But, with the family situation he has, he never learned anything about the church before we started teaching him. So we have to go sllllooooowww! But that's ok. We finally felt it was time to invite him to be baptized. He of course, was very excited and accepted. I asked him why it was that he wanted to be baptized. His first reply was so that he could grow up to be like us. Oh man!! That was a killer, in a good way. I was ready to just bring him home to be my newly adopted brother. Pretty cool the effect our example can have on other people. We don't always know it. Which is why it's important to always do your best to be the best example you can to others around you. 

On a less fun note. We were in a more poor area, trying to meet with a family we've been teaching. The husband and wife are pretty accepting. But the dad works 24 hours on, 24 off. So it's a crazy schedule. But we went and we met sister in the street. She told us brother was off working. Then she started introducing us to all of her friends. In this particular part of our area, everyone hangs out in the street. It's super poor so no one really has anywhere to go or anything to do. Lots of people. And I have no issue with poor people. I've taught well, a few here. But she started introducing us to some pretty sketchy people. And in the end, we had six baklas standing around us, getting all worked up about the 'foreigner' and the whole street of people was gathered in close. Eegh. I got the most yucky gross feeling. So, we quickly told sister thanks and that we would return on the next scheduled visit. Yeah, we got out of there quick! Sketchy!! 

Transfers are tomorrow. I'm not going anywhere. And, for some reason that I'm not really in the loop about, basta, I know it's happening, they are adding a week to this transfer, which throws off all the rest. Which means, I am extending a week!! Woohoo! I get to extend!! Only 6 days. So don't even get your hopes up. But that means that this transfer is 7 weeks. Crazy. Poor Elder Sumagaysay has to endure 13 weeks of training!! Haha. 

Anyway. I believe that is all. Pics. I have some with our RC, Lavena. It was her birthday. Good times. Also pics of...oh, with Nanay!! She is a sweet lady that left for Hawaii on Monday. She will be living there with some of her family for the next two or three years. Also some pics with our other RC Maxene. We are sucking our nostrils in. It looks more dramatic on her nose. Also, she is good at flipping her eyelids inside out. All together, it makes her look like an aswang. And then some pics of some of the poor houses in the poor area. It's not too bad. There are much worse here. But they are houses made out of plastic, cardboard, and plywood. Not my first choice and thus, the poor area. Most of my area right now is actually pretty well off. So it's a different bit for my area. 

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy this whole email!! I wish you all a wonderful week!!

Much love, 

Elder Christensen 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pics for "Rolling"

01-14-13 Rolling In the Money

Not in the gangster sense of the phrase. We don't have enough money for that here. Even the pic you will see later of me holding loads of cash is not much money. Just over a hundred bucks. But at least it looks impressive right? Na, the only real money we are rolling in here would be spiritual cash, also known to some as blessings. When you use the phrase referring to that kind of green, I'm loaded!! 

I almost forgot!! Hello hello, one and all!! It's that time of week again where I send home an email to all my folks. It has been a good week. Surprise! Not. They always are!! A mission has a way of doing that to you. Every week just rocks, no matter how hard it sometimes gets. The awesomeness of the week just seems to weigh out the less fun parts. 

So this week. What happened this week? Depends. TONS happened this week!! We found lots of random people to teach. The wonderful thing about that is that the Lord just does that. People just show up prepared sometimes. It doesn't seem to come through anything that we've done. We just happen to be in the right place at the right time. On a side note, in order for that to happen, you need to be following all the rules and commandments so that you can be led by the Spirit. But, anyway, then you'll just run into these people. And the Lord has prepared them all for you. It's wonderful!! It happened to us several times this week. It's like having the FedEx man show up with a package for you that you weren't really sure you ordered. But then it's there! Merry Christmas!! 

We also happened to have a baptism this week. A double. Two wonderful women that we have been teaching since I got here were finally ready to be baptized!! One is only 9 and the other is 18. They are both awesome!! We have 10 people lined up, still on the way to being baptized. Hopefully, I will be able to see them receive that blessing while I'm still here. 

We also happened to be out walking this week and ran into a lady that I haven't visited for a while. I only visited them once with Elder Judar. We were going to drop them, but we both felt in the visit that we shouldn't. But we just haven't had time to go to them. We ran into the wife this week and she asked why it had been so long. So we got out to them. Man, they have a baptismal date now!! They are just great!!

We have had some cool experiences this week with being led by the Spirit. I would like to insert a note here about how important it is to be worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost. As it says in the scriptures, if you don't have the Spirit, you shall not teach. If we aren't worthy of the Spirit, we have no guidance. We are left on our own to figure out what we should do. As a missionary, if this is the case, you are in a whole heap of trouble. I can't tell you how many times we've walked into a lesson, and my companion and I immediately know that we need to change the lesson because there is a different lesson that they need. That comes through the promptings of the Spirit. When the Spirit is with you, you are golden. You can really help people. You can teach them according to their needs. If you don't have the Spirit, that's not going to happen. They have a problem with faith and you are teaching about service. Without that help on their faith, they don't really care about service. They are not benefited. Even if you have the right subject, but you don't ask a certain question, or read a certain scripture; it all doesn't click. You have to be guided by the Spirit. The Lord knows our hearts. He knows what all of us need. Down to a certain word of scripture or testimony that will pierce your heart. We can't do it alone. That is why it is so important to have the Spirit with you. 

I also had a cool experience with my personal study this week. Personal study is one of my favorite parts of the day. And it is always awesome. The scriptures are the bomb!! Man, the Book of Mormon is so much cooler than I knew!! But anyway. We had a zone training this week. The zone leaders brought up some statistics that showed the numbers for our whole mission dropping a little and they wanted us to come up with ways to fix it. One elder was talking about less actives and that being our problem. If the wards here focused more on their less actives, then we could do more work on investigators. After all, less actives aren't the job of missionaries! That's ward stuff, right? I was a little interested in that comment. Missionary work is all about investigators, right? We aren't supposed to have to go around bringing in less actives. That's the wards job. Ha. Or not. I put in some study to it and I found some fun things that got my mind all jumping. I'm going to lay down a quick scripture chain. If you have time to look it up, sweet! If not, oh well!! Alma 4:19, Alma 31:34-35, 3 Nephi 18:32, D&C 18:10-16, D&C 31:10. That was a fun, quick study that put some things into perspective. In my opinion, Alma, Amulek, and the sons of Mosiah are some of the best missionaries ever!! And as such, missionaries should probably follow their example. If they put focus on less actives, we probably should too! And of course, if we just take a good look at the missionary purpose: to invite others to come unto Christ...... and so on and so forth. Others. Where in there does it say investigators? Or to invite people for the first time? It doesn't!! Woohoo!! Everyone needs the blessings of the gospel! Whether they've had them before or whether they have not. We all need the gospel in our lives. And therefore, we should share and help everyone. Anyway. That was a fun time for me. Don't forget your less active friends. They need the blessings of the gospel just as much as anyone else. Some times they just need a reminder. 

Anyway, I'm running myself out of time rambling about my personal study, which probably isn't that important to anyone else!! Whoops! But the work is going well. I am just having a wonderful time out here in the good old Philippines enjoying the blessings of the Lord. 

Pics!! Of course, I forgot my Psych pic last week, so I included it here. Um, I got some pics from the baptism. Grabbed a pic of me and a cute little girl. I'm not sure what the other ones are!! But the last one is me and Broadhead holding some cash, and thus the subject line. I hope you all have a most fabulous and wonderful week!! Take luck!!

Much love, 

Elder Christensen

Sunday, January 6, 2013

01-06-2013 The Day After Christmas!!!!

I hope for all of you, that line resounded in your head in the voice of huey, duey, or luey, or whichever of the 3 little ducks from the Mickey's Christmas movie actually spits the line. Cuz that's how it went for me.

Anyway!!! What is up, one and all?! The holiday season, as well as the beloved year of 2012 are over!! We are just flying! The work here in good old Sampaguita is flying as well. We have had a marvelous week. We just keep having people coming closer and closer to where they need to be!!! It's the best!! We've got baptisms all over the place! This upcoming week, we've got two more. We've got about 10 more people on the line for the upcoming weeks. We've got less active folk all coming back to church. Pretty much, let me lay it straight for you. Being on a mission is the place to be. In particular, rocking the Philippines in good old Sampaguita is really the place to be. It's what's up. We are just wading through spiritual blessings out here. So I'm not sure what I've even told all y'all back at home in my last two emails. They were terrible and devoid of information. Sorry about that. Ha, but if I'm honest, I don't have a lot of info for this week. It's just been insanity. Laying down the good word all day every day. Pretty much leading people in crowds to the chapel. What can I say, the Lord is just amazing that way. 

Ok. So. I have a Filipino comp. My two kano buddies moved out of our apartment. So it's just me and my comp now. He does not speak english. So I was worried about it being weird with only us two. Na, it's been cool. I have had my good old English crutch removed. All day every day now is only Tagalog. And it's really not bad. And it's really helpful for my language!! So we are rocking it! 

I have to admit to you all, my emails are best when I write things down through the week. I have not been doing that as of late. Right now, I have nothing from this week as far as specifics go. So we'll go by memory and pics. 

So one cool thing I do remember. We have a new investigator this week. His name is Tata. His brother or cousins or something live in our ward and he is living with them. The man is Born Again, so he has a good strong belief in Jesus Christ. But this man has loads of questions. Loads. And they usually seem like he thinks he's found a hole in our lessons. So he'll hit us with a good old question and then we've got to explain it. In Tagalog, by the way. Not even trying to hit tough questions in English, but we've got to run the whole Tagalog route!! Anyway, we've taught him 3 times and every time, the beginning is rough. But in the end, ah man, the Spirit takes over and just gives the man a good solid Pacquio knock out punch to the heart. The last 15 minutes or so of every lesson have just been the dankness. The man has been satisfied with the answers he is receiving from us and from the Holy Ghost. That's the power of the Holy Ghost. Reminds me of a good scripture about the sons of Mosiah. Because of their preparation (prayer, fasting, and diligently searching the scriptures), in addition to having a sound understanding, when they taught, they taught with power and authority. I'm pretty sure that power wasn't coming from them, but it comes from what the Holy Ghost testified to the hearts of those that they were teaching. Which is why from the scripture I shared from Ether a few weeks ago, we don't need to worry about our weaknesses. The Lord knows what our weaknesses are. We are to do the very best we can. The Lord will strengthen us, and when we are doing all we are supposed to, we will have the Holy Ghost with us to do the real work, regardless of how talented we are in a language or how good we are at giving advice to a broken family. We do our part and the Lord will do the rest. He won't leave us hanging. 

On a less spiritual note. I went out with Elder Molnar the day before they moved and took pictures dressed up in a banana suit. Yeah, don't ask why, but he has a banana suit. Fun fact; banana trees are quite common here. So we went out and grabbed a few pics. I know. Missionaries are weird. 

Also on the side of pics. So we did a service project for a lady this week. She just moved into a new house. She had a little tin roof canopy quan (thingy) on the front of her old house. The good old Missionary Demolition Crew took care of that. We tore it all down. Tin, boards, nails, spiders, lahat. We ran all that stuff over to her new house and built her a fence in the back. Now, to all of you, the fence might look pretty ghetto. But for where we live, it's pretty dang nice and classy!! I'm pretty proud of our work! Let's just say, when the time comes to build my kids a tree house, Imma be a pro!!

I have some pics of a kid from our ward. He's got some struggling parents, but man, he's a cute kid!!! 

I grabbed some pics of one of my favorite desserts. It's pretty much to die for. Literally, over here, you might die from eating it. You never know. But I'm going to bring it back and bless your lives with it. It's incredible. Fruit salad yo. Don't mess with my fruit salad. 

Also, I took a pic of a bottle here because it made me think of a black man from the funniest tv show ever!! Let you guess what pic that is! 

And some pics of the fireworks from our apartment balcony. 

And a pic of the coolest returning less active ever. Siya at ung apo niya. Dope. He's just awesome. Ready to get himself back to the temple. 

Anyway. That is about it for me. We've been killing it out here. The blessings of the Lord are just pouring down on us. Even more than the rain is. And that's impressive. So life is wonderful. When in doubt, serve a mission. Keep it real back there. Please enjoy that snow for me. 

Much love, 
Elder Christensen